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Georgia Natural Wonder #162 - Barnsley Gardens - Adairsville
October 15, 2020 06:16AM

Georgia Natural Wonder #162 - Barnsley Gardens - Adairsville

Barnsley Gardens

Behind Barnsley Gardens Resort's storybook setting is a true story filled with as many twists and turns as a work of fiction.

Barnsley Resort is situated on the grounds of a historic former manor house near Adairsville, Georgia, United States. Originally known as Woodlands (later known as Barnsley Gardens), the estate was established by Godfrey Barnsley, originally of Liverpool, England. He built the Italianate manor in the late 1840s.

Godfrey Barnsley (1805-1873) was a nineteenth-century British-American businessman and cotton broker who became one of the wealthiest people in the southeastern United States.

Early life

Barnsley was born on August 26, 1805, in Derbyshire, England. His father was George Barnsley, an English cotton mill owner and his mother was Anna (Hannah) Goodwin Barnsley. He also has an older brother named Joshua. Barnsley began working in the cotton business at his Uncle Godfrey Barnsley's importing establishment in Liverpool, England. After Barnsley came to America, he too joined the cotton business and made his fortune.

Godfrey and Julia.

In 1824, Godfrey Barnsley emigrated to America from Liverpool, England. At the age of eighteen, Barnsley moved to Savannah, Georgia. He arrived in Savannah with no money and no distinguished education. However, it was in Savannah that Barnsley made his fortune as a cotton broker and became one of the most affluent men in the south through the cotton trade and shipping business. He also served as president of the Savannah Chamber of Commerce for several years. While living in Savannah, Barnsley met Julia Henrietta Scarborough, the daughter of William Scarborough, a wealthy shipbuilder. A merchant and financier, Scarborough built the Savannah, the first ship partially powered by steam to cross the Atlantic. This endeavor, however, cost Scarborough his fortune. In 1828, at the age of twenty-five, Barnsley married Julia on December 24. Barnsley and Julia had eight children.

In 1837 construction began on the Western and Atlantic Railroad. In 1838, Savannah-based businessman Godfrey Barnsley, who shares many remarkable similarities to Rhett Butler, traveled from Savannah to Cass County (now Bartow County) on an expedition with three friends, William Henry Stiles, Reverend Charles Wallace Howard and Francis Bartow. Stiles traveled to north Georgia because he was looking for land for future development.

Stilesboro in southern Bartow County was named after Henry Stiles.

Howard was on a geological survey. No reference found on why Bartow was along, though it would make sense to have a reference on why the county is named after him. The Wikipedia of Bartow County says he never visited the county.

Howard settled Spring Bank Plantation that was featured in GNW#153 (Part 2)

TRD Tangent Spring Bank Oak.

State Champion White Oak tree at Spring Bank Plantation. "It is estimated that it is 300 years old, making it a mature tree of around 135 years when the Rev. Charles Wallace Howard established a private school at Spring Bank in 1852,"

Barnsley's Mansion

Barnsley sought to find land where he could build a home that would be away from the heat and threat of yellow fever and malaria prevalent of the Georgia Coast where he lived. Barnsley acquired the land from the state of Georgia after acquiring it from the Cherokee nation. The land was then divided into 160 acre plots. Barnsley then amassed the large acreage by obtaining these homestead plots.

He returned to Bartow County to build a mansion that was to become a legend and a showplace. He chose a piece of land in the small village of Adairsville, Georgia. he found the site of his estate, which he intended to build on a horseshoe-shaped ridge in present-day Bartow County. Barnsley had his house built on an acorn-shaped hill. An old Indian, who worked with Barnsley, warned him not to build on that piece of property. He explained that the site was sacred to the Cherokee and that anyone who tried to live on it would be cursed. Barnsley ignored the Indian's advice and started construction anyway.

Don't build there.

Construction of the estate was delayed by the same economic problems that delayed the Western and Atlantic Railroad, because Barnsley was counting on it to transport materials he needed to build the home. In 1842, Julia's health began to decline and Barnsley decided to move his family to north Georgia, where he believed there would be a more healthful climate for Julia.

Close-up of the ruins

On 10,000 acres, Barnsley began construction of his mansion for Julia. He called his manor Woodlands, which later became known as Barnsley Gardens. The gardens of the estate were designed by Andrew Jackson Downing. Downing was considered "America's first great landscape architect.

His work also influenced Frederick Law Olmstead.Downing was commissioned in 1851 to lay out the grounds for the Capitol, the White House, and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

His plans for this project had to be carried out by his successors, however, because he drowned in a steamboat accident in the vicinity of New York Harbor. A boiler explosion on the Henry Clay quickly spread flames across the wooden vessel and Downing was killed along with 50 others out of 500. A few ashen remains and his clothes were recovered days later. A victim of the Cherokee Curse as the builder?

