Halifax County, Virginia
". . . the easternmost of the great plantation houses built along the Staunton River in Halifax County
from the late 18th to the mid-19th centuries."
By Kenneth Cook, News & Record Staff - September 17, 1976
Woodlawn is being restored by the current owners, Mr. and Mrs. Mark I. Krogh.(1/2003)
The Coleman Family
Col. John Coleman II
Henry Embry Coleman
The Burr Trial
War of 1812
Henry E. Coleman - Will
Negroes at Woodlawn
Charles Baskerville Coleman
Negroes of Charles Baskerville Coleman's Estate
Mrs. Alice A. Coleman
Henrietta Carolyn Coleman
John S. Cunningham
John Peter Mettauer Carrington
The Nichols Family
On a high hill near Staunton River several miles east of Clover, Woodlawn stands silently, a dominant landmark for more than 200 years.
Woodlawn is the easternmost of the great plantation houses built along the Staunton River in Halifax County from the late 18th to the mid-19th centuries. Three are gone now--Belle View, Mildendo and Long Branch. Of those that remain--Belle Mont, Clarkton, Chester, Riverview, Black Walnut and Woodlawn--only Riverview and Black Walnut continue to be occupied.
Perhaps the least known of the Staunton River mansions, Woodlawn is, in the opinion of this writer, one of the most important houses still standing in the county, equaled by few and surpassed by only one--Berry Hill. The purpose of this article is two-fold, to demonstrate its importance and to record its history, in depth, for the first time.
Woodlawn is a large house, even by the standards of its day, standing two-and-a-half stories above a full basement. Its hill top site makes it appear even taller than it actually is.
Built of heart pine, using both wooden pegs and handwrought nails, it boasts one of the finest exterior cornices to be found in Halifax County. The mansion has had few changes made to it and thus its major architectural features are nearly all in their original state.
Major alterations include the replacement of the original shingle roof with the present metal one, the front and end porches and the addition of a small room at the back. The form of the original front porch is unknown; the Gothic-style arches and the latticework of both the present front and end porches are similar to several others in the county and probably date from the 1840s. This is probably when the room and porch on the back were added, also.
Woodlawn has seven major rooms, three halls and a small storage room on two floors. The full, unfinished attic is entered through openings in the ceilings of the upstairs halls, while access to the basement is only from the outside.
The main floor hall is entered through a large, single, panelled door at either end. The rather plain staircase, narrow and fairly steep, rises in reverse on the right wall, turns and extends above the front door to the hall above. Here, as throughout the mansion, the walls are plastered.
To the right of the hall, in the east wing, is the parlor, a large room measuring 23 by 20 feet. The dining room, left of the hall in the main center portion, measures 26 by 18 feet. Its finish is the finest of all the rooms, with carved wainscoting and high mantel. Three windows overlook the porches, two on the front and one on the back, while a door in the back wall, obviously dating from the alterations, gives access to the small room that was added.
On the right side of the mantel there is a closet that has in it the remains of a dumbwaiter, connecting the dining room with the basement kitchen. It is an unusual refinement, being one of only two dumbwaiters in the county known to this writer; the other is at Berry Hill.
Left of the mantel a closet-like passage, with shelves on either side and doors at each end, connects the dining room to the room in the west wing. Most likely this was the master bedchamber. At its west end there is a center door leading to the side porch. Right of the door there is a closet, and to the left a narrow, enclosed stair that connects with the chamber above.
Reaching the second floor by way of the main staircase, a narrow hall extends entirely across the front of the main center section of the mansion. Inexplicably, it is partitioned with a wall and door a little beyond its mid-point toward the western end.
Two large bedchambers open off this hall, both rather plain, functional rooms. Because of the position of the hall the fireplace in each is placed almost in a corner.
At the second floor level the east and west wings are lower than the center section by about 20 inches. Doors at either end of the cross hall open into the wings, with several steps down.
In the east wing a narrow hall runs across the front, with its easternmost half partitioned into a storage room. The chamber has its fireplace almost in the corner.
The chamber in the west wing, lacking the cross hall on the front, has its fireplace in the center of the north-south wall. On the west end a door opens into a closet area where the enclosed stair from the chamber below occupies about half the space.
Woodlawn has been electrified, but plumbing has never been installed. There are fixtures in the second floor wing chambers indicating that gas lights were once used.
The attic, mentioned before, extends across the entire mansion, but it is unfinished and access is difficult, being through small openings in the upper hall ceilings. There are no dormers, consequently the space is very dark. Its only use would have been for storage.
The full basement has brick walls and both dirt and brick floors. The window openings all around have no glass, only wooden bars.
Woodlawn is reached by way of a rutted farm road, uphill past tobacco fields and a large barn and through a small woods. As one walks through the trees, and the mansion first comes into view, it is an arresting sight.
The setting is beautiful, especially in the spring when the jonquils and other flowers are in bloom. Huge oaks dot the lawn, while boxwood lines one side of the walk to the porch. To the back there are several outbuildings, including a huge barn and the smokehouse. Down the hill, east of the mansion, is the brick- walled Coleman family cemetery.
The Woodlawn lands first appear in the Halifax County records on November 1, 1768, "in the ninth year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord, King George III, by the Grace of God King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &c.," when Daniel Hutson of Charlotte County sold to Abram Womack, of Halifax County, for 350 pounds current money, a tract of land, containing 480 acres, on the waters of Beaver Greek and Staunton River. "All and singular the appurtenances" were mentioned but not specified.
Ten years later, in 1779 (exact date not given; deed presented at court on February 17, 1780), Abram Womack sold to John Coleman, likewise of Halifax County, the same tract of land, 480 acres. The deed stated that it was the land "whereon the said Womack now lives, together with all houses, orchards, gardens, fences, woods, underwoods, waters, watercourses and appurtenances whatsoever..." The purchase price was 2500 pounds, more than seven times what Womack had paid for it!
Land tax records for the period, which might shed light on the property, are gone. From past experience, however, only one thing would likely cause such an increase in the value of a tract of land--the building of a rather substantial residence. Thus it can be said, with some degree of certainty, that Woodlawn was built during this 10-year period.
As for the "appurtenances" mentioned in the 1768 deed, they were probably farm buildings, possibly tenant houses. Since Daniel Hutson lived in Charlotte County, this farm may have been worked by an overseer and a few slaves.
The ancestry of the Halifax County Colemans has never been authenticated. There is a strong possibility that there were two John Colemans, father and son, and that John I, the father, was a son of John of Abingdon Parish, Gloucester County.
There are two major theories concerning the Colemans and how they came to be in Virginia. Both are cited by Patrick Hamilton Baskerville in his 1917 book, ADDITIONAL BASKERVILLE GENEALOGY.
The second theory is more substantial, being based in part on authentic records. Mr. Baskerville, again in his "Genealogy," writes:
"My cousin, Mrs. Thomas Edmunds (of Elm Hill, Halifax County), formerly Miss Nannie Coleman, my father's first cousin, has told me that her father, Dr. E.A. Coleman, late of Halifax County, Virginia, had told her that our Coleman family is descended from one of three brothers who came from England in the 17th century and settled in Gloucester County, Virginia." (another tradition says the brothers were shipbuilders who settled at City Point, now Hopewell.)
Although nearly all the records of early Gloucester County have been destroyed, the Register of Abingdon Parish survives, and in it the given names Robert, Thomas and John are notably present. The name John is, in fact, frequent in Gloucester and the counties of York, Charles City and Prince George.
Could there be a connection between the Colemans of Gloucester and other counties and those of Halifax? It seems likely.
On the chart of the Coleman and Embry families in the copy of the Baskerville book to which this writer had access, someone has made a note that a John Coleman owned land in Prince George County as early as 1714-16. The person who made the note also drew a line connecting this John with Col. John Coleman, who married Mary Embry (parents of Col. Henry Embry Coleman of Woodlawn), but put a question mark beside the line.
On March 6, 1750, 366 acres in Halifax County (then Lunenburg) on Runaway and Bradley Creeks, in the northwest part of the county, were surveyed for a John Coleman. The land was transferred by Charles Coleman to Robert Weakley II in 1771.
This John, for whom the 366 acres were surveyed, is, without a doubt, John Coleman I, father of Col. John Coleman II, mentioned above.
Family tradition holds that John I died in or before 1771. The 1771 transfer of the 366 acres would seem to indicate that he died prior to 1771, but there is no record in Halifax County of a John Coleman's death at that time. This proves nothing, of course, since he could have been living in another county.
Col. John Coleman II was one of three sons -- he, Charles and Samuel. The Charles who made the land transfer in 1771 was likely one of the three brothers.
Based on the above, it would seem that John Coleman I, date of birth unknown, names of parents uncertain, was the first of the family in Halifax County. His first, and possibly only, land purchase, was the 366-acre tract on Runaway Creek, transferred to Robert Weakley II in 1771.
It is likely that this was the home of John I. There was a house on the land when the Weakley family acquired it (this by Weakley family tradition), and there is a cemetery, visited by the late Samuel P. Anderson Weakley in the 1950's, but its graves are marked only with rocks. The Weakleys (Robert and his wife) are buried there. Are the Colemans, also? This is not known but is possible.
John Coleman I, said to have been a Vestryman in the Episcopal Church, was married, date not known, name of wife not known. They had issue of at least three sons, John, Charles and Samuel. He was dead by 1771.
John Coleman remained in Halifax County; his brother Samuel, it appears from a deed in which they, with Thomas Lucas of Amherst County, purchased a tract of land in Halifax County in 1772, lived in Bedford County. What became of Charles is an unanswered question.
John Coleman II, son of John Coleman, was born, date not certain, but thought possibly to have been circa 1720 in Brunswick County. Nothing is known of his life prior to February, 1761, though his future record of public service would seem to indicate that he may have received some higher education outside Southside Virginia.
His father, John, as stated before, made his first and possibly only land purchase in 1750 on Punaway Creek, and is presumed to have lived and died there. Did his son, John II, move with his parents to present-day Halifax County at that time? Probably so. If his circa. 1720 birth date is correct, he would have been 30 years old at the time.
On February 19, 1761, John Coleman, then a resident of Halifax County, made his first land purchase, a tract of 400 acres on Difficult Greek and Piney Branch bought from William Thompson of Chesterfield County.
Two years later, in 1763 he was appointed by the Court to his first public office, that of Commissioner of the Peace.
Mr. Coleman's subsequent land purchases totaled 2850 acres, more than half of it in the present day Clover-Staunton River area. The largest single tract was 1325 acres on Terrible Creek. The total acreage (2850 acres) is close to the traditional sum total of his holdings, "several thousand acres."
Where he may have spent his early years in Halifax is not known; possibly it was at his father's home on Runaway Creek. This land, however, was transferred to Robert Weakley II in 1771, as previously noted. That the Weakleys took up residence on the land is fact, thus a change of residence for John II would have been in order.
