Bulow Plantation is now not only an historic monument but also a recreation area. Steeped in Florida history, the plantation ruins speak of an unsavory past. Long gone are the sugar plantations that once resided on the 150 acres plantation. Echos of the cries of slaves are still heard through the whistling wind in the trees. What is the real history of slavery at Bulow Plantation?
Bulow Plantation was once the largest sugar cane plantation in all of Florida. It was founded in 1821 by Charles Bulow. His son John Bulow inherited the plantation in 1823. Like most plantations in the south, slavery is part of that history. Bulow bought the 150 acres property for $9990.00 and began development right away. He brought 300 African origin slaves to the plantation. Soon, his plantation was producing sugar cane and his slave labor were forced to produce it.
The cruelty of Bulow is well-known. Bulow is attributed with killing three slaves and abusing the majority of them.
University of Florida students, led by Professor Davidson, initiated an archeological dig at Bulow Plantation. They excavated old slave cabins to get insight into the life of a slave on Bulow plantation. There were 46 slave cabins in total, 12 by 16 feet each. No one can imagine the misery of slaves in these extremely tiny cabins with the squelching heat of Florida. A slave’s life was misery from the time they were brought onto a plantation until the time they died on the plantation. Slaves were often given parts to eat that the slave owner family would not. From entrails to greens, we still see remnants of slavery past in modern soul food. The dig was focused on the eastern portion of the property where the slave cabins were. Davidson’s team were hoping to find more artifacts than they did, but some of the ones they found astounded them. Many slaves site finds usually include buttons, spindles, plates and other things needed for daily life on the plantation. What was surprising to the team was the expensive China found at the slave cabin house. The archeologists believe that Bulow gave the China to the slaves. This was not a common practice among slave owners.
Bulow abandoned the plantation in December 1835 and the Seminoles burned it a month later.