The story of Mary Draper Ingles is well known by many in the New River Valley region.
She was taken by Native Americans along with her two sons after the Draper Meadow Massacre, escaped, and returned home on foot over many hundreds of miles, barely surviving her journey.
What many may not know is that her descendant, Captain “Billy” William Ingles, built an extraordinary home in 1892 along the New River in Radford that still stands today. However, this home, with its astounding curved interior walls, beautiful fireplaces, grand staircases, and unique exterior architecture, needs the community’s help.
A.C. and Lucy Wilson are currently the owners of the Scots-Irish styled home, along with another historic landmark in Radford called “The Harvey House”. Wilson is also a descendant of the Ingles family, and says that house has stayed mostly unaltered in 100+ years. Only required maintenance and work has been done. Wilson, having a love of history and a special connection to the Radford area, bought the house. He bought more than a house though, he bought a trip back in time.
The incredible courage and determination Mary Draper Ingles showed in returning home was just the beginning, according to Wilson.
“Mary Ingles, after she returned from captivity, she and her husband got that ferry going and he didn’t live but only ten more years and then she was on her own, running the ferry which, she did and lived till 1815, after she returned in 1755,” Wilson said. “She was on her own all those years and lived in a cabin on the river down there because of she was afraid of another Indian attack and just loved the security of a log cabin, but she got on they say about 900,000 people across the New River at Ingles Ferry in her time, and you know, some of the original buildings are over there across the river.”
Other individuals, also deeply impacted and touched by the beautiful home and the family’s story, have taken up the cause to help bring the home back to its original grandeur. One of whom is Judith Ayers.
“I have gone in on the coattails of all these important people,” Ayers said. “To me, I am enthralled by what is there.”
Ayers’ nephew, Joe Caldwell, and his wife Angela Caldwell have also become involved in protecting the home and its history. Both teachers in the area have participated in fundraising events to raise money for the restoration of the home. However, the priority currently is the roof.
The slate roof is in desperate need of repair and the costs are significant, but the importance of saving this home is even more substantial.
Some may also not know that famous architects like Stanford White and Frank Miles Day constructed some of the buildings in the city of Radford, Wilson said.
Keeping the home available for the next generation to enjoy and know the history of our community is what Wilson is hoping for.
“I didn’t want to see it destroyed for a parking lot,” Wilson said.
A crowdfunding page has also been established to help “ReCrown” the Castle. A QR code can be accessed for monetary donations, or interested parties can visit the website at www.gofundme.com/f/raise-the-roof-historical-preservation-ingles to make donations toward the roof repairs needed.