Claude Reese

Claude Reese

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The Longwood House

These houses are in the western part of Greenwood.

The house belonging to the estate of James Hayes was built in 1849 by E. George.  The house is built entirely of heart pine lumber.  The simple frame house is structurely fitted together with wooden pegs and square cut nails.  The interior plan of the house features four large rooms, two of each side of the central entrance hall.  Each room has its own fireplace.  When the house was built, the kitchen was not part of the hosue.  In 1860, a kitchen was added to the rear of the original structure and architecturally designed for the house.  

According to present known records, the house has had many owners in its long history.  In 1867, the house belonged to Margaret Hunter, who sold it to Nepoleon Long.  Therafter, the house belonged to the Long family for many generations.  Some of its owners were Napoleon Riley, Cicero and Paul Long.  In 1947, Paul Long sold the house to Wallace Pender.  Mr. Pender and his family lived in the house for 24 years and sold it in 1970 to Aaron Burdick.

Mr. and Mrs. Garland Basford bought the house in 1971.  The Basfords began the restoration in October of 1975.  With the assistance of Mr. Coulliette, they completely restored the house.

The Basfords chose to call the house "Longwood" in tribute to the Long family, who owned the house for most of its 127 years.  The house faces Fort Road in the western part of Greenwood.

The house is now owned by P. D. Anderson  Cited from:

Longwood-House-PhyllisBrook Anderson Bowman, who owns both houses, has an abstract going back to January 5, 1839 which shows John Syfrett, who built the Erwin House, received a grant from the government on that date for 160 acres.

He sold 280 acres to Mary Robert on December 15, 1851 for $1,600. There were several other owners following.

Henry Bryan sold 190 acres to James Hays February 28, 1854. Mr. Hays was killed in battle in North Georgia on January 1, 1864 and his wife, Sara Ann, then became the sole owner of the property. She owned it until 1872 when a foreclosure was made on it. At that time Frank Phillip surveyed the property and divided it into small plots and made a map of the property. Mrs. Hays passed away on January 20, 1879.

I am bringing this part of the history in to show what typically happened to the planters under carpet bagger rule (1865-1872) which was known as the second rebellion in which there were 150 unsolved murders in Jackson County.

Phyllis DeLong Anderson, Brook's mother bought the house from Joy and Garland Basford in 1981. She and her husband were from the Utah-Wyoming area. They migrated to Michigan and later bought property in south Florida. They maintained the two homes until Mr. Anderson passed away. Then she decided to sell both of those houses and settle in this area. In house hunting, she came across the Longwood house and noted the people were loading their furnishings to move away. She bought the house that day. She passed away in June 2008 at the age of 97 which at that time Brook Bowman inherited the house and is proud to live in it!


The Erwin House Part 3

The Erwin house has never been opened to the public. The Pender family invited me in to make pictures that I may share with you. Descendants of J.M.F. Erwin and Georgia Bryan Erwin have occupied the house since 1861.

It is filled with wonderful treasures they have accumulated over 160 years. The house is delightfully decorated. If you appreciate getting to see the interior of the house, please let the Pender family know.

We start with a portrait of Colonel Erwin in his Confederate uniform. It hangs over the mantel in the parlor.
Kim Bryan Pender, presently resides here was painted by her mother-in-law, Jane Ludlum Pender in 1989. It hangs over the mantel in the dining room.

The Rosewood Steinway Grand Piano number 875 was a wedding gift from
Mr. Erwin to his bride in 1859. They married in 1861. It sits in the northwest corner of the parlor.

Northeast corner of the parlor. Looking through the doorway into the hall you can see the stairway.

The 78 RPM phonograph still works. It probably dates to the 1920s. These are located in the southeast corner of the parlor.

The dining room looking south. The parlor is seen through the door.

The dining room looking north.

erwin-house-17The entry, which is typical of all the antebellum houses in Greenwood. They have double doors, a transom and side lights to let light into the room, as there is no place to put windows. Great Oaks is an exception to this, in that the entrance hall extends forward off the front wall 8 feet, thus permitting side windows to be installed. Remember, it was the last built.
In this picture you see one of the real treasures the family saved. That is the crossbar on the door for additional security.

