Monday, October 20, 2014

Learning about history as we travel

As we have traveled, I have enjoyed reading and learning about the history of the places we visit. When in Gettysburg, as part of  learning more about the Civil War, I bought a copy of "Uncle Tom's Cabin". Every Southern ranger or volunteer I have spoken to about it has told me that they had read parts of it in elementary school, and more in high school history classes. I was aware of the book and its place in history as a propaganda tool used by the abolitionist movement, and the place it had in the "King and I", but I had never actually read it. 

Now I have. I thought it was well written and a good read.

When we got to the North Georgia mountains, I came across a copy of "Cold Mountain," a fictionalized account of a Confederate soldier who deserted and walked home through the Blue Ridge Mountain range. With the hiking we have done around here, I  identified with his travels and found the descriptions of the people he encountered very interesting. I didn't realize I had seen the movie until the very end of the book. I checked and see it is available from Amazon Prime, so we will probably watch it again soon. 

Now, I have just started "Thirteen Moons" written by the same author, Charles Frazier. It is the fictionalized story about a boy who was sent into the Cherokee Nation as an indentured servant to work in a trading post. It looks like it will be a good read. I know a few things about the Cherokee, and am looking forward to learning more.

With that in mind, our Friday drive took us to look at the James Vann House near Chatsworth, GA.

James Vann was the richest Cherokee at the time and built a large home on his plantation.  He was not a "good man," nor was he known to be a "nice man," but he was wealthy.

This was not a teepee in the forest.

Indians ate here. He also entertained many prominent men of his time.

This is a fork. I imagine table manners were not as prim as in later decades.

There were many wonderful quilts on display about the house. This one was up in the master bedroom. 

This was the story.

I was amazed at how well preserved this quilt was.  I don't think it was ever actually used since there was not a stain or a fray to be found. Having been made in the early 1800s it is 200 years old. 

There were also a number of Cherokee buildings that had been moved to the house property and restored. This was a typical cabin of a "poor" Cherokee family. A sign of this was the log chimney. They used this type of construction because they could not afford the mortar necessary for a stone structure. To keep it from catching fire, they lined the inside of the chimney with mud. 

It was a one room cabin with a very large loft. Typically they did not have windows so it must have been quite dark when the door was closed in winter. One of the interesting facts the ranger told us was that in summer they would knock out sections of the chinking between the logs for ventilation, and then fill them back up in fall.

Kudus to the State of Georgia for restoring these structures and making them available for travelers like us. 

Now that the rain has stopped, the air has been brisk and the breeze glorious. I am looking forward to a couple of nice hikes in the upcoming week. There are a few more waterfalls to be seen, and hopefully other things as well.


  1. That's a great idea to get books about the areas you are traveling to. Sometimes when I travel, I think, did I forget this piece of history or did I not learn about it in school.

  2. Are you getting itchy feet? Or are you enjoying the break and having time for reading? These books must be bringing the areas to life for you.

    (p.s. glad you were motivated the other day! I wish I could call-up that energy more often - without the downside of course)

  3. I've been wondering how you are feeling. Is the frequent change of scenery and lack of overwhelming responsibility of getting the house ready helping you to keep your mood on an even keel?


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