The GAGenWeb Project and The USGenWeb Project


The AHGP Project


 The Story of Washington-Wilkes

Compiles and Written by Workers of the Writers'

Program of the Work Projects


in the State of Georgia

( The Records are clickable)

Submitted by Christina Palmer


Points of Interest

I. WILKES COUNTY CORTHOUSE (open 8-6 weekdays), NE. corner Court and Spring Sts., opposite N. Side of Public Square, the fouth courthouse in 162 years of Wilkes County history, was erected in 1904 at a cost of $40,000. A very elaborate three-story granite and brick builing with a red tile roof, it is of the hybrid courthouse architecture so often found in this period, showing Frenchh, Romanesque, and Gothic influences in its design. A green lawn with magnolias and mimosas provides a pleasing setting. The clock, removed from an earlier building, has kept perfect time since 1817 except for an interval in 1865 when, according to legend, it stopped running until Federal troops qartered in the old old courthouse were withdrawn.

     Courthouse vaults contain records from early in 1770's. On the second floor a museum (opened by appointment with custodian) is maintained by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and contains relics of the War between the States, among them a camp chest Jefferson Davis used after the evacuation of Richmond; the inkstand of Burton Harrison, secretary to President Davis; a box of matches taken from Davis' pocket after his capture; a uniform worn by General Toombs; a silk flag made by Washington women and used by a local artillery unit; several "Joe Brown Pikes"; and valuable files of old newspapers.

     On this site, after the Revolution, Colonel Micaijah Willliamson operated a popular tavern in a commodious log house whose sign displayed a life-sized prtrait of George Washington. The inn was replaced in 1787 by the first permanent courthouse, which in turn was supplanted in 1820 b the Georgia Branch Bank Building. From the balcony of this old structure Robert Toombs delivered fiery secession speeches, and on May 5, 1865, the last meeting of the Confederate cabinet was held here.

Page 97

     THE CAPSTONE OF WILKES MANUFACTURING COMPANY ot Bolton's Factory, right of walk leading to main entrance of courthouse, is from the South's first cotton mill. This factory was erected on Upton Creek in 1811, at the site of Eli Whitney's workshop and ginhouse. John Bolton, a Rhode Islander, was a leading stockholder in the company and the architect of the building. The venture soon proved unforfitable, and Thomas Tlabot bought the machinery and removed it to his plantation, Mount Pleasant, where he produced clothing for his slaves. The factory building, bought by the estate of General Nathanael Greene, was sold to the simpson family in 1834. Richarson Booker, prominent in the Methodist Church, taught Sunday School there, and local Baptists conducted services within its walls. A four and grist mill was later installed. When flood waters damaged the structure beyond repair, the Reverend Franklin T. Simpson preserved the spaston. Boyce Ficklen, Sr., was influential in placing the relic  on the courthouse square in 1923.

     NELSON'S ROCK, left of walk leading  to main entrance of courthouse, in Wilkes County's oldest record. The large flat stone is engraved with a plat of John Nelson's lands and bears the inscription "Land Granted in 1775." The date 1792, cut into the rock, probably indicates the yearthe stone was set up, since Nelson, a native Marylander, had come to Wilkes County somewhat earlier. In 1923 Boyce Ficklen, Sr., had the marker removed to the courthouse square.

     THE TOWN INCORPORATION MARKER, a pink marble shaft a right of main entrance to courthouse, was erected by the Georgia Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1934 to commemorate the Legislative Acts of january 23, 1790, and July 31, 1783, which created and incorporated the town of Washington.

     SITE OF THE LAST CONFEDERATE CABINET MEETING, called by Jefferson Davis on May 5, 1865, is shown by a granite marker erectedin 1938 by the local U.D.C. chapter at the southwest corner of the courthouse. The marker bears the names of the members who were present.


2. THE ELLINGTON HOUSE (private), NW. corner Court and Spring Sts., is a two-story white clapboard structure with green blinds. The house is striking because of its roof, which slants steeply from the two large main rooms on the front over shed rooms on the rear. A simple scroll trim on porches and under eaves is another unusual feature. There is a large piazza across the front and a narrow porch to the east side.

Page 98

Two outside end chimneys have been painted white. The house, built in the corner of the large lot, is almost flush with North Spring Street on the east and Court Street on the South. Several large cottonwood trees along the narrow strip between the house and sidewalks give dense shade.

     Beside the large old-fahioned garden to the south along Court street is the small red brick jail built in 1819 and used until 1911 when a modern one was built on the courthouse lot. In the old jail yard condemned criminals were hanged on carefully built, massive gallows. These executions were public and attracted throngs from far and near. Crowds gathered in the morning on the day on the scheduled hanging long before the leagl hours of execution and overran all property adjoining. The Ellington place was filled on these occasions by the curious who climbed trees and fences to gain vantage points from whicj they could get a good view of the gruesome proceedings.


3. THE MCRAE-TUPPER-BARNETT HOUSE (private), NW. corner W. Robert Toombs Ave., and Allison St., was built early in the nineteenth century. The two-story white frame structure, with its encircling  Doric-collimned porch, is set on a full-story basement like so many houses of the cotton planting era when the master of a house used the ground floors for business transactions. From the basement level a divided stairway approaches the main entrance which is overhung by a balcony with iron grillwork. Fine fanlighted doorwats adorn the first and second stories.

