xt7c2f7jqg0w https://nyx.uky.edu/dips/xt7c2f7jqg0w/data/mets.xml Smith, Margaret P. Crooks, 1873- 1920  books b92-260-31825896 English Richmond Press, Printers, : [Richmond, Va. : Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Yorktown (Va.) Old Yorktown and its history  / by Mrs. Sydney Smith. text Old Yorktown and its history  / by Mrs. Sydney Smith. 1920 2002 true xt7c2f7jqg0w section xt7c2f7jqg0w 


OLD YORKTOWN
AND ITS HISTORY
    By Mrs. Sydney Smith

 This page in the original text is blank.

 









































































     Copyright, 1920
By 'MRS. SYDNEY SMITH
     Yorktown, Va.

 This page in the original text is blank.

 









































    This seal represents the Seal of the Borough of York.  The original was last.
known to be in the possession of the late Capt. Robert A. Bright, of Williamsburg,' a..
























                                Copyright, 1920
                           By AIRS. SYDNEY SMITH
                                 Yorktown, Va.

 













mr



          ,-     r L ClN T  



















   : 1 : 2 I R         _ _  _ _


       - 4  t j7p r'





7TIY ND]j1  _ F  



   I -  I   I                 I



   IZ
   1

1-1
"I,,
N
o" )
"' - k
4 .,,

I
k
N
k,
ll!
I

k
R



20
W
1111
.4
u
z
2
W
0
u
W
PA
z
0
:e
E-.
W
H
z
W
09

.4
go

4
z
:4
a
2
A.
x
W.
0

 






  Ib Pordtotun anb 31tt J0i.torp
                 BY MIRS. SYDNEY SMITH.

T HE TOWN OF YORK (now Yorktown) was laid off in
      1691 by Laurence Smith, surveyor. The king issued
      orders that fifty acres of land should be bought and laid
off for a shire town (court-house town), and must be paid for
from the king's treasury (which was tobacco). The land be-
longed to Benjamin Read, of Gloucester, and the amount paid
for it was ten thousand pounds of tobacco. The river on which
Yorktown was built was first called the Charles River, and
afterwards the York, from York in England, from which the town
and river took their name. A map of the town made by Laurence
Smith in 1691 is on record in the clerk's office and a facsimile
will be found on the first page of this book. When the town of
York was first laid out, there were two trustees appointed to
hold the legal title to the said lands and to sell the same off into
lots of one-half acre each, and any person buying a lot had to



OLD MAIN STREET.

 



OLD YOR'KTOWN AND ITS HISTORY



covenant in the deed conveying the same, that he would build
a house on the said lot within the year and if he failed to do this
the lot was forfeited. The price paid for each lot was 180 pounds
of tobacco. The street scene in the picture shows the original
main street of the old town, the only street that runs parallel



MAIN STREET-LOOKING EAST.



MAIN STREET-LOOKING WEST



4

 



OLD YORKTOWN AND ITS HISTORY



with the river. There are seven cross streets running east and
west: Bacon, Smith, Pearl, Read, Grace, Ballard and Buckner,
all of which were laid off and named at the time that the town was
laid off. Yorktown has been burned three times and very few
of the old houses remain. All that is left of the Revolutionary
breastworks are a few mounds which wtill be seen on the left-hand
side of the road as one leaves the monument. All of the forts
around Yorktown were products of the Revolution but were
reinforcedl during the War Between the States by Magruder
when -IlcClellan came up the Peninsula. Being already there,
it was easier to reinforce them than to build others. Fort Hamil-
ton, just out of the town, was named for the gallant young gen-
eral, Alexander Hamilton, who took this fort. It is in a good
state of preservation and is seen on the left in going to Teniple
Farm, on which is the AMoore House, where the Articles of Agree-
ment were drawn up.
  The old Episcopal Church, built in 1700, is constructed of
ovster shells and a formation of rock and sand stuccoed. The
original building was Cruciform, but the arms of the cross were
destroyed, and only the main part of the building is left. The



EPISCOPAL CHURCH.
     Built 1700



.5

 


