Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Brief History of Lochinvar Plantation, Pontotoc Ms.

Lochinvar Plantation Pontotoc Ms

In 1832 the United States by a treaty with the Chickasaw Indians acquired possession of all the lands owned by them in Mississippi, excepting certain reservations which were afterwards sold to the whites when the tribe moved to the Indian Territory.

Robert Gordon, a younger son of an ancient Scotch family, visiting America in search of adventure, was present and signed the treaty as a witness. He was a gentleman of culture and fine business ability. Although he came to America on a pleasure trip, he was so pleased with the country he concluded to remain and become an American citizen.

He soon afterward married Miss Elizabeth Walton, the daughter of a Virginian who belonged to a family distinguished for patriotism during the Revolutionary war; one of the Waltons was a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

When the United States Land Office was located at Pontotoc, Mr. Gordon located there also; and, being a thrifty Scotchman, by speculating in lands he soon accumulated a handsome estate. Two sections became his by purchase, one of them he bought from an Indian woman named Molly Gunn and it was deeded by her to his infant son, James Gordon. Upon this section he built a handsome house situated on the highest hill in Pontotoc county, overlooking a beautiful table-land surrounded by hills and valleys covered with maj estic trees of every variety known to this climate, through whose shadows silvery streams from an hundred gushing fountains flowed on to the sea.

The stately mansion was three years in building; every timber in it was of "heart pine," the frame work of solid trees with the sap hewn off; it was all hand work, as there were no sawmills in the country at that time. A beautiful self-supporting stairway leads up to the third story; above this, is an observatory overlooking the surrounding country. Beneath the building are three cellars, once stored with rich wines of home and foreign vintage. The house contained fifteen rooms, eight of them 22 feet square; and two large halls and galleries reaching around two sides of the house complete the picture of this palatial old mansion.

Pontotoc was at that time the home of some of the most cultured people in the State, and Lochinvar was kept in the style of the ancient home of the Gordons on the Solway, "Where the young laird came out of the west To the Netherby Hall on his swift steed, And bore off the bride to his nest."

Oos-ta-ko-wa, Broken Pumpkin, was the Indian name of a small creek on the estate which was once the home of the Chickasaw queen Puccanula, whose dwelling was close to a crystal spring still known as the Queen’s spring. After the exodus of the Indians it received the name of Lochinvar. Molly Gunn, from whom the estate was purchased, was the daughter of a Virginia loyalist—called a Tory during the Revolution. After the defeat of the British and the recognition of the American Republic, Gunn, who owned a large number of slaves, emigrated to Mississippi, married an Indian maiden and spent his life in peace among the Chickasaws. Forbidding any celebration of the Fourth of July, but celebrating the birthday of George III, he was loyal to the last.

When the white people entered the newly acquired territory they found among the Chickasaws a granddaughter of Gunn, named Rhoda, who was surpassingly beautiful, and heiress to a large property. She had many suitors among the adventurous white speculators, but the dusky maiden spurned their addresses and married an Indian brave named "Humming Bird," who bore the Chickasaw rose away to the West. Cyrus Harris, a nephew of Molly Gunn, who had been educated by Rev. Thomas Stuart, a Presbyterian missionary, was employed as interpreter by Mr. Gordon in his dealings with the Indians; and remained to the time of his death, ten years ago [1892], a true friend of the family.

Mr. Gordon was the founder of Aberdeen, in Monroe county, the Gordon house there being named in his honor. His estate was recorded in the census of 1860 at one million six hundred thousand dollars of taxable property.

When the Civil War called the sons of the South to arms, James Gordon, the only son and heir, armed and equipped the first cavalry company that left the State for Virginia, which was known as company "B," Jeff. Davis Legion, Stuart’s Cavalry, Army of Virginia. After a year’s service in Virginia, Capt. Gordon raised a regiment of which he was chosen colonel; this regiment was known as the 2nd Regiment of Volunteer Cavalry, Armstrong’s Brigade; served in many engagements under Generals Price, VanDorn, W. H. Jackson, and N. B. Forrest. The son of Lochinvar, like his maternal ancestors, was rebel to the core, and proud of a mother and wife who like the Spartan mothers, buckled on his sword and sent him to the field of battle. Among the trophies sent from the field was the sword of Gen. John S. Coburn, of Indiana, commanding a brigade at the battle of Thompson’s Station. Gen. Coburn requested by a letter to Gen. Frank Cheatham permission to present the sword to Col. Gordon in consideration of kindness shown him while a prisoner. Col. Gordon also won the friendship of Gen. Shafter, who presented him with a pistol, and he did not forget to send a kind message of remembrance, when on his way to Santiago, Cuba.

