Unexpected Gift Has Become a Labor of Love for the Ellisville DAR Chapter

The ladies of the Tallahala Chapter NSDAR have worked tirelessly to renovate the Deason Home, the oldest home in Jones County, MS.

Unexpected Gift Has Become a Labor of Love for the Ellisville DAR Chapter

The Tallahala Chapter National Society Daughters of the American Revolution was organized in 1983. Little did these ladies know that in less than ten years, their group would own the oldest home in Jones County.  The Deason Home in Ellisville was given to the chapter by Mrs. Frances Anderson Smith, the third owner of the home and descendant of both Amos Deason (first owner) and Isaac Anderson, Jr. (second owner).  The home had been in the Anderson Estate for 25 years when Mrs. Smith and her husband Welton bought it in 1965.  The Smiths began a limited restoration of the home before gifting it to the Tallahala Chapter.

In early 1991, Mrs. Smith donated the historic home to the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution with the stipulation that it be preserved as a historical entity for all the people of Jones County, present and future generations.  Another stipulation was that the house be open at intervals to school children and the general public.  Over the years Mrs. Smith, an avid genealogist and preservationist, had made acquaintance and become close friends with the DAR membership.  The local Tallahala Chapter had also held various open houses for Mrs. Smith while she was living in the house.  With these ties, she decided the time was right to act.  One day Frances just presented the chapter with the deed to the Amos Deason Home.

It took the new owners a while to set a plan in motion to restore the home to its former glory.  Mrs. Smith was responsible for having the home listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Tallahala Chapter also had the home designated as a Mississippi Landmark.  This designation made the home eligible for a Landmark Grant.  After receiving this grant, the task of restoring the home was begun in earnest.  A new roof, central heat and air, old wiring replaced with state-of-the-art wiring, re-plumbing for gas and water, and remodeled bathrooms and kitchen, were just a few of the improvements made in the early 2000s.  Sadly, the money from the grant ran out long before all the needs of the house could be addressed.

With the grant money depleted and limited funds available through fundraising, it became necessary for the ladies to do as much work as possible themselves.  The home was often lit well into the night as ladies scraped, sanded, puttied, washed walls with bleach to eradicate mildew, primed and painted each room, often after working a full day at their real jobs.  Period colors were used in each room.  The fireplaces and mantels were restored with a faux marble mantel in the parlor (faux stone was discovered under the many layers of paint) and rubbed wood finish in Grandma’s room.  Antique replacement mantels were used in Ma’s room and the breakfast room.  These fireplaces had been removed by a former owner.  Floors were sanded and either painted or stained, with the original finish replicated in each room.

With the inside of the home almost completely restored, work began on the outside.  The front porch was rebuilt in the summer of 2012.  Over the last year, the west and east side of the home have been completely restored.  Rotten wood was replaced, weatherboards were sealed with caulk, and fresh paint made the home positively glow.  The original part of the home has a very unique wood façade resembling stone blocks.  Once the exterior was restored, the sand finish was replicated to restore the look of limestone.  The outside work has become a source of pride for both the locals and Tallahala members, who can be seen driving past the home to admire its appearance, just as early settlers in Ellisville once rode past this same home to view the first painted house in the area.

All of this work carries a hefty price.  The ladies of the DAR have become very experienced in fundraising.  They host open houses regularly and the Halloween Reenactment (October 29) attracts hundreds of visitors each year. In keeping with one of the goals of the NSDAR, historic preservation, the ladies offer books about the Deason Home and Major Amos McLemore, the Confederate officer shot in the home by Newton Knight, of Free State of Jones fame.  Four volumes have been compiled from stories and obituaries found in the crumbling pages of the Progress Item, a newspaper that was once published in Ellisville.  Ellisville, Mississippi:  A Testament to Our Ancestors Volumes 1 – 4 has become indispensable for those interested in the history of Ellisville and Jones County.  Their latest book is just for fun.  Strange Happenings at the Deason Home lives up to its name, telling about the experiences of the members in the home that simply cannot be explained! These books can be purchased at the Deason Home and Ward’s Pharmacy in Ellisville.  Information for ordering books can be found on the Deason Home website, http://www.deasonhome.org.   For information about tours and open houses, call 601-577-1066.

