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June 15, 2017 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Notables: The Clay Family

Pleasant Grove, Courtesy Historic Buckingham.

In 1936, when Elizabeth McCraw surveyed Pleasant Grove for the Virginia Historical Inventory, she included a fairly lengthy comment concerning the property’s “historical significance.” According to Mrs. McCraw:

This house was built by Mr. Junius Clay, a brother to Oden Clay who was the first president of what is now the Norfolk and Western Railroad. It is generally supposed that the house was built in 1824 and that the Clays lived there about that time. This date is on the gutter, but the present owner says she often heard her grandparents say that the gutters were put on the house some years after it was built. The house may have been built prior to 1824.

The place was visited a number of times by both Union and Confederate Soldiers during the War Between the States. No damage was done to the house, but provisions were taken, and on one occasion simply destroyed. The family silver was also taken.

Mrs. McCraw’s informant was Mrs. Julia Smith Forbes of Farmville, Virginia. In 1936, Mrs. Forbes was the owner and represented the third generation of the Smith family at Pleasant Grove. Mrs. McCraw also gathered information from Mr. Emmett Gillespie of Enonville, a relative of the Clays.

In 1880, a Junius Clay (age 81) and his wife, Elizabeth (age 79) were living in the Francisco District in Buckingham County.  Is he the Junius A. Clay who married Elizabeth Cobbs in Bedford County, Virginia on December 12, 1820 and the builder of Pleasant Grove?

Can a Slate River Ramblings’ reader add more about the Clay family?  Please comment below.

For more about the dwelling house at Pleasant Grove, click here: Buckingham Houses: Pleasant Grove


Leave a Comment
  1. Joanne Yeck / Jun 15 2017 8:40 am

    Thank you, Dave Duncan “in Ohio”, for sharing this very interesting letter. I know how important these small scrapes of paper can be. Perhaps another reader will know more about Junius Clay and/or the Clay family. There also may be readers to know more about the Duncans. Thanks, too, for the kind words. Keep digging. Joanne

  2. Dave Duncan / Jun 15 2017 8:32 am

    Found in Duncan research notes:

    Handwritten on back of letter: Oct. 1, 1921, Violet Bank Studio, Petersburg, VA. I wish I could give you the information desired as to George Duncan. This is all I know. My grandfather Marcus Monroe Duncan was the son of George Duncan. He was born in Buckingham Co. VA. He & his brother George & sister Eliza were left orphans at an early age, Mr. Junius Clay being guardian. The Buckingham records were destroyed & our family Bible burned. I think my was also George Duncan of Albemarle or Fluvanna Co. — his wife Ann & his lands on both sides of the river — Hardware, I think. The family tradition is that he was a Rev. soldier. So he would probably be listed from one of those 3 counties as a soldier. Thanking you for any trouble, Sincerely yours, Alice V.D. Pierrepont.
    (Mary Ann Duncan Dobson: “VA/WV Genealogical Data from Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Records” by Wardell, Vol.II, p.56, for this George Duncan, lists “QLF 1921 from Mrs Alice V.D. PIERREPONT of Petersburg, VA, gddau of a VA RW sol George DUNCAN (& wife Ann) of Albemarle Co or Fluvanna Co, VA, whose gdf Marcus Monroe DUNCAN (also bro George & sis Eliza) b. Buckingham Co. VA, & left orphans at early age, their guardian being Junius CLAY. F-W9845 R863.”)

    I would be very interested to learn more about Junius Clay and his relationship to these Duncan children and their family.

    Thanks so much for your wonderful posts!

    Dave Duncan


  1. Buckingham County: The Duncan Family | slate river ramblings . . . .

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