The African American Heritage Site preserves one of North Georgia's few surviving slave dwellings and interprets the lives of black people in bondage in Appalachia before the Civil War. Framed by 19th century landscaping and displaying antebellum artifacts, the Nacoochee slave cabin provides a focal point for the story of a people whose lives and labor were exploited by power and privilege during a dark period in this nation's history.
In 1860, nearly 4 million African American's were enslaved in the United States. In Georgia alone, over 460,000 blacks and mulattoes were held in bondage. On the eve of the American Civil War, the population of White County was 3,315; of those, 11 were free black residents and 263 were slaves claimed as property by 47 prominent white citizens. In Nacoochee Valley, there were 124 slaves, half of them owned by E.P. Williams and his brother Charles.
Nacoochee Valley was not part of the South's "Cotton Kingdom", characterized by vast plantations worked by thousands of slaves. In 1822, they came with early white settlers arriving from the Carolinas. Slaves in northeast Georgia cleared and cultivated the land, labored in mines and mills, served as domestics and skilled craftsmen, and toiled in foundries and fields.
The unique heritage of this rural region includes the African American
experience and must acknowledge the lingering legacy of slavery.
According to one descendant of local slaves, "If the history of slavery, Jim Crow, and Civil rights is not preserved and woven into the narrative of northeast Georgia, future generations may not appreciate our achievements, against all odds, and in spite of hardships endured by our ancestors."