Archive for July, 2007

Alabama Plantations: Dallas County Alabama, 1866

Photograph of a plantation owner, Mississippi Delta, near Clarksdale, Mississippi, June 1936. Historical Stock Photos:


What is a Plantation?

A large farm cultivating a cash crop (cotton,tobacco, rice, sugar cane), using a workforce of enslaved Africans to produce its goods. In the Black Belt of Alabama, the most common cash crop was cotton.

According to the Northern Alabama – Historical and Biographical by Smith & De Land, Birmingham, Ala 1888 – (Transcribed by Veneta McKinney), “Dallas produces more cotton than any other of Alabama’s sixty-six counties, and its farm products exceed in value those of any other county in the State. Land is worth from $2.50 to $40 per acre, and excellent farming land maybe purchased from $10 to $15 per acre. Government land. none…”

What Did a Plantation Look Like?

Plantations are working farms. Some were simply built structures of a log house and outbuildings. Other plantations were more elaborate and may have included a stately home, ornamental gardens, fountains, a church and were built to impress or display wealth.

The family that owned is the land is the “Owner” , “Master” or “Slave Holder”. An “Overseer” managed the plantation, and was responsible for the slaves. The enslaved Africans were the workforce–working a variety of tasks on the farm or in the plantation house. Slaves were given jobs based on their strength, gender, age, birthplace and color. The elderly, some people with disabilities, and children under the age of 6 were the only ones exempt from work.

The plantation operated as a large farming system compromised of land and several buildings. The “main house” or “plantation house” was the personal residence of the Owner. There was an office either in the main house or a separate building to file records and conduct business. There were outbuildings, barns, live stock shelters, gardens/orchards and other buildings necessary to the farm. There were “slave cabins” or “shacks” were the slaves lived, often this included a small plot of land to grow a garden. And there may have been two separate cemeteries for the Owner and the slaves; or the cemeteries were located on the land of nearby churches.

What Happened to Plantations After Slavery Was Abolished?


After slavery was abolished, the plantation system continued well into the 1960’s, changing only as farming became modernized, relying on machine rather than manual labor.

After slavery was abolished, a majority African families in the United States continued to work on plantations as sharecroppers or tenant farmers. Sharecroppers worked a small parcel of land on the plantation, their earnings were based on what was left after they paid rent to the Owner. The sharecropping system was designed to keep Croppers dependent on the land owners, they were paid a meager salary that was offset by what they owed the Owner (who was usually a descendant of a slave holder) for rent, seed, tools, food and other supplies. The Owner also had the power to dock the salary of a Cropper at will, which often happened for no valid reason, and no recourse for the Cropper to get what he was owed. No matter how hard they worked, Croppers always ended up owing the land owner, unable to meet their own basic needs, or get beyond the abject poverty they lived in. Children worked alongside their parents, and were denied an education because they were needed on the farm. The harsh living conditions, and abuse they endured daily, made sharecropping like a legalized form of slavery.

For More Info visit

Alabama Historical Slavery Plantations”, Genealogy Trails

“On the Plantation: The Abolition Project”

“Plantation Architecture in Alabama”


Plantations Mentioned in the State Census, Colored Population, Dallas County, Alabama 1866

This index for the 1866 Alabama State Census, Colored Population, Dallas County lists the names of the head of household and where they resided. When you look at the index, you will see a name of an employer next to the head of household (they lived on site); some of these names may have been slave holders. There are several plantations mentioned by name. 

The original schedules also contained a count of all males and females in each household and a breakdown by age; that is not included in this index. 

Compiled by BJ Smothers– Thank-you for your invaluable work 🙂

Plantations – Plattenburg (Sheet 105), Green (Sheet 114) –  R.N. McIlwain (Sheet 89), Hugh McIlwain (Sheet 89). H. McIlwain Thos (Sheet 89),S.P. McIlwain (Sheet 90),  Lewis Davis Plantation (Sheet 91), Swift’s Plantation (Sheet 92), Potter Plantation (Sheet 92) – Mrs. E.H. Tipton (Sheet 51), Pettibone’s (Sheet 52), Mrs. MJ’s Plantation (Sheet 64), J.D. Finch’s Brick Yard (Sheet 64), L.W. Pettibone (Sheet 66), R.A. Pettibone (Sheet 66). W.m. Pettibone (Sheet 68-69), Gee House (Sheet 69), Gd House (Sheet 71-72), W. Plattenburg (Sheet 74), Troup House (Sheet 75)

A John Ford is listed on Sheet 70 – Stoutenborough’s Plantation (Sheet 30-31), A.M. Coleman’s Plantation (Sheet 31-32), Est. J.J. Crocheron (Sheet 33), Thos. Lang Plantation (Sheet 34), Boykin (Sheet 36-39), Albritton Place (Sheet 41), King’s Bend (Sheet 48-49)  –  (partial, very damaged) A.L. Haden (Sheet 1), Haden (Sheet 2), N.H.R. Dawson (Sheet 2-3), Vasser’s Saffold Plantation (Sheet 8-9), Calaway’s Mill (Sheet 10), Mrs. E.H. Tipton (Sheet 11), Vasser’s Plantation O. Hill (Sheet 12), Saffold Plantation and James Saffold (Sheet 13), L.M.H. Walker (Sheet 13-14), Walker’s Bohanson Plantation (Sheet 14), J.S. Hunter Cedar Creek (Sheet 16). S. Catt’s Plantation (Sheet 17), S. & Dr. C.D. Park Plantation (Sheet 18), Vasser’s House (Sheet 19). J.C. Stoutenborough (Sheet 19), J.O. Stoutenborough (Sheet 19). J.C. Stoutenborough (Sheet 19), Mrs. C.A.B. Underwood (Sheet 20), Mrs. Underwood’s Plantation (Sheet 20), Quarle’s Plantation (Sheet 20-21), W.W. Hall (Sheet 21-22), Pleasant Hill (Sheet 22), Picken’s Cedar Creek Plantation (Sheet 23), Plantation (Sheet 25)

Stephanie McIlwain (Haden, Sheet 2)

Abandoned House On Homestead by Ken Kistler:


Ala & Tenn RR

Bd St Hotel

Central R.R.

Central W.H.

Echols & Shortridge

Finch’s Brick Yard

Florence Hotel

Freedman’s Hospital

Gas Works

Dr. Gee

Genl. John T. Morgan

Gen E.W. Pettus

Gool Stables

Mrs. A.B. Keenan

W.T. Keenan

Francis N. Lee (plantation?)



Wright & Co. B.Y.

There are many more names than included here, this is a great site to research your family 🙂

July 3, 2007 at 7:56 pm Leave a comment


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