The researchers got a bit of unexpected help on Monday when 76-year-old Junior Meggett came by. He identified the cabin as one that his aunt and uncle used to live in when he was a child.
Meggett said he lived in another nearby cabin in the 1940s until he was grown. That cabin later was destroyed by fire. He described living in a two-room cabin with a wood stove and a small attic and opening wooden window shutters to catch the breeze.
“Boys and girls would sleep in the same room,” he said. “You were just glad to have a place to lie down.”
Workers from Museum Resources Construction and Millwork of Providence Forge, Va., carefully removed planks from the cabin roof, then measured them, numbered them and wrapped them with clear plastic tape for the journey north.
The cabin will be rebuilt at the company and then fumigated before being disassembled for a second time before it’s taken to the $500 Smithsonian museum and put on display, said Kerry Shackelford of the contracting company.
The cabin was donated to the Edisto Island Museum, which worked to stabilize the structure several years ago. The original plan was to move it to the museum several miles away, but there were budgetary problems, museum director Gretchen Smith said.
“We had given up on our chance of preserving it and then the Smithsonian came along and said they would love to have it,” she said. “We would be pleased to have it on our property where thousands could see it. But millions will see it in Washington and learn from it.”
Bunch, who spoke by telephone from Washington, said some people are still uncomfortable talking about slavery.
But at the time, he said, “slavery was the dominant institution in America — it colored religion, it colored politics and it colored expansion. It was an economic engine for both northern and southern prosperity. By not talking about it, we neglect a great understanding of who we are.”
PHOTO: This Monday, May 13, 2013 photo shows the inside of a slave cabin with its roof removed on Edisto Island, S.C. (AP)