John Howe Peyton's Montgomery Hall

William W. Donaghe and Mary Briscoe Baldwin Donaghe

William W. Donaghe, Sr., a son of Hugh Donaghe and Ann, was born in Virginia on May 22, 1797. He married Mary Briscoe Baldwin in 1821. Mary Briscoe Baldwin, a daughter of Dr. Cornelius Baldwin, was born in Virginia on November 18, 1800. Among her siblings were: Judge Briscoe Gerard Baldwin, William Daniel Baldwin, father of Mary Julia Baldwin, for whom Mary Baldwin College was named, and Dr. Cornelius E. Baldwin who married Nelly Conway Hite, daughter of Isaac Hite and Nelly Madison, sister of President James Madison.

W. W. Donaghe purchased Montgomery Hall at public auction on October 25, 1871 for $19,200.00. The sale was reported to the Augusta County court in November, 1871. He also owned Spring Farm, now a part of Gypsy Hill Park in Staunton. W. W. Donaghe had previously purchased the Fenton Farm tract from the estate of John Howe Peyton in 1852. Donaghe’s ownership of Montgomery Hall reestablished the Peyton family’s connection to the property. Briscoe G. Baldwin, brother of Mary B. B. Donaghe, married Martha Steele Brown, a daughter of Judge John Brown (who formerly owned Spring Farm) and Frances Peyton Brown. Frances Peyton Brown and John Howe Peyton were both great-grandchildren of Henry Peyton and his wife, Ann. John Brown Baldwin, son of Judge Briscoe G. Baldwin, married Susan Madison Peyton, eldest daughter of John Howe Peyton at Montgomery Hall in 1842. Frances Cornelia Baldwin, a sister of John Brown Baldwin, married Alexander H. H. Stuart. Stuart’s family owned a neighboring farm, “Buttermilk Spring.”

W. W. Donaghe, Sr. died at Montgomery Hall on February 21, 1873. The executors of his estate were his son, Dr. Briscoe B. Donaghe, and his nephew, John Brown Baldwin. John Brown Baldwin died September 30, 1873 before his uncle’s estate was settled. Donaghe wrote his will prior to his purchase of Montgomery Hall and due to complications related to the previous ownership, the title to the property had not been conveyed to him before he died. As a result, Henry Dwight Peck, who purchased Montgomery Hall at public auction in the fall of 1873 and paid for the property, did not receive title to the property until 1876. There were also complications following the sale of the Gum Spring tract of Donaghe’s Spring Farm. This acreage was purchased by the City of Staunton with the intent of building a waterworks to serve the town water supply. It was later determined that the actual source of Gum Spring was on a separate Spring Farm tract.

Mary Briscoe Baldwin Donaghe died on June 28, 1879. William W. Donaghe, Sr. and Mary B. B. Donaghe are buried in Thornrose Cemetery in Staunton, Virginia.

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Jane Gray Avery

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