The Beginning

This section should be reviewed for grammar

what do the things in bold mean??

Under Construction

Outlined in this section is, in essence, my diary of my research into my family history and lineage. I simply refer to it as 'The Beginning'.

October 25, 1996

Today I met with, my cousin, Robert McKeand after he had came home from work. We met between 2 and 2:30 P.M. at his house in Ceredo. After our usual greetings were exchanged, and talked for a while, we decided that we needed to get started on our venture for the day.

I had been looking forward to this trip for so long. I know that it had only been three (3) months since I was in West Virginia, but that previous trip was to bring my Aunt Beulah McKeand to her final resting place. I promised Aunt Beulah's husband, my uncle, Hugh McKeand, that I would escort Aunt Beulah back to West Virginia to be laid to rest in Hillcrest Cemetery. A duty I can say I faithfully carried out.

I had arranged my work schedule so that I had five days off in a row just for this trip. I had been faithfully working on a memory book of the family so that the family history would not be lost, to give to my son Joseph and daughter Karen. I needed the break from work and a time to get my thoughts together. It had been one year since my Mom, Norma McKeand passed away and we placed her in her final resting place in Hillcrest Cemetery, and to be honest, I still, to this day, miss Mom and Dad very much. My Dad, Sterling (Dee) McKeand passed away in 1988 and was originally buried at Chapel Hill Cemetery in Orlando, FL. I just had to go there and settle what stirred inside of me.

Robert and I discussed many members of the family and we exchanged a lot of good information about the family. Many story's were exchanged and are relayed in this book.

Our first stop was in the Dock's Creek Cemetery where Robert and I discussed various members of the family buried there. From Grandma Vinnie to Aunt Mary, the Staley's, Dixon's, Thompson's, Wards, Malcolm's, McCoy's, Medley's, McKeand's, etc. I took many pictures of the grave stones, both in Dock's Creek and in the Hillcrest Cemeteries.

We talked more specifically about Nelson, Vinnie, Hugh, and Beulah McKeand, John Medley, Tom and Hattie Ward, Jim and Ruth McKeand, Dee and Norma McKeand. I took the first photographs of Dad and Mom's tomb stone, because the stone had finally been set. I also took pictures of the back of the stone where my wife Mary and I will be buried - at the feet of Dad and Mom.

Robert and I talked other various members of the family, Bob McCoy, Ronald Malcolm, Harold and Janavie.

While standing headstone of Mom and Dad's grave, Robert asked me if Dad would have been upset about being moved from Chapel Hill Cemetery in Orlando, back to Hillcrest in Ceredo after the death of my Mom. I told him that I really think that Dad would have been fine with the move. Dad had wanted to be buried in Orlando to avoid the expense of moving him would have cost my Mom. He just did not want to put my Mom through that ordeal.

I explained to Robert that due to the fact that I do not plan stay in Orlando after I retire and wanted Dad buried with the other family member; also, when Mom died in Huntington, WV, we would have had to move her back to Orlando. My brother Harold and I decided it would be best to have Dad moved into the family cemetery.

Harold and I discussed the two remaining burial lots at Mom's left side because I already had lots in Florida. We both agreed that the only person that could really benefit would be our cousin, Renee---what is Rene's last name and her husbands first name-- and her husband. Renee is the daughter of Gwynnie and Bernard Marshall. By giving these plots to them it gave them the ability to be buried next to Norman, Blackie, Ronald, Molly, Bernard, Gwendolyn, Bernard Jr. his wife. I explained to Robert that during my visit in May my wife, Mary said she loved the family lots and would not mind being buried there. This really surprised me, but made me very happy. I made sure she was sincere and asked my aunt, Pauline Medley, about the two burial lots opposite Dad and Mom's.

Tombstone for
Sterling and Norma McKeand
Hillcrest Cemetery
Ceredo, WV

 

 

Tombstone for
Ray and Mary McKeand
Hillcrest Cemetery
Ceredo, WV

Pauline was so gracious to give us those lots opposite Mom and Dad for Mary and me.

Since I was in the process of having a tomb stone made for Mom and Dad, Mary and I had the back side of Mom and Dad's stone engraved with our names and dates of birth.

After leaving Dock's Creek Cemetery, Robert and I went up the hollow a short way to show me an old house that Aunt Sallie McKeand, Staley and Uncle Perry Staley live and set up house keeping about 1913 or 1914.

Frankie Staley was standing in the farm yard as we drove up where we had a nice talk with her. She was remodeling the inside of the old house, and it really looked nice. This house built in 1895 is another piece of the McKeand heritage still standing to this date.

To be developed
Staley Home Built 1895
Mr. Perry Staley Married Sallie Gilliam McKeand
Set Up Homemaking Here in 1913 or 1914

 

Now came the biggest challenge of the day. I told Robert that I wanted to go to the old McKeand Cemetery in Turnhole Hollow. Robert said he could not climb the hill because his knees were in bad shape. I told him to point me in the right direction and I would find it. We pulled up in front of the Ceredo Gas Compressor Station on Twelve Pole Creek about 3 P.M. just as it started to rain. Robert said to follow the gas line up the hill and, at the top of the hill, turn left. The cemetery would be about 100 yards down the path. It was about 1/4 mile to the top of the hill and then down to the cemetery.

Due to the rain, I decided to come back the next day and look again. As we were pulling out Robert, said to go back towards Route 75 to see if the old road from the other side of the hill was still there. After all these years, and all the houses that were built back there, he thought that the old road could not be found.

Turning on to Maywood Hills and following it up the hill we turned on to Valley Drive then went to the left. We followed it to the end of the road which ended up in the driveway of a Mr. Perry who just happened to be working in the yard. Robert and I introduced ourselves and told him what we were doing. Mr. Perry told us that the old cemetery was at the top of the hill behind his house to the right, and offered to take us there. Robert said that was not necessary because he knew well where it was.

