ADAIRSVILLE, GAHISTORY When Cherokee tribes were forcibly removed from Cass County, Ga. in 1838, it opened the door for many who sought to establish settlements in that part of the state. One of these intrepid men was Godfrey Barnsley, a native of Liverpool, England who came to America at the tender age of 18 in 1823. Barnsley had no true vocation or really extensive academic background, he was just an eager individual looking to make his mark in the New South. While living in Savannah he found gainful employment as a brokerage clerk to a major cotton shipper and before long rose to great heights in both local financial and social circles. By 1830, the now twenty-five year old Barnsley found himself a successful businessman with offices in Savannah, New York, New Orleans and Liverpool and eventually married Savannah native Julia Scarborough on Christmas Eve of 1828. Julia was a member of a prominent Savannah family whose father, William Scarborough, built the first ship partially powered by steam to cross the Atlantic. It was just a few short years later that Barnsley and some of his associates journeyed to Cass County to stake their claim and make their mark in this - as of yet - undeveloped area. Barnsley had another more personal reason for looking to relocate. He feared for the health of his wife and family as many residents of coastal Georgia had begun to fall prey to the broiling heat as well as the various diseases like yellow fever and malaria that were being transmitted by visitors to their shores. Julia in particular was battling an assortment of ailments, perhaps weakened by bearing a number of children in such short time. In 1841, the Barnsley family had indeed moved to the site of their new home and construction began. The estate would be built on 10,000 acres of land and would be the sum total of Barnsley's vision, imagination and wealth. He would call his manor "Woodlands" in no small part because of the acres and acres of forest land that surrounded the main house. The 30-acre gardens were modeled after the most exquisite in the country and contained almost every type of rose and any fauna that would thrive in that climate. The home was styled in the fashion of an Italian villa, had 24 rooms and contained the most rarest and privileged of all home amenities - hot and cold running water - that translated into another creature comfort rare in those times, namely, indoor plumbing. Much of the interior woodworking was fashioned by hand in England and lush Italian marble graced the mantles of its multiple fireplaces. The kitchen contained another innovative creation - a spring-triggered spit which acted very much like a modern rotisserie in that it would turn and evenly cook meat over an open fire. It was a lavish home, very much ahead of its time and a fitting legacy to a man who embodied the American Dream. A side note of some interest is that it is widely speculated that Godfrey Barnsley was in many ways, the model for the character Rhett Butler in the book Gone With the Wind. It has actually long been speculated that the romance between Godfrey and Julia was a major inspiration for the characters Rhett and Scarlett. Curiously however, stories reached Barnsley that his home was built on a hill that was the site of a Native American burial ground. As a result, it was rumored that the land was cursed. Barnsley, if nothing else a pragmatic sort, brushed off these tales as nothing more than folklore and legend. By the time of his death, he might have regretted his indifference.THE TRAGIC FATE OF THE BARNSLEY FAMILY Soon after moving into their garish new manor home, tragedy struck the Barnsley's as their infant son died from illness. In 1845, after an extended battle with tuberculosis, Julia returned to Savannah to be treated by her family physician but eventually succumbed to the disease, an event that haunted Godfrey in more ways than one as we will read. In 1850, Anna the eldest daughter married and moved to England with her new husband, perhaps in many ways a prudent, if not life-saving decision on their part. Eight years later, Adelaide, the next oldest daughter passed away suddenly at home. Merely 4 years later, Howard the oldest son was murdered by pirates in China while searching the Orient for exotic shrubbery to be planted in the family's gardens (left). Still, Godfrey Barnsley continued his mission to complete his work on the Woodlands. His dream would not be denied. He travelled Europe to bring back furnishings for the home and accumulated a fantastic gallery of art which adorned the walls of his house. Steadily, Barnsley labored tenaciously toward his ultimate goal of completing his mansion. A new distraction had manifested itself by this time bearing the name of The American Civil War. As it did with many other families, the war brought about a combination of tragedy and turmoil to the Barnsley's. The two remaining sons, George and Lucien went off to battle with the Confederate Army. Youngest daughter Julia married Confederate Captain James Peter Baltzelle in 1864 and upon the insistence of her husband, moved to Savannah for her own safety. In May of 1864, Col. Richard G. Earle of the Second Alabama Light Cavalry was shot and killed while riding to Woodlands to warn Barnsley that Gen. Sherman's troops were advancing on Georgia. At that point, Sherman's troops had already come upon the Woodlands and his death triggered a brief skirmish. Ultimately they found Godfrey Barnsley, now completely alone in his house. Col. Earle was buried