Among the earliest and most prominent citizens of Halifax were the Crews, Sydnors, Andersons, Adkinsons and Adkissons, Bennetts, Baileys, Carters, Dickinsons, Tuckers, Manns, Sims, Marables, Vaughans, Wests, Ryburns, Harrises, Harrisons, Wilsons, Hundleys, Hankins, Holts, Hills, Hancocks, Woodings, Waltons, Halls, Echols, Robertsons, Nicholds. There were many others too numerous to attempt to search out for this volume. These were people of affairs, people who owned land and slaves (a great consideration in that day), and left the impress of their characters on succeeding generations.
In characterizing one generation after another, we must compare the work to the woof in the web, for the cross threads will always make flaws. If we are to believe what Edwin A. Grosvenor, L. H. D., LL. D., states in the National Geographic Magazine, we would feel disheartened as to the purity of any blood, for he says in no uncertain language, that "after the barbaric invasions" in the early centuries, "there existed no such thing as an unmixed race, nor does any such thing exist now. Racial purity is a figment of the imagination." Virginians will never see it that way, tough one came from the dead to tell them.
The majority of our forefathers were "tillers of the soil" Surely we should not be ashamed of it, especially when Pliny relates, in his Natural History, in what high honor agriculture was held in the early days of Rome, when the highest compliment was to call a man a good agriculturist or a good husbandman; how the rural tribes held the foremost rank while those of the city had discredit thrown upon them as being an indolent race.
It was after slaves became plentiful and were extensively employed in all departments of industry that labor became to be regarded as servile. Likewise it was only after slaves were manumitted that work of all kinds became honorable.
Of course, a cultivated mind is always a source of delight, and when occupied with useful knowledge is a blessing to one’s generation, but as the little rhyme has it, "There are many men of many minds," and if we are to judge by the numberless wills and deeds, inspected, and the bias of our own minds, we would conclude that "ego" tipped the scales, with only, "Me and my wife, my son John and his wife, us four, and no more" – and so it goes from the inscrutable past into the eternal future – Self. The man who had land wanted more land; the man who owned slaves wanted more slaves; and the man who inherited or made money wanted to increase it, "not to hide it in a hedge," perhaps, nor for riotous living, but for that "glorious privilege of being independent." It is the love of money, not the possession, that is the root of all evil. Money in the possession of some people is a dangerous and fatal power. Some it lulls to sleep, and the milk of human kindness dries up in their veins; of some it makes tyrants, and they regard the poor as but dogs, that must eat the crumbs that fall from the master’s table; of some it makes misers, who hoard and hide, until suddenly their souls are required of them, and they realize for the first time, perhaps, that they cannot carry their "golden idol" with them. But oh! The good riches can do if wisely applied, and what a manifold blessing in the hands of some.
Before the Revolution only ministers of the Established or State Church were allowed to preach in Virginia. Dissenters who did so without first securing a license were liable to fine and imprisonment, and no marriage was counted legal unless performed by an ordained minister of the Church of England.
In 1775, the Virginia Legislature during its first session under the new Constitution passed Mr. Jefferson’s bill, repealing all penal laws against dissenters and exempted them from contributions for the support of the Established Church.
In 1777 and 1780, the State Church was shorn of most of her remaining means of support and virtually disestablished.
On the 17th of December, 1784, Jefferson’s immortal bill "For Establishing Religious Freedom" was adopted, and in 1801, the Glebe or Church lands, which had been declared public property, were ordered to be sold.
When Halifax county was organized, almost every citizen in the county belonged to the Church of England, and even the sturdy Scotchman, George Currie, the first clerk, swallowed the "Oath" that was necessary to secure his citizenship, and his clerkship as well. Methinks I can see a wry mouth when he did it, for the usual oath to His Majesty’s person and government was a "Test" oath – "I, the subscriber, do subscribe to be comformable to the doctrine and discipline of the church of England as by law established." It was a hard oath for a Scotchman, may God forgive him. Some who had taken it were invited to leave the county just prior to the Revolution, it being discovered that their room was better than their company.
Let us read what Bishop Meade writes in his first volume of "Old Churches and Families of Virginia," page 188:
"Some thoughts on the formation of the Virginia character as displayed in the American Revolution, and previously, may with propriety follow after the history of the Church and College at Williamsburg, and the foregoing list of vestrymen. As London and the universities were in one sense England, and Paris and its universities were France, Williamsburg, while it was the seat of government, and the College of William and Mary, were to a great extent Virginia. Here her Governor and chief officers resided; here her Council repaired and her Burgesses met annually. What was their character? Whence did their ancestors come and who were they? Happily for the Colony, they were not lords or their oldest sons, and therefore heirs of lordship; with one or two exceptions, none such ever settled in Virginia. Neither were they in any great numbers the devotees of kings – the rich, gay, military, cavalier adherents of Charles I, or the non-juring believers in the divine right of kings in the days of Charles II and James II. Some of all of these there were in the Colony doubtless. Some dainty idlers with a little high blood came over with Captain Smith at first, and more of the high-minded cavaliers after the execution of Charles I; but Virginia did not suit them well enough to attract and retain great numbers. There was too much hard work to be done, too much independence even from the first for those w2ho held the doctrine of non-resistance and passive obedience to kings and others in authority, to make Virginia a comfortable place for them and their posterity; and yet we must not suppose that the opposite class, the paupers, the ignorant, the servile, formed the basis of the larger and better class of the Virginia population when it began to develop its character at the Revolution and, indeed, long before.
"These did not spring up great men, in a day or a night, on touching the Virginia soil.
"Some of the best families of England, Ireland, Scotland and France formed at an early period a large part of that basis.
"Noblemen and their elder sons did not come over, but we must remember how many of the younger sons of noblemen were educated for the bar, for the medical profession and the pulpit, and turned adrift on the world, to seek their own living without any patrimony. Some of those and many more of their enterprising descendants came to the New World, especially to Virginia, in search of fortune and honor and found it here. Numbers of Virginia families, who are almost ashamed, or afraid, in this republican age, to own it, have their genealogical tree or traditionary records by which they can trace their line to some of the most ancient families in England, Scotland, Ireland and to the Huguenots of France.
"Where this is not the case still they can derive their origin from men of education either in law, physics or divinity, which things are too costly in the old countries to be gotten by the poorer classes, except in some few instances where charity was afforded.
"Ministers could not be ordained generally without degrees from Cambridge, Oxford, Dublin or Edinburgh.
"Lawyers studied at the Temple Bar in London; physicians at Edinburgh. For a long time Virginia was dependent for all these professional characters upon English education. Those who came over to this country, poor, ignorant and dependent, had few opportunities of elevating themselves, as has been happily the case since our independence by reason of the multiplication of school and colleges, and all the means of wealth which are now opened to us.
"Sir William Berkeley rejoiced in his day that there was not a free school or printing press in Virginia and hoped it might be so for a hundred years to come, and perhaps it was not much otherwise as to schools.
"In the year 1723, the Bishop of London addressed a circular to the clergy of Virginia, then somewhat over forty in number, making various inquiries as to the conditions of things in the parishes. One of the questions was, ‘Are there any schools in your parish?’ The answer, with two or three exceptions (and those in favor of charity schools), was, ‘None.’
"Private schools, at rich gentlemen’s houses, kept perhaps by an unmarried clergyman or candidate for orders, were all the means for education in the Colony, and to such the poor had no access.
"Another question was, ‘Is there any parish library?’ The answer was invariably, ‘None,’ except in one case, where the minister replied, ‘We have the Book of Homilies, the Whole Duty of Man, and the Singing Psalms’
"Such were the responses of thirty clergymen, whose answers I have before me. ‘If knowledge be power,’ Virginia was up to that time, so far as the poor were concerned, but a barren nursery of mighty men. Would that it had been otherwise, both for Church and State.
"Education was confined to the sons of those who, being educated themselves, appreciating the value of it, and having the means, employed private teachers in their families, or sent their sons to school in England, and paid for it in tobacco. Even up to the time of the Revolution was this the case with some.
"General Nelson, several of the Lees and Randolphs, George Gilmer, my own father and two of his brothers, and many besides who might be mentioned, just got back in time to prepare for the Revolutionary struggle.
"The College of William and Mary, from the year 1700 and onward, did something towards educating a small portion of the youth of Virginia, and that was all until Hampden-Sidney, at a much later period, was established. Let any one look at the published catalogue of William and Mary, and see how few were educated there, from 1720 to the Revolution, and let him notice who they were. Let him also examine whatever lists of Burgesses, Hening’s volumes and the old Virginia almanacs furnish, and the will see who they were that may be considered the chief men of Virginia.
"I have been recently examining another set of records which show who were her first men. I allude to the vestry elections, and nine times in ten we are confident one of their body was the delegate. They were the ruling men of the parishes, the men of property and education. From an early period they were in training for the Revolution by the steady and ever-successful struggle with commissaries, governors, bishops of London and the Crown on the subject of the calling and induction of ministers. They also spoke through the House of Burgesses, which was made up of themselves, and we will venture to affirm that very few of the statesmen of the Revolution went into it without this training.
"Even Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Wythe, who did not conceal their disbelief in Christianity, took their parts in the duty of vestrymen, the one in Williamsburg and the other in Albemarle; for they wished to be men of influence.
"In some of the communications to England the vestries are complained of by the clergy as the aristocratic bodies, the twelve lords or masters of the parishes; and they did sometimes, I doubt not, rule the poor clergy with a rod of iron; but they were not the men to truckle to George III, Lord North, or the Parliament."
I leave it to others to search out the list of Virginia names in order to ascertain as far as practicable how many of their ancestors may have been well educated doctors and lawyers – or respectable merchants and farmers when first coming to this country.
It is no dishonor to be born of the poorest parents in the land. It is a much greater honor to be descended from a poor, ignorant, good man than from a rich, learned, bad man.
I am only speaking of a historical fact, it was the shame of our forefathers both here and in England, that they did not by promoting education furnish more opportunities to the poor, to become in a greater degree the very bone and sinew of the State.
It is our sin now that more and better attention is not paid to the common schools of Virginia on order to make them nurseries of good and great men.
Good roads and good schools are the themes under daily discussion by almost every citizen in the county, and the descendants of those who prayed for a good road to the court house, one hundred and seventy-one years ago, have become satisfied with bad roads, without realizing that everything good comes by sacrifice, and to have good schools and good roads they must endure increased taxation.
One hundred and seventy-one years have passed since the county was formed and still both schools and roads are far behind many other States.
There were no schools in the county when it was organized, and only very few in the State of Virginia. An ‘old field school’ had never been heard of; only the rich could afford tutors, and the tutors were as a rule gentlemen of poor estate who had come to the colony as ‘indentured servants,’ and some of the best families of Virginia are the descendants of those intelligent and most worthy gentlemen.
Colonel Thomas Preston, in his "Reminiscences of An Octogenarian," relates this interesting story:
"Colonel Francis Preston was in Philadelphia when a ship having many immigrants arrived. Those immigrants who could not pay for their passage were sold as servants for a term of years fixed by the price paid for them. Hence they were called ‘Redemptioners.’ Colonel Preston was struck by the appearance of a young German, bought him and brought him to his home. It was soon discovered that he was an educated gentleman, spoke English, and was an accomplished musician. Instead of putting him to menial service he was installed as music teacher to Colonel Preston’s daughter. In this capacity he continued until her term of service expired. On the day before its expiration Colonel Preston said to him: ‘I wish you to dress in your best clothes for dinner tomorrow.’ At the appointed hour he presented himself, and when he was ushered into the parlor he stood abashed at the door, for Colonel and Mrs. Preston, with their children, were in full dress.
The Colonel advanced and held out his hand, saying: "Mr. ----------, your term of service is ended, and we welcome you into our family circle as a gentleman and friend.’ At this unexpected greeting he broke down and wept like a woman.
"His coming to America was caused by a painful and humiliating incident. While on a visit to England he was made drunk by a party of gay young men, and during that insensate condition was married to a woman of the streets. When he awoke next morning and found what had occurred, and that by the laws of England the marriage was legal, he was so horrified and overwhelmed with shame that he started promptly for Liverpool and took passage in the first vessel sailing to America.
"Fortunately, he fell into the hands of Colonel Preston, and after his term of service expired continued to live as one of the family until the good news reached him that the woman he had married was dead, and that he could return untrammeled to his family in Germany."
A somewhat similar incident occurred in the family of Colonel William Preston, of Montgomery county, father of Francis. He bought a "Redemptioner," and, after bringing him home, discovered that he was an educated physician. His name was Thomas Lloyd. He was treated as one of the family, and when, in the summer of 1767, Colonel William Preston, with Thomas Lewis, were appointed commissioners by Governor Dinwiddie to make a treaty with Shawnee and Delaware Indians at the mouth of Big Sandy River, Dr. Lloyd was taken with them.
Colonel Preston endured singular hardships in this expedition. He had tied his moccasins somewhat too tight and the strings chafed the instep of one of his feet, which produced partial mortification. The skill of Dr. Lloyd saved his life. The doctor continued a companion, and died many years afterwards, the firm friend of the Preston family.
The descendants of many of the "Redemptioners" were among the most respectable families of a later period.
Some few Virginians were fortunate and rich enough to send their sons back to England to be educated, and history tells of two or three families who sent daughters there for the same purpose; but they were few, indeed, and the mothers of many of Virginia’s most celebrated men had to make their "mark." It was no disgrace, but it was a shame that schools were not introduced earlier.
Books were rare, and some wills record them as of great value. Family Bibles were large, heavily bound in strong leather and very expensive, and "My Great Bible" was generally left to the eldest son. In it the births and deaths were carefully recorded as to day, hour and phase of the moon, christenings or baptisms were recorded as soon after birth as the record could conveniently be made. Keeping of the family records was regarded as very important, hence the value of the great Bible.
It would seem strange to one of the present generation who has related the old family Bible to the attic to read in an old English or German Bible records inscribed therein long before they emigrated to the Colonies, and therefore valuable to their descendants now – "Born on ye 12th day of ye second month, at five of the clock, in the morning, in ye second quarter of ye moon."
It was an old English custom and should have been perpetuated in the Colony of Virginia. But the old round mahogany table with the family Bible lying on it is considered very "ad form" these days – even in the library – and family prayers around the family altar are the exception rather than the rule.
The Adams family is of Welsh extraction, and the first American ancestor of whom we have any reliable account was John Adams, who came from Wales during the first half of the eighteenth century, and settled in Maryland, whence he came to Virginia. He had three sons, Sylvester, Philip and John. This second John Adams came to Halifax county, Virginia, about the time of its organization (1752). He married Susan Wood, daughter of Richard Wood, of Brunswick county, as shown by his will recorded April 24 and proved September 4, 1746, in Brunswick county. Many of the descendants of the Adams family migrated to Tennessee, Texas, Missouri and other States, but Halifax has retained enough of them to illustrate their honorable and uprightness of character.
William Adams, the eldest son of John and Susan (Wood) Adams, was born in Halifax county about 1756; he lived out his days in Black Walnut neighborhood, and died September 10, 1839, aged 83. He was a soldier in the Revolutionary war, and in his old age delighted to recur to the stirring events of that period in which he had participated.
Three Adams brothers married daughters of George Boyd. William married Elizabeth Boyd, Sylvester married Rebecca, and Richard married Hannah Boyd.
John Richard Adams (son of Richard, son of William, son of John, son of John the emigrant) was born in Chesterfield county, but moved to Halifax, where in 1849 he married Amanda Wade, daughter of Richard and Sarah (Chappell) Wade. Amanda (Wade Adams died in 1853, and in 1855 John Richard Adams married Mary A. Stanford, a daughter of Saurin Stanford, of Orange county, N. C. She was a niece of his first wife and granddaughter of Sarah Wade. She was also a granddaughter of Richard Stanford, of Person county, N. C., who came to that State from Maryland in 1790, and married a daughter of General Stephen Moore, of Revolutionary fame, and an uncle of Bishop Channing Moore, whose biography can be found in the "Journal of American History," published by Frank Allaban, New York, "The Moores in America."
Stanford was elected to Congress from North Carolina in 1796, and served continuously in that body for twenty years. His wife, Mary Moore, was a lineal descendant of Sir John Moore, of Fawley, Berkshire, England, who was created a knight by King Charles I, May 21, 1627.
