Today marks the anniversary of Gen. McCausland's death. McCausland, the second to last surviving Confederate general passed from this life on January 21, 1927. He died in his sleep at his beloved mansion. McCausland was 91 years old.
This 19 room sandstone structure along old route 35 was built in 1885 from native materials. It was built by Jesse Lewis, a local black teamster, and designed by Gen. "Tiger" John McCausland. Interesting features include an actual elevator, dumbwaiter, and fireplaces in every room that each emptied into a common ash pit in the basement. The 18 inch thick walls are continuous, as the two stories and basement all share the same floor plan. Wiring is exposed since drilling through the thick sandstone walls would be unfeasible. McCausland named the home "Grape Hill" because of the abundance of wild grapes in the area.
McCausland was born in St. Louis in 1836, and came to Mason County to live with his uncle after the death of his parents. He attended nearby Buffalo Academy, and then later went on to the Virginia Military Institute. At the onset of the Civil War, he offered his engineering services to the Confederacy.
After the controversial burning of Chambersburg, McCausland was run out of Mason County. He eventually ended up in Europe to escape those who felt as if he should be indicted for war crimes for his actions. He returned in 1867 after family friend, Ulysses S. Grant, in a sense pardoned him. He married Charlotte in 1878, had four children, then settled back in the Mason County area where he built his grand home.
It is rumored that the home was funded by gold looted at Chambersburg, but in reality, it came from a combination of money inherited in St. Louis from his parents' estate, and cheap labor. It is also rumored that the home was built in such a way that McCausland could be on the lookout for anyone that entered the property. While cleared of any war crimes, he still never signed an oath of allegiance, and thus was paranoid that someone would come after him.
McCausland died in 1927, the second to last living Confederate general. The property is still in the family, and is listed as a National Register site. Visitors to the home have reported feelings of being watched, and not being alone. Phantom footsteps have also been reported. Are these signs that Gen. McCausland is still in his beloved home, on the look out for Union supporters...or just a product of the high EMF coming from the unshielded wiring? You decide.
The home had been in the Causland Family for many years, and has recently be acquired by the WV Department of Transportation. As always, please seek permission before entering the property.
Photo property of Theresa Racer