Halifax County, Virginia
This home is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and
the Virginia Landmarks Register by the The Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
Link to Carlbrook School
by Preston Young, Jr., Gazette-Virginian, Dec. 12, 1990
Also included in Country Folks, A Collection of Stories by Henry Preston Young, Jr., 1999. Copies of this book are still available at the South Boston - Halifax County Museum of Fine Arts and History.
For many children of my community, the Depression years were not quite as gloomy as they could have been due in large part to the beneficence of a man and his wife who had no children of their own. That this couple had wealth, along with the love and concern to share it, and also that they lived within a few miles of my home, was not only fortunate for me but for a lot of other children and adults.
When Mr. and Mrs. Luther Carlton built their beautiful home on the vast estate that was to become "Carlbrook," it was to this seven-year-old like having Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus nearby in the long interim between one December 25 and the next. That they lived in what local folks called the "Rock House." made that enchantment all the more real to me.
President Herbert Hoover was in the White House during these stressful years that have been referred to as "Hoover times," so it is fair to ask: How could the magnificence of this beautiful home, enormous estate, and the wherewithal to sustain this couple's lifestyle and benevolences to young and old alike be afforded in this time of severe economic depression?
To be sure, the major part of my account of the Carlbrook story is written as I saw it through the eyes of a young boy growing up, but to the best of my knowledge and research it accurately explains the origin of Carlbrook and honestly portrays the attitudes and impressions of many whose lives were influenced in one way or another by these Christian people who will be long remembered for their thoughtfulness, charity, and gifts during their lifetimes and after their deaths.
The Carltons were no strangers to the territory, their families having been sturdy land-owning people in Halifax County for generations. Their patriot forebears date back to the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.
When Archer Anderson Farmer married Lydia Ann Jane Carlton on a joyous Wednesday, December 18, 1833, at Double Branches - near present day Chappell's Bottom - in Halifax County, Virginia, the seeds of Carlbrook were sown, although at the time no one could have possibly imagined such a grandiose idea.
From this union five children were born: four daughters and one son. The little boy died when he was two years old. The four daughters married men of the Dunn, Carlton, Pierce and Boyd families. Ellen, the daughter who married Joseph Carlton, had one daughter, Nannie, and four sons: Edgar, Pleasant, Herbert, and Luther.
All four boys would become tobacconists. In fact, Edgar rose to the position of Resident Director of the Imperial Tobacco Company of Great Britain and Ireland, Ltd., in charge of that company's business in America. Pleasant was also well known as Imperial's Supervisor on the tobacco markets of the United States, Canada, and Great Britain for thirty-three years. Herbert and Luther served the Imperial Company with distinction until their retirement.
It was Edgar who became the means whereby the old family lands - with much more added - would continue to be held in the hands of family members. He was never married, so when he died, his considerable wealth - reported to be in the millions - was divided equally among his three brothers and his sister. Brothers "Pleas" and Luther then took the huge land holdings in hand and Carlbrook came closer to becoming a reality.
Part of the immense estate acquired by the two brothers included the land of Scott and Ann Farmer Boyd, who were the parents of Miss Myrtle Boyd, who on August 1, 1911, became Myrtle Boyd Carlton, Luther's wife. The couple lived in Richmond for a number of years after their marriage. It was in 1927 that they decided to come back to their ancestral lands in Halifax County and Myrtle's birthplace. Plans were made that year, and in 1928 the building of their imposing home was contracted for and commenced.
So family-oriented were the Carltons that the Archer Farmer home site was chosen to be the location of their new home. The wooden structure that had been home for the Farmers, Dunns, and other family kin was jacked up, put on rollers, and moved several hundred feet to the rear of the proposed new edifice that would become a showplace in Southern Virginia. The old Farmer house served as the caretaker's home during Mr. and Mrs. Carlton's lifetime. The structure still stands.
