Sunday, November 9, 1952
35,000 Acres Were Bought OnA$25Bid
By VIRGINIA DAVIS Times-News State Editor
DUNGANNON, Va. (Spl.}-One of Southwest
Virginia's most wealthy and scholarly residents was an Irish
Catholic who followed his uncle into Scott County and/became a
legendary land opportunist when the industrial developers of
coal and ore deposits cast their eyes on the Virginia
Patrick Hagan has been
dead over 35 years; and the country style, family graveyard at
Hagan Hall has been taken over by the wild briars and hornets
nesting. But tales of this fabulous and interesting man and his
vast estate still go the rounds. People still find their way to
the old, dilapidated house that was his "mansion" at
Sulphur Springs, and there are many Virginians nearing the name
Hagan, after his idealistic man.
Hagan is said to have
inherited his uncle Joseph Hagan's vast tracts and during his
lifetime owned thousands of acres which folks say covered most
of the Jefferson National Forest area, the Stonega Coke and Coal
Co., and the Clinchfield Coal Corp., boundaries that crossed
counties into Wise, Russell and Dickenson as well as Scott.
The town of Dungannon
was named by Patrick Hagan, after his home in Ireland, where he
was born Feb. 2, 1828. He came to America at 16, stopping at New
York, Philadelphia, Norfolk and Richmond before following Joseph
Hagan into the western lands of Virginia.
Storytellers say Joseph
Hagan had walked down a Richmond street during a land sale for
delinquent taxes and heard the auctioneer ask for bids on 35,000
acres. Without asking its location, he allegedly entered a high
bid of $25 and walked away a Southwest Virginia landowner. This
tale may bear some truth from the following records in the Scott
County circuit court clerk's office.
The High Bidder
In 1841, Thomas G.
Martin, commissioner of delinquent and forfeited lands, deeded
to Joseph Hagan of Scott County, 50,000 acres on Stock Creek
under the Western Lands title Law. The high bid of $28 was
reduced to $26.32 for prompt payment, and the money was to be
turned over to the Virginia Literary Fund, the taxes being
delinquent from 1815 (date of Scott County's organization) to
The first deed recorded
to Joseph Hagan was August 30, 1833, when William Thompson and
Bernard Hagan of Richmond, executors of the will of William
Lamb, sold to Joseph and Sarah Purcell of Richmond 200,000 and
100,000 acres in Russell County, 12,328 acres and 3,155 acres in
Monongalia County (now West Virginia), a number of small lots
and tracts in the city of Richmond and Henrico County and any
other tracts found to belong to William Lamb."
On Dec. 29, 1839, a
power of attorney is recorded by Joseph Hagan of the city of
Richmond, empowering William Richmond of Scott County to act for
him in land negotiations to the quantity of 2,000 acres, and in
the county's sixth deed book, William Neal of Giles County
deeded to Joseph Hagan a tract in Hunters Valley below Buckner's
Ridge in 1838.
Joseph Hagan built a
log house on a plateau behind the present Hagan Hall, and
Patrick built the present structure in 1860, adding to the back
part about four years later. Hagan Hall had steam heat, two or
more bathrooms and several up-to-date features for that day of
rural living. The site of the house is said to have been
selected there in Hunters Valley because of the fine spring of
sulphur water that bubbles up by the side of Stanton Creek.
No record of Patrick
Hagan's inheritance from his uncle was noticed in the long
listings of deeds to and from the nephew and his uncle or from
the early will books in the county. A small tract of 200 acres
was bought by Patrick Hagan from his uncle for $400 in·1868.
At least seven deeds
are on file showing Patrick Hagan's sales of tracts to the S
& W Railroad Co., tracts to Cranes Nest Coal and Coke Co.,
to the Unaka Corp., and the Clinchfield Improvement Co.
Old deeds still in his
home at Hagan Hall show that in 1890, he was engaged in a
$39,000 transaction with a Philadelphia group of businessmen,
seeking to buy the iron ore mining privileges in a 10,000-acre
tract around his Hunters Valley home. Within this acreage, the
exceptions of property sold to other persons were so many that
the net acreage amounted only to 7, 977½,
computed at $5 per acre.
Learning And Law
Patrick Hagan had been
taught by his uncle the fundamentals of philosophy, Latin, and
English, and he went to Tazewell, Va., to study law in the
office of Col. Joseph Strass. He began law practice in
Estillville (Gate City), where he was admitted to the bar in
1854, four years after receiving his citizenship at 22. He was
admitted to practice law in Wise County's. first county court in
Said to have possessed
the most thorough legal education of any man in his section, he
made land law a specialty and became known as one of the
foremost land lawyers in Virginia. Through his practice, he
added to his inherited wealth and invested in other coal and
timber lands. He became a resident of Lee County and was twice
elected Commonwealth's attorney there before moving back to
Scott County to continue law practice.
