The Love and Lure of Fiddler’s Green  ‘Skirmish in the Valley’

Alabama has a wondrous secret. In order to find the ‘secret’ history haven, one must travel on 278 and turn off on Roy Webb Road. The road leads to a place known as Fiddler’s Green. After parking your vehicle, you are driven up the incline and there, sitting in all its glory is the home called Fiddler’s Green. The antebellum home is the result of the vision and hard work of Gary Dempsey, Chris (son of Gary) and Heather Dempsey. Most of the house’s historical features were from the architectural elements of the Lockett-Gidley House acquired by the Dempsey family. Through hard and meticulous work, they restored the home’s historical elements to add to the Fiddler’s Green we see today. A notable previous owner of the Lockett-Gidley House was Samuel Lockett. He was a colonel in the Confederacy and chief engineer of the Defense of Vicksburg. He was also a prolific writer and may be best known for his work on the pedestal for the Statue of Liberty.

But that is not all. Fiddler’s Green has amazing gardens, outbuildings and other structures. The garden is home to the ‘Nancy Holder Couch’ rose bush. The bush (a cutting) has been in the family for over one hundred-forty years and grows in the back of the garden. It has seen seven generations pass by and marvel at its beauty and longevity. Numerous plants and flowers decorate the gardens.

After touring the gardens and grounds, you can go back in time by visiting the 1800 village. The two-story log cabin (known as Ben Turner Place) was open to the public. It was built in the 1850s. The cabin is a story and a half hand-hewn pine structure that was built in the style known as ‘pen’ or ‘crib’. The corners are ‘half-dovetail’ notched and was relocated from its original location on New Liberty Road (across from Overton Lake Rd. in Calhoun County) Ada’s Mercantile (a 19th century store), Ruby’s Chapel (a wondrous venue for weddings) and a new grist mill are some of the featured structures.

Add an annual event (the first weekend in May), and you have history come alive. Imagine the villa coming alive with sutlers, artisans, and other crafts such as Christina Eadie Charleston’s tintype (.https://charlestontintypist.com/), authors and period vendors. Imagine an authentic recreation of encampments, tours of the house and grounds and presentations. A young man offered a rousing presentation of ‘that gallant Pelham’ and General Lee, along with General Grumble Jones met and greeted the spectators.

The ladies tea and social was a wondrous affair. The newly constructed grist mill was the location of the tea and several ladies dressed in their best attire attended. General Lee was asked to welcome the ladies and then a moving blessing was offered by one of the ladies. For a brief period, one drank from the nectar of the old south. Tours of the antebellum home were offered. Gary Dempsey welcomed the guests, offered a historical perspective of the house, and highly skilled students, assigned to each room, described in detail each room’s history.

At two o’clock the Skirmish in the Valley began with a flurry of activity. A genuine wedding was conducted at the house in the valley and was soon ended by a federal attack. The fighting was intense with both sides attempting to secure the high ground. After the battle a pass and review was given with three volleys to honor God, Country and those who love our American freedoms. Another wedding was held but this time in one of the gardens. Someone commented there must be something in the air and ‘not to drink the water’! A wondrous dance was held at the grist mill and once again several came out to dance and listen to the Emmy award-winning band known as Un-Reconstructed. The music and ballroom dancing was in the style of the period and very eloquently performed.

On Sunday the Officers once again assembled and created another well thought out scenario. Church was conducted by Chaplain Mike Jones and General Lee, with the Jones Family singing a prelude to the church call. Crowds gathered and once again General Lee welcomed them and tours of the house began.

Suddenly the peace in the valley was shattered by a surprise Federal attack on the little house in the valley. Women and children ran into the hills to avoid being captured or killed by the raiders. The Skirmish in the Valley was a recreation of a typical raid by Sherman’s forces during the 1864 march to the sea. Confederate forces engaged them but could not save the house and the belongings within. The crowd cheered for both sides during the pass and review and all went home knowing that history is alive and well at Fiddler’s Green.

If you are looking for an event celebrating history, heritage, family values, Freedom and God, this event should be considered a must! ALSO, if you are planning to get married, there is not a better venue than Fiddler’s Green. For more information about next year’s event or information about a wedding, go to www.fiddlersgreenweddings.com or Facebook at Fiddler’s Green Event Venue.