Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Berkley Plantation

Day two brought us to the beautiful Berkley Plantation, which is said to be the oldest 3-story brick house in Virginia. Site of the First Official Thanksgiving in America in 1619 It is the Birthplace of William Henry Harrison, 9th U.S. President and Benjamin Harrison V, Signer of the Declaration of Independence
Ancestral Home of Benjamin Harrison, 23rd U.S. president. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were among its notable guests. The home is where Taps was first composed and played.

In 1744, there was a terrible accident in one of the upstairs rooms.
During a stormy evening in 1744, William Harrison 1V and two of his daughters were trying to shut a window in a bedroom which overlooks the James River. A fluke bolt of lightening came through the window and struck all three of them killing them, but missed Harrison's infant son, Benjamin Harrison V, who was being held by one of the daughters. The baby survived, thanks to a physician who happened to be a dinner guest. Benjamin grew to be an important leader and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and was the father and grandfather of two United States Presidents; William Henry Harrison (9th) and Benjamin Harrison (23rd).

During the Civil War General McCellan's Federal Troops took over Berkeley plantation and used it as his headquarters. The entire Union army (consisting of 140,000 men)camped on the property in 1862. The cellar was used as a holding cell for Confederate soldiers, and the rooms in the mansion were used as a hospital. During this time the plantation was visited by President Abraham Lincoln. A man by the name of John Jamieson served as a drummer boy for McCellan. The plantation was later purchased by him. His son Malcolm inherited the estate in 1927. The Jamieson family still lives at Berkley today.

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