Somerset Plantation

Somerset Plantation

Edenton, North Carolina

OWNER: Josiah Collins, III
BUILT: 1830
HISTORY: Somerset Place is a representative antebellum plantation offering an insightful view of life during the period before the Civil War. During its 80-year existence as an active plantation (1786-1865), it encompassed as many as 100,000 acres and became one of North Carolina's most prosperous rice, corn, and wheat plantations. It was home to more than three hundred enslaved men, women, and children of African descent--80 of whom were brought to Somerset directly from their west African homeland in 1786. These were people who had firsthand knowledge of rice cultivation. Members of the enslaved community dug a system of irrigation and transportation canals; built a sawmill, gristmills, barns, stables, work buildings, and dwelling houses; and cultivated fields.

The plantation operated as a business investment for more than 40 years. In 1829 it became home to two generations of a planter family: Josiah Collins III, his wife Mary, and their six sons. Josiah III inherited the property from his grandfather, Josiah I, who along with two partners had acquired the land and planned its early development.

MISCELLANEOUS: Book: Somerset Homecoming: Recovering a Lost Heritage by Dorothy Spruill Redford. Doubleday Publishing Co. 1988.

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