Cross over the river and rest under the shade…

As I’ve posted here before, I’ve recently delved into researching mine and my wife’s ancestry. I’ve collected some various genealogical resources from family members far and wide thus far.  However, one piece of information stood out from the others and I’m here to tell that story I found buried deep in an otherwise mundane deed history.

According to the records, in January 1907, George R. Collins sold off a portion of land in Caroline County. This land contained mostly farmland and a few remaining structures from a long-decrepit plantation home dubbed “old Fairfield”. The individuals Mr. Collins sold that land to were a J.W. (James Wesley, my great-great-grandfather) and E.G (Edgar Gordon, my great-great-grand uncle) King. Later in the document, it mentions their respective wives, Abbie W. (or Abigail Wilmina Meece, my great-great-grandmother) and Harriet N. (her maiden name was Nichols), thus further confirming that these were my relations.

In February 1909, the men sold a 40-acre portion of the original 152-acre plot. Edgar and his wife soon thereafter relinquished their interest in the remaining 112 acres of land to James. In August 1909, James sold off a 5-acre tract of land containing the house and accompanying structures to William H. White of Richmond, followed by a majority of the rest of the land two years later. Mr. White then acquired a 7.16-acre plot adjoining the land and then his heirs sold all 12.16 acres off to the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad by May 1921. A decade and a half later, on New Year’s Day 1936, the railroad then freely deeded 9.29 acres of that land to the United States.

“What? The United States?” you ask. Yes…the United States or, more specifically, the National Park Service. Why? Well, what I neglected to mention is the description given of the 5 acres of land my great-great-grandfather sold to Mr. White in 1909, which would easily explain this series of transactions.  The full entry was as follows:

Deed Book 76, p. 43:

          August 2, 1909, J. W. King and wife, Abbie W., and E. G. King and wife, Harriet N., to William H. White of Richmond, 5 acres for $2,000.00: “…that certain piece or parcel of land located in Port Royal Magisterial District, Caroline County, Va. lying North East of Guinea’s Depot and East of the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad, and containing five acres, with all buildings thereon and appendages and appurtenances thereto belonging, and upon which is located the house in which General Thomas J. Jackson, a Lieutenant General in the armies of the Confederate States of America, died…”

That’s right. My great-great-grandfather once briefly owned what used to be the plantation office where General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson died. Today, it’s called the Stonewall Jackson Shrine and is where Jackson perished from pneumonia while recovering from an injury inflicted at the Battle of Chancellorsville.

Adding to the history, James’ son and my great-grandfather, Howard Clayton, had an even more direct claim to fame in that he was born on May 30, 1908 in…you guessed it…that same old plantation office.