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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Hermitage in Davidson County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)
 

The Field Quarter Spring

Nourishing Body and Spirit

 
 
The Field Quarter Spring Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. Makali Bruton, June 14, 2015
1. The Field Quarter Spring Marker
Inscription. Known as “Muddy Spring” in Andrew Jackson's time, this fast flowing spring was the primary source of water for the fifty to eighty enslaved men, women, and children who lived in the nearby Field Quarter.

Along with its life-sustaining water, the spring also kept perishables cool. These waters may have also provided for something other than just sustenance for the body.

Although the enslaved at The Hermitage were born in the United States, their ancestors were among the ten million people kidnapped, sold, and shipped to the Americas from Africa. A large number of those brought to the American colonies and the United States were Bakongo.

In Bakongo belief systems, springs such as this one are important boundaries between the living and the dead. Such locations allow the living to commune with spirits of the ancestors and those that have come before. This line between the living and the dead, as well as the communing between worlds, is symbolized by a cross-like figure in which the horizontal line represents the water boundary of the spring.

It is likely that this spring was such a place of sustenance for both the body and the spirit.

Captions:
The Bakongo Cosmogram is one possible explanation for the appearance of “cross” symbols on artifacts found at The Hermitage
Wide view of The Field Quarter Spring Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. Makali Bruton, June 14, 2015
2. Wide view of The Field Quarter Spring Marker
and other sites occupied by the enslaved.
Archaeologists have found several pierced coins at The Hermitage. Such coins were worn arond the neck or ankle to ward off evil spirits. Other possible spiritual objects found on site include special bones, prehistoric projectile points, and lumps of sulfur. These things do suggest that the enslaved at The Hermitage shared spiritual beliefs that differed from those of the Jackson family.

Several marbles displaying the “cross” symbol have been found in archaeological excavations at The Hermitage.

Archaeologists who have studied slave sites in North America have noted that blue beads are found much more abundantly in slave quarters than in places occupied by masters or overseers. Many archaeologists note that in some African cultures, blue beads represent prosperity and were frequently part of a bride's dowry.
 
Erected by The Hermitage Foundation.
 
Location. 36° 13.162′ N, 86° 36.719′ W. Marker is in Hermitage, Tennessee, in Davidson County. Marker is on Field Quarter Trail, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. The marker can be seen along the Field Quarter Trail at The Hermitage. Marker is in this post office area: Hermitage TN 37076, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers
The Field Quarter Spring image. Click for full size.
By J. Makali Bruton, June 14, 2015
3. The Field Quarter Spring
The spring is still flowing in the present day.
are within walking distance of this marker. Land Conservation at The Hermitage (within shouting distance of this marker); "Have the Negro Houses Placed Where the Old Ones Stands" (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Stories Told by Things the Enslaved Left Behind (about 300 feet away); The Field Quarter (about 300 feet away); A Lively Place (about 300 feet away); Determined Resistance (about 300 feet away); The Hermitage Overseer (about 500 feet away); Ginning and Pressing "King Cotton" (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Hermitage.
 
Categories. African AmericansAnthropologyChurches, Etc.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on July 12, 2015, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. This page has been viewed 218 times since then and 36 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on July 12, 2015, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.
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