Richard Stanford before being elected to Congress founded Hawfield’s Academy in Alamance county, N. C., and had many pupils who were distinguished in later life, one of them being Thomas H. Benton, who represented the State of Missouri in the Congress and Senate of the United States, all told for forty years.
Richard Stanford was born in Vienna, Md., March 5, 1768, and was the son of Richard Stanford, whose father, Richard Stanford the 1st emigrated from Gravesend, England, in 1684; although the family is Scotch, the name being derived from Stoneford, the Scotch being "Stane-ford."
Mary (Moore) Stanford was the twelfth generation from John Moore, of Fawley, Berkshire, England, who was knighted by King Charles I; and her mother was Grizelda Phillips, of Boston, of the well-known family to which Olive Wendall Phillips belonged.
The above Mary Ann Stanford was the mother of S. L. Adams, of Cluster Springs and South Boston, a man who knows more about his native county than any one with whom we have talked. He is a quiet, dignified gentleman, keeps his own counsel, and orders his life by its circumstances.
Mr. Adams married a daughter of Captain John A. Mitchell, of the Virginia State Guard, before the Civil War, and during the war he served in Wright’s battery of heavy artillery. She had three brothers, Gus E. Mitchell, a merchant of Natalie; Dr. John H. Mitchell, a prominent physician of Buckingham county; and J. R. Mitchell, associate justice of the Supreme Court of the State of Washington; and one sister, Mrs. Mary M. Owen (widow of Mr. John Owen), of South Boston.
Mr. S. L. Adams has been for many years an attorney in Halifax county, and is highly regarded for his integrity and honesty.
We insert the following clipping from a paper just published:
"September 29, 1923. – The William H. Easley Chapter of U. D. C.’s lost one of its most earnest and faithful members with the passing of Mrs. Alice Mitchell Adams at the Halcyon Hospital, South Boston, on September 25, 1923. She was the wife of Hon. Samuel L. Adams, well-known lawyer and member of the House of Delegates from Halifax. Mrs. Adams is survived by her husband, four sons and one daughter – John R. Adams, of Kenbridge, Va.; Philip C. Adams, of Burkeville; Mary Adams, William J. and Gus C. Adams."
The Atkissons were of Scotch ancestry. We do not know when they came to the Colony, but they were in Halifax county as early as 1799 (December 15), when Jesse Atkisson married Jinny Medley. Their son, Clement Mayo Atkisson, born at Cluster Springs, married in January, 1849, Mary W. Sydnor. They had only one child, William Sydnor Atkisson, who married Minnie Brown, daughter of Dr. A. B. Brown and Sallie Henry (Wimbish) Brown. Their children were: (1) Sallie Wimbish Atkisson, born July 4, 1898, married Wilbur Hardman Ryland; (2) William Atkisson, Jr., born November 15, 1907. The Atkissons are related to the Wimbishes, Brooks, Medleys, Barksdales and other leading families in the county, and through the Sydnors to the Colemans and Clarks. Susan Coleman Barksdale, daughter of Major Peter Barksdale and Elizabeth Watlington, married William Sydnor, and their children were Beverly S., Peter, Alex, William, Giles (the father of Mrs. Carrie Clark, relict of Dr. A. Trent Clark, who served the people of South Boston for more than a quarter of a century as the dear "old family doctor"), Fannie, Betsy, Judy and Mary Webb Sydnor.
The Sydnors were people of wealth and position, holding offices of honor and trust.
There is a good deal of romance attached to these Baynhams of Halifax county, as I have discovered through several years of research. The present generation may know nothing of it, and the name has almost disappeared from Virginia. John Baynham, Sr., Duke of Baynham, married at Inverness, Scotland, in 1780, Elizabeth Eggleston (sister of the Earl of Eggleston). He was condemned to death for his radical religious and political views, but escaped and came to America on a sailing boat and landed at Old Point Comfort, Virginia.
Dr. C. W. Baynham, of Fort Smith, Arkansas, writes the following letter to his relative, Mrs. Mary Jordan Faulkner, wife of the late Garland Faulkner, of South Boston, (Mrs. Faulkner wrote to Dr. Baynham for information regarding the family):
"My great-grandfather, John Baynham, came to this country about 1790 and settled in Virginia. About 1830, his three sons, Grief, John, Jr., and William, came west and settled in Missouri. My father was John, named for his grandfather. I have traced our family back to Mary Queen of Scots. Sir Walter Scott Married Mary Baynham and wrote a poem on Baynham Castle (which you will find on reading his works, and I am sending you a picture of the castle). I will leave here April 30th and sail from New York May 4th on the S. S. Cedric for Liverpool. Am going to Scotland to establish my claims, etc., etc."
From Fort Smith, Ark., dispatch to the New York Herald, 1912:
"Within a few months Fort Smith is to be the home of a real live duke, for the Duke of Baynham, of Scotland, will then take up his residence here. The duke-to-be is Dr. C. W. Baynham, of Fort Smith, who will leave in April for Glasgow, where he will receive his title and come into possession of the castle with its large estate upon the northeast coast of Scotland. The estate is situated between Inverness and Romarty on the Irish channel.
The story of the inheritance of this estate by the Fort Smith physician is an interesting one. The estate has been unoccupied and supported by the government for many years. The great-great-grandfather of Dr. Baynham was the last Duke of Baynham. He, with his son and grandson, who was the father of Dr. Baynham, left Scotland in 1801 for America. The old Duke died at sea, but the others landed at Old Point Comfort, Virginia, April 18, 1801. In 1890, the father of Dr. Baynham, who was then living at Fairplay, Missouri, made an attempt to get the estate and title, which rightfully belonged to him by inheritance. He wrote to the Antiquarian Society of Salem, Mass., for the record of his family, and found that it could be traced back to Mary Queen of Scots, but was dumfounded to find that the record showed his father and grandfather had been beheaded. Knowing this part of the record to be false, the elder Baynham secured the affidavits of several who had come over on the same ship with them, showing that the old duke died at sea, but that others of the family landed in this country and were not beheaded. The Court of Royal Judges found that the claim was correct. The elder Baynham then prepared to go before the Secretary for Scotland to receive his title and property, but died before the date set for his appearance. Two months later his home was destroyed by fire and all the papers and other proofs of kinship were destroyed. Five years ago Dr. Baynham took up the matter where is had been left by this father, only to find that the court records of the time the father had sent in his claim had not been properly kept and he would have to furnish new proof of his rights. The papers of the elder Baynham being destroyed and all the me who had come from Scotland with now dead, this was a difficult task, but with the assistance of a Scotch attorney he was enabled to gather such proof as the judges required, and his case has been favorably acted upon. Only the sanction of the Court of Royal Judges, which meets in April, remains to be obtained, and this has been promised."
Elizabeth Eggleston Baynham, born in Kyle, Scotland, married George Boxley, Jr., October 3, 1815. Mary Baynham Boxley married Reuben Fourqurean. She was born in Halifax county, November 7, 1818, and died April 15, 1868.
Reuben Fourqurean was born in Halifax county, February, 1812; married January 19, 1835; died May 25, 1851. Their daughter, Elizabeth Baynham Fourqurean, born October 17, 1835; married Robert E. Jordan, Sr., born March 3, 1828.
The first record of the Barksdale family we can find in this county is the will of Nathaniel Barksdale, who married Mourning Dickerson. His will was recorded July 21, 1789, in which he left a goodly estate to be divided among his eight children – four sons and four daughters and wife Mourning (see will). His eldest son, Peter Barksdale, married Elizabeth Watlington, January 11, 1781, and their son, Nathaniel Barksdale, married in 1805 Patsy Hurt (they were married by Rev. Robert Hurt, a distinguished Baptist minister of the well-known ministerial family of Hurts).
Their son, Elisha Barksdale, Jr., married Judith A. Barksdale, October 22, 1835, and their son, the subject of this sketch, William Randolph Barksdale, born 1849; married first Miss Hallie Bailey Craddock.
They had the following children:
William Randolph Barksdale, Jr., married Miss Mary Jane Moran.
Fannie Poindexter Barksdale, married first Mr. H. Vaughan. Their children are Henry, Frances, Catherine, Bird and Barksdale. She married, second, Mr. Edward C. Craddock.
Charles Craddock Barksdale, married Miss Avis Walker Grant.
Elisha Barksdale, married Miss Rose McWane.
Louise Jasper Barksdale, married Mr. Tucker Carrington Watkins, Jr., son of William J. Watkins and Elizabeth (Coles) Watkins, of Charlotte county. William J. Watkins was a son of William M. Watkins, of Charlotte, and Elizabeth W. (Venable) Watkins (daughter of Col. S. W. Venable, of "Springfield"). William M. Watkins was a son of Joel Watkins, proverbial for his honesty, integrity and piety, and Agnes (Morton) Watkins, of Charlotte county. (See Watkins.) Mr. Tucker Watkins’ ancestors belong to Charlotte county, but for many years he has been a progressive, eminent and conspicuous citizen of South Boston, where he has a beautiful modern home, but being a controlling member of the Co-operative Tobacco Association, he, with his family, are living pro tem. in Richmond, Va. They have three children: (1) William, (2) Tucker, (3) Mary.
Helen Barksdale married Mr. John Martin, a prominent lawyer of Halifax. He is the son of Miles Macon Martin and Edmonia Blair (Read) Martin (born at "Ingleside" November 23, 1851). She is the daughter of William Watkins Read and Pauline E. (Carrington) Read. Born at "Retirement" October 22, 1825. Miles Macon Martin is the son of Rev. Alexander Martin and Elizabeth (Macon) Martin.
Mary Own Barksdale.
Alfred Dickerson Barksdale.
John Craddock Barksdale.
Judge Barksdale married for his second wife Miss Virginia Douglas Watkins, sister of Mr. Hal Watkins, superintendent of public schools for this county.
Judge Barksdale was born in Halifax county near Meadsville. He attended Powell’s school at the Court House and at Leighwood, taught by Mr. John Henry Powell, father of the celebrated John Powell, pianist. In 1870, he took the M. A. degree at the University of Virginia and began the practice of law the following year. Was made judge in 1874.
The Barksdales are professional and educational people, and have always been prominent in the progress of the county. They have been considerable land and slave owners, and their influence in politics and religion is well established, Judge Barksdale being a representative member of the Baptist denomination in this county.
In the Land Office, Richmond, Va., we find one John Barksdale, subaltern of Continental line three years. He received a land grant for 666 2-3 acres issued to William Barksdale, his heir. This John Barksdale was dead in 1784. The Revolutionary war roster for Virginia gives Nathaniel Barksdale, (auditor’s account), Peter, Joseph, John, Daniel, Claiborne and Samuel Barksdale. So we find them representative fighters as well as adjusters of the law.
The family is extensive by virtue of intermarriage with many of the leading people of the county, and the kinship, though interesting, is difficult when it comes to connecting the various lines.
The Belts of Maryland married the daughters of the most distinguished Colonial officials of their generation. Colonel Joseph Belt, to whom the fine old estate of Chevy Chase was patented in the year 1722, married twice, his first wife being Esther, daughter of Col. Ninnian Beale, that grand old Indian fighter from the Highlands of Scotland.
While the Belts were proud of their Scotch origin and did largely intermarry with those of their same ilk, where love was concerned the question of nationality did not count with them; hence it is not surprising to find Anne Belt, the wife of Basil Brashears, a descendant of the early Huguenot refugee of 1658.
Some of the descendants of John and Benjamin Belt came to the Eastern Shore of Virginia from Maryland and meandered this way until they reached Pittsylvania and Halifax counties, where we find our Dr. Humphrey Singleton Belt, of South Boston, Virginia.
Dr. Humphrey S. Belt, son of Humphrey S. Belt, and his wife, Mollie Angeline Daniel, was born in Pittsylvania county March 1, 1869, and was educated at the Pittsylvania High School, the University of Virginia and the University of Maryland. He graduated in the medical profession and began its practice in 1891; and in 1893, November 14th, he settled in South Boston, where his success as surgeon and physician has steadily increased until the present time. On December 19, 1894, he married Annie, daughter of Colonel Henry and Nannie Preston (Owen) Easley, of South Boston, by whom he had two sons, Henry Belt and Humphrey Singleton Belt, Jr., splendid boys, now in their teens, on whom it is hoped the God-given talents of their father may descend.
Dr. Belt began the practice of his profession in moderate circumstances and has earned through hard labor the substantial position he holds in the community and the warm place he will ever hold in the hearts of all who know him. Nevertheless, the masses do not fully realize what a blessing they have in his services and in the Halcyon Hospital, which he established in South Boston in 1910.
Patients coming to him from all sections, he early recognized the need of a place to minister to them, and while the enterprise was expensive and unparalleled for such a small town, he had no lack of faith and pushed the work to completion as rapidly as possible to meet the demands of those then waiting to come in. And so it has progressed, most of the time filled to its capacity, never without patients; and some of the most difficult and wonderful operations have been performed by Dr. Belt there.
Few laymen can understand the amount of money, the constant struggle, the wear and tear on body and mind it takes to keep a comparatively small hospital in good running order, to employ in it first-class nurses, etc.; but that is what has been accomplished in the Halcyon Hospital. In connection with it is the nurses’ home, a large commodious building adjoining the hospital, where the nurses have really a comfortable home in which to rest.
Then there is the hospital farm of six hundred acres, two hundred and seventy-five acres under cultivation, furnishing all that is needed at the hospital and the home of Dr. Belt in the way of vegetables, fruits, fowls and other meats, butter, cream and plenty of rich milk.
While Dr. Belt finds pleasure and rest in visiting the farm and overlooking it, the real work is managed by Mr. E. A. Onsrud, a man of Norwegian ancestry, whose clear-cut features bear the impress of integrity and fidelity, just what is necessary in his position. He, with his young South Carolinian wife, made for us an interesting picture in the midst of hundreds and hundreds of beautiful white chickens at feeding time.
Besides the well equipped dwelling house on the farm, there is a private bungalow built for rest and recreation, for the doctor and his friends when they have the opportunity to avail themselves of it.
The young people have enjoyed some pleasant dances in the hall of the bungalow, which means a good deal in the lives of the younger set when it comes to terpsichorean relaxation.
The products of the farm are tobacco, corn, wheat, oats, alfalfa, peas, soy bean, timothy and clover hay, thoroughbred sheep, hogs, chickens and cattle.
The faithful and unfailing service of Miss Virginia C. Duncan, the superintendent, and her efficient corps of nurses make the Halcyon Hospital a solid success and a comfort to all who enter its doors.
Booker is one of the earliest names on the records of Halifax county. In 1759, December 7th, there is recorded an indenture between Edward Booker, of Halifax county, and William Cook, of the same county. The names of those who signed this indenture were Mary Booker, Edward Booker and William Cook.
1760, July 26: Edward Booker buys from Joseph Laws, 200 acres of land on north side of Banister river.
1760, December 31: John Bates sells to Edward Booker, for five hundred and fifty pounds, 261 acres in Halifax county lying on Staunton River, in separate patents, 129 acres on the river lowgrounds, bearing date August 20, 1741, and the remainder being adjacent to high land, held by patent bearing date June 6, 1753. Witnesses: Jas. Murdock, Parham Booker and Thos. McMahan.
1783, June 14: William Hunt, of Charlotte county, sells to John Booker, of Lunenburg county, 145 acres on south side of Staunton river.
1786, December 25: Pinkethman Davis Booker, of Amelia county, sells to Shields Booker, of Halifax county, 370 acres on Difficult Creek, south side. Witnesses: William Pride, William Hawkins, John Booker, Thomas Booker, Susannah Booker and Mary Pride.
1787, April 20: William Townes, of Halifax county, sells to Richard Booker, of Amelia county, 350 acres on Staunton river.
1785, August 11: Jos. Scott and Elizabeth, his wife, sell to Richard Edward Booker, for 140 pounds, lands on south side of Stanton river, called and known as "Booker’s Ferry," 210 acres adjoining the said river, and the lands of Richard E. Booker and Thos. Youille. Received money at the hands of his guardian, Benj. Lankford.
1800, January Court: Indenture between Benjamin Lankford and Henrietta, his wife, late widow and relict of Edward Booker, late of Halifax county (deceased), Jos. Scott and Elizabeth, his wife, daughter and legatee of the said Edward Booker, William DeJarnette and Rebecca, his wife, daughter and legatee of the said Edward Booker, and Richard Edward Booker, son and heir-at-law of the said Edward Booker, of the one part, and Sarah Yuille and Thomas Yuille, of the county of Halifax, of the other part.
