Archive for April 7th, 2014

In Search of William Starr Basinger: Lots 37, 38, and 22

April 7, 2014

In the “Personal Reminiscences” of William Starr Basinger, he writes about his time in Dahlonega.  They rented a house from an Allen family, then decided to buy another house and add on to that house to accommodate the six children. That house was on lots 37 and 38, and later he bought town lot 22 for a vegetable garden and stable.

We walked about the town and the neighborhood northwest of the square, because we knew that the lots 37 and 38 were northwest of the square.  No houses matched the one in the photo that Sugar had.  (I apologize.  I don’t have the photo of the house.  I’ll have to wrest it away from Sugar and scan it.)

We walked up Church Street, andohmyheartbestill, there was a fabric and yarn shop on the left in an enormous old house.  I decided it might be best if I investigated this house while Sugar walked on, even though the orientation of the street slope and the facade of the house was wrong.  You know, just in case, and perhaps have a peek at the yarns and fabrics.  The super-nice shopkeeper, whose name I did not get said that the house was once owned by a person associated with the university, but it definitely was not the house we wanted.  We went about our business.  Sugar found me with my hands in a yarn bin, up to the elbows.

So, onward.  At the crest of the northwest quadrant, there was an empty lot full of trees and daffodils.  There clearly was once a house here, and there were terraced areas, and brickwork around the trees, but Sugar was sure that this was not it.

We walked on, and came to a historical marker that strangely I didn’t photograph.  Through the magic of the internet, I present this link to the historical marker that is a much better history than I could have provided. (Spoiler alert:  Photo #3 facing southwest – the house on the left, which is actually rental property, perhaps apartments, in on the lot 37 that William Starr Basinger owned.  We didn’t know it at the time.  I know, I know, we were walking all around it all morning.  *sigh*)

We walked further, and around, and perhaps went all the way around Robin Hood’s barn without finding the house.  Yes, we were the insane-looking people walking and staring looking at houses, all squinty-eyed.  Yet, the nice people of Dahlonega did not call the authorities on us.

Then it was off to the courthouse with us to look at actual records.




So Sugar took this book and started looking, page by page, line by line, for his great-grandfather.  He didn’t find a record of a purchase of lots 37 and 38.



Then he said, “Here it is.”  He did find Lot 22.



The index showed that he purchased lot 22 from N. H. Hand, and we pulled the actual book with the transaction on page 431.




Georgia      )                                             This Indenture made

)the 28th day of October A. D. 1889 between

Nathan H. Hand of White Plains in the State of

New York of the first part and William S. Basinger

of Dahlonega in the State of Georgia of the second part.

Whereas the said party of the first part by deed dated

the 28th day of November A. D. 1883 and recorded in

the office of the Clerks of the Superior Court of Lumpkin…






If we only had a map.  We saw a map on the wall, a large, framed map of the town lots.  It was too high for us to read the lot numbers.  If there had not been another person in the records room, I would have stood on the table under the map.  I used the zoom feature on the camera to get a shot, but the glare from the overhead lights reflected on the glass.  (Later, when we learned the location of the lots, I added the lot numbers to the photo.)



None of the staff could help us locate another map.  One staff member said that the frame was bolted to the wall by the maintenance man, and when I used the camera’s tripod to point to the lot numbers, she cautioned me to not tap the glass, so that the map didn’t fall off the wall.

We left at that point, because there seemed to be nothing left for us to do.

It’s just about lunchtime, and it’s time to meet up with Robbie with the Lumpkin County Historical Society, who just happens to own Coloth Type and Graphic Arts on the Square.  So we park on the square in front of her office and call her, and explain the dilemma that the house that his great-grandfather lived in was not the Vickery House after all, it was a house that is no longer standing, and we can’t tie the photo of the house to a specific lot. She said that was even better because it is lost history regained.

Sugar presents her with a photo of the house, and a photo of the Basinger family.


This was the magical moment that everyone that has ever done historical research longs for.  It’s the presentation to someone who is so stinkin’ enthusiastic about what you have done that you just feel like royalty, of sorts.  Suddenly, in one fell swoop, the town has gained a bit of information regarding a family, a house, a President of the college, a history, and a link to the present.

It was a good day.  The oysters and we headed over the line for Tennessee, where Sugar’s cousin waited.