Somerset Place is a representative state historic site offering a comprehensive and realistic view of 19th-century life on a large North Carolina plantation. The plantation was in use for 80 years (1785-1865). By the mid-19th century, the plantation counted over 50 buildings.
With the end of the plantation system, Somerset Place plantation passed into history. The owners eventually sold and left the property.
The present-day historic site includes 31 acres, seven original 19th-century buildings. With the goal of accurately representing the lives and lifestyles of the plantation's entire antebellum community, the Department of Cultural Resources has acquired the reconstructed Overseer's House and reconstructed representative one-room and four-room homes where enslaved families once lived, along with the plantation hospital.
Somerset Place stands today as a rather remarkable historic site. It offers an interpretive tour that meshes the lifestyles of all of the plantation's residents into one concise chronological social history of the plantation's 80-year lifespan.
Built in 1954 at the site of the original double pen, one can find the two-family overseer's house. The building's modern features reflect its use as a park ranger's residence until 1993. A minimum of two overseers and their families lived at Somerset Place during the antebellum period. One was called the "under overseer." The location and orientation of the building provides important clues to an understanding of the overseer's housing in relationship to the enslaved community.
During outbreaks of measles, malaria, dysentery, and other contagious illnesses, the hospital isolated the ill from healthy family members and friends. Physicians attending the plantation's white residents also provided health care for members of the slave community. Surgeries, tooth extractions, and assisting with difficult births were some of the services provided. Folk remedies and herbal treatments were also widely used within the slave community.
In 1843, this now reconstructed dwelling was one of three four-room homes for enslaved families at Somerset Place. Sucky Davis and 18 members of her family, from three generations, lived in three rooms. Five members of an unrelated family lived in the fourth room. Sucky was purchased in 1786 for £75. By 1865, her direct descendants numbered 123 people.
Completed in 1997, Lewis and Judy's Home (16' x 16') represents one of 23 one-room slave houses that were once arrayed along Lake Phelps. Occupancy ranged from three to 15 people. Judy, her husband Lewis, five teens, one adult child, a daughter-in-law, and a grandchild shared the original home in 1843.
Text Source: nchistoricsites.org
Photo: 1830s Somerset Place in Washington County, North Carolina, by Gregbarnes at en.wikipedia, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17984495