OLD YORKTOWN AND ITS HISTORY



foundation of one of the arms is still to be seen on the left. The
bell and communion service were presented to the church by
Queen Anne, and both are still used. The bell bears the date
1725. It withstood everything except the Civil War, when a
magazine exploded in the west end of the town while McClellan
was there, and damaged the belfry so badly the bell fell and was
cracked. It was taken away by one' of the soldiers to Phila-
delphia, where it fell into the hands of some smelting company.
In 1881, the time of the Centennial at Yorktown, it was recast
and sent back as a present to the church.
  In the yard of the church are many old tombs, six generations
of the Nelson family being represented among them. That of
Scotch Tom Nelson, the founder of the Nelson family in York, is
first and is an antique monument. On the four sides are cherubs.
On the head of one a crown is being placed, and another with a
trumpet is proclaiming, "All Glory to God." The inscription
has all disappeared. At the foot of this grave is another tomb
made of brick and not so elaborate. It marks the body of Presi-
dent William Nelson, son of Scotch Tom Nelson and president
of the King's Council. Then comes the grave of Governor
Nelson, son of William Nelson. This grave lay for years un-
marked, no one knowing exactly where this great man was
buried. Mr. Lee, of Gloucester, rector of the church, found an
old historv in which it was stated that Governor Thomas Nelson
was buried at the foot of the grave of his father, President William
Nelson. Since then the descendants of the Nelsons have marked
his grave with a large granite slab bearing the following inscrip-
tion:
             "GENERAL THOMAS NELSON, JR.,
         PATRIOT, SOLDIER, CHRISTIAN GENTLEMAN,
     BORON DECEMBER 12, 1738; DIED JANUARY 2, 1789.
MOVER OF THE RESOLUTION OF MAY 16, 1776, IN THE VIRGINIA
CONVENTION INSTRUCTING HER DELEGATES IN CONGRESS TO
  M\IOvE THAT BODY TO DECLARE THE COLONIES FREE AND
  INDEPENDENT STATES; SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION
    OF INDEPENDENCE; WAR GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA;
           COMMANDER OF THE VIRGINIA FORCES.
              'HE GAVE ALL FOR LIBFRTY!'"

  The other three generations are buried to the right of these
tombs, and their graves are inclosed by an iron fence.



fi

 




OLD YORKTOWN AND ITS HISTORY  7



                       "THE MOORE HOUSE."
Home of Governor Spottswood, and where Articles of Agreement were drawn up between
                  the Americans and English in 1781.



ROOM IN MOORE HOUSE IN WHICH ARTICLES OF AGREEMENT WERE PRAWN UP

 


OLD YORKTOWN AND ITS HISTORY



  During the War of 1812, when the soldiers went through
Yorktown burning everything as they went, they took the fur-
niture out of the church and made a bonfire, afterwards using
the church for a stable. It was also used during the Civil War
as a hospital.
  The Moore House, on Temple Farm, was the summer home of
Governor Spottswood, who was the great Marlborough's aide-de-
camp, and who had borne the news of Bernheim to England. He
established the iron foundry in America. His body was brought
from Maryland and buried on the farm by what is called "The
Temple." It is said that Governor Spottswood built a temple
or church on the farm, and it is from this that the name is de-
rived. This is traditional and not authentic, as it is thought
that the temple is of older date. The name may have been taken
from the ancestors of Governor Spottswood by that name. The
Moore House is named for Bernard Mloore, who married the
daughter of Governor Spottswood. In this house, in the room
on the right as you enter, the Articles of Agreement were drawn
up. It has been said by some that they were signed in this room,
but the fact is that Washington went out to his camp in the
trenches to have them signed. At the Temple the only grave
to be seen is that of Major William Gooch, with the following
inscription:
           "Within that tomb their dust interred lie,
           No shape but substance. true nobility,
           Itself, though young in years, just twenty-nine,
           Yet graced with virtues moral and divine.
           The church from him did good participate
           In council rare fit to adorn a State."