Building the "Rock House" went on from 1928 to 1930, taking a little over two years to complete. It was the largest such undertaking within memory of local people and was a Godsend for the area because it provided much needed jobs in a time of grave economic stress. Local farmers and their mule and horse teams moved tons of earth with scoops. Men labored with picks and shovels, ax teams cut timber and undergrowth. Hand-operated and engine-driven cement mixers provided cement and mortar for the main building, servants quarters and garage, six bridges, a large dam and other structures. Although some menial jobs paid no more than ten to fifteen cents an hour for ten and twelve hour days, this meager sum - by today's standards - meant the difference between living and just surviving for many families.
A Richmond firm was commissioned to draw the plans and engineer the steel fabrication used in the home's construction. South Boston building contractors Fred Carr and Younger Tune did the interior framing and finish. William H. Jones and Sons Plumbing Company of South Boston did the plumbing. Other South Boston contractors on the job included: Penick Hardware Company, which installed the heating system; Royster Electric Company, which installed the Delco lighting system; and Henry Poindexter and his men, who graded the building site and grounds. Dan Connely and a crew of master stone masons and quarry men from Roanoke came to quarry and hand-chisel stone for the building, stone which was obtained from a huge rock deposit a few hundred yards to the northeast of the building site. The Connely people, skilled in the trade, also installed the heavy slate roof.
At my home a few miles away to the west, it was exciting to hear the dynamite blasts from the quarry. It was even more exciting to go with my father to watch the quarry men swinging twelve-pound hammers from the hips and the drill holder, with perfect confidence in the skill of the hammer men, turning the steel drill by hand to make the blasting holes in the hard rock. Some said there were Italian stone artisans in the crew. Neighbors said they didn't remember seeing any Italians, but when one of the men mashed a hand with a rock hammer, it sounded like he might have been speaking Italian!
The Roanoke crew blasted, cut, hand-chiseled, laid, and mortared each stone used in the construction of the home and all the other projects requiring stone, such as the servants' quarters and garage, bridges, a spillway on the dam of the five-and-a-half acre lake, for columns on the home grounds, and at the entrance to the estate's road just off Route 360 west. The project was so long in the doing that, obviously, the men had to find lodging and board with local families. Along with Dan Connely and his wife there came another Dan - Dan Cupid - because some of the single men in his outfit became acquainted with and dated some of the local girls. And at least one, Elbert Cox, later married Miss Belle Lewis, a lovely young lady of the Oak Level community. In those days our local people were so unaccustomed to having strangers around that any outsider was called a "foreigner." The Roanoke men knew this and took every opportunity to "hooraw" the locals. Someone asked a member of the rock crew if he had ever seen the Natural Bridge. "I sure have," he replied. And with a twinkle in his eye he said. "My father helped to build it!"
The completed mansion was one of beauty and functional utility. Built on an almost solid bed of rock, the partial basement was as spacious as was possible under the circumstances. A stairway led from the basement to the first floor. At the entrance there was a foyer from which one could proceed to a large living room, dining room, kitchen, a smaller dining room and small kitchen, butler's pantry, a half-bath off the den, and a bedroom and bath leading from the living room. On the second floor there were eight large bedrooms and four baths. The third floor featured two large bedrooms, a bath, and a long hall lined with spacious storage closets. The eaves of the home were floored for even more storage space. It was a beautiful and lavishly furnished home, the likes of which could not be easily found in southern Virginia.
After its completion, the "Rock House" and Carlton lands became officially known as "Carlbrook." Mr. and Mrs. Carlton moved into their stately home on April 30, 1930, and immediately assumed their role as highly respected community leaders. Their membership was moved from First Christian Church in Richmond to the Ingram Christian Church. The Ingram church, incidentally, was the former place of worship for their kin, the four daughters of Archer and Lydia Carlton Farmer and their children. The Carltons became very active in the life of the Ingram church, and it was here that I first became personally acquainted with them. I was then eight years old, and even though they were just in their late fifties at the time, as a child I thought them to be old but extremely kind and thoughtful people.
