Georgia’s Unique Museums

From Antebellum Southern tradition to Gullah Geechee culture; from presidential houses to prestigious golf tournaments – Georgia has something to meet everyone’s interest. And Georgia’s museums reflect that diversity. Here are five of Georgia’s most unique museums to explore while seeking out all that is interesting and offbeat:

Road to Tara Museum: In Jonesboro you can discover all you’d ever want to know about Gone With the Wind. Margaret Mitchell’s book was based in no small part off of her grandparents’ tales from a plantation just outside the city. The museum offers a glimpse into the story, combining the real history of the Civil War’s Atlanta Campaign and Battle of Jonesboro with Margaret Mitchell’s fictional tale and Hollywood’s Gone With the Wind. From tribute dolls of every character to Scarlett O’Hara’s underpants, this museum is the perfect stop for any fan of this timeless story of the South.Road to Tara Museum

Georgia Rural Telephone Museum: Housed in a renovated 1920s cotton warehouse in Leslie, this museum houses the world’s largest collection of telephones and telephone memorabilia. Here you’ll find the rarest examples of telecommunication stretching back to 1876, including presidential candidate Jimmy Carter’s two 1970s switchboards used during his campaign, the phone used to announce President McKinely had been shot in 1897 and even a jukebox phone!

Crawford W. Long Museum: Did you know the first use of ether as an anesthetic was by a Georgia surgeon? This Jefferson-located museum commemorates Dr. Long’s role in the development of one of the most important advances in medical procedures. Head to Jackson County to experience how this country doctor-turned-surgeon for the Confederacy became the ‘father of painless surgery.Crawford W. Long Museum

The Panoramic Encyclopedia of Everything Elvis: Why travel to Graceland or spend outrageous amounts of money seeing impersonators in Vegas when you can have everything Elvis here in Georgia!? Located on the third floor of the Loudermouth Boarding House (which is on the National Register of Historic Places) in Cornelia, this experience celebrates Elvis’s successes and well as his flaws. If you love The King, you have to check out Everything Elvis – it is, after all, the only museum to house a body part of his: the Elvis Wart.

Billy Carter Gas Station Museum: While Jimmy Carter was busy running the country, younger brother Billy was busy running a local gas station. The Plains establishment features some of the First Brother’s unique wardrobe choices, as well as many empty cans of the short-lived beer named for him: Billy Beer. The next time you’re visiting the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site, take a quick detour to experience the life of one of the best known presidential siblings.Billy Carter's Service Station Museum

Civil War Wednesday: Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski

Fort Pulaski, Library of Congress HABS GA, 26-SAV.V, 2-50

“From the position the enemy has taken in the Savannah River, it becomes necessary that you look to your defense in that direction.”[1] On February 17, 1862, General Robert E. Lee wrote these words to Colonel Charles Olmstead, the officer responsible for the garrison of 385 soldiers holding Fort Pulaski. For Lee, this occasion did not mark his first visit to Georgia, or to Fort Pulaski. As a young lieutenant in the late 1820s, Lee, after graduating from the United States Military Academy at West Point, took his engineering training to Georgia’s coast.

During the aftermath of the War of 1812, the United States began building a series of coastal fortifications – The Third System. On Cockspur Island in the Savannah River, construction had started on a fortification named in honor of Casimir Pulaski, a native of Poland, who led cavalry troopers during the American Revolution.[2] While Lee influenced the early design of Fort Pulaski, advancements in artillery in the years leading up to the Civil War would prove the death knell of masonry fortifications.

