Josiah Haigler Plantation House, Burkville Alabama
The Haigler House was constructed in 1841 by Y. W. Graves who was the son of William Graves. The Graves family moved to this section of Lowndes County in the early 1820s and Y. W. Graves acquired this property during those years. In 1841 he built the house which was sold two years later to Josiah Haigler. The Haigler family moved to Lowndes County from South Carolina and became part of the slave holding planter class characteristic of Alabama's "Black Belt". By 1855 Haigler cultivated several hundred acres in rice and cotton. Haigler also owned 23 slaves which was well above the county average of 12 per household. Haigler also had diversified business interests as shown through his part ownership in a factory in Autaugaville.
With the Civil War Haigler lost his investment in slaves but in spite of this loss Haigler continued to prosper unlike several of his neighbors. In 1870 Haigler purchased 277 acres of adjoining land to increase his holdings and his family continued farming using the tenant and sharecropper systems involving black labor. The farm then evolved in a fashion typical of the "Black Belt" during the past century. Cotton continued to be the main cash crop for many years but each season eventually resulted in soil exhaustion and the land was converted to other uses.
Josiah Haigler died in 1876 and his property became divided among his children. His son, Lewis Haigler, continued to live in the family's plantation home and he farmed the land raising cattle until his death in 1927. During these years various outbuildings were constructed for use by the family and tenants. The Haigler family built several frame houses and a commissary building along Highway 37 on the eastern boundary of their land. These were used for many years by tenant farmers and renters.
Ownership of the original house passed to Lewis Haigler's daughter, Isabelle, whose sister and brother Mildred and Mark Haigler occupied the house until 1963. Since that time the house has been vacant. In addition to outbuildings on the property the Haigler family cemetery is also located near the home.
A component of the site is the Haigler family cemetery, located west of the house. This cemetery has ten marked graves and was in use from 1870 to 1939. It contains the graves of owners Josiah Haigler, Lewis Haigler and their wives and children. A cemetery for slaves and tenants of the plantation is also located at a short distance from the house.
The house is divided into three distinct sections: the main house, the office wing, and the rear (kitchen) wing.
The main house is a traditional wide central hall plan with two rooms on each side. The office wing consists of two rooms in a traditional "saddle bag" arrangement, having a double fireplace between the two rooms. The rear wing originally consisted of a short breezeway section and one large room. This room has been subdivided into two sections, the rear (north) portion being the smaller of the two.
A second floor exists only in the main house portion of the structure. This consists of two rooms, one over the east pair of first floor rooms and another over the central hall and west pair of first floor rooms. While these rooms run the full width of the house, they are limited in depth, being enclosed by knee walls on the north and south.