No matter how dark or bright some moments are, history teaches all of us important lessons. Take, for example, Alvin Turner and Evelyn Hawkins. They are descendants of Nat Turner and have inherited two farms in the family.
Nat Turner was an American slave and fiery preacher who led what some history experts believe is the only effective, sustained slave rebellion in U.S. history. The date was August of 1831. Turner was accused of enlisting other slaves and leading a rebellion to murder 55 white people. After the incident, he allegedly hid in a cave on the property. He was discovered there six weeks later, brought to trial for murder and found guilty. Turner was later executed in Jerusalem, Virginia.
Evelyn Hawkins has strong memories of that cave because her grandfather Sidney Turner often took her and his other 12 grandchildren across the farm to the famous site. She says it wasn’t as much a cave as it was a hole that Nat Turner appeared to have dug with his sword.
Hawkins, who is now 72, and her relatives, are hoping that the Southhampton County Historical Society will give the thumbs up to the iconic landmark and allow the location of the cave to become part of a proposed driving tour.
The relatives of Sidney Turner believe that society as a whole could benefit by keeping this key part of history alive for future generations. They want to do their grandfather proud.
Rick Francis, Southampton County Circuit Court Clerk, is a member of the Southampton County Historical Society. He wants the cave to be a part of the driving tour. Francis explains that he’ll ensure the proposal happens and believes that every American historical moment is an essential thread in the nation’s fabric.
So far, Hawkins says she is not sure if the land would be leased or not.
Francis would like to see a sign erected at the site of the cave that told the story of Nat Turner and include photographs of what the location appeared like during Nat Turner’s hideout there.
Hawkins says that a number of people know the story of Nat Turner’s rebellion and would often call her grandparents from afar to ask about the cave and be allowed to see the site.
The granddaughter explained that when folks come to Southampton County, they want to learn more about Nat Turner. This would be a fine opportunity to make the location part of the tour.
The famous piece of land features two farms and is owned by the grandchildren together. It is called The SID-COR Turner Farms.
Sidney Turner’s descendants all approve of the proposal to add Nat Turner’s cave to the driving tour. They include Hawkins, Alvin L. Turner, Vivian Lucas, Brindle S. Hardy, Lemonte Hardy, Eloise T. Pearson, John Young, Jason Turner, Joyce T. Lewis, Yvonne T. Rieves, Sandra Sykes, Ann T. Mason and A. Sidney Turner.
Evelyn Hawkins and her cousins are all tightly-knit, and she was raised by her grandparents Sidney and Corene Turner until she was 12. The farm is their lifeblood; it is what their family knows.
Meanwhile, the site of the cave has been well-cared for over the decades, and Alvin Turner, 75, says it’s precious historical land that he doesn’t want to get lost or fade away from people’s memories.
Hawkins says there is a clearly defined trail on the property that leads from Cabin Pond Road to the cave nearby. She and other relatives believe that might have been the path that was traveled on by the man who found Nat Turner in October of 1831.
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