     The Reverend Henry ALlen Tupper who made alterations along the present Greek Revival lines about 1850, weilded so great an influence during his twenty-year pastorate here that members of his Baptist congregation were dubbed Tupperites. It is told that once during a serious drought he announced a special prayer service for rain and asked all attendants to bring umbrellas; although only one person complied, refreshing showers fell before the meeting ended. Another story relates how a fourteen-year-old son, Jerr Boyce Tupper, was sent to tell an assembled Negro congregation that his father would be inable to conduct its service that afternoon. The Negro patriarch in charge, misunderstanding, announced that the son would preach in his father's stead. The boy, almost speechless at first, quickly regained his compsoure and read the text his father had used in another church several hours earlier. After preaching as much of his father's sermon

Page 99

as he could remember; young Tupper received his call to the ministry, a profession of which he laster became a distinguished member.

     Tupper's wealth enabled him to donate his entire salary to the Baptist Mission Board. He also financed the erection of Phi Upsilon Hall, a temperance lodge, on his own lot. Winding walks and rustic bridges made this a favorite resort of young people, who held debates and theathrical performances here.


4. The POLLY BARCLAY POPLAR, NW. Corner Robert Toombs Ave. and Andrews Grove St., marks the place of execution of the first woman to be hanged in the State of Georgia. On March 1, 1806, John H. Barclay, a local merchant, was found shot to death with "a certain smooth bore gun of the value of five dollars then and there loaded and charged with gunpowder and two leaden bullets." Barclay's beautiful young wife Polly, supposedly in love with another man, was arrested for his murder and brought to trail. Two men charged with complicity were released, but the jury brought in a verdict of guilty against the woman and, though mercy was recommended, she was sentenced to be hanged. Despite her pleas to the sheriff "not to hang so beautiful a woman," sentence was carried out on May 20, 1908. An unsubstantiated account states that the sheriff fixed the noose where it would not cause instant death, tha that she was cut down, pronounced dead, and that she was revived by a physician and lived to be an old woman free because the state's sentence had been carried out.


5. The BERRY-HAY-POP HOUSE (private), W. Robert Toombs Ave. opposite Depot St., is a two-story white frame house in Greek Revival style. The older pertion was built of material from Washingotn's first Masonic Temple, and marked on the plaster in a closet is the date 1818. After repeated alterations, the house now has a Doric colonnade and the roof is capped by a "widow's walk," an architecual feature unusual in the south. A graceful stairway, which was made at glen Holly, Mark A. Cooper's plantation in Bartow County, was installed by his daughter, Susan Cooper Pope. The rooms, though large, have low ceilings. Those in the older prtion are worthy of note for their beautifully executed wainscoting.

     Extensive grounds with formal gardens have settings of boxwood, oaks, and large magnolias, and there is a grassy meadow at one side. Some of the trees are draped with silvery hanging Spanish moss, not

Page 100

indigenous to this section but brought from Florida by the present owner (1941), M. Pembroke Pope.


6. The CHARLES E. IRVIN HOUSE (private) 430 Lexington Ave., a two-story white frame house in a grove of water oaks and magnolias, was bought from Stephen Heard late in the 1880's by Captain Charles E. Irvin. The estate is now owned by three Irvin sisters. To the simple structure, erected early in the nineteenth century, Irvin added the balustrated Corinthian portico and the side porches that lead into cross hallways. High wainscoting, paneled doors, and two mantels from the original house are combined with modern architectural features to form a composire style.

     Irvin, who was commended for bravery during the War between the States, won the admiration of Southern extremists by changing his seat when Federal officer, stationed in Washington in 1865, sat beside him in church. He helped General Toombs escape after the war and accompanied him beyond the reach of Federal troops.


7. ST.JOSEPH'S HOME FOR BOYS, 111 Mercer St., organized in 1876, is one of the oldest orphanages in the state. The institution now shelters eighty orphan boys, whose education is supervised by nine nuns and a priest. Here the Roman Catholic laymen of Georgia hold an annual retreat every summer.

     The two-story main building, a substantial edifice of brick and concrete construction, contains the classrooms, kindergarten, dining hall, dormintory, infirmary, and chapel. It was completed in 1932 at a cost of $75,000. The front portion of a columned frame house adjoinging  the property was once the home of the noted Baptist divine Jeese Mercer, benefactor of Mercer University at Macon.

     Twenty acres surrounding the home provide ample pastuage for the livestock, as well as gardens and orchards. When the boys go on errands outside the grounds, a Newfoundland dog accompanies them as companion and guardian.

     The home is on the site of the Academy of Wilkes County. In 1783 the legislature granted a thousand acres to this first public school in the state, and in 1796 a brick building, said to be the first in upper Georgia, was erected. Every denomination in Washington held church services here until Richard H. Long purchased and removed the edifice in 1824 to make way for a residence.

Page 101

8. The COCA-COLA BOTTLING PLANT (visitors welcome), 320 W. Liberty St., is housed in a trim, low, modern building of whitewashed brick. Established here in 1907, it serves a territory comprising Wilkes and parts of five neighboring counties. The working staff includes three men in the production department, three salemen, and one advertising man.


9. WINGFIELD-LANE-CHENEY HOUSE (private), 301 W. Liberty St., was built early in the 1800's, foundation timbers having been brought from Walnut Hill, home of the Reverend John Springer, the first Presbyterian minister to be ordained in Georgia. The first owner, Garland Wingfield, bequeathed the place to Dr. James H. Lnae, and the Lane family lived here from 1865 util 1936, when a change of ownership followed the death of the last surviving member, Miss Annie Lane, historian of Wilkes County and gifted poet .Her popular verses My Mother's Garden were inspired by the old-fashioned flweres and shrubs that still give their frangrance.

