The Photographic Diary of a River Town,
Images of America: Vicksburg
This soft cover book offers a fascinating photographic view into the history and lifestyle of the people of Vicksburg, MS, a river town with a storied past of steamboats and Civil War strife.
By Susan J. Young
A few years back, I met Gordon Cotton, former curator of the Old Courthouse Museum, while on a riverboat port call in Vicksburg. I toured the museum, introduced myself as a journalist to him and commented on how much I enjoyed my visit. In just a brief conversation, Cotton's passion for the museum clearly showed. He lived and breathed the museum and the tales of its storied history.
Fortunately, that same passion has translated clearly to this pictorial book. While stunning pictures tell the story visually, it's the caption information created by Cotton that brings the tales alive.
Frankly, I couldn't put this book down. Its cover is fitting, showing the Old Warren County Courthouse. Today, this building houses the Old Courthouse Museum (see our Americana & Nostalgia page for a story on the museum.)
But throughout the years, the courthouse has remained a steadfast symbol of Vicksburg. It was one of the few major buildings in the city that survived the Union's siege and shelling during the Civil War.
Today, the museum is a cornucopia of historical and cultural fare -- everything from an original Teddy Bear that Theodore Roosevelt gave to a Vicksburg child to Civil War uniforms and firearms, from period clothing to a lovingly maintained historic courtroom, a place where even Robert E. Lee had come seeking legal remedies to take back his former home near Vicksburg.
I bought the book because of the museum photo on the front, frankly. But in delving into it, I learned the book isn't so much about the museum itself. It's more about the city's diverse history -- from steamboats plying the Mississippi laden with cotton to the tragic consequences of a tornado in the 20th century, from the Civil War and its aftermath to the everyday scenes of farm life around the town to community celebrations with the locals dressed in their finest attire of the day.
If you're seeking heaps of written words, this book doesn't have that. If you want incredible photos and succinct, descriptive captions that adeptly tell the story of Vicksburg, then this book is it!
You may purchase this soft cover book at most booksellers nationally, including Amazon.com where it costs $19.95. (please click our link on the left column of the Book Review or other main pages to reach Amazon.com). The book is published by Arcadia Publishing Inc., a division of Tempus Publishing Inc. ISBN 0-7385-0155-7.