Recreating an Early Settlement

Storm and Montgomery Cabin 031

The Montgomery Cabin, a featured house on the Lemonade and Lavender Homes Tour sponsored by the Greenbrier Historical Society on June 8, 2013 from 10 to 5:00 p.m., is owned by Herbert and Katy Montgomery and is being developed as a late 1700s to early 1800s homestead by several generations of the Montgomery family.   Currently three buildings are on the property: the main house comprised of a reconstructed cabin using logs of two 1700s structures on the property, a barn, and woodshed.

The cabin was moved 1500 feet by Herbert Montgomery.  He and his sons used a log outbuilding to expand the original structure.  The imposing fire place, which dominates the living area, was constructed of stones not original to this cabin but from another structure on the farm.  A sleeping loft, part of the original structure, is in the main cabin.  An addition, which includes a kitchen/dining area, three bedrooms, and two baths, was added to the cabin.
Storm and Montgomery Cabin 038A striking feature is the large board and batten door which serves as the entry to the cabin.  A wrap-around porch is just the place to relax and the peeled log posts add a touch of whimsy.  Future plans include adding structures such as a smoke house, summer kitchen, and blacksmith’s shop.

Storm and Montgomery Cabin 040Dr. John Montgomery and his son, Herbert, purchased adjoining land in the 1970s which included 220 acres of a 400 acre grant given to John Hogshead/Hogsett.  At one time four log structures existed on the property.  Genealogical records of the Hogshead/Hogsett family show this family owned 9,000 acres at one time on Second Creek.

Storm and Montgomery Cabin 044In addition to touring the cabin, visitors will find members of the Fiber Network busily spinning on the porch and food being cooked on an outdoor fireplace.

Tickets for the home tour are available at the Greenbrier Historical Society’s North House, located at 301 West Washington Street in Lewisburg, the Greenbrier Convention and Visitors Bureau, located at 200 West Washington Street in Lewisburg or at each house on the day of the tour. All of the homes on the tour are located in the country and most are on narrow, winding one lane roads.  Please take appropriate care.

Storm and Montgomery Cabin 032

The Cedars on Tour in June


What do a romance novelist, a Congresswoman and Ambassador, and a lover of boxwoods have in common?  They were all the “lady of the house” at The Cedars. This wonderful property has a long and interesting history and will be one of the featured homes on the Greenbrier Historical Society’s Lemonade and Lavender Homes Tour to be held on Saturday, June 8, 2013 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Tickets for the home tour are available at the Greenbrier Historical Society’s North House, located at 301 West Washington Street in Lewisburg, the Greenbrier Convention and Visitors Bureau, located at 200 West Washington Street in Lewisburg or at each house on the day of the tour.

The Cedars was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 through the efforts of Mr. and Mrs. Robert McCormack, the owners at that time.

According to the National Register nomination, The Cedars was begun in 1881 when Alexander McVeigh Miller brought his wife, Mittie Point Miller, to 10 acres land in North Alderson which had been given to him by his father, W. G. Miller.

The Millers began construction on a small unit of the house which grew into a large Victorian farm house.  It was likely built of the fine hardwood lumber then available in abundance from the old growth forests in the area.  The cornices above the interior doors and windows in the entry hall are apparently from that era and are Victorian in style.

Mrs. Miller lived there for many years and continued to write “romance novels”, a career which earned her the huge sum of more than $100,000 by 1910. A copy of her novel, “The Senator’s Bride” will be on display.  She was the real breadwinner in the family as her husband never found a career in which he could be successful and had meager earnings as a schoolteacher.  He did serve in the West Virginia State Senate from 1901 to 1909.  She divorced him for infidelity in 1908 and moved to Boston.


The Cedars was unoccupied for a time until it was purchased in 1939 by Ruth Bryan Owen Rhode and her husband.  They lived there for 5 years and made changes to the house to remake it from a typical Victorian farmhouse to a more elegant and classical style.  They moved two old buildings to the site to be used as a guest house and horse barn.  They also added the large garage with the recreation room above, known to locals as the “ballroom”, to the west side of the house.

Mrs. Rhode was the daughter of William Jennings Bryan and was one of the most prominent women of this nation in her time.  In World War I, she served as a nurse.  After the war she had a successful career as a college teacher and lecturer.  In 1933, she was elected to the United States Congress from Florida.  President Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed her as Minster to Denmark where she is likely to have met her second husband, Captain Borge Rhode.

