Sometime in the 1830s, when Zabette was probably in her early twenties, Robert Stafford, the owner of the largest plantation on Cumberland Island and eventually one of the richest slave owners, employed Zabette as a nurse.
Stafford, and Zabette never married, but had a relationship that lasted in some fashion for over fifty years and resulted in six children.
“The Chimney’s” in Augusta Chronicle news article
Painting shows how slaves lived on Cumberland
By Gordon Jackson | Morris News Service
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
ST. MARYS, Ga. - A new painting is educating visitors about a little-known slave community that once existed on Cumberland Island.
The painting, called The Quarters, accurately illustrates what a slave village near the Stafford Plantation on the island looked like in 1850, according to officials from the National Park Service. The painting is on display at the park service's visitor center in St. Marys
The artist, Martin Pate, of Newnan, was commissioned to create the painting using information from historical documents and records, an archaeological dig of the site, photographs of the ruins and a visit to the island.
The artist was not given a creative license to embellish on what the village looked like during the era depicted in the painting, said John Mitchell, the curator for the Cumberland Island National Seashore Museum in St. Marys.
"It's extraordinarily accurate," Mr. Mitchell said. "It gives you a view of the past." Nothing remains of the village, now called "The Chimneys," except the brick chimneys and fireplaces that were part of the wooden cabins occupied by slaves living on the island.
Few people see the ruins because the site is surrounded by private property and is about three miles from the dock where a ferry drops off tourists.
"This will draw attention to a part of the island people don't know much about," Mr. Mitchell said.
The painting would not have been possible without a partial archaeological dig of site in 1999, he said.
Brenda Barber, a former caretaker at the Stafford Mansion near the village site, said she was impressed with the detail and accuracy of the painting.
"It's pretty representative of the area," she said. Mr. Mitchell said the painting might be moved later to the Park Service museum, two blocks from the visitor center, and put on display with some of the artifacts unearthed at the site.
The artifacts include pipe stems, hand-painted marbles, fishing weights, a metal lice comb and an 1819 half-dollar.
A number of gun flints indicate the slaves had weapons to hunt. The dig uncovered buttons from military uniforms, which indicates slaves wore surplus uniforms as clothing.
From the Tuesday, January 17, 2006 printed edition of the Augusta Chronicle