Mary Pricilla VENABLE
- Born: 8 Oct 1815, Slate Hill, Prince Edward County, Virginia, USA
- Marriage: Thomas Frederick VENABLE on 16 Jul 1834
- Died: 14 Oct 1881, Scott-Greene, Prince Edward County, Virginia, USA aged 66
Other names for Mary were Mrs. Mary Pricilla VENABLE and Mrs. Thomas Frederick VENABLE.
User ID: P00051852.
Mary Priscilla Venable, daughter of Nathaniel E. Venable of "Longwood," was born Oct. 8, 1815, and died at "Scott-Greene," Prince Edward Co., Va., Oct. 14, 1881 (will proved Nov. 22, 1881, Prince Edward Co., Va.); she married at "Longwood," on July 16, 1834, Thomas Frederick Venable of "Haymarket," Prince Edward Co., Va., her second cousin.
She was educated first by governesses, as was usual at that time in Virginia, and then for several years at a fashionable boarding school, Mr. Reid's, in Lynchburg. She was proficient in French and music and Latin, which, with the English classics, made up for the most part the required curriculum. We have heard several old ladies who had known her speak enthusiastically of her skill as a pianist.
She was a woman of firmness of character, earnestness of religion, and great executive ability. Although she had a housekeeper, her large family of children and servants made her of necessity methodical. "She was much admired, and not merely for her beauty of person."
A miniature of her in her wedding dress painted for her Uncle Henry Scott whose heir she was, has been lost.
She made in every way a perfect foil for her husband. She was small, scarcely over five feet five, and had blue eyes and soft light brown hair, and a faultless clear complexion.
Will of Mary Priscilla Venable, wife of Thomas F. Venable, her cousin, of "Scott-Greene," Prince Edward Co., Va.
I Mary P. Venable do make this my will. I desire that the whole of my estate shall be charged with the support and maintenance of my beloved Husband, Thomas F. Venable during his life and Scott Green shall be his home so long as he may desire. I direct that the bonds of Thomas F. Venable assigned to me by Clement R. Venable in the hands of my trustee Nathaniel E. Venable shall be and so far as required, for the purchase of the sixty acres of land deeded to Thomas F. Venable by Nathaniel E. Venable situated North West of my dwelling; for the purpose of giving better shape to my land, either for sale or division.
My individual property consists of all the land deeded to me by my Father N. E. Venable, except the two portions deeded by T. T. Totty and Abram Venable. An obligation made me by Thomas F. Venable and recorded in the Clerk's Office, for signing a deed to T. T. Totty for a portion of said land, the same being provided for in a deed of trust made by Thomas F. Venable to Abram B. Venable for the benefit of certain creditors. The bonds made over to me by Clement R. Venable provided for in Thomas F. Venable's deed to Abram B. Venable trustee, Also my portion in lieu of dower in the land deeded by Thomas F. Venable to Abram B. Venable trustee for the benefit of certain creditors (named in said deed). The above named property and a bond assigned me by T. T. Totty provided for in the deed made by Thomas F. Venable to Abram B. Venable trustee an undefined interest in the property of Dr. Nat A. Venable turned over to me by Clement R. Venable in settlement with S. Woodson Venable Administrator of Dr. N. A. Venable The same being on record in the Clerks Office.
I will and direct that this property representing Nine equal shares shall be divided as follows. To my daughter Frederica Venable and Canty Reed I give two shares each. To my daughter
Gertrude Hocker and my sons Robt. C. Venable and C. Fontaine Venable, I give each one share. To my sons Nathaniel E. Venable and M. Walton Venable and daughter Harriett Edmunds and Catharine S. Holt I give each one half of a share. These shares and half shares go to the persons named if living, if not, to their natural heirs.
Besides the provisions made for my daughter Frederica in the foregoing, I give her all the household furniture allowed me by law under the deed of Thomas F. Venable, also all of my interest in the unsold or growing crops on the place at the time of my decease.
Mary P. Venable
Novr. 15th 1878.
"Scott-Greene," Prince Edward County, Virginia, was from 1834 to 1860 the most beautiful place in all that part of the country. It was named for two Revolutionary heroes-Generals Nathaniel Greene and Winfield Scott. It came into the Venable family as a wedding gift to Mary Priscilla Venable from her father, Nathaniel E. Venable of "Longwood" on her marriage in 1834 to Thomas Frederick Venable, of "Haymarket," her second cousin. Its wonderful trees, among the largest oaks in all Virginia, were the original primeval forest trees.
The approach to the house from the main road, was through a long avenue of these mighty trees. It wound away as it neared the house to allow for a spacious lawn and box-bordered paths about the quaint, old-fashioned, rambling wooden house. There also, numerous immense oaks spread their vast branches to such an extent, even, that parts of the house were almost obscured.
