Conjurer’s Field Archaeological Site
The Conjurer’s Field Archaeological Site is located on the former plantation of Conjurer’s Neck along the Appomattox River. Archaeological excavations at the site have unearthed artifacts representative of the prehistoric Middle and Late Woodland periods.
In 1620, a small group of English colonists settled in the spot where the Swift Creek runs into the Appomattox River. The place came to be known as Conjurer’s Neck because a Native American priest or healer, called a “conjurer” by the English, is thought to have lived there at one time. The presence of such conjurers was considered protective, as they were believed to ward off evil spirits dwelling in the waters.
The Old Brick (Kennon) House
Richard Kennon purchased the Conjurer’s Neck property in 1677 and settled there sometime thereafter. A prosperous merchant of Bermuda Hundred, he also represented Henrico County several times in the House of Burgesses. Kennon had married Elizabeth Worsham in 1675. Their first child, Richard, died at the age of 3 years and 3 months, and his gravestone is located on the property.
In 1711, after Richard Kennon’s death, his widow Elizabeth (Worsham) Kennon deeded Conjurer’s Neck to her second son, William, who married Anne Eppes. One of their sons, Henry Isham Kennon (born 22 April, 1718) died 8 August, 1747, and his gravestone is now located adjacent to Richard’s. William eventually deeded the property to his oldest son, Richard. Conjurer’s Neck passed out of the Kennon family in the late 18th century and was subdivided into eight farms. Long a prominent landmark on the river, the Kennon home was called “Brick House” on maps and navigational charts of the period.
The Brick House was purchased by Robert Henry Batte of Petersburg in 1880. A year before that, a fire that had started in the adjacent kitchen spread to the house, destroying its interior and cracking the north wall. Extinguishing the fire had been difficult because the well was too close to the burning house, and the tide was out in the nearby river. Sometime after the fire, the north and south walls were replaced with new walls that eliminated the recesses at both ends, effectively shortening the house. Batte sold the Brick House in 1885 and once again, it passed through a succession of owners.
In 1909, Willis Comstock purchased the farm and the Brick House. At the time, there was attached to the north side a two-story wooden addition, which was torn down in 1971. Occupied primarily by the Comstock family until 1988, the Brick House was briefly used as an office for real estate agents selling property in the Conjurer’s Neck subdivision.
In 1990, it was deeded to the Conjurer’s Neck Homeowners’ Association, with ownership transferred to the Old Brick House Foundation in 2001. In 2003, both the house and the surrounding property were incorporated into the Conjurer’s Neck Archaeological District and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Today, the Old Brick House incorporates many architectural changes made over the years, including 18th century Flemish bond brickwork on the exterior. However, it is thought at its core to be the oldest brick house in the region and among the oldest houses in Virginia.