Searching for information concerning the "Virginia Place" house located at 205 Taylor Street in Cannelton, Indiana.
My interest in the "Virgina Place" stems from the fact that I am a direct maternal descendant of its original owners - Joshua Brannon Huckeby (1802-1889) and his wife, Rebecca Lang (1808-1891). They were the parents of nine children -- three sons and six daughters -- Mary Ann (1826-1864), Rachel Littell (1828-1883), Eliza Ellen (1830-1901), Elizabeth (c.1833-1852), John Lang (1835-1882), William Lamb (c.1838-1903), Sarah Jane (1840-1852), Isabelle (1845-1909), and Thomas Jefferson (1847-1849).
While many different families have lived in the Virgina Place, the Huckeby's lived there the longest, and many of its interesting stories took place while the house was owned by the Huckeby/De la Hunt family. Joshua Brannon Huckeby served in the Indiana House of Representatives in the late 1830s and early 1840s. Afterwards, he served in many minor county and town offices. He began to practice law in the early 1850s. He served as Postmaster of Cannelton, Indiana in the 1870s and 1880s.
The "Virginia Place" is located on Second and Taylor Streets in Cannelton, Perry County, Indiana. The exact year it was built is unknown, but it was standing in 1856.
The late Michael Rutherford seems to have entertained the idea that the "Virginia Place" was built by Stephen Allen in mid-1851. Stephen Allen purchased the land on which the "Virginia Place" now rests on March 15, 1850 from the American Cannel Coal Company. This property apparently contained a sawmill according to Rutherford's notes.
In 1852, the Allens sold the property to the recently formed Troy Manufacturing Company which later became the Fulton Coal and Manufacturing Company. On October 25, 1855 the company sold both sites (the Virginia Place and sawmill) to R. Henry Gay.
On May 10, 1856, Joshua Brannon Huckeby purchases the land, by now containing the "Virginia Place," from R. Henry Gay for $1800.
The origin of the name "Virginia Place" is, so far, uncertain. However, the following statement concerning Joshua Brannon Huckeby seems to suggest an answer:
"In 1849 he removed to the newer and more promising town of Cannelton, where again he was a tavern keeper for a while. But the freshet of 1851 drove him from the property he had first rented, and he never reoccupied it, saying that one move out of high water was enough for him. He bought a home safely above floodmark, making some additions to suit his Old Dominion tastes, and there spent the rest of his days, practising law for some years in association with his son-in-law, Charles H. Mason, who had come from New Hampshire to Cannelton in 1849."
The phrase "Old Dominion tastes" no doubt refers to his native state of Virginia. His wife, Rebecca (Lang) Huckeby's family was from Virginia also, but Rebecca herself was born in Jefferson County, Kentucky. Joshua was a very traditional man, conservative in his views, and loved his Southern birth and livelihood. It is thus likely that the name "Virginia Place" comes from Joshua's love of his birthstate -- Virginia.
I assume the Huckeby's named their new home "Virginia Place" soon after purchasing it. I know the house was being referred to as the "Virginia Place" during the Civil War.
During the Civil War, the Huckeby family entertained Captain Edmund Morgan and some of his staff at the "Virginia Place."
Thomas James de la Hunt, Jr. (1866-1933), a grandson of Joshua Brannon Huckeby records an interesting Civil War story concerning the "Virginia Place" in his book, "Perry County, A History." --
"As part of the former militia equipment assigned to Perry County, fifty-nine muskets belonging to the State remained in charge of Daniel L. Armstrong, Auditor, and agreeable to the orders of Governor Morton had been boxed up ready for shipment to Indianapolis. During the night of Thursday, April 18, these were secretly removed from the Court House by unknown parties, which caused no little excitement when the discovery of the abstraction was made. Many citizens were brought before Esquire John C. Walsh for examination, but nothing could be elicited giving the slightest clue toward detection of anyone involved, though the guns were generally believed to be in town and a reward for their return was offered by the Auditor. A humorous communication printed in the following week, written as if by the muskets in council assembled, signed by such named as Heavybreech, Shootquick, Greyflint, Surecock, Primingwire, Ramrod, and Breechpin did much to relieve the tension, causing the matter to be treated in the light of a practical joke, although it was some time before the circumstances connected with the removal were divulged.
The boxes had been carried by certain picked men from the Court House to the wharf-boat, where they were left to be put aboard a steamboat. Directly after these parties had returned to their homes, another group, by prearrangement, loaded the guns into skiffs as if to corss the river into Kentucky. But instead, the oarsmen turned into the mouth of Casselberry Creek, the Ohio being then at its spring height, and the boats were rowed to an agreed landing-point at the home of Joshua B. Huckeby. The grounds of his property, "Virginia Place," sloping south to the bank of the creek, afforded a secluded spot for disembarkation, and the muskets speedily became 'concealed weapons' beneath the plank floor of a woodshed, where they lay sequestered until long after all commotion had died away."
