Built before 1860, the John Green Burdett House was located about a mile and a half southeast of Lone Oak, Georgia, a small crossroads community in northwestern Meriwether County. It was where my great-grandmother Lilla Leola Burdette was born and grew up and it was to there that she returned with my grandmother and her four siblings, the oldest only eight years old, when my great-grandfather Isaac Newton Moore died of typhoid fever in 1898. The house and land had been acquired by my grandmother's grandfather John Green Burdette (1838-1923) from his father-in-law, John Pierce Sewell (1810-1876), for thirteen hundred dollars in January 1860, a few weeks after John Burdette's marriage to Sewell’s daughter Sarah Frances (1840-1918) on 26 January 1859. The stated sales price suggests the house was already built, and the combination of sash-sawn framing lumber, log joists and design apparent in the surviving structure indicate that the house was built in the 1850s, perhaps specifically for the newlyweds.
|Figure 1. View of John Green Burdette House, 1983.|
John Green Burdette was born in Wilkes County, Georgia, the son of Thomas Jefferson and Almeda Murphy Burdette, both of whom were also natives of Wilkes County but whose parents had moved to Wilkes County from Virginia in the decade or so after the Revolution. His wife, Sarah "Sallie" Sewell, was born and grew up in Meriwether County, but her father had been born in Wilkes County, Georgia, while her mother was a native of Abbeville County in upstate South Carolina and was the granddaughter of Adam Wiedman, who himself had been born during his own parents' passage from Germany in 1761. Adam's mother did not survive the voyage.
Both the Sewells and the Widemans (the anglicized version of the name) were among the earliest settlers of Meriwether and neighboring Troup counties, which were organized in 1827 out of the last Creek land cession in west Georgia.The Sewells had settled near St. Marks, three or four miles south of Lone Oak, in the early 1830s, and the Widemans had settled six or seven miles northwest of St. Marks at Hogansville around the same time. Thomas Burdette's older sister Nancy and her husband Nathaniel Wright had also moved to St. Marks in the 1830s, but Thomas and Almeda Burdette did not bring their family to Meriwether County until the early 1850s, when John Green Burdette was still a boy.
Because the house was being used for storage of hay, access and investigation was limited during investigation by the present author in the summer of 1996. The main house, which faced west, had a hall-and-parlor plan approximately 18' x 32'3" with an enclosed stair in the south room that rose to two rooms on the second floor. A wing, part of which may have been a later addition, extended from the rear of the main house. The sills and plates of the main house were hewn timbers; floor joists were logs with tops hewn flat; rafters were log poles. Studs, lookouts, etc. used circularsawn, full-dimensioned, 2" x 4" and 2" x 6" lumber. Mortice-and-tenon joinery characterized the main house with siding and trim installed with machine-cut nails.
The existing roof line of the porch was not original since the top cornice of the two-story block of the house was visible beneath the existing porch roof. The room on the north end of the porch was also probably not part of the original construction since corner boards were visible where the room joined the house. However, since structure and finishes of the room contained materials similar to those found in the main house, the room must have been a very early addition.
Reconstructed elevations of John Green Burdette House as it was probably constructed.
The rear wing, which was in extremely poor condition, was probably constructed in the late nineteenth or very early twentieth century. It was much more loosely constructed using wire nails and without mortise-and-tenon joinery. At its west end was the large masonry chimney for the kitchen, which may have been older than the kitchen structure itself. Two spaces, the kitchen and what was clearly a dining room, both in very poor condition, were created in the wing by a simple curtain wall of vertical 3/4" x approx. 6" boards. Most of the floor structure and flooring in the dining room and the kitchen had been replaced, but the poor condition of the remainder of the materials may have obscured the existence of earlier materials.
The dining room connected to the south room of the house through what appeared to have been an original door opening. A built-in corner cupboard of uncertain but old age was located in the southeast corner of the dining room. In the northwest corner of the kitchen were three enclosed stair steps, which were the remains of a staircase from the loft that exited in some way on to the back porch. The back porch appeared to have originally been an el but had since been enclosed at its east and north ends.
Windows on the main house were typically 9/9, approximately 2’-4" by 5’-2", except the one on the front porch room which was 6/6 and slightly larger. The windows at each end of the second floor, none of which retained their sash, measured 2’-5" wide by 2’-10" high.
Doors were mostly around 2’-8” or 2’-9” by 6’-8” or 6’-9" high, with two vertical panels; mortise, tenoned and pegged joinery; and hand-planed panels. Remains of early paint were visible on the front porch, with remains of blue paint on the siding siding, white on the door casings, and red on the backband.
The chimneys, which appeared to be stone, were all stuccoed.
Stairs to the second floor rose in the southeast corner of the south room, with seven steps to a landing and then three more steps to the second floor. Risers were about 10"; treads were about 11 ".
Ceilings on the first floor were set at 8'-8". On the second floor, a curtain wall of 1” x 6” boards rose to about 7’-6” and created two spaces, joined by a door in the center of the wall. Ceiling joists had been removed, but these rooms must have originally had board ceilings. Each room had a pair of small windows, with sash missing, in the gable-end walls. The north room had another larger window on the east wall. No other window could be identified. An opening, which might have been an early window, in the west wall of the south room was now used for a hay lift which rose through the front porch ceiling. Most of the boarding has been removed from the walls and all of it from the ceilings in that room. Only parts of the newel posts and banister remained at the stairs to the second floor.
The house was demolished around 2004. A horse barn occupied the site in 2009.
Figure 3. View west of site of John Green Burdette House, November 2009.
Figure 4. View east of site of John Green Burdette House, November 2009.