On September 17, 1772, John and his brother Samuel, of Bedford County, purchased from Thomas Lucas of Amherst County a tract of 200 acres on Staunton River. The land, adjoining land already owned by John Coleman, was formerly the residence of John Lucas, deceased, and was willed to his sons John and Thomas.
Even this deed poses an interesting question about John Coleman II. In it he is referred to as being "of the aforesaid county", meaning Amherst. Why was he living there and for how long?
Another question concerning his place of residence is posed by Baskerville in his "Genealogy." He states that by 1771 Mr. Coleman and his wife were living on her estate in Brunswick County, and cites Brunswick records as evidence.
John Coleman II was married before 1767 (and after July 14, 1762) to Mary "Polly" Embry, daughter of Col. Henry Embry Jr. of Lunenburg County and Priscilla Wilkinson Embry. Henry Embry Coleman, the only one of their children for whom an exact date of birth is known, was born April 27, 1768.
If the Colemans were living in Brunswick County in 1771, did they then move to Amherst County for a period of a year or so, being there when he bought the Lucas land in 1772, and then-move to Halifax, in 1772 or later?
This is possible. His first public appointment, in 1763, as a Commissioner of the Peace, was not followed by another until 1773, ten years later, when he was named a Justice of the Peace. Thereafter his name appears regularly in the county records.
Also, he made three purchases of land in 1763--including the 400 acres from William Thompson--but his next purchase, the Lucas land, was not until 1772, nine years later, when he was said to be in Amherst County.
Obviously, much research is needed to answer these questions, but they are not that pertinent to this article, since John II figures in the Woodlawn story principally as the father of Henry Embry Coleman, for whom he bought the estate.
John and Mary Embry Coleman had issue of two children: Henry Embry, mentioned just above; and Elizabeth, who married (Gen.) John Baytop Scott. her date of birth is not known but she is likely older than her brother Henry.
The United States Census of 1782 lists four white people in the Coleman household and 56 slaves.
John Coleman represented Halifax County in the Virginia General Assembly in 1779 and in the May and October sessions, 1782. He served in the State Senate from 1788 to 1790.
Mr. Coleman was named a Justice of the Peace in 1773, 1774, 1776 and 1777. In 1776 he was one of the gentlemen justices present at County Court, "for the purpose of examining several natives of North Britain, subjects of George III, King of Great Britain, residing within the County and being supposed to come within the Statute Staple of 27th of Edward III, Chapter 17th."
The men, Scottish merchants, were charged with disaffection to the American cause. After examination they were found to be "of a disposition and conduct" to make their departure "statutory," and were ordered to leave.
1776--Mr. Coleman was appointed to take a list of tithables for the year.
1777--He was one of several men appointed to administer "the oath of allegiance ... and fidelity," according to an ket of the Virginia General Assembly, to the free male inhabitants of the state above a certain age,"to give assurance of allegiance to the state and for other purposes."
Mr. Coleman was to administer the oath "to Capt. Watlington's Company of Militia, and to all free male inhabitants above the age of 16 years residing within the bounds of the said company who are not of the militia ... to obtain subscriptions, grant certificates and make returns..."
1777--The treasurer of the County was ordered to repay to John Coleman one pound, 10 shillings, he having furnished supplies to Rachel Stumps, wife of a poor Continental soldier. The same order was entered in 1778.
1778--He was "appointed and desired" to furnish corn to the wife of John Mcfarlin, a poor soldier, and bill the county treasurer.
1778--He was named as a Justice of the Peace.
1779--Appointed treasurer of the County, "for and to receive all fines and forfeitures imposed on all persons for breaches of the penal law."
1780--Qualified as a Vestryman of Antrim Parish and took the oath.
1780--Furnished supplies to the wife of John Seamster, a poor soldier.
1781--Mr. Coleman was named County Lieutenant and Commander of the Militia, with the rank of Colonel.
1782--Appointed to help take the Census of the United States.
1784--Took the oath as Vestryman of Antrim Parish.
1784--Col. Coleman named a Justice of the Peace.
1785--Recommended to the Governor as "fit and qualified" to serve as Sheriff of the County; appointed. He was reappointed in 1787, 1788 and 1789.
1789--Took an oath to support the U. S. Constitution as required by law. 1790--On December 20, the General Assembly passed "An Act Authorizing Several Lotteries:" "-- That it shall and may be lawful for John Coleman, Isaac Coles, Robert Wooding, George Carrington, Michael Roberts, William Hamlett and Henry E. Coleman, or a majority of them, to raise by one or more lotteries, a sum not exceeding two hundred pounds, to be by them applied towards building a church in the parish of Antrim, County of Halifax."
1792--Col. Coleman resigned as a Justice of the Peace.
Col. John Coleman died in 1796. Like so much else about his life, his exact date or death or place or burial are not known. His likely burial place, however, is the cemetery at Chester, his Staunton River plantation.
At the October, 1796, term of Court, Mrs. Mary Coleman, widow and relict of John Coleman, deceased, relinquished in writing her rights of administration of the estate of her late husband. Henry E. Coleman was appointed administrator, took the oath and was bonded in the amount of $100,000.
Appraisers were appointed to view and appraise, in current money, the Coleman estate, real, personal and slaves, at his "Terrible Creek" and "mansion house" plantations, and return same to Court. No record of the returns is on file at the Halifax County Courthouse, however.
One interesting sidelight to the administration of the estate of Col. Coleman--and the only record of it, in fact--was a claim to a portion of it made by John B. Scott. His claim was based on a marriage contract between him and Col. Coleman, his first wife having been Elizabeth Coleman, his only daughter. She died prior to September 17, 1785 (the date of his second marriage, to Patsy Thompson, her cousin), leaving no issue.
A settlement of the claim was recorded February 4, 1797, by virtue of which Gen. Scott relinquished any further claims in exchange for the sum of 400 pounds paid to him by Henry E. Coleman, administrator.
On January 26, 1789, Col. John Coleman of Chester Plantation, "for and in consideration of the natural love and affection" he held for his only son, gave to Henry Embry Coleman the 480-acre tract of land on the Staunton River that he had purchased from Abram Womack. This was the nucleus of what would be known thereafter as Woodlawn, including the mansion.
Henry Embry Coleman was born April 27, 1768, probably the younger child of Col. John Coleman and Mary Embry Coleman. He was named for his maternal grandfather, Col. Henry Embry Jr.
His early education was doubtless under private tutors. He attended Hampden-Sydney College, to which institution he would later send two of his own sons, and was graduated from the College of New Jersey, predecessor of Princeton University, in 1786.
Returning home to Halifax County Henry likely took up residence at Woodlawn, which would be his home the remainder of his life. He became the epitome of the wealthy planters of his day-- not only handsome but distinguished and cultured, and a man of considerable ability as well.
In 1789-90 he represented the county in the Virginia General Assembly, serving first in the House and then in the Senate.
By virtue of an Act of the Virginia General Assembly passed December 20, 1790, he, his father and five other gentlemen were authorized to raise money through one or more lotteries, not exceeding 200 pounds, to be used to erect a church in the Parish of Antrim.
Four days earlier, on December 16, 1790, the Assembly passed an Act authorizing Henry E. Coleman, George E. Coleman, William Terry and Archibald Hughes to receive subscriptions and contract for "the cleaning of the Dan and Roanoke Rivers within the State of Virginia.' The stated purpose of the cleaning was to "extend the navigation of the River Roanoke from the Falls upwards to the Fork of Dan and Staunton Rivers ... and up the said rivers to the heads thereof," thus facilitating improved commercial traffic.
Mr. Coleman was recommended to and approved by the Court as a Justice of the Peace in 1791 and reappointed in 1792.
By August, 1795, he was Captain of the County Militia. At that time the Court appointed him Captain of Processioners for "all the lands included in the boundaries" of his company of Militia. They (the processioners) were to "see every person's land within the precinct aforesaid processioned according to law," between September 30, 1795 and March 31, 1796. They were to "take an account of every person's land they shall so procession and of the persons present at the same, and also of what land in their precinct they shall fall to procession and the particular reasons of such failure..." (Processioning was apparently a form of census. It is mentioned only in the early records of the county.)
1796--On November 24 the Virginia General Assembly appointed Henry E. Coleman, George Carrington, John B. Scott, Richard N. Venable and Clement Carrington, or any three of them, "to wait upon the Governor of North Carolina and to enter into proper mutual stipulations for improving the navigation of the Roanoke River." The Roanoke Navigation Company flourished for many years. It opened the river to navigation from Weldon, North Carolina, up the Roanoke (Staunton) to Virginia. Danville was the head of navigation on the Dan, Meadsville on the Banister and Brookneal on the Staunton. Batteaux used the river regularly.
1797--"Agreeable to a request from his Excellency the Governor," the Court submitted a list of Commissioners of the Peace then sitting in Halifax County. Henry E. Coleman was "acting in his office."
1801--Mr. Coleman was appointed Overseer of the Poor in the lower Northern District of the County.
1801--He was again recommended and appointed a Justice of the Peace for Halifax County; reappointed In 1803.
1806--The Court recommended to His Excellency the Governor that Henry E. Coleman was "fit and able to execute the office of Lieutenant Colonel commandant of the 84th Regiment, Halifax County militia, in the room of John Clark, resigned." He was duly appointed.
In January, 1807, Col. Coleman, as commander of the 84th Regiment, returned to Court an account of all drafts by him made on the sheriff as collector of fines arising in the said Regiment, agreeable to the 35th section of the Act entitled "An Act ... for Regulating the Militia of this Commonwealth."
On August 3, 1807, Col. Coleman wrote to Governor James Cabell:
"Enclosed you have resolutions from two companies of militia attached to the 84th Regiment tending their services to the Government as volunteers. The Light Infantry Company is composed chiefly of young men completely armed for action and commanded by active young officers, the sons of Revolutionary soldiers. The Rifle Company is commanded by very active officers, but they have no rifles. I trust, Sir, that the Executive will find it convenient to put rifles into their hands at an early period."
The most important event in Henry E. Coleman's life was his service as a juror in the treason trial of Aaron Burr, vice president of the United States.
Shortly after the fatal duel with Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, his political career at an end, asked money of Anthony Murry, British minister to the United States, supposedly for the purpose of organizing a movement for separating the western states from the rest of the country. The British never Eave him any funds, but he did receive a small sum from the Spanish government, whom he later approached.
Whether Burr's aim was treasonable, or whether he was planning to lead a filibustering expedition against the Spanish dominion, is still a matter of dispute. Henry Adams in 1890 held that Burr plotted disunion; in 1903 W. F. McCaleb maintained that Burr, far from conspiring to commit treason, sought to build a Western empire through annexation of Spanish territories in the Southwest and Mexico.
During the summer of 1805, while traveling extensively in the West and South, Burr is known to have conferred with Gen. James Wilkinson, commander of U. S. forces in the Mississippi valley. In August, 1806, he went to Blennerhassett Island, in the Ohio River, home of Harman Blennerhassett, one of his chief associates.
