Jonathan Whitley, from Virginia, settled about 1/2 mile from the Broad River in the late 1700’s and began construction on this house shortly thereafter. The oldest section is composed of hewn logs. On Whitley’s death in 1815 the property passed to his daughter Nancy who married John Mitchell. About 1870 the house was enlarged to eight rooms and weatherboard siding added to the original structure. The house remained in the Mitchell family into the 1890’s. The Whitley-Mitchell House sits at the end of Walnut Grove Road. [Historical Properties of York County, SC – 1995]
Informative link: Mills Map of York County SC
MR. AND MRS. WILLIAM MITCHELL
(The following appeared in the Yorkville Enquirer, February 6, 1889, as a portion of the column “Reminiscences of Western York” by “J. L. S.”)
Mr. William Mitchell, commonly known as “Little Billy” Mitchell, maried Miss. Violet Guyton, daughter of Mr. Joseph Guyton, of Union county. He was like many other men who lived in Western York—a self made man. These good people lived in their first home all their married lives and died at advanced ages on die spot where they spent their useful days. Though coming of parentage on both sides who owned property, these youthful people began life comparatively poor. Both knew how to work and were not afraid or ashamed to do it Mr. Mitchell’s first wagon was a “sled.” He had two horses. One was a rue; the other balky. Hauling wood one day with his team and ground wagon, he came to the foot of the hill that rises from the spring to the house. It is rather steep and was quite difficult to haul a load up. At the foot of this hill his team stopped and the balky horse wouldn’t pull a pound. Mr. Mitchell exhausted all the means at his disposal to get the refractory horse to the slide, fixed up his bridle reins and left him. He led the other horse off up the hill toward the house. The balky horse now found out that he was whipped at his own game. By the time Mr. Mitchell and the lead horse reached the house the other was there with the slide and load of wood. This strategy completely broke that horse from “balking” after that.
Mr. Mitchell was one of the best historians Western York ever had, to our personal knowledge. He never studied grammar, at school, a day in his life. Yet few men could be found who were better conversationalists than he was. He has frequently told the writer that his knowledge of grammar was derived entirely from reading and observing the “punctuation marks.” He was a very correct reader. He was a mechanic of die first order, could weave cloth or do anything about a loom necessary to make cloth. To the success of the looms during war times, when our people made their own dressing, too much credit cannot be given to him and Mrs. Violet Mitchell for their enterprising disposition. Much of the dye stuffs we have spoken of heretofore were the result of their botanical experiments. Mr. Mitchell was a great waterman, and fisherman. The last years of his life were devoted principally to reading and study, except when the arduous duties of the farm, devolving upon him in consequence of the war, prevented the prosecution of this favorite amusement.
Mrs. Violet Guyton Mitchell, who survived him several years, was his devoted and faithful wife. She was a kind mother. Much of her life was devoted to the welfare of her less fortunate neighbors. She was a Samaritan of the true type. Poor people, if decent and respectable, always found in her a true and faithful friend. She scorned a “high look and a proud heart.” The writer was a beneficiary of her charity during the war, as well as at home before and since. When in the army we received many messages from her which none but a motherly kindness and a Christian heart could conceive… .Her sleepless nights were spent in knitting socks or making other articles of comfort to clothe some poor soldier, who had no one to care for him. . . .It was during the month of February 1865 when the Confederate cause was in hopeless despair, that one of the cooks from McKissick’s cavalry came home, he having been wounded by the bursting of a shell. He was a bright mulatto and would be taken for a dark skinned white man where he was not known. He came to Mrs. Mitchell’s about dark, to deliver some message from her son, Capt John W. Mitchell, and other neighbor boys in whom she felt great interest. The boat at Howell’s ferry was gone and he couldn’t cross the river that night Mrs. Mitchell insisted that he stay all night at her house, which he consented to do. She provided the necessary bandage, &c, for his wounded leg and perhaps assisted in dressing the wound. He was very homesick and kept telling her how anxious he was to see his “mamma.” She said: “I’ll be ‘mamma’ for you while you are here.” When bed time came, he said he would stay by the fire, as he didn’t care to soil the bed clothes. “Never mind,” said she, “we’ll have them washed.” He wouldn’t tell her that he was part negro, and from his complexion no one would have thought so. But at last she gave him a blanket and quilt on which to sleep by the fire. When she was told afterwards that her guest was a negro, she was somewhat confounded, but said: “No man, be he whom he may, that shares my child’s fate on the battlefield, shall ever be mistreated by me. I’m proud I treated him beyond his expectation.” Had she known it, she would, in all probability, not have wished to put him in a negro kitchen, but would have treated him with all the courtesy his condition and her self- respect would warrant….
Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell… have passed to their final accounts, and their dust lies in the family burying ground at Salem church, awaiting the resurrection of the just.
(Information courtesy of and from: YCGHS – The Quarterly Magazine)
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