Trelow, Virginia – Lost Village Found on Sandy River

Trelow, Virginia doesn’t seem to be on any maps.  The area is an almost forgotten village which was on Sandy River in Pittsylvania County, Virginia.  The South Fork of Sandy River heads up in the area of Axton in Henry County and meanders down into Danville where it empties into Dan River.  There were many water-powered grist mill built on the river and its tributaries from the 1700s water power was no longer important to operate the mills. 

This is believed to be the Payne Mill at Trelow, which was operated by Tap Scarce from just after 1900 until about 1920.  Note the wooden water wheels in tandem.  Most mills had at least one set of grind stones for grinding wheat to flour and another set for grinding corn into corn meal. The area we are now discussing is about four miles east of the Henry and Pittsylvania County line.  Trelow grew around the old water-powered grist mill which seems to have bee built by the Shields family.  The mill and 651 acres of land was sold to Nicholas Perkins in 1792.  Nicholas lived near Perkins Ferry on Dan River, which his father founded.  During the Revolutionary War a hospital was established in his house after the Battle of Guilford Courthouse in what is now Greensboro, North Carolina.  The mill and 651 acres was sold to Abendego Harp in 1801 and the next year his daughter Christine Harp married Thomas Jackson Scarce (1779-1866).  Thomas was a son of Shadrack Scarce (1748-1824) who built Scarce’s Mill on Sandy River about the same time that Thomas and Christine married.  Shadrack Scarce’s mill was about seven miles downstream of Trelow, just above the present Moorefield’s Bridge on state road 863.

A United States post office was opened at Trelow in 1905.  The Postmaster was J. T. Haley.  His salary was set at $12.29 a year.  Usually a store owner would contract with the Post Office Department to operate the post office because of the traffic and customers that the mail service would bring into the store.  The Trelow Post Office closed in 1905.  The 1910 and 1920 census shows Dorsey Scarce, age 25, next door to Tap, the miller.  He is a merchant and is probably operating the store where the post office was located.  There was a Buck Myers who operated a store in that area. 

The Rev. Roberson is with some of his flock below the dam at Payne’s Mill.  Wesley Haley and Marvin Willis hold hands as Mrs. Hyler is about to be baptized.  At the top of the hill, north of Trelow is Bethlehem Baptist Church. 

Hog killing at Payne’s Mill, Trelow, Virginia.

The mill at Trelow went through many ownerships before it burned in 1925.  John Thomas “Tap” Scarce came to Trelow sometimes between 1901 and 1906.   Tap Scarce had been the miller at Lanier’s Mill on Sandy Creek for about ten years.  (see the separate posting on the destruction at Lanier’s Mill).  Tap and wife Lucy Emma had two more children after they moved to Trelow.  These photographs were given to me by Tap’s daughter Geraldine Scarce Braford, who was at Trelow on September 12, 1909.  This is the John Thomas “Tap” Scarce family about 1905 at Trelow.  At left is Minnie Ola Scarce (Hubbard) (1895-1960), Lucy Emma Scarce (1868-1939), Howard A. Scarce (1892-1923), Tap Scarce (1861-1936).  In front in white is Jennie Alice Scarce (Boaze) (b 1901).  At back Gregory? and the oldest child, Sallie Ethel Scarce (Winn) (b 1890). Here is Tap Scarce with his 1916 T-Model Ford and two daughters, Nelly left and Gerardine.

Tap stands in front of the mill with his daughter Jennie in white, Jim Haley and daughter Ola.

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Copyright 2008 Danny Ricketts

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