The open space about the mansion, or "great House," as the darkies called it, was broken, here and there by the various outbuildings so commonly found on these old Virginia plantations. The "office" a two story wooden structure, was in one corner of the yard. It was used in "before the war-times" by the tutor as a schoolroom; and as a storeroom for the hunting paraphernalia of the boys; and, sometimes, as sleeping rooms for them when the hospitality of the "great house" was taxed. The ice house, and the carriage house and the stables and the green house and the "quarters", several small cabins in the rear for the house servants, were not far distant from the house. The "quarters" for the rest of the hundred slaves were about the various springs scattered over the plantation.
To the east, was the garden-an acre in extent-with its intricate box-bordered paths, circular grass drive away, grotto, summer houses and flower beds and sundial,-in all, the pride and joy of Beverly, the old gardener, and his train of youthful assistants.
The house, itself, was a frame structure which "grew"-a room here and there as the demands of the family increased. Tiny windows with numerous panes of glass, the front porch with its plain Doric columns, the five tall chimneys and the jutting side porches lent a distinct charm to the outline. The interior was as interesting, with its floors on different levels and its "cuddy holes" and winding stairs and its "ghosts." All the adjuncts of an antebellum home were there: the commodious wine cellars, and store rooms and kitchen in the ample basement. In grandmother's day the spacious rooms with glistering waxed floors and claw-footed mahogany; the library with its books and musical instruments, its albums and its herbarium; the drawing room -often used for dancing-with its spinnet and engravings and the portrait of the "Longwood" grandfather over the old fireplace were charming indeed. Then the mahogany beds and high-boys and low boys, and so forth, of the two upper stories quite completed the comfort of the old-fashioned home.
In its ante-bellum luxury, it must have been delightful for the "Scott-Greene" dinners and "teas" and dances were the most splendid of the neighborhood, except, perhaps, those of the Longwood Venables, not far away. They were graced by Hampden-Sidney College boys and professors and neighboring planters and fair Virginia belles many of whose names and descendants have become famous in other states! Then too, there were the faithful servants (some of whose names have come down to us) to minister to their slightest wish: Beverly, the gardener; Peter, the coachman; Betsy, the cook; Docia and "Aunt Peggy," the seamstresses; Harriet and Henrietta, the house maids; Patsy, the waitress, and her several assistants; Jennie Black, the housekeeper, Jenny Red, and the Butler, whose name has been forgotten, and younger darkies to do the bidding of these,-all efficient and respectfully devoted according to the custom of servants of those happy days. The women in their blue home-spun dresses with their white kerchiefs and caps, harmonized with the stately dignified surroundings. Blooded horses, descended from the imported Arabian mares, "Wild-wood" and "Peacock," brought over by Samuel Woodson Venable, Sr. of "Springfield," filled the stables and blooded dogs, the kennels, so one may guess the fox hunts and the gallops they inspired.
All this peaceful life was ended by the Civil War. "While there were no Federal troops in that part of the state until the last few days of the war, the people had the great burden of carrying the refugees from other sections already over run by the enemy. Conditions were such, at times, that starvation and dire want were at the door of most people, for those who had, must divide with those who had not." As "Scott-Greene" was situated not many miles from the celebrated Appomattox Court House, it lay just in the path of the opposing armies. To one, it gave freely, and by the other it was systematically looted, though, sometimes, it must be admitted, the Union Commanders near, placed guards to protect house and property. Once, even, General Grant did the ladies of the family the courtesy of sending his army band to serenade them! He had been associated at West Point with Nathaniel E. Venable, who, by the way, was even at that time, fighting in the Southern Army, as were also other sons of the house! Anyway, by the end of the struggle, everything was beginning to show signs of decay: the boxwood, uncut; the gardens, orchards and fields neglected; the farm yard deserted; the store houses and cellars empty; and the house uncared for. In the fifty-nine years that have passed since the surrender of Lee, the place has been falling surely into complete decay. First, the porches were blown away in a storm, then the garden was plowed up for a tobacco field, one by one the stately trees of the yard and driveway were struck by lightning until nearly every one of these grand old oaks have disappeared and a visitor today will find difficulty in believing that the charming "Scott-Greene" of 1860 ever existed.
Mary married Thomas Frederick VENABLE, son of William Lewis VENABLE and Francis Watkins NANTZ, on 16 Jul 1834. (Thomas Frederick VENABLE was born on 24 Feb 1812 in Prince Edward, Virginia, USA, "Haymarket" and died on 25 Dec 1881 in Lake Co., Florida, USA, "Kinderton".)