Chesterville Plantation Site

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Chesterville House
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[top] Tour

3D Model of House in the mid-1800s

[top] History

The 1050 acres which later made up Chesterville, the property owned by the Wythe family, was originally granted to John Laydon (500 acres), Thomas Garnett (200 acres), and Elizabeth Thompson (200 acres) in 1635. In 1648, John Howitt bought 204 acres of Laydon’s tract, later sold it to Humphrey Lee, whose heirs sold the tract to Edmund Swaney.

In 1691, Thomas Wythe I began to purchase land that later became Chesterville, starting with Edmund Swaney's 204 acres. This piece of property was identified in a court order dated 18 January 1697 as being the 'Oares Plantation.' Grandson Thomas Wythe III inherited this tract of land, along with the manor house, the house believed to have been the birthplace of George Wythe. The manor house is presumed to the the stone foundation to the north of the brick house. This house has tentatively been dated by a J. Benthall as third or fourth quarter 17th century based on surface artifacts. That would place this house as one of the 'Buildings, Edifices, and Houses' described on the property when purchased by the Wythes in 1691. The stone cobbles are quartzite sandstone and native to the Tidewater region of Virginia.

The Chesterville property was left to George's older brother, Thomas Wythe IV, and upon his death George Wythe inherited the property. After his first wife's death George Wythe lived on the property from 1748-1755. In 1771 Wythe bought windows, nails, and hardware from London to build a new house. There is only one known photograph of the two-story house Wythe built taken before fire destroyed it in 1911. Local legend holds that the house was designed by Thomas Jefferson, though no direct evidence for this exists one way or the other. Construction was similar to the Fairfax County Courthouse of 1800, and can also be compared to Pavilion VII at the University of Virginia and Berry Hill Plantation in Orange County, VA. When the state courts moved to Richmond in 1788, Chancellor Wythe followed, but he continued to operate the property as a plantation until 1792.

George Wythe purchased surrounding farms, and by 1771 held 1050 acres of land. He grew tobacco, corn, wheat, and barley. He also raised livestock including cattle, and maintained apple and pear orchards. During the Revolutionary War, his overseer Hamilton St. George proved to be a spy, giving the British information and supplies from Chesterville.

In 1795, George Wythe tried to sell Chesterville, which included the house, servant's quarters, kitchen, stable, store house, and a granary and wharf where ships could dock. After the first purchaser defaulted on their loan, George Wythe bought the property at auction, and sold it in 1802 to Col Houlder Hudgins.

Col. Hudgins gave the plantation to his daughter Mary. The plantation was divided upon her death in 1845, and her son Levin Y. Winder inherited part of the plantation including the house. Just before the Battle of Big Bethel Levin Winder’s family left Hampton for Williamsburg, and did not return until the war was over. Union troops ransacked but did not destroy the house.

In 1875 Francis A. Schmelz bought Chesterville, and gave the property which included land and the house, to his daughter Frances. Around this time, the property is described as including "a large brick building old and out of repair, a good barn, other out buildings & fencing and the yard." Frances and her husband, Robert S. Hudgins left the property to their son, Robert S. Hudgins Jr., who lived in George Wythe’s house until 1911. In 1911, a kerosene stove in the kitchen exploded and the house was destroyed. Hudgins continued to rent the plantation as farmland until the 1930’s. In 1950 he sold the plantation to the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). Included on the property are areas identified as the Chesterville house foundation, Oares stone foundation about 100' to the north, the foundation of a brick kiln about 400' east, a wharf, and the Winder-Garrett cemetery about 1000' west.

See the Plantations Timeline.

Watch the slideshow presentation of the research conducted in 2010 by graduate students Graham Calloway and Sarah McCartney.

[top] Photos

[top] George Wythe's Brick House

1905 Chesterville1915 Chesterville Ruins1970 Chesterville1976 Artist Rendering Chesterville2010 Reconstructed Floor Plan~1950 Site1951 Site1952 Site1953 Site1954 Site1956 Site1956 Site1960 Brick Kiln Area1973 Chesterville Plantation2010 Chesterville from SouthBrickwork Detail

An article, Was George Wythe Murdered, appeared in the winter 1963-64 issue of the Virginia Cavalcade. The journal is available from the Library of Virginia in Richmond.

