Needed: A New Family for Holcomb Rock

A new chapter for Holcomb Rock:

My children's father, Tom Berkeley, and I saved Holcomb Rock in 1983. We scraped the exterior paint, treated the clapboards with a mixture of linseed oil and turpentine before painting it, fixed the holes in the walls and the floors, added heat, added plumbing.

My children grew up there. Now at least part of the work and much of the work I had hoped to complete needs doing. The house is much too big for either of us, and is silent without the sound of play and visitors.

Our chapter at Holcomb Rock is over, and now we are looking for the next family for a house that has always had families and has out survived all but a few.

Friday, November 30, 2012


When we first bought the house, I attended some seminars on old house restoration , read everything in sight , and made the decision that anything we did needed to be reversible. So the floors aren't sanded and have varnish instead of polyurethane, the windows have original glass, and there is much original "fabric" . I did some things, like glaze an old finish , because I had young children , and needed to make sure they weren't exposed to lead.

Here s an article and energy and replacement windows.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Log Room

New disclaimer, and apologies to the house for my multitudes of decorating starts and stops! 

The ceiling is the floor boards in the room up. There was some insect damage which we had repaired  . 

Yes, specific apologies for the wallpaper border. This window would have been an exterior  before the cabin was added to. 

My understanding is that the bay window was added to the log room in 1904, and that the logs were covered up at that time , and a new floor added. 

My favorite stairs - the paint is original . They've been  washed 100's or times just in my lifetime! 

This is the door from the log room to what we used as the play room.  If you compare this with the drawing from Jim Meriwether, you'll see that the (now playroom) was used as a kitchen.
  This was undoubtedly  originally an exterior wall, but I'm not sure what light that sheds on the opening.

Isn't moving fun!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Another Obituary

Emily Harris Meriwether [TMSI #818]
Lynchburg News and Advance (Lynchburg, Virginia)
Date unknown (died Aug. 4, 1953)

Miss Emily H. Meriwether

Miss Emily Harris Meriwether, 67, a retired school teacher, died at her home at Holcomb Rock at 5:30 p.m. yesterday after an illness of several months. Daughter of Dr. James Addison Meriwether and Mrs. Emily Harris Meriwether, Miss Meriwether was born in Bedford County April 26, 1886. She was graduated from Chatham Hall and taught school in Bedford County for a number of years. She was a member of Trinity Episcopal Church, Bedford County.

Miss Meriwether is survived by three sisters, Mrs. J.P. Williams, Mrs. Margaret Coon and Miss Louise Meriwether, all of Holcomb Rock; one brother, Charles A. Meriwether of Atlanta, Ga., and several nieces and nephews.

The body is at Diuguid Memorial Chapel pending funeral arrangements.

Emily Harris Meriwether [TMSI #818]
Lynchburg News and Advance (Lynchburg, Virginia)
Date unknown (died Aug. 4, 1953)

Funeral services for Miss Emily Harris Meriwether were held at Diuguid Memorial Chapel yesterday morning at 11 o’clock by the Rev. Richard H. Lee of Ascension Episcopal Church, Amherst. Burial was in Spring Hill Cemetery.

Pallbearers were Lyle Rucker, Edward Tinsley, Walter Wilson, Jack Hubbard, George Miller and Dr. Richard Booth.

James Addison Meriwether Obituary

I found this on a message board on Ancestry

James Addison "Addie" Meriwether [TMSI #808]
Lynchburg News and Advance (Lynchburg, Virginia)
Date unknown (died April 28, 1918)

Funeral of Dr. Meriwether
The funeral services of Dr. J. A. Meriwether took place Tuesday afternoon at 2:30 o’clock at his residence near Boonsboro, conducted by Rev. Thomas Howell, of New Glasgow.

The pallbearers were C.F. Layne, W.A. Layne, J.T. Hill, W.N. Brodie, Walter Rucker, of Glasgow, and James Webb, of Holcomb Rock.

