Stuart's Birthplace: The History of the Laurel Hill Farm is available on the Book Page
	 		
The Birthplace and Boyhood Home of James Ewell Brown Stuart
"If I should survive the war I desire to settle down on a farm if I can get one to suit me, and devote my after life to agricultural 
pursuits...I am very partial to the old homestead at Patrick, I wonder if it could be bought?" 
                  						--J. E. B. Stuart to his brother William Alexander Stuart, 1864
Tom Perry's Website Of Patrick County Virginia History
    
    
Click Here To Learn More About J. E. B. Stuart Patrick County's Most Famous Son
Click Here To Purchase J. E. B. Stuart's Birthplace: The History of the Laurel Hill Farm
Click Here To Learn About Tours of Historical Ararat Virginia

Click Here For An Online Tour Of Laurel Hill

     
"A short distance to the west stood Laurel Hill (built about 1830) where Confederate Major General James Ewell Brown ‘Jeb’ 
Stuart was born on February 6, 1833 to Archibald Stuart, a lawyer and politician, and Elizabeth Letcher Pannill Stuart. The house 
burned in the winter of 1847-48. After graduation from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1854, Stuart 
served as a U. S. Army officer until May 1861 when he joined the Confederate army. In 1862, he became cavalry commander of the
Army of Northern Virginia, and his fame is part of the history of that army. Wounded while defending Richmond on May 11, 1864,
Stuart died there the next day. He is buried at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond."
							-- Tom Perry, 2002 Virginia Historical Highway Marker
 
 
"In these days when Civil War sites are being developed and lost forever; it is good to see Patrick County taking an interest in 
preserving it’s past. The Stuart Birthplace is the most important historic project ever undertaken in Patrick County." 

     - James I. Robertson, Jr. Alumni Distinguished Professor of History at Virginia Tech       

 

Click Here To View Dr. Robertson And Tom Perry At Laurel Hill

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Perry Family Honored at Stuart's Birthplace
 

“It is in indeed an honor and privilege for me to deliver these remarks as we honor the Perry Family with the first placement of a polished granite marker here at the main flagpole of Laurel Hill. This marker is placed in recognition of the many contributions by this family, not only to the formative years of the Trust, but to its continuation and indeed to its survival. Now, if you will permit me a small amount of humor to introduce the theme of my remarks, I would like to relate this short anecdote. Many of you, I am sure, recall the name of Rudyard Kipling, the famous English author of such works as Gunga Din, The Road to Mandalay and many, many more tales. Well, the story goes that is was circulated throughout London that Kipling was paid a shilling for every word that he wrote. So a group of enterprising students at Oxford sent Mr. Kipling a letter containing a shilling and asked that he send them one of his words. The unexpected reply came back with one word, “Thanks.”

And that one word “Thanks” is the reason we are gathered her today. Thanks to a family whose vision, dedication and perseverance in the cause of insuring that this historic property known as Laurel Hill would never be desecrated by the presence of a private home on this lovely knoll, or heaven forbid a housing development, it at long last being recognized.

Every organization, be it the largest corporate entity or the smallest civic group has to undergo a beginning stage. This stage of its life cycle is arguably its most important. For it is at this stage that the seeds are sown that more often than not portend success or failure for an embryonic enterprise. It was no different for the Trust that exists today. At the outset, I realized that my words cannot do justice to this subject, that it is an impossible task to adequately express here today what the contributions of this family have meant to both the Trust and to Laurel Hill itself. Perhaps the best thing I can do is to illuminate some of the sacrifices they made, to replay a few of the highlights of the important events in which they were instrumental here at Laurel Hill and some of their “digging in the dirt” physical accomplishments.

No doubt at the point you have noticed my references to the Perrys has been codified by the “family.” This is because their son, Thomas, who was and is an integral part of the reason for this ceremony today sincerely wanted the emphasis of my remarks to reflect the primacy of his mother and father’s role in his nearly life long association with Laurel Hill. To emphasize this point, he gently refused my offer to place his name on the stone along with his parents. Thomas Perry has been many things to many people, but first and foremost he has been a dutiful and loving son.