Mr. Perry said that if we wanted to go up, the road was about 100 yards behind his house, but those 100 yards would be rough to climb. By looking we could see Mr. Perry was right. Since the rain stopped, Robert wanted to give it a try. The first 100 yards were indeed rough and took our breath away, and once on the old Hall Road it was a gradual incline to the top. Robert said once we get to the top of the hill the cemetery would be about 100 yards to the right.

After reaching the top of the hill and turning to the right my eyes focused on a fenced in area about 75 yards away. I thought "Oh my God I was about to see something I had only heard about". Chills ran up and down my spine, and a tear came to my eyes.

Stopping, I took a picture at the fence before entering the cemetery. The cemetery was not overgrown badly and all the grave markers were plainly visible. Since this was fall, there were many leaves with about six to eight inches of growth on the ground. Mr. Perry told us that his neighborhood had a cleaning party in the summer for the cemetery. It was so nice to think that total strangers thought that much of an old burial ground to get together to clean it up.

After entering the grounds through an unlocked gate, all of my anticipation came to an end seeing those names and dates became a reality. Robert made the statement, "Ray this is what it is all about". I could not agree more. You read names, see pictures, hear stories and, but to see this cemetery with the gravestones brought everything into reality. Now I could place my hand on the gravestones of Reverend Alexander Buchanan McKeand, Willis and Sally McKeand, James Taylor McKeand, Elizabeth Seamands McKeand, Henry Clay McKeand, etc. I now felt a special closeness to them because they were not just names in a book, or a picture on the wall - they were, FAMILY.

Robert and I had to leave because it started to rain. Visiting this cemetery is something that all of the family should do at least once in their lifetime, if they can. I know that I will again return to those sacred grounds again.

Robert and I found that coming down the hill was much easier when we followed the road to the bottom of the hill behind another house below Mr. Perry's home. Next time I will go there to start my walk up the hill. Just about anyone could make the trip up the hill this way.

On the way down the hill, Robert and I came upon a couple of boys about 11 or 12 years of age. We told them that we were on the hill to the old cemetery. One of the boys asked if our name was MaCcon - as he pronounce it. We told him how the name was really pronounced and they seemed pleased to know the proper way of pronouncing it.

I am pleased to know that they had been up there and did have the respect to leave it as they saw it. Prior to our visit to the cemetery, Robert and I were concerned that the grave stones would be overturned and vandalized. Needless to say we were very pleased that they were not.

Our next stop was in the Spring Valley Cemetery where Danny C. McKeand was buried in 1994. I took a picture of his grave stone, then Robert and I took the back roads out past the McCoy farm back into Ceredo. As we passed by the old homes Robert would often point out a home and give me some information about who lived there and when.

Being late in the afternoon it was time to return to Robert's house and discuss the next steps. A book about the McKeand family had been in my mind, but now I knew it would become my project and ultimately a reality.

October 29, 1996.

Prior to leaving West Virginia and heading back to Florida, Robert and I discussed how we were going to do this book. Robert gave me some pictures that I for the book and we went out for a cup of coffee.

I left Robert off at his home and headed out Spring Valley Drive hoping to get the chance to get into the Wilson Cemetery, but to no avail, the gate was locked, and I did not have time to get in contact with Mr. Wilson for access. I did get his phone number and will contact him on my return to back to West Virginia to ensure access to the cemetery. From my understanding, Mr. Wilson is a very gracious gentleman and will most likely be very helpful when I return so that I may be able to photograph my family members gravestones in the Wilson Cemetery.

I returned to Harold's business and got my luggage loaded up to go to the airport for my return flight home. Harold dropped me off at the airport and I told him that he didn't have to wait because I knew that he had a meeting that afternoon.

The Nelson McKeand Cemetery was bought years ago by the country and was replaced with the Huntington Airport. So while I waiting outside of the Terminal Building, knowing that it stood where the Nelson McKeand Cemetery used to be left me with a bit of awe because I knew I was standing on the sacred grounds of my precious family. I cannot wait until my return to Hungtington to continue my research.

I have mailed out over 35 letters to members of the family and asked for their input into this book. To this date I have received just two (2) reply's. This puzzles me because I would like to think that if I had the opportunity to add something about my immediate family into family genealogy project I would be eager to do so. If anything I write about does meet with their approval, I feel that I have given everyone ample opportunity to response. My intentions were not to misrepresent anyone, just to capture and record their place in our family history.

My only regret is that I did not begin this research many years ago. I know that the best place to get historical family information is from immediate relatives, and now so many of them are gone. Gone with them are precious memories that will never be recorded for future generations to come. I also regret that I did not talk to my own Dad about some of the family history. Treasures gone and lost forever.

I would have love to hear stories about past aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. Many died before I was born, but, still, there is something about some of them that say that they were good people and I would have enjoyed them being a part of my life.

While talking to Mark Still the other night there was something he mentioned that a really great idea because it has not been done for such a long time, and that is to have a family reunion. I would love to see a reunion in the next couple of years where many members of the family could assemble in one location to renew old acquaintances, meet new family members and just talk about good times. I would be the first to add my name to the list of those ready to go to a reunion.

Mark Still has supplied me with some information for this book, while some of it I already had, there was alot of other information that I did not have. It just makes it that much better when someone comes forward and has something to add.

I would like to see as many of the family members as possible make the journey to the top of the hill to the McKeand Cemetery and relive some of the family history, and maybe even have a prayer service there. I know that there are many who have not been to this cemetery, and some who do not know where the McKeand Cemetery is. They may have heard about it, but do not know where it is. I did not know the whereabouts of the cemetery until this past fall and I am so grateful that Robert and I made that trip up there.

