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Slave Dwelling Project Comes to Dorchester

October 13, 2017 - October 14, 2017


Presented by the Harriet Tubman Organization and the Nanticoke Historic Preservation Alliance, the Slave Dwelling Project comes to Dorchester County on October 13 and 14.

In celebration of Dorchester County’s rich African American heritage, the Slave Dwelling Project Comes to Dorchester will bring attention to little known county historic structures that once served as dwelling houses, churches or other cultural and utilitarian uses in the lives of African Americans.

This project will feature Joseph McGill of the Slave Dwelling Project and “Inalienable Rights,” a living history troupe representing enslaved African Americans of the 19th century. Combined participants will sleep overnight at the Bayly House Slave Cabin in Cambridge and then in the Handsell Slave Chamber in Vienna. With an impressive group of partners, the project will also provide an opportunity for the public to have discussions guided by members of Coming to the Table about the history and legacy of enslavement in the United States. The weekend includes multiple events at various sites around the county, discussions led by members of the National Coming to the Table organization, living history re-enactors, music and other historic demonstrations suitable for visitors of all ages.

The event will begin with a Friday Opening Reception on October 13 at the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center with an Introductory Presentation by Joseph McGill, followed by a “Candlelight Rembrance” at the Bayly Slave Cabin with live vocal performances based on Negro Spirituals by soloists Karen Somerville and Melissa Wise Slacum, poetry and a reading of the names of enslaved people of Dorchester.

On Saturday, October 14, a living history event at Handsell will feature two presentations and discussions led by members of ComingToTheTable.org. Other planned activities for Saturday at Handsell include presentations by “Inalienable Rights,” an African American living history troupe representing early African American crafts people, storytellers and food historians. The public will have the opportunity to see cooking demonstrations in the Handsell Kitchen over open fire, where both free and enslaved people of color once worked and lived.

During the day on Saturday, The Harriet Tubman Organization will escort a morning tour of Dorchester County African American historic sites that will begin and end at the HT UGRR Visitor Center and will include a stop at Handsell for the Coming to the Table talk. The bus tour will help promote Dorchester County Tourism and highlight important African American historic sites.

For more information, visit www.restorehandsell.org. The weekend’s events are all free and open to the public with the exception of the county tour.

Friday, October 13 • 7 p.m.

A Candlelight Remembrance and Recognition Program

Cambridge Courthouse Grounds and Bayly House

Saturday, October 14

Schedule of Events

9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Tour of Dorchester African American Historical Sites

Cost is $10 per person by calling 410-228-7953. Begins at Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center. Visits county historic sites, goes to Handsell for discussions and visits, then returns to the park for a tour.

Following events to be held at Handsell Historic Site, located at 4837 Indiantown Road in Vienna.

10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

  • Food and beverage available for purchase by Two Chicks Catering.
  • Cooking demonstrations in Handsell Kitchen by Jerome Bias of “Inalienable Rights”
  • Roberta Perkins as the Handsell “Laundress”
  • “Inalienable Rights” Troupe of seven living history storytellers of life as an enslaved person
  • “Ned Hector,” an African American Revolutionary War soldier and freeman
  • “FrancisWatkins Harper,” a 19th century author, poet and abolitionist, Handsell Parlor (11 a.m. – 3 p.m.)
  • Pocomoke Indian Nation at the Chicone Village with Philip Goldsborough
  • Lenni Lenape makes “Fry Bread” and other exhibits
  • Tours and history of Handsell House

Living “History Tent” Presentations

10 a.m. Storytelling of an Enslaved Woman and Joseph McGill of the Slave Dwelling Project

10:30 a.m. Negro Spirituals by Karen Somerville and the Sombarkin Trio

11:15-noon. “Coming to the Table” Morning Presentation and Discussions Under the “Heritage Tent”

Noon. Dr. Clara Small and Teresa Neild, “Enslaved People of Dorchester Serving in the Civil War”

12:30 p.m. Voices of Indiantown – Families who grew up near Handsell

1 p.m. Joseph McGill of the Slave Dwelling Project “Why We Sleep Tight” and Inalienable Rights Storytellers

2 – 2:45 p.m. Negro Spirituals by Karen Somerville and the Sombarkin Trio

3 p.m. “Coming to the Table” discussions


October 13, 2017
October 14, 2017


4835 Indiantown Road
Vienna, MD 21689 United States
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