Elks from this city attended the funeral and paid their last respects to one of their oldest members.

The interment was made in the family burying ground which was on his farm.

Dr. Meriwether’s health had been failing for some time, but for the last few days he had been brighter and seemed better. He retired as usual Saturday night, and when his wife went to wake him up for breakfast she found him dead.

Dr. Meriwether was 63 years old and was known all over Bedford county, where he had a large practice and had been practicing for about 30 years.

He is survived by his wife and the following children: Dr. J. A. Meriwether, Jr., of Philadelphia; Charlie Meriwether, of V.P. I.; [Mary] Walker Meriwether, of Holcomb Rock; Mrs. Henry Coon, of Los Angeles, Cal., and Misses Louise and Emily Meriwether, of Holcomb Rock.

[Note: He was born Aug. 7, 1855; died April 28, 1918.]

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Dating the Addition

If you look in the pictures you will see a taller part of the house, on the left as you look at this picture.  This is two stories, but with a walk up to two rooms. When we bought the house, there were herbs hanging from the ceiling.

In the tax records, I found that in 1855 , James Harris's taxes show the value of "improvements" to be 20 for the building, but increased to 500 in 1856. Emily Harris was born that year as well.

A Picture of Sally Oglesby Disharon

Interesting story about this picture. On the mantel during an estate sale in Bedford City , some 20 miles away, I spotted the picture of the Holcomb Rock railroad station I have in the header here. Thinking some of the other pictures might be related to Holcomb Rock, I bought the lot of 4 or 5.

The Meriwethers came for a reunion- I'll have to look up the date. I got a few of them to look through my pictures- and heard one of the woman exclaim , "That's my mother!" I believe this is the letter writer. She would have been related to the Meriwethers through Louisa (Bright) Tinsley Harris.

Letter About the House

This is a transcription of a letter written to Sally Oglesby Disharon in 1978. I believe this letter was written to Jim Meriwether, who was researching the house. I'm unclear on some of it because of the copy I have.

My knowledge of the little school house is not very helpful .... See? if Margaret's memory is partially clear, She could give you a better history. She and Emily were in boarding school in 1904 that first winter attending school to Louise- Your Dad, Mary Walker and I, as I recall  it was Louise's first year teaching  Miss Annie Phillips had been their governess (an excellent one) I have no idea how long she had taught then. I recall that Flora Williams was a pupil and I believe the three Steptoes attended school there.

Miss Bessie Talliferro (I guessed at spelling) was a teacher prior to Miss Annie. The ... the little classroom was then some before their knowledge. You probably know the place was inherited by Cousin Em from her father James Harris, a forable? person as was his wife, my parents fond? there and enjoyed their house.
Cousin Em and my father were 1/ first cousins. Their house was a real joy in my life. Mary Walker and your Dad as sister and brother. Our children, too, found their experiences there and look back with fondness and interest. Leslie always asks news .... he cherishes time they (love after their of Bill) he enjoyed as a youngster.

Personal information deleted here. Mary Walker was like her mother a whole? fine person . I loved all- Your Dad was a tease so we got it.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Looking for Stories

If you were ever in the Holcomb Rock house, heard any stories or have any stories, please let me know! I'm going to include them on this blog and in the papers that go with the house.

Ghost stories too, I guess. 

My Transcription of Plat Information

Since the plat is hard to read, I've tried to transcribe the information.

Bedford County- Plat of  the division of Cold Camp

The above is a plat of a tract of land in the county, afforesaid, and .... upon the margin of the ... of the James River * Kanawha Canal, opposite to Holcomb Rock and Persimmon Island, and adjoined the lands of Nathaniel Manson, William W Major and James ..... and contained by ... Nancy and ..... 2491/2 acres. It being the tract owned by the late Palatine R. Tinsley, ... was surveyed and the house of ? late Lousia Tinsley, laid off b y Commisioner Hiram Cheatwood, William, W Jamjor and James Perrow in obedience ... order of the county court of Bedford made at the August 1842. The portion marked A of the 56 acres on which the Mansion house stands has app.. to Mrs. Harris and the balance of that portion marked B of 190 3/2 has laid off and assigned to Spottwood B. Tinlsey son and heir to the said Palatine R. Tinsley died. Surveys and dower laid off February of 1853.

