Family, Civil War, and Emancipation 1823-1909

Thomas Barber acquired the property soon after, and upon Barber’s death in 1826, Sotterley was willed to his daughters, Lydia Barber and her step-sister, Emeline Dallam Wellmore. The property, including the enslaved population; was divided between the two women. Emeline, who had inherited the parcel of land with the plantation house, married Dr. Walter Hanson Stone Briscoe and during their sixty year marriage that spanned through the Civil War, Emancipation and Reconstruction, made their living with a medical practice, running a girl’s boarding school, and farming a 400 acre mixed crop with over 50 slaves.

As Confederate sympathizers, three of the Briscoe’s sons, Chapman, Henry, and David, went to Richmond and joined the Army of Northern Virginia. George W. Barnes (Briscoe), an enslaved Sotterley farmer, joined the U.S.C.T. 7th Regiment in 1863, opposing the son of his owner at the Battle of Petersburg. Sotterley’s owners supported their wealth and property through enslaved labor for 165 years. There were many examples of flight and resistance.  Maryland emancipated slaves on November 1, 1864 through the state constitution. With the collapse of the slave system of labor and lack of industrialization, Sotterley with the rest of St. Mary’s County fell on hard economic times.