Bourne-Hale-Gentry House


(William and his brothers Stephen and John – also Grayson pioneers – grew up on the 300 acre land grant obtained by their grandfather, William Bourne II, in 1719. The text of this grant, which appears in the Cutchshaw book (see below), was signed by Alexander Spottswood, the Lieutenant Governor of the Virginia Colony. )

William and Rosa were married in about 1765, when he was 22 years old, and she was just 15. Tax records show that they remained in Louisa County for at least the first ten years of their marriage.(1)

In 1768 the Iroquois Nation signed a treaty with King George III abandoning all their claims to the Virginia Territory south of the Ohio River and west of the Cumberland mountains, making this area available for white settlement. Sometime before 1782 William and Rosa received a land grant from the Commonwealth of Virginia and left their colonial home for the unsettled territory in southwest Virginia. The Bournes were among many settlers who selected land along the tributaries of the New River which was rich with vegetation for their stock.

Most of the Bourne’s 250 mile journey to their new home involved crossing the vast Piedmont Plateau. They were able to do this by wagon, but at Fort Chisel they had to transfer all of their household goods to pack horses to cross the Iron Mountains. When they reached their land grant, they chose a homesite on the Knob Fork of Elk Creek, near where it empties into the New River. They joined eight other families who had already settled in the region.

Having to travel as they did, it seems unlikely that they were able to bring much in the way of household goods, but the Bournes managed to pack what must have been their prize possession – a large grandfather clock made in Boston by Aaron Willard of Common House Clocks. Made of mahogany with rosewood inlays, it stood at over 8 feet 3 inches. The fittings were of brass including the key in the shape of a Z. It was wound every eight days and showed the phases of the moon, as well as telling the time. It was Grayson County’s first clock, and some years later served as a model for a local clockmaker. It now resides with a Bourne descendant in Tennessee.

When William and Rosa arrived in the New River country they built a cabin and other temporary buildings and cleared out the best portion of the land for farming. They were so isolated that there was little or no trade, so they would have grown their own grains, vegetables, and fruit, and their meat would have come from whatever game they found in the surrounding forest. They would have worn homespun clothing made from wool, cotton or flax, and worn shoes or moccasins from the leather they likely tanned themselves.

Early on William took an interest in local government and was among those who successfully lobbied the Virginia State Legislature to create Grayson County from Wythe County in 1792. The county was named for William Grayson, one of the first senators of Virginia.

The first Grayson County Court was held in the Bourne barn on May 21, 1793. Later court records of that year mention the court sitting in “Rosa’s cabin.” William was elected Clerk of the Court, a position he held for 17 years. Some time later other relatives were also appointed to important posts. Shadrack Greer became a Justice of the Peace, and Major Minetree Jones became a Magistrate.

One of the Bourne’s enterprises included turning their family home into an inn. On 24, 1794 the Grayson County Court fixed these rates to be observed by their establishment and all other “Ordinary Houses.”

It appears that lodging was quite affordable, if you were willing to eat cold food, drink small beers, and share a bed with strangers.

YOU CAN ALSO READ:   History Hidden Underneath

The Bournes must have done well with their farm and inn, because William later went into partnership with his son William Bourne III, and bought 100 acres of property that included the Point Hope Furnace and Forge, a gristmill, a sawmill and yards, barns, stables, gardens, and houses. The old Point Hope Furnace, which sat at the falls on Peach Bottom Creek, was Grayson County’s first industry and had been used to process iron ore since before the Revolutionary War.

William further involved himself in politics becoming a member of the Virginia legislature which required yearly trips to Richmond. On one of these trips he attended a slave auction and bought a woman and little girl, apparently a mother and child. The woman’s name was Granny Beck and the child’s Aimy. In his book, Nuckolls briefly recounts Aimy’s story of her kidnaping in Africa and subsequent trip to America on a sailing ship.

Granny Beck was put to work tending the cattle on the range and Aimy was the house girl, waiting on her “master and mistress” as long as they lived. According to Nuckolls, William gave Aimy her freedom in his will stating, “Aimy has been a faithful, good servant and has raised for me 18 children. She is not to be sold or taken in, in the divide.” Nuckolls adds, “With his children she should be free to go where she pleased.”