Interesting on this- I had not noticed that the creek which is down by what is now called Fisherman's corner, right across from the actual rock, was called Coldcamp Branch. I once tried to walk the perimeter shown on this plat, but some of the markings are either gone, hidden or farther than I thought.

James Harris was the administrator of the Palatine R. Tinsley estate.

Plat - Holcomb Rock when Palatine Died

The original of this is in the Courthouse.

Additional Early Records - Cold Camp

My goal is to scan in all of the papers and information I have regarding Holcomb Rock. So here is another record- again without a source, although I suspect it was land records at the Bedford County Courthouse, where I spent a lot of time for a while! . 

Early Real Estate Records

At the time, I was just sure I knew the source of each research item, so didn't record . But this set of records shows Palatine's land as being near Judy's Creek (Judith's), not the Flaxpatch or Plantpatch creek which is shown on a plat done when he died.

Note also the land from Lafayette Tinsley which was sold to James Harris 

Later on, notice that James Harris bought land atCold CCamp. More about that later. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Palatine Tinsley and Louisa Bright

These two seem to have been married in Amherst County . See this link

Link to Tinsley Information if you search for Palatine, you will find that James M. Harris was the executor of his estate. 

Help Dating the Log Cabin - Palatine Tinsley's Inventory

From the will of Palatine Tinsley, who died in 1847. Palatine was the husband of Louisa Mandarin Bright, who married James M. Harris .

two horse ploughs
1 swingle trree and device , 8.00
5 hilling hoes $1.50
2 grubbing hoes and 12 pecks
4 axes and 2 wedges
1 old iron
2 horse ploughs
1 gray horse
1 yellow mare
2 shovels  crow bar
1 grinding stone (may be still at Holcomb Rock)
1 lot kitchen furniture 10.00
1 kettle and pots
1000 lb bacon
50 bushels corn
19 head of hogs
1 walnut bureau
1 safe
1 folding table
 8 windsor and 2 split bottom chairs
1 feather bed bedstead and furniture
1 small trundle bedstead and furniture
1 dressing able and 2 trunks
 1 lot table furniture 215.00
1 peaboard and 2 small waiters
1 pair of tons, 1 shovel and 1 pr andirons
1 slot gun and shot bag
1 pair of candlesticks and snuffers
1 lot of books
1 yoke of oxen
1 brindle cow , no horn
2 small heifer yearlings, 1 white and black cow
1 brindle cow 2 calves
1 Negro man George 35.00
1 Negro woman Abby 100,.00
LUcy a girl 500.00
Paulina a girl 300.00 

James River

Rowing on the James.

The Givens family once  lived in the house. They currently  own the book store in Lynchburg.  The story was (from Mr. Givens) that they meant to fix the house up, but spent too much time playing on the river. Mr. James Meriwether reported having a dock on Persimmon Island below the house. His wife , Margaret visited at one time, and immediately began working on the path that they had always used to get to the river.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Dating Parts of the House

On the left side of the house is the 1856 (approximately ) addition built by James Harris. It has a brick chimney , and is two big rooms with a hall, and a 3rd floor attic room .

The bay window was added to the log cabin in about 1905, and I believe the room above it was probably added later . On the far end of the upstairs room, there are logs about waist high , but only in one spot. We were told at one time that the beams in the log room possibly dated it to 1825. I haven't been able to find documentation on the cabin, although there are some tax records which might help.

I'm not clear on the age of the room on the farthest right , which is now the kitchen. It has very old beams and an enclosed staircase , with a stone fireplace. 

View of Holcomb Rock

This is the rock from the far side- probably from land owned by a neighbor, but where Mary Walker Meriwether  had a house.