Now the difficult task before me to try to condense what the Perry Family has meant to Laurel Hill. I have to ask that you turn the pages back to some thirty seven years ago to see a nine year old boy riding on the road to Mount Airy with his mother who sees the historical marker beside the road amongst the brush that says “Stuart’s Birthplace.” He wonders what it is all about. It was the point, that the family and Laurel Hill begin its journey together. For only a mother’s love and desire to support her son’s new found interest in history in general and James Stuart in particular could have stoked the fire that has burned to this day. Of one thing there can be no doubt that the contributions her son was to make in the years yet to come to save the Laurel Hill Farm from falling into private hands were a direct result of her willing sacrifice of time, money and sometimes great inconvenience to insure that his interest was fostered and nurtured throughout adolescence. George and Icy Bowman Brown, the then owners of the present day Laurel Hill were, I am sure, surprised to see this mother and son standing at their front door a little ill at ease. As the questions tumbled out of this little boy, George Brown being a quintessential grandfatherly type took him under his wing and spent endless days after that first meeting to walk over every nook and cranny of Laurel Hill with him and answered the endless questions that the imagination of a little boy engendered. As the years passed this little boy who had roamed Laurel Hill imagining that he was the reincarnation of a small James Stuart looking for a hornet’s nest to knock down, and riding bareback furiously over the hills, finished the education that Patrick County could provide. I am sure to his mother’s relief he matriculated at VPI majoring in history and studied under the renowned Civil War Professor James I. Robertson, Jr.

When the year 1990 arrived it became apparent that the health of both George and Icy Bowman Brown was failing and that Laurel Hill would soon be for sale. Thomas, along with other members of the Stuart Civil War Round Table set about to form an organization to raise the necessary funds to purchase Laurel Hill and thus save this valuable piece of historic property for future generations to see and enjoy. This was an incredibly difficult undertaking involving almost every conceivable method fund raising during which time it is difficult to adequately portray the involvement of Mr. and Mrs. Perry who gave unselfishly of their time, money and just plain hard work to reach the seemingly unreachable goal of raising nearly seventy five thousand dollars. But they did. And the Trust was born.

In those early years funds were short, exhaustion had set in from months of back breaking travel in fund raisers and it seemed that the mountain had been climbed, and all the climbers were prostrate. Not so the Perrys. For now when it was needed most Erie and Betty Perry kicked into high gear. They provided gravel for what was then euphemistically called a road, Mrs. Perry designed and planted a flower garden which graces the entrance to Laurel Hill to this day, and then in a moment of inspiration she planted the lovely forsythia bushes at the entrance whose yellow blooms herald the arrival of spring each year. In her words, “Yellow for the cavalry.” Her beautiful day lilies continue each year to brighten our scene as if they are there to remind us all of the lovely lady who planted them there. For these and contributions too numerous to mention we are gathered here today to place this memorial in honor of a family without whose generosity, time and labor it is entirely possible that we would not have the ground to place it on. While the words “Thank You” seemingly are inadequate they are rendered from the hearts of all of us whose privilege it is today lead Laurel Hill into the future.

So, in closing, let me say the sobriquet “First Lady of Laurel Hill” rests rightly on the mantle of Betty Hobbs Perry.”

-- Remarks by the  President of the J. E. B. Stuart Birthplace Preservation Trust on October 7, 2006

 

Below Granite Marker Placed At  Stuart Birthplace Honoring Founder Tom Perry's parents Betty and Erie Perry

 

PDF files on The Free State of Patrick require the Adobe reader to access.                      

