At Home in Poplar Grove
Henrietta's father passed away on April 1, 1861, and she was passed over in the will due to her gender. The plantation went to her brother David, who signed up for the Confederate army against his father's dying wishes. "He went off to boot camp, contracted typhoid fever, came back here and died three days later in our back parlor."
Next in line was her brother Joseph Thompson Foy, who was 14 years old when he inherited the plantation, and now in charge of 64 slaves.
"We have a very good relationship with our slaves. We run the plantation on what is called the task method. There's the gang method where you get up at the break of dawn, you work all day and when the sun goes down you're done. The task method means each slave is assigned a task, and once they complete that task they have the rest of the day to themselves to do whatever they want to do. Most slaves finished by one o'clock in the afternoon."
Every other Saturday the family brought some of these slaves to the market so they could sell their own crafts and produce. "We were very thankful that they made their own money, because in 1851 after we built the house there was a crash on the bank and we lost all of our money. We couldn't afford to pay our property taxes. Our slaves actually lent us the money that year to pay our taxes, and once our crops came in we were able to pay them back."
Joseph Thompson Foy, otherwise known as JT, married Nora Eleanor Dosher. A picture of her on the wall of the front office bears a striking resemblance to Mrs. Doubtfire. JT was a successful businessman, a state senator in 1901, and helped to bring the railroad to Scotts Hill. The tracks were installed right across the street, once again streamlining the transportation issue. "Now it only takes him 45 minutes to move his peanuts to Wilmington."
Nora Foy set up a post office in the front office, and took her mail bag across the street to pick up the mail. "Once she is done sorting it she hangs her flag in the window to let everyone know that their mail is here. Neighbors walk up on the front porch and she hands them their mail through the window."
The government feared for Nora's safety, and issued her a weapon to protect herself. "People were sending money through the mail and they thought she might be robbed." The weapon they gave her was a single-shot smooth-barrel 22 Derringer, not much larger than a credit card.
"You get one shot, you better make it count. It's a smooth barrel so you don't have accuracy or distance on your side. You have to be about four feet away. Nora never liked this gun and she never even loaded it. She said it's ridiculous. She said I'll hit them over the head with my front door key, which is a lot heavier."
On Nora's desk the family Bible has a temperance pledge page. "A temperance pledge is made to abstain from intoxicating beverages and once you make that pledge you sign that Bible page to let everyone know you're serious. If you look a little closer, you'll notice we never got around to signing that pledge."
Also on display is a traveling salesman case, apparently selling picture frames and/or photography. Traveling salesmen carried drumsticks with them and drummed on their cases to attract attention, almost like an ice cream truck. That's the source of the phrase "drumming up business."
After the war the family opened a general store across the street to service many farmers who only got paid when their crops came in. The accountant's safe in the office was a way to keep tabs on who owed and who paid, and it was fireproof. It was also bolted to the store counter.
Terms: Poplar Grove Plantation Page 3
Poplar Grove Plantation Page 3