The Former Glory of 'Gauley Mount' 8 March 1956
man followers do on for Raleigh. picture Yesterday And Today- The Former Glory Of Gauley Mount' Passing over Gauley Mountain the otho: day and seeing the restful restful looking golf grounds of Ihe EM.CO people lo the right of Route 60 as one goes Charleston way my mind drifted away in revery to the history of the place. T h e r e more than a hundred years " ago etood the show - place home on the ancient ancient Kanawha a n d J a m e s River Turnpike. It was Ihe bve- liesl estate all the way between G a u l e y River Gauley Mount was the name of Ihe Eslalc and Colonel Christopher Q. Tompk^ins was its proud owner. This place is some lwo miles east of Gauley Bridge. It is^ a sort of second plateau which one'reach- es as he negotiates the winding Midland Trail'as he goes from historic historic Gautey Bridge toward Ansted, Ansted, . Lcwisburg, and White Sulphur Sulphur Springs. There .on what ifi now neatly manicured golf grounds , on.ce stood the pretentious home 1 of Â· a- wealthy ,Enst Virginian of noble ancestry. This man was a ' West Point gi-aduatc. Somehow, after honorable service in the U. S. Army, Tompkins resigned his com- .mission. Then il was he cnme lo Fayette County and look,up. lands on Gauley Mountain. There he erected his 'palatial home and had slaves to till Ihe sprawling acres about i t . Â· Â· Â· Â· . . . Tompklns was an engineer and he came here to open mines on' Painl Creek. His hcnrie housed a f i n e library and many rich paintings paintings graced the Â· "walls of this glistening residence. It glistened because the manor, house, ae Well BG the slave quarters, all outbuildings, outbuildings, and the extensive picket fence about it were all painted a snow white. Blooded horses and hunting dogs were there In abundance. abundance. When Tompkins and hie family went places they went in Â·state. Ttiey were looked upon by all and sundry as a family who were really somebody. House servants servants and field laborers performed the will of master and missus and their lovely children. II was known lhat the Tompkins had a life of comparative 'ease. There were three children In Ihe Tompkins home. Their mother was an East Virginia blue bloo% with all the Southern grace and charm. Since (his was a family of af- luence they hired private lulors far their children. Their sixleen ear old daughter had a leacher all her own. There was still another another private leacher for the two soys who were fourteen and nitie years of nge, respectively, when 18G1 dawned on Gauley Mount. This was a family "lhat had il made, as we express it today. Before me aa I write is a picture of Gauley Mount. It was laken just before Virginia was rent in twain. Lovely grounds, nice landscaping, landscaping, arid beautiful surroundings surroundings show in the old, old photograph. photograph. Lcoking at this house from the front one can fancy lie heare the roar of New River as it daGhes over the boulders at the foot of the mounlnin. All this was simply too good la last. Came the spring of 1861 and the country was set on fire with the Civil War that was to rage for four long and fateful fateful years. Like any soldier who has been schooled in duly, Tompkins Tompkins could not remain neulral. No one in a border slate, like West Virginia, could remain neutral. You were on one side or the other and you couldn't play bjlh ends against the middle. It just couldn't be done with Partisan Rangers and-or Home Guards ever on the growl. Brigadier General Henry A, Vii-x f bounced through the Kanawha Kanawha Valley in the effort to raise himself a Leglnn for the defense cf ,the Confederacy. Tompkins had al- i^eady lured men in that, direction. He accepted a Colonel's commission commission in the Confederate cause! Thai started In theu and there to spell the end of his occupancy of his Gauley Mount estate. Valuable service was .rendered by Colonel Tomipkins in training Confederate recruits. All went well wilh him as long as he was al home or near bv. Then it fell on a day that the Federals look over the Kanawha VaUev. That ,was bad. Tompkins wrote appealingly to Federal Commander General J. D. Cox to spare Hie Tompkirw home and lake care lest harm befall befall Mr.s. Tompkins and the children. children. Cox spared Ibis family every indignity. After a time Hoseerans barged in as Federal Commander on the spot and moved his headquarters headquarters to "Camp Tompkins." Then it was Ihe 23rd Ohio Regiment Regiment pilched tent on the Tompkins Tompkins acres. Judge Advocate Butherford B, Hayes -often held Military Court in the Tompkins mansion. Hayes's Diary is in my Library. He takes a dim view of Tompkhls whose house he describes in his entry of Oct. 14,' 1861, as "a fine large white house." Three days later Hayc-s writes, Tompkin's "mansion an elegant 'modern house, and by .some strange good luck il has been occupied by his family and escaped uninjured while hundreds of humbler homes have been mined. Mrs. Tcmpkins has kept on the good side of our leaders, and thus far has kept the property property safe." Hayes writes on Oct. 27,- 1861, "I have had a week's work trying trying twenty cases before a Court- martial in one of Ihe fine parlors of Colonel Tompkins's counlry- seat.' I have profaned the sacred mansion and I trust that scon it will be cbnverled inlo a hospital for our sick." One of the twenty men tried was sentenced to death. The condemned mari"- was found guilty of desertion and other aggravated, aggravated, offenses, Hayes says. Hayes was quartered in a lenl the Tompkins farm about one hundred yards from the house. Soon Mrs. Tompkins got fed up with tile coarse Yankee soldiers and was permitted by Hoseerans tofgo to East Virginia. Etsrly In October, October, 1861, Mrs. Tompkins and her daughter were sent in her carriage with an escort o f t e n a flag of truce to Ihe Confederate lines about Ihirty miles away. Tcmnkins boys remained in Iheir home. Hayes was'promoted from 'Major to Lt. Colonel while stationed stationed al "Camp Tompkins." Then he W2s relieved of being Judge Advocate. Mrs. Tompkins came back home under a flag of truce before very long. On her leaving the house she carried with her the two Soon the rich home WES looted the crude soldiers. It was liberated of its treasures and was only gaunt remains of a house. Some tiirte during the last years of war it was burned. Everything was destroyed. Livestock was killed and eaten. Outhouses were used as fuel. Gone was Ihc glory of Gauley Mount! Colonel Tompkins Tompkins died on May 18, 1(177. AS (or his family and what became of them I know not. It wasn't long unlil Gauley Mount grew up in woods. That way U remained unlil ils present owners turned the former former estate into a golf grounds a thing of beauty. I never pass that way but that the former of Gauley Mount looms up before me. like a many-splendored spectre!