As is true with most old homes, work is never really complete.  The home still needs to have the south side reworked.  All windows need to be rebuilt and rotting wood replaced before the much anticipated paint can be applied that will signal the completion of the exterior work on the home.  Once that paint has dried, the focus will be on the foundation, which has some major issues.  Plans for a handicap access ramp are in the works.  After approval is gained from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, the ladies will be seeking donations to help pay for this much needed addition.

The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution was founded in 1890 to promote historic preservation, education and patriotism. Its members are descended from the patriots who won American independence during the Revolutionary War. With more than 177,000 members in approximately 3,000 chapters worldwide, DAR is one of the world’s largest and most active service organizations.  DAR members are committed to volunteer service having served more than 12.5 million hours in communities throughout the world during the past three years.  To learn more about the work of today’s DAR, visit http://www.DAR.org or connect with DAR on social media at facebook.com/TodaysDAR, twitter.com/TodaysDAR and youtube.com/TodaysDAR.

It’s how old?

Dendrochronology, the study of tree rings, is used to date structures. The Deason Home findings were surprising.

The Deason Home is the oldest home in Jones County.  Several years ago, the Tallahala Chapter NSDAR, owners of the Amos Deason Home were contacted by Dr. Grant Harley, geography professor at the University of Southern Mississippi.  Dr. Harley teaches a dendrochronology class, which is the study of tree rings. This scientific method of dating is based on the analysis of patterns of tree rings or growth rings.  Each ring represents one year of growth for the tree with temperature and moisture affecting the amount of  growth for that year.  Data is collected from trees in the area as well as old structures to give the researcher a baseline to compare samples taken from additional structures and trees.  Wood from existing structures can be analyzed to determine the date(s) of construction.

Dr. Harley and his students first visited the Deason Home in September, 2014.  They took samples from the weatherboards (the blocks on the house that resemble stone), from underneath the house and from the attic.  The team was especially excited to find wood in the attic with bark which assured them that they had complete samples.  Different parts of the home were added at different times, so samples were taken from each part of the house. These samples were extracted with a hollow shaft drill bit.  Once the samples were removed, the location of each sample within the house was cataloged and a map of the house was drawn.  The samples were taken back to USM to be polished and studied to determine their age.

This study has become a labor of love for Dr. Harley.  He has returned to the home several times to gather more samples to confirm his findings.  He is presently compiling the results of this study to be published in an academic journal in the coming year

Surprisingly, Harley’s team has dated the beginning construction of the house as the mid 1830s, a full decade before the accepted date of 1845.  We know that Ed Chapman began construction on the home but died before it was completed.  Evidently, he started the home earlier than we knew and the home must have remained unfinished for a while before Boyles McManus finished it.

The addition to the home has always puzzled those connected to the home.  Interior rooms have windows facing the halls and it has always been a theory that the addition was an existing building or buildings joined to the existing home.  We know the rooms were added around 1890.  Testing proved that the trees in this portion of the home were actually cut between 1855-1865, so it appears this portion was built during that time period and added to the Deason Home and so it appears the addition was not new construction.

Additional information from this study tells us that the trees used in the Deason Home were growing before Columbus came to America.  This is almost impossible to comprehend.  The proud old cedar tree beside the home was also tested and dates back to the 1830s as well.  The Deason Home is an amazing structure and we are so fortunate to have it standing today and its condition is a tribute to the builders who constructed it.

For more information about the Deason Home, please visit http://www.deasonhome.org.  The home is open for tours on the first and third Saturday of each month.

 

 

Resting in Peace

A trip through the Anderson Minter Cemetery in Old Town.

 

Ellisville was a bustling town when the Deasons arrived from Lauderdale County in the   1840s.  Now a drive through the mostly wooded area known as “Old Town” could give one a feeling of melancholy.  The buildings are gone, the people are gone, the “bustle” has given way to trees, mosquitoes and an occasional boxturtle crossing the road.  The railroad enticed the town to move and rebuild to the west – maybe they called it progress…

Off the peaceful little road, scarcely wider than one lane, you can find two cemeteries.  One is close to the road and easy to find.  This is the Bynum Cemetery.  The other, the Anderson Minter Cemetery, can be found only if you know where to look.  It, like the Bynum Cemetery, is the final resting place of many familiar names from Ellisville’s history.  Scarecly 2 miles from the Deason Home, one can picture the sad processions made from the home to the cemetery as one by one these early pioneers of Ellisville passed away.

