top of page








George Scarborough Barnsley

       Barnsley, a native of Georgia, had come to Texas after the Civil War in search of a place to begin anew. Before his education at Oglethorpe University had been interrupted by the conflict, Barnsley had been a medical student. During the war, he rose from the rank of private of Company A, Rome Light Guard, Eighth Georgia Regiment, to the position of assistant surgeon. Barnsley, having incurred a number of debts, was looking for a way to recoup the fortune which his family had possessed before the war. His father, Gottfried Barnsley, was an English citizen whose sentiments during the conflict were with the South. He was a cotton merchant with offices in both Georgia and New Orleans. Woodlands, Barnsley plantation located in Cass County, Georgia, only a few miles from the old home of both the McMullan and Dyer families, was the re-maining tangible evidence of the pre-war status of the family.


     George Barnsley had another reason for wishing to “hit it rich” in Texas. He hoped to marry Miss Ginny Norton of Norfolk, Virginia, and felt that it was necessary to have some measure of affluence be-fore asking for her hand. In Texas, however, Barnsley failed to find the financial possibilities he sought. Then, he met Frank McMullan and learned the details of his colonization plans. This, he decided, was the solution to his problems. Joined by his brother, Lucian, George Barnsley became the official “Doctor” of McMullan's colony. In addition to free passage and board, Barnsley contracted with McMullan for $2.50 per day for his services. During a visit with Godfrey Barnsley in New Orleans, McMullan stated that the Barnsley sons, with industry and economy, would do well in Brazil.

          In 1870, Georgia Barnsley was still in Brazil. Although he wanted to return to his native Georgia, he could not accumulate enough money to pay passage for himself and his family. "God only knows," he wrote his sister, Julia, "how I could hug those old oaks at the front gates…, And shake the hands of such as one left (at home)." Later that year, Barnsley painted a dreary picture of the family situation in Brazil. "Lucien", he said went to Rio…(and) he waited there until he and his family almost starved… His wife is sick. Murray (one of Barnsley’s nephews who married Barnsley’s wife’s sister), I suppose, is still drinking whiskey in Rio. Times are getting harder and harder."

(In 1869, Barnsley had married Mary Laniera Emerson, the daughter of the Reverend Wil-liam Emerson.  See Barnsley "Information about Emigrants.")


     By 1879, Barnsley, still regretting his mov to Brazil, seemingly had resigned himself to his fate. He continually moved around the coun-try, going from the cities and towns in sout-hern Brazil to Rio de Janeiro and into the interior. His failure to make money in medicine led him to try mining, to tend a drugstore, and even to promote a transcontinental railroad. None of his enterprises was successful. Feeling that he would never be able to return to Georgia, he wrote, concerning Woodlands and his father’s grave, "as long as you keep the old gentleman’s grave clean it is a matter of no great importance to me wherever I am here or there -- if I ever return home drive a stick down close to the old gentleman’s dust and write on it --  G.S.B. Co. A, 8th Ga ….C.S.A." recalling his instability and failure to stay with one profession until it paid off, Barnsley lamented, " it was the greatest mistake of my life, except that of coming to Brazil… Oh Julia, what a sad mistake Lucien and I made by coming to this country and worse by continuing. I frankly say that after so many years of residence in Brazil and intimate contact with them I am at  part less a Brazilian today than I was a year after my arrival."


           Even more financial setbacks caused Barnsley to renew his desire to return to United States. He wrote letter after letter to his sister and his brother-in-law in Georgia, asking them to send money, even if it meant the mortgage of Woodlands. In February 1883, Barnsley sent this appeal:


           "Disastrous affairs have reduced to me and also Lucien into utter poverty; we have no means to return to Wood-lands at present. If you can’t find any way to send out $2-$5000 to aid us to return it would be well to do so at once. If so much money cannot be raised, make some sort of contract with any of the sailing or steam vessels from New Orleans to Rio for our passage."


               It is not known why passage money was not sent to the Barnsley brothers. Perhaps it could not be raised. It is possible, too, that the family in Georgia did not feel that they would ever be repaid, in light of the lack of financial acumen shown by either George or Lucien. Be that as it may, in 1887, George Barnsley, in a vehement letter to his sister, revealed that with or without her help he was determined to return to the United States.


        "It is impossible that you should have hesitated on rais-ing the money for my expenses. I am here in an interior town and everything amiss for you did not reply. Get back, you better believe I will… I will at least prove that I am not lost on the deserts of Egypt. I am here in Pirrasunga (Pirassununga).."


This letter, written from an interior town in São Paulo Provices, may have had some effect, for in the following year, George Barnsley finally returned to Woodlands. Ironically, he was disappointed with the changes that had occurred, and before many months had passed, he and his family were back in Brazil.

The Confederados

Lucien Barnsley: Soldier, Company A, 8th Georgia Infantry (Rome Lt. Guards). He enlisted on May 18, 1861, in Floyd County, Georgia, and participated in most of the battles fought by the Army of Northern Virginia, including Gettysburg. In October of 1864, he was appointed as a soldier on a Dr. Miller team in the Medical Department in Greensboro, North Carolina, and surrendered when the city was occupied by the Yankees in April 1865. He was called Major by the other Confederate officers during and after the war. Apparently he was assigned Major and sent to diplomatic service in Mexico under the orders of the Confederate Consul John T. Pickett.

The Barnsley Gardens - Today
Photo taken prior to 1906 when the home was destroyed by a tornado.
"WOODLANDS" - What the Yankees did        not destroy, a tornado in 1906 did.

Godfrey Barnsley (1805-1873) was a nineteenth-century British-American businessman and cotton broker who became one of the wealthiest people in the southeastern United States.