There has been some debate among the descendants about where Nuckolls’ obtained this information. The will, as recorded in the courthouse at Independence, does not contain the above passage. Instead, each of the Bourne children is given two slaves and their progeny, in addition to $500. While we may never know if these slave children were, in fact, William’s progeny, it certainly wasn’t unusual for slave-owners, and often their sons, to have fathered the children of their slaves.

After William and Rosa’s deaths, Aimy went to Old Town to live with Mary Dickenson who owned her daughter Mourning. When Mary died, she went to Elk Creek to the home of Francis Hale who owned Winny, another of her daughters. Aimy died there and was buried in the Hale family cemetery.

Rosa was reputed to have been treated their slaves with relative kindness. Nuckolls writes, “She was their doctor when sick, their comfort in trouble . . . She was also helpful to her friends and neighbors and would go to them in their time of need.”

Nuckolls recounts this story which reveals much about Rosa’s character. Each fall William and several of his men trekked “over the hollow” to the nearest mill in North Carolina to have their corn ground into meal for their bread. They carried the grain in sacks on their horses, following an old Indian trail through the Blue Ridge Mountains. One year a deep snow kept them from returning home before the family’s food supply ran out. Rosa took matters in hand and, early one morning, roused one of her slaves saying, “We must hunt for something to eat.”

Armed with a rifle and butcher knife, they hiked into the forest looking for prey. They soon found a large deer sleeping in the snow under a tree. Rosa raised her gun and fired, but missed. The startled deer jumped up and struck its head against a limb, breaking its neck. The slave ran and cut the deer’s throat, and they drug the large animal back to the house through the snow. The family fed well on venison and hominy while they waited for the men to return with the corn meal.

William and Rosa had nine children, who raised large families of their own, and lived to be quite elderly. The daughters were all widowed at about the same time and apparently chose not to remarry. They were said, by Nuckolls, to have managed their estates well.

YOU CAN ALSO READ:   Winston Memorial Chapel

William and Rosa lived on Knob Fork for over 40 years and are buried where they built their first house. Their graves are marked with large tombstones made of soapstone by their son-in-law John Blair. He wrote the inscription for Rosa’s tombstone which reads:

Here Rosa Bourne’s body laid
of whom in truth no harm was said
Her Sovereign will was much obeyed
While here with us on Earth she Stayed
Because that her deportment made
through perfect love, all feel afraid.

The Man who wrote these lines to tell
of her character knew her well
He put these lines upon the Stone
To make it to the readers Known,
That they like her may do the same,
In order to obtain a name
And to perpetuate their fame.

An unpleasant footnote in the story of the Bournes was their involvement in slavery. The 1775 Louisa County tax records list William and his brother Stephen as “patrollers,” or those who scouted the region looking for runaway slaves. Stephen gained the nickname “Devil Steve” from his work in the slave trade, and his willingness to beat his own slaves, as well as the slaves of others settlers who didn’t have the stomach for the “task.” [SOURCE]

GENTRY, Janie Hale May 12, 1928 – February 3, 2018 Janie Hale Gentry, better known as Dolly Gentry of Spring Valley, passed away on Saturday, February 3, 2018. Mrs. Gentry was born on May 12, 1928 to June Piper Hale and Clyde Reeves Hale of Spring Valley. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband, Penick Gentry; and two sisters, Virginia June Hale Vaughan and Mary Reeves Hale Jones. She is survived by a niece, Mary Ann Jones Gebler; nephew, R.E. Jones III; and several grand nephews and nieces.


The story of this homestead and its families is an interesting one that dates to the very early settlement by whites in this area. In 1765 William Bourne and Rosa Jones Bourne left Hanover County, Virginia for the wilderness of Southwest Virginia, which was then Botetourt County, but later part of the area became Grayson County.They came to Fort Chiswell, Virginia, in wagons and from there they packed their baggage on horses and crossed Iron Mountain. At that time there were only eight settlers in this part of the county.