The following year Burr visited the island again, accompanied by his son-in-law and daughter, Joseph and Theodosia Burr Alston of The Oaks, near Georgetown, S. C., and their son, Aaron Burr Alston.
It is still not possible to determine exactly what happened during those visits. If credence be given to Burr's anemias there was hatched a plan to separate by military force the Western states from the Union, with implications of a conspiracy that involved an expedition into Mexico and the creation of a royal government west of the Mississippi, including Mexico. Burr would be emperor, his grandson heir to the throne, his daughter Chief Lady of the Court and his son-in-law head of the 'nobility--or so the story circulated.
Following the second visit to Blennerhassett Island, Burr left for Tennessee with a force of some 60 to 80 men and about 10 boats. Wilkinson and others warned President Jefferson, who issued a proclamation on November 27, 1806, warning citizens against participating in an illegal expedition against territories that belonged to Spain.
He appeared before the Congress and charged Burr with treason; Burr's guilt was "placed beyond question," he imprudently declared. John Adams replied that if Burr's guilt was "as clear as the noonday sun, the First Magistrate ought not to have pronounced it so before a jury had tried him."
Burr did not learn that his friend Wilkinson had betrayed him until he reached New Orleans. He fled toward Spanish Florida, but was arrested February 19, 1807 in Alabama and taken to Richmond to be arraigned before Chief Justice John Marshall, presiding over the U. S. Circuit Court, on March 30.
A motion was made for his commitment on two charges: 1--high misdemeanor in setting on foot a military expedition against the Dominion of Spain, with which the United States was at peace; and 2--high treason against the United State of America.
Marshall refused on April 1 to commit for high treason, but required bail on the charge of high misdemeanor. The Court convened at Richmond on May 22. A grand jury, with John Randolph of Roanoke as foreman, was sworn in, and on June 24 returned an indictment charging Burr with levying war against the United States at Blennerhassett Island on December 10, 1806, and with proceeding down the Ohio River with the traitorous design of taking possession of New Orleans, all within the District of Virginia and jurisdiction of the Circuit Court of Richmond.
A petit jury was sworn in on August 17, 1807, to try Aaron Burr. Those on the jury were Edward Carrington, David Lambert, Richard E. Farker, Hugh Mercer, Christopher Anthonys James Sheppard, Reuben Blaky, Benjamin Graves, Miles Botts, John M. Sheppard., Richard Curd and Henry Embry Coleman.
William Wirt Henry remarked that "This panel, while not composed of as many distinguished men as the grand jury, contained men of a higher order of intellect and character."
When he was called, Col. Coleman stated that he had conceived and expressed an opinion that the designs of Burr were always enveloped in mystery and inimical to the United States, and when informed by the public prints that he was descending the river, with an armed force, he "had felt as every friend of his country" ought to feel.
Burr himself asked Col. Coleman if he had completely prejudiced himself in the case. "I have not," he replied. "I have not yet seen the evidence."
Said Burr, "That is enough. Sir, you are elected." And so Col. Coleman took his seat on the jury. Throughout the month-long trial he was, by the records a constant and well- informed questioner.
On September 1, 1807, the jury returned its verdict--"Not proved to be guilty under this indictment by any evidence submitted to us. We therefore find him not guilty." It was generally accepted that the narrow construction of the law by the Chief Justice, later a settled principle of United States treason laws, was responsible for Burr being acquitted. Among those voting for acquittal was Col. Henry E. Coleman.
As mentioned earlier, Col. Coleman was appointed Lieutenant Colonel of the 84th Regiment of Virginia Militia by the Governor in 1806. He saw service in the War of 1812 as Lieutenant Colonel of Infantry commanding the 6th Regiment of Virginia Militia, U. S. service.
Col. Coleman was in service from May 2 until December 8, 1814, stationed at Norfolk. From his records in the National Archives a number of interesting facts can be gleaned.
For the 31-day period from June 3 to July 3 he received five rations per day, while his colored servant, "not of the line of the Army," received only one. Value of the rations was $37.20.
Col. Coleman's total pay for the July 4 - September 3 period was $209.20. Pay for himself was $120 and $16 for his servant, while subsistence pay was $61 and $12.60 respectively.
Forage for his three horses was 48 per month.
From September 4 to December 3, pay for Col. Coleman and his servant was $236.66; subsistence was $127.20; and forage, $5.16., for a total of $369.02.
Col. Coleman received an unspecified amount for expenses incurred by his servant and himself in their 200-mile return trip "to his place of rendezvous in Halifax County."
He was appointed sheriff of the county in 1815, 1816 and 1819. In May, 1819, he was also appointed collector for the county, and in October, 1819, was held in contempt and fined $50 "for his contempt in not having summoned the magistrates to appear here this day pursuant to two orders made at the last Court, unless good cause be shown to the contrary at this or the next term."
The outcome is not certain, but the next month, November, he was fined $10 "for his contempt in not attending the Court" in his capacity as sheriff.
In 1832, on the motion of John Coleman, the Court granted permission to establish a ferry across the Staunton River from the lands of Henry E. Coleman in Halifax.County to the lands of the said John Coleman in Charlotte.
Col. Coleman's final public appointment came in 1837 when he was named Overseer of the Poor for the lower Northern District.
Henry E. Coleman owned, at one time or another, more than 7600 acres of land in Halifax County. Two tracts were of 1500 and 1825 acres each.
In 1833, in a special tax, he was assessed with two carriages and one gige. His carriages were valued at $450 and $600.
During their life at Woodlawn, John Randolph of Roanoke, whose Charlotte County home was just a few miles up the Staunton River, was a frequent guest of the Colemans. (See a letter from Maj. Charles Snowden to the New York Times elsewhere in this article.)
Henry Embry Coleman was married June 13, 1795, to Ann "Nancy" Gordon, daughter and only child of Thomas and Margaret Murray Gordon.
Her paternal grandfather, the Rev. Alexander Gordon, of Galloway, Scotland, was the first of the family in America. He emigrated in early 1763, settling in Halifax County as rector of Antrim Parish. In OLD CHURCHES, MINISTERS AND FAMILIES OF VIRGINIA, Bishop William Meade quoted the Rev. Charles Dresser, a later rector at Halifax, as stating that the Rev. Mr. Gordon "continued to officiate until the commencement of our Revolution when, being disaffected toward the new order of things, he retired, and spent his remaining days in Petersburg." (Mr. Gordon left Halifax County in 1774.)
Through her mother, Margaret "Peggy" Murray, wife of Thomas Gordon, Ann Gordon Coleman was a direct descendant of the Indian Princess Pocahontas, wife of John Rolfe. Their only child, Thomas Rolfe, married Jane Foythress; their daughter, Jane Rolfe, married Col. Robert Bolling; John Bolling married Mary Kenrion; Anne Bolling married James Murray of Petersburg, and their daughter was Margaret "Peggy" Murray.
Henry Embry Coleman and Ann Gordon Coleman had issue of 12 children:
1. Elizabeth Ann Coleman, born November 12, 1796, was married September 29, 1813, at Woodlawn to Charles Baskerville, 1788-1834, son of William and Mary Eaton Baskerville of Lombardy Grove, Mecklenburg County.
Elizabeth, barely 15 at the time of her marriage, was given a number of expensive gifts for her wedding, including a "Colonial silver service" and a "beautiful necklace, brooch and earrings of pearls and diamonds." She and Charles, a planter and merchant, lived at Lombardy Grove, their life described as "smooth and eventless." They had four children: William Baskerville, 1816-1695, of Buena Vista, Mecklenburg County; Henry E. C. Baskerville, 1817- 1900 of Richmond; Mary Ann Elizabeth Baskerville, 1819-1873, wife of Richard Venable Watkins of Mayo, Halifax County; and Charles Baskerville, 1821-1890, of Mississippi.
Elizabeth Coleman Baskerville died in 1821, soon after the birth of her fourth child, at age 24, and is buried at Lombardy Grove.
2. Mary Margaret Coleman (her name has also been given as Margaret Murray), born September 12, 1798, was married May 15 1821 to Richard Logan of The Oaks, Halifax County (born January 10, 1792, died May 12, 1869). He was a graduate of the College of William & Mary and a lawyer, and was a member of the Virginia State Senate. They had issue of seven children, four sons and three daughters: Richard Logan, killed in battle at Gettysburg; William Logan; Henry Gordon Logan; John Logan; Mary Margaret Logan, wife of Henry Sydnor; Julia Logan, wife of Col. Henry Eaton Coleman; and Elizabeth Logan, wife of Capt. Marcellus French.
Mary Margaret Coleman Logan died November 22, 1869, only six months after her husband, and was buried in the cemetery at The Oaks.
3. John Coleman, born May 27, 1800, died June 1, 1869, is buried in the family cemetery at Woodlawn. He was twice married: first, July 28, 1825, to Elizabeth Sims Clark, born July 26, 1808, died August 21, 1826, buried at Woodlawn; and second, to Mary Love, dates of birth and death and place of burial not known.
4. Thomas Gordon Coleman, of Long Branch Plantation, Halifax County, born March 22, 1802 died in 1862, is presumed to be buried at Long Branch. He was a student at Hampden-Sydney College in 1817, and was later a member of the Virginia House of Delegates. Among his county offices he was a Commissioner of the Peace, Overseer of the Poor, a member of the School Commission and was Presiding Justice of the County.
(Long branch Plantation and the Thomas Gordon Coleman family were the subject of a News & Record feature by Kenneth H. Cook on October 2, 1978.)
He was married May 3, 1828 to Ann Sims Clark, with whom he had four children: Henry Embry Coleman, Thomas Gordon Coleman Jr., Dr. John Clark Coleman of Long Branch, and Martha E. Coleman Ambler.
5. Henrietta Maria Coleman, born December 28, 1803, was married October 24, 1834 to the Rev. John Thomas Clark, son of John and Priscilla Sims Clark of Mount Laurel community, Halifax County. They lived at Chester, the home of her grandfather, John Coleman II, and had issue of three children, two sons and a daughter. She died January 12, 1844, and is likely buried at Chester. (Rev. Clark remarried; he is buried at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Clover.)
6. Henry Embry Coleman Jr., born January 13, 1806, died November 25, 1878, is buried at Grace Episcopal Church, News Ferry. He attended the University of Virginia from 1825 to 1827 and was later a member of the Virginia house of Delegates.
He was twice married. His first wife was Mary Turner; they married in 1832 and had no children. He was married secondly to Julia Bestor (born September 27, 1830, died November 25, 1876, buried at Grace Episcopal Church), by whom he had five children, four of whom were: Ann Gordon Coleman, born December 25, 1866; Mary Alice Coleman, born September 8, 1872, married to Charles T. Bethell; Daniel Perrin Coleman; and Allena Bestor Coleman, born December 27, 1868.