Barnsley was born on August 26, 1805, in Derbyshire, England. His father was George Barnsley, an English cotton mill owner and his mother was Anna (Hannah) Goodwin Barnsley. He also has an older brother named Joshua. Barnsley began working in the cotton business at his Uncle Godfrey Barnsley’s importing establishment in Liverpool, England. After Barnsley came to America, he too joined the cotton business and made his fortune.

In 1824, Godfrey Barnsley emigrated to America from Liverpool, England. At the age of eighteen, Barnsley moved to Savannah, Georgia. He arrived in Savannah with no money and no distinguished education. However, it was in Savannah that Barnsley made his fortune as a cotton broker and became one of the most affluent men in the south through the cotton trade and shipping business.[4] He also served as president of the Savannah Chamber of Commerce for several years. While living in Savannah, Barnsley met Julia Henrietta Scarborough, the daughter of William Scarborough a wealthy shipbuilder and merchant. In 1828, at the age of twenty-five, Barnsley married Julia on December 24. Barnsley and Julia had eight children. In 1842, Julia’s health began to decline and Barnsley decided to move his family to north Georgia, where he believed there would be a more healthful climate for Julia. Barnsley traveled from Savannah to Cass County (now Bartow County) on an expedition with three friends, William Henry Stiles, Reverend Charles Wallace Howard and Francis Bartow. Stiles traveled to north Georgia because he was looking for land for future development. Howard was on a geological survey. Barnsley sought to find land where he could build a home that would be away from the heat and threat of yellow fever and malaria prevalent of the Georgia Coast where he lived.] He chose a piece of land in the small village of Adairsville, Georgia.

On 10,000 acres (40 km2), Barnsley began construction of his mansion for Julia. He called his manor Woodlands, which later became known as Barnsley Gardens.[1] He designed the gardens of the estate in the style of Andrew Jackson Downing. Downing was considered “America’s first great landscape architect.”[3] Barnsley also brought in every known variety of roses to be planted in the garden. The mansion had twenty-four rooms and was designed in the style of an Italian Villa.[2] It had mantels of black and white marbleimported from Italy and also had “unheard of conveniences, such as hot and cold running water.” Barnsley had his house built on an acorn-shaped hill. An old Indian, who worked with Barnsley, warned him not to build on that piece of property. He explained that the site was sacred to the Cherokee and that anyone who tried to live on it would be cursed. Barnsley ignored the Indian’s advice and started construction anyway.

Barnsley’s fortune soon changed after moving into his mansion. His infant son died and in the summer of 1845, Julia died of Tuberculosis. Barnsley still continued to build the mansion after Julia’s death because he felt her presence at the site. He toured Europe in search of “elegant furnishings” to decorate his estate.[3] In 1850, Barnsley’s oldest daughter, Anna, got married and moved to England. Adelaide, Barnsley’s second daughter, died in the mansion in 1858.

When the American Civil War started, the cotton Barnsley brokered was no longer sellable and wound up rotting in warehouses in New Orleans. During the war, Barnsley moved back and forth from Woodlands to New Orleans. Barnsley’s two sons, George and Lucien, joined the Confederacy  and in 1862, Howard, Barnsley’s oldest son, was killed by Chinese pirates while searching in the Orient for “exotic shrubbery” to add to the mansion. On May 18, 1864, Colonel Robert G. Earle, who was part of the Second Alabama Light Cavalry and a friend of Barnsley, rode to Barnsley’s house to warn him that Sherman’s troops were approaching. He instead was shot down within sight of the mansion. Earle’s body was buried at Woodlands. When Union troops did arrive at the site, Federal General McPherson ordered his men not to destroy Barnsley’s estate, but his orders were ignored. Italian statuary was smashed in hopes of finding hidden gold.[2] Wine and food were stolen. What could not be stolen was smashed,[2] including windows and china.

By the end of the war, Barnsley moved to New

Orleans  to try to  regain  his  lost   fortune. He

left Woodlands to be managed by James Peter

Baltzelle,  a   Confederate  army  captain,  who

had   married    his  daughter  Julia.   Baltzelle

made a living  by shipping timber from Wood-

lands,  but  was  killed by a falling tree in 1868.

Soon after, daughter Julia joined her father in

New Orleans,  along  with  her daughter, Adel-

aide. In  1873,  Barnsley died  in  New Orleans

and was  taken  back to Woodlands, where he

was buried. The Woodlands manor house was

destroyed  in 1906 by  a tornado, but the ruins

are now open to the public  and are part of Bar-

nsley Resort .

Julia and her husband James Baltzelle. The two, and their daughter Adelaide (“Addy”), moved from Savannah to begin rebuilding to Woodlands to its former glory. James began a timber business at Woodlands in 1868, but was soon killed by a falling tree. Julia fled to New Orleans to be with her father. She later married a German ship captain, Charles Henery von Schwatz. Godfrey died not long after, in 1873, depressed and penniless. After her father’s death, Julia moved back to Wood-lands with Charles and Addy. Sadly, not long after their arrival, Charles died.  Addy grew up at Woodlands. She married a chemist named A. Saylor and started a family. They had two sons, Harry and Preston, before Saylor also died at Woodlands. In 1906, a tornado tore the roof off a majority of the main house, forcing Addy and her sons to move into the kitchen wing of the house. The family remained there while the boys grew up.

Julia Bernad Barnsley Baltzelle                                   Von Schwartz

When Cherokee tribes were forcibly removed from Cass County, Ga. in 1838, it opened the door for  many who sought to establish settlements in that part of the state. One of these intrepid men was Godfrey Barnsley, a native of Liverpool, England who came to America at the tender age of 18 in 1823. Barnsley had no true vocation or really extensive academic background, he was just an eager individual looking to make his mark in the New South. While living in Savannah he found gainful employment as a brokerage clerk to a major cotton shipper and before long rose to great heights in both local financial and social circles. By 1830, the now twenty-five year old Barnsley found himself a successful busines-sman with offices in Savannah, New York, New Orleans and Liverpool and eventually married Sav-annah native Julia Scarborough on Christmas Eve of 1828. Julia was a member of a prominent Savannah family whose father, William Scarborough, built the first ship partially powered by steam to cross the Atlantic.        


