Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Bel Air: Home of Thomas Buck V

In the late 1790’s, Thomas Buck V moved from his father's estate to Front Royal, Warren County, Virginia, where he built his home, "Bel Air", on 100 acres of tillable land he purchased from Alan Wiley in 1798. Thomas Buck also owned 1,500 acres of woodland adjacent to Happy Creek. Bel Air still exists today although greatly revised and no longer owned by the Buck family. In fact, Bel Air is now owned by Larry LeHew whose ancestor, Peter LeHew, had sold the land to Alan Wiley.

In 1930, William R. Buck, great-grandson of Thomas Buck V, wrote that the name “Bel Air” was the name of a town near Baltimore, Maryland. The family of Anne Richardson, Thomas Buck’s first wife, lived nearby. According to W. R. Buck, the brick portions of Bel Air were built about 1795 whereas the wings had been built previously of hewn logs. Thomas Buck lived in the wings while the main portion was being built. He noted that an attic room wall and sloped ceiling was a sort of “guest register” that contained many signatures.

A letter written on January 27, 1918 by Williarm R. Buck’s sister, Lucy Rebecca Buck, notes that, "... The two wings were erected several years before the main brick one was made and I have heard our old aunt Calmes, who died in her ninety‑second year, say that as a little girl she had played in the space between the wings. The brass knocker on the front door, one of my earliest recollections of the house,bears the inscription, "Thomas Buck, 1800". Her brother, Irving Ashby Buck, was forced to sell Bel Air. The new owner completely remodeled it and Lucy had some rather uncomplimentary things about the remodelled house and its owner. Lucy was born in Bel Air and some say her ghost now haunts it.

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