One of the most beautiful cemeteries in the South, Natchez City Cemetery, stretches across 100 acres on the bluffs high above the Mississippi River. Stunning monuments, aged by time, are etched with names, dates and memories of those who have passed from this life to what lies beyond.
The Natchez City Cemetery is consistently listed as one of the most popular places to see when you visit Natchez, Mississippi. Not everyone considers a cemetery to be a peaceful and calming place but once you drive up Cemetery Road and enter the main gate of the cemetery, you may find yourself overcome by the beauty of this place.
A reminder of why exploring and documenting what you see along the road helps keep the past alive. Just behind the ruins of the Chapel of Ease on St Helena Island in South Carolina, are headstones that are fading with the passage of time. This is the grave of Mary Emily Fripp d. Nov 2, 1841, Aged 15 yrs, 6 mos. The poem inscribed on her tomb is a beautiful tribute to her short life and the pain her family faced once she died. It’s a portion of a poem called The Fading Flower…”Ah! Thus it is that things on earth, The flowers on which we smile; Though rich and beauteous in their birth, can only bloom a while; And purest joys we love the best soon fade away and die, And leave us sighing for our rest, beneath a brighter sky”. This young woman was so loved. Her headstone is a testament to that and I’m so thankful for moments like I had the day I stooped down to try to read the words engraved here. In those moments I’m reminded of how important it is to recognize the past and those who were loved and lost before we ever entered the picture.
Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina is America’s largest privately owned home. George W. Vanderbilt officially opened the home to friends and family on Christmas Eve 1895. The French Renaissance mansion features 250 rooms, including 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms and 65 fireplaces. The 8,000-acre estate also features forested trails and gardens and the most-visited winery in the country. Biltmore Estate is still privately owned and operated by George Vanderbilt’s descendants. Continue reading →
For over 10 years I’ve had “Visit Gee’s Bend” on my Explore the South bucket list. And this week, I marked that item off my bucket list! While vacationing in my home state of Alabama, I was joined by my mom as we drove from Birmingham to the Black Belt region of the state to Gee’s Bend (known now as Boykin, Alabama). Gee’s Bend is a large bend in the Alabama River. There are about 700 residents in this small, remote, community and most are descendants of slaves. Few people have ever moved out of Gee’s Bend and few have ever moved in. This community has overcome hard times again and again. You can read the history of Gee’s Bend here so you can understand why the residents have such vivid stories to tell through their quilts.
Any visit to New Orleans involves exploration and surprises. The city is full of life and surprising treasures like this townhouse. You’ll find it at 624 Pirates Alley. It was once the home of a young writer from Mississippi named William Faulkner. He lived here for six months in 1925, and that was enough time to launch his literary career. While here, he wrote for the Times-Picayune; some poetry; and the draft of his first novel, Soldier’s Pay.
The townhouse now serves as a bookstore and literary shrine called Faulkner House Books. When you walk in you’ll be surprised by what you’ll find in such a tiny space. The 16′ ceilings are packed with books! It’s a must visit the next time you’re exploring New Orleans.
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.
Old Louisiana State Capitol. Here’s a little history behind it: “New York architect James H. Dakin was hired to design the Baton Rouge capitol building; and rather than mimic the national Capitol Building in Washington, as so many other states had done, he conceived a Neo-Gothic medieval-style castle overlooking the Mississippi, complete with turrets and crenellations. Dakin referred to his design as “Castellated Gothic” due to its decoration with cast iron, which was both cheaper and more durable than other building materials used at the time. The building design was so unusual and distinctive that its romantic, medieval appearance earned the Old Statehouse ridicule from the timelessly famous author, Mark Twain.”
Stone house at Manassas Battlefield (c. 1848). During the Civil War, the area around this 19th century Stone House saw action during the two battles of Manassas. The house served as a hospital during both battles. Two privates of the 5th New York Volunteer Infantry, who were wounded during the 2nd Battle of Manassas (Aug 1862), left their mark inside this house. 21 year old Private Charles Brehm, and 17 year old Eugene Geer, were treated in an upstairs room. Both men carved their names into the floorboards of the room and the carvings can still be seen to this day. By the end of 1862, Geer had died; Brehm survived and lived until 1909. You can visit the Stone House and adjacent grounds as part of the Manassas National Battlefield Park driving tour
Union Church Presbyterian is the third oldest Presbyterian church in the state. The church was built in 1852 and has survived and been a place of worship for many generations here in the community of Union Church. The community was settled in 1806 and originally known as Scotch Settlement. It was formed by a group of Scotch settlers who left North Carolina for the promise of fertile farmland on the eastern banks of the Mississippi River. Gaelic speech survived quite a long time here thanks to the Scotch Presbyterians who made the area home. There’s also a historic civil war connection here. Union Church was a site of Grierson’s raid in 1863.