Husband: Robert Sitlington
Father: John Sitlington, Jr. [R512]
Born: 1749, in Northern Ireland
Died: 9/18/1833 in Bath County, at his home described below

Wife: Mary (Feamster) Sitlington
Died: 6/6/1829 in Bath County, at her home described below

Married: 10/7/1778, at Williamsville Va. (Mary’s home)

William A. Sitlington, 11/24/1779-10/16/1826. M. Mary McClung    (4/2/1790-2/16/1862), ch. Ann Blackburn, Alexander Hamilton, Mary    Jane, John Marshall, Rebecca. (Among the few stones left standing in    the old, lower part of the Windy Cove Church cemetery are those of    William and Mary Sitlington and four of their children.)
John Sitlington [R518]
Margaret Sitlington, 8/29/1783-2/17/1818. Never married
(Capt.) Andrew Sitlington, 12/10/1785-12/10/1863. M. 1st Nancy    Carlisle; ch. Charles, Mary Elizabeth, William Andrew, John Sloan,    Margaret Ann, Robert, and two dau. who died at birth. M. 2nd Peggy    Bratton. Andrew, Nancy, and their first son (Maj.) Charles Sitlington    are buried in the abandoned “Sitlington Cemetery” mentioned in    [R022].
Thomas Sitlington, 1792-1881. Married Mary Ann Snyder (1809-
   1889). Thomas was a member of the Virginia Legislature for many    years, and was a signer of the Decree of Secession from the United    States at the beginning of the Civil War.

In an affidavit filed by Robert Sitlington in 1832 for a Revolutionary War pension [S004], he recounts several periods of military service between 1776 and 1779, then states “...he was drafted into the militia of Virginia for a tour of duty of six weeks about 1779-1780 and served under Captain David Gwin; he then resided in the county of Augusta and marched to North Carolina and was placed under the command of Colonel Campbell and was at the Battle of Guilford [Courthouse], but that he received no wound...” [S004] comments “It is most surprising that he should have wanted a pension for he was in GOOD circumstances.--”

Robert was instrumental in the formation of Bath County in 1792. He and Mary Sitlington first lived on a Homestead near Wallawhatoola, and about 1798 built the stone “Sitlington Planation” (Figs. R521a [S050], R521b) near Indian Hill and the White House. Quoting [S050], “He served as one of the Justices during the thirty-two years Bath was ‘Greater Bath.’ This house was in his possession thirty-five years. It descended to Thomas Sitlington [his son; see above] in whose possession it remained for sixty-six years. He [Thomas] had no children and adopted Joseph Silver who served in the War Between the States, in Company F, Eleventh Cavalry. He was killed in action at Cedar Creek, 1864. Information concerning the house comes from Mr. E. P. Matheny of Nimrod Hall, Virginia, who says he remembers Colonel Thomas Sitlington and that he told him the house was built when he, Colonel Thomas Sitlington, was five years old. The date of Thomas Sitlington’s death was taken from his tombstone, is 1881. He was eighty-eight years old. This will make the date of erection 1798.” Thomas Sitlington was a communicant of the Windy Cove Church in 1833.

Robert, Mary, and Thomas Sitlington (probably among others) were buried in the “Tom Sitlington Cemetery” at the Stone House [R022]. The cemetery was already obliterated in the 1930s; nonetheless, at that time the site bore a D.A.R. marker commemorating Robert’s service in the Revolutionary War.

After Thomas Sitlington died in 1881, the recently wedded Lewis Edward and Emma Katherine Wood [R005] lived in the Sitlington stone house for six years, managing the property and caring for Thomas Sitlington’s widow. Emma was the granddaughter of Thomas’s first cousin Martha (Crawford) Burger [R505]. A priceless account of that time was left by Kemp Wood [R550] [S074], Lewis and Emma’s firstborn child. The house has been drastically remodelled several times since it was written.


“My earliest recollections go back to the time when my parents, younger brother and I lived in an old stone house on a large farm of over a thousand acres. My father had leased the place for a period of six years, from the aged widow of Colonel Thomas Sitlington. The contract stipulated, among other things, that the old lady whom we called Aunt Polly would continue to reside in the place, and take her meals at our family table. I can never erase from my memory my first impression of that stern old lady with her sour, wrinkled face forbidding manner and her cross, ugly disposition. I was only five years of age when we moved there. From the very first I was afraid of her. Had I met the Witch of Endor I would not have been more frightened. Somehow I felt that the old stone house and all its surroundings were haunted by an evil spirit inspired by her presence.

“The dwelling- if it could be called such- stood on the hill in the midst of a clump of gnarled and knotted oak, locust and shaggy mulberry trees. The house had been built during the Revolutionary War, and rose two stories and an attic above an old dungeon of a cellar. The stone walls were two feet thick and the chimneys, on three sides of the structure, were built in the walls, but their projections showed above the roof.

“Upon entering the front door, from the south side, one stood in a large, barn-like room, forty feet in length, and twenty-five feet in width from west to east. There was a small window in each end of this room. The height of the ceiling was fifteen feet and to the left of the front door, a spiral stairway led to the second floor. At the far end of the room, against the wall, stood a Grandfather’s clock, tall and stately. It was operated by two heavy iron weights, and above the dial was an image of the moon. On the west side was an open fireplace, six feet wide, with brass-topped andirons, and in it, a metal crane for swinging cooking utensils on and off the fire. The furnishings were old, having on them the marks of antiquity. The history of a dead past was inscribed everywhere. Three doors opened into bedrooms from the east side. From the northeast corner of this large room, a door led into the dining room and kitchen on the same floor level. These rooms were in a one-story ell, adjoining the main structure.

