Thursday, April 23, 2009
While touring the town of Greensboro, we heard about the town of Madison 20 miles west of Greensboro. What makes this town particularly interesting is the number of antebellum homes that survived the Civil War and General Sherman’s devastating march from Atlanta to the sea. This happened when a local prominent citizen and former member of Congress rode out to meet General Sherman in his camp and asked, as a matter of generosity, that he not burn the private residents of the town. It seems that he was a friend of General Sherman’s brother and perhaps that this influenced Sherman to agree. In any case, General Sherman did not enter the town, but rather sent one of his General’s, who occupied the town for several months. A number of businesses and other buildings were destroyed, but none of the residences.
Today there are still 60 of these homes and many of them are still occupied by the descendents of the Civil War owners. There are only two if these homes that are not lived in and they are owned by the historical Society and are available for public visits. These are the Heritage Hall and the Rogers house.
We visited both of these homes and had a very informative tour of both with our guides. The largest of these is the Heritage Hall, which was built by a doctor at the young age of 22 and added on numerous times over the years. It contained a number of interesting pieces of furniture include one I had not seen in our travels and visits to this period of homes. It was called a hunting table which was very tall, especially considering the average height of people during this period. This table was designed to display the game taken during the hunt and was also taken out into the lawn before and after the hunt to provide refreshments for those on horseback without them having to dismount.
The Rogers house was more modest and was a few years older, having been built around 1809, and is located directly behind the rebuilt County courthouse. Located on the property is the relocated Rose Cottage, which was built by one of the first freed female slaves in the area. She worked several jobs and managed to save enough to build this home where she lived most of her long life. After her death, her daughter donated it to the historical society and they had it moved to its current location next to the Rogers house.
The downtown area was well maintained and has a number of post Civil War structures still in use.
This is a place well worth the visit, especially for those interested in Civil War history and well preserved antebellum homes.