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February 17, 2022 / Joanne Yeck

Snowden: A Plantation in Buckingham County, Part III

A survey of Peter Jefferson’s “Snowdon”.

Need to catch up? Click here: Snowden: A Plantation in Buckingham County, Part I

The Randolph Jeffersons at Snowden

During Randolph Jefferson’s lifetime, Snowden functioned as a typical Central Virginia plantation, supporting Jefferson and his wife, Anne “Nancy” (Lewis), as well as their five sons: Thomas Jefferson Jr., Isham Randolph (aka Randolph, Jr.); Robert “Lewis”; Peter “Field”; James “Lilburne”; and one daughter, Anna Scott “Nancy” (Jefferson) Nevil. Enslaved African Americans worked the fields which included tobacco, an important cash crop.

From about 1800 to 1809, Jefferson lived at Snowden as widower. His married son, Thomas, and his daughter, Anna Scott, who married Zachariah Nevil, lived with him. The men founded a manufacturing business, “Nevil and Jefferson.” The plantation, a growing Jefferson commune, provided a pleasant home for the young Nevil children, James “Lilburne” and Louise Ann. Thomas, with his bride and cousin, Mary Randolph “Polly” Lewis, lived along side Randolph’s bachelor sons, Randolph, Jr., Lewis, Field, and Lilburne.

In about 1809, Randolph Jefferson’s second marriage to the much younger Mitchie B. Pryor drove a wedge between him and his children. “Nevil and Jefferson” was dissolved and, with the exception of Lilburn Jefferson, Randolph’s extended family departed Snowden.

Life with Mitchie was fraught with disagreements, particularly concerning her lavish spending habits.

Following Jefferson’s death in 1815, there was a contest of two wills. One was written in 1808 and a copy was held by his brother, Thomas. The other was a “death bed will” presented in court by his widow, Mitchie. Unfortunately, details of the outcome of the court case are sparse and the results must be inferred from subsequent ownership of Randolph Jefferson’s property.

Within months of his death, in early 1816, the dwelling house at Snowden burned to the ground. No description of it survives. To date, no foundation has been discovered, nor have the graves of Randolph and Anne (Lewis) Jefferson been located.

Mitchie left Snowden just a few days before the fire, going to the Pryor farm in central Buckingham. There, on March 8, 1816, John Randolph Jefferson was born — never to know his father or life at Snowden.

~

My book, The Jefferson Brothers, is currently discounted online at Braughler Books. Click here to learn more and download a PDF of Chapter 1: The Jefferson Brothers

Coming Next: Snowden: A Plantation in Buckingham County, Part IV

7 Comments

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  1. Joanne Yeck / Feb 19 2022 5:53 am

    Les,

    I agree. So many graves in the early 19th century and before were very simply marked (if at all). Even a man as wealthy as Randolph Jefferson (d 1815) may never have had an elaborate grave stone. The family knew where their loved ones were buried and likely didn’t imagine a day when the land would be sold to others.

    Joanne

  2. L Campbell / Feb 17 2022 6:13 pm

    There is a survey for 1327 acres done for Captain Randolph Jefferson done 10 Jun 1799 by Henry Bell, and in the text, it says this plat adjoins the lands of Randolph Jefferson (and Big George Creek).

    It may be found at familysearch.org (requires free account) by using the Search Images feature, then Buckingham county VA, and look at the plat books. Image 141 of 263 (survey book handwritten page 120) is the survey.

    • Joanne Yeck / Feb 18 2022 6:48 am

      Thanks, again, Les.

      This survey was made to reestablish some of Snowden’s boundaries and represents part, but not all, of the plantation.

      As you well know, the Buckingham County surviving plat book is a treasure!

      Joanne

      • L Campbell / Feb 18 2022 2:47 pm

        They are indeed. I’d love to look at them in person someday.

        I’m not sure the microfilming got them all in order as I suspect they had been reshuffled over the years; I’m sure they did the best they could, but as I was putting together the map for David Bell, I was printing out copies of the maps on large sheets of paper and cutting parts of four or five maps throughout the book to get a single image of the whole.

        The margin notes on the Jefferson survey map are interesting too and I haven’t figured out what they are, usually a name followed by a number. Not sure that’s a sub-index of other surveys or what.

  3. Milton Campbell / Feb 17 2022 12:55 pm

    Joanne:

    Very interesting read. As you may remember, maps are a hobby of mine and your mention of the loss of the house as well as the lost location of the graves of Randolph and Anne Jefferson made an impression on me.

    In the past couple years, I have gone over the survey books of Buckingham county on microfilm at LDS. I know on at least one of those is a survey of Randolph Jefferson’s land that may or may not be identical to the one you published. I’m not absolutely certain but I’m sure you’ve seen it.

    I wonder if there’s any possibility they would have been buried at the family burying ground at Monticello.

    As always, I look forward to new installments of your blog.

    If you ever end up revisiting the Bell family, I have Frankensteined together a large map of David Bell’s 12000 acre grant with several sold parcels inside its boundaries.

    Best regards

    Les Campbell Norman OK

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    • Joanne Yeck / Feb 18 2022 6:42 am

      Les,

      It’s comments like yours that keep Slate River Ramblings going.

      I do have a copy of the Snowden survey you remembered and thanks for offering the information about David Bell’s grant.

      Randolph Jefferson isn’t buried at Monticello, nor is any of his family.

      Joanne

      • L Campbell / Feb 18 2022 2:49 pm

        Lost graves are one of the saddest things a genealogist or historian can encounter. I’d guess that given the prime location of Snowden, it’s been pretty well carved up in the intervening 200 years and much of the archaeological clues lost to agriculture or other development.

        It’s a shame that their graves are lost to history. I have been searching thus far unsuccessfully for the Austin family plot (Archibald & Grace), and I think much of the actual land-form history, just like the paper history, of Buckingham county is simply gone.

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