Today’s post is a reprint from Mrs. N.D. Deupree’s “Some Historic Homes of Mississippi,” from Publications of the Mississippi Historical Society, Vol. VII (1903).
The Yerger Home
Among the many handsome homes that adorned our State in ante-bellum days, none could claim greater distinction as a home of culture and hospitality than that of Mr. George S. Yerger, in the city of Jackson. It was built in the year 1850 and was a three-storied structure of fifteen lofty apartments. The wide veranda ornamented with heavy Corinthian columns presented a pleasing appearance; the heavy oak doors rolled silently back and admitted to the spacious hall furnished with handsome reception chairs and davenports, all elegantly finished; the walls were adorned with figures of gorgeous birds of Paradise and peafowls painted in the rich colors of nature. On the left side of the hall were the double parlors carpeted with the richest velvet, and filled with carved rosewood furniture upholstered with pale yellow damask; the windows were draped with the finest Brussels net curtains, and over these heavy yellow silk curtains lined with white, and caught back with tasseled cords. Soft rugs of long white fur were scattered here and there over the floor, and tall mirrors reflected oriental magnificence. On this side of the hall there was also a large billiard room which afforded recreation to lovers of the game. The long dining room opened into an exquisite conservatory, and while the lights from chandelier and candelabra gave luster to massive silder, and sparkling cut-glass, rare exotics lent their fragrance to further enhance the pleasure of the guests whom the genial host and his beautiful wife delighted to gather about them in their lovely home.
The first room on the right was a dear one to all book lovers; the library was lined from floor to ceiling with massive oak cases, filled with every line of literature, ancient and modern. If one desired to spend a day with the poets, here was the place to ascend with Shakespeare and Byron to the loftiest heights of imagery, or wander with the lesser poets through more modest fields of thought. Here the student could revel in Biblical lore and history, and he who fancied fiction could lost himself in the fancies of the best novelists. The guest chambers ofttimes rang with merry voices and musical laughter of the young friends of the boys and girls of the house.
Again, the door would open to the war-weary soldier, to whom it was the delight of the gentle mistress of the home to minister during the long years of the Civil War. None were ever denied entertainment; whether he was the aristocratic officer or the humblest of the barefoot soldiers, the best the house afforded was set before him.
The grounds were beautiful with rare plants and flowers, and in the center court a fountain played above the gold fish, whose shining forms glistened in the clear waters in the basin-like sun-beams imprisoned there. Moorish summer houses, covered with climbing roses, and furnished with pretty white chairs made ideal places for whiling away an hour in reading or meditation, or in the exchange of sweet nothings so dear to the young and happy.
Probably the most notable of the many receptions given by Mr. and Mrs. Yerger was the one following the marriage of their daughter, Miss Ida, a renowned belle and beauty, to Dr. J.R. Hicks, of Vicksburg. The receiving party made a most pleasing tableau. Mrs. Hicks and Mrs. Whitehead–cousin of Miss Yerger–and a bride of two hours, with their bridegrooms and attendants, formed a large horseshoe as they stood to receive the congratulations of their many friends. And never was the lucky emblem so dazzling as at this hour when formed of youth and beauty arrayed in satins and gleaming with jewels. Though at this time the South was in the throes of war, a number of Confederate Generals with their staff officers lent a touch of military splendor to the scene. The wedding feast was one to delight. In spite of the straitened times, every delicacy of the season crowned the festal board. No one had time to think of the changes that a few short months would bring to the fay company. Only a few years, and the members of this large family were widely scattered. Some were asleep in the quiet cemetery, some were in distant lands, and the eldest son, who, with his family, occupied the home, deemed it necessary because of reduced circumstances, in 1870, to sell the property to the State to be used as an institute for the deaf and dumb children of the Commonwealth. In order to adapt the building to the new order it was necessary to make many changes. Additions were made to the original plan of the building, and the flowers and shrubbery were removed to make room for new walks and playgrounds for the children who were to come here for instruction.
The historic old mansion was destroyed by fire in 1902, and now that it is only a memory, the men and women who so often enjoyed the gracious hospitality of the courtly host and his beautiful wife, speak with pleasant remembrance of the past splendors of the Yerger home.
Publications of the Mississippi Historical Society, Vol. VII (1903), pp. 332-334.
This post is part of a series taken from Mrs. N.D. Deupree’s “Some Historic Homes of Mississippi,” published in 1903. Want to read others in the series?
- Eagle’s Nest
- Mount Salus
- Shirley House (Wexford Lodge)
- Jacob Thompson House
- Blue Mountain
- Ford House
- The Hill
- Bonner Home (“Cedarhurst”)
- West House