Dwelling for the Enslaved at Walnut Valley Plantation
This is a virtual tour of a restored 1816 frame dwelling for enslaved workers—one of the oldest extant slave quarters in Virginia. The wooden interior with a brick hearth measures 14 by 16 feet. This dwelling was part of the Walnut Valley Plantation established in 1636 by English colonist William Newsum Jr., near Highgate in Surry County. Walnut Valley is adjacent to another colonial-era plantation—Chippokes Plantation—and it has been incorporated into the Chippokes Plantation State Park, which is open to the public.
Fourteen enslaved people were recorded living at Walnut Valley Plantation according to the 1810 census. Plantation operations expanded over the years. Livestock included oxen, mules, cows, sheep, pigs, chickens, ducks, and turkeys; there were fields of cotton, corn, and peas, as well as peach and apple orchards. Enslaved workers tended to the livestock, cultivated the fields and orchards, harvested the fruit and pressed it to make cider or distilled it to make brandy. By 1830, there were 30 enslaved laborers on the plantation.