We are a small Episcopal Church on the banks of the Rappahannock in Port Royal, Virginia. We acknowledge that we gather on the traditional land of the first people of Port Royal, the Nandtaughtacund, who are still here, and we honor with gratitude the land itself and the life of the Rappahannock Tribe. Our mission statement is to do God’s Will in all that we do.

Sig’s Diary, Part 6 – Homes and Locations in Rev. Ware’s 1893 Diary

Editor’s note – The idea of covering locations associated with Rev Ware,  plus most of the pictures and the diary extracts are from Judy Ware who is the genealogist of the Ware family. One only has to look on her web site (http://www.waregenealogy.com/ to see the extensive work over many years she has done. Every family should have someone like her!  

The 1893 diary of Rev. Sigismund S. Ware contains a number of place names regularly a part of  his normal life.  His universe was generally 20 miles north (Corbin) and 5-20 miles south to take in Camden and Vauters. 20 miles by horse and buggy took 2 1/2 hours as he mentioned in one entry in his diary.

Walking was his primary mode throughout the Port Royal area, up to Catlett Hill and Gay Mont, visiting parishioners and friends. He mentioned almost daily that he took his "usual walk" though never describes where he walked.  For distances outside of Port Royal he used his "horse and buggy" as he called it.

He did take several trips in that year outside his normal stomping grounds – Berryville and Winchester for Annual Council, Lancaster Courthouse for convocation (which appears to be similar to a regional church meeting) and the big trip to Chicago for the World’s Fair. 

Here are the most prominent homes mentioned: 

1. Santee.

The trip to Corbin every two weeks to preach at Grace led him to leave the day before about 2pm and stay many times at Santee in Caroline County:

Santee, associated with the prominent Fitzhugh and Gordon families for over 250 years. It passed to daughter, Sarah, who married Henry Fitzhugh. Their son John Battaile Fitzhugh owned the property until his own death in 1803, when it passed to his brother, who created the present Santee plantation. In 1817, he added 166 acres to his holding, followed by another 300 acres the next year. Upon Fitzhugh’s death, the property passed to his wife Elizabeth Taliaferro. In 1838, an increase in valuation occurred with the addition of two brick buildings, probably the kitchen and the stable, to the estate Patsy Fitzhugh and her husband Samuel Cordon of Kenmore, in Fredericksburg, inherited Santee from her mother. Descendants of the Fitzhugh and Gordon families owned Santee until well into the twentieth century. It was vacant from 1931 until 1943, at which time it was sold out of the family.

Oct. 21, 1893  “Threatening all but I concluded to take the trip to Grace Church, went to Santee where I spent a pleasant evening & night with Mr. Gordon & Mr. “B” Dickinson”  

Dec. 9, 1893 “Did not wait for the mail but started off to Grace church, it was very threatening & the road awful, but I reached Grace & Santee in time for tea & spent the night with Mrs. & Mr. Dickinson.” Sat. Dec. 9, 1893 

Dec. 10, 1893 – “I had service this beautiful day, but had only a moderate congregation. Dined Santee, Mr. Garnett joined us, I returned home to tea. My subject was the collect for the Sun. 

2. Gay Mont. 

The illness of Mr. Robb consumed the 1893 diary. His death would be the next year. St. Peter’s history is very much interrelated with the Robb family

Gay Mont was built on a site overlooking the Rappahannock River in the latter part of the eighteenth century by John Hipkins (circa 1749-1804), a merchant of Port Royal, on land he gathered between 1786 and 1799. In 1816, Bernard married Jane Gay Robertson (1795-1852) and gave his estate the name of "Gay Mont" in honor of his wife. Bernard died in 1858 and three of his children purchased the house and 445 acres from the other heirs. One of these, Helen Struan Bernard, acquired the homeplace in 1865 after her marriage to her cousin, Philip L. Robb, grandson of John Hipkins Bernard’s sister. Gay Mont remained in the hands of the Robb heirs until it was sold in 1958.

Oct. 31 -“Still pretty weather. We had the Catletts, Miss Eva & Miss Wyatt to tea. I drove Mrs. Brooke to Gay Mont to call. Mrs. Scott is there.” 

Nov. 1 -“The weather continues good. After my usual walk & work – Miss Patsy came to ask me to drive Miss Rosalie Meade to Gay Mont which I did. Letter for Miss Nannie

Dec. 8 -“The weather continues cold & fair, took my usual walk, heard from Mother & she tells me I must take my contemplated trip.”   

Dec. 16 -“A frosty & beautiful morning, the snow thawed very much. Read the President’s message – went up to Gay Mont to call after pt. Twice Mr. A excused himself”  

Nov. 13 -“Spent the night at the Glassell’s, called on Mrs. Baker & Mrs. Montgomery & dined at Mrs. W. S. Broaddus. Returned home by 5:30 & found a welcome & all well.” Monday –  

The Glassells were relatives from Josiah Ware’s first wife’s family. Her name had been Fanny Glassell Ware

3.  Moss Neck.

Built circa 1856 for James Parke Corbin, member of one of the Commonwealth’s oldest and most eminent landed families – the house is one of the longest in Virginia. Confederate Stonewall Jackson used the plantation for encampment.

