Submitted by FHMaster on Sun, 03/28/2021 - 12:21

Rural Plains, also informally known as Shelton House, is a historic farm house dating to the 1660s in Mechanicsville, VirginiaHanover County; it is one of the sites included within the Richmond National Battlefield Park.

John Shelton built Rural Plains in 1670. A subsequent John Shelton, the tavern keeper at Hanover Court House, was the father of Sarah Shelton, who married the statesman Patrick Henry in 1754. Shelton family, as well as popular, lore state that this marriage took place in the house's first floor parlor, though evidence cannot confirm this claim. Sarah's father gave Henry and her a wedding present of 300 acres of the Rural Plains property, which became known as Pine Slash. Their original residence at Pine Slash was destroyed by a fire in 1757; they then moved into the overseer's house today. This building, referred to as the "Honeymoon Cottage" still stands today a mile away from the Shelton House.

During the Battle of Totopotomoy Creek (the house stands 0.4 miles away from Totopotomoy Creek) on May 30, 1864, the house suffered severe damage from artillery fire. Union signalmen climbed atop the house to convey messages to their troops. Confederate cannoneers tried to shoot them down, striking the building 51 times, but the signalmen survived. The scars of the damage remain today, but the Sheltons, who had sheltered in the basement during the battle, continued to reside in the house.

The house was continuously inhabited by nine generations of Sheltons until the property was transferred to become part of Richmond National Battlefield Park in 2006. The Park owns 124 acres and manages the site in cooperation with the private Rural Plains Foundation, which was established in 2013.

Shelton House - Shenk.jpg


6 mi. N of Mechanicsville off VA 606, near Mechanicsville, Virginia
John Shelton
NRHP Ref Number