It was just a few short years later that Barnsley and some of his associates journeyed to Cass County to stake their claim and make their mark in this - as of yet - undeveloped area. Barnsley had another more personal reason for looking to relocate. He feared for the health of his wife and family as many resi-dents of coastal Georgia had begun to fall prey to the broiling heat as well as the various diseases like yellow fever and malaria that were being transmitted by visitors to their shores. Julia in particular was battling an assortment of ailments, perhaps weakened by bearing a number of children in such short time.       


In 1841, the Barnsley family had indeed moved to the site of their new home and construction began. The estate would be built on 10,000 acres of land and would be the sum total of Barnsley's vision, imagination and wealth. He would call his manor "Woodlands" in no small part because of the acres and acres of forest land that surrounded the main house. The 30-acre gardens were modeled after the most exquisite in the country and contained almost every type of rose and any fauna that would thrive in that climate. The home was styled in the fashion of an Italian villa, had 24 rooms and contained the most rarest and privileged of all home amenities - hot and cold running water - that translated into another creature comfort rare in those times, namely, indoor plumbing.       


Much of the interior woodworking was fashioned by hand in England and lush Italian marble graced the mantles of its multiplefireplaces. The kitchen contained another innovative creation - a spring-triggered spit which acted very much like a modern rotisserie in that it would turn and evenly cook meat over an open fire. It was a lavish home, very much ahead of its time and a fitting legacy to a man who embodied the American Dream.

A side note of some interest is that it is widely speculated that Godfrey Barnsley was in many ways, the model for the character Rhett Butler in the book Gone With the Wind. It has actually long been specu-lated that the romance between Godfrey and Julia was a major inspiration for the characters Rhett and Scarlett.       


Curiously however, stories reached Barnsley that his home was built on a hill that was the site of a Native American burial ground. As a result, it was rumored that the land was cursed. Barnsley, if nothing else a pragmatic sort, brushed off these tales as nothing more than folklore and legend. By the time of his death, he might have regretted his indifference.


Soon after moving into their garish new manor home, tragedy struck the Barnsley's as their infant son died from illness. In 1845, after an extended battle with tuberculosis, Julia returned to Savannah to be treated by her family physician but eventually succumbed to the disease, an event that haunted Godfrey in more ways than one as we will read. In 1850, Anna the eldest daughter married and moved to Eng-land with her new husband, perhaps in many ways a prudent, if not life-saving decision on their part. Eight years later, Adelaide, the next oldest daughter passed away suddenly at home. Merely 4 years later, Howard the oldest son was murdered by pirates in China while searching the Orient for exotic shrubbery to be planted in the family's gardens (left)

Still, Godfrey Barnsley continued his mission to complete his work on the Woodlands. His dream would not be denied. He travelled Europe to bring back furnishings for the home and accumulated a fantastic gallery of art which adorned the walls of his house. Steadily, Barnsley labored tenaciously toward his ultimate goal of completing his mansion.

A new distraction had manifested itself by this time bearing the name of The American Civil War. As it did with many other families, the war brought about a combination of tragedy and turmoil to the Barnsley's. The two remaining sons, George and Lucien went off to battle with the Confederate Army. Youngest daughter Julia married Confederate Captain James Peter Baltzelle in 1864 and upon the in-sistence of her husband, moved to Savannah for her own safety.

In May of 1864, Col. Richard G. Earle of the Second Alabama Light Cavalry was shot and killed while riding to Woodlands to warn Barnsley that Gen. Sherman's troops were advancing on Georgia.  At that point, Sherman's troops had already come upon the Woodlands and his death triggered a brief skir-mish. Ultimately they found Godfrey Barnsley, now completely alone in his house. Col. Earle was buried on the grounds in the perennial gardens where a monument to his act of bravery is displayed.  Federal General James McPherson, taking a shine to the owner (it has been reported that the General admired the humane manner in which Barnsley treated his slaves) absolutely forbade any looting by his troops of the mansion. Sadly, this order fell on deaf ears and as many furnishings were taken and a large part of the mansion was either destroyed or severely damaged.

When the war had ended, George and Lucien returned home but eventually moved to South America rather than pledge any allegiance to the Union. Barnsley himself moved to New Orleans to seek other business opportunities and recoup some of the riches lost during the Union army's occupation of his home. He left daughter Julia and her husband, James Beltzelle in charge of the home. Baltzelle began selling off timbers from the land in order to support the family, but his life tragically (of course) ended when he was killed by a falling tree in 1868. Julia, now having a daughter Adelaide, moved to New Or-leans to rejoin her father. It was there she met and married a German ship captain named Henry Von Schwartz.

Godfrey Barnsley died in 1873 and his body was returned to The Woodlands. Daughter Julia lost her husband 12 years later, but their daughter Adelaide grew up and married a chemist by the name of A.A. Saylor and bore two sons, Harry and Preston in 1917. Mr. Saylor passed away when the boys were still very young. The misfortune doesn't end with that, however. In 1906, a tornado tore threw the Wood-lands, destroying a large part of the mansion, forcing the family to live in the kitchen wing of the home. In 1935, Preston, now a boxer of some renown fighter under the pseudonym K.O. Dugan, shot and killed his brother Harry, who he thought was plotting to take his share of Woodlands. Harry had, in Preston's absence, taken a large role in the care of the property which Preston misinterpreted with grave results. An argument ensued in the basement of the Woodlands which quickly escalated and resulted in Preston chasing his brother through the house firing a pistol at him. Harry was hit and as a result died in his mother's arms. Preston was subsequently imprisoned but was eventually pardoned after serving seven years by a compassionate governor. When Adelaide died in 1942, the entire estate was sold to W. Earl McClesky who used the land primarily for farming purposes.