This tiny cemetery is located at the top of a bluff…. the land drops off and the Tallahala Creek curls its way through the woods nearby.  The first thing you see upon entering the cemetery is the Anderson monument.  Walk a little further and you will find the Anderson family.  Isaac Anderson, Sr. (1785 – 1871) is there between his two wives, Teresa Powell Anderson (1789 – 1850) and Sarah Deason Anderson (1829 – 1873), their old markers replaced  with new ones or their graves would surely have disappeared long ago.  The second owners of the Deason Home – Isaac Anderson, Jr. (1856 – 1903) and his wife Sallie Pool Anderson (1859 – 1939) are close by.  There are other Andersons there, too, together forever on this quiet hill.

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Walk a little further and you will find Amos Deason (1806 – 1878) and his wife Eleanor Baskin Deason (1816 – 1888).  Eleanor was born on July 4, only 40 years after our nation first declared its independence on that day.  The Deasons’ headstones have been replaced also, and many thanks go out to the person who made it possible for future generations to find their forefathers buried there.  The Deasons’daughter Mary Ann Deason Jordan is nearby.  Their third daughter Dorcas Deason Parker is buried close to Heidelberg where she and her husband Henry settled and raised their family.

A walk through the cemetery can prove entertaining as well.  There are little statues and figurines placed on loved ones’ graves by those who knew them best.  Every trip to this peaceful place turns up new treasures.  There is a very healthy cactus growing in a green bathroom sink – complete with  faucet!   A concrete picnic table and bench is placed to the side, presumably so family members can enjoy a meal with their dearly departed.  And visitor beware!  There are fire ant beds aplenty.  Consider yourself forewarned.  There are also other past residents of Ellisville resting there in peace (hopefully).  Sadly some stones are illegible and others are broken, while still others have weathered the elements quite well.  Every family represented in this cemetery had a part in making Ellisville what it is today.  Many thanks to them for their courage, strength and vision for the future.

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Visit deasonhome.org for more information about Jones County’s oldest home.

 

Haunted House?

From heavy footsteps to opening doors to children peeking out the windows of an empty house, the Deason Home seems to be host to some ghostly inhabitants!

 

house2Constructed around 1845, it is only natural that this old historic home be connected to the distant past with recorded truths, legends and tales of its occupants and their lives.  A mystery of murder, blood stains, buried gold, secret passages, deaths, funerals, squeaking hinges and yes, ghosts! remain a part of the Deason Home legacy.

The most notorious occurrence in the home is, of course, the shooting of Major Amos McLemore by Newt Knight.  McLemore was a guest of the Deasons when he was shot.  His blood soaked the heart pine floor in the bedroom where he fell.  No amount of scrubbing could completely remove this stain since it soaked through and ran down the joists below the flooring.  After that infamous night, family members reported that the door would fly open on the anniversary of the shooting and so the reputation of the home being haunted began.

Young Jennie Anderson passed away in the home around 1884-1885.  She was the bride of George Anderson, Eleanor Deason’s grandson.  The young couple had moved into the home to stay with Eleanor, who was widowed.  Sadly, Jennie died either while giving birth or shortly after the birth  of the couples’ only child, a daughter named A. Viola Anderson.  Jennie’s body was lovingly laid out adorned by gardenias clipped from the bushes on the grounds.  Her funeral was held on the front porch of the Deason Home.  Family and friends stood in the front yard while the funeral eulogy was delivered.  Jennie’s spirit is said to roam the Deason grounds in May when the gardenias peak in full bloom.  On occasion at dusk, a hazy specter can be seen drifting among the fragrant flowers followed by a sudden rustling of their leaves.

Before the elementary school moved to its new location across town, students at the old school often asked their teachers who the children in the old house were and why they weren’t in school.  Many former students will swear that they saw several little children looking out of the Deason Home windows and watching them play …. but the home was uninhabited at the time, at least by the living…..

After the home was given to the DAR, the ladies worked inside the home sanding and scraping paint, often into the wee hours of the night.  They experienced mysterious sounds and shadowy figures.  Contractors hired to rewire and re-plumb the home had some strange experiences as well.  Lights would turn on after the workers had turned them off and work completed one day would be undone when they arrived back the next morning. It seems the spirits were not happy about their home being changed in any way.

The spirits seem to dislike modern technology.  Batteries drain of their charges quickly in the home.  One camera placed in the attic to record ghostly motion was unusable when retrieved at the end of a ghost hunt and another camera placed in the attic was never found.  At least one cell phone was also unusable after a night at the Deason Home, its charging port melted.

