Centreville, M iss. — Landon and Connie Anderson collect old houses, so when a New Orleans Realtor told them about a 200-year-old plantation house for sale in Wilkinson County, Mississippi, just across the Louisiana state line, the retired orthopedist and his wife couldn’t resist adding another property to their collection.
“When we first saw Holly Grove, it was in mid-June on a beautiful piece of land,” said Landon Anderson. “It was in good condition. Nobody had been mucking around with it.”
In 2005, the Andersons, longtime residents of Wilmington, North Carolina, acquired Holly Grove, the featured home on this year’s Friends of Magnolia Mound Plantation Petite Antiques Forum.
From his research, Landon Anderson discovered that the home was built about 1810 by Duncan Stewart, a descendent of the Royal Stewarts of Scotland, and that the property had ties to some of the most prominent families of Virginia and the Felicianas.
Duncan Stewart, whose family came to North Carolina from Scotland in 1739, served as a state representative and senator in North Carolina and then moved to Tennessee, where he also served as state representative and senator.
He came to the Mississippi Territory in 1809. The following year, he built the first part of Holly Grove, a two-story hall and parlor house with a double front gallery and possibly a lean-to addition at the rear.
Stewart served as surveyor general of the territory and a legislator and, after statehood, the first lieutenant governor of Mississippi.
“Duncan Stewart came down here with money,” Landon Anderson said. “He was a prosperous cotton planter. He had slaves.”
Anderson believes that the home was first enlarged with the addition of a center hall and rooms on two levels on the north side.
“We think Duncan revamped the house, changing woodwork, adding rooms,” Anderson said. “There was a large contingent of the family living here.”
A second expansion probably included a back gallery with rooms on each end. Later, the back gallery was walled in and another gallery with rooms added.
“The columns were added possibly before Duncan died to announce his status in the state government, or perhaps in the 1830s when the sons have taken over and cotton is making money,” Landon Anderson said.
Two of Duncan Stewart’s sons married sisters from the distinguished Randolph family of Virginia and brought them to Holly Grove. Their children married into prominent West Feliciana families including the Forts of Catalpa Plantation, the Bowmans of Rosedown and the Mathews of Butler Greenwood.
Duncan Stewart’s twin brother, James Stewart, remained in Tennessee, but in 1818, when he realized he was dying, he settled his affairs, had a coffin made, held his own funeral and came to Mississippi to be buried next to his brother.
Duncan Stewart’s grandchildren also made comfortable matches, marrying into the Stirling family of Wakefield Plantation and the family of Judge Edward McGehee, said to be the wealthiest man in Wilkinson County.
Members of the Stewart family lived in the home until the 1890s when it went through a succession of owners, including Floyd and Georgie Williamson, who owned the home in the 1960s.
“They showed Tennessee Walking Horses,” said the Williamsons’ granddaughter, Nancy Williamson Cadwallader. “They had a ring in the back of the property where Georgie loved riding a huge stallion.”
Georgie Williamson was an expert gardener who planted many of the camellias still on the property.
“She loved flowers of all kinds, especially roses,” Cadwallader said. “She had a florist cooler, where she could store her flowers.”
Marvin Stuckey, a Baton Rouge physician, purchased the home and spent three years in the late 1980s restoring it. Because of his work, Holly Grove was in excellent condition when the Andersons purchased it. Even though they maintain their home in Wilmington, they spend a good part of the year at Holly Grove, where they raise Devon, an ancient breed of cattle.
The Andersons filled the home with antiques, including three original Stewart pieces — a family Bible published in 1846 and portraits of James Alexander Stewart and Juliana Randolph Stewart.
Landon Anderson has spent a great deal of time restoring the old Stewart cemetery on the property. It contains elaborate headstones including the oldest marker, one for little Penelope Jones Stewart, who died in 1824 before her second birthday.