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Southern Heritage <br>News and Views: October 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


By Bob Hurst

Let me begin by revealing something very personal about myself. Almost forty-five years ago I began a love affair which has lasted to this day and will continue until the last breath leaves my body. Now, if you're waiting for the name of a lovely lady you're going to be disappointed for the love affair of which I write is with the architecture of the antebellum South - those beautiful columned mansions which speak so eloquently of a time and place which will never be duplicated.

It was Keats who wrote "a thing of beauty is a joy forever". To me, nothing is more lovely than one of those majestic structures placed in a setting of splendid magnolias, spanish moss-draped oaks and multi-colored azaleas. This, of course, requires a rural setting. There are, however, many of these wonderful structures located in towns and cities throughout the Southland and this circumstance fails to create a dimunition of the beauty of these edifices.

My interest in antebellum architecture began when I was an undergraduate at Auburn University in the mid-1960's. One evening I was visiting with one of my professors, Frances McLeod, to have her check my progress on a research paper I was doing for her class. She excused herself to take a phone call and I began looking through the books on her coffee table. One was entitled ANTEBELLUM MANSIONS OF ALABAMA by Ralph Hammond. By the time Professor McLeod returned, I was thoroughly engrossed in the book and completely taken by the beauty of the houses pictured therein. The houses that most intrigued me and seemed the most grand were those of Greek Revival style. These, of course, were those magnificent columned structures reminiscent of the temples of ancient Greece. To me, the column added such a special dimension to the structure. Also, just so there is no confusion about the term "antebellum", the two words "ante" and "bellum" are Greek and mean "before the war" and the war that is referred to is the War for Southern Independence. Since that great conflict began in April of 1861, a house had to be built before that date to be antebellum. The beginning of the antebellum period of the Old South was between 1800 and 1810.

I realized that many of these structures were within easy driving distance of Auburn and I was soon spending free days driving to such out-of-the-way towns as Lowndesboro, Eutaw, Forkland, Boligee and Pleasant Hill. My Sigma Nu brothers thought I had lost my mind to get up at 7 AM on a Saturday morning and drive a hundred miles to photograph a couple of old houses, I understood, though.

By my senior year at Auburn, I had accumulated a nice library on the antebellum architecture of the South. My greatest desire was to photograph the beautiful mansions along the lower Mississippi River from Natchez, Mississippi to New Orleans. Upon graduation I took a job in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi and, thereafter, almost any free time I had was spent traveling between Baton Rouge and New Orleans on the east bank and from Donaldsonville to the suburbs of New Orleans on the west bank photographing the spectacular mansions of that part of the river. I also made exciting trips to Cajun country to photograph some beautiful homes in the vicinity of Bayou Lafourche and Bayou Teche.

I did not photograph Natchez during this time as my fiancee had made me promise I would not go to Natchez until she could go with me. I agreed and, true to my word, I did not go to Natchez until we spent the first three days of our honeymoon in that Old South city. We then traveled down the River Road visiting houses and ended up in the French Quarter for several days.

Since then I have traveled many miles to photograph more than a hundred beautiful antebellum homes and collect information about them. I cannot tell you how many times I have had my breath taken away by the first sight of one of these structures (and by return visits many years later).

I mention all of this because recently, in the space of just two weeks, it was brought home to me how many Southerners also love and appreciate these marvelous houses.

It all began with a phone call from an old friend, Jim Lear, who is commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans camp in Yulee, Florida. (Actually, the camp meets in Callahan because of a fine barbecue restaurant located there.) Jim wanted me to speak to his camp at one of their meetings (I usually speak to his camp once a year) but, rather than speaking about a Confederate hero or a particular battle, he requested that I present my powerpoint presentation on the antebellum mansions of the Old South. I was happy to agree and we decided on their camp meeting of Monday, September 21.

Commander Lear also asked if I could do the same presentation on Saturday, October 3 in St. Augustine at the state convention of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. This would be at their final evening banquet. I checked my calendar and found that I was free that weekend so I agreed.

It was a true pleasure to present to these two audiences a journey throughout the Deep South highlighting those wonderful mansions that I have long admired and loved. I was also very pleased with the reaction of each group to this aspect of our Southern heritage.