In 1988, Prince Hubertus Fugger and his wife Princess Alexandra of Bavaria, purchased Barnsley Gardens. They embarked on an ambitious renovation project and today, Barnsley Gardens remains an historic piece of old-time Georgia and is home to a world-class grand golf resort (below). In a nod to its illustrious past, the Prince consulted the original plans for the estate with close attention to the land-scaping style of Andrew Jackson Downing, whose approach is reflected in the gardens of the White House and the Washington Mall. Barnsley Gardens was sold in 2004 to two Dalton, Ga. businessmen - Julian Saul and Mike Meadows - who continue to develop the property



First we start with the curse itself. There is a legend that Mr. Barnsley met a Cherokee man whom he immediately befriended and hired to work for him. It was this man who upon learning of Barnsley's plans to build on the hill, told him the spirits would be angered if this happened. Some say it was this man who actually invoked the curse. In any event bear in mind that Prince Fugger invited a Native American shaman named Richard Bird to the property to remove the curse before restoration began.      

In his grief over the death of his wife, Godfrey Barnsley was so despondent that he immersed himself in his work and allowed a governess to care for his six children for a one-year period. In this time Barnsley became absorbed with spiritualism and upon returning to visit the children one day, he saw the spirit of Julia standing by a fountain who told him that for the children's sake he must complete the mansion. From that day forth, Barnsley re-dedicated himself to that goal. A memoir describing this encounter still remains in possession of the estate to this day. The most gripping evidence of Julia's presence came in the form of a letter that Barnsley received one day. It read:

"Dear Mortal Barnsley,      

 Julia is with me and all doing fine."        

 William Scarborough   


The letter was from his long-deceased father-in-law - in his handwriting. A correspondence from beyond the grave?       


The spirit of Col. Earle is said to remain on the premises. His ghost has been spotted drinking from a spring located in the rear of the house.       


The ghost of Julia Barnsley has been seen among the boxwoods in front of the house. The first report came from her daughter Addie, who said she saw her mother's spirit there one day. Addie also reported seeing the spirit of her slain son, Harry. She also reported her Uncle George appeared before her at the mansion the night he died in Brazil. In fact Addie would often repair to the gardens and return with tales of communication with her deceased ancestors.       


Godfrey Barnsley's ghost is said to haunt the old library inside the mansion. Donna Martin, the former concierge has reported seeing Mr. Barnsley walk out of his library while in the company of another staffer who saw the same thing. He has also been heard shuffling at his desk just as he did often in life and has been spotted roaming through the ruins at night and walking with his beloved Julia through the gardens


Barnsley Gardens: A Lost Arcadia


SIX miles from Kingston, Ga., may still be seen the picturesque ruins of one of the most palatial old homes in the South, a sort of Alhambra, in some respects, not unlike the wasted citadel of the Moors. The locality is today known by the name of Barnsley Gardens; and standing amid the pathetic remnants of this old estate once feudal in magnificence it is not difficult for the imagination to picture here a cas-tle with ivy covered walls such as might have overlooked the Rhine or the Danube in the middle ages. The story connected with it is full of romantic elements. To a resident of Kingston who has often visited this historic spot we are indebted for the following particulars:*


Three quarters of a century ago, Mr. Godfrey Barnsley, one of Savannah's captains of industry, decided to establish such an estate as he remembered to have seen in England, his native land. So he purchased from the Cherokee Indians 10,000 acres of ground in what is now the county of Bartow. Gradually he cleared away the forest and turned the red hills into cotton fields and built a stately manor house where it overlooked a magnificent sweep of country, reaching far back until blue hills merged into bluer skies. He then planted around it the famous gardens which for two generations have been a Mecca for pleasure seekers and holiday excursionists in this part of Georgia.


Miss Belle Bayless.


To embellish the gardens, rare trees and shrubs and plants were brought hither from the most remote corners of the earth. Some of these still flourish amid the decay into which everything else has fallen. Hemlocks and spruces from Norway may still be seen brushing the old terraces with verdant branches of evergreen. Scotch rowans glow with scarlet berries in the autumn. Lindens and other foreign shade trees vie with those of the native woods in adding picturesqueness to the naturally beautiful location; while great lichen-covered boulders, hauled by ox-teams from the surrounding mountain-tops, form rookeries on either side of the main entrance to the grounds. The drive-way sweeps up the long hill and around the box-bordered area which encloses a central fountain just in front of an embroidered ter-race. Mr. Barnsley, like his forebears, built always with an eye to the future and did not hasten his work. So the Civil War came on before the interior of the house was finished and the gold which he had sent to England came back to re-enforce the coffers of the Confederate government.


Domestic industries were fostered on this baronial estate of Mr. Barnsley; for not only the manor house itself but the quarters for servants and the small office buildings on the estate were constructed of brick made by slave labor from materials found on the plantation. The palatial old home place was divided into three parts —the central being two stories in height and surmounted by a tower. The main entrance to the house was approached by marble steps. On either side of the hallway were spacious drawing rooms, libraries, and the like, with sleeping apartments above, sixteen in all. The right wing contained an immense dining room or banquet hall, on the first floor, besides billiard and smoking rooms, with kitchen, store rooms, and cellars below. The left wing was used for temporary residence purposes while the rest of the building was in process of erection. The owner was not to be deprived of any of the luxuries of life merely because he lived in the country; so, on the tower, a cistern was built to which pipes were laid and a reservoir constructed in one of the chimneys to furnish hot water for the lav-atories. Plans were also made for lighting the house by means of a gas made from resinous pine.


