South of the Dan Driving Tour
Historic Buildings in Halifax County, Virginia

The Original Bloomsburg

The Original Bloomsburg - 1797

Article in The Record-Advertiser, June 15, 1972
By Kenneth H. Cook

Bloomsburg, the residence of Mr. and Mrs. John Fleet Satterfield at Turbeville, is one of the oldest and loveliest of all Halifax County houses. Little known outside its home community, it once was a mansion famous throughout the South for the lavish parties given by its owners and for the wellknown people who were their guests.

The house was built in or about 1797 by James Anderson Glenn, described by a contemporary as a man possessing "Good blood, a fine education, pleasing manners and a charming personality." A member of the wealthiest family of Glasgow, Scotland, he was born there May 4, 1765, the third of six children of Archibald Glen, Lord Provost of the city, and his wife, Eliza Anderson Glen.

The Glens of Scotland were of Norman origin, being descendants of the powerful Lestrange family, heirs of the Dukes of Brittagne. Sir Robert de Glen emigrated from France and settled near Shrewsbury, thus establishing one of the oldest families of the lowlands. He married Her Royal Highness, the Princess Margaret, daughter of King Robert de Bruce of Scotland, but the union was later dissolved by the church at Rome. King David made several grants of land to his sister, the Princess Margaret, but following the dissolution of her marriage certain of the grants were revoked and given to the Church. The builder of Bloomsburg was a direct descendant of Sir Robert and the Princess Margaret.

At the age of 13, James Glen entered the University of Glasgow to study for the Presbyterian ministry (his youngest brother, Archibald, became a Presbyterian minister, as did one of Archibald's sons, William Glendsnwyn Glen). After two years, though, he found that the dull life of a minister held no appeal for him, so in 1780 he left the University.

The following year he emigrated to America and settled in Petersburg, where he became a member of the mercantile firm of Dunlop & McLlwaine. He was successful in business and thus had no trouble in becoming one of the leading citizens of the city.

After settling in Virginia, young James changed the spelling of his name from the Scottish "Glen" to the English-American "Glenn". As there were two other James Glenns in Virginia at the time, he adopted s his mother's maiden name, Anderson, as a middle name. This was a logical choice, since he had been named for her father, James Anderson; too, neither he nor any of his brothers and sisters had middle names. Thereafter he called himself James Anderson, but more often simply Anderson Glenn.

James Anderson Glenn was tall and very handsome. His miniature, painted while he was living in Petersburg, proved him a to have been every inch a Scottish gentleman, with fair skin, bright pink cheeks, sky blue eyes and fiery red hair. He wore a light-green satin coat with gold buttons, an elaborately laced and ruffled yellow shirt and a waistcoat of broad yellow and black checks on a white background.

It was while he was living in Petersburg that he met and fell in love with Isabella Wilson, the eleventh and youngest child of John and Mary Lumpkin Wilson of Dan's Hill, Pittsylvania County. (Her sister, Maria, was the first wife of Col. John Clark of Chester, Halifax County, who by his second wife was the father of William H. Clark of Banister Lodge and Charles Clark of Clarkton.) A young woman of delicate features, with blue eyes and reddish-gold hair, she was born in 1778 at Dan's Hill and was educated at Salem Academy, Salem, North Carolina.

Her father, John Wilson, a son of Peter Wilson, a Scotch-Irish imigrant, was quite wealthy, owning vast lands in Pittsylvania and Halifax Counties, along with hundreds of slaves. A merchant, financier and planter, he represented Pittsylvania in the House of Delegates an at the Virginia Convention of 1788, which ratified the federal constitution, a move he opposed.

Her mother's family, the Lumpkins, natives of King and Queen County, Virginia, moved southward to Georgia, where they became the most distinguished citizens in the history of the state, bearing a heritage rich in honors. Their services to Georgia included: a Governor (Isabella's first cousin), two U. S. Senators, two U.S. Representatives, the first Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court, two Associate Justices and one nominee who declined appointment, two judges of the Superior Court, a Chancellor of the State University, a President of the State of Georgia and a Mayor of Atlanta. The name of Atlanta once was changed briefly to Marthasville in honor of Martha Wilson Lumpkin.

