Linda and I started our visit to historic Madison with a cup of java at Jolene's Main Street Coffeehouse. Wow! Linda and I decided to make our trip to FDR’s Warm Springs an exploration of unfamiliar places in Georgia along the way: towns like Madison and Greensborough and Callaway Gardens.
Madison was established in 1809 as an in-town residence for nearby planter families and was considered “The Most Cultured and Aristocratic Town on the Stagecoach Route between Charleston and New Orleans” before the Civil War. And, the major streets in Madison were named for early presidents.
Georgia’s representative to Congress, Joshua Hill, had been elected to Congress in 1857 on the Know- Nothing Party ticket but resigned when Georgia followed S.C into the Confederacy. Sherman did not burn Madison on his “March to the Sea” because of his admiration for Hill. After the Civil War, Hill was elected to the U.S. Senate as a Republican (Horrors!!) but refused to serve until Georgia was readmitted to the Union in 1871.
Joshua Hill, (born in Abbeville, S.C., in 1812.) served in the U.S. Congress, 1856–1861. He was appointed U.S. Collector of Customs for the Port of Savannah in 1866 and Georgia’s Registrar in Bankruptcy in 1867. He was elected U.S. senator in 1871 and served for two years. He died in Madison in 1891. Because of Hill’s actions, Madison was preserved and is now a designated Historic District and was named a “Preserved America Communities” by First Lady Laura Bush. The town is a national treasure of antebellum and Victorian buildings – its architecture a monument to the time when cotton was king... and Sherman looked the other way.
Next Week: Ganges
Philip Lee Williams (born in 1950 in Madison) won the 2004 Michael Shaara Prize for his novel A Distant Flame, an examination of southerners who were against the Confederacy’s position in the American Civil War. He also won the Townsend Prize for Fiction for his novel The Heart of a Distant Forest, and has been named Georgia Author of the Year four times.
Linda and I stayed in this delightful historic B&B in Madison.
Madison High School which served the white students in Morgan County was lost to fire in 1947. It housed the county library.
The Morgan County Courthouse in Madison (population 4,000) was built in 1905.
The Turnell-Butler Hotel (built 1892, burned in 1930) had 40 rooms with private baths, a large dining room, and a ballroom.