Monday, October 18, 2010

Blue ? or Gray ?


A Confederate or Union supporter?

When visiting the Frankfort Museum (Kentucky’s State Capitol), I was intrigued by one of the displays about Mary Todd, who was born in Lexington, Kentucky. Most of her family members supported the South during the Civil War; in fact, a couple of her brothers fought for the Confederacy. And yet, members of the Todd family who were Confederate sympathizers were hosted by Mary and Abraham Lincoln in the White House while the war was raging on.

As you can imagine, the press had a field day with the topic of allowing “Confederate spies” in the Nation’s capitol. Although Mary Todd Lincoln publically denounced slavery, the rumors continued and the newspapers spread suspicion.

So when we were in Lexington and had the opportunity to tour the house where Mary and her family lived before she met Abe Lincoln in Illinois, we grabbed the opportunity.

Lexington is in the heart of Kentucky’s Bluegrass country. Sprawling ranches with enormous houses are surrounded by the thick natural grass that gives the area its name. I was told that the grass takes on the bluish dark green because of the underground limestone formations that leach into the ground water. It’s beautiful there, and the town is very cosmopolitan—and by that, I mean that people from various parts of the world have moved here to go to the local university, open businesses, or to raise horses. There are abundant places to eat -- we found some of the best Middle Eastern food imaginable at a place called Oasis Restaurant!  We'll be going back next time we are in Lexington !

The docents at Todd house (see the photos) wouldn’t allow indoor pictures, so you’ll need to visit the house and have a look for yourself! The volunteers did a wonderful job of restoring the house back to its original state – the house had been used for various purposes for over 150 years and was rescued from the wrecker’s ball by a group of concerned citizens (thank heavens). There are many of Mary’s personal possessions inside the house, including samples of things like the china dinnerware she selected for the Lincolns’ years in the White House.

Mary Todd Lincoln house in Lexington, KY

But the big question mark about Mary will always be her mental health. Was she as nutty as she has been portrayed? A lot of people believe she was manic-depressive, and by all indications, she was! And there are still many questions about her loyalty to the North during the Civil War. I would LOVE to write a historical novel about her and do a bunch of research! While the subject of her sanity is common knowledge, not many of us know about her big family division over the slavery issue.

Back of Mary Todd Lincoln house.
For pictures of Mary Todd Lincoln & family, just Google her name in Images ... you will see thousands of pictures of her.

Tomorrow, we head to Ohio, so we need to clean up Shamu, do more laundry, and get ready for an early start.

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