Beaver Creek Plantation

Beaver Creek, the second Hairston home in Henry County, was built in 1776 by George Hairston, son of Robert and Ruth Stovall Hairston. It has always been called "the largest and most beautiful of the Hairston homes." The original mansion was built on a Kings Grant of over 30,000 acres, but was rebuilt in 1837 after the house was destroyed by fire. One of George's sons, Marshall Hairston, had the original house of virgin oak. An old legend says that a picture of Marshall is etched on a third floor rear window of this house. It is said that he was standing in front of it when he was struck by lighting and stunned for a few seconds. Later, the profile of a man appeared on the window, and it has always been attributed to Marshall Hairston.

Around the end of the nineteenth century, two new wings were added the Beaver Creek home. Later, a third wing was added featuring a sun porch and Norwegian rose marble floors and a classic mantel in the living-dining area. The house was also re-plastered except for two places where the original construction can be seen.

The bricks that were saved from the original kitchen smoke house were made into servants quarters. A small frame building on the front lawn was converted into an office, featuring tiles designed with scenes from Beaver Creek. The back of the house boasts a swimming pool, pool house, and tennis court. The grounds are beautifully shaded with cedar, boxwood, sugar maple and magnolia trees. A boxwood path leads to the cemetery at Beaver Creek. The boxwoods are over a century and a half old and are about 35 feet tall. George Hairston and his wife Elizabeth Perkins (Letcher) Hairston are buried here along with many other Hairston relatives. In 1987 George Hairston's grave was marked in a special ceremony by the General James Breckinridge Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. This DAR marker cites George Hairston as a Captain, the rank he held during the American Revolution. George Hairston also served as a Brigadier General during the War of 1812.

During the same year that Beaver Creek was built, George Hairston donated fifty acres of land for a courthouse in Henry County. Half-acre lots were laid off on part of the tract of land and sold to pay for the construction of the public building of the county. The original courthouse burned and the present brick one was built and occupied around 1824. A plaque in this courthouse reads as follows:

 GEORGE HAIRSTON

1750 -1827

COLONEL IN THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR

BRIGADIER GENERAL, WAR OF 1812

JUSTICE HENRY COUNTY COURT

PATRIOTIC BENEFACTOR

WHO GAVE THE LAND AND PROVIDED

THE MEANS TO BUILD THE COURT

HOUSE AND OTHER PUBLIC BUILDING

OF HENRY COUNTY, VIRGINIA

THIS MEMORIAL ERECTED BY HIS DESCENDANTS

 

George Hairston also gave the land on which the First Methodist Church in Martinsville was erected. In 1939 his descendants gave the following plaque as a memorial to George Hairston, and it hangs in the church today.

 

TO THE GLORY OF GOD AND IN MEMORY OF

GEORGE HAIRSTON

1750-1827

WHO GAVE THE SITE ON WHICH THIS

CHURCH STANDS

THIS MEMORIAL WAS GIVEN BY HIS

DESCENDANTS

 

   

by Carolyn Henderson, Libba Johnson and Robert E. Hairston, Jr. - hairston.org

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BEAVER CREEK

     It has been said that as the mind is, so is the home.  This would seem to be the case in the Hairston family, at least. Where they have a large estate, they have a grand home, not an ambitious home no dilettantism, but a strong, durable and beautiful structure; not grand because they are costly, but costly because they are grand. They have many large states, hence, they have many such homes. We have heretofore called them country seats. This is a misnomer, as applied to the residence of a Hairston. If there be one spot meriting the sweetest of all appellations-"home, home, sweet home"--- it is the residence of a Hairston. To it he clings through life with all the fondness of a lover.  And these homes, like these Hairstons, have a striking family likeness.  If they cannot afford to have them both elegant and substantial, they will have them at least substantial.  Most of Martinsville now stands on land donated by Colonel Hairston to the County from his Beaver Creek plantation.

     Before dismissing so fascinating a subject as this peculiar family, it behooves us, then, to describe a few of these homes; and so we begin with the oldest — Beaver Creek --- the old homestead of Colonel George Hairston, son of Robert Hairston, the pioneer.  An old place, like an old man, excites within our bosoms a sentiment of respect, no matter how unpretentious the architecture of the house, or the career of the man may be. But when this house is a reminder of stirring scenes, of the starting place of great events, this sentiment of respect is heightened into one of veneration.  At least such was the emotion of the writer as he crossed the threshold of Beaver Creek not long since. Here, over a century ago, as already noted, its founder first erected this home in a comparative wilderness. The cry of the wildcat and the scream of the panther could be heard in the dense woods that surrounded his forest home.  The agile deer browsed upon the hillsides, and the slothful bear found a hiding-place in its sylvan hollows. These were his nearest neighbors.  At intervals, perhaps of five or ten miles, clearings could be seen, in the midst of which arose a log cabin --- the abode of some pioneer like himself in this forest world. The red man retreated, only a few years before, beyond the blue mountains and towards the setting sun.  Such was the spot, and such, was the country, whereon and wherein Colonel Hairston pitched his home. It was located two miles north of where Martinsville now stands. The house stands on a gentle eminence, in the midst of a valley between Beaver and Manning Creeks, and is surrounded on all sides by high-wooded hills. The house is built in colonial style. The rooms are large, the ceilings high, and so are the mantelpieces. The furniture is unique. Nearly all of it is over one hundred years old. Relic hunters would be in raptures over its possession. It is honest furniture. No nineteenth century veneering, no gilded cheats-those mountebanks of the bedroom and parlor, --- were allowed fellowship with it in those sincere days. In the yard stands an outhouse full of memorials of three generations of the Hairston family.  Suspended from the walls hang three swords, representative of three wars in which their owners participated. The first, worn by Colonel George Hairston in the Revolution; the second by Colonel Sam Hairston in the war of 1812; and the third by Major J. T. W. Hairston in the Southern struggle for constitutional liberty.

     We entered the family burying ground and read the modest epitaphs of stirring lives. As we read: "Col. George Hairston-born 1750; married, Jan. 1, 1781; Died March 5, 1827,'' we thought of how much of our most honorable and glorious history, in which he had been a factor, had been crowded between those dates; the great Revolution, with its long train of defeats and victory; the inauguration of constitutional government, and the war of 1812. And when we took a step further, and read the epitaph of young John A. Hairston, who laid down his life for his country at Williamsburg, we found ourselves repeating these beautiful lines.

"How sleep the brave who sink to rest

With all their country's honor blest.

When Spring, with dewy fingers cold

Returns to deck their hallowed mold,

She there shall dress a sweeter sod

Than fancy's feet have ever trod.

 

By fairy hands their knell is rung

By forms unseen their dirge is sung,

There honor comes, a pilgrim gray,

To bless the turf that wraps their clay,

And freedom shall a while repair

And dwell a weeping hermit there.''

 

     Major Hairston is a splendid type of a Southern Gentleman --- courteous, courageous, and hospitable; and Mrs. Hairston is a full complement to her husband in all worthy respects.  As a little Watt, the promising scion of noble ancestry, he gives every indication that in him the House of Hairston will have a representative worthy of its past.

From John Wilson, 1740-1820 of Pittsylvania County, Va., Data collected by Daniel Coleman of Norfolk Va; member of “Virginia Historical Society”, extending over a period of thirty years; revised and arranged by L. L. Cody of Macon, Georgia.  Family Search Library

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There is an excellent book by Peter Wilson Hairston called "THE STORIES OF BEAVER CREEK". 

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For more historical information about Beaver Creek, please see the National Register of Historic Places Inventory -- Nomination Form.