Old South memories linger

The Kitchens family collection on display at the Brookhaven historical society museum gives viewers a look into the old south through the eyes of their family heritage.

The display of confederate memorabilia ranges from furniture and costumes to children’s toy solders in battle formation (as arranged by seven-year-old John Clayton Kitchens).

“These are just things I have picked up along the way,” Ron Kitchens said. “I’ve always had an interest in that time period.”

Kitchens said it’s not so much about the war; it is about the romance of the Old Antebellum South and the Civil War time period. He added that the items are a way for him to connect with the old ways.

Although some of the pieces in the collection were given to Kitchens by friends or have been bought in estate sales, most of it linked back to his families’ ancestors.

Kitchens said he has had a relative in every American war and grew up listening to stories from his great uncle about his father’s time in the civil war.

“It’s a way to connect to grandparents, great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents,” Kitchens said.

He added the pieces in the display that he cherishes most are the ones that he can link back to his family and has a background story.

The items on display are just a part of Kitchens’ collection. His home is a living museum full of other hidden treasures of family historical significance, but unlike most museums the artifacts are part of his family’s everyday life.

For example, pushed against the wall of the Kitchens’ living room is an unassuming simple wooden table. Kitchens said the table was delivered to the Sunnyside Plantation where his wife’s great-great-grandparents were living.

Kitchens said when he sees the table and the break on the leg, he envisions all the children who have pulled themselves up on it’s wooden frame throughout the years – generations and generations doing the same thing over and over the past 100 years.

“It has a familial touch with it,” Kitchens said. “I appreciate it more for it’s historical roots. It’s neat to think about all those people who have gone on who have touched and handled these things. You feel connected.”

Kitchens said it is also important to him to share his appreciation for his heritage with his children. A connection to the past is so engrained in his family’s life that simple events are of significance such as their nighttime prayers, when Kitchens reads to his children from the same Bible his grandmother read to him.

Kitchens said the old ways are slipping away, and homes are becoming sterile without that connection to family, so he is teaching his children through example and hopes they will appreciate history.

The Kitchenses’ confederate collection will be on display through December. The Lincoln County Historical and Genealogical Museum is located on the corner of South Church and west Chickasaw Street. The museum is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  and for groups by appointment.  For more information call 601-833-8023.