When I think of Georgia and travel, I think of Presidents. Four of them have a connection to this State. I also think about The Civil War. The 4th state to secede from The Union, Georgia’s Civil War devastation exceeded that of most other Confederate States partly because it was a place of industry.
Columbus, Georgia, was a major supplier of weapons and shoes for the Confederate Army. Macon produced cannons and harnesses. In 1864, 400 Roswell residents working in a cotton factory, mostly women, were charged with treason and sent toward prison in Louisville, Kentucky. They made it as far as Marietta. After that their fate is still mostly unknown.
Atlanta is, of course, The South’s premier city. Sherman’s 1864 siege of it lasted 117 days and destroyed 90% of its buildings. This historical event was, of course, immortalized in Gone With the Wind.
Georgia’s presidential connections begin with Woodrow Wilson; 28th President Wilson’s boyhood home is in Augusta, Georgia, at 419 Seventh Street.
39th President Jimmy Carter’s Presidential Library & Museum is in Atlanta at 441 Freedom Parkway. The Carters reportedly spend 75% of their time at their home in Plains.
The personally most interesting Presidential connection took me to Roswell, 23 miles north of Atlanta but a world away in attitude and temperament. Roswell has many must-see attractions. My favorite is Bulloch Hall. When I asked our BH tour guide to name the definitive book about it, she told me Mornings on Horseback, a sensational read.
“The Bullochs of Georgia were nothing like the Roosevelts of New York,” wrote David McCullough in his National Book Award winning Mornings on Horseback in 1981. In 1839 Major James Stephen Bulloch, a very early Roswell settler, built a Greek Revival home that most would now call a Southern Mansion. Against all odds, Major Bulloch’s daughter Mittie married Theodore Roosevelt Sr. in Bulloch Hall in 1853. A beauty and southern belle, Mittie gave birth to the Theodore Roosevelt who would become the 26th President.
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, whose paternal grandmother was Martha Bullock, married Franklin D. Roosevelt and became First Lady when he was sworn in as 32nd President in 1933. Mittie was Martha’s nickname.
With justification, Bullock Hall might very well have been Margaret Mitchell’s inspiration for Tara, the O’Hara plantation in Gone With the Wind. In the early 1920s a young reporter came to Roswell to interview Mrs. William Baker. Evelyn King Baker had been Mittie’s closest friend and was a bridesmaid in Mittie’s Bulloch Hall wedding. That reporter was Margaret Mitchell.
If & when you’re in Georgia visiting Roswell and learning much more about all of this, include Warm Springs in your itinerary. About 100 miles south of Roswell, Warm Springs has had a Roosevelt connection since the 1920s when Franklin Roosevelt, polio victim, visited this area’s natural mineral springs. The Little White House he lived in there is now a State Historic Site. This is where he died from a cerebral hemorrhage while serving as President in 1945.
Nearby and worth a visit despite the fact that it has no direct presidential or Civil War connection, Callaway Gardens is ablaze with more than 3,000 native and hybrid azaleas in the spring and a place to see butterflies year-round. Check it out.
p.s. One Bullock Hall handout contained a recipe for scuppernong jelly. Its first ingredient was three and a half pounds of bronze scuppernong grapes. It’s still on my to-do list and likely to be for quite some time.