My family belonged to the Oak Level Presbyterian Church, but I attended Ingram primarily because of the exciting activities underwritten by the Carltons. I usually caught a ride to Ingram Church with Mr. and Mrs. Luke Carter, riding on the body of Mr. Carter's Model A Ford truck with his sons Acree and Henry. Ofttimes while I waited for the Carter family I would amble the few hundred yards down to the Carlbrook entrance columns just to watch Mr. and Mrs. Carlton pass by in their long, shiny black Packard sedan. One Sunday as I waited, they came out on schedule, and when they spotted me, pulled over to a stop. My heart was in my throat as their chauffeur, Robert Wooding, got out, opened the door, pulled down a little jump seat from the back of the middle section of seats, and motioned for me to enter. I was scared to death, but they put me at ease with their jolly entreaty to "hop in!" Thus I rode to Ingram Church, sitting ram-rod straight in the biggest, prettiest car I had ever seen. If a trip around the world had cost a quarter, I couldn't have gotten to the county seat, but all the gold in the California mother lode could not have bought me as we rode those few miles. When we arrived, the men gathered on the church grounds took of their hats as Mrs. Carlton alighted. Mr. Carlton shook hands all around. I stood back and watched as the chauffeur helped them from the car and down the middle aisle of the church to the second pew on the right front. He then came back to the car and brought in Mr. Carlton's spittoon and placed it on the floor in front of him just slightly under the front row of seats so that Mr. Carlton could slide it back and forth with his foot. Yes, Mr. Carlton kept his chew of tobacco in his cheek during church services. And that was alright with the Rev. Mr. Henry Crutchfield, everybody else in the congregation, and no doubt with the Lord also.
The Carter boys asked me how I got to church and if I were going back with them. I said, "I came with Mr. and Mrs. Carlton and would return with them." They said, "You're lying like a yard dog." "Wait and see," I replied. When church was over and the Carltons were seated in the car, Robert pulled out the jump seat for me again. When we eased off the church grounds with everyone smiling and waving to the Carltons, I will never be that rich again if I live to be 300.
Summers in the '30s were long, dry, and murderously hot, but we kids of the Ingram Church Sunday school had something to look forward to as the Carltons arranged for all classes to go to Luna Lake in Danville on Saturdays now and then. They also made it possible for us to go to Crystal Lake in Danville and to the new Staunton River State Park pool. Frequently these outings included a picnic for all.
At Luna Lake there was a pagoda-like structure in the middle of the lake, and it had three levels. A diving board on the first level was about five feet above the water. The second level board was about fifteen feet, and the third level board was perhaps thirty feet high. I dived off the top just to hear the wind rush by my ears on the way down. It gave me a severe headache after a while, and I was nearly freezing, but fortunately the older folks watched our lips, and when they began to turn blue, they made us get out for a while.
Many times in summer the Carltons had evening wiener roasts for us at a favorite gathering place: the rock-walled and pavilioned spring just a few yards from their home. Once I went to one such roast after pulling tobacco all that day, and found to my dismay that, in my haste to catch a ride, I had failed to completely scrub all the tobacco wax from my hands. Nobody paid any attention, I think, but I found that, like watermelon, wieners taste a little bitter when eaten with tobacco wax.
In winter when Mr. and Mrs. Carlton went down to Newnan, Georgia, to visit his sister, they would stay quite a while. Making Newnan their headquarters, they travelled in Florida, the Islands, and many other exotic places, always bringing back 8mm movies they had taken on their journeys. Upon their return home, they often invited us children to visit and see these films. What a thrill it was for some of us who never got to the movies to see such sights. How thoughtful and nice it was of them to share these things and take such an interest in us.
At Christmas time, Mr. Joe Landrum, the Sunday school superintendent, gave a bag filled with candy, an orange, and apple and sugar plums to each child. It would be hard to explain to today's children just how much this was appreciated, and I won't try. You would have had to have been a child and lived during those years to really know. This and none of the other things that were done for the Sunday school children were specifically identified as having been paid for by Mr. and Mrs. Carlton. They were not ones to make a show of their charity, but everyone knew who was responsible and, like I did, appreciated their kindnesses more than we could express.
