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Old News Stories
Visitor Describes Spring Place in 1907

From The Atlanta Constitution
April 22, 1907

Many Interesting Homes Are
Found in Murray County
by Carl Hutcheson

Spring Place, the county seat of Murray, and other sections of that bailiwick are possessed of many historic sites which have almost become legendary. The historical facts have been handed down from one generation to another and only the inhabitants of that vicinity have any knowledge of them.

For instance, Spring Place, which is about four miles from the Louisville and Nashville railroad and the only railway near there, is the second oldest municipality in the state, Savannah being the oldest. This town has a population of about 300 or 400. But with its small area and paucity of numbers the citizens have reason to be proud of their home. The most interesting of all of the sites associated with the early settlement of Georgia is a brick house erected by an old Indian chief, known as "Chief Van." The age of the edifice is unknown so far as the citizens of Murray county are aware. The building which is two stories in height is still in splendid condition and is well built. It has changed ownership several times during the past 200 years or less. Chief Van hauled the bricks in this dwelling from Savannah, they having been imported to that port from England.

It also contains an attic and the building is erected on the style of an old southern colonial home. The citizens terms the place, "The House of Mystery." It has many features peculiar to itself. As a predominate illustration, there is a stairway from the first to second floor, which makes many crooks and turns in different directions in its ascent, but at no place is there any support by columns or poles from the lower floor. No one has yet determined in what manner or by what means , this bric-a-brac of wood in the form of a staircase, is held intact, yet it is capable of supporting many tons of weight. It simply touches the bottom and the second floors. The residents call it "the suspension staircase."

Then, carving on the wainscoating and the woodwork, evidently done by hand, and singularly striking, is very marked and unlike anything seen in houses in these later days. There is also a huge mantel in one of the rooms and it is very high. The walls are plastered to a thickness of one inch. At one time, according to reports of citizens thereabouts, this house was used as a fort by the colonists. It is now the residence of one of the townsmen.

A few hundred yards from Chief Van's home, and on the opposite side of the road leading into the heart of Spring Place, still remains the old brick jail in which John Howard Paine, author of "Home, Sweet Home," was imprisoned by colonists for the offense of aiding and abetting the Indians. According to the legends of that part of the state, Paine secured his liberty by writing this beautiful song while a prisoner in this jail. It is contended by some people that the song was written by Paine while he was in England. Regardless of this, from good authority, that it was in this little old house that the author was imprisoned. It was afterwards used as a residence and is in fairly good shape.

To the north of Chattsworth, a new town which has recently sprung up on the Louisville and Nashville, is a range of tall mountains, with crests towering into the clouds, and set off with a bluish tint, presents some of the grandest scenery in the south. On the side of "Big Ben," the largest one of the range, is the ruin of an old fort used by the redskins when white men first penetrated those regions. The ruin is in such good condition, that the contour of the fort may easily be perceived. This country so near Atlanta's doors and presenting some splendid scenery, is practically unknown by Georgians.

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