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Taylor Family Homes

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: About 1722 [unknown]
Location: Orange, Virginia, United Statesmap
Surname/tag: Bloomsbury, Greenfield, Meadowfarm, Midland
Profile manager: Fred Prisley private message [send private message]
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Historic Taylor family home places in Orange County, Virginia

These are the plantations that James Taylor II (abt. 1675 - abt. 1729) and his four sons built on portions of an 8,500 acre land grant awarded to James II in July 1722 for his participation in Virginia Governor Alexander Spotswood's "Knights of the Golden Horseshoe Expedition" (aka Transmontane Expedition) of 1716. James II's grant lay in that part of newly-formed Spotsylvania County that 12 years later in 1734 would become Orange County. Family tradition says that for a time, each home had a signal tower that the families used to communicate between the homes that lay one-to-two miles apart. Only two of the four original homes survive: Bloomsbury and Midland. [1] [2]

Bloomsbury. One of the two surviving original homes. The oldest portion of this house is said to have begun construction about 1722 by James Taylor II; and family tradition says that James II gave Bloomsbury to his eldest son James Taylor III (1703-1784), but James II is also said to have resided at Greenfield, so Bloomsbury may have been built some years later by James III. The home was sold in 1791 to Elias Langham of Fluvanna County, and in 1797 to William Quarles of Bedford County. The Quarles family modified and added onto the original house, and the home was sold again in 1842 to Francis Jerdone. Then in 1964, ownership returned to the Taylor family when it was purchased by James Taylor II descendant Jaquelin E. Taylor (1904-1985), who had the house stabilized and restored. Jaquelin made a wedding gift of Bloomsbury to his wife (and sixth cousin) Helen Marie Taylor. James Taylor III, his three wives, and members of the Quarles and Jerdone families are buried at the Bloomsbury cemetery plot. [3] [4] [5] [6]

Meadowfarm. The original house was built on land that James Taylor II gave to his second son Zachary Taylor (abt. 1707 - abt. 1768). It did not survive and a second house was built on the property in 1855 either by Jaquelin P. Taylor (1797-1872), grandson of Zachary's brother Erasmus, or by Jaquelin's father Robert Taylor (1763-1845). Jaquelin had no children and turned over the 1855 house to his nephew Major Erasmus Taylor (1830-1907), who in turn left the house to his son Jaquelin P. Taylor (1861-1950). This latter Jaquelin Taylor described the original house as "a long, low frame building with dormer windows" and said that the family lived in the old house while the new house was under construction. Confederate General James Longstreet (1821-1904) made his headquarters at the latter Meadowfarm during the fall of 1863 and winter of 1864, when Major Erasmus Taylor served on his staff. The estate is owned by and was the residence for many years of James Taylor II descendant Jaquelin Erasmus Taylor and his wife (same as above). [7] [8] [9] [10]

Midland. James II's third son George Taylor (1711-1792) named his first home in Orange County Collina and little is known about it, other than it does not survive. George and his fifth son Francis Taylor (1747-1799) built a second home in 1786-1787 after the death of George's second wife Sarah Taliaferro, and named it Midland (or Middle Land in some references). This is the second of the two original surviving homes. Francis's diary details the construction of the home, where George died in 1792, and where Francis died in 1799. Francis willed Midland to his youngest brother Benjamin Taylor (1759 - abt. 1810), then residing in Kentucky, who sold it the following year to Colonel Lewis Willis of Spotsylvania County, who conveyed the property in 1803 to Richard H. Taliaferro, "whose sister, Lucy, was married to Col. Willis' son, William Champe Willis." The home then passed in 1843 to Lewis B. Williams, and was sold several more times over the years until Lewis B. Williams' great-grandson, William Clayton Williams bought it in 1935. Douglas M. Detwiler then purchased it in 1988. [11] [12] [13] [14] [15]

Greenfield. This home was built on land that James Taylor II gave to his fourth son, Erasmus Taylor (1715-1794). Some family traditions say that James II built the first house at Greenfield and that Erasmus resided there with his father and inherited it after James II died in 1729. An 1805 insurance policy described the property as a plantation house with a frame dwelling of one story high, with a rear shed roof addition and nearby kitchen, dairy, smokehouse and office. Thomas Scott purchased the property in 1832 from the estate of Erasmus's son John Taylor (1760-1826), about six years after John died, and renamed the estate Beaulieu. Thomas Scott replaced the original wood frame buildings in 1838 with the current house of brick in the Jeffersonian Classical style. In 1880, Thomas Scott left the estate to his grand-nephews Richard C. and Lewis W. Booten, the former receiving the house property and returning it to its original name of Greenfield. Richard's widow sold the home in 1913 to Florence M. Boxley, who conveyed it to A. B. and Vera Gwathmey in 1942. It was sold again in 1969 to H. P. Breese, Jr. [16] [17] [15]

Sources

  1. Antebellum Orange - The Pre-Civil War Homes, Public Buildings and Historic Sites of Orange County, Virginia, by Ann L. Miller, published by Orange County Historical Society, 1988, pp. 113-121
  2. Orange County, Va. Revisited, by Jouett Taylor Prisley, 17 Oct 1992
  3. Bloomsbury, by Descendants of James Taylor I Association, 2011
  4. Wikipedia: Bloomsbury (Orange, Virginia)
  5. Historic Homes of Northern Virginia and the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, by John W. Wayland, The McClure Company, Inc., Staunton, Virginia, 1937, pp. 384-385
  6. Bloomsbury Visit, 1993, by Jouett Taylor Prisley
  7. Virginia Forestry and Wildlife Group: Meadowfarm, Orange County, Virginia (2000-Present)
  8. Find A Grave: Meadow Farm Taylor Family Cemetery
  9. Homes and Gardens in Old Virginia, by Susanne Williams Massie, Frances Archer Christian and Garden Club of Virginia, Garrett & Massie, Inc., 1931, pp. 335-338
  10. Meadowfarm Visit, 1993, by Jouett Taylor Prisley
  11. The Construction of Midland, Excerpts of Francis Taylor's Diary, by Jouett Taylor Prisley, undated
  12. Francis Taylor Diary, Orange County, Virginia, 1786-1799
  13. Donald Robertson and his wife Rachel Rogers of King and Queen County, Virginia, etc., by William Kyle Anderson. Detroit: Winn and Hammond, printers, 1900, pp. 237-245
  14. Midland Visit, 1993, by Jouett Taylor Prisley
  15. 15.0 15.1 Orange, Virginia Area, by James Taylor I Descendants Association
  16. Greenfield Visit, 1993, by Jouett Taylor Prisley
  17. Find A Grave: Greenfield Cemetery

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