Turnwold Plantation


The Turner family, originally from Virginia, obtained their first property through the 1805 land lottery and within a few years purchased an adjoining plantation. The two combined properties formed Turnwold plantation. The growth and success of Turnwold is credited to brothers William and Joseph Turner. Of the two, more is known about Joseph because of his various writings.

Although Joseph's career included attending Emory at Oxford, teaching at the Pheonix School, studying law, and practicing law in Monticello and Eatonton, he is most known for publishing the Countryman, a local newspaper, from 1851 to 1866. Through his work with the Countryman he would meet and hire a shy young Joel Chandler Harris.

When Joseph married Louise Dennis, who was also from a wealthy family, he purchased a house from his father along with about a thousand acres. His plantation consisted of the print shop for the Countryman,a large library, a beaver hat factory, a carpentry shop, a blacksmith forge, and agricultural endeavors. Hired as a printer's devil, Joel Chandler Harris would become a valued friend of Joseph. From Joseph, young Harris would receive an education from the Phoenix school, access to the library, and the opportunity to publish some of his stories.

Joseph wrote an autobiography that provides wonderful glimpses into his life. The Turners were socially active and entertained their many friends at Turnwold. Joseph also served in the Georgia General Assembly on a committee concerned with standards for Georgia schools. Joseph also enjoyed solitary pleasures as well, being an avid reader and author of several poems, essays, and stories, in addition to his autobiography.

Losing much of his property to raiding Union troops, at the end of the Civil War Joseph moved to Eatonton where he tried to support his family by practicing law. However, in 1868, Joseph would lose his battle with chronic illness.

Turnwold Plantation is located nine miles northeast of Eatonton on old Phoenix Road. The oldest structure is the Alexander-Turner House, which was built in the early 1800s. A variant of the Plantation type, the house has a rectangular plan and two stories, with a gable roof and chimneys on either side. There is also a gabled roof ell in the rear. The exterior is covered in weatherboards. The inside of the house is an asymmetical two-over-two with an enclosed corner staircase. The inside finish consists of pine floors, wide-board wainscoating, plaster, and beaded beams. Alterations have been made over the years, such as the addition of new shutters, a bay window, alignment of the staircase, and a bathroom to name a few.

Turnwold The original site of the print shop is unknown. However, the shop was relocated in 1863 and that site is marked by foundation stones.

The literary importance of Turnwold is significant. It was at Turnwold that Harris got his inspiration for the "Uncle Remus" tales and other stories. In a work entitled On the Plantation, Harris uses a fictional character to depict his own arrival at Turnwold and the later arrival of Federal troops.


Homes Index
Information taken from Oconee River Tales to Tell by Katherine Walters and National Register Nomination form.

Created 17 July 2000. Last Updated Friday, December 15, 2000.
© 2000 Eatonton Literary Festival