A Latta Cotton
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Sunday, June 25, 2017
By Austin Rese
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Gnats were everywhere. The constant contortions to swat the mosquitoes appeared as if I had either lost my mind or was practicing a few contemporary dance moves. ---Soon, I was glistening from the summer’s relentless humidity.

 

All of “this” was the results of just a simple stroll about the grounds of the historic Latta Plantation located in Huntersville, North Carolina.  This is a living history exhibit and museum which share the life of antebellum North Carolina Piedmont. Nestled deep into a nature preserve of over 1340 acres, a feeling of seclusion prevails which easily transports the visitor to another era.

 

James Latta arrived in America in 1785. He left his Scots-Irish roots to pursue life as a businessman selling goods on the Great Wagon Road from Philadelphia-to-North Carolina. Soon, his efforts were met with much success and he was able to purchase over 740 acres of land near the Catawba River, surrounded on three sides by Mountain Island Lake. It is here, that he established a highly profitable cotton plantation which he owned for nearly 40 years. 

 

Incredibly, the circa 1800 manor house still stands. (It’s rather secluded location allowed it to escape the wrath of General Sherman.) Although no records exist of its architect, builder, or original plans, it favors the Federal style with hints of Georgian influence within its interiors. A tour of the house reveals several elements of fashion considered vogue in its time. This includes faux painting and rather bright/saturated colors. It has been meticulously researched, restored, and maintained.

 

Latta’s success was not achieved single handed. History indicates a staff of over 30 slaves supported this endeavor. This was evidence of his success.

 

The sounds of baying sheep, trumpeting turkeys, and snorting hogs fill the air. Each animal is a decedent of the original breed found on this farm. As a “living” museum, you are allowed to experience life as it really existed. -- Yes, sheep roam the yard “mowing” the grass. Yes, workers with their straw hats and overalls are tending the gardens. Yes, oxen and horses are corralled and at hand. Their aroma is easily noted.

 

 

An exploration of the grounds reveals a collection of period-appropriate buildings. This includes: a smoke house, carriage barn, kitchen, field office, well house, corn crib, feed barn, animal barn, slave cabin, and overseer cabin. Each is furnished with the proper items, providing a window into the life of this age.

 

Once I had returned to the car and was thoroughly enjoying the air conditioning, I realized the pesky insects were also a part of life in this era.....a rather perspicuous experience that I would have gladly skipped.

 

 

This was A Moment in America.

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2 Comments
Country Gal - My patience was wearing thin awaiting this months "Moments in America". Like a child in a candy store!! You and your strolls through America enhance my life. Thank you for taking the time to write them.
Austin Rese - Thank you! I am so happy you enjoy A Moment in America. I am honored to share my experiences with you. Please keep reading!


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