Although our primary research focus is on recovering information from the “burned records” of 1885 and prior, we are also committed to preservation of every time period. Old houses and the land upon which they stand have stories to tell that deserve to be preserved. One such property is the house (and lots) at contemporary address 1226 Main Street in the historic river town of West Point, VA. There are many mysteries to unravel so we hope you enjoy this brief introduction to a few documents and sources which give insights into those for whom this space was once significant. This tiny town is a treasure chest of history dating back to the pre-Colonial era which continues to inspire resilience.
1888 King William Land Book: Corporation of West Point was listed in the tax record (no building, value of lot 946 was $130).
1889 King William Land Book: Captain Barnett Jones is not listed for lots 946 & 947, but he does own lots 350 & 352 at 6th and Main with a building valued at $1650 which was substantial for that year. His residence at the time is listed as New Kent. Mystery 1—who was living in that house?
1890-1891 King William Land Book: In addition to lots 350 & 352, Captain Jones owned lot 60 on “B Street.” This is the first year property owners are separated by the false social construct of “race.” In 1891, the land below B Street is also listed with him from the Commonwealth of Virginia. B or Railroad Street was the road along the Pamunkey River that leads to the York. As far as we know, the road is still public so take a stroll and join us in the effort to preserve and protect the town’s early history.
1892-1895 King William Land Book: Captain Jones lives in James City County but he owns several lots and houses including lots 946, 947 & 948. *Captain Jones Sr. passed away in 1894 in Toano, Virginia.
1896 King William Land Book: Lots 946 & 947 are listed as “delinquent” in the tax records to “Capt. B. Jones Estate.”
1897-1903 King William Land Book: The “Capt. B. Jones Estate” continues to be listed for the lots but not any buildings. What was on those lots? Oyster packing? Former slave cabins? Early maps hold clues but research continues.
1906 King William Land Book: The property drops from view in 1904 & 1905 in the land book, but in 1906 it is listed with a note that it is owned by G. Post from W.B. Edwards by deed.
1907-1909 King William Land Book: G. Post, land value $225 but no value for buildings.
Part of what we love most about researching historic properties is learning about the ways the land was used, with or without a building, how it was acquired, and details about the PEOPLE who are significant to the property’s history. One of the early owners of the lots, Captain Barnett Jones, was labeled the “oyster king” of the York River. A few quick facts for this introduction with early newspaper articles to follow:
- Barnett Jones Sr. was born September 11, 1811 in Staten Island, New York. He died in Toano, Virginia in 1894. He had eight children with his wife Sarah whom he married in 1844. *update–apparently he had two wives named Sarah but 8 kids total.
- In 1870, he was living in Stonehouse, VA at the time of the ratification of the 15th Amendment. His occupation was boatman and G.W. Richardson was part of his household.
- His wife Sarah passed away in 1891.
- One of his sons was Barnett C. Jones, born 1858 and died 1899 in James City County, VA.
Another early owner of the lots was George Washington Post (born 1860-died 1920) from King & Queen County, VA. He sold the lots to Leland Roane Treat, son of Morgan Treat. He owned Treat Hardware. We still have a courthouse field trip in the works, but it appears Leland built the house circa 1913.
The house is listed in the historic district application as 1224 Main; a few house numbers have changed since the application was submitted due to new construction along “D” Street.
This “snippet” is brought to you by REACH Consulting to encourage preservation, curiosity, and a passion for the Town of West Point’s hidden history. George Post was also a waterman. Our hope is the community will work together to preserve artifacts from the house AND the land. Clearly this space was tied to our long history as a port and central oyster “war” ground. It would be a shame to let all of the artifacts slip away. Modern readers have a hard time understanding how not only the history of people of color was erased, but also the contributions of Northern “carpetbaggers” to the place we now call home. Inclusive storytelling requires that we open the door to the stories that were intentionally hidden for generations.
Stay tuned for additional updates and the full article about the “oyster king” Captain Jones, his housemate G.W. Richardson, this historic land and beautiful home . . . . every story, every ancestor. We promise it is a story of intrigue, an embattled last will, court battle and facts long forgotten.