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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Alamance in Alamance County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

Oak Grove Plantation

 
 
Oak Grove Plantation Marker image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 14, 2014
1. Oak Grove Plantation Marker
Inscription. Oak Grove (ca. 1790-1910) was a 1,693-acre grain farm owned by the Holt family. The Holts were pioneers in the southern textile industry and developers of "Alamance Plaid" fabrics. While textiles made the Holts one of the wealthiest families in North Carolina, their initial prosperity was agriculturally based, supported by the slave economy of the pre-industrial South.

Essential Corn
Throughout the 19th century, Oak Grove's primary crop was corn. Corn was an essential component of the Piedmont diet, it was relatively easy to plant and cultivate, and it was well-adapted to the hot, sultry weather of the Carolina Piedmont. Corn provided relatively high yields and could also be used as feed for livestock, which ate cured corn and the "blades" and "tops" of the plant itself. In 1854, Oak Grove raised 326 acres of corn.

Diary entries show that the Holts generally planted corn in March and April. The blades and upper leaves were gathered in mid-September, tied into bundles and lofted for winter livestock forage. Corn cobs were typically left to cure on the stalk in the field, and these cobs were usually harvested in October. The harvested cobs were then stored and further cured in a well-ventilated corn house or "crib," such as seen here.

Corn storage required a building strong enough to carry significant
Slaves at Oak Grove image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 14, 2014
2. Slaves at Oak Grove
An 1861 tax listing showing the name, age and tax value of each of E.M. Holt's slaves.
dead load and resist outward pressure against the walls. Corn cribs were typically no larger than 20' x 20,' with heavy timber framing and carpentered mortise and tenon joints. Slats were generally nailed to the interface structural elements and these lasts were spaced about 1 1/2" apart to provide adequate ventilation. This arrangement created an odd and immediately recognizable aspect to these buildings, since portions of the framing were always exposed.

The corn crib seen nearby was built in 1874 for Lynn Banks Holt by local vernacular builders John and Emsley Coble. The Cobles' work ledger shows that construction began in November of that year and continued for about one one month. The completed building measures 17' and 20' x 12 1/2,' not including the raised brick "pillows" or pillars, intended to make the crib "rat proof."

The Granary
The adjacent granary, built in 1872 also by the Coble brothers, was used primarily for storing wheat, oats, and cornmeal. The Holt diaries indicate that wheat was usually harvested in July and August. In 1854, the wheat harvest at Oak Grove resulted in 3,454 bushels. During the same period, the oat harvest produced 4,000 shocks, which then yielded 2,857 bushels of oats. Corn for human consumption was ground into meal at the Holts' gristmill located 1 1/2 miles north along Alamance Creek.

Oak Grove
Oak Grove Stock Farm image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 14, 2014
3. Oak Grove Stock Farm
The letterhead used by Oak Grove Stock Farm.
Stock Farm

Following the Civil War, the farm came to be known as Oak Grove Stock Farm. Livestock raised here included Devon, Ayershire, and Dutch Belted cattle, Shropshire sheep, and Poland China swine.

Lynn Banks Holt also bred horses on this farm and owned the famous race horse "John Gentry," which became world champion trotter in the 1890s.

(sidebar)
Slaves at Oak Grove
Records reveal that at least 151 enslaved African Americans lived at Oak Grove from its founding until the end of the Civil War. The majority of these individuals were field hand whose labors ensured the success of the farm.

(sidebar)
The Holt Men and Their Wives
Three generations of Holts owned and operated Oak Grove Plantation: Michael Holt III; his son E.M. Holt; and grandson, L. Banks Holt. Ancestors of the Holts came to the Virginia Colony from Bavaria in 1714. By the 1740s, they immigrated to Piedmont North Carolina where they settled along the headwaters of Alamance Creek.
 
Erected 2014 by Alamance County Historical Museum.
 
Location. 36° 1.157′ N, 79° 29.422′ W. Marker is near Alamance, North Carolina, in Alamance County. Marker can be reached from Bellemont-Alamance Road (North Carolina
Oak Grove Plantation Photo ca. 1885 image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 14, 2014
4. Oak Grove Plantation Photo ca. 1885
Oak Grove Plantation Photo ca. 1885 showing the Holt family cemetery and outbuildings.
Route 62) near Kimesville Road (County Route 1113), on the right when traveling west. Click for map. Marker is located at the Alamance County Historical Museum. Marker is at or near this postal address: 4777 S NC Hwy 62, Burlington NC 27215, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. A different marker also named Oak Grove Plantation (a few steps from this marker); St. Paul's Lutheran Church (approx. 0.7 miles away); Trading Path (approx. 1.2 miles away); Battle of Clapp's Mill (approx. 1.3 miles away); Alamance Cotton Mill (approx. 1.4 miles away); Johnston Moves West (approx. 1.4 miles away); Tryon’s Camp (approx. 1.4 miles away); The Battle of the Alamance (approx. 1.8 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Alamance.
 
Also see . . .  Alamance County Historical Museum. (Submitted on June 16, 2014.)
 
Categories. AgricultureSettlements & Settlers
 
World Champion Trotter John Gentry image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 14, 2014
5. World Champion Trotter John Gentry
Oak Grove Plantation Marker image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 14, 2014
6. Oak Grove Plantation Marker
Ledger entries indicate the Cobles were paid $35.00 for construction labor and materials.

The planes and maul are part of the Coble tool collection found in the Alamance County Historical Museum.
The Holt Men and Their Wives image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 14, 2014
7. The Holt Men and Their Wives
Michael & Rachel Rainey Holt III
E.M. & Emily Farish Holt
Lynn Banks & Mary Catherine Mebane Holt
Oak Grove Plantation Marker image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 14, 2014
8. Oak Grove Plantation Marker
Oak Grove Plantation Marker image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 14, 2014
9. Oak Grove Plantation Marker
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Patrick G. Jordan of Burlington, North Carolina. This page has been viewed 439 times since then and 6 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. submitted on , by Patrick G. Jordan of Burlington, North Carolina. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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