The Reveal to “Where in the World am I?”

Jun. 13th 2013

 Here is the reveal!

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First Photo

Nanzatico Plantation

Nanzatico Plantation is located in King George County along the Rappahannock River. The Nanzatico Plantation’s home was built by Charles Carter in 1769. Thomas Turner III would purchase this 2400 acre plantation and would raise his family there. At the death of Thomas Turner III, his three sons would divide his property of Smith Mount, Walsingham and Nanzatico. Richard Turner would inherit the Walsingham Plantation. George Turner would inherit the Nanzatico Plantation. Thomas Turner IV would inherit the Oaken Brow Plantation, which was originally part of the Nanzatico Plantation.

George Turner would marry Caroline Matilda Pratt, who was the daughter of John Birkett and Alice Fitzhugh Dixon Pratt of the Camden Plantation, across the Rappahannock River from Nanzatico Plantation. Their youngest son was Carolinus Turner. In 1839, Carolinus purchased Belle Grove Plantation. Carolinus Turner would take this modest Federal style home and convert it into the Greek Revival style home we have today.

When I rolled up on this plantation, I got really lucky. The caretaker arrived and allowed me to walk the property. It was amazing! Here are some pictures from my visit at Nanzatico!


This tree blew me away! It is the same tree we cut down in front of Belle Grove just a month or so. The only differences is this one is still alive! And it is older than ours! This one, according to the caretaker is 250 years old!!


It is as wide as my car!!


This is Federal style that Belle Grove started out with before Carolinus Turner made his changes.


This is the plantation office just to the right of the circle in front of the main house.


This is where the planters and overseers would have conducted their plantation business. As far as I know, Belle Grove’s office was in the Mansion.


It was amazing to see the same door hardware!


Another view of the tree. Can you believe how big it is??


This is the view off the back of the house. Well… I should say the front of the house because the front door would have been facing the river. Belle Grove is also set up this way.


This is the “front door” facing the river.


One thing I noticed was the details. They have allot of the same as Belle Grove. Of course since the Turners owned all the plantations on this size of King George at one time, it would make sense.




This was another thing that blew me away! It is their Summer Kitchen! Like Belle Grove, it has two sides, one kitchen and one enslaved quarters. This is what ours will hopefully one day look like! Minus the screen doors and porch light.


The Summer Kitchen has a wonderful garden to the side of it where they would have grown vegetables and herbs for the kitchen. We won’t be able to do this with ours because the sides of the kitchen are beside something else. But maybe we can do it off the Icehouse to the side.


The caretaker did take me inside the kitchen. I don’t think it is as old as ours, but wow!


Some of  the ceiling timbers were hand cut with a broad ax.


And let Belle Grove’s Summer Kitchen, it has a large tree truck as the mantle.


Look at the top right. You can see where they dove tailed the joints!


This is the spring house. It is where they would have gone to draw water.

I don’t know where ours would have been yet.


Here is another mind blowing thing… an old slave quarters! They have two of them!



This was part of the barn. I just love the raised garden boxes!


Just to the left as you enter the circle is the Smoke House.

I love the detail at the top. Maybe we can add that to ours once we restore it!


This is the circle as you come in. It isn’t as big as our bowling green, but it is just beautiful. 

I thanked the caretaker for letting me view the plantation. He pointed me to my next stop!

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Second Photo

Oaken Brow Plantation

Oaken Brow Plantation was built in 1830 by Charles Taylor. Thomas Turner III owned Oaken Brow as part of his plantation holdings. At his death, he owned Woodlawn, Nanzatico, Oaken Brow and Walsingham. Thomas Turner IV would inherit Oaken Brow Plantation. In 1925, the original home burned and was restored in 1935 by Dr. Low. Today, there is a wonderful couple that owns it. The gentleman is from Maryland and his wife is from South Carolina. She was at home when I came “calling”. She has been following us and was excited to meet me. I was excited to be invited in. We had a wonderful conversation and she allowed me to take pictures outside the home. She amazed me when she let me know before leaving that she would be glad to show Oaken Brow to any of our guests. I would just need to call ahead. I have a feeling there is going to be allot of request.



