“Beginning at a corner red oak standing on the south side of the main road, running thence South Eighty four degrees east, a new line of marked trees, nearly corresponding with a small branch thirty three chain and thirty six links to pointers newly made on a line of Joseph Howard, thence with the said Howard’s line bearing North three degrees West, thirty chain to the main road, …thence up the said road agreeable to its meanders forty three chain to the beginning corner red oak;” 15 May 1816, Taylor to Aston Deed, Powhatan County Deed Book 5, 483-484.
Locating ancestral property is notoriously difficult. Where’s the corner red oak? 33 chains? Small branch? It takes time and patience to pinpoint where property lines fell 200 years ago. Fortunately, there are maps that help genealogists place family homes in Powhatan County.
Taylor family historian, Ann K. Blomquist, mapped the original John Taylor 1731 purchase of 400 acres and John Taylor’s subsequent gift of 100 acres to his brother William Taylor in October 1742. This is the same tract William transferred to his son Robert Taylor in 1765 and 1771. Read the Blomquist essay about William Taylor online here. Note that the house, Travelers’ Rest, discussed in my last post, is within the William Taylor property. The odd property line may have been drawn up by the brothers to accommodate William’s home.
The map detail below is from an old map of Powhatan County made in 1864 by the Confederate Army as they prepared for a final defense of Richmond and the surrounding area. Look for Belmead in the top left corner. That’s where the very wealthy Cocke family lived. Mrs. Cocke was reported to have offered to adopt Blagrave Taylor’s daughter and purchased homespun cloth from his widow. Find the dot marking the home of Mrs. Taylor. This is Travelers’ Rest and Mrs. Taylor is the widow of Robert Taylor’s grandson Blagrave. Her mother-in law, Polley, who inherited a lifetime right to the house, may have been another Mrs. Taylor still living there as well, as she died about this time. The small dot under Mrs. Taylor’s name marks the property of Daniel Taylor, Robert’s son.
Trace the road we know as Bell Road today and look for the property marked WD Taylor. This is William Daniel Taylor, grandson of Robert Taylor. He inherited this property from his father, George Taylor, who was given the land by his father Robert Taylor.
Note that the house we know as Provost is not marked on this map. Many residences of Taylors known to be living in this immediate area are not included on the map, including that of my own third great-grandfather, Richard A. Taylor. The map was made under the duress of war and probably focuses on features deemed important to defense.
Map of Powhatan County : Made under the direction of A.H. Campbell P. Engr in charge of Top Dept D. N. V. From surveys / by Lieut. C.E. Cassell P. Engr. View the complete online map online at the US Military Academy Library.
This map detail below is from the Laprade map commissioned by Powhatan County in 1880. You can see the complete digital map at the University of Virgina Library. The roads and riparian landmarks closely correspond with current Powhatan County roads, although village and road names continued to change through the years. The area we know as Provost is identified as Oakville and the map shows Taylor dwellings on two areas of the Cartersville (Bell) Road. These would be the holdings of Robert Taylor’s sons Daniel and George. Many of the families identified on this map were closely allied with the Taylors through marriage to the descendants of brothers John and William Taylor. Much of the property on both sides of the Cartersville (Bell) Road belonged to the Taylor family. Robert Taylor purchased farms for his children, including his daughters. Polly and her husband Peter Pollock lived on a farm owned by Robert Taylor and marked on Michaux Ferry Road. Daughter Elizabeth married John Aston, a miller. Robert purchased a mill with Aston and deeded other property to him. One parcel is marked on this property near the corner of Jefferson Road and River Road as the Old Aston Mill. Today you can purchase a home in the new community of Aston, most surely sited on the location of Robert Taylor’s daughter and son-in-law, Elizabeth and John Aston.
Many of the other names and properties marked on the map have strong Taylor connections through marriage, too many for a simple blog post!