I am sure that others would feel the same if they could and would make that trip up the hill.

I thank God for the opportunity to undertake this project and hope and pray that I am given the ability to complete it and do something good for my family.

My Trip To Virginia, April 1997

April 25, 1997

I completed a training program at the George Meany Center for Labor Studies in Maryland. After a short trip to Washington National Airport, I picked up my rental car, started my long awaited trip to the home land of Robert Carter and the Harrison's.

After a couple of hours on the road, I found myself turning off of I-295 on to SR-5 and entering the James River valley. As I was traveling along the James Tyler Memorial highway, (SR-5), a kind of chill ran through my body. I approached the sign that led to the Shirley plantation. I noticed that it was too late to tour the plantation, but I wanted to drive through and try to get a peak at what I would be doing tomorrow. I turned up the drive that led to the plantation which is beautiful. There is a wide open expanse of woods, and the scattered homes along the way and knowing that this was all once part of the plantation its self.

The gates were still open so I turned on to the entrance road. As I drove towards the mansion home the view was breathtaking. The gates were open to the mansion house which is still owned by the Mr. Hill Carter. People were people working out in the fields who were most likely members of the Carter family. There were private access roads that led to separate entrances to the plantation house. I will find out tomorrow if the house is still lived in or not.

I took several pictures outside the house and the grounds. I admired the surrounding grounds. I slowly drove back to the highway and headed east towards the Berkley Plantation.

The access road to the Berkley Plantation was open and I drove all the way up to the entrance to the mansion house. The gates were closed and locked but that did not stop me from looking around as I drove around to the parking area. There was a most magnificent view of the rolling meadow and James River. Words could not describe the view as the sun was starting to hang low in the sky. I took a couple of pictures, left the grounds with great anticipation of what tomorrow would bring.

I went back and headed east on SR-5 and pulled into the Sherwood Forest Plantation, home of President John Tyler. The gates to the mansion house were closed and locked but I stopped and looked around the area for a while.

Back on the road, I started looking for a place to stop for the evening. I ended up at the White Lion Motel which is located at 912 Capitol Landing Road in Old Williamsburg, VA. The attendant at the desk was very friendly and polite and told me she was a life long resident of the area and was currently enrolled at the College of William and Mary down the road. We talked about the area and she gave me directions for the next morning. I asked her if she was familiar with the name of Robert Carter. She said that she most definitely was. I told her that he was my 6th great grandfather and that I traveled here to document some of his homes for a book. She was most helpful and gave me ideas for my morning adventure to which I was very grateful. I retired to my room and prepared for the morning with great anticipation for what was ahead.

Shirley Plantation

April 26, 1997

Today I continued my journey through the James River Valley going first to the Shirley Plantation. The mansion was built in 1723 by the third Edward Hill, a member of the house of Burgesses in the Virginia Colonies. He built the house for his daughter Elizabeth, who married John Carter, the eldest son of King Carter. The house was finished in 1738 and is still largely in its original state.

While walking through the home it gave me a chill knowing the history that surrounds this structure. Knowing that Ann Hill Carter was born there, who later on in life would married Harry Light Horse Lee. They were the parents of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Lee would come to stay and visit at times with his mother, Ann.

I asked the tour guide why the plantation was not destroyed or damaged like many of the others during the war. The answer was surprising, yet unbelievable. I was told that during the Civil War, the Federal soldiers had amassed many devastating wounds and the Carter family living at the mansion at the time were sympathetic to the wounded soldiers and helped them by giving them space for a field hospital. Sheets and linen were ripped up to help in providing dressings for the wounded soldiers. General George B. McClellen of the Northern army gave orders that the Shirley Plantation was off limits to any attacks or destructive advances. Anyone caught doing so would be shot on the spot regardless of rank.

I took numerous pictures of the portraits in the home, and only hope that they come out due to the little light in the home. While there at the mansion I learned many things about the Carter family, as well as, the traditions of the various heirlooms still at the home. One thing I learned was that the pineapple fixture on the roof meant that the home welcomes all visitors to Shirley Plantation. It also means that the family that lives within this house has the means to provide such hospitality. I also learned that the different heirs over the years differed in their beliefs of how the plantation would be run. The plantation was known for the enormous harvests of tobacco. One of the later descendants despising tobacco changed the crops to corn, clover, peas, beans and other vegetables. Neighbors in the area thought that he was crazy and that the plantation would not survive because he changed the crop from tobacco to various vegetables. Because the main problem was that tobacco for many years, the soil had lost just about all its nutrients. Swearing to never again grow tobacco, helped as slowly over the years the soil became fertile again and the rotating of crops worked to cleanse the soil. To this date tobacco has never again been grown on the plantation.

After the tour of mansion house, I had the great pleasure to meet and talk with the current owner of the Shirley Plantation, Mr. Hill Carter for about 15 to 20 minutes. Mr. Carter is a very gracious elderly man in his 70's who told me some interesting things about the plantation. I asked him if there were any pictures of the families and children that were born and raised there over the years that the public could have access to. Because of the tax liability all of the holdings of the plantation had been turned over to the library at Colonial Williamsburg. He stated that he had no choice but to do so because the burden of the tax would fall to his son who would be inheriting the plantation upon his death. Hill Carter is a 9th generation of the Carter family to own the home. He currently lives on the second floor of the mansion house, and his son, the current heir lives on the third floor. The 1st floor was the only area open for public tours but the 2nd and 3rd floors of the family living quarters were off limits to the public.

