"Not Even Past: Six Acres and a Mule or Searching for Vicey Skipwith"

Tales from the Vault

Vol. 12, No. 3, April 2012

Enslaved stonemasons brought stone from Prestwould's quarry to construct the chimney of the log cabin. Photograph courtesy of Alexandria J. Reyes.

Angelita Reyes

"Not Even Past: Six Acres and a Mule or Searching for Vicey Skipwith"

It was the first of June in that year of 1888, early dawn and still cool here in Mecklenburg County, Virginia. Vicey Skipwith and her little group of family started out from near the crossroads of Cabin Point for the town of Boydton, our County Seat. That was where those documents of important public and sometimes scandalous private goings-on that involved the law were kept, in the Courthouse. She certainly didn't want to go to Boydton alone. She had to miss a day's work—it wasn't good to miss work at Prestwould on Friday— but she wanted to make sure the claim was filed correctly and in her name.

Yes ma'am, that was a most important day. She hitched up the mule (Vicey was a farmer), and along with Brother Parker (who was what they call our fictive kin), her sister and three of her blood brothers, she left the plantation. By the way, Richard, Solomon, and Esau had to find three other farm hands that were willing to fill in for them at the plantation or they wouldn't be paid for the entire week. In some ways, our people were still working like before emancipation. Anyhow, they were all dressed up like they were going to church.

Vicey Skipwith was about thirty-four years old and she was like any other first time home owner in today's world, thinking about her success in buying land and a little house—and feeling good. Riding behind her in the wagon, Celia, Richard, Solomon, and Esau were as noisy as ever. Brother Parker Sydnor, he was an able-bodied and handsome mulatto with his long, naturally curly hair tied back into a pony tail, he sat beside her and took it all in stride—like he owned a town. I can see him now sitting straight, reining the old mule along the eleven miles on the Old Plank Road to Boydton. Also born at slavery time, Parker Sydnor was two years older than Vicey and he was in charge because he was the man driving the mule.

Read more