Skip to main content

Full text of "Distinguished descendants of Colonel Clement Read, and Bushy Forest and other Charlotte county homes of the early Reads"

See other formats


Distinguished Desc endants of 

Colon el Clement Read 


Bushy Forest and Other 
Charlotte County Homes of the Early 


j Two addresses delivered at “Greenfield” by Br. J. 1). j 
l Eggleston, President of Hampden-Sydney College, 

| and Judge Robert F. Hutcheson, of the Circuit 
j Court of Virginia, at the Annual Meeting of the 
} Association for the Preservation of Virginia An- 
! tiquities—October 22, 1932.S 


8 . 

J <*« 

§ ^ 

:i i\ 




So many requests have been received for copies of 
these addresses that it has been decided to print them 
in pamphlet form for distribution among the Read 
connection and friends. This is made possible through 
the courtesy of Mr. J. Barrye Wall, editor and owner of 
The FarmviUe Herald. 

At the close of the programme on October 22, one of 
the visitors made this humorous comment: 

“Your address reminded me of an incident that 
. occurred when my two sisters and I were young 
ladies. We had called on an old friend, and found 
that she was not at home. When her maid met 
us at the door, one of us said, ‘Tell Miss Virginia 
that three lovely young ladies called on her.’ 

“Next day she met us on the Village street and 
said, ‘I was sorry to miss you yesterday, but I 
must tell you what my maid said. She delivered 
your message, and when I asked her whether 
you left your names, she said, ‘No Malm, dev 
did'n’ leave der names, but dey suttenly did 
reckermend deyselvesb” 

“You say there are those who have found fault with 
me to you, because c-n every occasion—as they claim-—I 
go beyond bounds in praising my friends. I acknowledge, 
and indeed welcome, the charge; for what guilt is there 
in a friendliness that seems too great? 

“And w T ho are these, pray, who know my friends better 
than I do? Granting that they have this knowledge, yet 
why do they begrudge me this very happy mistake? For 
if my friends are not such as they are depicted by me, 
still I am happy because they seem so to me. Let them, 
therefore, transfer their left-handed attentions to others. 
Those people who call it good judgment to criticise their 
friends are certainly riot too few; but they will not per¬ 
suade me to think that I love mine too well.”—Pliny. 

Tr.75* . 


RETIREMENT,” the Horne of Major Edmund Read 

(See Page 39) 

Distinguished Descendants of 
Colonel Clement Read 


President of Hampden-Sydney College 

HE TOPIC assigned me is a most interesting 
one; but with such a wealth of material it is 
impossible, in a paper of reasonable length, 
to mention all who are distinguished, or to 
make more than a bare mention of some who 
deserve extended notice. 

One must start with Colonel Clement Read himself. 
Napoleon once said that he was his own ancestor. In her 
interesting, informing, and spicy book, The Reads and 
their Relatives, Mrs. Alice Read Rouse sums up in suc¬ 

cinct words the character and career of this distinguished 
gentleman and progenitor of a great line: 

“It is known,” she says, “that he came from 
lower Virginia, a young man of education, influ¬ 
ential connections, money, character and ability; 
settled in the frontier counties upon a part of his 
thousands of acres, becoming captain, colonel, 
vestryman, clerk, surveyor, burgess, and officer 
in active service in the early colonial wars, a 
lawyer of wide practice, and a statesman of dis¬ 

Lord Craigwyle has recently spoken of “that race of 
superbly intelligent and capable men who appeared in 
Virginia in the middle of the 18th century.” Clement 
Read was one of them. 

In not going beyond him for a background, I am nst 
adopting the view of those who have introduced him as 
a waif who suddenly appeared from nowhere-in-particu- 
lar and who in some equally mysterious way became the 
ward of John Robinson, member of the Governor’s Coun¬ 
cil. The family traditions seem to me quite convincing 
as to his ancestry. The whole case has been stated with 


admirable poise, and in perfect good taste, by Mrs. Rouse. 
She brings out clearly, too, what a wonderful woman, in 
ability and character, Madam Read was—the equal of 
her husband in every respect. If Colonel Read and his 
wife Mary Hill came from nowhere, they were wonderful 
in beginning a great.line; if the traditions are correct,, 
they were admirable examples of two descendants of 
distinguished lines who lived up to the noblest traits of 
their ancestors. 

Their eldest child, Mary Read, married Colonel 
Thomas Nash, ana died six years later, at. the age of 26, 
leaving two little children. Twenty years later, her prom¬ 
ising young son, a Lieutenant in the Continental Army, 
was killed at Yorktown the day before Cornwallis sur¬ 
rendered. Her daughter Ann Owen Nash married Rev. 
John Cameron, and from this marriage came a long arid 
distinguished line, from which may be mentioned: 

Judge Duncan Cameron, President of the Bank of 
Carolina; member of the Superior Court; member of the 
North Carolina Legislature of 1822, which was notable 
for the eminent men in it-; State Senator in 1822-’23 

Judge Walker Anderson, Chief Justice of the Supreme 
Court of Florida. 

General George B. Anderson, who graduated at West 
Point at the head of his class, and became an officer in 
the United States Army; later a General in the Con¬ 
federate States Army; and whose portrait hangs in the 
Hall of History at Raleigh. 

John Adams Cameron, member of the North Carolina 
Legislature 1810-12; Major in the War of 1812; Consul 
to Vera Cruz; and Judge of the Federal District Court 
of Florida. 

Col. Francis Hawks Cameron, Lieutenant in the U. S. 
Marine Corps; later a gallant Confederate soldier, and 
for many years Adjutant-General of North Carolina. 

Admiral William Anderson Kirkland, of the U. 3. 
Navy, who stayed with the Union in the Uncivil War of 

William E. Cameron, a gallant officer of the Confed¬ 
erate States Army; a public speaker of marked gifts; 






Governor of Virginia; brilliant editor. “Some force of 
sweet persuasion sat upon his lips.” 

Cel. Benehan Cameron, who passed away in 1926, and 
whose great services to his State as head of the State 
Highway Commission are well known. 

Since the first century of Christianity it has been 
the custom of the Gentile Christians to appropriate all 
the blessings and hand to the Jews all the curses proph¬ 
esied in the Old Testament. This Gentile habit seems 
to run true to form when two families are united by 
marriage, for when Brown marries Miss Smith, ana the 
offspring show traits that betoken genius or worthy 
characteristics, the aunts, uncles, sisters, and brothers of 
Brown ascribe these traits to the Brown inheritance; 
and if the offspring show idiosyncrasies such as uneven 
temper, slow mentality, or a tendency to go to jail, Aunt 
Susan Brown observes piously, “Well, my dear, you can’t 
wonder at it when you know that their grandfather 
Smith was what he w 7 as; and, their grandmother Smith 
was no better than she ought to have been!” While, if 
you happen to be in listening distance, you wall hear 
Cousin Maria Smith say exactly the same thing about 
the handicaps of the Brown side of the line. 

This is by way of mentioning the distinguished 
descendants of Col. Clement Read and his wdfe Mary 
Hill, where there have been intermarriages with the 
Carringtons, Watkinses, Venables, Mortons, Barksdales, 
Flournoys, Baskervilles, Bedfords. Bouldins, Bookers, 
Bruces, Cabells, Camerons, Edmundses, Gaines, Hubards, 
Hutchesons, McITwaines, and scores of other strains. Who 
is to decide which drop of blood gave the magic touch 
of greatness to one of the offspring, or from what malign 
source the fatal traits came? Certainly not I, in this 
presence, where mast of these families are represented. 
Happily I do not have to enter this field of genetics, 
in which are so many pitfalls. I take my stand on the 
fact that whether the distinction of anyone I mention 
comes from one strain or another, or from a combina- 





tion, I am confining myself to a relation of names of 
those who have in them the Read blood. 

I recall that at the celebration of the Watkins Clan, 
and their Kin, some years ago at “Do Well,” Senator 
Charles Lassiter said to me, “Eggleston, you and I and a 
few others here, who have no Watkins-Carrington-Ven- 
able-Morton strains in us, will be compelled in self-de¬ 
fense to form a Protective Association. We are here by 
sufferance, solely because we had the good fortune to 
marry into one of these Clans.” But we could not de¬ 
cide on a name for the Association. Each of us knew that 
he had brought to his side one in whom, by some al¬ 
chemic process, were combined all the best traits of all 
the strains, and from whom had been eliminated those 
traits that were not good. 

This is too long an introduction to the marriage of 
Margaret Read and Paul Carrington, Sr. How could there 
have been a happier or more fitting union of excellent; 
traits? She died young; of her Hugh Blair Grigsby said 
that she was “the best of wives and a woman of innu¬ 
merable virtues.” No wonder that from this union has 
come a distinguished line: 

Captain William Morton Watkins, of “Do Well,” a 
prominent member of the Virginia House of Delegates, 
1815-30; a trustee of Hampden-Sydney College; a Chris¬ 
tian gentleman of great ability and great influence, mar¬ 
ried Elizabeth Woodson Venable, a granddaughter cf 
Margaret Read; and two of their daughters were Eliza¬ 
beth Margaret Watkins and Jane Virginia Watkins. 
Does some one ask what they were distinguished for? 
For loveliness of character, for every Christian grace 
that makes life sweeter and more beautiful; for leaving 
a memory of two precious and holy lives. Young as I am, 
I remember “ Aunt Mag,” as my mother affectionately 
called her, and to whom all of us were devoted. 

One would have to go far to find a descendant cf 
Clement Read and Mary Hill more worthy to be men¬ 
tioned than the present owner of “Do Well”: gifted 
scholar, gifted teacher, gifted author and writer; sincere 
in her friendships, and sincere in her great ideals; pub- 



lie-spirited, with a rare vision of what constructive and 
kindly service means; a blessing to her community, an 
illustrious citizen of an illustrious Count:/—she has 
wrought nobly and unselfishly, and we honour ourselves 
in honouring her—Miss Elizabeth Venable Gaines. 

