DS Tavern, Albemarle County, VA



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Historical American Building Survey, HABS No 1019, DS Tavern
See also:Library of Congress Files
Person:Davis Stockton (2)


Historical American Building Survey, HABS No 1019, DS Tavern places the D.S. Tavern at the intersection of Three Chopt Road and Dick Woods Road.

The building is located where the D.S. Tree and zero milepost stood along the Three-Notched Road which was a major thoroughfare from Richmond to the Valley. The building is believed to have been built originally as a claims house which then evolved to an 'ordinary' and finally a farmhouse. It was a landmark due to its location at the crossroads of the Three-Notched Road and the Dick Woods Road which were very early and well-used roads in that area. 'Ordinaries' were often owned by 'men of Consequence' and there is a deed which shows that the D.S. Tavern was at one time owned by Chief Justice John Marshall.

The initials D.S. apparently marked a specific tree at the intersections of these two roads, and the "D.S. Tree" served as the zero mile marker along Three Chopt Road. DS Tavern was erected at this location sometime before 1785. A common explanation of the initials "D.S." is that it stands for "Dennis Stockton". [1]Stockton and his partner Michael Woods are said to have come this way at an early date, and to have parted ways at this location. Stockton is said to have marked the spot by carving his initials in a tree.

Woods is believed to have come to the area about 1734 from Pennsylvania, and to have acquired substantial land holdings in the area from Woods Gap to Meachum's River, and along Ivy Creek. Richard Woods, for whom "Dick Woods Road" is named, is thought to be a kinsman of Michael, and by some, a son. (He's not mentioned in Michael's will, so this is unlikely.) In anycase, the term "DS" eventually came to indicate the area, rather than the specific tree or location. For example, a Presbyterian congregation in the area was given a parcel of land on which the DS Meetinghouse Stood.

From:ALBEMARLE COUNTY IN VIRGINIA, by Rev. Edgar Woods, 1901, pp. 319-320

“Among the earliest settlers in the western part of the county, who came as is said under the leadership of Michael Woods, was a family named Stockton. Though their name has entirely disappeared, they have in a number of ways left their mark behind. They consisted of several branches. They erected perhaps the first mill in that section of the county. The north fork of Mechum's River still bears the name of Stockton's Creek, the south fork in early times was called Stockton's Mill creek, and the first name by which Israel's Gap was known was Stockton's Thoroughfare. The famous abbreviation of D. S. is also ascribed to the head of the family. One story recites that Michael Woods and Davis Stockton landed at Williamsburg, and came to the wilds of Goochland together, that arriving at D. S., they advanced in different directions, Woods continuing straight forward to Woods's Gap, and Stockton bearing to the left along the foot of the mountain towards Batesville, and that as a memorial of the place where they separated, Stockton carved his initials on a tree . . . Woods's home lay at the mouth of Woods's Gap, and the Stocktons were settled along Mecham's River, the south fork as well as the north.


  1. Other sources give his name as "Davis Stockdon" or "Davis Stockton". Person:Davis Stockton (2) was an early settler in the area, and is the most likely source for the initials "D.S."