At Home in Poplar Grove

"Every Sunday my mother would make little church dolls out of hankies. If the sermon ran a little long we had something to play with. If it fell it didn't make any noise. She put a little piece of honey candy wrapped in the head so we're not going to swallow it. If this is in our mouth we aren't talking during services."

During the Civil War ladies made similar sweetheart dolls for their loved ones going off to war. This gave their soldiers something to remember them by and also served as fabric for a tourniquet or bandage if they were injured on the battlefield.

Nora had four children but they all died in childbirth, so the couple went in search of an heir to inherit the plantation. The younger brother Henry had—again—five boys and one girl, and his wife had passed away. From his home in the Winston-Salem area he sent down two sons, Henrietta's nephews Robert Lee Foy Senior and Frank Foy.

"Frank didn't stay a year but Robert really liked living here. He was 11 when he first came, so JT and Nora raised him as their own and he inherited the plantation in 1918."

Robert and his wife had six children, and four of them survived. Abbey and Theresa are now deceased, but Robert Junior and the baby Mary Frances still live next door to each other on the end part of the property fronting the Intracoastal Waterway. "Every now and then you find them walking around the plantation." The wedding dress and veil on display in the guest bedroom was worn first by Robert's wife and then by Mary Frances.

The upstairs back porch has a slightly frightening slope to it to maintain drainage. The back of the house faces the ocean somewhere back behind the forest and this is the side that would take the hit during storms and hurricanes.

"My father had four channels put into that tin roof, and each channel leads to columns in front and back. Inside each column is a gutter system, so the rain would drain down these columns into our sistern, and the water collected there we used for bathing as well as for washing our clothes."

In 1919 when Robert installed the windmill and the kitchen, he dismantled most of the original kitchen. What little was left he made into a potting shed, and then later for purposes of historical display it was refashioned to show a miniature version of what the kitchen would have looked like.

From that sloping back porch, especially when there are no leaves on the trees, you have a view of the grounds, the animals and the outbuildings. You'll see a weaving studio, a big barn with a basket weaving shop, a tenant house with a silver tin roof, and a more recently built agricultural center. Beyond that, tucked away out of sight, is a blacksmith's forge.

"After the Civil War, 63 of our 64 slaves stayed on our property and became tenant farmers. My brother provided them with land, seed, the house and the equipment to farm the land and they would split the profits once their crops came in. So these tenant houses were all over our 3,000 acres, and tenant farmers lived on our property until 1941. After they moved off the property they still continued to farm the land until the 1960s."

When she is not Henrietta Foy, our costumed docent goes by the name of Chrissy Fennel.

According to song and legend, the Foy family learned about growing peanuts from their slaves who had grown them back in Africa. And that's not all they picked up over the course of their long and rewarding association with their slaves.

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