Although it no longer stands, we were able to find this image of the house in the book “Pine Log and Greek Revival” published in 1964 by Davidson. This book is extremely rare and is usually found only in historical society libraries. This is the way the home looked in 1964, at approximately 120 years of age. From the caption:
‘This house in the Long Cane community, in the west side of U.S. 29, was the home of Jesse B. and Anne Wilkinson Haralson, built about 1845-50. It shows excellent proportion and workmanship on the front elevation, along Greek Revival lines, and is a type found elsewhere in the area. The interior woodwork was simple but well fitted, and there was a large basement room.
It is said that the house was moved after the War Between the States from its original site about two and a half miles west, near the Chattachoochee River, on the Potts Road, and in the vicinity of the old Boyd and Tatum places. It was the original home of the Wilkinson family, early settlers of the area.
Neal K Wilkinson came to Georgia with his father, Archibald Wilkinson, in about 1826. One can only speculate about why the family left North Carolina, but the Georgia Land Lotteries may have been an incentive. Other Wilkinsons, namely a Duncan and an Allen, had already migrated to the area in the very early 1800s (1804 or so) at a time when the area was still owned by the Creek and it was necessary to obtain a passport to enter. Whether or not they were relatives is unknown, but the familiar Scottish names give pause. Also, the counties were they lived, Meriweather and Harris, were originally part of Troup County, created in about 1826 about the time the Creeks left for Alabama.
Archibald died in late 1828 or early 1839 according to Troup County records, leaving his wife and ten children. Archibald did not leave a will, and originally parts of his effects were auctioned, including eight slaves. However, returns for his estate to his heirs were distributed all the way until 1845.
Neal was about 22 when they started the journey and 24 when his father died, yet unmarried. Two short years later he married Rebecca Johnston, whose family founded Johnstonville in Monroe County. As a matter of fact, the lottery records show that Archibald Wilkinson, Neal’s father, was living in Monroe County, GA when he purchased his original piece of land from Whitfield Sledge in 1827.
Neal and Rebecca’s first child was named John, but lived to only three years of age. His other children were James M., who died at the battle of Shiloh, David L, who died at nineteen, Archibald Daniel (my great grandfather), Elizabeth M., who died at 28 just three years after the Civil War ended, Neal Johnson, who fought in the Civil War, Annie V., who continued to live in the family home with her husband J. B. Haralson, Eza and William who both died in early childhood and Thomas J. Wilkinson.
It is interesting to note that although no record of a John Wilkinson accompanying the family to Georgia exists, his orphans are suddenly included in the returns of the estate toward the end of the distribution, around 1844. No definitive answer about John’s whereabouts has ever been established, nor the date of his death. However, a John Wilkinson is found marrying in Fayetteville, NC, the area where the family migrated from, in 1826. Perhaps this is John, and if so, he died in 1828 from being kicked in the head by a horse. He was visiting family in Chesterfield District SC, which borders eastern North Carolina. He and his wife, Ann McKenzie, had two small boys named John McKenzie and James Archibald, born in 1827 and 1828 respectively. One of the reasons I suspect this as being our missing John is because the orphan’s guardian according to the returns of Archibald’s estate was one John McKenzie, very likely father of Ann McKenzie.
In 1844, these two boys would have been seventeen and sixteen respectively and perhaps their grandfather was finally able to locate the family that had left so many years before.
Sadly, both these young men died at a very early age, John of illness at his mother’s home in 1852 and James, a riverboat captain and newly wed, who drowned the following year.
Neal K participated in the 1832 Georgia Land Lottery and won land in the 4th district, 4th section. By 1840, his personal wealth is shown as $2600, part of which was probably his inheritance from his father. Over the years he continued to add land to his holdings, including that of his mother Rebecca, who lived next to him.
In 1860 the census shows him living next door to Thomas and Mary Wilkerson, both born in Georgia near his birth time. Not sure if they were cousins, but Mary purchased some of Archibald’s estate in 1829, when she was 18. In 1860, Neal Johnson, Elisabeth, Anna and Thomas are still living at home with their parents. Neal’s property and assets are valued at $9800 and he owns 11 slaves.
Neal K’s home was very close to the battle of West Point and the deprivation that all Southerners endured during the Civil War probably contributed to his death in February of 1865, just before the end of the war. His wife Rebecca survived him for fourteen more years and the two of them are buried in Long Cane Cemetery, along with several of their children. Their graves, plus two unmarked ones which are undoubtedly those of Archibald and Margarett, were moved to Long Cane when the family acreage was submerged by the Army Corps of Engineers to build West Point Lake.
Neal K met his civic duty as a juror on more than one occasion and here is a sample of his handwriting, on a court document from 1860, just before the onset of the Great War. It is the writing of an optomistic and confident man of education.
This headstone was probably erected years later at the time of Rebecca’s death, since hers is the same.