LANCASTER COUNTY, one of Virginia's oldest, still retains its original records thanks to court clerks who carried them home to protect them during both the Revolutionary War
and the Civil War. Lancaster was formed from a portion of Northumberland in 1651-52 and encompassed all the land that is now the counties of Richmond and Middlesex. There
were two court houses, the Upper Court House and the Lower Court House, but in 1738 inhabitants petitioned the Governor to move the court house to a more central location;
consequently the first one was built in Lancaster and was located across the street from the present building.
One of the most prominent men in Lancaster County was Robert "King" Carter (1663 - 1732), born at Corotoman Plantation. He married twice, once to Judith Armistead of Hesse
in Gloucester County in 1688 and second to Elizabeth Landon Willis in 1701. Carter had 15 children by his two wives and acquired about 20,000 acres of land in the Rappahannock
River region of Virginia, including Nomini Hall, a 6,000-acre plantation acquired in 1709. He also owned 110,000 acres in the Northern Neck and additional property west of the
Blue Ridge Mountains. At his death on 8/4/1732 he was buried at Christ Church between his two wives. His estate consisted of almost 300,000 acres of land, 1,000 slaves and
For more information on Robert "King" Carter and his life visit HISTORIC CHRIST CHURCH in Lancaster County.
THE LANCASTER COUNTY COURTHOUSE COMPLEX
THE LANCASTER COUNTY COURT- HOUSE, built in 1860-61, is a two-story, three-bay brick structure laid in
five-course American bond with a gable roof covered in slate. Four massive columns support the pedimented roof over a
brick front entrance, similar to the temple-form courthouse designed by Thomas Jefferson. The builders salvaged
flagstones on the floor and an old chair known as "The High Sheriff's Chair" from the 18th century courthouse.
This earlier structure is shown on an 1809 survey that indicates a location just east of the old clerk's office on the south
side of Route 3.
THE JOB CARTER ORDINARY OR LANCASTER TAVERN, ca. 1800, is a late Federal Period 2 ½-story, three-bay,
side-hall plan structure with wood framing and a brick exterior end chimney laid in Flemish bond. According to 18th
century records it was built across from the old courthouse square. A large tavern, called the Upper Tavern, stood
approximately where the present courthouse is today.
Sitting directly on the main road, the ordinary has been remodeled and serves as a popular restaurant and historic inn
and B&B. THE LANCASTER TAVERN is listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places.
According to a 1983 inventory by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, there are 22 major structures in the Courthouse Historic District, including those listed here. As
of 2010, another courthouse is being constructed next to the 1860s building shown below.
THE OLD CLERK'S OFFICE was built around 1745 and is typical of others of the period. The original 1 ½-story
section was constructed on a stepped water table laid in Flemish bond and covered with a gable roof. It has a box
cornice and replacement window frames with six-over-six hung sash.
In 1833 an addition to the west side was also laid in Flemish bond. Lintels similar to those on the earlier building were
also used on the addition. This section also has six-over-six hung sash. The Clerk's office housed the county records
from 1845 to 1937 and is now under the auspices of the Mary Ball Washington Museum and Library.
THE 18TH CENTURY JAIL is located on the eastern side of the courthouse green. The original two-story section
was constructed in 1743 of brick laid in Flemish bond. In 1820 a second section, laid in three-course American
bond, was built to replace a burned portion of the earlier structure. It has a gable roof covered in wood shingles
with end chimneys. There are six bays with a connecting hyphen. It is one of few remaining 18th century jails in
the country and is today part of the Mary Ball Washington Museum & Library complex.
THE LANCASTER HOUSE, built in the 1840s, is now the MARY BALL WASHINGTON MUSEUM. The two-story,
five-bay, wood frame structure with end chimneys has a gable roof of standing seam metal. The center pedimented
portico with dentils and square posts may be a later addition. A two-story wood frame barn with an end opening and
a gable roof, a small wood-frame shed, and other ruins dating to the 19th & 20th centuries stand behind the house.
The Lancaster House was home to the family of Civil War soldier, George Cornwell who enlisted in 1862 at age 36.
After the war he operated a store next to his home and one of his sons continued to operate it after George's death.
The building is now owned by the Lancaster County Woman's Club.
Bewdley, Road front and side views, 2010
BEWDLEY was built ca. 1730 on property owned by the Ball family but burned in 1917 and was replaced by the current house. The five-bay frame dwelling is said to be the only
one in the United States with two sets of dormers, three in each set, protruding from the high-pitched roof. The home originally had four massive chimneys, one at each corner of
the house, and the present house was built in similar fashion, though without the chimneys, sometime after the fire. It is clad in weatherboard and windows on the first floor are
nine-over-nine and six-over-six in the dormers.