Captain Quincy Gillmore

Captain Quincy Gillmore, Library of Congress LC-DIG-cwpb-06490

Seeking to seal the port of Savannah, and cut the number of blockade-runners making safe passage into the city, the Federals began preparations for taking Fort Pulaski in January 1862. Captain Quincy Gillmore received the task of landing troops and artillery on nearby Tybee Island, and positioning his artillery to launch a bombardment of the fort. Gillmore’s soldiers stepped onto the sandy shores on February 21, but several days passed as the men worked in the marshy areas, busily constructing roads and gun placements. Finally, with all preparations complete, the Federal guns opened fire on the morning of April 10. The artillery – many of the guns rifled – soon found their mark, and the shells started reducing the walls of the fort to rubble. Olmstead realized he held a position no longer tenable; the following day, he surrendered Fort Pulaski.[3]

Colonel Charles Olmstead

Colonel Charles Olmstead, Fort Pulaski National Monument—Georgia, gutenberg.org

Reporting on the mission’s success, Gillmore wrote to department commander, Major General David Hunter. “I have the honor to transmit herewith the terms of capitulation for the surrender to the United States of Fort Pulaski, Ga…the fort hoisted the white flag at a quarter before 2 o’clock this afternoon…a practicable breach in the walls was made in eighteen and a half hours’ firing by daylight.”[4] The fort would remain in Federal possession during the balance of the war, and later served as a prison, which held captured Confederates.

Today, the National Park Service manages the Fort Pulaski National Monument. Please visit http://www.nps.gov/fopu/index.htm for details in planning your next visit to historic Savannah, and Fort Pulaski!

 

[1] U.S. War Department, The War of the Rebellion Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, reprint 1899 ed., Series I, vol. 6 (Harrisburg, PA: National Historical Society, 1971), 389. (Hereafter listed as O.R.)

[2] Casimir Pulaski, National Park Service, http://www.nps.gov/fopu/learn/historyculture/casimir-pulaski.htm (accessed May 28, 2015).

[3] J.E. Kaufmann and H.W. Kaufmann, Fortress America: The Forts That Defended America, 1600 to the Present (Cambridge, MA: Da Capo, 2004), 254–57.

[4] O.R., 139.

 

MikeMichael K. Shaffer is a Civil War historian, author, newspaper columnist, and lecturer. He can be contacted at: www.civilwarhistorian.net.

 

Civil War Wednesday: The 11th Georgia Infantry at Gettysburg

Brigadier General George “Tige” Anderson; Courtesy Digital Library of Georgia

July 2, 1863, day two of the fighting at Gettysburg, found the corps of Lieutenant General James Longstreet launching an attack against the left of the Federal position. The resultant hard fighting produced many casualties among the roughly 94,000 Federal troops of Major General George Meade, and the Army of Northern Virginia, under the command of General Robert E. Lee – a force of almost 72,000 soldiers. The various battles of the day introduced new place names into the American lexicon – Devil’s Den, Little Round Top, The Peach Orchard, and The Wheatfield. The action in the Wheatfield involved several of more than 40 Georgia units engaged at Gettysburg; however, none would suffer as greatly as the 11th Georgia Infantry Regiment, part of Brigadier General George “Tige” Anderson’s brigade in Major General John Bell Hood’s Division, Longstreet’s Corps.

Major Henry McDaniel; Courtesy Vanishing Georgia Collection, Georgia Archives

As the late afternoon of brutal fighting unfolded, the brave men of the 11th Georgia, along with other Georgians, South Carolinians, Texans, and Arkansans struggled to drive the Federal troops from the Wheatfield. Anderson’s brigade became the first Southern element to reach the Wheatfield. Once there, they confronted Colonel Regis de Trobriand’s brigade, specifically the soldiers of the 17th Maine positioned on their left. A stonewall dividing the Wheatfield from the surrounding countryside marked a coveted position on the field, and the Georgians twice crossed the barrier only to face a withering fire, which forced them to withdraw. Sometime after 5:30 p.m., Anderson fell wounded, and command of the brigade transferred to the 11th Georgia’s Colonel Francis Little. Lieutenant Colonel William Luffman took charge of the 11th until he too received a wound, leaving the Georgians to continue the fight under yet another new officer – twenty-six-year-old Major Henry McDaniel. McDaniel would survive the carnage of Gettysburg and the balance of the war’s engagements to become Georgia’s governor in 1883. Many of McDaniel’s men did not escape the arena of death in the Wheatfield. A Georgia officer participating in the attack noted, “We rallied the men and charged the third time almost into the mouths of their cannons…I could hear bones crash like glass in a hailstorm.”[1] Three hundred nine soldiers of the 11th entered the battle of July 2; at the day’s end, the number of dead, wounded, or missing totaled 201, for a 65 percent casualty rate – among the highest in Lee’s entire army during the three days of fighting at Gettysburg.[2]