William Joel Watkins, Bachelor of Arts of Hampden- 
Sydney College; Bachelor of Laws of Yale University; 
Mayor of St. Augustine. Florida, during the terrible days 
of the “Destruction ” that was called “Reconstruction;” 

His grandson, George Couper Gibbs II, Bachelor of 
Law of Washington & Lee University; Judge of the Cir¬ 
cuit Court of Florida; able, scholarly, cultured. 

Nathaniel Francis Cabell, author, genealogist, gen¬ 

Dr. Graham Gilmer, one of the leading ministers of 
the Southern Presbyterian Church; a man of rare beauty 
of character; a very man of God. 

Hon. J. Sinclair Brown, Speaker of the House of Dele¬ 
gates, whom by placing in the Governor’s chair, our State 
would honour herself. 

Francis Nathaniel Watkins, Judge of the County 
Court of Prince Edward; member of the Virginia Legisla¬ 
ture; member of the Board of Trustees of Hampden-Syd- 
ney College, and treasurer of the College and of Union 
Theological Seminary; clarum et venerabile nomem 

Asa Dickinson Watkins, Judge of the County Court; 
Commonwealth’s Attorney of Appomattox, Powhatan and 
Prince Edward Counties; member of the Virginia House 
of Delegates; member of the Virginia Senate, and regard¬ 
ed as one of the ablest and most useful members of that 
body; member of the Board of Trustees of Hampden- 
Sydney College; elder in the Presbyterian Church; a 
friend to all things worth while; I should call him Judge 

Samuel Woodson Watkins, for many years Treasurer 
of Prince Edward County; elder in the Presbyterian 
Church; gentle, generous, public-spirited; a wise coun¬ 
sellor; in his life greatly beloved, and probably the most 
influential citizen of his County; in his death deeply 
mourned by his host of friends. 

[ 9 ] 




■ * ’ 

Major Andrew Reid Venable, who added lustre to a 
a distinguished name, and lived up to every noble char¬ 
acteristic of a noble line; a member of the staff of the 
immortal Jeb Stuart, and belonging there because of his 
dauntless courage, and because, like his Chief, he feared 
only the doing of wrong. 

Abram Watkins Venable, lawyer; member of the Unit¬ 
ed States Congress; member of the Confederate States 
Congress; Trustee of Union Thelogical Seminary; and, if 
he but knew it, distinguished also for being the ancestor 
of two ladies I have the privilege of knowing, and of each 
of whom it may be said that her’s is “ a heart full of the 
sweetest incense, a soul like a well-watered garden, a life 
like a sweet field blessed of God.” Another member of 
this family is Abram Venable Martin, a graduate of 
Hampden-Sydney College; able head of the Department 
of Mathematics of the Presbyterian College of South 
Carolina; an elder in the Presbyterian Church; whose 
fine abilities and pure, unselfish life have endeared him 
to a host of friends. 

General George Carrington, son of Margaret Read 
and Judge Paul Carrington, Sr.; First Lieutenant in the 
War of the Revolution, and a dashing officer; General of 
Militia after the War; Clerk of the Halifax County 
Court; member of the Convention of 1738; member of 
the State Senate. His will contains a tribute to his wife 
that is equalled in beauty of language and sentiment 
only by a similar one paid by Samuel Cobbs, of Amelia 
County, to his wife. 

I must pause here to mention Bettie Lewis Morton, 
daughter of Tazewell S. Morton and Mary B. Scott; 
granddaughter of Mary Coles Carrington and Joseph Wy¬ 
att Scott; great-great-granddaughter of Margaret Read. 
She married William Tucker Carrington, who w r as a prom¬ 
inent tobacconist in Richmond for many years, and whose 
lovely home was a center of delightful and unbounded 
hospitality. What can be said about her that could ex¬ 
aggerate her lovely character! She was indeed a very 
“fragrance of Christ;” and it is not too much to say 




- . ' 



that those who knew her—and they could be counted by 
the hundreds—adored her. 

And I would pause here not merely to mention, but to 
do reverence to, the family that for so many years— 
reaching through two generations—lived at, and brought 
fame of hospitality, fame of character, fame of culture 
and refinement, fame of scholarship, fame of every cul¬ 
tivated quality that makes life beautiful, to “ Sunnyside,” 
just out of Clarksville, in Mecklenburg County, Virginia: 
the home of Tucker Carrington and his wife, Mary Car¬ 
rington Watkins, of “Do Well,” and the home of their 
children, the Misses Carrington. The number 7 is the 
symbol of completeness, of perfection; but I have thought 
that at “ Sunnyside ” the number would have to be re¬ 
vised because of the 8 Carrington Sisters who lived there 
and made it a synonym of all that a cultivated Virginia 
home can mean. Who can measure the influences that 
radiate from lives like these? There is no limit to such 
influences, because they belong in the realm of the spir¬ 
itual, and therefore of the eternal. In loveliness of char¬ 
acter they were all distinguished; but one remembers 
with keen pleasure the incisive wit and the penetrating 
comments of Miss Emily, whose intellect was one of ex¬ 
traordinary vigour and grasp. It was Miss Mildred, her 
sister, who, in writing of a relative, said, “ Cousin Blank 
had five children w-ho married into unheard of families 
and settled all over West Virginia.” Alice Rouse says of 
her that she was “ aristocratic and delightful to the 
end ” (an end—or rather a beginning—that came in her 
84th year), and very appropriately quotes the bit of verse: 

“ How can you crush by any sort of fate 
A soul that sits behind a samovar 
Drawing ancestry round it like a shawl?” 

One might go back to a former generation and men¬ 
tion Mary S. Carrington (v;ho married Samuel Woodson 
Venable), daughter of Margaret Read and Judge Paul 
Carrington, wiiose caustic wit made her famous, and 
sometimes dreaded; a wit that would bite-in like old 
cheese; and by way of contrast one might mention her 

[ 11 ] 

- • 


, • - ■ 

sister Anne, who married Col. William Cabell, and who 
was “ mild and unassuming in her manners, with digni¬ 
ty and Roman firmness.” Alexander Brown, in his clas¬ 
sic genealogy. The Cabells and Their Kin, says he was 
once talking “ to a very religious old coloured man who 
formerly belonged to her, and the old negro remarked 
that in his whole life he had known only two persons 
who were certainly sanctified. I asked him who they were, 
and his reply was, ‘ Me and Miss Anne.’ ” 

“ Miss Anne’s ” daughter, Elivira Cabell, married 
James Bruce, and one of their children was Charles 
Bruce, of “ Staunton Hill,” who married Sarah Seddon. 
Of their children, may be mentioned Charles Morelle 
Bruce, Secretary of Arizona Territory, and Assistant 
Commissioner of the General Land Office at Washington; 

Philip Alexander Bruce, for many years the Secretary 
of the Virginia Historical Society, and editor of its maga¬ 
zine; who has placed the State of Virginia under debt to 
him for his invaluable historical works, and the Univer¬ 
sity of Virginia under debt to him for his monumental 
history of that great School; 

William Cabell Bruce, author, historian, United States 

James Douglas Bruce, not so well known to the gen¬ 
eral public, but a gifted scholar and cultivated gentleman 
of unusual abilities, and of distinct charm to those who 
were so fortunate as to belong to the inner circle of his 
friends. Natura admirabilis, et exquisita doctrina, et 
singnlaris industria. 

A descendant of Clement Read and Mary Hill, whose 
name is secure in the roster of eminent Virginia citizens, 
is William Wirt Henry, a native of Charlotte County, 
lawyer, lecturer, Confederate soldier, President of the 
American Historical Society; President of the Virginia 
Historical Society; Christian gentleman; author of The 
Life and Letters of Patrick Henry, his grandfather—in 
my judgment the standard in fullness, in accuracy, in 
historical perspective. 

Hon. Thomas Stanhope Flournoy, United States Con¬ 
gressman; member of the Virginia Convention of 1861; 

[ 12 ] 

, - > 


Colonel in the Confederate States Army. 

Hon. Henry Wood Flournoy, soldier of the Confeder¬ 
acy; Judge of the Hustings Court of Danville, Virginia; 
Secretary of the Commonwealth of Virginia. 

A name that stands out in our distinguished list is 
that of Alexander Brown, author of The Genesis of the 
United States, The First Republic of America, and The 
Cabells and Their Kin—three books that are classics, 

Clement Cabell Dickinson, graduate of Hampden- 
Sydney College; lawyer; Judge; member of the Missouri 
State Senate; member of Congress from Missouri; a gen¬ 
tleman of charm and culture. 

Paul Carrington Cabell, who was practicing law in 
Kansas when John Brown and his crew of cut-throats 
made war on Virginia; who returned to his native State 
and joined with other sons in resisting the invaders, and 
became a Lieutenant; who was in Pickett’s immortal 
charge at Gettysburg, and was wounded there; who was 
captured at Five Forks, and had to endure the beastly 
horrors of Johnson’s Island—surely he deserves a place 
in our list. 

Col. Clement Carrington, of Charlotte County, who 
belonged to the first class that entered Hampden-Syd- 
ney; who ran away from College to join the Continental 
Army; who served wuth great distinction; was Judge of 
the County Court; member of the Virginia Legislature; a 
gentleman of delightful personality, and genuine as gold. 

Judge Paul Carrington, Jr., a soldier in the War of 
the Revolution; President of the Virginia Senate; Judge 
of the General Court; an able and eloquent speaker; “ an 
upright, w r ise and honourable judge, a kind neighbour, an 
agreeable acquaintance, a sincere friend, adored by his 

Captain Henry Edmunds, Bachelor of Law of the Uni¬ 
versity of Virginia; Captain in the C. S. A. at 16, who led 
50 soldiers over the wall in the charge at Gettysburg, 
coming out wuth only 14; brilliant lawyer and brilliant 

Paul S. Carrington, of “ Ridgeway,” grandson of Mar¬ 
garet Read; successful lawyer; successful planter; trus- 

[ 13 ] 

tee of Hampden-Sydney College; a charter trustee of the 
Medical College of Virginia; he gave up his law practice 
and spent his life on his plantation because he felt so 
keenly the responsibility for the proper care and man¬ 
agement of his slaves that he was unwilling to leave them 
to the supervision of an employed overseer. He gave his 
six sons, and practically all he had of his substance, to 
the Confederacy. He was granted by President Andrew 
Johnson a written “ pardon ” for the treason of defend¬ 
ing his State. Consider the record of his six sons: 

(1) Isaac H. Carrington, eminent lawyer; Major in 
the C. S. A.; Provost-Marshal of Richmond, 1363-55; 
prisoner in Libby Prison for two months at the close of 
the Northern Invasion; President of the Richmond Bar 

(2) Robert G. Carrington, educated at the University 
of Virginia; soldier in the Confederate States Army. 

