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This page was last updated September 11, 2005

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36° 52' 11",-78° 24' 38"

Historically named Spring Bank

Three letters donated to the Virginia Historical Society in 2002 establish the original name given to the home of John S. Ravenscroft and his first wife Anne Spotswood Burwell Ravenscroft. Two letters (25 Jan. 1794 & 5 April 1794) are from Anne S. Ravenscroft at SPRING BANK to Lady Jean Skipwith at Prestwould. The other letter (27 Sept. 1807) is from John Wickham, a Petersburg attorney, addressed to John S. Ravenscroft, Esq. at SPRING BANK Lunenburg County —Robert A. Parker 8-04
See updated article on Ravenscroft provided by The Lunenburg Historical Society; also, photographs taken during the 2002 Christmas tour of Ravenscroft.

Ravenscroft is in Lunenburg County on VA #49, Courthouse Rd (historically, City Road), northeast from Chase City in Mecklenburg. It is on the right .5 mi. before reaching secondary #630, Mitchell Dr. On VA Hwys Lunenburg County map, the intersection is identified as "Kell's Corner."

The John S. Ravenscroft Family
Ravenscroft , constructed in 1793, is the ancestral home of John Stark Ravenscroft and his wife, Anne Spotswood Burwell, daughter of Col. Lewis Burwell. Anne Ravenscroft, childless, died in 1818 after 23 years of marriage. Ravenscroft, having obtained eminence as a minister, moved to Raleigh, NC in 1823. He had remarried to Sarah Buford of Lunenburg. The second Mrs. Ravenscroft died in Williamsboro, NC in 1829, and was buried in St. John's cemetery. There were no children of this marriage either. While visiting an old friend in Raleigh, Ravenscroft died March 5, 1830, at the age of 57. His body was returned to Williamsboro and buried beside his wife, Sarah Buford Ravenscroft. Later his body was reinterred under the chancel at Christ Church, as he had requested.

John Stark Ravenscroft was son of Dr. John Ravenscroft and Lillias (Miller), daughter of Hugh Miller and Jane (Bolling), according to Ravenscraft Family Genealogy at web site of Bob Francis.

John S. Ravenscroft bequeathed the home place to sons of Dr. William Hepburn and wife __?__ McHarg. Hepburn's will in 1794 named John S. Ravenscroft among the guardians of his minor children.[Mecklenburg, VA. WB 3:234] Only two of the Hepburn children survived to manhood.

[Much of the above was derived from and detailed article by Betty Jo Byars, pp 1 & 1-A of 23 Nov. 1972 issue of The Chase City Progress, "Ravenscroft Regains Former Name, Beauty."]

The 1810 Lunenburg Census shows John S. Ravenscroft and female ages 26 and under 45. Slaves numbered nine. No children were indicated in the household.

See article on Ravenscroft provided by The Lunenburg County Historical Society.

The Hepburn Era at Ravenscroft: - JoLee Spears

For more on Swepsons and Hepburns, see: Some Descendants of William Mallory Swepson.

It was not determined when the Hepburns came to reside at Ravenscroft, but probably by census year 1840 when Alexander was listed head of family. Alexander M. Hepburn married 29 Oct. 1844 (bond 16 Sept) in Mecklenburg Co., VA to Charity A. Swepson. The gravestone of Alexander McHarg Hepburn at Ravenscroft places his death in 1845.

The household in 1850 was headed by Ebenezer M. Hepburn, age 56. Listed also were Edward Goode, 45 miller; Robert Swepson 22, merchant; Philip Wallace 26, farm manager; three female Swepsons: Mrs. C. Swepson 32; Martha Swepson 22; and Mary Swepson 18. "Mrs. C. Swepson," listed under her maiden name, was the widow of Alexander Hepburn.

In 1851, Ebenezer Hepburn was taxed for 2,109 acres on waters of South Meherrin, 13 miles southwest of the courthouse. Amount added because of buildings was $5,500. The 1870 map of Lunenburg shows Hepburn's Mill on the South Fork of Meherrin, south of the home place. The mill likely was also owned by Ebenezer Hepburn. Mills added considerably to the taxable building value of a tract of land..

The 1860 Census household, again headed by E. M. Hepburn, shows Robert and Martha Swepson still in the household. (Robert R. and Martha A. Swepson prove to be brother and sister as seen in Saunders land transactions.) Also in the household were Thomas Ames, 19, merchant clerk; Ebenezza Jones 64, overseer; and an infant girl, M. H. Dodson, age 8/12.

Next household (maybe the same Hepburn property) were Dr. Wm. E. Dodson 42; C. A. Dodson 42 (f.); and Wm. S. Gordon, overseer, and family. (C. A. Dodson, as noted previously, was nee Charity A. Swepson, former widow of Alexander Hepburn.) The infant Dodson girl shown in the Hepburn household 1860 would have been a child of William and Charity. It is known from a Gregory family letter that Mrs. Dodson's funeral was 1 July 1861, and that she left two little children. Dr. Dodson had purchased in Lunenburg the Hyde Saunders estate, but land tax records don't indicate the occurrence of buildings on the property. Dr. Dodson died in 1867 and was buried in the Hepburn Cemetery at Ravenscroft.

The 19-year old Thomas Ames in the Hepburn household in 1860 is also buried in the Hepburn Cemetery. The connection was not learned. The stone reads: In Memory of Capt. Thos. S. Ames of Company C. 21 Reg. VA Volunteers Born Nov. 2, 1838 in Northampton Co., VA, aged 23 years, Killed Dec. 14, 1862 at the First Battle of Fredericksburg.

Ebenezer McHarg Hepburn born in 1794, died 1864.

The Ravenscroft plantation went through a succession of owners. In 1953 Colonel James C. Levi purchased the house and began restoration. He renamed it Magnolia Grove. Earlier deeds referred to it as the Kell Farm and Magnolia. After Levi's death, the house was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Robert B. French, who continued restoration of the home, renamed Ravenscroft honoring the original owner.

My recollection is the old home in the 1940's was referred to as Kell's Farm or Kell's Place. It was occupied by a Dockery family. The nearby intersection of #49 and #630 was referred to as Kell's Corner. - JoLee Gregory Spears

Notes from Gerald Reinder's survey of the Hepburn Cemetery:

Private Cemetery located in rear of Ravenscroft Estate, 
off Rt. 49, .5 Miles South of Rt. 630.

Ames, Thomas Shadragh 59th Va Inf Co H CSA 
   Killed @ Battle of Fredericksburg, VA 12-13-1862

Dodson, William Edward 11-7-1816 — 8-29-1867

Hepburn, Alexander McHarg 9-11-1792 — 11-1845

Hepburn, Ebenezer McHarg 3-30-1794  —  5-7-1864

Hepburn, William 2-11-1856  —  7-16-1856  
   Infant son of John A. & Mary E. Walker

Swepson, Charity Ann 3-8-1817  —  6-29-1861  
   Married to Alexander McHarg Hepburn 10-29-1844.  
   Married to William Edward Dodson 10-29-1856. 
Copyright 2000 JoLee Gregory Spears