on the grounds in the perennial gardens where a monument to his act of bravery is displayed. Federal General James McPherson, taking a shine to the owner (it has been reported that the General admired the humane manner in which Barnsley treated his slaves) absolutely forbade any looting by his troops of the mansion. Sadly, this order fell on deaf ears and as many furnishings were taken and a large part of the mansion was either destroyed or severely damaged. When the war had ended, George and Lucien returned home but eventually moved to South America rather than pledge any allegiance to the Union. Barnsley himself moved to New Orleans to seek other business opportunities and recoup some of the riches lost during the Union army's occupation of his home. He left daughter Julia and her husband, James Beltzelle in charge of the home. Baltzelle began selling off timbers from the land in order to support the family, but his life tragically (of course) ended when he was killed by a falling tree in 1868. Julia, now having a daughter Adelaide, moved to New Orleans to rejoin her father. It was there she met and married a German ship captain named Henry Von Schwartz. Godfrey Barnsley died in 1873 and his body was returned to The Woodlands. Daughter Julia lost her husband 12 years later, but their daughter Adelaide grew up and married a chemist by the name of A.A. Saylor and bore two sons, Harry and Preston in 1917. Mr. Saylor passed away when the boys were still very young. The misfortune doesn't end with that, however. In 1906, a tornado tore threw the Woodlands, destroying a large part of the mansion, forcing the family to live in the kitchen wing of the home. In 1935, Preston, now a boxer of some renown fighter under the pseudonym K.O. Dugan, shot and killed his brother Harry, who he thought was plotting to take his share of Woodlands. Harry had, in Preston's absence, taken a large role in the care of the property which Preston misinterpreted with grave results. An argument ensued in the basement of the Woodlands which quickly escalated and resulted in Preston chasing his brother through the house firing a pistol at him. Harry was hit and as a result died in his mother's arms. Preston was subsequently imprisoned but was eventually pardoned after serving seven years by a compassionate governor. When Adelaide died in 1942, the entire estate was sold to W. Earl McClesky who used the land primarily for farming purposes. In 1988, Prince Hubertus Fugger and his wife Princess Alexandra of Bavaria, purchased Barnsley Gardens. They embarked on an ambitious renovation project and today, Barnsley Gardens remains an historic piece of old-time Georgia and is home to a world-class grand golf resort (below). In a nod to its illustrious past, the Prince consulted the original plans for the estate with close attention to the landscaping style of Andrew Jackson Downing, whose approach is reflected in the gardens of the White House and the Washington Mall. Barnsley Gardens was sold in 2004 to two Dalton, Ga. businessmen - Julian Saul and Mike Meadows - who continue to develop the property.THE HAUNTINGS OF BARNSLEY GARDENS First we start with the curse itself. There is a legend that Mr. Barnsley met a Cherokee man whom he immediately befriended and hired to work for him. It was this man who upon learning of Barnsley's plans to build on the hill, told him the spirits would be angered if this happened. Some say it was this man who actually invoked the curse. In any event bear in mind that Prince Fugger invited a Native American shaman named Richard Bird to the property to remove the curse before restoration began. In his grief over the death of his wife, Godfrey Barnsley was so despondent that he immersed himself in his work and allowed a governess to care for his six children for a one-year period. In this time Barnsley became absorbed with spiritualism and upon returning to visit the children one day, he saw the spirit of Julia standing by a fountain who told him that for the children's sake he must complete the mansion. From that day forth, Barnsley re-dedicated himself to that goal. A memoir describing this encounter still remains in possession of the estate to this day. The most gripping evidence of Julia's presence came in the form of a letter that Barnsley received one day. It read:"Dear Mortal Barnsley, Julia is with me and all doing fine." - William Scarborough The letter was from his long-deceased father-in-law - in his handwriting. A correspondence from beyond the grave? The spirit of Col. Earle is said to remain on the premises. His ghost has been spotted drinking from a spring located in the rear of the house. The ghost of Julia Barnsley has been seen among the boxwoods in front of the house. The first report came from her daughter Addie, who said she saw her mother's spirit there one day. Addie also reported seeing the spirit of her slain son, Harry. She also reported her Uncle George appeared before her at the mansion the night he died in Brazil. In fact Addie would often repair to the gardens and return with tales of communication with her deceased ancestors. Godfrey Barnsley's ghost is said to haunt the old library inside the mansion. Donna Martin, the former concierge has reported seeing Mr. Barnsley walk out of his library while in the company of another staffer who saw the same thing. He has also been heard shuffling at his desk just as he did often in life and has been spotted roaming through the ruins at night and walking with his beloved Julia through the gardens.