My Georgia History

Wylly Barron

Wylly Barron’s mausoleum in Magnolia Cemetery, Augusta, Georgia

Wylly Barron was a man who lived and worked here in Augusta,  Georgia.  He was born in the year 1806 about 25 years after the Revolutionary War, when we won our freedom from England.  I don’t know where he was born, or when he moved to Augusta, but he did.

While Wylly Barron was in his 50s he had a job at the Atkinson Hotel on Ellis Street in Augusta.  His job was to manage the gambling in the hotel.  While Barron was growing up, he appreciated fine things. He grew to be six feet tall,  slender and dark.  His clothing was fashionable and extreme and the sparkling gems he wore made him a flashing person you wouldn’t forget.  In the 1860s, while Barron was managing the gambling, a terrible incident arose.  A young man came into the hotel and started gambling.  He didn’t win, but lost all his money.  He approached Wylly Barron asking for a loan, but Mr. Barron told him no.  The man was very upset and said, “You have taken everything I have.  When you die, may you not have even a grave to shelter you!”  It is said that the man then went out and committed suicide.  This incident caused Wylly Barron to change the gambling rules in the Atkinson Hotel.  If your position in life, like a bank teller, caused you to handle money, or if your salary was not sufficient to permit gambling, you would not be allowed to gamble.  If the guest protested, he was ejected.  Minors were also barred from playing.  This incident caused Wylly Barron to give money to charities.

The curse of the now dead gambler, made Wylly Barron think about the future.  In 1870, he had a granite tomb built in Magnolia Cemetery.  He also made sure his last will and testament was up-to-date.  In his will, he asked to

be buried in a steel coffin and after his death that the key to the gate and door of his grave be taken out and thrown into the Savannah River.  According to cemetery records, Barron died in 1894, at the age of 88.  In the last few years of his life, Wylly Barron had lost considerable property.  When he died there was not enough money to buy the prescribed metal coffin.  His remains were bricked over inside the vault.  The keyhole was sealed and the keys thrown into the Savannah River.  Today, there is no known key to either fence or vault.

Wylly Barron’s epitaph reads: “Farewell vain work, I know enough of thee, And now am careless what thou sayest of me, thy smiles I could not, nor thy frowns I fear, My cares are passed, my head lies quiet here.  What faults you knew of me, take care to shun, And look at home—, enough there’s to be done.”



Written by Mark Woodard

Research sources:

1.  Jerry W. Murphy, Records Clerk Public Works Cemeteries Section, Augusta, Georgia


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