Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Shirley You Jest

On the way from Richmond to Williamsburg we visited the Shirley Plantation, which is known as one of the James River plantations, probably because it’s located on the James River. DSC_0029

What’s most interesting about the Shirley Plantation is that it has been occupied by the same family for 11 generations. Operations started on the plantation in 1643, and the place has been occupied by the Hill-Carter family ever since. The current house was built in 1738. The most recent Carter still lives in the upper floors, and the downstairs is open for tours. The 750 acres are leased as farmland. DSC_0031

The tree in this photo is a Willow Oak, and it’s actually 350 years old, so it’s seen a lot of history. Another interesting fact about Shirley is that it wasn’t burned down by the damned Yankees during the Civil War. As it happens, the menfolk were at war when McClellan’s army fought a battle at nearby. After the battle, the Union army units camped at the plantation and the women decided it would be wise to not antagonize them. Instead, they fed the soldiers and treated the wounded. The result was that the house and possessions were spared, and Gen. McClellan provided the Hill Carters with an order of protection which served to protect the plantation for the remainder of the war.

I don’t know if McClellan knew about another tidbit of Shirley’s history, or if he did, he may have been less free with his order of protection. The following is from Wikipedia, but it was also mentioned by our tour guide: “It was at Shirley that Ann Hill Carter was born, and on June 18, 1793 married Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee in the mansion's parlor. The couple would later become parents to the famous Confederate General Robert E. Lee.”


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