     Although the present owner (1941), B. Irvin Cheney, has made considerable restoration, he has preserved the good architectural features such as the blaustraded balcony, the square portico with tall columns, and the fine cornices of the long front windows.


10. The PRINCE-POP-SIMPSON-STEPHENS HOUSE (private), 221 W. Liberty St., is a white frame house of Greek Revival style, fronted by Corinthian columns and partly encircled by a white picket fence. The oldest par was a sall house probably built very early in the nineteenth century. About 1817 an addition, set upon foundations fro mthe first Wilkes County Courthouse, was built by Oliver Hillhouse Prince, who assisted in laying out the city of Macon. The interior is notable for its high-ceilinged rooms, polished hardwood floors, dark woodwork, and gracefully curved stairway. Most of the furniture is of old mahongany, of which two especially prized pieces are a canopied four-poster bed and a grandfather clock that chimes the hours with clear musical notes.


11. WASHINGTON GENERAL HOSPITAL, 419 S. Spring St., is a two-story brick structure with white trimmings, erected in 1924 under the sponsorship of the Kiwanis Club and now owned by the city. The old Pettus-Palmer-DuBose House, a Greek Revival dwelling built either

Page 102

late in the eighteenth or early in the nineteenth century, now forms the central portion which houses Negro Patients on the first floor, with operating rooms and laboratories above. The hospital now maintains thirty-five beds, nine nurses, and a technician. A private house across Spring Street was bough in 2940 and made into a nurses' home.


12. The ROBERT MOTTE STMITH HOUSE (private), 762 S. Spring St., is a two-story frame residence with small porches, upstairs and down, supported by two large square pillars. From a paneled front door the main hall leads to a crss hall, which opens onto side porches. A wing on the south side contains several rooms. Old-fashioned wide plank floors, deep-set windows and doors, and walls and ceilings of heavy plaster are interior features.

     In the 1850's James DuBose induced his kinsman Robert Smith of Charleston, South Carolina, to accept a tract of land and move to Washington. A denise pine thicket was cleared and The Pines, as the Smith house was known, was erected. Robert Smith was a devout man, and family records show that on February 22, 1857, a dedication service consecrated the new house. The pine trees have disappeared, but the present owner, a grandson of the builder, has landscaped the grounds with boxwood, some of whichc is said to be eighty years old. The Smith house is one of the few old Washington dwellings owned by descendants of the original occupants.


13. The THOMAS HOLLEY CHIVERS HOLLY TREE, 200 Chapman St., was planted by the eccentric but richly talented poet during his residence in his brother's house on this site. Chivers was born October 18, 1809, at Digby Manor, the home of his father, Colonel Robert Chivers, a few miles from Washington. When young Thomas inherited the place, he changed its name to Oaky Grove. Some of the best poems were written there.

     Crushed by the disastrous ending of an early marriage, Chivers left Georgia, but haunting memories filled his writings. He was graduated in medicine from Transylvania University at Lexington, Kentucky, in 1830 but followed this profession for only a short time before continuing his wanderings. Frequently he returned to his home in Wilkes County and to his brother's house in Washington, and on one of these visits he planted the holly tree. In 1837 he married Harriet Hunt of Northampton, Massachusetts. After living for a time in North,

Page 103

he finally settled at Decatur, Georgia, where he remained until his death in 1858.

     As a writer, Chivers is renowned chiefly for his brilliant techinical innovations in verse and for his correspondence with Edgar Allan Poe, whom he charged with plagiarism. His metrics are said to have influenced Swinburne and the French symolists, and sometimes, like the poets of the present day, he achieved a striking effect by constructing poem of pure sound.

     The Chivers house in Washington (now replaced by a mdern bungalow) was the childhood home of Maude Ohl (Annulet Andrews), a newspaper writer and novelist, who served on the staff of the Atlanta Constitution and later wrote stories of her experiences in the Far East with her husband.


14. The OLD PRESBYTERIAN MANSE (private), 309 S. Alexander Ave., is a two-story white frame house, probably dating from the early part of the nineteenth century. A narrow front piazza, to which scrollwork ornamentation has been added, opens into a short hall with an old-fashioned stairway. The interior arrangement, the same for both floors, allows space for two rooms on one side of the hall and a single large room placed endwise on the other. Many-paned windows, a large end chimney, high mantels, and massive  doors are striking details of design.

     One of the several Presbyterian ministers who lived here was Dr. Francis Goulding, inventor of he first sewing machine used in the state and author of The Young Marooner, best know of his popluar stories for children. Goulding was pastor in 1937-1838. The Presbyterians owned the place until 1862, when it was purchased by Hugh Marlow. Twenty years later it was sold to Charles H. Smith, whose wife Grace Syson smith was an artist of recognized ability. Their son Cordner studied at Chase Art School in New YOrk, but apromising career was ended by his tragic death by drowning. The parents will their home to the Presbyterian Church as a memorial to him, and thus the old manse reverted to its original owners. The Presbyterians, however, had erected a new manse, and the old house is now (1941) owned by Dr. J.G. Allen.


15. The FICKLEN-LYNDON-JOHNSON HOUSE (private), 303 S. Alexander Ave., was erected by an unknown builder, probably about 1825. The

Page 104

square-pillared, two-story white frame dwelling, constructed on a high basement, has been restored by its present owner R.R. Johnson.