Click Here To Learn About The Preservation Of Laurel Hill

Click Here For An Online Tour Of Laurel Hill

Laurel Hill’s Many Histories

     James Ewell Brown Stuart once wrote of his home in Patrick County, Virginia "Although every one deems his own home ‘A spot supremely blest, A dearer, sweeter Spot than all the rest,’ Yet experience has taught me that it is necessary to be deprived of it awhile in order to appreciate it properly. I might have rambled over the dear old hills of Patrick amid all pleasures of a mountain home for a life time…"

     James Ewell Brown "Jeb" Stuart was born at Laurel Hill, but his is not the only history of significance on the property. From prehistoric discoveries to the continuing efforts of the present day by the J. E. B. Stuart Birthplace, few places have the many histories for students to discover as this special part of Patrick County. The Birthplace placed interpretive signs for all these different histories in 2002.

     Archaeology by the College of William and Mary revealed the presence of Native Americans along the Ararat River, which flows into the Yadkin River in North Carolina, well known for its many native sites.

     Descendants of Africans enslaved lived at Laurel Hill from the time of William Letcher, Stuart’s great-grandfather in the 1770s. Letcher’s Will notes nine slaves on the property. The Stuarts owned nearly thirty slaves from the mid 1820s until 1859 when Mrs. Stuart sold the property. The slave cemetery has a trail stop with an interpretive marker.

     William Letcher moved to the land along the Ararat River in the late 1770s with his wife Elizabeth Perkins. In the spring of 1780, their only child, Bethenia blessed the family with her arrival. Later that year pro-British Tories killed William during the American Revolution. Letcher lies today in the oldest marked grave in Patrick County.

     Archibald and Elizabeth Stuart moved to Laurel Hill in the mid 1820s. Mrs. Stuart inherited the property from her grandfather, Letcher. Archibald Stuart was a prominent local politician serving as Commonwealth Attorney for several local counties, in both houses of the Virginia legislature from Patrick County and one term in the United States Congress. Mrs. Stuart was known for her love of nature, her strict discipline and religious faith.

     The house described as being in a grove of oak trees and surrounded by gardens burned in the late 1847-48. The family lived in the kitchen until the property passed from the family. Trail stops denote the site of the house and the kitchen. Other trails exist from the top of Laurel Hill to and along the Ararat River with steps and bridges added for walker’s convenience.

     The Virginia Landmark Register and the National Register of Historic Places placed the property on their lists due to its significance as a mid 1850s farmstead. It is unusual for a property to be on the registers without a structure.

     Several local families owned and divided Laurel Hill since the Stuarts sold it. Among them the Browns and Dellenback, who sold property to the J. E. B. Stuart Birthplace Preservation Trust beginning in 1990 and 1995. Seventy-five of the nearly two thousand acres owned by the Stuarts is saved for future generations to learn about the many histories of this special place called Laurel Hill.

Related Links

Native-American History at Laurel Hill and Patrick County

African-American History at Laurel Hill and Patrick County 

Stuart Mosby Historical Society

Planning a visit to Laurel Hill Look Below For The PDF Versions.

Click Here To Read The Laurel Hill Reference Book

Click Here For The Laurel Hill Teacher's Guide

Teacher's Guide  is a text only version in PDF format. 

PDF files on The Free State of Patrick require the Adobe reader to access.

Click Here For An Online Tour Of Laurel Hill

Virginia Department of Historic Resources http://www.dhr.virginia.gov/

Highway Marker Program http://state.vipnet.org/dhr/hiway_markers/hwmarker_info.htm

Department Publications http://state.vipnet.org/dhr/homepage_general/pubs1.htm

     Laurel Hill, Birthplace of J. E. B. Stuart, is part of the Virginia Civil War Trail System. This trails connects the Patrick County site to over 250 Civil War related sites in Virginia that includes brochures and maps distributed throughout the state showing the locations of all the sites. Laurel Hill received four directional signs and an interpretive sign at the site near the visitor’s center at Laurel Hill.