There are enough stories to fill a book and in fact the ladies are currently working on a book about all the strange experiences they have had in the home.  The spirits are usually just playful, opening doors, drawers and curtains to let us know they are there.  Ghost hunts are usually eventful, too.  They are scheduled quite often.  If you would like to attend one, please visit our website or watch for events on our Facebook page.  Maybe you will get a chance to meet one of the residents of the Deason Home in person!

http://www.deasonhome.org

 

Anderson Family

The second owners of the Deason Home were grandson Isaac Anderson, Jr. and his wife Sallie Pool. They were responsible for the only additions to the home.

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The Anderson Family purchased the home after Eleanor Deason passed away.

Today, nestled between two modern schools, the Deason Home of “French Raised Cottage” design at the corner of Deason and Anderson Streets in Ellisville, seems oddly misput in its current surroundings.  Additions and modifications were made around 1890 when Amos Deason’s grandson, Isaac Anderson, Jr. and his wife Sarah Rebecca “Sallie” Pool, acquired the house after Eleanor Deason’s death in 1888.  Here they reared ten children, three of whom were born in the house.  Today the basic structure of the house stands much as it did in the 1890s.

Upon acquiring the property in 1890, Isaac Anderson Jr. took on a building and renovation project to accommodate his large growing family.  He enclosed porches, extended one of the small bedrooms, added rooms to the back and side of the house with connecting halls and brought the kitchen inside.

Of particular interest to the additions is the back left corner bedroom with four windows looking out on the back and side of the house.  This is referred to as Ma’s room (Sarah Rebecca Pool Anderson) and is known to have been the bedroom of Mr. and Mrs. Anderson.  This room is also referred to as the “summer borning room” because of the cool breeze that swept the room from the four windows  When it came time for birth during the hot summers, this was the coolest room in the house and allowed for complete privacy.  Mr. Isaac Anderson Jr. died in this room when Annie, his youngest child was two years old.

After the death of Isaac Anderson Jr. on April 14, 1903 [Age 47], Mrs. Anderson remained a widow 36 years and lived in the house until her death on August 6, 1939 [Age 79].  After her death the property remained in the Anderson Estate and was lived in  by various family members until 1965.  Needless to say that by this time the house was in disrepair.

Welton Smith and his wife Frances Anderson acquired the property in 1965 and started limited renovations to preserve the house and suit their life style.  In doing the remodeling they were careful to preserve this stately old homes’ original four room layout and basic exterior.

Today the house consists of the original layout: front porch, back porch with utility room, ten rooms, two closets, enclosed stairwell to attic and connecting hallways.  The present ten rooms are:  vestibule, parlor, sunroom, 3 bedrooms, formal dining room, breakfast room, kitchen, and bathroom.

For more information, please visit our website at http://www.deasonhome.org.  The home is open on the first and third Saturday of each month from 1 – 4 PM.  $5 admission.  Private tours and ghost hunts are also scheduled.  Be sure to like us on Facebook!  (Deason Home)

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.

Passing of Newt Knight

Obituary for Newt Knight, self proclaimed governor of The Free State of Jones

 

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The following obituary is copied from The Ellisville Progress Newspaper, March 16, 1922.  No changes or corrections made.  It was reprinted in our book Secrets of Historic Deason Home.

A unique character of national repute passed away at his home several miles north of Soso,  Miss., about three weeks ago.  For some unaccountable reason the newspapers failed to hear of his death or else the account of his death would have been given wide publicity.  Newt Knight was about ninety years of age when he died.  His claim to notoriety was due to the fact that he walked off from the Confederate army sometimes after enlisting, and organized a band of deserters which held together until the close.  Capt. Knight and his followers held that after the twenty negro law was passed during the war they had no interest in the fortunes of the Confederacy, and it became their own families, and there was a great deal of truth in their connection.

Note: Newton “Newt” Knight –  born Nov 10, 1829, died Feb 16, 1922 – Buried in the Knight Family Cemetery Jasper County, MS. Dates are as recorded on tombstone.

For more information about the Deason Home, please visit our website at http://www.deasonhome.org and be sure to like us on Facebook – (Deason Home).

Deason Home Publications

List of books published by the Tallahala Chapter about the history of the home and Jones County.

Since the Deason Home is owned by a group of ladies, none of whom are independently wealthy, we have to be creative in our fundraising efforts.  One of the ways we raise money is through the sale of books that we have published.  Here is a list of our books and a brief description of each.  All proceeds from the sale of these books goes to the restoration and upkeep of the Deason Home.

