*On Saturday, February 10, 2018 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Historic Smithfield (Blacksburg, Virginia, 24061) will launch a tour of its grounds entitled “Heritage & Origins: Exploring the Roots & Culture of the Enslaved at Smithfield” to honor Black History Month.
In an effort to honor the individuality and culture of those enslaved st Smithfield, the tour will show the grounds of the plantation that include the Smithfield house and the quarters where the enslaved worked and lived.
West African art and artifacts from the region where the enslaved at Smithfield originated, a presentation of the Yoruba religion of the African region of the enslaved, as well as a presentation about the ship that brought the enslaved from West Africa to the Smithfield plantation called the True Blue.
Dr. Kerri Moseley-Hobbs, a member of the Smithfield-Preston Foundation Board of Trustees and a descendant of a former enslaved at the plantation, will co-host the tour with Museum Director April Danner. The Smithfield plantation was founded William Preston in 1774. The Prestons were the wealthiest family in Virginia at the time and the last heir to the Smithfield house was William Ballard Preston, who served as a Virginia State Senator and as U.S. Secretary of the Navy. There are three plantations of the Preston’s that still exist – Smithfield, Solitude (property of William Ballard’s younger brother Col. Robert Taylor Preston) and Whitethorn (property of brother James Francis Preston, Commander of the 4th Virginia Infantry), which is not open to the public.
The Smithfield plantation’s main house where William Preston lived with his wife Suzanne Smith is still there as the museum – which is adjacent to the Virginia Tech campus along with Solitude. The grounds of Solitude were donated to what is now known as Virginia Tech University by the last Preston owner Robert. Just recently a foundation was established by Virginia Tech to oversee the operations of the plantation situated on the grounds of the campus.
Thanks to that donation by the Prestons over 33,000 students attend college each year. Virginia Tech is an institution that has a motto of “That I May Serve.”
To learn more about the “Heritage & Original: Exploring the Roots & Culture of the Enslaved at Smithfield” tour visit www.SmithfieldPlantation.org.
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