By Jarred Marlowe
Like many, I find myself wondering about the origins of names and places as I go about my daily travels. After having passed one such mystery countless times, I decided to research the history of one that may be well-known to many local residents – the mansion at the Beaver Creek Plantation.
I have always known its ties to the Hairston family from years ago, but I wanted to know a little more about how this colossus of a building came to be, and what I found out was beyond interesting.
The Beaver Creek home was built by George Hairston, grandson of Peter Hairston, who was the original Hairston immigrant from Scotland to the United States. George purchased 30,000 acres of land for 10 cents from the King George III of Britain in what we now know as Henry County. This type of land purchase was a somewhat common practice then, but today it gives us the namesake for the Kings Grant community and Kings Mountain.
Hairston would then establish his home place there and build the home we now know as Beaver Creek in an area that was then known as Hairston’s Bottom.
What we see today though is not the original home that was built by George. That home burned down and was rebuilt in 1837 by George’s son, Marshall.
George Hairston donated 50 acres of land to the newly formed Henry County soon after receiving the grant. The county then divided the 50 acres into half acre lots, sold them to the public, and then used the proceeds to build the original Henry County Courthouse. The original courthouse was a log cabin built on a stone foundation; not the brick building in uptown Martinsville we see today. The brick courthouse that sits uptown was built in 1824.
The house remained owned by a Hairston until 1906, when George’s great-grandson, Watt Hairston, passed away with no heirs. The house then became owned by some cousins in Richmond with the last name Covington and has since been a medical office and a bank corporate headquarters.
A final fact about George Hairston: he was a fierce and feisty patriot. During the American Revolution, he commanded a regiment of men from Henry County, and upon arriving at Yorktown, he was told to organize his rag tag group of soldiers by one of George Washington’s officers. Upon hearing this, he told the officer he wasn’t there to organize; he was there to fight. Hairston also took up arms against the British again during the War of 1812 at the age of 62.
(Marlowe is the Vice President of the Col. George Waller Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Martinsville-Henry County Historical Society.)