HENRICO, VA – Many owners love their land and all it offers though perhaps none more than Howard C. Eberly III whose family moved from Pennsylvania to Varina in the 1880s and established Four Mile Creek Farm in 1889. Mr. Eberly is the 4th generation owner of this Century Farm that has been the family home for 133 years. It is the legacy of the Eberly family and their special relationship with this land that led Mr. Eberly to contact Capital Region Land Conservancy (CRLC) about not only protecting the property but planning for its future.
Mr. Eberly has donated 28 acres including the farmhouse and 19th century barn to the Capital Region Land Conservancy. The tract is one of two that comprise the 73-acre Four Mile Creek Farm. A second tract is owned by Mr. Eberly and his sister. CRLC has entered into a pledge agreement for the additional 45 acres that would ultimately transfer Eberly’s ownership in the second tract to the land trust at a future date. The gift to CRLC provides assurances that the property will be protected while Mr. Eberly continues to live at his family home. In addition to protecting the property from development in perpetuity, CRLC has committed to keep the Eberly name associated with the property and to open the site for future public access and coordinate with adjacent lands owned by Henrico County that are identified as the future New Market Park.
“Growing up on this property and in Varina, I have always appreciated the access to history that I have had and the important role the land has played in my life. I have wanted to see this farm protected from development and to be part of a larger initiative to preserve the historic landscape so visitors can experience where Native American Indians settled, or where canals were dug by enslaved Africans to support commercial flour milling operations, or where the USCT prevailed at New Market Heights. It’s my honor to make this gift in recognition of my parents, grandparents and great grandparents who cared equally for this land” said Howard C. Eberly III, fourth generation owner.
Four Mile Creek Farm is one of Virginia’s most important sites to conserve and ranks within the Top 10% of all land in Virginia to protect in numerous categories. Most notably the property is within the core battlefield of the New Market Heights Battlefield and the scene of the fighting on September 29, 1864 when the U.S. Colored Troops broke though Confederate defenses for their greatest victory of the Civil War and one that led directly to the fall of Petersburg and subsequently Richmond. For their valor, 14 USCT members were awarded the Medal of Honor. The property also falls within the National Park Service’s legislative boundary for acquisition and inclusion into the Richmond National Battlefield Park. Within its 1995 Management Plan NPS calls for “a new unit would be added to interpret the action at New Market Heights under alternative C. Staffed year-round, it would have wayside exhibits to explain the battle action, the heroism of United States Colored Troops in the engagement, and their growing acceptance in the Union army.”
“For more than a century, the Eberly family has stewarded Four Mile Creek Farm in the core of the New Market Heights Battlefield. It’s a duty and an honor that they are now passing on to CRLC,” said Parker C. Agelasto, Executive Director of Capital Region Land Conservancy. “We are privileged to be a trusted community partner who can help fulfill Howard’s vision to build resilience to the landscape and bolster the public appreciation for Varina’s history and the US Colored Troops as well as connect an ecologically rich environment.”
The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation’s ConserveVirginia 3.0 model identifies Four Mile Creek Farm as a top priority for its Cultural and Historic Preservation, Natural Habitat and Ecosystem Diversity, Protected Landscapes Resilience, Scenic Preservation and Water Quality Improvement categories thus making it a critical property. For example, the view of Four Mile Creek Farm adds to the qualities of the Route 5 State Scenic Byway and Virginia Capital Trail and the property falls entirely within the National Audubon Society’s Lower James River Important Bird Area supporting the densest piscivorous bird community in Virginia. The property also contains 17 acres of prime farmland.