The Jones Home
Excerpt from "Some Historic Homes of Mississippi" By Mrs. N. D. Deupree.
One of the large and handsome homes of the fair little city of Holly Springs was built in 1857 by Mrs. Rufus Jones, who was Miss Martha E. A. Reese, of Madison, Ga. She was married to Mr. Rufus Jones in 1840 and came to Marshall county, Miss., to the plantation home of Mr. Jones near old Tallaluce. Here they resided until the death of Mr. Jones in 1856. The widow then moved with her family to Holly Springs and built the home in which she lived until her death in 1874. The house is colonial in its architecture, with a wide hall and a partition running across it, making a square reception hall in front. Opening into this reception room on the right is the parlor; back of the parlor is the library; low bookcases, filled with books, line two sides of the room; a handsome table littered with books and papers, cosy corners and window seats make it homelike and livable. On the left of the front entrance is the dining-room, where are to be seen treasures of priceless worth. The first to attract attention is the table with its handsome base and claw feet; next a side-board, stately and grand. The china cabinet contains rare pieces of china, some of which are over eighty years old, notably a soup tureen with a cover and platter, a pitcher shaped much like the Greek olpe and of the palest shade of Delft blue, used for a sweet-milk pitcher. Among the treasures of the dining-room is a table cloth of damask exquisitely woven in figures of birds of Paradise. The center-piece, about one yard square, shows the birds of life size, and so perfectly was the weaving done that they seem to stand out in relief from the service; next to this center is a wide border of plain linen with a sheen of the finest satin; next to this is an outer border of woven figures of smaller birds mingled with leaves and flowers. This table cloth was used at the wedding of Elizabeth Alston Crawford to Joseph Reese, in 1814; at the wedding of Martha E. A. Reese to Rufus Jones, in 1840; at the wedding of Amanda Reese to Judge Martin Crawford, of Columbus, Ga., in 1842; and again at the wedding of the eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Rufus Jones, Miss Augusta Reese Jones, to Dr. Franklin Brevard Shuford, a gallant Confederate soldier and an eminent physician of Holly Springs. Stop for a moment and think of the distinguished men and cultured women who have sat around the table spread with this handsome damask, and been served from those precious dishes,—a sigh for the times that are past will come from the lips as you gaze upon these mementoes of that happy olden time.
In the chambers above, the furnishings would delight the eye of the connoisseur. Let a description of one room suffice. The bed-room set of four pieces and the chairs are of solid rosewood; the dressing case is low and has two drawers with swell front, and a cabinet on each side; the mirror is eighteen inches by thirty-six, of French plate glass; on either side of the mirror is a smaller cabinet with tiny drawers, just the size to hold a stock or collar; it is enough to make a lover of these dainty accessories of milady's toilette quite envious, and to wonder why all the dressers do not have such conveniences. The wash-stand and tiny work-table correspond in style and finish with the dressing-case. But the bedstead is the most attractive, because of its size and exquisite carving; it is seven and a half feet wide and eight feet long. The two sides and foot piece are low and beautifully hand-carved in conventional designs; the head-piece and canopy reach the ceiling, and the carving is in designs of fruits and leaves most exquisitely wrought. The other rooms are similarly furnished.
An ample portico extends part of the way across the front, the roof supported by smooth white columns; a balcony held by heavy brackets with an iron railing guards the door of the upper hall, and from this balcony a fine view of the park and the "City of Flowers"can be obtained. In the yard are fine old forest trees, around whose thunks the ivy clings riotously; vines are trained over the portico and around the balcony; rare flowers grow in profusion on the east side of the home.
As were most of the handsome homes of Holly Springs, this, too, was used at different times and by various Federal officers as headquarters while Grant's troops occupied the city. At one time Mrs. Jones and her family were ordered to vacate the house at once. She told the officer that she had no place to go and asked if she might not have the dining-room, which was then an ell-room. They told her no, as they needed that room to serve their meals in. Then she asked to be allowed to retain the kitchen, again she was refused; they needed the kitchen for cooking. She was obliged to seek shelter in the room of one of her servants, and see her large and comfortable home occupied by her country's foes.
At the time of Van Dorn's raid, December 20th, 1862 (see Publications of the Mississippi Historical Society, Volume IV.), the surgeon general of Grant's army and family were quartered there. When the Confederates clashed in, the doctor dashed out to some more reliable hiding place, and did not return for several hours after Van Dorn left. The doctor's wife was greatly distressed and making loud lamentations, when a young son of Mrs. Jones', a boy of nine or ten years of age, said to her "You needn't be scared, our soldiers don't fight women." She said she was alarmed about the doctor; the boy replied, "O, they'll let him go, he's a Doctor." This same small boy had felt the pangs of hunger more than once since the beginning of hostilities, and when Van Dorn broke open the stores and set fire to the buildings, provisions of every kind were scattered in every direction; hundreds of barrels of flour were rolling about the streets, and under the skillful manipulation of this same little boy one of them rolled into his mother's storeroom. He anticipated the speedy return of the Federal troops and surmised they might go hunting, therefore he emptied the flour into a cedar chest and burned the heads, hoops, and staves of the barrel, thus providing against the loss of his biscuit. A few hours later, he made another trip to the stores and saw casks of rice split open and the snowy grains sifting into the dust. He procured a sack and filled it with rice, getting about two bushels. Rice would not roll, so he caught an old army mule and got the rice up on its back and made his way home through the crowds of sol diers, horses and wagons unnoticed; and was sure of rations for a while.
Since 1874 the home has been owned and occupied by the eldest daughter, Mrs. Augusta Reese Shuford. One son lives at the Macon home; another lives at beautiful "Box Hill" in the western part of "The City of Flowers."
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