These chimneys once stood over a 19th-century farm owned by a minister and his family.
Open Fields and a Wooden House
These chimneys remain from a house, called Mount Pleasant, which was built in 1798. Though trees now cover the land, in the 18th and 19th-centuries, active farms covered this area. Facing this direction, a person standing here could look out over open fields all the way to the Potomac River.
This house had wooden frame walls and two first-floor rooms—a hall and parlor. A door between two windows would have faced you. The double chimney provided two fireplaces on the ground floor and one upstairs. Wood from the fireplace mantels still can be seen in the chimney remains.
To the left of the door, a depression marks where an ice house stood. This structure stored ice which was harvested from the river and used to keep foods fresh.
Pastor and Farmer, Father and Slave Owner
Wills, deeds, and tax records reveal the past owners of the land beginning in 1653. In 1841, the Reverend William J. Chiles bought this property and lived here with his family. The family is known to have owned 14 slaves.
The Reverend Chiles served as pastor of the Nanjemoy Baptist Church from 1837 to 1855 and from 1866 until his death in 1874. During the 1800s, the Baptist Church struggled in Maryland, but Chiles helped the Nanjemoy church grow. Chiles also served
on a local temperance committee, trying to stop to sale of alcohol.
People came to this farm by the river. A fishing wharf extended from the shore, and a road ran form the wharf past the Chiles house. You are standing where the old road passed.
(Image of a gravestone.)
This tablet marks the grave of William Shepard Chiles, son of Reverend William J. Chiles. The Chiles family cemetery was located some distance from the farm and now is peacefully hidden in the woods.
(Black & white drawing of a house.)
The chimneys and brick foundations in front of you once belonged to the main house on a farm. This what the house would have looked like if you stood here in 1798, when the house was built.
(Icon in the upper-left corner for the Chiles Homesite.)
(Icon in the lower-right corner for the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management.)