These incidents are mentioned in no spirit of vain-glory, but to show how Confederates treated their prisoners. These papers, shown to Adjutant Woodward of Grierson’s staff, saved Lochinvar from the torch when Grierson made his raid through Pontotoc county.

Lochinvar was not only known as the most beautiful house in North Mississippi, but noted for the hospitality dispensed. Its spacious halls were often the scene of pleasure where the elite of society assembled and spent the happy hours in feasting, music, and dancing. It can be truthfully said that a free welcome was extended to all who sought its hospitality whether the invited guest, the passing traveler, or the ragged beggar seeking alms; none were refused admittance and entertainment.

Lochinvar was the scene of many romances. During the late war many brides came through the Federal lines, met their Confederate lovers here and were married. The sick and wounded soldiers often sought health and comfort under the leafy shadows and beside the murmuring streams, and were nursed to health by the noble mistress of the home.

After the aged founder and his wife passed away, the son tried to keep up the prestige of the house, but soon found that a great estate requires a great income. Every thing is changed at Lochinvar, the trellised bowers where love’s sweet story was whispered to willing listeners are silent and falling to decay. The tramp of the steed, and the hunter’s mellow horn, the cheery music of the hounds in chase of the wily fox or antlered deer among the hills, are heard no more. The wheel of fortune turned, leaving the grand old home a sad relic of better and happier days; and the exile’s tears that pride withholds from outward flow fall back and scald the heart, as memory brings to view the scenes of long ago. This short story of Lochinvar is the history of nearly all the old Southern homes.

by Mrs. N. D. Deupree

From Publications The Mississippi Historical Society, Vol. VI,

Edited by Franklin L. Riley, Secretary

Published Oxford, Mississippi 1902
Lochinvar Ghost Tale
by Troy Taylor

Lochinvar Plantation is a true part of the old south, steeped in the lore of the southern states and drenched in the traditions of long ago. Built in the late 1830's, the mansion was home to the Gordon family for many years and watched over by an old caretaker. The Gordon family is long gone now.... but the old caretaker still watches over the place.

Lochinvar was built by Robert Gordon, a Scottish adventurer, in the late 1830's as a gift for his wife. At the time, Gordon owned a strip of land which stretched all the way from Pontotoc to Aberdeen, sixty miles away. Aberdeen was Gordon's own town. He had founded a trading post there in the early 1830's and named the place Dundee in honor of a town in Scotland. He later changed to the name to Aberdeen. It was near Pontotoc where Gordon found the land where he wanted to build his home. The location that he chose had been the land of the Choctaw Indian chief, Chinubi and once the Indians were gone from the area, he began building the new house.

After moving into the grand mansion, the Gordons would have one child, a son named James. His earliest memories of Lochinvar included magnificent parties and his personal servant, named Ebenezer. He could not remember a time when Ebenezer had not been a part of his life. He taught James to hunt and fish, told him stories, supervised his manners and when he was old enough, packed his trunks and watched him leave for the University of Mississippi at Oxford in 1851.

As the years passed, the beloved slave grew older and became known by the respectful name of "Uncle Eb". He remained particularly close to James Gordon and their relationship went far beyond master and servant.

In February of 1856, James married Virginia Wiley and in December of that year, their daughter Annie was born. From that time that she could walk, Annie was attached to Uncle Eb. She followed him everywhere and begged him to push her on the swings and to tell her stories.

Delighted, Uncle Eb took under his wing a new generation of Gordons.

Then came the Civil War. Robert Gordon, now too old to be involved, gave his support and advice to James and they raised a company of Confederate cavalry, the first from northern Mississippi. Before James Gordon left for service, he called Uncle Eb to see him. "Take care of my family and the plantation," he told his mentor, "My father needs your help and I need to know that you are here with my family. Don't let anything happen to them and I'll be back home soon." He embraced the older man and told him goodbye.

This began Uncle Eb's role as the caretaker and guardian of Lochinvar. Every afternoon, he would begin his rounds of the property, making sure the gates were closed, the doors to the house were locked and that there were no strangers lurking around the plantation. He moved his bed to the hallway outside of Annie's door, where he slept from that night on. He took to roaming the grounds at various times throughout the night, carrying an oil lantern and making sure that everything was secure.

As time passed, he learned other skills and began making repairs on the house and the farming equipment. He learned to cook and prepare the meals and even to darn socks and make repairs on clothing.

Night after night, the light from Uncle Eb's lantern circled the house, the barn, the garden, the pasture and the orchards, reassuring himself that nothing was amiss and that the people he loved were safe.