Barnsley also brought in every known variety of roses to be planted in the garden. The mansion had twenty-four rooms and was designed in the style of an Italian Villa. It had mantels of black and white marble imported from Italy and also had "unheard of conveniences, such as hot and cold running water."

He described the house in a letter to a friend as having 'six or seven different styles of widows, giving variety, yet harmonizing.... All the walls are of brick. The campanile is three stories high.... On the first floor is the drawing room, library, vestibule, hall, dining room, breakfast room, pantry, bathrooms, etc., with cistern above a large closet and safe.'

The family kitchen featured an innovative spring-wound cooking spit that automatically turned cuts of meat over roasting coals. A copper tank to the right of the chimney furnished hot water to bathrooms, and a similar tank in the bell tower supplied cold water to house and gardens. The wine cellar held plentiful imported wines. Tiles for the verandah were imported. Doors and paneling were fashioned by London cabinetmakers, and mantels of black-and-white marble were brought from Italy.


The later life of Godfrey Barnsley was in tragic contrast to the early years that had made him one of South's wealthiest men. Barnsley's fortune soon changed after moving into his mansion under construction. His infant son died in 1844. And in the summer of 1845, Julia never saw the completed home, as she fell ill and passed away from Tuberculosis, and Barnsley suspended its construction.

Later, he said he felt her presence at the site telling him to finish the house for him and his children. He continued to build the mansion after Julia's death The mansion was built in the style of an Italian villa by the flamboyant architect Andrew Jackson Downing.he was a pioneering landscape designer and proponent of Italianate and gothic revival architecture.

Downing Urn at Smithsonian Building in Washington. Steps to Woodlands.

Godfrey Barnsley raised his family with servants but never remarried. He toured Europe in search of "elegant furnishings" to decorate his estate. His travels netted an impressive stock of furnishings and art treasures.

In 1850, Barnsley's oldest daughter, Anna, got married and moved to England. Adelaide, Barnsley's second daughter, died in the mansion in 1858. But through it all, completing the mansion was an obsession with Barnsley.

Civil War

When the American Civil War started, the cotton Barnsley brokered was no longer sellable and wound up rotting in warehouses in New Orleans. During the war, Barnsley moved back and forth from Woodlands to New Orleans. Barnsley's two sons, George and Lucien, joined the Confederacy. George and Lucian refused to sign the oath of allegiance to the Union and emigrated to South American where their descendants live to this day.

In 1862, Howard, Barnsley's oldest son, was killed by Chinese pirates while searching in the Orient for "exotic shrubbery" to add to the mansion.

His daughter Julia married Confederate Army Captain James Peter Baltzelle in February 1864, and Baltzelle insisted Julia refugee to Savannah.

The following spring, on May 18, 1864, a small cavalry skirmish occurred in front of his estate, known as the battle of Woodlands. Colonel Robert G. Earle, who was part of the Second Alabama Light Cavalry and a friend of Barnsley, rode with a small detachment to Barnsley's house to warn him that Sherman's troops were approaching. He instead was shot down in a battle within sight of the mansion. Earle's body was buried at Woodlands.

This cavalry skirmish was depicted in the pages of Harper's Weekly. Colonel Richard G. Earle of the Second Alabama Light Cavalry rode to Woodlands to warn Barnsley of the Union approach and was shot down within a stone's throw of the house.

Charles Wright Willis, 103rd Illinois infantry, wrote this account of the event in his book Army Life of an Illinois Soldier:

May 18, 1864. Our cavalry had a sharp fight here this p.m. and on one of the gravel walks in the beautiful garden lies a Rebel colonel, shot in five places. He must have been a noble-looking man; looks 50 years old, and has fine form and features. Think his name is Irwin, there must be a hundred varieties of the rose in bloom here and the most splendid specimens of cactus.

From Civil War Talk

Ferguson`s Confederate Cavalry Brigade attacked Lt. Colonel Josiah Brown Park of Colonel Robert H. G. Minty`s Saber Brigade (Fourth Michigan Cavalry) and engaged them 2 miles from Kingston, Georgia giving chase to them and driving them all the way back to Woodlands, Georgia. The whole of Union Brigadier General Kenner Garrard`s 2nd Division was encamped to include; Colonel Robert H. G. Minty and the remainder of his Saber Brigade, Colonel John Thomas Wilder and his "Lightning Brigade" and then Brig. General Judson Kilpatrick and his Cavalry Brigade, all of whom were dismounted and entrenched amongst infantry and a battery of artillery at Barnsley`s Manor in Woodlands, Georgia.

Once Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade, to include the 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiment, arrived there they began to attack the enemy as they were entrenched in their breastworks, the fighting was reported as being heavy and went on for a few hours until Brigadier General Samuel Wragg Ferguson pulled back their attack. But during the fighting, unbeknownst to anyone, the 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiment had lost their Regiment Commander, Colonel Richard G. Earle, who was killed by Private Thomas H. Boner, a sharpshooter with Company "A", Ninety-eighth Illinois Volunteers who was part of "Wilders Lightning Brigade".