William and Rosa had seven daughters and two sons. Stephen Gray their first son, also known as Stephen G. was born February 26, 1779. He grew up on his father’s land grant farm. He later moved and built a home north west of his home place at Knob Fork here on this land which he cleared and battled the hardships of the area for his valuable home and farm. He married Patsy Mays in 1800 and brought her to their new home in Spring Valley, Virginia (at that time known as Knob Fork).

Stephen and Patsy had a self-supporting farm where they lived and reared five children, in this section of Virginia known as the wilderness. In addition to the house and a large barn there was a well house, spring house and smoke house. There was a blacksmith shop for ironwork and other businesses conducted on the farm. The upstairs room on the west side of the house was used as a school. There was an old kitchen located at the back of the house. The old kitchen was a two level building with stairs on the outside of the building. In the very early days the food was prepared in this kitchen.

Stephen and Patsy Bourne died on the same day. Stephen died April 29, 1849. About twelve minutes after eight o’clock in the morning and Patsy died thirty-five minutes after nine o’clock in the same morning (about one hour and twenty three minutes apart). This has been in the local history both oral and written.

YOU CAN ALSO READ:   Ruins of The Burning Raids of 1864

Lewis Hale and his wife, Mary Burwell Hale were in the area when William Bourne and his wife arrived. The Hales are believed to have been one of the first seven families to settle in this area. Sometime around 1760 Lewis Hale and his wife moved from what is now Franklin County, Virginia. Lewis Hale became a prominent resident of the area, raised eight children and established one of the earliest churches and Governor Henry Lee appointed him magistrate. The house remained in the Bourne Family until it was sold a public auction and was purchased by June Piper Hale in 1908.

He was twenty-one years of age at this time and it was two years before he was married in1910. He and his wife lived the remainder of their lives in this house. He was a fifth generation great grandson of Lewis Hale and his wife Mary Burwell Hale. He was a farmer, livestock dealer and owned and operated Meadowview Nursery. His largest market area was in the Philadelphia, PA, Baltimore, MD and Washington, D. C. areas. This was possible after the train came to the area in 1903.

He also served on the Grayson County School Board for several years. He died at age forty-five in 1932. After his death Mrs. Hale managed the farm, with the help of two loyal tenant farmers, for forty-five years. She reared three daughters and financed their education for four-year college degrees. This was at a time when it was almost unheard of for a woman to operate and manage a farm. The house is now owned by their descendants.

It was built about 1829, and is a two-story, rectangular, weatherboarded log structure on a fieldstone foundation. It features a one-story, three-bay porch with square wood columns and two brick chimneys on the east end and one on the west end.

The Bourne-Hale House is a substantial log dwelling built circa 1830. It is located on the ninetyeight-acre Meadow View Farm in Spring Valley, surrounded by meadows, hills and mountains, with Knob Fork Creek crossing through the property with a half mile long private drive.

The two-story, rectangular, weatherboarded log structure has a fieldstone foundation, a one-story, three-bay porch with square wood columns, nine-over-six and six-over-six double-hung sash windows, and a gable roof with pressed metal shingles. There are two brick chimneys on the east end and one on the west end, each serving two fireplaces. The interior walls and ceiling are plastered, except for one room that is sheathed with horizontal wood boards. There is wainscoting and molded trim in each room, and Federal Style mantels in two rooms.

In the 1800s a kitchen, dining room, hearth and a chimney were added to the back of the house on the first level. Before this the food was cooked in a separate building. The cooking crane and hooks are in the present day kitchen fireplace. In 1947 two additional rooms and a bath were added over the kitchen and dining rooms. Secondary structures on the property include a square, dovetail-notched, hardwood log smokehouse with a modern sheet metal roof. The structure may be contemporary with the house, and is in fine condition. There are also a late 19th –early-20th century frame barn and corncrib. A Bourne family cemetery also lies within the nominated parcel.

National Register Application

It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.[1]

  1. “National Register Information System”National Register of Historic PlacesNational Park Service. July 9, 2010.

  2. ^ “Virginia Landmarks Register”. Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Retrieved 5 June 2013.

  3. ^ Janie Hale Gentry (August 2003). “National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Stephen G. Bourne House” (PDF). Virginia Department of Historic Resources. and Accompanying four photos

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *