Oliver Bierne, Christopher Bierne, John Echols, and Allen T. Caperton became Owners of The Old Sweet

The Sweet Springs Resort land remained in Lewis hands until John Lewis became involved in a large debt which led to several deeds of trust for the property. When the debts were not paid on time, various tracts were sold and Oliver Beirne became owner of the Sweet Springs tract on August 18, 1852. The land changed hands several times with transactions between Oliver, Christopher Bierne, John Echols, and Allen T. Caperton.

Oliver Bierne

Oliver Bierne

Oliver Beirne 

BIRTH: 26 Mar 1811Monroe County, West Virginia,

Death: 26 Apr 1888 (aged 77) New Orleans, Orleans Parish, Louisiana,

Burial: Green Hill Cemetery, Union WV in Monroe County, West Virginia,

Oliver Beirne was a landowner from West Virginia, one of the owners of the Old Sweet Springs resort, and sole heir to plantation millionaire John Burnside, of whom he was a longtime friend.

Beirne partnered with John Burnside in a mercantile business established in New Orleans in 1837. Beirne retired from the mercantile business in 1847 and Burnside became a wealthy merchant, later owner of The HAUNTED Houmas plantation and another dozen plantationS in Louisiana.

Back in West Virginia, Oliver Beirne became a landowner and postmaster of Sweet Springs, West Virginia, where he owned the Old Sweet Springs resort. Aside for the resort at Sweet Springs, all other properties still belong to his heirs.

Oliver Beirne married Margaret Melinda Caperton (1812–1844) on August 2, 1831.

His children were:

John, Jane E., Elizabeth “Bettie” Miles (1835–1874) (who married William Porcher Miles), Andrew, Susan Robinson (1840–1871) (married Major Henry Robinson), Nancy (married first Samuel B. Parkman, killed at Antietam, second Emil von Ahlefeldt) and Alice.

John Burnside, his longtime friend from the time when they worked together in New Orleans, was a lifelong bachelor, and when he died on June 29, 1881, he left his entire estate, estimated 5 or 6 million dollars, to Oliver Beirne. When Beirne died, Houmas House and the other plantations went to William Porcher Miles, Beirne’s son-in-law.

Allen Taylor Caperton

Senator Allen Taylor Caperton (November 21, 1810-July 26, 1876) was born at Elmwood, the family estate in Monroe County. He was the son of Hugh and Jane (Erskine) Caperton.

After attending a school in Huntsville, Alabama, and the University of Virginia, he graduated from Yale College. For a time he studied law in a Staunton, Virginia law office and engaged in a brief practice in that town.

In 1832, he married Harriet Echols, whose brother, John Echols, later became a noted Confederate general. John Echols married Caperton’s sister.

A Whig prior to the Civil War, he represented Monroe County in the Virginia House of Delegates in 1841–42 and 1857–58 and served in the state Senate in 1844–48 and 1859–60. As a member of the Virginia constitutional convention of 1850,

Caperton supported the western position in arguing for legislative representation on the basis of white population with no allowance for the number of slaves. Although he opposed secession, Caperton voted for it in the Virginia convention of 1861 in the belief that it might preserve peace. After Virginia entered the Confederacy, its state Senate elected him to the Confederate Senate, a position he held throughout the Civil War.

After the war, Caperton, by then a Democrat, returned to Monroe County. When Democrats gained control of West Virginia’s government in 1871, Caperton resumed an active political life. The state Senate elected him to the U.S. Senate, where he served in 1875–76. Caperton died in Washington, and was buried at Union, Monroe County.

Caperton belonged to a well-established family. His father was an early congressman, and later generations produced business leaders and a governor. Governor Gaston Caperton served from 1989 to 1997.

John Echols

Confederate John Echols

Confederate General John Echols (March 20, 1823-May 24, 1896) was born at Lynchburg, Virginia.

The General Echols House located in Union, Monroe County, West Virginia, is significant for its association with John Echols, A Brigadier General in the army of the Confederate States of America. The house possesses additional distinction as one of Monroe County’s oldest and best preserved examples of Greek Revival

A graduate of Washington College (now Washington and Lee University) and Harvard, he became a lawyer in 1843 and was later commonwealth’s attorney and a Virginia state legislator.

He moved to Union, Monroe County, in 1843 to practice law and remained there until the outbreak of the Civil War.

Echols represented Monroe County at the Virginia Secession Convention and voted for secession. He organized a military company of which he was captain and was commissioned lieutenant-colonel in the Confederate Army in 1861.

Later, he became Brigadier General. John Echols participated in the battles of First Manassas and Kernstown, where he was wounded. He served in the Kanawha Valley in 1862 and commanded Confederate forces at their defeat at the Battle of Droop Mountain in November 1863.

In May 1864, he commanded the Confederate right wing at the battle of New Market, and he was with Lee at Cold Harbor. He was assigned to command of the District of Southwest Virginia in August 1864 and later replaced Jubal Early as commander of the Department of Western Virginia. Reluctant to surrender after Appomattox, Echols decided to join with the forces of General Johnston in North Carolina. He accompanied Confederate President Jefferson Davis in his flight to Georgia and was briefly in command there.

After the war, Echols became a founding director of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway. He was vice president and general manager of the railroad when the line was completed through the New River Gorge and on to Huntington.

He left West Virginia and moved to Staunton to practice law following the war. He was twice married, first to the sister of Sen. Allen T. Caperton, of West Virginia.

He died at Oakden, the residence of his son, Edward Echols, (later lieutenant governor of Virginia), at Staunton, where he is buried in Thornrose Cemetery.

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