Monday, September 21, 2015

Meridian, MS Jimmie Rodgers Museum

Meridian was the home of Jimmie Rodgers ( September 8, 1897 – May 26, 1933), the Father of Country Music. He was also known as the Blue Yodeler and The Singing Brakeman. With his vocals and guitar playing, he was popular during the 1920’s and 1930’s.
When he was 13 years old, he ran away twice to give traveling shows. His father who worked for the Mobil and Ohio Railroad, ended that by putting Jimmie to work as a water boy with the same railroad.

When he was 27 in 1924, he came down with tuberculosis, temporarily ending his career on the railroad but giving him a chance to pursue entertainment. He organized a traveling road show however after a cyclone destroyed his tent, he went back to work with the railroad.

On April 18, 1927 Jimmie  and Otis Kuykendall performed for the first time on the new North Carolina station WWN. A few months later, Jimmie recruited a group from Tennessee called the Tenneva Ramblers and they secured a weekly slot on the station as the Jimmie Rodgers Entertainers. A columnist said, “Whoever that fellow is, he either is a winner or he is going to be.”

On August 4, Jimmie Rodgers recorded two songs: “Sleep, Baby, Sleep” and “The Soldier’s Sweetheart.” For the recordings, he received $100 from Ralph Peer of the Victor Talking Machine Company. In November of that year, Peer recorded Rodgers again at the Victor studios in Camden, New Jersey. Four songs made it out of this session: “Ben Dewberry’s Final Run,” “Mother Was a Lady,” “Away out on the Mountain” and “T for Texas.” In the next two years, “T for Texas” (released as “Blue Yodel”) sold nearly half a million copies, rocketing Rodgers into stardom.

In the next few years, Rodgers did a movie short, "The Singing Brakeman", and made various recordings across the country. He toured the Midwest with humorist Will Rogers. On July 16, 1930, he even recorded “Blue Yodel No. 9” (also known as “Standin’ on the Corner”) with a young jazz trumpeter named Louis Armstrong, whose wife, Lillian, played piano on the track.

Rodgers’ next to last recordings were made in August 1932 in Camden,New Jersey and it was clear that TB was getting the better of him. He had given up touring by then but with the success of "T for Texas" he had a weekly radio show in San Antonio, Texas, where he’d relocated  and built a house for his family in Kerrville, Texas. 

Starting in May 1933, Jimmie went to  New York for recording sessions. He completed four songs on the first take, but his illness was taking its toll. After a days rest he had to record sitting down and shortly went back to his hotel to rest so he could complete his recordings. 
Jimmie recorded “Years Ago” by himself, finishing as he’d started six years earlier, just a man and his guitar. Within 36 hours, at age 36, “The Father of Country Music” was dead. (1)




Journey & Adventure–Week 4 Meridian, Mississippi

Meridian was established in 1860 at the intersection of two railroads the Mobile and Ohio and Southern Railway of Mississippi. In February 1864, during the Civil War, General William Tecumseh Sherman’s army  in the Battle of Meridian, destroyed the railroads and much of the surrounding area.

Rebuilt after the war, the city entered a "Golden Age", becoming the largest city in Mississippi between 1890 and 1930 and a leading center for manufacturing in the South. It had 44 trains coming in and out daily.

The downtown historic district has the largest number of historic buildings in the state. Meridian has nine historic districts and neighborhoods that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Merrehope is a restored 26-room Victorian mansion that was used during the Civil war as the headquarters for Confederate General Lenidas Polk. It was spared destruction by Union General William T. Sherman.


Highland Park began in the late 19th century. At the time Highland Park was designed, there was a national trend for streetcar pleasure parks. The Meridian Light and Railway Company followed the national trend, building a rail line from 8th Street and west into Highland Park.

The platform for the streetcar line was located in the northeast corner of the park at the main entrance. A promenade connected the platform with a small pool, the carousel house and a gazebo. 

In the 1930's, two swimming pools were built.  A small fighter jet was located in the park between the pools and the promenade in 1972. In addition to the Carousel House, a museum honoring Jimmie Rodgers, a steam locomotive are located in the park.



The Jimmy Rodger’s Museum and Dentzel Carousel are separate posts.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Vicksburg, Mississippi Day Trip–Historic Vicksburg


The Mississippi River Bridge on I-20 leading into Vicksburg from Louisiana.

Vicksburg's founder Rev. Newitt Vick designated a city block as a public square. After the city was incorporated, it became the county seat in 1825. The original Court House built on the site burned in 1856. In 1843 Jefferson Davis began his political career on the Court Square.

Vicksburg’s crown jewel both architecturally and historically is the Old Courthouse. Built circa 1858 – 1860 it a National Landmark which towers over the city. On July 4, 1863 the Stars and Bars were replaced by the Stars and Stripes at the end of 47-day siege of Vicksburg.

Cannons are predominantly displayed throughout the city and in the National Park.

Historic Downtown Vicksburg


Biedenharn Coca-Cola® Museum (1890) in a restored building where Coca-Cola® was first bottled anywhere in the world in 1894. In addition to the museum there is a restored 1900 soda fountain still serving “ice cream, Coke floats”. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and as a Vicksburg Landmark.

Yesterday’s Children Antique Doll and Toy Museum in historic downtown Vicksburg has one of the largest collections in the United States of rare 19th and 20th century French and German bisque dolls. Along with Teddy bears, a multitude of other dolls, trains, pedal cars, rocking horses, toy soldiers and more.

Recycled d├ęcor

Catfish Row Children’s Art Park contains playful areas, garden area walks, a splash fountain, children’s art, and unique exhibits.


Old Depot Museum on display are model railroad “HO” scale, “N” scale and “O” scale along with railroad memorabilia. There is a diorama of the battlefield with 2300 miniature soldiers, 250 ship models, exhibits of tow boats and river boats, large Civil Ware vessels. There are 150 model cars which cover the development of the automobile. Models of the different styles of Vicksburg architecture.

River Flood Wall Murals and Street Design are located adjacent to the Children’s Art Park. The first mural was painted in 2001. Most of the murals illustrate the history of Vicksburg.

And the Flood Marks

One day in Vicksburg does not do it justice. There are many more things to see and do. But sometimes, that’s a day trip!

Vicksburg, MS Day Trip–National Military Park

Vicksburg, Mississippi is about 70 miles from Monroe, Louisiana, so a day trip was in order.

Vicksburg located on the Mississippi River was a vital area for control of the river for the Federal government to ensure survival of the Union during the Civil War.

Vicksburg National Military Park has a very informative Visitors Center with life size exhibits and artifacts from the siege of Vicksburg are displayed. The 16 mile tour road has over 1,340 monuments, markers and plaques. The tour road includes a restored Union gunboat (USS Cairo) and the Vicksburg National Cemetery. Allow at least two hours for the tour.


Cannons line the sidewalk adjacent to the Visitor Center parking

The entrance to the National Military Park


The rolling hills in the battlefield

USS Cairo Museum the Union ironclad named for Cairo, IL and commissioned on January 16, 1862. It was struck by two underwater torpedoes north of Vicksburg in the Yazoo River on December 12, 1862. It sank in less than 12 minutes without losing any lives. Raised in 1964, having been preserved in the mud and silt it was later restored. It is the last of the ironclads.
Vicksburg National Cemetery is the second largest national cemetery. The remains of 17,00 Civil War Union soldiers are buried in the 16 acres. That is the larger number than any other national cemetery.