REACH has adopted the 7 tenets of the History Relevance value statement. One core value is engaged citizens. As we discover “brick walls” in our research or hear from other individuals or organizations with an unsolved research interest in the three rivers region, we will share them as a history mystery.
Okay local history nerds, let’s work together to introduce the past to the present! Are you an amateur FBI agent? Obsessed with unanswered questions? Do you love digging in documents or underground? Then this series is for you. Whether it is ghost stories, unidentified photos, places, objects or names that seem to have disappeared from the local narrative, this is a chance to collaborate and play history FBI.
The facts and nothing but the facts . . .
- 1863: Festus King purchased lots 432, 433 and 434 from the West Point Land Company (King William County burned records, Book 16 i627)
- 1873: Festus King is still listed in the tax records for lots 432, 433 and 434 (residence King William, total value $150 with no buildings).
- 1874: Lot 432 where West Point Antiques now stands is not listed. John DeFarges is listed for lots 433 and 434 (value of lots $400, no buildings); Fritz Schroeder has lot 431
- 1876-1877: John DeFarges still has lots 433 and 434 (total value $1400, building $1000) and Fritz Schroeder is the taxpayer for lot 431. Lot 432 however is now listed with Allison White & Company as the taxpayer ($1000 in value is added in 1877 for improvements on the lots, total value $2550, buildings $2000).
- 1878-1884: Allison White & Company has the same lots, total value $4750, buildings $3100). Allison White (pictured below) was in the lumber and coal business. He was a representative in the 35th Congress from Pennsylvania and formed a partnership with Charles and Edward Berwind (photo credit Julian Vannerson, Library of Congress, Public Domain).
Allison White & Company is listed in the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway Directory (1882) as a lumber dealer and sawmill in West Point, Virginia.
- 1885: In the tax record, Allison White & Company still has several lots, but lot 432 (current location of West Point Antiques) is now listed on a separate line–total value $1400, value of building $1250. One mystery involves a newspaper article in 1881 which indicates there was a fire resulting in $20,000 worth of loss at the sawmill. Was the building on lot 432 the company’s office?
The Daily Dispatch, Richmond, Virginia, July 09, 1881
- 1886: Allison White & Company is no longer listed on the tax roll. Allison White died April 5, 1886.
- 1887-1891: These are definitely part of the mystery years, though research continues. We have not yet located lot 432 in the tax records for those years.
- 1892-1893: In the King William County Tax Record, Edwin Wilkinson is now listed as the taxpayer for lot 432 (total value $1700, building $1500).
- 1894-1895: Taxpayer listed is now Mrs. S.V. Pemberton who resides in Richmond (total value $1700, building $1500). The notes in the tax record indicate “from E. Wilkinson by his direction.”
On the Sanborn Fire Insurance Map (1895) the building on lot 432 is listed as the Exchange Hotel:
- 1896: Taxpayer is listed as E. Wilkinson (total value $850, building $700) and the notes indicate “from H.I. Lewis Trustee by deed).
- 1897-1905: E. Wilkinson is listed for lot 432 (total value $850, building $700)
- 1906-1907 : Lot 432 is not listed in the tax record.
- 1908: Lot 432 is now divided in halves: A.S. and A.J. Baylor own 1/2 of 432, lot valued at $58.50 and building at $1000, total value $1058 (notes indicate $1000 added for improvements; P.B. Shelton and A.J. Walcott own 1/2 of 432 total value of $58.50 (no building).
- 1909: P.B. Shelton and A. J. Walcott, 1/2 of lot 432, value $175 (no building); A. G. Baylor is not listed in the tax record for 1909.
The mystery . . .
King William County Property Cards indicate that the current building on lot 432 which is West Point Antiques was built in 1921. For purposes of this mystery series, our research ends in 1909. If the current building is on the half that did not have a building in 1908, what happened to the other one valued at $1000?
What happened to the three story Exchange Hotel and who was Mrs. S. V. Pemberton from Richmond? Did she manage the hotel? Why did E. Wilkinson list her as the taxpayer at “his direction?”
Lot 432 has a long history. How wonderful that the space is now occupied by West Point Antiques! Stop by 706 Main Street in West Point, Virginia and discover all that the three rivers region has to offer, past and present.
The History Mystery series is intended to spark conversations and get the community engaged in local historical research and preservation. If you have information to help solve this Three Rivers History Mystery, comment or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
As additional information is discovered, we will post updates! Please support your local museums, libraries, historical societies and antique stores in the three rivers region. Keep calm and do history. 🙂
UPDATE: January 25, 2019
We know one other thing about Mrs. S.V. Pemberton–in an 1888 ad, she is the proprietor of the Grove Hotel (West Point, Virginia, and King William county. 1888, Thomas P. Bagby):
Pictured below is a sketch of the Grove Hotel provided by Pollard Fox in Recollections of Early West Point by Mrs. Mary Lipscomb (1931):
Next mystery? The Huntington House, also known as New’s Hotel on the 2 acre tavern lot. Were the Grove and the Huntington House hotels the same place or two different buildings in West Point’s early history? We shall see. 🙂