Fort Hollingsworth was first shown on a map of the Defensive Plan for the Western Frontier, for Franklin County in 1793.
Georgia’s boundaries in the 1700’s can best be described as the wild frontier. Between 1782 and 1797 various treaties were made with the Indians to define Georgia’s boundaries. Forts were built to protect the settlers who lived on the frontier from local indigenous Indians who were likely to be incited by misunderstandings. Horses and farm animals were often stolen and families had to be protected in fortress-type buildings surrounded by wooden fences.
The lands of the first settlers of Franklin County, whose lands were granted by the State of Georgia between 1783 and 1788, lay north of the Indian Boundary fixed by the treaty of 1785. These lands were granted under the impression that they lay south of the agreed boundary line. When this line was surveyed it was found that these lands lay north of the boundary line in the Cherokee Nation. The Indians demanded their immediate removal.
Fort Hollingsworth, otherwise known as the White House, was in the Cherokee Nation. When the boundary lines were redrawn, it was in Franklin County, then in Habersham County and finally in Banks County (1858).
William Wofford and Jacob Hollingsworth moved from North Carolina to Franklin County, Georgia in 1792. The area where they settled was known as Wofford’s Settlement.
When the line was surveyed and Col. Wofford learned that their settlement was considered to be in Indian territory, he along with other settlers in the area, petitioned Georgia Governor James Jackson to have the line re-drawn, or to take such action to protect them and their possessions from Indian raids.
Some sources claim that he mounted his horse and rode to Washington to talk with the authorities about his land holdings in Georgia. The result was the “Four Mile Purchase” of 1804. The Indians ceded a strip of land four miles wide (from the Habersham – Banks County line on Baldwin Mountain, to Line Baptist Church on old Hwy. 441) and 23 miles long (extending from Currahee Mountain to the head waters of the South Oconee River) which included the Wofford Settlement. A line of felled trees some twenty-feet wide originally marked the line, which became a “no man’s land.” The United States agreed to pay the Cherokees $5,000 and $1,000 per annum for the property rights.
By about 1796, conflicts with local Indian tribes were no longer a concern and the string of frontier forts were no longer necessary. The forts soon became log farmhouses.
The Wofford’s and Hollingsworth’s traveled together to new frontiers in the West using passports to travel through Indian territory. Genealogy records show, as the years passed, that many of their descendants packed up their belongings and moved farther west. Fort Hollingsworth was left on vacant lands.
In Habersham County Inferior Court, setting as a land court, May term 1855, William B. Wofford, son of Nathaniel Wofford, grandson of Col. William Wofford, petitioned the court for a head rights warrant for vacant lands. He received the grant from the state on Oct. 2, 1855. He sold Fort Hollingsworth to Robert McMillian on April 18, 1857. McMillan soon after sold the property to John Lane.
John Lane Obtains Fort Hollingsworth
Lane owned the property for a little over a month when the Civil War started. He then went to war, serving in Company D of the 43rd Regiment of Georgia (CSA). He also served in the Volunteer Infantry in the Army of Tennessee (CSA), otherwise known as the “Middle River Volunteers.” Lane would not return from his service in the Confederate States Army. He was killed in Tennessee while he was returning from getting water from a spring in a friendly fire incident. His men mistook him for the enemy and shot him.
The White House
Joshua White and Katharine Lane White (John’s sister) obtained the fort and made it their home. They built the addition to the two story single pen that had been the fort and made it look like any other farmhouse of the mid 1800’s. The addition was linked to the original structure by a covered walkway, known as a dogtrot.
In 1903 the fort was passed to the children of Joshua and Katharine Lane White. Lafayette (Fate) and Emma Payne White raised their family there. In 1936 Beacher White, grandson of Josh and Katy White, acquired the property. In 1980 it passed to Beacher and Mellie Segars White’s children.
Fort Hollingsworth-White House looks very much today as it did in the 1860’s. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Beacher & Mellie’s children placed Fort Hollingsworth-White House in a non-profit organization, Friends of the Fort.