Former Home of Henry R. Jackson: Union Army Headquarters, 1865

This Hidden History was created by SCAD student Kasey Bailey as part of her SCAD art history department coursework with guidance from art history professor Holly Goldstein, Ph.D., 2017.

The Former Home of Henry R. Jackson: Union Army Headquarters, 1865 historical marker was dedicated in 1953. View the Former Home of Henry R. Jackson: Union Army Headquarters, 1865 historical marker listing.

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1. West Façade of 450 Bull Street, May 27th, 2017. Courtesy of Kasey Bailey.

2. South Façade of 450 Bull Street, May 27th, 2017. Courtesy of Kasey Bailey.

3. Former Home of Henry R. Jackson Historical Marker, May 27th, 2017. Courtesy of Kasey Bailey.

4. Mr. and Mrs. Edmund Molyneux, May 20th, 2017. Photo taken by Kasey Bailey, found in the “Edith Johnston Duncan collection of research materials on the Kollock family, 1799-1954” (MS 1593) in the Georgia Historical Society Archives. Courtesy of the Georgia Historical Society.

5. Map of Northern Forsyth Park, screenshot. Courtesy of Google Maps.

6. The Red Old Hills of Georgia Cover Page, 1901. Photo taken by Kasey Bailey, courtesy of the Georgia Historical Society.

7. The Red Old Hills of Georgia Sheet Music, 1901. Photo taken by Kasey Bailey, courtesy of the Georgia Historical Society.

8. Oglethorpe club: Waltzes, sheet music, 1883. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

The following essay is by SCAD student Kasey Bailey, 2017.

“The Former Home of Henry R. Jackson” resides on the corner of Bull Street and Gaston Street, on the northern end of Forsyth Park (Figure 1, Figure 2). Since being built in 1857 for the Molyneux family, the building is deeply interwoven with the history of Savannah and some of the city’s most noteworthy inhabitants. The most notable inhabitants include Edmund Molyneux, the British consul, and his family, and Henry R. Jackson, the former Confederate general (Figure 3). Even more interesting than the identity of the various owners, however, is the evolution of the building’s use by its residents: how they used it as individual owners, the building’s continuous shifts in purpose, and the transition from a more “public” building to a private one.

Building as the British Consulate

Edmund Molyneux, Esquire, moved to America in September of 1836, accompanied by his wife and two servants (Figure 4).[i] Despite arriving in Savannah in the early half of the nineteenth century, the eponym for the building did not have it constructed until two decades after his arrival in Savannah. After the mansion was built, it acted (either officially or unofficially) as the headquarters for the British Consulate. And though there is little documentation explicitly stating what Molyneux specifically did during his term as British Consul in Savannah, details can be gathered about his activities and responsibilities using newspaper reports and other historical documents.. One such responsibility was monitoring and dealing with British affairs and interests within Savannah. For example, in 1844 in Savannah, eight British sailors were “taken by force from the…British Ship ‘Douglas’”.[ii] Molyneux was in charge of dealing with the repercussions of this event, as well as ensuring that the sailors were released and safe, and that British interests in the city were protected.[iii] In addition to this, it is believed that Molyneux was an independent businessman or merchant. This idea is based upon newspaper reports in which Molyneux is mentioned as having ships docked in port in a list that is otherwise composed of businesses.[iv] After the construction of the Molyneux Mansion in 1857, Molyneux would have conducted consulate business from the mansion, along with, presumably, any personal business that he may have had. Specifically, within the Consulate’s walls, Molyneux would have monitored British ships in the Port of Savannah, as well as any goings on in the city that involved British citizens or interests in Savannah.

In addition to himself, Molyneux’s wife, Eliza, and the couple’s seven children (six daughters aged 10 to 25, and one son, an officer in the British Navy, aged 24) lived in the family mansion. Additionally, the family had a live-in French governess, a coachman, and two female servants residing within the mansion.[v] As stated on Figure 3, the family left in 1863 and did not return. During the time that it was owned by the Molyneux family, the building had an overall public nature as the headquarters for the British Consulate, despite being a private residence.

Building as Home of Henry R. Jackson

Perhaps the most well-known resident of 450 Bull Street (Figure 5) was Henry Rootes Jackson, a former Confederate general and pillar of the Savannah community. Jackson was born on June 24, 1820 in Athens, Georgia to an English father and a Virginian mother. Jackson graduated from Princeton College in 1839 and, in 1840, moved to Savannah and became a lawyer. Very soon after that, when Jackson was twenty-three, he was named as the District Attorney for the State of Georgia. In addition to having a career in law, Jackson was also a soldier and took part in the Mexican War as colonel, leading the only regiment from his home state.[vi] Upon returning home from the war, Jackson was named as a judge for Georgia’s Superior Court. From 1853 to 1858, Jackson acted as the United States’ minister in Austria, before returning home to Savannah.[vii]

