Turners Period Ends at Belle Grove

Nov. 8th 2012

Well the past three days have been somewhat of an odyssey. As I started to prepare the next chapter of Belle Grove’s history, little did I know that I would run into so many road blocks. You would think that as we got closer to the present time, information would be easier to come by. But that doesn’t seem like the case with Belle Grove’s history. I was able to find more from the 1670 – 1860’s than I have been from the 1860’s to the present. And what is so amazing its that I know that records during the Revolutionary War and the Civil War were destroyed or lost. But at least we are capturing what we can before it is lost to time.

Before our “working vacation”, we had last posted about the letter requesting amnesty to President Johnson from Carolinus Turner for his role in the Civil War. From this letter we found out that Carolinus Turner’s wife, Susan August Rose Turner had an uncle, Captain William Jameson that had served in the U.S. Navy during the war. Since then I have found out that she also had two brothers that served in the Civil War, Alexander Rose, her older brother and Dr. William Rose, her younger brother. Both served in the war and both were killed. I haven’t been able to find out which side they served on yet.

Carolinus and Susan would live at Belle Grove and have five children, Caroline “Carrie” M. Turner, Anna August Turner, George Turner, their only son, Susan Rose Turner, and Alice Pratt Turner.

Carrie Turner would marry Dr. William N. Jett in 1874. Dr. Jett was a widower with six children from his first wife, Virginia Mitchell. Dr. Jett and Carrie would have their own child, George Turner Jett in 1876. Dr. Jett, Carrie and Virginia Mitchell and three of Dr. Jett’s and Virginia’s children are buried at Emmanuel Episcopal Church located just as you enter Belle Grove Plantation.

Caroline “Carrie” M. Turner
Emmanuel Episcopal Church

Dr. William Jett
Husband of Caroline “Carrie” Turner
Emmanuel Episcopal Church

Anna Turner would marry Captain Robert L. Robb in 1869. They would have five children. Here is a note on Robert Robb. His mother, Frances Bernard Lightfoot was the daughter of Sarah “Sallie” Bernard Lightfoot, daughter of Frances Hipkins Bernard for whom the current mansion at Belle Grove was built for. One of their children, Carolinus Turner Robb would pass away just under two years old. Anna Turner Robb is also buried at Emmanuel Episcopal Church.

Sarah “Sallie” Bernard Lightfoot
Daughter of Frances “Fannie” Hipkins Bernard
Grandmother of Robert Robb

George Turner would marry Jane Murphy McGuire in 1876. They would have nine children. George and Jane are also buried at Emmanuel Episcopal Church along with their son Edward McGuire Turner and daughter Susan Rose Carter Turner Mitchell.

George Turner and Jane McGuire Turner
Emmanuel Episcopal Church

Alice Pratt Turner would marry George B. Matthews in 1875. They would have one daughter, Alice T. Matthews.

Susan Rose Turner would marry Frederick Campbell Stewart Hunter in 1874. Frederick was a lawyer in King George and would go on to become a county judge in 1880s. They would have three children, son Frederick Campbell Stewart Hunter, daughter Caroline C. Hunter and son Thomas Lomax Hunter. Thomas would grow up to do some wonderful things in his life. He would attend William and Mary College in Williamsburg and Georgetown University. In 1908 he would pass the Virginia bar and work as a lawyer in King George, Virginia. In 1929, he started writing a column for the Richmond Times-Dispatch called “As It Appears to the Cavalier”. He would write this column until his death in 1948. He also published a book called “Columns from the Cavalier” in 1935. He would serve as a delegate in the Virginia House of Delegates for King George from 1918 to 1920. During World War I, he would serve as a food administrator for King George. He was given the honor as Poet Laureate of Virginia in 1948.

Thomas Lomax Hunter
Grandson of Carolinus and Susan Turner

All three of Susan and Frederick’s children were born at Belle Grove Plantation. None of the Hunter family is buried at Emmanuel Episcopal Church. From what I have put together Susan and Frederick lived at Belle Grove with her parent from the time they were married.

In 1876, Carolinus Turner would pass away at the age of 64. He would pass away from consumption. Consumption is just another term for tuberculosis. Thanks to one of our readers, I now have a copy of Carolinus Turner’s obituary that appeared in the Alexandria Gazette on December 19, 1876 that was reprinted from the Fredericksburg Herald:


The many friends of Carolinus Turner, of King George Co., will regret to learn of his death, which occurred on Monday last at his home in that county. Mr. Turner was a large landholder, and previous to the war, owned a great many servants. He was a gentleman of excellent education, and commanded the respect and esteem of a large circle of friends.”

After the death of Carolinus Turner, it seems that Susan, his wife moved from Belle Grove to one of their other properties. From a Federal Census in 1880, I found her living alone as a widow in King George with just one laborer and one servant.

