The story in the Oct. 31 News-Times, "Familiar haunts," has a few problems.
Sean Jointer did not do his research on the old Cedar Grove Estate. Benjamin Berry built the house and planted the Cedar trees. The son buried on the property is the son of Ben and Frances. Ben died; his grave is at the old Red Creek Cemetery off Old Evans Road. His wife Frances E. (Alexander) Berry had two grown daughters during the War Between the States.
The widow Berry, along with other ladies, helped to sew uniforms in Augusta. There she met George Washington Evans Jr., former mayor of Augusta and quartermaster and chief of the Georgia Clothing Bureau in Augusta. G.W. Evans was never a Confederate General; this was a title he brought from Burke County.
G.W. Evans was born in 1803 in Augusta, studied at Richmond Academy and at 18 moved to a plantation in Burke County. In 1822 he married Mary A. Gresham of Walton County. They had 11 children.
In 1843, G.W. Evans moved back to Augusta and entered the mercantile business and politics. His wife Mary died in 1864. Evans married the widow Berry in 1864 after he signed away all claims to the Cedar Grove estate, and it would stay in the Berry family. They had no children. G.W. Evans died in 1876, 72 years of age, at Cedar Grove and was buried in Red Creek (Abilene) Cemetery. He was moved to Magnolia Cemetery in Augusta the next year.
There was a rumor that Mrs. Frances E. Berry-Evans poisoned G. W. Evans. When the widow Berry-Evans died, and keeping with the contract, (still on file in the Appling or Evans Courthouse now), Cedar Grove went to a daughter Mary Walton. It then was passed to her niece, Ophelia Dozier, then to her daughters.
In 1903 the daughters sold the plantation to John Bivens, and with that it passed out of Berry family hands. Bivens sold the house and 157 acres to Charles Bohler Sr. who sold it to Earl Parker, who sold it to Julian Roberts (of Roberts Chrysler-Plymouth) who donated the house and 6.84 acres to the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia.
If the ghost of G.W. Evans Jr. haunts Cedar Grove, it is because he was poisoned by his second wife. G.W. was also a trustee of the Georgia Railroad Bank & Trust Co. Cedar Grove Plantation's property lines ran from Columbia Road across Washington Road and ended at Roundtree's store in Evans. The train depot was surrounded by this property in 1897 when it was built. The Widow Berry-Evans suggested the name "Evans" in honor of G.W., who had left her rich.
Sources: Janett Kelly, Francis Corley.
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