(3) Dr. William A. Carrington, Confederate Medical 
Director for Virginia, and died at the age of 33, “ worn 
out by his excessive labours and responsibilities during 
the war.” 

(4) Abram C. Carrington, educated at the Virginia 
Military Institute; an elder in College Church; a brave 
Lieutenant, killed in 1832 at Frazer's Farm when 31 years 
old, defending his State. One who knew his wife, Anne 
Cabell Read, says of her: “ She was a woman of unusual 
brilliancy, keen sense of humor, astonishing industry and 
deeply pious—one of the bravest, most unusual characters 
I have ever known.” 

(5) Dr. Alexander B. Carrington, a Presbyterian min¬ 
ister; a Chaplain and Captain of the Confederacy. And 
I should feel a personal loss if I omitted the name of his 
son, Alexander Berkeley Carrington, of Danville, Virginia, 
a gentleman of the Old School; eminent in business in. 
Danville and Virginia; an officer in the Presbyterian 
Church; a valued member of the Board of Trustees of 
Hampden-Sydney College. 

(6) Captain Edgar W. Carrington, educated at Hamp¬ 
den-Sydney College and at Union Theological Seminary 
in Virginia; Captain in the Confederate States Army; 


■A ' 


■' ' ‘ ' / • • . 


... . • 

killed at Seven Pines a few weeks after his marriage, 
only 26 years old. 

v Nor could I omit the name of one of Paul S. Carring¬ 
ton’s daughters, who for saintliness of character, for de¬ 
votion to her household, for every beautiful grace, takes 
her place in that galaxy of women who have made the 
names of Cabell, of Carrington, of Read, of Coles, and of 
Venable notable: Louisa Cabell Carrington, who married 
Captain Andrew Reid Venable, of Hickory Grove and 
Hampden-Sydney; and whose daughters have inherited 
the same lovely outlook on life, the same spirit of neigh¬ 
bourliness and hospitality, the same beauty of character, 
that have made the women of these ancestries so marvel¬ 
lous to the men who have, by marriage, or by kinship, or 
by friendship, been associated with them. 

A son of this marriage is William Henry Venable, 
Bachelor of Arts of Hampden-Sydney College; Bachelor 
of Law of Johns Hopkins University; able lawyer and elo¬ 
quent speaker, of Norfolk, Virginia. 

The third child of Colonel Clement Read and Mary 
Hill his wife, was Colonel Clement Read, Jr., whose short 
life was occupied as a “ surveyor, lawyer, planter, build¬ 
er, statesman, and churchman ”—a life of great useful¬ 
ness and industry. He died when only 34, after 13 years 
of a happy married life with Mary Nash. At 21 he was a 
practicing attorney; at 22 he was attorney for the Crown; 
at 25 he was a Justice of the County Court; at 27 he was 
Lieutenant Colonel of Militia; at the same age he suc¬ 
ceeded his father as member of the House of Burgesses 
for the County of Lunenburg; and when in 1766 Char¬ 
lotte County was formed, he was Burgess for that County 
through 1763. Two years later he passed away. 

His son, Clement Read Ill, died in the Continental 
Army when 22; a First Lieutenant. The interval of over 
150 years does not lessen the pang we feel that a life of 
singular sweetness and talent was cut down so early. We 
might say of him what Pliny in one of his letters said of 
a young friend ot his: 

“ It adds poignancy to our grief that a 
young man of his shining talents should be 

[ 15 ] 

• f . . 

!■ ' 




cut off in his early prime, and snatched 
from those high honours to which his vir¬ 
tues, had they been permitted to grow to 
their full maturity, would certainly have 
raised him.” 

His brother, John Nash Read, ran away from home 
to join the army of General Greene, and fought through 
the War. He moved to Tennessee, where he became a 
useful and prosperous citizen. A son, Sion Spencer 
Read, was a soldier in the War of 1812; and his son, Dr. 
Thomas Read, fought in the War against Mexico and was 
also a soldier of the Confederacy, and one of Dr. Read’s 
children is Mrs. Caroline Pickens, of Tennessee, geneal¬ 
ogist and writer. 

Motte Alston Read, son of Captain William Melvin 
Read and his wife, Jane Alston, of South Carolina, was 
Professor of Physiography at Harvard; Instructor in 
Physiography at RadclifTe and the Massachusetts Insti¬ 
tute of Technology; Field Assistant of the U. S. Geologi¬ 
cal Survey; member of the International Congress of 
Geologists; member of the German Alpenverein; charter 
member of the Harvard Natural History Society. Alice 
Rouse says that “ though his intellectual equipment was 
superb, it was surpassed by his charm, his fortitude, and 
his spirited and creative interest in life and all loveli¬ 
ness.” He died at 48. 

Omitting for the present the fourth child of Colonel 
Clement Read, I must mention the fifth, Colonel Thomas 
Read, who was a Burgess for Charlotte County; member 
of the Conventions of 1774-76; member of the Commit¬ 
tee of Safety for Charlotte, 1775-76; member of the Con¬ 
stitutional Convention of 1768; Clerk of the County Court 
for fifty years; a gentleman of great influence in ills 
community. He was County Lieutenant during the "War 
of the Revolution, a position of great responsibility. His 
only child, a daughter, died unmarried. 

Hugh Blair Grigsby in his Virginia Convention of 
1776,” gives an interesting description of Colonel Read 
and of his great influence in Ids County. He dressed In 
the old style, “ always wore his hair powdered and re- 


K . * \ 


- ' ' - ' • ' •• •• * ' : 

tained his queue. ... In society he was the model of the 
accomplished gentleman. . . . Even on his dying bed his 
wonted amenity was still apparent.” And Mr. Grigsby 
draws aside the curtain for a moment and lets us share 
the sorrow of this notable old Virginian: 

“ One overshadowing sorrow darkened 
his last days. A daughter, an only child of 
his old age, whose voice he fondly hoped 
would soothe his departing spirit, he con¬ 
signed to the grave, and when in less than two 
years after her death, his own body was 
about to be placed by her side, 'his friends 
saw in the beaten path that led to her soli¬ 
tary tomb beneath the hollies of Ingleside, 
whence came the shaft that laid him low.” 

One recalls the parallel of a great old Roman, broken¬ 
hearted over the loss of his daughter Tullia. After her 
death he retired to one of his country homes, where he 
might for a while be alone with his grief. To his friend 
Atticus he writes: 

“ In this retreat I am away from the conver¬ 
sation of everyone; each morning I hide myself 
in the deep wood, and do not come out of it be¬ 
fore the evening. All my talk is with my books; 
but my tears at times interrupt. I resist this as 
far as I can, but am not yet able to do much.” 

The sixth child of Colonel Clement Read was Major 
Edmund Read, a distinguished officer of the Rev¬ 
olution, and a member of the Virginia Legislature in 1785. 
He left no issue. 

The seventh child of Colonel Clement Read and Mary 
Hill Read was Anne, who married (1) Captain William 
Jameson, and (2) Col. Richard Elliott. 

A grandson of Anne Read and Captain Jameson was 
William H. Elliott, of Charlotte County; an alumnus of 
Hampden-Svdney College; writer and brilliant wit. He 
was preparing to publish Reminiscences of John Ran¬ 
dolph of Roanoke, but on learning that his kinsman. 
Powhatan Bouldin, had his work in preparation, he gen¬ 
erously turned over to him all his material. Mr. Bouldin 

[ 17 ] 

. ■ , ' • * 


speaks of him as a man of genius and poet. “ Poems of 
his were copied into London periodicals,” he says. 

A great-grandson of Anne Read and Captain Jameson 
is James Edward Booker, graduate of Hampden-Sydney 
and of Union Theological Seminary in Virginia, and 
alumnus of the University of Gottingen; distinguished 
minister of the Gospel; Superintendent of Synodical 
Home Missions in Virginia; a gentleman who has never 
undertaken anything that he did not improve, and about 
whom nothing too good can be said. “ Mark the perfect 
man, and behold the upright, for at his journey’s end is 

A great-great-grandson of Anne Read and Captain 
Jameson is Dr. William G. Eggleston of Oakland, Calif.; 
alumnus of Hampden-Sydney College and of the Univer¬ 
sity of Virginia; graduate in medicine of the College of 
Physicians and Surgeons of New York; a journalist of 
rare ability and of wide reputation; editor, author, attrac¬ 
tive speaker, with a wit and humor that delight and 

The 3th child of Colonel Clement Read and his wife 
was Jonathan Read, who became a Captain in the War 
of the Revolution, and died at the age of 43. 

I have reserved for the last a mention of the 4th 
child of Colonel Clement Read, and his descendants: 

Colonel Isaac Read, who married Sarah Embra. He 
was prominent in War, prominent in Church, and promi¬ 
nent in State. A member of the House of Burgesses 
when that body was dissolved by Lord Botetourt in 1769, 
he went with the other members to the Raleigh Tavern 
to form an Association against the Act of Parliament 
imposing duties on tea. He was a member of the Con¬ 
vention of 1774, which instructed the Delegates in Con¬ 
gress to propose independence. He was a member of the 
Committee—of which his brother Thomas and his broth¬ 
er-in-law, Paul'Carrington, were also members—to draft 
a Declaration of Rights, which was reported and read 
May 27, 1774; was a member of the Convention of Aug¬ 
ust, 1774, and that of March and June, 1775, and by this 
body was appointed Lieutenant Colonel of the 4th Vir- 


• « ’ • - ■ 




ginia Regiment. Putting aside all civil distinctions, leav¬ 
ing a beautiful home, he entered the War, where his ca¬ 
reer was “ distinguished, brief, and tragic, 4 ’ as Mrs. Rouse 
well says. For his country he gave his life—like so many 
others of his kin. Indeed, it is tragic to note how many 
of the descendants of Clement Read gave their lives or 
their fortunes—and often both—to their country. “ Dulce 
et decorum est pro patria mori ”—yes, but a tragedy nev¬ 

In 1771, the year of his marriage, he built this home, 
“ Greenfield,” now sacred with precious memories; six 
years later he wms buried in Christ Church Yard in Phil¬ 
adelphia; leaving here a bereaved widow and three chil¬ 
dren. His eldest son Clement became a noted divine. 

