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.”
“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.
The St. Helena Chapel of Ease was built around 1740 to serve planters in St. Helena Parish who lived at great distances from the parish church in Beaufort. During the Civil War, Federal troops occupied St. Helena and the church was used by several of the Northerners who had come to the island to educate and train the freedmen. It was also used as a sanctuary by Methodist freedmen as early as 1868. The chapel of ease was burned by a forest fire in February 1886 and was never repaired.
Starr’s Mill is such a scenic Fayetteville, Georgia (about 40 minutes south of Atlanta). If you’re ever in the area and want the perfect place to enjoy a picnic and stretch your legs, it’s a must visit. Here’s the history of the site, courtesy of Georgia Info:
The property that became Starr’s Mill was owned by Hananiah Gilcoat who built the first mill here before his death in 1825. This site, on Whitewater Creek, was less than a mile from the boundary between Creek Indian lands and the State of Georgia. Hilliard Starr, who owned the mill from 1866 until 1879, gave the site its current name. After the first two log structures burned, William T. Glower built the current building in 1907. This mill operated until 1959, using a water-powered turbine, instead of a wheel, to grind corn and operate a sawmill. The Starr’s Mill site also included a cotton gin and a dynamo that produced electricity for nearby Senoia.
There’s something special about covered bridges. Even the oldest of covered bridges have a picturesque quality to them. Alabama appreciates the beauty of them and even has a Covered Bridge Trail you can drive along to see the 11 remaining historic covered bridges across the state.
One of the bridges on the trail is the Kymulga Covered Bridge in Childersburg, Alabama. The 105 foot covered bridge, built in the 1860s, spans Talladega Creek. Nearby you’ll find the Kymulga Grist Mill, which is still operational. The Kymulga Covered Bridge leads park visitors to a series of nature trails, perfect for romantic walks and exploration of the land that was once populated by Native Americans, farmers and craftsmen. You can learn more about the bridge, mill and events held here throughout the year here.
Take a walk through Wilderness Park in Prattville, Alabama. Wilderness Park is a bamboo forest that was used by the U.S. military for Vietnam-era combat training. The forest provided a humid environment with vegetation more similar to that found in Southeast Asia than most training sites on this continent. Thankfully, the park was preserved as a place of beauty and peace. Areas of the forest have 60-ft.-tall bamboo with trunks 6 inches in diameter. Hundreds of varieties of plants are found here, including one of Alabama’s largest beech trees.
Thomas Wolfe, an Asheville native, reached international fame after his first full length novel, Look Homeward, Angel, was published in 1929. There are many incidents in the book that reference his mother’s boardinghouse that was known around town as “Old Kentucky Home”. In the book, he referred to it as “Dixieland”. The Victorian home was constructed in 1883.
Wolfe’s vivid references to Asheville and his “Old Kentucky Home” led to Look Homeward, Angel being banned from public libraries in Asheville for seven years. Time heals all wounds and Wolfe is now honored as one of the city’s most famous sons and the “Old Kentucky Home” is a well preserved memorial and museum that honors one of the giants of 20th century literature. Asheville is a lovely city with such a diverse history. If you’re ever passing through I highly encourage you to make the time to visit the “Old Kentucky Home” and take a tour.
Anytime I visit Asheville I stop by my favorite local coffee shop, Izzy’s Coffee Den, and I grab a coffee to go. Then, I head over to Tom’s place at 48 Spruce Street to pay my respects and sit in a rocking chair on the front porch and have a cup of coffee. If you ever come here, I recommend you do this after the tourist center closes and it’s quiet and peaceful. And if you’re looking for some great books to add to your reading list, add one of Wolfe’s four novels to your list:
The beautiful and haunting Old Sheldon Church ruins. The pre-existing building was originally known as Prince William’s Parish Church, built between 1745 and 1753. But Prince William Parish Church was to be a casualty of not one war, but two. First, the Revolutionary War, when British troops burned down the church as well as the plantations around it. The church was rebuilt (and renamed Sheldon Church) in 1826. Forty years later it would be caught up in the Civil War. Markers on the church today will tell you that Sherman’s men burned down the church, but some historians think that the building was looted by locals, who tore out the interiors and stole materials so that they could rebuild the homes and communities destroyed by Sherman’s armies.
What is old has been made new by visitors who come here to roam the grounds and see these ruins that continue to stand the test of time.