  Wm. Gooch came to Virginia in 1650. He represented the
county of York in the House of Burgess in 1654. He died in 1655.
  There is another tomb that was ploughed up on the farm and
is kept in the basement of the Moore House. This gives the
name of Turner, and the date of his death as October 19, 1781,
the day of the surrender. He was killed during the siege of York-
town, and the inscription on the slab reads: "It was the cruel
ball that took him from his loved ones' arms." There is a part
of the foundation of the temple to be seen, and no doubt a good
many tombs are buried beneath the ground and could be found
by excavating. It seems, however, as if none of the owners of
the farm care to have the place disturbed.
  The old Custom House, which stands now in a good state of



S

 



OLD YORKTOWN AND ITS HISTORY



THE OLDEST HOUSE NOW STANDING IN YORKTOWN, VA.
                Built in 1699.



preservation, was the first custom house in America. Yorktown
being the first port of entry, all vessels doing business with the
Northern cities had to come first to this port for papers before
going on. The building is said to have been erected about 1715,
but this date is not authentic. It is built of old English brick.



OLD COLONIAL HOME.
    Built 1705.



9

 


10   OLD YORKTOWN AND ITS HISTORY



The first and only bank in Yorktown is housed in the Custom
House, and visitors are always welcome.
  Cornwallis' cave, down under the hill, is said to have been the
hiding place of Cornwallis during the siege of Yorktown. We
cannot think this of the brave general at the head of the British
Army. Perhaps if he went in the cave it was, just as the sight-
seer goes, to look at it. It is thought to have been a smuggler's
cave. The only way of getting into the cave was through a
small hole just over where the door now is. By means of a ladder
of some make anyone could crawl in and out without being seen,
This cave was used during the Civil War as a magazine. A
large fort was built around it to protect it. A passageway was
constructed which led to the cave, and the holes which are cut
in the cave were made to hold the large beam used in making the
passageway. Some time after the war all of this gave way and
fell ill. The owner of the place cleared away the debris, dug out
a place of entrance, put up a door, and at the time of the Cen-
tennial of 1881 began to charge an admission fee of ten cents.
Whatever its history the cave is one of the places of interest of
Yorktown and should be seen by all visitors. Upon entering
one finds himself in a large room, to the right of which is a smaller
room.
  The West House was the home of Elizabeth Nelson, the oldest
daughter of President William Nelson, who married Major West,
a member of the governor's staff. Three Revolutionary cannon
balls went through the house, a twelve-inch sill in the basement
being cut in half by one of them, another going through the first
floor. There are marks now on the walls in each room where
the ball penetrated. This is now the home of the author of this
pamphlet.
  The small monument is said to mark the spot of the surrender.
Mr. Shaw, a patriotic old gentleman, then superintendent of
the National Cemetery, was very much interested in the his-
torical places in Yorktown. After being in the town for some
time without being shown anything to mark the spot of the sur-
render, he determined to try to find the place. It is known to
have been somewhere near the cemetery, and at the place where
the poplar trees were planted. In searching around he found
what he thought to be the stumps of these trees. At this place
he placed a monument at his own expense, hoping the govern-
ment would in time replace it with a larger one. The govern-
ment, doubting the accuracy of Mr. Shaw's location as being that

 



OLD YORKTOWN AND ITS HISTORY 11



where the sword was given up, and unwilling to erect a monu-
ment to mark such a great event, with the possibility of discover-
ing in after years a mistake in the location, decided not to have
anything to do with marking the spot of the surrender until it
could be authentically ascertained. Mr. Shaw was very much
disappointed and kept the little monument at his own expense
while he lived. After his death no one seemed enough interested
to look after it, and it is falling down by degrees. Soon there
will be nothing left. It is hoped that in the near future the gov-
ernment will by some means find the spot of the surrender and
erect a suitable monument, which could be looked after with little
extra expense by the superintendent of the National Cemetery.
This is the place of all places that the government of the United



                   ENGLISH MULBERRY TREE.
This tree was brought to America as feed for the silk worm. Dudley Diggs introduced silk
                     worm culture in America.



11

 


12   OLD YORKTOWN AND ITS HISTORY



FIRST CUSTOM HOUSE OF AMERICA.
       Built About 1715.