[1] J. Keith Jones, Georgia Remembers Gettysburg: A Collection of First-Hand Accounts Written by Georgia Soldiers (Gettysburg, PA: Ten Roads Publishing, 2013), 21.

[2] J. David Petruzzi and Steven Stanley, The Gettysburg Campaign in Numbers and Losses: Synopses, Orders of Battle, Strengths, Casualties, and Maps, June 9-July 14, 1863 (El Dorado Hills, CA: Savas Beatie, 2012), 124.

mikeMichael K. Shaffer is the Assistant Director and Lecturer for Kennesaw State University’s Civil War Center. He is a Civil War historian, author, and newspaper columnist, and a member of the Society of Civil War Historians. He serves on the boards of the Civil War Round Table of Cobb County and the River Line Historic Area, and assists the Friends of Camp McDonald as a Civil War consultant.

The Civil War Center

A Tale of Two Roosevelts: Franklin

Two of America’s best-loved Presidents have filled the annals of history with great oration, innovative governing and decisions that would affect generations to come. They shared not only a last name but also a love for the state of Georgia.

In this two-part series, we will explore both Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt’s affiliations with and affections for the state of Georgia. Today, President Franklin Roosevelt.

Franklin Roosevelt- A Georgia History:

354-Franklin Delanor Roosevelt Little White House-Meriwether County-State Historic Sites-SR0634Unlike Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt’s association with Georgia began not through his ancestors, but directly from Franklin himself. After contracting polio in August of 1921, Roosevelt sought therapies that could help him overcome his paralysis. Columbus, Georgia native and Democratic party power player George Foster Peabody urged Roosevelt to visit Warm Springs, Georgia. On October 3, 1924 Roosevelt arrived in Warm Springs for the first time. Over the next 21 years Mr. Roosevelt visited Warm Springs on over 40 occasions staying for extended periods of time.

Commercial air travel from Atlanta to New York with service by Eastern Air Transport began on December 10, 1930 with an inaugural flight including then- New York Governor Roosevelt, Georgia Governor-elect Richard B. Russell, U.S. Senator Walter George (Georgia), and Ernie Pyle.

May 22, 1932 Roosevelt addressed the Class of 1932 at Oglethorpe University just outside of Atlanta where he delivered stirring commentary on the state of the economy and where graduates fit in, saying, “We need enthusiasm, imagination and the ability to face facts, even unpleasant ones, bravely. We need to correct, by drastic means if necessary, the faults in our economic system from which we now suffer. We need the courage of the young. Yours is not the task of making your way in the world, but the task of remaking the world which you will find before you. May every one of us be granted the courage, the faith and the vision to give the best that is in us to that remaking!”

He returned to the state a few months later on October 25, 1932 and at a campaign stop at Union Station in Atlanta saying, “This is a day I shall never forget. I will see the eager faces and the lighted eyes of my fellow Georgians as long as I live. There are no words that can describe how I feel. I can just only imagine. I am deeply and everlastingly grateful to the people of this great state. I am proud to call it home.”

Present-day Little White House

Present-day Little White House

On March 4, 1933, Franklin Roosevelt took office at the nation’s 32nd president. Eight months later, on November 18, 1933, Roosevelt traveled to and spoke in Savannah in celebration of the 200 year anniversary of the establishment of Georgia. Saying there that, “I am glad to be back on Georgia soil. I am hurrying to Warm Springs with special interest, for I shall find there a splendid new building, given to the cause of helping crippled children by the citizens of the State of Georgia.”