They are working on the paint for the outside of the house right now.


This Old English Boxwoods are 10 feet tall!!

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This is the view from their back yard. Here they are not on the river so their back yard is really their back yard.

But just beyond the trees is the Rappahannock River.






On to my next stop!

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Third Photo

Ingelside Plantation

One of our favorite vineyards in the area is Ingelside. I stopped by to take with them about Belle Grove opening soon and got a wonderful Pinot Grigio to bring home to Brett! 

Be on the lookout for a special package we will be offering for this winery!

From Ingelside’s website:

“Built in 1834, it first served as a boys’ school known as Washington Academy. During the Civil War it was used as a garrison and later a courthouse. Since 1890, the Flemer family has owned and operated this grand estate encompassing more than 3,000 acres and for the first fifty years it functioned as a dairy farm.

However, in 1940 Carl Flemer Jr. had bigger plans and throughout the years the estate evolved into Ingleside Plantation Nursery and then Ingleside Vineyards after stumbling upon the fact that our location and conditions are prime for growing high quality wine grapes.

Opening in 1980, under the direction of Doug Flemer, Ingleside Vineyards is one of Virginia’s oldest and largest wineries and produces over 18 varieties of wine from estate-grown grapes. For over thirty years, our hand-crafted wines have won numerous awards and top honors in state, national and international wine competitions, such as the London International Wine & Spirit Competition, the San Francisco International Wine Competition and the Virginia Governor’s Cup Competition. Our winemaker, Bill Swain, has brought Ingleside wines to a new level with his passion, skill and thoughtful approach to the craft of winemaking.

Ingleside was the first winery in Virginia to produce a methode champenoise sparkling wine. We were also the first winery in Virginia to bottle a varietal Petit Verdot, now one of our flagship wines and recent winner of “Best Petit Verdot” at the 2012 San Francisco International Wine Competition.”

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Fourth Photo

(Yes those are cows standing in the water)

Popes Creek

Birthplace of George Washington

From their website:

“George Washington Birthplace National Monument preserves the heart of the Washingtons’ lands in America. John Washington, the immigrant, arrived in Westmoreland County in 1657, and settled near Bridges Creek. Generations of Washingtons lived on these lands and established a legacy of public service, leadership, and love of the land. The rich legacy of the Washingtons would culminate with George Washington’s achievements as the “Father of Our Country.”

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Fifth Photo

(This one didn’t go out via Twitter or Instgram – It’s also the hardest to figure out)

Oak Crest Vineyard and Winery

Another one of our favorite vineyards in the area is Oak Crest. They have a wine called “Hot Jazz” you have to try!

Be on the lookout for a special package we will be offering for this winery!

From their website:

“A long time effort by the Conrad Brandts family culminated in the opening of Oak Crest Winery in 2002. The winery’s creation involved a combination of genetics, scientific bent, fortunate opportunities, and the urge to create good wine and share it with others. Conrad’s home wine-making dates back to the 1950s. The Brandts family’s wine grape growing in Virginia dates to the early 1960s.”

The current winery was constructed in 1999.

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Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Darnell History, Food and Recipes | 10 Comments »

Big Changes

Jul. 11th 2012

Belle Grove July 1894
This is the oldest photo we have of Belle Grove

After the death of William Bernard II in 1822, William Bernard I became the trustee of Belle Grove. He held on to Belle Grove until 1839. By this time, William Bernard II’s two daughters Eliza Bernard and Sarah Ann Bernard were married. In 1839, William Bernard I sold Belle Grove to their two husbands for one dollar. Shortly after that sale, they sold the property to a member of a very prominent family in the area, Carolinus Turner.

The Turner Family dates back to Thomas Turner, who first appeared in the records on February 14, 1725 when he purchased 200 acres in Hanover Parish. He would continue to purchase parcels and by 1753 he had amassed 2300 acres, which he named Walsingham. This plantation is next door to Belle Grove on the opposite side of the present day Route 301. It is unclear just when Thomas Turner arrived in Virginia.

