Archive for August, 2009

My 4th Great Grandfather’s Rock House circa 1779 (needs work)

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

There are only four old rock houses known in Pittsylvania County.  One of them was built by my fourth great grandfather William Davis about 1779.  His land on Banister River, the Great Cherrystone and Little Cherrystone Creeks is not far from from Chatham.  Chatham is the exact center of Pittsylvania County as it was after Henry County was taken off in 1777. 

Grandfather William Davis’ next neighbor to the north were the Woodings of “Little Cherrystone” (after the small stream of the same name).  Little Cherrystone runs by the Wooding house on the east and flows into the Great Cherrystone.  The artist left it out of this map.  The Pigg Mill was in operation when Davis bought the property.

In 1789, the same year that Pres. George Washington took his oath as President, William Ricketts married Nancy Davis, daughter of William Davis.  When he died in 1791, Davis left his daughter Nancy Davis a Negro Girl named Dafney.  This was William Ricketts second marriage.  The lived on “the Dry Fork of White Oak Creek” in the gap where the railroad came through in 1874.  William Ricketts died in 1832.  The following year his son lost the 205-acre family land, part of which was a land grant dated 1780, for a debt of $37 and some pennies. 

This is the Davis rock house in the 1960s.  The jungle has taken over and the house has really gone down in the last 45 or 50 years.  This end wall is leaning out and in danger of falling.

Only the red tin roof can be seen from the old dirt road near the rock house.  Weeds and trees have grown up all around the house.  Behind the house from this view is the old cemetery with a few field stones and lots of periwinkle. 

Sylvia is starting up the stairs. 

This the upstairs in the Davis rock house.  Note the wall leaning out.  At left is Taylor Meadows who lives nearby.  He collects old mill stones.  He has the old grind stone from the 1768 mill which William Davis was operating during the Revolutionary War.  Herman Melton, an expert on water powered grist mills, believes this to be the oldest surviving grindstone found in Pittsylvania County.  At right is Sylvia Lynch Matthews, of Hot Springs Village, Arkansas.  My neice Sylvia is a 5th great grand daughter of William Davis.  She is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution based on her relationship with Davis.

The is the other window and an original shutter held by Taylor Meadows.  There is a small fireplace in this chimney.

This is the original chair rail inside the 18-inch rock wall

Note the huge soapstone slab over the fireplace.

This is Sylvia Lynch Matthews at the site on Great Cherrystone Creek where the 1768 Pigg/Davis Mill was located.  Taylor Meadows found the giant millstone here. 

This is on page 151 of Herman Melton’s book Pittsylvania’s Eighteenth Century Grist Mills.  The millstone is in Taylor Meadows yard.

Pittsylvania Court Order:  Pigg for a Water Mill – At a Court held for Pittsylvania County the 26th day of August 1768.  Present His Majesty’s Justices Hugh Innes, John Wilson, John Dix, Robert Chandler, and Theophilus Lacy, Gentlemen

On the Motion of William Pigg, leave is given him to build a Water Grist Mill on Great Cherry Stone Creek, he being owner of the Land on both sides of the said Creek where such Mill is proposed to be built.

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