Berkeley County, West Virginia Biography of Mary Boyd FAULKNER


         Mary Boyd FAULKNER was the daughter of General Elisha Boyd, who purchased the location of “Boydville” from General Adam Stephen, the founder of Martinsburg, and moved his family into it in August 1812. At the death of General Boyd in 1844, that property, with a large farm adjoining it, was willed to his daughter, Mary Boyd, who married Charles James Faulkner.

         There is an interesting story about how, in July 1864, during the Civil War when Charles Faulkner was being held prisoner of State of the United States Government, and both her sons, Charles and Boyd Faulkner, were serving in the Confederate Army, Mary was the sole protector of her home when Union troops came to “Boydville” with orders to “burn Boydville to the ground.” General Hunter, who then commanded the Federal forces in the Valley of Virginia, ordered Captain Martindale of a New York Cavalry Company to proceed to burn the home of his uncle, Andrew Hunter of Charles Town, the home of A.R. Butler of Shepherdstown, and “Boydville,” the home of Charles James Faulkner. After the burning of the two former places, refusing to allow anything except the personal clothing of the inhabitants to be removed, early in the morning, General Averill, who was then in command of the forces at Martinsburg, notified Mrs. Faulkner that Captain Martindale, with a squad of cavalrymen, was on his way to carry out the orders of General Hunter and that all articles that were absolutely essential to their comfort should be removed from the house. Nothing was done, however, by Mrs. Faulkner in accumulating their articles and about 9 o’clock, after two hours of suspense, Mrs. Pierce, who was on the front porch, noticed a body of cavalrymen riding up the lawn drive from the street. When this body reached the point of 50 yards from the house it was halted and two of the men dismounted, one of them Captain Martindale. When he reached the porch he asked whether she was Mrs. Faulkner and was informed that it was not, but her daughter. He replied, “I want to see Mrs. Faulkner.” The Captain was then shown into the drawing room and when Mrs. Faulkner appeared, Captain Martindale remarked, “This is a fine old place.”

         Mrs. Faulkner replied, “Do you want to see me, Sir?” He said, “I have called to inform you, Madam, that I have orders from General Hunter to burn ‘Boydville’ to the ground.” Mrs. Faulkner replied, “Will you let me see your orders?” “No, Madam, my order is a sealed one.” “Perhaps you will, however, let me see it,” Mrs. Faulkner said. The Captain then took the order from his pocket and read: “You are ordered to burn the property of Charles J. Faulkner to the ground and everything in it." “Give me one hour’s notice,” Mrs. Faulkner replied. “This is not the property of Mr. Faulkner and neither you nor General Hunter will dare to put a torch to this house. It was given to me by my father, General Boyd, who was an officer in the War of 1812.” At this moment, two of Mrs. Faulkner’s nephews, Judge Edmond Pendleton and Dr. E. Boyd Pendleton, walked into the room and had an interview with Captain Martindale. Both of these gentlemen were Union men. When the contents of the order of Captain Martindale became known in the town, great sympathy was expressed by the people of Martinsburg and an indignation meeting was held to protest against the execution of the order. Through the influence of General Averill, the matter was suspended for a short time and with the assistance of Mrs. Faulkner’s nephews and others, a telegram was sent by the kindness of General Averill to Hagerstown, by courier, addressed to General Cullum, Chief of General Hallock’s staff, and an old friend of the family, requesting him to lay the subject before President Lincoln, with the request that the order of General Hunter be countermanded.

         Suspense of the family during the intervening between the sending of the message and the reply to it was exceedingly painful. About the hour when, under the orders of Captain Martindale, the torch was to be applied, all were anxiously watching the entrance to the lawn for the return or the courier with a reply which would save the home or lay it in ashes. When the soldiers had commenced their preparations to burn the building, the anxious eyes that were watching the entrance to the lawn saw a man riding rapidly towards the house holding in his hand an envelope. On reaching the pavement that led down to the driveway, he dismounted and came rapidly to the porch and presented Mrs. Faulkner with an envelope addressed to Captain Martindale, which she turned over to him and, when opened, contained the following message from the President: “The property of Charles J. Faulkner is exempt from the order of General David S. Hunter for the burning of the residences of prominent citizens of the Shenandoah Valley in retaliation for the burning of the Governor Bradford’s house in Maryland by the Confederate forces. Signed Abraham Lincoln.”

         Captain Martindale raised his cap in salutation and walking down to where he had left his men, gave orders which put them in their saddles and in a moment he and his men were clattering down the avenue to the street.

         The carved mantels and doorways of Boydville were brought from England. When the house was first built, the grass plots on each side of the brick pavement in front were surrounded by a high fence of old English brick — later these were taken down and replaced by hedges of boxwood which were killed by the zero weather of the severe winter of 1914. A high brick wall also enclosed the grounds in front of the entrance on the street. The garden walls, 6 feet in height, were standing in 1928, in a perfect condition as originally built in 1812.

         Many distinguished guests were entertained at Boydville, among them: Henry Clay, who held in his arms and blessed the owner, former Senator Charles J. Faulkner, when he was just 5 months old; Mr. Bancroft, the historian; two vice presidents of the U.S., Adlai E. Stevenson of Illinois and Charles W. Fairbanks of Indiana; Sir Louis Davies, Sir Wilfred Laurier, and Sir Richard Cartwright, representatives of Great Britain when the Anglo-American Commission, of which Senator Faulkner was a member, met; Hon. John W. Foster, former Secretary of State; Hon Nelson Dingley, Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee of the House of Representatives; and T. DeWitt Talmage.

         Mary Boyd Faulkner died in 1894 and was buried beside her husband, Charles James Faulkner, in the private burial grounds adjoining Norborn Cemetery.


    Submitted by Marilyn Gouge and extracted from History of Berkeley County, West Virginia, 1928

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