"Laurel Hill, the 1500-acre farm of Archibald and Elizabeth Letcher Pannill Stuart, was the birthplace of their seventh child James Ewell Brown Stuart at 11 AM on February 6, 1833. ‘Jeb’ Stuart attended Emory and Henry College in southwest Virginia (1848-50) and the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York (1850-54) After serving seven years in the cavalry of the United States Army in Texas and Kansas (1854-61), in which he assisted in the capture of John Brown at Harper’s Ferry in 1859, Stuart resigned in 1861 when Virginia seceded. Stuart became the commander of the cavalry in Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia during the American Civil War rising to the rank of Major General. Highlights of his career included multiple rides around the Union forces, commanding the infantry of the fallen Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson at Chancellorsville, and his controversial role at Gettysburg. Stuart died on May 12, 1864 after wounds received at the Battle of Yellow Tavern and is buried in Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery. Two other Stuart brothers born at Laurel Hill served the Southern cause. William Alexander Stuart ran the alkali works in Saltville during the war. John Dabney Stuart was a surgeon in the Fifty-Fourth Virginia Regiment." - Tom Perry, Virginia Civil War Trails Sign

     The Civil War Discovery Trail, links almost 600 sites in 32 states to inspire and to teach the story of the Civil War and its enduring impact on America. Along the Trail visitors may explore destinations such as Ford's Theatre where President Lincoln was shot; Antietam National Battlefield, the site of the bloodiest one-day battle in American history. The Trail includes battlefields, historic homes, cemeteries, parks, and other places that bring history to life. Stops along the trail introduce visitors not only to military history, but also to the political, social, and human dimensions of the war.

     Civil War Discovery Trail sites are especially selected for their historic significance and educational opportunities. Each year new sites and states are added to the Trail. The Civil War Preservation Trust created the Civil War Discovery Trail with support from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the National Park Service, and in partnership with state tourism and historic preservation agencies, and communities across the nation that were touched by the war. The Civil War Trust developed the trail to promote education and to encourage historic preservation and heritage tourism.

Civil War Sites: The Official Guide to Battlefields, Monuments, and More
by Civil War Preservation Trust. Within this easy-to-use guide, completely revised and updated in clear, concise prose, are more than 500 sites in 28 states--solemn battlefields, gracious mansions, state parks, cemeteries, memorials, museums, and more. Specific directions, hours, and contact information help to plan the trip; evocative description and detailed maps help orient you when you're there. As a new addition, boxed sidebars authored by Congressmen and historians passionately articulate many events of the Civil War. ISBN: 076272515X

 

Laurel Hill is part of the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail System on the Blue Ridge Highlands Trail Loop that begins at the Shot Tower State Park on the New River in Carroll County.

Laurel Hill Nature Tours

J. E. B. Stuart: The Next Generations

letcher family image
Descendants of J. E. B. Stuart's daughter Virginia Pelham Stuart visited Laurel Hill, Stuart's Birthplace in Ararat, Virginia, on Saturday July 30, 2005. Photo at their great-great-great-great-grandfather, William Letcher's grave, the oldest marked grave in Patrick County. Left to Right: Mike and Claudia Straw of Tampa Florida, Stuart and Drury Nimmich of Charleston, South Carolina, Erle and Lucie Austin of Louisville, Kentucky with Flora Stuart Waller Old Dunham, the mother of Claudia, Stuart and Erle.  William Letcher was killed by Tories in August 1780 during the American Revolution and was the great-grandfather of Confederate Major General J. E. B. Stuart.
Jebs Image

Left to Right: James Ewell Brown Stuart VI, his father Dr. J. E. B. Stuart V and Tom Perry at a recent talk by the latter in Richmond.

Laurel Hill Chronology

1726 Archibald Stuart arrives in Pennsylvania from Northern Ireland.

1728 William Byrd surveys boundary between North Carolina and Virginia.

1732 Archibald Stuart’s Wife (Janet Brown) and children arrive in Pennsylvania.

1733 Alexander Stuart (Major) born to Archibald and Janet Stuart.

1749 Peter Jefferson and Joshua Fry survey boundary line at Laurel Hill.

1750 William Letcher born to Giles and Hannah Hughes Letcher.

1761 Archibald Stuart dies.

1770 Alexander Stuart (Judge) born in Augusta County, Virginia.

1778 William Letcher marries Elizabeth Perkins.

1780 William and Elizabeth Perkins Letcher live at Laurel Hill.

    Bethenia Letcher born at Laurel Hill. William Letcher killed by Tories.

