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The house that wasn't cursed

Brier Creek DAR Chapter in Screven trying to restore Dell Goodall house

The house that wasn't cursed

The house that wasn't cursed

The Dell Goodall House


       A single historic structure stands five miles north of Sylvania as the only evidence of the once booming town of Jacksonboro.
      And in its heyday, Jacksonboro was considered the most western frontier town of the United States.
      Named for the then governor of Georgia, Gen. James Jackson, the town held the county seat until a spring day in 1821 when the "curse" of a traveling preacher named Lorenzo Dow would change the face of the town forever.
       To commemorate the legendary story of Lorenzo Dow and the historic structure called the Seaborn Goodall house, the Brier Creek chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution held a birthday celebration for Dow Sunday. The event also helped raise money to restore the Goodall house.
      DAR chapter regent Dahlia Bearden said it was a celebration of history and storytelling. The story of a pioneer town, an upstanding citizen and a traveling preacher will be recounted on the front porch of the early 19th-century home.
      In its prime, Jacksonboro attracted adventurers and fugitives alike, becoming one of the wildest frontier towns of American history. Some historians say there were as many saloons as there were all other businesses combined and little to no civil authority in place.
       Traveling mostly on foot, Connecticut-born Lorenzo Dow spent 40 years answering a God-ordained calling to spread the gospel of Christ throughout the country and others, including England and Ireland. Spending most of this time along the Atlantic seaboard, Dow made at least four tours of Georgia, one of which included his short but historical visit to Jacksonboro.
      As was his custom, the itinerant Methodist preacher passed out hand bills when he arrived announcing his call for a church meeting that night.
      In the hands of the town rowdies, the announcement was the beginning of a plot to break up Dow's meeting.
      At the ringing of the church bell, citizens gathered to hear his message, not more than a few hundred yards from the saloons, where the town rebels also heeded the cue. Before the close of the song service, the crowd that had gathered outside began throwing pieces of brick and stone into the open windows of the church, shooting off pistols in the air, and exciting a ruckus until Dow was forced to close the meeting. After his congregation returned safely to their homes, however, Dow demanded confrontation with his foes.
      Charging into the saloon, he used an iron tool to overturn a barrel of whiskey, allowing its contents to spill onto the floor before anyone could stop him.
      But he was soon pinned to the floor, and he may have received a vicious beating had not Seaborn Goodall stepped in.
      One of the few men who stood for law and order in Jacksonboro, Dow was Goodall's guest in his home during his stay.
      Goodall took him back to his home, where he nursed his bruises and showed him the only Christian love Dow saw during his visit. Goodall advised Dow not to try preaching in Jacksonboro again.
      On his way out of town the next day, however, Dow was seized again as he passed a saloon. This time, he was placed between two wide boards, with men sitting on the top board as Dow was sandwiched between. When they let him go,    Dow retreated to the bridge over Beaver Dam Creek.
      There, it is said, he looked back and with a dramatic valediction, he dusted his feet of the town and pronounced an anathema, asking God to destroy the town as he did Sodom and Gomorrah, sparing only the home of Seaborn Goodall.
      Within a few years, floods, windstorms, and other natural disasters destroyed every building except one. After almost 200 years, the Goodall home still stands as a testament to Dow's short visit in Jacksonboro that spring day.
      Built in 1815 by Goodall himself, the house was home also to the Dell family in later years, and finally came into the hands of the Daughters of the American Revolution in the 1970s.
     The Brier Creek DAR chapter began a restoration project at that time, during which the house was cleaned up and after researching for accuracy, the group had the walls painted to match all the original colors in the house.
      Many antiques were donated to fill the house with period furniture, and the project was on its way to completion when the house was burglarized and almost all the antiques taken.
      After some years of little activity, the DAR members have embraced the project once again, desiring to see the house and its history gain the attention it should.
     Bearden said a renewed plan for restoration is the inspiration for Sunday's birthday celebration and fundraiser. The house stands just off Highway 301, where its white-columned face can be seen at the end of an otherwise deserted dirt road.
Local artist Janis Waters Boucher donated a painting of the house, which was displayed, and smaller prints of her artwork were available for purchase.

      All money raised will be used for future renovations and development, said Hilda Boykin, manager of Sylvania's Downtown Development Authority and Better Hometown program. Janette Tew, a DAR member in charge of the restoration committee, said the group had just enough money to start painting and local businesses are working with the DAR to get the job done, including Jeren Brown, owner of Brown's Construction, and Possum Eddy's.
      The downtown authority and DAR members have high expectations for one day fully furnishing the house with original replica furniture and eventually installing a burglary alarm system. Regular scheduled tours and reenactments are also hopes for the future of the Dell Goodall house, said Boykin.
      As an already popular stopping point for tourists, the final product is expected to create quite a draw for additional tourism. About once a week, passersby drop in at the Chamber inquiring about the house, said Heidi Jeffers, Screven Chamber executive director.
      "We just want this to be something the community can take pride in," Tew said.
      "Everyone is very excited about the work being done and the future of the Dell Goodall house," Jeffers said.

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