Boom! Goes The Cannonball

Did you know?

Located in Downtown, Macon sits a home with an odd nickname.  The Cannonball House, formally Judge Asa Holt House, on Mulberry Street, is now home to a unique museum-like atmosphere, but some claim that it holds supernatural guests.  As always, before we discuss that, we must first share the history.

The Greek Revival style home was built by Judge Asa Holt in 1853.  Its original purpose was to house Judge Holt and his family.  In fact, this structure remained in his family through the Civil War and all the way up until the 1960s (that time frame is different according to other sources).  That’s when it was saved from destruction by the “United Daughters of the Confederacy.” 

Before July 30th, 1864, the home served no significant historical purpose outside of being a family residence.  However, on that summer day, the home would gain its reputation and its name.  A Civil War battle (Battle of Dunlap Hill) was being waged by the Union Army against the Confederates when a stray cannonball came from near what is now the Ocmulgee Mounds Nation Park (about 3 miles east of the home) near Clinton Road .  (The Battle of Dunlap Hill itself will be a separate story we present on a different day.)

That iron cannonball struck the sidewalk, one of the columns on the front of the home, and blasted through the front of the structure finally coming to rest in a hallway past the parlor.  Contrary to popular belief, no one was injured in the residence, and it was the only home damaged by the battle in Macon (disputed).

The following information came from different books at different libraries, and it is worth noting that it is disputed by Wikipedia and other sources.  This is information we dug up out of the genealogy and local history rooms from three separate libraries.

According to some sources, again disputed by others, the Holt family tried to escape before the battle came near Macon.  They fled to Holts’ other plantation home in Jefferson County, not knowing that they were fleeing right into the path of more Union Soldiers.  Although that plantation home was spared, Judge Asa Holt would suffer.

First, all of their livestock was killed.  Holt had a warehouse with 200 bales of cotton in it as well; it was burned to the ground.  All valuables and food from the home were taken.  Worst of all, however, Judge Asa Holt was hanged not once, not twice but three times out of an attempt to torture him to get information about “hidden gold.”  He was described as “barely alive” after the third hanging.  He did indeed survive the ordeal.  As we mentioned, there is a record of this happening, but there’s no way of telling what is true or not.

Today, like we’ve already stated, the gorgeous home has been repaired and stands as a testament to conserving the antebellum history of the Civil War while helping to educate others.  It is said that the home is host to “ghostly” happenings, especially near the servant’s quarters by a “childlike” “spirit.”  As always, this is, of course, just lore and lore and legends, or is it?  Go visit, ask around, and decide for yourself!

The Cannonball House, Macon, Georgia


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