Located in the small, rural Georgia city of Eatonton where in the 1800’s cotton as king and a young Joel Chandler Harris was busy penning what would become known as the “Uncle Remus” tales.
Joel Chandler Harris was born in Eatonton on a cold December day in 1848 and went on to become one of the more controversial writers of his time.
The city of Eatonton is now home to a museum created in his honor called the “Uncle Remus Museum.”
The Birth of an American Classic
Joel C. Harris was a bastard child of a poor hotel employee known as Mary Harris. From an early age Harris displayed a love of writing and he was soon taken under the wing of a wealthy and noted plantation owner by the name of Joseph Addison Turner.
While under Turner’s tutelage, Harris interacted quite a bit with Turner’s slaves who happened to be celebrated story tellers George Terrell and Bob Caper. It is said that Harris’s conversations with Terrell and Caper provided the fodder for his “Uncle Remus” tales, which were first published in 1880.
Harris went on to publish a total of 8 “Uncle Remus” books. In the books “Uncle Remus” was an elderly slave who would regale the plantation owner’s son with what were perceived to be moralistic tales of animals known as “Brer Rabbit” and “Brer Fox.”
At the time Harris’s ‘Uncle Remus” books were seen by some as controversial. They spurred much heated debate over Harris’s intentions, the human condition, racial relations as well as society’s portrayal of such.
Uncle Remus Comes to the Big Screen
In addition to “Uncle Remus’s” often controversial cast of characters, Harris also wrote about life in the old south as well as the period of reconstruction. Even though he died in Atlanta in 1908, the “Uncle Remus” stories continued and virtually took on a life of their own.
Posthumously, Walt Disney brought Joel Chandler Harris’s stories to center stage with their 1946 movie “Songs of the South.” “Songs of the South” catapulted Harris and his tales of “Uncle Remus” back onto the world’s center stage. The movie was a big success and soon children from all over were becoming familiar with Harris’s “Briar Patch” folklore.
The Uncle Remus Museum
The “Uncle Remus Museum” was created to honor Joel Chandler Harris and his contributions to the literary world. Though controversial, they are still considered to be both an American Literary and Folklore Classics.
The “Uncle Remus Museum” itself is constructed of parts of two different original log cabins that were once home to Putnam County slaves. It contains a fireplace and period furnishings along with the literary based exhibits.
Highlights of the museum’s exhibits include first edition copies of Harris’s work and intricate wood carvings of the “Uncle Remus” characters that are displayed within various shadowboxes that adorn the log cabin’s walls.
Uncle Remus Museum Hours of Operation and Admission
The “Uncle Remus Museum” is open year round from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. It is open from 2:00 pm until 5:00 pm on Sundays.
As of 2010 admission to the “Uncle Remus Museum” is $1.00 per adult and .50 cents per child.
In addition to the exhibits there is a gift shop are on site where visitors can purchase copies of Harris’s books and other “Briar Patch” souvenirs.
Uncle Remus Museum
360 Oak Street
Eatonton, GA 31024
Those visitors interested in learning more about the “Uncle Remus Museum” and Eatonton’s other famous residents, should log onto the city’s tourism website.