Original Extant 19th Century Slave Cabin
Slave Cabin to Patuxent
Middle Passage Marker
Open Slave Cabin with Manor House in Background 2017
Slave Cabin in Spring (land side)
Backstory and Context
Hilary Cane (circa 1820) was the patriarch of the Cane family, son of Raphael. Hilary was not held in slavery by Dr. Briscoe, but by Chapman Billingsley, Briscoe's next-door neighbor and brother-in-law. Billingsley bought Hilary, a skilled plasterer, from the James J. Gough estate in 1848. Hilary's family members, his wife, and three of their surviving children, Ellen (Nellie), George, William Francis (Frank), were held in slavery at Sotterley by Dr. Briscoe. Mariah Cane, Hilary's wife, was purchased by Dr. Briscoe in 1849 in a private sale from the Gough estate after Mariah did not bring enough on the auction block in Leonardtown. She was a laundress and spinner. The Dr. paid $500 dollars for her. Briscoe paid for her children also. The infant son, Francis (Frank) Cane cost Briscoe $50. Mariah bore two more children at Sotterley, Henrietta (Henny), and Matilda. Mariah died and was buried at Sotterley within four years.
Hilary then married Alice Elsa Bond and they had ten children, Temperance, Alice, Sarah, unknown, Hilary, James Henry, Mary, John. Their sons Webster and Sam were born after emancipation. Alice Elsa was a laundress and spinner, and she was also held in slavery by Dr. Briscoe.
The Cane family thrived spiritually and culturally even in these impossible circumstances. In fear, in hardship, cruelty and want. On November 1, 1864, slavery was abolished in Maryland and the Cane family were freed. Opportunities for freed Blacks were almost non-existent. Freedom was not the end of hardship as emancipation did not erase the traumatic legacy of racial chattel slavery. However, the Cane family eventually earned enough working for wages that they were able to buy their own homes and farms away from Sotterley. Cane, Kane, Cain, descendants of this family can be found all over the country.
Alice Kane Callum was a descendant of the Cane family. In the early 1970s she had traced her heritage back to Sotterley and her ancestors held in bondage. She worked tirelessly to tell their story and keep the place that they lived and survived preserved so their stories can now be told to future generations.
Callum, Agnes Kane. Kane-Butler Genealogy: history of a Black family. Baltimore, Maryland. Agnes Kane Callum, 1979.