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Historical Research

The Ames REC Cultural Resource Program is all about “the story”! Written upon the expansive landscape of the Ames property is a great story, penned over the course of history by generations of both white settlers and the enslaved. This story is written through the life and death struggles of explorers who first blazed the trails, through the hardships faced by settlers as they tamed the wilderness and developed the plantations and through the oppression and cruelty endured by the enslaved without whom the region’s history would be a different story altogether.

When coupled with our extensive collection of archival information found in land deeds, wills, court documents, journals, letters, and many other sources, this story written on the landscape helps to provide a complete accounting of our past.  Who were these settlers and the enslaved?  Where did they come from and when did they arrive?  What are the details of their lives?  Where on the landscape were their homes, schools, churches and cemeteries?   It is our objective to answer these questions about the 19th century Ames landscape, providing a complete history of the land and its people.  It is our obligation as stewards of this land to research and preserve its past.  As we learn about and preserve OUR history we are in effect doing the same for YOURS.  For you see, the 19th century history of the Ames property represents the cultural heritage of all who share ancestral ties to this land, and those who share our interest in the region’s past.

This story manifests itself today not as words on a page, but as the old log cabin standing against time and the abandoned cemetery where long forgotten landowners and the enslaved buried their dead. It is this story of our past, written on the landscape by those who came before, that we are in danger of losing.  This important tale is rapidly fading due to the pressures of time and in the name of progress.  The fast pace of development in our area is literally erasing from the landscape the remains of our past and likewise the STORY.

Old chimney on historical site
A chimney is all that remains at a long abandoned home place, one of over 250 historic sites found on the Ames land base including the sites of 19th century houses, stores, churches, schools, slave quarters, cotton gins and more.