The William Winston home…
that dates back to 1824 continues to be a reminder of the rich heritage of the Shoals that endures. There is a historical marker that also documents the yellow fever epidemic of 1878.
Samuel J Cooper was the namesake for one of our Hurst relatives, Samuel Cooper Hurst, who was born in Franklin, now Colbert County. His mother was Matilda Clementine “Clemmie” Allen Hurst Vandiver. Maud Lindsay is an honored and beloved name throughout the Shoals. Maud has some ties to the Kerby family in Lauderdale County.
Construction on the home which became the center building of Deshler High School was begun in 1824 by Clark T. Barton, William Winston purchased and completed the Georgian-style dwelling in 1833. The largest remaining antebellum house in Tuscumbia, it features a winding staircase, eight fireplaces, and ten original closets along with an inscription on the cellar wall written during the Union occupation saying: “It is a damn shame to destroy this mansion.” Original log kitchen placed at N.W. rear corner to avoid having fire too close to the house. Listed on the National Register of Historic places in 1982.
Well known names associated with the owners of the Winston Home include some renown in American history. Capt. Anthony Winston, a cousin of Dolly Madison and Patrick Henry, commanded Virginia troops in the Revolutionary War. Isaac and Catherine Jones Winston bought Belle Mont Plantation southeast of Tuscumbia, in 1833. William H. and Judith McGraw Winston bought the Winston House (campus of Deshler High School) in 1833. Mary M. Jackson, wife of Edmund C. Winston, was a granddaughter of James Jackson of the Forks of Cypress near Florence. Robert Burns Lindsay, Alabama’s only foreign-born (Scotland) governor, was the father of Maud Lindsay, an esteemed teacher, writer, poet and storyteller. Capt. John Anthony Steele was a lawyer, legislator, probate judge and Confederate soldier. Judge Joseph Nathan was a prominent citizen of early Sheffield.
The house and property were purchased by the city of Tuscumbia in 1948 for site of new Deshler campus. This was a relocation from property bequeathed by Major David Deshler (from his Main St. residence, 3 blocks north)to memorialize his son, Brig. Gen. James Deshler, C.S.A., who was killed leading charge at Battle of Chickamauga, Sept. 20, 1863. Major David Deshler led the 16th Regiment of Alabama Infantry, C.S.A. as Captain until his health became an issue.
William Winston (1789-1857) was the father of Gov. John Anthony Winston. He was the grandfather of Maud Lindsey, famed educator and author of children’s books. He was the father-in-law of Robert Burns, only foreign-born governor of Alabama. The Winston family cemetery is located approximately one mile N.W. of the house.
A historical marker memorializing the terror that yellow fever reeked on citizens of the Shoals reads on side 1; side 2 gives historical reference to the Winston Family Cemetery:
Yellow Fever Epidemic 1878
Responsible for taking 31 lives in Tuscumbia. Citizens Relief Committee included: F. H. Aydlett, H. M. Finley, J. L. Davis, James Jackson Chmm., J. W. Rand, Jr., P. A. Ross, F. W. Ross, J. N. Sampson, Sec., and C. A. Womble.
This committee, together with volunteers, both white and black–assisted by trained nurses brought from Memphis, Tennessee–nursed the sick, carried supplies, prepared the bodies, dug graves, and buried the dead.
Doctors serving around the clock: Robert T. Abernathy, Samuel J. Cooper, William C. Cross, William Desprez (who gave his life), and E. P. Rand.
The 31 Victims of Yellow Fever who died in Tuscumbia in 1878 included: Crabtree Belcher, Mrs. Amy Boldman, Anna C. Christian, Mr. Clark, W. A. Clark, DeWitt Cooper, Dr. William Desprez, Samuel Finley, Mrs. W. A. Gilbert, Mrs. Bettie Halpine, Miss Bartie Jones, Mrs. W. H. Jones, L. King, F. Manush and wife, Tom Morton, Alexander Newsome, Sandy Osborne, Edward Prout, Mrs. G. T. Rather, Mrs. F. A. Ross, Helen Smoot, Mrs. T. L. Smoot, Mr. and Mrs. W. L. Stamps, Robert Ventress, Mervyn Warren, Charles Williams, Mrs. Yohnka and child, William Young.
The Winston family settled this area in the early 1820s. Andrew Jackson purchased the property at the U.S. government land sale and conveyed it to Col. Anthony Winston (1782-1841) who lived nearby in a two-story brick Federal-style house (razed 1945). It later became a part of William H. Winston’s plantation. Capt. Anthony Winston (1750-1827) and his wife, Kezia Jones (1760-1826), were the first burials. Other early families buried here include Abernathy, Armistead, Burt, Cooper, Figures, Goodloe, Jones, Lindsay, Nathan, Sherrod and Steele. Veterans from the American Revolution through the Vietnam War are interred here. The cemetery is owned and maintained by descendants.
ALABAMA HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION 2004