Itineraries – Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area http://www.mississippihills.org Just another WordPress site Mon, 05 Jun 2017 14:42:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.6.8 The March to Freedom – Tour http://www.mississippihills.org/the-march-to-freedom-tour/ Tue, 03 Mar 2015 04:22:15 +0000 http://www.mississippihills.org/?p=704 If American civil rights was a journey of a thousand steps, those first steps were taken here by some remarkable people. People like Ida B. Wells, who was born a slave and became a hero to millions as a crusading journalist and activist; and James Meredith, an Air Force veteran who’d answered his country’s call […]

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If American civil rights was a journey of a thousand steps, those first steps were taken here by some remarkable people. People like Ida B. Wells, who was born a slave and became a hero to millions as a crusading journalist and activist; and James Meredith, an Air Force veteran who’d answered his country’s call with honor and saw no reason for America to give a deferment to his own dream.

Following in the footsteps of leaders like these takes you through historic cities and welcoming communities proud of their African American heritage and pleased to share it with you. And it is a journey that offers not only a revealing glimpse of the past, but also a hopeful view of the future in a nation now led by President Barack Obama, who in a sense added the last word to the Lincoln-Douglas debate with his own superior performance here in the 2008 Presidential debate.

While there are other notable African-American stories in the Hills—including Oprah in Koscuisko, diva and Rust College alumnus Ruby Elzy in Pontotoc, Howlin’ Wolf in West Point—this is a trek that promises a wealth of information for your own inspiration, and it begins, appropriately enough, at a crossroads.

 

Day 1

 CORINTH

A lot of roads led to Corinth, known as the “Crossroads of the Western Confederacy” during the Civil War, and on those roads came escaped slaves by the thousands. Not yet legally free, they were declared “contraband” by the Union army to prevent their seizure by Southern planters. These “contraband” humans were put into a camp, but like a rose in the desert, the camp bloomed, miraculously, into a model community, self-sustaining in every sense.

Today, what you’ll find blooming in Corinth is a communal spirit and a pride of place that turns an ordinary visit into a sociable event, with a menu that includes plenty of friendly people and maybe an old-fashioned cherry soda and a slugburger or two. (Don’t worry, they’re named for the nickel—the so-called slug—they used to cost.)

HOLLY SPRINGS

There are plenty of grand historic mansions in Holly Springs, but what is even more impressive are the stories of Ida B. Wells-Barnett, a vocal anti-lynching advocate and early Civil Rights heroine, and Rust College, an historically-black institution of higher learning founded on the grounds of a former slave market. World-class accomplishment, whether civil rights or education, is a Holly Springs hallmark.

902 North Parkway, Corinth, Mississippi 38834, United States

Established by Union General Grenville M. Dodge to accommodate African-American refugees, the camp featured numerous homes, a church, school and hospital. The freedmen cultivated and sold cotton and vegetables in a progressive cooperative farm program. By August 1863, over 1,000 African American children and adults gained the ability to read through the efforts of various benevolent organizations. Although the camp had a modest beginning, it became a model and allowed for approximately 6,000 ex-slaves to establish their own individual identities.

1501 W. Linden Street, Corinth, Mississippi 38834, United States

The Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center is operated by the National Park Service as part of Shiloh National Military Park. The 12,000-square-foot facility interprets the key role of Corinth in the Civil War’s western theater. The rail crossing at Corinth ranked second only to the Confederate capital at Richmond in terms of strategic importance for more than a six-month period of 1862. During the war, Corinth was fortified heavily by both Federal and Confederate forces. The Interpretive Center is located near the site of Battery Robinett, a Union fortification that was witness to some of the bloodiest fighting of the Civil War.

200 North Randolph Street, Holly Springs, Mississippi 38635, United States

Located in the Spires Bolling/Gatewood House and named for Civil Rights heroine Ida B. Wells-Barnett, the museum shares the contributions of African Americans in the fields of history, art and culture.

150 Rust Avenue, Holly Springs, Mississippi 38635, United States

Rust College is a historically-black, coeducational, senior liberal arts college founded in 1866 by the Freedman’s Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

 

Day 2

 OXFORD

The world will and should long remember both the courage and carnage of those groundbreaking days at the University of Mississippi in 1962, but you may want to forget all the preconceived notions you may have about the “ole” in Ole Miss and Oxford, which today is a progressive university community thriving in its 21st century paradoxes. It was really only fitting that Barack Obama make history here in the 2008 presidential debate. Oxford today is a place where Southern culture is a deep and all-inclusive experience and where historic homes share the stage with happening clubs and restaurants.