When Ferguson`s Cavalry Brigade started back they made Camp at Humes Plantation 3 miles north of Rome and south of Calhoun, it was only then that they discovered their Regiment Commander, Col. Richard G. Earle was missing. His fate was not known for months, when some exchanged prisoners later reported that he was killed a considerable distance ahead of his Regiment. Actually he was killed while attempting to warn a very close family friend who lived near by, that being Mr. Godfrey Barnsley at his Manor located at Woodlands, Georgia and was shot from his mount.

Auburn University Account

At Woodlands, Godfrey Barnsley had spent the morning listening to Federal artillery dislodging Wheeler’s rear guard along the Kingston road. Hoping to convince the enemy that he was a neutral British citizen innocently caught in the midst of a foreign rebellion, he raised a prodigious British flag over his mansion. Barnsley’s efforts to proclaim his neutrality, however, were quickly spoiled when Colonel John T. Wilder’s scouts spotted the Englishman talking to a group of Confederate cavalry officers and offering them spring water.

By mid-afternoon, Confederate and Federal armies surrounded the entire estate. As Confederate cavalry pursued the 4th Michigan, they slammed into Garrard’s 2nd Division, Cavalry Corps, which had arrived at Woodlands around noon. Along the lower valley situated west of the main house, remnants of two Confederate cavalry brigades fought a prolonged action against a vastly numerically superior foe.

The Confederates managed to capture 135 prisoners and kill approximately twenty-eight enemy soldiers. Outnumbered and without artillery support or possible reinforcements, the Confederates withdrew from Woodlands southward toward Kingston.

During the fight, Colonel Richard Earle of the 2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiment attempted to warn the Barnsley family to seek shelter in the wine cellar. While returning to his unit from the mansion, the colonel encountered Federal soldiers who were pushing toward the Confederate lines. Unable to flee the pursing enemy, Earle stood his ground. After an intense period of hand-to-hand combat, during which time the officer was apparently shot several times, the Alabamian died at the hands of his enemy.

When General James B. McPherson (U. S. Army) later arrived on the grounds, Mr. Godfrey Barnsley asked permission to bury his friend on his Estate behind the Manor. The General granted the request. Colonel Richard G. Earle (2nd Alabama Cavalry Regiment Commander) was buried in the Gardens located behind the Barnsley Manor by his friend, Mr. Godfrey Barnsley.

Colonel Earle's grave is within a stone's throw of the manor house and enjoys a prominent place in a perennial garden today.

James McPherson, commander of the Army of the Tennessee, slept in the estate on May 18, 1864, during the early stage of the Atlanta Campaign. He ordered his men not to burn the estate because Barnsley treated his slaves with kindness, but his orders were ignored. They did a good deal of damage to the interior and gardens. Barnsley's Irish maid Mary Quinn is recorded as having called McPherson 'a gentleman surrounded by rouges and thieves.'

Much of the house and Barnsley's possessions were ransacked by the Union Army. Carefully chosen furnishings were destroyed; an Italian statuary was smashed to see if it might contain hidden gold; windows and china settings were broken, and wine and stored foods were consumed or stolen.

Leaving Woodlands

Barnsley lost his fortune during the Civil War. By the end of the war, Barnsley moved to New Orleans to try to regain his lost fortune. He left Woodlands to be managed by James Peter Baltzelle, a Confederate army captain, who had married his daughter Julia.

Julia was a strong woman who some say Margaret Mitchell modeled her famous Scarlett after. She led the servants out into the fields and woods and searched out wild edible plants to keep them from starvation. Julia rebuilt the home and gardens to the way Barnsley had originally designed them.

More Tragedy

Baltzelle made a living by shipping timber from Woodlands, but was killed by a falling tree in 1868.

Soon after, daughter Julia joined her father in New Orleans, along with her daughter (his granddaughter), Adelaide. In 1873, Barnsley died in New Orleans and was taken back to Woodlands, where he was buried.

Adelaide grew up at Woodlands and married a chemist named A. A. Saylor. Saylor too fell prey to the Barnsley curse and died while their two sons, Harry and Preston, were very young.

Barnsley's descendants continued to live at Woodlands until the roof of the main house was blown off by a tornado in 1906. It forced the Saylors to take refuge in the only intact part of the home, the kitchen wing.

The two boys grew very different as they matured. One, Preston used his body to earn a living and became a nationally known boxer under the name K.O. Dugan. Harry became somewhat of a schemer and became involved with a group of men who wished to divide up Woodlands and sell it to developers. The brothers fought bitterly over what was best for them and their mother. Harry influenced by his cronies induced their mother to sign a mortgage on Woodlands. He also had Preston committed to an insane asylum supposedly because he had become unbalanced due to blows to his head suffered in the ring.