In early 1935, Mr. and Mrs. Carlton became the foster parents of two lovely young girls. Helen Long and Edith Brown spent their summers at Carlbrook but spent the remainder of the year, except for holidays, away at school. They visited back and forth over the years until they were graduated from college, married, and had families of their own. We children envied Helen and Edith because we could not imagine greater good fortune than to have the Carltons concerned for our personal welfare. In this connection, I, childlike, often asked my father if I would ever be as rich as Mr. Carlton, seeing as how his folks were originally farm people, too. His reply was an expression he often used to answer such impossible questions: "You might," he said, "when the steamboat comes up the branch." I am still waiting, by the way.
The times became more gloomy with each passing month. The banks closed in 1931, depriving many people of the few dollars they had saved; and as you might suppose, Mr. Carlton was besieged with requests for all kinds of financial aid by friends and strangers alike. Uncle Charlie Lovelace, who lived and worked on the Carlton land, used to say that "Mr. Luther had folks standin' in line to see him, and every last one of 'em had a handful of 'gimme' and a mouthful of 'much obliged."'
In 1933, Pleas Carlton decided that a dairy might be a profitable enterprise. Certainly the vast acreage could produce feed for a large herd of cows. There was plenty of water, and everything seemed to indicate that a dairy would thrive. Luther was not completely convinced the idea was a sound one, but he went along with his enterprising brother, and Carlbrook Dairy came into being. Mr. Hubert Henderson, husband of Annie Dunn Henderson, was its manager until July 1935 when the brothers hired J. W (Jimmy) Shelton to take over the operation, thus freeing Mr. Henderson for land and crop management duties. Jimmy had been sales manager for Danville Dairy Products Company and knew his way around the dairy business. It was hard work improving the herd and making a profit in those days. All the milking was done by hand as were most of the other dairy jobs. Not too many people who applied for milking jobs were dependable or strong enough to stick with it. One old Georgia boy who applied was asked if he knew how long cows should be milked. He shuffled from one foot to the other and in his Georgia Cracker drawl said: "The same as short cows, I reckon." He was hired on the spot.
Carlbrook Dairy distributed milk products to Danville, South Boston, Halifax, and points in between. It had a government contract to supply CCC camps at Mt. Cross and Scottsburg, Virginia. Jimmy's 15-year-old brother Ryland helped work the milk routes, and on late summer afternoons whenever I could, I waited for him to come from his delivery run, because he usually had a crate or so of half-pint bottles of unsold chocolate milk he had picked up. Although it was a few days old, it was cold and tasty, and I drank bottle after bottle to my great sorrow later. The weather was oppressively hot, and on the way home all that chocolate milk began to expand and cramp my insides like nobody's business. It first made me dizzy; then I got sick as a dog, but I didn't learn much from the experience, I'm sorry to say. In a few days I was back there again, waiting for more.
Ryland survived an accident on a delivery near Danville that killed employee Lloyd Atkins. But somehow, cruel fate decreed that he was not to be so fortunate in dodging the Grim Reaper again. In March of 1937, Ryland died of pneumonia at the tender age of seventeen.
Soon after Pleas' death in 1935, Luther decided to sell the dairy and close out the operation. He never did cotton to the business and, besides, he said the dairy was too close to the house and smelled.
