Brief History of Cherry Hill Farm
To trace the history of this area, you will need to go to the beginnings of the history of Virginia itself. The entire area of the Shenandoah Valley was at one time a parcel of Lord Fairfax.
Fairfax, Thomas, 6th lord and baron of Cameron, the friend and patron of George Washington’s early life, born in Leeds Castle, Kent, England, 169-3?; died at his seat at “Greenway Court”, Frederick County, Virginia, December 12, 1781; son of Thomas, Lord Fairfax of Cameron, and of Catharine, daughter of Lord Culpeper.
Educated at Oxford, and afterwards held a commission in the Blues. A contributor to Addison’s Spectator. Succeeding to the title and to the family estates in Virginia, inherited from his mother, between the Rappahannock and Potomac Rivers, and a great portion of the Shenandoah Valley, he came to Virginia in 1735-1737 to inspect and protect his lands. Returning in 1747 he first settled at Belvior; later he moved to the Shenandoah Valley in 1752, fixing his residence at Greenway Court, a few miles from Winchester. Here he lived in a style of liberal hospitality, frequently indulging in the diversion of the chase. He served as county lieutenant and as justice of the peace.
Lord Fairfax was the only resident peer in America. In 1748, he made the acquaintance of George Washington, then a youth of 16, and, impressed with his energy and talents, employed him to survey his lands lying west of the Blue Ridge. Though a frank and avowed Loyalist, he was never insulted or molested by the Whigs. His barony and immense domain, consisting of 5,282,000 acres, descended to his only surviving brother, Robert, 7th lord, who died at Leeds Castle, England, in 1791; but, as the domain was in possession of Lord Thomas during the Revolution, it was confiscated. Fairfax eventually died in 1781.
The Fairfax Grant and Abraham Spitler:
“Fairfax” and “Culpeper” are names closely linked in the formation of Virginia, though the counties today are not adjacent to each other. The civil War in England in the mid-1600’s led to the defeat of King Charles I. The victorious Puritans cut off the head of Charles I on January 30, 1649 (1648, Old Style). His son declared himself to be the next king, Charles II, but had to flee to France with his few supporters – the Puritans under Cromwell had won the English Civil War and controlled England.
While in France, the king in exile rewarded his allies with grants of land in Virginia. Lord Culpeper was one of those allies. In September, 1649 Charles II granted the Northern Neck of Virginia to Lord Culpeper and six other supporters – though Charles II couldn’t follow through and actually insure legal title until he regained the throne eleven years later in 1660. A grandson of Lord Culpeper, the sixth person to be called Lord Fairfax, finally established clear legal claim to the land almost a century later. Lord Fairfax’s grant allowed him to establish “proprietary” control over the land between the Rappahannock and Potomac rivers.
The Virginia colonial government resisted the land claim that Lord Fairfax inherited, because it reduced the control of the House of Burgesses over the northern part of the colony. In 1675 Lord Culpeper became Governor of Virginia, and in 1688 King James II confirmed that he owned 5/6ths while a cousin (Alexander) owned the remainder of the grant. (You thought regional conflicts between Northern Virginia and other sections of the state were something new?) When Lord Culpeper died, his daughter Katherine Culpeper inherited 5/6th of the “proprietorship.” Her mother retained 1/6th ownership until her death. Katherine Culpeper married Thomas, Fifth Lord Fairfax, and their son Thomas, Sixth Lord Fairfax, ultimately inherited it all in 1719. The Culpepers and Fairfaxes had been on opposite sides of the English Civil War, but the Restoration in 1660 had put that dispute behind them.
Thomas, Sixth Lord Fairfax, allowed Virginia agents (primarily Robert “King” Carter) to manage the proprietary until the early 1730’s. Continued legislative threats to his legal rights, plus the death of Robert Carter, triggered Fairfax to get the Privy Council in London to order a final survey of the boundaries of his ownership.
