Nebo Crossing is in the little town of Nebo, North Carolina, just up Harmony Grove Road from the “Casket Store.” (Their slogan is “we deliver,” but I’m not sure how someone in need of a casket could actually go get it.”
The church is a good size – the building you are seeing in the picture is their new building – one of three that they use. Down the hill is a children’s building with a cool artistic fountain display in front. Up the hill is their old building (although it doesn’t look all that old) which is now a school and is where I taught on Saturday.
People were very friendly and I know at least two of the church’s pastors were present at the conference, checking to see if we needed anything – which speaks well for the church.
Nebo is best known for Lake James, a large mountain lake, but I didn’t see it – just saw signs and heard about it. The whole area is beautiful and is near the Black Mountains and Montreat where Billy Graham has his “mountaintop home.”
WHERE: Franklin, Tennessee – the Carnton Plantation
WHAT: Back in the 1820s, the McGavocks built a home on 1,420 acres in Franklin, Tennessee and called is Carnton (from the word “cairn”, meaning a pile of stones to mark a memorable event). Influential in the area, people such as Andrew Jackson visited. When Mr. McGavock passed away, the plantation was passed down to his son John. At that time John expanded the property making it even more beautiful and noteworthy.
John married Carrie Winder, a Louisiana girl and they went on to have a family. Everything seemed to be going well.
Then, on the afternoon of November 20, 1864, their lives changed.
As Carrie stood in her yard that day, she watched as 19,000 Tennessee soldiers marched around her house, heading for the center of Franklin where the Federal army of similar size was waiting. The ensuing battle was horrific and hundreds were killed or wounded. Suddenly the genteel country home was an army hospital.
The wounded in hundreds were brought to Carnton during the Battle and all the night after. Every room was filled, every bed had two poor fellows, every spare space, every niche, and corner under the stairs … (Letter from a Colonel to his wife printed in the Carnton brochure.)
The bodies of the confederate generals were placed on the porch. In letters home, soldiers wrote of the wailing of those in pain and those dying. Carrie McGavock and her family helped nurse the wounded.
Many of those who died were buried on the property in what is now known as the Confederate Cemetary. Carrie became keeper of the cemetery, meticulously recording the names of the soldiers who had died and in which tomb they were buried.
SIDEBAR: The guide was well-informed and even pointed us to a website done by the Smithsonian which listed myths told in house museums. For instance, homeowners were NOT taxed for closets something you often hear in old houses.
KID FACTOR: Lots of land/gardens to explore for younger kids. Older kids might find the story of the Carnton home interesting – and there are still blood stains on the floor. But this is not a happy place in that the events of its history are gruesome. If you did take your children, you will need to discuss the circumstances.
WHAT: I honestly don’t know what to say about R. Gardens. We saw the place advertised all over town and because we couldn’t find what we were looking for, decided to see what this place was. I’m usually fairly alert about avoiding leftover 1950’s tourist stops – but well … I just don’t know.
This is supposed to be an Amish village of some sort, but we didn’t quite figure out what that sort was.
First, we didn’t eat there – we ate down the road at a pleasant place called Yoder’s Kitchen. So can make no comments on the food at the garden place.
The lady at the ticket desk (which was in a home decor gift shop???) was friendly enough. We walked out to the gardens and hopped in an Amish buggy and got a ride around lots of rocks fastened to poles making different shapes. Interesting, but broken down. The Amish man (he said he was Amish) driving the buggy said someone had bought the place a few years ago and was attempting to bring it back to it’s former glory. The buggy ride was short and … well, short. We drove around a circle, past some buildings that look well done and past some buildings that looked worn out and closed. The playground looked fun. In the middle of the place was a tipi next to a Native American gift shop. (Amish?)
An Amish Museum was remodeled and well done – but not large. We did get in an interesting discussion with the Amish lady at the counter. Right in front of us were a group of German tourists who were there from Germany (cool how that worked out), but now they had left. They came from the same area as the Amish, so when they were standing, discussing in German, some of the pictures and the museum, the Amish lady at the counter could understand everything they were saying – they were very surprised when she answered them. She enjoyed telling us about it.
The day was hot. Very hot and we had miles to go before we slept, so we decided to get some ice cream and head out. An ice cream shop was inside the complex and when we walked in – the clerk told us we were his first customers in 2 and 1/2 hours (busy place). My change was a quarter, so I decided to put it in the player piano in the corner. The clerk warned us that it was loud and not real melodious.
That was an understatement! We had NO idea what the song was – something that crashed, smashed and banged and did it all out of tune. Kind of reminded me of the munchkins banging on our piano when they were babies.
But then the German tourists came in to get ice cream. A man (their American guide?) was with them and while they were ordering, he asked if we minded if he put money in the player piano. We laughed and told him to “go for it.” He decided to wait until he had the G tourists attention (as if he wouldn’t have had their attention anyhow). And while he waited, he chatted with us and told us he was a piano tuner which we thought was funny considering the piano he was about to play. He put in his quarter and more crashing sounds echoed through the shop. He laughed and whispered to us that he would leave his business card.