In the spring of 1936, the sale of Carlbrook Dairy's livestock and fixtures was held. This was a big event and I skipped school to attend. There were hundreds of people in attendance. This activity came just about as close to being a Wild West rodeo as I had seen. Cows had to be brought to the sales pen, and in all the crowd noise and confusion they were as nervous as cats on a hot tin roof. There were wild heifers and dairy cows everywhere. What I was really waiting for was the removal of several Holstein bulls from their stalls to the sales arena. These were the largest bulls I had ever seen. Weighing upwards of sixteen hundred pounds each and with full horns, they presented a formidable sight. When the livestock handlers came for them, I took a perch high on a corral fence to watch. Throwing ropes around the first animal's horns and legs, about six men moved him without serious incident. When they came for the second bull, he had become aroused and was very difficult to handle. Finally the cowboys eased him out of his stall, but when he turned the corner of the building and was headed down an alley of parked cars to the sales pen, he lowered his head, bellowed once, and broke into a run, dragging his handlers like so many rag dolls. Picking up speed and with head bowed, the bull ran head-on into the back of a green Essex sedan. The crash sounded like two railroad boxcars coupling. He backed up, pawed the ground, and hit the car again. When he was finally coaxed to move on, that automobile looked like it had been in the wreck of the "Old 97." It was a day in the life of a young boy at Carlbrook that will never be forgotten. The worst part was that since I had skipped school to attend the sale I couldn't tell anyone at home about my adventure.
Mr. Carlton was a gentleman who possessed a delightfully dry wit and humor. He liked to tease his cook - Virginia Wooding - his chauffeur and butler's wife. He knew that she took great pride in preparing his favorite foods, so at breakfast one morning he told her he wanted a slice of ham and two eggs: one egg over light and the other one scrambled. In a few minutes Virginia proudly set the ham and eggs before him and stepped back awaiting his approval. But he frowned instead and feigned a look of displeasure. "What's the matter, Mr. Luther?" she asked. "Doggone it, Virginia," he said, "you scrambled the wrong egg!" It wasn't until she heard Robert in the kitchen cracking his sides laughing that she became aware that she was being put on.
Like the southern gentleman that he was, Mr. Carlton took great pride in the foods served family and friends at his table especially ham. Uncle Sam Pat Ferrell was in charge of raising the Carlton's hogs and preparing his meat. His success at hickory smoking was unequalled, but his formula and special process for hams did not include smoking them. Long after Mr. Carlton's death, Uncle Sam Pat confided to a friend the method he employed to make a piece of ham "so good you would smack your mama for it." His secret, as he told it, is as follows: After the ham has been properly trimmed, put it down in salt and leave it there to "salt cure." After it has "taken salt" properly, remove and wash thoroughly. Make a mixture of sorghum molasses, brown sugar, and wheat bran. Apply a thick paste of this preparation, encasing the entire ham with it. After this coating has set up and become relatively firm, bury the ham in a flour barrel filled with dry wheat bran and leave it to mellow. After many months the ham may be removed, the hard coating struck with a hammer, which cracks it off like a coconut shell. There were no "skippers" or other bugs to bother with when a ham was prepared in this manner. And there you have Uncle Sam Pat's "Carlbrook Ham," "Fit for Mr. and Mrs. Carlton and the king and queen of England if they happen to smell it cookin'," he said.
Mrs. Carlton and Mrs. Lizzy Pierce Sipe were cousins; but Miss Myrtle and Miss Lizzy, as they were known, talked with each other by 'phone for an hour or so every evening. I helped operate the Ingram telephone exchange switchboard at the time, and often when checking to see if the line were clear found them still talking. Their conversation was so animated you would have thought they had not seen each other for years. On one such occasion, Miss Lizzy mentioned that there was a man who lived near her in the News Ferry area on the Dan River who raised a breed of hogs that were very lean and whose bacon and hams were reported to be the best obtainable. When Miss Myrtle told Mr. Carlton about these hogs, he immediately summoned Uncle Sam Pat. "Sam," he said, "I want you to go down to News Ferry and get a couple of those hogs that Lizzy told Myrtle about." After being given the man's name and the best directions to his farm that Mr. Carlton could provide, Uncle Sam Pat hitched the mules early the next morning, put a couple of hog boxes on the wagon and set out. Inquiring along the way as to where the man lived, he finally came to a plantation road that led to the old man's place. It was in early fall and hot, so when he spied some long legged hogs wallowing in a mud puddle by the road and some in the oaks eating acorns, he figured he must be near the end of his journey. Moving along slowly, his eye caught something strange. He couldn't believe it, but there it was: a hog with a wooden leg! Uncle Sam Pat hollered "Whoa!" to his mules, but the hog quickly wandered from his view. Continuing along, he soon spotted a house in a little clearing. As he pulled up in the yard, an old farmer came out to greet him. Exchanging "howdys," Uncle Sam Pat told the farmer why he had come and continued: "I want to ask you about something I thought I saw back there in the bushes. Did I see a hog with a wooden leg?" "You shore did," the old man replied. "That there was Joshuway. He's the smartest hog a man could ever hope to see. Lemme tell you: I'd whole lot rather have ol' Josh trackin' a varmint than airy one of my hound dogs. And every day he goes up to Jones Ferry school at lettin' out time and walks back home with my little 'uns to see that nothin' harms 'em. Last win'er we had a fire break out in the back part of the house here, and if it twon't for ol' Josh smellin' the smoke and wakin' us up, we'd a-been burned to a meatskin. Things like this a man don't forgit, naw Suh!" "Well," Uncle Sam Pat said, "he must be some critter all right, but how did he git that wooden leg?" The old man laughed, "Well nacherly," he said, "when you got a hog that smart, you don't want to eat him all at one time!"
