If rooms and furnishings could talk, the home referred to as North Bend in Charles City, Virginia, would be in perpetual chatter mode. Throughout its history, many significant occurrences took place within the Greek Revival-style home, starting with its construction in 1801 by John Minge for his wife, Sarah Harrison, the sister of William Henry Harrison, the ninth president of the United States.
In an 1830 census, there were 80 slaves listed at North Bend, but David, the son of John Minge Jr. inherited the property before the Civil War encroached on the area. Following his religious convictions, he freed the enslaved people across the state line into Maryland.
In 1864, 30,000 Union troops, commanded by Gen. Philip Sheridan and Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, flowed into the area. The Union troops dug trenches through North Bend to the nearby James River. And one of the most noteworthy items in the home is the desk that Gen. Sheridan used when temporarily billeted at the home.
Octogenarian Ridgely (“everyone calls me Nannie”) Copland is North Bend’s current owner. Her husband, George Forbes Copland (now deceased), was not only a direct descendant of William Henry and Sarah Harrison, but was also the great, great, grandson of Edmund Ruffin, who fired the first shot in the Civil War against the federally held Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, near Charleston, South Carolina.
“Nannie” not only lives at North Bend but enjoys leading tours, pointing out artifacts, and sharing countless historical stories with friends and guests she allows to visit or stay there. “History is extremely important,” Copland said. “We learn from it, and I like to share as much as possible.”