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Berkeley Plantation

Berkeley Plantation, one of the first great estates in America, comprises about 100 acres on the banks of the James River in Virginia. Among the many American "firsts" that occurred there are:

  • 1st bourbon whiskey distilled -- 1621, by George Thorpe, an Episcopal minister

  • 1st time Army bugle call "Taps" played -- July 1862, by bugler Oliver W. Norton; the melody was written at Berkeley then by General Daniel Butterfield

Benjamin Harrison IV built the mansion on the estate in 1726 and married Anne Carter, daughter of Robert "King" Carter[?] of Lancaster County, Virginia, who was the most powerful land baron in the area and the owner of Carter's Grove, which has been called "the most beautiful house in America." Benjamin Harrison V, who was a governor of Virginia and a signer of the American Declaration of Independence was born at Berkeley Plantation, and so was his son William Henry Harrison, who was a war hero in the Battle of Tippecanoe, governor of the Northwest Territory, and president of the U.S.

During the American Civil War, Union troops occupied Berkeley Plantation, and President Abraham Lincoln twice visited there in the summer of 1862 to confer with Gen. George B. McClellan. The Harrisons were not able to regain possession of Berkeley Plantation after that war, and it passed through several owners' hands and fell into disrepair. In 1907 it was bought by John Jamieson, a Scotsman who had served as a drummer boy in the Union army during the Civil War, and it was his son Macolm Jamieson (who inherited it in 1927), and Malcolm's wife Grace, who restored the manor to the beauty that attracts visitors from all over the country and other parts of the world, too.

The architecture is original, and the house has been filled with antique furniture and furnishings that date from the period when it was built. The grounds, too, have been restored, and cuttings from the boxwood gardens are available as living souvenirs for its visitors.

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