He was the leading
defense counselor in the long-talked of Daniel Dean case, tried
in Scott County in 1878-9. In one of these trials, Hagan's
argument consumed eight hours, 'and it is said' he was so
disappointed in the verdict for hanging in this case that he
carried out a promise made in the trial that an unfavorable
verdict to the defendant would cause him to never again
participate in a criminal case.
Loved The Poor Man
Probably the reason
respect and admiration for Patrick Hagan has been carried down
through the years is that he was a bona fide gentleman. He lived
when a good man's word was as good as his bond.
He loved the humble
man, and Scott Countians have said that "Pat Hagan was
always good for a dollar-bill handout, if you told him
you had named your baby after him."
Hagan had a large
colony of Negroes on his farm and provided a school and church
for them. His older neighbors remembered when he would celebrate
the Christmas holidays with his most talented slaves making
music for the occasion with their fiddles and banjos.
In the heyday of
Hagan Hall, many social functions took place there, and Hagan,
receptive to the wishes of his children, often entered into the
spirit as spry as a youngster.
A master of Montesque,
Coke and Blackstone, Hagan knew them almost by heart, and he
contended no man knew the law who did not know the reason of the
law. He was well-grounded in Roman and Grecian history, and the
literary classics had a strong appeal to him. One of his
favorite books was "Telemaque," which he said,
"teaches how to attain the greatest happiness and how
afflictions may be mitigated and reconciles man to his lot in
Eternally" Hagan's devotion to his Catholic duties
was very real, and the Bishop of Wheeling was known to ride down
to Wood station, where he was met and driven over the bumpity
country lanes to Hagan Hall for a visit with Hagan. Still among
the musty , papers in his library is the letter from the Convent
of the Good Shepherd, Wheeling, where Mother M. de Sales wrote:
"Although I know
our Sisters expressed their deep gratitude to you for your
generous donation, also your warm hospitality, allow me in the
name of our community and children to thank you again. You will
be prayed for by 140 of our children and will have a communion
offered by each of the Sisters once every week. Again thanking
you and praying God to surround you and yours with His choicest
blessing and reward you eternally."
The Catholic Church has
established "Christ the King Mission" on a two-acre
plot given by the Hagan family in recent years from the remains
of the Hunters Valley tract.
A large picture of a
bishop or pope still hangs in the sitting room of Hagan Hall,
which still has some of its original furnishings. Among the
dusty papers in the library was a page from the Irish World of
Nov. 29, 1884, wrapped in a sheet of paper, penned by Hagan as
follows: "Transatlantic on the English way of dealing with
The Transatlantic is by
an Irish distaff correspondent who gives a lengthy dissertation
, on the then-new "Book of English Kings," giving a
complete indictment against England, including a sitting of
Parliament in Trim, when a law was enacted making it "no
sin to kill an Irishman."
Hagan married Mrs.
Elizabeth Young Grubb to whom were born four sons and four
daughters, two still living.
His declining years
were spent , at Hagan Hall, where he died in his 90th year, Feb.
23, 1917. His, oldest son, Charles F. Hagan, took charge of his
affairs under a trusteeship and in his record of disbursements
in the Scott County courthouse, some of the expenses indicate a
picture of Hagan Hall at its prime: Sterchi
Bros. Co., casket, etc. for P. Hagan, dec'd.; $167.50. Rev. J.
N. Black, donation church and charities, $200. Mother M.
Evangelista for Rosalie Hagan, $10. Miss Lavie McGoldrick,
professional services rendered Mother in last illness, $50;
Sterchi Bros. Co., casket for Mrs. P. Hagan, $173.15. Huntsman
Bros. Co., sugar for Hagan Hall, $32.73; N & W mileage
books, $20; Miss Virginia Wilson, stenographer, $35 a month.
Subscription Catholic Standard and Times, $6; V & SW Rwy.
Agt., freight on coal, $18.55; John Wanamaker a/c for
Miss R. B. Hagan, $2; lard for Hagan Hall from Huntsman Bros.,
$13. Carrie Stone, stenographer. $50; Hodges Studio, Mother's
photograph, $12; C. R. Quillen. veterinarian's service rendered
injured horse at Hagan Hall Farm, $15; Coal for Hagan Hall, W.
F. C. Blackwell, $249.75. Disbursements for this period covered
And thus the fortunes
of Hagan Hall began to decline and are today almost gone with
HAGAN HALL, once one of the most beautiful
residences in rural Scott County, Va., is seen above in the top
picture as it is today. Master of this large estate was Patrick
Hagan (inset photograph). The lower left picture shows a view up
the front brick walk and part of the numerous flowers, shrubs
and trees that grew on the Hagan Hall lawn. This picture was
taken Sept. 20, 1914. Picture at the lower right shows a general
view of the estate in Hunters Valley taken probably at a much
earlier date. Bricks for the mansion were molded and fired at
the building site about 1860. The original painter and paperer,
Harry Smith, left his name on the bared,
plastered wall in the top, front bedroom in 1864. (Top photo by