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By November 7, 2012

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The divisive years of 1861 - 1865 marked the most difficult time in America's history. The tragic deaths of more than 850,000 men and the dawn of freedom for thousands of slaves ushered in a new era. Our national commemoration of those war years, during the Civil War Sesquicentennial, calls for reflection and remembrance.

The historic antebellum Donnell House in Athens, Alabama is pleased to announce the 2012 "Festival of Trees: A Civil War Christmas." Decorations throughout the plantation home, built by Rev. Robert Donnell and named Pleasant Hill, will reflect Christmas customs of that era, as well as the events that took place within the family, in particular the year 1862, the year Union soldiers invaded Athens and performed what is known in history as the Sack of Athens.

The Candlelight Preview Party, held on November 15 from 6 to 8 p.m. will feature such foods as Robert E. Lee Cake, Yankee Cannonballs, and fried pies, among other delicious selections. The cost for attendance to this special one night event is $20 and reservations may be made by contacting Jacque Reeves at (256) 536-5737.

Visitors will enjoy touring the home and the adjacent log cabin, which has been decorated by many talented businesses, professional decorators, individuals, and groups, for a cost of $8 for adults, and $6 for children 12 and under. The home, as well as the primitive log cabin, will be open for tours November 16, 29, and 30 from 5 pm to 7 pm, and on November 17, 18, December 1, 2 from 1 pm to 5 pm.

Decorations will pay tribute to both sides of the conflict, and a special exhibit of never-before-seen artifacts of the Donnell family will be on display for the first time. Union forces camped on the grounds of this home, took many of the family belongings, and confiscated the Donnell cotton, in retaliation for J.W.S. Donnell's contributions to the Confederate Army. There was a warrant for his arrest, as well as his son, Major Robert Donnell. For more information, contact Tiffany Seibert at ctseibert@yahoo.com

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