States should be interested in, for it was here that our country
gained its independence. If not at the spot of the Shaw monu-
ment, then somewhere near it the sword of the British Army was
given up and America was free.
  The Old English Tavern, now called the Yorktown Hotel, was
the first tavern to be built in Yorktown. It was here that Wash-
ington, LaFayette, Cornwallis and other great generals were
entertained. It is thought by some to be the oldest house now
standing in Yorktown.
  Swan Tavern at Yorktown.-This ancient building was opened
as a house of entertainment on the 18th day of March, 1822,
and is now in its 130th year, being the senior establishment of
its kind in the United States. It now receives and accommodates
travelers on the following terms: Visitors are to state their names
and residences and be prepared to pay their fare in specie change,
without regard to age, at the following rates: Breakfast, Dinner
and Supper, fifty cents each; lodging, twenty-five cents; servants'
meals, twenty-five cents each; Weekly Board, nine dollars;
Monthly Board, one dollar per day; Horses, seventy-five cents
per night, and single feed, twenty-five cents. Plain drinks at

 



OLD YORKTOWN AND ITS HISTORY



                   CORNWALLIS' CAVE.
The Cave Where Cornwallis Was Supposed to Have Hidden During the Siege



the Bar, six and a quarter cents each; Punch, Mint Julips, &c.,
double that price. Rooms for public meetings, courts martial,
taking depositions, and such like assemblages, will be charged
for by the day. As the house is not intended of lazy, unprofit-
able resort, mere loungers are required to keep away; and all who
come only to idle their time at the fire in winter, or to gulp down
ice water in the summer, will be charged, daily, twenty-five cents
each. Rude, noisy or intoxicated persons will not be tolerated
on any terms.
  Yorktown, 1 852.                     ROBERT ANDERSON.

  The Nelson House was the home of the Governor Thomas
Nelson, Jr., and the headquarters of Cornwallis during the latter



13

 


14   OLD YORKTOWN AND ITS HISTORY



THE WEST HOUSE.
  Built in 1706.



part of the siege, his headquarters being first in Secretary House
and what is known as Secretary Hill, just beyond the monument.
Scotch Tonm Nelson, the first Nelson ancestor in America, brought
three sons with him, William, Hugh and Thomas. He built a
home for each of them and this house was built for William Nel-
son, president of the King's Council and father of Governor
Thomas Nelson. Some give the date of its erection as 1740, but
the writer found among some old papers copied from an old his-
tory giving 1711 as the time of the building of this house for Wil-
liam Nelson, the son of Scotch Tom Nelson. Miss Kate Nelson,
the last of the Nelson family to live in this house, also told the
writer that her father had stated to her that the house was built
in 1711. It bears marks of Revolutionary cannon balls, one
of which was fired by Governor Nelson himself when Cornwallis
occupied the house. This house has a secret panel and a winding
stairway leading to the attic. The wall around the house was
not built until after the Civil War, and was put up by the last
William Nelson, of Texas, a grandson of the governor. It was in
the Nelson House that General LaFavette was entertained when

 



OLD YORKTOWN AND ITS HISTORY



            MONUMENT MARKING PLACE OF SURRENDER.
he visited Yorktown in 1824. Scotch Tom Nelson's house stood
on the opposite side of the street from the Nelson House and was
shelled down during the siege. His office stood in good condi-
tion until two years ago, when it was burned. The Nelson heirs
owned this place until 1907, when it was sold to Mr. Joseph
Bryan, of Richmond. It is now owned by Captain George P.
Blow, of LaSalle, Ill., a retired naval officer and a Virginian by
birth.  In the gable end of the house can be seen a hole
made by the ball fired by Governor Thomas Nelson when it
furnished refuge for the enemy. Governor Nelson was a signer
of the Declaration of Independence, war governor, and conm-
manded the Virginia militia during the Revolutionary War.
When a boy of fourteen years he was sent to Eton and afterwards
to Cambridge, where he graduated with high honors. In 1761
he returned home and was made a member of the House of Bur-
gesses through the influence of his family.
  The monument which stands to-day in Yorktown was built
to commemorate the victory of the Revolution. In 1781 the
first Congress which met after the Revolutionary War adopted
resolutions ordering one hundred thousand dollars to be appro-
priated to build a monument in Yorktown to commemorate the
victory of the Americans.