"Whereas, Edward Booker aforesaid did by his last will and testament, direct that a certain parcel of land be sold to pay his debts, and appointed his wife, the aforesaid Henrietta, his executrix, and Thos. Tabb and others his executors, all of whom declined to execute his will and administer on his estate."
An administration on the estate with the will annexed was grated to John Esdale, a creditor, by the court, from which he got the power to sell, with the consent of the children, and secure his debt.
The land was sold and Thos. Yuille bought it at 517 pounds. He kept it until his death, and devised it to his wife, Sarah, for her lifetime, and then to his son, Thos. Yuille, Jr., and if no heirs, to his brother George Yuille, of Dartmouth, in North Britain, and the said Benj. Lankford and his wife, and the said daughters and son of the said Edward Booker, many years since of lawful age, and willing to convey and confirm to Sarah and Thomas Yuille, Jr., the land.
Benjamin Lankford and his wife, Henrietta, of Pittsylvania county; Joseph Scott and his wife, Elizabeth, of Campbell county; William Dixon and his wife, of Pittsylvania county, and Richard Edward Booker and his wife, Elizabeth, of Halifax county, for 571 pounds, accounted for by John Esdale, in his administration account, and applied to payments of Edward Booker’s debts, and the payment of one Spanish milled dollar, in hand paid by Sarah and Thomas Yuille, Jr., acknowledged, satisfied, etc., etc.
Witnesses: Achilles Allen, L. B. Allen, Isaac Hill, John Gilfoy, Gross Scruggs, Priscilla Craddock, Kittie Lankford, Stephen Lankford, Robert Moore, William Robertson, Charles Winfree Robert Bumpass, John Norton, James DeJarnette, William Royall.
1802, January 23: James Booker, son of Parham Booker, gives mortgage, on negroes, for debt he owes Williamson Price, of Charlotte county. The indebtedness not being satisfied, he sells to Price all of that tract of land on south side of Stanton river, in Halifax county – it being the land devised from Parham Booker to James Booker, beginning at the River Stanton up the Richard Booker’s line to Miller's line.
1802, December Court: Whereas the Commonwealth of Virginia. To James DeJarnette, William Jennings and William Royall, gentlemen, Justices of the county of Halifax, Greetings; Whereas Richard Booker and Ridley Booker, his wife, by their certain indenture of bargain and sale, bearing date 16th day of June, 1802, sold and conveyed to Williamson Price 471 acres of land in the county of Halifax, and whereas the said Ridley cannot conveniently travel to our court, of ye said county, to make acknowledgements of, &c. Jas. DeJarnette and William Jennings wait upon her and she relinquishes her dower right.
1802, October 17: James Booker and Susannah sell to Williamson Price parcel of land on Staunton river opposite Scott’s Landing. Susannah Booker relinquishes her dower right.
1797, November 20: This indenture between John Booker, William Marshall Booker and Elizabeth Booker, his wife, of Amelia county, of one part, and Patrick Henry, of Charlotte county, of the other. Whereas, William Claiborne and Susannah Taylor, executors, &c., of William Taylor, deceased, lately in the high court of chancery recovered a large sum of money against the said John and William M. Booker to the amount of 500 pounds, more or less as their part of the portion given by their father, Richard Booker, deceased, to his daughter, Annie, their sister, who intermarried with the said Taylor, and by means whereof the said portion with its accumulated interests and costs have been lately recovered against them and other legatees and devisees of the said Richard Booker, deceased, and the said John and William M. Booker being desirous to discharge the said judgment against them, have agreed by writing under their hands to sell to the said Patrick Henry a tract of land called the Seven Islands, at the price of five hundred pounds, on the south side of Staunton river. Resigned all title and claims under the will of their father, the said Richard Booker, deceased, or under the will of their brother, Edward Booker, deceased.
Witnesses: Jas. Townes, Jr., Jno. Roberts, Edward Roberts, Edward T. Townes, James Booker, Thos. Worsham, John Pride.
The Boyds were early settlers in Halifax, and there were several families apparently not related.
John Boyd, of Lunenburg county, left a will dated July 2, 1748, (see Halifax wills); wife, Margaret; sons, John, James, George and William.
On January 1, 1759, John Armstrong married Margaret Boyd (widow), and a license for the marriage of Mary Boyd (daughter of Margaret) was issued as follows: "I, Robert Munford, clerk of Halifax County Court, do hereby certify that sufficient security has been given in my office for a license to issue for the marriage of Micajah Watkins with Mary Boyd, this 12th day of January, 1764. These are to license and permit you to join together in the holy state of matrimony Micajah Watkins and Mary Boyd, according to rights and ceremonies of the Church of England, and for so doing this shall be your warrant. Given under my hand and seal this 11 of October, 1764. To the Rev. Mr. Alexander Gordon, minister of Antrim Parish, or any other authorized minister of the Church of England."
"I do hereby certify that my daughter, Mary Boyd, who is not registered, is of full age, and I have no objection to her being married to Micajah Watkins.
"Given under my hand and seal this 12th day of December 1764."
Margaret X (her mark) Armstrong
Witnesses: George Boyd, Jr., Isabel Wade and John Sullins.
Know ye all men by these presents that we, Micajah Watkins and John Armstrong, of the county of Halifax, are held and firmly bound unto Our Sovereign, King George III, in the sum of fifty pounds, current money, of Virginia, to be paid to our said Lord the King, his heirs and successors, to which payment will, and truly to be made, to our said Lord the King, his heirs and successors, we bind ourselves, our heirs and executors and administrators firmly by these presents sealed with our seals and dated this 11 day of December, 1764. Whereas there is a marriage depending, and by God’s permission is suddenly intended and itemized between the above bound Micajah Watkins and Mary Boyd, of the county aforesaid. Now the conditions of the above obligation is such that if there is no lawful cause to obstruct the said marriage, then the above obligations to be void, otherwise to remain in full force and virtue.
Sealed and delivered in the presence of the jury.
(Signed) Micajah Watkins (Seal)
John Armstrong (Seal)
This Micajah Watkins had a son, Micajah Watkins, Jr., who married Sarah Williams. Their married life was very transient, for he died just before the birth of their only daughter, Mourning Watkins.
Micajah Watkins, Sr., with Nathaniel Terry, was a member of the Convention of 1776 from Halifax county, and also a member of the last House of Burgesses that enacted anything, June, 1775. (Virginia Historical Magazine.)
Charles Bruce resided at "Soldiers’ Rest," Orange county, Virginia. The farm was a large and valuable one. It was situated near Kelly’s Ford, on the Rapidan, a spot well known in the history of the War Between the States. The dwelling was built before the Revolution, and in its time was looked upon as a fine establishment. The nails used in its construction were made by hand of wrought iron, probably in a shop on the estate by one of the owner’s smiths. A picture of this quaint colonial mansion, with its long sloping roof, narrow porch, and tall chimneys at either end, is in the possession of Charles Bruce’s (2) descendants, and a copy has been made for Mr. R. A. Lancaster’s projected work on the colonial and ante-bellum residences of Virginia.
An account of Charles Bruce, of "Soldiers’ rest," by a contemporary represents him as "physically under the average with a fair complexion, sandy hair, blue eyes, and constitution of durable fibre. He was a man of great vigor of intellect and of controlling influence in his neighborhood and county, but without any political ambition." There is a silhouette of this Charles Bruce in the possession of his great-grandson, George Morton Williams, Esq., of Culpeper county, Virginia, which shows him to have been a handsome and intellectual looking man. The name of his residence suggests military tastes, and it is not surprising to find that he was an officer (captain) in the Revolution, and for his services received a grant of land (Records, Register’s Office, Richmond, Virginia).
Among the soldiers enlisting at Winchester, Va., in 1754, for the great French and Indian war was a Charles Bruce, who was about the age of Charles Bruce, of "Soldiers’ Rest," at that time. He was enrolled as a native of Scotland. It is possible that this was Charles Bruce, of "Soldiers’ Rest," who may have come over with his father, James Bruce, the emigrant, from Scotland. Charles of "Soldiers’ Rest" died in 1792. Among the items of his personal property were forty-seven slaves, a considerable holding at that time, and about two hundred head of live stock. The value of the personalty was 1,735 pounds, a sum representing about $25,000 in present values. A careful examination of the records of Culpeper, Orange and Spotsylvania counties will give additional information as to this Charles Bruce and his father, James, the emigrant. Of the children of Charles (2), Thomas, William and Henry probably died young, as nothing is known of them. Charles (3), the third son, removed to Halifax county, Virginia, and resided at "Tarover," a house which he built on the model of "Soldiers’ Rest." He died unmarried, leaving a handsome fortune. Elizabeth, the only daughter of Charles Bruce, of "Soldiers’ Rest," married James Williams, a captain in the Continental army and a major general in the War of 1812.
James Bruce (3), the eldest son of Charles (2), of "Soldiers’ Rest," would have inherited the "Soldiers’ Rest" estate, but early in life developed a taste for mercantile pursuits. Having received an ordinary school education, he secured at the age of sixteen a situation at Petersburg, Va., with Mr. Colquhoun, who carried on an extensive business in buying tobacco from the planters and selling them goods which he had imported from England. James by his industrious habits, honest character and capacity for business soon won the confidence of his employer, to such an extent that he was sent to establish a branch house in Amelia county. In this he became a partner. In a few years, finding that the more remote county of Halifax offered greater business advantages, he removed thither and made it his permanent home during the rest of his life.
By a system of country stores, which supplied the wants of the planters, and by judicious purchases of land and tobacco, he accumulated one of the largest fortunes of his day. At his death his estate was valued at over fifteen hundred thousand dollars, probably the greatest in the United States at that time after those of John Jacob Astor and Stephen Gerard, who had a much wider and more profitable field in which to work. On at least one occasion in a public speech, Mr. Randolph classed Mr. Bruce with these two famous merchants. At the beginning of the war his estate, now in the hands of his four children, was valued at nearly four million of dollars. It included in one item over three thousand slaves.
The only glimpse we have of James Bruce in early life is to be had through a diary kept during the latter part of the eighteenth century by the father or grandfather of Major Richard Venable, the distinguished lawyer of Baltimore (1902), and now in the latter’s possession. The writer of this diary states that he spent a night under the same roof with James Bruce and Archibald Alexander – afterwards president of Princeton College – both very young men at the time. The impression which they made on Mr. Venable by these few hours of intercourse was such that he prophesies that they will each attain unusual prominence before many years shall have passed.
Mr. Bruce was not simply successful from a pecuniary point of view in his own part of Virginia; indeed, wherever he was known, his name was a synonym for integrity and liberality. A letter from a distinguished contemporary, who was well able to judge, pronounces him to have been "the justest and most honorable man" the writer ever knew. Added to this, he had a temper of such serenity that no one ever saw it ruffled. There are fine portraits of him both at "Berry Hill" and at "Staunton Hill."
Soon after settling in Halifax county, James Bruce married (August 1, 1799) Miss Sally Coles (daughter of Walter Coles, of the well-known Coles family of Virginia), a wit and the greatest heiress in that part of the State. The ceremony took place at "Mildendo," the home of Miss Coles’ guardian, a house that is still standing, near Coles’ Ferry on Staunton river. The marriage was hastily celebrated in order to gratify the last wish of the bride’s only near living relative, a brother, who was then dying. Mr. Bruce’s second wife, who was then a widow (Mrs. Patrick Henry, Jr.), happened to be present, and the ring used during the ceremony was taken from her finger.
Sally (Coles) Bruce died May 21, 1806, and on April 20, 1819, Mr. Bruce married Elvira Cabell, daughter of William Cabell, of "Union Hill," Nelson county Va. (See Brown’s Cabells and Their Kin), and widow of Patrick Henry, Jr., eldest son of the orator, who died only a few months after their marriage. The only child of this marriage was Elvira Henry, afterwards Mrs. William H. Clark, of "Banister Lodge," in Halifax county.
The second Mrs. James Bruce was a woman of unusual intelligence and charm of manner. Her conversation was especially remarkable for quaint humor. In appearance she strongly resembled the Cabells – black hair, large dark eyes, swarthy complexion and aquiline nose, a notable representative of a family long distinguished for beauty and talent. After her marriage she and Mr. Bruce resided for many years at "Woodburn," near Halifax Court House. The house was destroyed by fire after the war. James Bruce died in Philadelphia, Mary 12, 1837, whither he had gone for his health, and was buried in the yard of St. Andrew’s Church.
After his death his widow removed to Richmond, where she built the house which is now the central part of the University College of Medicine on Clay Street – in its time one of the finest residences in the city, and noted for its charming and generous hospitality. Mrs. Bruce was a woman of strong and unaffected piety. She gave liberally to charity, both public and private, and was one of the largest contributors to the fund raised for the erection of St. Paul’s Church in Richmond, where she worshipped until her death.
What is known in the Episcopal Church of Virginia as the "Bruce Fund" was a sum which her children gave in accordance with a desire which she frequently expressed but which on account of her extreme sickness she had no opportunity of leaving to the church in the form of a legal bequest. She died in October, 1859, and was buried in Hollywood.
The children of James (2) and Sally (Coles) Bruce were James Coles (4) Bruce, Charles (4) and Mildred (4). The last two died in infancy. James Coles Bruce (4) was born January 25, 1806. He received his education at Chapel Hill and Harvard colleges and the University of Virginia. In early life he was elected a member of the General Assembly which came within a few votes, three by the record, one by tradition, probably at a secret session not recorded, of abolishing slavery in Virginia. This was shortly after the Turner insurrection (1831), which had raised a great commotion.
Not long before he died Mr. Bruce expressed much regret that he had voted for the perpetuation of slavery. In after life he favored gradual emancipation, though one of the largest slave-holders in the South. In an address delivered at Danville, which attracted general attention at the time, he took an advanced position on the subject. He declared that the greatest harm of slavery was to the white people, and that it "cheated the planters with a semblance of wealth." There is an extended reference to this address in a note to "Howerson’s History of Virginia."
Mr. Bruce was a Whig in politics, and as that party was in the minority in Virginia, and he himself without political ambition, and owning to his great wealth, without strong motive for exertion, he never sought high office, though a finished public speaker, and a man whose extraordinary talents were generally recognized.
As the foremost citizen of his county and the Union candidate, he was elected a member of the Secession Convention. He was an active opponent of secession, but voted in favor it when Lincoln called for troops. He was considered to be one of the ablest debaters in the convention.
Among the casual addresses of Mr. Bruce was one delivered before the students of Chapel Hill, N. C., at the commencement of 1841; another before the alumni of the University of Virginia. Both are marked by vigorous thought, brilliant expression and high literary finish. Mr. Bruce resided at "Berry Hill," Halifax county, Virginia, which had formerly been a part of the estate of the second William Byrd and afterwards of General Edward Carrington.
The house which he erected is still standing – now the home of Alexander Bruce, Esq. – and is considered to be one of the finest models of the colonial style in the South, if not in the United States. Among the other valuable contents of the house was an extraordinary quantity of silver of the finest designs. Even the basins, pitchers, etc., of the sleeping rooms were made of this material. Here Mr. Bruce lived, like the lord of an English manor, in the midst of hundreds of slaves and adherents of all kinds – a sort of feudal chief on his great landed state.
He died in 1865, just before the close of the war. He said on his death-bed that he "felt a grim satisfaction in leaving the world at that time, as he knew that nothing but ruin was in store for his class." Though originally a Union man, his contributions for the advancement of the cause of the Confederacy had amounted to at least fifty thousand dollars.* [*See Virginia Historical Magazine, Vol. II, page 328.]
This short excerpt from the well-known genealogy of the Bruce family I have inserted here because the male line of the above family still resides at "Berry Hill," and still retains the proverbial hospitality of their ancestors. Few of the present inhabitants of Halifax county know when James Bruce, the richest and, judging from the records, one of the best and purest of men, settled in this county. He left a most remarkable will, which is recorded at the court house. He died in Philadelphia, whither he had gone for his health. He was reputed to be the largest slave-holder in Virginia and one of the richest men in America at that period.
Will of James Bruce.
