For history buffs, among the most interesting aspects of colonial homes in Virginia is learning more about the original owners or builders. In the case of the Caleb Stone house at 67 Cameron St. in Columbia VA, carpenter Caleb Stone’s history takes us directly back to his personal relationship with the first U.S. President, George Washington.
Church records indicate that Caleb Stone was born on Jan 27, 1734 in New Kent, VA, to parents William Noble Stone III and Frances Taylor Stone. Other online records indicate a birth date of ‘1733’. Regardless, Stone was baptized on March 2, 1734, at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in New Kent VA. Their families had lived in Virginia since at least the year 1645 in Northumberland VA. That church was also the church of George Washington’s wife, Martha. George and Martha Washington had been married at St. Peter’s on Jan. 5, 1759.
Subsequent Virginia Militia documents note that Caleb Stone entered into a contract with George Washington on Feb. 8, 1773 and that signature was witnessed by Lund Washington (1737-1796) who was a distant cousin of George Washington. Lund Washington was in charge of Washington’s Mt. Vernon home during the Revolutionary War. In that contract, Caleb Stone agreed to be a carpenter at Mt. Vernon (from 1773-1778) and to train Mt. Vernon’s slaves in the art of carpentry. According to “The Papers of George Washington, Colonial Series, Vol. 9, Mesick Cohen & Waite”, Stone agreed to be the “overlooker” of Washington’s enslaved carpenters. In Stone’s agreement he had the responsibility to teach the enslaved carpenters “the Art and Mistery of the Trade of a Carpenter.” Washington paid Stone forty pounds, plus washing, lodging, food for himself, and pasturage for his horse. Other records indicate that George Washington also paid fifteen pounds to have a coat and waistcoat made for Stone.
We learn from county records that Caleb married his wife Sarah Ashlin (1758-1830) near Goochland in Albemarle County, VA on May 16, 1776. It’s interesting to imagine their wedding day, given the political events of the days surrounding their wedding. Just the day prior to his wedding (May 15 1776) the Virginia Convention to the Continental Congress instructed delegates to declare the United Colonies independent and free from allegiance to the crown of Great Britain. The day following Stone’s wedding (May 17 1776), a British order responded to the Congressional declaration of independence by banning the export of arms and gunpowder to The Colonies. There must have been some stimulating conversations at Mt. Vernon at that time. Caleb and Sarah married only 49 days before our country’s official adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.
When Caleb Stone died in 1810 he and Sarah (Sally) had been married for 33 years. He owned hundreds of acres of land which he willed to his many descendants because he and Sarah had 12 children – – 7 sons and 5 daughters. His sons were: Daniel, Thomas, Caleb, David, Augustine, and John. Another son William, was given one dollar and a slave valued at $1000 in Caleb’s will. His daughters were: Nancy, Fanny, Elizabeth, Lucy, and Salley. In addition to providing his heirs with land and slaves, each of his sons and daughters ‘not already furnished’ received horse, saddle and bridle, a feather bed and furniture, a cow and calf, and 2 ewes and lamb.