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Chapter 2 - Kingsley Plantation

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Chapter 2 - "Kingsley Plantation" The van turned north on a meandering road that ran along the north bank of the river. They still could see the cruise ship off in the distance, but soon it was out of sight. Their attention shifted to new sights along the two-lane road. They passed several fish camps selling bait, fresh shrimp, and soft drinks. Many of the homes along the river had piers that extended out into the water, and some had colorful mailboxes decorated as fish, or manatees, or pelicans. They crossed several bridges, and saw people fishing -- some from the bridges, some from the shore, and some from boats. "I love this drive," their mother said. "There's so much natural beauty here." Long stretches of road were lined with sabal palms, pine trees, and palmetto bushes. White egrets were looking for their next meal in the tall grasses of the marshes that flanked the roadway. Patches of wildflowers peeked out from the underbrush, adding splashes of color to the scenery. As they approached the Mayport Ferry landing, their mother announced they would stop at Kingsley Plantation so she could get some information for a story she was writing. Jennifer Johnson was a writer who wrote articles for magazines and newspapers. As a single mother, she often brought one or all of her kids with her when she was researching a story and always tried to make it a learning experience for them. Once she was doing a story in St. Augustine, she helped Joey find a topic for a history project. "I need to talk to one of the park rangers before it closes at 5:00," she said. "I've got to get some details on the plantation house which they say is the oldest one still standing in the state of Florida. You kids will see some real Florida history today." She turned into the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve and followed the signs that led to Kingsley Plantation. They bumped along the narrow dusty road that snaked its way through a heavily wooded area of pines, palms, and massive oak trees dripping with Spanish moss. Occasionally they saw a creek or stream that led to the marshes, but mostly there were thick trees and vines and bushes. In some places, the limbs from the huge oak trees reached completely across the road, so that their van seemed to be going through a tunnel. Katy began counting the number of butterflies she saw, and Joey pointed out an armadillo that scooted across the road. "This looks like a rainforest," Bobby said, and gave his version of a Tarzan yell while pounding his chest with his fists. Jennifer looked at him in the rearview mirror and gave him the "that's enough" look. "From what I've read, many of these trees were not here when the island was a plantation. They cleared much of the land so they could cultivate the crops," she said. "What's a plantation?" Katy asked. "I know what that is," Bobby said. "We just studied about them in school. It's like a big farm." "That's right, Bobby," his mother said. "So what did they grow here?" Joey asked. "Indigo, sugar cane, corn, and a special cotton called Sea Island cotton. The cotton was a valuable cash crop because of its strong fibers, but it took slaves many hours to pick it and remove the seeds before it was sent to market. When slavery was abolished, it was no longer practical to grow it. It became too expensive to harvest it." "They had slaves here?" Bobby asked, his eyes widening. "Yes, in fact, just ahead are the remains of some slave cabins that were built in the 1800s," she said. "We can stop and look at them on the way out, if you want." The van grew quiet as they drove past the ruins.

Video Details

Duration: 12 minutes and 20 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Views: 96
Posted by: daltonj on Oct 23, 2009

This is an excerpt from Jane R. Wood's novel, "Adventures on Amelia Island: A Pirate, A Princess, and Buried Treasure". I provided an ASL translation of the chapter originally printed in English

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