Following their marriage at Dan's Hill in 1796 the Glenns lived there while their home was being built. As in so many cases during that era, the land on which Bloomsburg rose was given the bride by her parents as a wedding present. It lay on the South side of Dan River and extended for several miles along it. The money for the construction of the mansion came from both families, as well as from Mr. Glenn himself, while the labor was supplied by Wilson slaves.

The house which the Glenns built was a near-perfect piece of colonial architecture, with nine rooms rising two-and-a-half stories above a three-room English basement. The foundations were laid up in English bond with random glazed headers, while the tall end chimneys were in Flemish bond, also with glazed headers. All brick was burned on the site. Beaded weatherboarding and corner boards, fully developed architraves on windows and doors, a fine box cornice with modillions and crown and bed mouldings, and a finely executed one-story portico with four Doric columns, all added to the overall perfection.

Behind the house was the kitchen, a separate building connected by a breezeway. Many other service buildings dotted the grounds--carriage houses, stables, grainery, weaving room, dairy and ice houses. Of all, the most noteworthy were the smokehouse and laundry, small, square buildings topped with pyramid-shaped roofs and handcarved finials.

Inside the mansion, the high-ceiled rooms were well-detailed, some with wainscoting, others with chair rails, all with high, hand-carved mantels. The parlor boasted a built-in cupboard on the side of the fireplace. Cross and Bible doors were fitted with imported brass locks and fine iron hinges. The two staircases, both winding, two-flight, were in the back of the first and second floor halls; there was no stair to the basement.

To get an idea of how the Glenns furnished their home one must consent the inventory taken at the time of James Anderson's death in 1812. It is a lengthly listing, covering 22 pages in the records of the Halifax County Clerk's Office. The following is a representative sampling:

FURNITURE: piano, card tables, secretary-bookcase, Windsor chairs, nest of tables, Blackgammon box, knife boxes, sideboard, china press, table (the latter three pieces all of mahogany), 24 mahogany chairs, two mahogany beds, dressers and "furnishings", mahogany crib, tester bed, three mahogany dressing tables, laides wardrobe, shaving box, desk, numerous brass fenders, andirons, tongs, etc., four large gilt looking glasses, two large carpets, a picture of Christ; one of George Washington, and a pair of large globes.


GLASSWARE AND CHINA: 66 wine glasses, 22 tumblers, 22 tumblers "of finer quality," 50 goblets, 6 decanters, 6 pairs of 2-quart decanters with stands, 6 pairs "blue" china salts (nearly all the china described as blue), 4 butter boats and stands, 4 tureens and stands, 75 flat plates, 75 soup plates, 18 bowls and 16 "twifflers."

SILVER: 24 each of spoons, soup spoons, knives and forks, a caster set, tea service consisting of pot with stand, sugar dish and tongs, cream pot and tray, all engraved with a Bird of Paradise design, candlesticks, tureens with ladles and stands, old flatware, a pair of decanters with stands, 4 small bowls and 9 muffineers.

James Anderson and Isabella Wilson Glenn, as stated before, both came from very wealthy families, and the style of life they led at Bloomsburg from the time they moved in was entirely in keeping with their lofty station. Among the social leaders of Virginia, they stood out in an era recalled for its gaiety and wit. Their parties, or "dinings," as they called them, were held several, times a year, and were known over most of the South. It is said that Virginia never knew finer hosts than Mr. and Mrs. Glenn, even in the golden days of the colonial era.

Mr.Glenn was a shrewd businessman. As such he wisely invested the profits from his highly productive plantation in the stock of the Bank of Virginia and in other businesses. He did not trust the running of his estate to agents or overseers; instead, he did nearly everything himself. Trips to sell his tobacco and other crops took him to various cities in and out of Virginia, but if his letters are to be believed his wife was never out of his thoughts. They show in a small way the ardent, beautiful love he felt for her.