     In 1851 Dr. Fielding Ficklen moved into this dwelling, after remodleing it into a fine residencce. High mantels, deep windows, fine doors, and a beautifully carved mahogany stairway are items of rich architectural detail. After Dr. Ficklen's death his son Dr. Burwell Ficklen made it a veritable show place. Mrs. Ficklen had a conservatory under the porch, while the grounds abounded in shrubs, roses, and other flowers. Fine specimens of these are yet living, though the house was long vacant after the death of George E. Lyndon, who bought it in 1890.

     In may1865, Mrs. Jefferson Davis and her children were guests of the Ficklens, onlt a few days before  President Davis  came her to hold the last meetig of the Confederate cabinet. Samuel Davis, father of the Confederate President, once lived near the Ficklen family on a plantation in Wilkes County, where the President's grandparents are buried.

     Boyce Ficklen, Sr., who did much to preserve historic landmarks and to differentiate between local history and tradition, was born here in 1851. As editor of the Wilkes County Forum, he wrote a column called "Keep History Straight," always backing any statement with authentic proof.


16. The branch plant of the ROYA LMANUFACTURING COMPANY (open 7-5 weekdays), on Water St., a one-story red brick structure, is Number Eight in a chain of sixteen factories with headquarter in Allentown, Pennsylvania. This branch makes men's clothing from material bought from southern textile mills. Here the cloth is cut, and the garments are made, pressed, inspected, and packed for shipment to every state in the Union. Most of the two hundred and fifty employees are young girls. Except when it is necessary to hire skilled workers from other sections, the personnel manager gives preference to applicants from Washington and Wilkes County.


17. The BEASLEY-ANTHONY-LOWE-HANSFORD HOUSE (private), 205 S. Alexander Ave., is a small two-story house of white clapboards, its small, many-paned windows shuttered by green blinds. In 1847 Bradford Merry sold the lot for $300 to Royland Beasley, for yoears court clerk of Wilkes County, who soon afterward built the house. His wife,

Page 105

beloved for her many kind acts, was among the Washngtonladies who aided little Alexander Stephens, after he came to the town in 1827 to attend the Washington Academy.


18. The OLD METHODIST PARSONAGE, the BIRD-DILLARD HOUSE (private), 214 Water St., is a white clapboard house of nondesscript plan with a broad hall and two rooms on one side and a large single-story wing on the other. A cross hall under the hidden stairway opens onto a porch the extends across the side and front, replacing a former small side veranda and equally small front piazza. High plain mantels, heavy doors, and large windows are used throughout.

     The lot was sold to Thompson Bird about 1784 and the house was probably built soon thereafter. old to the Washington Methodist Church in 1856, it was used as a parsonage until 1917. In 1919 mrs. Ida Reynolds Dillard bough and remodeled the residence.

     According to legend, the Reverend Habersham Adams allowed Confederate officers to conceal a cheast of money here in 1865, and some residents insist that the treasure is still hidden somewhere on the premises.


19. CHERRY COTTAGE (private), 204 Water St., a two-story white clapboard structure with two front doors, still shows some pleasing old-fashioned features despite the more recent addition of scrollwork banisters and modern composition roof. In 1819 Constantine Church built the older portion of the house; Henry Terrell later purchased it and made extensive alterations. The residence was subsequently owned by Misses E.M.. and M.L. Barnett, who gave it the name Cherry Cottage. W. Meriwether Hill has owned the place since 1884. His annual "open house," held when the harvest on his near-by farm is over, is anticipated by numerous friends. More than a hundred guest assemble for the occaion. Old-fashioned games are played, and refreshments of sugar cane, popcorn, peanuts, and home-made candy served.


20. The BRANHAM-NEESON HOUSE (private), 110 Water St., though a green-shuttered white clapboard structure like many other dwellings in the city, presents an unusuak appearance because of a front ell, added laterm that rises a story above the main body of the house. Interesting interior features of the single-story section include floors and ceilings

Page 106

of broad planks, high mantels, paneled doors, and very old hardware. A broad shallow porch now replaces the former small stoop. Just above the second-floor level of the ell, a door opens into space indicating the former existence of either a balcony or of an outside stair rising from the front yard. here cedars, crepe myrtles, and other old-fashioned plantings form a thick growth.

     Benjamin Branham, an early merchant and commissioner of the academy, lived here when the house was new in 1796. In 1869 his daughter mary sold the place to Dr. Horace Neeson, a graduate of the Royal college of Physicians and Surgeons, Dublin, Ireland. His wife Sarah Wright Neeson long conducted a private school in the house.


21. The MARY WILLIS LIBRARY (open weekdays 11 to 1 and 3 to 6), SE. Corner S. Jefferson and E. Liberty Sts., was founded in 1888, and the building was erected in the following year with finds contributed by Dr. Francis T. Willis in memory of his daughter Mary. This organization, Georgia's  first free library  for both town and county, contains 18,000 volmes, with an average monthly circulation of 1,200 volumes, among 3,026 subscribers.

     Characteristic of the late Victorian period, the vine-covered re brick building has a cupola and high-arched windows of stained glass. The three rooms are finished in natural pine with high beamed ceilings. The main reading room has two large fireplaces, comfortable rocking chairs. long tables piled with current magazines and newspapers, and book shelves that reach almost to the ceiling. The reference department has many vauluable books, and files of magazines dating from 1889 to the present are stored in the attic. A register of visitors kept since the opening day, May 7, 1889, diclosees the names of many prominent persons.

