This view of the Mud River, near the edge of Sapelo Sound, was made from inside the historic tabby barn at Chocolate.
Tag Archives: Mud River
Chocolate is a collection of tabby ruins, begun circa 1810, constructed by enslaved people on Sapelo Island. Most of the structures are in a state of very bad disrepair; the 1831 barn on the Mud River, restored in the 1920s, is falling to ruin, as well. The best description I’ve been able to find about the area is from archaeologists Ray Crook’s essay “The Living Space of Enslaved Geechee on Sapelo Island”, published in the March 2008 newsletter of the African Diaspora Archaeology Network: During the late 1790s, the Chocolate tract was farmed by Lewis Harrington with the labor of 68 slaves. In 1802 that property became jointly owned by Edward Swarbreck and Thomas Spalding, who leased out at least a portion of the tract until 1808. Swarbreck, a Danish sea merchant with Caribbean connections who traded in cotton and other commodities, including slaves, then directed his attention to Chocolate. His plantation layout followed a familiar and very formal design…. The Big House, built of tabby, overlooked the Mud River and expansive salt marshes. His residence was flanked by outbuildings and other support structures. Two parallel rows of slave quarters, spaced some 10m apart and separated by a broad open area 50m across, were constructed behind the Big House. Vast agricultural fields extended to the north and south. Evidence of at least nine slave quarters, typically tabby duplexes with central chimneys and finished tabby floors, each side measuring about 4.3m by 6.1m, survives today as ruins and archaeological features at Chocolate. These represent an enslaved population of some 70 to 100 people distributed among at least 18 households…
Main House or Overseer’s House Ruins
The tabby barn was restored in the 1920s by automobile magnate Howard Coffin.
Tabby Barn (East Facade)