In the rear of the manor house is another terrace; and here we find a ghost walk, for a castle without a promenade for spooks at the witching hour of midnight is romantically incomplete. Just over the brow of the hill is the grave of Colonel Earl, a Confederate officer, who was buried on the spot where he fell during the Civil War. Eelatives came to remove his body but they could get no one to dig into the earth, so strong was the superstitious feeling among the mountaineers; and even to this day the locality furn-ishes material for weird tales among the country folks.


At the foot of the slope is one of the prettiest spots in which the imagination could possibly revel. It is the ivycovered spring-house set against the out-cropping gray rock. Inside a bold spring bubbles up and finds its way out and across the fields where it becomes a good-sized stream. And who could wish better dairy products than the milk and butter cooled in such pure water? One can almost fancy here a sprightly Lady Betty presiding over the burnished vessels and scolding her maids for some trivial neg-lect; or more realistic still, Madame Barnsley— nee Miss Scarlett, one of the South's great beauties— standing in the shadow of the half-circle of live-oaks about the door, directing her servants as does her granddaughter, the present chatelaine.


But Mr. Barnsley, in gratifying his artistic tastes, did not stop with plants and flowers for his extensive grounds. He was also an industrious collector of rare curios, objects of virtu, costly bric-a-brac, and expensive ornaments. His mahogany dining-table—which was large enough to seat forty people—and his elegant side-board, which was of equally generous proportions, were made for Emperor Dom Pedro of Brazil. The gilt library clock once belonged to Marie Antoinette; and an exquisite marquetry table, together with several delicate wood carvings, had bits of history connected with them. Over the dining room fire-place hung a rare painting. Its wealth of color undimmed by several centuries and its resem-blance to Murillo's Madonnas told of the influence of the great Spanish master; while a built-in vault contained a quantity of family silver. In one of the bedrooms was a mahogany bed-stead of huge pro-portions, but the four eagles intended to surmount the posts stood demurely in a corner, for not even the high ceiling of this spacious boudoir would permit them to occupy the places intended for them as guardians of the curtains of yellow satin damask. Wardrobe and dresser matched the bed, all heavy, hand-carved and handsome.


But these,-together with a quantity of rare old wine, were taken to New York a decade ago and sold, the dealers paying only a song for what was worth almost a king's ransom.


Today the Last Sigh of the Moor seems aptly to fit the old place. Time has wrought fearful havoc. The Barnsley household has scattered to every continent on the globe; a cyclone unroofed the main house years ago; members of a vandal picnic party daubed tar over the front walls, while others amused themselves by shattering window panes; and the one time immaculate flower beds are now waist-high in weeds. It is well nigh impossible to maintain so large an establishment now-adays, when labor for necessary work can scarcely be obtained for love or money; but rich minerals recently discovered on the property may yet provide the means not only for making needed repairs but for realizing the splendid dream of the founder of Barnsley Gardens.

Murder at Ghost Castle

Murder came to Barnsley Gardens November 5, 1935, when the great- grandson of the builder of this ruined ‘’ghost castle’’, six miles from... Kingston, shot and killed his brother. 

There is a legend that the great- grandfather himself, Godfrey Barnsley, fought a poison duel with his brother, Gartrelle. They loved the same girl, so the story goes, one Chessie Scarlett.

At the request of the two brothers, a ‘’disinterested’’ friend privately poured two glasses of wine and placed in one a lethal dose of poison. Neither Godfrey nor Gartrelle had any way of guessing which glass.
The color of the wine still seemed the same.
Each brother picked up a glass and drank. Godfrey lived.
It turned out that the girl loved the brother who died. 

Mrs. Addie Baltzelle Saylor, a mother of the two great- grandsons of Godfrey Barnsley, last of the family to live at Barnsley Gardens, accepted the story as nothing more than romantic tradition. Godfrey Barn-sley, she pointed out, married the beautiful Julia Scarborough of Savannah, and loved her all his life. Mrs. Saylor, who died in 1942, had in her possession a ‘’spirit’’ letter bearing witness to this unwavering devotion. That letter is among a small collection of Mrs. Saylor’s family keepsakes now on file in the rare books and manuscripts division of the Emory University Library in Atlanta.  Julia was the daughter of William Scarborough, one of the rich cotton factors who financed the building of the Savannah, which in 1819 set a record as the first steamship to cross the Atlantic.

Godfrey Barnsley, an English younger son, came to Savannah from Derbyshire, England, when only eighteen and amassed a fortune in the cotton exporting business. He sent the first baled cotton from Savannah to England and eventually his own fleet of ships plied between his warehouses in Savannah, Mobile, New Orleans and Liverpool. 

Julia Scarborough and Godfrey Barnsley were married in 1828, and the first of their eight children was born while they were on a visit to England. 

The Barnsley’s gave a fancy-dress ball in Savannah in 1837 which set such a high mark in the city’s social history that some doubted it would ever be equaled. The function took place in the old William Scarborough house, still standing at 111 W. Broad Street, a handsome columned house designed in 1818 by the brilliant young English architect, William Jay. Here Mr. Scarborough had entertained President Monroe, but the Barnsley ball--celebrating the return of prosperity after a depression--seems to have eclipsed anything before or, perhaps, since. 

And when Godfrey Barnsley later built a house in what was then the North Georgia wilderness, it wasn’t just a house; it was a castle, complete with tower. There were twenty-six rooms in all and the whole elaborate structure was built of handmade bricks. Old sketches by Mr. Barnsley indicate that he had his prospective Georgia castle in mind while he was traveling in Europe. One of these sketches shows the ruins of Fountain Abbey in Derbyshire.

Mr. Barnsley fell in love with North Georgia scenery when he made a trip into the mountains in the eighteen thirties Through the Reverend Charles Howard Wallace, he acquired ten thousand acres of land near Mr. Howard’s own plantation, Spring Bank, in old Cass County, now Bartow. The house at Spring Bank, a weathered frame structure with dormer windows, may still be seen as you drive over the hilly unpaved road to Barnsley Gardens. (This was written in 1955, and the house no longer stands. ~B.A.) 