Near the Chesapeake Bay, that land is known as the Northern Neck, and the boundaries are clear. Defining the inland edge of the land claim of Lord Fairfax required surveys in the 1730’s and decisions in London in the 1740’s. The 1688 patent had described the western boundary as the “first heads or springs” of the Rappahannock and Potomac rivers, and Robert Carter had claimed in 1706 that this included all the area between the Rapidan and Rappahannock rivers. Virginia claimed the Fairfax grant was limited to the area between the confluence of the Shenandoah and the Potomac (Harper’s Ferry today), and the falls of the Rappahannock (Fredericksburg today).
For the 1736 survey, Governor Gooch of Virginia appointed three commissioners, Lord Fairfax appointed three – and then each side also appointed three surveyors. (Lord Fairfax had George Washington surveying his western lands starting in 1748, years later…) Not surprisingly, separate maps were created by the two sides after the survey, and it took eight years before officials in England decided finally in favor of Lord Fairfax.
A year later, in 1746, a “back line” was surveyed between the headwaters of the Rapidan and the Potomac. The Fairfax Stone was set at the north end, and this time all the surveyors agreed on the boundary – which set aside over 5 million acres of Virginia for Lord Fairfax. Today, the boundary between Shenandoah and Rockingham counties follows that surveyed line, connecting the headwaters of the Rapidan to the headwaters of the North Fork of the Potomac River. (Greene County, Orange County, and Spottsylvania County are south of the Rapidan, so they were not part of the Fairfax Grant.)
Lord Fairfax had come to Virginia in 1735 to defend his claim to the land, returned to England in 1737 to negotiate with the Privy Council, and then returned again to Virginia in 1747. In 1742, while Lord Fairfax himself was in England, the colony carved out a new county from Prince William and named it after Lord Fairfax.
Lord Fairfax was a life-long bachelor. After he returned to Virginia in 1747, he lived at his cousin William Fairfax’s home, Belvoir (now the site of Fort Belvoir), before building a hunting lodge he titled grandly “Greenway Court” – far away from the settled Tidewater, west of the Blue Ridge. He added a stone house and settled there permanently in 1761, essentially on the frontier. Though his reasons will never be known for sure, there is some evidence that he was rejected by a woman he intended to marry before he came to Virginia in 1735.
He stayed neutral during the Revolutionary War, and died in December, 1781 (after Cornwallis’s surrender at Yorktown). After 10 years of negotiating and lawsuits, the new Commonwealth of Virginia acquired title to the Fairfax lands that had not already been granted to anyone, and a real estate syndicate purchased Greenway Court and other properties clearly owned by heirs of Lord Fairfax.
Lord Fairfax deeded the Cherry Hill farm land to Abraham Spitler who deeded it to John Snyder.
The land in Page County, Virginia- which was once called Dunmore County- was deeded in large portions. One of the larger portions was to the Stoever family, a long-time family name in Page. The property in Marksville on Pine Grove Road was deeded first to Abraham Spitler then to the Snyder family in 1838. The original land grant is in the possession of the present owner, and I am unsure of the number of acres specified by Fairfax.
On March 21, 1859 John Snider and his wife Judith divided the farm into six parcels to the following:
James P. Snider
Frances E. Snider
Clarissa A. Snider
Elizabeth (Bettie) Snider (Koontz)
The children of the deceased Mary Alice Long who were:
Lena June Long
Andrew Wilton Long
to share in a one-sixth share. The gift was witnessed by justices Paschal Graves (builder and pastor of Graves Chapel Church) and Jacob C. Kite. Some of the children were not named in the document. Some of these unnamed children later play a prominent role in the resulting will of James P. Snyder in 1911 after his death.
To digress a little, the Page County Snyders come from a John Snyder born in Culpeper, VA in 1720 and died in the same are in 1760. He had a wife named Mary. These early Virginia settlers came to the US through Jamestown, although they had to be naturalized in Williamsburg, VA. John’s parents would have to have done this.
