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A Web Exhibit produced by the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society.

The History of Belle Grove

The Liskey Family

The Liskey family was in possession of Belle Grove throughout a major portion of the twentieth century and it was a source of great pride. Purchased by Robert Liskey (1834 - 1908) in 1896, Belle Grove was but one of 8 or 10 pieces of choice farm land, totaling almost 3,000 acres, of a remarkable self-made man. Never able to read and only learning to write his name late in life, Liskey grew up a local farm boy, but through a high degree of frugality, great shrewdness, judicious investment inland, and aided financially by his marriage to Sarah Margaret Flook, he eventually became the second largest landowner and second wealthiest man in Rockingham County.

Shown left to right: Mrs and Mrs. George Liskey of Smithland, Mr and Mrs. David "Bud" Liskey of the Liskey Homestead, and Mr. and Mrs. J. R. "Bert" Liskey of Belle Grove.

The bulk of Robert Liskey’s estate, valued at up to $275,000, passed to his three sons, George W., David H. (Bud) and J.R. (Bert), the latter inheriting Belle Grove. Influential in the United Brethren Church, a trustee of Shenandoah College, and a director and founder of Rockingham Milling Company, J.R. Liskey (1870 - 1934) was devoted to the land and livestock raising, and Belle Grove flourished under one of the County’s most substantial farmers. George W. Liskey owned and farmed the Smithland estate. D.H. Liskey never left the Liskey farm at Cedar Grove where he was born; he regularly traveled to the Chicago livestock market for quality purchases to import to the county, and he was also known for his exceptional draft horses.

J.R. Liskey left his son Golden lifetime rights to Belle Grove, but by the last quarter of the twentieth century the best day of one of Rockingham’s grandest estates had passed. Items on loan from the Liskey family and its descendants attest to love of family, church, community and a quality of life enjoyed by the agricultural elite over several generations at Belle Grove.

Golden Liskey (shown at left) inherited lifetime rights to Belle Grove from his father, J.R.

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