After arriving back in Savannah, Jackson resumed his law practice and eventually acted as a prosecutor for the highly-publicized case of the slave ship Wanderer in 1860.[viii] In 1861, despite withdrawing from the Democratic National Convention the year before due to disagreements about slavery, Jackson was named as one of Georgia’s Confederate judges and participated in Georgia’s Secession Convention of the same year.[ix] Jackson eventually progressed to fighting for the Confederate Army in the position of general. When the Civil War ended, Jackson was initially taken prisoner; after being paroled in 1865, Jackson once again returned to Savannah and resumed his law practice.  Additionally, he joined the Georgia Historical Society and eventually became its president in 1875.[x]

Jackson purchased the Molyneux Mansion in 1885, the same year that he was nominated, and named, as the United States’ minister to Mexico, a position he held until 1887. He was later elected to the position of director for the Central Railroad and Banking Company in 1892.[xi] Jackson lived in the mansion with his second wife, Florence, until he died in 1898. Jackson is often remembered as a “prince of social entertainers” and as “one of the old-time Southern gentlemen,” as well as an eloquent “connoisseur in art and letters.” In conjunction with this, Jackson wrote poetry and it seems to have been well-received, so much so that his most famous one, “The Red Old Hills of Georgia,” was put to music (Figure 6, Figure 7).[xii] From this, it can be assumed, then, that in both the Molyneux Mansion and in his former homes, Jackson and his wife would have hosted numerous events, both social and political. Jackson most likely conducted some minor business from the mansion, as well. Similar to how it was used when owned by the Molyneux family, then, the mansion functioned as both a public and private place: one where Jackson would be available to clients and a place for him and his wife to host events, but also a place for the family to reside, continuing the dual nature of the building.

The In-Between Years and the Years Post-Jackson

In between the Molyneux family and the Jacksons, the building on 450 Bull Street acted as headquarters for the Union after the end of the Civil War, despite still being owned by the Molyneux family until 1885 when it was purchased by Jackson. After Jackson died in 1898, the house, presumably, sat empty. This is assumed due to the lack of evidence or documentation of anything happening in the building between 1898 and 1914. In 1914, however, this changed when the building was purchased by the Oglethorpe Club (Figure 8).[xiii] The Oglethorpe Club was founded in Savannah in 1870, as a private men’s social club that still exists to this day.[xiv] Outside of this, however, very little is known about the club. Details regarding membership, activities, history, and overall purpose are limited due to the prestigious and extremely private nature of the club. Due to this, many questions remain about how the current owners utilize this historic space. However, the club does allow the venue to be rented out for some public events, such as weddings.[xv] As seen previously, the building (again) continues the trend of being both a public and a private space, though more private than public, this time around.

Despite housing some of the most prestigious families and groups in Savannah, little is known about the building itself. There is very little, if any, documentation regarding the building’s architecture, nor is there any that discusses how its former (and current) residents specifically utilized its spaces. Though there is some information available regarding this topic, much more is hidden, lost, or unwritten; what is known must be assumed through what is known about what the owners did and how they lived. However, this makes the historic building all the more interesting.

[i] “New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957: Passenger Manifest for the Constitution,” document, ca. September 1836; http://www.ancestry.com.

[ii] “Correspondence concerning the Douglas sailors”, letters, 1844; MS 92; Georgia Historical Society, Savannah, GA.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] “List of Vessels in Port,” Savannah Daily Republican, December 27th, 1848, http://savnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/savnewspapers-j2k/view?docId=bookreader/svr/svr1848/svr1848-1218.mets.xml;query=molyneux;brand=savnewspapers-j2k-brand#page/n0/mode/1up.

“Port of Savannah, August 15: Arrived,” Georgian, August 15th, 1837, http://savnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/savnewspapers-j2k/view?docId=bookreader/sga/sga1837/sga1837-0415.mets.xml;query=molyneux;brand=savnewspapers-j2k-brand#page/n0/mode/1up.

“Advertisers in the Republican: Factors and Commission Merchants,” Savannah Daily Republican, February 16th, 1850, http://savnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/savnewspapers-j2k/view?docId=bookreader/svr/svr1850/svr1850-0157.mets.xml;query=molyneux;brand=savnewspapers-j2k-brand#page/1/mode/1up.

*Note: concept further thought out through discussion with Kaye Kole Genealogy and Local History Room staff.

[v] 1860 U.S. census, Chatham County, Georgia, Schedule 1, Savannah, p. 233, dwelling 1793, family 1798, Edmund Molyneux; digital image, Ancestry.com, http://ancestory.com.

[vi] “Volunteers of Mexican War of 1816,” Cherokee Advance, March 27th, 1914, http://ngnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/ngnewspapers-j2k/view?docId=bookreader/cka/cka1914/cka1914-0127.mets.xml;query=henry%20r%20jackson;brand=ngnewspapers-j2k-brand#page/n0/mode/1up.