From this line came Powhatan Bouldin, author of a 
Life of John Randolph, and of a book of endless inter¬ 
est, Letters Found in an Old Trunk. 

Shall we attempt to include William Clayton Tor¬ 
rence, the gifted genealogist and author? It is true that 
he is not descended from Clement Read and Mary Hill, 
but he had the good fortune to marry Elizabeth Green 
Neblett, who is descended from them, and moreover, Mr. 
Torrence is himself descended from Colonel George 
Reade and his wife Elizabeth Martieu; and with these 
double fortunes w r e may w’ell adopt him into our circle. 

Another descendant is Dr. Berryman Green, Professor 
in the Episcopal Seminary at Alexandria, who was of¬ 
fered the office of Bishop of Virginia. 

Nathaniel E. Venable should have been placed in an¬ 
other line, but as he married Mary Embra Scott, w*e place 
him here. A grandson of Margaret Read; a trustee of 
Hampden-Sydney College; an officer in the War of 1812, 
the builder of beautiful 44 Longwood,” near Farmville, 
which by some unusual fortune has escaped the fire 
demon, and, better still, has escaped the covetous hands 
of the exploiter, and the desecrating changes of moderni¬ 
zation—which is another wnrd for degeneracy in morals 
and manners. 

Mrs. Rouse, in her Reads and Their Relatives, quite 
exhausts the vocabulary of superlatives in picturing the 


: . 



excellent qualities of scores of the Read descendants on 
the distaff side; yet even at that, she does no more than 
justice to those she mentions, and many others might 
have been included; she could not know—or know of— 
all of them. Is it any wonder that the mere males 
among the Read descendants have succeeded so well, 
with such a background, and such inspiration! Were I 
to attempt to mention even the names of these lovely 
women, I would keep you here for an additional hour or 

In describing one of these, Mrs. Rouse speaks of her 
as “ one of the handsomest, loveliest and noblest of wom¬ 
en ”—and I can testify that the picture is not overdrawn. 
This description might apply to dozens of them, but this 
one married one of the dearest friends I have ever had. 
Dr. Waller Morton Holladay. I make no apology in speak¬ 
ing of her and others like her, for if being lovely in char¬ 
acter, and in all the social graces, does not make a person 
“ distinguished," in the the name of all that is good and 
proper, -what does? I get heartily sick of the idea that 
distinction must be accorded only to those who have 
achieved fame as w'arriors, or statesmen, or lawyers, or 
physicians, or money-makers. I know of some men whose 
chief claim to distinction is that they have beguiled love¬ 
ly womeii into marrying them, but I should not regard it 
as legitimate to include such in this sketch. 

Laura Dyer Venable belongs here: A graduate muse 
at Johns Hopkins, she w*as a missionary in China; served 
w T ith Dr. Grenfell in Labrador; was with the Johns Hop¬ 
kins Unit in France during the World War; and w T as sev¬ 
eral times cited for bravery. If one must qualify as a 
warrior, she can qualify. 

Another that must be included is Elizabeth Marshall 
Venable, author of the valuable, though incomplete, 
genealogy of The Venables of Virginia. If one must 
qualify as a warrior, she must be included also, for it 
takes a warrior to gather and publish the genealogy of a 
family! I hope that some day some Venable descendant 
will enable her to republish her book and add to it the 
valuable unpublished nraterial she has on hand. 




I could not properly omit Macon Reed, son of Mary 
Cantey Venable and Dr. Richard C. Reed, the eminent 
minister, scholar, teacher, and author. Macon Reed is a 
brilliant scholar and teacher, who is not: a member cf 
the faculty of Hampden-Sydney; who has few equals as 
an instructor and Dean, and who could not possibly have 
a superior in either held. 

I cannot do better than to quote what Mrs. Rouse 
says cf Charles Scott Venable, scholar, author, soldier: 
“ He was a man of superlatively brilliant mind, •uncom¬ 
monly handsome person and had a career uniformly dis¬ 
tinguished and useful in all of its manifestations.'’ What 
higher praise could be accorded him than to say that he 
was a member of the Staff of General Robert F. Lee. and 
belonged there! His son. Francis P. Venable, also, has 
had a distinguished career, as scholar, author, teacher. 
University President. 

Nor could I emit Mary Scott Venable, who married 
E. Taylor Taliaferro, a gentleman of the old school, and 
a delightful raconteur. Mrs. Taliaferro was a woman of 
vigorous mind, a scholar, author, teacher, wit; and of 
charming social graces. 

Charles Scott Carrington, noble gentleman: President 
of the James Purer and Kanawha Canal Company. 

Isaac Read H. " handsome, elegant, orderly, cf a se¬ 
rene and lovely nature he emiventlv fitted for a ~::r- 

cessful civil life/’ He was another of the many taken by 
the terrible toll cf war. for his 111 health and eventual 
death were brought cm by his experiences in the War cf 
1812-15. in which he was a lieutenant. 

Clement Carrington Read. President cf the Farmers 
Bank of F arm vile, Va.r member of the Board of Trus¬ 
tees of Union Theological Seminary, and its treasurer 
for 30 years: elder in the Presbyterian Church, he has 
been described as “ one of the very best men in the 
world.” ** hospitable, kindly, wise, charitable, modest, and 

I have often heard my mother say that Mrs. Richard 
Mcllwaine—" Lizzie Read ” she caked her—was the most 
beautiful woman she had ever seem and as beautiful in 



. • 


character as she was in person. Mrs. Rouse has said of 
her: “She was a beautiful blonde woman of well-nigh 
perfect features and colouring, a character of depth and 
fineness, and a manner gracious and gay, yet delicately 
austere.” She was the worthy mate of a great teacher, a 
great College President, and a great Christian. 

Henry Read Mcllwaine, impeccable, imperturbable, 
and inveterate bachelor; Bachelor of Arts; Master of 
Arts; Doctor of Philosophy; Doctor of Laws; Professor 
of English at Hampden-Sydney; Virginia Director of the 
American Library Association War Service; member of 
the Virginia State Council of Defense; member of the 
Virginia War History Association; State Librarian of Vir¬ 
ginia; editor, author, historian, genealogist, gentleman— 
one can say of him what Erasmus said to Robert Fisher 
about Thomas Moore: “ Thomae Mori ingenio quid un- 
quam finxit natura vel mollius, vel dulcius, vel felicius?” 
“ What hath nature ever fashioned more tender, mere 
charming, more happy, than the character of Thomas 

Archibald Graham Mcllwaine, eminent law r ver of 
Texas; and his brother, Clement Read Mcllwaine, learn¬ 
ed in the law, and one of the most cultivated and attrac¬ 
tive gentlemen I have ever known. 

You have noticed that I have not attempted to ob¬ 
serve a chronological order. Of course I should have 
done this, but there are so many things I ought to do 
that I do not, and so many things I do not that I should 
do, and it is so hard to teach a man to reform suddenly 
when he is hardened in his sins, and when he is busy 
with his regular duties, that I crave your forgiveness. 

Surely fate dealt hard with Isaac Read III. With a 
mind of unusual ability and clearness, w'ell educated, his 
fortune was swept away by the failure of his guardian, 
and when he rose superior to this misfortune and w r as 
again on his feet, the ruinous V/ar of 1861 came. A 
scholar and man of letters, a brilliant iaw r yer, he could 
not cope with the frightful destruction that came to his 
beloved State and the South. His son Isaac Read IV, 
taking first honour at Hampden-Sydney, later w r ent to 


- i y . ; i 


New York City, where, with his cousin Clement Read, a 
gentleman of varied gifts, he built-up a great business 
and fortune in the Read Phosphate Company. Alice 
Rouse describes him as “ a man of excellent mind and in¬ 
flexible honour, fearless, gentle, dependable, with the 
smile of an affectionate child and the eyes of an ancient 

Edmund Strudwick Read, who enlisted at nineteen in 
the Confederate States Army, and became “ a gallant 
soldier and an admirable officer and leader.” 

Worthy to be mentioned in our list is Thomas Ed¬ 
munds Barksdale, a Master of Arts of the University of 
Virginia, planter, and for many years Superintendent of 
Schools of Halifax County. 

William Lewis Venable, Bachelor of Arts of Hamp- 
den-Sydney, a brave soldier of the Confederacy, who at 
twenty-six gave his life for his country. 

Nathaniel E. Venable, a graduate of Hampden-Syd- 
ney, a brave officer of the Confederacy; Abram B. Ven¬ 
able, a graduate of Hampden-Sydney, and Master of Arts 
of the University of Virginia, First Lieutenant of Pick¬ 
ett’s Brigade at Gettysburg, editor of the San Francisco 
Examiner; Clement Read Venable, A. B., of Hampden- 
Sydney, M. A. of the University of Virginia, Lieutenant in 
the Confederate States Army. 

Paul C. Venable, a graduate of Hampden-Sydney, and 
Captain of Artillery on Wade Hampton’s Staff; and his 
grandson, Samuel Woodson Venable, an officer killed in 
the World War. 

William Fontaine Carrington, A. B. of Hampden- 
Sydney; M. D. of the University of Pennsylvania; Sur¬ 
geon of the U. S* Navy; Chief Surgeon of the Confed¬ 
erates States Navy. 