COLUMBUS

Columbus made its own special strides in creating a rich and vibrant African-American community from the earliest days of settlement. Today, while the bustling mecca of Catfish Alley exists only as marked memories, several historic homes built by African Americans and some of the churches that began life as brush arbors still stand to inspire.

University of Mississippi, 1806 University Circle, Oxford, Mississippi 38655, United States

Completed in 1848, the Lyceum was the first building constructed on campus, and visitors can still see the bullet holes in the building’s Ionic columns from the riots surrounding James Meredith’s historic 1962 enrollment.  The Civil Rights Monument was dedicated in 2006 to commemorate the the efforts of James Meredith and others who strove to create educational opportunities for all.

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Crossroads of the Confederacy – Tour http://www.mississippihills.org/crossroads-of-the-confederacy-tour/ Tue, 03 Mar 2015 04:17:50 +0000 http://www.mississippihills.org/?p=701 When it came to fighting in the Mississippi Hills, the Confederate Army may have been outgunned, but it was the Union Army that got outfoxed, repeatedly, as the Confederates stayed in the game by staying on their toes:  their tiptoes, that is.  P.G.T. Beauregard sneaked his men out of Corinth in the dark of night […]

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When it came to fighting in the Mississippi Hills, the Confederate Army may have been outgunned, but it was the Union Army that got outfoxed, repeatedly, as the Confederates stayed in the game by staying on their toes:  their tiptoes, that is.  P.G.T. Beauregard sneaked his men out of Corinth in the dark of night to evade capture; in the light of early morning, Earl Van Dorn and his men sneaked up on Grant’s forces at Holly Springs to devastate Union supplies.  The Confederate fires at Holly Springs were breathtaking in every sense, but the business of battle was fairly chivalrous.  Still, there was plenty of hard fighting and more than a little high drama at the “Crossroads of the Western Confederacy,” where two vital railroads converged and two armies clashed in almost record numbers, with the period between the Battle of Shiloh and the Siege of Corinth in 1862 seeing the largest-ever amassing of troops in the Western Hemisphere.

Nathan Bedford Forrest helped make his reputation in the Mississippi Hills, in a decisive late-war victory at Brice’s Crossroads, while U.S. Grant made a blunder nearly fatal to his command when he stretched his army from Holly Springs to Oxford and beyond, a line so taut it snapped at a surprise Confederate assault—another wily maneuver.

After the debacle at Holly Springs, Grant and his men had to march home foraging as they went.  However, on your march through these fascinating Civil War sites, following in the footsteps of giants, you’ll be well-fed and well-received in towns and communities ready to win you over with a charm offensive second to none.

Day 1

 

TUPELO/BALDWYN

The Tupelo/Baldwyn area saw a lot of late-war action with Nathan Bedford Forrest’s determined but ultimately unsuccessful bid to take down Sherman’s rail supplies.  It was a rare failure for these parts.  Generally speaking, this area is known for its notable successes—even the Confederate general himself enjoyed a legend-cementing upset victory here at Brice’s Crossroads.

Other brilliant careers that began here included that of the King of Rock and Roll, and more recently the city scored its own successful comeback, with the rejuvenated downtown Fairpark District, a great place to shop and dine-so great you may very well want to stage your own comeback after you’ve stopped at these history-rich sites:

CORINTH

Highly prized as a junction for the Mobile & Ohio and Memphis & Charleston railroads, Corinth, the “Crossroads of the Western Confederacy,” was besieged and seized, but only after the battle of Shiloh was fought over it.  Today, the city is still a crossroads, where past and present converge in a beguiling blend of Southern culture and history.  It’s the sort of town where a jewelry store shows its wares in a gem of a restored Italianate building, and where you can still order a cherry soda from an authentic soda fountain at the oldest family-owned pharmacy in the state.

Tradition here runs as deep as the nation’s largest and best-preserved example of military earthworks, which still line the landscape.

COLUMBUS

If you’d rather head south than north, make your way to Columbus. While no battles were fought in here, the reverberations of war echoed throughout the mansion-lined streets of this city, particularly when it was conscripted into service to treat the wounded after Shiloh.  Columbus was home to Confederate General Stephen D. Lee, who ordered the first shot at Fort Sumter—the man who, in effect, started the Civil War.  Yet it was also the women of Columbus who, in their way, brought an end the war, showing a grace in their treatment of the graves of war dead that set a new standard, and eventually led to new holiday for the entire nation.

