Dunmore Mt. Airy

Frequent references have been made in various connections to the fine old mansion on the Massanutten shelf, east of the Pike, about two miles south of Mt. Jackson. For many years, this homestead has been familiar to all the countryside as "Mt. Airy." To distinguish it from other places of like name in other parts of Virginia, it has been rechristened "Dunmore Mt. Airy."

The Mt. Airy mansion house was erected in 1800 or shortly before by William Steenbergen, Sr., frequently called "Baron Steenbergen." After his death it was occupied by his widow and his son, Beale Steenbergen. In 1841, it was purchased by John G. Meem of Lynchburg. Later it descended to Meem's son, John G. Meem, Jr. In 1884, Mt. Airy was acquired by a Mr. Delaney; and in 1909 it was purchased by Daniel Kelleher, Esq., of Seattle, Washington, whose wife was Miss Elise Meem, daughter of Gen. G.S. Meem and a niece of John G. Meem, Jr. The Kellehers, in 1910, rebuilt the old stone mansion, and have continued to improve the place in may ways. They make it their (1927) summer home.

The first owner of the Mt. Airy estate of whom we have much definite information was Taverner Beale, first sheriff of Dunmore County, who owned the place from 1772 to 1795. In one of the old deed books at Woodstock, we learn that on Marcy 10, 1795, William Steenbergen bought 390 acres on Smith Creek, at the mouth thereof, from Taverner Beale and Betty, his wife, for 1,500 pounds and a certain obligation contingent. The deed recites that the said 390 acres were made up of several tracts willed to Wesley White by his father William White; by Wesley White sold to Abraham Brewbaker and by the latter conveyed to Taverner Beale, April 23, 1772.

Adjoining landowners in 1795 were William Moore, Charles Taylor and Burr Harrison. Burr Harrison seems to have succeeded Taverner Beale as sheriff of the county. One of his descendants is Thomas W. Harrison, M.C.

William Steenbergen came to Shenandoah County in 1794, according to a statement he made in 1819. He was prominent in the affairs of the county for many years. His son, Gen. Peter Steenbergen, locate at or near Point Pleasant, WV, where his descendants still (1927) live. His son William married Elizabeth Caperton and lived at Rude's Hill. His son Beale married Malinda Burns and became celebrated in Virginia and in California, as appears elsewhere.

The following items are given mainly from the statements of Mrs. Frances Bowman Foltz, of Strasburg:

Taverner Beale married Elizabeth, daughter of Jacob Hite (son of Jost), and lived at Mt. Airy. They had three children, Charles, James Madison Hite, and Elizabeth. William Steenbergen, widower, married Elizabeth Beale and bought Mt. Airy. James Madison Hite Beale married Mary Steenbergen (October 3, 1806), daughter of William by his first marriage.

From additional sources it appears likely that William Steenbergen's wife was named Sarah Elizabeth Beale.

For a number of years (1884-1909) Capt. J. Alexander Carter operated the Mt. Airy estate for Dulaney.

Excerpted from John W. Wayland's A History of Shenandoah County, Virginia

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Created November 15 2001