History of Tavern On The Rail
The Harris Poindexter Store was started by Frederick Harris, Jr. about 1837 during the building of the railroad from Doswell, VA to Fredericks Hall, VA. The Louisa Railroad Company built the first east-to-west railroad lines. It was surveyed in 1836 and the line was completed as far as Gordonsville VA by 1 January 1840. By 1850, the name was changed to The Virginia Central Railroad.
Fredrick Harris was the first President of the Louisa Railroad. Fredericks Hall was a terminal of the railroad “whence passengers went on westward by private conveyance.” Many people traveled to the “Springs” from Fredericks Hall. The Greensprings section of Louisa County was very popular in the early nineteenth century. The railroad first reached Louisa Courthouse in December 1838 and from that date forward it was a major factor contributing to the growth of the town of Louisa.
The Villiage of Fredericks Hall was a small community and primarily a Harris family enterprise for decades. The application for the first spirits license was approved in 1839. A second license to retail wine, rum, and brandy at the store was issued about the same time but stated “it was not to be drunk on the premise.” These licenses were renewed until Frederick Harris’ death in 1842.
In his will, Frederick requested the “store at the depot” continue under the management of his son, Nathaniel W. Harris. In 1847 Nathaniel purchased the store. He and his brother, David Harris, became involved in operationg a tobacco factory which produced “Louisa Pride” smoking tobacco. It was during that time that Nathaniel began leasing the store to other proprietors.
The first firm lease was that of William A. Talley and Co. in the 1850’s. In April, 1860, Peyton G. Talley, the brother of William, and Horatio P. Hancock became the second lease holders. Whether from pressure or other reasons, Nathaniel Harris discontinued his leasing arrangements and on 9 March 1861 he sold the store to Peyton G. Talley and Horatio P. Hancock.
In 1863 during the War Between the States, Union Captain Lord of General George Stoneman’s Raiders destroyed the tracks, culverts and telegraph lines at Fredericks Hall. This rendered the railroad impassable for fifteen miles. Fredericks Hall was known to be a Confederate artillery depot for the II Corps of the Confederate Army.
Records show that the store was burned down in February of 1864 during Dahlgren’s Raid. US Army Colonel Ulric Dahlgren was dispatched from Culpeper Courthouse and directed to proceed southward to the James River and enter Richmond from the south while other Union troops would attack from north of the city. Dahlgren failed to obtain his objective. Having failed to cross over the James River, only part of his force remained with him. He and his troups were ambushed by Confederate troops and Dahlgren was killed near King and Queen Courthouse. Inside his tunic were papers he had written stating his mission, part of which read “We ill cross the James River into Richmond, destroying the bridge after us and exhorting the released prisoners to destroy and burn the hateful city – and not allow the rebel leader Davis and his t r aitorous crew to escape and the city must be destroyed and Jeff Davis and his cabinet killed.”
In the fall of 1865, Peyton Talley took it upon himself to rebuild the store over the old foundation. Talley then rented the “upper” part of the store to a man named Schlater to operate a dry goods store. Talley occupied the basement as a grocery.
John Terrill Boston soon joined his brother-in-law Payton Talley in operating the store. A license was issued to sell spirits in the name of Talley and Boston. Per Hancock, Peyton Talley had the entire management of the partnership affairs, control, and possession of the partnership effects from October 1860 until Talley’s death in 1868.
In July 1869 John T. Boston bought the store. A man named Edward Hawkins Poindexter moved to Fredricks Hall and began leasing the store from Boston. Boston died in 1890 and Poindexter continued to rent from Boston’s widow until he purchased the store on 30 March 1893. The store operations were passed to his son, Emmett Hawkins Poindexter, who continued in much the same manner as his father until his death in 1945. After his death, Elwood Hall continued to operate the store for the Poindexter family.
In 2001, Harris-Poindexter Store was carefully restored by the new owners, Melody and Kenny Bowers. Thanks to the craftsmanship of Robert Stanley (Melody’s father), a native of Bears Den – near Fredericks Hall – the integrity of the carpentry was kept as original as possible. The building is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior. 1837 being the date of the building.
Now this old family store welcomes you and your guests to come and dine at Tavern On The Rail