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History is presented in countless ways, from the stories of nations to individuals. Few venues for encountering the past are as easy to engage with as living history sites where the material culture and structures of the past give context to the lives of those who created them.
Several years ago, when the Historical Society first began to discuss with Mr. Ned Gumble of Virginia Vermiculite his desire to see the Michie House and accompanying smoke house restored, there were two important criteria the Society considered. The first was whether a house we chose to move to the Sargeant Museum site would allow us to authentically represent our history from the colonial era onward. The second important consideration was whether the building was a size that could be moved, reconstructed, and maintained at a reasonable cost.
The Michie House, built sometime just after the close of the Revolutionary War is representative of a thousand other structures built in Louisa County between 1750-1850. It was also just the right size.
After creating a plan for what can become a larger heritage site in the future, working with the Town of Louisa, and raising the needed funds, the project became a reality. The Michie House was dismantled in March of 2013 and reconstruction, with related public workshops and programs, began in June. Our thanks, on behalf of the entire community of Louisa County, to all those who made it possible through their financial support and the sharing of their skills and resources.
The heavy timbers, pegged together with oak, will now stand another 200 years where present and future visitors can experience hands-on educational programs that help us bring Louisa County History to Life!
Who lived in the "Michie House" and how can their lives tell the story of Louisa County?
In 1728 Gilbert Gibson received a land grant from the Crown for 400 acres on the South Anna River. The Michie House would later stand on that land, as would Gibson’s Mill, known as Gibby’s Mill on Gibby’s Creek. The story of the Gibsons begins in the Tidewater region and shifts to Henrico County by 1707 where Gilbert Gibson received 300 pounds of tobacco for trapping a wolf. He continued to move west and when Louisa County records began in 1742, Gibson appeared before the court to request a cart path to his mill, for selling liquor without a license, and numerous small infractions of the law. His is a colorful history set in the earliest days of the county through the French and Indian War.
Captain Robert Michie, who helped lead the Louisa militia to Yorktown in 1781, bought the property from the Gibsons in 1790. The deed includes the phrase, “including the house in which your son William now lives.” Was that reference to the house that now stands behind the Sargeant Museum? We can’t be sure but, if not, it was surely one almost identical to it. Robert was the son of Scotch John Michie, who arrived at the port of York in 1716. Michie, with his friend James Watson, were captured at the Battle of Preston and deported as political prisoners to Virginia. Arriving penniless, both Michie and Watson became major land holders in Louisa County by the end of their lives, which remained intertwined through the next generation.
Captain Robert Michie married Ann Watson. Their son William (named after his uncle, another son of Scotch John, who founded the Michie Tavern along the road to the Shenandoah Valley) was the one for whom Robert bought the Gibson property in 1790. William married Mary Ann Walker Maury and they lived in this small house until very late in their lives when they inherited Robert’s property on the death of Ann Watson Michie at age 90.
Matthew Maury Michie later inherited the Michie House, taught a field school there for a number of years, and in the hard times following the Civil War, sold the house in 1876. After changing hands several times, the property came into the Peers family until it was sold to Virginia Vemiculite in the 1970s.