The next owners were Mr. and Mrs. Andrew McThenia.  Mrs. McThenia focused her attention on the landscaping of the estate.  Beginning in 1945, her planning and work involved the growing and use of hundreds of English boxwoods throughout the grounds.  Remnants of her efforts, including what may be the largest cypress tree in West Virginia, can be seen.

Day to day management and upkeep of the Cedars is currently entrusted to Victoria Harmon by the owners.  Ms. Harmon has overseen many infrastructure improvements such as installing a new heating system, bringing the electrical system up to code, recovering from the derecho damage, and making many repairs.  She has many more on her agenda as she labors to return this “work in progress” to its former glory.


Lemonade and Lavender Homes Tour: Spring Valley Farm

DSC02242Lemonade and lavender, the hallmarks of the Greenbrier Historical Society’s biennial homes tour, seem especially well suited to Spring Valley Farm.  During the tour on Saturday, June 8, from 10:00 a. m. to 5:00 p.m., visitors can imagine long summer afternoons drinking lemonade in the rocking chairs on the porch and almost smell the lavender in the air.  Tickets for the home tour are available at the Greenbrier Historical Society’s North House, located at 301 West Washington Street in Lewisburg, the Greenbrier Convention and Visitors Bureau, located at 200 West Washington Street in Lewisburg or at each house on the tour.

SpringValley 00365 (2)The Spring Valley Farm, placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, is an elegant example of the evolution of a farmhouse. The first Richard Dickson settled just down the creek in 1774 on 190 acres of land.  His son, the “second Richard” bought additional land from John Knox who had decided he didn’t like the area and left his log cabin, constructed in the 1780’s, and moved on.  “Second Richard” built the main part of the house, finishing it in 1837.  He moved the Knox log cabin to the new house site using two teams of oxen and it became the dining room.  A kitchen was added, however, both the kitchen and dining room could only be entered from outside the main house.  A “new” wing was added in 1890 and bathrooms in SpringValley 003091916.   The house contained a unique “stove” room, now a laundry and office, where the stoves from the rest of the house were moved and stored during the summer.

Spring Valley Farm served as a stage coach stop on the route from White Sulphur Springs to Salt Sulphur Springs both of which were extremely popular with residents of the coastal areas of South Carolina before the Civil War.  “Second Richard” provided fresh teams of horses to the stage coach lines and charged visitors 50 cents in gold for breakfast.

SpringValley 00838 (2) SpringValley 00369The surrounding house dependencies and farm buildings are considered to be one of the most significant collections of late eighteenth to early twentieth century buildings in the greater Greenbrier Valley. Here are represented some of the valley’s best preserved examples of pioneer building, ranging from hand-hewn logs to the sophisticated braced frame constructed barns of the early twentieth century.

Page Dickson, owner, said, “It has been a privilege to live in this house.  I am looking forward to sharing it and its history during the tour..


Other events during this exciting weekend include a gala at the historic Jarrett House on Friday, June 7 from 5-7 p.m. and a tour of areas of Ronceverte on Sunday, June 8, from 1-4.  Call the Greenbrier Historical Society at 304-645-3398 for more information.

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Homes Tour Gala at the Historic Jarrett House

What could be better than a June evening spent sipping a glass of lemonade or wine, watching vintage carriages being smartly pulled around a meadow by magnificent horses, and touring, by candlelight, a house built circa 1815?

DSC00936All this can be yours if you attend the opening Gala of the Lemonade and Lavender Homes Tour sponsored by the Greenbrier Historical Society on Friday, June 7 from 5-7 p.m.  Advance tickets will be needed for the gala and are available at the Greenbrier Historical Society’s North House, located at 301 West Washington Street in Lewisburg, or the Greenbrier Convention and Visitors Bureau, located at 200 West Washington Street in Lewisburg.

DSC04142James Jarrett and 3 brothers came to the Greenbrier Valley as early as 1771 and first settled on Wolf Creek in what is now Monroe County.  They built a house fort, known as Jarrett’s Fort, which they shared with other early settlers such as Elder John Alderson.  James, however, must have liked the land on Muddy Creek because he claimed his first land by right of settlement there in 1774. He continued to acquire land in that area as well as in the Kanawha Valley where his property adjoined that of George Washington.

