Monday, March 17, 2014

Vicksburg's Old Court House Museum

Saturday turned out to be quite a goofy day for us.  We drove to Vicksburg with a rather long list of places which we wanted to see.  However, our car had other plans for the day.  We parked in the historic area of the town and that is when the trouble with our car started.  It would not go into park and John could not pull the key out of the ignition.  Only thing to do was to call for a tow truck, the only available one was 90 minutes away.  While John waited for help to arrive I wandered down to the waterfront.
At the entrance to the downtown riverfront are 32 life-like pictorial murals that depict periods of history in Vicksburg.  Also on the waterfront is Catfish Row Children's Art Park, a creative adventure into the history of the Mississippi River and the paddle wheel steamboats which once traveled on its waters.  Eventually the tow truck did arrive, but it turned out that the car did not need to be towed because the man who was going to tow us figured out how to fix the problem.  By then our day was partly gone and we decided, given the lateness of the day, that the best place to spend our time in Vicksburg would be at the old courthouse.  That was a good choice as a lot of history pertaining to the area is in this one building.
The old Warren County Courthouse was built in 1858. The city block surrounding it had been designated by Rev. Newet Vick (who founded Vicksburg in 1819) as a public square.  Here Jefferson Davis made a campaign speech in 1843 when he made a run for the state legislature.  Teddy Roosevelt, William McKinley, Zachary Taylor, and Booker T.Washington also spoke in this square.  General Grant reviewed his troops here after the siege of Vicksburg.  The courthouse has nine rooms of interesting pieces of history including artifacts ranging from pre-Columbian Indian and pioneer implements to many artifacts (clothing, furniture, toys  tools and art) pertaining to the Civil War era.  In case you are wondering, that is a cat in the picture below. He is known as the "Courthouse Cat" and the infant cradle in one of his favorite napping spots.
In one of the rooms is a typical courtroom of the Victorian era.  It features an ornate cast iron judge's dias.
There is also an entire room dedicated to Jefferson Davis.  Even though he was imprisoned for two years, he never came to trial because legally he had done nothing wrong.  He refused a pardon.  In his mind he had done nothing of which he had to repent, at West Point he had learned that secession was not wrong.  Another interesting fact which I learned was that the defeat of Vicksburg happened on July 4th. and the town refused to celebrate that holiday for 82 years until July 4,1945.  Vicksburg's citizens were so thankful for our victory in World War II that they had to celebrate the holiday!   Also in this museum I picked up some interesting information about Mary Todd Lincoln, of whom history has not always treated too kindly.  She had four brothers in the Confederate Army, and three of her sisters married Confederate officers.  Eleven of her cousins also served on the Confederate side.  Besides the personal tragedies in her life she was also probably alienated from most of her family.  That was our day in Vicksburg, we certainly will need to come back, but the courthouse museum was all we needed for this time around!

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