Mothers: the women who nurture us and support us and literally bring us into this world. Here at Tuckahoe, we love our mothers and in honor of Mother’s Day, we’d like to share some of the stories of some of the mothers who have lived here over the years.
Some of us may have heard of the infamous “Bizarre Scandal” involving Nancy, Judith, and Richard Randolph. It was a sordid tale of adultery, murder, and intrigue (depending on whose side of the story you believe). Not long after Judith and Richard were married, Judith’s sister, Nancy, came to live with them. The story says that Nancy and Richard had an affair. Regardless of whether it was true or not, it appears that years of suspicion, jealousy, and paranoia created a rift between these two sisters that time could not repair. But long before any of these events occurred, Nancy and Judith were simply children growing up together in the main house at Tuckahoe. Their mother, Ann Cary, had thirteen children before she passed away on March 6, 1789. Inside the house, one can see numerous window panes where this date has been etched into the glass as well as one with Nancy and Judith’s signatures. Clearly, the loss of their mother was keenly felt.
Not long after, they would find themselves with a new young stepmother, Gabriella Harvey. After her mother’s death, Nancy had acted as the lady of the house, organizing the enslaved household staff, deciding dinner menus and such. When Gabriella entered the scene, it appears that the two started to battle for dominance in the house. Gabriella was ultimately successful as Nancy left Tuckahoe and moved in with Judith and Richard at their home, the Bizarre Plantation. And thus the seeds for the scandal that shocked the young country were sown. The scandal which has its earliest roots here at Tuckahoe and springs from these mother- (or stepmother) daughter relationships.
In 1865, the landscape of Goochland County was forever changed because of a mother’s love for her child. Joseph Allen purchased the land of Tuckahoe along with the enslaved workers in 1850. Upon his death, his son, Richard Allen took over. In 1863, Richard married Virginia Mitchell. Their first child, a daughter named Mary, died in 1865 at just nine months of age. Her parents, in an effort to support those in need of aid in the community, raised money to build a church in her memory. St. Mary’s Episcopal Church still stands along River Road as a testament to the love and grief this mother felt for her young child.
Grief, heartache, and the love between a mother and her children would have also been keenly felt for many of the enslaved here at Tuckahoe as well. A number of daughters would have worked alongside their mothers as house servants over the years including Mahala Boyd and her daughter, Henrietta as well as Lucy Parker and her daughter, Jane. Both Henrietta and Jane likely would have shadowed their mothers from a young age as they learned what was required of them and took on greater responsibilities in the home. Would it have been of some comfort for them to have their mothers close by to confide in and to support them? Or would they have preferred another position where they were not under the constant scrutiny of the white owners? It is hard to know for certain. What is certain is that all of these relationships between these mothers and their children helped shape the history of this house, this property and the surrounding area.