7. William Murray Coleman, born January 2, 1808, died July 18, 1821, is buried at Woodlawn.
8. Sarah Embry Coleman, born March 5, 1810, was married in 1826 to David Chalmers (1805-1875). They made their home at Rose Hill until 1834, when he sold it to his brother-in-law, Dr. F. A. Coleman, and moved to nearby Springfield. They lived there in the simple frame home of his father, James Chalmers, until they built the present Springfield mansion in 1843. David Chalmers was an educated and wealthy planter. Sarah Embry Coleman Chalmers died in 1852 and is buried with her husband at Grace Episcopal Church. They had issue of seven children: James Chalmers; Thomas Chalmers; Virginia Fanny Chalmers, wife of Oliver Crump; Joseph W. Chalmers, William M. Chalmers; Algernon C. Chalmers and Elizabeth Ann Chalmers wife of John C. Cosby.
9. Ethelbert Algernon Coleman, born February 12, 1812, died June 17, 1892, is buried in the cemetery at Grace Episcopal Church.
In her book, YESTERDAY, WHEN IT IS PAST, Mrs. Rose B. McCullough wrote of the Coleman children and their mother, Ann:
"All of them had nice, substantial, plain names like Thomas and John and Jane and Sarah, except one. She named one Ethel Algernon. I wonder what got into Nancy!"
Algernon Coleman received his A.B. degree from Hampden-Sydney College in 1830, after which he studied medicine at the University of Virginia and the University of Pennsylvania, where he was graduate in 1833.
His first wife (they were married October 22, 1833), by whom he had one daughter, was Mary Elizabeth Sims, born April 22, 1814 at Black Walnut, daughter of John and Maria Wilson Sims. She died October 6, 1836, at their home, Rose Hill, and is buried at Black Walnut.
Dr. Coleman was married secondly, April 3, 1839, at Riverside, to Martha Frances Ragsdale, born February 10, 1822, daughter of Nathaniel and Ann Boswell Ragsdale of Riverside. Dr. and Mrs. Coleman, parents of 12 children, made their home at Rose Hill until 1841, when it was replaced by the mansion they called Creekside. Mrs. Coleman, who died March 23, 1898, is buried with her husband at Grace Episcopal Church.
The 13 children of Dr. E. A. Coleman were; Elizabeth Sims Coleman, born October 6, 1836, married John Clark of Banister Lodge; William Murray Coleman, born January 5, 1840, died September 13, 1843; Ann Coleman, born July 11, 1842, married Thomas Edmunds of Elm Hill; Nathaniel Ragsdale Coleman, of Riverside, born July 19, 1843, died December 29, 1917, married January 15, 1875 to Anne Nelson Page of Albemarle County; Henry Embry Coleman, born June 22, 1845, died May 29, 1915, married Sally Chalmers Crump; Sally Gordon Coleman, born 1846, died 1861; John Mabrey Coleman, born November 12, 1848, died June 8, 1914, married Evelyn Byrd Page; Charles Baskerville Coleman, born February 22, 1851, died October 23, 1852; Robert Leroy Coleman, born October 17, 1852, died February 8, 1925, married Frances Edmunds of Charlotte County; Ethelbert Algernon Coleman Jr., born May 28, 1854, died in infancy; Francis Allen Coleman, born June 22, 1856, married Amy Slee of New York; Arthur M. Coleman, born May 20, 1859, died January 24, 1913; and Thomas Gordon Coleman, born December 16, 1862, married Marie Rhett.
10. Charles Baskerville Coleman, born June 13, 18142 of whom hereafter (next owner of Woodlawn).
11. Virginia Frances Park Coleman, born December 22, 1816, died July 17, 1817, and is buried at Woodlawn.
12. Jane Catherine Coleman, born December 1, 1820, married Charles Eaton Hamilton, son of Patrick and Mary Eaton Baskerville Hamilton. They had two daughters.
Ann Gordon Coleman died June 7, 1824, at Woodlawn, and was buried in the family cemetery. Her husband, Henry Embry Coleman, survived her by 13 years, dying at Woodlawn on December 16, 1837. He was buried at her side.
His will was presented at Court on December 20, 1837, proved and ordered recorded. Bond for his executors, his sons John and Thomas Gordon Coleman, was set at $150,000. The will follows:
"I, Henry E. Coleman, of the County of Halifax and state of Virginia, do make and ordain this my last will and testament, in manner and form following:
"1st., I hereby confirm the gift, whether by deed or otherwise, of the property of every description, heretofore made to each of my children and grandchildren, to each of them and their heirs forever.
"2ndly., I give and bequeath to my daughter Jane C. Coleman twenty-one slaves to be taken in families from the estate on which I reside and the Eastham plantation. I also give my said daughter two feather beds and furniture, one mahogany bedstead, one bureau, and one wardrobe, to her and her heirs forever.
"3d., I give and bequeath to my son Charles B. Coleman my parlour furniture, my dining room furniture, including the new sideboard and china press, and two feather beds and furniture, and I will and direct that my silver plate including tea pot, sugar dish, creamppt., and spoons, shall be taken at valuation by one of my five sons, they agreeing among themselves who shall take it, and that the remainder of my household and kitchen furniture may be taken at valuation by any of my children, they agreeing among themselves.
"4th., I will and direct that my old servants, Alex and Rhody, his wife, Suky, Willy, Milly, and Betty, shall be permitted to choose masters from among my five sons, who are hereby required to take at least one each.
"5th., I give and bequeath to my daughters Margaret M. Logan, wife of Richard Logan Esqr., Henrietta M. Clark, wife of Revd. John T. Clark, Sarah E. Chalmers, wife of David Chalmers Esqr., and Jane C. Coleman, each the sum of five hundred dollars to each of them and their heirs forever; and to William Baskerville, Henry E. C. Baskerville, Mary A. E. Baskerville, and Charles Baskerville, children of my deceased daughter Elizabeth A. Baskerville, the sum of five hundred dollars to be equally divided between them. I also give to my grandson Henry Embry Coleman, son of Thomas G. Coleman, the sum of one thousand dollars, to be paid at the time the other legacies are paid.
"6th., I will and direct that my tract of land called and known by the name of the Fork plantation, my Heaters tract of land near the said Fork tract, my Easthame tract of land, my mill tract, my Roanoke stock, and such of my slaves as my executors hereinafter named may think judicious and necessary to sell, shall by my said executors be sold on such terms as they may deem most advantageous to the estate; (They being hereby fully authorized and empowered to make full title and conveyance of all such property to be sold); I further direct that all my just debts and the specific legacies herein before given shall be first paid out of the proceeds of said sales; and that the balance of proceeds of said sales, together with the proceeds of the sale of the perishable property, be then divided into ten equal parts, one part of which I give and bequeath to William Baskerville, Henry E. C. Baskerville, Mary A. E. Baskerville, and Charles Baskerville, the children of my deceased daughter Elizabeth A. Baskerville, to be equally divided among them or such of them as may marry or arrive at the age of twenty-one years; one part I give and bequeath to my daughter Mary M. Logan, wife of Richard Logan Esqr.; one part I give and bequeath to my son John Coleman; one part I give and bequeath to my son Thomas G. Coleman; one part I give and bequeath to my daughter Henrietta M. Clark, wife of Rev. John T. Clark; one part I give and bequeath to my son Henry E. Coleman; one part I give and bequeath to my daughter Sarah E. Chalmers, wife of David Chalmers Esqr.; one part I give and bequeath to my son Ethelbert A. Coleman; one part I-Eive and bequeath to my son Charles B. Coleman; and one part I give and bequeath to my daughter Jane C. Coleman; to each of them and their heirs forever.
"7th., I will and direct that all of my slaves not disposed of in the preceding clauses of this my last will and testament, be divided into ten equal parts, one part of which I give and bequeath to William Baskerville, Henry E. C. Baskerville, Mary A. E. Baskerville, and Charles Baskerville, the children of my deceased daughter Elizabeth A. Baskerville, to be equally divided among them or such of them as may marry or arrive at the age of twenty-one years; one part I will and bequeath to my daughter Mary M. Logan; one part I will and bequeath to my son John Coleman; one part I will and bequeath to my son Thomas G. Coleman; one part I will and bequeath to my daughter Henrietta M. Clark; one part I will and bequeath to my son Henry E. Coleman; one part I will and bequeath to my daughter Sarah E. Chalmers; one part I will and bequeath to my son Ethelbert A. Coleman; one part I will and bequeath to my son Charles B. Coleman; and one part I give and bequeath to my daughter Jane C. Coleman; to each of them and their heirs forever.
"8th... I will and direct that after my interment, a plain marble slab shall be procured, to extend from the head of the grave in which my remains may be deposited, across to that of my departed wife, and on it inscribed our names, marriages, ages and deaths, together with the ages and deaths of our deceased children; that all the graves shall be enclosed with a stone or brick wall; and the performance of this is strictly enjoined on my executors. "Lastly, I constitute and appoint my sons John Coleman and Thomas G. Coleman executors of this my last will and testament, hereby revoking all other wills and testaments by me heretofore made. And my will and desire is, and I hereby request the Court not to require my said executors to give security on qualifying to act under this will.
"In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal to this my last will and testament this 23rd day of March in the year one thousand eight hundred and thirty-seven."
Henry E. Coleman
"Codicil: I hereby give to my grandson, Henry E. Logan, my gold watch."
An inventory and appraisement of the estate of Col. Coleman was returned to Court on January 24, 1838t by Patrick H. Foster, John Sims, Matthew I. Rowlett and Robert Gayle. The inventory listing follows:
Easy chair and 3 covers; set bed curtains; 2 calico counterpins; 11 white counterpins; 2 checked counterpins; 2 calico quilts; 2 homespun quilts; 3 domestic blankets; 3 pair linen sheetst 13 pair cotton sheets; 8 pair pillow cases; 23 towels; 8 pillows; 8 feather beds and bolsters; 2 extra bolsters; 4 shuck mattresses; 4 straw ticks; mahogany bedstead; 6 bedsteads; trundle bed; crib; cradle bed and furniture; 14 table toilets; 7 chair toilets; 10 walnut chairs; 2 walnut arm chairs; and a mahogany dining table.
Pair large looking glasses; walnut desk; walnut clothes press; 2 8-day clocks; 2 homemade lounges and dovers; 10 Windsor chairs; set mahogany dining tables; sideboard and press; old sideboard; walnut table; 2 Scotch carpets (dining room); 2 pair fire irons; 2 pair shovels, tongs, etc.; walnut toilet table; 3 walnut chamber tables; pine table; stone pitcher; large blue pitcher; map of the United States; 7 chamber pots, pine press; old settee; pine desk; clothes basket; 7 Draper table cloths; 6 homespun table cloths.
Plain table cloth; 8 bed blankets; 16 flag bottom chairs; 2 loungers; 2 card tables; Backgammon box; portable writing desk; 2 pair silver candlesticks; pair shovel, tongss poker; set fire irons; Scotch carpet and rug; 16 cut wine glasses; 10 small cut tumblers; 8 large cut tumblers; 2 glass goblets; 2 glass pitchers; 4 sweet meat glasses; 26 jelly glasses; glass sueer dish; 3 plain tumblers; glass cannister; 5 salt stands; ream and casters; 2 glass stands; 6 decanters; 2 slides; set dining china--15-7 Pieces; 3 large china bowls; 24 large plates.