On a trip to North Carolina he wrote his beloved Isabella, pouring out his love and devotion and telling her he'd be home by a certain day. The letter arrived but he did not. Another letter did, though, several days later, telling her how he was caught up in a round of entertaining on the plantation of a friend, and that he would "return home as soon as possible, dearest Isabella, with seven casks of the finest Jamaican rum."

Another business trip took him to Petersburg where, because of his years there, he had a legion of friends. He had promised his wife on departing that he'd be back on a certain date, but he had so many invitations he wanted to accept he over-stayed. A bit ashamed that his tardiness again was due to parties, he made his excuses in a letter dated March 5:

"My sweetest Isabella, Being at present engaged on an advantageous speculation I am reluctantly detained in this place longer than I intended. However, nothing shall keep me from you longer than Wednesday. I shall then clasp to my bosom her who is, and always will be, dearer to me than life itself."

Eight children were born to James Anderson and Isabella Wilson Glenn. Two, John Wilson and James Anderson, Jr., died when still young and probably are buried at Dan's Hill.
The other six were:

Elizabeth Anderson Glenn, called Eliza, was born October 10, 1797, according to an old Hunt family Bible, August 26, 1800, according to the records of Salem Academy, which institution she attended for more than two years. The date in the Bible may be incorrect, as it was written over the original entry, now illegible.

She was married November 5, 1818, to Eustace Hunt of Pittsylvania County, son of Nathaniel and Mary Allen Hunt of Halifax County. An Ensign in the War of 1812, he was the owner of nine large plantations and one of the promoters of Danville's first cotton mill, the Danville Manufacturing Company, the forerunner of the present mills. Their wedding took place at Bloomsburg and was a great social event. The bride wore a beautiful gown of esse point lace and spangles; the lace still is treasured by descendants, but she literally danced the spangles off her gown at the ball following the ceremony.

Eustace and Eliza Glenn Hunt lived in great style, driving a coach-and-four and drinking champagne at dinner every day. Mrs. Hunt was a gifted artist and musician, playing both the piano and harp. She designed their home, Hunting Glenn, near Danville, as well as much of the furniture, custom made by Tom Day, a Milton, North Carolina, cabinetmaker. Their portraits, his by Peale, hers by William Carle Brown, were done in 1826. His was destroyed when Hunting Glenn was burned, along with the one of Isabella Wilson Glenn. A descendant set fire to the 18 room mansion, hoping to collect insurance; he did not, and lived out his days in the old office in the yard. At least a dozen other portraits were lost, along with most of the furniture, family papers, silver and harp.

The Hunts had six children. Mr. Hunt died in 1845 and was buried at Hunting Glenn. His widow married Colonel George Williamson, by whom she had no children. She died in 1892 and was buried with her first husband.

Archibald Glenn, born in 1806, was married to Mary W. Cunningham of North Carolina. He died in 1846 and was buried at Bloomsburg. His home, Glennmary, is near South Boston, and will be treated in a separate article.

Christina Isabella Glenn, educated at Salem Academy, was married to John Tabb Garland, M.D., of Fairview, Milton, North Carolina, and later of Longwood, Caswell County. Dr. Garland purchased Fairview, located on North High Street, from a Mr. Saunders, its builder, in 1822, and Mr. Saunders built Longwood as his new home. Only two years later, however, in 1824, the two men exchanged houses so that Mr. Saunders could entertain William H. Crawford of Georgia, a presidential candidate in '24, in the town house. The Garlands made their home permanently at Longwood.

Agnes Wilson Glenn was married February 22, 1822, to the Honorable James W. Jef- freys of The Red House, Caswell County, a member of one of the oldest families in the world. Burke traces the Jeffreys lineage back to 900 A.D., and prior to that date gives an interesting mythological lineage. Only the Howard family bears a longer and more authentic history.