The power struggle came to a head in 1935 when Preston, finally released from the asylum, shot and killed Harry in the small kitchen wing where he and Adelaide still lived. Preston chased his brother down and kept firing until Harry fell and died in his mother’s arms. The bloodstain is still there permanently embedded in the dark wood of the floor.

Preston turned himself in and was sent to prison. The governor who knew much of the circumstances surrounding the murder pardoned Preston after he had served less than seven years but it was too late for Woodlands.

Adelaide had struggled valiantly to keep the mortgage paid. Slowly, property was sold off to help pay to maintain the family but when Miss Addie died in 1942 the estate and what she had not sold piecemeal of its furnishings were sold at auction for a fraction of their value. The estate, outbuildings, and property was sold. Preston did not get out of prison until a few months later and by then all was gone. The property was used for farming and the once magnificent home left to the encroaching kudzu.

Over the years the land was used for farming, ranching, and poultry although folks who knew of the ruins would park along a nearby road and hike into the estate and the overgrown gardens. In the late 1960's the owner cut off this access because vandals began destroying the historic estate. The main house was never restored, and eventually fell to ruins.

Would Godfrey’s life been different if he had heeded the words of that old Indian and built his home in any other spot than that acorn-shaped hill? Like a Greek tragedy, the one decision made with hubris shapes the inevitable future. Barnsley Gardens is featured in the ghost story "The Curse of Barnsley Gardens" in Kathryn Tucker Windham's 1973 work 13 Georgia Ghosts and Jeffrey.

It would seem that Godfrey’s dream was finished. But fate again turned her head and smiled. In 1988, Prince Hubertus Fugger - Babenhausen of Germany and his wife Princess Alexandra, Bavaria, purchased Woodlands, which was now called Barnsley Gardens. Clent Coker, a neighbor who had grown up obsessed with the Barnsley story and unwilling to see such a historic treasure lost, went to the prince and told him of the history behind the ruins. The prince agreed that the estate had to be restored and its history honored. They began to revitalize the historic gardens. The Prince brought in gardeners to salvage the gardens and restore them to their former glory. It was a major project to stabilize the ruins and rescue and restore the gardens. The original boxwood hedges planted in the early 1840s still survived and had grown up into a thicket of small trees and vines. These were carefully cut back over a number of years to reveal the interweaving paths and flower beds of the original parterre garden. This is now one of the few surviving antebellum gardens of the southern United States.

Clent Cocker.

He built cottages to match the historic feel of the old castle and turned the ruins into a showplace.

Clent continued the research he began a boy interviewing the elderly residents of Woodlands and had preserved the Barnsley's story in his book, Barnsley Gardens at Woodlands: The Illustrious Dream. He is currently the historian for Barnsley Gardens.

In 2004 the prince sold the estate to two Dalton businessmen who have continued to develop the property.

From the official site

Below are some historical highlights. To learn more, visit the Barnsley Museum, which is open daily. There you will hear fascinating stories of love, loss and even murder compiled by Barnsley's Historian and Museum Director, Clent Coker.


1824 Godfrey Barnsley comes to America from Liverpool, England. He becomes one of the 10 most affluent men in the South through the shipping business and cotton trade.
1828 Barnsley weds Julia Scarborough of Savannah.
1840s Barnsley purchases some 4,000 acres of Northwest Georgia land to build Julia a grand mansion.
1845 Sadly, Julia, mother of six, dies of a lung ailment and Barnsley ceases construction of the estate.
1846 Barnsley returns to the estate and Julia's spirit appears to him in the formal garden, instructing him to finish the estate for their children and future generations.
1848 The estate and gardens of Woodlands are eventually completed, with gardens modeled after the architectural designs of Andrew Jackson Downing, and a luxurious manor house featuring modern plumbing, marble from Italy and France, and furnishings from around the world.
1861-1865 The Civil War rages. Situated directly in the path of Sherman's advance, the estate witnesses a battle on May 18, 1864 and suffers irreparably during occupation of troops commanded by U.S. Gen. James McPherson.
1906 A tornado damages the home, tearing away the roof.
1906-1942 Descendents of Godfrey and Julia occupy the estate until it is auctioned in 1942. The gardens and manor house fall into disrepair.
1988 Prince Hubertus Fugger purchases the estate, reviving and expanding the Historic Gardens so that more than 200 varieties of roses thrive. The remains of the Manor House Ruins are restored and Barnsley Gardens Resort is born.
1991 Barnsley Gardens opens to the public as a historical gardens and museum.

Today Barnsley is a new kind of resort destination, with luxurious cottages, world-class amenities, attentive service and quiet serenity. Amenities include an 18-hole championship golf course, three restaurants, the Outpost and a full-service spa.

Barnsley Gardens Resort's gardeners are hard at work all year long to maintain the beauty of our grounds. Meander through 160-year-old gardens featuring hundreds of varieties of heirloom roses. In addition to antique roses, our heirloom gardens feature a great diversity of flowers and foliage.