Mr. Hill Carter asked if I had been to Kilmarnock and Christ Church during my current venture. I advised him that I was going to try to go there after touring the Berkley Plantation. He took me over to what was known as the kitchen house where meals were prepared in the past, opened a storage area, pulled out a map and showed me the route to take to get there. The man was very gracious and extended his hand as I was about to leave. Meeting Mr. Carter and talking with him was the highlight of my day. On the way out to my car, I looked in the kitchen house, storage house, and finally the ice house then back to the storage house once again before leaving Shirley. As I looked up into the rafters of the storage house, I saw the remnants of doors, furniture, and other items form the estate. By the looks these items dated back to the early days of the plantation. I could not resist bending over and picking up a small wood chip from the oven area and bringing that home with me. I now have a piece of history from the Shirley Plantation.

As I was walking through the parking area I noticed a circular building that was described earlier as the bird house where Doves were kept for meals. Looking around one more time, I noticed the root cellar. The root cellar once had a house over it, but had to be burned down. The house was once used as a hospital during the cholera epidemic. Since there was no way to clean and disinfect it, is was burned down to eliminate the possibility of spreading the disease.

I took several more pictures of the mansion house, both from the front and rear. The front of the house faced the river and had a magnificent view. I looked over towards the area of where the family cemetery was, but could not go there because it was overgrown and hadn't been cleaned out that year. I wanted to go into the cemetery and probably could have if I insisted, but was advised against it. Maybe on a future trip.

After leaving the Shirley Plantation, I took the short 5 mile drive to the Berkley Plantation.The Berkley Plantation is the home of two presidents, and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. The home was a magnificent place to visit. It was a thrill to walk through these grounds and it was exciting just knowing the history of such a home and knowing that this was the birthplace of two presidents.

Benjamin Harrison IV built the three story Georgian Mansion that was to serve as the base of his commercial and agricultural empire. Benjamin at the age of 22 married Anne Carter the daughter of Robert "King" Carter of Lancaster County; their marriage was typical of the colonial web that bound the Virginia ruling class.

Driveway into Berkley Plantation

The home sits above a five tiered landscape near the James River. The view of the swooping lawn is magnificent. Contrary to popular belief the first official Thanksgiving was held on the grounds of the Berkley Plantation on December 4, 1619. The plantation was attacked and wiped out when Indians attacked the colony in 1622 and massacred all the settlers.

The son of Benjamin IV and Anne Carter was Benjamin Harrison V. Benjamin Harrison V gained fame as governor of Virginia three different times, and was also a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Benjamin Harrison V served in the House of Burgess, as did the four generations before him. During the Revolution, he was elected its speaker. When the Continental Congress convened in Philadelphia, he was sent to represent Virginia and on his arrival, was made chairman of the Committee of the Whole House. Colonial Benjamin Harrison was in elective office almost continuously for 42 of his 65 years.

Further prestige came to Berkley through William Henry, Colonial Harrison's younger son. After the death of his father William Henry Harrison, he left Virginia to seek his fortune in the Great Northwest, where he became famous at the Battle of Tippecanoe. When the war of 1812 broke out, he was named governor of the Northwest Territory.

After the war, William Henry resumed his political career. He served as a Representative, a Senator, and minister of Columbia,(is that SC?) and finally a Whig party presidential nominee in 1840, and was elected President of The United States. He wrote his inaugural address in the room where he was born. Forty-seven years later his grandson, also named Benjamin Harrison was elected the 23rd President of The United States.

During the Civil War, the Harrison family lost its hold on Berkley and the plantation was occupied by General George B. McCellan. After an unsuccessful attempt of capturing Richmond the army fell back to the fields at Berkley. It was noted that President Lincoln visited the Berkley Plantation on several occasions to confer with General McCellan and to inspect the troops.

Union General Daniel Butterfield while at Berkley adapted the haunting melody of "Taps". Now used thorough out the military posts around the world. As legend says, General Butterfield was not pleased with the call for Extinguish Lights (which signaled the days end for the soldiers) and thinking the call was too formal, Butterfield and the brigade bugler, Oliver Willcox Norton, wrote Taps in honor to his men who were camped at Harrison's Landing, Virginia, following the Seven Day's battle. The Taps call was sounded that night in July, 1862, and it soon spread to other Union Army units. It was also evidentially used by the Confederates. After the Civil War Taps was made an official bugle call.

After the Civil War, Berkley changed hands several times and eventually fell into a state of near ruin. In 1907, the plantation was purchased by John Jameson of Scotland, A boy who had served as a drummer boy in McCellan's army 50 years earlier.

In 1927, Berkley was partially inherited by its present owner, Jameson's son, Malcolm. Malcolm and his wife Grace, are responsible for the complete restoration of both house and grounds as they appear today.

Berkley Plantation

Next on the agenda, was a drive to Kilmarnock, VA in search of Christ Church. Christ Church is the burial place of Robert "King" Carter. The roads in Virginia are in excellent shape, but the road structure takes you through many different areas and routes before getting you to your destination.

I arrived at Christ Church about 4:15 PM. and was amazed by the spectacle. The grounds were impeccable; the architecture was magnificent; the Church was very clean, beautiful and well laid out.

This building was rebuilt by Robert "King" Carter 1732-1734. It has been restored and maintained by the Foundation for Historic Christ Church, Inc. This is Virginia's only church retaining its original structure and furnishings.

Christ Church
Tombs of Robert 'King' Carter
Judith (Armstead) Carter
Elizabeth (Betty) Carter

With great anticipation, I went to the east side of the church, knowing that the tombs of Robert "King" Carter and his two wives, Julia, (Judith), Armstead, and Elizabeth, (Betty), Landon were there. For me, it was a sight to behold and with a feeling I cannot describe, I immediately walked up to them and placed my hands on each one of them. Again, I was awed by the history of my family.

The placement of the tombs confused me. The largest tomb on the left was Robert's, while the next and second largest tomb was Elizabeth's, and the third tomb was of Judith. Even though the order of Robert's marriage was first to Julia and then Elizabeth. The only conclusion I cam to for this arrangement was because Elizabeth bore 10 children to Robert, and Judith only bore him five (5) children.

