Birdsville Plantation, Circa 1789, Jenkins County

Birdsville Plantation Jenkins County GA Antebellum Landmark Royal Land Grant Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2013

Birdsville Plantation has been owned by the Jones family since the mid-1700s and is one of just a few well-documented 18th-century residential structures still standing in the interior of Georgia. Modifications giving the house its present appearance  were made circa 1847. Somehow, it was miraculously spared by Sherman on his March to the Sea. Mary F. Andrew clarifies the history: For the record*, this was not the home of Francis Jones. F Jones settled south of Rocky Ford. His son, Philip, most likely built the older part. He acquired the land in 1785 for his services in the Revolutionary War. He died in 1789. His son, Henry Philip Jones, is responsible for the front addition seen in the picture. See Bell-Parker above. I have researched it as thoroughly as I can and know this to be accurate. HPJones’ youngest son, Wm B Jones, lived there during the Civil War. The twins were his. Gen. Sherman stayed briefly at the magnificent home of his brother, Jos. Bertram Jones, near Herndon. Unfortunately, JBJones’ home, which was visited by many important people of the day (latter half of the 19th century) and the site of much social activity, burned in the early 1900’s.

*I was initially of the impression that this was first the home of Francis Jones. I’m grateful for Mary F. Andrew’s research and for her sharing it here.

Birdsville Plantation GA Commissary Building Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2013

This is the old Birdsville commissary, which served the plantation for many years. I would guess that it served as a schoolhouse or chapel at one time.

The entire plantation and all structures located thereon are on private property. I’m grateful to have been given permission to photograph and greatly enjoyed my brief visit there.

Bill Hozey recently wrote: I lived in the newer house just down the lane from the main house as a child. I have spent many a day in the Franklin house and with the family. I remember vividly the human skull in the basement and was told by the Franklins about Sherman sparing the house due to the death of the twins. Mrs. Grizzard lived in the old Post Office during this time. She was the piano teacher at the private school, Buckhead Academy.
Wonderful memories of Birdsville.

National Register of Historic Places

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33 Comments

Filed under --JENKINS COUNTY GA--, Birdsville GA

33 responses to “Birdsville Plantation, Circa 1789, Jenkins County

  1. Glenn Smith

    I am researching for a book about Sherwood, Tennessee. Rev. George W. Jones was the Mission Priest of the Epiphany Church in Sherwood from 1932 until his death in 1952. He baptized my dad and he was one of the most respected men in Sherwood. He spoke often of his mother that lived in Sherwood for seven of those years. She left Sherwood and returned to the plantation where she died on November 12, 1939 and is buried there. Father Jones spoke of a black friend on the plantation by the name of Walton Jones. I understand that it isn’t possible to visit his home but I would like to find out who his parents were and to use a picture of his home place in my writings. Anything would be greatly appreciated.

  2. Lydia Ann Kilgore Breedlove

    My grandmother, Mary Alice Sanders, was married to Beaman Jones. He died of typhoid fever on their honeymoon trip around the world. So sad. Is it possible that I can visit Birdsville ? I have heard stories about it from my grandmother. I believe his brother’s name was Vicus Jones.

  3. Bill paul

    Instead of acanthus leaves at the tops of the columns, I remember spike-like decoration….could that be right….it’s been decades since i was there…

  4. Carole

    When Francis Jones, the original land holder died, he had a way of pairing up his sons, eldest and youngest, next eldest, next youngest, etc. After much research, 30 plus years, I can say that Francis’ genius was well rewarded in getting this building built originally, and I would add that his youngest son, James Jones, who was paired up with his eldest brother, had a hand in its original build and as a young co-owner, it really served him well the rest of his days. Thank you for the pictures. They are wonderful, as is the mistress of the house, a lovely, lovely Southern cousin, Mary Andrew.

  5. Peter Brown

    My research leads me to believe my Family was on this plantation as Servants. Furthermore, based on genealogy, there was an awful lot of breeding that occurred in this place as well.

    So, everyone sees a nostalgic view and ignore the humanity of those innocent people tortured in this place, bred and discarded, to this day.

    • Mr. Brown- I would be glad to share any information about your ancestors’ story from this plantation. I do my best to note that slaves built most of these grand homes, by tagging them for their relation to slavery, etc. I can only share the stories I know. As to nostalgia: many whites know nothing of the realities of these locations and their nostalgia is often ill-informed, thanks to Hollywood and years of incomplete histories. You’re welcome to send me an email about this at wbrianbrown@gmail.com.

  6. K. Gay

    The church the owner spoke of is Old Buckhead Church which is not far from Camp Lawton and Magnolia Springs State Park.

  7. Mary F Andrew

    For the record, this was not the home of Francis Jones. F Jones settled south of Rocky Ford. His son, Philip, most likely built the older part. He acquired the land in 1785 for his services in the Revolutionary War. He died in 1789. His son, Henry Philip Jones, is responsible for the front addition seen in the picture. See Bell-Parker above. I have researched it as thoroughly as I can and know this to be accurate.
    HPJones’ youngest son, Wm B Jones, lived there during the Civil War. The twins were his. Gen. Sherman stayed briefly at the magnificent home of his brother, Jos. Bertram Jones, near Herndon. Unfortunately, JBJones’ home, which was visited by many important people of the day (latter half of the 19th century) and the site of much social activity, burned in the early 1900’s.