James W. and Agnes Glenn Jeffreys made their home at The Red House, where they are buried. An extensive estate, it included the mansion with its outbuildings and quarters, a tavern, a Presbyterian church founded in 1760, a classical school incorporated in 1804 as Hyco Academy, a blacksmith shop, a wheelwright shop and a store. Lord Cornwallis captured The Red House in January, 1781, used it as his headquarters and left it in ashes. Thomas, the father of James, built the new house.

Mary Lumpkin Glenn married the Honorable Bedford Brown of Rose Hill, Caswell County. She, like her mother and three sisters, attended Salem Academy. Her husband was a state legislator, later a U.S. Senator, and was a vigorous opponent of secession. They were the parents of at least two sons, Bedford, a doctor, and Livingston, a lawyer, scholar linquist. Rose Hill, built by Colonel Jethro Brown in 1800, was given to his son, along with 1000 acres and 100 slaves, as a wedding gift. After a wedding trip to England, Mrs. Brown supervised the planting of the grounds with hundreds of rose bushes and more than 2000 boxwoods. The estate still is owned and occupied by the Brown family.

John Wilson Glenn, of Glenburnie, near Milton, was married to Sarah Chalmers of Halifax County. They had three sons, David, Chalmers and Archie. David became Attorney General of Mississippi and made the keynote address at the Charleston, South Carolina, sucession convention. Chalmers, a general in the U. S. Army, married Annie Dodge, a great-grandniece of Washington Irving, and their son, Robert Bruce Glenn, became Governor of North Carolina (1905-1909).

James Anderson Glenn died in January, 1812, and was buried at Bloomsburg. His estate, which he left to his wife, was appraised the following year at $112,156.85, exclusive of land. Household goods, farm tools, cattle and such were valued at $17,236.08; slaves at $37,510.62; and money on hand and debts owed Mr. Glenn, exclusive of interest, $52,855.90. Sales from the estate came to $4,554.25.

Almost immediately after her husband's death people began to speculate that Isabella, accustomed to entertaining rather than to running a large plantation, would fail in her new role as mistress and loose her fortune. A woman of strong will, she was determined to prove them wrong.

She came out of mourning and abandoned society, quitting nearly all entertaining and visiting. Devoting herself to her family and plantation, she was an astounding success. She ruled with an iron hand, and there was such power behind her commands no one dared to defy her. Orders were obeyed-- immediately. Like her husband she trusted her business only to herself. So successful was her management that from the time she took over until her death her plantation never showed a loss.

After her children were grown, Mrs. Glenn once again opened her mansion to entertaining, and the "dinings" commenced with new vigor. She gave up dancing and flirting, leaving that to her daughters and granddaughters, like herself great beauties. At her parties, it is said, she reigned like a queen.

During her latter years Isabella read only two books, Shakespeare and the Bible, and frequently quoted from both. Shealways had them with her, even when traveling. She preferred the company of politicians and her fellow planters, and her advice was eagerly sought. The Clarks, William H. and Charles, and the Bruces, James of Woodbourne and James Coles of Berry Hill, were among her frequent callers. Probably the most respected woman in Virginia in her day, she was a the close friend of John Randolph of Roanoke. It was he who nicknamed her "the Old Immortal." So highly did he regard her superior intellect that he made at least two trips a year to Bloomsburg just to ask her advice on public matters. When he died in 1833 Mrs. Glenn attended his funeral at Roanoke.

Isabella Wilson Glenn died on September 18, 1846, at the age of 68, and was laid to rest beside her husband in the family cemetery. Her estate, which passed to her six surviving children, was valued at $75,702.84. The inventory taken several months later showed that she owned 207 slaves. Contrary to what many had predicted would happen, the "Old Immortal" was far from broke.

Isabella did not leave Bloomsburg to any one specific child, as each was by the time she wrote her will well established in a home of his or her own. On October 16, 1850, the heirs of she and her husband sold the estate, with 926 acres of land, to Charles K. Turbeville. The price was $7408. The cemetery near the house was excluded from the deed in a clause which read: "It is understood and agreed by the parties to this deed of conveyance . . . that the family burial ground and enclosure is reserved and excepted in the above deed, the title to said burial ground and premises being expressly retained by themselves, their , heirs, executors and administrators for their own personal use and behalf."

