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November 8, 2018 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Notables: John Horsley, Part One

Courtesy Lynchburg Virginian 

When doing research for families living in Buckingham County, especially prior to 1869 when the courthouse burned, it often pays to search surrounding counties for deeds and wills, even across the James River. Especially the affluent families often held property in multiple counties. Such was the case with the John Horsley estate. On March 13, 1836, a public auction was held at Elk Mills in Amherst County which included extensive property in Buckingham. An advertisement in the Lynchburg Virginian contained this information about his impressive holdings:

One tract or parcel of Land in the counties of Amherst, Nelson and Buckingham, containing between eleven and twelve hundred acres, being the tract on which said Horsley resides, and upon which is a good Stone Mill House,  50 by 40 feet, containing the Machinery common to a Flour Mill, two pair of 5 feet Burrs, one pair of 5 feet country Stones, very heavy, Rubbers, a Corn Crusher, & near the Mill a large Cooper’s Shop, part stone, and balance framed, a Black Smith Shop and a set of  Black Smith’s Tools, a good Dwelling House, Ice House and all necessary out Houses, a new Store House, and a good Garden. The Tobacco Houses below the Creek and in the Islands have most of them shingled roof and are nearly new.

As was the case at many mill sites in Central Virginia, there was a small service center, equipped with a blacksmith and store, which often included a post office. At Elk Mills, it appears that John Horsley owned all the services.

In 1836, the James River Canal was under construction and, presumably, would increase the value of Horsley’s property once finished. The canal would eventually run within 180 yards of the Mill House.

Coming next: John Horsley’s property in Buckingham County.

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