In a charm-filled city where many of those mansions remain, you’ll find those dramatic beginnings and gracious endings.

599 Grisham Street, Baldwyn, Mississippi 38824, United States

The center interprets the Battle of Brice’s Crossroads, fought June 10, 1864, and the Battle of Harrisburg/Old Town Creek, fought July 13-15, 1864. These two battles are focus of indoor and outdoor exhibits at both battlefields. Visitors can enjoy a complete look at the Civil War that will include a civil war timeline, a memorial and remembrance wall, an exhibit outlining “Mississippi in the Civil War”, army definitions, and a complete story of Brice’s Crossroads and Harrisburg-Old Town Creek battles. The 4000 sq. ft. interpretive center has restrooms, a bookstore, flag exhibit, video and exhibit area and a conference room.  /  The Confederate victory at Brices Cross Roads was a significant victory for Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest, but its long term effect on the war proved costly for the Confederates. Brice’s Cross Roads is an excellent example of winning the battle, but losing the war.

1501 W. Linden Street, Corinth, Mississippi 38834, United States

The Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center is operated by the National Park Service as part of Shiloh National Military Park. The 12,000-square-foot facility interprets the key role of Corinth in the Civil War’s western theater. The rail crossing at Corinth ranked second only to the Confederate capital at Richmond in terms of strategic importance for more than a six-month period of 1862. During the war, Corinth was fortified heavily by both Federal and Confederate forces. The Interpretive Center is located near the site of Battery Robinett, a Union fortification that was witness to some of the bloodiest fighting of the Civil War.

902 North Parkway, Corinth, Mississippi 38834, United States

Established by Union General Grenville M. Dodge to accommodate African-American refugees, the camp featured numerous homes, a church, school and hospital. The freedmen cultivated and sold cotton and vegetables in a progressive cooperative farm program. By August 1863, over 1,000 African American children and adults gained the ability to read through the efforts of various benevolent organizations. Although the camp had a modest beginning, it became a model and allowed for approximately 6,000 ex-slaves to establish their own individual identities.

South 4th Street, Columbus, Mississippi 39701, United States

Friendship Cemetery was the site of the original observance that led to America’s Memorial Day.  In April of 1866, Columbus ladies laid flowers at the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers.  Four generals and over 2,000 soldiers are buried here.

316 North 7th Street, Columbus, Mississippi 39701, United States

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this restored Georgian-Greek Revival mansion, built in 1847, was once the home of Confederate General Stephen D. Lee, first President of MSU, first Superintendent of Vicksburg National Park, founder of the United Confederate Veterans, and first Chairman of the Board for the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.  The house is fully furnished and includes personal items of the Lee family and the museum upstairs houses a treasure trove of Civil War artifacts and collections.

 

Day 2

HOLLY SPRINGS It was the invitation to a ball that helped do in Grant’s troops here—the previous evening’s festivities left them slumbering happily, so that when Van Dorn’s raiders galloped in, 1500 Union troops were captured in no time at all.   Today, this historic town is still just as captivating, with an ingratiating charm that will win you over as quickly as those Union soldiers. OXFORD “For every Southern boy fourteen years old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it’s still not yet two o’clock on that July afternoon in 1863,” Faulkner wrote of Pickett’s Charge, the Confederate’s doomed assault during Gettysburg, a battle that had special resonance for Faulkner’s home town.  Shiloh proved crucial, too, for it turned the University into a hospital, and later the site of a graveyard, for soldiers on both sides. A town steeped in history, Oxford is also a great place to soak up Southern culture at its finest, and, surprisingly, at its most forward-thinking.   Which means you can dine at any of a number of excellent restaurants, devour world-class literature at one of the nation’s preeminent independent bookstores, and take in connoisseur-worthy musical stylings at one of the area’s clubs.

East Elder Avenue, Holly Springs, Mississippi 38635, United States

This cemetery is the burial site of 11 Confederate Generals including Confederate Maj. Gen. Edward Cary Walthall, Brig. Gen. Winfield Scott Featherston, Brig. Gen. Samuel Benton, Brig. Gen. Daniel and Chevilette Govan. It is also the burial site of victims of the 1878 yellow fever epidemic, as well as Hiram Revels, the 1st African American elected to the United States Senate.

339 County Road 102, Oxford, Mississippi 38655, United States

The sanctuary, built in 1844, is the oldest Presbyterian structure in North Mississippi and the oldest church building in the Oxford area. Constructed of bricks fired on the site, the building was completed in 1846 at a total cost of $2,809.75. The pulpit, the pews, and the pew gates are the original furnishings. Events of interest include the encampment on these grounds by Union troops of Generals Grant and Sherman, and the marriage of author William Faulkner. The church cemetery contains a number of unmarked Union soldiers’ graves, along with slave burial sites and many Confederate soldiers’ burial sites.

