Hell-and-High-Water Hill

42 Franklin Place, Chatham, Virginia
By Henry H. Mitchell

Oak Hall

Oak Hall.

Oak Hall, a historic home on the southern end of Chatham, was built by James Poindexter. A merchant and architect, he purchased 20 acres for the house in 1837, and constructed it in a style which could be termed “late Federal.” He died only 16 years later, but his family remained at the home until 1873, when the property was purchased by Lt. Col. Rawley W. Martin.

At the Battle of Gettysburg, Martin had led the 53rd Virginia Infantry (including Company I, the Chatham Greys, who were carrying the regimental colors) in Pickett's Charge. Martin, General Lewis A. Armistead, and a few from Company I were the only Confederates to make it beyond the stone wall at “the Angle” on Cemetery Hill. It was the “high-water mark of the Confederacy,” but all of them were captured, wounded, or killed. Martin was wounded and captured, then later exchanged as a prisoner of war. His appointment as brigadier general was in transit when the war ended.

Rawley Martin's office

Dr. Rawley Martin's office, a dependency at Oak Hall.

Having survived his hellish Civil War experiences, Martin returned to Chatham and became a beloved physician; his office was the 1700's structure beside Oak Hall, which he renamed “Morea,” probably after the 1835 home of the same name, which belonged to his natural history professor at the University of Virginia, John Patton Emmet (209-211 Sprigg Lane, in Charlottesville).

The property has also been known as “Quercus” (Latin for “Oak”). Besides Poindexter and Martin, owners have included the families of Thomas Judson Patterson; Hunt M. Whitehead; and Cmdr. Richard W. Arey. It is now the private residence of Mr. and Mrs. Lewis E. Wall, Jr.

For further information, see:

Related Books

(Available from the sponsor.)

History of Pittsylvania County, Virginia

Clement: History of Pittsylvania County, Virginia

Pittsylvania: Homes and People of the Past

Fitzgerald: Pittsylvania: Homes and People of the Past

Mitchells Publications and the Sims-Mitchell House host this webpage, along with extensive other references concerning Chatham, Pittsylvania County, and Danville, VA.