Today (6/27/11) was a day of great exploration. I started off trying to find Cobbs. I went to the Chesterfield Library, where I found more information on Cobbs, including the pictures of the original building, which was burned by Federals during the Civil War. (Yet another reason to dislike Yankees….) I also realized why the Bolling family tree is so hard to follow. Robert Bolling (The first to come to America) married Jane Rolfe (Pocahotas’s granddaughter) and had one son, John. Jane died, and Robert remarried, starting a new strain of Bollings (Thereafter distinguished as the “White” Bollings, as opposed to the “Red” Bollings which were Pocahontas’s line.) Each Bolling side of the family had Robert Bolling’s (in honor of the ancestor)–In fact, My Robert Bolling had a brother named Robert who only lived to be four and died two years before My Robert was born—Imagine that conversation: “Yeah, your brother died, so we gave you his name…” Eventually, however, the two sides rejoined when a “red” Bolling married a “white” Bolling. Complicated!
After trying to keep the history straight, I found a copy of vague directions to Cobbs, including such tidbits as “Proceed 1 ¾ miles southeast on 617, thence to…” And, it included streets which no longer exist. So, once again, I was left to chance and the GPS. I managed to find a street called Cobbs Point and explored from there out. Having received information that part of Cobbs was in the middle of a park, I was able to locate the Park Ranger, who pointed me to a subdivision. Col. John Bolling (Robert’s father) is buried in the middle of a subdivision, but I found it without too much difficulty. All the houses said no trespassing, so I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to get some pictures, but I saw a man outside working on his car, so I went and asked him. Turned out, he was from England, and not only let me explore his land, but also told me that the remains of Cobbs had been removed off of the land adjoining his property. So that ended the quest for Cobbs.
I then decided to head back up to Dillwyn since I had discovered that Indian Plains had also been a part of Chellowe as well. I was able to take a few pictures around there (Ignoring another No Trespassing sign.), and I was able to capture the ruins of the chimney and some outbuildings. Then, I went back to the Buckingham County Library to see if I could locate any of Bolling’s other plantations. The Librarian sent me to the County Courthouse, designed, incidentally, by Thomas Jefferson. While there, I was able to see some of the land grants Col. Bolling received.
I drove down to Willis Mountain, where I had learned from the Courthouse that Robert Bolling Senior (Relative—Not sure “red” or “white” Bolling) had signed his name in a cave in 1700. I passed yet another No Trespassing sign to drive up Willis Mountain, which is now a mine. I got a few pictures, but didn’t see the cave, so I decided to stop in the mining office to see if they knew anything about it. The secretary was excited to hear all I had discovered about Robert Bolling. She promised to email the man who had bought Chellowe and owned Willis Mountain. He called me as I was driving to where I thought the other plantation was and told me that Chellowe was actually designed from Thomas Jefferson’s first plans for Monticello. I’d never heard that, but as Thomas Jefferson was Bolling’s brother-in-law, it would make sense. He mentioned that Bolling’s signature was indeed in the cave, but had been covered over with graffiti, so it wouldn’t be worth my time to drive back to see it, since they hadn’t restored it yet. We talked history for a few more minutes, and he told me I was welcome to come by anytime I was in the area (Score!) and to send him anything I found. Then, I took pictures of the Seven Islands area and drove home. So, a very full Bolling day.