I also had a pleasant experience at our SCV camp meeting in Tallahassee on Monday evening, September 28. One of our members, Bob Beard, has just had published the second book in a series for young readers that he is writing. Bob is a retired professor and a talented writer plus being a very interesting and accomplished person. He has a bachelor's degree in physics from Georgia Tech, a master's from LSU and a doctorate from Michigan. He has taught at Princeton, Iowa, LSU and FSU among others. His books for young readers (ages 11-16) educate as well as entertain. In fact, I enjoyed the heck out of the copy that he gave to me but, then, I'm still pretty young at heart. One thing that especially pleased me about Bob's book was that he chose to place on the cover of the book a picture I had taken of a beautiful antebellum home in Natchez. What a pleasant surprise and honor.

Now, I would like to conclude this article by telling you where you can visit to see some of the most beautiful houses ever built. I would suggest that, if you do end up in these locales, visit the local Chamber of Commerce or Visitors Bureau and obtain brochures detailing where the local homes are located.

I will begin in the northeastern corner of Georgia and work south and west until ending up in Louisiana.

First, Athens, Georgia. Truly one of the pretty cities of the South. One street in Athens can give you a flavor of the glory of the Old South. Prince Avenue is virtually an avenue of white columns. Among these are the Ben Hill House (he was a member of the Confederate Congress and later the US Senate) which is now the home of the president of the University of Georgia, the Cobb House (Howell Cobb was a Confederate general and Georgia governor), the Lumpkin House, the Grady House and the Upson House (which is now a bank but you cannot tell from the outside).

Less than an hour southeast of Athens is "The Last Dreaming Town" of Washington in Wilkes County. Washington is a treasure trove of antebellum architecture with dozens of beautiful structures. Among these is the home of Confederate general Robert Augustus Toombs.

To the west and on Highway 441 is Madison, Georgia. It was rumored that Sherman declared that Madison was "too pretty to burn" but I have a hard time believing there were any redeeming qualities to that man. Madison truly is a beautiful town, though, with many fine antebellum homes.

Further south on 441 is Eatonton. Among the antebellum homes here is one where a ghost has been seen repeatedly over the years. Doesn't every fine old Southern home deserve a ghost?

South of Eatonton on 441 is Milledgeville, a former capital of Georgia. Among the many fine old homes here is Lockerly Hall, a handsome columned home surrounded by a beautiful arboretum containing thousands of varieties of plants.

Macon is a bit to the west of Milledgeville and the area on the hill overlooking downtown has some fine structures.

To the west of Macon near the Alabama line is LaGrange. There are several fine antebellum beauties here including an early home of Ben Hill.

If you're traveling to Nashville, be sure to stop along the way to visit in Maury County, Tennessee, This area has many beautiful homes and much Confederate history. Among the homes is Elm Springs, national headquarters of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, which is just outside Columbia.

The Black Belt section of Alabama is home to a host of beautiful structures. Most of these are in small towns along Highway 80 which runs east to west through the state. Tuskegee, Lowndesboro, Selma and Demopolis are places to stop and a quick trip north of Demopolis to Eutaw and Greensboro is well worth the time. Don't miss Gaineswood in Demopolis. It is truly one of a kind and spectacular.

In northern Mississippi, Columbus has a number of quality homes with a rather distinctive type of Greek Revival architecture.

The "must see" location in Mississippi is Natchez located on the Mississippi in the southwest corner of the state. The grand mansions here are incredible and a reflection of the time when Natchez was one of the wealthiest cities in the entire South. D'Evereux, Dunleith, Stanton Hall, Melrose and many others will take your breath away.

South of Natchez on Highway 61 is St. Francisville, Louisiana in the Felicianas. Greenwood and Rosedown are the most spectacular of the many fine homes here.

South of Baton Rouge along the east bank River Road are some fabulous old homes. These are generally spaced apart in rural settings and include Ashland (or Belle Helene), L'Hermitage, Houmas and San Francisco. All spectacular.

On the west bank River Road between Donaldsonville and Edgard are magnificent Nottoway, Oak Alley, Felicity and Evergreen among others.

A bit to the west of the Mississippi River and along Bayou Lafourche between Donaldsonville and Thibodeaux you don't want to miss Belle Alliance, Madewood (the finest "temple style" antebellum mansion) and Rienzi and still further west in Cajun country you will find the splendor of Shadows-on-the-Teche and Oaklawn Manor.

I hope everyone reading this will plan a trip soon to visit and view some of these charming towns and magnificent houses. Sadly, many of the finest antebellum homes have been lost forever. We will never again see Forks of Cypress, Mt. Ida, Windsor, Belle Grove, Three Oaks, Uncle Sam, Woodlawn and others except in pictures. While I am thankful for the pictures of these wonderful structures, nothing compares to being there and being overwhelmed with the beauty and majesty of some of the finest hones ever built in this country. These structures still standing are a tribute to the grandeur of the Old South and the vision of those Southrons who came before us. A thing of beauty is, truly, a joy forever.