His grandson, Judge Joseph C. Hutcheson, Bachelor 
of Arts and Bachelor of Laws of the University of Vir¬ 
ginia, is a Federal Judge of Houston, Texas. 

Another grandson, Allen C. Hutcheson, Bachelor of 
Arts of the University of Virginia; an M. D. of Columbia 
University Medical School; medical missionary, devoting 
his talents to the service of his Master. 

[ 23 ] 





Three other grandsons: Fontaine Carrington Weems, 
Master of Arts of Princeton; Lieutenant Colonel, General 
Staff, United States Army in the World War; awarded 
the U. S. Distinguished Service Cross; made an officer of 
the Order of the Crown by the Italian Government. 
Benjamin Francis Weems, Jr., graduate in medicine of 
Johns Hopkins Medical School; Captain of the U. S. 
Medical Corps, Base Hospital No. 2, A. E. F. Wharton 
Ewell Weems, Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts, Uni¬ 
versity of Virginia, and Bachelor of Laws of the Univer¬ 
sity of Texas; Captain in U. S. Air Service in the World 

William W. Read II, who resigned from Annapolis to 
enter the War in 1861, and became a Lieutenant in the 
Confederate States Navy; an officer of conspicuous brav¬ 
ery and ability. 

George Whitefield Read, wounded in the C. S. A.; 
Henry Watkins Read, killed in the C. S. A.; Isaac Ar¬ 
cher Read, died of camp fever in the C. S. A.; Judge 
Nicholas Cabell Read, a member of the Student Com¬ 
pany in the C. S. A.; all of them at Hampden-Sydney at 
the same time. 

Robert Carrington, a brave officer of the Confederacy. 

Isaac Coles Carrington, bright, witty, w’insome, culti¬ 
vated; ov/ner of “ Sylvan Hill; ” the death of whose wife, 
Sara Ernbra Read, left him desolate—and no w T onder, for 
it was said of her that she vras “ distingueshed by graces 
of person and character,” and “ was one of those chil¬ 
dren of the Kingdom of w T hom it may be said the world 
was not worthy.” 

Her younger sister, Mary Louisa Read, was, as Mrs. 
Rouse says, “ a gentle, exquisitely fine and lovely girl 
with a tender heart and a mind and character dauntless 
as ” that of her husband. He was David Comfort, Jr., 
who was a Bachelor of Aids and a Master of Arts of 
Princeton; came to Virginia and began his career as a 
teacher; and after teaching in Prince Edv;ard Academy 
and Hampden-Sydney, established his famous school in 
Charlotte County. Upon the plantation belonging to his 
wife he built Moldavia, named for the two. When the 



■ . ‘ 


. . 

.. • 

War of 1861 started, he went north and adhered to the 
Union, but his son, David III, a Presbyterian minister, 
was a soldier and Chaplain of the Confederate States 
Army; and the second son Samuel Read Comfort ran 
away from Princeton and joined the Confederate States 
Army‘when 21, and died in the trenches in Petersburg, 
Virginia—another of the Read Clan who gave his life for 
his State. Another son, James Comfort, an A. B. of 
Princeton, and a Bachelor of Laws, became a distin¬ 
guished lawyer in Tenessee, and was a tower of strength 
in the upbuilding of the University of that State. 

A grandson was Alexander J. McKelway, with a mind 
of extraordinary brilliancy; a minister of the Gospel; a 
writer of unusual force; editor, publicist; for many years 
Secretary of the National Child Labor Association; for 
■whom I had a great admiration and a great affection. 

Nor should I omit from this list Mr. John Martin, 
prominent attorney of Halifax County; a graduate of 
Hampden-Sydney College; member of the Board of Trus¬ 
tees of Hampden-Sydney; active in the educational work 
of his County and in everything that makes for its wel¬ 
fare; and Dr. William Read Martin, graduate of Hamp¬ 
den-Sydney, and now an able and beloved physician in 
Charlotte County. 

Times presses, but how can I omit Clement C. Read, 
who studied at Hampden-Sydney and the University 
of Virginia, entered the War of ’61 as a private and at its 
close was acting Captain: “ A man of excellent and cul¬ 
tivated mind and distinguished acquirements; honour¬ 
able, poetic, sensitive, gallant and imaginative; teacher, 
writer, lawyer, chemist.” What Pliny in one of his let¬ 
ters said of a friend, we may say of Clement Read: “ In 
his conversation, and even in his very voice and counte¬ 
nance, there was an extraordinary sweetness; to this ad¬ 
vantage he joined an elevated, penetrating, facile, and 
charming mind.” 

Juliet Edmonia Slaughter, of whom Alice Rouse 
speaks as “ gentle and guileless and good, her blameless 
life surrounds her family with a glow of warm affection 
which is lovingly returned; ” a member of many patriot- 


.** ■ ' - l 


* ■: rl : ii 

* ■ 'V:. , \ li 

ic societies; an indefatigable family genealogist. 

Abram Carrington Read, an honour graduate of 
Hampden-Sydney; a graduate in law of Columbia Uni¬ 
versity; President of the Read Phosphate Company; suc¬ 
cessful man of business, and one of the most prominent 
and influential citizens of Savannah, Georgia. 

Mrs. Shelley Rouse—charming, piquant, bright, de¬ 
lightful, lovable Alice Read; the Genealogist-in-Chief of 
the Family, who has given us a book of unusual interest 
and value. What real joy her gracious presence would 
add to an occasion so fitting as this, and in a spot so sa¬ 

Robert F. Hutcheson, Bachelor of Arts of Hampden- 
Sydney; Bachelor of Law of Washington & Lee; Judge 
of the Circuit Court of Virginia; active in church and 
civic affairs; affable in disposition; growing in reputa¬ 
tion as a Judge of probity and wisdom; whom his many 
friends hope to see elevated some day to the Supreme 
Court of Virginia. 

Thomas B. Hutcheson, Professor of Agronomy at the 
Virginia Polytechnic Institute; a gifted teacher and au¬ 

John R. Hutcheson, Director of Extension Work at the 
Virginia Polytechnic Institute; whose reputation as a 
leader in constructive agricultural development has gone 
far beyond the bounds of his State. 

Edward Carrington Venable, Jr., A. B. of Princeton; 
seeing war service in France, 1917; Second Lieutenant, 
U. S. Air Service; an author of growing reputation. 

Charles Scott Venable III, A. B., A. M., Ph.D., Cap¬ 
tain in the Chemical Warfare Service, 1918; a scientist of 
distinction. His uncle, Charles Scott Venable, a physi¬ 
cian of note; Major of the Medical Corps, U. S. A., Base 
Hospital 41, A. E. F. 

Robert H. Tucker, a recognized authority in the field 
of Economics; now Professor at Washington & Lee Uni¬ 

Robert P. Hamilton III, Rhodes scholar; rendering 
distinguished service in the World War, winning the 
Croix de Guerre with Silver Star. 

[ 26 ] 

. .> 


William Haynie Neblett, Captain in the U. S. Army, 
1917-19; now a lawyer of great promise in Los Angeles. 

Clement Read Strudwick, who is making a wide repu¬ 
tation as a portrait painter of unusual ability. 

For the last, let me mention William Watkins Read, 
graduate of Hampden-Sydney College; lawyer; planter; 
elder in the Presbyterian Church; trustee of Hampden- 
Sydney. He kept “ the home fires burning ” for the Con¬ 
federacy by raising food-products on a large scale to feed 
those at the front. One who knew him writes me: “ He 
was a man of giant mind, wide culture, great influence, a 
successful farmer.” For many years he was Superintend¬ 
ent of Schools of Charlotte County. I recall a visit X 
made to Greenfield when I was 15 years old, a Sopho¬ 
more in College: As I walked under the old trees to the 
front porch, I saw’ an elderly gentleman sitting at ease 
reading. I recognized him, as I had seen him at the 
Commencement exercises. He greeted me pleasantly and, 
after a few words, w r ent inside to announce the visitor. 
He left his book behind, and I quickly glanced at it to 
see what he was reading on this summer day. It was an 
old volume of Tacitus or Livy; and I recall the impression 
this made on me. Everything I had seen, as I ap¬ 
proached the house, was in good order: the crops were 
smiling, the yard was w r ell kept; there vras evidence of 
comfort and repose on every side. And here was the 
owner and manager of this plantation sitting on his 
porch reading an old Roman historian. It is a picture I 
have never forgotten. 

He was a gentleman of great simplicity of manner 
and character; but he would have been at his ease in the 
presence of those sturdy planters of that period in our 
history when, as Senator Henry Cabot Lodge of Massa¬ 
chusetts—no lover of the South—once wrote, this Com¬ 
monwealth had produced more men of eminence than 
Greece in her palmiest days. 

The truth is. these old Virginians, from the founding 
of our Colony, dowrn to within the period of men now r liv¬ 
ing, remind one of the sturdy, oak-fibred Englishmen at 
their best, whether of the nobility or of the yeomanry; 







and they in turn remind one of those noble old Romans 
in the best days of the Republic. Nowhere on earth, in 
times past or present, have the superiors of these Ro¬ 
mans, these Englishmen, these Virginians, been found. 
They cultivated their minds, their characters, their acres. 
They loved their homes, their farms, their country. 

And does not this triple love constitute a kinship? 
Fairfax Harrison in his fascinating book, Roman Farm 
Management, says that stopping one day at a book stall 
on the Quai Voltaire in Paris, he picked up the writings of 
Cato and Varro, two old Romans who had written cn ag¬ 
riculture; they carried him in imagination, “not to the 
vineyards and olive yards of Roman Italy, but to the blue 
hills of a far-distant Virginia where the corn was begin¬ 
ning to tassel and the fat cattle were loafing in the pas¬ 
tures.” No wonder! 

