Welcome to www.n-georgia.com Discover Barnsley Gardens - The house was built on an acorn-shaped hill reputedly cursed, and Indian legend warned it should be avoided as an unlucky site. But, having enjoyed a Midas Touch, perhaps Barnsley was unconcerned with local legend. Stay and Play in Georgia!
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The later life of Godfrey Barnsley was in tragic contrast to the early years that had made him one of South's wealthiest men. Fortune changed for Barnsley shortly after moving his family to Woodlands. Soon an infant son died and Julia succumbed to tuberculosis in the summer of 1845. In 1850, the oldest Barnsley daughter, Anna, married and moved to England.

Their second daughter, Adelaide, died in the house in 1858. His oldest son Howard was killed in 1862 by Chinese pirates while he searched the Orient for exotic shrubbery to complete his father's garden. But through it all, completing the mansion was an obsession with Barnsley. He toured Europe to furnish the home with the elegance he had planned for his wife and family. His travels netted an impressive stock of furnishings and art treasures. When the Civil War found its way to Woodlands, Union troops found Godfrey Barnsley alone with his treasures and his palatial manor still incomplete.

Barnsley's two remaining sons, George and Lucian, had left Woodlands to fight for the Confederacy. His daughter Julia married Confederate Army Captain James Peter Baltzelle in
February 1864, and Baltzelle insisted Julia refugee to Savannah. The following spring, Sherman's forces were on the grounds. On May 18, 1864 a cavalry skirmish occurred at Woodlands
that was depicted in the pages of Harper's Weekly. Colonel Richard G. Earle of the Second Alabama Light Cavalry rode to Woodlands to warn Barnsley of the Union approach and was shot down within a stone's throw of the house.
Charles Wright Willis, 103rd Illinois infantry, wrote this account of the event in his book Army Life of an Illinois Soldier:

May 18, 1864. Our cavalry had a sharp fight here this p.m. and on one of the gravel walks in the beautiful garden lies a Rebel colonel, shot in five places. He must have been a noble-looking man; looks 50 years old, and has fine form and features. Think his name is Irwin, there must be a hundred varieties of the rose in bloom here and the most splendid specimens of cactus.

Colonel Earle's grave is within a stone's throw of the manor house and enjoys a prominent place in a perennial garden today.

It is said that Federal Gen. McPherson forbade any looting of the unfinished mansion, but his orders had little apparent effect. Barnsley's Irish maid Mary Quinn is recorded as having called McPherson 'a gentleman surrounded by rouges and thieves.'

Carefully chosen furnishings were destroyed; an Italian statuary was smashed to see if it might contain hidden gold; windows and china settings were broken, and wine and stored foods were consumed or stolen. The war's end brought little relief. George and Lucian Barnsley returned home, but refused to sign the oath of allegiance to the Union and emigrated to South American instead.

Barnsley moved to New Orleans in an effort to recoup lost fortunes, leaving his son-in-law Captain Baltzelle and daughter Julia to manage Woodlands.

Tales of supernatural manifestations are plentiful in the long and tragic history of Barnsley Gardens. Barnsley wrote more than once that he could feel the presence of his dead wife everywhere. Mrs. Julia Barnsley Saylor, reported having seen Julia Barnsley, her grandmother Julia, in apparition form in the gardens so often that it became an accustomed sight. Mrs. Saylor also told friends that her Uncle George, one of Barnsley's sons who had settled in Brazil, appeared at the estate on the night of his death in South America.

With or without supernatural trappings, the Barnsley Gardens story is as compelling as it is tragic. One must wonder what life might have been like for the family if Barnsley had heeded the wisdom of the Indian curse and built his home on some other spot on the huge Woodlands estate instead of on that unlucky, acorn-shaped hill.
Phone, Directions and Website
Phone: 770-773-7480 - Address: 597 Barnsley Gardens Rd., Adairsville Georgia 30103 - Directions: Take Exit #128 off I-75; go west on GA 140 roughly 10 miles and follow the signs. - Barnsley Gardens Website
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