|Pittsylvania County, Virginia
|When I told him of my search for the home and grave of Colonel Haynes Morgan, my old friend B. C. Starkey,
who commanded a tank company in World War II, offered to guide me in the area where he was born and spent
On a Spring-like day in early March, the finest that 1995 had offered, we set out to the land north of the
Banister River in Pittsylvania County. We turned off highway 29 and traveled down the old Lynchburg Stage
Road (State Road 640; known today as the Spring Garden Road) toward Riceville.
The village of Riceville sprang up on high ground near the falls of the Banister River. Early navigation ended
here where the river breaks through the triasic White Oak Mountain range. Footprints of dinosaurs have been
discovered in the ancient rock in this area.
Colonel Morgan lived and died just across the river at his plantation, which he called “Whitefalls.” Below the
falls, exported goods could float down stream to the Roanoke River, then on to the Atlantic Ocean near
Roanoke Island in North Carolina.
As Captain Starkey and I traveled down the road, he named the long-dead land owners and the names of their
plantations. Many of the families along the way were his cousins: the Neals, Mustains, Owens, Paynes, to name
a few. Some of the plantation houses were well kept, some falling down, and some gone completely.
These gravestones from the Fitzgerald family are about 3/4 mile south of Colonel
Haynes Morgan's grave. Morgan descendants sold land to the Fitzgeralds.
search for the grave of Col. Haynes Morgan. After crossing the Banister River, we turned northeast on State
Road 677. At the crest of the hill, we arrived at the old home of Edmond Fitzgerald. The first home burned early
and the present replacement was built in 1828. Edmond Fitzgerald, who was born in 1788 and died in 1866, is
buried in a rock-walled cemetery near the house.
We met Aubrey Nuckles, who like his grandfather Fred Stone and great-grandfather Sam Stone before him,
lives in the Fitzgerald house and owns the Haynes Morgan home tract. Aubrey Nuckles’ children are the
seventh generation from the Fitzgerald-Stone family to live on this land. With a keen interest in the history of
the area and an eagerness to help, Nuckles guided us less than a mile up the road to the western side where a
small mound of earth and foundation stones remain. This spot was pointed out to Aubrey Nuckles by his
grandfather Fred Stone as the home site of Colonel Haynes Morgan.
Fred Stone, now past ninety years old, was shown the location by his father Sam Stone. On the eastern side of
the road was a small rock-walled cemetery complete with a surrounding stand of periwinkle. The small cemetery
with a thick rock wall is about 4 feet by 12 feet inside and would have held no more than four graves. Since
Colonel Morgan’s descendants left the area and one of his children died before him, the small size of the family
cemetery reinforces the fact that this is the last resting place of the old Revolutionary commander.
It is unfortunate that the grave of Colonel Morgan is unmarked. Groups which identify graves of Revolutionary
Soldiers will not accept the location without some kind of documentation to describe the exact location. He was
one of Pittsylvania County’s earliest, highest ranking, and most important Revolutionary War officers. Little has
been written about him and his long service to his country during a difficult time in history. The little rock-walled
graveyard might someday be scattered and lost completely as so many others have.
Captain Bernard C. Starkey was one of my best sources about life in the old days of Pittsylvania County. It
was fortunate that we made the trip when we did since Captain Starkey died shortly afterwards.
We took the northwestern fork at
Riceville and crossed the Banister River
just south of the old Whitefalls Mill. This
old road once crossed the Banister on
Clark’s Bridge and was the earliest road
from Danville to Lynchburg.
The northeastern fork from Riceville,
which now is a dead end, once led
directly northeast and forded the river
several miles downstream, then by the
old Joel Hubbard home near Hermosa,
and a short distance further, crossed
into Halifax County at the Starkey
brothers’ birthplace. The Joel Hubbard
home, a very large house with many
additions and out buildings, is one of the
oldest in Pittsylvania County.
The Starkey brothers, B. C. and Jim,
were born southeast of Mount Airy,
Virginia, in the old Hermosa Store that
sat astride the county line dividing
Pittsylvania and Halifax Counties. The
long-gone store building had two
bedrooms. Jim was born a Halifax County
native in one bedroom and B. C. was
born a Pittsylvania County native in the
Their ancestors once owned thousands
of acres north and south of the Banister
River in both Pittsylvania and Halifax
Counties. Sadly, we found that the old
Starkey plantation house, where their
great-grandfather Tap Starkey lived, had
burned since the fall of 1994.