1781 Major Alexander Stuart fights at Guilford Courthouse, North Carolina.

    Elizabeth Perkins Letcher marries George Hairston of Henry County, Virginia.

1795 Archibald Stuart (Father) born to Judge Alexander Stuart.

1798 Bethenia Letcher marries David Pannill.

1801 Elizabeth Letcher Pannill born to Bethenia and David Pannill.

1818 Elizabeth Perkins Letcher Hairston dies.

1823 Major Alexander Stuart dies.

1825 Archibald and Elizabeth Letcher Pannill Stuart living at Laurel Hill

1832 Judge Alexander Stuart dies in Staunton, Virginia, during trip from Missouri.

1833 James Ewell Brown Stuart is born on February 6 at Laurel Hill

1845 J. E. B. Stuart goes to Wythe County to continue his education.

      Bethenia Letcher Pannill dies in Pittsylvania County, Virginia.

1848 Main house at Laurel Hill burns.

J. E. B. Stuart enters Emory and Henry College.

1850 J. E. B. Stuart enters the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.

1854 Stuart graduates thirteenth in the Class of 1854 from the U.S.M.A.

1855 Archibald Stuart dies and is buried at Laurel Hill.

1859 Elizabeth L. P. Stuart sells Laurel Hill to Galloway and Hollingsworth.

1861 War Between the States erupts with firing on Fort Sumter, South Carolina.

     J. E. B. resigns from U. S. Army on May 10. Brigadier General by year’s end.

1862 Rides around Union armies multiple times and promoted to Major General.

1863 Replaces Jackson in command of Infantry at Chancellorsville in May.

     Fights at Brandy Station, Aldie, Middleburg, Upperville and Gettysburg in June and July. 

1864 J. E. B. Stuart dies on May 12 after being wounded the day before at Yellow Tavern.

1865 Civil War ends with Confederate surrenders at Appomattox and Bennett Place.

1932 Virginia places historical highway marker at Laurel Hill.

1952 Archibald Stuart moved from Laurel Hill to Saltville, Virginia.

1990 J. E. B. Stuart Birthplace Preservation Trust, Inc. formed to preserve the site.

1992 Birthplace purchases seventy acres of the Stuart property from the Brown family.

1993 Archaeology by the College of William and Mary discovers house and kitchen sites.

1995 Dellenback Family sells five acres to Birthplace including William Letcher’s grave.

1998 Laurel Hill placed on Virginia and National Registers of Historical Places.

2002 Eight Interpretive signs placed at Laurel Hill.

    New Virginia Highway Historical marker and Civil War Trails sign installed. 

2005 Stuart Pavilion completed with five interpretive signs about Stuart in the Civil War.

Laurel Hill History  written by Thomas D. Perry

Confederate Major General James Ewell Brown Stuart told his brother William Alexander Stuart in 1863 "I would give anything to make a pilgrimage to the old place, and when the war is over quietly spend the rest of my days there." J. E. B Stuart never returned to his birthplace and boyhood home, but thanks to a group of local citizens you today can visit the site where one of the greatest soldiers to sit upon a horse learned to ride.

Laurel Hill is located in the southwestern part of Patrick County in the community of Ararat on the dividing line between the piedmont and the mountains and within sight of the boundary line of North Carolina and Virginia. The seventy-five acre site, owned by the J. E. B. Stuart Birthplace Preservation Trust, is open to the public dawn to dusk for self-guided walking tours. The organization has sponsored four symposiums on the life and career of General Stuart led by Historian Thomas D. Perry.

The land along the Ararat River was home to Native peoples speaking a variation of the Siouan language long before anyone related to Stuart ever set foot in North America. Artifacts from these peoples have been found and are displayed as part of the interpretation at the site.

The story of Jeb Stuart begins at Laurel Hill in the year of 1778 with the marriage of William Letcher and Elizabeth Perkins of Pittsylvania County, Virginia. Soon after the wedding, the couple presumably decided to go west in search of a new home.  One could readily surmise that when they came to the foot of the mountains and saw the beautiful, pristine stream that is today the Ararat River they decided to settle upon its banks. It is possible that Letcher moved to the area to be source of leadership for the Patriot cause during the American Revolution.

