7 Year Tea Party Winners: Susan Craft's winner of her trilogy novels - The Chamomile, Laurel, and Cassia is: Lucy Reynolds, The winner of a copy of The Backcountry Brides is: Tammy Cordery, the winner of a silver quill charm is: Kathy Maher, Choice of one of three books by Carrie Fancett Pagels in paperback: Joy Ellis, A Bouquet of Brides Collection by Pegg Thomas winner is: Becky Smith, Janet Grunst's Selah-Award winning novel, A Heart Set Free, is: Sherry Moe.

Friday, August 17, 2012

BERKELEY PLANTATION ~ The Rest of The Story By Janet Grunst


“The Rest Of The Story”

Front of Berkeley Plantation Mansion
Last month’s post introduced how the 8000 acre parcel that became Berkeley Plantation was acquired, settled, became the official site of the first Thanksgiving in America, and was purchased in the 18th century by the Harrison family.

William Henry Harrison - Our 9th President
Continuing the legacy at Berkeley Plantation, Benjamin Harrison V married Elizabeth Bassett with whom he had seven children. One son, William Henry Harrison was born at Berkeley Plantation, and though originally pursued a career in medicine he had military aspirations, and gained fame fighting the Indians at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811. He later settled in Indiana and became Secretary to the Northwest Territories and its Delegate to Congress. He is probably better known as (until Ronald Reagan) the oldest man to be elected to the Presidency. Though he was our ninth President, it was of short duration. He gave a ninety minute speech at his inauguration on a cold damp day, not adequately dressed for the occasion and with no hat. He caught cold which went into pneumonia and he died thirty-two days later ― the first President to die in office.

Benjamin Harrison - Our 23rd Preisident
Notably, America’s first ten Presidents were guests at Berkeley Plantation. The grandson of William Henry Harrison, Benjamin Harrison also served as our twenty-third President though he never lived at Berkeley as he was from Indiana

The Civil War

During the Civil War, Union troops under the command of General George B. McClellan along with 140,000 troops occupied Berkeley Plantation. That is a staggering number, but when you walk the estate’s vast lands it’s easier to imagine.

During the occupation, in the summer of 1862, Abraham Lincoln visited Berkeley Plantation twice to meet with General McClellan and review the troops. That same summer General Daniel Butterfield, a man who had risen through the ranks from Private in the New York State Militia to Major General and Chief of Staff of the Army of the Potomac, was encamped with McClellan at Berkeley. They had come through some very costly and difficult campaigns where many thousands of casualties took place.


Gen. Daniel Butterfield
One can imagine the chaos on a battlefield where thousands of men are attempting to take direction from their leaders. It was a common practice that Commanders had individualized bugle calls to minimize confusion among their troops. On July 2, 1862, while the troops were bivouacked at Harrison’s Landing at Berkeley, General Butterfield, despondent over the loss of so many men, charged Private Oliver Wilcox Norton, his bugler to alter his particular bugle sound, lengthening some notes and shortening others. The result ― “Taps”, probably the singularly most known and used bugle melody was born. For the past 150 years many have heard and associated those somber twenty-four notes as our national song of remembrance.

During the Civil War the third floor of the mansion served as a hospital and the basement as a prison.

After the Civil War the Harrison family was not able to regain ownership of Berkeley. It passed through several owners and fell into disrepair. Berkeley Plantation was bought in 1907 by a Scotsman, John Jamieson who ironically had served as a drummer boy in the Army under General McClellan. His son, Malcolm and his wife Grace have restored the plantation and mansion and filled it with beautiful 18th century antiques. Berkeley Plantation is still owned by the Jamieson family. Like many other waterfront Virginia Georgian homes, it has a center hall with the front door facing the drive and the back door facing the river.

Garden Path toward The James River
The Berkeley grounds are extensive and something to behold with its gardens and walkways. A wonderful fragrance emanates from the ten acres of formal terraced boxwood gardens overlooking farmland and extending a quarter mile to the James River. Although this national historic treasure is privately owned, it is open to the public.

Garden Path toward Back of Mansion
Chippendale Gazebo


  1. Thanks for sharing all this wonderful history. I love finding out so much when I stop by your blog.
    Paula O(kyflo130@yahoo.com)

  2. Thanks Paula, We have so many great contributors who love to study and share about our country's fascinating history.

    1. Love this plantation, Janet--hope we can go there together sometime too!


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