Hermitage in Davidson County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)
Stories Told by Things the Enslaved Left Behind
Animal bones tell us a great deal about diet. Buttons and sewing equipment provide details about clothing. Marbles, china doll fragments, and other toys provide glimpses into the children's world. Beads, brass charms, and worked bone and ceramic fragments reflect spiritual practices. Coins confirm that some Hermitage slaves earned money, providing a way to purchase extras for their families.
The amount and variety of artifacts excavated here initially surprised researchers. It is often assumed that field hands made do with much less than those slaves who worked in a planter's house. However, artifacts found here are very much like those found at slave dwellings near the Hermitage mansion. Jackson's wealth and social position, the long-term stability of the enslaved community, and access to major trading markets in Nashville show that life at The Hermitage allowed Field Quarter families to transform their circumstances in ways perhaps unavailable to other plantation communities.
I am truly astonished at Mr. Steels neglect of my negroes when taken sick & shall write to him on this subject...I will turn him away unless he pays more attention to their health, by sending for Doctor Hogg
Archaeologists have found ceramic fragments such as this Chinese porcelain at most Hermitage slave dwellings. The Jackson family may have given cracked or chipped items to the slaves, or the slaves may have taken them. Other ceramics found at the Field Quarter were inexpensive at the time, and may represent the items Jackson provided for the enslaved.
Excavations unearthed this 1853 gold dollar in the rubble of one of the Field Quarter foundations. Coins have been found at every slave dwelling excavated at The Hermitage.
Andrew Jackson provided his slaves with medical treatment and medicine. Medicinal vials such as these have been found at several slave dwellings.
A hair comb found at the Field Quarter.
Archaeologists discovered several padlocks within the foundation of one of the Field Quarter dwellings. The reason why the occupants discarded so many locks remains a mystery.
Children's toys such as this porcelain doll body have been found at several slave dwellings on the Hermitage property.
Archaeologists unearthed a wide variety of animal bone at every Hermitage slave dwelling. Species represented in the archaeological collection show that Hermitage slaves had access to sheep, pigs, cattle, squirrel, opossum, chicken, turkey, goose, and sturgeon, a fish once abundant in the nearby Cumberland River.
Erected by The Hermitage Foundation.
Location. 36° 13.209′ N, 86° 36.694′ W. Marker is in Hermitage, Tennessee, in Davidson County. Marker can be reached from Rachels Lane. Touch for map. The marker is on 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 are within walking distance of this marker. The Field Quarter (a few steps from this marker); "Have the Negro Houses Placed Where the Old Ones Stands" (within shouting distance of this marker); A Lively Place (within shouting distance of this marker); The Field Quarter Spring (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Land Conservation at The Hermitage (about 400 feet away); Determined Resistance (about 600 feet away); The Hermitage Overseer (about 800 feet away); Ginning and Pressing "King Cotton" (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Hermitage.
Categories. • African Americans • Anthropology •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on July 14, 2015, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. This page has been viewed 251 times since then and 24 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on July 14, 2015, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.