Originally, the Barnsley place was given the name of Woodlands. All the old family correspondence refers to it by this name. But as the fame of it’s gardens grew, the public gave it another name, which gradually supplanted the old--Barnsley Gardens. 

These gardens, with their oval boxwood maze, great lawns, English and Japanese yews and other fine old trees, are still green after more than a hundred years. Red Louis Phillipe roses bloomed there bravely on the day of our visit and other flowers too. 

But the big house, facing this garden, is a roofless brick shell, a gaunt ruin on an acorn-shaped hill, surrounded by the green isolation of valley farmlands and wooded mountains. 

Cottonwood trees, growing up through the rotted floors of the spacious rooms, push their branches out through empty window arches. The bare inner brick walls are covered with the pale green tapestry of flattened wisteria leaves on vines which have wandered far from their gnarled roots outside the house. Gone from the wide hall is the grand stairway under which a vault for valuables was built. There is no sign now of the huge tank in the tower from which pipes carried water to the many bedrooms, water warmed by the heat of chimney flues. 

Actually three houses were built and still stand. One of these was a frame cottage at the left to be used as a dwelling while other construction was under way. This cottage was to be replaced by a detached brick wing similar to the one standing at the right of the ruined structure. This latter so-called wing is really a well-preserved brick house with slim columns and dormer windows. It has a dining room of banquet size, two kitchens and a group of bedrooms. The stove in one kitchen is large enough to take care of dinner for a hundred guests.

Godfrey Barnsley’s castle was still unfinished when the South went to war in 1861. The exterior of the house, with it’s tall tower, wide overhanging roof, arched doors and windows, presented a fine and finished appearance, as shown by old photographs. But there was still some interior work to be com-pleted and many of the furnishings imported from Europe were still to be unpacked. 

It was as the clock stopped at Barnsley Gardens on a certain day in 1861-- a gold clock that had once belonged to Marie Antoinette. Perhaps it was not a lucky clock. Workmen laid down their tools and picked up tools of a grimmer sort. They never came back to Barnsley Gardens. 

Godfrey Barnsley’s great fortune was swept away by the war. In 1906 a tornado took off the roof of the castle. Time and the elements have had their way with it since then. Perhaps a cycle of misfortune was completed in 1935 when brother shot brother in the living room of the detached dormer wing which had become the family residence. 

Long ago people had begun to call the big house a ghost castle and to say that the place was unlucky because Godfrey Barnsley had built on the site of an Indian cabin. The Indians had already been re-moved west, of course, when he acquired the property in the late eighteen thirties. (Just barely….~B.A.)
The first of the misfortunes was the death in 1845 of Godfrey Barnsley’s wife, his beloved Julia, who never lived to see the castle planned for her.Mr. Barnsley went to New Orleans for a time and took the children along. But he was back at his North Georgia home in 1861. His ships had been turned over to the Confederacy and two of his sons were in the Southern army, Lucien and George. 

Harper’s Weekly of July 2, 1864, carries a drawing of Barnsley Gardens which shows a cavalry battle fought on the grounds in front of the house. May 18, 1864. This drawing was made by Harper’s staff artist, Theodore Davis, who went along with Sherman on the march to the sea.

But it was Federal General James B. McPherson--not Sherman--who spent a night at Barnsley Gardens.
The house was staffed with white servants, after the manner of Mr. Barnsley’s native England. The housekeeper, Mary Quin, was Irish and expressed herself in characteristic fashion when she said that General McPherson was a ‘’gintleman in low company.’’

Mary, it seems, had engaged in a battle of her own with the enemy and had won--with the general’s assistance. This encounter is described by Frances Thomas Howard, daughter of Reverend Mr. Howard, in her book, In and Out of the Lines, a record of the war experiences of the Howard family and their neighbors. 

Various depredations had got Mary‘s Irish dander up--priceless china wantonly smashed, a raid on the wine cellar and the disappearance of the fine linen sheets from the bed in which the general had slept. But the final straw was the theft of Mr. Barnsley’s watch.

A Federal soldier had inquired the time and when Mr. Barnsley--then nearly sixty--took out his watch, the soldier snatched it and ran. 

Mary gave chase and caught up with the culprit in the basement. ‘’And where are yez going?’’ she demanded. 

‘’I’m going to burn this old secesher’s house,’’ he told her. taking a shovel full of red hot coals and making for the scullery with Mary still right behind him. 

There was a scuffle. Mary was knocked down by a blow from the soldier’s clubbed musket. He got away but a letter dropped from his pocket as he ran. Mary found it after she had cleared out the coals. Entirely on her own, she set out next day to walk the six miles to General McPherson’s headquarters in Kingston. 

The general, who was later killed in the siege of Atlanta--Fort McPherson in Atlanta is named for him--granted Mary an interview. Mary stated her grievance and presented the soldier’s letter. General McPherson read the address and ordered that the man’s entire company be lined up so that Mary might identify the watch stealer. 

Mary assured him there would be no trouble about that, and there wasn’t. She had scratched the thief’s face good and proper and the marks were still eloquent evidence against him. 

The watch being duly restored, Mary related that General McPherson then said, ‘’The man that strikes a woman is not fit to live. Shall I have this fellow shot?’’

‘’No, no,’’ Mary protested, ‘’I don’t want no more of his dirty blood on me hands than I got there yesterday.’’

The General laughed and said, ‘’I think we’d better enlist you. At any rate, the scoundrel shall go to Chattanooga to work on the fortifications there till the war is over.’’

Not until the autumn of 1864 did Barnsley Gardens, Spring Bank and the other old houses in Cass County see the last of Federal troops.

