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John Pelham Historical Association

The Bower

Stuart's cavalry encamped at "The Bower", near Martinsburg, West Virginia, in September-October 1862, and here John Pelham met Miss Sallie Dandridge. Charles G. Milham in his book, Gallant Pelham: American Extraordinary, says that Pelham and Miss Dandridge were engaged to be married. Whether or not they were engaged is still debatable -- that there was a romantic relationship there is little doubt. In this article, Joan Brzustowicz gives a history of "The Bower" and the Dandridge family.

In the final days of September, 1862, following the battle of Antietam, Jeb Stuart established his headquarters at "The Bower," the beautiful estate of Colonel Adam Stephen Dandridge. According to John Esten Cooke, it was here that John Pelham "...seemed to pass some of the happiest hours of his life. In the beautiful autumn forests, by the stream with its great sycamores and under the tall oaks of the lawn, he thus wandered for a time...loved, admired, and cherished by warm hearts in this [land]."

"The Bower" is located along the Opequon in Jefferson County, West Virginia near Leetown. The original tract of land was secured on May 10, 1750, in Fredericksburg, Virginia by a Scotsman named Adam Stephen. Adam Stephen had studied medicine in Edinburgh and served as a physician on ships of the British navy. He came to America sometime between 1738 and 1748 and opened up a surgical practice in Stafford County, near Fredericksburg. He was commissioned a captain in the French and Indian War, led a company from Winchester, and was promoted to lieutenant colonel. In 1761 he established his "quarters" on his tract of land of 2100 acres along the Opequon and named it "The Bower" for its secluded setting. "The Bower" served as his base for sixteen years, although most of the first fourteen were spent in military service. During the Revolution, Stephen offered his services to his adopted country and was commissioned a major general in the Continental Army. Following the war, he returned to "The Bower" and laid out the town of Martinsburg, where he moved in 1777. He died in 1791.

During the Revolutionary War, General Adam Stephen took his daughter, Ann, to review the troops in Winchester. A young artillery captain happened to see the general and his daughter in the red riding dress and wasted no time in attaining an introduction. Thus began the romance of Ann Stephen and Captain Alexander Spotswood Dandridge. Dandridge was born at "Elsing Green" in Hanover County, Virginia, in 1753, the son of Nathaniel West Dandridge and the grandson of Governor Alexander Spotswood. He served as lieutenant of the 4th Virginia Dragoons until he was made captain of the Virginia Artillery Battalion in 1777. He served a short time on Washington's staff (George Washington's wife's name was, of course, Martha Dandridge Custis; Dandridge was her maiden name, Custis was the name of her first husband). Dandridge resigned in 1780 and married Ann Stephen. It is believed that the couple remained at "The Bower" for a few years, then moved to "Hazelfield" near Kearneysville. Captain Dandridge died in April 1785, leaving his young widow and two-year-old son, Adam Stephen Dandridge, behind. In 1791 the boy's grandfather, old General Stephen, died, leaving the boy as heir to "The Bower" and over 2,500 acres of land.

It was Adam Stephen Dandridge who built "The Bower" mansion which stands today. On January 1, 1805 he married Sarah Pendleton. That same year he began construction on the house, which he chose to erect at the eastern edge of a grove of magnificient oak trees on a hill ascending from the Opequon. In 1806 the main building was completed: an imposing brick edifice containing fourteen rooms. Adam Stephen Dandridge and Sarah Pendleton had three sons -- Adam Stephen, Philip Pendleton, and Alexander Spotswood -- and three daughters -- Sarah S., Ann Spotswood, and Mary Evelina. All six children shared in the division of their father's large land holdings in 1833.

At the time of Adam Stephen Dandridge's death, four dower lots were assigned to his widow, Sarah. One of these lots was a 233 acre tract surrounding "The Bower." When Sarah died in 1848, her son, Adam Stephen Dandridge, bought all dower and reversion interests of the other heirs in the 233 acre "Bower" farm. The second Adam Stephen Dandridge had been graduated from Princeton University. He married Serena Pendleton and together they raised a large family of five sons and five daughters. It is this second proprieter of "The Bower" and his family who entertained General Jeb Stuart and his staff in the autumn of 1862. The eldest of the Dandridge children was Serena Catherine, born 1838. She was followed by Sarah Pendleton, known to John as "Sallie," born in 1839. The other daughters were Mary Roberta, Ann Buchanan, and Martha Pendleton, known as "Mattie." Sallie Dandridge married after the war, but her four sisters remained single throughout their lives. Of the five sons, three served in the Confederate Army -- Adam Stephen III, Edmund Pendleton, and Lemuel Purnell -- Philip Spotswood and Alexander Spotswood were too young to join the army.

The Stuart sojourn at "The Bower" has been recounted by Blackford, Von Borcke, and Cooke. Robert E. Lee obtained his sorrel mare, "Lucy Long" to alternate with the more famous"Traveller," from "The Bower." By all accounts, "The Bower" was a beautiful estate with lovely gardens and grounds tended by a large coterie of more than one hundred slaves owned by Adam Stephen Dandridge. He kept an account book recording farm crops, stores, blacksmiths, and employees which has been preserved by the family. On one page there is a heading, "Abraham Lincoln to A.S. Dandridge, Dr." In 1861 the head of "The Bower" began charging the President of the United States personally for slaves, horses, hogs, and crops taken or destroyed by the Union army. Whether he collected or not is another matter.

In the spring of 1877, Adam Stephen Dandridge III, married Danske Bedinger. They lived at" The Bower" until they moved to "Rose Brake" near Shepherdstown. In 1879 Lemuel Dandridge married Danske's aunt, Isabelle Lawrence of Flushing, New York. On January 31, 1881 Isabelle bought "The Bower," where she and Lemuel raised their three children and the three orphaned children of Lemuel's brother, Edmund Pendleton Dandridge.

The Dandridge family owned "The Bower" until Lemuel's death in 1919. The farm then consisted of 328 acres, all but sixty of them lying on the Jefferson County side of the Opequon (the Opequon divides Jefferson County from Berkeley County). It was rented to a farmer and manager who occupied a frame dwelling near the mansion and a small part of the main house. The larger part of the house was reserved for the owners of "The Bower," who gathered there every summer. The owners at this time were the Rt. Rev. Edmund P. Dandridge, son of Lemuel and Isabelle Dandridge, and his sister, Martha Dandridge Franklin of Noroton, Connecticut. "The Bower" has remained in the Dandridge family all these years and is currently being sold within the family once again.

"The Bower" today is a shadow of its former glory, but traces of its past magnificence can still be discerned. The house was built facing west so that one could look from the front porch through the beautiful grove of oak trees, across a half
copyright © 2007 John Pelham Historical Association

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