My latest novel, To Laugh Once More, is set in Georgia in 1895. One of the highlights of writing this novel was doing the research for it. In its prequel, To Dance Once More, Lydia and Hamilton Scarbrough lived in Florida, so when I moved them to Georgia, I had to do a lot of research. During my research, I was thrilled to learn that in 1895, the year I had chosen, the Cotton States and International Exposition came to Piedmont Park in Atlanta, which was in the neighborhood Lydia and Hamilton had settled. The Expo remained in Atlanta for several months and had nearly 800,000 visitors come to see all of the exhibits before it left.
I love going to the county fair, and this is what I imagine the Expo was like, except the Cotton States and International Exposition offered more than the usual county fair. The Atlanta Botanical Gardens displayed its beautiful flowers. The Ford Motor Company was there displaying its latest inventions. The Agricultural building showed everything a farmer could ever dream of seeing. The Art exhibit displayed art from all over the world.
The most fascinating part of the Expo to me is the buildings dedicated to different countries to show to the residents of Atlanta and its visitors who they were, what the people looked like, sounded like, and what they ate. There was a Japanese exhibit, a Mexican exhibit, an African exhibit, and more. There was a beauty show for the elegant ladies and a Coochee Coochee show for the not-so-elegant ladies. Even President Grover Cleveland came and delivered a speech. The Liberty Bell was there on display, and Booker T. Washington gave the Atlanta Compromise speech and highlighted Negro Day. There were also exhibits for exotic animals like monkeys and tigers and a Buffalo Bill Wild West Show with sharpshooters entertaining the onlookers.
Imagine the reaction from the wealthy elite in Atlanta when they witnessed the sharpshooters in the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show pretending to shoot down wild animals and Native Americans. I can hear the gasps from the refined ladies and can see them covering the eyes of the children as the riders demonstrated bloody battles. I’m sure the children would have been trying to peek between the fingers of their mothers to see all the action, and I’m sure they dreamed of riding out west and conquering some territory of their own. I can also hear the whoops and hollers from the men in suits who could only dream of being part of Buffalo Bill Cody’s show. This show glamorized the rough conditions of the west and made it look like being a settler on the frontier was full of adventure. Buffalo Bill traveled all over the states demonstrating his Wild West Show, and I can’t help but wonder how many men tried to convince their wives to pack up and GO WEST!
Piedmont Park is still a very active part of the Atlanta community. You can still see some of the foundations of the buildings from the Expo. Atlanta is rich in all sorts of history (Civil War and beyond), and Piedmont Park still rings out the history of the Atlanta Cotton States and International Exposition.
Here’s my Pinterest board that shows photos from the Expo, along with other fascinating Atlanta history pics. http://www.pinterest.com/sherriwjohnson/to-laugh-once-more/
If you click on the link below, you will see a map of the Expo.
Thanks so much for letting me share a bit of my historic passion.
To Laugh Once More is a Victorian Inspirational Romance set in Georgia in 1895.
A dissatisfied wife. A misunderstood husband. Three tragedies will alter their path forever. Will their choices tear them apart, or will they allow them To Laugh Once More?
Three years after her marriage to Hamilton, former debutante Lydia Barrington Scarbrough is dissatisfied with life. She has yet to have children, and she spends most of her days sitting in a circle of women chatting about homemaking. She thought life would be more than what it’s turned out to be. Hamilton travels on business and never takes her with him. What’s a lonely wife to do when she has no children to raise? She longs for adventure and romance, and really, she longs for the fulfillment of her purpose in life. A purpose beyond being a wife and raising children.
Lydia faces a series of hardships that stretch her faith beyond capacity. Leaving her childhood home in Florida for Georgia proves to be more difficult than she ever imagined, and her marriage may not survive the trials. Lydia’s own personal battles drive a wedge between them. What will it take to make Hamilton attempt to save their marriage and draw Lydia back to him?
As Lydia strives to etch out a place for herself in a new world full of unfamiliar prejudice and attempts to overcome her private battles, she must help Hamilton understand her deepest longings and learn the true meaning of joy. Will she surrender her will in order to find her purpose? Will her future hold a happier marriage, motherhood, and a calling greater than she could ever have imagined?
Sherri Wilson Johnson is an Inspirational Romance novelist, a speaker, and a former homeschooling mom who’d rather have laugh lines under her eyes than worry lines across her forehead. She lives in Georgia with her husband, her two children and her Chihuahua, Posey. Her favorite thing to do when she’s not with her family is to curl up with a good book or work on her current work-in-progress. Sherri is the author of To Dance Once More, Song of the Meadowlark, and To Laugh Once More. She is a columnist with Habits for a Happy Home and Choose NOW Ministries.
Sherri is giving away an e-book copy of both To Laugh Once More and To Dance Once More to one reader who leaves a comment.