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October 29, 2020 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham County’s Norvell House Revisited, Part III

Inscribed bricks, Norvell House. Courtesy Joe Pruden.

Need to catch up? Click here: Buckingham County’s Norvell House Revisited, Part I


In 1846, John Wilmerton Chambers sold the property to his neighbor, William Steger, who then sold the sixty acres and the house to John Jackson Newton in 1852.

According to Jeremy Winfrey, “John J. Newton was a merchant who operated a store on Spreading Oak Road, which, at the time, was the major thoroughfare from Scottsville to the courthouse.”

Additionally, Winfrey believes that the store was adjacent a sixty-seven acre tract owned jointly by my cousins, Thomas Meredith Agee and Thomas Moseley Agee. Thomas Meredith Agee was stepfather to my great-great grandfather, John T. L. Woodson. Thomas Moseley Agee was the brother of Woodson’s mother, Mary Elizabeth (Agee) Woodson Agee. Surely they frequented Newton’s store. Unfortunately, there is no trace left of the building today.

As Jeremy Winfrey’s work reveals, the Sharps Creek neighborhood was not only home to my extended Harris family but also served as a crossroads for my Chambers and Agee families. No wonder they all intermarried!


In the brick section of the house, near a second story window, there are two bricks — one with “G.E.N.” etched into it and the other with “S. E. N.”

Winfrey believes that “G.E.N.” was Newton’s son, George Edwin Newton, born about 1840. In 1862, G. E. Newton died in the battle of Gaines Mill, age twenty-two.

“S. E. N.” is currently a mystery. In 1860, there was neither a son nor a daughter in the Newton household with those initials. Next door, however, lived Sarah E. Norvell, born about 1845. Could she be the mysterious “S. E. N.”?

In 1861, John J. Newton sold the property to a non-resident of Buckingham County, Henry Newman, who immediately sold it to Thomas Baber in 1862.

Coming Next: Buckingham County’s Norvell House Revisited, Part IV


Leave a Comment
  1. Dave Duncan / Oct 31 2020 10:28 pm

    I believe that this John Jackson Newton (listed as a merchant in the 1860 census) was the brother of Edwin Newton, who married Mary Anna Duncan, the daughter of Matthias Duncan (my ggg-grandfather.)

    • Joanne Yeck / Nov 1 2020 6:41 am

      Thanks, Dave, for expanding on your possible Newton connection.


    • Ruby Talley Smith / Feb 6 2021 2:34 am

      Dave, I have John Jackson Newton was the father of Edwin Newton who married to Mary Anna Duncan the daughter of Matthias Duncan and his first wife. Do you know who was the first wife? Family lore is that she was a Miss Berryman who died when Mary Anna was just an infant. Not finding a Berryman in the Buckingham area it is thought that the name might be Merryman. What do you think?

      • Dave Duncan / Feb 6 2021 12:05 pm

        Hi, Ruby! So good to see your post! I wasn’t sure if the John Jackson Newton that purchased this property from William Steger was the father or the brother of Edwin Newton who was married to Mary Anna Duncan but I believe that Edwin’s brother, John J. Newton, was listed as a merchant in the 1860 census. As for the first wife of Matthias Duncan, I just have her listed as “Miss Berryman”, as you do. I do not have any further information on her. The name Merryman might be a possibility… She is a mystery that is yet to be solved.

  2. Danny Newton / Oct 30 2020 9:57 am

    Interesting information . I seem to recall there is a John Jackson Newton grandfather on my Dad, Charles Luchion Newton, Jr side of my family.

    • Joanne Yeck / Oct 30 2020 12:25 pm

      Thanks, Danny, for sharing your possible connection.


  3. debra / Oct 29 2020 12:10 pm

    That would be a fun search to have the residents of Buckingham…yes, even Virginia do! Share your photo’s of names/initials inscribed in/on your home/property from years long past! Even on your trees!

  4. debra / Oct 29 2020 12:08 pm

    Always so incredibly interesting…love your posts Joanne. What an awesome
    thing to have history carved into the bricks of your homeplace! Pretty rare I imagine.
    Have heard of initials carved into window glass with a diamond!

    • Joanne Yeck / Oct 29 2020 4:12 pm


      Thanks for your comments. Young people love to carve their initials in a variety of places!


  5. Ken Anderson / Oct 29 2020 10:05 am

    Of course, it’s Sarah.

    • Joanne Yeck / Oct 29 2020 4:11 pm


      I agree. It’s Sarah.


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