Thomas married twice in his lifetime. Both of his wives, Martha and Sarah were the daughters of Richard Taliaferro, who lived in Caroline County at Taliaferro Mount. Richard Taliaferro was a ship’s Captain. His wife, Sarah Wingfield was from Barbados. Together Richard and Sarah had four children.

Thomas married Martha in 1714 and they had two sons, Harry and Thomas II. Harry Turner married Elizabeth Smith of Smith’s Mount, near Leedstown, Virginia and they had one son, Thomas Turner III. Thomas Turner III married Jane Fauntleroy of Naylor’s Hole and they had seven children.

Thomas Turner III would inherit Smith’s Mount from his mother and Walsingham from his father. He would then add another 2400 acres plantation called Nanzatico, which is next door to the Walsingham plantation. The Nanzatico Plantation’s home had been built by Charles Carter in 1769. At the death of Thomas Turner III, his three sons would divide his property. Richard Turner would inherit the Walsingham Plantation. George Turner would inherit the Nanzatico Plantation. Thomas Turner IV would inherit the Oaken Brow Plantation, which was originally part of the Nanzatico Plantation.

George Turner

George Turner would marry Caroline Matilda Pratt, who was the daughter of John Birkett and Alice Fitzhugh Dixon Pratt of the Camden Plantation, across the Rappahannock River from Nanzatico Plantation. Their youngest son was Carolinus Turner. When his mother was pregnant with Carolinus, the Turner’s had already had two sons and were sure that Carolinus was going to be a girl. They had selected the Caroline, which is a family name. To their surprise, their new daughter turned out to be a new son. So they named him Carolinus.

Rose Hill Plantation
(also known as Gaymont) Belle Grove would have looked like this before changes

In 1839, Carolinus purchased Belle Grove Plantation. Carolinus Turner would take this modest Federal style home and convert it into a Greek Revival style home. If you look at the old photos of Rose Hill Plantation (also known as Gaymont Plantation), which was built by John Hipkins (also who built the orginial Belle Grove home) in the 1790s, you can imagine what Belle Grove Plantation started out as. Carolinus would extend the sides and add a small extension on the second floor of the extensions. He would add the porticos that stand out from the house on both the Plantation and Riverside. He would add the curved porches on the Plantation side with circular steps at the front and two side doors. The circular steps in front and the scrolled steps on the Riverside of the home were thought to have been purchased and made in England. He would add the architectural details all along the roof line as well as on the exterior walls.

Back Portico Stairs

Ferry House and Post Office
Port Conway 1925

He would also make changes to the town of Port Conway. In 1860, he set aside a one acre lot that he donated to the local parish for use as an Episcopal Church. This church would become Emmanuel Episcopal Church, which is still in use today. He would also start acquiring the half acre lots of Port Conway and would fold them back into the Belle Grove Plantation.

Emmanuel Episcopal Church
Port Conway

In 1847, Carolinus married Susan Augusta Rose at Belle Grove Plantation. They would have five children, Caroline “Carrie” Turner, Anna Augusta Turner, George Turner, Susan Rose Turner, and Alice Pratt Turner.

Tomorrow – Mystery in the Window

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Year of the Virginia Historic Homes | 23 Comments »

Back to the Beginning

Jun. 19th 2012

Belle Grove Plantation – Plantation side – Front Portico

Since we skipped ahead for Father’s Day, we need to return to the beginning to fill in the first part of the story. The history of this land that would become Belle Grove started hundreds of thousands of years before the arrival of English settlers. This land was inhabited by primitive people known by the artifacts found in the surrounding area. On the plantation next door to Belle Grove, primitive tools, shear heads and pottery have been discovered. One of these items has been examined and is considered to be over 10,000 years old.

Stone Tool

Leather Tanner



Captain John Smith

In 1608, Captain John Smith, explorer and soldier, sailed up the Rappahannock and Potomac Rivers searching for areas to expand the new colonies. In his log, Captain Smith spoke of weather, the waterways and land around him.

Sunset view of the Rappahannock River from Belle Grove Plantation

“The temperature of this countrie doth agree well with English constitutions.”