And thus ended a very weird visit to a strange place. (Although there were moments of seeing the possible potential.)
KID FACTOR: The playground did look cool and several reviews I read mentioned the playground. The buggy ride could be interesting to kids.
WHERE: Earlier in the summer the Walldogs came to Arcola.
WHAT: The Walldogs are a group of artists that are invited to a town to paint murals on walls – usually of old advertisements. We were only able to see a few of them, but they were fun to look at and I’m sure they would’ve been to watch paint. (One man told of how crowds of people surrounded each of the artists in his town. He bought an ice cream cone and joined in – wandering around town, watching the murals go up.)
KID FACTOR: I can see how it would be fun to find out how many murals there were in a town and then go on a “scavenger hunt” with the kids, looking for them.
WHERE: We had planned on leaving later in the afternoon for the conference in Tennessee, but instead left fairly early in the morning which gave us some time to explore.
We got off the interstate at the town of Arcola, known for its proximity to Amish country. As I said before, we lived in Amish country, went to childbirth classes with the Amish and often drove by their neat (as in literally neat) farms.
But I hadn’t been to Arcola.
WHAT: We headed for the visitor’s center and learned that it is the broom corn capital and are, right this moment (Labor Day Weekend) having the Broom Corn Festival. (Although I am not there right this minute.) The lady at the center was very talkative and informative. She told us about an interesting restaurant in town where “Pa” cooks and “Ma” serves and you don’t always get your food too quickly because they’re arguing – but when you do get it, it’s very good. Alas, that restaurant was closed. We did wander around Main Street for awhile and they had some nice shops – with classy, not tacky stuff.
KID FACTOR: Arcola is the birthplace of Johnny Gruelle who created Raggedy and Ann and Andy. The town has a museum and also a gathering of collectors worldwide who come to celebrate the dolls and their designer.
WHAT: Going here was a strange experience. Allow me to start back earlier in the summer when a friend and I were touring the Ellwood Mansion in DeKalb. As we were going through the house a man who was taking the tour with us – told us that if we liked old mansions we should visit the Hegeler-Carus house in LaSalle. So I looked it up on the web and saw that Mr. Hegeler made his fortune in zinc. Neither my friend nor I care that much about zinc fortunes even though the picture I found of the outside of the house looked interesting.
But then one day something I planned to do was cancelled and my friend was also free – so we decided to go.
We got there about 20 minutes before a tour started so we sat on Wal-Mart type lawn chairs on the elegant front porch and waited. Once inside, we paid and then were ushered into the one completely restored room in the house where about a dozen other people joined us. The tour guide was obviously passionate about the house as we began viewing the rooms. One of the stipulations when obtaining the house was that nothing could be discarded and that included every book in the house. Although the tour did not go in much of the house – it does have seven floors and 57 rooms.
One of the coolest things about the house was a steep, wide stairway down to a lower level. Above the stairway was a balcony and the kids of the family (seven in the original family, ten in the other) would put on plays for the family.
We quickly learned that the house represented more than Mr. Hegeler and zinc, but also his son-in-law, Paul Carus. In fact, it was Paul’s wife, Mary, who was put in charge of the zinc works – very unusual at that time for a woman to be in charge of a business.
Paul Carus was known for his dialogue on science and religion and wrote “The Gospel of Buddha,” the first time an American studied middle eastern thought at least on a formal basis. So, someone gave him a buddha which is in the front hallway although he made sure people knew he wasn’t buddist. Yet the book was used in buddist seminaries.
But the story goes on – Paul Carus also established Open Court Publishing in the basement, publishing books that explored philosophies and science. His son continued in publishing and branched off into Open Court Textbooks – and Cricket and Ladybug Magazines. Open Court largely was responsible for introducing eastern philosophy in the US.
To add to the uniqueness of the house, it also has the world’s oldest gym inside (not renovated) with exercise equipment, rings and a basketball hoop. (You can see pictures of it on the web.)
One of the descendents runs the company that makes the parts for water filters (like Brita).
Another invented spellcheck.
KID FACTOR: No. Don’t bother. No matter what the age.
CONCLUSION: I’m not sorry we went. Who knew that this house tucked away on a side street in LaSalle had such an influence on our country? I also understand that restoring a home takes a long time – yet, I feel there were little things they could do to make the place look nicer. Like dust. Like have some retired carpenter make them some rocking chairs or whatever was the usual sitting-on-the-porch chair back in the 1800s when it was built. (I’m fairly sure it wasn’t plastic lawn chairs.)
We did have a lively conversation on the way home – what we would do if we were PR people for the house.
Not my favorite historic house of all time. But a fun afternoon.