Tax records indicate that Abraham D. Chennault likely had this house built circa 1857-58; land in the vicinity had been occupied by his family since the 1820s. It is thought to be the work of John Cunningham, a local carpenter linked to three other prominent houses in the immediate area. When his mother died (mid-1860s) Abraham left Lincoln County and transferred the lands and house to his brother John N. Chennault. It remained within the family well into the 20th century.
The house has always been linked to an infamous ending chapter of the Civil War. As the Confederate cabinet and other high officials were fleeing Richmond, they carried with them the bulk of the Confederate treasury. Almost all of the assets were dispersed to pay soldiers, before the capture of Jefferson Davis at Irwinville on 10 May 1865. Remaining funds were left in Washington, Georgia.
The New Georgia Encyclopedia notes: A detachment of Union soldiers set out to divert this specie to a railhead in South Carolina. The wagons stopped for the night at the Chennault Plantation and it was here that on 24 May 24 1865, bandits attacked the wagons and $251,029 was lost. Bank officials eventually recovered some $111,000 of the stolen money. Union General Edward A. Wild led a search of the area for more gold and earned notoriety for the arrest and torture of the Chennault family, who Wild believed were hiding gold but who turned out to be innocent. As a consequence, Union General Ulysses S. Grant removed Wild from his command.
In the century-and-a-half since the end of the Civil War, historians and fortune-seekers alike have sought the lost Confederate gold. Where it is or whether it even remains will always be Georgia legend.
National Register of Historic Places