River Road Driving Tour

10206 River Road


Creekside, so called because the Birch Creek flows nearby, was built by Dabney Cosby for Dr. Ethelbert Algernon Coleman in 1841. It has the best view on River Road.

From the porch of the Greek Revival structure the rolling hills and meadows along the Dan River form a picture of unsurpassed beauty.

Creekside is very similar to Springfield in outward appearance, having been built by Dr. Coleman who was the brother of the wife of David Chalmers, the builder of Springfield.

The remains of the old stone wall, a masterpiece of dry construction which was built by slaves and was originally a half mile long fronts the property. The remainder of the formal boxwood gardens planted by Mrs. Coleman can still be seen.

The following article was written by Kenneth Cook,
writing for The Record-Advertiser - South Boston News, September 20-25, 1973

The situation of Creekside, reached less than a mile from the Blue Hill Tavern, is the best of any of the River Road mansions. From the porch of the Greek Revival structure the rolling hills and meadows along the Dan River form a picture of unsurpassed beauty. The late Mrs. Robert G.D. Pottage, Sr., whose family occupied Creekside for many years, loved the view because it reminded her of her native Scotland.

Creekside was built by Dr. E.A. Coleman in 1841, as evidenced by a date brick in the front wall. Near it is another brick bearing the hand-inscribed signature of Dr. Coleman himself. Plans for the mansion were drawn by Dabney Cosby. In outward appearance Creekside is very similar to Springfield, and this is more than coincidence. Dr. Coleman, builder of Creekside, was the brother of the wife of David Chalmers, builder of Springfield.

Creekside came into the Chalmers family in 1826, when John W. Claiborne sold to David Chalmers 250 acres, being "the Rose Hill estate," for $2000. In 1834 Mr. Chalmers purchased 7711/4 acres, "on the north side of Dan River, except one acre granted and conveyed to the church," from Joseph W. and Fannie M. Chalmers for $8060.50.

The latter tract consisted of two parcels of 652 1/4 acres and 119 acres. The 119 acres were sold "expecting a right granted and conveyed to John G. Chalmers and by him transferred to Isaac Medley to participate and join in the execution, expenses and profits of a mill at the fall in Dan River, attached to the aforesaid tract of land."

On October 11, 1834, David Chalmers sold to his brother-in-law, Dr. E.A. Coleman, "all that certain body or parcel of land with the appurtenances, in the county of Halifax, on the north side of Dan River, three tracts adjoining each other ... one tract commonly called the Rose Hill estate, granted unto David Chalmers by John W. Claiborne. . . a tract adjoining the one above containing 772 1-25 acres ... and a tract adjoining the last described, sold to David Chalmers by Joseph W. Chalmers, containing 219 acres . . . " The price was $16,115.75.

The exact form of the Rose Hill house is not known; however, it is said to have stood just in front of the present mansion. Dr. Coleman and his family lived here until their new home was completed. They named it Creekside, after Birch Creek, which flows nearby.

Under Dr. Coleman's direction his slaves built the stone wall in front of the mansion to support the front edge of the yard. A masterpiece of dry construction, it once was nearly a half-mile in length. Earlier in this century, according to local folks, part of it was sold to the highway department, with the rocks being crushed and used as base material when U.S. 58 was built. It was Mrs. Coleman who laid out the extensive boxwood gardens to the west of the mansion. Severly damaged over the years, only a fragment of them remains today to testify to their former beauty.

Going back to the mansion, through additions it has been turned into an unusual U-shape containing nine rooms and four halls. Overall the mansion has no real quality. Its only redeeming features are its pleasing, balanced facade, Doric porch and exceptionally fine window linters.

Dr. Coleman, the builder of Creekside, was the son of Henry Embry Coleman and Ann "Nancy" Gordon. He was born at Woodlawn, near Clover. In YESTERDAY, WHEN IT IS PAST, Mrs. Rose Goode McCullough relates a family story concerning Dr. Coleman:

His parents were married in 1795 and eventually had ten children. To nine of them they gave plain, substantial Christian names - Maria, Thomas, John, Henry, Sarah, Anne, Jane, Margaret and Charles. Child number five was the exception. On him they bestowed Ethelbert Algernon. It is said that family members enjoyed many a laugh wondering what got into Henry and Nancy that time!

Dr. Coleman was twice married. He and Elizabeth Simms were married in 1834, only 12 days after he purchased Rose Hill. He married secondly, in 1839, Martha Frances Ragsdale, daughter of Nathaniel and Ann Boswell Ragsdale of Riverside. To them were born 12 children.

Ethelbert Algernon Coleman died June 17, 1892, at Creekside, and was buried in the cemetary at Grace Church He willed "the estate called Creekside, on which I reside," to his wife, and requested that their youngest son, Thomas G. Coleman, live with his mother and assist her in the management of the farm. At Mrs. Coleman's death, which occurred in 1898, the estate was to be divided between Arthur M. Coleman and Thomas, with Thomas getting the mansion.

His estate was appraised several weeks after his death. Personal effects were valued at $487.50; good debts at $9500; and miscellaneous items at $630.54. A worthless debt of $300 owed to Dr. Coleman was listed as "a script against Halifax County for money loaned in the Spring of 1861. "

In March of 1902, Thomas G. Coleman sold Creekside to Robert G.D. Pottage for $10,250. The acreage was 607 two thirds acres. The Pottages came to the United States about 1890 from Scotland and settled in Fenton, Iowa, later moving to Halifax County. A successful farmer, Dr. Alfred J. Morrison in his 1907 HANDBOOK OF HALIFAX COUNTY refers to him as one of the area's best.

Mr. Pottage died in 1926, leaving Creekside to his wife, Helen, who made her home there until her death in 1953. She was buried with her husband, three of their children and her brother at Grace Church.

The Pottage heirs sold Creekside in 1953 to E.J. Wyatt for $61,500. His heirs in turn sold it to John R. and Harrell R. Ford in 1962 for $50,000. Members of the Ford family were the last to live at Creekside. John R. Ford sold his interest in the estate to Harrell Ford for $25,000 the following year. Paul C. Edmunds, Sr., and Mr. Edmunds, Jr., purchased the place three months later, in September, 1963.

The Edmunds still own the estate, and although it is a working farm the mansion is unoccupied. All of its outbuildings have been destroyed, the grounds are neglected, the Ragsdale tombs in the cemetery are decaying. One thing remains unchanged - the view which Mrs. Pottage loved - and that cannot be easily taken away.

After 7/10 of a mile, you'll see a sign on the right that says "Down To Earth Quail Hunting Preserve". Down the private driveway to the left of the sign is Riverside, which is a mile off the highway and not visible from River Road. A gate may be closed and the home not available for public viewing.


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