     Dr. Willis, born and reared in Wilkes COunty, returned here in his old age and spent much time discussing poetry and philospohy with his half-brother Samuel Barnett, with whome he selected the library's nucleus of three thousand volumes. Dr. Willis would not allow his prtrait to hang in the library, but since his death his grandson has provided a canvas of him for the main reading room.

     Mary Willis' memory is perpetuated by a fine stained glass window while other WIlkes County personages, among whom are General Robert Toombs and Alexander Stephens, are represented by steel engravings. Other portraits are those of Judge Archibald Campbell,

Page 107

Supreme Court Justice from 1853 to 1861; Miss Eliza Bowen, astronomer, educator, and wrier, whose History of Wilkes County was the first county history in the state; and General E. Porter Alexander, a West Point graduate who served with distinction in the Confederate artillery. The library's most valued relic is an old chest of Dutch manufacture, one of three brough to Washington by the Confederate Treasury in May, 1865, containing coins to pay off the soldiers who were following the government in its retreat from Richmond.

     Mrs. Carolina Dyson Turner served thirty years as librarian and was followed by Mrs. Hardeman Toombs Wood, who held the office for nine years. Miss Kathleen Colley, a great-niece of General Toombs, is only the third person (1941) to fill this position.


22. The SEMMES-PETEET-CLEVELAND-JORDAN-LINDSEY HOUSE (private), 212 E. Liberty St., is an exceptionally fine exampe of Greek Revival architecture. Set flush with the street, the simple white clapboard house was erected early in the 1800's by Andrew Semmes, of Maryland, and remodeled along its present lines during the 1860's by E.F. Jordan, a later owner. Encircling the house are a balustraded Doric Portico and balcony, of which the columns are said to have cost the then fabulous price of $100 each. Particularly fine detailes are the broad dentiled entablature and the two fanlighted front doors.

     Some of the locks, made of wood and bearing the trade-mark of an Engllish manufacturer, have large brass keys. Panels of wainscoting under the tall windows open like Dutch doors. An arched doorway between the two east rooms reaches almost to the high ceilings and has heavy folding doors hung from long shop-made hinges. Richly carved mantels and plastered walls and ceilings are in their original state, but the old plank floors have been covered with hardwood. Theold kitchen dining room, and storage rooms in the basement are now used as playrooms. The small basement windows are barred, and heavy iron-work panels are placed between the brick pillars under colonnade.

     When Washingotn was swarming with Federal troops in the summer of 1865, an officer went to Mrs. Jordan and asked for some southern figs. She had the servants gather him a basketful. Later in the day, angry soldiers came to the house to place her under arrest for poisoning Federal officers and men. Mrs. Jordan, suspecting the trouble, asked for symptoms of the "poisoned" ones. The soldiers

Page 108

explained that they were in agonizing pain from mouths that were so swollen they could scarcely speak. Mrs. Jordan turned  away scornfully, "Why I though even a Yankee had sense enough to know that figs had to be peeled before they were eaten." She was not arrested.


23. The PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH (open), 312 E. Robert Toombs Ave., built in 1825, is the only Presbyterian meeting house ever erected in Washington. Simple and finely proportioned with its tall spire and classic entrance portico, the small white clapboard structive is like the Colonial churches of New England. High wainscoting, plastered waslls, a beamed ceiling, high-arched windows, and straight-backed Colonial pews with solid ends and narrow foot-rests, lend an air of restfulness and charm. The lot was donated by Dr. Joel Abbott who owned the adjoining property. Abbott and his neighbor did not live peaceably so close together, so the deed to the church provided for a street between the neighbor's yard and the church.

     The first pastor after the church was built was Alexander Hamilton Webster, a young Northerner who had to come to teach at the Wilkes County Academy. He accepted the pastorate in 1825, and uder his ministry the church flourished. He had planned to give up teaching and to devote all his time to the church, but he died in October, 1827, at the age of twenty-eight. The congregation had him buried between the two front doors. In 1836 a spire, a vestibule, and pulpit space were added to the church, and the marble-topped toomb was enclosed in vestibule.

     Woodrow Wilson attened services here as a small boy when his father came from Augusta to preach while the church was without a pastor. Both grandfathers of Ellen Axson, first wife of Woodrow Wilson, served this congregation as pastors: Dr. Nathan Hoyt from 1828 to 1830, and the Reverend I.S.K. Axson in 1854-55. When in 1869 Dr. Hoyt expressed a desire to preach once more at Washingotn, an interdenominational service was arranged.


24. The HILLHOUSE-CALLAWAY-TOOMB-WOOD HOUSE (private), 315 E. Robert Toombs Ave., is a two-story white clapboard house whose appearance is very pleasing fo its simple line and good proportions. From the level of the high basement, broad steps lead to a square-columned veranda above which is a small banistered balcony. The

Page 109

main body of the house is symmetrically flanked by wings, each with a large outside end chimney.

     Mrs. Sarah Hillhouse, the first southern woman to edit newspaper, once lived here. David Hillhouse came to Washington before 1800, and when he died in 1804, Sarah his widow carried on his business. The Hillhouses did their printing in an old residence that has long since been removed. Mrs. hillhouse built this house about 1814 and live here untill her death in 1831.