There was an additional tomb to the right of these which was a tomb of the wife of another Carter family member. I believe it was the tomb of Robert Carter, Jr.'s wife, Priscilla. John Carter, Robert "King" Carter's father, was buried under the floor of the Church next to four of his five wives. His fifth wife, Elizabeth Shirley of Glousester returned to England with her son, Charles, where they stayed and lived out the remainder of their lives.

While there, I entered into conversation with a couple of people and then, went into the museum. Time was short and I had to rush through the displays. Even though I rushed through, the display's were magnificently laid out it and did not take long to go from one display to the other. All the workers there were volunteers and it was the museum closing hour, so I had to leave. I picked up some cards and a couple of books about the church and Robert, "King" Carter and left.

I left the grounds in search of the White Hall Plantation. The routes to the plantation were confusing. I worked my way towards the peninsular where White Hall is located. Enroute, I noticed a sign for the Ware Church. I turned around went back and walked around the building and took a picture of it. Anne, (Rich) Willis, daughter-in-law of Robert and Elizabeth Carter is buried there. I could not get access to the interior of the church because it was closed. I will be going to the White Hall Plantation tomorrow, where Anne (Rich) Willis lived.

I pulled into a small motel on Highway 17 and got a room for the night. The Motel, the Tidewater Motel, Gloucester Point, VA was just four miles north of Yorktown. After moving my things into the room, I realized that I did not eat all day. I was hungry, and tired. I went to a local restaurant and had dinner, returned to the motel and updated a record of my day. I know that I am very close to the location of White Hall and plan on going there in the morning. After While Hall, I will decide where to venture next. I wish I had a couple of weeks and the funds to spend to take my time on this wondrous trip but only a few days to accomplish as much as I can before I return to Washington, DC for my return flight home on Wednesday April 30th.

April 27, 1997

Because today is Sunday, I knew that it would be difficult to do much, but, I was determined to gather research anyway. As I departed the motel I looked for a place to pickup a biscuit and then drive to Whitehall Plantation. As I was driving on Highway 17, I had the sense I passed my turn. A quick check with one of the locals confirmed that I was about 2 miles to far south. I retreated and found the road to Whitehall. Whitehall's location is difficult to fine. The drive takes you through many different roads, and turns. It took about an hour to get to the front of the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Banks, also known as Whitehall. The long driveway leading up to the house are lined with tall trees on each side. The road bed is covered with gravel. The house is not visible until you are almost in the front of it. There is a big, looping drive that circles to the front of the house. This entrance is known as the Carriage entrance. The actual front of the house is in the back and faces the bay.

Whitehall Plantation

As I walked up to the house, I was met by the family dog. A friendly older Labrador. I walked up the steps, and knocked on the door. It seemed that no one was at home. I had an uneasy feeling about wandering around the grounds taking pictures without asking permission. I then noticed what looked like a place where people were directed to park their cars. I in turn parked my car in the designated area and walked to the side door and knocked again. Again, no answer. There was a plaque at the side of the door designating the residence as a National Historical land mark.

Even though no one appeared to be at home, I took the liberty of taking about 10 photographs of the home. It was magnificent. I took pictures from the front rear and sides of the house. I noticed that there was what looked like a visitors cottage. At that point, I got back into my car and left still admiring the beauty of home and landscape.

Now on to Richmond. As I started my journey to Richmond as I knew that I wanted to do some research at the Richmond Historical Society, and the new Virginia State Library. My intentions was also to go to St. Johns Church and view the burial grounds there. Enroute I stopped at Yorktown and took a quick tour of the historical battle grounds.

Grounds at St. John's Episcopal Church Cemetery

When I got to St. Johns Church I noticed how beautifully the grounds were kept and maintained. Many of the founding fathers and governors of the state buried at St. John's Church. The mother of Edgar Allen Poe is also buried here. It is believed that John and Elizabeth McKeand are buried here. I spoke with an attendant in the gift shop and she pulled out a book listing all the graves at St. John's Church, but John and Elizabeth's names were not listed. The gift shop attendant quickly told me that the book was not 100% accurate especially around the time that John and Elizabeth would have been buried there - in the event that they actually there.

The attendant suggested that I go to the new Library of the State of Virginia and look up more detail information held on microfiche. The listing should be on a micro film # 120. She also felt that there were additional names listed that would of interest to me. I will include that in my schedule for tomorrow. I also have hopes of locating a picture/portrait of John McKeand, if one exists.

Next, I drove to the Virginia Historical Society. The Library was closed, but there were a couple of ladies there that told me what I had to do to get the information I needed to get. The day had turned cold and wet, so I went looking for a place to spend the night. I found a motel on the outskirts of Richmond. The Quality Inn-Richmond, 8008 Broad Street, Richmond, Virginia. After checking in I downloaded my pictures for the day and organized my schedule for the next day.

April 28, 1997

I headed to the Virginia Historical Society

Virginia Historical Society

Once there, I search through many, many catalogs, cross reference manuals and books - no wonder research is exhausting. I was able to get copies of: - a letter about John McKeand's father - a map of property John McKeand owned in Richmond - an obituary of Elizabeth McKeand taken from the Virginia Gazette I think that someone in the family has a copy of the obituary based on family stories that were shared with me. Next I went to the Virginia State Library which is a new beautiful building in downtown Richmond. I spent hours looking for backup information for burial locations on John and Elizabeth McKeand's . I was hoping to find information that would verify that they were indeed buried at St. Johns. In these records, I could not verify that John and Elizabeth were in fact buried at St. John's, but did notice that the microfiche records were incomplete with missing pages and entrees. I checked on additional cemetery records of Shockoe Cemetery, but Shockoe Cemetery was not open at the time of John and Elizabeth's death. All indications point to St. Johns Church as the only cemetery in the area that accepted burials of important people. Since John McKeand was on the first City Council of Richmond, it is most likely that he and Elizabeth are indeed buried there. One thing I noticed about the history of Richmond was that it had very little information about the First City Council. I kept asking personnel at the Library about Richmond's First City Council, but there seemed to be no records available or, at a minimum, there was no concern with the staff at the Library to help me locate the information I was researching.

