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Newport News, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Largest and Most Valuable Estate in the County

 
 
Largest and Most Valuable Estate in the County Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 11, 2008
1. Largest and Most Valuable Estate in the County Marker
Inscription. In 1844, Richard D. Lee inherited 481.5 acres from his fatherís estate. For the next 16 years, Lee improved and expanded his land holdings until he owned 2,100 acres. In 1860, his farm yielded 2,900 bushels of wheat, 3,500 bushels of corn, 1,400 bushels of oats, 1,200 bushels of hay and truck crops. In addition, he owned 14 milk cows, 72 beef cattle, 35 sheep and 130 hogs. Lee was a successful scientific farmer who followed the agricultural practices of Edmund Ruffin and John Taylor.

By 1800, Tidewater soil was exhausted from generations of tobacco cultivation. John Taylorís Arator (1813) discusses the rejuvenation of the soil through crop rotation, deep plowing, draining and enclosing livestock. In 1832, Edmund Ruffinís “Essay on Calcareous Manures” details the use of marl for reversing soil acidity and harvesting higher yield crops. Richard Lee and Peninsula farmers practiced these new methods of cultivation, and they formed the Middle Plantation Agricultural Society for the promotion of scientific farming in 1860.

The Civil War brought destruction and ruin for Leeís farm and property. In 1862, the Confederates destroyed 85 acres of wheat and tore down eight miles of his fences. Lee abandoned his land and did not return until September 1865. After the war, he placed 13 liens on his property and owed
Marker at Lee Hall image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 11, 2008
2. Marker at Lee Hall
$30,000 by 1870. Local newspapers advertised the sale of a “Valuable Plantation, in Warwick County, late the property of Richard D. Lee Ö This is the largest and most valuable estate in the County of Warwick, and is highly improved.” In January 1871, William Henry Aspinwall of New York purchased the property.
 
Location. 37° 11.981′ N, 76° 34.518′ W. Marker is in Newport News, Virginia. Marker can be reached from Yorktown Road (Virginia Route 238), on the left when traveling north. Click for map. Marker is located on the grounds of Lee Hall Mansion. Marker is in this post office area: Newport News VA 23603, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. An Earthwork in Front (within shouting distance of this marker); A Large Brick Kitchen (within shouting distance of this marker); Homestead by the Main Road (within shouting distance of this marker); Master and Slaves (within shouting distance of this marker); Lee Hall (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named Lee Hall (about 600 feet away); Lee Hall Village (approx. 0.4 miles away); C&O "Peninsula Extension" (approx. 0.4 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Newport News.
 
More about this marker. The right of the marker features
Lee Hall Mansion image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 11, 2008
3. Lee Hall Mansion
an image of “An advertisement for the 1860 Middle Plantation Agricultural Society Exhibition [which] appealed to local agriculturalists in Warwick.”
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Markers located at Lee Hall.
 
Also see . . .
1. Lee Hall Mansion. (Submitted on February 28, 2009, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.)
2. The Peninsula Campaign. (Submitted on February 28, 2009, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.)
 
Categories. War, US Civil
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 1,073 times since then and 121 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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