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MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Montpelier Station in Orange County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Gilmore Farm

A Freedman's Home

 
 
Gilmore Farm Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 6, 2009
1. Gilmore Farm Marker
Inscription. George Gilmore, born a slave on the Montpelier plantation about 1810, was freed with the Federal occupation of Orange County in 1865. With his wife Poly and three children, he established a small farmstead near the plantation where he had been enslaved. Over time, they purchased 16 acres of land from Dr. James A. Madison, grand-nephew of the President. Three generations of the Gilmore family lived here prior to its sale in 1920.

Today, the cabin and farm illustrate the history of the African-American transformation from slavery to freedom, and document their hard-won success in purchasing land, building their own home, and establishing new lives after emancipation.

Gilmore Farm, ca. 1880
The layout of the Gilmores' 16-acre farm has been reconstructed based on the 1880 agricultural census, 1937 aerial photography, and recent archaeological surveys. In 1880, the Gilmores owned one horse, one milk cow, five pigs, and 11 chickens. They farmed 12 acres, planting two acres in corn, which produced 40 bushels that year, and three acres in wheat, which produced six bushels. The remaining seven acres were probably planted in vegetables and fruit for the family and fodder for their livestock. The farm provided for the family's basic needs, but little more.

Overhead shot of archaeological excavation units open in
Gilmore Farm Marker image. Click for full size.
By Pete Payette, May 13, 2017
2. Gilmore Farm Marker
yard of the Gilmore Farm

In 2002, Montpelier archaeologists discovered a series of cobblestone surfaces in the yard. Confederate Army artifacts were found with them suggesting the cobblestone surfaces may have been constructed by the Confederate Army as part of the 1863-1864 winter camp. A camp hut may have served as the Gilmore family's first home after emancipation, since they built their cabin in the spring of 1873.

1920s photograph of Gilmore Farm
At the time of this photograph, George and Polly Gilmore had died and their son William occupied the farm with his family. He made several improvements, enlarging the home with a one-room frame addition, planting an orchard, and keeping bee hives. As citizens and landowners, George and Polly were able to pass on the achievements of their hard work to their children, enabling them to build more successful lives.

Glass beads, buttons, straight pins and safety pins recovered by archaeologists in excavations under the cabin
These items had fallen through the florboards of the cabin during the first 30 years of the Gilmore occupation. They corroborate family tradition that Polly Gilmore worked as a seamstress and dressmaker. Earning cash to purchase necessary supplies was the responsibility of every member of the family, whether male or female, young or old.

Archaeological excavations
Crop Distribution at the Gilmore Farm, ca. 1880 image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 6, 2009
3. Crop Distribution at the Gilmore Farm, ca. 1880
inside Gilmore Cabin, 2001

Gilmore family descendants have kept their connection with the family homestead. In 2001, they volunteered their time to help Montpelier archaeologists conduct excavations inside the cabin, helping to recover the hundreds of beads, pins, buttons, and other items that had slipped between the floorboards of the cabin.
 
Location. This marker has been replaced by another marker nearby. It was located near 38° 13.595′ N, 78° 10.891′ W. Marker was near Montpelier Station, Virginia, in Orange County. Marker was on Constitution Highway (State Highway 20), on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Located on a the Civil War Encampment walking trail on the Montpelier Estate. Marker was in this post office area: Orange VA 22960, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this location. A different marker also named Gilmore Farm (within shouting distance of this marker); Post-Emancipation (within shouting distance of this marker); Gilmore Family Cemetery (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Dolley Madison (about 400 feet away); Confederate Encampment (about 700 feet away); Civil War Encampment
Original Gilmore Cabin Site image. Click for full size.
By Pete Payette, May 13, 2017
4. Original Gilmore Cabin Site
Photo from marker shows the excavated site of the original Gilmore cabin which was built over the site of an earlier Confederate winter hut site.
(approx. 0.3 miles away); Montpelier Train Station (approx. 0.3 miles away); Montpelier Flag Stop (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Montpelier Station.
 
Additional comments.
1.
Note To Editor only visible by Contributor and editor    
    — Submitted May 13, 2017, by Pete Payette of Orange, Virginia.

 
Categories. African AmericansAgriculture
 
Gilmore Farm Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 6, 2009
5. Gilmore Farm Marker
Gilmore Farm Marker image. Click for full size.
By Pete Payette, May 13, 2017
6. Gilmore Farm Marker
Gilmore Cabin image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain
7. Gilmore Cabin
Hog Pens behind the Cabin image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain
8. Hog Pens behind the Cabin
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on May 22, 2017. This page originally submitted on November 7, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 879 times since then and 77 times this year. Last updated on May 13, 2017, by Pete Payette of Orange, Virginia. Photos:   1. submitted on November 7, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   2. submitted on May 13, 2017, by Pete Payette of Orange, Virginia.   3. submitted on November 7, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   4. submitted on May 13, 2017, by Pete Payette of Orange, Virginia.   5. submitted on November 7, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   6. submitted on May 13, 2017, by Pete Payette of Orange, Virginia.   7, 8. submitted on November 2, 2009, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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