Wednesday, November 27, 2013

What are you thankful for?

A Ranger here at Andersonville has a favorite saying: "No whining!" Is it cold? Are the gray skies starting to get old? No whining! Is it too long until lunch? No whining! You have shoes, you had breakfast, you had a bed to sleep in last night. He makes a really good point. I might not be happy with everything every day, but I have many things to be thankful for:
  • A warm, safe place to live
  • Healthful, plentiful food
  • Good health
  • Being productive and helpful
  • Friends and family who've supported me through some rough times
  • The ability to appreciate beauty that's everywhere around me
  • Health insurance (and today I'm not whining about the cost)
  • The means to live the way I do
This is not all. The one thing I am most thankful for is that I am loved. What more could anyone ask for than to be softly tucked into someone's heart?


Thoughts of the day:

Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude. (A.A. Milne - 

Here are the two best prayers I know: 'Help me, help me, help me,' and 'Thank you, thank you, thank you.' (Anne Lamott - Traveling Mercies)

Monday, November 25, 2013

It stains my soul with color

I went to Macon for the second time a couple of weeks ago. That place is an architectural gold mine. When I found four places listed on the National Register, I thought I'd gone to heaven, but when I tried looking up a particular house online, a gorgeous confection on the corner of Spring and Georgia, I learned that there are more than six thousand properties listed on the National Register in Macon alone. I was quickly brought back to earth. I have a lot of work to do to see more of what survived Sherman's army.

One beautiful place is St. Joseph's Catholic Church. It was built from 1899-1903, was designed by Brother Cornelius Otten, features a domed cupola, flying buttresses (not so sure about that), stained glass windows from Bavaria, and a high altar of Carrara marble.

Here's a photographic serenade to this wonderful building:

Thought of the day:

...I'm innocent still - inside me are stained glass windows that have never been broken - and when I see your light it stains my soul with color ... (John Geddes, A Familiar Rain) 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The mystery of the Andersonville dove

Civil War grave number 12196 marks the final resting spot of Maine Sergeant Lewis S. Tuttle. 

His headstone would be nearly anonymous among the sea of almost 13000 headstones of those who died at Andersonville, if it weren't for the dove that is posed atop it.

Tuttle was captured in Virginia with his brother on May 19, 1864. Not much is known about him, other than what his service records say: he was six feet tall, fair-skinned, with light hair and gray eyes. He had a wife named Lydia Ann and two daughters, Clara Ella and Addie Cora. He died November 30, 1864 of diarrhea, a common cause of death. In fact, diarrhea, dysentery, and scurvy caused the most deaths at Andersonville. 

Lewis's brother David also died there; his grave is number 12322. The graves are numbered sequentially in order of death or in order of the death being recorded, in most cases generally coinciding. This means David died within a week or two of his brother. A third brother, Loren, was perhaps the luckiest of the three: he was shot in the shoulder and was discharged.

No one knows when or how the dove appeared there. It's one of the enduring mysteries, certainly a sweeter one than the mystery of the identities of the nearly 500 soldiers whose graves merely have the notation Unknown Soldier marked on them.


Thought of the day:

Without mysteries, life would be very dull indeed. What would be left to strive for if everything were known? (Charles de Lint)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Too pretty to burn

Madison, Georgia has a couple of romantic legends about why it was spared from destruction during Sherman's march to the sea. One legend says Sherman had a mistress there; the other claims Sherman said Madison was "too pretty to burn." I went to Madison the other day and asked at the visitor center if either of these stories was true. 

Madison is indeed a pretty, pretty place but it turns out neither of the legends is true. What, or rather who, spared Madison is Joshua Hill. Hill was a Georgia Congressman but a strong Unionist who resigned his seat in protest of Georgia's vote for secession; additionally and not incidentally, he was a friend of Sherman's brother. Then, as now, it ain't what you know, it's who you know.

Madison is yet another of those places that needs a return visit. I was able to visit just a few sites that were on my list;  to see everything will take a lot more time.

The Historical Society offers a three-fer: a $10 ticket gives access to three historic homes complete with guided tours. The first home was Heritage Hall, also known as the Jones-Turnell-Manley House, built in 1811 by Elijah E. Jones, a doctor with the Confederacy. The docent on this tour initially spoke of the servants who performed various tasks but, when questioned, admitted it was slave labor, not paid labor. It's understandably a touchy issue.

It is the only home in town with four columns flanked by two square piers.

It turns out I had perfect timing for the tours as the Christmas decorations had just been completed. But let me say how freaky it is to see everything done up for Christmas when it's 60 degrees outside. I'd forgotten about this from when I lived in Texas.

Heritage Hall was one of many in-town farms and was on four acres. It first was situated 200 feet from its current location and was moved before 1912 when its then-owner sold some of the acreage for construction of a church. The entire home was lifted, placed on logs, and pulled by teams of horses and mules.
Entrance hall

It was a private residence until 1977 the last owner, pictured in her wedding dress in the photo on the wall, below, donated it to the Historical Society.
Dining room

Furnishings throughout the house have been donated over the years. The docent said nothing is turned away, and if the donor chooses a place in the home for the item, it is always kept there. The cradle in the corner holds a doll. A visitor to the site said she should be moved out of the afternoon sun, but the donor said that spot is where she should remain.

The doll in the photo below, on the right, stays in her high chair, all year but goes "home" for two weeks at Christmas every year. She has a lovely head of real hair.

The crocheted coverlets on the beds were made by the slaves. They are all in amazingly new condition. I've done a very little bit of this kind of work and can testify to the amount of time they take to complete.

Upstairs bedrooms

Ladies' sitting room

The room below was first used as the dining room but was converted to the doctor's office. The door with the wreath on it, at far left, leads to the outdoor kitchen. The doctor required the slaves to whistle as they approached the house, not, as you might think, to announce their presence in case he was seeing a patient, but because he knew they couldn't whistle and at the same time eat off the platters of food they were bringing in for a meal.
Doctor's office

The second house on the tour was a town home, a place for a family, generally the wife/mother and children to live in, away from the plantation in the country. While far more modest than Heritage Hall, to me it was much more comfortable and livable.
Rogers House

It's known as the Rogers House, built in 1809-1810 by Reuben Rogers. It is built in the two-over-two style.

A back shed was likely added around 1820 when census records show 18 people lived here.

The house predates the Morgan County Courthouse (the photo's all the way at the end) by almost 100 years.
Dining room

The house has had 17 owners and was restored using photos and records from the city's archives. It looks as it probably did in 1873. Furnishings are representative of the mid-19th century.
The bed has rope attached through holes and onto pegs to keep it tight.
The second upstairs bedroom

The last house on the tour is known as Rose Cottage. It was built by Adeline Rose in 1891. 

Adeline Rose was born into slavery and little is known of her before 1891 when she earned a living for herself and her two children by taking in laundry at 50 cents a load.

She made the quilt on this bed, which does not say Jesus Saves, but Jesus Saved.

These two pieces are not hers but were donated. Gorgeous work.

Adeline died in 1959 after living in the house for 68 years. In 1966 the City of Madison moved the house to its present location next to Rogers House.

And here is the County Courthouse, built around 1905, and called an "outstanding example of Beaux Arts design." Another item from the National Register of Historic Places to be crossed off my list. I wish I'd gone inside.

Thought of the day:

History is herstory, too. (Unknown)