Set tea china--52 Pieces; 3 old dishes; 16 custard cups; 7 chocolate pots; 19 pieces old china; large tureen; walnut liquor case; pine liquor case; 7 waiters; 2 tea trays; 7 old waiters; 2 braid baskets; 2 pair pitchers; tea caddy and spoon; 7 lead cannisters; 2 tin cannisters; tin sugar box; 4 pewter mugs; 6 candle sticks; 5 peir snuffers; 3 trays; table brush; bake pan; 19 small cup plates; 82 knives, forks and boxes; 12 table mats; 12 dish covers; large cannister; and 3 raizors and 2 straps.
Large silver spoon; 17 table spoons; 17 tea spoons; 2 salt spoons; silver tea pot, cream pot and sugar dish; 7 iron pots; 3 pair pot hooks; 2 pot racks; 4 Dutch ovens; frying pan; iron skillet; toasters; flesh forks; ironing table; kitchen table; 4 bread trays and wire sifters; 4 pewter candle moulds; 5 water palls; 3 large tin buckets; pewter bason; 2 milk pails; churn; tea kettle; coffee pot; and iron and trivet.
Two waffle irons; tin lantern; 5 beef steak warmers; 6 jugs; 17 butter pots; 6 demijohns; old brass kettle; 30 pounds iron castings; 3 rugs; flax wheel; 10 barrens flour; 7 spinning wheels; 6 pair cards; old mortar and pestle; ole cotton gin; 9 vinegar casks with vinegar; 2 casks; 2 small casks; 4 meat tubs; box broken window glass; 3 pair sheep shears; servants bell; pair scales and weights; 3 new sack bags; 5 old sack bags; 100 pounds of soap; and 3 wash tubs.
Twenty sides leather; 5 skins; 7 calf skins; old piano; old sofa; 2 sleighs and harnesses; carriage and harness; 39 shares of Roanoke stock ($1950); old saddle; 11 work horses, 6 colts and fillies; 4 2-horse Plows; 5 1-horse plows; 11 grub hoes; 4 Dutch hoes; 20 colt teethers; fan mill and wheat screen; dray; 2 sets cuttine blades; 6 seythes and cradles; 2 pair wedges; set of blacksmith's tools; set of carpenter's tools; 5-horse wagon and gear; 2-horse waeon and gear; crop of tobacco estimated at 45,000 pounds; yoke of oxen, cart and yoke chain.
52 head of cattle; 151 head of sheep; 16 open sows; 56 shoats; 30 Pies; 8 sets of plow gears; hand saw plane; grind stone; cow bell; 5 work horses; 8 grubbing hoes; 15 hilling hoes; 7 Pole axes; 2 spades; books--130 volumes.
1825 acres--Eastham tract; 1200 acres--fork tract; 473 acres-- Hester tract; 110 acrea--mill tract.
John, John (blacksmith), Ransamond, Barnett, Amos, Billy, Bob, Wylie, Armistead (blacksmith), Charles (carriage driver), Ben, Sandy, Dick, Nelson, Sterling, Nicholas, Lewis, Frank, Jack, Alex, Charles City (old and decrepit), Washington (idiot), Mintus (carpenter), William, Beverly, Josiah, Granville, and Armistead.
Emetine and child Jane, Margaret and child Chanty, Charity (old), Elizabeth, Savannah, Scoggins, Saky (weaver), Susan, Katy, Banister, Betty and child Milly, Stewart, Randal, Anne, Cindy, Sally, Milly (very old), Charity and child Algernon, Bolling, Elvira, Charlotte, Betty (old), Crisy, Cloe, Milly and child Isabel, Molly and children Bob and Sarah, Millie (old), Rhody (old), and Betty.
Edy, Vineyard and child Dotty, Dorcas and chid Charless, Nicer, Saunders, Ellen, Fanny, Eliza, Suky (old), Priscilla, Anderson, Hensley, Jack, Jordan, George, Jim, Warner, Bartlett, Henry, Raleigh, Kisiah and child, Clirisa, Tom, Jonah, Charles, Michie and child Tabby, Parthenia and child Ben, Bost, Patience, Sally, Betty and child, Lucy (old), Albert, Sandy, Betty (old), Patty, and Dicy (wife of Hensley).
Household and kitchen furniture, farm goods, cattle, etc. was valued at $45,700. Slaves were valued at $737,300, for a total value of $883,000. The inventory was returned to Court on January 24, 1838, approved and ordered recorded.
Col. Henry Embry Coleman gave the Woodlawn estate to his son, Charles Baskerville Coleman, on February 7, 1837, in consideration of his "natural love and affection" and one dollar. It is in this deed that the name "Woodlawn" is first used in the county records.
The deed contained this clause: "But with the following conditions and reservations, that the said Henry E. Coleman reserves and retains to himself the full occupation, use and ownership and possession of the said tract or parcel of land and appurtenances for and during the full term of his natural life, and for his sole benefit and advantage during his natural life."
Col. Coleman's death on December 16, 1837, little more than 10 months after the deed was made, gave Charles total ownership.
Charles Baskerville Coleman was born June 13, 1814 at Woodlawn, tenth of the 12 children of Col. Coleman and Ann Gordon Coleman. He was doubtless educated at Woodlawn by private tutors, but there is no indication that he attended college. So far as is known his entire life was spent at Woodlawn.
He was married twice. He married first, in 1836 (marriage bond dated February 13), Sarah Ann Eaton of Granville County, North Carolina, daughter of Robert V. Eaton. They made their home at Woodlawn, where their son and only child, Henry Eaton Coleman, was born January 52 1837.
Sarah Ann Eaton Coleman's date of death and place of burial are uncertain; she likely is buried with her family in North Carolina.
Mr. Coleman was married secondly, in 1846 (bond dated April 21), to Alice Ann Sydnor, by whom he had two daughters, Judith Logan Coleman, born March 20, 1848, was married in 1868, at Wood- lawn, to John Tabb of Gloucester County, son of John Prosser and Rebecca Tabb. Henrietta Carolyn Coleman, born December 10, 1849, at Woodlawn, became the eventual owner of the estate, and will be discussed later.
In addition to the running of his large estate, Charles B. Coleman held several public offices. In 1836 he was appointed a Justice of the Peace, and was named a School Commissioner in 1839. He was appointed Overseer of the Poor for the Lower Southern District in 1846.
In addition to the Woodlawn estate, containing 480 acres, Col. Coleman also gave his son Charles a tract of 50 acres on the Moseley's Ferry Road in 1837. Charles later acquired two other tracts, 443 acres in 1838 and 50 acres in 1839, as well as a tract of lowgrounds of unspecified acreage, in 1844.
The lowground tract was acquired from Edward and Susan E. Moseley. The Moseleys had long operated a ferry across the Staunton River (the Moseley's Ferry Road was frequently mentioned in deeds, as above), and their desire to have no nearby competition was reflected in the deed to Mr. Coleman:
"The said Charles B. Coleman, for himself and his heirs, doth hereby promise and bind himself never to have or attempt to have a ferry on said premises hereinafter conveyed to him, nor to establish a mill whose running machinery is to be driven by water conveyed through a canal cut through said premises ... and it is further agreed between the said Charles B. Coleman and Edward Moseley that if hereafter the said Charles B. Coleman or his heirs should establish a ferry or mill the machinery of which was to be driven by water conveyed through a canal cut through the premises above conveyed, then the said land shall revert back to the said Edward Moseley or his heirs..."
As was mentioned near the beginning of this article, it is thought that the only changes made to the Woodlawn mansion were probably carried out during Charles' ownership. The front and end porches, with their lattice-work and Gothic-styled arches, are very similar to several other examples in Halifax County which are known to date from the 1840's. It is likely that the back porch and adjacent room were added at the same time.
Charles Baskerville Coleman died May 7o 1849 at Woodlawn and was buried in the family cemetery. He left no will. At the June term of Court his brothers John Coleman and Dr. E. A. Coleman were bonded for $150,000 and named administrators of the estate.
Also at the June term appraisers were named--Henry C. Logan, William Logan, William H. Sims and Patrick Foster--who took an inventory and appraisement on November 14 and 15, 1849. Returned to Court that same month, it was approved and ordered recorded. The inventory follows:
Mahogany bedstead, bed and furniture; trundle bed and furniture; bureau with glass; cradle; mahogany wash stand, marble top, burl; wardrobe, walnut clothes press, 3 rocking chairs, candle stand; walnut writing desk; chamber carpet; set dinine tables; 18 split bottom chairs; 12 Windsor chairs; 4 chamber window curtains; set of shovel, tongs and irons and poker; set of shovel, tongs, irons and fender; drawing room carpet; 8-day clock; United States map; sideboard and china press; walnut dining table; 11 waiters; 2 bread baskets; 2 waiters; bunch of feathers; set of dining china; 23 stone pots and jugs; 2 Britannia coffee pots; and 2 pitchers and cream pots.
Old sideboard; 10 brass candlesticks; side saddle; parcel of china; 2 celery stands; 2 sweet meat stands; 2 decanters; 18 wine glasses; 12 tumblers; old decanter; 10 glass mugs; 6 oil mats; gold watch; silver ladle; 18 tea spoons; 12 dessert spoons; 12 table spoons; sugar tongs; 3 salt spoons; ream and castor; set of knives and forks; tureen; dishes and a lot of earthenware; 12 bottles; metal pitcher; lot of tin ware; comb and clothes brush; passage carpet; lounge; double barren shotgun; single barren shotgun; 2 shot baes and flasks.
Book press and books; dining room carpet; 2 lounges; 12 chairs; 2 tea tables; 2 ottomans; screen; 2 oil lamps; Backgammon box; piano, music stand and seat ($275); 5 flowerpots; brass fender, fire dogs and spit boxes; violin and flute; thermometer; poplar desk; crib and furniture; washstand, pitcher and bowl; 5 trunks; table and glass; clothes chest; basket; old desk; pair of fire dogs; 17 table cloths; 38 napkins; 30 towels; 6 pair linen sheets; 10 pair cotton sheets; 3 pair blankets; and 11 counterpanes.
Pair cradle sheets; feather bed tick; 2 homespun counterpanes; 3 calico counterpanes; 7 quilts; 2 towel stands; 9 yards of counterpane (damaged); 19 yards of counterpane; 5 pair pillow cases; 4 pair pillow cases; 11 pair linen ruffled pillow cases; 44 yards homemade carpet; 2 bedsteads fully furnished; bureau; washstand and cover; dressing table and glass; table; fender, tongs, shovel and fire dogs; 2 pair window curtains; carpet and rug; 4 chamber pots; bedsteads bed and furniture; 2 tables and glasses; washstand, bowl &c.; fire dogs, shovel and fender; carpet; 2 bedsteads, beds and furniture; table toilet and glass; table; washstand, bowl &c.; shovel, tongs and fire dogs; and table.