Carolinus Turner
Emmanuel Episcopal Church

At his death, Carolinus was buried at Emmanuel Episcopal Church. The land for this church was donated in 1860 by Carolinus. Just in front of his grave is also the grave of Susan Turner’s mother, Anna August Rose who passed away in 1853. Susan Turner, wife of Carolinus Turner would pass away in 1891. However, she is not buried with Carolinus or her mother. I have not been able to find where she is buried at yet.

Anna August Rose
Mother of Susan Turner
Emmanuel Episcopal Church

One note on the Church: From the deed record I recently found from the Central Rappahannock Heritage Center, when Port Conway was established there was a previous church area listed on the deed. It makes me wonder if Emmanuel was raised over a previous church site that already had a cemetery attached to it. This would explain why Anna Rose was buried there in 1853 before Emmanuel Episcopal was built in 1860.

I have not been able to find a will for Carolinus Turner. As prominent as he was, I don’t think he would have died without one. But at this time, we don’t have a copy of one. I do know that Belle Grove was passed to Susan and her husband Frederick.  They would live at Belle Grove until 1893.

There is also a court case in which a property called “Smith Mount” in Westmoreland County was said to have been given to George Turner Jett by Carolinus Turner. In this case dated 1895 between William N. Jett, Guardian  verse George Turner Jett it states that Susan Turner give to William Jett in 1878 a lot in Port Conway that had a house on it. It was for the use and benefit of Caroline M. Jett, his wife during her life and then for the benefit of Dr. Jett. It was to be given to  whoever Caroline designated by deed or will of Caroline. However Caroline died without a will in 1883, leaving one child, George Turner Jett who was now 20 years old. His only property was “Smith Mount” given to him by his grandfather Carolinus Turner. It states that the Port Conway lot is small and more suitable for a businessman. Dr. Jett at that time lived 18 miles from “Smith Mount” and wants to sell it. (I am not sure if that means Dr. Jett wants to sell “Smith Mount” or the lot at Port Conway) But George Jett is a minor. It then lists George Jett as a defendant. My guess would be that Dr. Jett wants to sell “Smith Mount” and wants George to move to Port Conway. But it looks like George doesn’t want to do so. I don’t know the outcome of this case yet.

One more note on George Turner Jett. I have found his name listed on a college catalog for William and Mary College for the session between 1991 and 1992. At the time, George would have been 15 or 16 years old. It doesn’t say if he graduated or not.

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Year of the Virginia Historic Homes | 50 Comments »

We are getting close, I can feel it!

Oct. 8th 2012

Etching in the Window at Belle Grove

Okay, this post was not planned! But I had to let you know about a find that I happened on today! As you have read in the past posting “Mystery in the Window”, we have an etching in one of the upstairs bedrooms that reads:

Carrie Turner

W (or M) Van der burgh

May 18, (18)69

This was done by Carrie (Caroline) Turner, the oldest daughter of Carolinus and Susan Turner. Back during this time, it was common for brides to be to etch their names and that of their fiancés in the window of their homes with their diamond engagement ring. The only problem with is etching is that Carrie Turner didn’t marry Van der burgh and she didn’t marry in 1869. She married Dr. William Jett, a widower and local doctor and they married in 1876.

So the mystery is who is Van der burgh? There have been many theories. One is that it was a close friend of hers that was at the house to celebrate her 21st birthday. Another is that it was a beau that she was to marry, but didn’t for some reason. I don’t think the birthday etching is right. The etching was marked May 18, 1869. Carrie was born on July 1o, 1848. It would have been a little early to be celebrating her birthday.  So could it be a beau that she was to marry?

I have spent the last several months trying to figure out this mystery. I first started looking for families in the area and in Virginia named Van der burgh. I hit a dead-end. No names under Van der burg in the state of Virginia during this time. It would have been kind of unusual since most daughters married within families of the area or close by. So then I started to think about the time and what was going on during this time.

The 1869 was just after the end of the Civil War. At the start of the war in 1861, Carrie would have been 13. She didn’t marry until she was 28 years old. For a young girl during the Victorian age, she would have been considered old. But after the Civil War, the local population of men had dropped dramatically. So her options would have been limited. That could explain her late marriage.

Then just recently, I found the hand written letter from Carolinus Turner asking for amnesty for being part of the Confederate side of the war. In this letter, Carolinus talks about how he met General Burnside and General Abercrombie, both Union Generals. He also states that he and his family remained quietly at home and that his home (Belle Grove) had been behind Union lines for most of the war.

We also think that Belle Grove served as a headquarters for the Union Army during their time in Port Conway. We think this is correct because the house bears no scars from shoots being fired at it from the river as it had happened to all the other plantations in the area.