Bob Hurst is a Southern Patriot who belongs to a number of historical, heritage and ideological organizations. He has a special interest in Confederate history. He also serves as commander of Col. David Lang Camp, Sons of Confederate Veterans, in Tallahassee and 2nd Lt. Commander of the Florida Division, SCV. He can be contacted at or 850-878-7010.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Death of General Robert E. Lee

By Calvin E. Johnson, Jr.

The headline from a Richmond newspaper read: “News of the death of Robert E. Lee, beloved chieftain of the Southern army, whose strategy mainly was responsible for the surprising fight staged by the Confederacy, brought a two-day halt to Richmond's business activities.”

The United States flag, which Robert E. Lee had defended as a soldier, flew at half mast in Lexington, Virginia and throughout the USA.

General Lee died at his home at Lexington , Virginia at 9:30 AM on Wednesday, October 12, 1870. His last great deed came after the War Between the States when he accepted the presidency of Washington College, now Washington and Lee University. He saved the financially troubled college and helped many young folks further their education.

Some write that Robert E. Lee suffered a cerebral hemorrhage on September 28, 1870, but was thought to greatly improve until October 12th, when he took a turn for the worse. His condition seemed more hopeless when his doctor told him, "General you must make haste and get well---Traveller---has been standing too long in his stable and needs exercise."

Virginia Military Institute (VMI) Cadet William Nalle said in a letter home to his mother, dated October 16, 1870: “I suppose of course that you have all read full accounts of Gen Lee's death in the papers. He died on the morning of the 12th at about half past nine. All business was suspended at once all over the country and town, and all duties, military and academic suspended at the Institute, and all the black crape and all similar black material in Lexington, was used up at once, and they had to send on to Lynchburg for more. Every cadet had black crape issued to him, and an order was published at once requiring us to wear it as a badge of mourning for six months.”

Read entire letter on Virginia Military Institute website at:

The rains and flooding were the worse of Virginia's history on the day General Lee died. On Wednesday, October 12, 1870, in the presence of his family, Lee quietly passed away.

The church bells rang as the sad news passed through Washington College, Virginia Military Institute, the town of Lexington and the nation. Cadets from VMI College carried the remains of the old soldier to Lee Chapel where he laid in state.

Memorial meetings were held throughout the South and as far North as New York. At Washington College in Lexington eulogies were delivered by: Reverend Pemberton, Reverend W.S. White--Stonewall Jackson’s Pastor and Reverend J. William Jones. Former Confederate President Jefferson Davis brought the eulogy in Richmond, Virginia. Lee was also eulogized in Great Britain.

When all settled down, Mrs. Robert E. Lee said, "If he had succeeded in gaining by the sword all the South expected and hoped for, he could not have been more honored and lamented."

Many thousands witnessed Lee's funeral procession marching through the town of Lexington, Virginia, with muffled drums and the artillery firing as the hearse was driven to the school's chapel where he was buried.

US President Dwight D. Eisenhower knew and appreciated our nation’s rich history. President Eisenhower was criticized for displaying a portrait of Robert E. Lee in his office. This was part of his response: "Robert E. Lee was, in my estimation, one of the supremely gifted men produced by this nation."

Robert E. Lee was the hero of the Southern people and admired both North and South of the Mason-Dixon Line. This Christian- gentleman's last words were, "Strike the Tent."

There will be a Remembering Robert E. Lee Program at Lee Chapel on Monday, October 12, 2009. For details go to:

Calvin E. Johnson, Jr. is a Freelance writer, Author of book, “When American Stood for God, Family and Country” and a member of the historical group Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


The Army of Northern Virginia of the Sons of Confederate Veterans will kick off the Sesquicentennial of the War Between the States on Saturday, October 3, in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, by holding their annual meeting beginning at 10:30 at the Block house (John Brown’s Fort). The purpose of the meeting is to announce that October 16 will be known as HAYWARD SHEPHERD DAY, honoring the unfortunate black citizen who met his death as John Brown’s first victim 150 years ago.

Hayward, a faithful employee and Baggage Master of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was murdered in furtherance of John Brown’s nefarious scheme to capture the arsenal in that famous city. The SCV will honor Hayward Shepherd by placing a wreath at the 1931 marker honoring him across from the Engine House where Brown’s raid ended. Mr. Richard Hines, a well known historian from Alexandria, Virginia, will discuss the real John Brown.

