Clover Hill Tavern - History


The tavern originally opened in 1819 on the Richmond-Lynchburg Road for travelers and is the oldest original structure in the village of Appomattox Court House, with the exception of the Sweeney Prizery outside of the local of the village but within the Park. It became a popular stopping point for the stagecoach. The Clover Hill Tavern inn grew and farmhouses grew up around it soon after it opened. It was built by Alexander Patteson and his brother Lilburne Patteson as a stagecoach stop for the line between Cumberland County and Lynchburg. The Patteson brothers formed a partnership in 1809 to develop a stagecoach line between Richmond, Virginia, and Lynchburg. They purchased the farm acreage of Clover Hill in 1814, which was about half way between these towns. The land came with an existing small frame dwelling which they used as the headquarters for their stagecoach business.

There was much optimism after the War of 1812. The brothers made considerable money since there was a good economic boom starting in 1815. Clover Hill developed into a thriving commercial village with many people passing through into the "frontier states", such as Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana. Lilburne had died in 1816. In 1819 Alexander built a 2 1⁄2-story, four-bay structure as his main residence for his large family. This also served as a tavern. Patteson also built a three-story tavern guest house to go with the tavern. The residence became the Clover Hill Tavern with the guest house converted into an additional dining room and additional guest rooms.

The tavern was the residence of Captain John Raine and his wife Eliza in the 1840s. In 1839 the Raines purchased half interest in the tavern and the accompanying 206 acres (0.83 km2) for $1,525 from the estate of Alexander Patteson, who died in 1836. In 1840 they purchased the other half interest of the property for the same price from the estate of Lilburne Patteson. The stagecoach was stopping twice every day at the tavern during the week and once during the weekend. In spite of this, through poor management of running the tavern business, he ultimately had to sell the property to his brother Hugh in 1842 for the balance of the overdue notes on the property. The 1840 U.S. Census of Prince Edward County shows the Raine family consisted of 10 children, 7 boys and 3 girls.

In 1845, when Appomattox County was established, a post office was formed and the original "court house" was built along with law offices and other government related businesses. The village of "Clover Hill" changed its name to "Appomattox Court House". In 1846, Samuel D. McDearmon bought the Clover Hill Tavern. The village had approximately 150 people throughout the 1850s.

In 1865 on Palm Sunday, the rapidly approaching end of the Civil War changed the prosperity of the Clover Hill Tavern with the surrender of General Robert E. Lee to General Ulysses S. Grant. The Generals arranged a meeting to be held in town at the McLean House so Lee could formally surrender his troops to Grant, effectively ending the American Civil War. Approximately thirty thousand paroles for the Confederate soldiers were printed in the Clover Hill Tavern.

At the time of General Lee's surrender to Union commander Grant in 1865 the Tavern and its associated outbuildings were owned by Wilson Hix. Billy Hix, Wilson's son, was the sheriff of the village of Appomattox Court House (aka: Clover Hill) then. Brigadier General George H. Sharpe, as head of the Bureau of Military Information and Assistant Provost Marshall, made the Clover Hill Tavern his headquarters starting on April 10, 1865. Sharpe was designated by Grant to oversee the printing of parole passes which were issued to the Confederate veterans. Research by historians of the Park reveal that perhaps the paroles were printed in the wooden dining room wing at the wen end of the Tavern that no longer is there. The paroles allowed the surrendered Confederate soldiers to travel unmolested to their homes.

The Clover Hill village ("Appomattox Court House") of the 1850s consisted of the Clover Hill Tavern, the Old Appomattox Court House, two blacksmith shops, the original county jail, the Jones and Woodson law offices, the Plunkett-Meeks Store, two stables, the McLean and Peers homes and some cabins.

Clover Hill Tavern inscription on a marker at the front entrance reads:

Built in 1819, this was the first building in what would become the village of Appomattox Court House. The Clover Hill Tavern served travelers along the Richmond-Lynchburg Stage Road. For several decades, it offered the village’s only restaurant, only overnight lodging, and only bar. Its presence helped prompt the Virginia legislature to locate the Appomattox County seat here. In 1846, the courthouse was built across the street.

By 1865, the tavern had come on hard times – a "bare and cheerless place", according to one Union general. It was one of only two buildings in town used by the Federal army during the surrender process. Here, on the evening of April 10, 1865, Union soldiers set up printing presses and started producing paroles for the surrendered Confederates. The Federals printed more than 30,000 parole documents here.

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