It is such a pleasure to continue the working farm tradition here at Rockwood Manor. Our family forefathers came from Scotch Irish roots and raising cattle was second nature to them. What better business to start here in the New World. Following in the footsteps of these various frontier families where many of their fortunes were based on the cattle industry. Cloyd’s , Kents, McGavocks, Buchanans, and others built up considerable wealth and we often tell our guests that it was the cows that built Rockwood.
Frances Bell was an adept cattle trader and as such traveled the Valleys of Virginia bringing cattle back to his home farm in Swoope, Augusta County, Virginia which he ran with his brother Samuel Hays Bell. In his travels to the New River Valley he met and learned from master trader James Randal Kent who was married to Mary Cloyd and lived at Buchanans’ Bottom ( now known as Kentland and owned by Virginia Tech) J.R. Kent was the wealthiest man in Montgomery County. He had five daughters and Frances (b1820) married Sarah James Kent (b1824) in 1855.
In a wonderful book “Virginia’s Cattle Story” The First Four Centuries by Katherine Brown & Nancy Sorrells the real story of cattle in American history outlines the bringing of the cattle to Jamestown and Williamsburg. From there various breeds were imported and some cattle were actually first exported back to England by great grandfather Frances Bell and sold as “Pulaski Beef”. His sons escorted shiploads of cattle and that sounds like a job to me. A picture of Rockwood Manor and story of “Fat Cattle” can be found on page 147-8.
The home here went from strictly raising beef to become a dairy in the early 1900’s and now we are back to raising beef again. The cows are very curious creatures with a wonderful herding instinct and our guests really enjoy their presence. You will too.