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‘Labors’ at Rose Hill Plantation State Historic Site

Elizabeth Moses For The Union Daily Times

September 3, 2013

UNION — Join us Saturday, Sept. 7, for a free program. Through interactive exhibits, “Labors” will focus on the daily work of the enslaved African-Americans at Rose Hill, a large Upstate plantation in the 1800s. Come with us into the past us as we explore the world of Vardy Gist and Allen Gist, men who lived at Rose Hill both as enslaved laborers and later as tenant farmers.


Born into slavery, Vardy was a blacksmith at Rose Hill. Following emancipation, Vardy and his wife Ritta and their children lived for many years as tenant farmers on the Gist plantation. Allen Gist, born in 1834, was an enslaved carpenter at Rose Hill. After the Civil War, Gov. Gist appointed Allen as a foreman for a group of tenant farmers. Allen and his family lived at Rose Hill until 1900.


We will examine what daily life might have been like through duties that enslaved people would have carried out including: candle making, brick making, gardening and food preparation.


The program is ongoing from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. with activities at various locations on the park. A special performance by Kitty Wilson-Evans, a well-known interpreter of slave life, will take place at 11 a.m. In addition, Tyrie Rowell will present “Cato,” an enslaved brick maker, throughout the morning.


No registration is required. The park also offers gardens and a nature trail. A picnic shelter with several tables is available for those who would like to bring their lunch.


Extra option: Special tours (fee required) of the Gist mansion begin on the hour at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., 2 p.m., and 3 p.m. Tours will emphasize the duties of enslaved African-Americans at Rose Hill.


For further information, contact Rose Hill Plantation State Historic Site, 2677 Sardis Road, Union, S.C., at 864-427-5966 or rosehill@scprt.com. Visit us at www.southcarolinaparks.com/rosehill.


Rose Hill Plantation State Historic Site is the antebellum home of South Carolina’s “secession governor,” William H. Gist. Visitors to the 44-acre park can learn about the lifestyle of a wealthy Upstate plantation family, Gist’s contributions to politics, and the importance of cotton in the South. Visitors also get an inside look at the role of enslaved African-Americans and tenant farmers in South Carolina’s history.


Normal hours of operation: Park grounds are open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. year round. The mansion home is only accessible by guided tour. Tours are held March-October, daily at 1 p.m., 2 p.m., and 3 p.m. Winter tours, from November — February are scheduled Thursday-Monday at 1 p.m, 2 p.m., and 3 p.m. The grounds at Rose Hill Plantation may be rented for weddings and other events. The park is located eight miles south of Union, S.C.


The South Carolina State Park Service is a program of the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism, a state agency that serves as the leading marketing organization for South Carolina tourism. SCPRT also operates 47 state parks and administers federal and state grants for recreational development.