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Deed Book 12, page 600

Simpkins Tanyard, 1833


     During the 19th century, several tanneries operated in the hollow that is now Montwell Commons. James Withrow established a tannery along Jefferson St. on the west side of the hollow around 1805. About 30 years later, in 1833, John Simpkins bought the adjoining property on the east side of the hollow and built his brick house and tannery there. Three years later, he sold the property to Patrick Beirne although the tannery then belonged to Hugh McComb. In 1872, H.W. Donnally bought the property and used the tanyard to tan deer skins and the building as his glove factory.  Two years later, he declared bankruptcy and the property was eventually bought in 1885 as the site for the Lutz & Handley flour mill.


     Over the years, this brick house was used as a dwelling house, the Simpkins tannery, the McComb tannery, the Donnally glove factory, and the Lutz & Handley steam flour mill.


March 26, 1833  Deed 12-600 (excerpts)

     John Simpkins purchases Lot #19 from William McClung and Robert Mennis for $1200. In the early 20th century Lot #19 was subdivided and houses at 209, 211,213, 215, 217, 221, and 225 Lee St. and 213 Chestnut St. were constructed.

“. . . Witnesseth, that . . . in consideration of the sum of twelve hundred dollars paid and secured to be paid in lawful money of Virginia to them in hand paid by the said John Simpkins the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged . . . and by these presents do grant, bargain, and sell unto the said John Simpkins his heirs and assigns one certain tract or parcel of land lying and being in the county of Greenbrier and adjoining the Town of Lewisburg and being one of a block of lotts of land laid off by John G. McClanachan on the north east side of said town and known in the plat or survey of said lotts as No. 19 . . . and generally known by the name of the Spring lot . . . “


January 5, 1836 Deed 13-596 (excerpts)

     John Simpkins sells 6 ½ acres of land (part of Lot 19 known as the Spring Lot) described above to Patrick Beirne for $3000 which includes the Spring, but Simpkins reserves the right to use the surplus water in his tanyard. It includes a brick dwelling that Simpkins might have built since the price increased by 150% over 3 years. From this time on, the spring is known as the “Beirne Spring” and is referenced in many deeds.

     “. . . Witnesseth, that this said John Simpkins and Elizabeth his wife for and in consideration of the sum of three thousand dollars in hand paid by the said Patrick Beirne . . . do grant bargain and sell . . . one certain tract or parcel of land . . . known in the plot of said lot as No. 19 . . . together with the brick dwelling house and houses etc erected thereon and . . . also the spring, its building thereon erected & its appurtenances. . . . It is satisfactorily understood that the right of the spring situated on said lot or parcel of land . . . is conveyed with said lot to said Beirne, he the said Simpkins reserving to himself the right to all the surplus water flowing from said spring and the privilege of conducting from said spring the said surplus water to furnish the tan yard adjoining and belonging now to the Hugh McComb. . .”


April 29, 1872 Deed 27-143 (excerpts)

    James Withrow sells a lot and house to Donnally where his glove factory is located but can not tan leather such as Withrow's there for 25 years.

     “. . . Witnesseth: That the said James Withrow and Mary J. his wife for and in consideration of the sum of five dollars thus in hand paid . . . do grant and convey to the said H.W. Donnally all their rights and title to a certain house and lot situated in the town of Lewisburg situated near what is known as the Beirne Spring and joining the lot of H. Beirne and said James Withrow, the house being the same originally erected by one John Simpkins for a tannery . . . The lot intended hereby to be conveyed is the same now in the possession of the said Donnally upon which is situated his Glove factory . . . it is hereby understood that said Withrow and wife hereby convey to the said Donnally all the water privileges to which they may have been entitled in the said lot except that the said Donnally, nor any other person claiming under him, shall not have the privilege of conveying onto under or through the said lot for the purpose of tanning leather such as is now manufactured by the said Withrow in his Tanyard until after the expiration of twenty five years from the date of this deed . . .”


September 14, 1874 Deed of Trust 28-330 (excerpts)

     H.W. Donnally conveys 3 lots of land, his house, glove factory, tools and inventory, accounts receivable, and household and kitchen furniture (personal property valued at $3150) to a Trustee after being declared bankrupt in order to pay off debts totaling $7246.

     “. . . Witnesseth: that whereas the said Donnally is indebted to the persons hereinafter named and described and being desirous of securing them so far as he is able to do so . . . the said Donnally doth hereby grant unto the said Snyder, trustee, the following property . . . a house and lot known as the “Simpkins Tanyard” and now used by the said Donnally as a Glove Factory together with all the tools, fixtures in said glove factory . . . “


February 1877  Deed 29-542 (excerpts)

     Trustee sells Donnally's real property  at auction to the firm Price & Hardie

     “This deed made this 3rd day of February 1877 between A.G. Snyder Trustee and Thomas H. Dennis asssignee of the first part and J.E. Bell and John S. Price & George A. Hardie . . . of the second part. Witnesseth the said A.G. Snyder Trustee . . . did sell as required by law a certain house and lot of land situated in the town of Lewisburg . . . known as the “Simpkins Tanyard” . . . H. Bell and Price & Hardie being the highest bidders became the purchasers of said house and lot at the price of $400. . . “


January 29, 1885 Deed 36-148

     John Handley buys the Simpkins Tanyard from Price & Hardie. A year later, he conveys it to Cox and Hodson by Deed 37-436.

     “This deed made this 29th day of January 1885 between J.S. Bell and Lucy M. Bell his wife and John J. Price on behalf of the firm of Price & Hardie of the first part and John D. Handley of the second part.

Witnesseth: that the said parties of the first part . . . by these presents do sell and convey unto the said party of the 2nd part . . . that certain house and lot of land situated in the Town of Lewisburg W. Va. Known as the “Simpkins Tanyard” and the same lot conveyed to the said parties of first part, by A.G. Snyder Trustee and Thos. H. Dennis assignee by deed bearing date on the 3rd day of Feb 1877 and now of record in the Clerk's Office of Greenbrier County Court in deed book 29 at page 542 and the same conveyed by James Withrow and wife to H.W. Donnally by deed bearing date on the 29th day of April 1872 and now of record in the same office in deed book no 27 at page 143 to which last mentioned deed reference is here made for for a more particular description . . .”


February 5, 1885

A New Enterprise in Lewisburg Messrs. C.H. Lutz and John O. Handley have purchased the building and lot near Beirne's Spring in Lewisburg, known as the Glove Factory property, upon which they propose to establish a Steam Mill for the purpose of engaging in a general milling business . . . The old brick building on the lot will at once be reconstructed for mill purposes, and the firm hopes to have their establishment in full operation at the end of about six weeks.  Greenbrier Independent vol 19 no. 35



The complete deeds are on file in the County Clerk's office at the Greenbrier County Courthouse.


The Greenbrier Independent newspaper was researched at the Greenbrier County Historical Society archives at the North House Museum, Lewisburg, WV, where a digitized version is available.

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