Some people travel for relaxation, others travel for adventure, but if traveling for history is something you fancy, these seven cities are must-sees in the south. From Civil War monuments to keepers of the slave trade secrets, these quiet southern towns may go unnoticed to some, but for the history buff, they are the perfect vacation spot.
If southern history and diversity are among your top interest, Natchez, Mississippi is a must-see. Rich Antebellum homes line the streets, with the outlying circles of town giving shelter to large plantations, Natchez takes you back in time. From its vantage point on the highest bluff of the Mississippi River, Natchez beckons to travelers in search of a truly distinctive Southern story. Because Natchez did not hold a strategic position during the Civil War, it was spared much of the damage other cities suffered and remains home to more than 600 examples of antebellum architecture — more than any other city in the South
Fernandina Beach, Florida
Fernandina Beach is a calm, inviting beach town nestled on the Atlantic Coast. Unpretentious and patient, this beach town is one of the most fought-over towns in America, and harbors a history like few other towns in the nation. Settlers staked their claim in Fernandina Beach starting in 1565 when the Spanish threw out the French, only to be thrown out by the British in 1702, it has learned to take what comes and take it easy.
Franklin, North Carolina
The town of Franklin was not incorporated, however, until just before the Civil War in 1855. Franklin was formally incorporated in 1855. By the time of its incorporation, the town could boast both a boys’ and a girls’ academy. By 1860, it had a weekly newspaper, “The Franklin Observer,” published by L.F. Siler. The Civil War brought hardship, although no battles were fought there. Seven companies were raised from Macon County, which then had an adult male population of approximately 3,000. The Confederate Memorial on Main Street honors their service.
Set beside the Cane River Lake, Natchitoches might be considered New Orleans’s older, calmer sister. Settled by the French in 1714 , the state’s oldest town spices up its white-columned, Southern plantation lifestyle with hearty pinches of Creole and Cajun influences. During the Civil War, Natchitoches was set on fire by Union soldiers who retreated through the town after their failed attempt to capture Shreveport. Confederate cavalry pursued the fleeing soldiers and arrived in time to help extinguish the flames before the town was destroyed, as happened in Alexandria in 1864.
Leipers Fork, Tennessee
Spend a couple of hours browsing the antiques stores and art galleries on Old Hillsboro Road, then listen to local songwriters sing their latest at Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant. Leiper’s Fork is an unincorporated rural village in Williamson County, Tennessee. It has a population of about 650 on an area of about 1,100 acres. The village, located on the Natchez Trace Parkway, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district. Growth of the village was stimulated by traffic on the Natchez Trace. Largely as a result of its transportation access, Leiper’s Fork was historically the center of trade for western Williamson County and the center of religious and social activities in the area.
Abbeville, South Carolina
Abbeville has the unique distinction of being both the birthplace and the deathbed of the Confederacy. On November 22, 1860, a meeting was held at Abbeville, at a site since dubbed “Secession Hill”, to launch South Carolina’s secession from the Union; one month later, the state of South Carolina became the first state to secede. At the end of the Civil War, with the Confederacy in shambles, Confederate President Jefferson Davis fled Richmond, Virginia, and headed south, stopping for a night in Abbeville at the home of his friend Armistead Burt. It was on May 2, 1865, in the front parlor of what is now known as the Burt-Stark Mansion that Jefferson Davis officially acknowledged the dissolution of the Confederate government, in the last official cabinet meeting.
Around 1828, a large number of people traveled from Newberry, South Carolina, in covered wagons, oxcarts, on horseback, and by foot. In the group were preachers, farmers, masons, and most any other occupation of the day. The names read like a current register of the area, since these forerunners have numerous descendants still making their homes in Senoia. In the group from South Carolina were the Atkinsons, Addys, Pages, Youngs, Levells, Shells, Barnes, Falls, Moses and many others. They scattered across the countryside, each trying to find a new start. And find it they did in the rich land of eastern Coweta. Raising cotton, and livestock, the area was an agricultural Utopia.
Let’s hear from you! Are you a history lover? Tell us about your favorite historical places across the South in the comments section below.