Major James Ball (1678 - 10/13/1754), son of Captain William Ball and first cousin of Mary Ball, mother of George Washington, built the house. James Ball married three times, first
in 1699 to Elizabeth Howson (?? - 1/22/1704-05), secondly to Mary Conway Daingerfield (?? - 9/15/1730) and thirdly to Mary Ann Bertrand in 1742. He served as a Burgess from
Lancaster County and was a vestryman of Christ Church. At his death he left the house to his son, Colonel James Ball II (1718 - 1789), who left it to his son, Colonel James Ball III
(1755 - 1825), both members of the Virginia House of Delegates. Captain James Kendall Ball (Living 1865), a member of the 9th Virginia Cavalry, CSA, owned the house during the
Civil War. The area's first steamboat visited the wharf here.
EPPING FOREST, or THE FOREST PLANTATION, was originally built in 1680 but no longer stands. It was replaced by
the current five-bay frame dwelling covered by a roof of standing-seam metal and entered through a pedimented center
porch. Although it is known as the home of George Washington's mother, Mary Ball, she left at age three and never
The house was built by Colonel Joseph Ball I (5/24/1649 - 1711) on land owned by his father, Colonel William Ball (Before
1649). Colonel Joseph Ball married twice, first to Elizabeth Romney and second to Mary Montague Johnson. He had
several children and a step-daughter, Eliza Johnson, the daughter of his second wife. In 1708, after his first wife's death,
Joseph deeded the farm to his son, Joseph Ball II (?? - 1762, London) but retained the right to live there until his own
death. In his will, dated 6/25/1711, he bequeathed a portion of his plantation to his second wife, Mary Montague Johnson,
for the remainder of her life. (Lancaster County WB10/88)
Epping Forest, 1800s, Photo 2009
Holyoke, Road front & rear dependency, Photos 2009
HOLYOKE, just across the road from Epping Forest, was built on property owned by the Ball family by Robert Toler Dunaway and his second wife, Mary Dolly Dunaway
sometime during the 1840s. Their daughter, Mary F. Dunaway, married James E. Forester and inherited the house. They had no children so at Mary's death Holyoke passed to
James and Mary's only niece. Subsequent owners have maintained the property as a working farm.
The two-story, five-bay structure is clad in weatherboards and built over an English basement with an original brick floor and two windows on either side of the front door. Brick
steps lead to the entry, covered by a two-tier porch with a railing at the second level and a single attic window above. Two interior end chimneys once served six fireplaces, but
one has been covered over. Original pine and oak flooring remains in most of the house, which was totally modernized and restored in the 1990s with a fully equipped kitchen.
Dependencies include a small two-bay frame house, clad in weatherboard, with a large end chimney and roofing of standing seam metal. Standing to the rear of the main house,
this building may have housed an outdoor kitchen. Also to the rear of the house is a small burial ground with tombs of Robert Dunaway and members of his family.
LOCUSVILLE was built sometime before 1838 by Charles Rogers (?? - 1841) on a portion of the Ball family's
Millenbeck Plantation. According to the present owner, the name of the house was derived from the Latin
word, locus, meaning special place.
In 1787 Charles Rogers was taxed on 200 acres of land and buildings in Corottoman Neck, acquired 110 acres by
inheritance, and by 1838 an increased property value suggested construction of a house. By 1840 Rogers
owned 310 acres and 25 slaves and was ranked in the upper 10% of the county's landowners. He died in 1841
and his son, John A. Rogers, was placed with a guardian, Dr. William H. Kirk. In 1854 John was the owner of 205
acres inherited from his father. The original house burned in 1854 and John built the existing two - story,
five-bay Greek Revival style dwelling in 1855.
Locusville Farm, Road Front, Photo 2010
The epitome of a southern planter, Rogers lived in affluence before the Civil War and, with the help of slave labor, raised corn, wheat and tobacco. Like many other planters, he
was unable to maintain the same level of prosperity after the war and in 1864 his account book noted that 23 slaves had been freed. After the war planters were forced to use paid
labor, and as profits declined Locusville and plantations like it suffered major losses. In 1877 Rogers sold off 100 acres of a 305 acre parcel he owned with his guardian, William
Kirk. By 1880 he owned 417 acres, all in the Ottoman area, and by 1906 his land had been reduced by sales to 320 acres. In 1918 the house and 250 acres were sold and by 1972 all
that remained of the original tract was 6.07 acres and the house. The current owners  have placed Locusville on the National Register and operate it as a working farm
producing organically grown produce sold at a farm-store located on the property.
