Set in the curve of rural Highway 84, Frogmore Plantation and its environs show an agrarian way of life.
Much like many towns would have been in the last century, Frogmore Cotton Plantation & Gins sits apart, deep in the country, and its nearest neighboring town remains 10 minutes away. (Visitors should note that the closest gas and food can be found in Ferriday, and the closest lodging is in Vidalia, on the Mississippi River.)
Open to visitors from mid-March to mid-November, the 1,800-acre Frogmore Cotton Plantation & Gins brings visitors back to an era when cotton was king and plantations were small communities. Using the extensive Frogmore archives—consisting of handwritten journals, plantation logbooks and slave narratives —costumed tour guides educate about cotton’s harvest, slave culture and the plantation system of America.
The plantation was founded in 1818, and the site consists of 18 restored antebellum structures that date back to the early 1800’s in addition to the main plantation house, which overlooks the grounds like an elusive grand dame. However, the main house is the living quarters for the present owners and is not part of the regular tour. In addition to the cotton mill itself, visitors can also explore the old General Store (which is still in business) and the outer buildings of the plantation such as the slave cabins, the dogtrot overseer’s cottage (a home with rooms on either side of an open breezeway), the barn and a chapel.
The tour brings visitors from pre-Civil War times to the era of “sharecropping,” an agricultural system where landowners allowed farmers to work the land, in exchange for a share of the crops. Work habits and slave customs are a main focus. Historic log books from the plantation document everything from the business of running a cotton plantation to the daily lives of the slaves who lived and worked here. One of the opportunities on the tour includes being ‘a guest’ at a slave wedding re-enactment, witnessing first-hand, the living history that comes from these owner-authored documents. The event includes live gospel music and the “jumping of the broom” ceremony. Held in the chapel, this African wedding tradition legitimized marriage for slaves, as their vows weren’t considered legal. The hop over the broom symbolized jumping into a domestic life together and sanctioned marriage as a binding commitment in their culture.
The historic tours are a big draw to visitors, but Frogmore is also a modern day working plantation that still produces cotton, and the Modern Tour takes visitors into the cotton industry today; visitors can pick their own cotton (available 10 months out of the year), observe the cotton gin in operation and view an informational video. Today, the plantation uses a computerized cotton gin that produces 900 cotton bales a year. The modern technology used today is a world away from the Smithsonian quality 1884 Munger Cotton Gin that is exhibited in one of the onsite barns.
The tour that takes visitors through the past all the way to the present, ends right where it started— at the 100-year-old General Store. Currently a wonderful gift shop, it is filled with delicious homemade goodies and cotton souvenirs that allow visitors to bring home an extra memory of Frogmore Cotton Plantation & Gins.