This year begins a three-year celebration of the upcoming Alabama Bicentennial in 2019. For three years, we will celebrate Alabama Places (2017), Alabama People (2018), and Alabama Stories (2019). To help celebrate, Dr. John Kvach (History Professor at UAH) has written several blog posts about several different locations on our North Alabama Geocaching Passport. The passport can be found at http://www.northalabama.org/content/uploads/general_content/2015AMLAGeocachingPassport.pdf. Happy reading and hunting for those geocaches!
Pond Spring - General Joe Wheeler Home, Hillsboro
Although stories of Fightin’ Joe Wheeler’s Civil War exploits are legendary, it took him and his wife to create a lasting legacy in northern Alabama. Born in Georgia to New England parents, Joe Wheeler eventually became a Confederate general who served part of his time in North Alabama. While there he met Daniella Jones Sherrod, a widow and mother of six kids. In 1865, with little to his name or many prospects for the future, Wheeler returned and married Sherrod a year later. They eventually settled at Pond Spring, a large cotton plantation along the Tennessee River in Lawrence County.
It is important to note that Sherrod brought the money and resources to the marriage and supported her husband’s post-Civil War political and military career. In 1827 the Sherrod family had purchased the large tract and began the slow process of developing a thriving cotton plantation. Ben Sherrod and his young bride Daniella worked hard to support their growing family. Ben eventually passed away in 1861; leaving the plantation and slaves to her. After the Civil War and her marriage to Joe Wheeler, Daniella oversaw the construction of the house you now see at the site. Her and her husband would enjoy great postwar success in business, politics, and family.
At the Joe (and Daniella) Wheeler Plantation make sure you look around at the history that has survived. The fifty-acre site is more than just a house. Prehistoric and historic evidence came be found around the plantation, and a great deal of time and effort has been made to preserve the past. Sit under the large trees in the boxwood garden and imagine how busy a plantation really was back then. This was no Gone With the Wind vision of southern leisure but a profitable, working farm. Go inside and look at how that hard work paid off for the Wheeler family. The paintings, antiques, china, and books are all markers of a well-to-do southern family living in the nineteenth century.