took you?” Meredith asked. My sense is that they’re ranges of extreme. As it turns out, the papers were drawn up post-emancipation (on April 27, 1867, shortly after he died), so there was no record of Patsey. I practically went cross-eyed after days of squinting at vital records recorded in miniscule cursive writing; I pulled archival books as heavy as small children from high shelves in cavernous, dusty warehouses; I almost hydroplaned into ditches while exploring unpaved backroads during rainstorms. I want to believe she was able to survive, to prevail, and then to thrive on her own. Either they were very benevolent or they were very, very sadistic—because they had to live and work and exist in much closer proximity to their slaves than the larger plantation owners.”. It’s an area deeply steeped in its history, and its residents are fiercely protective of that fact. Far away . How can it be this hard to find one woman? It’s entirely possible. Patsey would repay Solomon's kindness in turn when she protected him from a furious and violent Epps after she had went to a neighboring plantation to obtain soap (having been forbidden from even washing herself by Epps' psychopathic wife) - she would proceed to get into a heated argument with Epps and finally stood up to his cruelty, reminding him that she proved him with more cotton than any other slave and that while he could take away her dignity and freedom she, at the very least, would be clean. Epps's wife Mary became jealous when Epps started raping Patsey, who would have been under the age of 18 when he began assaulting her. Will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy. I drove through towns with a Louisiana-history picture book on my lap in an attempt to match the old and new. Public records are created for legal purposes. I searched for her right up until the moment this piece was due—there’s still a thick stack of notes and to-do lists next to my computer. A battle cry among Melançon, Riggs, and me became “Viva la Patsey!” She is long gone, but her story never died. Mature pages are recommended for those who are 18 years of age and older. Northup’s book cites Patsey as being 23 years old, though his proclamation of that age could’ve occurred any time during his 10 years with her, making it a sliding scale (most likely, he was referring to her age when he left her in 1853). Lupita Nyong’o as Patsey in 12 Years a Slave. Epps’s will exists at the Marksville courthouse (I held the original, as it happens). [4] Yet Patsey, like Northup, also dreamed fervently of freedom. I shook my head. He is lured under false pretenses when he is asked to be part of a circus troupe as a fiddle player and is brought to Washington where he is sold. 'Oh! Master Epps was so enraged upon her return that she was immediately staked to the ground, and Northup was ordered to whip her. It’s said that they “told of seeing and talking with his former slave comrades, whose names were Uncle Abram, Wiley, Aunt Phoebe, Patsy, Bob, Henry, and Edward.” Misspelling aside (quite common), this is a fairly huge breakthrough as far as validating Patsey’s presence on Epps’s plantation right before emancipation. The closest African-American burial plots to Epps’s land that stand today reside in the cemetery at First St. Joseph’s Baptist Church. An illustration of Patsey’s whipping from the book 12 Years a Slave. When Epps found out she had left his plantation, he had her tied to a stake and ordered Solomon to whip her. Bunkie is a small town (population 4,171, according to the 2010 U.S. Census) that envelops the area where Epps resided on his plantation from 1845 until his death in 1867. Lupita Nyong’o as Patsey, Michael Fassbender as Epps, and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup in 12 Years a Slave. “It could take months. “Around the perimeter of what used to be Edwin Epps’s plantation,” she deadpanned. [5], Patsey was often whipped and had many scars on her back. There was mention of outstanding debts that included a cotton order from New Orleans, with the stated proceeds being split among his laborers—proving that he did have either sharecroppers or hired laborers working his farm at the time of his death, one of whom could possibly have been Patsey. It was a drizzly, unusually cold day in early February—a fitting environment for a tour of the landmarks related to Patsey’s life. The book was later adapted into a film, in which she was portrayed by Lupita Nyong'o, who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance.