This house is to me one of the great rural landmarks of South Georgia, due not only to its imposing stature but its pastoral setting behind mossy oaks. I never knew anything about it until recent correspondence (October 2017) with Alysssa McManus, a Florida architectural historian who has been as fascinated by it as I have. It began: I have some juicy info regarding the Wasden House. It would seem that a Mr. Livingston Snow murdered his sister and brother-in-law in that house in 1937. The family had just been discussing the need to put the mentally un-well Livingston into a mental asylum…However, comments from Quitman indicate that this was not the scene of the crime.
The research that follows is the result of Alyssa’s detective work and I’m grateful she shared it with Vanishing South Georgia. The connection is fascinating. Sometimes, the characters you uncover in researching a place like this are more interesting than the place itself.
Tax records indicate it was built circa 1900 by a local dentist, Dr. James S. N. Snow (1840-1905). After the elder Snow’s death, sons Livingston and Russell were the legal charges of their sister Jamie and her husband, attorney Lee Whiting Branch, who inherited this house. Russell became a lawyer. Livingston studied at Emory in Atlanta from 1906-1908 where he was in the Kappa Alpha fraternity and graduated from a special 2-year program. Alyssa writes: He was an avid bridge player. In 1910, he lived with the maid. I don’t know if she’d worked for the family. He served in World War I and at some point was involved in the establishment of a canning plant. He was a traveling salesman for Rogers Grocers and Armour Packing. He was listed as a pecan dealer in the 1930 census.
On 17 December 1937 Jamie and Lee Branch were murdered by Livingston at 402 North Court Street. At the time of the 1940 census, Snow was institutionalized in Milledgeville. Interestingly, they buried him in his family’s burial plot in Madison (Florida). Alyssa continues: Considering his father was a dentist and brother was a lawyer, who went into practice with the Branch brother-in-law, Livingston must’ve been the black sheep long before the incident. He threw parties and was in the society pages of Asheville frequently. He seemed quite sane to me. His sister visited him in Asheville frequently enough to have her own friends there. Makes me wonder what happened that they determined his was mentally ill. I certainly hope it was not just to hush him up or prevent him from inheriting. I am imagining a Truman Capote type. He never did marry and never was a lady friend mentioned. I’m not assuming…He was best man or usher at several weddings.
Thanks to Marian Phillips and Michael Williams for sharing photographs and inspiring me to find this place.