Whether you consider it a golf haven, a spa, or an outdoor adventure destination, Barnsley Gardens is a great place to spend a few days. Repeatedly named one of the best Small Luxury Resorts and only a few miles from I-75, Barnsley's renown has been growing throughout the eastern United States. You will have to make reservations well in advance of your stay, especially on weekends and during the summer.


Each of the "cottages" are rustic looking, upscale duplexes or quadraplexes that features a plush feather bed intended to look like an antique, comfortable bathrooms with a walk-in shower and a large, free-standing bathtub, a rear-entrance to a parking lot and a front entrance on a grassy mall that spans the complex end-to-end.

The first street, Downing Way, provides walking access to the registration office, the Outpost, the clubhouse/Woodlands Grill, the "beer garden" and the Rice House. In the center is a "town hall" which doubles as a beautiful chapel when a wedding is taking place.


Within Barnsley Gardens are three places to eat, The Rice House, Woodlands Grill and the Beer Garden. Open for dinner, the Rice House features an upscale menu, favoring some exotic dishes including quail, fish and seafood along with the standard Filet Mignon. For a light lunch or dinner, the beer garden offers sandwiches on panini bread and appetizers like pretzels and quesadillas.

The Woodlands Grill offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus a full bar. Breakfast is served buffet-style, while lunch and dinner offer selections from a menu including a variety of steak and hamburgers, fish, seafood and chicken. Of the three, the Woodlands Grill is the best, although all three served excellent food.


Rolling hills are the trademark of the par 72 Barnsley Gardens golf course.

One of the attractions in Barnsley Gardens is the Jim Fazio designed golf course The General (named for The General, one of the participants in The Great Locomotive Chase). The par 72, 7,180 yard course features Fazio's astounding ability to use the natural lay of the to create a course. As a tribute to Downing, Fazio personally supervised the layout of the course, utilizing not only the native plants but also its dramatic drops and climbs to create a somewhat intimidating layout, at least the first time you play it. Two shorter holes literally drop off the side of a central mountain, making difficult par 3 shots.

Outdoor Adventure

Barnsley Resort guide Scott Thompson will ride with your wife.

In addition to the golf, It is Barnsley Gardens outdoor adventure activities that drew us to the resort. Our favorite was the horseback riding with Scott Thompson, a friendly guide who took us into the mountains surrounding the estate. The one-hour ride was enough of an adventure for me, but my wife, who is an experience horsewoman, took on a more difficult ride with Scott for a second hour. In addition to horseback riding, the trails can be hiked. The 3.5 mile Creek Loop carries visitors to a stream on the Barnsley Estate, then returns to the starting point.

Fly fishing is taught in a lakeside setting, and Barnley has a sporting clays course.

Bike rentals (for 12 miles of off-road bicycle adventure), registration for all outdoor activities and a gift shop are all at a trading post type house known as the outpost.

Pre-register at the time you make your reservation, especially for the more popular guided activities.

CX race at Barnsley Gardens

Visiting Barnsley Gardens

Plan at least a 2-day stay to enjoy everything Barnsley has to offer. The town of Adairsville is about 7 miles from the Gardens and Cartersville is about 12 miles, but you probably won't want to leave once you are there. Be prepared to make your dining reservations when you book your rooms and plan to eat at the Rice House at least once. The upscale food and presentation is truly elegant. A small museum is adjacent to the original Barnsley home, which was the living quarters for the family from 1906 on. Maps and interpretive signs guide visitors through a tour of the historic area.


From Atlanta: Take I-75 North to Exit 306. Turn left on GA 140 and travel 1.8 miles to Halls Station Road. Turn left and travel 5.5 miles to Barnsley Gardens Road. Turn right and travel 2.6 miles to the entrance to Barnsley Gardens on the left.

From Chattanooga: Take I-75 North to Exit 306. Turn right on GA 140 and travel 1.8 miles to Halls Station Road. Turn left and travel 5.5 miles to Barnsley Gardens Road. Turn right and travel 2.6 miles to the entrance to Barnsley Gardens on the left.

Alternate directions from Atlanta: Take I-75 North to exit 288 (Main St., Cartersville). At the light at the top of the ramp, turn left and follow the road through downtown. Continue straight ahead on 293 (it comes in from the right) and stay on it to Kingston. Just after the road rises to cross the railroad tracks, turn right on Hall's Station Road. Continue north to a left on Barnsley Gardens Road and travel 2.6 miles to the entrance on the left.

Manning Mill

Manning Mill is a 1.1 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Adairsville, Georgia that features a lake.

The trail is good for all skill levels and primarily used for hiking and walking.

From the Reviews.

This is a great walking path! I wouldn’t call our visit a hike, but that doesn’t diminish how much we enjoyed it. The path crosses a natural spring and goes around a little man made pond that appears to be open for swimming in the summer. The path offers a couple of splits so there are lots of ways to walk it. A great place for a leisurely stroll!

