Deason Home – A Landmark

Without nails, how does it stay together?

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Ellisville has grown into a prosperous little city.  No resemblance of what it was like when Amos and Eleanor (Baskin) Deason moved here from Lauderdale County, Mississippi shortly after 1840 and settled in their new home.  The couple and their three daughters originally came from Lancaster County, South Carolina from an area known as either Hanging Bucket or Hanging Rock.

The Deasons’ elaborate home of the times, characteristic of wealth, provided  stark contrast to the home of most farmers such as Jasper Collins or Newt Knight.  During this period the majority of Jones County’s population lived in one room split or pole log houses.  If you were of some wealth the house might be a double-pen log house or have an attic or loft.  Floors were optional, wood or dirt.  A few larger homes had separate kitchens, but most had the traditional fireplace inside which was used for both cooking and warmth during the winters.  Later the Deason Home would be used a a central gathering place for local merchants, soldiers and politicians.

Actual construction of the house is believed to have started in the 1830s by Ed Chapman who died prior to completion.  Boyle McManus is said to have complete the house later.  However the official date has been established as ca. 1845.  It is an accepted fact that Amos and Eleanor Deason were the first family to occupy the house and original 700 acre homestead.

 

The original house has two architectural features that are unique to this area and time period.  First the exterior of the house appears to be made of stone.  The planners employed a technique that George Washington had used at Mount Vernon to transform wood to the look of stone.  Second is the front entrance to the house which has a uniquely hexagon shaped vestibule with French doors opening onto the porch.  The doorway is flanked on each side by an angled side panel.  It is believed the original panel contained partial glass.

 

The house was built of hand hewn timbers from the hearts of virgin pine forests that surrounded the property at the time.  The heavy framework of the house was pinned together with wooden pegs.  The weatherboards [siding] were heavy pine panels fastened  by smaller wooden pins.  No nails as we know them today were available.  The full 1 1/2″ thick weatherboards, twelve inches wide were hand beveled on all four sides and then crossed beveled at twelve inch intervals to resemble blocks of masonry.  The weatherboards were then painted [more like a white wash], and an application of sand was applied to the wet paint, and then after drying a second coat of paint was affixed.  This gave the exterior an appearance of unpolished limestone or granite rather than wood.  This is similar to the style of George Washington’s home.  The moldings, doors and trim were made on site by skilled craftsmen and indentured labor.  Glass for windows and doors, hardware and other miscellaneous items had to be transported from Mobile.  Bricks for the chimney were made from native clay and burned on the homestead.

The original roof structure was stripped and lathing and hand split wooden shake shingles were applied in an interlocking method to prevent leaks.  One can still see the underside of the original lath and shingles from the attic.

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The home is open for tours the first and third Saturdays of each month.  Admission is $5.  Private tours and ghost hunts are also scheduled.  The Deason Home will also be open on Saturday, June 25 from 4 – 7:30 for tours.  For more information, please visit our website http://www.deasonhome.org.  Be sure to like us on Facebook (Deason Home).  The home is located at 410 Anderson Street, Ellisville, MS in the heart of the Free State of Jones.

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