History of the Jesse Mustain House

By Susan Kottwitz, 2002.

Jesse Mustain House

Piecing together the history of this property is a bit like looking for a mouse in a thicket.  Early records are scarce and some later history written about this house was misguided.  We do know, by matching the earliest surveys with one conducted in 1989, that this house was, indeed, Jesse Mustain's home at the time of his death in 1794.

However, many Mustain family researchers and local history buffs believe that this house was built by Jesse's father, Thomas Mustain.  In her book Tracks Along the Staunton, Diane Popek states:  "Around 1750 Thomas Mustain, on the original grant by King George II of England, built a rock-wall house, a landmark of Pittsylvania County."   We believe that this rock-wall house built in 1750 was the first floor of our home.  Thomas went on to built a larger home (timber frame with an English basement that is on his original land grant and on what is now Telegraph Road) and that his son, Jesse, went on to add the other two floors in the 1770's when he came of age, married, and began his family.

Thomas Mustain was listed among the local tithables of 1750.  At a Court held for Halifax County, May 1752, it was ordered that Thomas Mustain, Joseph Ironmonger, George Whiffon and Daniel Smith do appraise the estate of Isaac Cloud, deceased.  His land grant was signed by Royal Governor Dinwiddie and drawn up on the 29th day of November 1756.  This was an original crown Grant made by King George II in the thirtieth year of his reign for 400 acres for the tidy sum of forty shillings.   In 1767 Thomas appears on the list of tithables taken by John Donelson in Pittsylvania County's first tax list.  In 1769 the vestry of Camden Parish planned to build a church "near Thomas Mustain's." 

Thomas Mustain was born about 1725 in VA and died 1791 in Pittsylvania County, VA.  He married Mary (probable maiden name Haley) about 1748.  He and Mary had the following children:

Jesse Mustain had the following children:

In 1777, Thomas Mustain and both of his sons, Jesse and Avery Mustain, are listed as having taken the Oath of Allegiance while serving in Captain Crispin Shelton's Company in the defense of Virginia during the revolution. 

Pittsylvania Country courts records mention Jesse more than once.  On September 21, 1779 he was recorded as being severely in debt to the Commonwealth of Virginia.  In October of 1782 a case was dismissed in which he was accused of misconduct.

Prior to 1782 Jesse had already set up housekeeping with his (already large family) separate from his father.  Jesse is listed on the 1782 Heads of Households with 8 white souls.  His father, Thomas, is listed with 7 white souls.  The first census of the United States taken in 1785 lists Jesse Mustain with 9 white souls, 1 dwelling, and 3 other buildings.  Thomas is listed with 4 white souls, 1 dwelling, and 4 other buildings.  Jesse's younger brother, Avery, is listed with 4 white souls, no dwelling and no other buildings.  (Avery built his home in 1788 - date is on north cornice of house - on Whitethorn Creek.)

On November 6, 1791, Thomas Mustain, "being weak in body," wrote his will:

Signed by Thomas Mustain (with his X).  Witnessed by Frances Irby, Nathaniel Farris, and Griffith Dickinson.  Vincent Shelton and Charles Lewis, Jr. gave security for the executors.  This will was entered into court on November 21, 1791.

Unfortunately, it was not long before Jesse died.  Family lore says he fell from his horse while intoxicated.  On June 1, 1795, Polly Mustain, widow of Jesse, mortgaged her dower of 66 2/3 acres to Samuel and David Pannill for thirty pounds. On August 21, 1797, Jesse's son Thomas was made legal guardian to Jesse's minor children.  Also in 1797, the whole plantation, including Polly's dower, was sold to Benjamin Gosney and passed out of the Mustain family.

In 1817, Gosney sold the property to Richard Whitehead for $2,840.  When Whitehead bought roughly the other half of the Mustain tract in 1811, he had, in effect, the land to which Thomas Mustain was given patent by George II.  Around 1836, Richard Whitehead made structural changes to the house:  moving the south and north doors (front and back) on the 2nd floor, as well as adding a wall to make a center hallway corresponding to the new placement of doors.  Richard and his wife, Pency, were buried together near the house, but in 1934 they were removed to Chatham, VA

Richard Whitehead, the son of John Whitehead and Sarah Burcher, was born in 1773 and died in 1843.  He came to Pittsylvania County about 1817 from Amherst, VA.  Richard married Pency Camden, daughter of William Camden.  Their children:

Between 1860 and 1863 all of this property was sold to William Harvey.  It was subsequently sold to Allison Berger, then J.C. Rowland who added the two story wing to the south, then James Gibson, then to Donna Schoen Carter in 1989, then Gary and Susan Kottwitz in 1997.

This webpage is sponsored by Mitchells Publications.