Borrego Springs, CA

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Further little adventures

After having my picnic lunch on Tuesday at the Edenton National Fish Hatchery, Emma and I got back in the car to head home.  I didn’t know it then, but there were a few more small adventures awaiting us in the afternoon.


As I was driving the two lane roads back to US 64, I was surrounded by farmers’ fields on both sides of the road.  Much of the crops consisted of soybeans, but there were quite a few cotton fields.  Having grown up in the north, I had always wanted to see a cotton field up close and see what cotton looked like before it was a shirt or pair of pants.  What it looked like to me from the roadside was a field of snowballs on stalks!

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This field brought to mind memories I had from watching a movie a number of years ago.  I figured out it was “Places in the Heart” starring Sally Fields.  In it, as I remember it, she portrays a mother trying to provide for her family by growing cotton.  In the movie I remember them picking cotton by hand and ending up with their hands bleeding all over from the sharp spines cutting them.  You know I had to pull over to see if this was true or just some Hollywood stunt to make the movie more poignant.  Well, after getting out and walking in the field, I’m here to tell you that it is for sure true.  There is no way I’d want to pick cotton by hand. 


Once we got back on US 64 and were approaching Columbia, I once again noticed a big brown sign saying to exit to see Somerset Place.  I had no idea what Somerset Place was, but you know how it is when you’ve seen one of those signs so often from traveling down a familiar road.  I finally decided there was no time like the present to give it a look see. 

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Somerset Place turned out to be a further seven miles down several back roads, but was well worth the time it took to get there.  It is a North Carolina State Historic Site that gives the visitor, that seeks it out, a comprehensive view of life on an Antebellum Plantation.  I was the only person visiting on a Tuesday afternoon, so I had the whole place to myself.  I only regret that the Collins Family Home (top left) was closed due to renovations being made to it’s foundation.

Somerset was an active plantation from 1785 – 1865, and encompassed as many as 100,000 acres.  It became one of North Carolina’s most prosperous rice, corn, and wheat plantations.  100,000 acres is big!  I had also suspected that their main crop would be cotton, but not so.

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Of course, the plantation era was ended by the outcome of the Civil War.  During it’s history more than 800 enslaved men, women, and children lived here.  The small slave cabin pictured above would typically provide a home for up to fifteen people. 

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                          Behind the slave cabin was a small garden and a couple of goats. 


What a historical gem Somerset Place was to find down some of the less traveled roads available to the typical Outer Banks visitor.  The size of the trees on the plantation impressed me.  I’m guessing they are as old as the plantation itself.  I’m sure glad I took a little detour and found this place on my drive home.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy


  1. The first time I saw a cotton field, I did exactly the same thing! I just had to get up close and check it out.

  2. What a great day, Judy! Thanks for sharing!

  3. I hope you touched every darn old piece of stuff around there....channel that history and relive it...I'm jealous!

  4. Are those gourds hanging on that fence? Looking at that cotton boll just amazes me that someone figured out how to make it into cloth. Looks like you had another fun adventure!

  5. A great read about those times is a book called, "The Hairstons. An American Family in Black and White." It's about the fortunes of the white Hairstons and the Hairston slaves, who become free.


  6. A very interesting visit. I wish you could have gotten in the mansion too. When we first came to Texas, I too had to get out and touch the cotton. Those pickers are fierce.

  7. Never a dull moment, you always find such neat gems hidden away that are so interesting!

  8. Glad you got to see some cotton up close. Have you been to Congaree National Park yet just outside of Columbia? It's a wonderul stop. Because of that visit, I have a new appreciation for the ecological importance of decaying trees. Some fascinating exhibits.

  9. I remember picking cotton for a neighbor when I was really small. He always planted a few acres, mostly for old times sake, I imagine. I can testify to the sharpness of those hulls surrounding the bolls. I also remember getting paid thirty five cents at the weigh in. Big money for a nine year old back in the late Fifties. Thanks for the memories...

  10. Saw cotton fields for the first time last year in Memphis, and yes it looked like snow.

  11. cotton in the fields reminds me of our old home...

  12. I cried during the movie of “Places in the Heart.” My dad grew up on a dairy farm, and it wasn't easier either. I admire any type of farmer even with all today's technology, it is still a job I don't want to do.

  13. My father was a cotton ginner. I grew up right next to the cotton gin and during the season our yard was always covered in cotton. I still love smell of cotton and can't resist picking a few bolls when in a field.

  14. My Mom can remember picking cotton as a child--she says it was NOT fun!

  15. Picking cotton is not fun even with gloves on. But it does look like snow in the fields.

    It's amazing how many of the antebellum plantations are open as historic sites. There is a virtual chain of them along the James River in Virginia. They are a look into the past and difficult for me to take in....100,000 acres and 800 slaves.

  16. Quite an interesting place to visit with all its history. I'm glad these places are still around as a reminder of the bad old days!

  17. I too remember picking cotton as a ten year old, it was hard and I didn't want to do it ever again. I got only $1.00 .

    1. I was younger than ten and I'm sure I didn't pick $1.00 worth. Not only did I not want to ever do it again
      - I never did. Hoeing weeds and thinning cotton was almost as bad but I did a lot more of that.

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