“There is but one entrance by sea onto this country and that is the mouth of a very goodly Bay, the wideness of which is near 18 or 20 miles.”

“Within is a Country that may have the prerogative over the most pleasant places of Europe, Asia, Africa or America for larger and pleasant navigable rivers’ Heaven and Earth never agreed better to frame a place for man’s being of our Constitutions were it inhabited by industrious people.”

Captain Smith also noted the many Indian Settlements along the river banks. These Indians were part of the Powhatan Nation.  This was a confederation of Indian tribes within Virginia. At the time of the settlement of Jamestown in 1607, it is believed that there were about 14,000 to 21,000 people in this nation. Wahunsunacawh, also known as Chief Powhatan, father of Pocahontas had brought together this nation of 30 tribes within the eastern side of Virginia in an area call Tsenacommacah (“densely-inhabited Land”). Each tribe had its own chief, but all tribes paid tribute to Chief Powatan.

Chief Powhatan

It is believed that the Nanzemond Indians were the tribe that inhabited the land, but I have not been able to confirm this. Since we have never had any archaeological digs at Belle Grove, I can only go with what has been passed down through local lore.  The closest tribes I do know that were in the area were the Potabago Indians of Essex County, Rappahannock Indians of Tappahannock and the Nanzatico Indians of King George. In my research, it looks more likely that it would have be one of these tribes that inhabited the land. The Nanzemond Indians seem to have been primarily located in and around the present day cities of Chesapeake and Suffolk, Virginia. Maybe the name Nanzemond got confused with the name Nanzatico as it was passed down from generation to generation.

Sir William Berkeley

The next mention of this land came when a royal land grant was given by Governor Sir William Berkeley to Thomas Chetwood and John Prossor. Under the Royal Charter of 1649 on September 28, 1667, 5275 acres of land, known as “Nauzem” was granted to Chetwood and Prossor in consideration for transporting 163 persons from England. Of these 5275 acres, it is said that the land that would become Belle Grove was the heart.

On April 13, 1670, John Prossor sold a 1,000 acre tract to Anthony Savage. I have found two names for this tract, one being “Mangecemuzen” and the other being “Mongoheocala”.  Anthony Savage was thought to be the son of John Savage of Castleton, Debyshire, England. His birth date is unknown. The earliest record of him places him in Gloucester County, Virginia in 1660, when he was commissioned as a Justice or Sherriff. Anthony Savage (died 1695) was married to Alice Stafford Savage (died 1701). The Savages had two surviving children, daughters Dorothy (1635-1702) and Alice (1653-1692). By the time, Anthony had purchased this tract, his daughter; Dorothy was already married to William Strother I and was living next door on a 500 acre plantation that they had purchased just six months before. His other daughter, Alice would marry Francis Thornton (1651-1726/27). Dorothy and William had six surviving children. Alice and Francis had seven surviving children. Two of these children, Margaret Thornton and William Strother II would marry.

One small note, I have been told that Lawrence Washington, grandfather of George Washington, grew up at Mattox Creek, just 9 or 10 miles from Belle Grove and he was childhood friends with William Strother II and Margaret Thornton.

Belle Grove Plantation

At the death of Anthony Savage, the 1,000 acre tract was divided into 700 acres for the Thornton family and 300 acres to be given to Margaret Thornton Strother and William Strother II. By this time, Alice Savage Thornton had passed and Francis Thornton had remarried. Francis Thornton, an attorney and land owner, was a very prominent attorney. In my research of archived items, I came across a large number of items with his signature. He also increased his land holding into Stafford County. At his death, most of his Stafford County land holdings went to his sons, but the 700 acre tract went to his eldest child, Elizabeth Thornton Gibson Conway (1673/74-1732). I believe she was already living on the tract prior to his death. She first married Jonathan Gibson (1672-1729) and had two surviving children. At Jonathan’s death, she married Edwin Conway (1653-1698). With Edwin, she had one more child, Francis Conway I (1696-1736).

(To Be Continued Tomorrow – the Conway Family)

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Year of the Virginia Historic Homes | 30 Comments »