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UPDATE: Historymobile leaves early due to weather
History of Civil War comes to life
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John Whitfield (left) and Timothy Simmons, both of the Booker T. Washington National Monument in Franklin County, were among the speakers at Saturday’s Civil War Symposium. (Photo by Ali Mason)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer

Due to the inclement weather Sunday, the Civil War HistoryMobile has left the area. However, the Sunday afternoon tea, scheduled as part of the Civil War activities here this weekend, will be held as planned, according to the Martinsville-Henry County Heritage Center & Museum.

Below is the full article from Sunday's Martinsville Bulletin.

The Civil War Weekend in Martinsville, which has included a historymobile on the war and a symposium on various aspects of the conflict and life at that time, concludes today with a tea in the Martinsville-Henry County Heritage Center & Museum.

The event will begin at 2 p.m. Attendees will learn about tea customs while enjoying scones, cookies, bread and tea.

The cost is $15 per person, and registration is required by calling 403-5361.

Saturday’s symposium included presentations by Tom Fowler, who discussed Danville’s role in the war and how it made a lasting impact on the city; Thomas D. Perry, who examined the military careers and relationship of “Lee, Jackson and Stuart: The Virginia Triumverate”; and Ernie Price, who discussed how Lee came to be at Appamattox Courthouse and why he chose to surrender there.

The symposium was kicked off with “Slavery and the Civil War at Hale’s Ford,” a presentation by Timothy Simmons and John Whitfield of the Booker T. Washington National Monument in Franklin County. The talk detailed the era that Washington was born into, the war and his eventual freedom.

Simmons, a park ranger, said the core mission of the monument is to protect and preserve natural resources on the 207-arce farm Washington was born on, and “to tell the story of the people who lived” during that time.

A series of slides showed many of the places that were discussed.

Simmons said Washington was born a slave on April 5, 1856, on James Burroughs’ plantation, where an average of 3 to 5 acres of tobacco were grown each year.

Washington’s mother, Jane, was one of 10 slaves owned by Burroughs, Simmons said. He noted that while the number of slaves varied, all were family and all — even the children — were required to work in the fields.

According to narratives he has read, Simmons said youngsters picked worms off the tobacco leaves and pulled suckers off plants after they were topped, among other tasks.

The higher quality leaves of the dark fire tobacco grown on the Burroughs farm were used to wrap cigars, while the lower quality was used to make chewing tobacco, he said.

“The annual cycle of a cash crop ... this was the cycle of life that Booker T. Washington was born into ... year after year after year ... until the Civil War,” Simmons said.

James Burroughs died around the time the war started, and his sons left to join the Confederacy. That left Burroughs’ wife and daughters in charge of the place that would become “a landscape of emancipation,” Simmons said.

Washington, writing in “Up From Slavery,” described that moment at the end of the Civil War when he and his family found out they were free.

“Finally the war closed, and the day of freedom came. It was a momentous and eventful day to all upon our plantation,” he wrote.

Washington recalled that a stranger came to the plantation and read a speech that Washington thought was the Emancipation Proclamation.

“After the reading we were all free and could go when and where we pleased. My mother, who was standing by my side, leaned over and kissed her children, while tears of joy ran down her cheeks,” Washington wrote. This was the moment “she had been praying for.”

Whitfield, a volunteer at the monument, discussed the life before emancipation.


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