I would imagine the Cannelton newspapers of that time period include much more information concerning this exciting event.
Yet another stirring event is recorded by De la Hunt concerning the "Virginia Place" during that most trying time period, the Civil War:
"A slight personal anecdote handed down verbally to Huckeby descendants may find place here as typical of conditions in many households in the Border States where political opinions were divided. It was cutomary in those days for each party to erect a flagstaff at some point of vantage and fly the national standard throughout the campaign. The Lincoln followers had early raised on the river bank at Cannelton a lofty pole that far overtopped the rival Douglas staff, the flag in each case representing the patient hand-stitchery of women who had not yet been admitted to more active participation in the great game of politics.
One day in the summer of 1860 there called at "Virginia Place," the Huckeby homestead in Cannelton, an intimate family friend, Mrs. Samuel Archer (Burnetta Mason), a southern sympathizer.
"Mrs. Huckeby," she said, "I came to see you about when we shall get to work making our flag."
"Why, my flag is made and already up. Haven't you seen it?" was the amiable response. "Why, what flag do you mean?"
"The Lincoln flag, to be sure."
"But I thought Mr. Huckeby was a Bell and Everett man," returned Msr. Archer in surprise.
"Yes. Mr. Huckeby may be a Bell and Everett man, but Mrs. Huckeby is not a Bell and Everett woman."
This story is not only interesting, but very dear to me because "Mrs. Huckeby"
is my mother's mother's mother's mother's mother's mother -- my fourth g-grandmother.
Some people have reported that the "Virginia Place" was part of the Underground Railroad. This has not been documented to my knowledge. Joshua Brannon Huckeby (1802-1889) was, as I said before, very traditional and conservative in politics. His grandson (De la Hunt) writes this of him: "In the North, there were many like Joshua Brannon Huckeby whose inherited traditions and affiliations revolted at the extreme utterances of avowed Abolitionists."
From the above statement, it can be assumed Joshua Brannon Huckeby, while a staunch supporter of the Union, was against the outright abolition of slavery. Regardless, however, whether he disagreed with the slavery issue personally, I can't say. The prior statement would seem to suggest he would not be directly involved with the Undergroung Railroad, but after the election of 1860, Joshua did become a "honest and sincere" supporter of the Republican Party and may then have become involved in the slavery issue.
Both Joshua and Rebecca attended St. Luke's Church, an Episcopal church. Joshua, however, never became a member of the church, his religious views being "liberal" according to his son-in-law, Judge Charles Holland Mason (1822-1894). Joshua was also a member of the Freemason's, being the oldest Freemason in Perry County, Indiana at the time of his death in 1889.
Both Joshua and his wife Rebecca died at the "Virginia Place." In his will, Joshua left his entire estate, including the "Virginia Place" to his wife, Rebecca. Rebecca, in her will, left her estate (again, including the "Virginia Place") to her daughter, Isabelle (Huckeby) De la Hunt and her son, Thomas J. De La Hunt jointly.
Isabelle (Huckeby) de la Hunt died of pneumonia at the "Virginia Place" in 1909. Her only surviving son, Thomas Jr. died on July 3, 1933. Thomas never married and he left many of his belongings to his friends and family members.
Before his death, Thomas sold the "Virginia Place" to his friend, John Albert Gerber for $2000. Thomas's lenghty obituary states he died at the "Virgina Place," the Gerber's may have permitted him to live there until his death, I don't know.
Thus ended nearly 77 years of ownership of the "Virgina Place" by the Huckeby/De la Hunt families.
At one time, the "Virgina Place" contained a "remarkable collection of antiques, consisting of furniture, prints, paintings, glass, and silver which [had] been in the family for over as century." Although, Thomas willed many of his possessions way in his will, I don't know what happened to many of family heirlooms. It's possible his cousin, Emma Jane (nee Burke) Hall (1851-1942) received them, but again, I don't know. If anyone should happen to own or know where any items that were once owned by the Huckeby/De la Hunt family can be found, please contact me.
Anyway, in 1953 the Gerber's sold the "Virgina Place" to J. Louis Ell. In May and June 1962, the Ells had the one-story porch replaced with the present two-story porch. In 1966, the Ells sold the house to General Electric Company. Three months later, the General Electric Company sold the house to James Jackson.
In 1967, Jack and Joye Harris purchased the "Virgina Place" and they are still the current owners.
The "Virgina Place" is rumored to be haunted. Jill Harris Newton published a book about this house in 2007, called "Ghosts of the Virgina Place." The Hoosier Ghost Hunters group also conducted some research at the house which was written about in local newspapers. If anyone has any knowledge concerning the "hauntings" at the Virgina Place, please let me know.
If anyone has any stories, information, photographs, or items from the "Virgina Place" or its families, I implore you that you contact me please.
Jesse L. Stamper