In the Winter, 2021 edition of “Georgia Backroads” magazine, there is a comprehensive article about President George Washington’s visit to Georgia by Dr. John E. Derden, Emeritus Professor of History, East Georgia State College–“Regaling the President with Stories and Anecdotes, George Washington’s 1791 Tour of Georgia.”
In this lengthy, well-researched article, there is this paragraph:
“Twelve miles below Purrysburg at the Mulberry Grove plantation of Catherine Greene, General Nathanael Greene’s widow, the horses and carriages were put ashore for the twelve mile overland trip to Savannah. Before re-embarking, Washington made a social visit to Catherine, and as he put it – ‘asked her she did.’ General Greene had been a close associate of Washington and Catherine was a close friend.”
It’s curious how bits and pieces of history come our way that seem unrelated and yet they aren’t….For instance in Malcolm Bell, Jr’s biography of Pierce Butler, “Major Butler’s Legacy,” he tells of Major Butler being part of the entourage who traveled with Washington on his Georgia visit and also accompanied the President to Mulberry Grove.
Yet Pierce Butler would have another role to play in Mulberry’s history we would find out. John Graham owned Hampton Point Plantation on St. Simons and would end up selling it to Pierce Butler. With the proceeds from that sale, Graham purchased Mulberry Plantation and the adjoining parcel of land, which would later become Oak Grove Plantation. Graham, who became Lt. Governor of Georgia, would be the one who builds the grand plantation home. And when he flees and goes back to England as the Colonists approach, the British army takes Mulberry Grove over and uses the grounds as a prison for captured troops of the Colony.
We recently received a request to visit Mulberry Grove from a historian and authority on Alexander Hamilton, Jimmy Napoli of NYC. He regularly lectures about Hamilton and provided the historic time line to those who produced the Broadway hit “Hamilton.” When we inquired why he especially wished to visit Mulberry Grove, he told us it was because of the close friendship between General Greene and Hamilton, who admired Greene greatly.
In “The Road to Charleston” by John Buchanan, there is much discussion of the mishandling of the Southern Campaign by various generals and officers.
Tired of hearing the constant arguments, Hamilton stands and simply says
“For God’s sake…Send Greene” and sits down… and thus General Greene is named to take over the Southern Campaign and ultimately forces Cornwallis to surrender.
Napoli went on to tell us that Pierce Butler hated Alexander Hamilton and when he was killed by Aaron Burr in a duel, Butler stepped in to help his friend, Butler, and told him to go to his Hampton Point plantation immediately and to use the alias, R. King. Napoli then told us that Burr had known Catherine Greene and Burr asked if he could stop at Mulberry Grove on his way to St. Simons. However, we told Napoli that he did want to stop over to visit with Catherine Greene, but she was no longer at Mulberry Grove, she was at Dungeness on the Georgia coast. Further, Catherine had no time for Burr, since it was Hamilton who helped her attain part of the back salary owed to her late husband. She told Burr he could come, but she and her family left Dungeness and he was met only by a small household staff.

So all these unrelated threads are important, as they weave together the remarkable history of Mulberry Grove Plantation.

Author: Marty Barnes

Historian for the Mulberry Grove Foundation. Staff member, Davenport House Museum, Savannah Editor/Proofreader

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