Clio Logo
This is a contributing entry and appears exclusively within that tour.Learn More.

This is the only remaining original slave quarters at Sotterley, a reminder of many similar structures that were present during centuries of slavery at the former plantation. This structure housed people who worked in or around the manor house, most likely skilled enslaved people. The structure continued to be used after the Civil War and there were people living in these structures in 1910, when Herbert Satterlee purchased Sotterley.

This cabin was built between 1830-1850 and would have housed 9 to 12 people. The Cane family, held in slavery by Dr. Briscoe in the 19th century, most likely lived in a structure like this. This cabin has been restored and preserved by the museum over the years. Visitors can enter the cabin, (watch your step and your head) and visit the award-winning Slave Cabin Exhibit. This exhibit uses the Cane family oral tradition and history passed down to Agnes Kane Callum, and other research, to tell the story of a family who preserved their culture, used their ingenuity, and resisted their enslavement.

Visitors should take time to reflect on the people who lived in this home, and they should be respectful of the surroundings and also be careful about the narrow exit. Once a visitor exits the cabin they will s a large sign that says "This is Sotterley's Middle Passage Marker." The sign tells the story of the "Generous Jenny," a slave ship that landed at Sotterley in 1720 from the West Coast of Africa with its human cargo. Sotterley is one of five middle passage sites in Maryland. Sotterley is a UNESCO Site of Memory for the Routes of Enslaved Peoples Project.


In the state of Maryland students at various grade levels explore the history of slavery in our world, our nation, and our state/region. As students uncover and develop an understanding about this history they try to answer "Essential Questions" that are included in the state social studies curriculum. Touring Historic Sotterley's grounds and buildings can help connect students and teachers with the content that they are learning about in the classroom.

Essential Questions related to this section of the tour:

4th grade: What causes people to deny freedoms to others?

5th grade: How did conflicts over slavery result in the Civil War?

Middle School: Consider the following:

  • Evaluating the impact of technology on the geographic expansion of the institution of slavery.
  • Analyzing the conditions that defined life for the enslaved.
  • Contrasting the various ways in which enslaved African Americans and free blacks resisted enslavement, oppression, and institutionalized racism

Slave Cabin to Patuxent

Sky, Plant, Tree, Natural landscape

Middle Passage Marker

Sky, Plant, Ecoregion, Natural environment

Open Slave Cabin with Manor House in Background 2017

Plant, Sky, Window, Building

Slave Cabin in Spring (land side)

Plant, Flower, Building, Natural landscape

Cloud, Sky, Plant, Window

Hilary Cane (circa 1820) was the patriarch of the Cane family, son of Raphael. Hilary was not held in slavery by Dr. Briscoe, but by Chapman Billingsley, Briscoe's next-door neighbor and brother-in-law. Billingsley bought Hilary, a skilled plasterer, from the James J. Gough estate in 1848. Hilary's family members, his wife, and three of their surviving children, Ellen (Nellie), George, William Francis (Frank), were held in slavery at Sotterley by Dr. Briscoe. Mariah Cane, Hilary's wife, was purchased by Dr. Briscoe in 1849 in a private sale from the Gough estate after Mariah did not bring enough on the auction block in Leonardtown. She was a laundress and spinner. The Dr. paid $500 dollars for her. Briscoe paid for her children also. The infant son, Francis (Frank) Cane cost Briscoe $50. Mariah bore two more children at Sotterley, Henrietta (Henny), and Matilda. Mariah died and was buried at Sotterley within four years.

Hilary then married Alice Elsa Bond and they had ten children, Temperance, Alice, Sarah, unknown, Hilary, James Henry, Mary, John. Their sons Webster and Sam were born after emancipation. Alice Elsa was a laundress and spinner, and she was also held in slavery by Dr. Briscoe.

The Cane family thrived spiritually and culturally even in these impossible circumstances. In fear, in hardship, cruelty and want. On November 1, 1864, slavery was abolished in Maryland and the Cane family were freed. Opportunities for freed Blacks were almost non-existent. Freedom was not the end of hardship as emancipation did not erase the traumatic legacy of racial chattel slavery. However, the Cane family eventually earned enough wages that they were able to buy their own homes and farms away from Sotterley. Cane, Kane, Cain, descendants of this family can be found all over the country.

 Alice Kane Callum was a descendant of the Cane family. In the early 1970s she had traced her heritage back to Sotterley and her ancestors held in bondage. She worked tirelessly to tell their story and keep the place that they lived and survived preserved so their stories can now be told to future generations.


Callum, Agnes Kane. Kane-Butler Genealogy: history of a Black family. Baltimore, Maryland. Agnes Kane Callum, 1979.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Historic Sotterley

Historic Sotterley

Historic Sotterley

Historic Sotterley