Well cared for easy walking trail. I’m not sure why there’s so many negative reviews for this not being a “hiking” trail when it blatantly says it’s 72 feet elevation gain.


Adairsville is a city in Bartow County, Georgia, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 4,648. Adairsville is approximately halfway between Atlanta and Chattanooga on Interstate 75. It is 12 miles south of Calhoun, 18 miles northeast of Rome and 61 miles north of Atlanta.


Adairsville used to be a small Cherokee village Oothcalooga meaning bearer for the small stream running through the area. It was later named after Chief Walter (John) S. Adair, a Scottish settler who married a Cherokee Indian woman before the removal of the Cherokee in 1838. It was part of the Cherokee territory along with Calhoun and including New Echota.After the removal of the Cherokees, the village became part of Georgia, and the residents kept the name Adairsville. A hamlet of two stores grew about two miles north of where the town is now.

One of the town's developers was William Watts of DeKalb County, who had a railroad business interest in the town. he bought the area where the Public Square, Cherry Street, Summer Street, South Main, and portions of North Main are. Watts' home was built around the foundation of an Indian cabin, high on a hill overlooking the present-day town of Adairsville.

Old Courthouse and historical stone.

He had brought the Western and Atlantic Railroad from Atlanta. He deeded land to the railroad and surveyed business lots including hotels, mills, and blacksmith shops around town. The depot was completed in 1847 and Adairsville grew quickly as mills, blacksmiths and hotels opened around the town square. Watts's plan was successful and brought the town the nickname "Granary of the State"; it was incorporated in 1854. He lived in Adairsville in a home built on the foundation of an Indian cabin, on a hill overlooking the town.

The Civil War brought much action to Adairsville.

On April 12, 1862, the steam locomotive The General was pursued from Atlanta and passed through Adairsville as its people the Great Locomotive Chase. After that, Adairians set a three-day street festival in remembrance of the Chase.

The Civil War came to the town in full force on May 17, 1864, with the Gravel House Battle (May 17, 1864) and when the Confederate army failed to defeat Sherman and his Union army in the Battle of Adairsville.

Gravel House Battle

On the morning of May 17 the head of the Federal column leaves the small town of Calhoun heading south. Not a mile outside of town Confederate cavalry fires on them. The Federals charge forward capturing a few of them and chasing the rest down the road and around a sharp turn. As they round the turn a shell explodes on the road. The cavalry continually checks the Federals through the morning causing them deploy and force the Confederate cavalry from their positions before advancing further.

Down the road roughly two miles north of Adairsville, Cheatham's Division is lounging in the trees next to the road. Their orders are not to wander far and keep their equipment with them. Around 2 p.m. the men of the 1st Tennessee watch as their cavalry begins running down the road towards Adairsville. The firing from the north grows louder as it approaches them.

At 2:30 they are ordered to their feet and sent forward to a small ridge at the double quick. Standing on the hill is what remains of the cavalry resistance. Just to the east of the road stands an Octagon shaped house with several outbuildings. As the Confederates near the ridge they turn into more of a mob then an organized army trying their best to reach the ridge first. 

As the regiment rushes into the house they fear that the house, known as the Saxon House to the citizens of Adairsville, is made of weak material. No sooner had they run into the house, they started running back out. Colonel Feild grabbed his rifle and blocked the door ordering everyone back inside. Captain Fluorney of Company K runs to the house from one of the outbuildings and pleads with Feild that he cannot hold his position but the Colonel is adamant, "Our orders are to hold."

The Federals are tearing down the fence around the garden in front of the house when the 1st Tennessee begins filling the rooms. Their first shots bring several Federals down and the rest retreat back down the hill. Soon the Federals return fire and their rounds ricochet off the walls of the house. The regiment breathes a sigh of relief upon the realization the house is made of concrete and able to withstand the blows of all types of ammunition with the exception of Parrott artillery shells, which will not come into play till later in the battle. 

The Federals initially have trouble making head way against the Confederate line. Most of their advance line has no choice but to spread out and try to avoid the fire the Confederates pour down on them. In a compliment to the shooting skills of the 1st Tennessee, their rifle fire is mistaken for sharpshooters. Late in the afternoon more Federals arrive from the railroad tracks on the Confederate left flank as well as artillery support. The Parrott rifled cannons arrive and the Federals are finally able to pierce some of the octagon walls. One shell kills and wounds eight men from Company I.

Site of house and battle today.

With increased support the Federals start making more of a push to take the house and ridge. At the same time the 1st Tennessee begins to run out of ammunition and volunteers are called for. A handful are picked and they make a run out of the house for the rear. On their return a few are shot down as they bring ammunition into the house. As dusk approaches a Federal manages to burn the barn containing the men of Company K who are forced to evacuate. Not long after this incident the 44th Illinois and 24th Wisconsin Infantry made a heavy push on the house. According to Sam Watkins the Federals surrounded the house and attempted to storm it after their demands they surrender were refused. They were repulsed and retreated back down the ridge.