One night, while Uncle Eb was on his rounds, a rider approached. It was Captain James Gordon, home for a brief stay at Lochinvar. A few days after he left, he was promoted to the rank of Colonel, returning to combat with the 2nd Mississippi Cavalry Regiment, Armstrong's Brigade.

Colonel Gordon and Uncle Eb would never meet again.

One rainy night, Uncle Eb was roused from his sleep by a strange sound. He took his lantern outside and crossed the grounds in the storm. He was soaked to the skin before he was sure that everything was secure. A day or so later, what seemed to be a cold developed into pneumonia. In less than a week, old Uncle Eb was dead.

It was a long time before Colonel Gordon received word of his friend's death. He was in England at the time on a mission for President Davis. On his way home, he landed in North Carolina and was captured and imprisoned. He soon escaped and made his way to Canada. There, he met and befriended an actor named John Wilkes Booth. This casual friendship with Booth later pointed suspicion to Gordon when President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. Luckily, Gordon was able to prove his innocence.

After the war, Gordon finally learned that Uncle Eb had passed away while carrying out his duties to the plantation.

Many believe that since Uncle Eb died before the war ended and before his guardianship of the Gordon home came to an end.... he has not rested in peace in the years since the Civil War. As the years have passed, his oil lantern is still seen roaming the grounds of the Lochinvar estate. It has been seen for decades and locals believe that the light belongs to the spirit of Uncle Eb, watching over his beloved family throughout eternity.
Lochinvar is a private residence north of the town of Pontotoc. The town is located about 20 miles west of Tupelo on Highway 6.

Copyright 1998 by Troy Taylor


Name James Robert GORDON
Birth 6 Dec 1833, Quincy, Monroe Co. MS
Death 28 Nov 1912, Okalona, MS
Occupation Planter; U.S. Senator
Religion Methodist
Education Univ. of MS 1855
Father Robert GORDON (1788-1876)
Mother Mary Elizabeth WALTON (1813-1869)

Misc. Notes

James Gordon wrote the following in a "Biographical Memoranda" copied by Forrest Tutor:

James Gordon went to school in the old field schools of Pontotoc County. At Tocsish to Jesse & Thos. Bramlett, to Hon Rittain R. Webb, Cherry Creek, Pontotoc Co., Dr. Harots in Holly Springs in 1848 to Whitehorn in Holly Springs in 1848&9. LaGrange College 1850. Entered sophomore at University of Mississippi Sept 1852. Graduated in Class of 1855.

Planter, Editor, Journalist . A writer for various magazines and journals (including Scribners, and Century Magazines, Forest and Stream, Field and Farm)

Was a member of the state legislature in 1857, 1878 & 1886. Elected to State Senate for 31st District for four years beginning Jan 5th 1904. Has serve on state executive committee and always actively working for the democratic.

Captain Chickasaw Ranger, Co. B. Jeff Davis Legion, commission Feb 7th 1861; armed and equipped company at own expense. Raised and organized a Regiment of cavalry know as 2nd Regt. Miss. Vol. Cavalry, Armstrongs Brigade. Fought under Genl. J.E.B. Stuart in Virginia, Van Dorn, W. H. Jackson and N. B. Forest in Miss and other states. Was sent to Europe by President Davis in 1864. Had yellow fever in Bahama Islands, was captured on return the night Fort Fisher Fell at Wilmington. Escaped and went to Canada. Reported to the Hon. Jacob Thompson in Montreal and was like him charged with being an accomplice of Wilkes Booth in the assassination of Lincoln, some months after surrender was permitted to return home by Genl. Dix, who gave him a safe guard to report to him in New York and was satisfied with his innocence.

He married Feb 7th 1856 Carolina Virginia Wiley, daughter of Yancey Wiley and his wife Annie Thompson Wiley who lived near Oxford. Mrs. Gordon was a niece of Hon. Jacob Thompson, a granddaughter of Nicholas Thompson of Leesburg, NC and a granddaughter of a daughter of Hon. Bartlett Yancey, a distinguished lawyer, politician and statesman of North Carolina. She was active in church work and for soldiers in the war...

Col. James Gordon and Mrs Carolina Virginia Gordon were the parents of only two childen and there was twenty years and seven months difference in their ages. The oldest, Anna, married John T. Barrow. she was born Dec 18th 1856 and is the mother of three children, Gordon T. Barrow, Mary Virginia Barrow and John T. Barrow Jr. Robert James Gordon was born July 27th 1877. Is now a law student at the University of Miss." (written Nov. 10, 1903 by James Gordon)

Note that James Gordon was appointed United States Senator in December 1909 by Gov. Noel to fill the vacancy created by the death of Senator McLaurin. He served only until Feb. 10, 1910, when he was succeeded by LeRoy Percy, who was elected by the Mississippi Legislature.