Many today try to whitewash Brown’s crimes and call him a martyr. Mr. Hines will discuss Brown’s true motivations and his association with a group of famous Northern abolitionists (the Secret 6) who financed his plot and encouraged him to murder and commit crimes against his fellow Americans. The public is welcome to come see the wreath laying and hera Mr. Hines speak.

Anyone desiring information about this ceremony may contact Brag Bowling at 1-804-389-3620.

Brag Bowling
Army of Northern Virginia
Sons of Confederate Veterans

Forrest Raids Memphis Under Cover of Darkness Amidst the August Fog

Gen. N.B. Forrest’s Raid on Memphis in the early morning hours of Sunday August 21, 1864, was a brilliant strategic move to relieve North Mississippi of Union invaders.

Corinth, Mississippi October 20, 2009 -- A unique multimedia presentation on Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest’s famous August 1864 raid on Union occupied Memphis, will be the program at the regular monthly meeting of the Col. W. P. Rogers Camp 321 and the Tippah Tigers Camp 868, Sons of Confederate Veterans. Tuesday October 20, 2009 at 7:00 p.m.

The Raid was one of the most dramatic events of Memphis’ 190 year history.

Location of the meeting will be the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center, 501 West Linden Street, Corinth. Event is open to the public.

Shelby County Historian Edward F. Williams, III, retired Judge Melvin McClure, Jr., local historians Alan Doyle and Steven Johnson have spent twelve months preparing for this highly researched oral presentation and PowerPoint slide show.

Preparation for the program included recreating Gen. Forrest’s ride on the original raid route from Oxford, Mississippi to Memphis. The PowerPoint portion of the presentation will include photos of the raid route, important 19th century and modern day landmarks, plus images of the significant military officers that were involved in the strategic raid.

Gen. Forrest intended to capture the three Union Generals C.C. Washburn, Stephen A. Hurlburt and R.P. Buckland at their quarters in Memphis. His plans were to also release the Confederate sympathizers being held in the Irving Block Prison near Court Square.

For additional information on the event, contact Buddy Ellis.

About Col. W. P. Rogers Camp 321, SCV:

The Sons of Confederate Veterans is a hereditary organization for male descendants of Confederate Soldiers. The SCV continues to serve as a patriotic, historical and non-political organization dedicated to ensuring the true history of the 1861-1865 period is preserved. The Col. W. P. Rogers Camp was organized in 1992.


Commander Buddy Ellis
Col. W. P. Rogers Camp 321, SCV

Saturday, October 03, 2009

A Hispanic Month Tribute to Moses Ezekiel

By Calvin E. Johnson, Jr.

September 15th -October 15th is Hispanic History Month and the Educational Committee of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a national-historical and educational organization, has included an informative Hispanic History Month fact sheet about those who served in the Confederate and Union Armies at:

Some say, Americans know more about sports then they do about their nation’s past. Sports are a wonderful past-time of family fun but there can also be fun in reading stories about great Americans like; George Washington, Robert E. Lee, Booker T. Washington, Florence Nightingale and Moses Ezekiel, with your children and grandchildren.

Please share this story of America’s forgotten past with teachers, young people, family and friends.

Moses J. Ezekiel was born in Richmond, Virginia on October 28, 1844. He was one of fourteen children born to Jacob and Catherine De Castro Ezekiel. His grandparents came to America from Holland in 1808, and were of Jewish-Spanish Heritage.

At the age of 16, and the beginning of the War Between the States, Moses begged his father and mother to allow him to enroll at Virginia Military Institute.

Three years after his enrollment at (VMI) the cadets of the school marched to the aid of Confederate General John C. Breckinridge. Moses Ezekiel joined his fellow cadets in a charge against the Union lines at the "Battle of New Market."

When the War Between the States ended, Moses went back to Virginia Military Institute to finish his studies where he graduated in 1866. According to his letters, which are now preserved by the American Jewish Historical Society, Ezekiel met with Robert E. Lee during this time. Lee encouraged him by saying, "I hope you will be an earn a reputation in whatever profession you undertake.”

The world famous Arlington National Cemetery is located in Virginia and overlooks the Potomac River. At section 16, of the cemetery, is a beautiful Confederate Monument that towers over the graves of 450 Southern soldiers, wives and civilians. These words are inscribed on the memorial:

"Not for fame or reward, not for place or for rank, Not lured by ambition, or goaded by necessity, But in simple obedience to duty, as they understood it, These men sacrificed all, dared all....and died."

The United Daughters of the Confederacy entered into a contract with Moses J. Ezekiel to build this Confederate Monument at Arlington National Cemetery. It is written that he based his work on the words of Prophet Isaiah, "And they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks."