April 19-  “Left with Fitzhugh in my buggy at 9;30 to Mr. Eugene Bowie’s to Mr. Corbin’s funeral — at Moss Neck – lunched at Moss Neck and returned home to tea”   

June 12 – After my usual walk I drove Mr. Dickenson over to Moss Side_ , he walked with me to Moss Neck to call on Mr. J. P. Corbin 

4. Camden.


Camden was built on the site of an earlier house belonging to the Pratt family that dated to 1760. William Carter Pratt demolished this house around 1856 to use the prominent site for a new house. He engaged Baltimore architect Norris G. Starkwether, with construction stating in 1857, completed in 1859. It was built in the Italian-village style  clad with flush siding that was originally treated to resemble stone. The tower base projects from the front, with a semicircular porch surrounding its base, looking out over the Rappahannock River. The first floor includes a central hall, library, dining room, parlor and a main-level bedroom. The parlor retains its original Victorian rococo furnishings.

Up-to-date in style and technology, the house was equipped with central heating and cooling, gas lights and running water. A private gas works was installed to generate gas for the lights. The house’s tower was destroyed by a hit from a Union gunboat in late November 1862 and never restored. 

Feb. 3 – Rode with Dr ____ . Rode Seawind to Camden and returned in time for tea. Mr Pratt later returned from Portsmouth. My 42nd birthday, Cornelia pm had a tea party.  

June 30 – Bishop Meade staid at Camden last night and went from there to Grace Church. Lizzie went with me. Meade Clarke gave us an excellent sermon __ the Thorns. 5 were confirmed, we all dined at Nottingham and we returned home to tea. 

July 27 – I drove John Gravatt to Camden and we dined there. Talked quite awhile at Mr. Taylors

July 28 – Called on Dr. Gravatt and also on the Owens and Dr. Jetts to see Mrs. R. C. Jett but she was at Camden. The Taylor girls called

5. Nottingham. 

Nottingham was located seven miles south of Fredericksburg in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. The land was owned by Governor Alexander Spotswood from 1722 to 1740, and he evidently named it for the location in England where he and his brother John boarded and attended school. The original house burned and was rebuilt by W. L. McCarthy Spotswood 

Feb 26 – Text James 11.2 “Dined with Dr. L _____, called on Wayne Myers /and spent last night at Nottingham.” 

Feb 27 – Did not leave Nottingham until 9:50am.” On way called at _______ and dined at Santee.” Called on Uncle William Young who is sick. 

April 8  – Distinguished by my taking Cornelia for the first time. Went to Grace – spent night at Nottingham. 

6. Catlett home, Port Royal

Built in 1760, on the east side of King Street, it has been in the Catlett family for a 100 years. In 1880’s Robert and Catherine Catlett lived here with 8 children.  It was a Catlett (below) that in 1892 presented a blank diary to Rev. Ware for 1893. Robert Farnish purchased it in June 1924. 

7. Old Gravatt Place


Old Gravatt Place Port Royal, on Market Street. The one and one-half story part of the house was built about 1780. The two story was built about 1835, and the new two story part was built in 1909. Primary owners, Mr. Timberlake, Dr. John James Gravatt was the next owner and he owned the estate for eighty years. He died in September 1896 and the house went to his son, Dr. Charles Urquhart Gravatt who owned it until his death in April 1922. It was next purchased by Lena Hicks DeBruin who died in December 1981

Mar 13 – "Drove to Gay Mont and had a pleasant trip. Dr. Gravatt and family paid a visit."  

Mar 20 – "took Dr. Gravatt a drive out to Gouldmans"  

April 17 – "took dinner at Dr. Gravatts"  

April 21 – "the wind blew like a hurricane today. Called on Dr. Gravatt’s, quite sick there. "  

April 26 – "Called on the Gravatts – they not well "  

May 5 – "Dr. and Mrs Gravatt came to tea "  

May 12 – "Dr. Gravatt and I play ball with the boys this PM "  

June 15 – "I sat awhile at the Gravatts. "  

July 28 – "Called on Dr. Gravatt and also on the Owens and Dr. Jetts to see Mrs. R. C. Jett but she was at Camden. The Taylor girls called"  

8. Grace Episcopal, Corbin, Va.

Grace Episcopal extends back to the 1830’s. Rev. Ware was rector from 1888 there until 1903 when the  Grace Vestry  was unable to raise its share of Ware’s salary.  Ware would preach one week at St. Peter’s and the next at Grace.   He then devoted his full time to St. Peter’s Church and then to the future St. Asaph’s in Bowling Green. 

It took approximately 2.5 hours by horse to go the 20 miles from St. Peter’s. He usually started in mid-afteroon on Saturday and stayed overnight with friends at Santee or Nottingham. He often extended his visiting on Sunday not arriving back at Port Royal until late Monday.

Today, the church is defunct but is maintained by the Corbin family. In the early years of his ministry the different in size between the churches was not great. In 1891, for instance, Grace had 36 parishioners and St. Peter’s 46. Unlike St. Peter’s there was no Sunday school. 

Sunday Jan 8 – “It was cold and snowing this am so we did not start to Grace Church; tried to get over river to service but failed” and attended service at the M____ church at night and took the children walking in “___” on the ice."

Feb 11– "Went to Grace church and spent the night at Santee____ pleasantly with Mr. Gordon and Mr. H. H. Dickenson. "

Feb 25 –  “Got off by 2 to Grace neighborhood and spent night at Santee”

April 8 – "Distinguished by my taking Cornelia for the first time. Went to Grace – spent night at Nottingham"

April 22 – "Went off at PM to Grace and stayed at Santee. Letter from L . She and the children are enjoying their stay at Hamilton?"

June 25 – "Preached at Grace Church this am dined at Chestnut Valley. "