A historic local property will hold an auction on Saturday, which contains items of local historic importance, including many items that belonged to Colonel William Henry Marshall, who built the plantation in 1839 in the Salem Chapel Township. In 2005, N.C. Governor, Mike Easley recognized The Cedars as a North Carolina Century Farm. As of this year, it has been in continuous possession by Linda Keeter’s family for 174 years.
The sale of five generations’ belongings is difficult for Linda and Gary Keeter, but with no children, they are the last heirs of the home and property. The upkeep and expense has become too physically and financially taxing for them, and after “much painful consideration,” they have decided to sell the estate. Details of the sale will be announced at the estate contents auction that will be conducted by Myers Auction Service at The Cedars home place this Sat., starting at 10 a.m., on Squire Marshall Road, off of 311 in Walnut Cove.
The Keeters hope that the rich history of The Cedars will be passed along, and the new landowners and owners of the items auctioned on Saturday will honor the lineage by keeping the story of the Colonel’s legacy alive. Linda Keeter said she wanted the auction to be “done with dignity, to honor my family who trusted me to pass the baton” and she hoped relatives of the Marshall family and those interested in preserving Stokes County and North Carolina history would attend the auction.
Although the entire house cannot be opened to the public, Linda and her husband have set up Colonel Henry Marshall’s old bedroom, which contains a Peterson rope bed made in Old Salem in 1840 that has not been moved since Marshall placed it in the room. The bed will be auctioned on Saturday, but prior to that, the room will be open for tours to a limited number of people at a time for the first part of the auction day.
Some of the highlights of the auction include historic items that will be brought in on Sat., including a wooden butter mold from the 1800s; the churn the Marshall women used to make butter; an emerald-green lemonade set used by three generations; an East Lake Hat Dresser; and Empire chest of drawers from around 1840; an army suitcase from the 1940s containing World War II items; an antebellum handmade pine cabinet and blanket chest; an original charcoal illustration of Colonel Marshall; a Bible table from the late 1800s; Colonel Marshall’s original funeral announcement on a tin type; a shaving stand used by every man in the family; the oldest-known photo taken of the Cedars before the paved road was put in; a well-loved bread board; an old rocking chair, a wedding day portrait, and so much more, including items of local significance. Linda has a story behind practically every item in the collection and she hopes to share the stories with the new owners.
Multiple documents are also included in the auction, which will be sold as one lot. The documents date from 1797 to the early 1900s, and many are of historic significance to the state and area, including the original deed to the property, the last will and testament of Col. Marshall, letters, a memo of the early history of Stokes County that lists members of the House of Rep. from 1791 to 1850, a letter written from a Civil War Camp to Colonel Marshall, and much more.
A brief history
Colonel William Henry Marshall came to North Carolina from Virginia, with his parents, around 1820. In 1839 he bought a plantation in the Salem Chapel Township where he built his home, The Cedars, in 1840, named for the line of cedar trees that he planted before he built the house — the same trees that still stand today. On June 13, 1845 Governor William Graham commissioned Henry Marshall as a colonel in the North Carolina Militia, and ordered him to organize and train a regiment of soldiers. After the war threat with England, Col. Marshall was one of many people who felt the county of Stokes should be divided because of the distance involved in traveling to the county seat in Germanton. In 1848, Col. Marshall ran on a platform of county division, was elected, and served in the General Assembly four years. In 1849, he introduced the bill calling for the division of Stokes County. Though not documented, it is believed that the Colonel was one of the charter members of Salem Chapel Church, founded in 1854. He is known to have selected the site for the cemetery and he and many of his descendants are buried there.
Marshall and his wife Mariah Vance raised four children at The Cedars: James Matterson, Sarah (Sallie) Greene, Elizabeth (Eliza), and John William. He deeded The Cedars to his youngest daughter, Eliza, who sold the property to her youngest brother, John William before she died 16 days later. Colonel William Henry Marshall died two years later in 1892, but his wife Mariah Vance, continued to live in the home place with her youngest son, John William, and his family, until her death in 1900. John William lived at The Cedars his whole life, married Carrie Wilder, and raised six children. In 1921, he deeded the farm to his youngest son, James (Jimmy) Lee, who married Della and had five children at The Cedars. All of their sons were at war when their mother fell ill with breast cancer, and the Red Cross arranged for son Luke’s release. He later saved the home, literally from the auction block, during the depression years.
Helen Miles Marshall was the last of Jimmy and Della’s five children and was only nine years old when Della died. James Lee, Jr., the second-born son, was stranded at war in Europe during those hard times, but when he returned he continued to assist with the farm the rest of his life. Rachel Earline, the third child, was forced to take on her mother’s role and struggled to raise her sister, keep the farmhouse going and feed the field hands. She suffered from debilitating asthma, a complication of Scarlet Fever. In the early 60s, the Army Corp of Engineers built a 90-acre watershed lake across the foot of The Cedars property. It was meant to protect Walnut Cove from flooding. When Luke was too old to care for the place, he signed it over to younger brother, Jiggs. Luke, Jiggs, and Earline never married. Baby sister, Helen, left home and married William Mitchell of Walnut Cove in 1952. Linda Mitchell Keeter was Helen’s only child and grew up in the auxiliary care of her aunt and uncles at The Cedars. Her memories of the active farm days and the stories of her ancestors are cherished. When Uncle Jiggs died in 1991, he passed The Cedars to Linda and her husband, Gary, as he trusted their business instincts and their commitment to care for Helen and Earline. Earline, the last descendant to actually live in The Cedars, passed away in 1999.
In 1984, Linda and Gary built their home upon a hill on one of the Colonel’s old tobacco fields and at that time, Linda’s aunt and uncles were still living. They were overjoyed to watch the next generation build and settle at The Cedars. Linda and Gary promised the uncles that they would see to the care of Earline and Helen, and do their best to preserve the family history, farmhouse, grounds and barns.
For a more extensive history of the family and more information about The Cedars auction and specific items, see the auction page at www.myersauctionservice.com. Call 336-467-0007 for more information.