John Snyder Sr. and Mary had at least seven children. Three are known by name. There was an Adam 1753-1819 which married first Mildred Write, then Amy Carpenter; a John 1754-1804 which married an Elizabeth; then Michael Snyder 1755 -1/27/1815.
Michael married Martha Patty Stigler of Culpeper, VA in 1780. They had twelve children. They were:
-Mary (Polly) Snyder, born 1786 in Madison, VA which married Zachary Taylor
-Charlotte Snyder, born 1792 in Madison, VA which married William Taylor
-Frances Snyder born about 1808 in Madison, VA
-William Snyder born about 1810 in Madison, VA
-Lucy Snyder 1784-1848 which married Aaron Fray
-Nancy Snyder 1781-1849 which married Ephriam Fray
-Elizabeth Snyder 1784-1857 which married Peter Thornton
-Martha (Patsy) Snyder 1802-1845 which married Thornton Rucker
-John Snyder Jr. (which we are most concerned with) married Malevia Yager, then Judith Graves
-Lydia Price Snyder 1796-1896 which married John Peyton
-Sarah Snyder 1788-1823 which married Joel Wayland
-James Snyder 1790-1850 which married first Frances Carpenter then Sarah Ann Aylor
Michael Snyder lived from 1750 to January 27th, 1815 and was most likely the Snyder that received the land grant from Abraham Spitler who received it from Lord Fairfax. Again, the original parcel that was divided by John Snyder was for 436 acres- which may have only been a fraction of the original Spitler grant.
Michael’s son John Snyder 1788-1874 owned the 436-acre tract along the Little Hawksbill River in the Marksville District. It can be assumed that the tract of land was bordered on the southwest side by Judy Road, which was named for Jacob Judy – another resident of Marksville. On the southeast side, the property was bordered by land deeded to the Southard family- which was later broken into six parcels- with the nearest portion to Cherry Hill owned by Mary Southard – the grandparents of Joshua Calvin Southard. On the northeast side, the farm was bordered by land owned by Jacob Aleshire and on the south by land owned by William Gray.
Sometime after 1838 the present main farmhouse was constructed at Cherry Hill Farm. A document authored around 1940 supposedly shows that the original landowner was Abraham Spitler.
The home was built from bricks made on site and locally hewn lumber. In the original configuration, tiles surrounding the mantelpieces were imported from Holland and were hand-painted.
Cherry Hill was apparently a very busy place. John Snyder had ten children. The first was Elizabeth Snyder (which married Harrison Long) from his first wife Malevia Yager Snyder. It is after her death that John Snyder married Judith Graves 1789-1869 and had nine more children. They were:
-John W. Snyder, Jr. which married Cinderella Dovel
-Lewis A. Snyder
-Verinda Jane Snyder which married David Koontz- great-grandson of Elder John Koontz
-Clarissa Snyder which married a Dovel
-Mary Alice Snyder which died young, but married Andrew Jackson Long
-Emanuel Snyder which married Drucilla Dovel
-Jane Snyder which married James Thomas Koontz
Along with this, the 1860 census shows a Harvey Bailey, age 20, Mason Long age 10. On the 1870 census, a Mary Comer, 39 is listed as a domestic with her 6-year-old daughter Emma. Thomas Southard age 19 and a farm laborer is also listed. A rumor persists that there are slaves buried on the property- which may be the Comers.
James P. Snyder left the farm to go west in the 1849 Gold Rush when he was twenty years old. When he came back from California, he planted cherry seeds on the property which were brought back from California. From then on, it was called “Cherry Hill Farm”. Jim also brought back gold from California and buried it under the house in a crawl space- later excavated by the Mims family.
Since James was a bachelor, he lived in the house with his parents until 1874 when his father died and Jim was 45 years old. Prior to this time, my personal history intersects the farm.
Joshua Calvin Suthard grew up on the adjacent farm owned by his family. JC Suthard’s father was William Henry Southard, and had a number of children before he died at an early age. The children were all raised by Lewis Southard, son of Moses Southard. In a disagreement with his father Moses Southard, Lewis was forced into indentured service for a debt of $40.00. This type of repayment in those days usually showed a bad relationship between a father and son. Lewis was also disinherited from Moses’ will.