Secrets of Historic Deason Home

This book was published in 2002.  It has 32 pages of information about the Deason Home.  Chapters included are Amos Deason Home – A Landmark, Truths-Legends-Hauntings-Tales of the Deason Home, Amos Deason Family – South Carolina to Ellisville, and Ramblings from the Past – Jones County History Tidbits.  There is a 1902 Map of Ellisville, MS and a full name index.  The price is $12.

Major Amos McLemore – Confederate States Army Soldier  – Legendary Man, Legendary Time

This book was first published in 2002 and republished in 2013.  It is 26 pages long and includes the following chapters: Major Amos McLemore – Legendary Man – Legendary Time, C.S.A. Roster Co. B. 27th Mississippi Infantry Regiment, Major Amos McLemore (a.k.a. McLemore) Family Cemetery, Bombardment of Fort Sumpter, South Carolina – Start of Civil War, and a full name index. The price is $12.

Treasured Recipes of Yesteryear

First published in 2013, we are now into our second printing of this cookbook.  The book contains recipes from today and the past.  There are 123 pages of delicious dishes and indexes of contributors and recipes.  The price for this book is $15.


 

Several years ago, several of our members began a labor of love.  The Ellisville newspaper, The Progress-Item, was once the main source of news for residents of southern Jones County.  This newspaper included articles about citizens from the area and how they came to live in Ellisville, obituaries, human interest stories, feature articles about local businesses and the day to day happenings in the busy small town of Ellisville.  Sadly, this newspaper was not microfilmed and the only remaining copies are crumbling.  These tattered remains are the record of our history and Cynthia Lorraine DeVall and Sue Thomas Coker, members of the Tallahala Chapter NSDAR could not let that history die.  They began compiling these old stories into books that will preserve these wonderful stories for future generations and Ellisville, Mississippi – A Testament to our Ancestors was born.  To date they have completed four volumes.  Volume 1 is out of print at the present time, but Volumes 2 – 4 are available for purchase.

Ellisville, Mississippi – A Testament to our Ancestors Volume 2

This book was developed from the 1962 edition of the Progress-Item newspaper.  Articles about the growth of Ellisville as well as the progress of its citizens and genealogy of its families are covered.  Obituaries from the newspaper yield much information about the dedication and hard work and love of family and country present in the citizens of Ellisville and surrounding communities.  The price is $15.

Ellisville, Mississippi – A Testament to our Ancestors Volume 3

This book was published in 2015.  The 99 pages in this book came from the 1960-1961 editions of the Progress-Item newspaper.  Articles about Ellisville State School and Jones County Junior College are included in this book along with 40 pages of obituaries.  The price is $20.

Ellisville, Mississippi – A Testament to our Ancestors Volume 4

Our most current book was published in 2016.  Volume 4 consists of articles from old Ellisville newspapers, discovered in the Ellisville Courthouse, plus obituaries and articles from the 1963 Progress-Item.  The 100 pages are packed with information about early Ellisville and its inhabitants.  The cost is $20.

These books are available locally (Ellisville, MS) at Ward’s Pharmacy and at the Deason Home and can also be purchased by mail.  Please send your request and check to Deason Home Restoration, PO Box 643, Ellisville, MS 39437.  Add $5 for shipping.

For more information about the historic Deason Home, please visit our website at http://www.deasonhome.org.

 

 

 

Preserving history

The Deason Home was donated to the Tallahala Chapter National Society Daughters of the American Revolution in early 1991 by Mrs. Frances Anderson Smith, granddaughter of Isaac Anderson, Jr. and Sarah Pool, second owners of the home.  Her main stipulation was that the home be preserved as a historical entity for all the people of Jones County, present and future generations.  Another provision was that the house be open at intervals to school children and the general public.  We regularly schedule school field trips and the home is open on the first and third Saturdays of the month from 1 – 4 P.M.  Open houses are scheduled throughout the year and private tours and ghost hunts are scheduled by appointment.  The home also hosts weddings, family reunions, showers and parties.  Visit our website for more information – http://www.deasonhome.org.

