Photos, taken and submitted by Bonnie Fordham Hollingsworth
Fort Hollingsworth-White House
Fort Hollingsworth-White House is located in the community of
Hollingsworth, on Wynn Lake Road, about two miles off US Hwy
441 between Baldwin, Ga. and Homer, Ga.
Hollingsworth Fort was first shown on a map of the Defensive Plan
Western Frontier, Franklin County in 1793.
Georgia's boundaries in the 1700's can best be described as the
wild frontier. Between 1782 and 1797 various treaties were made
with the Indians to define Georgia's boundaries. Forts were built
to protect the settlers who lived on the frontier. Indians were
likely to be incited by misunderstandings. Horses and farm animals
were frequently stolen, and families had to be protected in fortress-
type buildings surrounded by wooden fences.
The first settlers of Franklin County whose lands granted by the
State of Georgia between 1783 and 1788 lay north of the Indian
Boundary fixed by the treaty of 1785. These lands were granted
under the impression that they lay south of the agreed Indian
boundary line. When this line was surveyed it was found that
these lands lay north of the boundary line and in the Cherokee
Nation, which demanded their removal.
William W. Wofford and Jacob Hollingsworth both moved from North
Carolina to Franklin Co., Ga. before l792. Wofford's fort appeared
on the map in 1792 and Hollingsworth's in 1793. This area was known
as Wofford's Settlement.
When Col. Wofford found out that their settlement was considered to
be in Indian territory after the line was surveyed, he along with
the other settlers in this area petitioned Georgia Governor James
Jackson to have the line re-run or to take such other action as
would protect them and the possessions of their homes.
Legend has it that he mounted his horse and rode to Washington to
talk with the authorities about his land holding in Georgia. This
resulted in the "Four Mile Purchase" of 1804 when the Indians ceded
a strip of land 4 miles wide (from the Habersham and Banks County
line on Baldwin Mountain to the Line Baptist Church on Hwy. 441)
and 23 miles long (extending from Curahee Mountain to the head waters
of the South Oconee River) which included the Wofford Settlement. It
was originally marked by a line of felled trees at least twenty feet
wide which became a sort of no man's land. The United States agreed
to pay the Cherokee Indians $5,000 and $1,000 per annum for the
By about 1796 the Indian troubles were about over and the need for
the string of frontier forts was no longer pressing. The forts,
after the need for defense subsided, became log farmhouses.
The Wofford's and the Hollingsworth's traveled together to new
frontiers in the west using passports to travel through Indian
territory. As the years passed many of their descendants would
pack up their belongings, taking wives, children, slaves and
animals and move west, as genealogy records show. Fort Hollingsworth
was left on these vacant lands.
In Habersham County Inferior Court setting as a land court May
Term 1855, William B. Wofford, son of Nathaniel Wofford, grandson
of William W. Wofford, petitioned the court for a head right warrant
for vacant lands. He received a grant from the state on Oct. 2,
1855. He sold this property to Col. Robert McMillan on April 18,
1857. Fort Hollingsworth was on this property.
Col. Robert McMillan came from Ireland in 1831. He put his heart,
soul, and money into the Confederate cause and raised and commanded
the 24th Georgia Regiment. Although nearly sixty years old he was
noted for his bravery. When General Thomas R. R. Cobb fell, mortally
wounded at Fredricksburg, Col. McMillan was placed in temporary
command and would have been made Brigadier-General but his health
failed and he came home to die.
On March 1, 1861, Robert McMillan sold the property to John Lane.
He had owned the property little more than a month when the Civil
war started. He went off to the war, Co. D-43 Regiment-Ga.
Volunteer Infantry-Army of Tenn. CSA-"Middle River Volunteers",
and never returned. He was shot by his own men as he returned
from getting water from a spring in Tennessee. Until this day
no one knows where he is buried. He was killed in the summer of
1862. He never got to live in the house, in life, but his ghost
still haunts the place. He has been seen by those who have lived
in the house and they all describe him in the same way, a somber
face and dressed in clothing of the 1860's. Canon blasts are
heard occasionally that rattles the windows. His property was
divided among sisters.
On December 9, 1862, Joshua White bought the "Upper Leather Tract",
from the John Lane estate, and he and Katharine Lane White made the
fort their home. They built the addition to the two story single
pen that had been the fort and made it look like any other farm
house of the mid 1800's. The addition was linked to the original
structure by a covered walkway, known as a dogtrot. Dogtrots
allowed the inhabitants to work outside in pleasant weather and
protected the entire house from burning if one side caught on fire.
The air flow through the dogtrot helped to cool the house in the summer.
The old wagon road ran through the yard of the fort, past the barn,
down through the fields and across Mountain Creek. It continued on
to the old Hollingsworth Store (which was across the road from where
Irvin's Store now stands) and crossed US Hwy 441 near Harmony Church
and continued on to the Wofford Fort on Broad River. It is still
visible today, in places.
Water was always a problem on the site. Several wells were dug
but had to be filled in because of caving. Water was carried
from a spring located southwest of the house. Water flowed into
a stone bowl just deep enough for a bucket.
Also, located near this spring was a wash place. Laundry was carried
from the house to the water instead of carrying the water to the house.
Across the branch from this wash place was a hole in the bank that
contained pure white clay. It was called the white mud hole.
This white clay was used to polish the fire-places during spring
cleaning. It was also used for the chinking between the logs in
Near the spring was an Indian ceremonial ground. This area was de-
stroyed in the 1930's when timber was cut and dragged across the site.
March 21, 1903 - The Fort-White House was passed to the children of
Joshua & Katharine Lane White.
The Hollingsworth Fort/White House looks very much today like it
did in the 1860's. Beacher White who acquired the house in 1936
knew the historical value of the fort and would not allow it to be
painted or changed much. He wanted to preserve it as much as possible.
Due to beacher White's foresight, it is still possible to see the
tiny window in the side of the house which was used to watch for
Indians, the original fireplace mantels, and the 18 inch baseboards.
It is very easy to imagine what life must have been like in those
early days of Georgia.
In 1980 the Fort/White House was passed to Beacher & Mellie Segars
White's children. They too recognize the historical value of this
property and wish to share it with the public. Efforts are currently
underway to restore the Fort/White House. The Friends of the Fort
organization has been formed to manage the house and its preservation.