Letcher, along with nine slaves owned built his home and began a subsistence farm. The names of the slaves that worked building and planting at various times have come down to us. They were: David, Ben, Randolph, Craft, Nann, Look, Abraham, Will and Dick. The home is believed to have been situated on the west bank of the Ararat River across from the site of Stuart's birthplace. There is no evidence that William Letcher ever owned the property as no deed was never recorded.

On March 21, 1780, a daughter Bethenia was born to William and Elizabeth Letcher. Tragedy would soon strike the young family, for on the second day of August 1780, William Letcher was shot and killed by one "Nichols' a Tory or British sympathizer. Of the many oral and traditional accounts of the murder, which vary widely, it is generally agreed that his murder was politically motivated. Nichols was subsequently apprehended and paid for his crime with his life.

Ironically, like "Jeb" Stuart, his great-grandfather, William Letcher, lost his life fighting for his country's independence while still in his early thirties. In the summer of 1780, the British were beginning their move through the Carolinas for a rendezvous with Washington and Rochambeau at Yorktown, William Letcher, a local patriot leader, his wife and new baby were living along the banks of the Ararat River when the pro-British or Tories as they were known picked Letcher out as a target and killed him. He is buried there on Laurel Hill property in the oldest marked grave in Patrick County. He is commemorated each year at a Revolutionary War encampment on the property.

Later Elizabeth Perkins Letcher would take her young child and return to Henry County where she would later marry George Hairston of the Beaver Creek Plantation, who was by all odds the richest man in Virginia of his time. By 1800, Bethenia married David Pannill, by whom she bore two children William and Elizabeth named for their maternal grandparents. Elizabeth would become the mother of James Ewell Brown Stuart.

Through a series of complex land transactions, William and Elizabeth Letcher Pannill found themselves the owners of approximately 1500 acres of land, which was to comprise the future plantation called Laurel Hill. In a series of land swaps, Elizabeth traded with her brother William, certain land she held in partnership with him in Campbell and Pittsylvania counties, and she became the sole owner of the Patrick County property.

In 1817, Elizabeth Pannill at the age of 16 married Archibald Stuart. Archibald, age 22 was just then beginning a career in politics and in law. After the marriage the family lived in Campbell County Virginia where Archibald was elected to the state legislature for the first time. In the ensuing four years, the Stuarts had produced three daughters and a son, none of whom were born on the Patrick County property. By October of 1823, Archibald had journeyed to Patrick County where he was granted a license to practice law, and may have begun arrangements to bring his family to Patrick County.

Archibald and Elizabeth Stuart and their brood of eleven children lived at Laurel Hill from the mid 1820s until 1859 when the latter sold the property to men from nearby Mount Airy, North Carolina. The site passed through several local families until the non-profit Stuart Trust purchased it in 1991. Archibald Stuart was a prominent politician and attorney of his time attending two constitutional conventions in Virginia along with representing Patrick County in both houses of the Virginia Legislature and one term in the United States House of Representatives. Elizabeth Stuart was known as a strict religious woman with a great love of nature. Both traits can be seen in the personality of their most famous offspring.

It is not certain just when construction started on the home that was to be called Laurel Hill, however most agree that it was completed by 1830. It was in this home that the first child of Laurel Hill was born, William Alexander Stuart. Six more children were to see the first light of day at Laurel Hill including the eighth child and youngest surviving son, James Ewell Brown Stuart, who was born at eleven a.m. on the 6th of February 1833.