Italian statuary planned for the gardens at the Barnsley home were the cause of several raids by army stragglers. Workmen who hauled the heavy packing cases to the house and stored them in the basement were sure they contained Mr. Barnsley’s gold brought up from Savannah for safekeeping. The word got around. Federal visitors prospecting for gold were annoyed when the discovered statuary instead, and expressed this resentment by various acts of vandalism. 

Godfrey Barnsley went to New Orleans again after the war to try to rebuild his fortune but died there in 1873 at the age of sixty-eight. His body was brought back for burial in the family cemetery near Barnsley Gardens. It is said that voodoo practitioners later dug up his corpse and cut off his right hand. Talk of ghosts at the castle took a fresh start. 

Superstitious Negro field workers had long avoided a lonely grave at the back of the house. A marker shows this to be the last resting place of Colonel R.G. Earle, C.S.A. Colonel Earle had ridden to Barnsley Gardens to warn the family of the approach of Federal troops. This act of gallantry cost him his life, for he rode from the house right into a detachment of Federal soldiers. Surrounded, he tried to shoot his way out, but was himself riddled with bullets. 

Tragedy struck again at Barnsley in 1866 when Captain James Peter Baltzelle, (Mrs. Saylor’s father) was killed by falling timbers while supervising the rebuilding of a bridge burned by the army. He had come through the war without a scratch. 

Godfrey Barnsley’s sons were among the Irreconcilables--those Southerners who could not accept defeat when the war was over. Some of the Irreconcilables went to the West Indies, some to Central and some to South America, where their descendants live to this day, speaking Spanish or Portuguese fluently and English with a foreign accent, but keeping their Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina names. George Barnsley joined the Confederate colony in Brazil, and old correspondence regarding his power of attorney indicates that his brother Lucien was there also. George came back to Barnsley Gardens in the eighteen nineties to claim a share of the art treasures and other furnishings of the house. These he shipped to New York and sold at great sacrifice, according to his niece, Mrs. Addie Baltzelle Saylor. 

Mrs. Saylor and her family were living in Barnsley Gardens in 1906 when a tornado blew the roof off the main house. Furnishings were hastily transferred to the two smaller houses. Then, before the Saylors were able to raise money for necessary repairs to the main house, Mr. Saylor died. Mrs. Saylor was left with three children to bring up, a girl and two boys. The wing with the dormer windows became the permanent family residence, it’s great dining room converted into a living room. 

Mrs. Saylor believed that Barnsley Gardens was haunted by more than the memories of it’s past tragedies. She wrote a series of articles for The Atlanta Journal Magazine which were published shortly before her death in 1942, and in one of these she said that she had often seen her long-dead grandmother, the beautiful Julia Scarborough, walking in the gardens at Barnsley. Every afternoon at a certain time, Mrs. Saylor said, she also heard her grandfather push back his chair in the library, just as he had done in life.  She believed that George Barnsley appeared at the front door of the house on the day of his death in South America, 

Mrs. Saylor’s younger son, Harry, answered the door when a loud knock was heard. He came back, his mother said, looking very odd. She asked for an explanation. 

‘’Uncle George was there, ‘’ Harry told her. ‘’but he disappeared.’’ They went back to the door. It was a gloomy, rainy day, but there was no muddy footprints on the floor of the porch. Harry tried to laugh it off. Next day they received the cablegram telling of George Barnsley’s death in South America at the exact time Harry answered that summons at the front door. Mrs. Saylor’s daughter grew up, married and moved to another state. From earliest childhood the two boys dreamed of restoring the house built by their great- grandfather. But it was a job of mammoth proportions and there was never enough money. Bartow County is rich in mineral deposits--barite, bauxite, manganese, ocher, iron, brick clays. shale, talc and limestone. There was always the hope that the mineral rights at Barnsley Gardens might restore the family fortunes. 

The Saylor boys were very different in temperament, according to an old family friend. Preston, the older brother, achieved some success in the prize ring, using the professional name of K.O. Duggan. Harry was the quiet type. He gave all his time to affairs at Barnsley Gardens. On November 5, 1935, the morning of his death, Harry discussed plans for certain structural repairs with his mother and said, ‘’It won’t be long now, mama,’’

But the house that Godfrey Barnsley never finished was not to be finished by his grandsons.  For sometime there had been bad blood between Harry and his older brother, Preston Saylor. As so often happens, disagreements about property rights had engendered ill feelings. But an even more serious complication had developed. Preston Saylor suffered injuries in the prize ring which, it was alleged, temporarily affected his mind, and he had been committed to the state hospital for the insane.  Then on March 13, 1935, he escaped. He went back to Barnsley Gardens but did not stay.  It is said he blamed his younger brother for his commitment. It was also said that when he returned to Barnsley Gardens in November of that same year, he hid in one of the outbuildings for a time.  And then, on the morning of November 5, 1935, he appeared suddenly in the living room of the house and shot his brother. 

Harry fell, a bullet through his heart, and died in his mother’s arms. ‘’Preston was not himself,’’ Mrs. Saylor cried in her dark extremity. And later she wrote, ‘’I love my older son too.’’

Preston Saylor was convicted of murder but recommended to the mercy of the court. On November 27, 1936, he was sentenced to life imprisonment. In January, 1943, he was paroled and subsequently given his full freedom. 

After Mrs. Saylor’s death in 1942 the remaining estate of two thousand acres was sold to Mr. and Mrs. G.C. Phillips of Birmingham and Kingston. They also bought the large collection of books and old papers that made up the Barnsley library. All the rest of the handsome furnishings were sold at auction. 

A tenant farmer and his family now live in the house built for Godfrey Barnsley’s white housekeeping staff, a long one-story brick building on the slope near the big spring. Children not of Barnsley’s blood play among the ruins of the main house and chase butterflies in the old garden. And so ends the story of the Barnsley’s at the great house planned in the North Georgia mountains by a young Englishman for the girl he loved--a dream castle that became a ghost castle. 

