01 April 2007

Fitzgerald, or the Blue and Grey

Ok, so the first major stop on my trip was the town of Fitzgerald, GA. Not real exciting right? Well, you just have to hear the town's story... In the 1890's, depression and drought plaqued farms across the Midwest US, many owned by former Union soldiers. Other states sent help and food, Georgia being one of the greatest contributors. A man named P.H. Fitzgerald, a former Union drummer boy, lived in Inddianapolis, but realized an dream in Georgia. His idea for a colony of fomer Union soldiers in Georgia caught the interest of veterans and the governor of Georgia, himself a Confederate veteran. The site for the colony was chosen near the town of Swan, GA. Many former Union vets showed up quickly, including those who had been on Sherman's march to the sea, been at Andersonville prison, and one who had benn at the capture of Jefferson Davis, all of which happened nearby. City plans were made to include the names of several Union generals, but it was decided that to be fair, an equal number of Confederate generals would have streets named for them as well. Thus became Grant, Sherman, Lee, and Johnston streets. The gathering Union vets aroused more curiosity than anything among the Southern population, and the town soon became a tourist spot to come "look at the Yankees." Before long, a roll call of the states and territories was made in the town center, and a representative from every one was present. Soon a large hotel was built, named the Lee-Grant. After the town's first monumental year, a celebration was called and a special building, the Corn and Cotton Palace, was built. Two parades were also planned, one for Union vets, and one for Confederate vets. Some were concerned that the display would stir up bitterness and cause a scene, but when the band started to play, Union and Confederate veterans came out, in uniform, marching next to each other behind the Stars and Stripes. To them, the United States was a single nation once again. Today, the Blue and Grey museum honors all who fought in the war and tells the history of this unique city where the nation was reunited. As for the photos: Title photo shows the town seal, laid in the sidewalk. Note the Union and Confederate soldiers, and flags, showing the peace made in the city. Next photo is the monument to locals in the Spanish American war. Next is the war memorial for WW1-Vietnam. Next is a marker designating Jefferson Davis highway, named because it runs by his capture sight (next post). Next two photos show artifacts in the museum from the Civil War and its veterans. The Lee-Grant hotel burned down years ago, but its fireplace survived and is in the museum in the next photo. After that is the Confederate flag from the coffin of William J. Bush, Georgia's last Confederate veteran, and the Union flag from the coffin of William Mccormick, one of the Union pioneers of the town. Next photo is the front desk of the museum, which is the original from the Lee-Grant hotel. Next is the marker for Ben Hill county, followed by the county WW1 memorial, and the county courthouse, all in Fitzgerald. Next photos are the marker for Fitzgerald, and the home of William Bush, GA's last Confederate veteran, called General because of his work in Confederate Vet associations. The last two photos are the marker and bell of the first church in Fitzgerald. Reference: Fitzgerald... The Early Days by Beth Davis

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