Back on Muddy Creek, where he made his home, speculation is that his first house was built of logs.  However, whether he liked the stone houses he saw in Camp Union (Lewisburg) or remembered fondly the ones near his birthplace in Berks County, PA, he began gathering stones from the fields and valleys to build one of his own.

The James Jarrett House was likely begun around 1815 and was placed on the tax rollsDSC02205 as an improvement to the property in 1820.  Mr. Jarrett died in 1822 and left “this my house” to his wife, Rosanna, for her lifetime or until she re-married and then to his young sons, Levi and Vincent.  When the land was divided, Vincent acquired the portion with the house and it was subsequently sold.

It passed through Lewis, Harvey, and Knapp hands before being acquired in 1976 by Margaret and David Hambrick and named “Fairhill”.  James Jarrett was her great-great-great grandfather, bringing it back into the family.  They protected and stabilized it and began the final restoration process in 2002.  Much original material was still a part of the house and will be seen by those who tour.

IMG_3176DSC02690Raymond and Lynn Tuckwiller have been collecting and driving their historic carriages for many years.  They will share several of them with the guests—both on display on the terraces and being driven in the meadow.  The Tuckwillers and their horses and carriages are regular performers at re-enactments and have appeared in several movies.

Refreshments, including wine from Watts Roost Vineyard, will be served by the pond and natural music will be provided by the waterfall.  Fairhill is a working farm with longhorn cattle in the pasture and located on a small country road.  Appropriate care should be taken.  The James Jarrett House will also be on the Homes Tour on Saturday, June 8.

Call the Greenbrier Historical Society at 304-645-3398 for more information.

Homes Tour Takes to the Country

The Greenbrier Historical Society’s biennial Lemonade and Lavender Homes Tour has been expanded this year and is featuring homes in the countryside of the Greenbrier Valley as well as the Town of Ronceverte.

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Being held on June 7, 8, and 9, 2013, the event will open with a gala held at the historic James Jarrett House at Fairhill.  From 5-7 p.m. guests will be able to tour the house by candlelight, observe a display and demonstration of historic carriages by Raymond and Lynn Tuckwiller, and enjoy refreshments, including wine provided by Watt’s Roost Vineyards, down by the pond and waterfall.  Advance tickets will be needed for the gala and are available at the Greenbrier Historical Society’s North House, located at 301 West Washington Street in Lewisburg, or the Greenbrier Convention and Visitors Bureau, located at 200 West Washington Street in Lewisburg.



On Saturday, June 8, the more traditional homes tour will include Spring Valley Farm—Page Dickson; The Montgomery Cabin—Herbert and Katy Montgomery; Maple Hill—James Jeter; The Cedars—Pamela Bergren and Border Crow; and the James Jarrett House at Fairhill—Margaret and David Hambrick.  The Second Creek Mill and broom factory will also be open for exploration and the purchase of local products.  Most of these properties are on working farms and located on one lane country roads so care should be taken while driving and visiting.  Tickets will be available at each location as well as the North House.

Spring Valley Farm

                Spring Valley Farm

Maple Hill

                             Maple Hill

A CD providing history of the area will be available as an addition to the tour on Saturday.  Compiled from information in the Greenbrier Historical Society Archives by Kyle Mills, Americorps worker, and narrated by volunteer Lanny Howe, the various tracts will provide a historical setting for the areas through which visitors will pass on their way to the homes.  The CD will describe two loops—the Blue Sulphur Loop and the Second Creek Loop—and is arranged to begin in the parking lot of the Greenbrier Historical Society/North House Museum.  It will be available where tickets are sold.

On Sunday afternoon, the Homes Tour will feature the Town of Ronceverte.  Tickets, available in advance or at Edgarton, where tours are available and lemonade and cookies will be served, will provide admission to the sanctuaries of 3 historic churches as well as a self-guided walking tour of the town.  Visitors will be invited into the newly restored businesses to see how historic preservation can be economically viable as well.

Margaret Hambrick, President of the Board of Directors of the Greenbrier Historical Society, said, “There are interesting, historic, and elegant homes, churches, and businesses throughout the Greenbrier Valley and we are so pleased to be able to share these.  We are grateful to the owners and volunteers who are making this homes tour possible.”

For more information, contact the Greenbrier Historical Society at 304.645.3398 or or Like us on Facebook!