In Carlbrook's heyday the Carltons owned in the neighborhood of two thousand acres of land. Their property extended from the Route 360 estate entrance southward toward Ingram, east and south to Route 662 near the Roy B. Davis farm near Paces, east to Oak Level, north toward Vernon Hill, and west to the Route 360 Carlbrook columns. Some of the sharecroppers liked to tell tales about the size of the estate, such as the one Uncle Charlie Edmonds often told. He said in spring he started out plowing a straight furrow for his corn crop. When he got to the end of the row, he turned around and shucked the corn on the way back! One of the William's boys said that when his cousin got married, the young couple went out to milk the cows on the other side of the place, and their children came back with the milk! Exaggerations of course, but it was indeed a large estate, managed in later years by Mr. Herbert Dunn.
There was one particular field that bordered Route 360 at the estate entrance a few hundred yards below my home that ran parallel to the highway for almost a mile. This was a flat field on which lespedeza was sown and made a perfect place for barnstorming pilots to land their airplanes and take up passengers on Sunday afternoons when weather permitted. "Cap" Lovelace and Bob Page from Danville flew in with a Taylor cub and a four-passenger cabin Waco biplane to fly people around the area for a dollar a ride. This was big excitement for us, and crowds gathered, if not to ride, to watch the planes take off and land. Scrounging a dollar was not easy, but seeing my home area from the air was about as much a dream come true as a young country boy could ask for. It helped spark an interest in flying that has lasted me to this day.
Henry Thompson and his family lived in the old Scott Boyd home that was Mrs. Carlton's home prior to her marriage. He and his son Champ took care of the hay and grain crops on the Carlton land. At wheat threshing time, he also threshed for local farmers. About a half mile north of my home, the families of Jim and Harry Mine, "Newt" Alderson, Emmit Dunn, Jim Boyd, Luke Carter, Johnny Whitlow, and Henry Young stacked their wheat crops on a strip of our farm, right by Route 360, and awaited the coming of Mr. Thompson and his threshing machine. It was a big day when the word was spread that "the thrashin'" machine is coming! It was a two-day affair that featured big meals prepared for the threshers by the ladies of each family, chaff down the collar, dust, sweat, hands, and arms stuck with briars, fingers cut by knives, snakes killed, rats and mice chased, bare feet stuck with pitchfork tines, water toted for the men and boys, wagons loaded with bags of wheat, and unruly mules and horses scared by the noise made by the tractor and threshing machine. But a good time was had by all because we didn't see that much machinery in action very often. One of the men asked Mr. Thompson what he did with all the Carlton wheat and that which he took in toll. He laughed and said, "They stacked all they could outdoors and stored the rest of it in the barn."
Some of us high school boys and girls liked to take off for Carlbrook after school whenever we could. We were always welcome, and those afternoons around the home, lakeshore, and beautifully manicured grassy knolls were happy, carefree times.