  8. Bill

    I lived in the newer house just down the lane from the main house as a child. I have spent many a day in the Franklin house and with the family. I remember vividly the human skull in the basement and was told by the Franklins about Sherman sparing the house due to the death of the twins. Mrs. Grizzard lived in the old Post Office during this time. She was the piano teacher at the private school, Buckhead Academy.
    Wonderful memories of Birdsville.

  9. Walter E. Prince

    In the mid 1990s a friend and I booked a quail hunt at Birdsville and were put up in a building not far from the plantation house. I have a VHS tape of the mule and wagon that we followed the dogs with and also an old black gentleman that drove the mule and wagon. The lady that owned the house was of the Jones family. She heard that I was a history buff and invited my friend and I to have lunch with her at the big house at which time she gave us a tour of the house and a history lesson of the plantation. She also told us the story of Sherman’s men digging up the 2 graves and then ordering the men to put out the fires as they let the house stand. She also told us of a church nearby that they used the benches seat and backs to throw accross the creek to run their horses and wagons over. She said they were put back together and used in the church again with scars and hoof prints in the wood.
    She was one of the most gracious host I have met and made memories I will never forget. She also allowed me to make pictures around the place. Thanks, Walter Prince.

  10. Charles f. Watts

    A couple of years ago while exploreing back roads I found Birdsville. Missing the “no trespassing” sign, I walked down the dirt lane taking pictures and marveling at the history around me. I was run off, then chased by the owner. On the highway in front of the plantation I declared my ignorance , begged forgiveness, and was given a history lesson of the family during the civil war, and an explanation of the buildings on the site. This became the highlight of my trip that year, thanks to a most gracious Southern Lady.

  11. Rebecca Rees

    Are there rooms available to rent as a bed and breakfast type at this location ?

  12. Please keep the comments civil in this thread. At the end of the day, everyone knows that slavery was a horrible institution and any argument to justify it will fall on deaf ears here.

    • L. Senior

      Thank you for your civil response. While many people may give only mental assent to the truths you mention, it is good to know that they are not the majority on this site. Another great reference for those who would like further knowledge on the subject is Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow”. It provides a great read on ways to alleviate poverty for all people. Thanks again.

  13. L. Senior

    Members of my family were born field hands on this plantation. For us, it represents a very evil and sadistic part of America’s past. I can never look at any of these buildings without anger for the pain and loss inflicted on my family, much of which we are still dealing with today.

  14. blstroud

    The story I heard was that at the time Sherman and his troops came through, they found freshly dug graves, and began to unearth them looking for hidden silver, valuables, etc. They stopped when they discovered they were actual graves. The lady of the house had recently given birth to twins who had not survived, these were the plundered graves. The plantation was spared complete destruction out of respect.

  15. Bell-Parker

    I have to disagree that the Italianate features are unfortunate! I have seen the house in person and they are original to this portion of the house, built c. 1847-1853. The front part of the house, which is a massive two-over-two structure, dates fully from this time. It is a blend of Greek Revival and Italianate features–a popular combination at a time when Americans were “warming up” the Greek Revival with less academic, more ornamental elements. In my opinion, the bay windows prevent the facade from being too flat. There is a nice play of depth between these windows and the recessed porch. The c. 1847-1853 structure masks an older structure, which adjoins it at the rear. The older structure is very early 1800s or before and is two-stories with shed rooms at rear. This older part is shorter and much less grand. Birdsville has a number of wonderful old outbuildings although many are gone, including a log kitchen in the backyard that was demolished in c.1970s. The original home was owned by Henry Philip Jones and either expanded by him in the late 1840s or by his son William B. Jones in the early 1850s. H. P. Jones had three other sons who inherited adjacent property and constructed Greek Revival houses in the 1850s. There houses are all long gone–one burned in 1901, another in the 1920s. No known photographs.

  16. Cammy

    I sent you an email via your gmail address about places in Quitman county that I hope you can photograph before they fall in. I hope that it made it to you. Thanks.

    On Mon, Dec 2, 2013 at 2:30 PM, Vanishing South Georgia Photographs by

  17. Randall Barfield

    Certainly an impressive facade and driveway. We can’t see the side or rear views, unfortunately. Have to dream some. 🙂

  18. Thank You!! Heard stories of this house, but never thought it would look like this! If the church is Seed Tick I have family that went there! Thanks again.

  19. Barbara Gay

    Went to a garden club meeting there. Beautiful home with a great story of history as to how Sherman decided not to destroy.

  20. Lew Oliver

    Elegant regency facade with unfortunate Italianate additions and modifications.

  21. Gorgeous plantation and the old commissary building is wonderful. When I finish drawing architecture in Alabama and may just have to go on some road trips to Georgia.

  22. Wow! Would love to see the inside of that plantation home!

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