The Smiths had a concern for possible school acquisition of the property through eminent domain and subsequent demolition since the home is surrounded by the campus of South Jones High School.  They decided to save the home for present and future generations by placing it on the National Register of Historic Places and this process was completed in 1984.  Subsequently the home was established as a Mississippi Landmark in the year 2000 by the Tallahala Chapter NSDAR. *

The Tallahala Chapter has been restoring the home for a number of years.  The inside is complete.  The decor is from the Victorian era.  The home features authentic Victorian colors in each room and the mantle in the parlor boasts a faux marble finish.  Floors have been sanded and sealed and the home has been completely rewired and re-plumbed.  Central heat and air were installed and the kitchen and bathrooms were updated.  Most of the furniture has been graciously donated by family members and friends.

Over the last year, great strides have been made in restoring the outside of the home.  Late last summer, the west side of the home was completely restored.  Rotten wood was replaced, a gutter was added to prevent further water damage, the beveled wood blocks were sealed and the original sand finish was replicated.  The front of the home received a facelift in the early fall.  Over the last few weeks, the rotten wood on the eastern side of the home has been replaced and this week that side of the home will be sealed and receive a fresh coat of paint!  As money becomes available, the back of the home will receive the same TLC.  It is so rewarding to see this old home restored to its former glory.

 

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*Information from the book Secrets of Historic Deason Home was used in this post.  The book and other Deason Home publications are available locally at Ward’s Pharmacy (Ellisville, MS), Southern Antique Mall (Laurel, MS),  and at the Deason Home and can also be ordered by sending $12 plus $5 for shipping to Deason Home Restoration, P.O. Box 643, Ellisville, MS 39437.  Other books are individually priced.  Information about these books can be found in the preceding blog and on our website http://www.deasonhome.org.

Background before you see the movie..

Did Newt Knight shoot Amos McLemore?

This Friday, the movie The Free State of Jones will be showing in a theater near you.  There has been a lot of talk about the movie and its connection to the Deason Home.  To start this blog, I wanted to give you the story of Newt Knight’s association with this historic home.  The following is an excerpt from our book, Secrets of Historic Deason Home, published in 2002 by the Tallahala Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution, owners of the home.

“It was on a dark and stormy night in 1863 that Major Amos McLemore stared into the fire, exhausted.  Somewhere in the dark of the night, the War Between the States raged on.  He sighed and sat down in the old wooden rocker.  Laying his sidearms down on the table, he wrenched off his mud-encrusted boots.  It was good to be in a warm, comfortable place tonight.  His soldiers were quartered elsewhere but his friends Amos and Eleanor Deason, had invited him to stay at their home.  He was happy to accept.

McLemore’s eyes were getting heavy and his head was nodding.  Outside, unknown to the tired man, Newt Knight was stealing up on the house with some of his followers.  Newt being the self proclaimed leader of the band of Leaf River Rowdies that Major McLemore may have been sent to apprehend and Newt was determined not to be caught.  Suddenly the door to the room was flung open.  Newt Knight stormed into the room, shot Amos McLemore, and vanished into the night.  The wind moaned as Amos fell and died* in front of the fireplace.  Other accounts state that Newt Knight shot him through a window.

The family was shocked, the town grieved and the soldiers swore to avenge their Major’s death.  Eleanor Deason openly wept as she cleaned the blood of her friend from the floor and fireplace.  Major Amos’ lifeless body was taken home to his old homeplace where he was later mournfully buried and time passed.  Somehow Newt Knight always managed to evade capture and lived a long life. ”

*Correction to the story:  Major McLemore was taken home to Eastabuchie, where he died a few days later.

A few questions and answers:

Q. Was any of the movie filmed at the Deason Home?

A. No.  The movie was filmed in Louisiana.

Q. Will the Deason Home receive money from the movie company or proceeds from the movie?   Does the home receive government funding?

A. No.  The Deason Home has not received any money and does not anticipate receiving any money from the movie, although we would gladly accept if any money was offered!  The Deason Home is privately owned and we do not receive any money from the state or national government.  All money used for the upkeep and restoration of the home comes from tours, ghost hunts, sales of books and other products and donations from Tallahala members and the public.

Q. Will a home representing the Deason Home be in the movie?

A. Not having seen the movie, we do not really know.  However, many names were changed so characters in the movie that were based on real people now have different names.  It is not known whether or not the shooting of McLemore is in the movie at all.

The Deason Home is a wonderful home, full of history and character.  It is open the first and third Saturday of each month from 1 – 4 PM.  Private tours and ghost hunts can also be scheduled.  Contact us at 601-577-1066.  We hope you will find time to visit this summer!

Visit our website – http://www.deasonhome.org.