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

Cedar Grove
1083 Blane's Mill Lane

By Kenneth H. Cook
Article published in the News & Record, March 30, 1976, Bicentennial Homes Tour

The origins of some houses are easy to chronicle. Their histories are so well known there is no doubt who built them, or when. This is not the case with Cedar Grove, the home of Mr. and Mrs. R. E. "Ned" Strange.

Cedar Grove, which gave its name to both a church and a community, has always been known as the Blane-Pace home. Those families owned and occupied it for over a century, but by all known facts they did not build it.

Email received 5/13/2005 provides new information:

I've visited your spread on Cedar Grove and wanted to let you know that the mystery of who built the house may just be buried a little deeper but not lost.

My ancestor bought the land in that area with the hopes of creating a settlement. He only lasted 10 years at the location before being run off by Indians. His name was William Butram and he was originally from Lancaster, PA (or MD as it was at the time). William left VA and took his family to NC and bought land on the Yadkin River.

John Rogers of Halifax County purchased, 914 acres from William Byrd III of Westover, 220 acres in 1757 and 694 acres in 1766. He sold 200 acres, lying on Butram's Camp Branch, to William Smith Jr. in 1775. Mr. Smith in turn sold these same 200 acres to James Poyner of Dinwiddie County in 1779.

Thomas Poyner of Dinwiddie, son of James, made three sales of land to James Warren of Halifax. The first, in 1801, was 100 acres on Butram Creek, adjacent to land owned by John Salmon (See John Salmon's Water Grist Mill on Butram Camp Branch). In 1803 he sold him a tract, acreage not indicated, "on the south of Dan River and on Butnum Creek . . . together with all houses, gardens, orchards, woods, waters . . ." Three years later in 1806, he sold him 46 more acres, still on Butram Creek.

The tract which Mr. Warren bought in 1803 was a complete home complex. After much consideration of all evidence, this writer has concluded that this home complex was Cedar Grove. If indeed the house was standing in 1803, as I believe, then when was it built, and by whom?

There is a possibility, one which cannot be proved, that William Smith Jr. could have built it. He only paid 40 pounds for the 200 acres in 1775, but when he sold it four years later he got 1000 pounds for it. Even allowing for inflation brought on by the Revolution then in progress, it seems to this writer that some major improvement had to have been made to the land. My first guess would be a house, but this is, again, only speculation.

James Warren was married in 1798 to Dorothy Stanfield, of a wealthy county family. Most likely they moved to Cedar Grove in 1803; how long they lived there is the next question.

One of their children, their daughter Sarah, was married to Jacob Blane Sr. on December 5, 1823. They had seven children, the youngest of whom was Elizabeth F. Blane, who married William T. Hailey in 1855. Mrs. Hailey died in 1902.

The Rev. William J. Boyd of Matthews remembers his aunt, Elizabeth Hailey, and says that she was born at Cedar Grove in 1834. Mr. Boyd says further that when her parents were married in 1823, they set up housekeeping here. This would indicate that Sarah Warren Blane's parents had given the house to her as a wedding present. (James Warren was no longer taxed with the land after 1834.) The Warrens seem to have left Cedar Grove for a larger house, probably in early 1824, and the Blanes moved in shortly thereafter.

Sarah Warren Blane's date of death is unknown. She is buried at Cedar Grove, but her grave is not marked. Mr. Blane married, as his second wife, Nancy J. Loyd. The date of their marriage is not known, but their only child, Alice Allen Blane, was born in 1853.

Nancy Loyd Blane died March 13, 1888, aged 72, at Cedar Grove, and was buried there. Jacob Blane Sr. died in February, 1892; like his first wife, he has no stone.

By his will, Mr. Blane left Cedar Grove not to a child of his first marriage, but to the daughter of the second, Alice, then the wife of George S. Pace. Cedar Grove was to be hers her lifetime, and then was to go to her children.

George S. and Alice Blane Pace made their home at Cedar Grove. He died in 1906, she in 1932; both are buried there. By her will Mrs. Pace left most of her estate to their daughter, Alice, but the house and farm belonged to all seven children.

On June 27, 1932, Pauline Pace Dunkley bought the 6-7 interest of her brothers and sisters in Cedar Grove, containing 152 acres. She and her husband, the Rev. H. W. Dunkley, a Methodist ministers (South Boston's Main Street Church was his last pastorate), then lived in the house.

Mrs. Dunkley died in 1941, Mr. Dunkley in 1945; they are buried in the farmly cemetery with three of their children. At his death the place passed to their only surviving child, Hamner Dunkley Bundick.

Mrs. Bundick, sold Cedar Grove to Lewis Palmer Tulloh in 1948, reserving the family cemetery with rights of ingress and egress to and from it. Mr. Tulloh has a great-grandson of Jacob and Sarah Warren Blane.

It was from Mr. Tulloh that Mr. and Mrs. Strange purchased Cedar Grove on January 1, 1971.

James Warren held several county offices during his occupancy of Cedar Grove, including surveyor of roads, 1805, justice of the peace, 1808, and school commissioner, 1823. He was granted licenses to keep an ordinary here in 1819, 1820 and 1821.

Mr. Warren was a prosperous man, owning over 3000 acres of land and numerous slaves.

Jacob Blane Sr. was, like his father-in-law, quite prosperous, owning slaves and several large farms. His main business was milling. He owned two, one that had belonged to Thomas and Richard Crawley, the other to Jonothan McCargo.

Described by a descendant as having been "contentious," Mr. Blane was frequently in court with his neighbors, suing or complaining about one thing or another. Nothing, apparently, was sacred - except money. When he used the rocks from the wall around the William Stanfield cemetery (his wife's mother's family) to underpen a farm building, he ran afoul of most of that family forever.

By this writer's conclusion, Cedar Grove is approaching, if not already entering, its 200th year. Its past has been a long and interesting one.

From Cedar Grove, go back to Phillpott Road and go west 2 miles to 9000 Philpott Road, Bloomsburg.

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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.