John William Yancey (1803-1894)
William Terrell Yancey (1857-1939)
Source: My Rappahannock Story Book by Mary E. Hite. 1950
JUST past the little town of Woodville, on the way to Sperryville, turn to the left, leaving the busy highway, follow a winding country road for a mile or two and you will be repaid with the sight of the sweetest old home. Your first impression, I am sure, would be: it is a place that speaks for itself of culture and refinement. The English ivy climbs over the old stone house and the crepe myrtle blooms in the yard. The old family servants linger about the place. "Uncle Henry" is ninety-six years old and still can hoe a corn row. It was a house that grew-at first a quaint frame house and to this the stone part was built; later the frame part was torn down and in its place a brick addition. It was at first the home of the Connor family. For more than a century it has belonged to the Yanceys. John William Yancey (1803-1894) of Culpeper was the first of the family to own "Oak Forest." His wife was Jane Terrill, daughter of Dr. Uriel Terrill (1793-1885), prominent Orange County physician and legislator. The Yanceys are of Welsh descent, coming to Virginia with Sir William Berkeley in 1642. Lewis Davis Yancey settled in Culpeper in 1710. He married Mildred Kavanaugh, whose father was an extensive land owner in the county. Their descendants lived on these lands until recent years. John William Yancey of "Oak Forest" was grandson of Lewis Davis Yancey. Col. William Terrill Yancey was the only son of John William Yancey and his wife Jane Terrill. He was born at "Oak Forest" and lived here until his death a few years ago. The rank of "Colonel" was an honorary one, but it had a meaning-a high ranking gentleman. He was a man of literary ability, the son of unusual parents. They had been his teachers. His father also taught Alexander H. Stephens, historian and Vice-President of the Confederacy. On the lawn at "Oak Forest" stands a pin-oak with a history of its own. William Terrill Yancey was a member of the Constitutional Convention that met in Richmond, Virginia, in 1902. At its close each member was presented with a tree to plant in his home soil. Planted in the "good earth" of "Oak Forest" this pin-oak has grown to be a magnificent one of its kind.
Col. Yancey's first wife was Nanny Stephenson of Washington, D. C. One son, William Stephenson Yancey, was born of this marriage. Col. Yancey's second wife , was Annie Belle Mason, daughter of William Stephenson Mason and his wife Octavia Latane Mason of "Glen Ayre", Rappahannock County. William Stephenson Yancey married the youngest daughter of the Masons of "Glen Ayre." The gentle Virginia Mason, beloved of all who knew her, died in the spring of 1945. In the eighteen-seventies, there had been an exodus from the Valley of Virginia to Rappahannock-such families as the Masons, Asquiths, Mannings and Cranes. These families have all moved away. The last representatives in the county, Mrs. William Terrill Yancey and her sister, Margaret Mason, returned to Charles Town, Jefferson County, in the spring of 1947. They live in the home of their grandfather, Dr. Gerard Mason.
"Oak Forest" at this time became the home of Col .and Mrs. William Williamson of Atlanta. The son of the family is studying art in Philadelphia. The daughter, a college girl, is at Agnes Scott in Atlanta. Col. and Mrs.. Williamson entertain in a truly Southern manner.