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Fort Hollingsworth
White House

  • The History of the Fort
  • The Article~from North Georgia Journal
  • 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 property rights. 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 the fort. 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.