In a sense, it was a building saved from ruin that helped Margaret Crawford-Parson discover her lineage and her story.
Five years ago she was researching the lives of slaves who once lived at what is now Historic Brattonsville in McConnells - the Bratton family plantation for two centuries - when she learned she descended from those slaves.
"As I look back," she said, "as a little girl listening to my parents talk, if I had taken in what they tried to tell me, I would have known I was a descendant."
This weekend, Joseph McGill, a program officer with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, will spend the night in the only original slave cabin at Historic Brattonsville to raise awareness about the need to preserve such buildings and the stories - like those recovered by Crawford-Parson and others - contained within.
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"We visit a lot of plantations, and we hear a lot about the big house," McGill said. "But there's not a lot of attention given to the slave dwelling on the properties.
"They tell a story, too."
Many of these dwellings are run down, in need of restoration, McGill said.
"I want to give those slave dwellings the notoriety that they need," he said, "but more importantly to give the people who occupied those spaces their just due, too."
McGill has slept in 10 slave dwellings - eight in South Carolina and two in Montgomery, Ala., where he experienced two "extremes."
The first night he spent in an urban, two-story, brick slave dwelling in Montgomery, the most "luxurious" of dwellings he's slept in. The second night in Montgomery took him to a plantation where he stayed in a wooden, ramshackle structure.
"That's the first time I slept with my shoes on, in case I had to get out of there quickly," he said.
While sleeping in a drafty old structure comes with its share of odd sounds, McGill's not superstitious.
"I don't believe in ghosts," he said. "If I did, I couldn't do this. I've heard some bumps in the night, and got up to prove that what I heard was nature - nothing else."
McGill's tour around South Carolina and Alabama has gotten some attention, and now he's receiving calls from people as far away as Texas and Pennsylvania who have dwellings on their property they think might have been slave quarters.
Through the National Trust for Historic Preservation, McGill helps connect them to the resources they need to find out.
McGill is eager to meet some of the descendants of the Bratton family slaves who still live in the area and hear their stories.
Although Crawford-Parson grew up near Brattonsville, it wasn't until she researched the Bratton slaves that she learned of her connection to the plantation.
Now she's the president of a group called We Are Brattons Too that has more than 120 members who live as far away as California and New York - but all descended from Bratton slaves.
Through research Crawford-Parson ensures that a more accurate story of the Bratton slaves is told to visitors at Brattonsville, she said.
"There were times when the slaves were treated not so nicely," she said. "A lot of the re-enactments early on pictured Brattonsville as an ideal place for a slave to be because they were treated so humanely.
"We have found out, through research, that is not the case."
Crawford-Parson said McGill's project helps communicate the need for the history of slavery to be saved.
"Col. Bratton's house was preserved," she said. "Those houses would not have existed without the slave labor that built them."
McGill hopes he can learn something from Brattonsville and from Bratton slave descendants like Crawford-Parson.
"I want their stories to translate to other places, and find out from them how we instill that pride in others," he said.
"How do we overcome the denial that we have, the willingness by some who want to forget and not go back there?
"How do we overcome that?"