By Amy Braden & Dustin Gellman
For decades, scholars and barflies alike have pondered the origins of Linda French. I stumbled upon this living legend the first time I stopped in Depot Town--kicking back at the bar while drinking a pint of Frog Island, I watched in amazement as she chewed out her staff. Strangly, they almost seemed to enjoy it.
I remember thinking, here was a woman I had to meet. And one lazy Saturday afternoon, many years after having made her acquaintance, she told me the story of her life. While sitting alongside the railroad tracks, munching sweet potato fries under a large Saint Pauli Girl umbrella, she recounted the following tale...
Born in 1864 to Charleston socialite Harriet Middleton, famed for her refusal to skip town as it burned to ash in the incendiary wake left by Northern soldiers, Linda spent her formative years scavenging for food among the sacked ruins of the city. After coming to the conclusion one spring day that the chicken did, in fact, come before the egg, she came home to discover her mother dead, clutching a letter from General Sherman himself which detailed, among other things, that he was Linda's father. Armed with nothing more than the knowledge that she was the love-child borne of unspeakable travesty, Linda hopped the first train going North intending to claim her birth-rite and avenge her mother's abandonment.