The Laurel Hill home has been described as a comfortable and unpretentious farmhouse sitting in a grove of oak trees. Unfortunately the home was completely destroyed by fire in the winter of 1847-48, and no contemporary detailed descriptions of the house have survived. James himself in a later letter described the fire as a "sad disaster". After the fire, Archibald along with his son Dr. John Dabney Stuart continued to live in the outbuilding that had served as the family kitchen for several years thereafter. Archibald passed away in 1855 and was buried at Laurel Hill, and remained there until 1952 when he was moved to Saltville, Virginia to lie beside his wife. By 1859, Elizabeth sold the property to two Mount Airy North Carolina men and the property passed out of the Stuart family hands forever.

In 1845, some two or more years before the catastrophic fire, James had left Laurel Hill and moved to Wytheville, there to go to school and work for his brother William Alexander. In 1848, he matriculated at Emory and Henry College for two years, until Representative W. D.. Averett appointed him to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. Graduating in 1854, in a class filled with latter day Civil War luminaries, James began his career in the United States Army.

James spent seven years mainly with the First United States Cavalry in Kansas before resigning in May 1861 to offer his services to Virginia. During this time, he would rise in rank to Captain; dabble in real estate, law and other ways to supplement his income. He married Flora Cooke, daughter of Phillip St. George Cooke, and had three children with her. In 1859, he was in Washington selling a patent of an invention to the War Department when John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry occurred. Stuart offered his services to then Colonel Robert E. Lee and accompanied him to put down the insurrection. During his time in Kansas, he offered to purchase part of Laurel Hill from his mother, and sent money for a church in the community.

He would rise to fame as the commander of Robert E. Lee's cavalry in the Civil War, but his heart was always at Laurel Hill. He wrote while still at West Point that he had not appreciated how beautiful a place in which he had grown up and longed to ramble "over the dear old hills of Patrick amid all the pleasures of a mountain home for a lifetime." Stuart died in Richmond on May 12th 1864 after being wounded in the Battle of Yellow Tavern, but his spirit lives on at the place of his birth and the place he had hoped to return to had not the Civil War ended his life too soon.

In 1990, the Trust was formed by Historian Thomas D. Perry for the express purpose of purchasing a seventy-five acre tract of land formally owned and occupied by Archibald and Elizabeth Stuart. One of their children was later to attain fame as "Jeb" Stuart the storied commander of cavalry of the Army of Northern Virginia. The tract of land although just a small portion of the original fifteen hundred acres that comprised the Stuart plantation, contained all of the essential remainders of the Stuart occupancy. The stated goals of the Trust were to restore, protect and interpret the property for the edification of the public.

Money was raised by public subscription to purchase the original Stuart property led by Historian Thomas D. Perry. Since then, much progress had been made in the improvement and interpretation of the property. The J. E. B. . Stuart Birthplace Preservation Trust Inc. purchased the property in 1992 for the express purpose of preserving and interpreting the birthplace of General Stuart. The College of William and Mary performed an extensive archaeological survey of the property locating the remains of the buildings as well as other valuable archaeological information.

From the extensive archaeological study of the property by the College of William and Mary Virginia included the site on the Virginia Landmark Register and the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. The Stuart Birthplace has been an outstanding example of what can be accomplished by ordinary citizens from all walks of life who were unwilling to permit an important segment of our historical heritage to be lost without the interference of government intrusion.

The Trust was able to purchase an additional five acres containing the grave of Stuart's great-grandfather William Letcher and the probable site of the Letcher home from the Dellenback Family. In addition, the Trust has outlined the important locations with white granite posts connected by stainless chain as well as placing eight interpretive signs at each location written by Historian Thomas D. Perry. Three graveyards have been restored and fenced with wrought iron.

The Trust Board of Directors is all volunteers, and serve without compensation of any kind. The Trust is supported entirely by the contributions of its membership. The Trust is organized under IRS regulation 501-c-3 and all contributions to it are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.

Click Here For The Laurel Hill Teacher's Guide

This is a text only version in PDF format. 

PDF files on The Free State of Patrick require the Adobe Reader for access.


For Immediate Release: May 4, 2005

     Thomas D. "Tom" Perry Founder of the J. E. B. Stuart Birthplace is pleased to announce a recent donation of a 110-page Teacher’s Guide For Laurel Hill that covers the many histories relating to Stuart’s Birthplace to the teachers and students of Patrick County, Virginia. Perry purchased and acquired all materials at his own expense. The J. E. B. Stuart Birthplace did not participate in the project.

