- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 16, 2014

Military buffs, politics wonks and those just looking to escape to the city are invited to the estate auction of Black Walnut Plantation this weekend, a site with roots in American history, Hollywood and Halifax County.

The plantation’s late owner, Tucker Carrington Watkins IV, filled the home with all sorts of books, buttons and antiques, which are going up for auction beginning Friday.

“It’s his lifelong collections,” said Watkins‘ nephew, John Thrift. “He loved to collect political memorabilia. One thing my uncle did not lack was passion. He was very passionate about politics.”

The more than 1,000 items set for auction leave little doubt about Watkins‘ fondness for politics.

Among the artifacts up for grabs are campaign buttons for presidential candidates ranging from Benjamin Harrison to Franklin D. Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower to John F. Kennedy as well as Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Ross Perot.

The collection also includes memorabilia from gubernatorial races, congressional campaigns and state delegate battles.

“There’s so much political stuff, so many political books that go way back,” said Catherine Winstead of Winstead’s Auction Company. “Friday’s focus is only on the books and the buttons. There’s also a lot of early Southern furniture, a couple of paintings, a mixture of stuff for Saturday.”

Watkins was born in Halifax County. He served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War and was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. He was also the past chairman of the 5th District Republican Party and the field director for Southside Virginia under Sen. George Allen.

Watkins died in October 2012. He was 66.

“He was definitely an eclectic character,” Mr. Thrift said. “He was passionate about politics, and he was also very active in the [Richmond] Jaycees and other social organizations.”

The property has been in the family for more than 250 years, Mr. Thrift said. The home sits on 775 acres and dates back to the Revolutionary War.

It’s also the site of the only Civil War battle to be held in Halifax County, where a badly outnumbered group of Confederate soldiers led by Capt. Benjamin Farinholt held a supply bridge from the approaching Union Army.

The home itself has played host to many visitors, including actress Mary Pickford, one of the original members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Mr. Thrift said the property’s sale was not decided with a light heart.

“We had pondered keeping it, too,” he said, but with the family so spread out, it was hard to maintain.

“We really want someone to love it,” he said.

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