A significant Pocahontas County landmark could be sold to the highest bidder next month. Travelers’ Repose, the first stage coach stop west of the Alleghenies, was the lifelong home of Jessie Beard Powell, who passed away on June 5, 2013. The Bartow property was bequeathed to Powell’s three daughters, who do not reside in Pocahontas County.
Greenways Real Estate and Auction will conduct the auction. The property and contents are listed on the company’s website. Contents and personal property are scheduled to be sold on September 26 and 27. Real property, totaling approximately 240 acres, will be auctioned in nine parcels on September 27.
The advertisement on the auction website reads: “Travelers’ Repose has it all: acreage, river frontage, civil war (sic) battlefield with cemetery and redoubts, 1869 farmhouse, guest house, gabled barn and outbuildings. Fabulous antiques and collectibles also going to auction. Don’t miss this one.”
The Commonwealth of Virginia began construction of the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike in 1838. By 1845, John Yeager, the son of a trans-Allegheny pioneer, was operating a stage stop at Traveler’s Repose. After the outbreak of the Civil War, Confederate troops established a defensive position at and around the Repose to guard the turnpike.
One of the earliest battles in the Civil War was fought on October 3, 1861, when Union troops from Cheat Mountain advanced on the rebel fortifications at Bartow. A Union infantry attack failed and the battle became an artillery duel. During the engagement, the Repose was struck by artillery fire several times.
Confederate infantry and artillery positions remain on the hill behind the Repose, with commanding views of the Greenbrier River Valley. A hilltop Confederate cemetery contains marked and unmarked graves. Travelers’ Repose is considered one of the best preserved Civil War fortifications in the country.
Powell’s longtime neighbors and friends, Jason and Julia Bauserman, said Powell’s daughters are taking measures to preserve historic aspects of Travelers’ Repose.
“I had an extensive conversation with [Powell’s daughter] Patsy and she said they wanted to keep all of the battlefield acreage intact with the house,” said Julia. “They really want someone who’s interested in preserving the historical value of the Civil War battlefield and inn and allowing people to visit. A bed and breakfast would be ideal – allowing people to use it for community events. We just want the word to get out to historical-minded people.”
Jason Bauserman portrayed famous Virginia minister Elder John Kline at several history-theme functions at Travelers’ Repose.
“The Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike – this is what opened up the whole area,” he said. “In fact, the Elder John Kline never got into this part until this turnpike opened up in 1842.”
“Jessie did such a wonderful job of preserving the history and proclaiming it throughout the land,” said Julia. “They came from Goldenseal to interview her. The winter issue, before she passed away, she was thrilled to be on a the cover along with a wonderful article about her. So many people around the state and other areas wanted that particular Goldenseal.”
“It sold out, just about completely,” added Jason.
Civil War historian Hunter Lesser, of Elkins, author of Rebels at the Gate, reportedly is working with the owners and other parties to ensure continued preservation of and access to the historic site. Details of the efforts will be reported as they become available.