Snow-Wasden House, Brooks County

Wasden House Brooks County GA Mossy Oaks Farmland Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

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.

Brooks County GA Historic Farmhouse Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

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.

Wasden House Brooks County GA Endangered Landmark Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

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.

Historic Farmhouse Wasden Strange Brooks County GA Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

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.

Wasden House Brooks County GA Farm Photograph Copyright Brian Brown Vanishing South Georgia USA 2015

Thanks to Marian Phillips and Michael Williams for sharing photographs and inspiring me to find this place.

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13 Comments

Filed under --BROOKS COUNTY GA--

13 responses to “Snow-Wasden House, Brooks County

  1. Paul Petersen

    Thanks for putting together this interesting history on the house. Lee and Jamie Branch are my great-grandparents. Their daughter Lalla Branch (Kirkpatrick) is my maternal grandmother. Years ago I visited Quitman to see the house where the murder occurred (402 North Court Street), and I did some research and found newspaper articles about the murder on micro-fiche.

    BrooksCountyNative, I would love to know any details of the scandal that weren’t published in the Quitman paper. The story from my grandmother was that Livingston was ‘manic-depressive’ or now bi-polar, and had voluntarily decided to enter an asylum. The murder rocked the community as Lee Branch was the former President of the Georgia State Bar Association (1926) and a highly respected public figure. When the news of his death reached Washington DC, the US House of Representatives had a moment of silence in his honor. My grandmother was devastated. She later visited Livingston in the Asylum, sometime in the mid-1960’s. Russell could not visit his brother, he was too distraught.

    According to my family, Russell Snow (Bubber as he was known) was an architect, not a lawyer. However, he may have had business dealings with Lee Branch. If someone has a source for Russell being a lawyer, I would love to see it. Russell was present when Livingston shot Lee and Jamie, and was about to be shot himself. However the gun jammed, and Russell tackled Livingston and held him until the authorities arrived. Also, regarding Ashville, Jamie had tuberculosis, and the common treatment was to send patients to the mountains for fresh air. My family and I were just perusing photographs of Jamie, Lee, and my grandmother in the Ashville mountains. It may be that Jamie had connections in Ashville from her treatment stay.

    I would also love to know where the house photographed above is currently. Just for the family history, and perhaps a drive by one day.

    • Paul Petersen

      Correction from my previous post. Russell was a lawyer, there was another member of his family (a cousin I think), who was the architect.

  2. Brookscountynative

    Didn’t even come close to getting all of the “real” story behind this house. There is WAY more of a scandal here that wasn’t even reported on. If only the walls could talk.

  3. Here’s what the house looked like before they started prepping it for relocation. Sadly they just left it sitting there like the above pcitures for many years

    https://scontent-atl3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/22780163_10214455107521620_5669162859252675808_n.jpg?oh=21b00c5532d2c5efc3ecbb085a250555&oe=5AD32659

  4. Laurie Bass

    Quitman, Brooks Co GA is my hometown. I drove by this house today and as I do every time I see it, thought what a beautiful home this had to have been and still could be. Several years ago, someone told me it is still owned by the Wasden family.

  5. Alyssa McManus

    I came upon it about 2 weeks ago and just stood there, agog. Magnificent. Even if it is in a ruinous state, it is still amazing!

  6. Christy Carter

    Hi, I love your pictures and the work your doing. I have seen this house in pictures and would LOVE to see it in person. I live in North Florida and love my roots of South Georgia. Traveling the back roads is one of my favorite past times. Would you mind sharing the road name? Also I came upon a lovely picture of it with its porches if you’d like for me to share it with you I’d be happy to.

  7. Bryan Shaw

    Please, someone take this home as a restoration project. I hate seeing huge amounts of money being spent on new homes when homes like this are a southern treasure.

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