Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Historic Donnell House in Athens, Alabama

A couple weeks ago, Hubby and I toured the former home of Presbyterian minister Robert Donnell.  He finished the house in 1851, dying in 1855.  However, he was spared seeing his home invaded by Union soldiers.

This was one of the few homes we have visited that has allowed us to take pictures inside.
The spiritual life of all those around Rev. Donnell was more important than the physical and he furnished his house plainly compared to other antebellum home.
Our tour guide was a direct descendant of Rev. Donnell.
Prayers were held in the dining room twice a day for the family, guests, and laborers.  The overseer complained, in vain, that prayers were taking time away from the laborer's work.
So many mirrors in a home served to reflect light.
The Donnell House is not normally open for tours but today was a special occasion.
This was the anniversary of the invasion of Union troops in May, 1862.  Col. John Turchin, a Russian Cossack, quartered his soldiers on the Donnell property.
On this day we were treated to a re-enactment of an actual event that happened while the troops were camped on the lawn.  Upstairs, a family member lay dying.  Soldiers were asked for peace and quiet but when they did not comply.........
.....the lady of the house dumped a chamber pot on the unlucky trooper stationed below.  On this day the "lady" was our tour guide and the "soldier" was a direct descendant of the soldier who had the chamber pot dumped on him.  Fortunately, on this day it was just water.
Up until the invasion by Union troops in 1862, Athens had been largely pro-Union.  However, Col. Turchin "closed his eyes for two hours" - allowing his troops to sack and plunder the town of Athens as they pleased.  Even today you really shouldn't boast to anyone in town that you are a Yankee!
We are immersing ourselves in Civil War history or, as it's called around here, the War Between the States.  Last weekend we learned all about the Battle of Franklin (Tennessee) and the families and homes involved.  Stay tuned for more!


  1. oooooooh! I love all those plain-old-painted uneven wood floors! And the mirrors! -- I'll take that heavy guilded 3-part one over the black mantel...

  2. Hello from Kansas!

    Really neat and interesting to see the inside of this massive house. Lovely.
    I'll have to read up on this Rev.

    God bless,