No man that lived in Halifax county left a more carefully written will than James Bruce. It evinced a broad mind, a generous heart and a wonderful spirit of humility for a man with such an extensive estate. He gives to James C. Bruce, his son, besides other large endowments, "a tract of land in Halifax county called ‘Boyd’s Tract,’ now tenanted by John Juniel – the same tract of land I hold as heir to my brother, Charles, who owned, I think, a good equitable title under George Carrington, who purchased it form Archie Boyd, the title of the same being warranted by the said George Carrington, John Carrington and Paul Carrington, deceased, by a bond made for that purpose. The said James C. must look for the title, with all the powers that I am invested being hereby invested in him"***
"I give to my son, Charles Bruce, a tract of land purchased through Gerard Banks, Jr., and Co., who purchased through William M. Irby and wife, and James Smith, the trustee of said Irby; also my lots and improvements, in the town of Banister, near Halifax Court House; also my store and lott, and every of the appertencies, adjoining Halifax Court House lott. One lumber house in the town of Lynchburg purchased of Charles Johnston and lying on Blackwater, adjoining the Cotton Factory.
He leaves to his friends, James Atkisson, William Penick and James S. Easley, five hundred dollars each.
James C. Bruce shall continue to act as guardian for all of my said infant children unless the said act shall be too oppressively inconvenient to him in that event he must use his efforts to ordain some reputable and responsible and friendly person or persons to aid him in guardianship, who will, of course, give bond and security under the direction of the court.
"I do hereby appoint and constitute my very dear son, Jas. C. Bruce, Executor of my last Will and Testament, without giving any sort of security, as I have decided confidence in him, and owe but little comparatively.
Witnesses: William Penick, Jas. Atkisson and Thomas J. Green. September 28, 1836.
This will of James Bruce filled several pages, and is a most comprehensive and interesting one, especially when we know that he went to work as a mere youth and by honest work made the third largest fortune in the United State at that period. He bought from Colonel Edward Carrington the tract of land upon which "Berry Hill" was afterwards built by his son, James C. Bruce. There is a tradition that "Berry Hill" was built after the style and architecture of "Montpelia," Lord George Keeling’s seat in Granville, now Vance county, North Carolina, which Lord Keeling had copied after his country seat in Ireland, which he had to leave on account of religious persecution.
Mr. Philip Alexander Bruce, of the University of Virginia, states in a recent letter the following in regard to "Berry Hill": "The ‘Berry Hill’ estate was purchased by my uncle, James Coles Bruce, about 1830 from Colonel Edward Carrington. The "Berry Hill’ house was built by my uncle, James Coles Bruce, after his purchase"; and in regard to it he adds: "I was told by Professor Fiske Kimball, of the school of architecture at the University of Virginia, that this house is the most remarkable specimen of its kind to be found in the South. Colonel Carrington’s residence a plain one, stood on the same site and was pulled down."
Judge Paul Carrington and his wife are buried in the graveyard at Berry Hill.
James Bruce was a character that no thoughtful person will pass by without taking into consideration the manner of his life and his excellent advice to those who sought it. If one will go carefully through his several volumes of letter books and read his character form the letters therein, it will be easy to understand how he grew to be the richest man in Halifax county and the third richest in the United State at that time.
He was a sturdy Scotchman of the Kinloss Clan, and was honest in thought, word and deed. He was an extensive money lender and attended to every detail of his tremendous business with his personal advice and letters through his lawyers and agents, of whom he had many, tested and tried for ability and honesty. Through all his dealings with men, he never lost faith in humanity. Shrewd and close in business as he was, he was no Shylock, nor did he demand his dues, but by gentleness and persuasive measures he obtained what was his.
He was merciful, and when those who had served him had grown old and feeble, he ministered to their necessities so graciously they could not feel their dependence. He disliked above all things to have recourse to the law and never did if it was possible to avoid it. Being honest himself, it was hard for him to understand the long continued delinquencies of a debtor. He gave his honest opinion when his advice was sought, though it may not always have been agreeable to the party seeking it. He had many relatives who suffered losses through misfortune or adventure; he helped them all with financial gifts well seasoned with good advice.
Not one of his many letters give the slightest evidence of self-indulgence, pride, arrogance or display, and this sentiment in one of his letters illustrates the tender sympathy he had for a friend and relative who was in trouble:
"They must know that a man under desperate circumstances with a large family has no chance to rise whilst embarrassed with debt, and the greater distance one takes under such circumstances from his friends in a wide world of strangers the worse his situation."
James C. Bruce left his plantation and home (the slaves having been emancipated) to his son, Mr. Alexander Bruce, the father of the present owners, Mr. Walter Bruce, bachelor, and Mr. Malcolm Bruce, who has been twice married; his first wife was Miss Myrtle Heison, of Chicago, Ill., by whom he had two daughters, Myrtle and Evelyn Bruce. He married secondly his cousin, Miss Bruce Williams of Culpeper.
Miss Ellen Bruce, the last of the female line of Bruces at "Berry Hill," married Mr. Charles Crane, III, who after his return from his foreign ministry in Czechoslovakia, purchased "Westover," the celebrated home of the Byrds, where they now reside when in Virginia. They have one daughter, Bruce Crane.
Excerpt from a Letter of Mr. James Bruce to Mr. Josiah Abbott.
June 2, 1828.
Mr. Josiah Abbott.
Dear Sir: I now send you annexed the names of persons distributors of Henry’s estate – the Elder, whose names appear in the Clerk’s office signing an address to codicil which consents to a final decree on the principle of the former interlocutory decree admitting the account of Winston’s estate to stand as it appears form his account settled by commissioners, which is all he can ask, but if anything is required of him in a way of consent to a final decree you can advise what is necessary for him to say as to my claim in right of my wife, late Elvira A. Henry, who was the widow of Patrick Henry, Jr. I abandon all claim, my chief object being to secure a final decree in favor of her daughter, Elvira A. Henry, now Clark, as she has lately intermarried with William H. Clark, who, I suppose, must, of course, become a party to a final decree.
Fayette Henry willed his whole estate to his mother, Dorothea Winston, late Henry, and Sarah Scott, late Sarah Campbell (her maiden name Henry, sister of Fayette Henry), who have divided the estate, I believe, in equal proportions and sold the land (the will of Fayette Henry is recorded in Campbell county).
Edward Henry formerly married Kitty, who was a daughter of Patrick Henry, the elder, who died long since, and also Edward Henry, whose representative is suing the distributors of Patrick Henry, the elder, in the Chancery Court of Lynchburg for an alleged claim on them, a money legacy only.
I have mentioned all the distributors of the last marriage of Patrick Henry, the elder, with the list balance included. As to others by the first marriage, I suppose they had claims of money legacies which have been probably satisfied. My chief object is to obtain distribution in favor of William H. Clark and Elvira A., late Henry, his wife, and to get out of court, if possible, being willing to abandon my claims as plaintiff in the suit.
This list is made mainly to refresh your memory:
James Bruce in right of his wife, late Elvira A. Henry.
Elvira A. Henry, now Elvira A. Clark.
Sarah B. Scott, formerly Sarah B. Henry, in her own right and as distributor of Fayette Henry, deceased.
Dorothy Winston in her own right and as distributor of Fayette Henry, deceased.
Alexander S. Henry.
George D. Winston in right of his wife, late Dorothy Henry.
Edward Winston, executor of Edward Winston, deceased.
To Mr. Henry Banks.
Have this day ordered Mr. Maux & Sons to remit $150 to you in a bank check payable to your order, fifty dollars of which is remitted at the instance of your brother, William.
You have said nothing in your letter the present year that would have a bearing the least unfavorable to General Jackson. In yours of February 4 last you expressed an inclination of returning to Richmond and residing with your niece, Miss Spottswood, and occasionally visiting your brother and myself. I approve of this resolution and would be pleased if you would withdraw yourself from the public journals, and meddling with elections, such doings though accompanied with the purest patriotism often involve said results. Governor Giles, formerly a man of high estimation, has lowered his standing considerably by subscribing his name to a great deal of scandal and defamation against characters of high standing.
May 30, 1833.
Mr. Henry E. Watkins.
Dear Sir: At Clarksville four days since I was informed by Mr. Samuel S. Venable that you were disposed to borrow form me five thousand dollars if it should be convenient. I have to say in answer that I will accommodate you with pleasure, if you will make a bond and add a name merely for the sake of bank form, and made payable in two years, bearing interest, payable semi-annually, and send it to your friend in Richmond to be negotiated, where I shall be from the 25th to the 28th or probably longer, as I think of starting tomorrow and may go with my family from Charlotte C. H. in the stage, which may prevent my having the pleasure of calling on you. Intending to go to Norfolk and the northern cities I may be absent four or five weeks.
I am with great regard and esteem,
Your most obedient servant,
Halifax Co., Nov. 7, 1832.
Messrs. Joseph Marx & Son.
Gentleman: Your much esteemed favor, &c. Your remarks on the valuableness of U. States bank-stock, the political effects, the cause of foreign demands for our stock, and the quotations of value of various stocks, and of produce in your market are all instructive, convenient and profitable to me. Our election terminated on Monday and three hundred votes were taken at the C. H. and about six were taken for Clay and Seargeant of that number, and the balance for Jackson for Vice-President and a few for Vanburan. Clay and Seargeant may probably get from the district some 20 or so more. In the election at Court House, Barber had a few scattering votes not worth mentioning.
Notwithstanding my objection to General Jackson for his bank veto, and other considerations, yet I greatly prefer him to Mr. Clay, being most suitable to represent the Southern interest. Clay I think a great spendthrift of the public funds, in the way of protection for manufactories and public improvements, &c., &c. I fully expect we differ in opinion on this subject of the election, only for the same reason that men of the most honest convictions and the like interests often differ in sentiment on political subjects.
I am with great regard and esteem,
Your most obedient servant,
Halifax, April 9, 1833.
Mr. Gerard Banks, Jr.
Dear Sir: I have received your interesting address of this date. I really regret that you should have made your Southern expedition in December last under such unpropitious prospects and plans when a person under your embarrassments are about to adopt a measure of such importance to yourself and family, it would be fit that you would consult your best friends about the prudence of your scheme. I expect you had some such in the neighborhood you reside, and I am sure you have a few such in this neighborhood. The mischief is, however, done and it is unnecessary to dwell on the past.
To advise you now as to the course you are to take is full of difficulty, the more so as you do not ask counsel nor disclose the whole of your embarrassments. I know enough to ascertain that you are heavily involved and that the demands against you could not be paid by all the funds you have in the world, but by a heavy and unnecessary sacrifice. If one should take it in his head to render you in person an advance of one thousand dollars or much more it would do you no good, as it would be a mere bait for some creditors near you. For you to hold property would be an useless effort, as it would be in the power of your creditors to strip you of everything at any time.
If you could induce all your friends to combine and make up a moderate sum to obtain a small freehold and a few articles to contribute to the comfort of your family and yourself would be the best I conceive that could be done, placing the same in the hands of a trustee notorious for his independence, solidity and benevolence. At the same time you should be determined to be steady, industrious, stay much at home for the consolation of your family and determined to engage in no sort of speculation nor dissipation of any kind. You said yesterday that you wanted no aid as to expenses in getting home, and as for an advance of one thousand to pay your creditors near you I should consider it a useless step. As to the trust measure proposed, if I could see a subscription on foot that promised security and benefit, I would contribute myself.
I am with best wishes for your improvement and welfare,
Copy of Letter From William H. Clark to James Bruce.
Halifax, Dec. 21, 1831.
I received a letter yesterday from Mr. John Henry, informing that a part of Long Island track of land was advertised for sale under the Delinquent Land Act. I saw your father yesterday and consulted him about what was best to be done. He advised me to write to our Servant James and beg of him the favor to attend to this matter for us. Should the time of payment be first of January, 1832, the matter will admit of no delay, but I observe from the papers that the Legislature had taken up that subject and should the time be postposed I will get you to wait till you hear form me again. I should be very glad to see first the list of delinquent lands for Campbell, as it is probable that tract of land belonging to Cabell’s estate purchased from Fayette Henry may be the lands advertised to be sold for delinquent taxes. I commit to your care, however, knowing that in so doing I shall receive no detriment.
I was glad to see your father in his usual good health. They were all well at his house and at yours, as he informed me.
You and Sims both I see are against anything like emancipation, and I Sims, I hear, has made a speech. You have voted no doubt on the popular side, though I differ in opinion with you on that very important subject. Large slave owner as I am, I am clear for taking some steps in that matter which all admit must sooner or later come to pass. Public opinion is not ripe for it at present, though I believe a respectable minority to be, and I have no doubt that public sentiment might be changed by a man of energy and talent who would openly advocate it.
Be so good as to give my best respects to my friend Sims, and say to him I understand Mr. Madison did not open his mouth in the Legislature for probably the two first sessions he served.
Nothing interesting in the way of gossip except Miss Banks’ wedding, which takes place tomorrow, I understand.
Remember me to Sims and Preston. I shall be very glad to hear from you at any time, and in turn to be of service to you in Halifax. I have some small expectation of being with you in January.
Yours very truly,
Wm. H. Clark.
"Am going by Mt. Laurel in the morning will drop this letter there."
The first survey book of Halifax county shows, on page 160, 370 acres of land in the county surveyed by Robert Wooding for Thomas Carlton, Jr., land lying on Straightstone creek, adjoining James Hunt and Benjamin Clements’ lines. Dated April, 1757. From this date until the present the Carltons have many deeds, wills and marriages recorded in the court house. Among the deeds is an indenture made in 1817, November 17 (Book 27, page 83).
This indenture between John Holt and Elizabeth, his wife, Jeremiah Boyd and Christian, late Christian Holt, Henry McClarney and Sarah, his wife, late Sarah Holt, Mary Milam, late Mary Holt, and Lawson Royal for himself, claiming under Peter Holt, and his wife, Tibitha, deceased (formerly Tabitha Holt), and her son, Armistead Boyd, of the county of Halifax, of one part; and Edward Carlton, Sr., of said county, of the other part. Witnesseth, that above parties for and in consideration of sum of four hundred dollars paid in hand to them by Edward Carlton, Sr., sell to him 111 ½ acres on the waters of Wolf creek. Land devised to Richard Holt by Peter Holt.
In 1819, Edward Carlton buys from Nancy Wimbish (executrix of the estate of John Wimbish, her husband, deceased) a certain half acre of land situated in the town of Banister and known as lot No. 35.
In 1819, August 21, Catherine Carlton, executrix of her husband’s, Philoman Carlton, estate, for a certain sum of money paid by the legatees, relinquishes her dower right in favor of her children, viz., Edward, James, John, Anthony, William Fitzgerald, and Elizabeth, his wife, and Thomas Conner, and Lucy, his wife.
The will of Philomon Carlton was probated in 1813, March 23, recording his wife, Catherine, and six children, Edward, James, John Anthony, Elizabeth Fitzgerald, and Lucy Carlton. He made his wife executrix and son, Edward, and trusty friend, Dr. Charles D. Fontaine, executors.
Edward acknowledged bond in the penalty of twenty-five thousand dollars.
The appraisement of his estate in 1816, August court, showed twenty-six negroes valued at $3,248, a good landed estate, household furniture and farm implements.
Several wills are recorded leading up to that of Rachel Carlton’s estate settlement in 1862.
In 1833, John L. Lewellyn was trustee for Mary C. Carlton and children.
In 1840-45, Henderson Sneed was guardian for Henry H. Carlton, and Emeline Waller, formerly Emeline Carlton.
Dr. Paul Carrington, of Barbados, and his second wife, Henningham Codrington, who lies buried in St. Philip’s Parish, under a monument thus inscribed: "Henningham Carrington, widow of Dr. Paul Carrington, Obit, June 28, 1741, Aet, 69." She was born 1673.
Colonel George Carrington (son of Dr. Paul Carrington) married Anne Mayo, daughter of William Mayo, gent., of Goochland county, Va. (He was with Colonel William Byrd in making the survey between Virginia and North Carolina in 1728 and also 1733.)
Paul Carrington, Sr., was twice married, his first wife being Margaret Read, daughter of Clement Read, of "Bushy Forest." His second wife was Priscilla Sims (daughter of Matthew Sims).
Paul Carrington, Jr., married Mildred H. Coles, daughter of Walter Coles, of "mildendo," and his wife, Mildred Lightfoot. Walter Coles was born in Hanover county, November 13, 1739. He married Mildred Lightfoot, born at Sandy Point, Charles City county, February 11, 1752. She died May 1, 1799. She was a daughter of Mildred Howell and William Lightfoot. Walter Coles died November 7, 1780, at "Mildendo," his country seat in Halifax county.
