A correspondent of the Southern Field and Fireside
gives the following interesting sketch of one of Virginia
's historic spots:
To most persons the name of Yorktown
suggests no idea but that of the famous siege which culminated in the success of American arms, and the "surrender of Cornwallis." --They think of it as the closing battle-field in the long and tedious Revolution, which brought with it not only a respite from invasion, but the acknowledgment of our Independence.
and Rochambean and Cornwallis are the names popularly associated with this little village on the York
, and few know any others.
But, as intimated in the preceding article, Yorktown
has points of attraction distinct from the siege, and historic personages other than those of the Revolution; and it is to one of these points, where lived in the olden time a soldier greater than Rochambean or Cornwallis, that I wish to lead my readers.
A mile or two below Yorktown
, on the banks of the York
, covering one of the finest bluffs, and extending back a mile from the river, lies the old Temple Farm.
It is probably the oldest settled place on the river, as is indicated by a very ancient tomb, dating far back of the settlement of the village, and it was famous in the early part of the last century as the favorite county seat of Sir Alexander Spottswood
, the royal Governor of Virginia
from 1710 to 1723.
The position of this estate is one of the most commanding on the river.
From its lofty plateau the view is unbroken down the York
to the Chesapeake
, while to the west lies the once busy port, now in its quiet decay.
The taste of the pioneer, whoever he was, that first broke into the forest here, two hundred years ago, is amply vindicated, as every succeeding generation has admired its noble site and enjoyed its handsome prospects.
The fine old mansion, which has adorned this farm for a century and a half, possesses a history of its own, and no house in Yorktown
, save perhaps the Nelson
mansion, is visited with deeper emotions of interest or pleasure, than this noted residence of Governor Spottswood
Built by this dignitary, in the early part of his Administration, it was his favorite abode, when not resident in Williamsburg
Here were passed his days of freedom from the restraints of official life.
Here, as at the palace in Williamsburg
, he dispensed his elegant hospitality, and set an example of loyal service and courtesy which was imitated in the social life of that period.
Here, with Spottswood
for the hero, are laid most of the scenes of Dr. Caruthers
' interesting novel of the "Knights of the Golden Horseshoe
"--a story founded on an incident of his Administration — and no story, I am sure, has a sturdier hero than this remarkable old soldier.
This house descended through many hands till the time of the Revolution, when it was known as the "Moore House," a name which it still bears, from a widow Moore
, who at that time owned it. In the preparations and progress of the siege it became Washington
's headquarters, and one of its ample rooms is still shown as the place where the "articles of capitulation and surrender" were drawn up by Lieutenant-Colonel Laurens
, and the signatures affixed by the British
and the allied commissioners.
Fire, the ruthless destroyer of too many of the valued antiquities of Virginia
, has spared the "Moore House," although it is built of wood.
Time, too, has touched it gently.
Its frame is still sound, and will yet serve several generations.
's Historical Collections
a picture is given of this house.
This estate got the name of "Temple Farm" either from a temple-like structure that Governor Spottswood
had erected as a family vault, or from the ruing of a fort built in the previous century.
As late as 1834, the walls of the "Temple
" were still standing several feet high, but now all traces of them are gone.