This Confederate Memorial towers 32 and 1/2 feet and is said to be the tallest bronze sculpture at Arlington National Cemetery. On top is a figure of a woman, with olive leaves covering her head, representing the South. She also holds a laurel wreath in her left hand, remembering the Sons of Dixie. On the side of the monument is also a depiction of a Black Confederate marching in step with white soldiers.

Ezekiel was not able to come to the dedication of the monument held on June 4, 1914, with President Woodrow Wilson presiding. Union and Confederate soldiers were present among a crowd of thousands at this historic event.

Moses Jacob Ezekiel studied to be an artist in Italy. As a tribute to his great works, he was knighted by Emperor William I of Germany and King's Humbert I and Victor Emmanuel, II of Italy---thus the title of "Sir."

Among the works of Sir Moses J. Ezekiel are: “Christ Bound for the Cross", "The Martyr", "David singing his song of Glory”, “Moses Receiving the Law on Mount Sinai" and “Stonewall Jackson” located at VMI.

Upon his death in 1917, Moses Ezekiel left behind his request to be buried with his Confederates at Arlington. A burial ceremony was conducted on March 31, 1921, at the amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery. It was presided over by the United States Secretary of War John W. Weeks. He was laid to rest at the foot of the memorial that he had sculptured. Six VMI cadets flanked his casket that was covered with an American flag. Lest We Forget!

Calvin E. Johnson, Jr. is a Freelance Writer, Author of book, "When America Stood for God, Family and Country" and a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.


HAWTHORNE, FL -- The Southern Legal Resource Center is guiding the families of students at Hawthorne Middle and High Schools who have found themselves caught up in a sudden and apparently arbitrary ban on Confederate-themed clothing.

In mid-September, parents and guardians of several middle and high school students in Hawthorne, a small town east of Gainesville in Alachua County, contacted the SLRC after the students had been sent home for wearing t-shirts with designs that incorporated the Confederate battle flag. The incidents took place at the beginning of the new school year in August and parents said there had been no prior warning of a ban on Confederate clothing. Furthermore, they said, such clothing has been worn at the school without incident for many years.

At first, according to parents, Hawthorne Middle/High School Principal Veita Jackson-Carter specifically (although verbally) banned Confederate symbols by name. Later, they said, she amended her position, indicating that she would abide by the results of a written poll that was to be conducted among both students and parents. She then indicated she would delay further action until after a visit to the school on by Southern activist and former NAACP officer H.K. Edgerton.

However, ballots were handed to the students on September 8 and parents’ copies were asked to be returned by September 14, the actual date of Edgerton’s visit. Moreover, copies of the survey obtained by the SLRC show no mention of the Confederate flag or any other specific content. The poll asks respondents to rate, in general terms, the school’s new dress code and several other innovations. The dress code, also obtained by the SLRC, likewise makes no mention of Confederate symbols.

Mrs. Joann Justice, grandmother of two of the affected students, said she received a voice mail message from Ms. Jackson-Carter on September 17, stating that the principal had set aside the written ballots and instead conducted her own “informal poll” among students and faculty as to what they thought about the Confederate flag. The results of this survey, she said in her message, had led her to stand by her original decision to ban Confederate symbols. She did not, according to Mrs. Justice, say how she had conducted her survey or what the actual results were. The principal also stated she had taken a videotape of Edgerton’s lecture to the Alachua County Board of Education for review by Superintendent Daniel Boyd, but did not say what Boyd’s reaction had been. When Mrs. Justice questioned Ms. Jackson-Carter on these points in a follow-up phone conversation, she said the principal “became very irate” and terminated the call.

The SLRC helped Mrs. Justice draft a letter to Superintendent Boyd in which she related her dealings with Ms. Jackson-Carter and asked for clarification of the same points. She hand delivered the letter to Boyd’s office on September 24 but to date has received no response, she said.

“I just appreciate so much the advice we are getting from the SLRC, and we also appreciate all the support and offers of help we are getting” Mrs. Justice said. “We are very confident about the way things are going forward.”

“We have developed a game plan for the Hawthorne situation and we are following it,” said SLRC Executive Director Roger McCredie. “At this point, that involves playing everything pretty close to our vest. We know that feelings are running high in this case, but we would urge folks at this point, unless they are citizens of Alachua County themselves, to refrain from contacting the principal or other school officials.

“We will post new developments as they occur, and meanwhile anybody who would like to be brought up to date is welcome to contact the SLRC and we will be glad to fill them in, to the extent that we can do so without compromising our agenda.”
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