On July 2nd of this year I set out for Virginia for the funeral of my second cousin (blog post about her here). Although it was a sad occasion, it did afford me the opportunity to visit my Virginia family and some ancestral sites again. I get an amazing feeling of peace and belonging when I’m there, especially when I visit old homesteads, cemeteries, or just walk around the farm. I walk the same land my ancestors did, past the homes, barns and outbuildings they built, and trek through the fields they farmed. It is truly amazing.
One of the places I wanted most to see again on this trip was the homestead of my 3rd great-grandparents. After the death of my 3rd great-grandfather (1789-1875) it passed to my 2nd great-grandfather (1827-1919). Yes, it is still standing. Luckily for us, someone had just bush hogged the property from the gate up to and around the house. The first time I went there, we had to plow through near waist high brush.
This family homestead is now owned by people living on the West Coast who have no interest in selling it back to my family. They also, apparently, have no interest in preserving the buildings. Everything is just sitting there rotting away. It’s very unfortunate and sad. I think the buildings are still salvageable for the most part. If I had the money, and a willing seller, I would buy that property in a heartbeat, restore it, and live there.
Family tradition dates the house to 1820 and the property remained in the family until 1960. It began as a two-story wooden structure with stone chimneys at each end. Several additions were made to the house, the earliest around 1866. That section was later moved to the side yard (how did they do that, exactly?!). A dining room, kitchen, pantry and hall were added in 1928. Several original necessaries remain on the property — which I believe are the old kitchen & slave quarters, the spring house, and smokehouse. It sits today on 208 acres.
Two of the pictures in this gallery are historic photographs that were, according to family tradition, taken on the property. One is my great-grandaunt (1870-1963) on the porch, and another is a family photograph taken outside the kitchen. I wish I knew what year! Unfortunately, it is impossible to identify the people in this photograph, but the man standing on the far left looks very much like my great-grandfather (1865-1936). Another interesting point is that my 2nd great-grandfather had nine children – four of them unmarried daughters. I suspect that the single daughters lived here until their deaths. More research to be done on that.
The other place I wanted to visit while I was there is the grave site of my 2nd great-grandparents (son of the original owner of the house above). He died in 1919 and she died in 1898. One of their sons, my great granduncle (1858 – 1917), is also buried there. The old family cemetery is located in a wooded area on property that is no longer in the family. We made a courtesy stop at the owners’ home to let them know we were going up to the family cemetery. The area was fairly overgrown, but my cousin brought a machete to clear a path and he cut down most of the undergrowth and small trees while we were there.
The monument pictured was placed there by my granduncle – I’m not sure when. It is engraved with the names and vitals of my 2nd great-grandparents and my great-granduncle. There are smaller grave markers showing only the initials of those buried there; A.E.H, J.O.H., and P.E.H., the same as the folks on the monument.
I also visited another local church cemetery where my great-grandparents, my granduncle and other ancestors are buried. And, of course, I had to visit my granduncle’s place again. My family has deep roots in Virginia and a lot of history to be recorded and preserved for future generations. My ancestors served in the Civil War, the War of 1812, and the Revolutionary War. But those are all stories for another day.