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In Their Own Words

March 03, 1865

Diary Entry Gave Glimpse of Plantation Life

Eliza Frances Andrews wrote in her diary of an enjoyable day for once untroubled by war, but she does give a glimpse into plantation life.

“Up at daybreak, and on the train, ready to leave Albany. Albert and Jimmy were there, of course, besides a number of Albany people who had come to see us off - a great compliment at that heathenish hour. We got off at Wooten’s Station, only twelve miles from Albany. Flora and Capt. Rust were there to meet us with conveyances for Gopher Hill. It is worth the journey from Pine Bluff to Gopher Hill just to travel over the road between there and Wooten’s. It runs nearly all the way through swamps alive with the beauty and fragrance of spring. We passed through Starkesville and crossed Muckolee Creek at the very spot where I had such an adventurous night in my childhood, traveling in the old stage coach that used to run between Macon and Albany. The swamps were overflowed then and we had to cross the creek in a canoe, and Cousin Bolling held me in his lap to keep me from falling out. On the other side of the creek, towards Gopher Hill, we came to an old Indian clearing where are some magnificent willow oaks that I recognized distinctly, though it is fourteen years since then. Gopher Hill is seven miles from the station. It is like most plantation houses in this part of the world, where they are used only for camping a few weeks in winter - or were, before the war - a big, one-storied log cabin, or rather, a combination of cabins spread out over a full half acre of ground, and even then with hardly room enough to accommodate the army of guests the family gather about them when they go to the country. On each side of the avenue leading to the house is a small lake, and about two miles back in the plantation, a large one on which Flora has a row-boat. She has a beautiful pony named Fleet, that is the counterpart of our own dear little Dixie. Col. Maxwell has a great many fine horses and all sorts of conveyances, which are at the service of his guests. He is one of the most aristocratic-looking old gentlemen I ever saw. In manners, appearance, and disposition, he is strikingly like Brother Troup, except that the colonel is very large and commanding, while Brother Troup is small and dapper. He is very handsome - next to Bishop Elliot, one of the finest specimens of Southern manhood I ever saw. It is one of the cases where blood will tell, for he has the best of Georgia in his veins, or to go back further, the best in old Scotland itself. Though over sixty years old, he has never been out of the State, and is as full of whims and prejudices as the traditional old country squire that we read about in English novels. His present wife, Flora’s stepmother, is much younger than he, very gay and witty, and escapes all worry by taking a humorous view of him and his crotchets. He and Flora idolize each other, and she is the only person that can do anything with him, and not always even she, when he once gets his head fast set. We had dinner at two o’clock, and afterwards went to a country school about two miles away, to hear the boys and girls declaim. The schoolmaster made so many facetious remarks about the ladies, that I asked Flora if he was a widower - he seemed too silly to be anything else - but she says he has a wife living; poor thing. We met Gen. Graves at the schoolhouse and he rode back with us. We took to the woods and jumped our horses over every log we came to, just to see what he would do.”

Source: Eliza Frances Andrews, The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl, 1864-1865 (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1908), pp. 103-105.