The upper hall showing the 1850s staircase. Note especially the shiplap board on the right side indicating this was once an open area.

In the picture below, the trunk was carried to West Point in 1890 by Isaac Erwin when he was a cadet. He was the son of J.M.F. and Georgia Bryan. The trunk still contains his military records and he fought in the Spanish-American war and retired from the Army as a Colonel. Colonel Irwin is buried in the Greenwood Baptist Cemetery

Upstairs, the east bedroom. An interesting collection of antiques which probably date from about the 1860s and 1870s. The doll bed at the foot of the antique bed belonged to Georgia when she was a little girl living at Great Oaks.

The West Bedroom. The bed is referred to as a Jenny Lind style. Note the two marble top washstands of similar design except for their width. Wardrobes were used because the early homes had no closets.

The Erwin House Part 2

I've been reviewing Dr. Shoffner's History of Jackson County and Stanley’s History of Jackson County (1950) so we can reflect on our early history.

In 1822 there were only two towns in Florida, St. Augustine and Pensacola. In 1826 people could buy land from the federal government by bid. Most of it was bought for about a $1.25 per acre. That was the year Elijah Bryan got his first land. From that time on every account I’ve read always considered the land the land in north Jackson County to be the richest in Florida. People were moving in, mostly from North Carolina and Georgia and establishing their plantations.

Social affairs and government were developing rapidly. The first grand jury met in 1824 at Widow Hull's place. They reported nothing of a criminal nature was brought before them and they knew nothing of that sort in the county.

On May 8, 1825, the first election held in the territory was to elect their representative to Congress. Here are the results of that race. Notice we have changed in three years from four counties to ten and Jackson casts the most votes.


Roads were needed and contracts were let for them. They were usually about 8 feet wide and were made by merely cutting the trees. Often there were no bridges. The people traveled by ox cart, wagons and carriages. If they couldn't ford the stream, they just didn't go.

As an indication of how this area was developing faster than the rest of the state, the first constitution was written at St. Joseph (now Port St. Joe) in 1838. At that time we had four towns in the county. They were Ocheesee, Marianna, Webville and Campbellton and we had about 4,500 people.

In 1860, Key West and Pensacola were the largest cities in the state, each having about 2,900 people. Our main ports were Pensacola, Fernandina, St. Augustine, Jacksonville and Cedar Key. At that time it was virtually impossible to go over land to Pensacola. People wishing to go there usually went to Neal’s Landing and took a steamboat to Apalachicola, then a coastal steamer.

With that background we go back to the Erwin House.

During the 1850s John M.F. Erwin had the largest store in Greenwood. It was located in his yard at the intersection of Fort and Bryan Roads. In 1852, he was an active leader in the development of the Democratic Party, along with John Coe, John Milton and James F. McClellan. The Greenwood Post Office was opened in 1848 and he served as Post Master in 1857. He was elected to the State House of Representatives in 1858 as the Democrats were rising in power and the Whigs were declining. On 22, September 1860 he was commissioned as Captain in State Forces by the Secretary of State. He resigned his commission in 1864 to become a member of the Florida Legislature.

After the war, a convention was held in Tallahassee on 25, October 1865 to set up a government to replace the Confederate Government. Allen Bush, F.B. Callaway and Felix Lesley represented Jackson County. They repealed the secession ordinance repudiated the state debt and abolished slavery. They also called for a state militia. John M.F. Erwin was appointed Lieutenant Colonel of its first regiment. This was a very difficult position in a very difficult time.

From this time on, all conditions in Jackson County declined. At times the place was under marshal law with federal troops stationed here. Elections were abolished with all offices filled by the federally appointed Governor. Many of the planters lost their land. Schools were closed. Many churches ceased to meet. All public offices were filled by carpetbaggers, scalawags or freed slaves. Vigilante groups roamed the county. Over a 150 people were murdered and not a single person was ever convicted for any of these. In 1871, Secretary of State Jonathan C. Gibbs, a black man made an investigation and reported the following:


The end view shows an addition to the Erwin House. A story has been handed down through the family since the war indicating that a man known as a night rider dwelt there. He was never seen.