I centered a lot of my research on 1782 which was when Richmond incorporated which resulted into a lot of dead ends. It was also noteworthy that each time I asked to look at records of the late 1700's, or went from room to room, or into different offices, I had to fill out a form. Each form wanted my name and, address and I had to show my driver's license. Security was very high. I am sure that these procedures were established to protect the security of these antique documents. At the Virginia Historical Society I had to wait until all items were checked back in before I was permitted to leave the building. I had to fill out a form for each item I wanted copied, and had to wait until the records were retrieved from another floor at the whether at the Library or the Historical Society.

While at the Virginia State Library I was escorted to the 3rd floor where pictures were kept. On the 3rd floor were copies of paintings, of just about anyone who was anyone. I was escorted to a table and chair, told that I was to fill out the forms, show my drivers license and a fill out any request forms. I was instructed not to leave my seat. Although the weather outside was cool, the air conditioning was running full blast in this section of the building. Everyone was wearing jackets and sweaters. I would suppose that the temperature was cold for the preservation of the pictures and portraits. I froze in that room. The person that escorted me was very demanding and give me the impression that if I did not follow her instructions she would throw me out the window.

I did not have any luck finding pictures of John or Elizabeth McKeand. I was also looking for pictures of Alexander Buchanan, but to no avail - at least in the Historical Society. I was escorted back to the second floor and on the way out of the building I asked a curator if Richmond City Hall might have pictures, or portraits and was told that all records are turned over the Historical Society. With that answer I concluded that the records that I was searching for were not available. With that, I retired for the evening to complete my notes.

April 29, 1997

I was unable to get any additional information today. The weather turned colder and it has rained all day. I made no other visits except to the library. I returned to the motel and made arrangements for my trip back home. All in all I feel that the trip was a success. I obtained a lot of information. I will be able to add many more pages to the book with all the research I uncovered from this trip.

I got many pictures. I plan on another visit here. My next trip will be with my wife whom I know will enjoy the rich history and beauty of the homes, plantation and other historical sights. I wish that Robert and Mark could have been with me on this trip. I think that any information that I might have missed would have been gained by them. Maybe in the future this kind of research trip can be done by at least two (2) of us.

July 14, 1997

About 6 a.m. we received a disturbing phone call from the family in Ft. Lauderdale. My wife, Mary's nephew, Angelo Cannata, Jr., the only son of Mary's twin brother was in the hospital in critical condition. Late the night before he was in an auto accident and the situation was grim. Half was between Orlando and Ft. Lauderdale, he died. He was diagnosed as brain dead and had been on life support. We stayed in Ft. Lauderdale for several days and returned home after a very difficult funeral. After returning home, just in time to rush to the airport and fly to Washington, DC. Mary had a business training trip in Virginia so we took the opportunity to combine her business trip with another research trip.

July 17, 1997

Immediately following Mary's training class on Friday the 18th I rented a car and Mary and I drove to Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. We needed the time away together, and were able to do some more research into the family. While in Colonial Williamsburg we visited the old town and were able to take more pictures for the book. One picture in particular that I am glad I got was one of the home of Robert Carter Jr., of Nomini.

Later on that day we went to the "Carters Grove Plantation". In the 17th century, the property had been known as Martin's Hundred. Carters Grove was purchased by Robert King Carter of Corotoman Plantation. 'King' Carter's will stated "that this estate in all times to come be called Carter's Grove". The plantation was bequeathed to Carter's grandson, Carter Burwell. Carter Burwell was Robert 'King' Carter's daughter Elizabeth. Carter Burwell built the main house between 1750 and 1755, and it remained in the Burwell family until 1838.

Carters Grove Plantation

July 20, 1997

Mary wanted to go into the James River Valley to see the Sherwood Forest, Berkley, and Shirley Plantations and I looked forward to showing them to her. Since I had just been there in April, I knew exactly how to get there. Our first stop was at the Sherwood Forest Plantation, home of James Tyler, the 10th President and Vice President of William Henry Harrison, our 9th President. Tyler became President after Harrison's death. Harrison died after only in office.

After the Sherwood tour, we went to the Berkley Plantation and took the tour there. I notice that there was an addition to the tour since my last visit. A Grandfather Clock had been purchased from the Whitehall Plantation since my last visit in April and was now on display in Berkley. I took a picture of the clock and gathered new information not known from my previous tour.

After leaving the Berkley Plantation we went the few miles up the road to the Shirley Plantation, birthplace of Ann Hill Carter. Ann Carter was the mother of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. I looked forward with great anticipation to see and talk with to Mr. Hill Carter the current owner and 9th generation descendant of Robert "King" Carter. During the tour of the mansion house I was able to get a picture of Ann Hill Carter portrait. When the tour Mary and I went outside to tour the grounds and to my amazement there sitting on the porch was Mr. Carter. I walked over to him and introduced myself as I had in April. To my surprise, he remembered me from my last trip. We talked about 15 minutes, discussing Christ Church, the library at Colonial Williamsburg, as well as some other things about the Shirley Plantation. It was such a pleasure to talk to him again. Mr. Carter was very humble and gracious to take the time and talk about the homestead. I was fortunate we were able to get a picture together. I hope to have the pleasure again some day to meet him. There is something about the Shirley Plantation that just I find very alluring.

