DAACS is proud to launch data from a historical site in our own Charlottesville area, Bowles’ Lot, a part of the “Free State” community. Amy Bowles Farrow, Zacariah Bowles, Critta Hemings Bowles, and their descendants established one of the first free black communities, “Free State,” in Albemarle County. Bowles’ Lot lies within the 224-acre property that Amy Farrow, a free woman of color, purchased in 1788 from William Johnson. By 1835, Zacariah Bowles, Farrow’s son, owned approximately 90 acres after distribution and sale of the property over subsequent generations resulted in the reduction of Farrow’s original acreage. The site continued as an African-American community into the mid-20th century.
In the mid-1990s, archaeological and historical interest in Free State arose during subdivision development and ultimately extended across roughly two-thirds of the largely abandoned community. Rivanna Archaeological Services from 2005-2007 excavated the site of Bowles’ Lot, and all data collected from the Phase I, Phase II, and Phase III excavations are available through daacs.org. Overall, Phase III data along with the results of earlier phases of fieldwork carried out over the larger site and associated documentary research provide an important contribution to the understanding of a small, often overlooked segment of the 18th and early 19th century population of Virginia. Wholly surrounded by the locally prominent plantation of Dunlora, the boundaries of the Bowles’ Lot site define not only the physical space, but also the conceptual place occupied by free persons of color in the slave-owning and Jim Crow South. We are excited to share data from the families who called Bowles’ Lot home. Read more and visit the site here.