Archaeology at Stratford

William Wesley Payne Memorial Cabin 

     Dr. Doug Sanford of William and Mary College gave the first presentation of the seminar by leading a cross country tour of some of  the African American sites on the plantation.

    The first stop was the  William Wesley Payne Memorial Cabin.  William Payne was the son of an slave on the Stratford plantation, and he  remained on the plantation until his death in 1954.  On a hill overlooking the Great House and the Potomac River, a cabin was erected to his memory.  The cabin itself was constructed to honor Mr. Payne's life, and at his request was designed to replicate the one he was born in.  It is also located in an area that some call "Payne Hill or Knoll" signifying the presence of the Payne family in that area.

    The cabin itself is a fairly faithful rendition of a 19th century slave cabin and would have housed anywhere from 6 - 8 and upwards of enslaved African Americans

In front of Stratford's Great House stand two reconstructed slave quarters . The buildings are made of stone with glass windows and at first glance seem to be out of character with the type of slave dwellings found elsewhere on the plantation.  The document that provided the guide for the reconstruction at mid -century was an 1805 insurance sketch which showed the two dwellings and noted they were stone.  The proximity to the Great House made it likely that they were built to complement the Great House. The site also represented years of frustration as Doug and his crew dug in several locations for the remains of the original quarters in that area.  Despite the efforts, no such remains were found, and efforts were abandoned in that location for the present.

For the past two summers Doug and his students have been digging at a site on the southwest corner of the great house oval.  They are still not sure what the building was used for, but they are looking for clues for a possible connection to the African American presence at Stratford.




The last stop was the slave cemetery where it is known that the remains of some Stratford enslaved African Americans lay.    Another slave community was across the road where the directors' cabins now stand.