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American Cultural Icons – Tour http://www.mississippihills.org/american-cultural-icons/ Tue, 03 Mar 2015 02:39:06 +0000 http://www.mississippihills.org/?p=686 Let’s start with the facts: the artists of the Mississippi Hills rocked the world, and the roll call of genius you’ll meet on this tour is pretty amazing: artists like Faulkner, Elvis, Tennessee Williams, Howlin’ Wolf. On the page and on the stage, these giants created American culture as we know it, and here in […]

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Let’s start with the facts: the artists of the Mississippi Hills rocked the world, and the roll call of genius you’ll meet on this tour is pretty amazing: artists like Faulkner, Elvis, Tennessee Williams, Howlin’ Wolf. On the page and on the stage, these giants created American culture as we know it, and here in the places where these icons were born, raised—and occasionally raised hell—you’ll get the kind of first-person feel that no mere biography can communicate.  Along the way, you’ll also meet some pretty special people in friendly communities that have their own genius for making visitors feel right at home.

Day 1

 OXFORD

Faulkner claimed that “the tools I need for my work are paper, tobacco, food, and a little whiskey.” Maybe so. However, in Oxford he also found raw materials and role models that played crucial inspiration to his genius.

For serious admirers of Faulkner, Oxford is not just the place to see the sites but also an opportunity to play literary snoops (or is that Snopes?) in the tantalizing detection game of which porch, which pediment, which picturesque façade—and which family secret behind it— played what part in the Nobel-prize winner’s fiction. But the truth is, you don’t have to know the first thing about Faulkner to appreciate this charmingly novel town that combines a wealth of historic homes and haunts with a world-class academic campus offering its own rich architectural history. Throw in a thriving arts scene and hip town-gown vibe thanks to a range of restaurants, clubs and boutiques and what you’ve got well nigh defies description. Really, you’d need one of those endless Faulknerian sentences to fit it all in.

NEW ALBANY

New Albany made history the night William Falkner was born here, into a family that was both notable and notorious. And while the family home has gone, there’s still some background history here to explore, particularly in the downtown historic district that fills the bill with delightful shopping and delectable menus. By the way, in case you thought you caught a typo in the sentence above, it was the writer himself who changed the family name from Falkner to Faulkner.

916 Old Taylor Road, Oxford, Mississippi 38655, United States

Home to William Faulkner and his family for over 40 years, Rowan Oak was originally built in 1844, and stands on over 29 acres of land just south of the Square in Oxford, MS.  The clapboard house had no electricity, plumbing or even sound construction when Faulkner bought it in 1930. The writer did much of the renovation himself, even designing the study where today visitors can still see the grease pencil outline for A Fable scrawled on the walls. Details like that—and like Faulkner’s riding boots standing guard near a bedroom chair—yield both a stillness and a presence that makes this National Literary Landmark a personal milestone for the visitors who make the pilgrimage each year.

309 North 16th Street, Oxford, Mississippi 38655, United States

A few blocks northeast of the Square, the old Oxford Cemetery is nestled in the rolling hills of a quiet neighborhood.  Saint Peter’s is the final resting place for novelist William Faulkner as well as many of Oxford’s most prominent citizens.  L.Q.C. Lamar, a former U.S. Congressman, Secretary of the Interior under President Cleveland, and U.S. Supreme Court Justice, is buried here.  Beside the circle of cedars lies a Revolutionary War Veteran, as well as a Confederate General.

J D Williams Library, University, Mississippi 38677, United States

Located in the heart of Ole Miss, the John Davis Williams Library is known for its literary collections, the crown jewel of which is William Faulkner’s “Rowan Oak Papers”.  Discovered in a broom closet at Faulkner’s home, this collection is one of the greatest finds of modern literary manuscripts. They contain several thousand sheets of autograph and typescript drafts of poems, short stories, film scripts, and novels written by Faulkner in some of his most creative years, between 1925 and 1939.