The following is James Gordon's biography in The History of Monroe County:

"James Gordon was born at Cotton Gin Port in Monroe County Dec. 6, 1833. He attended the University of MS at Oxford, and graduated in 1855. In 1856, he was the representative of his county in the State Legislature. He married Caroline Virginia Wiley in February of 1856. She was the daughter of Yancey Wiley of Oxford, MS. According to Goodspeeds "Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Mississippi," during the Civil War, James Gordon raised a company of cavalry arming it and equipping it from his own private means. He captained the company, took it to Richmond and was attached to the Jeff Davis legion under General Stewart. After the battle of Seven Pnes in 1862, he returned to MS and recruited a regiment of cavalry of which he was made Colonel. The outfit was know as the Secon MS Regt Cav of Armstrong's Brigade. He was later sent to Europe by President Jefferson Davis on a mission. On his return, he was captured and was a prisoner of war until he escaped in Feb. of 1865 and went to Montreal, Canada. During this time in Canada, he met John Wilkes Booth, and was later suspected by the United States Government of implication in the assassination of President Lincoln. He was later cleared of any suspicion. He returned to Mississisppi in 1865 after taking the oath of allegiance. He was elected as a representative to the State Legislature in 1877 and agan in 1885. He was later U. S. Senator. James Gordon was also an author under the pen name Pious Jeems. He contributed to many of the foremost publications of his day, including the magazines, Century Magazine, Turf, Field & Farm, American Field and the London Field. He died Nov. 28, 1912 and was buried at Okolona, Chickasaw County, Mississippi."

Note that in the 1860 census of Chickasaw County, MS, the value of James Gordon's real estate was $122,700 and the value of his personal property was $128, 725.

The following description of James Robert Gordon's late Civil War experience is from William A. Tidwell, Come Retribution, p. 406: "Jefferson Davis persuaded him to go to England in 1864 to help arrange the purchase of a privateer. Gordon's return was delayed when he contracted yellow fever at Bermuda. He finaly reached Wilmington aboard the blockade runner Blenheim which steamed blithely into port on the night of 24 January 1865 without the captain being aware that Fort Fisher had been captured by a federal amphibious force on 15 January. The next morning the vessel was taken as a prize, and the crew was removed to Old Point Comfort, Virginia. At Old Point Comfort, Gordon talked his way out on 22 February by telling the Yankees that he was the son of athe duke of Argyle and was fleeing from a scrape in Scotland. In a few days he reached New York City, where he was concealed, probably by John Potts Brown, an astute Confederate commercial agent. As Gordon told it later, he went on to Montreal and reported to Jacob Thompson. ...

James Gordon clearly arrived in Montreal on 8 March 1865, in the middle of an important Confederate operation. After the war, in talks with visitors at Lochinvar, he said that while he was in Canada he worked on plans to capture President Lincoln and had met John Wilkes Booth. Although this was known to many people in rural Pontotoc County, it caused scarcely a ripple. In the bitter poverty of the postwar South, who would condemn a plan to capture Lincoln?"


  1. Per the article. "Lochinvar Ghost Tale," by Troy Taylor, I wish to correct the location of Lochinvar. Lochinvar is south of Pontotoc, a short distance southwest of the intersection of Highway 15 and Highway 41.

  2. Thank you for clearing that up. I did not want to change his story since it is his work, but I appreciate you pointing out the discrepancy. Thanks for taking the time to read it.

  3. Please be advised that anyone wishing to visit the Lochinvar Plantation that you must get permission from the property owners. The Mansion is currently a private residence and tresspassers are not welcome. Please get permission before attempting a visit. Thanks!

  4. Our search in family history has led us to this website. We are the Elion Family. We are looking to find the connection of our past relatives. If you have any information on Mattie Bolton, A.E. Bolton, Lizzie Bolton etc. The Lochinvar Plantation keep popping up and the Duke Plantation in Ponotoc Mississippi. Any information you may have would be greatly appreciated. We have found out that our great, great, great grandmother was an indian or possible part white. Our Great aunt Ada Elion had blue eyes. Thank you for your help. Before the 1880 our name was Elam or Elan.

  5. Virginia, you may want to reach out to the Pontotic HistoricalmSociety for assistance in your search for your possible connection to Lochinvar and Pontotoc County. Best of luck in your search!

  6. planning to come to pontotoc this october. Want to visit..