15

 



16   OLD YORKTOWN AND ITS HISTORY



HOME OF GOVERNOR THOMAS NELSON.
           Built 1711.



  It was not until 1880 (nearly one hundred years afterwards)
that the direction was carried out. There were three artists
appointed, R. M. Hunt and J. A. Ward, of New York, and Henry
Van Brunt, of Boston, and the design and model were to be ac-
cepted by the Secretary of War. The sentiment of this monu-
ment is intended to convey the idea set forth in the dedicatory
inscription that by the victory of Yorktown the independence of
America was achieved. The four sides of the base contain,
first, an inscription dedicating the monument as a memorial of
victory; second, an inscription presenting a succinct narrative of
the siege; third, the treaty of alliance with the King of France;
fourth, the treaty of peace with the King of England.
  In the pediments over these four sides are carved, first, em-
blems of nationality; second, emblems of war; third, emblems of
alliance; and, fourth, emblems of peace.
  The base is devoted to the historical statements. On the
circular produm are thirteen female figures, representing the
thirteen original States. On the belt beneath their feet are the
words, "One Country, One Destiny, and One Constitution."
The thirty-eight stars on the column represent the thirty-eight

 


OLD YORKTOWN AND ITS HISTORY



States that had been admitted to the Union up to the time that
the monument was erected. In the midst of the stars is the shield
of Yorktown, "The Branch of Peace." At the top stands the
Goddess of Liberty, star-crowned, welcoming the people of all
nations to share with us our peace and prosperity.       The monu-
ment is ninety-five feet six inches in height,. The inscriptions
are as follows:
                               FIRST.
  At Yorktown on October 19, 1781, after a siege of nineteen days by 5;,500 Ameri-
cans and 7,000 French troops of the line, 3,500 militia under the command of General
Thomas Nelson and thirty-six French ships of wvar, Earl Cornwallis, commander of
the British forces at Yorktown and Gloucester, surrendered his army of 7,231 officers
aind men. 840 seamen and 210 standards to his Excellency, George W\ashington,
conimander-in-chief of the combined forces of America and France, and to his Ex-
cellency, the Compte de Rochambeau, commanding the auxiliary troops of his
Most CChristian Ala jesty in Amnerica, and to his Excellency, the Compte de Grasse,
commnanding-in-chief the naval army of France in the Chesapeake.
                              SECONI).
 The treaty of peace concluded February, 1778, between the United States of
 America and Louis XVI, King of France, declares the essential end of the present
 defensive alliance is to maintain effectually the liberty, sovereignty and indepen-
 dence, absolute and unlimited, of the Unitecl States as well in matters of government
 as of conunerce.
                               THIRD.
 Erected in pursuanee of a resolution of Congress, adopted October 29, 1781, and
one approved June 7, 1880, to comnmemorate the victory by which tile independence
of the United States of America was achieved.
                              F OU-R'TH.
 The provisional articles of peace concluded November 30, 1782, and the definitive
 treaty of peace concluded Seepternber 3, 17.S3, between the United States of America
and George III, King of Great Britain and Ireland, declares his Britanic 'Maiesty
acknowledged the said United States, viz.: New Ham)6shire, 'Massachusetts Bay,
Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. Connecticutt, New York, New Jersey,
Pennsys!vania, Delaware, Maryland, 'Vircinia, North Carolina, South Carolina,
Georgia, to be free, soveereign and indeplendent States.

  This monument was to have cost 100,000.        Only 95,000 was
paid, the remaining 5,000 being put in the treasury, where it
was drawing interest. Ex-President Taft visited the town while
he was Secretary of State and became very much interested in
Yorktown and the monument. Seeing only a little pale fence
around the monument, falling down from year to year, and
learning of the 5,000 lying in the treasury, he made up his mind
to have this sum used in improving the premises and effected an
appropriation of the money to that end. The grounds were put
in order, granolithic walks laid, and an iron fence erected around
the square.
  Still another monument has adorned Yorktown. A monu-



17

 

I's  OLD YORKTOWN AND ITS HISTORY



OLD ENGLISH TAVERN.