While President, Roosevelt continued his visits between New York, Washington D.C. and Warm Springs. In April of 1936, an F4 tornado plowed through downtown Gainesville, causing catastrophic damage. On April 9, Roosevelt stopped in Gainesville on his way from Washington D.C. to Warm Springs noting the “great loss of life that has occurred here.”

Okeefenokee Swamp

Okeefenokee Swamp

FDR was instrumental in continuing the habitat of Georgia’s wildlife, creating two National Wildlife Refuges in the state- Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in 1937 and Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge in 1939.

Roosevelt’s final years in officer were involved more with the United States relationships with other nations involved in World War II. He continued to visit his home in Warm Springs and on April 12, 1945 FDR collapsed at his desk there, dying a short time later.

Following his death, his body would make one last trip through Georgia as his funeral train brought his body from Warm Springs through Atlanta on its way to Washington D.C.

See President Franklin Roosevelt’s History in Georgia:

Roosevelt’s Little White House Historic Site– Located in Warm Springs, this home is where Roosevelt lived when in Warm Springs and where he died. It is currently operated as a museum by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge– Located on the Florida-Georgia border, the Refuge is made up of 402,000 acres which offer visitors boating, hiking and fishing.

Union Station- Located over the tracks on Spring and Fosyth Streets before being razed in 1972, Union Station was the smaller of Atlanta’s two train stations and serviced several passenger rail companies. Today, Underground Atlanta sits on much of the old Union Station site. Click here to see images of the station.

Oglethorpe University– The campus of Oglethorpe University is located in the new city of Brookhaven. It’s gothic campus contains the Crypt of Civilization which contains a time capsule that was sealed in 1940 and is set to be opened in 8113.

eileenEileen Falkenberg-Hull is a digital marketing professional based in Atlanta who first visited Georgia in 1994 and decided that when she graduated from college she would make Georgia her home. Since 2007 that dream has been a reality. She is the founder and executive director of Occupy My Family.

A Tale of Two Roosevelts: Theodore

Two of America’s best-loved Presidents have filled the annals of history with great oration, innovative governing and decisions that would affect generations to come. They shared not only a last name but also a love for the state of Georgia.

In this two-part series, we will explore both Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt’s affiliations with and affections for the state of Georgia. Today, President Theodore Roosevelt.

Theodore Roosevelt- A Georgia History:

teddy06_custom-a73ad5241303993d9753be5cf1a8025e8216a972-s6-c30Theodore Roosevelt was born October 27, 1858 and went on to become the 26th President of the United States. The Roosevelt family’s roots run far back in American colonial history and Theodore’s mother’s family lived in Charleston, South Carolina before heading down the coast to Savannah, Georgia in 1760. Theodore’s great-grandfather on his mother’s side, Captain James Bulloch and his wife Ann Irvine had a son named James Stephens Bulloch who was born in Savannah in 1793.

James Stephens Bulloch’s second marriage was to Martha Stewart Elliott occurred at the Old Elliott House in Savannah (now demolished) and they went on to have four children the second being named Martha Bulloch.The family left Savannah in 1839 and moved to Cobb County, Georgia (which then included parts of modern-day Fulton County) where James Stephens Bulloch’s business partner Roswell King was establishing a cotton mill near what is today downtown Roswell.

Bulloch Hall

Present-day Bulloch Hall

Needing a place to live, in 1840 the Roosevelt family built Bulloch Hall using slave labor. It was in the dining room of that home that on December 22, 1853 Theodore “Thee” Roosevelt Sr. married Mittie Bulloch at the beginning of what would be a weeklong celebration that had the entire Southeastern U.S. talking.

Thee was born in 1831 to Cornelius Van Shaack Roosevelt, a businessman from New York City whose family had been in New York already for four generations, and Margaret Barnhill. Cornelius’s father, James Roosevelt had already made a fortune importing hardware and after school Cornelius joined the family business increasing the family’s worth making himself one of the five richest men in New York City at the time of his father’s death.Thee also joined the family business, increasing his personal and family wealth becoming a founder of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History among other revered New York City institutions.