Cato, in his De Agri Cultura, as cited by Mr. Harrison, 
said that “ the farmer should direct his efforts to two 
needs: profit and pleasure, one solid and the other agree¬ 
able.” Could there be an example more fitting than the 
one I have mentioned? What Pliny once said about one 
of the Romans of his day, could have been said about 
many of the old Virginia planters—Mr. Read, for exam¬ 
ple. Stating that he had been invited to pay a visit in 
the country, to see one of his friends, Pliny wrote: 
“ Looking upon him as a worthy father of a family, and 
an industrious farmer, I meditated such topics as I im¬ 
agined him versed in; but I no sooner began, than he led 
me back to professional subjects by his cultured conver¬ 
sation. How pithy his every remark! How pure his Latin 
and his Greek! How extensive is his reading! How te¬ 
nacious his memory! You would think the man lived in 
Athens, instead of at home in the country.” 

Few homes in Virginia have remained in one family 
for 161 years. Founded by ancestors of delightful per¬ 
sonality and culture, the high tradition has been kept, 
each succeeding generation proving worthy of the trust 

r 28 ] 


; * 


transmitted to it. And so it is today, under the loving 
care of those who add grace and charm to this wonder™ 
ful old home. 

* * * * * 

“ I have often heard Quintus Maximus and Publius 
Scipio, besides other distinguished men of cm* State, who 
were wont to say that their minds were, to an extraordi¬ 
nary degree, kindled with the desire for moral excellence, 
when they looked upon the images of their forebears. Not 
that wax or other figures could in themselves have so 
great a power, but that this flame in their hearts was in¬ 
creased by the memory of the exploits of these illustrious 
men; and that this was not allayed until their own ex¬ 
cellence had equalled the renown and glory of their an¬ 
cestors ” (Sallust’s Jugurtha). 

[293 *** 3>0 


Bushy Forest and Other Early Homes 

of the 

-■ Read Family, of Charlotte County, 



€ LEMENT READ, the Elder, pioneer settler on 
Little Roanoke River, and his five sons, Clem¬ 
ent, Isaac, Thomas, Jonathan and Edmund, 
are interesting figures in Charlotte County 
history, not only from a genealogical standpoint 
(though a great many of their descendants still live in 
this section of Virginia), but also because it is a fact 
that the story of the settlement and early development 
of the county, its organization as a separate political 
unit, its Colonial and Revolutionary history, cannot be 
told without constant reference to them and their activi¬ 
ties. Perhaps I should include the name of Madam Read 
also, since we are told that Col. Joseph Wyatt, a con¬ 
temporary of John Randolph, who represented the county 
for fifteen terms in the House of Delegates and three in 
the State Senate, always insisted that she belonged in 
any list of the most talented men that Charlotte had 
produced. The prominence of the family in our early 
history and its influence in public affairs will appear 
from a bare enumeration of a few facts about them. If 
1733, the date given by Bouldin and others, is really the 
year in which the elder Clement settled on Little Roa¬ 
noke, he was almost the first white man to locate within 
the confines of what is now Charlotte; his estates on the 
upper reaches of that stream, embracing some 10,030 


• •• • s ■ u c fUMir t j I 




^ \ - • 

acres, surpassed in extent even those of the land-hungry 
Randolphs at its mouth; and the inventory of his slaves 
and personal possessions, which we may read in the 
records of the County Court of Lunenburg, shows that 
at the time of his death, he was easily the county’s 
wealthiest citizen. At various times in his career he was 
King’s Attorney for Lunenburg (as well as for several 
other counties), County Surveyor, Vestryman of Cumber¬ 
land and then of Cornwall Parish, Burgess from Lunen¬ 
burg, County Lieutenant of the Militia, active leader in 
frontier defense in the French and Indian War, and 
Clerk of the County Court. These public positions no 
doubt helped him to fill in the idle moments not required 
for his regular duties as owner of three large planta¬ 
tions, and lawyer practising in four or five counties, and 
kept him from suffering from ennui. 

After his death, his sons had the same prominence 
in county affairs. Clement, the oldest, succeeded his 
father in the House of Burgesses, serving from 1783 to 
1768. He v/as a member when the act forming Charlotte 
County w T as passed in 1764, and no doubt drafted it and 
secured its passage. Mr. Wm. F. Vaughan remembers 
that his grandmother, Mrs. Josiah Vaughan, used to say 
that her grandmother told her that the first County 
Court, at which Charlotte was organized, was held on the 
Ash Camp estate of Clement Read, where Mr. Vaughan 
now lives. He was also a vestryman, King’s Attorney, 

, Justice, and County Lieutenant. 

Isaac Read succeeded his brother as Burgess, serving 
from 1769 to 1772, and was a member of the Revolution¬ 
ary Conventions of 1774 and 1775. Mr. Hugh Blair 
Grigbsy has called attention to the fact that three 
Charlotte County men, two sons and a son-in-law of 
Clement Read, Senior, served on the Committee, which 
adopted the Virginia Bill of Rights, and reported it to 
the Convention of 1774, namely, Isaac Read, Thcmas 
Read and Paul Carrington. 

Thomas Read was Clerk of the County for fifty-one 
years, a member of the Conventions of 1774, ’75 and ’73 


I ... 

- - ... 

. :v . 


' • * I 

and of the Constitutional Convention of 1788. 

In this year of the Washington Bi-centennial, it is 
interesting to speculate on the contacts of these early 
Reads with Washington. If we follow the genealogists 
who make Clement Read, Senior, a great-grandson of 
George Reade, of Gloucester, then he and Washington 
were near relatives, the latter being a great-great-grand¬ 
son of the same George Reade. Be that as it may, they 
must have known each other well in Williamsburg dur¬ 
ing Clement Read’s years of service as a Burgess, and 
when Gov. Dinwiddie entrusted the defense of the Vir¬ 
ginia frontier from 1754 to 1758 to the youthful Wash¬ 
ington, he called upon the experience and sagacity of the 
older proprietor of Bushy Forest to see to the arming 
and provisioning of Washington’s uncertain militia 
troops for these campaigns. 

Grigsby tells us that Thomas Read, as a member of 
the Convention of 1788, opposed the ratification of the 
Constitution of the United States and the formation of 
the Federal Union, taking sides with Patrick Henry 
against Madison, who was backed by the powerful in¬ 
fluence and support of Washington. Three years later 
Washington as President made his first good-will tour 
through the South for the purpose of building up public 
favor and support for the infant government, and on 
his return, as we know, stopped for breakfast at Char¬ 
lotte Courthouse, June 7, 1791, presumably at the Tavern 
which was then conducted by one John Timberlake, but 
which was owned, along with all the rest of Charlotte 
Courthouse, by Thomas Read. We do net find in Wash¬ 
ington’s Diary, or elsewhere, an account of any public 
reception tendered the President, or any ceremonies in 
his honor. We know that Col. Read was a staunch Jef¬ 
fersonian and did not approve of what some considered 
the monarchial tendencies of the Washington regime, 
but we cannot believe that he would have permitted 
this to interfere with the duties of hospitality, had he 
been informed in time of the visit. We must assume that 
news of the great man's presence did not reach “Ingle - 



• W D 


side” until he was gone. Col. Clement Carrington, whose 
father voted with the Washington side in the Convention 
of 1788, writes thus of the visit in a letter to his brother- 
in-law', Col. Wm. Cabell, of Union Hill: “The beloved 
President passed lately through the County. He rested 
a- day with Mr. Coles. He is in perfect health. We did not 
address, as is the custom, but the laborer forsook his 
w T ork and the lame forgot his crutch to gaze on him 
as he passed, and we looked at him without mercy 1” 

Since, then, the Reads occupy such a prominent place 
in the early history of Charlotte, I have thought that it 
might be interesting, and not altogether without profit 
to take as the subject of this paper a study of what our 
records disclose about their various “seats” or “planta¬ 
tions” in the Coimty. The names of these homes are 
“Bushy Forest,” “Retirement,” “Ash Camp”, “Ingleside” 
and: “Greenfield.” 


The settlement of this section of Virginia between 
1730 and 1750 was promoted and encouraged by the 
Colonial Government as a protection against Indian 
raids from the mountains upon the Tidewater settle¬ 
ments. By an Act of Assembly passed in 1738 it was 
provided that all who should settle upon Roanoke River, 
“on the south branch, above the fork thereof, and on 
the north branch above the mouth of Little Roanoke, 
otherwise called Lickinghole, including all the lands on 
all the said branches, and the lands lying between them,” 
should be exempted from the payment of all public, 
county and parish levies for ten years. Among the fust 
to take advantage of this attractive opportunity for 
uniting patriotic duty with personal profit was the elder 
Clement Read. Bouldin gives the date of the establish¬ 
ment of his seat of “Bushy Forest” on the Little Roanoke 
as 1733. At that time he was only twenty-six years old. 
and had been married but three years. Bouldin does not 
give us the source of his information, and I am aw'are 
of no record now r existing, by which the date may be 
exactly fixed, but I am inclined to think from my in- 

[ 24 ] 



vestigations in the Clerk’s Offices of Brunswick and Lun¬ 
enburg that 1733 is about ten years too early. He cer¬ 
tainly owned and cultivated, and apparently lived on, 
a plantation on Waaua Creek in Brunswick County, 
which he sold in 1744: the first record I know of which 
furnishes a certain indication of his presence on Little 
Roanoke is an order of the County Court in 1746 that 
his tithables assist in clearing a road from the mouth of 
Ash Camp Creek to Randolph’s road. There are other 
indications, which cannot be gone into in detail here, 
but which incline me to fix the date as about 1743. 

Our first surprise is the discovery that no patent was 
ever issued to Clement Read for Bushy Forest, or, as to 
that, for any part of his extensive estates in Charlotte. 
The records show that he had his Bushy Forest estate 
of some 4500 acres, and his Ash Camp estate of about 
3500 acres, surveyed by Drury Stith, Surveyor, and that 
he entered his applications for them in the Secretary's 
Office, but for some reason he did not busy himself to 
obtain the patents in his lifetime, and they were not is¬ 
sued until after his death to Clement Read. Jr., as his 
eldest son and heir, in the year 1765. In addition to these 
two large tracts, the deed books of Lunenburg show that 
he acquired by purchase from various parties approxi¬ 
mately 2000 acres more on the south side of Little Roa¬ 
noke, a part of which lay opposite Bushy Forest and was 
added to it, being the land now embraced in the McNeny, 
Carpenter and Wingo farms; and the rest lay further 
down the stream about Mossingford, and included por¬ 
tions of the land now embraced in “Do-Weil,” and pos¬ 
sibly “Greenwood”. 