The Carlton estates caretaker, Kenneth Satterfield, lived with his family in the old Archer Farmer home that was moved up the hill behind the mansion. Mr. Satterfield was an avid bird hunter and raised some fine dogs. One night in the fall of 1939, when I was in my senior year at school, I was to stop by Mr. Satterfield's and pick up some classmates for play practice. I was late, so when I pulled up in front of the house, I hurriedly jumped out of the car and ran up the steps to the front porch and knocked on the door. As I knocked, a big liver colored pointer dog came high-tailing it around the shrubs barking and growling like he was going to eat me up. Fortunately, Mrs. Satterfield came to the door quickly and scolded the dog into being quiet. But the animal came up close behind me and stood there quietly listening to my conversation with Mrs. Satterfield as if he understood every word. She said the students I was to pick up had gone up the road, and I was to overtake them. I thanked her and turned to run down the steps. When I did, the dog, without a sound, grabbed a mouthful of the seat of my britches and held on. I ran for the safety of the car, dragging the dog behind me. He wound up with more of my pants in his mouth than I had on. I was lucky he didn't break the skin, but he sure did play havoc with my prized pair of Sunday britches. I had to go back home, find another suitable pair of pants and hurry back down the Carlbrook road as fast as I dared on our 1937 Chevrolet. We finally got to school and Miss Ellen McDannald was fit to be tied. But when I explained my predicament, she seemed to be satisfied and we went on with the practice of "Tempest and Sunshine."
In late 1940, most of the community children I came up with scattered in all directions. My attendance at Ingram Church and visits to Carlbrook ceased. Many times in far away places I thought of the old times there. I should have written to Mr. and Mrs. Carlton, but like so many things I should have done during those hectic times, I put it off and it was never done.
The Carltons continued their devotion to the church and its young people. Elon College and the Christian Church Orphanage continued to benefit from their charity, as did many other worthy institutions and persons. Mrs. Carlton remained active in social affairs. Teachers were often invited to Carlbrook for luncheons, and there were other such activities she enjoyed that included family, friends, and visitors. Mr. Carlton, now in his 80s, grew feeble and less active, and at eighty-three years died on December 4, 1956. Mrs. Carlton continued to live in the "Rock House" which was almost in site of her childhood home until her eighty-seventh year. On February 23, 1962, surrounded by her devoted kin and friends, the last of the Carltons who had built Carlbrook and made it a bright spot in the dismal '30s, and for many years after, wound up her earthly sojourn. This lovely couple now rest with their beloved kin in the Pleasant Grove Christian Church Cemetery.
On Wednesday, October 24, 1962, the Carlbrook home and remaining twelve hundred and seventy-five acres of land were sold at auction. Portions of the old estate lands were owned by four descendants of the four daughters of Archer and Lydia Carlton Farmer, these being: Herbert and Joe Dunn; Rae Boyd Yates; and Annie Dunn Henderson. At this writing, the same portions of land are still owned by Herbert's widow, Ethel Scott Dunn; Joe's widow, Harriet Walton Dunn; Rae Boyd Yates and husband; and Ruth Dunn Henderson Hodnett and husband Madison, who are the daughter and son-in-law of Annie Dunn Henderson.
Three families that were no kin to the original builders of Carlbrook have lived in the home since the death of the last Carlton family member. And like most such imposing old country homes of this size, there are those who say it has resident spirits. Some have expressed it as "an awareness of a definite presence of something unseen." Certain evidences of the "presences" have convinced some of these people that lively spirits do roam the halls and rooms of this stately old mansion. If there be such, I cannot imagine any but happy spirits that linger, because the people who lived, laughed, and loved there were such an affectionate, happy family.
My personal memoirs of Carlbrook and its people are some of my most cherished. Those times are gone with the wind, but what a bright spot it was in some dreary years for so many of us who will never forget.
NOTE: This home is now a Virginia Historic Landmark.
My sincere thanks to the following for information used in the preparation of this article: Ruth Henderson Hodnett, J.W (Jimmy) Shelton, Ethel Scott Dunn, and Bailey Ferrell.
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