This is an old blog that I started in 2006. I keep it because it has a lot of historical data and people still come here. As of September 2016, no new updates will be made here. All new blog posts and writing/publishing related news will be posted over on my new site at

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Charlotte Colonial Plantation

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

This is the original restored Hezekiah Alexander house on the colonial plantation here in Charlotte, NC. Hezekiah was born in 1722 and came to North Carolina from Maryland. He built this house in 1774 just before the American Revolutionary War.

The boundaries on a deed of land was usually identified by a branch of a creek, a nearby river, or some other landmark. If there were neighbors, their borders were often named in the deed to identify boundaries. The corners of a deed were referred to as poles.

This plantation was located on a branch of Sugar Creek. The Alexanders attended Sugaw Creek Presbyterian Church. At first I thought the name was misspelled, but it isn't. It is officially, spelled with a "w" and is pronounced as "sugar", although I'm sure most people back then said "sugaw" and that is why it's spelled that way as many spelled things phonetically.

In 1663, King Charles II of England granted eight lords land in Carolina for their loyal service. They became known as the Lord Proprietors. This land extended from the western part of VA all the way down past GA. The first land grants sold in the Carolinas were given by these lords or their acting agents. Prior to that, no one owned the land here except the American Indian tribes who lived here. They were the Cherokee, Catawba, Santee, Croatan, Pee Dee, Waccamaw, and Lumbee to name a few.

Most plantation homes did not have a kitchen within the house due to the potential of fires. This way if a fire grew out of control, it would only burn down the kitchen and save the family home. Often, the floor in the kitchen was dirt. The fire place was much larger than what we have in our homes today so that they could hang pots over the fire and set dutch ovens inside the fireplace for cooking. 

The Alexander house had a small window on the side where meals were brought from the kitchen to the house where they would eat at a family table with chairs. The glass was imported from Europe and is isn't clear like our glass today. It looks wavy and distorted.
The doorways were not built low because they were short people, but for the purpose of maintaining a cool breeze in the summers and keep in heat during the winters. They built a front door directly opposite the back door so that a breeze way would flow through during the hot seasons.

Only those with considerable wealth actually painted their homes and furniture. They also imported wall paper from Europe. Colored furniture such as a china cabinet was a sign of wealth and prosperity. Even strange colors that would seem ugly to us today would be bright and cheerful in their homes since it was so rare.

In the picture to the left, a tour guide is telling us about the house, but look at the brown paneling in the background. The walls are two feet deep and they actually built cabinet space in the walls to hold things which created less of a need for furniture and more space in the rooms.

Most of the time one might think of a bed being stuffed with feathers (and later cotton), but here they stuffed them with corn shells and they tied ropes from one side of the bed frame to the other to hold their mattresses.

This plantation has a spring house and their well is only two feet deep. The way it is built keeps it cool and it's right over the creek. A photo of it is on the left and it matches the same type of stone that the main house is built of.

Next month I am going to visit the Jacob Kelley plantation house in Hartsville, SC. This house survived the Civil War and the occupation of northern troops. The Jacob Kelley house is special to me since the Kelley's were neighbors to my Hudson ancestors. I'm hoping to find remnants of the Hudson house, but from the information I've managed to gather, it was in terrible condition back in the 1970's and I'm concerned it has since been torn down. I'll be sure to blog about what I find.