415 South Lamar Boulevard, Oxford, Mississippi 38655, United States

Established in 1836, Lafayette County was named in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette and was one of ten counties into which the Chickasaw Cession was divided.  Since Oxford was incorporated in 1837, the square has remained the cultural and economic hub of the city and is home to a variety of shops and boutiques, including the South’s oldest department store and one of the nation’s most-renowned independent bookstores.  Oxford was selected as the name of the county seat in hopes that it would also become a seat of higher learning, and this goal was realized when the University of Mississippi was chartered in 1844 and opened in 1848. The historic county courthouse is referenced in several of William Faulkner’s works; Faulkner family members and mentor Phil Stone once had offices in this National Historic District; the film adaptation of The Sound and the Fury was shot here; and the Confederate statue that Faulkner memorialized in his fiction (and that his grandmother donated to the town) still stands.

114 Cleveland Street, New Albany, Mississippi 38652, United States

Exhibits in “Frenchman’s Bend”, an outdoor exhibit area, give the visitor interactive experiences and a feel for Mississippi’s rural culture with the Faulkner Literary Garden, the Storyteller’s Chair, Varner’s Country Store, a caboose, an early 20th century doctor’s office, a black smith shop, a 1950s auto body shop,  agricultural exhibits and great outdoor  folk art. The museum complex occupies a city block in New Albany one block from the birthplace of Nobel Prize winning writer William Faulkner.

 

Day 2

TUPELO

Before Elvis bridged the racial and musical divide with his groundbreaking amalgam of styles, he soaked up those sounds right here in Tupelo, then a bustling city with a history that encompassed both triumph and tragedy in the form of a devastating tornado that swept through the city when Elvis was only a year old. The Presleys’ tiny shotgun house was spared from the storm and then spared from oblivion after Elvis became—Elvis.

While he left the city as a 13-year-old boy in 1948, in 1956, as the first global superstar, he returned with an electrifying homecoming concert on the city’s fairgrounds. Today, the old Fairgrounds have found new life as the Fairpark District, a masterpiece of new urbanism that has struck a chord with residents and visitors alike.

WEST POINT

While life wasn’t kind to the young Chester Arthur Burnett when he was born in West Point into poverty and a terrible family situation, the city of his birth has since been kind to his memory, thanks in large part to the efforts of the passionate Howlin’ Wolf Blues Society, which has erected a statue in his honor in the city park, helped establish the Howlin’ Wolf Blues Museum and continues to sponsor an annual blues festival as well as a “blues in the schools” program.

306 Elvis Presley Drive, Tupelo, Mississippi 38804, United States

The Elvis Presley Birthplace Park features the Birthplace, Museum, Chapel, Gift Shop, “Elvis at 13” statue, Fountain of Life, Walk of Life, “Memphis Bound” car feature and Story Wall.

307 East Westbrook Street, West Point, Mississippi 39773, United States

Blues museum featuring history & artifacts of Howlin’ Wolf and the Black Prairie Region, Big Joe Williams, Bukka White. Granite statue of Howlin’ Wolf on display.

 

Day 3

 COLUMBUS

It’s time to cue the romance as you head into Columbus, where dramatic architectural flair certainly helped set the stage for Tennessee Williams’ legendary Southern Belles. Although the playwright and his mother (and his doomed sister Rose) left the city while young Tom was still a child, the glamour of the town’s antebellum splendor had already made its mark on the budding writer’s imagination.

Lucky for you, today more than 200 of those gorgeous historic homes and structures still remain (many of them open for daily tours; some as bed-and-breakfasts) in a town that preserves both its architecture as well as its legendary charm and hospitality, with a downtown that’s a real beauty.

STARKVILLE

You’ve visited the home places of past geniuses; now take a tour of the college and college town where current blockbuster writer John Grisham learned a thing or two before he became the best-selling thriller writer on the planet. With its blend of high-tech academic research and both historic and historically inspired neighborhoods like the quaint Cotton District, Starkville offers its own unique flavor.

300 Main Street, Columbus, Mississippi 39701, United States

First home of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tennessee Williams, author of A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and The Glass Menagerie. Williams, considered the most important American playwright, was born in Columbus, Mississippi in 1911. He spent his beginning years in an old Victorian home that was the rectory for St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, where his grandfather served as minister. The home was recently honored with the designation of a National Literary Landmark, and it now serves as the official Welcome Center for Columbus.

318 College Street, Columbus, Mississippi 39701, United States

Tennessee Williams’ grandfather, Rev. Walter Dakin, was rector at St. Paul’s.

Mississippi State University, 449 Hardy Road, Mississippi State University, MS 39762, United States

On the third floor of Mitchell Memorial Library at Mississippi State University, this facility contains materials and memorabilia from the writings and achievements of bestselling author, former Mississippi legislator and MSU alumnus John Grisham.

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