Walter Coles Carrington (son of Judge Paul Carrington, Jr., born September 20, 1764, died January 8, 1816, and his wife, Mildred H. Coles, born May 15, 1769, died April 24, 1840, married August 24, 1785) was born March 4, 1794. He married Alice Cabell November 15, 1817.
Mrs. Alice Cabell Carrington died leaving four children (sons), viz.: (1) Edward Coles Carrington; (2) George Cabell Carrington; (3) Paul Jones Carrington; (4) Walter Coles Carrington.
Edward Coles Carrington (1) married, first, Mary Coleman, of Williamsburg, Va., and had one child, Thomas Carrington.
George Cabell Carrington (m. D., died 1880) married Sarah Winston Henry and had the following children:
(1) John P. Metteaux Carrington, married Sarah Frances Toot and had one child, Mildred Coles Carrington. (She married Mr. Waddell and had Carrington Waddell.)
Susan Love Carrington, married Rev. A. Y. Hundley. Four children.
Charles Craddock Carrington, married Sarah Henry French. Issue:
Margaret Logan Carrington, married Charles H. Stebbins, cashier of Planters and Merchants National Bank, South Boston.
George Cabell Carrington (civil engineer), married Louise C. Stebbins.
Sarah Henry Carrington, married James F. Dorrier.
Marcellus F. Carrington.
Charles Reid Carrington, married Kizzie McDaniel.
William Lorria Carrington.
Elizabeth F. Carrington.
Alice Cary Carrington, married William B. Settle, attorney, of the firm of Settle & McKinney.
0.264Winifred W. Carrington.
Dr. William W. Carrington, of Halifax, married his cousin, Jane W. Carrington, daughter of Colonel Clement Carrington and Jane (Watkins) Carrington, of Charlotte county, and had eight children.
Henry Paul Carrington, of "Belleview," son of John B. Carrington, who was the first of the Carringtons to own Belleview. This is a beautiful old seta, surrounded by massive oaks, covering extensive grounds, the house built of red brick. A small porch with massive pillars reaching to the top of the second story gives an imposing air to what was once a most attractive and hospitable home. It was like almost all of the old Virginia homes, a large flower garden, that leads to the last resting place of those who once reveled amid the evergreens and blooming shrubbery.
Through the long neglected flower garden we were piloted to the graveyard by the mother of the present owner, Mr. Henry Reeves (who married his attractive wife in Alabama). Mrs. Work, the mother of his wife, very kindly assisted us in getting the following epitaphs from the gravestones embedded in a tangle of honeysuckle:
"Sacred to the memory of Our Mother,
Judith A., wife of John B. Carrington.
Born Dec. 24, 1804. Died Aug. 31, 1878.
"She is not dead but sleepeth."
"In Memory of Fannie E. Watkins (wife of R. V. Watkins)
Born Dec. 21, 1829. Died Oct. 9, 1882.
"And I will show thee my faith by my works."
"Sacred to the Memory of Henry Paul Carrington
Born Aug. 7, 1848. Died March 29, 1900.
"Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright, for The end of that man is peace."
In the tangled growth of vines and shrubs we could find no other gravestones, but I do not doubt that there were other graves there marked and unmarked.
Henry Paul Carrington’s widow and children have moved from the county, and strangers now own their old home and are putting forth every effort to restore it to its original beauty. The rooms are large and high-pitched, the walls white and of such hard finish as to have withstood a hundred years of wear and tear. The mantels are of marble and the "parlor" has the usual frescoed ceiling. It is both pleasing and comforting to think that the old place will be kept up and beautified, as far as condition will allow, but never again can the old homes of Virginia glory in their perfection as they did in ante-bellum days.
Jane W. Carrington, daughter of Jane Watkins, by her second husband, Colonel Clement Carrington, of Charlotte county, married Dr. William C. Carrington, of Halifax county, and had the following children:
(1) Virginia C.; (2) Thomas C.; (3) Clement C.; (4) Betsy C.; (5) Susan H. C.: (6) Mary G. D.; (7) Ann R. C.; (8) William Carrington.
Colonel Henry Carrington, of Halifax, married Betsy Morton, and had (1) Agnes Carrington and (2) Henry Carrington.
The Carringtons of Halifax, Charlotte and Prince Edward counties are all related, and all intermarried with the Mortons, Watkins, Venables, Cabells, Henrys and Frenchs.
The Chastain family descended from the Huguenots, and suffered all the perils and hardships attendant upon a Huguenot refugee. Being compelled to leave home, friends and all earthly possessions in their native land, they came to this colony, barely escaping with their lives.
We find the forebear of the subject of this sketch living in this county at a very early date, with sufficient land upon which to build a simple home, and sufficient thrift, frugality and industry to add to it and provide for a family.
The old home, now fallen into disuse and decay, was well built of hewn logs, smooth and square, mortised together after the substantial fashion of most of the primitive homes of people in moderate circumstances of that day. The nails used were evidently made in the blacksmith shop on the place, and they are holding the timbers together today almost as firmly as they did when driven there almost a hundred years ago.
Through the small panes of glass in the narrow windows several generations have looked out over the broad fields and sloping hills, and two generations are laid to rest in the graveyard close by, around which there is a strong wall, and within it on a large slab is the inscription, "Sacred to the memory of the Chastain family," the names following:
Howell Chastain, born April 3, 1800, died October 30, 1868.
Elizabeth A. Chastain, born December 25, 1810, died June 18, 1886.
Mary Gilliam Chastain, born February 28, 1835, died August 30, 1842.
Richard Cabell Chastain, born September 16, 1852, died December 1, 1859.
Howell Archer Chastain, born August 28, 1840, died September 12, 1861."
The parents of Howell Chastain are buried at Clover in the old churchyard. The subject of this sketch, their descendant, James Chastain, has had substantial marble stones placed at the head of each grave.
James Chastain was born and lived through his young life in this county. In later years he went to New York to live, and there met and married a wealthy widow, who died in a few years, leaving him an independent fortune, and one of the most praiseworthy things that he did was to mark with stones the graves of his people and leave an endowment fund with St. John’s Church at Halifax for keeping up these graves.
After the death of Captain Henry Edmunds, James Chastain bought his beautiful home that he had built for his wife, who was Susan Edmondson. Mr. Chastain put some improvements on it, and there he lived during his widowerhood and entertained with lavish hand his friends and relatives. Generous to a fault, those who knew him best know how many he helped in times of stress, and how bitterly disappointing was his sudden death to those who regarded him as still a man in the prime of life.
His will, recorded at Halifax, a lengthy and liberal one, covers several pages with generous legacies and leaves the home, which he named "Restawhile," to his cousin, Miss Lula Howard Edmondson (with other legacies and no incumbrances as to upkeep, etc., of the large house and grounds) during her lifetime, and after her death to be a home for aged women of gentle birth of Halifax county.
Mr. Chastain’s French blood was strongly tinctured with a love of luxury and pleasure, which licensed him to do many things repugnant to the more straight-laced views of the puritanical, but he was so thoroughly unselfish, and generous withal, that the envious alone could have maligned him.
He died suddenly in Washington, D. C., while on a pleasure trip to New York and other cities with some of his relatives and friends, and his body was sent to Kentucky to be buried beside that of his wife.
He left a large estate, and was considered very liberal to his legatees, but nevertheless there followed some law suits and much wrangling.
‘Tis a pity that the whole human race cannot be guided by Agur’s prayer – "Give me neither poverty nor riches, lest I be full and deny Thee, or be poor and steal, and take the name of my God in vain."
The genealogist, E. C. Meade, said: "These Chalmers are said to be in direct line from James II and through Jenet Hamilton."
David Chalmers inherited most of his father’s estate, which was called "Rose Hill," now "Creek Side," which he sold to the late E. A. Coleman, of Halifax county, and then bought "Springfield," the plantation adjoining, from ahis brother, Joseph Chalmers, afterwards judge and United States Senator.
The brothers, Joseph and John Gordon Chalmers, sold all their lands in Virginia and moved to Holly Springs, Miss.
James Chalmers married Sarah (Lanier Williams) Watkins, in Halifax county, Va., November 13, 1797. The will of James Chalmers was probated in this county in 1826. By the will he left his property to his three sons, plantations, and a number of negroes to each. The sons were named John, David, and Joseph W. Chalmers, and these are undoubtedly the ancestors of the Chalmers of this county, whose descendants are still here.
James Chalmers had also two other sons, viz., Gordon and James Ronolds, and three daughters, Lucinda, Sarah and Jannett.
Lucinda Chalmers married Thomas Galloway and had three sons and three daughters.
Sarah Chalmers married John Glenn. Had three sons, James, Chalmers, and Archie Glenn.
Jannett Chalmers married Hamilton Bradshaw, of North Carolina. (No children.)
David Chalmers, son of James, married Miss Coleman.
Ronald Chalmers emigrated from Ayreshire, Scotland, to Petersburg, Va. He represented a celebrated ancestry, and the Chalmers arms have been borne with honor by the descendants, now living in many Southern States.
The Chappells and their descendants are very numerous in this county and throughout the United States.
Mr. Phil E. Chappell, of Kansas City, Mo., has written the genealogy of the Chappells, and he says in regard to them:
"Sufficient evidence will be adduced to satisfy the most skeptical that the American Chappells came from England, and that they sprang from an old and noble family, which had lived in that country for hundreds of years. This is all that we now know, and all that is necessary for us to know, for while this information may be gratifying to our family pride, we must not forget that we are Americans – not English – and the fact that ours is one of the very oldest families in this country is a far greater cause for self-congratulation and honest pride of ancestry than that we sprang originally and remotely from a noble family in England."
Many of the Chappells have gone from Halifax county to the South and West and become prominent men of affairs.
The Christians were a Manx family, settled in Ireland, whence Israel migrated to American in 1740, and settled near Staunton, Virginia, where his son, William, was born in 1742. When in his twentieth year William commanded a company on Byrd’s Cherokee expedition; he headed a militia company wherein Henry Pauling and Walter Crockett were his subordinates. Removing first to Botetourt, then to Fincastle county, Christian established his home at "Dunkard’s Bottom," on New river, whence he was called to represent his county in the Virginia Assembly in 1774.
In Colonel Preston’s enforced absence he commanded the Fincastle Regiment during Dunmore’s war, arriving at Point Pleasant at midnight after the victory had been won.
In 1775, Christian acted on the committee of safety, and in the following year was chosen second in command of Patrick Henry’s Continental regiment.
Upon hearing of the danger from the Cherokees, he resigned his commission and enrolled an expedition of seventeen hundred men to advance to the Cherokee towns (1776), which were burned and the savage uprising quelled.
In 1781, Christina acted as one of the commissioners who concluded a lasting peace with this tribe.
Early in 1785, Christina removed to the neighborhood of Louisville, Kentucky, where his advent was eagerly welcomed by the harassed frontier. He did not live to secure its permanent peace, being mortally wounded by a party of marauding Indians, April 9, 1786.
His widow, a sister of Patrick Henry, and six children survive him. His only son, John, died while a youth, and all of his daughters married Kentuckians. (Dunmore’s War, pages 429-430.)
The descendants of Peter Renfro in the Revolutionary War were William, John and Joshua, each holding office.
Mark Renfro, originally of Halifax county, we find in Patrick county, were he married Naomie Standefer, April 22, 1779.
To get a clear understanding of the Clarks of Halifax and "Banister Lodge" it will be well to read the will of John Clark, given herein, and dated the 10th day of March, 1827. This John Clark was the son of William Clark, of Prince Edward county, Virginia, and his wife, Phoebe Howson. His ancestry was almost, if not entirely, English. In his will John Clark gives to his son, William H. Clark, "My Banister plantation, with all the stock, tools, and everything belonging to the plantation, including all the negroes, except Dick Coates and his family," for which he supplied two other slaves. He wished William to take possession of the place and property bequeathed immediately after his demise.
"To my son, John Thomas, I give my Staunton river plantation, which includes the mansion seat, etc., subject to provisions hereinafter mentioned.
"To my son, Charles, a large amount of bank stock, etc., to be invested until Charles becomes of age, etc."
He is very explicit in names of parties from whom he purchased the various parts of the Staunton river plantation. One part from William Thewett and another part form the children of Matthew Sims after the death of Mrs. Sims. (John Clark married for his second wife Priscilla Sims, daughter of Matthew Sims.)
William H. Clark was born in Halifax county, January 23, 1805. He was educated at Hampden-Sidney College, the University of Virginia, and Cambridge, Mass. He represented Halifax county in the Legislature and was a planter. He died at his seat, "Banister Lodge," October 20, 1873. He married Elvira Ann Henry (posthumous), daughter of Patrick Henry, Jr. (eldest son of Patrick Henry, the orator), and his wife, Elvira Cabell, daughter of William Cabell, of "Union Hill,"
Elvira Ann Henry was born at "Union Hill," September27, 1804, and married at "Woodburn," Halifax county, May 8, 1828. She died at "Banister Lodge," June 21, 1870. It was said of her that she was one of the purest and noblest of women, and that "her life was a living witness to the truth she professed, and by her beautiful example of Christian gentleness and love she allured to brighter worlds and led the way."
Mr. Philip Alexander Bruce says in a recent letter: "Well do I remember as a boy of eight or nine years of age passing several months at my aunt’s, Mrs. William Clark’s, at ‘Banister Lodge.’ That was a very interesting home, full of charming women and the seat of the most attractive social culture. I have seen in my day a good deal of the great world, and of its varied societies, and I do not believe there has ever existed any homes or any society superior in refinement and spiritual beauty to those to be found in Virginia in those remote times. I say remote, for the period before 1861 is now practically as distant as the period before the Revolution. No county had a larger number of these homes or a greater share of this cultured society than Halifax county."
Who that has reveled in the luxurious life at "Banister Lodge," when William Clark took his angelic young bride to live and to die there, would recognize in the present "skeleton" what is was in its palmy days?
Time was when those lofty halls resounded to mirth and merry laughter, the strains of music and the graceful minuet. Proud sons and stately daughters spending their lives in a round of pleasure, but keeping "God’s day" seated in the high-backed pews, coyly eyeing their neighbors in the adjoining pew. Everybody knew everybody in those days, and "a stranger in the pew" was rare.
We walked through the broad hall and large rooms with frescoed walls and marble mantels and over the smooth floors where so many dainty feet had danced, and a spirit of sadness came over us that was close akin to pain.
The old oak trees were still standing and the ragged boxwood led the way to trysting places and cool summer houses now lost to view. The "thumb print" of wealth and elegance was there, but dimmed by commonplace usage and general neglect, for strangers own that once lovely home and have neither the money or the taste to make it attractive.
The old graveyard lies hard by, but no stone stands sentinel to tell who sleeps there.
"Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire, Hands that the rod of empire might have swayed Or waked in ecstacy the living lyre."
The Clarks that once made merry at that old home have passed away, and their descendants are scattered through many States; some still loll in luxury’s lap, while others have lost out, and know the bitterness of it; but there is left one God-given charm, that neither time nor chance can destroy, that is, the "river view" form Banister Lodge."
The will of John Clark provided that his son, Charles, should have a home when the proper time arrived, and besides the will we have the evidence in the following statement of one of his descendants:
"The will of John Clark stated that a river plantation was to be bought for his son, Charles Adolphus Clark. The only river plantation for sale at that time in Halifax county was ‘Rosebank’ on the Staunton river, which belonged to the Yuilles. It was purchased and Mr. Charles Clark lived for a while in the old Yuille house.
"He married February 18, 1846, Miss Eliza A. Spraggins. Just before his marriage Mr. Clark had Mr. Howard Cosby, of Halifax Courthouse, to build a brick house for him on the ‘public road’ about a mile and a quarter from the river. He and his bride moved in shortly after its completion.
"Mr. Clark superintended the laying out of his grounds by the slaves, of whom he had a goodly number. To the southwest of the house was situated a deer park. The flower garden, where he himself grafted roses, was approached through cathedral arches of arborvitae which led from the house.
"Mr. Charles Clark bought land and added to the original tract; he called the place "Hoveloke,’ an Indian name. After the Lynchburg and Durham Railroad was built his son, Thomas B. Clark, named the depot ‘Clarkton,’ and so the whole place has been called ever since.
