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Wheeler Home, c. 1870
Wheeler Home, c. 1870 Photo:Mary N. Morris

Pond Spring and Wheeler Home

Set on 50 acres of land in Hillsboro, Alabama, Pond Spring is the site of the Wheeler Home, house of Confederate General Joseph Wheeler and his family. Pond Spring is situated in rural Lawrence County, 17 miles west of Decatur, and boasts 12 historic buildings surrounded by formal boxwood gardens and three family cemeteries.

Originally populated by Native-Americans, the area was settled by European-Americans first in 1818 when John P. Hickman and his family built several log structures on his 1760 acres and planted cotton; with the Hickmans came 56 African-American slaves who cleared the land and tended the cotton. In 1827, the Sherrod family bought Pond Spring and expanded the largest of two log dogtrot houses into a clapboard-covered Federal-style home. Col. Benjamin Sherrod was instrumental in building the first railroad in Alabama. Both the 1818 Hickman cabin and the Sherrod home still stand today.

General Wheeler came to Alabama during the Civil War in 1863, and met Benjamin Sherrod's wealthy widow, Daniella. Married in 1866, they built their home during the 1870s. It is connected to the original Sherrod home by a covered walkway. The Wheeler Home still contains many significant artifacts that had belonged to General Wheeler and his family: books, military items from the Civil and Spanish-American Wars, antique furniture, family portraits, and Victorian decorative arts.

General Wheeler was a national figure, serving as a Confederate Cavalry officer, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and a U.S. Major General during the Spanish-American War. One of his daughters, Annie Wheeler, lived in the house until her death in 1955. "Miss Annie" was a cotton planter, world traveler, and benefactress for the dozens of black and white tenants who worked her land. In 1994, General Wheeler's descendants donated Pond Spring to the State of Alabama and the Alabama Historical Commission.

In December 1999, the Alabama Historical Commission unveiled a bold five-to-eight-year development plan for the site, in which they would temporarily close the main buildings so they can be thoroughly reconditioned and restored. The plan provides for a new building to house artifacts and for extensive on-site archaeological investigations and historical research. The archaeological work will provide the public with the opportunity to understand people who lived in a different time and to see how artifacts recovered by archaeologists and historic items like old china and wallpaper are preserved and cared for.

Project documentation includes a two-page history of Pond Spring, a four-page press release of the Alabama Historical Commission outlining its development plan for Pond Spring, and 20 color slides with descriptions.

Originally submitted by: Robert B. Aderholt, Representative (4th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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