The Turbeville family held Bloomsburg until 1887, when it was sold to John F. Satterfield, whose family it remains today, the present owner being his grandson. In the mid-1940's, during the ownership of J. Thomas Satterfield, a fire did extensive damage to the roof. The front chimney caught inside and burned out, and sparks falling on the old shingles set them aflame. Men chopped holes in the roof so that water could be lifted through in buckets and thrown on the flames. While they were doing this the late Willie Satterfield, using his shotgun, shot off patches of shingles as new blazes sprang up. Afterward it was decided to lower the roofline rather than undertake the expensive repairs. The dormers were added at this time.

Since then the house has undergone some remodelling and modernization, all with an eye toward making it more comfortable. The old kitchen back of the house was torn down in the early 1950's. About the same time Robert F. Cage, purchased the smoke house, one of the pyramid-roofed dependencies, and had it moved to his home on Mountain Road in Halifax. The other one, in very poor condition, was torn down. Most recently, aluminum siding has been added.

Today Bloomsburg stands as proudly as ever on its elevated site by highway 58, watching over east-west traffic as it has for 175 years. The boxwood walk, thought to be as old as the mansion itself, still leads the way to the portico. None of the alterations made to it, including the lowering of the roofline, have damaged its exquisite lines. As with a fragment of Greek sculpture, time and chance can never mar good design. Yet in its altered state an air of elegance lingers, an air which proudly announces, after the passage of a century and three quarters, that the people who built the mansion had truly enjoyed living.

The family cemetery, enclosed with a wall of plastered brick and stone, has recently been cleared of the heavy undergrowth that had taken it. There are seven marked graves. While the standing monuments are of elaborately carved marble, the crypts of the elder Glenns are very plain, the slabs bearing only the simple inscriptions, "Our Father,. Anderson Glenn," and "Our Mother, Isabella Glenn."

It is said that Mr. Glenn named Bloomsburg for his family estate in Scotland. As in many other cases the community which grew up around it in the early 19th century came to be called by the same name. Just when the Glenn place ceased to be called Bloomsburg cannot be said, but sometime after Alexander Watkins completed his home, about a mile east of the Glenns, in 1839, he named it Bloomsburg; his brick store, on the other hand, went by the name from its opening in 1830. Near the end of the century the name of the Bloomsburg community itself was changed to Turbeville.

The Glenns have many descendants living throughout the United States. Among them are Mrs. Dorothy Glenn Shook of Las Cruces, New Mexico, Mrs. Florine Glenn Van Arsdale of Pasadena, California, both originally from Halifax County; and Francis L. Hunt, Mrs. Virginia Hunt Roberts and Francis W. "Biggy" Hunt Of South Boston.

The Hunts are descendants of two of the daughters of James Anderson and Isabella Wilson Glenn. Glenn Jeffreys Hunt, father of Francis L. Hunt and the late Watkins Glenn Hunt (father of Mrs. Roberts and "Biggy" Hunt), was the son of Littleton Tazwell and Mary Jeffreys Hunt; Mr. Hunt was the son of Eustace and Eliza Anderson Glenn Hunt of Hunting Glenn, and his wife Mary Jeffreys was the daughter of James and Agnes Wilson Glenn Jeffreys of The Red House.

Drive through the Turbeville intersection about 1/4 mile and turn left on 699, Wilkins Road. About 1/2 mile on the left is Red Hill

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   The transcription and the updated photos are the work of Dan Shaw. In some cases modifications to the original text have been made to improve the flow of the story, correct typos, and insert new or clarifying information. Additional facts or further corrections are welcome.    This author takes no credit for the original publications and its research. These local historians should be honored for the their endless hours of efforts to document this county's history for posterity.