Articles in dairy; 4 broken Pots; 3 buckets; kitchen furniture; large wagon; 2-horse wagon; 3 ox carts; horse cart; small ox cart; 3 wheel barrows; 2 large iron tooth drags; large rope; 14 sets of plows and gears; 3 lock chains; crowbar and pitch axe; 7 spades; 6 hoes; 2 pitch forks; 2 manure hoes; 6 pole axes; bay horse colt; cream colt; sorrel colt; small sorrel colt; bay colt; young bay colt; young bay horse; old grey horse; old lame grey horse; old sorrell horse; bay horse; and peafowl.
Bay horse; small mare; bay mare; small carriage horse; 8 mules; lot of wagon gears; 6 yoke of oxen; 2 cross saws; 3 hand saws; 5 planes; 6 augers; 4 chisels and trowels; 2 drawing knives; 2 frows; 2 broad axes; 2 pole axes and hatchets; 3 claw hammers; 10 sythes and cradles; fan mill; 26 hilling hoes; 11 grubbing hoes; 2 shovels; 3 pair wedges; box of tools; threshing machine; 7 Coalter ploughs; 8 Dutch ploughs; 13 small cast ploughs; 6 large cast ploughs.
102 head of sheep; 28 head of cattle; 13 head of cattle; 88 head of hogs; 84 head of pork hogs; carriage and harness; man's saddle; 45 stacks of hay fodder; 5 large iron pots; boiler; 2 looms; 8 stacks of hay; 2 calves; 2 yearlings; set of blacksmith's tools; whip saw; 40,000 pounds of tobacco; 800 barrels of corn; 71 stacks of oats.
Old Carter, Lucy, Harry, George, David, Lucy, Carter, Bob, Sarah, Nelson, Ned, Jackson, Judy and child Pollydare, Westley, Sally, Essex, Matt, Edy, Clayborn, Betty and children (Granville, Tom, Mentur, Henry and Charles), Mentur, old Pleasant, Ryall, Sucky and two children (Sarah and Stephen), Matgaret and two children (Sudan and Violet), and John the boatman.
Eggleston, Folly and children Maria and Judy, John Henry, Pollydore (old), George, Charles, Judy and child Rose, Cinda, Mary; Allen and Becky and their children, Green, Louisa and Ellen; Osborne, Ann, Betty the cook, Nancy, Alick, Jacob, Henry, Barbara, Nancy, little Osborne, Janey, Newman, Terrah, Cyrus, and Bartlett.
Harriet, Lisey and child, Dinah, Pleasant, Henry, Creasy and child Alice, Albert, Shadrack, Moses, Sterling, Daniel (boy), Jack the cow man, Clayborne (deformed--no value), John Rice, Betsy and child sally, Angelina, Eisay, Conowell, Daniel, Jackson, Molly,, Parthenta, Isiah and Randolph the boatman.
Total value of the personal estate was put at $79,162.
The Woodlawn tract of land was valued at $24,000.
At the June, 1850, term of Court, John Coleman was named guardian of Henry E., Judith L., and Henrietta C. Coleman, orphans of Charles B. Coleman," and was bonded for "$80,000.
Since he had died intestate, the Superior Court of Halifax County, at its October, 1855, term, ordered the division of the land owned by Charles B. Coleman at the time of his death. The division was made by Joseph C. Terry, surveyor, together with Benjamin F. Garrett, William H. Sims and Thomas Watkins, commissioners, on December 28, 1855, as follows:
Lot No. 1--496 3/4 acres, to Henry E. Coleman, son.
Lot No. 2--496 3/4 acres, to Henrietta C. Colemam, daughter.
Lot No. 3--645-21 acres--the mansion tract, to Mrs. Alice A. Coleman, widow.
Lot No. 4--496 3/4 acres, to Judith L. Coleman, daughter.
Total acreage--2135 3/4 acres.
The plat of the division was not recorded at Halifax County Courthouse until February 9, 1900.
Following the death of her husband, Charles Baskerville Coleman, Mrs. Alice Ann Sydnor Coleman continued to live with their three children at Woodlawn. She did not remarry.
The "Census of Inhabitants" of 1860 gives important data on the farming operations at Woodlawn on the eve of the Civil War. Mrs. Coleman, then 36, was listed as a "farmer" and as occupant of the estate, together with her two daughters, Judith, 13, and Carolyn, 11. (Henry Eaton Coleman, his son by his first wife, had by then left home.)
Real estate was valued at $33,000; personal estate at $109,107. There were 91 slaves on the plantation and 16 slave houses. Acreage was 1638 acres, half improved and half not. Farm machinery -.and implements were valued at $240.
Livestock, valued at $3167, included 15 horses, 7 asses and miles, 12 milch cows, 10 working oxen, 23 other cattle, 56 sheep and 167 swine. Animals slaughtered during the year ended June 1, 1860, were worth $1000.
Agricultural production during the year was: 2000 bushels of wheat, 3000 bushels of Indian corn, 2000 bushels of oats, 37,000 pounds of tobacco, 112 pounds of wool, 50 bushels of peas and beans, 20 bushels of Irish potatoes 100 bushels of sweet potatoes and 600 pounds of butter. Orchard products were worth $100, while the value of "homemade manufacture" was $150.
During the Civil War, Mrs. Coleman was, like other county residents, required to furnish slaves to work on "public defenses" and "fortifications." Those she supplied were: 1862--5 slaves; 1863--3 slaves; and 1865--2 slaves.
Her step-son, Henry Eaton Coleman, of Cedar Grove Plantation, Granville County., North Carolina, saw service in the war as a member of the 12th North Carolina Infantry. Wounded five times during thw war, he distinguished himself at the Battle of Staunton River Bridge. He is said to have witnessed the battle between the "Merrimac" and the 'Monitor.'
Mrs. Alice Ann Sydnor Coleman died at Woodlawn on August 22, 18900 and was buried in the family cemetery with her husband.
HENRIETTA CAROLYN COLEMAN
Henrietta Carolyn Coleman, the youngest of the children of Charles Baskerville Coleman (by his second wife, Alice Ann Sydnor), was born at Woodlawn December 10, 1849, seven months after her father's death.
Raised by her mother under the guardianship of her uncle, John Coleman, she was, like her sister Judith, educated at home by private tutors. Four of them, whose names appear in the accounts filed at the Courthouse, were: Miss Pleasants--1856, 1857; Miss Murray--1858, 1861, 1862, 1863; Miss Bernard--1859s 1860; and Miss Semple--1865. On the average the tutors received about $100 per year.
During the same time, other bills which her guardian paid included: county taxes, 1857, $101-51; books, 1858, $3.97; taxes, 1858, $115.13; "mouslaine" (muslin), for clothes, 1858, $5.62; "sundries" at Christian & Lathrop, 1859, $4.00; taxes, 1859, $119.43; pair of shoes, 1861, $2.50; taxes, 1861, $141.80; taxes, 1862, $179.19; taxes, 1863, $328.97; books, 1863s $150; Confederate States bonds, 1863, $2000; CSA taxes, 1864, $147.50; county taxes, 1864, $325.10; soldier's tax, 1864, $255.81; CSA bonds, 1864, $2444.50; church donation, 1864, $150; new coat, 1864, $450; and CSA taxes, 1865, $1278.58.
In 1853, expenses totaling $30 were paid for a trip "to the Springs."
Henrietta Carolyn Coleman was married October 12, 1869 at Woodlawn, by the Rev. James T. Clark, to Charles A. Snowden. She was 19, he was 38. Born in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, son of Thomas and Ann R. Snowden, he was then a land agent residing in Baltimore, Maryland.
One cannot help wondering at the reaction of her family to her marriage to Maj. Snowden--a Yankee--little more than four years after the end of the Civil War. One answer may lie in the marriage agreement drawn up, signed by Mrs. Coleman and Maj. Snowden, and recorded at Halifax County Courthouse. Through it money belonging to Carolyn was effectively put out of the reach of her intended husband.
Whereas a marriage is intended to be had and shortly solemnized between Charles A. Snowden and H. Carolyn Coleman, and whereas H. Carolyn Coleman is entitled to and possessed of a considerable estate, a portion of which consists of a sum of money due from the representatives of the estate of John Coleman, deceased, her late guardian.. and whereas it has been agreed by and between the said H. Carolyn Coleman and Charles A. Snowden that a certain part of the sum of money due as above stated shall be vested in a trustee to be held in trust..."
Under the terms of the agreement, H. Carolyn Coleman would turn over to her mother, Alice A. Coleman, $12,000 of the money due her from the John Coleman estate, or as much as is due if less than $12,000, to be invested. Carolyn would be permitted to enjoy and use the profits of the said sum until her marriage. After the marriage the money would be held in trust for her sole, separate and exclusive use, free from the claims and debts of her husband, and with full power to Carolyn to dispose of all or part of the money as she might see fit and think proper. In the event of her death, her husband surviving, the said money would pass to her distributees "as if she were a femme sole dying intestate." If she should survive her husband.. then her mother or her executors and administrators would turn the money in its entirety over to Carolyn. Mrs. Coleman, her mother, was given the power to invest the money in bonds, stock, property as she deeded best.
Following their marriage the Snowdens are thought to have made their home with her mother at Woodlawn. In any event, they were residents of Halifax County after 1882, and until as late as 1895.
On September 2, 1890, two weeks after the death of her mother, Mrs. Snowden and her husband filed suit in Halifax County Circuit Court against the heirs of her sister, Judith Coleman Tabb, to divide the dower tract-that had been assigned Mrs. Coleman in the division of Woodlawn in 1855.
The children and heirs of Charles B. Coleman were, they said, entitled in reversion to the land. Henry Eaton Coleman had sold his interest to his uncle, John Coleman, from whose administrators Mrs. Snowden had purchased it. Thus she was by right and purchase owner of two-thirds interest in the tract of 645 1/2 acres, while the three children of the late Mrs. Tabb -- Alice S. Tabb, John Tabb Jr. and Rebecca L. Tabb -- were owners of one-third Interest.
The Court found in Mrs. Snowden's favor and appointed John Sims, H. H. Land and J. C. Coleman as commissioners to have a "competent surveyor' make division of the lands, "with due regard as to quantity and quality." The survey, made by Marcellus French on February 16, 1891, and approved by the Court on September 5. 1891, gave:
Lot No. 1--442.59 acres, valued at $3667.08, to Mrs. Snowden. Lot No. 2--245 acres (209.60 acres of high lands and 35.40 acres of low lands), valued at $1833.54, to the children of Mrs. Tabb.
Several years after she became the owner of Woodlawn, in November, 1894,, the Snowdens were sued in Circuit Court by the Southern Farm Agency for non-payment of debts. After two days of trial and deliberation, the jury found the Snowdens guilty and ordered them to pay damages of $75 with Interest from February 26, 1894. Granted an appeal, the Southern Farm Agency decided not to go through a second trial--in fact, their lawyers and representatives did not even appear in Court for the hearing the following April-- and so the charges were dropped against the Snowdens. They in turn waived their rights to damages against the Southern Farm Agency.
