tvr avalon plantation scanning

The land currently occupied by UAH was a nineteenth-century cotton plantation called Avalon. Starting in the early 1800s, Avalon became one of the largest cotton plantations in Madison County. By 1860, 106 enslaved people worked the land and lived in 35 houses on the property. For several years, UAH history classes have been excavating Avalon-related sites under the direction of Ben Hoksbergen, Redstone Arsenal archaeologist. These classes uncovered the site of the enslaver’s dwelling (between the Nursing Building and Roberts Hall). 

We seek to know more about the enslaved people’s lives here at Avalon. Sadly, not much documentation exists in historical records. So this summer, the UAH History Department and the UAH Archives, with support from the Provost’s Office, enlisted the help of the Tennessee Valley Archaeological Research (TVAR) to use ground-penetrating radar in an attempt to locate where enslaved people were laid to rest on the property.  

Claiborne Sea of the TVAR spent three days in mid-May scanning two areas with ground-penetrating radar for that purpose. One area was near University Drive and the other around the existing Jones-Perkins Cemetery behind Morton Hall. We can’t wait to see what his work shows!

If you are interested in UAH campus history research, please donate to support the work of the UAH History Department, UAH Archives, and our community partners as we learn more about UAH’s history and erect markers to share that history with the community. 

Information provided by the Department of History and Dr. Christine Sears, Department Chair. For questions, please contact