Locusville is a central-passage plan house, clad in pine boards with a gable roof covered with cedar shakes. It is of frame construction over a brick foundation of Common bond
and the entry is covered by a Greek Revival style porch supported by paired columns. A rear entry is located on the east side of the house. Original flooring is random-width
pine and walls and ceilings retain original plaster. The first floor has an entrance hall with a stairway on the north side, a north room with a closet on each side of the fireplace
and a south room with a fireplace, original mantel and a glazed brick hearth. The second floor is of the same plan and all three bedrooms have mantels and fireplace surrounds.
The third floor, with the same placement of rooms, contains three bedrooms, each with knee walls and 7' ceilings. The rear ell, of frame construction over a brick foundation laid in
American bond, contains three rooms, one on each floor. All framing is mortised and tenoned with wooden pegs and marked with Roman numerals. None of the original
dependencies remain. A family cemetery on the property is said to contain no graves since all known burials were re-interred at nearby churches.
Merry Point House, 1767, River front, Photo 2009
THE MERRY POINT HOUSE, at Merry Point on the Corrotoman River, was built in 1767 on part of the
Carter family tract known as Barford, or Upper Plantation. A center section, added around 1820, was
destroyed by fire and rebuilt. In 1940 another section, a studio with large windows and a high ceiling,
was added. The house is clad in beaded weatherboard and the roof has fish scale shingles on the
oldest part and cedar shingles on the other two sections. There are six chimneys. Dependencies include
a guest cottage with two bedrooms, a tool house, a pump house with a brick lined well and a building
on the river that has served as a repair shop, grocery store and a bootlegging operation.
James Gordon, of Verville, built the house as a wedding present to his daughter Mary and her
husband, James Waddell, a noted blind preacher. It sits, along with its dependencies, on a bluff
overlooking the Corotoman, once a busy commercial river. The Merry Point Ferry, that crosses the
western end of the Corrotoman River from Merry Point to Ottoman, operates from the site of an 1835
steamboat landing within sight of the house. The area was once known as the Cotton Warehouse and
in earlier times contained stores, a slave block, a post office and a steamboat dock and cannery. A ferry
was operating here before October of 1753 and was privately owned until December of 1820 when it
was established as a public ferry by the county. Slave ships docked here and the remains of a slave
auction house remain in the yard.
Verville, 1745, front view, Photo 1987, VDHR #51-26
VERVILLE, on property once owned by the Carter family, was built about 1745 by Scotsman James
Gordon I (1714 - 1768), who amassed a 460 acre tract at Merry Point between the east and west
branches of the Corotoman River where he established his plantation. The original portion of the 1
½-story house has a central passage plan with two rooms on each floor. Built of brick laid in English
bond below the water table and in Flemish bond above, the house originally had a gable roof and two
interior gable-end chimneys; however the walls in the original portion were later raised to accommodate
a gambrel roof. Some of the wood in the central portion dates to 1690. On the first floor the traditional
hall and parlor had molded cornices, flush-board wainscoting, pedestal chair rails and distinctive
mantels, while mantels on the second floor suggest a late 18th or early 19th century remodeling. The
remaining five acres of the original tract retain archaeological remains of most of the original
dependencies. Later outbuildings of Colonial design include a decorative well head, two garden tool
sheds and two small barns.
The property today  is in private hands and the house, barely visible from the road, sits in a
bucolic setting not far from the river with sheep roaming the fields amidst old shade trees.
Glassco, Lawrence A., The Glas(s)cock-Glassco Sage
Lancaster County WB10/88
Lancaster, Robert Alexander, Jr., Historic Virginia Houses and Churches, Philadelphia and London, 1915
Loth, Calder, The Virginia Landmarks Register, Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Ed. 4, University of Virginia Press, 1999
Mandell, Gayle N.; Interviews with owners: Bewdley, Mrs. Edward M. Eppes; Merry Point House, Mrs. Stephen C. Vorhees; Locustville, Sharon Courson; Lynhams, Catherine
Bennett; Verville, Mrs. Ammon Dunton, Jr.
Tyler, Lyon Gardiner; Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography
Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Historic Architectural Survey Report of Lancaster County, Virginia, 1997
Virginia Department of Historic Resources; Selected records
Voorhees, Mrs. Stephen C., Research Notes
http://www.simonsonva.com [Simonson House & photo]
(c) 2010 - Website & Photos by Gayle N. Mandell. Use of content or photos is prohibited without written permission.