     When Merrill Callaway lived here during the War between the States, his home provided a refuge for persons fleeing the danger zones. Gabriel Tooms, a brother of General Tobert Toombs, bough the place in 1869 and livef here until his death in 1900. His granddaughter Mrs. Hardeman Toombs Wood has restored the house and created a beautiful garden by blending old-fashioned floweres and shrubs with the new.


25. The PETRIE-TOOMB-HARDEMAN-PALMER-ALMAND HOUSE (private), 319 E. RObert TOombs Ave., is a two-story white clapboard structure  with a small piazza, large square columns, and massive Palladian doorway with an overhanging balcony. Its front gardenm beautiful with dark magnolia trees and evergreen shrubbery, is surrounded by a white picket fence. The interior of the large house has two wide hallways crossing in the center and is characterized by heavy doors,  finely wrought locks, and handsome mantels, one of marble. This dwelling, built b ythe Reverend George H. W. Petrie, who served as pastor of the Washington Presbyterian Church from 1839 to 1851, was bought by Gabriel Toombs, brother of Robert Toombs, in1849.  The present owner (1941), Mrs. R.A. Almand, is a member of the Toombs family.


26. The ROBERT TOOMBS HOUSE (private), 326 E. Robert Toombs Ave., for years the home of the celebrated Confederate statesman and soldier, is a large, imposing white frame house fronted by a Doric colonnade. The main body, a two-story structiure on a high basement,  was built in 1794 by Dr. Joel Abbott, who came here from Connecticut. Abbott was first employed by the state as a medical resentative in setting up the Inited States dispensary and later was a member of Congress (1817-25). After his death, the house was occupied successively by the

Page 110

Reverend Alexander Hamilton Webster, Alexander H. Stephens' teacher and a popular young Presbyterian minister; Miss Ann Quigly, who conducted a private school here; and Williamd L. Harris, who moved the house back and made additions. The colonnade and western wing were built by General Toombs after he had the place in 1837; the eastern wing was built by him after the War between the States.

     A wide front door with side and transom lights leads into a large hall. In the room to the right the unusual brass picture molding and the wallpaper with its dim gold pattern recall Toombs' occupancy. The massice cast-iron chandeliers were brought from his home i Washington, D.C., when the Confederate States seceded and Toombs left his post in the United States Senate. The chandeliers were lighted with gas from Toombs own private plant, the first gasworkds in the town. Left of the hall is the general's library, containing his leather-trimmed book-cases. Some old chairs and two massive whale-oil lanterns stil in the house also belonged to him.

     Robert Toombs, born in Wilkes County in 1810, was a powerful a dn robust personality, one of the most dramatic figures in Georgia History. He attended the University of Georgia and Union College at Schenectady, New York, later studying law at the University of Virginia. He was admitted to the bar by legislative act December 19 1829, and subsequently amassed a fortune. Entering politics early, he always easily won any WIlkes County office he sought.  He served in the State Legislature (1837-3), helped established the State Supreme Court, entered Congress in 1845, and 1853 was elected to the United States Senate. A large and powerfully built man, a fiery brilliant, and sometimes sardonic orator, he attracted much attention in the national capital. His farewell speech, January 7, 1861, has been celebrated as a masterpiece on secession. Though at first a member of President jeffeson Davis' Confederate cabinet, he resigned because he believed he could rener more valuable service on the battlefield. As a brigadier-general he went into the thick of the fighting and was wounded at Antietam in 1862. He soon gave up his commission but later was in active service as divisional adjutant and inspector-general of the Georgia Militia during Sherman's Atlanta campaign.

     By the end of the war Toombs was at home. Soon after the members of the Confederate Cabinet had left Washignton, a man on horse-back rode up to the Toombs House, threw a bag containing five thou-

Page 111

sand dollars in specie over the fence, and hurriedly galloped away. There was no message with the money, but the inference was that it was to aid the general to flee from Union soldiers who had been ordered to arrest the former COnfederate officials. Tooombs, however, thought that the money was part of the funds belonging to the pilfered Confederate treasure and ordered it to be paid to the returning soldiers.

     A majestic oak in front of the house sheltered Federal soldiers who camer here in 1865 to arrest Toombs, and from this point Negro SOldiers marched down the street with his picture stuck on the point of a bayonet so that he might be recognized and captured on sight. the general  was in his office when the men came, but while his wife kept them occupied he quickly escaped by the back way to the servants' quarters, where he mounted his mare Gray Allice and rode away. It is told that he was hidden in Columbus by Augusta J. Evans, later to become known as the author of St. Elmo and other popular romances.

He lived in England and in Europe before returning, "an unpardoned rebel" as he liked to be called, to his native town. After his flight the Federal soldiers wanted to burn down the house, believeing he might be hidden there, but Mrs. Toombs sent for the fearless Baptist preacher Henry Allen Tupper, who convinced them that Toombs escaped. After the flight, Toombs' wife and daughter were ordered to leave the house. Union troops established headquarters on the first floor and prepared to open a school for Negroes n the basement, but the citizens protested so vigorously that these orders were countermanded.

     As long as TOoombs lived, he kept open house, and rarely was a meal served without guests. He once opposed a movement to build a hotel in the city, because, "If a respectable man comes to town, he can stay at my house. If he isn't respectable, we don't want him here at all."

     The property is now owned by Miss Kathleen Colley and Mrs. Marian Colley Boyd, great nieces of the general, who keep the house and the old-fashioned garden with its dark cedars, againest with the vermillion color of pomegranate blossoms show vividly in the early summer. Fragrant mimosas throw their shadows across the centruty-old "herring-bone" brick walk.


