Trice Blessed

Lucy Jane Trice Margaret Thurston Trice Martha Jefferson Trice Lucy Lee Trice Dabney Minor Trice

John Minor on the porch at Gale Hill

by Jasper Burns copyright 1986

The writings and pictures presented here provide glimpses into the lives of the members and acquaintances of one family - the family of Colonel Robert Nelson Trice and his wife, Lucy Jane Minor.

Colonel Robert Nelson Trice was born in Middlesex County, Virginia in either 1815 or 1816. He was the youngest child of Thomas Trice (1766-1825) and Margaret Thurston (1782-1842). Col. Trice received his cognomen in the county militia and, in 1847, was elected Clerk of the Court of Middlesex County, a post he held for five years. He married Lucy Jane Minor on January 31, 1849, and, in 1853, moved to his wife's native county of Albemarle, Virginia, where he resided for the rest of his life.

Col. Trice was a member of the Baptist Church and served as Superintendent of the Sunday School of his church, both in Middlesex and Albemarle. He was also active in the local division of the Sons of Temperance. He seems to have been primarily a farmer by occupation in Albemarle, living initially at "Grass Dale" on the "Machunk" estate (variously spelled Mechunk, Mychunk, Mauchunk, Michunk, and Machunk - it burned down about the year 1900), though he moved the family's winter residence to Charlottesville in 1857. There he opened a book store, which ill health forced him to close within a couple of years. During this period, he served as Alderman in Charlottasville. Col. and Mrs. Trice lived at 215 East High Street in town, which they sold in 1864, though most of their time was spent at "Machunk" after the closing of the store.

On April 30, 1864, Col. Trice died at "Grass Dale", leaving his wife and five children. He seems to have invested heavily in Confederate bonds, resulting in hard financial times for his family after his death.

Lucy Jane Minor Trice was born on June 20, 1822, the youngest child of Dabney Minor (1774-1824) and Martha Jefferson Terrell Minor (1793-1860) of "Carrsbrook" in Albemarle County. Lucy was born in Philadelphia, Pa. where her parents were visiting doctors in hopes of restoring her father's health. He died two years later.

Martha Jefferson Carr, sister of Thomas Jefferson,
great grandmother of Lucy Jane Minor

Lucy Jane Minor's mother, the granddaughter of Thomas Jefferson's sister Martha, benefited from the cultural and educational opportunities in that connection and taught local girls along with her own daughter in the years after her husband's death. Lucy's health was always precarious and she spent long periods confined to her bed during her teen years. She was very close to the family of her mother's sister, Mary Jane Terrell Davis (1803-1879), with whom she and her mother lived for portions of her childhood. This close association with the Davises persisted throughout the lives of her children.

Lucy's marriage to Colonel Trice produced seven children, two of whom died in infancy. She survived her husband twelve years, dying at "Machunk" on February 17, 1876 at the age of fifty three of "paralysis of the brain," having suffered from a stroke as early as 1857.

Col. and Mrs. Trice's first child, Robert Minor Trice, was born in Urbanna, Va. on November 13, 1849, and died there one month and two days later. Their first daughter, Mary Jane Trice , was born in Charlottesville on October 13, 1850. She survived her father by two months, dying at the age of thirteen on June 30, 1864 at "Grass Dale".

Margaret Thurston Trice was born at "Machunk" on October 17, 1853. Along with her sister Martha, she taught live-in scholars at her home, where she died of typhoid fever on July 30, 1880 at the age of twenty six.

Martha Jefferson Trice was born on May 6, 1855. In addition to teaching, she wrote poetry, some of which is reputed to have been published (attempts to recover these poems have been futile so far). As a young woman, Martha visited friends in Jamaica, returning to Virginia in the summer of 1879. Portions of the journal she kept during this trip are reproduced in this collection. One year after her return, on July 24, 1880, she died at "Machunk" of typhoid fever. Like her older sisters, Martha never married.

Twin sisters, Virginia Minor and Lucy Lee, were born in Charlottesville to Colonel and Mrs. Trice on January 29, 1857. Virginia died on August 15 of that same year.

Lucy Lee Trice Minor, like her sister Martha, spent several months in Jamaica, arriving home just over a month before her two sisters' deaths in 1880. In 1884, she toured Europe with her first cousin and dear friend, Lucy Minor Davis, keeping a journal of her travels, which is excerpted here. She married her half first cousin, John Minor of "Gale Hill", Albemarle County, on May 26, 1891.

John and Lucy Lee Minor had one child, Margaret Lee Minor (1892-1956) who married Jaquelin Ambler Caskie (1893-1930) in 1915. Lucy died at the age of 40 on September 3, 1897 at "Edgewood", the Davises home in Charlottesville, from complications resulting from a gall bladder operation. This followed many years of poor health.

Lucy's husband John Minor was born July 25, 1849 at "Gale Hill" where he lived all his life. His father, William W. Minor (1812-1887), was Dabney Minor's eldest son, and Lucy Jane Minor Trice's half brother. John's mother was Mary Waters Terrell Minor (1814-1894). When he died at "Gale Hill" on November 12, 1924, he left his daughter and four grandchildren - with two more to come.

