Local Home Once Used as Civil War Base
The Allen Turner law office on East Memorial Drive was once a base for Generals William Sherman and James McPherson.
When Frank and Betty Sparti bought the historic Henderson house on East Memorial Drive, they got out their metal detectors and checked the home for hidden treasure.
What they didn’t expect to find, though, were human bones. In the cellar, their then-9-year-old son found the first of what would be around 20 amputated bones from Civil War soldiers.
“My husband recognized what it was because his family is in the medical profession,” Betty Sparti said.
When they took the bone to Sparti’s brother-in-law, he confirmed that it was a tibia that had been cut at the top and shattered at the bottom. That find is what sparked Sparti’s interest in researching the history of the house.
“I’ve always been a history buff,” Sparti said. “I just started researching. I couldn’t find a lot of history.”
The house was built in 1854 by Angus Johnson, who served as an inferior court justice from 1855-1860 and was a state senator from Paulding County from 1857-1858. He also was state representative when he lived in Cobb County.
Johnson left Paulding County under “mysterious circumstances,” abandoning the “enormous” amount of property he owned and moving his family to Texas, Sparti said.
“According to a book I read, back then, people didn’t move to Texas unless they were trying to escape legal or financial troubles,” Sparti said.
After Johnson left town, the house was sold to Jackson Gregory, a local retailer, in an auction on the courthouse steps. The house next was sold to Jacob Owen, a Methodist preacher and tannery owner who was the richest man in Paulding County at the time. When Owen saw his name on a list of eligible soldiers, he fled and sold his property to three men from Floyd County—Miles Reese, Dennis Hills and Charles Mills—who Sparti said also were fleeing the war.
“As it turned out, they shouldn’t have come to Paulding County because their house was occupied by Union soldiers,” Sparti said.
At that point, the house was occupied and used as base for Generals William Sherman and James McPherson. When the army left, the house was used as an infirmary for wounded soldiers.
“When McPherson left, left all southern prisoners that were badly wounded there in care of homeowners,” Sparti said. “Just about every house that was around there had wounded soldiers. All the citizens basically were taking care of wounded soldiers. It really was a terrible time for Paulding County.”
When the house was no longer occupied, it was sold to Cornelius Forsyth, Reese’s son-in-law. It then changed hands several more times. In 1894, it was sold to John Henderson, for whom it is named. The Hendersons were the last family to use the house as a home, and it remained in the Henderson family for almost 100 years before being sold to Don and Marsha Rauscher, who opened The Henderson House Restaurant.
“A lot of people remember the house as being a restaurant,” Sparti said.
The house was owned by two other people before the Spartis bought it as a location for Frank Sparti’s law office. The couple built a house behind the main house that is now rented out to other business owners. That building was built with the same measurements and plans as the front house.
“We had a really good builder to come out there, and he based it on the same plans as the old house,” Sparti said.
Eventually, the Spartis sold the house to its current owner Allen Turner, who uses it for his law office.
“I was struck by how many people owned it and their histories,” Sparti said. “I found out more about their families than I know about my own. It’s just amazing how many people lived in this house and what all they did. They served in so many different capacities in Paulding County.”