Pond Spring

Wheeler House Pond Spring, the Gen. Joe Wheeler Home, is a historic site in Hillsboro, Lawrence County. The 50-acre site includes 12 historic buildings, gardens, and archaeological features. The site gets its name from the large spring-fed pond located there.

The Alabama Historical Commission (AHC) conducted archaeological tests during master planning and found evidence suggesting Native Americans inhabited the site dating back some 5,000 years. The first recorded white settlers on the land that is now encompassed within the site were John P. Hickman and his family, who purchased the land grant in 1818. At that time, Pond Spring consisted of 1,760 acres. Hickman enslaved 56 African Americans who labored to clear the land, plant cotton, and build several log structures.

Joseph Wheeler In 1827, Col. Benjamin Sherrod purchased Pond Spring and expanded the larger of two log dogtrot houses into a clapboard-covered Federal-style dwelling. Both the 1818 Hickman cabin and the Sherrod house still stand today. His son William Crawford Sherrod would become a wealthy plantation owner, with numerous enslaved people working his land, and politician. Grandson Ben would marry Daniella Jones, the daughter of nearby plantation owner Richard Jones, in 1859. Young Ben Sherrod died in 1861 and left the property to Daniella, now a widow with two small children, both of whom died prior to 1866.

Confederate general Joe Wheeler came through Alabama in 1863 after the Battle of Chattanooga in Tennessee. He and his cavalry troops rested at the Jones plantation near Pond Spring after crossing the Tennessee River into Lawrence County. Wheeler entered into a three-year courtship with Daniella Sherrod, and they married in 1866 and would have seven children. The Wheelers built a new house on the property in the 1870s that connected to the original home via a covered walkway. Daniella died in 1895, leaving the home to Wheeler, who died in New York City in 1906. Pond Spring remained a large farming operation, with the primary crop being cotton. One of the Wheeler daughters, Annie, served as a Red Cross volunteer nurse in three wars and lived in the house until her death in 1955. After her death, a caretaker who worked for the family occupied the site.

Pond Spring was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. In 1994, Wheeler's descendants donated Pond Spring to the state of Alabama and the Alabama Historical Commission. The 50-acre site includes the Hickman, Sherrod, and Wheeler houses, eight farm-related outbuildings, three cemeteries (two are family plots and the third contains the remains of African Americans who lived on the site), a small Indian mound, a spring-fed pond, and other gardens. The Wheeler house contains furniture and other artifacts that belonged to Wheeler and his family, including books, military items from the Civil War and the Spanish-American War, antiques, and family portraits.

A major restoration was completed in 2012, the Hickman cabin, ice house, barn, plantation office, and Wheeler house were all opened to the public. Public programming offers content on the prehistory and history of the settlement and inhabitants of Pond Spring, including Native Americans, various owners, the enslaved, settlers, and freed people. Other programming focuses on agriculture, transportation, animal husbandry, the Civil War, Reconstruction, and economic history.

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Sherrod House, 1930s

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Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division
Sherrod House, 1930s