Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Old Farm, New Farm

Philemon Sutherland—some sources give his name as Southerland—was one of the pioneer settlers of Franklin County. You can see where he was on this part of the settlers’ map of Franklin County.

His 700-acre plantation was located between where I currently live and my Union Hall farms. The pictures below are how some of his fields look like now.

 Philemon Sutherland was born before 1758 in Prince Edward County, which is a few counties east of Franklin County. He and his brother William—they were known as Phil and Bill—enlisted in Captain John Morton’s rifle company at the beginning of the Revolutionary War. They were to serve a two-year term. The company marched to Norfolk and then went to Philadelphia, where Phil joined General Washington’s army and was in the Battle of Trenton in December 1776. Then he was apparently mustered into Daniel Morgan’s division and fought in the Battle of Brandywine. At some point, while the brothers were up north, Bill was killed. (For a while, there was some confusion as to which brother had been killed.)

Phil served out his two years and returned home to Prince Edward County. But he again volunteered and “marched to Little York in Virginia, and aided in and was present at the capture of Cornwallis [19 Oct 1781].”

After the war, Phil married Frances “Fanny” Penick, daughter of William and Judith Penick, on 9 April 1782 in Prince Edward County. They were soon living in Franklin County, where their children were born: Polly (1782), Nancy (abt. 1783), Ransom (abt. 1787), Philemon II (abt. 1789), Judith (1791), Joseph (abt. 1797), Anna (20 May 1799), Hope Ann (abt. 1800), and Louise Keziah (23 Nov. 1806).

From various online sources, I know that he was fairly wealthy. The inventory of what he owned when he died on 11 July 1811 covers pages 450 to 454 of the Franklin County Will Book 1 that covered the years from September 1786 to July 1812. It’s also online, here:

He must have been a learned man. The books he owned included a Johnson’s dictionary, 2 Bibles, and English reader and Bible, 3 volumes of Davies’ sermons and 1 of Martin Luther’s, Watt’s hymn book, a Guthries grammar, and others.

At the time of his death, he owned considerable livestock: a yoke of work bulls and a yoke of steers, 26 head of cattle (and an additional 2 cows), 26 head of sheep, 65 head of hogs, and 10 pigs. He also owned 9 horses: a black mare, a bay mare, a sorrel filly, 2 sorrel horses (I assume “horse” means gelding), 2 bay horses, a sorrel stud, and a bay stud colt.

He also owned slaves: Ephraim, Ned, Isaac, Peter, Riley, Hercules, Abednigo, Andrew, Eady and her child Betsey, Agnes, Dicey, Milley, and Jane.

Phil died in 1811, leaving his widow Fanny with 14-year-old Joseph, 12-year-old Anna, 10-year-old Hope Ann, and 5-year-old Louise at home. Daughters Polly and Nancy had married a few years earlier. Were any of the older sons still at home, or had they married also? How did Fanny manage? Might this have been the house where she bore and raised her children and lived out her life? Or was this dwelling built later?

Fanny never remarried. In March of 1840, when she was in her mid-70s, she applied for a widow’s pension. (In 1838, Congress had passed an act “granting half pay and pensions to certain widows” of Revolutionary War veterans.) She died in 1863.

Part of Phil and Fanny Sutherland's old farm is now our new farm. My husband and I recently acquired 120 acres of what was once part of the Sutherland plantation.



Blogger susannah eanes said...

Hmm. Interesting! You don't say exactly where the home in the pictures is - and it is definitely 19th century. But I'm going with later rather than earlier. I don't think this was built before 1830, and actually it looks more 1850s to me. Have you sent pictures to the SHPO? I would be happy to help with filing an historic inventory form to document the structure if you like. Free of charge, of course.

1:23 PM  
Blogger Becky Mushko said...

What is SHPO? The building is a double pen log cabin that is not very close to a main road now. An old kitchen was once not far from its right side.

2:39 PM  

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