More men were drawn into the fight on both sides, and the contest continued as the sun set. Watkins noted, “it being night, the blazes and flashes of fire from our own the Yankee guns looked like hell on earth.” The fighting continued unabated until around 11 p.m. Around midnight, Confederates slipped away. “The firing had ceased, and we abandoned the Octagon House,” Watkins recalled.

Our dead and wounded—there were thirty of them—were a strange contrast with the furniture of the house. Fine chairs, sofas, settees, pianos, and Brussels carpeting, being made the death bed of brave and noble soldiers, all saturated with blood. Fine lace and damask curtains, all blackened by the smoke of the battle. Fine bureaus and looking glasses and furniture being riddled by the rude missiles of war. Beautiful pictures in gilt frames, and a library of valuable books, al shot and torn by musket and cannon balls. Such is war.

The 1st Tennessee suffered around thirty causalities, two of which were members of Company D. Private James Knox Polk McEwen was severely wounded in the hand and his injuries took him out of the war. Private James Green Moody was also wounded but would return to the company. At midnight the 154th Tennessee relieves the 1st Tennessee in the Octagon House. Cleburne's Division takes over rearguard from Cheatham. The regiment moves south to Cartersville.

Other Octagon houses in Georgia.

Cheatham’s division had done their job, and they continued their journey south as Johnston cast about for a new position and a more advantageous place to try to bring Sherman to battle. The affair at Adairsville has largely been forgotten, but serves as another example of the many small but brutal engagements in the long road toward Atlanta.

Battle of Adairsville

Once across the Oostanaula River, Johnston sought to make a stand and draw the Federals into a costly assault. He expected to find favorable terrain near Calhoun, but in this he was disappointed and during the night of May 16th he led the Confederates southward toward Adairsville. Sherman followed, dividing his forces into three columns, and advancing on a broad front. There were skirmishes all along the route, but the main bodies were not engaged. Johnston had originally expected to find a valley at Adairsville of suitable width to deploy his men and anchor his line with the flanks on hills. The valley, however, was too wide, so Johnston disengaged and withdrew.

Two miles north of Adairsville Oliver Otis Howard and the Union IV Corps began skirmishing with entrenched units of William J. Hardee's Confederate corps. The 44th Illinois and 24th Wisconsin infantry regiments led by Maj. Arthur MacArthur, Jr. (father of Douglas MacArthur) attacked Benjamin F. Cheatham's division and suffered heavy losses. The rest of Howard's corps prepared for battle but further attacks were called of by General Thomas. At Adairsville, Johnston again hoped to find a position in which he could give battle but there too the terrain was unsuitable for further defense and the Confederate commander was forced to continue his withdrawal.

Owing to continued skirmishing with the enemy and occasional artillery firing, our advance was very slow. From 5.30 a.m. to 4 p.m. we only marched about eight miles, arriving at that time two and a half miles from Adairsville, with Newton's division moving on the direct road. 

At about the same time the head of General Wood's column arrived three-fourths of a mile from Newton, on our right, on the railroad. Here and at this time the enemy stubbornly resisted our advance, having now opposed to us infantry, cavalry, and artillery. 4.20, General Wood reported that citizens from Adairsville had just informed him that there was a large force of the enemy's infantry in Adairsville. 

Commenced, after heavy skirmishing, to form a line of battle to drive the enemy from our front or to repulse any attack that he might make. His line was formed running across and at right angles to the road leading to the town. On the right of the dirt road, running parallel to it and ending very nearly on the line of battle, was a low wooded ridge. On this rested the right of Newton's formation, which was a column by regiments, prepared for an assault. On the left of the road, extending through a wheat field and to the woods, rested his left, in two lines of battle. 4.30, word was sent to General Wood to move upon the enemy at once from the position he occupied. This he could not do until he bridged a creek in his front, which could not be done before dark. 

At same time General Stanley was ordered up to cover Newton's left flank, as the enemy was moving around it. During all of this time we had heavy skirmishing, and the enemy firing artillery on Newton. 5.30, Stanley got into position, two brigades on the left of Newton, extending into the woods and holding a small hill therein, and the other brigade massed in the rear of Newton's left. 6 p.m., assault was ordered to be made by General Newton, and was just about to be made, when Major-General Thomas, who had come up with Major-General Sherman, stopped the movement, saying that it was too late in the evening to make it. The enemy kept up a steady fire along our line until dark, when it ceased. 

7 p.m., General Wood reported his bridge finished, and, if General Howard would advise it, he would cross some troops over and assault the enemy, who, he said, was intrenched and was at Adairsville in force. General Howard replied, telling him to cross over and throw out strong line of skirmishers to feel the enemy's position, but he would not advise a night attack. Wood's left was now not far from Newton's right. The road we marched on was very good. 