Joshua- being raised by his grandparents that were dispossessed was apparently not a young man of any wealth. Being a neighbor of John Snyder’s successful working farm, it made sense for him to be employed by Snyder. J.C. Suthard was born in 1841 and married Eliza Jane Parks in 1868, and there is good reason to believe that within 5 years after the marriage that they lived on Cherry Hill Farm. In the 1870 Census, JC Southard, Eliza Jane Parks Southard, and Lula Ann Southard are listed in Marksville, but not on Cherry Hill Farm.
Several years prior, the Civil War raged through the Shenandoah Valley. Stonewall Jackson camped in the area only a mile from Cherry Hill in the flat area called Marksville. His encampment was between the intersection of Pine Grove Road in Marksville and Graves Chapel Church. Jackson’s own brigade was the 33rd Virginia Infantry, which was called the “Stonewall Brigade”. Company “”H was known as the “Page Greys” and saw action in the valley. It is at this point that history is sketchy. It has been heard that Stonewall Jackson stayed at the Farm on occasion while his troops were bivouacked in Marksville. This would have made sense since Rev. Paschal Graves lived nearby and was a good friend of John Snyder- he would have recommended Jackson to stay at an accommodating location, and the Farm would provide just the place.
It was during this time that Joshua Calvin Suthard was enlisted in the 33rd Virginia Infantry. Apparently he knew Eliza Jane Parks at the time and had access to Cherry Hill Farm because Eliza’s brother James Parks apparently was hidden in the access beneath the home after he deserted from the 97th Virginia Militia.
James P. Snyder would have been over 35 and too old to serve in the Civil War at the time.
J.C. Suthard and Eliza Jane Parks Suthard raised four children at the farm:
-Lula Ann Suthard 1869-1942 which married Robert Trenton Roudabush
-William Suthard 1871-1904 – not married
-Evangeline Suthard 1873-1898 – not married
-Hortense Suthard b. 1876 and married Frank Wharton Huffman
When Eliza Suthard was 27 years old, she had Evangeline Suthard. Rumor and legal documents propose that Evangeline was the result of an encounter with James P. Snyder. Evangeline was a musician and was schooled at the University of Virginia in Dayton, receiving the finest classical education. This type of education could have been far out of the means of J.C. and Eliza Suthard which were tenants of the Snyder farm, although the legal rebuttal from Eliza Suthard in 1913 claims that Evangeline’s education was in fact paid for by J.C. and Eliza. In 1870 the occupants of the house would have been:
Judith Graves Snyder
James P. Snyder
Joshua Calvin Suthard
Eliza Jane Parks Suthard
Lula Ann Suthard (later Roudabush)
Thomas Southard (this may have been Thomas Franklin Southard- first cousin of J.C. Suthard)
Mary Comer, Domestic
Emma Comer, Mary’s daughter
Lula Ann Suthard Roudbush lived at the farm most of her life, marrying Robert Trenton Roudabush around 1887. They had six children all born at the Farm prior to the death of Snyder. At the time that Snyder died in 1911, the occupants of the home were:
James P. Snyder
Eliza Jane Parks Suthard
Robert Trenton Roudabush
Lula Ann Suthard Roudabush
Guy Lee Rouabush
Frank Calvin Roudabush (my grandfather)
In 1911, James P. Snyder died, and in his will he left the farm and associated acreage to:
Eliza Jane Parks Suthard
Lula Ann Suthard Roudabush
Hortense Suthard Hoffman (sister of Lula)
It was approximately Feb. 1, 1913 that Eliza received a summons to court from:
William T.G. Snyder (brother of James)
Bettie Lee Koontz (niece of James, daughter of John W. Snyder)
Emma Blanche Schuler (niece of James, daughter of John W. Snyder)
Lillie Byrd Ward (niece of James, daughter of John W. Snyder)
This lawsuit was a claim that the portion of James P. Snyder was rightfully theirs since James left no issue. This may show a problem with the original parcels in 1859 in which William T. G. Snyder was not a party, although alive. The original appraisal at Snyder’s death was $5812.68, although the lawsuit contends that the real value was $14 -15,000.00. The lawsuit contends that the last will made by James was not legitimate since Snyder became paranoid in the last years of his life. The suit claims that Eliza retained such a control over Snyder’s mind that he became afraid that his relatives would try to poison him. In the last years of his life, occasionally Snyder would lock himself in his room upstairs and stay awake for days carrying a gun and reading the Koran. It was on the basis of the claim that Snyder was incompetent to make a will that his brother William and three daughters of John W. Snyder, Jr. filed the suit.