"Charles Clark contracted tuberculosis when quite young and he traveled a great deal seeking his health in a milder climate. In that day and time the disease was treated very differently from what it is now. He visited the West Indies and spent nearly every winter in New Orleans. In his travels he went North and heard Henry Ward Beecher preach. When he returned home he remarked at a family gathering that abolition had gotten into religion and politics and that slavery was not going to last. He expressed it as his opinion that after slavery was abolished Southern plantations would be worked by the tenant system. His family, complacent and satisfied in their isolation, said ‘poor Charles he is losing his mind.’"
Nevertheless, he had his slaves make brick on his place and build six four-roomed tenant houses; they were erected on different parts of his plantation.
Charles Clark died at the age of thirty-nine years, two years before the civil War, and four of those brick houses are occupied by tenants today, the other two having been destroyed by fire.
Thomas B. Clark, the son of Charles and Eliza (Spraggins) Clark, being the only child, fell heir to "Clarkton," and lived and died there, and is buried in the family graveyard, a short distance from the mansion house, where the native oaks shelter with protecting shade this well kept "God’s Acre," where his parents are also laid to rest under fitting marble stones.
Charles Adolphus Clark, born February 9, 1821, died December 18, 1859.
Eliza A. Clark, born July 24, 1821, died February 1, 1897.
Thomas B. Clark, son of Charles Adolphus and Eliza Ann (Spraggins) Clark, Born February 9, 1851, died July 9, 1919.
Mr. Thomas B. Clark married April 30, 1878, Miss Grace Thomson, of New Orleans. She was the daughter of Adam Thomson, of Belfast, Ireland, one of the old Scotch-Irish clan, and close akin to the Murrys and Allens.
He came to America and settled in New Orleans, where he became a large sugar planter and merchant. He spent much of his time abroad, his daughter often traveling with him. When she married Mr. Clark and came to live with him at "Clarkton," beautiful as it was and is now, she must have felt the sudden transition from life in a large and gay city, with its varied amusements, to that of a remote plantation in the sylvan shades of Halifax county, but the nearness to several old country seats, homes of royal hospitality and refinement, compensated for the city life. Mrs. Clark is by nature domestic, enjoys her home and takes the greatest delight in having her friends enjoy it with her. She has two accomplished daughters, Anita Grace Clark, wife of Mr. Frank Robertson White (son of Mr. James L. White, and his wife, Kate Robertson, daughter of Governor Wyndham Robertson), they now reside in Washington State, and Miss Elise T. Clark, of "Clarkton."
"Clarkton" is a stately old mansion "all in white," with its massive pillars reaching to the roof. Broad piazzas, winding stairways and large square rooms, each exquisitely furnished in "heirloom" mahoganys of many designs, from the ornate tables to the tester beds in "my lady’s chamber," not one but six, each vieing with the other in exquisite mechanism. Old portraits, old china and old silver, that did service in "ye olden times," all so beautiful, and the home so perfectly equipped with all that is modern and convenient, one forgets amid such luxury that it is really a country seat. But that which charmed us most was the gracious hostess.
Near by is the little Clarkton church, where her most efficient work is done among the countryside girls and boys, and where she now having a parish house built. Mrs. Clark loves this work and gives much of her time and money in financing it.
Some family records of the grandparents of Nathaniel R. Coleman, of "Riverside," Halifax county, Virginia, as recorded by Colonel Nathaniel R. Coleman’s eldest son, Dr. E. A. Coleman.
John Coleman with two brothers came to Virginia from England about the middle of the eighteenth century. They were shipbuilders and settled first at City Point, later one brother went to Pennsylvania, where he and his descendants became wealthy.
John Coleman married Sarah Embry, of Gloucester county, Va., and took up lands. Later he removed to Halifax county and purchased a large estate and called his place "Woodlawn," not far from the little town of Clover.
John Coleman was a vestryman in the Established Church, Antrim Parish, Halifax county, between the years of 1752-1776 (Bishop Meade). He was present as justice of county court in 1763, and was magistrate in county court in 1776, which tried eight Scotch merchants, factors charged with disaffection to the cause of the Colonies and sentenced to depart.
John Coleman was a delegate to the General Assembly in May and October sessions of 1782.
Henry Embry Coleman, son of John and Sarah (Embry) Coleman, was born April 27, 1768, and married Ann Gordon June 13, 1795. He died December 16, 1837. She was born July 13, 1776, and died June 7, 1821. She was the daughter of Thomas Gordon and Peggy Murry, daughter of James Murry and Annie Bolling, daughter of Colonel John Bolling and Mary Kennon, son of Colonel Robert Bolling and Jane Rolph, daughter of Thomas Rolph and Jane Poythress. Thomas Rolph was son of John Rolph and Pocahontas.
Henry E. Coleman and Annie G. Coleman had the following children:
(1) John Coleman, married first Miss Clark, second Miss Love.
(2) Thomas Gordon Coleman, married Miss Annie Clark.
(3) Elizabeth Coleman, married Colonel Baskerville.
(4) Henrietta Maria Coleman, married Rev. John Clark.
(5) Margaret Murry Coleman, married Richard Logan.
(6) Sarah Embry Coleman, married David Chalmers.
(7) Ethelbert Algernon Coleman, married first Miss Simms, second Martha Frances Ragsdale.
(8) Jane Catherine Coleman, married Patrick Hamilton.
(9) Henry Embry Coleman, married first Miss Turner, second Miss Bester, and had Anne Gordon, Lena, Alice, and Perrin.
(10) Charles Baskerville Coleman, married first Miss Eaton and had Henry Eaton; married second Miss Sydnor and had Judith and Carrie.
Dr. Ethelbert Algernon Coleman, born February 12, 1812, died June 14, 1892, had by his second wife Martha Frances (Ragsdale) Coleman twelve children, of whom Nathaniel Ragsdale Coleman was the eldest son.
Nathaniel R. Coleman, married January 13, 1875, Annie Nelson Page, daughter of Frederick Winston Page and Annie Kinlock Meriwether, his wife, of Albemarle county, Virginia, and had the following children:
(1) Francis Coleman, born July 25, 1876, married Roger H. Williams.
(2) Natalie Coleman, born February 10, 1878, married Rev. George McLaren Brydon.
Henry Embry Coleman inherited "Woodlawn" and left it to his son, Charles B. Coleman, and he in turn left it to his daughter, Caroline, who married first Major Snowden and second Mr. Selden, and she sold it out of the family.
Sarah E. Coleman married David Chalmers and went to live with him at "Rose Hill," near News Ferry. Later Dr. Chalmers inherited his father’s estate, "Springfield," and moved to it, replacing the original frame dwelling with a brick colonial one in 1842. Afterwards "Springfield" became the home of Henry Embry Coleman, son of E. A. Coleman, and his wife, Sally (Crump) Coleman, the granddaughter of David Chalmers, and it is now occupied by their son, Oliver C. Coleman.
When Dr. Ethelbert A. Coleman, son of Henry Embry Coleman, married Miss Elizabeth Simms, he bought "Rose Hill" from David Chalmers, his brother-in-law, and lived there until his second marriage to Martha F. Ragsdale, when in 1841 or 1842 he built a brick colonial house not very far from the old frame dwelling at "Rose Hill" and called it "Creekside." This place was inherited by his son, Thomas G. Coleman, who sold it to its present owner.
Colonel Nathaniel R. Coleman, son of Ethelbert A. Coleman, inherited "Riverside," the home of his mother’s parents, where his widow, Mrs. Annie Nelson Page Coleman, now lives. Here the original dwelling house remains, the oldest pars dating back to Revolutionary days.
It was purchased by Nathaniel Ragsdale, father of Martha F. Ragsdale Coleman, about 1810.
Nannie Coleman, daughter of E. A. Coleman, married Thomas Edmunds. They lived at "Elm Hill," a fine old brick house, surrounded by many acres, including the lands of the pre-Revolutionary "old Glebe Church." He inherited it from his father. "Elam Hill" was sold in 1894 to Mr. Harris, its present owner.
Elizabeth Coleman, daughter of Ethelbert A. Coleman, married John Clark, who inherited "Banister Lodge."
The first census of Virginia gives John Clark, of Halifax, four whites and fifty-eight slaves in the tax list, and the court records show original land grants surveyed March 7, 1750, 366 acres on branch of Runaway creek and Bradley’s creek, transferred to Robert Weakley by order of Charles Coleman, August 5, 1771.
William Thompson, of Chesterfield county, sells to John Coleman, of Halifax county, on October 7, 1760, for 100 pounds, 400 acres on Piny branch of Difficult creek. The records contain a number of deeds to and from John Coleman in the county.
Lieutenant John Coleman, from Halifax county, was in the Revolutionary war. (See Doc. "F," War Department, 33-36.)
Many Colemans and Chalmers are buried in the church yard of the little church at News Ferry, and some of the representative families still live in this county.
The Craddocks are of Welsh extraction (sometimes spelt Caradoc), and it appears that Granville Craddock was the first of the name in this county and is mentioned as a vestryman in Antrim Parish in 1753. (See Meade’s "Old Churches and Families of Virginia.")
We lost sight of the name until 1819, when one Granville Craddock makes his will naming his wife Eliza, sons William Townes Craddock and Charles James Fox Craddock, and a daughter, Sarah Cornelia Craddock, whom he does not wish under any circumstances to be placed under the guardianship of a stepfather in the event of his wife, Eliza, marrying again. Should his wife marry, then Sarah C. Craddock, his daughter, is to be placed in the custody of Mrs. Nancy Wimbish, her grandmother.
Eliza, the wife, did take a second husband, but she very wisely waited until Sarah Cornelia grew into womanhood, when we find an indenture of marriage, May 2, 1837, between Abraham M. Poindexter, D. D. (Baptist minister), of the county of Wake, State of North Carolina, of the first part, and Eliza J. Craddock, widow and relict of Granville Craddock, late of Halifax county, Virginia, of the second part, and A. W. Wimbish, of the county of Campbell, State of Virginia, of the third part.
"Whereas, a marriage is shortly intended to be had, and solemnized by the permission of God, between the said Abraham M. Poindexter and the said Eliza J. Craddock is possessed of considerable personal and real estate, consisting of all the land left her by her deceased mother, Mrs. Nancy Wimbish, excepting a portion of which she has given in trust for her children, the following household furniture, plantation utensils, stock, horses, hogs, cows and twenty slaves, etc."
John W. Craddock was born in Halifax county and married November 24, 1853, Mary B. Easley. His brother, Charles J. Craddock, married January 21, 1852, Fanny Y. Easley, a sister of his brother’s wife.
The Craddock brothers graduated in medicine and practiced their profession as partners in Halifax county for many years, prominent local physicians held in high esteem, loved and respected by all.
How we used to love, almost worship, the old "family doctor," the embodiment of unselfishness and self-denial, going day and night through all kinds of weather to minister to some suffering patient. If the patient got well (they generally pulled through, for there were few medicines and no nostrums in the travel-worn saddle bags), "our doctor" was sure to get the credit for it, but if the patient died the Lord was punishing that family for some sin committed, for it was a stern Lord in those old days and we loved the pitying doctor more than the punishing Lord.
The children of Dr. John W. Craddock are:
(1) Charles Craddock.
(2) William Easley Craddock.
(3) John Bailey Craddock.
(4) Robert Owen Craddock.
(5) Frank Leigh Craddock.
(6) Edward C. Craddock, who married Mrs. Vaughan, daughter of Judge William R. Barksdale, and his first wife, Hallie Bailey (Craddock) Barksdale.
(7) Catherine Craddock, wife of D. L. Traynham.
(8) Eliza Craddock, wife of J. J. Lawson (children given under Lawson).
(9) Mary Craddock (married first Robert Lawson), wife of Lewis Johnson.
(10) Granville Craddock, lately deceased, one of the most efficient clerks that Halifax ever had. He married Martha Wyche, of Henderson, North Carolina, and left the following children, Elizabeth, Martha, Granville, and John.
(11) Miss Sarah Craddock.
Dr. Charles J. Craddock died at his residence near Halifax Court House, December 30, 1865, aged 47. His wife, Fanny Y. Craddock, died 1885. They left the following children:
(1) Dr. Thomas Easley Craddock, of Asheville, North Carolina.
(2) Abraham P. Craddock, of Lynchburg, Virginia.
(3) John Wimbish Craddock, born in Halifax county, August 14, 1858. Married December 6, 1886, Mary Peachy Gilmer, of Pittsylvania county.
Mr. Craddock is president of the Craddock-Terry Shoe Co., of Lynchburg, Virginia, a man of progressive ability and "an influential and positive factor in the local business community, and in the shoe trade of the East and South."
The quaint old home of the Craddocks is still standing, though fast falling into decay, for it now belongs to strangers, and there is little to recall the days when it was a hospitable center for the gathering of friends and relatives.
The grave of Dr. John W. Craddock we found at "Cluster Springs" in the "God’s Acre" of the old Thomas Easley home, where the Drs. Craddock found their wives, and where the aged wife of Dr. John W. Craddock still lives.
The hospitality of this old home is mentioned in Mrs. Phillips’ letter, relating her trip to North Carolina, wherein she says: "At the appointed time we left home for Black Walnut, a village south of Dan, and stopped with Mrs. Easley, my mother’s friend, a grand old lady, who gave us a most cordial reception. There I met her three children, Fannie, Mary, and William (Thomas), a youth who in after years was a captain of a company of United States soldiers, in the war with Mexico, in the regime of Santa Anna. This handsome gallant officer was killed in that war."
In the graveyard there we found on the slab, sacred to the memory of this handsome gallant young officer, these simple words:
"Lieut. Thomas Easley, of the U. S. Army, fell at the Battle of Churrubusco, near the city of Mexico, on the 20th day of August, in the 25th year of his age."
There is no epitaph nor verse to tell of his prowess or commemorate his virtues, but many letters from his companions in arms and schoolmates at West Point testify to his courage and brave service. "He fell dead at the head of the company he commanded." Think of the tragedy of it, in the bloom of early manhood! We know him only by this simple epitaph and the letters of his many friends, and we believe he "waded through slaughter to a throne."
Many brave boys went from Halifax to fight in the World War. Some did not return. Whether they fell on Flanders field, where the crimson poppies blow, or in the trenches, crimson with their blood, matters not now, for we know they died that we might live, and we do homage to their fealty, with a silent prayer for them and for their broken-hearted mothers, the bravest soldiers of them all.
In this graveyard we found a slab, "Sacred to the memory of John W. Craddock. Born 1824, died 1884." "I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, blessed are the dead that die in the Lord. From henceforth, yea saith the spirit, that they may rest from their labors and their works do follow them."
Another slab was sacred to the memory of Thomas Easley, born 1780, died 1835.
"An honest man here lies at rest, As ever God with His image blest. The friend of man, the friend of truth, The friend of age, the friend of youth."
We have just received from Mrs. Charles C. Crews, of Danville, Virginia, a chart of the Crews family, extending back to Egbert, King of Wessex, 800-836. Being too extensive for this history, we insert only that part of it that relates to and will interest the families of Halifax county mentioned therein.
Colonel George Reade came to Virginia in 1637, died 1671. Colonial secretary of Virginia. He married Elizabeth, daughter of Captain Nicholas Martian, of York county, Va. (See William and Mary Quarterly I, 90.)
Francis Reade (died 1694) married Jane, daughter of Colonel Edmund Chisman. (William and Mary Quarterly I, 90.)
Elizabeth Reade, married before 1706, Paul Watlington, born May, 1678, of Abingdon Parish, Gloucester county. (Abingdon Parish Register. William and Mary Quarterly III, 40.)
Paul Watlington, born in Abingdon Parish, May 7, 1706. Died June 8, 1752. Married Elizabeth (Armstead?). (Abingdon Parish Register, Gloucester county, Va.)
Armstead Watlington, born in Abingdon Parish, December 27, 1730. Lived there in 1756. Married Susannah (born January 16, 1736), daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Coleman, of Abingdon Parish, Gloucester county. Moved to Halifax county, Virginia, and was justice 1764 in Halifax. The census of 1782 for Halifax county gave him a family of six. He was appointed member of King’s Council in Williamsburg, Virginia, December 19, 1764, and justice of the peace, 1776, in Pittsylvania county. (Historical Magazine, Vol. XVI, p. 152.)
Elizabeth Watlington, married 1781, Peter Barksdale. (Family Bible of Judge W. R. Barksdale and Halifax records.)
