For a new perspective on southern antebellum agriculture, the Kingsley Plantation still stands and is part of the preserved Florida National Park.
As the name suggests, Kingsley Plantation was named after Zephaniah Kingsley, who was the owner of the plantation between the years 1814 and 1837.
In an arch shape by the entrance to the plantation, the ruins of 25 out of the 32 slave cabins that once housed the laborers in bondage still stand today. Given the close proximity to the coast, these tabby style cabins were built using oysters, sand and water.
And there is a huge emphasis on the agricultural aspect of the plantation. A fully functional garden is just to the left of the pathway leading up to the main house. This garden features many of the crops that would have been grown during the era.
At the height of Kingsley Plantation’s output, Sea Island cotton was king. Unlike the traditional cotton, Sea Island cotton plants could grow up to seven feet high, and cotton would be harvested from every level of the plant.
Greg, a volunteer at Kingsley Plantation, shed some light on another common cash crop.
“Indigo was another one of the major crops here at Kingsley Plantation,” he says. “100 pounds of Indigo would only yield about four ounces of powder, so it was a labor-intensive process. And this was extremely dangerous work for the salves.”
The barn, kitchen and main house are also opened to the public for learning opportunities and exploring.
End your tour of the Kingsley Plantation by admiring the view of the palm tree-studded coastline and calm waters of Fort George River. Make sure you have a camera handy for this scenic area!
Kingsley Plantation is a necessary stop for history buffs.