I just happened across this brief 26 July 2022 news report. It’s not from Wilson County, but it’s close — and worthy of emulation.
Built on the banks of the Tar River in 1830, Stonewall Manor is an antebellum plantation house in the heart of Rocky Mount. In 2022, honors history students at Nash Central High School set out to document the people enslaved at Stonewall.
Here’s the 26 July 2022 report by ABC11 reporter Lucy Collins, “Nash Central High school students honor people who were enslaved at Stonewall Manor”:
“Nash Central High School AP US History Students honor and remember enslaved peoples at Stonewall Manor through a research project.
“Lead by their teacher, Renny Taylor, students went through public records and other archives to find the names of the slaves who worked on the property.
“‘We went through auction records, land deeds, wills last seen ads of slaves and just everything that we could to make sure that we didn’t forget anybody because our main goal here was just to honor and remember the forgotten,’ said Camryn Eley, one of the students who researched for the project.
“Students worked after school and weekends to work on this project, even acting as docents on the property.
“‘They did a great job. I think one of the things they found out is that when you’re doing this research, which I like to call the Easter egg hunt, you’re not always successful. We had people that went different places and didn’t find anything and then you would stumble across something and find one or two names… Just them having the perseverance to continue to find it and look for it,’ said Taylor, recalling his students’ research efforts.
“The next round of AP US History students at Nash Central High School will continue to add on to the project and the students who started the work are excited to see how they will build upon their research.
“‘I’m ready to see the final outcome and it continuing to be built on. I always think that one door opens and then everybody else can open other doors so I feel like it’s going to be a really good outcome. Especially from what we did in just a year and a half,’ said Makayla Pugh, another of Taylor’s students who worked on the project.
“The students’ work will be available for public viewing in September.”
At the completion of their project, Coach Taylor’s classes created a large display board naming those known to have been enslaved at Stonewall Manor, which has been installed onsite. Thank you, Coach Taylor and students, for calling the names of Stonewall Manor’s enslaved.
No grand brick plantation houses survive in Wilson County (if any were ever built), but antebellum houses whose owners built their wealth on the backs of African-Americans dot the countryside. Certainly enough to keep every AP History class in the county busy for a couple of years with projects like that undertaken at Nash Central.
[P.S. On a personal note, at the liquidation of Bennett Bunn’s estate in 1849, Kinchen Taylor purchased Green. My great-great-grandfather Green Taylor is listed in the 1856 inventory of the enslaved people held by Kinchen Taylor of far northern Nash County. Was he once held at Stonewall Manor?]
Photo courtesy of Stonewall Manor’s Facebook page.