William Peter Barksdale, born March 28, 1799, married Elvira Morton, March 3, 1824. She was born 1806. Issue:
William A. Barksdale, unmarried.
Elizabeth Barksdale, unmarried.
Louisa Jane Frances Barksdale, married John Bullock Crews.
Thomas Flournoy Barksdale, married first Emma Neal, second Nannie Cooper.
James Peter Barksdale, married first Josie Johnson, second Mrs. Sarah Williams.
Mary Virginia Barksdale, unmarried.
Robert Morton Barksdale, unmarried.
Alex. Sydnor Barksdale, married Ellen Martin.
Charles Nelson Barksdale, unmarried.
Louisa Jane Frances Barksdale, born September 10, 1830; died August 28, 1907; married John Bullock Crews, January 13, 1858.
William Henry Crews, married Emma Spigner.
Elvira Randolph Crews.
James Dabney Crews, married first Ella Grasty, second Sallie Holt.
Elizabeth Virginia Crews, married Harrison Martin.
Charles Crenshaw Crews, married Callie Woolfork, March 25, 1891.
Rosa Emaline Crews, married N. H. Hairston.
Frances Sydnor Crews.
Annie Laurie Crews.
Mary Virginia Crews.
John Bullock Crews.
Louse Barksdale Crews.
Charles Crenshaw Crews, married Callie Woolfork, November 25, 1891.
Hellen Griffin Crews, married William Deloney Hull.
Charles Richard Crews.
Charlotte Crenshaw Crews.
Peter Barksdale was recommended for ensign to Captain Epaphroditus White’s company of militia, February, 1779. (Halifax Pleas, 9, 388.)
William Sydnor was recommended as second lieutenant to Captain John Phelps company, Halifax militia, August, 1777. (Halifax Pleas, 9, 233.)
Nathaniel Barksdale served in the Revolutionary War. (See Auditor’s Account XV, 568.)
Peter Barksdale was also in the Revolution. (See House of Delegates, October, 1779, page 40.)
Many names mentioned in this history are not known in the county now except in the records at the court house, and the places of their homes are recognized by land grants, indentures and locations. It is pitiful, almost tragic, to look on the old home built so quaintly, so well, that it has stood the storms of a hundred and forty-two years. The one I am describing, tradition says, was the home of the Drinkards. Cut into one of the foundation stones was the date 1781. To support the tradition there is an indenture in the court house between Robert Bromfield and John Drinkard, wherein Bromfield sells to Drinkard for the sum of two thousand pounds, "paid in hand," a parcel or tract of land, five hundred acres, lying on both sides of Bates’ branch. The said tract of land being now in possession of Robert Bromfield and Peter Cruze, they both having plantations on the said tract, and the said premises are adjoining plantations and tracts of lands, to-wit: A tract of land formerly in the possession of Captain Epaphroditus White; a plantation or tract of land now in the possession of Richard North; a tract of land belonging to Simeon Holt and a tract belonging to John Hill, who sold and conveyed the same by proper deed of conveyance to the said Robert Bromfield, who conveyed to John Drinkard, his heirs, etc. Signed in the presence of William Oliver, Mary Oliver, Mel Spragins and Bernard McGuckin.
On the 6th day of April, 1781, William Bottom, of Amelia county, sells to John Drinkard, of Halifax county, four hundred and twenty-four and a half acres on Catawber creek, beginning at Ephriam White’s line.
On June 17, 1784, John Drinkard, Sr., of Halifax county, sells to William Vasser three hundred acres in the Parish of Antrim, on Catawber creek.
There are many indentures of land sales and lands bought by John Drinkard in this county, but none of the name seems to live in this county now. Professor A. w. Drinkard, of the Agricultural Experiment Station of Blacksburg (V. P. I.), Virginia, is a descendant of this family of Drinkards.
Among the marriage bonds I find record of the marriage of Professor Drinkard’s great-grandfather, Archibald Drinkard, to Edith Hawkins, of this county, September 21, 1802. Witness: Epaph. Sydnor.
On August 3, 1802, Phil Hawkins takes to wife Elizabeth Drinkard, of this county.
Witness: J. Wimbish.
James Monroe, Esq., being Governor of the Commonwealth.
The Easleys of Halifax county are very numerous, and only those who are individually interested would undertake to straighten out and connect the various lines. They may have all sprung from the same original source, but not from the same head in this county. Through the numerous wills and deeds recorded herein the descendants can place their ancestral lines without difficulty.
In 1786, January 12, we find recorded the will of Daniel Easley, wife Elizabeth, sons Daniel, Jr., Isaac, daughters Ann Easley, Mary Ann Parker, and Phoebe Adams. Grandchildren, Robert and Elizabeth Easley, children of John Easley. In 1782 an inventory of John Easley’s estate was taken and Daniel Easley was appointed guardian of the two children, Robert and Elizabeth. This Daniel died in 1786, and his son, Isaac, was appointed their guardian, and in1790 he renders an account of their expenses in part, vis.:
"To cash paid Philomon Hurt, for boarding, clothes, and schooling of Elizabeth and Robert Easley." Isaac, their guardian, hired out their slaves and rented the plantation. Among the small articles he bought for Elizabeth, now about grown, was numberless yards of ribbon, "lute string" and satin. We conclude that Elizabeth was pretty and dressed accordingly.
In 1812, October 26, the administration of Daniel Easley’s will, with the will annexed, was granted to Thomas Easley.
In 1823, March 2, the will of Drury Easley was probated. Wife, Susannah; children, Edward, Milley and Albert S. Easley; daughter, Jan Watkins. One-fifth of his estate put in trust in the hands of his son, William B. Easley, for benefit of Jane Watkins.
In 1810, Isaac Easley leaves a will. Wife, Judith; sons, Isaac and John. He leaves to John the tract of land on Dan river, where Samuel Easley now lives. To son, William, the land he bought from Thomas Easley, on the north side of the road leading from Meadesville to Halifax Court House. (See will.)
Dr. Henry Easley, of Cluster Springs, married a Miss Bennett, a descendant of the emigrant Bennett, who lived near Mayo, and built on the site of the present summer house of Mr. John Harris. The original house was built before the Revolution and was destroyed by fire. The present one was built by Mr. Robert E. Own, the grandfather of Mr. Harris, who, through his aunt, Miss Nannie Owen, inherited it.
In a corner of the garden are the graves of some of the Bennetts, among them Richard Bennett, born February 20, 1779, died September 14, 1828. Another old tombstone was that of Thomas Carter, born February 8, 1767, died February 14, 1830. The Easleys are buried in a plot on the farm.
Dr. Henry Easley married for his second wife (had no children by the first) Miss Ann Rebecca Louse Watkins, daughter of William Watkins, and had the following children:
(1) Andrew Easley.
(2) Thomas Easley (lately deceased), married Hallie Owen, daughter of Mr. William L. Owen, who survives him with the following children: Helen, wife of Rev. Stimson; Dr. Henry Easley, who married Miss Yuille, and Miss Hallie Easley.
Thomas Easley was clerk of Halifax court for several years. His first wife, by whom he had no children, was Miss Mary Moon.
(3) Henry Easley, who was born at Cluster Springs in 1847, and at the age of 17 entered the War Between the States. Joined Poague’s battalion of light artillery and served in it until the surrender at Appomattox.
Colonel Henry Easley has held many offices of trust in the town, county and State, and is at present one of the leading citizens of South Boston. He married August 15, 1873, Miss Nannie Preston Owen, daughter of Thomas E. Owen, and have the following children:
Irving Easley, wife of Howard Edmunds.
Owen, who married Susan Morton.
Annie, wife of Dr. H. S. Belt.
Mamie, wife of Wiltze Willingham.
(4) John Easley (Jack), who married first Miss Irving Owen, daughter of Mr. Thomas E. Owen, a sister of Mrs. Henry Easley and a half-sister of Mrs. Robert E. Jordan, Sr., and Mrs. Joseph Stebbins. They had one child, Mrs. Preston (Easley) Mulford (deceased).
Mr. Jack Easley married for his second wife Miss Jennie Owen, daughter of Mr. John Owen, a son of Mr. Robert E. Owen, and had:
(1) John W. Easley, who married his first cousin, Willie Easley (daughter of Thornton Easley).
(2) Elizabeth Easley, wife of Charles Skinner.
(3) Marie Easley, wife of Bruce Pendleton.
(4) Henry Alex. Easley, married Miss Florine Irby.
(5) William P. Easley.
(6) Virginia Carrington Easley, wife of Carl Taylor.
(7) Robert M. Easley.
(5) Fannie Easley, wife of Robert A. Penick (children given under Penick).
(6) Louise Easley, wife of Maurice Penick; second, of Moses Bendall.
(7) Bettie Easley, wife of Dr. Thompson.
(8) Mattie Easley, wife of William E. Owen (son of Thomas E. Owen), a daughter, Louise, wife of Rev. David Lewis.
(9) Hallie Easley, wife of Mr. St. Claire (one daughter).
(10) Thornton Easley, who married Emma Jordan (daughter of R. E. Jordan, Sr.).
The Easleys of the town of Halifax do not claim relationship with the above Easleys, but we have discovered from a very old member of the family that they did "cousin" each other fifty years ago.
Robert Easley was born in Pittsylvania county March 3, 1781. He married Nancy, born November 6, 1783. They lived near the old town of Peytonsburg. He died September 10, 1859. His son, James S. Easley, was born March 27, 1802, in Pittsylvania county. He married Miss Holt.
Robert Holt Easley, son of above, married Miss Louise Edmonia Gilmer, November 3, 1879, in Chatham, Pittsylvania county. They moved to Halifax, where Mr. Easley has since made his home. They have the following children:
(1) Elizabeth Easley.
(2) Florence Leigh Easley.
(3) James Stone Easley.
(4) George Gilmer Easley.
(5) Louse Easley.
Mr. James Stone Easley, son of above, is a prominent young lawyer and Commonwealth’s attorney for the county. He married Miss Margaret Lyle, of Rogersville, Tenn.
In 1681, a Robert Easley lived in Henrico county, Virginia. He died in 1711, leaving five hundred acres to his three children, viz.: John, Warham and Margaret (wife of Thomas Duprey). He mentions three younger children, Elizabeth, William, and Robert. This Robert Easley may have been the progenitor of the Halifax and Pittsylvania Easleys. The Pittsylvania Easleys were in Halifax before the county was cut off in 1767.
We learn from the records that the first court was held at "Hampton Wade’s house," and the tradition is that it was held at Peytonsburg, therefore we conclude that Hampton Wade lived at Peytonsburg, then Halifax county, now in Pittsylvania county. Marcellus French refers to it in his letter as a venerable place with few contemporaries.
Mr. Charles B. Easley, of Halifax county, Va., married October 17, 1877, a daughter of William Andrew Horsley, of "Rock Cliff," Nelson county, and his wife, Eliza G. Perkins, daughter of George and Eliza Richardson Perkins, of Cumberland county.
Letter From General George E. Pickett to Mr. William L. Owens, of Black Walnut, in Regard to the Death of Lieutenant Easley.
Dec. 7, 1847.
As this is the first and in fact the only opportunity that has occurred since the reception of your letter by General Twiggs, I have taken advantage of it to answer as far as I am able some of the inquiries concerning one of my best friends, Lieutenant Easley. We have been together for more than five years, classmates at West Point and in the same regiment after graduating. From constant association, the hardships we have undergone, and the struggles shared together, being form the same State and having so many interests in common, I had for a long time regarded him, I may say, as an elder brother and from the many kindnesses and little attentions he had shown me always and on all occasions when necessary, and could be appreciated, I had for a long time been well aware that the feeling was reciprocated. I therefore considered it my melancholy duty to write to his relatives and should have done so had not Lieutenant Jones, of his own regiment, informed me that he had done so, also as he had charge of his effects, papers, &c.
As far as regards his standing and reputation in the army I can give it to you in a few words. He was thought by all to be one of the most active, gallant and promising young officers in the service. His extreme bravery is shown by the manner of his death. He, Lieutenant Jones and fifteen men were together in front or face of the worst of Churrubusco, advancing towards it under a heavy fire from it, when a company of deserters from our ranks, who had enlisted in the Mexican service and were at that time defending the works, fired a whole volley right amongst them, killing my poor friend Easley dead, and killing or wounding the fifteen men, leaving Lieutenant Jones alone standing.
Lieutenant Easley was shot through the head, the ball inclining downward, and he must have died instantly. I believe he was more generally beloved than any other officer with us. It could not have been otherwise, for he combined such an amiable disposition with so much firmness and decision of character that no one could know him a week and not appreciate his character. He was a general favorite in my regiment, to which he formerly belonged, the Eighth, and we all felt his loss when he left us to join the Second, but I can not tell you how deeply grieved we were when we learned of his untimely fate. Every one knew he had lost a friend, and the service a gallant officer. I assure you this is not the only place where his loss is felt. He was known and loved by every member of my family. He, of course, was always with me in passing through Richmond and consequently became well known to both my father and mother; and in an answer to one of my letters my mother in speaking of him says she felt just as if she had lost a near and dear relative, and that my poor little note had caused as much sorrow as if he had been her brother. She and my sister had known us to be together so much and had heard me speak so often and so affectionately of him that they had grown to believe that he was my guardian saint, and the last remark my mother made was that she felt but little anxiety on my account during my journey, as Mr. Easley was going with me. That was when we left Virginia to join our regiment.
Should you go to Richmond you will do me a kindness by calling on my father, and I will insure you of a sincere and hospitable welcome. He would feel most hurt did he know you had been there and he not known of it. Lieutenant Easley’s trunk is in the hands of the quartermaster at New -------- (illegible) and can be obtained by applying to Colonel Hunt, the quartermaster at that place, with the military directions. The rest of his effects are now in the hands of Lieutenant Jones and will be forwarded by train which will leave within a few days.
+I must now bide you farewell, sir, with the hope that we may meet at some future time, when this disastrous and bloody war has closed, and we may then have an opportunity of conversing upon a melancholy though dear and interesting subject to us both.
"With my kindest regards to his mother and sisters, I remain,
Geo. E. Pickett."
Postscript to This Letter from Lieutenant Jones.
The remains of the lamented Easley have been taken up and properly enclosed for transportation to his native place. They will go to Vera Cruz, by train that leaves tomorrow, in charge of Captain Kingsburg. They will be shipped from there at the first opportunity. While there they will be in charge of Lieutenant Patrick, Second Infantry. Some of his effects, with the greater part of mine, were lost while coming into the city. The rest I have packed up and will send, as above stated. If you have not received my first letter, write me and I will again give you the particulars of the death of my best friend. This I write you on a vacant space in Pickett’s letter. He would have written by the first train, but knew that I had done so. Lieutenant Pickett, though not with us in the battle, was doing honor to his State in another part of the field.
D. R. Jones."
The above was the celebrated General George E. Pickett, of "Pickett’s Charge" at Gettysburg, and who was so prominent in the battles of Fredericksburg, Petersburg, and Five Forks. He was born in Richmond, Virginia, January 25, 1825, graduated at West Point in 1846, served in the Mexican war as lieutenant in 1847, was made captain in 1855. In 1861 he left the service of the United States and joined the Confederate army. He was commissioned brigadier-general and was distinguished throughout the war for bravery and activity. He died in Norfolk, Virginia, July 30, 1875.
Letter in Regard to the Death of Lieut. Thomas Easley.
"City of Mexico, Oct. 31, 1847.
The unfortunate incidents natural to an active service in the field it is my painful duty to announce to you have been fully realized in regard to your much beloved and deeply lamented brother, who fell dead at the head of the company he commanded while gallantly leading it to the attack upon Churrubusco. I was by his side when he fell, and it gives me infinite pleasure to bear testimony to his heroic valor on this occasion, as also to the high qualities of a soldier he had uniformly evinced. Being a classmate of mine, I had long known him as a companion, his amiable and gentlemanly character won my utmost esteem and friendship. The proceedings adopted at a meeting of the Second Infantry (and herewith enclosed) will show you the estimate in which he was held by his regiment and the sentiments therein contained. It is my honorable privilege to confirm from our intimate friendship, as classmates and room-mates of the Military Academy, and as members of the same regiment, and I beg leave to repeat here to you and to his bereft mother and sisters and brothers my deepest sympathy at the loss of so excellent a relative.