[top] Stone Foundation ("Oares Site")

1970 Oares Site - Wythe Birth Place1973 Archaeological Site1973 Test Squares1973 Test Squares1973 Test Squares1973 Stone Foundation1973 Dig Site1975 Archaeological Site1975197519751975197519751975

[top] Maps and Surveys

1809 Chesterville Plantation Plat1862 Civil War Map1875 Boundary1888 Semple Map1951 Property Survey1951 With Landing Loads Track1951 Buildings Identified2010 Reconstructed Plantation Boundaries2010 Reconstructed Boundary on Aerial2010 Map of Historic Chesterville Ditches2010 Land Use Reconstruction with Possible Field Boundaries

[top] Winder-Garrett Cemetery

Cemetery Records

In the fall of 2010, non-invasive work using ground penetrating radar (GPR) was conducted in the cemetery area. The area to the south and west of the cemetery, cleared of underbrush prior to survey, had depressions beyond the iron fenced area suggesting potential additional unmarked graves. The intent of remote sensing within and around the cemetery was to better document the extent of suspected unmarked graves surrounding the existing fenced boundaries. The radar survey of the cemetery area found extensive features throughout the survey block, including 32 possible graves. Transect lines to the west,further from and outside the wooded and brush dense area, became much quieter in their features and signatures, suggesting that while occasional outlier graves might be located outside the wooded area, it appears that the density of potential graves are bounded by the wooded area that survives as an environmental boundary today. The survey surrounding the cemetery revealed a plethora of highly interesting subsurface features, many of which showed a tell-tale parabolic signature often associated with grave shafts, suggesting potentially dozens of unmarked graves. The natural marsh and sloping topography limits the potential for graves to the east of the existing cemetery, while grading for the present road likely destroyed any remnants of the cemetery to the north.

Winder-Garrett CemeteryPhoto InformationWinder-Garrett Cemetery in modern timesLaura Garrett  1842-1846  Susan Garrett  1845-1846R.R. Garrett  1810-1855Louisa Haller 1808-1849

[top] Miscellaneous Photos

Wythe as Young ManWythe in early law yearsWythe Ca. 1776George Wythe Ca. 1806SignatureRobert Hudgins IITypical WharfWythe Marker for BicentennialWythe Marker CloseupWythe Marker in the 1976Wythe Marker in the 1976Oares Bicentennial MarkerOares MarkerFrank Farmer with Historic Landmark Plaque

[top] More Photos, Including Artifacts

[top] Archaeological Field School Photos and Videos

[top] Documents

[top] General Documents

1760s-70s Excerpts from Merchants of London and Virginia. Gives insight into the home lift of plantation owners.

1782-1971 Chesterville Chronology

1782 Claims for Payment. Provides list of farm products (corn, oats, potatoes, pears, cider; presumably for Revolutionary War rations.

1795 Advertisement for Virginia Gazette plus Notes

1888 Semple Map

1936 WPA - Birthplace of George Wythe

1936 WPA - Chesterfield

1937 WPA Historical Inventory

1969-11-25 - Kirtland to Mattson re Chesterville

1971 Group Plans to Excavate Wythe Home Site

1973 Nomination to National Register of Historic Places

1974 Daily Press Article on Coin Discovered Near Chesterville

1975 Virginia Archaeological Site Survey Form

1976 LRC Historical and Archaeological Society - Revolutionary War Public Service Claim Records for Elizabeth City County

2010 Callaway - Design of George Wythe House

2010 Callaway - Reconstructing the Landscape of Chesterville Plantation

2010 Slides from Presentation on Chesterville History

Comparisons Between the Semple House and Chesterville

George Wythe-Chesterville Plantation

George Wythe Chronology

Wythe and Colonial Williamsburg Web Site

Unearthing Secret America: Bought and Sold in Williamsburg

[top] Land Patents, Deeds, and Grants

1695 Deed of Gift Ann Wythe to Francis Mallory

1763 Deed to George Wythe - land at mouth of Back River

1791 Deed from Cuttillo to Kerby, portion of Wythe property

1798 Deed from Kerby Heirs to Wm. Hylton

1802 Deed from Wythe to Hudgins

1802 Hudgins Buys Chesterville

1802 Deed

1808 Indenture from Houlder Hudgins to Mary and Gabriel Haller

1874 Public Sale of Chesterville

1874-1922 Deeds Relating to Chesterville

Memo on confusion of deeds for Wythe property

[top] Genealogies and Family Histories

Wythe to Jefferson. 1781 Letter from George Wythe to Thomas Jefferson with mention of Chesterville.

Garrett, Richard R. 2010. McCartney.

The Garrett Family of York County and Williamsburg, VA. family genealogy, transcribed.

Garrett Census Records, 1840-1860

Hudgins, Robert Scott, II 2009. George.

The Winder Family of Chesterville 2010. McCartney.

Muster Orders for Lt. Richard Garrett. Dated 16 March 1818 to report to 68th Regiment, Rawleigh Tavern, Williamsburg.

Winder Census Records, 1820-1870

Rose Winder to Anne Garrett. Letter dated 6 May 184? with family news.

