The Search for Frederick Douglass’s Birthplace
Markers in the Landcape
“My master was the [overseer] on the home plantation of Col. Edward Lloyd; had overseers on his own farms; and gave directions to overseers on the farms belonging to Col. Lloyd. This plantation is situated on Wye river — the river receiving its name, doubtless, from Wales, where the Lloyds originated. They (the Lloyds) are an old and honored family in Maryland, exceedingly wealthy. The home plantation, where they have resided, perhaps for a century or more, is one of the largest, most fertile, and best appointed, in the state.” (My Bondage and My Freedom, ch 2)
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Markers in the Landscape
“Eventually, after the road [from US 50 through Skipton] swings westward toward Bruff’s Island, you will find on your right two long, parallel lanes. The more westerly of these is for the gentry. It has a handsome ornamental gate and runs for half a mile under magnificent trees to end in a graceful loop before a noble white Georgian mansion that looks almost exactly as it did when Frederick first beheld it in 1824. This is Wye House, home since the 1780s of the Lloyds of Wye.
“The eastward land is a service road,and it was the one into which Betsey and Frederick turned when they finally reached their destination in the sweltering heat of midafternoon. Then it was called the Long Green Lane; it ran through the heart of the working plantation, past a long, low “quarter” of rough brick that teemed with slaves, to end at the wharf on Lloyd’s Cove. The Long Green, from which it took its name, was a grassy expanse of twenty acres or so.
“Some of the building Frederick saw that day are gone; the slave quarters in particular have been removed as insightly relics of the dead past. The ancient icehouse, carpenter’s shop, blacksmith’s shop, and other working structures that stood near the Long Green have been replaced by more modern barns and sheds, or have been remodeled out of recognition. But sufficient buildings remain to give the modern visitor a sense of how the great plantation must have appeared to the wondering eyes of a six-year-old boy. Off to the left he caught a glimpse of the stately white mansion, ringed with magnificent trees; then his grandmother led him to a neat house of red brick, plain bu substantial, that faced the lane. That, she told him, was where “Old Master” lived; the separate kitchen beside it was the domain of his slaves.” (Young Frederick Douglass, pp. 38-39)
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