Following the death of her uncle, John Coleman, In 1869, Mrs. Snowden purchased the three tracts of land which he had owned--The Cove, 1640 acres; Chester, 1544 acres; and Little Woodlawn, 677 1/2 acres (total of 3861 1/2 acres). The land was sold by N. T. Green, administrator, in response to a decree of the Circuit Court of Halifax County, April, 1886, in the suit brought by Mrs. Snowden against her uncle's administrator.
The Chester tract, on which he resided, was the same land that had been the home of his grandfather, her great-grandfather, John Coleman II.
Mrs. Snowden gradually sold her Halifax County property until, in May, 1914, the last was disposed of. She and Maj. Snowden were no longer county residents after 1895. In 1900, when she sold Woodlawn itself, they were residing in Guilford County, North Carolina, and by February, 1904, were in Baltimore, Maryland.
Sometime between February, 1904, and May, 1914, Mrs. Snowden was either widowed or divorced, but since, in 1914, she was 65 and Maj. Snowden 83, it is likely that he died. When her name appears in the Halifax County records for the last time, in the May 8, 1914 deeds she is referred to as "H. Carolyn Selden (formerly Snowden)".
Nothing is known of Henrietta Carolyn Coleman Snowden Selden after 1914, including her date or death or place of burial, even though a considerable effort was made by this writer.
On March 13, 1900, through her substitute trustee, R. E. Lee Marshall, Henrietta Carolyn Coleman Snowden sold the two tracts comprising Woodlawn to John S. Cunningham of Person County, North Carolina, for $6104.13.
Totaling 939.34 acres, Mrs. Snowden reserved 1/4 (one-fourth) of an acre, "the Coleman family burying ground, in the garden at the Woodlawn dwelling house, and now enclosed with a brick wall.." together with rights of ingress and egress to and from the cemetery at all times.
Mr. Cunningham was a member of one of Person County's most prominent families, natives of Edinburgh, Scotland, who emigrated first to Petersburg and then moved to North Carolina. The eldest of nine children he was married on June 5, 1889 to Otelia Carrington, daughter of Col. Henry A. Carrington, Clerk of Court of Charlotte County and a descendant of Col. Paul Carrington of Mulberry Hill.
Mr. Cunningham was an absentee landlord, so-to-speak, over Woodlawn while he owned it. He continued to make his home in Durham, N. C., and at his ancestral home, Waverly Plantation, in Person County.
When Mrs. Sallie Fore Tabb, 89, of Gloucester, died several years ago, her obituary stated that she was a native of Halifax County, daughter of William Harvey Fore and Maria Johnson Fore, and that their home here had been "old Woodlawn," near Clover.
It is likely that the Fores lived at Woodlawn as renters during the ownership of John S. Cunningham,, and possibly during the last years of ownership by Mrs. Henrietta Carolyn Coleman Snowden (1895-1900), just before she sold to Cunningham.
Mrs. Charlene Owen Benne of Cumberland, in a letter to this writer, said that "my mother often talked about happy times visiting her grandparents, Maria and William Fore, at Woodlawn." (Later) "they moved to Clover, where they lived in a white frame house next to the Episcopal Church until he died ... My mother remembered the beautiful formal boxwood gardens to the right of the houses extending so far out as to appear to slope towards the Staunton River. She had the grandest tales to tell--one could listen forever--the children skating across the frozen-over river..."
John S. Cunningham sold the Woodlawn estate on October 23, 1903, for $8300, to Charles Sohre of Good Thunder, Minnesota. The land was the same as he had purchased from Mrs. Snowden, 939.09 acres, less the one-fourth of an acre reserved for the Coleman family cemetery.
How, one wonders almost immediately, did a family from Good Thunder, Minnesota, happen to buy an estate in Halifax County, Virginia? According to both Lloyd A. Halverson, son-in-law of Charles Sohre and his wife Sophia, and Lyle Hohenstein, Mr. Sohre and one of his sons, Arthur, were in the real estate business in the Washington, D. C., area. Through their business connections they must have learned of the availability of Woodlawn and, liking this part of the country, bought it and moved here. It was their home from late 1903 until 1906.
The Sohres, of German descent, were one of the pioneer families Of Blue Earth County, Minnesota, where they were merchants and land agents in the town of Good Thunder.
Mrs. Sophia Grof Sohre came with her family to the United States from Germany, where they were of the wealthy upper class, when she was five years old, in 1867. She and Charles Bohre were married in Good Thunder in 1887 and lived there the rest of their lives, with the exception of the several years they spent at Woodlawn.
There is some doubt as to just how much time Mr. Sohre may have spent at Woodlawn, since he was actively engaged in the real estate business elsewhere. From both Mr. Halverson and Mr. Hohenstein it is evident that the farm was actively managed by Mrs. Sohre and their son, Carl. Two daughters, Rosa and Elsa, were also in residence at Woodlawn.
Carl kept about 180 Hambletonian horses at Woodlawn which were rented to the wealthy elite of Washington and New York who came down by train for riding and hunting. There were numerous negroes from the area employed at Woodlawn during this time.
Mrs. Sohre and her daughters had extensive greenhouses and the beautiful gardens to tend with care.
The main reason for the Sohres leaving Woodlawn was a form of fever--malaria or typhoid. Both of the daughters, Rosa and Elsa, came down with it. Only slightly less compelling a reason were the snakes--"They just dreaded snakes," Mr. Halverson wrote. Mr. Hohenstein has said that Carl often mentioned the large number of timber rattlesnakes in the area.
Returning to Good Thunder, the family once again operated their general store, a large one that sold groceries, dry goods, shoes, hardware--everything but drugs and liquors. It was at the store that Mr. Halverson met his wife.
"In 1925 I first met the Sohre family. I was a traveling salesman and called on their store in Good Thunder. I met the youngest girl, Elsa, and it seemed we fell for each other then, but we went together for four years. We decided to get married in 1929."
Regarding the family's real estate business, Mr. Halverson said that they took over many farms whose owners were losing, them due to mismanagement. "Not that they wanted them," he says, "but they tried to help them, telling them how to get government loans, etc.., and it really helped some of those farmers out."
Charles Sohre died in 1914 in Good Thunder. Rose Sohre died in 1964, Arthur in 1973 at age 89, Elsa Sohre Halverson on January 7, 1978 at age 73, and Carl on June 28, 1978 at age 93. They left no descendants.
Mrs. Sophia Grof Sohre passed away in 1967 at the age of 105, just six weeks shy of her 106th birthday. Not only was the family outstanding and influential, they were long-lived, too.
Generosity and hard work were the keys to her long life, Mrs. Sohre said in 1963, at age 103. She has been recognized for her financial contributions to Valpariso University in Indiana, St. Olaf College and Carlton College, Northfield, Minnesota, and Concordia College in St. Paul. The Sohre children gave more than 1000 acres of choice farm land to Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota.
Terry L. Sohre, of Mankato, Minnesota, wrote: "As a youngster I used to drop by the Sohre general store after school. Of special interest to me were the stories they (Arthur and Carl) would tell of the years they lived in Virginia on 'the old plantation'"
Charles and Sophia Grof Sohre, still residing in Halifax County, sold Woodlawn to Philip Weck, of Van Wert, Ohio, on March 6, 1906, for $14,500. Included with the sale was all the stock, horses, tools and other farm machinery then on the place.
The Week family, like the Sohres from whom they purchased Woodlawn, were German. Philip Week was born March 22, 1849 in Barweiler, a small town in the state of Kirn, near the Noke River; the region is known as Schleswig-Holstein. His wife, Karolina, was born in the same town on July 9. 1851.
The Weck family came to the United States in November, 1891, with eight children; one more child would be born in America. They left Germany because, at that time, relations between Germany and France were not good. They had sons of military age and did not want to see them subject to mandatory military service.
They settled in Van Wert, Ohio, where they bought a home and 120 acre farm. Ohio was chosen because there were many other German families already living there, among them relatives of Mrs. Week, who had come over a generation before and old friends as well.
As the years passed the Wecks bought several other farms. In fact, much property was bought and sold.
In 1901 or 1902 Mr. and Mrs. Week made a return trip to Germany, taking with them their two youngest children, George Peter and Martin. George was only four months old when they left for America, and Martin was born in Ohio, and their parents wanted them to see the old country from whence they had come.
As with the Bohres before them, one must wonder how and why the Wecks happened to purchase Woodlawn, so far away from their home in Ohio. According to Mr. Otto Gehres, their son Charles (he preferred the name over his given name, Karl), worked for a harness shop in Lynchburg for about two years prior to the family's purchase of Woodlawn. (He does not know how Charles happened to have a job in Lynchburg.) The Wecks probably learned that Woodlawn was for sale by the Sohres through Charles.
Mr. Gehres was employed by the Wecks as a farm worker and made the trip with them from Ohio to Woodlawn. It took two days by train. "We left Van Wert about noon," Mr. Gehres wrote. "The next morning the train stopped along the Ohio River. Here we filled our two barrels with water, and then on to Clover, Virginia, by the next mid-day. There was no trouble. The livestock and all went through okay."
Several of the Weck's grandchildren were of the opinion that Mrs. Weck did not make the trip to Virginia. One of them said he was certain his grandmother did not come because she did not want to make such a long trip. Her memories of the long ocean voyages from Germany were not pleasant.
Mr. Gehres, however, states that Mrs. Weck was indeed at Woodlawn, and since he was with them, he should know. The following excerpts of his recollections are taken from several letters received in the fall of 1978, when he was 93 years old:
The railroad company installed a switch where the railroad crossed the highway. The lumber was mostly railroad car lumber, cut from pine trees, which Mr. Weck sold. The buyer set up a pony saw mill along the road and Bob and I hauled lumber to the switch.
"The Wecks lived in and occupied the mansion all the time they owned the farm. Mr. and Mrs. Philip Weck were elderly people when they moved to Virginia. My guess is that they were about 65 years of age. Their sons Charlie and Peter were with them.
"Charlie managed the farm. In March, 1907, he came back to their farm in Van Wert County, Ohio. He was to pick up a team of horses and two cows and some feed. He used two freight cars to move the horses, cows and feed to Virginia. He was allowed an extra helper to go along. I remember, somewhere along the Ohio River, where the water was close to the railroad track, they stopped the train, allowing us to carry water from the river to fill the barrels in our car.
"In the latter part of July, 1907, I became sick with typhoid fever. When I was able to be about again I returned to Ohio. My parents came to Virginia to help nurse me back to health. As I remember the mansion stood north and south, facing the road. If so, I occupied the room upstairs on the southwest corner.
Dr. Fuller, from Clover, was my physician.