The country along the road was rolling, and covered with dense woods and undergrowth, with occasional cultivated fields. It was admirably suited for the movements of the enemy's rear guard, he being able to make a stand, as he did, every few hundred yards, During the day we lost about 25 killed and 170 wounded. The first part of the day very warm; heavy storm from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. The next day we found out that the greater part of Johnston's army had been in our front and that the enemy had well-constructed rifle-pits.

May 18.--5.30, General Newton reports that the enemy have left their rifle-pits and positions in his front. Instructions were at once given to division commanders to march, following the enemy, and to press him closely; General Wood leading, then Newton following, then Stanley. We marched at 6 a.m. 8.40, Colonel Hayes, who was with the column in advance, was ordered back to Resaca to bring up all of our trains, and was instructed to take any regiment of this corps at Resaca, or that might arrive there in time, or on the way here from there, as a guard. 8.45, ordered by General Sherman to halt our column on the other side of town until McPherson could come up, and to form with strong head of column, so that if Johnston offered battle we would be prepared for him.

8.50, ordered General Wood, when he moved forward, to take the road that hugs the railroad. 9.45, division commanders ordered to instruct their ordnance officers to send to Resaca for all needed ammunition. 11.15 a.m., division commanders ordered to draw out their commands and to start on the march at 1 p.m. 12 m., instructions given division commanders in reference to trains as follows: Each five ammunition wagons to follow divisions; after the corps, thirty wagons; then the rest of the train to follow the Fourteenth Corps, which follows this corps on the march. The order of march was, Wood to send two brigades on the dirt road and one on the railroad running parallel, while Newton was to send one on dirt road and two on railroad; Stanley to follow Newton. 

Site battle Adairsville.

Were ordered by General Sherman to camp six miles from Adairsville. Reached the point designated at 6 p.m., on Connasene Creek; camped. No force of enemy sufficiently large to impede our march met in our immediate front. Very little skirmishing. Roads fine; country rolling generally; many well-cultivated fields. Deserters report this evening that the enemy has retreated beyond Kingston.

Yankees in Adairsville.

When the Southerners abandoned Adairsville during the night of May 17, Johnston sent William J. Hardee's Corps to Kingston, while he fell back toward Cassville with the rest of his army. McPherson moved to Barnsley Garden.

Post Civil War to Date

After the Civil War ended in 1865, Adairsville rebuilt and became a center of the carpet and textile industries, and of farm and transportation services, including its famous railroad station.

In the 1940's the chenille textile industry brought many "spreadline" to Adairsville. Visitors along the Old Dixie Highway will recall peacock chenille spreads blowing in the wind.

From home spun to Yanmar.

Today, many of the pre-Civil War homes and churches stand alongside fine Victorian examples in the 170-acre historic district.

Explore tree-lined streets and marvel at the interesting notes shared by residents in the Adairsville Tour of Homes brochure.

Browse the antique shops and boutiques and stay for lunch or dinner in one of the area's fine restaurants.

Historic buildings still intact in the town include the original train depot.

No trip to historic Adairsville is complete without a stop at the 1902 Stock Exchange. Located on the Adairsville Public Square in the heart of the historic district, the 1902 Stock Exchange exemplifies Southern charm and hospitality. It is the cornerstone of rebirth in historic Adairsville.

The grand building with ornate woodwork and pressed metal ornaments was constructed in 1902 by N.C. Anderson. It served the area as an upscale mercantile, selling clothing, dry goods and more. After falling in disrepair, it was restored to its original grandeur in the early 1990s and opened as the 1902 Stock Exchange in 1994.

The bottom floor of the 1902 Stock Exchange houses Maggie Mae’s Tea Room and an assortment of antiques, reproductions, used and rare books, home accessories, specialty gifts and more.

Upstairs is the Public Square Opera House, which hosts dinner theater performances throughout the year. They present six productions each year, many of which accentuate the heritage of Adairsville. The space is also available for rental for special events.

Notable people

Jessica Barton, model and actress.

Worth two pictures.

Vic Beasley, 1st Round Pick for the Atlanta Falcons.

Clemson Tiger led NFL in sacks once.

Bobby Cox, Atlanta Braves manager.

Leader all time of getting tossed.

Pretty Boy Floyd, a 1930s Midwestern outlaw, was born in Adairsville shortly before his family left Georgia for Oklahoma.

Wally Fowler, founder of the Oak Ridge Boys.

Bella Jarrett, actress and author.

Barnsley Gardens and Adairsville. Lot's going on, comfortably North of hectic Atlanta.

Our Georgia Natural Wonder Gals today are getting back to the Barnsley Gardens.

Edited 16 time(s). Last edit at 10/23/2020 12:03AM by Top Row Dawg.

Georgia Natural Wonder #162 - Barnsley Gardens - Adairsville

Top Row Dawg254October 15, 2020 06:16AM

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