Ryan and I have really enjoyed discovering new information about the antebellum South and Civil War. It has been interesting too, seeing things from a Southern perspective. Take, for example, the following:
Kate: “So, during the civil war…”
Jeff, docent of Church of the Cross, built in 1857: “Actually down here they call it the War of Northern Aggression…”
Kate: “Ha ha!”
Jeff: “No, that’s true…”
Kate: “Jeff, you’re from Chicago!”
Jeff: “Well, yes…” (Jeff chuckles)
Kate: “…I really like the stained glass.”
Church of the Cross was actually left standing while the rest of Bluffton was burnt to the ground by Union soldiers. It is made completely of board and batten pine and is surrounded by live oaks. Parishioners’ ashes are laid to rest amongst the trees overlooking the bluff. Jeff said it’s made him think twice about cremation. “Seems like a good place to rest and saves you about $10,000!”
My favorite part was seeing where their “holy honey” is made. Over the years, bees have made a home in between the long pine boards of the church. The church still keeps 11 active hives today.
Ryan and I also visited the remains of Mitchelville, a town built during the Civil War by “contraband” slaves. These were escaped slaves who were not yet considered “freemen,” and it was one of the very first towns of its kind, and ultimately became the first self-governing community of freed slaves. Though not much remains but the land itself, you can not escape a certain feeling. The Toni Morrison Society placed one of her “Benches by the Road” here so visitors can reflect upon the strength of the people who made new lives on the very land you walk on.
We biked to Fort Howell, an earthen fort constructed by the Union to protect Mitchelville. They never needed it though. It was completed right before the war ended. Fun fact: earthen forts aren’t easy to maintain. As we entered, I asked Ryan where it was. “You’re standing on it.” I blame erosion.
I did get to see a painted art piece of one of my heroes, the one and only, Harriet Tubman. What a powerhouse of a woman. Anyone have any book recommendations on her life story? Comment and let me know. I’d love to read about her where she did so much of her work.
Well, it’s time for this carpet bagger to sign off. I will leave you with an antebellum farewell as I rock into the sunset.