Submitted by FHMaster on Tue, 03/23/2021 - 22:51

Walnut Valley is a historic plantation house and archaeological site located near HighgateSurry County, Virginia. The property includes a plantation house (c. 1770), a frame slave quarter (1816), a frame kitchen (1816), seven contributing 19th- and 20th-century agricultural and domestic outbuildings and structures, and an archaeological site. The house is a 1 1/2-story, four-bay, double-pile, side-gabled frame house on a brick foundation. It measures 40 feet, 4 inches, by 30 feet, 5 inches and features Federal style decorative elements. The one-story, two-bay frame slave quarter measures 14 feet by 16 feet, and is clad in weatherboard. The contributing outbuildings include a late-19th century storehouse and a granary, well house, silo, and three chicken houses. The property was conveyed to the Commonwealth of Virginia for the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation on January 14, 2004. It is now contained within Chippokes Plantation State Park.

Walnut Valley Plantation was established in 1636 when William Newsum, Jr. was granted 550 acres of land in Surry County, Virginia. Newsum was an English colonist who had paid for eleven other colonists to travel to Virginia, a practice which carried the promise of land from the English Crown. For each person whose passage was paid, the colonist who paid for it would receive 50 acres of land. Out of the eleven people Newsum brought to Virginia, he is known to have married three (possibly four) of them. These women were Penelope Ramsey, Sarah Fisher, Elizabeth Wilson, and Gertrude. Gertrude was Newsum's final wife, outliving him.

Newsum may have left Walnut Valley to William Batte, a non-relative, in order to pay off debts. Batte sold the plantation to Ralph Jones in 1657.

An unrelated Jones, James Jones, had come to own Walnut Valley by 1704. The house was built by James' son or grandson, both named Richard Jones, around 1770. In 1806, Richard Jones, Jr. died without heir, and instead left the plantation to his unrelated overseer, William Jones. William, by a strange coincidence, was a distant relative of William Batte, and would own Walnut Valley for the next three decades.

The 1810 census recorded fourteen enslaved individuals at Walnut Valley Plantation. The remaining slave quarter and detached kitchen were added by William Jones in 1816, during a period of growth for the farm. Jones' operation included oxen, mules, cows, sheep, pigs, chickens, ducks, and turkeys. The surrounding fields were planted in cotton, corn, and peas, and cordwood provided late-season income. Like many plantations in Surry County, Walnut Valley also produced peach and apple brandy, and featured orchards, a cider press, apple mill, and distillery. Under Jones' management, Walnut Valley exploded in productivity, due in large part to the enslaved labor force he maintained. By Jones' death in 1833, thirty enslaved workers toiled on his plantation.

Jones' son, Bolling Green Jones, inherited the plantation, as well as guardianship of his two younger siblings, William C. and Minerva. Their mother, Ann, had passed away sometime in the decade previous. Bolling Jones continued his father's agricultural practices, notably amending the soil with lime in the form of marl from nearby fossil deposits. This improved crop yield by 25-100%, making Bolling Jones a wealthy man. He added seven more enslaved laborers to his workforce, valued at over $20,000 when Bolling died in 1855.

Bolling Jones' widow, Henrietta Edwards Jones, was left in control of Walnut Valley, with the provision that after her death the property would be conveyed to Bolling's two younger siblings. Minerva and William, however, felt that if they waited out the rest of their sister-in-law's natural life, their inheritance would depreciate in value. For this reason, the two petitioned the court of Surry County to allow them to take ownership of Henrietta's property, and in 1858 they were successful. Minerva and her husband, Blair Pegram, bought out William's share, and the Pegrams took up residence at Walnut Valley. Nothing is known of what became of Henrietta Jones.


Southeastern corner of Highgate and Chippokes Farm Rds, near Highgate, Virginia
37°07′15″N 76°44′33″W
William Newsum, Jr.
Bolling Green Jones
Abt. 1770
NRHP Ref Number