That Godfrey Barnsley loved Julia all his life is shown by his touching effort to communicate with her in New Orleans through the medium of spiritualism. Among the small collection of Mrs. Saylor’s keepsakes now at Emory University library is a transcript of a purported message to Godfrey Barnsley from his deceased father-in-law, William Scarborough. 

‘’My dear Julia is with me and when she has proper control, she will have something to say which will send home conviction of spiritualism,’’ Mr. Scarborough’s spirit is quoted as saying. But Godfrey Barnsley seems to have been skeptical. Apparently he asked the spirit of William Scarborough to describe the mortal Scarborough and received this reply:
‘’If I should ask you to  describe  your minute  physical appearance and features as  they were 20 years ago, could you do so? The ‘’spirit’’ then assured Mr. Bansley that ‘’you shall in good time be reasonably convinced.’’

Unfortunately that is the end of the transcript.

Transcribed by Bartow Ancestors, Inc.
White Columns in Georgia
by Medora Field Perkerson

Secesher- a secessionist soldier or sympathizer in the American Civil War
Scullery- The term "scullery" has fallen into disuse in North America, the room being more commonly referred to as a utility room or laundry room.

Letter From George

This letter was written by George Scarborough Barnsley (1837-1918) of Woodlands Plantation, Cass County, Georgia. He was the son of Godfrey Barnsley (1805-1873), a cotton exporter of Savannah and New Orleans, and Julia Scarborough (1810-1845). He was educated at Oglethorpe University at Midway, Georgia, from 1854 through 1857.


During the Civil War, George and his brother Lucien served the Confederacy as privates in Co. A (Rome Light Guard) of the 8th Georgia Regiment. In late 1862, they “appealed to their father to use his influence to get them promoted: ‘Neither fear the fighting, but dread the almost sure death from disease,’ if they returned to the ranks. George applied to be a hospital steward and decided to study medicine and chemistry, then become an assistant surgeon..”


[source: A Confluence of Transatlantic Networks…. by Laura Jarnagin, page 195]


After the war, in 1866, George emigrated with Lucien to Brazil as part of a group under the leadership of Frank McMullen. Except for the period 1890-1896, when he returned to the United States, he remained in Brazil, where he practiced medicine, for the rest of his life. He married Mary Lamira Emerson in 1869.


George Barnsley had five brothers and sisters who survived infancy. Anna Goodwin Barnsley (b. 1829) married Thomas Corse Gilmour of the Isle of Man, England, in New Orleans in 1850. Gilmour died in England in 1865. The Gilmours had two children, Murray Barnsley (b. 1850) and Julia Eliza (b. 1852). Harold Barnsley (1832-1862) was an adventurer who died in Shanghai in 1862. Adelaide Barnsley (1834-1858) married John Kelso Reid of Ireland in New Orleans in 1857, and had one child, Godfrey Forrest Reid (b. 1858). Julia Bernard Barnsley (b. 1836) married James Peter Baltzell (d. 1868) in 1864. The Baltzells had one child, Adelaide (1864-1942). In 1872 Julia Barnsley married a second time, to Charles H. Von Schwartz (d. 1885). Lucien Barnsley (1840-1892) married Martha H. Grady in Brazil in 1871.




Lynchburg, Virginia

October 10th 1862


Dear Father,


Your letter of the 5th inst. enclosing one from Julia, and three dollars on Bank of Yan-ceyville, N. Ca., was received this morning and I haste to reply as Lucien and I made an agreement to send all letters received from home by either party to each other as speedily as possible after the receipt.


I am truly glad to learn that Moses has been behaving better and trust that you may not have any more trouble with him.


I am also happy to hear that the tobacco is sold and at such a good price. If you think it advisable, I will be much obliged if you will invest the proceeds of the sale of the tobacco in some good interest-bearing stock, or in C. S. ____.


If I am not mistaken, Mr. Mathis can be exempted from the conscription under the head of allowing a certain number of men on plantations as overseers. I think you ought to try to keep him with you for this winter will prove a great trial to your impaired health without him.


There is nothing new. We have not yet heard who have been appointed to fill the places of the Asst. Surgeons General &c. but a few days must certainly determine and you will be advised if it affects us in any way. It certainly will in some way. Dr. Williams is now with us and we are kept quite busy. We are becoming quite settled and comfortable. There are some few cases of small pox in the hospital at this place but very strong measures have been taken to prevent its spread. I do not apprehend any trouble from it.


The weather until today has been most parching. It appears as if we were on the eve of a long rainy spell. Much uneasiness is expressed in regard to our recent repulse at Corinth. Nothing new from Gen. Lee. It will not be long, however, before we have exciting times. It is said and I presume it is true that some 6,000 Yankees are close to Culpepper Court House. We have very few men about the Rapidan. No alarm exists, I believe, from the fear that the Yankees can do much harm from Culpepper.


Lucian S Barnsley_large   I wrote you a few days since quite a long letter and as I am pressed for time now, I must close. I am very much obliged for the three dollars — it was a godsend, as I was just out of money having been forced to advance heavily on mess account from the unsettled way of our present life. But now we will do much better in the way of living &c. as today we have made some new arrangements. I am not in want of money. I will draw my pay in three weeks. I hoped to lay by a few dollars for Christmas but it is impossible to do so. I meant to have spoken of the matter before this but among the whirl of other business, I forgot it. Lucien and I intend to get furloughs to pay a short visit home sometime about Xmas if we can get them — of which I have little doubt. I can only be away from my post a short time. Lucien can remain longer. I will write you again about the matter.


I am your affectionate son, — Geo. S. Barnsley


Enclosed please find letter to Julia. Would you like me to send you the Lynchburg Rep-ublican when anything interesting is in it? I get daily.

bottom of page