Born in Monroe in 1836, Henry Dickerson-McDaniel was the son of Ira McDaniel, one of the first professors of Mercer University, and an important businessman in his own right. McDaniel Street in Atlanta is named for Ira. Graduating from the head of his class at Mercer, and admitted to the bar soon afterwards, Henry must have envisioned a peaceful life as a small-town lawyer, but this wasn’t to be. Despite his trepidation regarding the wisdom of breaking from the North, Henry McDaniel attended the state’s secession convention as its youngest delegate. He went on to serve as a Major in the Confederate army, was wounded in Maryland in 1863, and spent the remainder of the war in a Northern prison camp. Collected in the volume With Unabated Trust, his letters home to his sweetheart, soon to be wife, Hester Felker, are a moving and enlightening account of the war from a Confederate officer far from home. These letters can now be found in the state archives.
After serving his state, Governor McDaniel retired to his law practice in Monroe, and became the town’s wealthiest citizen through shrewd investment in railroads and local cotton mills. He also served as a trustee for the University of Georgia for 38 years before his death in 1926.
He left his Monroe home to his two children, his son, prominent Atlanta lawyer Sanders McDaniel, and daughter, Gipsy. Gipsy and her husband, Edgar Tichenor, bought Sanders’ share of the house for $6,250. Edgar Tichenor, former Latin professor at Mercer University, was already well established in Monroe as president of the Walton Mill Company, and chairman of the local board of education. Mr. Tichenor’s business and personal papers reside in the house archives.
After Edgar’s death in 1933, and Gipsy’s in 1939, their children, Henry and Hester, named for their maternal grandparents, inherited the house. Henry bought Hester’s half of the house, and lived there with his wife, the former Emily Burney, until his death in 1965. Emily Tichenor continued living in the house until her death in 1990. It was Emily Tichenor’s love of history and the house that encouraged her to bequeath the house, with an endowment, for the use and education of the community. Today the house is owned and operated by a local non profit organization, The McDaniel-Tichenor House, Inc.