27. The MARIA RANDOLPH HOUSE (private), 343 E. Robert Toombs Ave., was built early in the Greek Revival of the 1820's. Trim and white, the two-story house stands on a shady lawn encircled by an iron fence. A shallow hall with a handsome stairway separate the two front rooms, 

Page 112

with thier fine marble mantels, and opens into the spacious dining room that extends the width of the house. The room has tow open fireplaces with very high mantels that were originally i th old Bank Building. The doors are noticable for theor old locks and keys.

     From 1827, when the Randolph family purchased thios property, until 1880, this was the residence of Miss Maria Randolph, who was described as being "six feet tall and every inch a lady." Miss Randolph, said to be a descendant of Pocahontas, was exceedingly proud of her Indian ancestry. She waore the finest silks, rode in a carriage drwan by two handsome roan horses, and entertained ger guests with the greatest elegance. One of her relatives who visited here was Mary Harden, of Athens, the sweetheart of John Howard Payne, who wrote the famous song "Home, Sweet Home." Among Miss Randolph's many fine pieces of furniture was piano with mother-of-pearl keys; older residents still recall the town's excitment when the instrument of arrived.

     Upon her death in 1880, Miss Randolph bequeathed $1,000 to the Presbyterian Church. This house, willied to her niece Miss Isabella Nash, was occupied by tenants until 1906, when Gabriel Anthony Bought the property and made extensive improvements. The place is now owned by Colonel A.T. Colley, U.S.A. retired.


28. The JOHN W. CALLAWAY HOUSE (private), 359 E. Robert Toombs Ave., is an Early Greek REvival dwelling with deep-corniced windows and doorways, a massive Doric-columned portico, fine woodwork, and wrought-iron hingels and locks. The two-story white structure has cross-hall arrangement and a side porch with small Doric columns. THer are several magnificent oaks in the yard.


29. The SAMUEL BARNETT HOUSE (private), 358 E. Robert Toombs Ave., a two-story white frame dwelling on a high basemetn, stands well back fromthe street in a beautiful grove. A hundred-acre lot with the older part of the residence was bought in 1836 by Mrs. mary Sneed from Andrew G. Semmes. In 1857 Samuel Barnett, one of the first railroad commissioners in the United States, bought the place and added the front portion. Barnett, deeply untrested in education, established a small school in ths ide yard for his own children, but his soon accommodated numerous other children in the town. Woodrow Wilson and his father were entertained in this home.

     The house, of the rambling style so popular inthe decade from 1850

Page 113

to 1860, has a narrow front veranda with a flat roof. A heavy door leads into a hall between rooms, and a long cross-hall with side doors opening onto small porches is entered through an arched doorway. Two marble mantels, massive doors, and fine woodworl are interior details.


30. The PRESBYTERIAN POPLAR, east side of Poplar Drive on the Alexander estate, marks the site where on July 22, 1790, the first Presbyterian ordination on Georgia soil took place. Because at that times there was no church building in Washington, a commission from the Presbytery of South Caorlina ordained John Springer in this outdoor temple. The school established by him at his home Walnut Hill, four miles from Washignton, attracted such students as Jesse Mercer and John Forsyth.

     This tulip poplar, now decaying rapidly, at one time attained a height of 155 feet, and its lowere branches were 50 feet from the ground. Its enormous trunk, with a circimference of 28 feet and a diameter of 9 feet, could conceal a man on horseback. Under this old tree on October 9, 1940, the Synod of Georgia held a service commemorating the sequincentennial anniversary of Springer's ordination and also the organization of the WAshington Presybyterian Church. On this occassion the church officials dedicated a granite marker placed near the trunk. A similar marker was consecrated at the pastor's grave on the site of Walnut Hill.


31. THe E.B. CADE HOUSE (private), 120 Tignall, Rd., a two-story green shuttered white frame dwelling fronted by a Doric colonnade and encircled by a white picket fence, was erected in the 1790's by Thomas WIngfield, and early emigrant from Virginia. Floors and ceilings are of broad planks, and the walls are made of thick, old-fashioned plastering. Massive cross-paneled doors wtih iron hinges, high mantels, beautiful wrought wainscoting, and heavy locks with large brass keys are interior features.

     Wingfield's several daughters sometimes used a private stairway with an enclosed side entry, but his sons and guests used the main stairway, which curves rgacefully upward to a long hall. This is one of the few old houses in Washington that has never undergone extensive alterations. Captain W.G. Cade added a new kitchen after he bought the place from W.J. Harty in 1874, but the old kitchen in the yard still stands. The original hewn-log smokehouse is still in service.

     Mrs. E.B. Cade, the present owner (1941), And her husband, the

Page 114

late Dr. Cade, furnished the house throughout with European and Early American antiques. They resided in Switxerland and in Alsace-Lorraine before to Washington at the beginning of the World War in 1914. In 1919 German officials permitted them to bring over their collection of furniture and paintings.

     Alarge chest of uncertain age from a feudal casatle in Friedburg has ornamental hinges of Damascus steel, an odd lock, a very large key, and coats-of-arms in wood inlay. The collection includes several desks, an old card table with natural-colored morning-glories in exquisite wood inlay, and a corner wine cabinet with with inlay. There are a French chair of ivory-like wood, a Viennese bookcase, a cabinet filled with French ornaments, a swiss hand-carved wood piece, a set of Alsatian hand-painted china, a chair from Stratsbourg Cathedral bearing the date 1835, rugs from Constaninople, a prayer rug, and fine draperies and tapestries. The several paintings by artists of the 1830 or Barbazonian School include an original Rosa Bonheur, "Wild Horses in the Arena at Rome."