He establisea his residence at Bushy Forest, so named, 
according to tradition, because he found the woods still 
uncleared of undergrowth, which was a circumstance 
sufficiently rare to excite notice in that day on account 
of the Indian practice of burning the woods periodically 
to make them safer from lurking enemies, and more 
convenient for the chase. The name is still applied to 
that portion of the original estate (now r owned by Mr. 






' . 

Wm. G. Spencer), on which the mansion house stood, 
but the original Bushy Forest lay on both sides the 
present hard-surfaced road, and extended from the out¬ 
skirts of Charlotte Courthouse almost to Drakes Branch, 
and included the farms now known as Arcadia, Retire¬ 
ment, Bushy Forest, McNeny’s, Carpenter’s and Wingo’s. 
There w r as, of course, no Charlotte Courthouse then, or 
for more than twenty years thereafter, though Col. Read 
did erect in 1755 on the northern boundary of the estate 
the “Magazine”, around which the village afterwards 

On the southern border of the estate the first church 
in the County was built. The vestry of Cumberland 
Parish, at its first meting (in 1746) made the following 

“Thomas Bouldin, Abraham Martin and Clement 
Read are appointed to fix on some convenient place near 
Little Roanoke to erect a Chap-el, & make report to the 
next vestry.” 

In 1747 they reported: “That at or near a spring on 
Randolph’s and Talbot’s road, near the fork, be the most 
convenient place.” The locality is on the outskirts of the 
present village of Drakes Branch. In August 1748, it was 
ordered: “That the Church appointed to be built near 
Little Roanoke be lett to undertakers by Lewis Deloney, 
Abraham Martin and Clement Read.” It was here that, 
acording to Powhatan Bouldin, Madam Read “dressed in 
lute string silk, lawn apron and round top hat, walked 
majestically up the aisle, the eyes of the whole congre¬ 
gation upon her when she took her seat in the upper 
pew, her silver can of water by her side.” 

The mansion which he erected was the first frame 
house built in the county, most of the settlers content¬ 
ing themselves with log homes. The exact spot on which 
it stood is not now known, but all the indications, both 
in the records and on the ground, seem to point to the 
site of the present W. G. Spencer dwelling, about two 
miles from Charlotte Courthouse, as the place. The pres¬ 
ent house was built in 1905 after the destruction by fire 


'1 ’ 



" ' . K ■- . 

I ■ 

of an older one on the same spot, reputed to have been 
built by John Randolph about one hundred years ago. 
Tlie visitor today sees nothing to remind him of the 
traditional grandeur of Bushy Forest—none of the wind¬ 
ing roads and gravel walks, the native shrubs and im¬ 
ported evergreens which according to Bouldin once a- 
dorned the grounds—only a simple, comfortable farm 
house, surrounded by well-tilled, fertile fields. To the 
rear of the house is the indispensable spring which de¬ 
termined the location of most dwellings in pioneer days, 
and towering above it a magnificent willow oak, more 
than fifteen feet in circumference. Leading away from 
the premises is a deeply sunken ravine marking the track 
of the old carriage road. Two or three hundred yards to 
the right of the house one finds a small plot overgrown 
with fennel and briars, and lying here and there over it 
the fallen headstones of ancient graves, made of native 
rock and bearing no inscriptions. According to the pres¬ 
ent owner, this is the oldest of several graveyards on 
the place, and is most probably the spot where the 
bodies of the old pioneer and his stately wife are buried. 
Recalling the small size and the simplicity of the original 
portions of Greenfield, Mulberry Hill, Red Hill and other 
pre-Revolutionary homes in the county, one is inclined 
to suspect that the magnificence of the ancient Bushy 
Forest has been exaggerated with the passing years, but 
the inventory of its furniture filed at Clement Read’s 
death in 1763 includes “12 beds and furniture.” “25 
leather-bottom chair's,” “16 chairs with rush bottoms,” 
“2 cheares more,” “9 tables,” as well as chests, books, 
desks, plate, pewter plates and dishes, etc., etc., all of 
which indicates that it was much larger than the ordi¬ 
nary for the frontier, as well as much more elegant, and 
that it deserved its reputation. 

Col. Clement Read died without a will, and all his 
lands descended by operation of law to his eldest son, 
Clement, Junior. After perfecting the titles by obtaining 
patents, the latter divided these lands by deed among 
his brothers and himself in such a way as to make ample 





provision for all of them. He kept Ash Camp for himself; 
Isaac received the lands near Do-Well; Thomas, a tract 
on the headwaters of Spring Creek, on which he lived, 
and other scattered acreages; and Bushy Forest was 
settled on Madam Read for life as a home for herself 
and her two youngest sons, Edmund and Jonathan, lads 
of 14 and 11 respectively, to be divided at her death 
between them so as to give Edmund the eastern half, 
known afterwards as Retirement, and Jonathan the 
western on which the residence stood. 

Madam Read reigned over this vast estate with its 
colonies of slaves, its thoroughbred horses, its smiling 
acres, for 23 years after her husband’s death, managing 
it wuth ability and ruling her family with firmness in the 
stormy days before, during, and after the Revolution, 
Her son, Jonathan, remained in possession until his 
death in 1795, and left it to his three sons, Thomas, 
Howell and Charles, but the entire family emigrated soon 
afterwards and scattered over the South. For the ensuing 
25 years Bushy Forest was probably managed by over¬ 
seers for its absentee landlords. In 1820 it. was purchased 
by John Randolph of Roanoke. As an illustration of the 
petulant ill-nature which sometimes characterized Ran¬ 
dolph’s conduct, Powhatan Bouldin gives us the follow¬ 
ing account of this purchase: 

“Mr. Randolph bought Bushy Forest of Mr. Howell 
Read. Mr. Read was very reluctant to sell it, but after 
repeated solicitations he consented. When the papers 
were all signed, Mr. Randolph turned around and chided 
him for selling the graves of his forefathers. Mr. Bedford, 
who w’as present at the time, regarded it as a most un¬ 
justifiable piece of ill-nature.” 

Randolph, of course, never lived on it, but in all 
probability established a “Quarter” or settlement of 
slaves, on it in charge of an overseer. Under this sort of 
tenancy one would expect that whatever was left of its 
former grandeur and glory w r ould disappear rapidly. I 
have already referred to the tradition that Randolph 
built the dwelling which burned in 1905, indicating that 



■ , 

- • ; •• •• # 


the original dwelling may have burned during his owner¬ 
ship. He devised the property in one of his numerous 
w r ills to Henry St. G. Tucker, but while the protracted 
litigation over these wills was in progress, an opportunity 
to sell it arose, and Mr. Tucker united with the heirs- 
at-law of Randolph in 1840 in conveying it to Wm. Smith, 
Winslow Robinson, James W. Bouldin, Joseph Dupuy 
and Josiah Vaughan, five prominent citizens of Char¬ 
lotte Courthouse, for $30,000.00. These gentlemen par¬ 
titioned it among themselves in proportion to their in¬ 
vestment, the upper end next to the village going to 
Joseph Dupuy, the part now called Arcadia to Wm. 
Smith, the residence tract to Winslow Robinson, and 
the part south of Roanoke Creek to Bouldin and Vaughan. 
Winslow Puobinson conveyed his part, which now re¬ 
tained the name of Bushy Forest, to his mother, Mrs. 
Obedience Robinson, and his brother-in-law, Jno E. 
Smith. It w T as purchased from their heirs in 1873 by 
the late Mr. William G. Spencer (Senior), whose first 
wife was Ann Elizabeth Smith, a daughter of Jno E. 
Smith and a granddaughter of Obedience Robinson, and 
has been in his family ever since, being now owned by 
Mr. Wm. G. Spencer, Junior. The present Bushy Forest 
contains about 600 acres and lies near the center of the 
original 5,000. 


Home of Major Edmund Read 

As stated before, Retirement, which comprised the 
2,000 acres of Bushy Forest lying north of Little Roa¬ 
noke and East of the road “from the Magazine to the 
upper bridge,” became the property of Maj. Edmund 
Read after his mother's death. He is said to have named 
it after he came home from the War and settled on it, 
as an expression of his appreciation of its quiet, after 
seven years of strife. He "was a gallant Revolutionary 
officer, represented the County in the Legislature, and 
held other positions of importance after the War, but 


■ . . .■ 

. , v • • ■ . ' • 

■ ■■ • •• 

. r« 1. M-uJ 

- • 


■ • v. ■ ■ dfi 


• ’ ■ 


* ■ 5 

his fame is somewhat overshadowed by that of his pious 
wife, Paulina, daughter of Gov. Wm. Cabell of “Union 
Hill”, and sister of Judge Wm. H. Cabell. Maj. Read died 
in 1802, leaving no children and devising the whole of his 
estate to his wife. In 1808 she married Rev. Nash Le- 
Grand, and is referred to still in the community of 
Charlotte C. H. as “Madam LeGrand.” Her fame as a 
pillar in the Presbyterian Church of Virginia, a bene¬ 
factor of Union Theological Seminary, a patron of the 
Alexanders and other distinguished ministers, and a 
supporter of every worthy charitable and benevolent 
cause, is well known. The vivacious Mrs. Alice Read 
Rouse says of her “She lived at Retirement’ very com¬ 
fortably, the place being famed for its lovely flower 
gardens and for being a sort of Saint’s Rest for the 
Presbyterian Church.” Nash LeGrand died in 1814 while 
on a visit to Winchester. His wife survived him for 
thirty-one years, and is buried by the side of her first 
husband in the “Retirement” Cemetery, where, in spite 
of briars and weeds and neglect, one may still decipher 
the following inscription on the broken slab ■which 
marks her resting place: 

In Memory of 

Daughter of Col. Wm. Cabell, first wife of Maj. Edmund 
Read. She died the relict of Rev. Nash LeGrand, 

aged about 78. 