Dabney Minor Trice was the youngest child of Robert and Lucy Trice, born on September 27, 1860 in Charlottesville. He received his early education at Major Horace Jones Boys' School in Charlottesville, later attending Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg, Va. After nearly succumbing to the epidemic of typhoid that claimed the lives of two of his sisters, Dabney married Rowena Glowina Cocke, born July 4, 1861 at "Red Hills", Fluvanna County, Va. They made their home at "Machunk" where they had a son, Robert Nelson Trice, born May 18, 1884. They also adopted William Archer Royall, a cousin of Rowena's, born in 1880. Both boys and their mother died between June 13 and June 18, 1887.

After this tragedy, Dabney gave up farming, selling "Machunk" to Charles S. Bowcock in 1890, and entered the University of Virginia to study medicine. After further study at the Hospital College of Medicine in Louisville, Kentucky, he set up practice in Middlesborough, Ky., later working in a mental hospital in New York, practicing as a specialist in Wisconsin, and finally locating in his native county at "Moore's Brook" where he opened a successful sanitarium for the treatment of nervous diseases and alcohol and drug addictions.

On June 7, 1904, Dabney married Anne Waller Cocke, the youngest sister of his first wife. On January 17, 1915, he died of pneumonia at the age of fifty four.

Anne Waller Cocke Trice was born on December 26, 1873, the daughter of William Ronald Cocke and Bettie Boston Cocke of "Red Hills," near Palmyra in Fluvanna County, Virginia (only a few miles from "Machunk"). Shortly after her husband's death, Anne adopted her great-nephew, whom she renamed Dabney Minor Trice, Jr. She spent many years working as a practical nurse, companion to elderly patients, and teacher in both public and private schools. She was also a free-lance writer and an interviewer for the "Public Opinion of Princeton, New Jersey". After living in Massachusetts for some years, she returned to Charlottesville, thence to her son's home in Roanoake, Va. where she died on January 3, 1968, aged 94.

First among the close relatives who figured in the lives of the Trices were the Davises, especially Lucy, Lizzie, and Eugene. Lucy Minor Davis was born in 1840 and died in 1925. Her sister "Lizzie" (Elizabeth Gardiner Davis) was born in 1835 and died at "Gale Hill" in 1897. Both sisters lived with their widowed brother Eugene (1822-1894) at "Willoughby" (or "Willowby," scene of John and Lucy Lee Trice Minor's wedding in 1891) in Albemarle. In 1897, Lucy moved to "Edgewood" in Charlottesville (where Lucy Lee Trice Minor died in that same year) with Eugene's granddaughters, Lily and Alice.

The family of Professor John B. Minor (1813-1895) of the University of Virginia lived with Lucy Jane Minor, her mother, and the Davises at "The Farm" near Charlottesville in the early 1840's. His daughters, Mary L. Minor (1841-1908) and Susan Colston Minor Wilson (1864-?) appear often in the Trice family papers, especially in Susan's vivid descriptions of "Gale Hill" in the 1890's.

The Trice's nearest relatives in Albemarle were the family of William W. Minor and Mary Waters Terrell Minor at "Gale Hill". Besides Lucy Lee Trice's husband, John Minor, his sisters Margaret Minor Bryan (1845-1927) and Sally Minor Janvier (1861-?) are mentioned here, as well as his brother, William W. Minor, Jr. (1840-?) of "Windieknowe", Albemarle County. Another sister, Jane Minor Dabney, (1847-1914), took charge of Margaret Lee Minor after her mother's death.

Published accounts of the Trices and their home at "Machunk:"

The view from the site of Machunk, 1980's
(Looking north)

THE MACHUNK FARM - Sitting on a high hill at the head of the Machunk valley, at a point where the railroad sweeps to the west and the creek to the south, it commands one of the most glorious prospects of mountain, valley, and stream that are vouchsafed to any of the many homes in this section.

THE MANSION - It is a low, one-and-a-half storied house, with porticoes in front and rear; its lower rooms being larger than usually found in buildings of that period, but its upper ones are of the same diminutive type, showing the economizing of space. Machunk has always been noted for its fertility, its rich flowers, its fine garden, and its extensive meadows stretching far up and down the creek.

Colonel Trice obtained his cognomen in the old militia service. He was a man of great intelligence, a most successful farmer, and highly esteemed for his happy, genial disposition and cultivated powers.

The Machunk Farm has been frequently the scene of much refined gayety. The literary tastes of Mrs. Trice and her daughters were of the highest type, which gave them delight in entertaining those of similar dispositions. Here the charm of bright classic minds, combined with love of poetry, song, and music, made this delightful home one never to be forgotten.
Historic Homes of the Southwest Mountains, by E. C. Mead, 1898

...You must take your Trices or trust; they came to Virginia early, they fought in the Revolution, they were honest and reliable enough to "processional", and those we knew, Dabney and Lucy, were all you could wish as kindred...
Kith and Kin, Mrs. J. R. Sampson, Published 1922

Charlottesville, Virginia in the 1890's