Saturday, August 8, 2015

Home Sweet Home – A search for John Markham’s home on the Shampoke

Laurel Meadow, Chesterfield county Virginia

I am pleased to have a copy of Benjamin Weisiger’s book “Old Manchester and Its Environs, 1769 – 1910”, written in 1993.  It contains a lovely collection of stories from the area around the old town of Manchester in Chesterfield county Virginia.  One of the stories that caught my attention was that of Laurel Meadow Plantation, the home of Col David Patteson.  Weisiger’s introductory paragraph tells us:

Laurel Meadow, the old home of Colonel David Patteson, stands at 1640 Bramwell Road , in a subdivision off of Hull Street Road, east of Chippenham Parkway.  It is fortunately surrounded by some acreage that sets it off from its surroundings.  The L-shaped house was probably built in the 1750s or 60s and added to in the 1770’s. 

Col David Patteson was a friend to the Markham family.  Born in 1746, he was of an age of John Markham’s sons, and his cousin Nelson Patteson married John Markham’s youngest daughter.  About 1776, a few years after John Markham’s death, David Patteson purchased a nine hundred acre property from the Markham family.  Evidence points to this property being John Markham’s estate on the Shampoke .

When I first read Weisiger’s book, back in 1999, I made a note to consider whether Laurel Meadow might be the original plantation home of John Markham.  That thought has been percolating a long time.  In 2013 Laurel Meadow was added to the National Register of Historic Places, and I have recently had the opportunity to view the application published online.  The nomination was prepared and written by Adele Livingston, the current owner of Laurel Meadow, with assistance from the staff at the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.  It only makes a brief statement related to the original owner (builder) of the home, but it seems possible that this is the home where John Markham lived with his family in Chesterfield county Virginia. 

I would like to give a few teasers from the National Register nomination for Laurel Meadow.  I think that descendants of the Markham and Patteson families would enjoy taking a further look. 

Laurel Meadow is an early Virginia plantation home now located in the city of Richmond on a one-acre remnant of an original 902 acre parcel, within a mid 20th century subdivision of modest homes.  The 1 ½ story, L-shaped house, measuring 2,200 square feet, is a simple frame building, constructed in two distinct sections at right angles to each other, and displays aspects of Colonial and Federal architectural design.  The west section rests on an English basement, and may have been constructed prior to 1776 when David Patteson, who had become the agent for William Byrd’s Falls Plantation in 1767, acquired the property.  The east section, which fronts Bramwell Road, appears to have been added to the house in the early 19th century . .

The west section, considered to be the oldest section of the building, includes a stair hall, a library to the north, and a dining room to the south . . The stair rises to a room over the library that was clearly designed as a small bedroom . .  

The ‘original’ core of the house may have been an overseer’s house constructed in the eighteenth century, and currently exists as the northwestern block.  This theory is supported by historical tradition that Laurel Meadow was the residence of Col David Patteson, who purchased the property in 1776, deeded portions of it “where I now reside” as a gift to his son Samuel in 1813, and was buried in the cemetery designated in his will close to his residence when he died at Laurel Meadow on 2 May 1821. 

It is not clear when the earliest section of Laurel Meadow, the northwest block, was originally constructed.  It may have been built prior to 1776, which is when David Patteson purchased the property, as there is reference in the deed for 696 acres dated December 4, 1772, from Richard Crump to Vincent Markham describing “. . . one certain tract or parcel of land situate in the said County being the same whereon John Markham deceased formerly lived . . . “ (previously from the estate of John Markham).  Another deed from James Lyle to Vincent Markham dated April 3, 1772, describes “fifty acres bounded by the lands of John Smith, Matthew Branch, the said Vincent Markham and Shampoker Creek.”  This creek described boundaries for Laurel Meadow until 1943 when a plat of 30 acres remaining with the house accompanied the deed, and the remaining acreage where the house is located were sold.  The plat accompanying the 1943 deed shows a family cemetery on the north, Shampoke Creek to the south, and the residence, barn, and other outbuildings in the middle. 

The “original” section of Laurel Meadow presents possibilities as the John Markham home on the Shampoke.  The information detailed in the National Register application blends nicely with John Markham’s 1771 estate inventory, which hints at a dining room, and a possible library area for the main section of the house.  As I read the inventory I envisioned a kitchen set apart from the house.  But, I would wonder where John Markham’s six bedsteads might have resided, if they were resident in this small home in 1770.  Is the “English” basement a possibility?  Merriam Webster Dictionary tells us that an English basement is “a high basement that is usually mainly above ground, is often adapted to living quarters . . “  As the English basement at Laurel Meadow has a number of windows and a fireplace, this seems like a real possibility for bedding all the Markham children in the 1750 - 1770 period. 

I really want to believe that Laurel Meadow was John Markham’s home!  It is exciting to think that a pre-revolutionary ancestral home might still be standing today in Chesterfield county Virginia.  And, I am left to wonder about the Patteson family cemetery that resides nearby.  Might some of our Markham ancestors also be buried there?  I am almost convinced, and would be delighted to know what others might think? 

For more details on John Markham, visit his page at the Markham of Chesterfield website.  A transcription of his inventory will be found there.  A sketch titled John Markham’s Life in Virginia might be of interest, as it gives a few further details on the location of John Markham’s property.  Also, my blog posting titled Pass the Cream Pott, Please gives an imagined picture of John Markham’s home, based on his estate inventory.

Further Reading:
Old Manchester and Its Environs, 1769 – 1910; Benjamin Weisiger, 1993.
Laurel Meadow (Richmond, Virginia); National Register of Historic Places, Adele Livingston, 2013.

About the photo:  I have been in contact with Adele “Hutch” Livingston, current owner of Laurel Meadow.  She is continuing with a restoration of the home, and graciously shared this recent photo.  We are both excited to explore further on the Markham family connection to Laurel Meadow.
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