When Thee was 19, he journeyed to Roswell, Georgia with his friend Hilborne West who was married to Mittie Bulloch’s half sister, Susan Elliott. Five years younger than Thee, Mittie was unimpressed with the gentleman from the North and would feel the same way until they met again in Philadelphia in January 1953. Following their December 1853 wedding, Mittie and Thee moved to New York City where they soon had a brood of four which included Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.

During his childhood, the future President heard about his mother’s childhood home in Roswell and following a visit in 1905, he wrote to his son Kermit that “It was really very touching coming to Roswell, my mother’s home. I had heard all about it when I was small from my mother and aunt, and I recognized a great many of the places and felt about them just as if I had seen them while a child. ”

He recalled his Southern roots while speaking in Roswell saying,

“I hardly like to say how deeply my heart is moved by coming back here among you. Among the earliest recollections I half a child is hearing from my mother and my aunt (Miss Annie Bulloch, she then was) about Roswell; of how the Pratts, and Kings, and Dunwoodys, and Bullochs came here first to settle; about the old homestead, the house on the hill; about the Chattahoochee…”

Present-day Piedmont Park

Present-day Piedmont Park

In addition to his visit to Bulloch Hall, President Theodore Roosevelt spent many hours touring some of Atlanta’s most treasured sites on October 20, 1905 including Piedmont Park where he gave a speech calling the city, “this mighty city, an industrial centre of the Union, in a great agricultural State.”

Following his presidency, Roosevelt returned to Georgia on October 8, 1910 to give a speech at what is now Berry College praising the hard work and dedication to education of Martha Berry.

On March 9, 1911, Roosevelt spoke before the Southern Commercial Congress in Atlanta where he referred to himself as a “fellow Georgian.”

In 1915 Roosevelt returned to Georgia for one last time speaking at the Terminal Station in Atlanta. Knocked down decades ago, the Richard B. Russell Federal Building has sat in that location since 1979.

Despite spending most of his life in New York City and Washington, D.C. Theodore Roosevelt never forgot his Georgia roots and was immensely proud of the role his family played in establishing the state and its commercial industries and made his heritage clear each time he visited the state.

See President Theodore Roosevelt’s History in Georgia:

Bulloch Hall- Located in Historic Downtown Roswell, Georgia, Bulloch Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and can be toured daily with the exception of major holidays.

Piedmont Park– The site of one of Theodore Roosevelt’s speeches while he was President, Piedmont Park is Atlanta’s largest park at 189 acres. History enthusiasts are invited to take one of the walking tours of the park offered by the Piedmont Park Conservancy.

The Wren’s Nest– Joel Chandler Harris, the author of the Uncle Remus stories was a good friend of President Roosevelt and a resident of Atlanta. The home Harris lived in stands as a museum dedicated to his life’s work. In 1910, Roosevelt spearheaded efforts to turn The Wren’s Nest into a museum and urged the American public to donate to the campaign.

Berry College – This independent four-year college is just outside Rome, Georgia and its founder Martha Berry earned praise from President Theodore Roosevelt during his visits to the school.

Old Elliott House- This home in Savannah, Georgia is the home where James Stephens Bulloch’s married Martha Stewart Elliott on May 8, 1832. Long since demolished, visit it online by clicking here.

Bulloch-Habersham House- The old house was located on Orleans Square was designed by William Jay in 1820 for Archibald Bulloch, Mittie Bulloch’s great-grandfather and a noted stateman in Savannah. It was demolished before 1915 to make way for a Municipal Auditorium. Today, the Civic Center stands where the home used to be. Click here to see pictures of the home.

Eileen Falkenberg-Hull

Eileen Falkenberg-Hull is a digital marketing professional based in Atlanta who first visited Georgia in 1994 and decided that when she graduated from college she would make Georgia her home. Since 2007 that dream has been a reality. She is the founder and executive director of Occupy My Family.