She was Zealous in Piety, Hospitable to All, 
Industrious and Frugal, 

Yet Liberal in the Support- of every Christian <& Benevo¬ 
lent Enterprise.” 

Having no children, Mrs. LeGrand left “Retirement’' 
to her niece and adopted daughter, Louisa Cabell Car¬ 
rington, -wife of Henry Carrington, of “Ingleside”. Mrs. 
Carrington gave about 600 acres of it, including the 
dwelling, to her son, the late Col. Henry A. Carrington, 
and divided the rest among her other children. Col. 
Henry A. Carrington lived here from 1857 to 1884. In 




t V , 


A . 

... vi, i ' , 

that year it was sold: to Wm, A. Smith and passed from 
his family to that of Mr. R. W. Payne, the present owner, 
in 1S00. 

The Retirement house is about IV 2 miles from Char¬ 
lotte Court House, on the opposite side of the road from 
Bushy Forest. It is a rambling, but attractive, frame 
structure of considerable size. The four rooms in front 
w'ere built by Col. Carrington, but a part of it still in 
use was built by Maj. Edmund Read. It is well known, 
that both Dr. Archibald Alexander and his son, James 
W. Alexander, lived here w r hen they preached in Char¬ 
lotte. The latter in a letter to a friend in the North, 
writes: “Retirement, March 13, 1827, On the 3rd inst. 
I w’as ordained to the work of the gospel ministry by 
the Hanover Presbytery. A number of Clergymen and a 
vast concourse of the laity w r ere here present. More than 
30 strangers lodged at this house on one night”! 


Home of Clement Read, Junior 

Ash Camp is a little stream some six or seven miles 
long which rises in the neighborhood of Keysville, and 
flows westwardly to its junction with Little Roanoke 
opposite “Retirement”. The name is as old as our first 
patents and I do not know its origin. Speaking generally, 
it parallels on the left the present highway from Keys¬ 
ville to Charlotte C. H. In the valley of this stream on 
both sides extending from Golden Hills, the Boudin homo, 
almost to Keysville, lay the Ash Camp plantation which 
Clement Read, Junior, chose as his part of his father’s 
estate. It is regrettable that we do not know more about 
the home as well as about the life of this worthy member 
of the family. Judge Paul Carrington -wrote of him that 
he was “ever remarked for his genuine virtue, justice 
and integrity.” Being a member of the Burgesses when 
Charlotte County was formed, it is likely that he gave 
the County its name—chosen in honor of the popular 
young queen of George in. He died in 1770 at the early 
age of 34, having already become one of the leading men 

[ 41 ] 

' • , ;i % y $4 




* / %-f 

■* ■ i 


of his day. After his death a part of the estate remained 
for many years in the hands of his son, Thomas, who 
signed his name “Thomas Read, Junior of Ash Camp,” 
to distinguish himself from his more famous uncle, 
Thomas Read, the Clerk. His children moved away, and 
the property all finally passed out of the Read family 
in 1838, the last owner of that name being Dr. Albert 
Gallatin Read, who lived where Mr. J. Bruce Vaughan 
now lives. 

At this late day there seems to be neither recollection 
nor tradition as to the site of the original “Ash Camp” 
residence of Clement Read, Jr. A very ancient frame 
building still standing on the farm of the late Wm. W. 
Watkins and now used as a bam, but plainly once a 
dwelling, has been suggested as the spot on account of 
the fact that it is apparently the oldest structure now 
found in the original Ash Camp area. This is possible, 
but my own opinion, after a careful examination of the 
various deeds and wills to lands in the vicinity is that 
the mansion house was situated where Mr. J. B. Vaughan 
now lives, and that it, like so many others in the county, 
was destroyed by fire so long ago that all trace of it Is 


Home of Col. Thomas Read, the Clerk 

Though Ingleside joins Retirement on the opposite 
side of Little Roanoke, it was never a part of Bushy 
Forest, having been patented by Tiros. Jones in 1745. 
Prior to 1786 Col. Thomas Read, the Clerk, lived, as is 
shown by a recital in a deed which he made in that year, 
on a tract of land on the head branches of Spring Creek 
in the neighborhood of Briery Church, afterwards known 
as the Hankins farm. He purchased the Ingleside tract 
in 1785, and presumably moved on it at that time. Family 
tradition has it that it was first knov7ii as Singleside, 
but that either he, or the next owner, Henry Carrington, 
changed its name, after his marriage, to Ingleside. Col. 
Read built the present brick house in 1810. The office in 







, * : V •' • ‘ 

the yard is said to have served as the County Clerk’s 
Office during his life, none being built at the court house 
until after his death in 1817. 

In 1818 the aged Judge Paul Carrington, bought Ingle- 
side as a home for his son, Henry Carrington, and it 
remained in his family for sixty years. He was a splendid 
type of the antebellum Virginia planter. Educated at 
Hampden-Sydney and Princeton, a man of culture and 
wide interests, he sought no public office but found am¬ 
ple outlet for his energies in the management of his 
great estate, the care of his slaves and the upbringing 
of his family of two splendid sons and four charming 
daughters. In this period Ingleside had its greatest re¬ 
nown as a home of plenty and contentment, of culture, 
and of overflowing hospitality. 

Ingleside was probably the first brick house to be 
built in the county. It is in the prevailing Georgian style 
of the period, a wide hall through the center from front 
■to rear with two large rooms on either side, two stories 
and a commodious attic above the basement, wide 
porches with white columns at both front and back. It 
stands on an eminence overlooking the lowgrounds of 
Little Roanoke, its green lawns sloping gently from it in 
all directions. With its declining fortunes even the county 
road which once lead by it—the old “Bouldin’s Road.” 
as it was called, from Charlotte Courthouse to Golden 
Hills—has been abandoned, and it is now hard to reach 
by car, but the visitor will find himself repaid for the 
effort. The old red house, sitting in gloomy grandeur 
amid the ragged remnants of its box bushes, its lawns 
and its gardens, seems to transport oneself back to the 
time when its halls rang with the happy laughter of gay 
young voices, and the busy hum of plantation life could 
be heard over all the large estates. 


Home of Col. Isaac Read 

That part of his father’s estate which Cel. Isaac Read 
received by deed from his brother Clement w T as a tract 

[ 43 ] 


I . 

• • ■■■; ' 



of 818 acres, lying on both sides of Little Roanoke in 
the neighborhood of Do-Well, and probably including the 
land on which the Do-Well dwelling now stands, In 1769 
he purchased from Thos. Tabb and Peter Farrar of 
Amelia, the tract of 1010 acres on Little Roanoke, and 
“the creek called Dunivant,” which he named “Green¬ 
field.” Here he built the house in which we are meeting 
today, and to which he brought his bride, Sara Embry, 
in 1771. Greenfield has the distinction of being the only 
one of these early Read homes which has remained in 
the family down to the present time. Col. Isaac Read 
left two sons, Clement, afterwards to be known in the 
family history as “Parson” Read, and Isaac Read U. 
His lands were divided by the County Court in 1732 by 
allotting the Do-Well tract and 400 acres in Brunswick 
to Clement, and Greenfield to Isaac Read n, from whom 
it passed by descent to his son, William Watkins Read, 
and from him to the present owners, our gracious hosts 

A wnrd here as to the homes of Rev. Clement Read 
may be of interest. A letter of Mr. Wm. W. Read written 
in 1888 and recently published in the Hanipden-Sydney 
Record states that Parson Read's first residence was his 
inheritance, “the place now owned and occupied by Mrs. 
Margaret Gaines.” The reference is to Do-Well, but not 
to the present building, which was erected later by 
Wm. Morton Watkins. My great-grandmother was a 
daughter of Parson Read, and some years ago I was 
much puzzled to find no record of her marriage in Char¬ 
lotte County Clerk's Office, never having heard that the 
Parson lived elsewhere, but I discovered by accident that 
from 1806 to 1812 he lived in Halifax County, on a farm 
which he bought adjoining his brother-in-law, Capt. 
Henry Edmunds, and to my great relief, I located my 
missing marriage record in that office. After returning 
to Charlotte, he lived at Greenwood for a time and then 
moved to Ward’s Neck, on Staunton River, where he diea 
and is buried. 

As to Greenfield. I can do no better than to copy from 







“ INGLESIDE,” Home of Col. Thomas Read, the Clerk 

(See Page 42) 



“ GREENFIELD,” Home of Col. Isaac Read 
( See Page 43) 

“The Reads and their Relatives” what Mrs. Rouse has 
written about it: 

“The year that Col. Isaac Read married in 1771 Sarah 
Embra, he built the old Greenfield house on his planta¬ 
tion in Charlotte County, which still stands and has 
always been owned and lived in by his descendants. It 
was builded when great forest trees had to be cut to make 
its hand-hewn timbers. The hand-wrought- nails, the 
woodwork, everything used in its 'construction, were 
made on the place by his servants, while the blanketed 
Indians of the back country stood about and wondered 
at so huge a wigwam. The house has a tall central build¬ 
ing;' flanked by low, wise-spreading wings. The rooms are 
well-proportioned, of gracious height and hospitable 
amplitude, and are panelled and wainscoted, with carved 
mantels and stars. It stands with entrances to the north 
and south, the wings outspread to east and west. A hall 
bisects it: one door giving a glimpse of the North-star 
through great elms which were planted among the oaks 
a hundred years ago, when sons returned from New T 
England’s Harvard and Yale, thus memorialized their 
universities. The south doors open on a wiiite-piliared 
gallery, -which looks tow r ard the garden, from which a 
path shaded by cedars and boxwood leads to the stone¬ 
walled burying-ground where more than thirty of Col. 
Isaac Read’s kindred sleep, though his body lies far 

“Down the creek which flow T s through the plantation 
is an ancient mill which with its great wiieei turning 
still grinds the corn as it has done for a hundred and 
fifty years.” 

Greenfield has always been the mecca of the Read 
clan, and it is easy to understand the high place it 
occupies in their affections. 

(The End) 


• %■ * Vi . « 4