Antebellum Trail in Georgia –
100 miles of musings and connections
Article by Christine Tibbetts
by G. W. Tibbetts
Little Lucy Cobb connected me to the families
of antebellum Georgia. I was in her house, in front of her portrait,
figuring out new ways to consider the South in the years before the
Seven Georgia communities partner to offer new
depth to the old story, framing the journey as an Antebellum Trail.
Don’t shy away because you’re steeped enough
already in the Civil War. This Trail is much, much more history.
Pretty this route is, 100 miles of well
maintained roads in gentle rolling hills of middle Georgia, and
plenty of farmland.
Might drive some interstate to launch the
journey at either end of the Trail: Macon on the south and Athens,
where Lucy had hoped to grow up, on the north.
fever killed Lucy, and this portrait over the fireplace mantle is
loaded with symbols of mourning.
|Lucy Cobb’s portrait looms large in
the pink family home after her death
||Cobb House circa 1852 in Athens
Black ribbon on her shoulder, black dog at her
side, a Scots Irish symbol of her guide to eternity. Window in the
house behind her open to prevent trapping her spirit.
The pink house over her shoulder is the one in
which I was standing, built in 1852.
It’s where Lucy’s father, T. R. R. Cobb, wrote the bulk of of
the Confederate Constitution.
It’s also where he lay in state after being killed in the Battle of
Abundance of musing possible looking at the framed battle
flag that covered his coffin.
Guess he still believed in his Confederate
Antebellum and wartime intersect on this Trail.
Macon and the five towns in between offer multiple thought provoking
They also offer homes for sleeping. Seriously
consider staying in the Ashford Manor in Watkinsville,
easy jaunt from Athens heading toward Madison.
The 1840s cottage has three suites; the grand
two story manor house is post bellum, built in 1893.
Breakfast is artistic, abundant, distinctive.
Sleep with an antebellum focus a little further
south in Madison
the James Madison Inn, a boutique hotel of 17 rooms and two suites.
|Stagecoaches delivered frontier
travelers to Eagle Tavern in Watkinsville
Mr. Madison’s presidential years? 1809 – 1817, but antebellum can go
even further back than that.
The Eagle Tavern in Watkinsville, for instance,
stands on ground given to a Revolutionary War veteran.
Connect with some influences of that war again
when the Antebellum Trail takes you to Milledgeville.
Marquis de Lafayette figures in the exhibitions
at the Old Capitol Museum; he visited in 1825 to meet aging veterans
of the Revolution. Six dollars the price of the ticket to the ball.
Connect too to an antebellum tale of
architecture in Milledgeville where plantation plain, late Georgian,
Federal and early Greek Revival become obvious if you know what
Milledgeville Federal they call it, circa 1815
Time in the Old Capitol Museum helps with that.
So does a visit to the Brown Stetson Sanford house, showing the
styles of three major builders attracted here because of the state
Then let the moments before the war seep in
again with a visit to the 1861 scene of the four day secession
Seems the 297 delegates and spectators were so
noisy the Methodist Church worshipers next door asked them to pipe
down on the Sunday session.
Old Governor’s Mansion embraced families from 1839 1868
||Intimate details of family life
history of antebellum governing
distinguish the mansion where Georgia’s governors lived from 1839
1868, and details distinguish many homes and museums along the
Remember the Eagle Tavern in Watkinsville? 1819
ledgers provide the facts for items now seen within the former 16
room stagecoach hotel.
The complete 1851 inventory for the Governor’s
Mansion in Milledgeville accounts for the authenticity in the
furnishings, table settings, decorative items and portraits
The 1814 case clock is wound every Monday; the
free standing 64 foot cantilevered staircase is a marvel, and the
keys to lock the doors are original.
The Trail is Antebellum so does it matter that
General Sherman claimed the family dining room for his headquarters?
Or that here I could stand close to the desk of
Joseph E. Brown, Georgia’s Civil War governor?
Same wondering filled my mind touring the
exceptional Heritage Hall in Madison, built in 1811.
What meant more to me: original doctor’s tools
for amputations, such a painful Civil War reality, or the 1845
coverlet covering a child’s bed?
|Sewing box in Heritage Hall built in
||1845 stitched in the coverlet in
Madison’s Heritage Hall
Heritage Hall in Madison, and so many places
along the Antebellum Trail, abounds with ways to reflect on the
daily lives of the people, with their routines, and that seems a
Do so in Eatonton
www.eatonton.com on either
side of visiting the iconic B’rer Rabbit Museum with the classic
tales of Joel Chandler Harris.
The Old School Museum’s antebellum classroom
overlooks a pre Civil War cemetery and “windows in time” exhibitions
change periodically connecting visitors to the barber shop and five
and dime store, the dry goods and the grocery in this town
incorporated in 1807.
Shoes for Confederate troops were manufactured
in Eatonton until Denham Tannery was raided by 62,204 Union troops.
|The 1840 weathervane in Eaton’s Old School Museum
How’s that for historians shaping museums with specific facts?
The tannery’s original weathervane, crafted in
1840, rests on a brick pillar, miracle to behold when you learn the
descendants of the freedman of color who made it have been to visit
Eatonton antebellum homes abound because
invading troops concentrated on the industry, not the residences.
Take a homes tour, or do a drive by.
www.VisitMacon.org anchors the southern end of Georgia’s
Antebellum Trail, a solid story and holiday all by itself, as is
Focus on the Hay House, Sidney Lanier Cottage
and Cannonball House for starters with an antebellum mindset.
|Cannonball House built in 1853 in
Cottage circa 1840 in Macon.
|The Antebellum Trail roads are
always open. Map credit Antebellum Trail