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Homestead Place Burns
Historic “Homestead Place” Burns;
Harris Landmark Over a Century
By JOE RAILEY
WEST POINT, GA. One of the landmarks of Harris County, "Homestead Place", the old
John Davidson Home, located about eight miles east of here, was destroyed by fire last week.
Built originally by Davidson in about 1845, the original "Homestead Place" plantation
consisted of several thousand acres of land in Troup and Muscogee counties, but in
Harris and Troup counties after Harris County was formed from parts of Troup and Muscogee
At present, the property consists of only 300 acres, and is owned by Thomas T. and Phillip Jones
of West Point. The home that burned has not been occupied for several years, the farm has been
used as a cattle and chicken ranch.
Davidson settled in Harris prior to 1838, as early grand jury records of the county at Hamilton
indicate he served on the Harris County Grand Jury that year.
Greek Revival Style
Of Greek revival style, the house was inspired by the Fountaine house in Columbus, the home
of John Fountaine, mayor of Columbus in 1836, who was a friend of Davidson.
Davidson hired a trained slave carpenter from Fountaine to assist in getting measurements for
the house. Trees were selected from the Davidson plantation woods, sawed at his sawmill and
dried in the plantation kiln.
Every piece of the house was heart pine, mortised, tenoned and pinned. Square cut-nails were
used where needed, and were forged on the place. The sills and girders were hewn by hand,
not sawed. Shingles were split by hand and dried in the kiln.. Bricks for the three outside
chimneys, two storieds high, of a soft shade of red clay, also were made on the plantation.
The house featured a center two-story porch, with two solid wood columns, hand-fluted and
capped by pseudo-Ionic capitals, supporting a pediment. It has gable roofs, and under the
two-story porch was a free-hanging balcony with wood balustrade over a double doorway,
with a fanlight and inside lights. A matching, slightly smaller double doorway, with familiar
fanlight and side light treatment, opened onto the upstairs balcony.
Of wood construction throughout, the house was one-room deep, with a center hall, from
which the stairway rose and turned. The risers of the stairway were decorated with an
applied classic motif, Another stairway led from the dining room to the second story, and
a third, small staircase was built from the second floor to the attic. There was a paneled
wainscoting of excellent workmanship throughout the interior, particularly fine in the parlor
room, and the deeply paneled doors were of well-known six panel type. All the hardware
in these doors was imported from England, Mantels featured free- standing miniature
columns of the Doric and Roman orders.
The dining room was in an ell, and there was a shed room on the back porch. Originally,
the kitchen was in a building separate from the main house. Attractive and unusual features
were the ornate cornices decorating the house on all sides under the second story eaves.
It is not known who Davidson employed as architect for his home, but it is thought a journeyman
architect, traveling through the area from job to job lived on the plantation for a year or more
to supervise its construction details, with all labor being done by the Davidson slaves.
"Homestead Place" was included in a national survey of historical buildings in 1936, and its
description and picture of it is in the Library of Congress, under reference HABS No. GA-1144,
Harold Bush-Brown, noted architect, was Georgia district officer of the HABS at the time.
Origin of Family
The Davidson family in America traces its origin to the ill-fated William Davison, who was
secretary of state to Queen Elizabeth I. The secretary carried out Elizabeth’s order to execute
Mary, Queen of Scots, and due to adverse opinion afterwards, Elizabeth stripped him of position
and titles and imprisoned him in the Tower of London for two years. Reduced to poverty and
illness, he died in 1608.
From the American Revolution War period, the family has been traced from Pennsylvania to
Virginia to North Carolina, with different members going to new lands in Georgia, Alabama,
and Texas, as the Indians were moved further west.
William Davidson, John Davidson’s father, was born in 1753. As a Revolutionary War soldier,
ensign in the Sixth Virginia Regiment, he was granted land for his services, which he took up
in Wilkes County, Ga.
The builder of "Homestead Place" came to Harris County in the 1830s. He was born in Warren
County, GA., Jan 19, 1792. He married Elizabeth Nichols or Warren County, who was born
Sept. 30, 1794. They had 11 sons and three daughters, most of whom were born at "Homestead
Place". The original owner of the plantation died May 28, 1862, and his wife died Sept. 7, 1970.
They are buried in the family graveyard near the house site.
West Point is the home of many descendants of this family. Hiram B. Davidson, whose father
was Elias Davidson, the son of John Davidson, lived here until his death some years ago.
His sons and daughters, most of whom still reside here, as well as many of their children
Judge T. Whitfield Davidson, Dallas, Tex., senior United States district judge, is a grandson
of Isiah Davidson, the third son of John Davidson. Judge Davidson has done considerable
research on the family lineage, and has published a book on “Our Scotch Kith and Kin.”
Another family record, compiled by Miss Phyl Davidson, Mrs. Jack Davis, Mrs. Janie Lovelace
Heard and William H. Davidson, was published and privately distributed in 1958.
After the death of John Davidson’s widow in 1870, the estate, impoverished by the War Between
the States, was sold to a son, William Davidson, in1872, and several of the sons went West
during the general trek from this area during the postwar years.
"Homestead Place" was owned for a number of years by the late Lorenzo D. Hutchinson, whose
plantation lands adjoined the Davidson lands. Others owning the place were Mrs. Eunice
Davidson Moss, A. C. Booker and W. E. Booker, who sold what remains of the plantation now
to the present owners.
In the burning of "Homestead Place", Harris County lost one of its most historically interesting
plantation homes, a product of the antebellum cotton and slavery prosperity of the Old South.
Added by Dr. James T. Miller, son of Lenora Elizabeth Davidson Miller Mills (b: 1898, Collin Co,
Texas), the daughter of Wilkes Monroe Davidson(Jr) and Dona Rogers.
In 1962, Mother visited us in Columbus from her home in Forney, Texas. At that time, the Davidson
place burned, and, a few days later, we drove to Whitesville and located the ruins. I took a picture
of the graves, the ruins, and gathered a couple of the square-cut, hand-made nails, which I have
since lost. Mother said John Davidson was an uncle to her father, Wilkes Monroe Davidson (Jr),
the son of Wilkes Monroe Davidson (Sr) , the son of Obediah Davidson, who migrated to western
Alabama before the war. Wilkes Sr and Wilkes Jr migrated to Collin County, Texas, in the years
following the War. Wilkes III, born about 1902, was my favorite uncle.
Mother also said the Davidson family lost their holdings in western Alabama following the War.
She also said a branch of the Davidson’s had been instrumental in founding Davidson County
and also Davidson College in North Carolina. But, the Davidsons I have known have all been
"poor dirt farmers".
Any authentic information I may have about the Wilkes Monroe line has come from my newly
found cousin, Anne Marie Davidson Woods of Seattle. Her grandfather and my grandfather