ment was erected in the town in 1860 to commemorate the sur-
render. It was thirteen feet in height and composed of two bases
of James River granite and a shaft of white marble bearing the
following inscription:
  "Erected the 19th day of October, 1860, by the regimental
and company officers of the Twenty-first Regiment of Virginia
militia of Gloucester county, and of the volunteer company
attached hereto, to mark the spot of the surrender of Cornwallis'
sword on the 19th of October, 1781."
  This monument was furnished by John W. Davies, of Rich-
mond. It was not erected on the 19th of October on account of a
heavy storm, its erection being deferred until the 29th of October.
The site was authenticated bv several marks of identification
which had been placed by William Nelson, son of Governor Nel-
son, and consisting of a heap of ballast stones differing from those
common to the locality and supposed to have been brought over
from England in vessels and to have dated back to the time when
LaFayette visited the town in 1824. Another landmark was the
poplar trees planted by William Nelson in the form of a square
about the year 1847. The life of this monument was short.

 


OLDfYORKTOWN AND ITS HISTORY



               YORKTOWN MONUMENT.
Erected to Commemorate the Victory of the American Army in 1781.



It fell a victim to the soldiers who were stationed nearby, and not
a vestige of it remains. It is thought to have been carried off
by relic hunters.
  The monument which stands to-day at Yorktown as a memorial
of victory was to have been placed on the spot of surrender, but
the contract provided that it should be put in the town of York,
and as the spot of surrender was outside of the town, a situation
was chosen on the most beautiful bluff which overlooks the York
River and on property owned by the government at the time of
the erection of the monument.



19

 

20   OLD YORKTOWN AND ITS HISTORY



  A brief account of the siege of Yorktown follows: Cornwallis
occupied the town with several of his ships lying at anchor above
Gloucester Point. The American Army formed a crescent about
Yorktown, Washington with his army being stationed about
three miles out in the county to the south, Nelson with the militia
at Wormley's Creek, to the east, and Rochambeau to the west.
The French fleet, Compte de Grasse commander, lay off in the
river forming a block against the British. Cornwallis, finding
himself completely hemmed it, attempted to get over to the
Gloucester side, where part of his army was stationed. He had
little latteaux (flat-bottomed boats) made ready so that when
everything seeme(l opportune he might make his escape. At
twelve o'clock the little boats with muffled oars, led by Corn-
wallis in person, started across the river. When they were in
mid-stream a heavy storm arose, so violent that the small craft
could not live in the rough waters. Some were driven ashore,
some capsized, and others were captured by the French ships.
Part of the English fleet were sunk and others captured by the
French. Before the ships were taken Cornwallis dlirected that
everything of any value be thrown overboard, and it is said that
a large and. heavy chest filled with money and other valuables
was let (lown into the water in order that it might not fall into
the hands of the Americans. Several times the river has been
dragged for this chest, but nothing of the supposed Cornwallis
treasure has ever been discovered. This occurred on October
18, 1781, and on the 19th at 11 o'clock the surrender took place.
Cornwallis wrote to Washington requesting a postponement of
the surrender by reason of his inability to attend on account of
sickness. He had written to New York for reinforcements and
was expecting them at any time, and this was his actual motive
for asking the postponement. Washington heard of this and even
at the time that the message was sent ships were entering the river
with reinforcements for the British Army. One was sunk at the
mouth of the river by the French, and others were driven back.
Washington refused Cornwallis' request and insisted that the
surrender must take place on the 19th. Cornwallis sent General
O'Hara to present the sword. Washington refused to receive
the sword from a minor general and deputized General Lincoln
to receive it for him from General O'Hara. This was a happy day
for sweet revenge for General Lincoln, for the previous year he
had surrendered at Charleston to an inferior officer.

 


OLD YORKTOWN AND ITS HISTORY



THE HARBOR, YORKTOWN, VA.