After completing our visit to the Shirley Plantation it was time to head back towards Washington to catch a plane the next morning back to Orlando. I wanted to be somewhere close to Washington so we would not have to rush the next day. We found a room at one of the Hampton Inn's about 50 miles outside of Washington for the night.

I am waiting with great expectations for my trip back to West Virginia in August to continue my research into the modern day descendants of the McKeand Family.

August 1997

Mary and I arrived at, brother, Harold, and his wife, Roberta's home in Huntington, WV after a two day drive. We spent a few days visiting family in search of more family history.

We went to the Turnhole Cemetery via Maywood Hills as mentioned before and went up Old Hall Road. At the top of the hill, we noticed how overgrown the cemetery was quite and both of us got plenty of scrapes and scratched coming back down the hill and through the raven that was also very overgrown. While there, I took some more pictures that appear later in the book.

The following day we went to the Wilson Cemetery and stopped for a visit with Willis Wilson and his wife. Both Mr. and Mrs. Wilson were very gracious in welcoming us into their home located on Spring Valley Drive. The house they lived in was the home of Sarah Jane McKeand, and her husband. The home was tastefully decorated in the old country manor style. Both Mary and I thoroughly enjoyed the Wilson's hospitality.

Mr. Wilson brought out a box that contained some articles found in the attic that they one day while they were cleaning. One item was the suicide letter from Ben F. Wilson, dated March 8, 1911. This document was the original letter typed and signed by Ben. Mr. Wilson showed me a copy of a land transaction that was signed by some of the Willis McKeand children and a picture of Sarah Jane's husband, B. F. Wilson sitting in his rocking chair. I hope that some day this chair might find its way into the Ceredo Museum, since it can be documented as belonging to B.F. Wilson and Aunt Sarah.

Mr. Wilson asked me to stop by on my next trip into West Virginia and he would give me the original documents, suicide letter and land transaction, we were viewing. I told him I would be pleased and definitely stop in to see them on our visit. On my next trip in, I intend asking Mr. Wilson if he would consider leaving B. F. Wilson's rocking chair to the Ceredo Museum. We interrupted our visit with the Wilson's, to go up the hill to the family cemetery. The cemetery was a little overgrown, but there were able to see and photograph headstones marking all the Wilson's and other family members buried there.

When we left the cemetery, we went back down the hill and visited the Wilson's for a few more minutes exchanging stories. Mr. Wilson asked me about the condition of the McKeand cemetery at Turnhole and I told him that it was overgrown and that there was some small damage to the chain link fence that surrounded the cemetery. He told me that he would take care of the fence and that he was the one that put up the fence in the cemetery during the 1960's. We bid our farewells and went home for the evening.

We had a few more visits with the family and thoroughly enjoyed the fellowship with everyone. Another evening we went to Dan and Sissy Cornwell's where we met with several other family members. Another afternoon we went to Bob McCoys and had lunch with his family, including his children, with Judy, and Jane, their husbands and children.

When we finish our visit in West Virginia, we headed south stopping in Charleston, South Carolina to visit family landmarks and finally heading home to Florida. All in all, it was a great trip.

June 4, 1998

Another trip to the homelands of my forefathers began on June 4, 1998. After a day at work, I rushed home to get my things together and then rushed to the airport for our flight to Washington, Dulles Airport. Mary and I have been looking for a break from the usual work routine. The weather in Orlando during that week had been unusually hot with temperatures hovering around and near 100 degrees. I checked the weather in the northern parts of Virginia and found the daily temperatures were reported in the low 70's and 50's during the evening. A pleasant change was in store for us. We arrived on time, rushed to the car rental, picked up our car and headed off to Leesburg, Virginia.

Oatlands Plantation

June 5, 1998

After a good nights sleep and breakfast Mary and I were off to the Oatlands Plantation in the northern part of Virginia. After touring the home of Robert "King" Carter's great grandson, we toured the beautiful grounds of this plantation. Even though it's early in the growing season, the multi-tiered gardens of the plantation were in bloom and very beautiful.

I was looking forward to seeing the picture gallery in the rear stair well of the mansion home. Although no photography is allowed in the mansion house there are plenty of things to see. There are many pictures/portraits of the Carters and family. Although the house is in some need of repainting and general freshening, it was a tour well worth the seeing. The staff there was very knowledgeable and friendly. I rate it high along with the other plantations that I have visited.

The Carter's and the Eustis' families are the only families to live in this home. At one time Stilson Hutchins, one of the founders of the Washington Post, purchased the plantation from the Carter's, but never lived there. He bought it strictly as a financial investment. Hutchins sold the home in 1902 to Mr. and Mrs. William Corcoran Eustis. The Eustis' bought the plantation without ever seeing the inside of the house. They bought it from outside view alone because it was boarded up when they went to see it. After the house was unboarded, they were so pleased at the extensive beauty and woodwork they found on the inside. They cleaned and fixed the damaged areas in the home, but left the original design of the house. They did not change the structure in any way. The house is currently decorated the way the Eustis family left it with a couple of original pieces of furniture there from the Carter's.

To be developed
Oatlands Plantation

 

After a short drive Mary and I arrived at Mount Vernon, home of George Washington.. The tour of the mansion house was very nice. There was quite a bit of restoration in the mansion house going on at the time of our tour. The inside of the house was being restored and decorated in the manner that Washington left it. Some of the colors inside of the house appeared unusual, but tour guides told us that these were the popular colors of Washington's the time.

The grounds at Mount Vernon were in excellent condition and many of the out buildings were in excellent condition including, the barns, stables, slave quarters, ice house and overseers buildings. A short stroll down through the flower gardens brought us to the original burial tomb of the George and Martha Washington, but a new tomb was built a few yards from there and the Washington's re-interned.