     Each of the six elementary schools and the high school in Patrick County received copies of the materials listed below. The Patrick County Supervisors, School Board and School System Administration received complimentary copies of the guide on compact disc.

Supplemental materials presented include:

Two brochures about Laurel Hill, Stuart’s Birthplace,

Bringing The Civil War To The Classroom, A Guide For Teachers from VCCWS,

A compact disc containing the Laurel Hill Teacher’s Guide and Reference Guide,

A compact disc containing lesson plans from the Civil War Preservation Trust along with two brochures about Education Programs and the Teacher Institute,

A guide to America’s Most Endangered Battlefields from the CWPT,

A copy of Hallowed Ground, the magazine of the CWPT,

Perry Comments:

     "Virginia Tech’s motto Ut Prosim, ‘That I May Serve,’ signifies a commitment to service that epitomizes this university and its alumni. My education began in Patrick County, Virginia, at Blue Ridge Elementary School and Patrick County High School as did Jeb Stuart’s nearly one hundred and seventy-five years ago. It is easy to criticize teachers, but I wanted to help them by giving them a resource to encourage more interest in the many histories that the Laurel Hill farm, Stuart’s Birthplace represents. It is my hope that this Teacher’s Guide will encourage educators to visit the site and use the site on the National and Virginia Registers of Historic Places as an outdoor classroom."

     "Laurel Hill’s history begins in pre-historic times including Native-American experiences, American Revolution, antebellum farm life including slavery and the African-American experience and Stuart’s role in the Civil War. Laurel Hill was preserved not as a place for reenactors to visit once a year, but as a park for people to visit year round to learn about Patrick County’s most famous son. We should view human beings not of our time with empathy and we should face difficult times in our nation’s history with eyes wide open. History forgotten is often history repeated. This guide is my way to serve the community and relay this history to future generations. My father, Erie Meredith Perry, educated the children of Patrick County for twenty-eight years and to him this book is dedicated."

     Perry worked with the Virginia Center For Civil War Studies at Virginia Tech under the direction of Dr. James I. Robertson, Jr. and William C. Davis on preparing the guide and materials for the schools. "Considering Virginia's integral role in every aspect of the Civil War, the ongoing effects of that conflict yet today, and the unfaltering interest in this period throughout the nation, several people, most notably Virginia Tech Board of Visitors member Donald Huffman, recognized the need to establish a formal entity for studying and sharing knowledge about this period of American history. Mr. Huffman also believed that the university should take advantage of its nationally noted Civil War historian, author, and Alumni Distinguished Professor of History James I. Robertson Jr., as well as the impressive Civil War collection of books, manuscripts, and memorabilia housed in Special Collections, Virginia Tech University Libraries. With a chief goal of educating the young, the projects of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies concentrate on the actions that led to the war, on the factors that help explain it and its aftermath, and on the people who suffered through it. The center provides an ideal setting to shed new light on the war--not merely on the political and military aspects, but also on the more subtle social, cultural, and human implications of this pivotal episode in United States history."

     Jennifer Rosenberry, Education Coordinator of the Civil War Preservation Trust worked with Perry to supply supplemental materials to assist teachers in the study of the Civil War. "The Civil War Preservation Trust is America's largest non-profit organization devoted to the preservation of our nation's endangered Civil War battlefields. The Trust also promotes educational programs to inform the public of the war’s history and the fundamental conflicts that sparked it. Some of its programs include a free annual teacher institute, poster & essay contest, weekly newsletter, free 2-week curriculum CD, classroom memberships, the adopt a battlefield program, and Civil War Explorer.                                                                        

                                                                                                        

                                                                                    Purple, "Jeb's favorite color"  in honor of Adele Mitchell

          Copyright 2007 Thomas D. Perry. No material to be used without permission. Contact Information: P. O. Box 50 Ararat VA 24053 freestateofpatrick@yahoo.com