  When the British Prime Minister heard the news of the sur-
render which ended the great Revolutionary War, he threw up
his hands and exclaimed, "MNy God, it's all over." It was all
over and "America was free."
  When Cornwallis first entered Yorktown he made his head-
quarters at Secretary Nelson's house, which stood on Secretary
Hill. This secretary of the King's Council was called Tory
Nelson, because of his friendliness to the English, and it was be-
cause of his sympathy with the enemy that Cornwallis selected
this place for his headquarters. The French found that Corn-
wallis was hiding there and opened fire on the house. The
occupants were dining. The butler was killed while serving the
general. When Cornwallis found the house was being shelled he
said, "It's time to be moving," and went immediately to Governor
Nelson's home. Secretary Nelson's house was totally destroyed.
Learning that the British commander had moved to the gov-
ernor's house, the French troops began firing on him there.
Washington, hearing that Nelson's property was being destroyed,
sent word that nothing belonging to him must be damaged.
Nelson himself, who was commanding the Virginia militia, when
he heard Washington's orders, went out to the ships and said,
"I want no property of mine saved that holds refuge for the
enemy." Whereupon he aimed the gun and offered five guineas



21

 


22   OLD YORKTOWN AND ITS HISTORY



to the man who would fire it. The gunners refused to disobey
Washington's command. General Nelson fired the gun himself
and the ball struck the gable end of the house, making the hole
which can now be seen by the tourist.

  Nelson spent his entire fortune in the Revolution for his coun-
try's cause and died in poverty, the grave being unmarked until
1907. No recompense was ever made to the family by the
nation. Some years after the war the losses were computed for
the purpose of applying to Congress for an appropriation to cover
them. A bill was brought up in the meantime for Mrs. Hamilton,
the wife of Alexander Hamilton (who it was that made the great
speech under the walls of the redoubt at Yorktown and was the
general who took Fort Hamilton, named after him). A member
of Congress inquired if there was not a poor house in New York,
that Mrs. Hamilton had come to Congress begging. Governor
Nelson, being a listener in the legislative halls at the time of this
incident, refused to proceed further in his mother's behalf, saying
that he was unwilling to permit her name to be brought before a
body that tolerated such expressions. Mrs. Nelson, wife of the
governor, died at her home in Hanover and was buried in an un-
marked grave in the old family graveyard. After the grave of
Governor Nelson was found the Nelson descendants wished to
have the remains of Mrs. Nelson brought and laid beside her hus-
band, but as there is nothing to show where her grave is, it will be
difficult to carry this out after so many years.

  A verbatim copy of the parole of Lord Cornwallis, taken from
the original, which was found in an obscure place in the State
Library in Richmond, Virginia:

  Charles, Earl Cornwallis, Lieutenant General of his Majesty's
Forces.

  Do acknowledge myself a Prisoner of War to the United States
of America, and having permission from his Excellency, Gen'l
Washington agreeable to Capitulation to proceed to New York
& Charlestown, or either & to Europe-

  Do pledge my Faith and Word of Honor, that I will not do or
say anything injurious to the said United States or Armies thereof

 


OLD YORKTOWN AND ITS HISTORY



or to their Allies until duly exchanged-I do further promise
that whenever required by the Commander in Chief of the Ameri-
can Army, or the Commissary of Prisoners for the same, I will
repair to such place or places as they or either of them may re-
quire---
  Given under mv Hand at Yorktown 28th: day of October
1781---
                                             CORN WALLIS---

  The Headquarters of General Washington, located on the Jones
farm in York County, were burned several years ago. On this
farm is an old Mulberrv tree under which the General had his
tent, and it was in that tent the Articles of Capitulations were
signed after having been drawn up at the Moore House on Temple
Farm. There is also on this farm a Holly tree under which was
placed the cannon from which the first shot was fired on the
British at Yorktown. There are also several graves of French
soldiers, who gave their lives for American Freedom; these graves
will be fixed up and marked by the Compte de Grasse Chapter
of the D. A. R., Yorktown, Virginia.
  At the time of the Revolutionary War Yorktown boasted
3,600 inhabitants. Now there are scarcely 300, of which only
about 125 are white.



RICHMOND PRESS, INC., PRINTERS



2,3

 b92-260-31825896

Electronic reproduction. 2002. (Beyond the shelf, serving historic Kentuckiana through virtual access (IMLS LG-03-02-0012-02) ; These pages may be freely searched and displayed. Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically.

Old Yorktown and its history / by Mrs. Sydney Smith. Smith, Margaret P. Crooks, 1873- Richmond Press, Printers, [Richmond, Va. : c1920]