Gale Hill

Click HERE to read an account of Christmas at Gale Hill.

Gale Hill, Albemarle County, Virginia, Home of the Minor Family

Gale Hill

NOW available - 344 pages, 156,000 words, 122 pictures

Gale Hill was built in two phases: the old part of the house by James Minor (1745-1791) and Mary Carr Minor (1756-1797) in 1775; the newer, larger portion in 1857 by William W. Minor (1812-1887) and Mary Waters Terrell Minor (1814-1894). After the deaths of James and Mary Minor, the estate was inherited by their son, Dabney Minor (1774-1824), but he sold the place to his brother, Dr. John Minor (1791-1849), and moved to Carrsbrook. Dr. John Minor was childless and left Gale Hill to Dabney Minor's son, William W. Minor, whose son John Minor (1849-1924) inherited it when his mother died in 1894. John Minor's daughter, Margaret Lee Minor Caskie(1892-1956), was the owner of Gale Hill when it burned down in 1930.

After the destruction of Gale Hill, Margaret Caskie sold the property and moved with her six children to Washington Street (now Avenue) in Charlottesville. Her father, John Minor, was one of 15 children and the numerous relations were so distraught over the loss of the old family home that many of them wrote down their memories and recorded legends about the old place. These documents are extensive and quite interesting, including anecdotes, descriptions, songs, and memories of family customs and personalities.

Gale Hill is included in this collection because it was also cherished by the Trices and was home to Lucy Lee Trice Minor before and during her marriage to John Minor. Her mother, Lucy Jane Minor Trice, was the half-sister of William W. Minor and often visited at Gale Hill.

The Gale Hill people were famed for their fine gardens. The ground was terraced, was well cared for, & produced a great variety & abundance of vegetables and berries. There were some few fruit trees and grape vines there, too; but the real orchard and vineyard had plenty of fruit...

The Gale Hill people were fond of games: tennis, croquet, cards, & in late days the gentlemen played golf. They were also lovers of music, both vocal and instrumental, and several of the family had good voices...

Uncle John loved his garden & was an excellent gardener, doing a little hoeing and gathering the vegetables for the table himself early every morning. The tenants attended to the dairy & I think to the fowls, too. The Gale Hill people raised corn and wheat and in my mother's youth tobacco for sale. The garden and dairy and poultry were for family use. All laundry work was done by colored women in the neighborhood at their homes.
Jane Bell Dabney Jones, John Minor's niece, born 1877

Gale Hill, with the "North Porch" on the left.
There were two main building phases, the first in 1775 or 1776 produced the one and a half
story section on the left, the second in 1857 produced the larger, two story section on the right.

...If only you were here - Jack - to enjoy with me - the delights of this dear old place - and this beautiful, beautiful country...

...I enjoyed the walk through the woods and across the field so much. The sun was low enough to send its rays slanting through the trees - and piercing under the leaves - and under my hat - but I did not mind that a bit. You know I am devoted to the country - and the sights and sounds of the country are delightful to me. I always thought this a lovely country - and Gale Hill a sweet old place - but certainly that afternoon it was looking its best. The mountains so blue and the freshly plowed fields so red - with their slender bands of green, young corn in regular rows. Then the wind blowing over the wheat fields - looked like the ripples on the water. The house has been freshly painted, outside - and in, and every room and hall freshly papered. The house is painted in two shades of gray - the old fence around the yard has been taken away - the old "office" in the yard taken down - and carted away - so the whole place is thrown into one - which is a great improvement I think...
Susan Colston Minor to John Wilson, June 3, 1891

Gale Hill, with sheep in front of house

...Friday Pat and I packed our gripsack and took the 11:30 train for Gale Hill. Mary and Sally met us - and we drove over, while they walked. We found Cousin Mary waiting for us on the verandah - as bright and well as possible. Lucy was at home too - and soon came in bringing her little Margaret. Then Mary, who was not to be outdone in that matter - went upstairs after her young tyrant - Price Gwinn, Jr. The most splendid baby you ever saw. After that - the morning was spent admiring, entertaining, and abasing ourselves before these two royal personages. It was really ridiculous...

...In the afternoon late, Sally and I went out to walk on the hill. The sun was down - and there was only the glow in the sky. The air was as soft and balmy as early Spring - and though the darkness crept up the hill, the light still lingered on the top and then the moon rose and we watched it ride up over the mountains - and the shadows ran up to our very feet. The glory died out of the west slowly, like the light out of a dying face - and as the day died, we turned and went home.

As we came up to the house, the bright dancing light from the wood fire streamed out across the verandah - through the French windows - and we were more cheerful immediately - and ran up the steps, expecting to find all of the others sitting in the parlor, but they were still Hero-worshipping - so Sally and I had a little delicious chat in the fire light - sitting in those chairs of Marie Antoinette - and when she went out after a little while, leaving me alone, I fell into a dream - with my eyes open - looking into the fire - and wondering what scenes those same little chairs had graced - and could almost see the gracious ladies and courteous gentlemen who had probably occupied them...

Mammy Patty and Margaret Lee Minor in the Gale Hill parlor, ca. 1897

...We got the guitar and they all assembled and we had some rousing songs - until supper after which, we adjourned to the sitting room - where we talked and worked on some things for Christmas until quite late. We had to come back to Charlottesville the next day - much to our sorrow - but it was altogether a delightful visit and we enjoyed ourselves ever so much...
Susan Colston Minor, to John Wilson, December 4, 1892

Gale Hill Outbuildings

Road to Gale Hill

Family gathering at Gale Hill, ca. 1899
John and Margaret Lee Minor at left in back

Family gathering at Gale Hill, ca. 1900
John and Margaret Lee Minor at right with John's sister Sally Minor Janvier

Gale Hill, Margaret Lee Minor Caskie with her husband, father-in-law, and a child, ca. 1917

John, Jaquelin, and Alexander Caskie at Gale Hill, ca. 1926

Gale Hill, May 21, 1930

Gale Hill, May 21, 1930

Gale Hill burned to the ground on April 12, 1930. The blaze either started as a chimney fire in the kitchen or resulted from the efforts of a servant to burn off a wasps' nest on the outside of the house. The fire occurred just over two months after the death of Margaret Lee Minor Caskie's husband, Jaquelin.