food at a colonial plantation

Much of the food eaten both by planters and slaves was grown, gathered, or hunted on or near the plantation. Faunal remains (primarily animal and fish bones) from the Dog River site were analyzed by Janet Clute, assisted by Walter Morris. They identified vertebrate remains, including mammal, fish, bird, and reptile, that represent both domestic and wild food sources. Cow and white-tailed deer remains are most common, followed by pig bones. A few specimens of other domestic animals, probably not consumed as food, include horse, dog, and cat. This is the first faunal assemblage collected from a colonial-period plantation site in the Mobile Bay area, and will serve as a comparative collection for future colonial plantation studies.

This nearly complete skull of a four-to-five-year-old cow was found in a large, rich refuse pit from the Rochon family's occupation of the plantation. Numerous other cow bones and pieces of horn sheath were found around the small tanning yard used in the 1840s. Cattle were common on Gulf coast plantations. They were consumed as food, and their hides were processed into leather.

Wild animals hunted and eaten by the Dog River residents include raccoon and opossum. A bear tooth and one bone fragment from a gray fox were also identified. Freshwater drum, sheepshead, mullet, red fish, longnosed gar, catfish, and sting ray and reptilian remains such as turtle represent food sources and naturally-occurring fauna. Domestic and wild birds were probably a large part of the diet, and included chicken, duck, hawk, and possibly gull.

Plant remains were analyzed by Kristen Gremillion of Ohio State University. She identified the remains of maize, cowpea, squash/gourd, and peach, all cultivated at the Dog River plantation. Wild foods consumed by plantation residents include hickory nuts, walnuts, elderberries, blackberries, strawberries, and grapes.


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Last Updated:
Wednesday, August 14, 2013 2:57 PM