Posts Tagged ‘southern literature’

Upstairs, Downstair At The Empress; Episode 3

July 29th, 2012 by Sharon Welch-Blair

The card room in the Tower of The Empress

Dairy Entry-Margaret McCullough:  April 13, 1865  :

The stranger was very dashing.  About the best dressed I’ve seen in these parts since the beginning of this awful war.  His horse was fine. He was dressed as a gentleman, something we haven’t seen for quite a while, and he came from Memphis.  He wanted Papa to sell his lumber.  Papa took an immediate dislike to him-he thinks he’s another Yankee carpetbagger.  But he had a way about him.  Papa told him to leave, but after he left, I heard him talking to Mama about our timber.  I can tell he’s worried we’re going to lose the farm.  I hid under the stairs near the library so I could eavesdrop; at least till Mammy JoJo caught me.  I’ve never heard Papa talk with such fear in his voice.  Mama said perhaps we should consider talking to him further.  I watched him as he rode back down the lane.  He glanced back and tipped his hat.  He knew I was watching him.  Yes, he definitely has a way about him.  I wonder if I’ll see him again.

Judd whistled an Irish ditty as he mopped his brow and rode back towards town. While he didn’t get nearly as warm a reception as he hoped, offering salvation in the way of cash for timber, he had a pretty good feeling he’d at least do business with some of the locals.  With the raising of the property taxes, they were desperate for funds and the pressure was on all the old landowners to come up with resources they mostly didn’t have.   While it was a fair price, the ability to get the lumber where it was needed would make him a good profit.  And he was just a little intrigued by the auburn headed daughter of the McCullough Plantation.  She stood out from the devastation like a diamond in the rough.  He was captivated by her green eyes and ivory skin.  Even as the locals had moved into the fields, somehow that Mammy had managed to keep her wards looking pale and fine.  Quite a trick in light of how they must be groveling to make ends meet right now.

Margaret snapped back to the present as the woman next to the child stirred in the bed.  It was as if she sensed she was there.  For a moment she was ashamed, feeling like a voyeur, yet the deep longing to be close to the child, to feel a connection to something she had long since lost forced the feelings back.  But, alas, the connection was broken, and she slipped back upstairs to the one place that offered continuous comfort……….

 

This in no way should be considered an accurate rendering of facts by anyone, but an exciting journey into the world of an incredible period in our history. It is collaboration by a Grandmother and a Granddaughter fascinated by the events of that time and the lessons to be learned from their history. Please enjoy the saga.

 

Upstairs, Downstairs at The Empress Episode 2: James H. Hornibrook

July 19th, 2012 by Sharon Welch-Blair

James H. Hornibrook, Judd as his brothers called him to distinguish him from his Father and his Grandfather, sat easily in the saddle.  He was a tall man, hailing from strong Scots Irish stock.  He’d inherited his dark handsome features from his Father’s side.  He’d gotten his canny sense of business from his Mother’s side.  This venture with his brother, Hamilton, was a risk.  But at 26, he’d been ready for a challenge and the opportunities presented by this war were too alluring to pass up.  He and Hammy had marshaled their resources, with a small stake from their merchant Father, and come south from Toronto.  They’d landed in Memphis, sensing the opportunities.    While the war had just ended in the East, it had been over for some time in the west.

And opportunities there were!  The whole area was still under martial law.  Martial lawless was a better description.  The locals were mired in a quicksand of corruption. Trying to recover under the watchful eye of the local Union Commander and their handpicked “governors” was a bit like letting the fox in the hen house.  He’d easily struck up a good relationship.  He had a way about him.  He was skilled with people and knew it.  While it hampered his dealings with the Southerners, it was the price of doing business.

Reconstruction they called it.  It was hard to see how they expected any reconstruction to take place.  But it opened the door if you had money.  And they liked the color of his Canadian money!  Lumber-that’s where the opportunity lay.  If he could get the southern land owners to sell their lumber cheap, he could make a fortune.  And a fortune was his goal.  And it shouldn’t take long in this environment to do it!!

This in no way should be considered an accurate rendering of facts by anyone, but an exciting journey into the world of an incredible period in our history. It is collaboration by a Grandmother and a Granddaughter fascinated by the events of that time and the lessons to be learned from their history. Please enjoy the saga.

 

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