WEST COLUMBIA — During its time as a prosperous agricultural operation in the 1800s, the Varner-Hogg Plantation had more than 200 slaves who worked the land and sugar mill.
Today’s operators of the site will ensure the names of those who worked in bondage are not lost to history.
A Day of Remembrance ceremony that will include reading the names of all the enslaved people will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, at the Varner-Hogg Plantation, 1702 N. 13th St. in West Columbia. The purpose of the ceremony is to honor the sacrifice of the men, women and children who helped develop Brazoria County.
“We will be gathering in the ‘picnic loop’, around the east side of the creek for the ceremony,” said Mark Osborne, historical educator. “We are very fortunate because the records that had to be kept with the Patton family gave us the names of almost 200 enslaved people on the plantation.”
The event and admission into the plantation are free, and all members of the community are invited.
“This is a day where the community is going to gather,” Osborne said. “We have at least four area churches’ congregations attending, and we’ll be speaking the names of those former enslaved people,” Osborne said. “It’s a day to remember what they went through, their strength that they had to have and ultimately their survival.”
Osborne proposed the name ceremony after being inspired by a visitor to the grounds.
“The idea came about one day after having a couple come in and the wife asked if we knew (the slaves) names and she said they were going to say their names out loud,” he said. “I thought that was the most powerful thing anyone would want to do.”
Although the plantation has had other similar events, this is the first name ceremony.
“This is the first time we’ve done this where the names are going to be spoken out loud to remember them by name,” Osborne said. “It is powerful to have a name spoken. Because we have those names, we need to remember them as much as possible.”
During the 1800s, slaves were often stripped of their original identities and separated from their families.
“At the time, enslaved people’s names and families weren’t important, so being able to have their names is very special,” Osborne said.
There will be a potluck lunch after the ceremony and a gospel choir from Greater Mount Zion Church will perform.
Attendees are asked to park at the First Capitol Park down the street and the plantation trolley will ferry people to the historic site. Spaces near the entrance is reserved for handicapped parking and buses.
For information, contact the plantation at 979-345-4656 or firstname.lastname@example.org.