SC History Trail

Hewn-Timber Slave Cabins

Located at U.S. 301/76 at Wallace Woods Road on the campus of Francis Marion University, the Hewn-Timber Cabins consist of two slave cabins from a 19th century cotton plantation located on the site of Francis Marion University. The cabins were constructed by slave craftsmen about 1836, feature displays and artifacts, and are open to the public.


Hewn-Timber Slave Cabins
U.S. 301/76 at Wallace Woods Road, Florence, SC
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Site Description
Located on the campus of Francis Marion University, the Hewn-Timber Slave Cabins are the remnants of an eight-cabin slave village from the Gregg or Red Doe Plantation at nearby Mars Bluff. African-American slaves were brought to the Pee Dee Region as early as the mid-18th century, and many lived and worked on cotton plantations.

African Americans have made a major contribution to the history of South Carolina, beginning in the early Colonial Era as some of the first residents of the English Colony of South Carolina. By 1710, only 40 years after the Colony of South Carolina was established at Charles Town, African slaves outnumbered the colony's English colonists and were South Carolina's main labor force. By 1720, South Carolina's black population was double the size of its white population. Although many were freedmen, most were slaves until ratification of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ended slavery in December of 1865.

African-American slaves were artisans, craftsmen, builders, teamsters, cooks, nannies and household servants, as well as field laborers. Most American slaves converted to Christianity and the black church became central to family life in Southern slave communities. Although slavery was legal in all 13 American colonies - it was not abolished in New York until 1827 - it became concentrated in the South during the Colonial Era. By 1860, South Carolina had a slave population of 402,000, which was larger than the state's free population.

J. Eli Gregg appears to have established the Gregg Plantation at Mars Bluff on the Great Pee Dee River in 1831. His principal crop was cotton and the plantation contained a small slave village which included these two hand-hewn log cabins. Believed to have been constructed by slave craftsmen in about 1836, the cabins are built of 4'X9" logs and were expertly fitted with dovetail joints and pine plank floors. Sometime after slavery ended, most of the slave cabins were moved from the slave village to various sites on the former plantation property, where they were occupied by African-American tenant farmers.

The Hewn-Timber Slave Cabins were occupied until 1953 and were moved to the Francis Marion University site in 1980 and 1990. Today they include displays that depict slave life in the Pee Dee Region, including various artifacts such as handmade baskets, yard brooms, gourd dippers and handmade quilts. The cabins are open to the public and the University sometimes conducts tours of the site.