Church Hill through the years...
Church Hill in the 1800's
undergoing renovations in 2004
Church Hill as it looks
1837, one year after Texas declared it's independence from Mexico, the
Reverend Horatio Thompson took ownership of the plantation. 11 years
later "Church Hill" was built and occupied by Horatio Davenport
Thompson and his family, a minister of the nearby Timber Ridge Associated
Reformed Presbyterian Church. The property was formerly owned by the
pioneering Houston Family who acquired title of the land in 1742. In
a log dwelling, that was moved to make way for the present home, Sam
Houston, the Texas pioneer was born in 1793. It is believed that some
of the logs from the Sam Houston birthplace were incorporated in a later
log structure that still remains on the property today.(see footnote
1) Today the property is still in the hands of the 6th generation of
Thompson's that have made "Church Hill" their home. The home
is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and the Virginia
Historic Landmark Registery.
from Katherine Tennery & Shirley Scotts 1995 book Country Roads
Rockbridge County, Virginia ..."The imposing mansion behind the
Timber Ridge Presbyterian Church is Church Hill"
Church Hill sits on the knoll behind the marker at the Sam Houston Wayside...
can be found in the Virginia Landmarks Register top
and General's top
of 2001, Church Hill was the setting for several scenes of the Ted Turner
film "Gods & Generals"
starring: Bruce Boxleitner, Jeff Daniels, Kevin Conway, Robert Duvall,
Mira Sorvino, Stephen Lang &
Directed by: Ronald F. Maxwell. The rooms remain much the same as they
were in the movie and are easily recognizable to those who saw the movie.
(picture from a scene filmed at "Church Hill")
here to see more photos
here for link to trailer of scene from Gods & Generals
once there click on the link for "letter"
Davenport Thompson top
Search of public land records show the following:
1836 D.S Wilson and wife to Givins Kinnear Deed book T page 303
7 March 1837 D.S. Wilson and wife to Horatio Thomspon Deed book T page
452 These were included in a Rockbridge Cnty VA Grantor Deed Index,
1778-1848 for "W" surnames It
appears that D.S Wilson and wife owned a good deal of property. They
sold some to Givins Kinnear who was Eliza Kinnears brother in 1836.
Eliza Kinnear was the Rev Horatio's wife. They married in 1832. Then
in 1837, Wilson sold some property to Horatio. There was a David S.
Wilson that married a Nancy Lackey.
1.The Reverend Horatio Thompson and Eliza Kinnear had 8 known children
2.John Andrew Thompson and Alice Ida Davenport had 6 known children
3.Horatio Edwin Thompson and Judith Edna Thompson had 2 known children
4.Horatio Davenport Thompson and Mildred Ann Goodman had 3 children
5.Charles Edwin Skip Thompson and Jacqueline Ora Robertson had 2 children
6. Charles Mikel Thompson and Tina Whittaker Thompson had 2 children
Melinda Sue Thompson
Civil War top
sits just off of Highway 11, which at the time of the Civil War was
the main route from the North to the South through the Shenandoah Valley.
Sherman's Army was said to have marched up the front walkway of Church Hill
but left the home and all of its possessions untouched.
E. Lee top
steward of "Church Hill" was a well travelled pastor in Rockbridge
county but also served on the board of Washington College. He was one
of the members of Washington College that appointed Robert E Lee to
the presidency of Washington College, today known as Washington &
taken from letter in which General Robert E. Lee conditionally accepted
the Presidency of Washington College.
I have delayed for some days replying to your letter of the 5th of July
informing me of my election by the board of trustees to the presidency
of Washington College, from a desire to give the subject due consideration.
Fully impressed with the responsibilities of the office, I have feared
that i should be unable to discharge its duties to the satisfaction
of the trustees or to the benefit of the country. The proper education
of youth requires not great ability, but I fear more strength than I
now possess, for I do not feel able to undergo the labour of conducting
classess in regular course of instruction. I could not, therefore undertake
the more than the general administration and supervision of the institution.
There is another subject which has caused me serious reflection, and
is, I think, worthy of the consideration of the board. Being excluded
from the terms of amnesty in the proclamation of the President of the
US, of the 29th May last, and an object of censure to a portion of the
Country, I have thought is probable that my occupation of the position
of president might draw upon the college a feeling of hostility; and
i should therefore, cause injury to an Institution which it would be
my highest desire to advance. I think it the duty of every citizen,
in the present condition of the Country, to all in his power to aid
in the restoration of peace and harmony, and in no way to oppose the
policy of the State or General Government directed to that object. It
is particularly incumbent on those charged with the instruction of the
young to set them an example of submission to authority, and I could
not consent to be the cause fo animadversion upon the College.
Should you, however, take a different point of view, and think that
my services in the position tendered to me by the Board will be advantageous
to the College and Country, I will yield to your judgement and accept
it; otherwise, I must most respectfully decline the office.
you to express to the trustees of the College my heartfelt gratitude
for the honour conferred upon me, and requesting you to accept my cordial
thanks for the kind manner in which you have communicated their decision,
I am, gentleman, with great respect, your most obt servt., Robert E
John W Brockenbourgh, S.McD. Reid, Alfred Leyburn, Horatio Thompson,
D.D., Bolivar Christian, T.J. Kirkpatrick, Committee.
1 -information taken from national registry of historic places