David Shelton Mansion

Talbot Mansion Georgia - Maddox Genealogy

A Virginian, David Shelton, came to Talbot County, GA after 1830 as one of the county's largest slaveholders.  In 1840, he had 25 male and 26 female slaves in quarters.  Two of them engaged in professions, or trades, perhaps blacksmithing, shoemaking or carpentry, and 33 in agriculture.

No stranger to important estates of Shelton families long prominent in Louisa and Hanover Counties, Virginia, David Shelton erected the seat of his plantations about 1852-53.    More than 1,500 acres of land surrounded the place.

Today, the mansion is admired by architects, historians and preservationists, an acknowledged and rare Southern gem of antebellum Greek Revival architecture in a grand local interpretation of the "temple style."  ("Antebellum" is Latin, "Ante" (before) "Bellum" (the war), meaing Before the Civil War.)

David Shelton died in 1854.  When his "choice plantation was offered for sale..about 1,100 acres of land were cleared and 'well fenced'.  The house and plantation were described in the Columbus Enquirer (in 1855):

There is upon the premises...a splendid Dwelling, newly lay and elegantly finished, with the convenient and necessary buildings.  The yard, gardens, &c, are all tastily laid out, neatly and newly paled in.

At a convenient distance, and a little removed from the town, is a comfortable building, a suitable residence for the overseer, near which is a large number of framed negro houses, and all other buildings useful to a large plantation. (overseer: a plantation employee responsible to supervise the work of the owner's slaves.)

On the place is an extensive orchard, with every variety of fruit tress that can be cultivated in this climate.  The plantation is well arranged, the fields of convenient and suitable size, most of them having running water in them, with strong and substantial gates entering into each.

At the time (November 1855)...Talbottom was a noted Georgia town of culture, educational facilities and fine residences.

David Shelton was born in Louisa County, Virginia, about 1804.  He married Sarah Dyer at Milledgeville, GA in 1823.  They lived in Baldwin County for the intervening years before settling in Talbot County.  In 1850, Shelton was 46, owning $31,000 of real estate.  They had three children, ages 21, 18, and 2.  In addition to his interests as a planter, he was a noted lumberman and he owned the largest sawmilling operation in the county during the antebellum era.  It was called Shelton Mills and the timber resources were supurb, since, "the large body of heavy timbered pine land attached to the mill furnishes an inexhaustible quantity of timber for all time to come."

Shelton Mills began in 1845 when David Shelton erected a damn across Juniper Creek.  His slaves were engaged in the work of building the dam, a millrace through which the water flowed to the wheel, and a building to house the sawmill and grist mill.   (millrace:  the path or channel for water, like a canal, narrowed so the water will flow quickly into the mechanism continuiously.)

David Shelton died in 1854.  He made gifts in his will of his slaves to his daughter, naming some of the slaves by name, such as Mary, a woman and her children, Fanny, Cheney, Julia, Cornelia, and Louis as well as others.  He directed the rest of his vast estate be sold at auction.  Through the years, it has been said that David Shelton was buried on the plantation land he loved, but if so, the spot is now forgotten.  It is not known where Mrs. Shelton and others of the family are buried.

Shelton, concerned about he future welfare of his slaves after his death, wrote in his last will, that "Those of my legatees to whom in the division of my estate my old family slaves may fall, I hereby enjoin it on them to treat such slaves kindly, to take good care of them and favor them all they can."

The Shelton mansion was sold in 1944, in 1960, in 1966, and again in 1970.  The 1960 sale was to Roy and Beatrice Brooks who were collectors of antiques and Civil War memorabilia.  They named the house "Rebel Ridge" and many will recall the Parrott gun on the lawn and the Confederate Flag fluttering from the Balcony.

Before 1983, the mansion was restored to original glory by Otis Nathaniel and Nora Kelly Maddox.  Her taste in appropriate furnishings for each room, bearing in mind its original function as much as possible, was remarkable.  While Mrs. Maddox was in the business of selling antiques,  anything sold from the house was usually for something else she had in mind for upgrading of the contents.  They had a shop in the back yard of the mansion, called "Maddox Antiques."  Mrs. Maddox died in a 1979 car accident.  Her widower describe the mansion as "the place...truly a monument to her energy and ability."

The Shelton Mansion was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

--excerpted by Webmaster, from William H. Davison's, "A Rockaway in Talbot, Travels in a Old Georgia County, 1983, Hester Printing.  Researched by Dot Bishop.