More information at the Virginia Department of Historic Resources here
Soldier’s Joy, circa 1890. Robert Lancaster

Home Site – Nelson County, Virginia

Soldier’s Joy is designated as part of the Norwood-Wingina Rural Historic District by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. The property in Nelson County, Virginia is ½ mile southwest of Wingina on Rt. 647 and 1/10 mile up a private road.  It is 1.5 miles east of the intersection of routes 647 & 626.

In the cemetery, an iron fence has replaced the original rock wall. A few stones remain of a tall rock pyramid where Samuel and Sally are supposedly buried.


Soldier’s Joy was built between October, 1783-September, 1785 for Samuel Cabell (1756-1818), son of Col. William Cabell, Sr. and Margaret Jordan of Union Hill.  The house was designed by Col. Cabell and built by James Robards of Goochland at a cost of $635.   Col. William Cabell wrote in his diary that on “August 16, 1783, I agreed with James Robards of Goochland to build Samuel a dwelling house, kitchen, smokehouse and dairy.  It is to begin next October.”  Samuel and his wife, Sally Syme moved in October 1, 1785.

It is a 56 x 20 late Georgian “L” shaped home of heart of pine and poplar with a central hall containing an elegant open-string  dogleg staircase. There is intricate interior woodwork. The house is simply detailed, single pile, with a center passage, dining room, hall parlor with a chamber ell (wing).

The house was remodeled in 1806 by James Oldham, one of Jefferson’s workmen. It was developed into a 5 part Palladian house with one-story hyphens and 1 ½ story wings were added to the east and west.  Fine Federal woodwork was also added at this time along with the 2nd floor Palladian door. Other changes include the rebuilding of the 1st floor Palladian door and front porch which was enlarged using the original columns.  The rear porch is original.  Two original windows have been closed and a third window replaced with a door.  A back porch was added to the northeast corner in the 1920’s.

The original kitchen was located to the north of the house and was 22 x 18. “The dairy is also located to the north of the house.  The wooden grill work is believed to be like the original. The rafters are ship lapped & pegged. The nails are stamp headed. It is underpinned with Flemish bond. The brick work has not been restored at this point.”

Timeline of Soldier’s Joy Ownership

  • 1785: Samuel Jordan Cabell (1756-1818) and his wife Sarah Syme (1760-1814) moved into the newly finished home.
  • In 1825, Samuel Jordan Cabell, Jr. (1787-1845) sold the house to Daniel Higginbotham whose sister-in-law was Margaret, Samuel J. Cabell’s daughter.
  • At Higginbotham’s death, it was sold to John London and his heirs sold the house to Peachy Harmer Gilmer in 1865.
  • Margaret, Alice, and Clifford Palmer bought Soldier’s Joy in 1894.
    • These were the children of Alice Winston Cabell Palmer, grandchildren of Clifford Cabell (1810-1871), great grandchildren of Frederick (1768-1841) and great, great grandchildren of John Cabell (1743-1815).
  • In 1924, Margaret Cabell Palmer sold the house to Charles H. Wood, Sr.
    • The house was being used as a barn when Mr. Wood bought the home.
    • Mr. Wood sold the north wall of the 24 ft. left wing, which was the ballroom, to the Cincinnati Art Museum and parts of the remaining woodwork to Mirador to be used in the music room. 

Additional Photos

Soldier’s Joy, 2002.

Soldier’s Joy, 2002. Photos courtesy of Archer Minardi