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 »