Friday, July 3, 2009

The Homes of Many: Sandy Spring Slave Museum, Slave Cabin

By Ashley Hungerford
HS 129, Summer 1 2009

As many know by now slaves had a hard life. For starters, many people were taken from their family and everything that they knew by people who they had never met before in their lives. Both slaves and freed slaves had to deal with the hurt from being belittled, segregated, and wanted only for work purposes by almost every white person just because of a system that people created, which in turn shaped what I believe to be unjustified beliefs. This sounds like a very painful experience both mentally and physically. I say mentally because they lost everything, I mean even their freedom. They also had to deal with culture shock: a state of bewilderment and distress experienced by people who are suddenly exposed to a new, strange, and foreign environment.

I say “physically” because after Africans or Indians were taken from their homes they were put on ships that they called slavers. These ships transported slaves around the world, to many different locations. The slaves, who actually made it off the ship without dying from disease, ended up being owned by other people, the way we own our animals today. Unfortunately, I am not done yet; their experiences did not get any better for a long time. The slaves ended up working all day long and sometimes right through the night depending on what kind of work they were told to do by their masters. (Fieldwork, housework, watching kids, cleaning, cooking, etc...) The slaves had bad living situations, too. they lived in these little shacks some with dirt floors, of course not much furniture at all, and sometimes not even a bed to sleep on.

I have just visited the Sandy Spring Slave Museum and Art Gallery, in Maryland! I chose this museum because it was fairly close to where I live, and when I looked the museum up, they were showing pictures of the cabin and the model of the slaver! I thought that the house was more interesting when I got there because it was a real house, one that has not been rebuilt just for show. Another interesting fact about the log cabin is that it has been in Maryland since it has been built.

It was not open because it opens by appointment only. You must call a week in advance and it is five dollars a person. This pays for the guided tour! I did not know this until after I went, so I did the best I could with taking pictures of a log cabin. The address of this museum is 18524 Brooke Road, Sandy Spring MD, 20860.

The wood on the log cabin was dated back to about 1850. This log cabin is what the Africans Americans both enslaved and freed would live in. Sometimes, families of ten to twelve people would live in this cabin all at once. You could imagine the struggles the slaves had to deal with. For example, they had to live in something that is no bigger than a full size master bathroom, living with ten to twelve others.

Not only did they have to deal with the discomfort of being right on top of everyone else all the time, everyone would probably smell bad. They would smell bad because of working all day in the fields and then coming home to a house full of people and no bathroom to take a shower in.

Inside the house, there was probably a cooking stove, one mat to sleep on, and dirt floors. So everyone that lived in the house back then probably washed themselves and everything else that needed to be washed (clothes, dishes, etc..) in a nearby creek or river. In 1992, this exact cabin was relocated from nearby Olney, Maryland, which is just west of Sandy Spring!

I chose these pictures because they show and are real life evidence of the hardships that African Americans have encountered. The pictures show that compared to today African American life has changed significantly. The pictures also help us to see how things gradually got better, very little things changed first for example, the places the African Americans lived. They gradually got better when the slaves in the north started being able to live on their own and work to pay for their freedom.

It is amazing to see real living situations of people that existed way before our time. These people have suffered things that are unimaginable to me. My heart goes out to the people that had to live this life. These slaves freed or not, lived in a shack that they probably had to build, and worked for people that were not giving them anything in return. They had no freedom and depending on where they were and on the time that they became enslaved, they might not have ever gotten it back. The pictures that you see here are history and proof of Africans struggles as slaves just over a century ago!

Slaves were here, standing on the same ground that we are standing on today. Imagine standing in the same place and going back two three and four hundred years. This cabin housed people in what is now Olney, Maryland. The slaves that would have lived in this exact log cabin were probably tobacco farmers because remember the Chesapeake colonies (Virginia, Maryland before it expanded) were big on tobacco. That was their main form of profit in the late 1850’s and that is about the time that the cabin was built.

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