In 1761 an immigrant from Pennsylvania named George Cabbage bought the half acre in-town plot of land called Lot 48 from the town founder, Lewis Stephens, along with a five acre plot called Out Lot No. 5 for £10. This price was typical for vacant lots like these in the undeveloped municipality at that time. The deed stipulated that Cabbage had to build a house on the in-town lot measuring at least 16 feet wide by 20 feet long. By the time Cabbage sold the lot again in May 1767 to Philadelphia merchant Daniel Benezet, the sale price clearly indicated that a house had been built there on Lot 48 in the years since Cabbage purchased the property in 1761. We also know that Cabbage was living in the Stone House at the time he sold it to Benezet because the deed refers to Lot 48 as “the Lot whereon Cabbage now lives.” Cabbage is also referred to in that deed as a “mason.”A common practice of that era was to note the trade, or occupation, of the seller and buyer in the property deeds and other court records. Such distinctions were useful in minimizing the confusion that arose when more than one individual had the same first and last name in a geographical location. The fact that Cabbage is identified in this deed as a “mason,” or a tradesman who works with stone (and/or brick) is worthy of note. In a period when settlers were often directly involved in the construction of their new homes, it is reasonable to assume that George Cabbage himself was one of the actual craftsmen who built the Stone House.
After the sale, in an odd coincidence, the Cabbage family then moved to Lot 26, the future site of the Steele House and Steele & Bro. Store. The Steele House was eventually the home of Mildred Lee Grove, Founder of the Stone House Foundation. In 1767 Lot 26 was probably the site of an earlier log house with a stone chimney. Earlier, in 1759 one of the town’s trustees, the man latter called “the Valley Lawyer,” Gabriel Jones, purchased Lot 26 from the town’s proprietor Lewis Stephens for £10. Like Cabbage, Jones was required to build a house on Lot 26 within a few years’ time. This provision was designed to discourage speculators from simply buying a lot and holding onto it without making any improvements. (Stephens wanted a town, not a bunch of empty lots held by absentee speculators.) Even though Jones was a powerful and respected lawyer, Stephens still would have required him to comply with this rule. In turn, it appears that Jones did hire builders to construct a house on Lot 26. During the recent archaeological investigations at the Steele House, we uncovered the stone foundations of an earlier structure that apparently had been built farther back from the street than the current house. With the aid of our historic structures consultant, Doug Reed, we have also identified the footings of an earlier chimney in the cellar under the oldest hewn log part of the Steele House. It is very possible that that there is a relationship between these old foundation walls and the old chimney footings in the existing cellar. In fact, we also discovered that the logs that now make up the walls of the oldest portion of the Steele House had been reused and taken from an earlier structure when they were laid in their present configuration.
When the Cabbages bought Lot 26 from Gabriel Jones for £40 and moved out of the Stone House, they had a son named Conrad. By the time of the Revolutionary War, Conrad was old enough to be recruited by a young officer named Henry Bedinger from Shepherdstown. Bedinger had returned to the Valley to recruit new soldiers for the revolutionary cause. Henry Bedinger was a veteran of the famous “Bee-line” march to Boston in 1775 under Captain Hugh Stephenson. In July of 1776 Conrad Cabbage enlisted in Abraham Shepherd’s Company of the Virginia Rifle Regiment being formed with men from Berkeley, Frederick and Hampshire Counties. Unfortunately Conrad Cabbage was captured along with many others of his regiment in New York on Manhattan Island at the fall of Fort Washington, 16 November 1776. Like many of the prisoners of war taken during the siege of Fort Washington, Conrad later died in January 1777 while he was still in British captivity.
Just a little over a year later, his father George Cabbage wrote in his will, “being very sick and weak in body but of perfect mind and memory,” that his wife Catherine would receive the traditional one-third of his estate. He specifically stated that this included one-third of his dwelling, the house on Lot 26. Apparently his only surviving child at that time was a daughter named Elizabeth who was married to a man named Stephen Myers. She and her husband were to receive the remaining two-thirds of his estate. Catherine Cabbage continued to live with her daughter and son-in-law Stephen Myers. When Stephen Myers died in 1797 the house on Lot 26 went to Catherine Myers Haddox, the daughter of Stephen and Elizabeth Myers. She eventually sold it in 1814 to Richard Wells, a local merchant. It is likely that Wells was the owner who was responsible for the remodeling campaign that brought the log portion of the Steele house to its present configuration.
As we will also see, the next time Lot 48 and Lot 26 would be linked was during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. During that time the partnership of Steele and Bro. owned and operated the Stone House as a rental property at the same time as they owned the house and store that now bears their name on Lot 26. The Stone House was sold again after the death of Mager W. Steele in the year 1900. When Mildred Lee Grove purchased the stone side of the property in 1940 one of the reasons she was interested in it had to do with the fact that her maternal grandfather Milton B. Steele had once owned it along with his older brother Mager W. Steele.