239 Records Total

This past weekend I was at Colonial Williamsburg for a conference that highlighted five different woodworkers, two of them enslaved: John Hemings, head joiner at Monticello and Poplar Forest, enslaved by Thomas Jefferson, and Cesar Chelor, the first recognized Black plane maker, enslaved by Francis Nicholson.  During the course of the weekend, I had the opportunity to talk to many who worked at Colonial Williamsburg, and I was impressed with their honesty on the question of enslavement in America.  I fully anticipated hearing excuses or glossing over, possibly listening to a brief mention of the enslaved people in Williamsburg.  To my surprise, it was not a side piece of the conference, but a major portion, taking up at minimum 40% of the total conversation. Continue reading “239 Records Total”

It Takes A Village

Today was the first day of the 21st Annual Working Wood in the 18th Century conference in Colonial Williamsburg.  This year, the focus is on five different woodworkers who all had different stories and places from which they came.  In remembrance of 2019 being the 400th anniversary of the first documented enslaved Africans being brought to the North American British colonies, two of these five makers are enslaved woodworkers: John Hemings, a master joiner and carpenter who was owned by Thomas Jefferson, and Cesar Chelor, a unspeakably gifted hand plane maker who was owned by Francis Nicholson.   Continue reading “It Takes A Village”