In the next picture made in an upstairs bedroom Laurence Pender III is standing by the door where he put out his hand to receive food. When things settled down the hand was never seen again.

Think of the amazing change that occurred from the 1825 Grand Jury Report to 1871. After an election held in 1876 the carpetbaggers and scalawags left the state, and normalcy began to return.

The Erwin House Part 1

Built by John A. Syfrett who bought 150 acres in 1839. He probably built the house then. There is some evidence existing that the Syfrett's may have squatted on the land as early as 1837*.

If we did not have this information we would probably fairly well determine its age by its appearance. There are many very old houses across the south of this type. Two rooms wide with a hall between them, two rooms high and one room deep. Usually, an addition has been made to the back. The Hayes-Long Mansion is one of this type.

It is obvious Mr. Syfrett did not have the means of his neighbors, but he did the best he could with what he had.

We notice that the weather boarding cross the front is eroded, but not as much as the ends. This tells us the house has not been painted at all times and there has been sometimes when it did not have a porch or the siding had not been there from the beginning.

The building is smaller than its neighbors. When we go inside we see the hall has wood walls. The boards look like ship lap that was always used under porch roofs, so this suggests this hall may have been an open passage way at one time. The two side rooms are plastered. The stair case has a hand rail that seems to be of much higher quality wood and workmanship suggesting it is not original to the house. The present hand rail came from a house that was being razed in Columbus, Georgia.

The doors are smaller than average and also and have two vertical panels as do all the antebellum homes in our area except Great Oaks which has four panel doors. The doors are 6' – 8" high which is today's standard. The down stairs ceilings are 10' and upstairs are 8'.

Great Oaks, the last built of the pre-war houses has 12' down stairs and 13' upstairs.

Since I made those observations and conjectures, Lawrence Pender II, who now owns the house and adjoining Pender's Store has given me a 9 page paper put together in 1993 by his late wife Jane Ludlum. It's a compilation of things she learned in visits with Miss Lucy Erwin and Patty Pender, Lawrences' Aunt and Mother who were grand daughters of JMF and Georgia Bryan Erwin. The following is an excerpt from the first page which pretty well confirms my observations and opinions. We will refer to it more as we go along. Jane was a very active member of the local historic society and did a lot of research on the houses of Greenwood. The booklet of the self guided tours of Marianna and Greenwood contains this information on the Greenwood houses.

The Erwin House (Excerpt from the Self Guided Tour Booklet)

Built in the 1830s by John A. Syfrett, the house at first did not have a porch and veranda. The house was a single room on each side of a hall upstairs and downstairs. The halls faced with wide board lumber were open with no doors. The rooms are of plaster. The halls, called a dog-run, had a staircase that was two-sided. It went up from the front and from the back.

In 1851 the house was sold to Mary Roberts, guardian for Hiram Roberts. It is said the Roberts were kin to Dr. Gorri, inventor of the ice machine. He stayed with them in the house. In 1852 the house was sold to Henry Bryan. Henry rented the store on the southwest corner of the yard known as The Erwin Store. Later the store was called Erwin and Hart. Henry Bryan lost the house. His daughter Sarah and her husband, Dr. Franklin Hart bought it for the highest bid in 1855. During this time the dog-run was enclosed and doors put in. The porches and verandas were added. The cornices in the master bedroom and parlor were brought by Mrs. Hart from her plantation in Georgia. In 1861 the house was sold to John M.F. Erwin. His portrait hangs in the parlor. His wife, Georgia Bryan Erwin, was the daughter of Elijah Bryan. The house had a veranda across the back of the house as well as the front. John M.F. Erwin added the dining room and the small room next to the dining room onto the house. To do this he removed the upstairs veranda on the back and the downstairs porch on the west side of the house. If you go out back and look up above the dining room you can see where the door once led out onto the veranda.

Lawrence Pender III and his family now live in the house. Lawrence is the principal of Sneads High School. His wife Kim teaches at Golson Elementary School and they have have two children, Lawrence and Isaac.
*From Florida's Antebellum Homes, by Wynne and Parks 2004.

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