2013 Spring Lecture Series

Archivist Jim Talbert

                Archivist Jim Talbert

The Greenbrier Historical Society will host its Spring Lecture Series starting on Thursday, April 25, 2013. Designed as a series of “How To” workshops, these lectures will be led by GHS volunteers and staff.

On Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 7pm, Archivist Jim Talbert will lead a discussion about using the Greenbrier Historical Society’s Archives for Genealogical and Historical Research – focusing on what NEW resources can be found in our collection.

On Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 7pm, Museum Coordinator Toni Ogden will talk about “How to Care for Your Artifacts and Antiques.” Everyone has family heirlooms or collectables that they do not know how to care for. Toni will give advice about the do’s and don’ts of caring for your textiles, furniture, glass/ceramics, etc.

Our final lecture will be held on Thursday, May 9, 2013at 7pm. AmeriCorps member Kyle Mills will discuss “How to Care for Your Documents and Photographs.” With the popularity of scrapbooking, archival quality materials are easier than ever to find. Learn about the best way to store and care for your documents and photographs, see examples of what not to do, and find out what materials to use for your projects.

All of the lectures will be held at the North House, located at 301 West Washington Street in Lewisburg. There is a requested donation of $5 per lecture or $12 for all three. Seating is limited, so reserve your spot in advance by calling 304.645.3398.

GHS Hosts Trivia Night at the Irish Pub

Join the Greenbrier Historical Society on Tuesday April 23rd at 8:00pm for a fun night of trivia at the Irish Pub on Washington Street, located at 109 East Washington Street in Lewisburg. Whether you are a history buff or you think you know facts about West Virginia, come test your skills and enjoy an evening at the Irish Pub. Categories will include: the Greenbrier Valley, US Presidents, West Virginia facts, Famous West Virginians, and Random History trivia. Pub Quiz is held every Tuesday at the Irish Pub on Washington Street and hosted by various individuals and organizations.

For more information contact the Greenbrier Historical Society at 301.645.3398 or GHS is located at 301 W. Washington Street in Lewisburg and is open Monday-Saturday from 10am to 4pm or by appointment.

History of Chocolate Exhibit at the North House

Ever wondered who the first people to eat chocolate were or where the idea for the first chocolate Easter bunny came from? Do you know how many Hershey’s kisses are produced each day or how much chocolate the average American eats per year? Well you are in luck! The Greenbrier Historical Society will host its “History of Chocolate” exhibit on Saturday April 13th from 10am to 4pm as part of the 7th Annual Chocolate Festival in Lewisburg, West Virginia.  Stop by the North House throughout the day to learn a little about the history of chocolate and how it is made from Cacao trees. The North House is also an official tasting location with Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Banana Bread by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture and Hidden Springs Farm.

The earliest known consumers of chocolate were the ancient Maya of Central America who drank chocolate as a spicy beverage rather than eating it as a sweet candy. By 1200AD, the ancient Aztecs were also consuming chocolate, as well as using it for trade and as tributes to their gods. In 1521, Spanish explorer Hernando Cortes conquered the ancient Aztecs and brought chocolate back to Europe.

Aztec sculpture holding a Cacao Pod circa 1200-1500AD

Aztec sculpture holding a Cacao Pod circa 1200-1500AD

By the 17th century, chocolate was a popular drink throughout Europe with Chocolate Houses (similar to the coffee shops of today) becoming fashionable places to socialize. Innovations in technology soon allowed for chocolate to be more efficiently produced, and by the early 19th century chocolate could be found solid as well as liquid form. In 1847, the Fry Chocolate company in Bristol, England took credit for the first chocolate bar created for widespread consumption. In 1867, Henry Nestle, a maker of condensed milk, and his friend Daniel Peter created the first Milk Chocolate while experimenting with ways to make chocolate less bitter.

Although popular in Europe, chocolate did not come to the United States until 1765, when Irish chocolate-maker John Hanan imported Cacao beans from the West Indies. With the help of Dr. James Baker, he set up the first chocolate mill in Dorchester, Massachusetts and produced the famous Baker’s Chocolate.

Advertisement for Baker's Chocolate

Advertisement for Baker’s Chocolate

Visit the Greenbrier Historical Society’s display on Saturday April 13th from 10am to 4pm for more fun facts about the history of chocolate!

The Greenbrier Historical Society, located at 301 West Washington Street in Lewisburg, West Virginia, is open Monday – Saturday from 10am to 4pm or by appointment. For more information, contact 304-645-3398 or Or like us on Facebook.