Today we know Barnsley Gardens as a world-class resort tucked into the rolling hills of north Georgia, 90 minutes from downtown Atlanta. On the edge of the resort are the ruins of an extraordinary, one-of-a-kind southern manor. Its namesake, Godfrey Barnsley, is tightly woven into the fabric of Georgia’s history.
It would not be easy to find a more extraordinary figure in Georgia’s first century of statehood than Barnsley, whose life was made successful by his profits from the cotton industry and whose downfall was due to the war that freed the slaves who made those profits possible. From the coast to the uplands he took advantage of what this new territory offered to those ambitious, opportunistic, and intrepid enough to see the possibilities.