Three years ago, I wrote an article about the Robert Jones plantation archaeological project. I have been talking about the project in recent weeks and what a surprise to see that there was an update yesterday of the excavation project on the Jones Plantation.
This is the largest slave plantation west of Arkansas and it is historically significant, although not widely known, and under studied and researched.
The home was the site of Robert Jones, a wealthy Choctaw Indian who owned more than 500 slaves before the Civil War.
Robert Jones and wife, Susan Colbert Jones
After the war,the home fell into disrepair and was burned in 1915. Now 98 years later an effort is being made to learn more about the estate, and the people who lived there.
The project I hope will begin to tell stories of the enslaved as well as the slave holders and reveal aspects about their lives that shall reflect more of the history lost to time, erosion and human memory.
As artifacts are pulled from the soil, I also hope that the project will expand, as there are so many questions to ask.
* Have remains of the slave cabins been found as yet? Robert Jones had at least 15 on his largest farm, and finding those will reveal a lot yet undiscovered about the lives of Choctaw slaves.
A small notation on the 1860 Slave schedule indicates that
Choctaw slaveholder Robert Jones had 15 slave cabins on his property.
Source: Ancestry.com. 1860 U.S. Federal Census - Slave Schedules [database on-line].
Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010.
* Were slaves buried in any known place?
* And what can be gleaned about their lives so far from the excavation?
The hard work continues, and I hope that there will be collaboration from many in the Oklahoma community. The Oklahoma Archaeology Society invites and welcomes assistance from the community on their excavation projects. This work is so important, and may someday lead to more facts about the lives of the much under studied enslaved Black men, women and children, of the Choctaw Nation.
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