Bill of Sale for corn. Request to R. R. Garrett for 3,000 bushels of corn plus any additioanl available. Dated 14 January 1844 from Norfolk.

Alex Garrett to Ben Garrett. Letter dated 12 October 1844 from Smithfield requesting documents left behind while visiting.

R.R. Garrett to Laura A. Garrett. Letter dated 27 January 1845 from Richard R. Garrett to his wife Laura A. Letter is from his Senate Chamber in Richmond. Talks of visit to Chesterville and seeing his college friend Pettit.

Bill of Sale. 1 January 1849 bill of sale from Richard R. Garrett to Alexander C. Garrett: right, title, and interest in slaves. Transcript of importance due to naming of slaves.

Winder-Garrett Cemetery 2010. McCartney.

1850-1860 Census of Back River Includes both Free and Slave Census copies

Richard R. Garret to son. Letter from Marlbanks dated 8 November 1850 concerning importance of good behavior at school.

Richard R. Garrett obituary. 14 January 1855. Transcribed from CW Rockefeller Special Collections.

Bettie A. Garrett to Susan Garrett. Letter from Bettie to her sister Susan. Talks of family activities including Mary Lou's up-coming wedding. Dated 27 February 1860 from Chester, VA.

Penelope and Mary Lou Garrett to Uncle Robert. Letter from P.H. (Penelope) and Mary Lou (Lou) Garrett to Uncle Robert concerning the wedding of Lou to Mr. Hughes. Dated 29 February 1860.

R.E. Lee to Lottie C. Garrett. Reply by Lee to Garrett regarding preservation of Old Bruton Church. 7 March 1906.

W. Pettit to Lottie C. Garrett. Letter to Lottie on death of her father. Includes some other family information. 16 January 1908. Pettit was a college friend of Richard R. Garrett.

The Honorable George Wythe. Oscar L. Shewmake. address delivered before the Wythe Law Club, College of William and Mary. 1921.

1976 Names and Addresses of Wythe Descendants

[top] Wills

As was common during the early years of our country's history, families frequently intermarried. This often makes is difficult to assign data to one particular plantation site. The following list specifically applies to this property. For more documents either pertains to the related families or the general area, see Plantations.

Wythe, Thomas I (transcribed)

Wythe, Thomas II (original)

Wythe, Thomas II (transcribed

Wythe, Thomas III (original)

Wythe, Thomas III (transcribed)

Wallace, Ann (transcribed). Ann was formerly the wife of Thomas Wythe II.

Wythe, Thomas IV (transcribed)

Wythe, Thomas IV Memorandum

[top] Archaeological Documents

1974 Letter About Cobbles

1981 Summary Report of Archaeological Investigations

1995 Dr. Frank Farmer's Notes

1995 Artifact Inventory

1995 Artifact List

1995 Artifacts Requiring Conservation

1995 Eastman - Compiled Photo Log

2010 Callaway - Identifying Possible Outbuilding Locations at Chesterville Plantation

[top] Dr. Frank Farmer Files

Dr. Frank Farmer worked at NASA Langley Research Center from 1965 to 2004. He was instrumental in archaeological and historic preservation projects at the Center and helped organize the Langley Research Center Historical and Archaeological Society. His records have provided us with a wealth of information and we are grateful to Sarah Farmer and Vanessa Butler for sharing this information with us.

1973 Frank Farmer1973 Registered as Virginia Historic Landmark1976 Frank Farmer Tree Planting1976 Frank Farmer Receives NASA AwardFrank Farmer (middle) and Chesterville Historic Landmark Plaque

1689 -1699 Court Orders Relating to Wythe Family

Possible Sources for land referred to as Chesterville

1771 Letter from George Wythe to Merchants of London and Virginia

1781 Letter from George Wythe to Thomas Jefferson

1795 Virginia Gazette Advertisment for Chesterville Plantation

1801 Extract from Elizabeth City County Deeds and Wills

1866-1925 Contents of R.S. Hudgins Wallet

1911-05-22 Daily Press Article of Chesterville Fire

Historic Sketch of Chesterville. An article written after fire destroyed house. Numerous errors and should not be used as source material.

1915 Letter about Chesterville written by Sue Segar

1971-03-21 Floorplan Drawing of Chesterville Manor

1971 Sketch of 1809 Chesterville Plantation

1972 Notification from Commonwealth stating Virginia Landmarks Register Status

1976 Photo Purchase Memo

Langley Field Cemetery Records

[top] Further Research

Garrett Family Papers. The Garrett Family Papers collection at the Swem Library, College of William and Mary.

Garrett Family Papers. The Garrett Family Papers collection at the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library, Colonial Williamsburg.

[top] For Students and Teachers

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