Monday, April 30, 2012

Downstairs at the Court House - Part 3

This is Part 3 of my series featuring the Old Court House Museum in Vicksburg, Mississippi. If you missed the beginning chapters and would like to read them first, you can click on the following links:

The Court House - Part 1
Court House Lagniappe - Part 2

In this post, I am sharing a few of the pictures I captured of my tour of downstairs. Please keep in mind that this is just a sampling of the historic memorabilia and information contained in the museum. I wish I had had the time to take pictures of every nook and cranny for my own personal collection, but time was limited the day I was there. By the time you finish this post, you may think I did take pictures of every nook and cranny, but I promise you I only captured "the tip of the iceberg." Perhaps one day you can visit the museum and see the rest of the treasures in person.

We'll begin the tour in the foyer ...

I love the old desk, and the note posted above it which advises visitors that Unattended children will be given a free kitten! I'm sure that encourages the holding of a lot of little hands.

Gracing the wall opposite the desk are the portraits of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Eva Whitaker Davis, the museum's founder.

This stately grandfather clock stands like a sentinel, greeting all who come and go ...

I'm sorry to say that I was too busy taking pictures and overlooked reading the sign about its history.

Here are a few more of the displays and exhibits showcased downstairs ...

Steamboats were very much a part of Vicksburg's history, and this exhibit features the Sprague, which was built in 1901.

After 46 years on the river, she became a museum and was also used in the movie "Showboat."

The Sprague burned in 1974, and, sadly, her remains are rusting away beside Washington Street, near downtown Vicksburg. Marty Kittrell, a well known and respected photographer in Vicksburg, has campaigned for several years for someone to save the Sprague. I urge you to click on this link to read Marty's touching appeal for her preservation (Save the Sprague), and see his amazing pictures. I hope someone will read this and be able to do something to help rescue what remains behind of one of the most majestic steamboats on the river ... before it's too late.

The Gift Shop

Pioneer Room

My favorite thing in this room was this unique Victorian high chair, which could be used as a chair, stroller, or rocker, as shown in the pictures.

As a grandmother of an eight-month old, I'm amazed at all the baby "stuff" available now. A 2012 version of a chair like this one would certainly be nice!

The quilts also caught my attention. I can't help but wonder about the life stories of the ladies who created them.

Coke was first bottled here in Vicksburg. Do you remember when it came in those huge bottles like the one in the case?

Artillary Room

The large sign displayed in the next exhibit caught my attention.

The 13-inch mortar shell in the bottom of the case was the largest size fired into Vicksburg during the Siege.

Union mortar boats fired over 7,000 shells like that one, and each shell weighed 218 pounds! The court house was the target of much Union shelling, but suffered only one major hit.

I'm sure my eyes lit up when I saw the sign above this door, and if I had to choose my favorite downstairs room, this would be it. So many lovely things ...

The old pianos especially caught my attention. This 1858 Steinway Square Grand Piano is thought to be the first in Mississippi, and has never left Vicksburg.

It is constructed of Brazilian Rosewood, taking nearly a year to complete.

Another Square Grand, Circa 1858 ...

Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of President Abraham Lincoln, gave the sheet music displayed on the next piano to her coachman in 1866. I found it interesting that although she was a Kentuckian, Mary Lincoln had an uncle who lived in Port Gibson, and four of her brothers and several of her relatives served in the Confederate Army.

Musical memorabilia and instruments from the period ...

This beautiful table has a heartwarming story that goes along with it.

When an Iowa soldier, Sgt. Davis, moved into the Owen Trainor home in Vicksburg, following the Siege, the Trainors' daughter, Martha Ann, reminded him of his child at home, and he made the table for Martha Ann, putting her initials in three of the corners.

One of the acorns on the base was carved from part of the "Surrender Tree," under which Generals Pemberton and Grant met to discuss surrender terms on July 3, 1863.

The table was donated to the museum by the grandson of Martha Ann Trainor.

This ends my tour of the downstairs of the Old Court House Museum. I hope you will join me next time when I take you up these stairs to the courtroom and beyond.


Dorothy said...

This is a most interesting post! I can hardly take it all in! My favorite thing is the Victorian highchair.

LindaG said...

Fantastic pictures!
What a museum. Would love to see it in person. :o)

Thank you!

Glenda said...

Wow! It's packed with history, isn't it? I like that the displays are so varied.

C M Designs said...

So interesting Janie. Thank you for taking us along.
The high chair is amazing as is the difference in the styles from then and to the present time..
I love the tall case clock and wonder if it still works..
I look forward to going upstairs during your next tour. Charlotte

racheld said...


I'm enjoying this way more than I can tell you, and hope to find the words after I've unscrambled all the chores of this busy day.

Just ran in to say I'm looking in, and will try to do the loveliness and history justice soon.


Sue said...

Oooooh! Janie this is such a wonderful post! So much history and so many interesting treasures to see, what stories they could tell. I love visiting museums especial historical one like this. This is worth another visit. Thanks for sharing.

Saponaria said...

We actually have a highchair exactly like that one! My mil gave it to us when my oldest was born. Apparently it had been in my fil's family for generations and when my dh was born the side of the family who had it brought it on over. All 6 of my children have used it and my youngest at just shy of 2 still uses it. I love things with a family history behind it.