Chronology of the Boyhood Home of
President Woodrow Wilson in Augusta, Georgia
Erick D. Montgomery
Historic Augusta, Inc.
P. O. Box 37
Augusta, Georgia 30903
1849 – Joseph Ruggles Wilson (1822-1903) and Janet E. Woodrow (1826-1888) are married in Chillicothe, Ohio. Joseph is a native of Stuebenville, Ohio, the son of Scots-Irish immigrants, James and Anne (Adams) Wilson. His father was a prominent newspaper publisher. Janet, usually known as Jessie, or Jeanie, was born in Carlisle, England, the daughter of the Rev. Thomas Woodrow and his first wife, Marion Williamson. The Woodrows immigrated to New York in 1836, thence to Canada, and settled in Chillicothe, Ohio in 1837.
1849 – Joseph Wilson is ordained as a minister in the Presbyterian Church and accepts a call to the Chartiers Presbyterian Church in Washington County, Pennsylvania.
1850 – Marion Morton Wilson is born in the Chartiers Manse in Washington County, Pennsylvania on October 20th, the first child of Joseph and Jessie Wilson. Shortly afterwards, Joseph Wilson accepted the professorship of Chemistry and Natural Philosophy at Hampden-Sydney College in Prince Edward County, Virginia.
1853 – Annie Josephine Wilson is born at Hampden-Sydney, Virginia on September 8th, the second child of Joseph and Janet Wilson.
1855 – Joseph Wilson accepts a call to the pastorate of the Presbyterian Church in Staunton, Virginia, and moves there with his family.
1856 – Thomas Woodrow Wilson is born on December 28th at the Presbyterian Manse in Staunton, Virginia, the third child and first son of Joseph Ruggles Wilson and Janet E. (Woodrow) Wilson. He is called “Tommy” by his family.
1857 – After meeting members of the Augusta congregation while performing the wedding ceremony of his brother-in-law, Rev. James Woodrow, in Dalton, Georgia, Joseph Ruggles Wilson is offered the pastorate of First Presbyterian Church in Augusta, Georgia.
1858 – The Reverend Doctor Wilson begins his duties as pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Augusta, on the first Sunday in January. He moves his family to the existing manse in the present 600 block of Greene Street. The family consisted of his wife, Janet E. "Jessie" Wilson; his daughters, Marion Morton Wilson and Annie Josephine Wilson; and his 12 month old son, Thomas Woodrow Wilson.
1859 – Aaron H. Jones, an Augusta stove and tin ware merchant, purchases the lot at the northwest corner of McIntosh (Seventh) and Telfair Street and begins the erection of a two-story brick house with detached kitchen and servant's wing and a brick stable.
1860 – The Trustees of the Presbyterian Church are so pleased with the services of their pastor, the Rev. Dr. Wilson, that they offer him a raise and a new Manse. The recently erected house at the northwest corner of McIntosh (Seventh) and Telfair Streets is acquired at a cost of $10,000 from Aaron H. Jones.
1860 – Tommy Wilson's first memory is standing at the gate of his father's home in Augusta in November, and hearing two men pass saying that Lincoln had been elected and there would be war. Not quite four years old, he ran inside to ask his father what it meant.
1861 – The Rev. Dr. Wilson and First Presbyterian Church in Augusta host the meeting of the First General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States in December.
1865 – Tommy Wilson watches as Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America, is led through the streets of Augusta in chains on his way to prison at Fortress Monroe.
1866 – About this time, Tommy Wilson begins his formal education in Augusta under the tutelage of Dr. Joseph Tyrone Derry. Schoolmates include his next-door neighbor, Joseph Rucker Lamar (later Supreme Court Justice); Pleasant A. Stovall (later Minister to Switzerland); Thomas R. Gibson (later U.S. Consul to Beirut), and William Albert Keener (later Dean of the Law School at Columbia University). Another friend is William H. Fleming (later U.S. Congressman).
1867 – The youngest sibling in the Wilson Family, Joseph Ruggles Wilson, Jr., is born in the Augusta Manse on July 20th, the fourth child and second son.
1870 – The Rev. Dr. Joseph R. Wilson is called by his denominational leaders to become a Professor at Columbia Theological Seminary in Columbia, South Carolina. The Family moves to Columbia in the fall of the year.
1871-1930 – The Presbyterian Manse is used by five successive pastors and their families.
1901 – The front porch is added to the Manse.
1911 – The kitchen wing is connected to the house.
1911 – Governor Woodrow Wilson of New Jersey, contemplating a run for the Presidency, visits Augusta for several days. On Sunday, November 19th he attends church at First Presbyterian and has lunch at the Manse with the current pastor, the Rev. Dr. Joseph R. Sevier.
1930 – After having been used by the Presbyterian Church as a Manse for 70 years, the house is sold to Mr. and Mrs. William Peebles as a private residence.
1976 – The estate of May Booth Peebles sells the property to Bill Moore and Thomas Rosier. They convert the house into a beauty parlor and florist shop and briefly open it as a house museum.
1991 – Historic Augusta, Inc. purchases the house from Bill Moore, at auction for $200,000. The money was granted for the purpose by the City of Augusta.
1992 – Norman D. Askins of Atlanta is hired as the project architect, and directs a study to determine the architectural changes that have occurred at the house. The team also includes David C. Crass, Ph.D., who directs an archaeological investigation and Erick D. Montgomery, who conducts extensive historical research. The findings are combined into a report published in February 1994.
1995 – Following the recommendation of the report and advise from other presidential site managers, Historic Augusta, Inc. purchases the Joseph R. Lamar Boyhood Home, next door to the Wilson House, at 415 Seventh Street, to be used for interpretive space and support facilities for the Presidential Site. Purchase price is $175,000 which comes from a grant from the City of Augusta.
2001 – After ten years of planning and restoration, the Boyhood Home of President Woodrow Wilson in Augusta, Georgia is opened for tours as a house museum by Historic Augusta, Inc.