So what if during the Union Army’s time in Port Conway, Carrie met someone named W (M) Van der burgh? It could have been a soldier from another state. But which state? What unit? What side? Until that letter I had no idea. I did have some help just recently too from another blogger who gave me a link for a family of Van der burghs out of New York. (Thank you!)

With the knowledge of General Burnside being in the area, I started looking for a Union unit from New York that may have been in the area. I found one from another bloggers post. Emerging Civil War is the blog and the post is “The Other Port Royal” posted on November 15, 2011. (http://emergingcivilwar.com/2011/11/15/the-other-port-royal/) In the posting it states:

“On April 18, 1862, the Union army entered Fredericksburg and occupied it through August 1862.  In the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, is a report from Acting Master Nelson Provost, United States Navy, commanding the USS Anacostia to General Ambrose Burnside about the August 15-16, 1862 “Expedition from Fredericksburg to Port Royal, VA.”  The report states that Provost had the steamer with its crew and 25 men of the 9th New York Infantry (Hawkins Zouaves) proceed down the river toward Port Royal because of reports that the Confederates had held regular communication with Baltimore and Richmond. The expedition landed at several plantations along the way, which were deserted by their proprietors.  Contrabands told him that recruits for the rebel army were ferried across the river from Port Conway to Port Royal with arms, goods, and stores.”

Yes, I had a unit! Now I needed to find a muster list. It took me most of the day to locate one. Finally I found one. The 9th New York Infantry served the following in our area:

  • Expedition to Port Royal August 15-16 (Co. “H”)
  • Rappahannock River August 15 (Co. “H”)
  • Battle of Fredericksburg, Va., December 12-15.
  • (Co. “G”) at Burnsides’ Headquarters October 31, 1862, to January, 1863.)

Then looking through the muster list, I found ten companies (Co. A – C0. K). I slowly scanned through the list. Under Company A, I found the following:

  • Vanderburgh, Richard A 28 * Pvt.

Could this be the Van der burgh we are looking for? Could he have been on the Expedition to Port Royal or could she have met him when her father met General Burnside? If they met, she would have been 14 and he would have been 29. Could they have made friends and wrote to each other for three years? If they were to have married in 1869, she would have been just shy of her 21st birthday and he would have been 36. Could he have died just before they were to marry? Dying at 36 wasn’t unheard of during that time. Could he have been wounded and died due to those wounds?

Now my task is to look for personal information on Richard and see if I can confirm anything. And I also have been studying the etching in the window. Is that a “W” or “M” or a quickly etched “R”?

Close Up
You be the judge
Is it a “W” “M” or “R”?

If we hit a dead-end again on this, I think we are going to have to call the real History Detectives!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Year of the Virginia Historic Homes | 46 Comments »

Pieces of the Past

Sep. 19th 2012

Belle Grove Plantation
during the restoration process
1997- 2003

When Belle Grove went through the restoration process between 1997 to 2003, the manor house was taken apart and restored piece by piece. The construction crew took off the slate roof that was crushing the house and took the house down to the studs. While they were working they discovered two pieces of paper. These pieces of paper look to date back to the Turner family (1839 – 1900).

The first piece of paper is a small section of an envelope. You can’t make out the full address, return address or post mark. From what we can see, it looks to be addressed to S.A. There was only one S.A. during the Turner family’s time. Susan Augusta Rose Turner, wife of Carolinus Turner. Could this have been for her?

The second piece of paper looks to be an advertising card for “Mourning Dyeing”  “A Specialty”. The company was established in 1868. The card is for “R.C. Douglas” and the address is for 1336 14th St. Bet. N St. and R.I. Ave. I have looked for this company or the representative, but I haven’t been very successful. But this isn’t the best part of the paper.

Written across this piece of paper seems to be some kind of note. Who it is written to or the exact message is unclear. There are missing bits of paper and some of the writing is too faint to read. Here is what I can make out of the writing:

“If you _____________________ you _________

knife can cut in too.

Kiss me quick and kiss me ____________ (looks like curr ?)

ing (looks like a carry over from the last word) I think I hear my mother (or could be brother)


Hear I sta (could be stand) ____________ little ________ (looks like knife)

come and ____________ little ________

lifes. Dear little _________________ sweat

as a rose you ___________________

no body.”

My thought is that since this card is dated around 1868, could this be a note to Carrie from the unknown person “Vanderburgh” whose name appears in the window with Carrie’s? Could this be a note from Carrie to “Vanderburgh”? Or could it not be a love note at all, but a note of distress? Maybe a note contemplating suicide? Maybe it could be Carrie writing of her sadness after losing “Vanderburgh”.

Etching in the Window
“Carrie Turner
W (or M) Van der burgh
May 18, 1869″

I guess we have another mystery to add to the writing in the window!

Posted by Michelle Darnell | in Year of the Virginia Historic Homes | 47 Comments »