So, after Great Hopes Plantation, it was definitely time for lunch, so I popped into Shield’s Tavern.
Crayfish and shrimp stew and beef pasties (think colonial empanadas) absolutely hit the spot. Honestly, I was kicking myself that I didn’t have 4 nights there so I could have dinner at Shields as well. The dinner menu makes me drool just reading it.
Then it was back over to the DeWitt Museum for “What is Family” – a presentation by…ack, I cannot remember her name – about Ann Ashby, a woman who had been a slave. Her husband, Matthew Ashby, had bought her and her three children and then petitioned to have them freed, all while managing to keep them from being sold to pay his debts. There are several stories about Matthew, but not as many about Ann, and that was what they wanted to focus on. It was very moving and interesting, and it was nice to hear about her story and what happened after he died, how she worked to support her family, and her second husband (who was kind of a twit) and more than just “Ann was the woman that Matthew freed.”
Then it was on to Raleigh Tavern for “Revolutionary Holiday – Behind the Ballroom Doors.” That was a fun one. It was much less about slaves in domestic service (though some of the interpreters were slaves) and much more, “sitting around with the service crew and listening to them talk about their bosses” – a bit reminiscent of sitting around with some servers at a particular sports bar I frequent. That was the first half – the second half was a presentation by a free black woman (and damned if I can remember her name) talking about a lot of the hypocrisy that was going on – people at the Victory Ball who had bought their titles and not fought, people who had fought and weren’t invited because they weren’t white, and some rather funny things about marriage that stand today. This woman had several acres of land, and was widowed and refused to marry again without a pre-nup, and that always seemed to be the sticking point… So she quite happily stayed single.
I finally had some time to just wander around and enjoy the decorations and such – managed to get this shot of the sunset from Merchant’s Square:
Then it was on to the Market Square Illumination. The fife and drum corps marches and they light torches in front of all the buildings around Market Square.
It is just beautiful and the music sends a chill up your spine. I managed to get a video of the corps marching from one building to the next – the video isn’t great, but the music is lovely.
Had just enough time to get back to the hotel, do a quick change and back to Chowning’s Tavern for dinner – but you’ve already heard all about that.
After dinner, it was time for the Ghost Walk. And rain. Fortunately, most of the Ghost Walk was set inside different buildings listening to ghost stories. I thought it would be more “when we were doing restorations, things kept moving around until we found documents telling us ‘this particular rocking chair was next to the fireplace, not across from it'”, but it was still fun.
Unfortunately, just as it let out, the skies really opened up. And while my windbreaker did its job as well as it could, by the time I got back to the hotel, I was a rather cold and soaked mess. Fortunately, the Woodlands has a nice little coin-op laundry room and a big fireplace in the lobby. Changed into my super warm sweatpants and fluffy socks, dumped the wet stuff in the dryers, and spent a nice time in the lobby reading and getting warm again. To the two nicely dressed couples also in the lobby – sorry about the sweatpants, but I don’t know of a better way to get warm that doesn’t involve alcohol.