In a recent article, I spoke of Godfrey Barnsley, a Savannah businessman who sought to make a fortune in cotton and moved near Adairsville in North Georgia to build a beautiful mansion and estate. If you missed that article, please scroll down and it should be there. If not, click on "older posts" and it will be on the next page or so.
I learned a bit more about Godfrey Barnsley from several sources, including James Caskey's "Haunted Savannah: The Official Guidebook to Savannah Haunted History Tour 2008." In the book, Caskey discusses the Scarbrough Mansion on Martin Luther King Boulevard in downtown Savannah. The home is now the location of the Ships at Sea Museum. The website for that museum can be viewed at www.shipsofthesea.org/pages/house. The mansion was the one time home of William and Julia Scarbrough, hence the name Scarbrough House. Apparently, the home has an historic past, as it was the scene of a visit by United States President James Monroe, who came to Savannah to see the launch of the S.S. Savannah, the world's first oceangoing steam vessel. William Scarbrough was an investor in the venture, although it was financially unsuccessful. William had to sell the mansion, which was purchased by his son-in-law. Graciously, the son-in-law allowed William and his wife, Julia, to remain in the home. Julia, ever the southern belle, loved to give lovely and large dinner parties. William's financial troubles did not seem to detour these either. Her parties were so well-attended that Julia became a legend for her parties in Savannah. Incidentally, William and Julia Scarbrough were the parents of Godfrey Barnsley's wife Julia. As haunted as Barnsley Gardens were and still seem to be according to some, his in-law's mansion is the scene of a little haunting of its own.
According to Caskey on pages 95-96 of "Haunted Savannah. . ." published by Bonaventture Books, many people claim to have seen windows ablaze with lights at the house in the 1960s as the home was empty. Some passsersby and locals have even reported the sounds of lively and loud laughter, as well as a piano playing in the early hours of the morning. Caskey speculates that it may very well be the spirit of Julia Scarbrough and her guests as they continue to enjoy Julia's parties at the mansion.
In another twist, Caskey goes on to report Godfrey Barnsley was also a bit of a dueler. He and his brother, Gartrelle, seem to have had the misfortune of falling in love with the same woman-Chessie Scarlett. Talk about a Southern name!!! Due to the fact that the two brothers were unable to put the squabble over who should become Chessie's husband to rest, they decided to participate in a duel to settle the matter; however, this was anything but a common duel. This was what Caskey calls a "poison duel." The way the duel went, according to the book, was "They arranged for an impartial friend to pour two glasses of wine, and into one was added a lethal dose o fpoison. The appearance and character of the wine was unchanged, so neither had any way of telling which glass held just the spirits, nor which might make them a spirit. Both brothers drank deeply, and Gartrelle fell dead."(Caskey 96) Caskey goes on to say that Chessie was truly in love with Gartrelle, so it appeared that the duel was in vain. Barnsley would go on to marry the daughter of William and Julia Scarbrough. Godfrey Barnsley moved to North Georgia; his land was cursed, and, well, read the post on Barnsley Gardens and you shall see. However, I can clearly state without reservation that it appears that Godfrey Barnsley's troubles started well before he built Woodlands Mansion at Barnsley Gardens. Was he cursed to begin with? Possibly. I also find it ironic that his in-laws had a little trouble financially as well, and their mansion ended up being the subject of a haunted tale of Savannah.
By the way, James Caskey is part of Cobblestone Tours, and if you click on the title of this story above, it will direct you to Cobblestone Tours's website. They have GREAT tours in Savannah.