We started our day in Madison, a Georgia town that Sherman spared. There are several versions of why. One, his college roommate, who lived there, asked him to spare the town, Two, he was having an affair with the roommate’s sister, who also lived there and he extended her that courtesy. Which one works for you?
It’s a rather wonderful town. We began with a tour of two cottages, given by Miss Betty. She is still a newcomer, having arrived in Madison to work for the phone company in the early 60’s, when there was no dial tone and you just connected “the ladies” with whoever they wanted to gossip with. She told us very confidentially that “The Help” could easily have been centered here instead of in Mississippi. The only difference is that she says today their help is Mexican.
Next we went to the fancier part of town, where our guide at Heritage Hall, Miss Minnie, told us that she was originally from the North, and in her case that meant West Virginia. She’s paying her dues by helping out all over town. Another 10 or 20 years and she might just get in the Social Register of Madison. And BTW, this town even produced Oliver Hardy. But he left. And he left a beautiful town behind.
Next, to the homes of the leaders of the Confederacy. We went to Crawfordville, the home of Alexander Stephens, Jeff Davis’s vice president. And then onto Washington, to see the home of Robert Toombs, Secretary of State of the Confederacy. Their homes were gracious, but we wanted more, so we went to Callaway Plantation, a wonderful home also in preservation-minded Washington.
Yes, today was a bit of the Antebellum Trail. There is still lots left here to see. Good thing General Sherman got distracted now and again.