Today’s post is a reprint from Mrs. N.D. Deupree’s “Some Historic Homes of Mississippi,” from Publications of the Mississippi Historical Society, Vol. VI (1902).
One mile northwest of Clinton in Hinds county, on a beautiful slope covered with forest trees at the edge of a large canebrake was the site of “Greenwood,” the home of Cowles Mead, who was at one time one of the most prominent men in the State. The house, a large and commodious one, stood in a lawn of fifty acres, through which a broad carriage way extended. This driveway was bounded by rows of trees, many of them native to the location; these were interspersed with magnolia, pine and live oaks. The lawn was carpeted with a rich sward of Bermuda grass, which Gen. Mead is said to have introduced into the United States. The home was noted for its lavish hospitality and for the numbers of distinguished guests entertained there. Gen. Mead was devoted to horticulture, and in his lovely wife he had a most congenial companion; and together they made it a home of flowers. West of the house were the gardens of ornamental shrubs and bulbs. Low hedges of evergreens bordered the beds of tulips, hyacinths, and many others too numerous to mention. To the east was the rose garden. On the east side of the house and adjoining it were the greenhouses built by the plantation carpenter. Under the loving care of Mrs. Mead the hothouse plants bloomed in rich profusion. Beyond the greenhouses was a small summer house covered with yellow jessamine. A quaint little gate admitted on into it. This was the entrance to Gen. Mead’s own garden. Here were wide smooth walks, syringa hedges, banksia roses, tall crape myrtles and, clustered around their roots, masses of the purple wild wood violet, which the good man loved. In this garden was an aged cedar tree, beneath its spreading branches was placed a wide garden seat; here Gen. Mead’s after-dinner coffee was served. Many men of illustrious names sat with him under that old cedar and discussed the affairs of state. Among the valued souvenirs of the home was the sword of Aaron Burr, which was delivered to Gen. Mead when Burr was captured. This sword was presented by Mrs. Mead to Captain Wellborn of the Mississippi College Rifles, when that company marched away to battle in 1861, and was lost at the first battle of Manassas where Capt. Wellborn was wounded.
The home, the gardens, and most of the beautiful trees were destroyed by Grant’s soldiers after the surrender of Vicksburg.
The home, the gardens, and most of the beautiful trees were destroyed by Grant’s soldiers after the surrender of Vicksburg. Gen. Mead, wife and son, were buried in the garden; the monuments that marked their last resting place have fallen and lie covered with grass and weeds, almost lost to sight. A large pecan tree stands sentinel over the grave of him who planted the seed, when the twentieth star representing the State of Mississippi was fresh upon the flag of the Union. The old tree has lived to see most of the changes of the nineteenth century; and as each returning spring calls the flowers from out their wintry home, the old tree sends aloft its coronal of fresh leaves; and when chill autumn with frost-fingers touches leaf and fruit, the rich brown nuts fall to earth, and many an urchin, who knows not even the name of him who thus provided this pleasure, is made happy.
“Some Historic Homes of Mississippi,” Publications of the Mississippi Historical Society, Vol. 6 (1902), p. 250-251.
This post is part of a series taken from Mrs. N.D. Deupree’s “Some Historic Homes of Mississippi,” published in 1903. Want to read others in the series?