"The following year, 1908, George Bush and his helpers from Van Wert County built the barn, if it is still there. The barn was rather small. If the mansion stands north and south, the barn was about 250 feet to the east from the north end of the mansion. George was a very good carpenter. Only a fire or a tornado could destroy his work. If it is still there, if you take a close look, you will find all ties and beams with mortar and tenents are fastened with 1 1/2 -inch wooden pine holding them together.
"One of George's helpers took sick with typhoid fever and died. I think it was caused by water from an open stone well. We had to lift the water with one wooden bucket up and another bucket downs each tied to the end of a chain. A mud puddle developed in front of the well, where we watered the stock. Geese made use of this mud hole.
"At this time there were two log houses where the hired black men, Bob and another named Mat, lived. They were paid $9 per month cash, and had a small truck patch. I received the same pay. There was a lot of sawing and hauling to be done after I left."
While the elder Wecks and their sons Karl and Peter were at Woodlawn, the farm in Ohio was lived on and worked by several of the other children. At Woodlawn, tobacco was the main crop, though hogs were raised for sale and cattle for their own use. Their colored servants were mentioned in family correspondence. Much of this correspondence between the family in Ohio and at Woodlawn remains, all written in German, and Donald Weck, a grandson, has a letter written by Charles Sohre to Philip Weck in 1908 on the letterhead of his Good Thunder, Minnesota, store.
Philip and Karolina Week had returned to Ohio by early 1914, leaving several of their children at Woodlawn. George Peter left prior to his marriage in 1916, and Karl (Charles) remained, joined by two of their brothers, Adolph and Philip.
Charles Weck ran the hotel in the town of Clover, according to Philip C. Week, for a short time, just before he returned to Ohio. He was married in 1907 to Elsie Schulz, a native of Ainsworth, Nebraska, whom he met in Farmville, where they were married. They came to Woodlawn to live, and the first three of their five children were born there.
In a corner of the Coleman cemetery at Woodlawn there is a large cement tombstone with no inscription. It marks the grave of Karl Weck, second child of Charles and Elsie, who died in l911 at the age of three. He died of pneumonia, but also had polio. The marker for his grave was made by his grandfather, Frederick Schulz.
Alma Schulz, a sister of Elsie Schulz Weck, is 84 and lives near Munith, Michigan. She spent much time at Woodlawn with her older sister, and was there when Karl was buried. After his small coffin was brought down the hill from the mansion, it was briefly rested on top of the table tomb of Elizabeth Sims Clark Coleman before burial.
According to Philip C. Weck, Alma "loves to talk about when she lived in Virginia ... She remembers well her stays at Woodlawn ... she spent a lot of time there in the summer when she was young." She recalls that annually the Wecks harvested large amounts of clippings from the boxwoods in front of the mansion and sent them to a buyer in New York state.
Mrs. Gertrude Weck Kilpatrick, dauehter and eldest child of Charles and Elsie, was born at Woodlawn on July 28, 1908. (The other children were Karl, who is buried at Woodlawn; Eitel, also born there; Emma, born in Farmville; and Walter, born in Jackson, Michigan.) She fondly remembers Woodlawn, the boxwood in the front yard and the terraced garden. "I had a very happy childhood there," she says. Mrs. Kilpatrick was nine when the family left Woodlawn.
Having subdivided the 939.09 acre estate into 19 smaller tracts, the Wecks began selling them in February, 1914. Nine tracts were purchased by J. M. Pollard of Clover, February 23, 1914, for $6747.92. The same day, W. J. Nichols and V. C. Nichols of Clover bought two tracts for $1699. A single tract was purchased March 23 by B. H. Foster, P. E. Foster and B. McCargo for $999.33.
The final sales all took place on January 17, 1917. V. C. Nichols and J. M. Nichols bought two tracts for $1155; J. M. Carrington of South Boston bought one tract for $569.10 and four additional tracts for $3132.10. Among those purchased by Mr. Carrington was the mansion tract.
Donald Weck, a grandson, thinks that his grandparents may have gone in too deeply when they purchased the Woodlawn estate. They thought they could make money on lumber, hogs, etc., but did not, and probably were finally forced to sell. Donald has a loan application from has grandfather that was turned down because the taxes on Woodlawn had not been paid. The sale of the estate was made through the Clover Land Company.
Donald Weck also has in his possession a letter written by his uncle, Philip, about a year after the family sold Woodlawn. He (Philip) had been back to see the place, and was very hurt to have found the grounds overgrown and not cared for.
Karolina Week died on February 6, 1919 and her husband Philip on November 24, l92l. Both are buried near the home of their grandson, Lester F. Weck, in Van Wert County, Ohio.
John Peter Mettauer Carrington, who bought Woodlawn from the Wecks, January 17, 1917, was, like John S. Cunningham, an absentee owner. During the time he owned it the mansion was unoccupied part of the time, and at other times was rented out.
Mr. Carrington was born April 20, 1848, one of the six children of Mr. George Cabell Carrington and Mrs. Sarah Winston Henry Carrington. His paternal grandfather was Walter Coles Carrington of Long Branch Plantation; his mother was a granddaughter of Patrick Henry. Mr. Carrington was married to Sarah Frances Toot of Halifax.
He and his family lived in South Boston, where he served as Mayor of the town and was active in many business ventures. A very colorful man, he was a great circus lover and eventually owned one for a time.
On November 20, 1918, John F. M. Carrington and Sarah Frances Toot Carrington sold to Vincent C. Nichols, of Clover, tracts 11 and 13 and a part of tract 9 of the Woodlawn estate as subdivided by the Wecks. Tract 11 was the mansion tract.
Mr. Nichols and his wife, Ellie, were married October 10, 1917, and moved into Woodlawn as newlyweds, a year before he bought it. It would be their home until l947., when they built a new house down the hill on old U. S. 360. All eight of their children were born at Woodlawn.
When they moved to Woodlawn the gardens were ragged and overgrown, and the summerhouse (gazebo) was in ruins.
Several original outbuildings were still standing at that time, including the office, a one-room structure to the left side of the mansions. The two-room brick kitchen, with its huge fireplace, pothooks, etc., was, like the office, in bad shape. During World War I, when brick was in short supply, the family sold the brick to area people for building purposes.
The presence of the brick kitchen suggests that it was probably used as a "summer" kitchen, to keep as much unnecessary heat as possible out of the main house. In winter the basement kitchen, beneath the dining room, would have been used, with food sent up to the dining room by the dumbwaiter, to be served by waiting servants.
The winter of 1917-1918 was a severe one, with the Staunton River frozen over from mid-December until the next spring. When the broken ice began moving down the river it knocked out one of the piers supporting the bridge located near Woodlawn. Since there was no place for the workers who were repairing the bridge to stay, a number of them boarded with Mr. and Mrs. Nichols. The work took from April until November, 1918.
After the Nichols family moved from Woodlawn to their new house in 1947 there were several tenant occupants, but the mansion has been empty for many years now. The estate remains a working farm. Mr. Nichols died June 18, 1963; Mrs. Ellie C. Nichols and their daughter, Cecile, continue to make their home there.
Mrs. Nichols has in her home a lovely oil painting of Woodlawn that was done by Mrs. Berkley Gregory Burch of Clover and given to her.
Three years ago Mr. and Mrs. Philip Weck of Munith, Michigan, on their way to Virginia Beach, came to Halifax County to visit with Mrs. Nichols and to see Woodlawn, home of his grandparents and great-grandparentst for the first time. Last year they made a return visit, and have kept in touch by letter.
In September, 1978, Mr. and Mrs. George Weck of Convoy, Ohio, and their son, Philip, then doing advanced studies at the University of Virginia, visited with this writer and saw Woodlawn. The elder Mr. and Mrs. Weck were George's grandparents.
The Coleman Family Cemetery, located a short distance from the Woodlawn mansion, is enclosed with a handsome brick wall. Overgrown and neglected for many years, several members of the Coleman family undertook its cleaning and restoration in early 1977. The nine marked graves are those of: Col. Henry Embry Coleman (1768-1837).
Anne Gordon Coleman (1776-1824), wife of Col. Coleman.
William Murray Coleman (1808-1821), son of Col. and Mrs. Coleman.
VirEinia Frances Park Coleman (1816-1817), daughter of Col. and Mrs. Coleman.
Charles Baskerville Coleman (1814-1849), son of Col. and Mrs. Coleman.
Alice Ann Sydnor Coleman (1824-1890), wife of Charles B. Coleman.
John Coleman (1800-1869), son of Col. and Mrs. Coleman.
Elizabeth Sims Clark Coleman (1808-1826), wife of John Coleman.
Karl Weck (died 1911), son of Charles and Elsie Schulz Week.
At the beginning of this article I stated that I regard Woodlawn as one of the most important houses in Halifax County, equaled by few and surpassed by only one, Berry Hill. It is also my opinion that it deserves to be placed on the Virginia Historic Landmarks Register joining Berry Hill (also a National Historic Landmark), Tarover, Glennmary, Redfield and Carter's Tavern on that elite list.
If the conclusion that Woodlawn was built in its entirety between 1769 and 1779 is correct, then it ranks as one of the oldest houses in the county and may well have been the largest dwelling erected here in the 18th century. The fact that there have been virtually no alterations made to the basic structure only adds to its importance.
The mansion gains importance as the home of Col. Henry E. Coleman--colonel of militia, state legislator and juror in the trial of Aaron Burr, United States Vice President, for treason; as the ancestral home of the Colemans, one of our more important families; and as the birthplace of two notable county figures, Dr. E. A. Coleman, a 19th century physician., and Col. Henry Eaton Coleman, one of the heroes of the Battle of Staunton River Bridge.
Landmark status is something of which Woodlawn is justly deserving, a fitting way for the mansion to begin its third century.
For their help in researching this history of Woodlawn my sincere appreciation is extended to:
Mrs. V. C. Nichols and Miss Cecile Nichols of Woodlawn Plantation; Miss Anne Page Brydon, Charlottesville; Mrs. Betsy M. Sadler and Miss Evelyn B. Coleman, Richmond; Allen and Margaret Coleman Reynolds of The Oaks; Otto Gehres, Wren, Ohio; Lester Weck, Ohio City, Ohio; Mr. and Mrs. George Weck, Convoy, Ohio, and Dr. Philip Weck; Mr. and Mrs. Philip Weck, Munith, Michigan; Mrs. Eileen Weck Ryan, Convoy, Ohio; Mrs. Gertrude Weck Kilpatrick, Apache Junction, Arizona; Lloyd Halverson, Good Thunder, Minnesota; Lyle Hohenstein, Vernon Center, Minnesota; B. E. Scherer, Amboy, Minnesota; Terry L. Sohre, Mankato, Minnesota; and Mrs. Charlene Owen Benne, Cumberlands Virginia.
Also, the Halifax County Clerk's Office staff; the "Free Press," Mankato, Minnesota; the "Enterprise-Herals," Mapleton, Minnesota; and the "Times-Bulletin," Van Wert, Ohio.
The following item concerning Col. and Mrs. Henry E. Coleman was omitted from the section of this history of Woodlawn dealing with them.
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