We also took the slave tour, and learned much about the life of the slaves that worked on the Mt. Vernon Plantation. One thing we were amazed with is that in the beginning George, while being a good master was just that - a master. Slave ownership was common during Washington era and he was no different than other masters in his time. However, as time went on he began to have a change of heart and made many decisions that affected the way he treated his slaves. In his will he freed 113 of the 380 slaves he owned and the remainder would be freed after Martha's death. The slaves in Mount Vernon worked all of the five working farms that made up the entire George Washington estate. The slaves on the main Mt. Vernon Plantation were treated much better than some I have heard about. The slave quarters there were constructed of brick and were in much better shape than any I have seen while touring the other plantations in the Virginia area. In fact, many of the slave quarters at the other plantations we visited were gone, and were never cared for like the mansion houses.

The Washington's home was a place of much activity. Many of the Family members lived there at one time or another. Martha also had the pleasure of the company of her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Many of the visitors to Mt. Vernon were people of major importance in the history of our country, along with many not well known visitors. The plantation was a place of hospitality, and the Washington's welcomed anyone that come by.

The one thing that disturbed me more than anything about the Mt. Vernon home is that it has been so commercialized. It did not have the aurora that all of the other plantations in the Virginia area have. I guess this is because of George Washington was our first president. For me, the commercialization took something away from the seriousness of the moment. I still rate it as a must see if you are interested in American History. We also saw many foreigners visiting Mt. Vernon and other historical sites which I feel was good.

After completing our visit and tour, Mary and I headed to Fredericksburg, VA to look for a place for the night. June 6, 1998 In the morning, we checked out of the motel and headed for Stratford Hall, the birthplace of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, and then on to Kilmarnock to revisit Christ Church. Stratford Hall was about an hour away from our motel. We arrived about 10:00 a.m. we went to the house for a tour. The grounds were magnificent and the view of the mansion house was breathtaking. I think that this is one of the most magnificent structures ever built.

Stratford Hall
The tour guide, an elderly lady, was in the first building we visited. She gave us a brief description of what we could expect to see during the tour we would be taking. Our first stop of the tour was at the business office of the plantation where all the operational business of the plantation were handled. Here any one coming from the local area to have a horse breed, they could buy and sell goods, or conduct other business. There was room for food and, if necessary, overnight lodging. In some cases, gentleman came from England and were there for a few days to conduct business until they returned to the home.

We left there and headed straight for a tour of the mansion house. The house, in my opinion, was a masterful piece of architectural history. This house has 16 fireplaces and 3 living levels. The rooms were spacious, well designed and very well laid out. The mansion house is built in an "H" type configuration with several bedrooms, guest rooms, and working rooms. On the lowest level there were rooms for the children of the plantation rooms to play in and to study with the school master. These rooms were located in one end of the house and on the other end there were some of the working quarters for things such as the storage of wet and dry goods. There was also a room that was set up for cooler storage for temperature sensitive items.

The out buildings were built with brick and housed the kitchen house, laundry house and had stables for the horses and carriages. The slave quarters for the mansion house were also built of brick and, based on slave quarters we have seen from other plantations, were some of the best accommodations for slaves (as it were) that I have seen to date. While slaves were often referral to as servants, they were not, they were in fact slaves and indentured servants. They were owned, had masters, were not paid and were not free people. While touring the kitchen house, we were offered a ginger bread cookie which was the favorite of General Lee. General Lee was born at Stratford, but at the age of about three (3) his parents moved to another home. Yet, Lee held an enduring affection for Stratford for years. On Christmas Day, 1861, in the midst of war and with Arlington confiscated, (Custis - Lee Mansion) and occupied by Union troops, the lonely Lee wrote to his wife, Mary "In the absence of a home I wish I could purchase Stratford. That is the only place I could go to, now accessible to us, that would inspire me with feelings of pleasure and local love. You and the girls could remain there in quiet. It is a poor place, but we could make enough cornbread and bacon for our support and the girls could weave us clothes. I wonder if it is for sale and at how much.." Sadly, it was not to be because circumstances prevented them from ever returning to Stratford. After we completed of the tour, we headed for the restaurant, had a quick snack and were on our way to Christ Church just outside of Kilmarnock. About an hour later we were pulling into the parking lot for Christ Church. Again, this is one of the most magnificent structures I have seen in my journeys to Virginia. While registering at the museum and preparing for the tour I one of the museum curators asked if I was a descendant of Robert "King" Carter. If so, they wanted to know where in the lineage/how I was related to the Carter family. While there, I looked into the book of the Carter lineage and found my name, along with all the names of my fore fathers, aunts and uncles. I did notice several small errors and missing information regarding dates of births and deaths of several of the family members. I gave them a few corrections and they asked me for my name and phone number and told me to expect a call from the people were in charge of updating the lineage book which was being prepared to be republished.

After leaving Christ Church we headed to Colonial Williamsburg for the evening. After our arrival, we checked in to the White Lion Motel. We checked in, had dinner and prepared for the evening and the next days visit to Colonial Williamsburg. June 7, 1998

After we finished our visit to Colonial Williamsburg, we were off for a visit with Donna King, the ex-wife of Johnny McKeand. I had made arrangement prior to going to Virginia to meet with Donna. We met for dinner at the Cracker Barrell.

After dinner, we sat in front area of Cracker Barrel while Donna looked at the draft of this book and provided me with new pictures for the book. We all had a nice visit with Donna and her husband. Even though it was a short visit, we enjoyed it very much. Our next step was to get ready to drive back to Washington tomorrow for our trip back home - Orlando.

June 8, 1998

The following morning Mary and I left for Washington Dulles Airport for our return trip home to Orlando. The trip to my homelands was very enjoyable and productive. We were able to gather a lot of data, pictures and information for the book.

 

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