Florence Bryan Ansley, The Jacksons: The General, the Captain (Atlanta, Ansley, 1984): 5.

[vii] “An Old Timer,” North Georgia Citizen, March 10th, 1898, http://ngnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/ngnewspapers-j2k/view?docId=bookreader/ngc/ngc1898/ngc1898-0076.mets.xml;query=henry%20r%20jackson;brand=ngnewspapers-j2k-brand#page/n0/mode/1up.

Ansley, 5.

[viii] Henry R. Jackson, The Wanderer Case: The Speech of Hon. Henry R. Jackson of Savannah, GA. (Atlanta: E. Holland, 1900): 19-21.

Susan Copeland, “Government and Politics: Military: Henry Rootes Jackson (1820-1898),” New Georgia Encyclopedia, April 1st, 2003, http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/government-politics/henry-rootes-jackson-1820-1898.

Katherine E. Rohrer, “History and Archaeology: Antebellum Era, 1800-1860: Wanderer,” New Georgia Encyclopedia, August 2nd, 2016, http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/history-archaeology/wanderer.

[ix] John G. Pankhurst, “Official Proceedings of the Democratic National Convention, held in 1860, at Charleston and Baltimore: Proceedings at Charleston, April 23-May 3,” digital scan of book, 1860; University of Michigan, https://archive.org/details/officialproceed00parkgoog.

[x] Ansley, 7.

[xi] “Neighborhood Notes,” North Georgia Citizen, March 26th, 1885, http://ngnewspapers.galileo.usg.edu/ngnewspapers-j2k/view?docId=bookreader/ngc/ngc1885/ngc1885-0030.mets.xml;query=henry%20r%20jackson;brand=ngnewspapers-j2k-brand#page/n0/mode/1up.

Ansley, 7.

[xii] Ansley, 8.

Henry R. Jackson, “The Red Old Hills of Georgia,” Cincinnati, Ohio: Armstrong & Fillmore, 1901.

[xiii] Catherine Gussler, email to author, May 23rd, 2016.

[xiv] Ibid.

“Home,” The Oglethorpe Club, http://oglethorpeclub.org/.

**Multiple attempts were made to gather more information (both from members and from staff); however, none was forthcoming from any source.

[xv] “B&B Savannah > Wedding Venues > Golf & Country Clubs > Oglethorpe Club,” Borrowed & Blue, https://www.borrowedandblue.com/savannah/wedding-venues/golf-country-clubs/oglethorpe-club.

“Real Wedding Inspiration: Oglethorpe Club Wedding by Donna Von Bruening and Anne Bone Events,” A Low Country Wedding, http://www.alowcountrywed.com/blog/2016/7/13/georgia/savannah/oglethorpe-club-wedding-rhett-rob.

Ansley, Florence Bryan. The Jacksons: The General, the Captain. Atlanta: Ansley, 1984.

Borrowed & Blue. “B&B Savannah > Wedding Venues > Golf & Country Clubs > Oglethorpe Club.” Borrowed & Blue. https://www.borrowedandblue.com/savannah/wedding-venues/golf-country-clubs/oglethorpe-club.

Copeland, Susan. “Government and Politics: Military: Henry Rootes Jackson (1820-1898)” New Georgia Encyclopedia. Last modified April 1st, 2003. http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/government-politics/henry-rootes-jackson-1820-1898.

“Correspondence concerning the Douglas sailors.” Letters. 1844. MS 92. Georgia Historical Society, Savannah, GA.

Georgia. Chatham County. 1860 U.S. census, Schedule 1. Digital images. Ancestry.com. http://ancestory.com.

Jackson, Henry R. The Wanderer: The Speech of Hon. Henry R. Jackson of Savannah, GA. Atlanta: E. Holland, 1900.

A Low Country Wedding. “Real Wedding Inspiration: Oglethorpe Club Wedding by Donna von Bruening and Anne Bone Events.” A Low Country Wedding. http://www.alowcountrywed.com/blog/2016/7/13/georgia/savannah/oglethorpe-club-wedding-rhett-rob.

“New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957: Passenger Manifest for the Constitution.” Document September 1836. http://www.ancestry.com.

The Oglethorpe Club. “Home.” The Oglethorpe Club. http://oglethorpeclub.org/.

Pankhurst, John G. Official Proceedings of the Democratic National Convention, held in 1860, at Charleston and Baltimore: Proceedings at Charleston, April 23-May 3. Digital scan. 1860. https://archive.org/details/officialproceed00parkgoog.

Rohrer, Katherine E. “History and Archaeology: Antebellum Era, 1800-1860: Wanderer.” New Georgia Encyclopedia. Last modified August 2nd, 2016. http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/history-archaeology/wanderer.