Sunday, May 31, 2015

Ben Lomond Historic Site...and the Virginia Carters

In May we visited the Ben Lomond Historic Site in Northern Virginia.

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Although it was a quick tour due, its history had huge beginnings. In fact, I basically gave my family the entire tour! Would you like to time travel to the era of the Carter family of Virginia? Let's go!
The story of this small historic site is huge because the land was originally owned by Robert "King" Carter of 17th century Virginia fame. Robert Carter earned the nickname "king" as he amassed huge land holders in early Virginia.
In the early 18th century, this particular site that we visited was part of a huge inheritance Robert Carter's grandson inherited at a young age. This young man, Robert Carter III, was provided a prestigious educational opportunity in London that he squandered. Returning to Virginia uneducated, he returned in shame and faced lack of opportunity. He could neither marry well nor land a prestigious spot as a burgess. No one would associate with him much less vote for him. (Education and manners were exceedingly important to the Virginians.)
Robert Carter III journeyed to Annapolis, Maryland where he married well. His wife's name was Francis Tasker, whom I protrayed in one of our homeschool history presentations and whom I was prepared to portray in a first person interpretation workshop I attended if called upon. I have an absolute fascination with this lady, and her husband because their love story and how they wonderfully influenced society is so grand. 
A great book to read about Robert Carter III is The First Emancipator: The Forgotten Story of Robert Carter, the Founding Father who Freed His Slaves by Andrew Levy. The book was highly recommended to me by Gowan Pamphlet when I was visiting him at Colonial Williamsburg a few years ago. Gowan Pamphlet was a freed slave in the 18th century Williamsburg who became a Baptist preacher.  (I highly recommend his programs at Colonial Williamsburg.) More details on this book and our visits to Carter historical sites we have visited will be collected into one blog post soon.
When Robert Carter III died, his land was divided among his heirs. Also all of his slaves had been freed, so his heirs did not inherit any slaves. Only land. Sadly his descendants did not follow in their father's footsteps. Instead they purchased slaves of their own.
I've already mentioned a descendent of Robert Carter III who lived on land at the site of the Battle of Manassas. (You can read about our visit here and here with more information to come specifically about the Carters.)
We've also toured Oatlands Plantation (blogged about here), which was owned by another descendant of Robert Carter III.
Now to that list we can add Ben Lomand Historic Site.  Robert Carter III, who had named this land Cancer Plantation, died in 1804. In 1830 his grandson, Benjamin Tasker Chinn, assumed ownership, bringing his ten slaves to work the land. He built the structures now seen on the property (although they had been rebuilt after the war).

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In 1838 he married a cousin, Edmonia Randolph Carter, who named her new home after her ancestors' Scottish home, Ben Lomond. He leased the land to the Pringle family who lived there during the Civil War. The structures were used as a hospital during the Battle of Manassas, as was most any available building near the site of a battle. It is only a couple of miles away from the battle site where an elderly Carter cousin died in her home when gunfire and artillery penetrated the walls.

When we visited I was participating in Me Made May so I showed off some of my sewing in The Old Rose Garden.

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Unfortunately the roses were just past peak on our visit but I can tell they were gorgeous when they had been in full bloom!

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They are the one of the largest collections of antique roses in the Washington DC area. Unfortunately the roses have nothing to do with the history of this land. They were planted here in 1996. At least they are a nice setting for viewing the back of the Ben Lomond house!

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