In the defendant’s response to the suit, the allegations of Snyder’s eccentric behavior and unsuitableness to execute his will were successfully refuted in court and declared to be false by Eliza, et. al., and the farm remained in the Suthard family.
In 1927 Eliza Jane Parks Suthard died and the farm was willed to Lula Ann Suthard Roudabush and Hortense Suthard Hoffman. On October 12, 1927 Hortense sold her interest in the farm to Lula for the amount of one dollar, giving full ownership to Lula and Robert Trenton Roudabush.
At the death of Snyder, the farm employed some 60 employees for picking and packing fruit for shipment. After the death of Eliza, Lula and Robert T. came on hard times and had to borrow money in a bond from Grover Miller of Page County for the amount of $550.00 at six- percent interest. It is not clear if Miller held the note in trust for another person (possibly M.E. Roudabush)- the document does not speak to this. Here were the beginning of their financial woes.
It was said that Civil War relics stored in the attic were sold for money to support the farm, along with the delft tiles on the fireplace. Robert T. Roudabush was a notorious drunkard, so Lula was quite alone in her effort to run what remained of the farm. Robert worked for Major Ashby Roudabush- his older brother- who owned a mill in Grove Hill, VA as a laborer while Lula tended the farm. There is no record in print or verbally if the farm still hired employees when the Roudabushes lived there, but it can be figured that after the death of Eliza that the function of Cherry Hill as a functioning enterprise dimished.
In 1943 after Lula died, the farm was sold for auction on the steps of the Page County Courthouse for the remaining debt of $4,800.00, with several of the bonds being held by Miller Elbea Roudabush- the nephew of Robert Trenton Roudabush (as he was the son of Major Ashby Roudabush). M.E. Roudabush was the owner of Luray Orchards and packing plant and quite well to do. He was also a benefactor to Lula permitting her to keep the farm from bankruptcy in her later years.
M.E. Roudabush purchased the farm on September 4th, 1943 and sold it to J.R. and Ethel Mims on the same day for the sum of $4200.00 netting an instant profit of $200.00.
In April 1955, the Mims sold a 10.3-acre portion of the 64-acre farm to Charles E. Good. It was during the ownership of the Mims family that the home underwent several additions onto the back of the house. J.R. was the son of Henry Brooks Mims and his wife Elizabeth- the original builders and operators of the Mimslyn until 1974.
The Mims family owned the home until April 15th 1964 when it was sold to William R. and Elizabeth M Gifford less the 10.3-acre parcel. The Giffords may have added to the rear of the building during their ownership.
On June 17, 1976 the farm was again sold to John H. Gordon and Nell P. Gordon, and renamed “Gordonia”. It was at this time that I first visited the home around 1986. The construction had been finished for some time by my visit.
After the death of John Gordon, the home was sold to William and Sharon Archer in approximately 1990, and has been owned by them ever since. It has undergone a major renovation and great improvement along with a family room built to match the original architecture.
The main supports of this document are archival documents from the Page County Courthouse, the U.S. Census, collateral genealogical research and oral history. When written history is silent, assumptions can be drawn from the open spaces in the record. Nonetheless, the county, area, and farm have a rich history that needs to be preserved, and hopefully this account will help future generations appreciate the past.