Photos of Thomas Milam's Land in Bedford and Madison Counties
Thomas Mylam's Land in Present Day Madison County
As explained elsewhere, Mylam's first land grant was in Culpeper County which lies now in Madison County near the village of Syria. Robert Vernon of Charlottesville located Thomas Milam's survey plat on a current map for me so I could locate it precisely. Milam's former land is on the north side of Double Top Mountain and a portion of the present day Rose River flows through it. During Thomas' time it was refered to as the "south branch of the Robinson River" and later as the Row or Rowe River. Jimmy Graves, owner of the Graves Mountain Lodge (link), bought Milam's land in 2004 from the Kite family.
In October 2008, I spent two hours with Jimmy and he graciously showed me Milam's former land in detail. None of the present buildings date from the 1700s but there is a large 19th century farmhouse which had been added onto several time, an old water mill whose wheel is silted up and a red, one room school house. Jimmy told me that the Rose River on Milam's land is prone to massively flood every 50 years or so and showed me where its channel had been changed by the 1995 flood. Big Tom Mountain to the West can be seen from Milam's land; it is said that the mountain was named for an Indian who dwelled there during Thomas' time (1738 - 1760). Big Tom Mt. may be seen in the distance in the first photo. Madison Photo Album (image) - click to enlarge a photo and view album.
Thomas Milam's Land in Bedford County
From the town of Bedford in Bedford County, I drove northeast on Big Island Road (Rt 122). The drive north is through beautiful farm country with occasional small churches. The dominating Peaks of Otter are visible to the west as are the Blue Ridge in the distance. After about 6 miles I turned right on Hurricane Lane and stopped to ask the owner of a nearby farm the name of the stream and he said that he didn’t know the name: “We just call it the creek.” But he was kind enough to get a topographic map used for hunting (Delorme Topo Map: 207 846-7000 ) which showed Hurricane Mountain visible to the northeast and the stream paralleling Hurricane Lane which was indeed Hurricane Creek. Driving a little further down the Lane, the surface changes from asphalt to packed gravel and a one lane bridge over Hurricane Creek appeared at the bottom of a small rise. The creek was only about 10 to 12 feet wide and became narrower as I drove along its bottom land.
The Lane runs southeast with Hurricane Creek on the right (south) side typically at the far edge of a pasture or a cut fields of grain. Although Hurricane Lane is about 3 miles long, only the first half is along Hurricane Creek - the remainder parallels the North Fork of the Big Otter River. Thomas Milam's 1763 deed states that he had 400 acres "on both sides of Hurricane Creek". Therefore Milam's land lies along the northern half of Hurricane Lane before Hurricane Creek joins the North Fork. Looking at the historic map, one can observe that in 1774 (just before Milam's death) Major Thomas Logwood settled a little further south on Hurricane Creek. Since I don't yet have Milam's survey plat placed on a current map, I am not certain that my photos are of his exact land - but they are very close. Bedford Photo Album (image) - click to enlarge a photo and view album.
William Rush IV's Land in Madison County
In October 2007, I drove to Syria, Virginia via Scenic Route 231 North through Gordonsville and Madison. About 5 miles East of Syria on Route 670, I found a historic marker for the Hebron Lutheran Church (link) indicating its founding in 1725. A mile west of Criglersville one finds Quaker’s Run Road (Route 649) on the left. This road runs Southwest along the eastern most edge of Doubletop Mountain then along Quaker Run. William and Benjamin Rush patented about 400 acres each on May 11, 1726 and the original surveys were for land "South of the Robinson River" and, in William's records "along Quaker Run". The land was given to them by their step-father, William Duff, a prominent Quaker, who also gave the name to the stream. William eventually moved there in 1733. It is beautiful farm land with large flat bottoms. In the photo William's land is in the foreground. Benjamin Rush never lived on his patented land; he remained in King George County for several years where he was appointed Constable and then Deputy Sheriff. Benjamin's land is in the distance on the far Right. In the background Double Top Mountain is on the left and, farther North, Graves Mountain is on the right. Rush Photo Album (image) - click to enlarge a photo and view album.
In Search of the Milam Apple at the Graves Mountain Apple Festival
Every October Graves Mountain Lodge, present owners of Milam's land along the Rose River, has an Apple Festival with a variety of apples, apple sauce and apple butter for sale, country music and delicious barbecue. It is a great way to visit Milam's orginal property, horse back ride, hike Old Rag Mountain and enjoy a Fall weekend. I asked several old-timers in their 70s if they knew of the Milam Apple. None of them could say that they did.
Jimmy Graves, owner of Graves Mountain Lodge (link), whose family has been in the area for almost 300 years and grown apples forever said that he knew of the legend and thought that the Milam Apple was from near Milam Gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I had no luck in tasting a Milam Apple but it was still a great Fall weekend. Apple Festival Album (image) - click to enlarge a photo and view album.