While exploring Mooresville, Alabama I almost passed by this church without taking a photo. It seemed so simple. But every church has a story and this one involves a future President of the United States. Mooresville Church of Christ has held services in this building since 1854. Future president James A. Garfield preached a sermon in the building when he was stationed nearby as a federal soldier during the Civil War. Glad I took photos of this place…it’s a historical treasure.
Christ Church Frederica, on St Simons Island in Georgia, was established in 1808 and is the 2nd oldest church in Georgia. The original church building was constructed in 1820 but was burned by Union troops during the Civil War. In 1884, Anson Greene Phelps Dodge, lead the rebuilding of the church as an act of love and remembrance of his wife, Ellen, who had died recently. The church still stands today as a memorial to her. Ellen is buried beneath the alter. The author, Eugenia Price, brought the Dodge family and so many other interesting and inspirational families to life on the pages of her St Simons Trilogy. She’s buried here as well. Highly recommend her books if you love St Simons and the Savannah area and you appreciate novels that are inspired by real people.
San Francisco Plantation, established 1860. This plantation home is one of the most ornate in the South. The story goes that the French phrase “son saint-frusquin,” or “the shirt off his back,” was a description of what the construction of the house cost its first owner, Edmond Marmillion. This became mistranslated into San Francisco. The property and home is expansive and beautiful. You can opt for a guided tour of the home or, if you’re short on time, you can enjoy a self guided tour around the grounds.
Researchers at Laura Plantation in Vacherie, Louisiana have been studying and interpreting the slave experience in Creole Louisiana for more than 20 years. It is a part of the history of the plantation and when you visit you will leave more informed about the slave experience on this plantation and their lives beyond the Emancipation Proclamation.
The tour is incredibly educational and really helps you to understand that although slaves were freed by the law of the land, their circumstances and ties to the plantations and lands where they worked didn’t allow many former slaves to experience freedom in their life.
I’ve seen a lot of cemetery monuments over the years but I’ve rarely felt as moved by one as I was when I saw this one in Greenville Cemetery in Washington County, Mississippi. This is the gravesite for Senator Leroy Percy and the monument is called “The Patriot”. The Norman knight honors Percy who stood up to the Ku Klux Klan in 1920s Mississippi. Here’s how the story is described in John Barry’s “Rising Tide”: “In 1922 Percy rose to national prominence for confronting the Ku Klux Klan when it attempted to organize members in Washington County during the years of its revival in the South and growth in the Midwest. On March 1, 1922, the Klan planned a recruiting session at the Greenville county courthouse. Percy arrived during a speech by the Klan leader Joseph Camp, who was attacking blacks, Jews, and Catholics. After Camp finished, Percy approached the podium and proceeded to dismantle Camp’s speech to thunderous applause, concluding with the plea, ‘Friends, let this Klan go somewhere else where it will not do the harm that it will in this community. Let them sow dissension in some community less united than is ours.’ After Percy stepped down, an ally of his in the audience rose to put forth a resolution, secretly written by Percy, condemning the Klan. The resolution passed, and Camp ceased his efforts to establish the Klan in Washington County. Percy’s speech and victory drew praise from newspapers around the nation.”
Indianola, Mississippi has been selected by Budget Travel as one of the top 10 Coolest Small Towns in America. That title is, in large part, due to the it’s deep rooted Blues history. B.B. King was born near Indianola and played in public for the first time at the age of 17 at the corner pictured here, known as BB’s Corner. You can visit this corner at Church Street and Second Street in Indianola. Then take a short drive to the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center to learn more about his life and pay your respects at his final resting place, located on the grounds of the center in the city he loved.
“A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.” -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The drive into Afton Villa Gardens in Saint Francisville, Louisiana is magical. It’s like entering a secret garden of sorts. And this is only the driveway to get to the gardens! If you’re planning a trip anywhere near West Feliciana Parish in Louisiana, make sure to add Afton Villa Gardens to your list. It only takes about an hour to tour the gardens and it’s worth your time. Read about the gardens and then go explore them!
To me, the South means beauty in unexpected places. Mount Helena, off old Highway 61 in the Mississippi Delta, is a unique Southern home because it sits atop a ceremonial Indian mound. It’s the last thing you expect to see when you’re driving along the flat Delta region. But I think that speaks to the South you encounter day after day. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, something beautiful and unexpected comes into view and you’re reminded why you love calling the South home.