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In Hanover County, Virginia is an ancient house which once saw better days. The grounds are now untended where once there were boxwood gardens. The house itself is delapidated and an atmosphere of impending ruin prevails. The house is in eastern Hanover County, over looking the Pamunkey River, just over a mile from the historic Court House. The land was first settled by John Smith, Gent. John Smith was a large landowner and a member of the County Court of Hanover prior to 1742. He died in 1746. His widow, Mary Massie, married Smith's storekeeper, Samuel Gist. Gist came into the property. His daughter Mary married William Anderson of Hanover, and in 1778 he lived at ''Dundee. " The original house was built around 1768 and is no longer standing, although the brick foundations remain.
The present house was built by Thomas Price, Jr. of nearby "Cool Water," about 1805 - 1810. The wings were added in 1840. The brick is old English bond. The house has an English basement, two feet deep below ground level. A secret stairway leads from the east room on the second floor to the attic. The entrance is through heavy double five-panel doors with fan transcom and side lights. The inside doors are heavy six-panel cross type, heart pine and poplar.
During the Civil War the house was owned by Dr. Lucien Price. Dr. Price was a cousin of Jeb Stuart's. His two daughters, Elizabeth and Anne (''Nannie'') were of marriageable age when Stuart and staff encamped near Hanover Court House in June 1862. Miss Nannie, in particular, was a flirt -- she once boasted to John W. Thomason, Jr., when he was writing his book Jeb Stuart, that she had been engaged to all the members of Stuart's staff at one time or another! According to Milham, Pelham gave her a picture of himself in mufti. Major Heros von Borcke's relationship with Miss Nannie went beyond friendship -- they were engaged to be married. However, Dr. Price disapproved of the match -- partly because von Borcke was a foreigner -- and parental pressure prevailed. An interesting story is that von Borcke, in a fit of jealousy, once jumped from the parlor window to the portico where Miss Nannie was flirting with another member of Stuart's staff and sat down between them!
Stuart and his staff often went to great lengths to visit ''Dundee.'' Once Stuart and von Borcke rode all the way from Hamilton's Crossing, were entertained, and rode all the way back to headquarters the same night. Elizabeth Price married Dr. John Fontaine of Stuart's staff in 1863, and Stuart attended the wedding. Miss Nannie married Thomas Ballard after the war. She lived long enough to meet Thomason and died in 1931.
Dr. Fontaine was killed in the battles around Petersburg; Elizabeth then married George P. Haw of Hanover County (the Battle of Hawe' s Shop, a cavalry action late in the war, was named for a blacksmith shop owned by this same family). Mr. Haw was a veteran, having lost his arm in the battle of Antietam. "Dundee" is owned by Haw's descendants today. The house is all but abandoned.
It takes little imagination to once again see Stuart and his staff picnicking
or perhaps giving concerts beneath the old trees at "Dundee." You
can even hear Sweeney's banjo if you try. With the exception of '''The Bower,
" there is probably no other home still standing with such warm associations
with Stuart and Pelham.
This article first appeared in Volume 7, No. 4 of The Cannoneer.
Hanover County Historical Society, Old Homes of Hanover County, Virginia, 1983.
Letter of George Haw to Peggy Vogtsberger, September 1, 1987.
Heros von Borcke, Memoirs of the Confederate War for Independence. R.F.S. Starr "A Prussian for Virginia," Civil War Times Illustrated, Vol. XIX, No. 10, reb. 1Y81.)