“If one breathed an atmosphere of gloom on the first floor, on the second he found it depressing and eerie. Above this large, empty, hollow room was a dark forbidding attic, entered by means of a trap door. What was up there we never knew, and never had a desire to find out. My brother and I slept in this second floor room after we had accumulated sufficient courage. We slept on a bed with wooden slats and a straw tick. Near our bed was a closet in the wall where Aunt Polly kept her jellies, jams, preserves and pickled cherries. We liked such things, but were afraid to go near the closet. That would be trespassing, she told us and terrible things were in store for those little boys who molested other people’s possessions. The room inhabited by Aunt Polly was at the southeast corner of the same floor on which we slept. Every night, just before retiring, she was in the habit of engaging in religious devotions.

Sometimes, when the old lady had strong suspicions that my brother and I were the culprits who had been in her preserves, or in her cherry trees, she would insist upon our attending prayers that night. When we came in her room, Aunt Polly would be sitting in an old rocking chair made of hickory withes and covered with a dingy, yellow sheepskin. To her right was a table, and on it a lighted candle in a brass candlestick, and by it a little scissors-like arrangement with which she snuffed the candle. Nearby were a ball of yarn and knitting needles, and various other curious and strangely shaped articles. She wore a white cap on her head, a knitted shawl over her shoulders, and spectacles set in steel frames halfway down her nose. In front of the old lady was an open fire burning, and her favorite cat crouched in the corner purring. We were instructed to be seated and keep perfectly quiet. Then Aunt Polly began to read passages from the Bible that described eternal punishment, hell-fire, brimstone and everlasting torment. On her knees, with instructions to us to do the same, she prayed. As she talked to the Lord about the awful sins of trespassing and the impending punishment for those guilty, we shook with fear and trembling, knowing full-well that her words were directed toward us. Prayers over, the ancient saint snuffed the candle, pushed the spectacles up on her wrinkled forehead and, with those piercing, bewitching eyes centered on us, explained more fully the passages just read. Not only would offenders burn for ever and ever in that terrible place, but the devil would be there with a red hot fork to turn the victims over and over. Imagine how well we slept that night. Once in our bed, we were sure the devil would open the attic trap door and get us.

“The farm on which we lived was located in a river valley between two high mountains, and frequently, during the dry seasons, one or the other of the mountains would be ravaged by fire. Upon one particular occasion, when the wind was high, the forests of both mountains burned at the same time. Because of the strong wind, the whole valley was threatened. Every available man and boy was pressed into service and fought frantically the raging, threatening inferno. The fire, swept by the driving wind, raced like wild beasts, destroying everything in its path. Great sheets of red flame leaped up through the tops of pine trees, whipped, lashed and roared along the mountain sides like terrified demons. Monstrous, billowing pillars of black smoke rolled up from the forests, and settled down in the valley like a pall of impending doom. The sun shown through the smoke and gloom like a smothered ball of fire.

“At the day’s end the wind calmed down, and night threw its mantle of darkness over the demons of gloom. Great, savage streaks of fire lined the sides of the two mountains. To me, it seemed, our place was doomed- encircled by an everlasting fire. The world was coming to an end, the Judgement day was at hand and time would be no more. After one frightful look I ran screaming into mother’s room and crawled under the bed. No coaxing could get me out- not even a piece of cherry pie would do the trick. When, or how, I came out from under the bed I do not remember. But when morning came it was raining and the disaster had been averted.

“A hundred feet east of the kitchen door, an old well, forty feet deep, was the source of our water supply. Its circular walls were lined with stone, and the top of it was boxed up with boards four feet high and four feet square. A rickety frame with a windlass in it was fastened over the enclosure, and by means of a long chain, an old, ironbound, moss-covered bucket could be let down into the well. Sometimes dead snakes and frogs were found in the water. During the days when slaves were on the plantation, two negro boys had fallen in the well and drowned.

“Located on a green hill, just three hundred yards beyond the well, was the old family graveyard, with a honeysuckle-entwined paling fence around it. Former residents of the old house, and many slaves, had been buried here. Some of the tombstones had fallen down and were matted over with moss and vines. Horrid ghost stories had their origin in the haunted place. My brother and I never dared go near the graveyard unless accompanied by our elders. Fifty yards north of the kitchen stood the dreary and deserted slave quarters, built of faded red brick- empty and forbidding. These quarters were also said to be haunted.

“Directly beyond the quarters, on the far side of the ravine, there was an orchard containing apple, pear and cherry trees. These shaggy, unpruned trees still bore delicious fruit. We knew every one by name, its exact location, and just when the fruit ripened. The Strawberry and Early Harvest apples came first. In September, the Smokehouse, Fall-Pippin and Burger apples began to fall on the ground, luscious, juicy and mellow. Never since those days have I found an apple that could compare in flavor with the Burger. But the most formidable foe, to our full enjoyment of the orchard’s fruit, was Aunt Polly. Sometimes one of us would fall down on guard duty, and both of us [were] chased out of the cherry trees for eating forbidden fruit.”

Census records show the Sitlingtons had 12 slaves in 1810 and 1820, 24 in 1830. Janice LaRue [S007] can remember the Sitlington plantation slave quarters. “These were...built up from the ground and you entered them by steps. That I remember, and the bricks these were made with were made in the river bottom below the house. The remnants of the old kiln and things are there to this day. Shards of brick are there. Robert Porter took me down there and showed me these, and Robert lived there for a long, long time. The old brick slave quarters were torn down at least fifty years ago. Really, they weren’t torn down, they were just tumbled down, and people took the brick away. But it was a strange thing―you noticed it immediately...the rock house, and then the slave quarters were of red brick. And no brick at all in the main house...There [were] at least four standing when I was a child.”

Sources: [S004, S047, S050, S061]