     The Cade House, near the Washington city limits, overlooks a beautiful estate of 165rolling acres, constisting of rich fields and fertile green pastures. Here Dr. Cade raised pedigreed livestock which won many blue ribbons in county and state fairs. This hobby is continued by his wodow, who now raises poultry and livestock, including a large herd of Holstein cattle. In acordance with the taste of her husband all animals are either white or black.


32. OLD ST. PATRICK'S CHURCH, 400 block N. Alexander Ave., a vine-covered brick structure with large leaded-glass windows, is now in ruins. The building, erectedin 1830, was the first brick Catholic Church in Georgia, and although it has not been udes since 1887, older residents recall the great throngs that gathered here when Abrah J. Ryan, poet-priest of the Confederacy, came from Augusta to conduct services. Father Ryan spoke from the doorway, for the congregation was much greater than the capacity of the Church.

     In the churchyard, the grave of Father James O'Brien is marked by a granite monnlith, erected by contributions from citixens of Washington and Wilkes County, irrespective of creed. One lot is reserved for St. Joseph's Catholic Sisters, an order formed in Washington in 1877.

Page 115

33. The SIMS HOUSE (private), 210 Sims, St., a rambling two-story white clapboard house known as The Cedars, stands on a high hill. The original dwelling was built by Anthony Poulain, a Frenchman of noble birth, who came to Georgia's aid during the American Revolution. He died a few years after settling here, but his son Dr. T.N. Poulain was personal physican to LaFayette upon his visit to Georgia as an old man in 1825. THe olddwelling was torn down, with the exception of the present kitchen, and the heavy timbers were used to construct outhouses.

     The residence is now owned (1941) by the children of Mrs. M.M. Sims, whose ancestor, Francis Colley, first lived here in 1818. John Bolton spent his summers here, and General and Mrs. Edward Harden, parents of John Howard Payne's Georgia sweetheart, were frequent guests.

     A century-old Empress of China rose in the yard is in perfect condition, and a bowl of its bright pink blossoms is admired at every Washigntonflower show.


34. The ALEXANDER HOUSE (private), 312 N. Alexander Ave., is a red brick structure that was erected in 1808 and enlarged with a white frame wing before 1840. This original dwelling was probably the first brick residence in Georgia norht of Augusta. The interior features a side entrance hall, decorated ceilings, high wainscoting, deep windows, heavy doors and mantels, and wrough-iron hardware.

     The Gilbert brokthers, William and Felix, traveling from Virginia in 1780's, stopped for the night in a large grove, and in the morning they were so pleased with the site that they took up land grants and later erected this house. The Gilberts became Washington's most sucessful merchants. In 1823, Felix's granddaughter Sarah, who married Adam L. Alexander, inherited the residence. Mrs. J.G. Wright and Miss Carlotta Alexander, present owners of the house, are her grandduaghters.

     Alexander hired from New Elgland first an instructress and later a tutor to teach his ten children in a private schoolroom on the property. The Alexanders and the Gilberts carried a voluminous corresponence, and in19010 these letters, covering the period from 1787 to 1900, were printed in a limited edition.

     Alexander Stephens spent several months in this old house while he


Page 116

was attending Washington Academy during the 1827-28 term. Through the influence of Alexander Hamilton Webster, rector of the school and pastor of the Washington Presbyterian Church, a group of Wilkes COunty Presbyterians had agreed to help this fifteen-year-old boy with his education. Young Stephens, staying at first in the Webster residence, developed a strong affection for his benefactor and consequently adopting his middle name. Upon the death of his patron a few weeks after the opening of school, Stephens was invited to live with the Alexander family. The following year he attended the University of Georgia under auspices of the Presbyterian Georgia Educational Society and later became a distinguished member of Congress. On his frequent visits to washington he always returned to his former home, where he received the greatest consideration from all except the old Negro mammy who said she would "make no 'miration'," for young Alex had her impudence too often.

     A collection of old firearms and other weapons is being augments constantly by Amexander Wright, only son of Dr. and Mrs. J.G. Wright. The old kitcchen is the yard has a large fireplace complete with cranes, pothooks, and other utensils of frontier days. William and Felix Gilbert and many of their decendants are buried in the family cemtery near the house.


35. WASHINGTON WOMAN'S CLUB BUILDING (open), 115 N. Alexander Ave., an old house that stood originally at the northwest corner of W. Robert Toombs and N. Alexader Avenues, is a white frame structure of two stories with a small entrance and an outside stairway.

     It is believed that Colonel Micaijah Williamson, who bought the original lot for $75 in 1784, built the house. At his death in 1793 it was inherited by his son-in-law, John Griffin, an early lawyer of this section who was buried on the property in 1814. In later years the place was owned by the Pettus, Palmer, Wynn, and Ellington families.

     Not until 1929 was the house acquired by the Woman's Club and removed to its present site without drastic change. Partitions were displaced between the halway and the two front rooms to make a large assembly hall wehre civic clubs have their meetings, entertainements, and dinners.



Thanks toHidden Ancestors for hosting this site!

County Coordinator:

Georgia State Coordinator:
Ed Gordon

Assistant State Coordinator:
Vivian Price Saffold

Last Updated: 

Copyright 2007-Present - Christina Palmer-The GAGenWeb Project - All Rights Reserved