Historic Markers Across Alabama

The Battle for Decatur 6 - Burleson House

Marker ID:  
Location: at the intersection of Sycamore Street Northwest and Market Street Northwest, Decatur, Alabama
County: Morgan
Coordinates: N 34° 37.009    W 086° 59.07
  34.61681666    -86.9845
Style: Interpretative Sign **
Waymark: None


Burleson House (circa 1836)
“A Hard Nut to Crack”
— The Battle for Decatur —

This Greek Revival mansion belonged to Dr. Aaron Adair Burleson and his wife, Janet, during the Civil War. Part of an original 778-acre land grant, the brick home covered by Flemish bond, features 18-inch thick walls and contains one of the significant Federal period interiors in North Alabama. The iron fence work surrounding the property is original and Union soldiers used it for drying blankets as seen in the accompanying photograph. The original gates, however, are missing and are thought to have been taken by soldiers for use as fire grates. Before the war, Burleson served as the first President of the Tennessee and Central Alabama Railroad which became part of the Nashville & Decatur Railroad - a vital north-south transportation link. Burleson served as a physician with the rank of Major in the Confederate army. Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston is thought to have stayed in the home while reorganizing his army here in March, 1862, although his headquarters were actually located in the office of the nearby McCartney Hotel. During the occupation of Decatur the Burleson family was well treated, and"got along with their guests with minimum friction,” according to relatives. Janet Burleson received passes to travel between the lines until she was caught smuggling quinine to injured Confederate soldiers, which she accomplished by putting the medicine in holes bored into her surrey and sealing them with beeswax. When Union Major General Grenville M. Dodge ordered citizens to evacuate Decatur in early 1864, the Burleson family's possessions were piled in the street and burned. Among those possessions were books from Dr. Burleson's library. A volume of"Byron's poetic works," stolen from the fire heap by a Federal soldier and then confiscated by Lieutenant L. N. Weeks of the Federal army, was returned to the family in 1900. The home was sold in 1869 to Jerome Hinds, a former Union soldier from Illinois. It was here that Hind's niece, Grace Hinds, was born. She later married Lord Curzon, who at one time was England's Viceroy of India. After the Hinds' occupation, the home was used as a boarding house and hotel before standing vacant until its purchase in 1895 by R. P. McEntire for use as a private residence. The home remains a private residence, and the privacy of the family should be respected.

(Side Bar):
The following letter was written by an unknown Decatur resident,"Perry,” during the Federal Occupation.

May 26, 1864
Dear Joe:"Having an opportunity of sending a letter through the lines I hasten to send a few words…. Your Aunt and myself are both well and getting along as well as could be expected under the circumstances. The citizens were all ordered out of the place (Decatur) with the exceptions, Austins, Harrisons and our own families, by special permit from Gen. Dodge. Since then there is scarcely a house standing, all having been torn down by orders. Those within the fortifications remaining, Mrs. Burleson's, Mrs. Bradley's and your aunt's; those on the outside, Capt. Drake's occupied by Austins, and Mrs. Haney's by an office. King's still standing but it may not be long, all others having been demolished, so that Decatur is among the things that were…” Yours Truly, Perry
To J. W. Roop, 7th Alabama Cavalry, Malone's Reg.
Note: J. W. Roop's aunt was Mrs. Jane McCartney, who operated the McCartney Hotel during the war.

Erected by City of Decatur. (Marker Number 6.)

End of The Battle for Decatur 6 - Burleson House