From a Jan 29, 2018 article
“Catherine has reserved 10 spots after Bible Study on Feb 28 for a special tour at Belle Grove Plantation just over the river in King George to understand the slave experience there as part of Black History month. Please let her know by Feb. 7 if you would like to take this special tour. We will start with lunch at 1pm in the Parish House and go to the tour at 2pm. There is no charge – donations are accepted.
“Here’s the background. After months of research and development, owners Brett and Michelle Darnell opened their Enslaved Experience and History Tour. Not only does the tour discuss the enslaved experience, but it also discusses how the enslaved community changed the way Americans ate with a discussion on foods and cooking techniques brought from Africa during the slave trade years. The tour runs two hours.
“Records were sparse at Belle Grove. However, the Darnells found another source. During the 1930s, slave narratives were collected as part of the Federal Writers’ Project of the Works Progress Administration. At the conclusion of the slave narrative project, a set of edited transcripts was assembled as “Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves.” Using three stories, she created a tour that covers experiences and history from the perspective of a former slave.
“When the Darnells bought the home, she went to the Library of Virginia to pull death records for King George. She writes “But the hardest thing to see was the entries of slaves with just a first name. Then the cause of death to be listed as “unknown”. In some cases, the date of the death wasn’t known either. Then the ones who they didn’t know the parents or in case just to know the mother’s first name.”
“I think this is why this part of history has become so important to me. These people were born here, lived here and died here. Nothing was recorded for most of them. There is no grave marker that say “I was here.” No newspaper announcement. No fanfare. And the only way I know about them is the meager information that was listed.”