Your sympathizing friend and obedient servant,
D. R. Jones, Adjutant Second Infantry."
Excerpt From the Letter of Mrs. Mary Pickett to Mrs. Easley.
"My Dear Madam:
As we are about to send you the paper containing a beautiful and well deserved eulogism on your lamented son, written by one of his friends in Mexico and sent to us by another (Mr. Maury) from West Point, with the request that we would have it published, I cannot refrain from expressing my deep sympathy with your heavy affliction. My feelings on this sad occasion must be peculiarly strong, for I knew your dear son, and it was impossible to do so without being strongly attracted by his frank and charming manners. He was most fondly loved by my son, George E. Pickett, who had been in constant and affectionate association with him for five years, for they went out together to this fatal war. I was in the habit of constantly sending letters to my son, and receiving messages through my son from Mr. Easley. My son’s letters since the terrible battle of Churrubusco have been sad, indeed. The loss of his dear friend seems ever before him, and all that has been so affectionately said of him by his other friends has been written me by my beloved son. I know, my dear madam, there is no consolation for a bereavement like yours, but still I know it will be grateful to you to know how highly he was appreciated and how truly beloved by his companions and classmates.
May God, who alone can soften this blow, be with you and support you, for under similar afflictions, of which I have had many, I have proved that there is no other comfort. I will now close, dear madam, with the assurances of the sympathy of my husband and sisters.
Yours most truly,
Mr. F. R. Edmondson, the representative of the Edmondson family in South Boston, is a progressive and influential business man, with extensive tobacco interests in the re-drying department, and a leading member of the Co-operative Tobacco Association.
He is the son of Major H. A. Edmondson and his wife, Sally Owen (Poindexter) Edmondson (son of Richard and Susan (Chastain) Edmondson.
Major H. A. Edmondson had the following children:
Mary Jonson, wife of Edward G. Dorsey.
Susan Howell, wife of Captain Henry Edmunds.
Ann, wife of Joseph Farrall.
Fanny O’Connor, wife of James M. Faulkner.
Robert Hurt, married Sarah Glenn Hudman.
Rose Lee, wife of A. P. Craddock.
Elizabeth Archer, wife of Frank Willingham.
Willie Leander, wife of Thomas Barksdale Johnson.
Frank R. Edmondson, married Sarah Ridley Green, daughter of Alex. R. and Elizabeth (Wauhop) Green. They have four children: Archer and Frank (who are at Alexandria High School), and Lizzie and Sallie.
Mr. Edmondson has one of the handsomest and most perfectly equipped and furnished homes in South Boston, from which they extend a lavish hospitality to their many friends and acquaintances.
They are staunch members of the Episcopal Church and are reckoned among its most liberal helpers, and Mrs. Green, the mother of Mrs. Edmondson, who has been organist so many years, thrilling with celestial harmony under her magic touch, is now beyond the zenith of life, but still works unswervingly for the church and for the music, which is after all the soul of the service. With awe we say, "Well done, good and faithful servant." May the blessing of the Lord be the same.
The Edmondsons have intermarried with so many of the prominent people of Halifax that their kinship is intricate and interesting, and runs in lines reaching through many States. They were not wanting in courage or valor, for the Revolutionary roster contains many of the name, and eight fought in the Battle of King’s Mountain. Lieutenant Robert Edmondson, Sr., fought to his death, Robert E., Jr., was wounded, Captain William Edmondson was killed. Andrew, Sr., Andrew, Jr., John and Samuel were privates.
We do not know if there is any relationship between those bravest of the brave soldiers and the Edmondsons of Halifax, but we are inclined to think there was.
The Edmunds family came from the Eastern Shore to Charlotte county, and from Charlotte county to Halifax, where we find Henry Edmunds, of "Elm Hill," now the home of a Mr. Morris, from Philadelphia. His son is John R. Edmunds, of "Redfield," a grand old home built before the War Between the States by the slaves on the plantation with brick made by them and wood from the surrounding forest. It is in colonial style, contains fourteen rooms, with closets, etc., and is situated in beautiful surroundings, but it, too, has passed out of the family and now belongs to Mr. J. E. Boelte (not a native of Halifax).
John R. Edmunds married Mildred Coles, daughter of Isaac Coles, Sr., and his wife, Lightfoot Carrington, of "Springwood," near Meadsville. Their children were (1) Paul, (2) Nannie C., (3) Henry, (4) John R., (5) Lizzie Lightfoot, and (6) Sallie Edmunds.
Captain Henry Edmunds, of "Elm Hill," married Martha Morton, and their children were, viz.:
(1) Susan Edmunds, wife of Robert Gaines, of Charlotte county.
(2) John R. Edmunds, who married Mildred Coals.
(3) Charlotte A. Edmunds, wife of George W. Read, of Charlotte county.
(4) Major Littlejohn Edmunds, who married Sallie White (daughter of Dr. White).
(5) Sterling Edmunds, who married Mary J. Claiborne.
(6) Elizabeth Edmunds, wife of Dr. Robert Jennings.
(7) Sarah Edmunds, wife of Thomas Barksdale.
(8) Joseph N. Edmunds (Charlotte county), married Bettie Hodge.
John R. Edmunds was a wealthy man before the Civil War, a staunch sympathizer with the South, and among the many conspicuous services that he did was the building for the Confederate government that section of the Southern Railway lying between Danville and Greensboro.
He owned many slaves and other property and was also a large land owner.
Hon. Paul Carrington Edmunds (son of John R. Edmunds) married Phoebe Ann Easley, and they were the parents of Mr. Henry Edmunds, who, ever zealous of good works, established a home for orphan girls near the town of Halifax. It flourished for a good many years, with some shall help from the churches and charitable organizations, but as the inmates increased the expenses also increased and what to do with these girls after several years of training was a perplexing question and one that gave Mr. Edmunds a good deal of concern.
The responsibility was very great, there were no homes in which they could be placed, to work and to live, and after due consideration Mr. Edmunds turned the matter over to the church and the church converted the home into a community house. We do not know what disposition the church made of the girls in the home at that time.
Mr. Edmunds named the home as a memorial to his mother, "The Phoebe Ann" Home. He loved the work, and no doubt would have pursued it but for the force of circumstances and the best of reasons.
Mr. Henry Edmunds married December 16, 1892, Miss Louse Gilmer Riely, daughter of Colonel John W. Riely (C. S. A.), attorney-at-law and member of Virginia Court of Appeals (deceased). They have the following children:
(1) Emma Cabell Edmunds, wife of Rev. Locke White, missionary to China. They have two children.
(2) John Riely Edmunds.
(3) Elizabeth Holt Edmunds (a student in medicine).
(4) Margaret Carrington Edmunds.
(5) Louis Henry Edmunds.
(6) Richard Coles Edmunds.
(7) Phoebe Easley Edmunds.
(8) Paul Carrington Edmunds.
(9) Robert Holt Edmunds.
Among the first land grants and surveys was one made for Nicholas Edmunds of 2,435 acres.
There is a tradition in the family that Isaac Coles, Sr., died broken-hearted after the death of his beautiful wife, Lightfoot Carrington. They had three children: Mildred Coles, who married John R. Edmunds; Elizabeth Coles, who married Willis Walker (of Charlotte), and Isaac Coles, Jr., who married Fannie Green, and were the parents of Eliza Coles, who married Norman Spragins, and of Miss Eliza Burton Coles.
It is very seldom that we hear of a broken-hearted man, but Halifax has had more than one woman who died of a broken heart, if we must believe some its records.
Dr. Leander Faulkner was born in Halifax county November 11, 1818. After receiving the ordinary school education of those days, he attended lectures in Philadelphia in the University of Pennsylvania, and received therefrom a diploma of doctor of medicine, April 3, 1820. He returned to Halifax and began the practice of medicine. On the 14th day of January, 1846, he married Miss Sarah Elizabeth Green, the daughter of Thomas Jefferson Green and his wife, Frances Keeling (Burton) Green. Of this marriage there were born seven children, viz.: Thomas G. Faulkner, Charles J. Faulkner, Mary Elizabeth Faulkner, Mrs. T. W. Leigh, Leander Faulkner, Garland Estes Faulkner, Frank Faulkner and John Minge Faulkner.
Thomas Faulkner, the first of the name in the Colony, came in 1622 and settled in Elizabeth City County.
The first we find in Halifax county was Benjamin Faulkner (the great-grandfather of Leander Faulkner). He was born December 17, 1714, being the eleventh and last child of Thomas and Mary Faulkner, of King and Queen counties. He was married twice. By his first marriage he had three children, of whom Jacob Faulkner, the grandfather of Leander Faulkner, was the eldest.
Benjamin Faulkner was in Halifax county in 1780, as we find from the census of that year, in which he was listed as head of family of ten (whites) and eleven (slaves).
His son, Jacob Faulkner, did not come with him at the time he moved to Halifax, but came later and settled in Halifax and was for a number of years the county surveyor, and as such laid off the first town of South Boston (which was then called Boston and later Old Boston), on the south side of the river. Jacob Faulkner married Catherin Howerton.
Benjamin Faulkner married the second time, and of that marriage there were eight children, three sons and five daughters. One of the sons, Joseph Faulkner, was the grandfather of Mr. R. e. Jordan, Sr., and others of the Jordan family.
The will of Benjamin Faulkner, dated October 20, 1783, is recorded in Halifax county, July 15, 1784, and Jacob Faulkner was one of the executors.
James Faulkner was married three times – first, February 10, 1804, to Martha Jane Jordan; second, July 16, 1816, to Mrs. Obedience Major, a widow. She was a Hamlet, of Charlotte county, before her marriage to Major. He married, thirdly, December 28, 1837, Mary Averett. There were children of all of those marriages.
Leander Faulkner, the subject of this sketch, was the first child of the second marriage to Mrs. Obedience Major. He continued to practice medicine in Halifax county until 1900, when he received a sunstroke and remained in bad health until 1902, when he died and was buried in St. John’s church yard, Halifax, Virginia, of which church he had been a most consistent member and a vestryman for about fifty years.
Dr. Leander Faulkner was no ordinary country doctor, but a prototype for those who succeeded him. He was the first physician in this county to diagnose the disease, myxoedemer, and prescribe thyroid for it, when other doctors in Richmond, Lynchburg and in this county were treating the case for heart disease; and when the patient was taken to Dr. Osler, then of Johns Hopkins, Dr. Faulkner's diagnosis was confirmed and the same treatment prescribed. He was an intense student and always so deeply interested in his cases as to read everything he could obtain concerning them. He loved his profession so well that he not only ministered to the sick, but contributed to their necessities as well. He was a "country doctor" after the order of "Weelum MacLure," and gathered the love of his clients as he worked among them, counting their friendship as the gift of God.
When he left the University he was very anxious to go to China as a medical missionary, and it was a blessed thing for Halifax county that his wife was not willing to give up her home and all she held dear here, to accompany him, and so he fought, like St. Paul, a good fight here, and laid down his armor after a long and useful life.
Among his descendants now living is his daughter, Mrs. T. W. Leigh, who resides at Halifax in the old home of her father. How many anxious hearts and tired feet have gone up that walk, guarded by tall boxwood, to seek the Doctor, and said to say, many of them came just at twilight. The farm horse worked all day and could only be spared at nightfall, and the Doctor – God bless the country doctor – would frequently get out of bed to answer a call, well knowing that for remuneration there would be only gratitude and more love; but it was worth the self-denial, for he carried with him hope and comfort, and also the necessary medicine, for those were the day of "saddle bags" instead of drug stores. Mrs. Leigh has the following children:
(1) Sarah Leigh.
(2) Mary Grammer Leigh, wife of John Taylor.
(3) William Leigh.
(4) Thomas Leigh, married Louise Carrington (of Charlotte).
(5) Rebecca Leigh, wife of William Channing Harrison.
(6) Leander Leigh, married Bessie Monroe (of Brookneal).
1761 – Inventory of Matthew Flournoy’s estate, wife’s name Elizabeth. The estate was large and comprehensive, salves, lands, etc. Among other things was "Liquor for Charles Smith’s funeral." He had large interests in Prince Edward also.
The estate of Charles Smith, also a large estate, was wound up the same year, but does not indicate what relationship he bore to the Flournoys.
To Elizabeth Flournoy, one-third part.
To the orphans, two-thirds.
To orphans of Charles Smith, the balance due from Matthew Flournoy to the orphans.
One negro named Jacob, one named Dick, one named Hannah (Flournoy’s choice).
Thirty-two head of cattle, one-third part left on the plantation of the orphans, one-third part of which belongs to Mrs. Flournoy, and two-thirds to the orphans.
August 19, 1761.
Witnesses: Robert Wade, William Stokes, Abram Maury.
Robert Munford, C. C.
Settlement of the estate of Charles Smith, deceased, due to Flournoy, etc.
Thomas S. Flournoy was born in Prince Edward county, December 15, 1811. He was married, January 1, 1835, at General Edward C. Carrington’s in Halifax county, Virginia, by the Rev. Mr. Montgomery to Miss Susan Ann Love, daughter of Allen Love, Esq., a distinguished lawyer.
Alexander Brown says of Thomas S. Flournoy: "As a criminal lawyer Colonel Flournoy had few, if any, superiors in the State, and his power in swaying a crowd from the stump was second only to his effectiveness before a jury."
He died March 12, 1883, at his residence in Halifax county. He had by this marriage six children.
Thomas S. Flournoy married the second time, July 22, 1852, at "Cole’s Hill" (by Rev. John A. Scott) Mildred H. Coles, daughter of Hon. Walter Coles, of Pittsylvania county, and his wife, Lettice, daughter of Judge Paul Carrington, the elder, of Charlotte county (by his second wife, Priscilla Sims), and by this wife he had seven children.
The Flournoy family has been thoroughly written up, from its emigrant and origin to the present time. They did not belong to this county, except the names given above. The old Matthew Flournoy home was situated on a beautiful elevation commanding an almost unsurpassed view.
The old Flournoy home has been destroyed, but Mr. Henry Kraymer, who now owns the place, has built a very attractive house on the old site.
At the foot of a long sloping hill is the Flournoy graveyard, the thick undergrowth of shrubs, flowers, weeds and brambles would not admit of close inspection, but through the tangle could be seen some marble tombstones, and on a cleared spot was the grave of a soldier of ’61, the name and inscription too faded out of the painted board that marked the head to be deciphered. The place is remote and now owned by strangers.
What matters it where we lie in death?
"The world will turn when we are earth,
As though we had not come or gone;
There was no lack before our birth,
When we are gone there will be none."
The original settler on the site of the present Kraymer home was William Clairborne. We cannot ascertain the date of his building, but it was between 1790 and 1827. The house was burnt down, as were so many old homes in this county, and whether Matthew Flournoy rebuilt or lived on the side of the hill in a now very dilapidated house that was once a dwelling we cannot ascertain, but the graveyard being near this house would indicate that they did.
Among the Huguenots who settled in Halifax at an early date were the Fourqureans, the La Grands, Fontaines, Chastaines, Flournoys, and many others already mentioned in this book.
The Fourqureans came from the Huguenot colony of South Carolina to Halifax. To tell their whole story we would have to begin with Susanne Rochette, the little Huguenot girl who escaped from France to Holland in a sugar cask (hogshead) and was called in her family "Little Nightcap." (The history of her marvelous escape has been written up by Dr. Morton in the Religious Herald, Richmond, Va.)
Susanne Rochette married in Amsterdam, Holland, a Huguenot named Abraham Michaux. Their daughter, Jane Michaux, married Pierre Le Grand. Their son, John Le Grand, married Bettie --------; their daughter, Hannah Le Grand, married Elias Palmer; their daughter, Elizabeth Palmer, married Thomas Fourqurean; their son, Reuben Fourqurean, married Mary Baynham Boxley; their daughter, Elizabeth Baynham Fourqurean, married Robert E. Jordan, Sr., and their son, Robert E. Jordan, Jr., married Hallie LaFayette Turner.
No Huguenot ever came to the Colony or the county rich, but the Fourqureans accumulated very comfortable estates in slaves and lands, and some of the homes of the early settlers of that family are still standing, and give evidence of having been far ahead of the homes in general.
In the old "Cherry Hill" church yard is a section with the marble slabs of a half dozen Fourqureans, amongst them:
William Fourqurean, born 1812, died 1880.
Mrs. Parthenia Fourqurean, died 1851.
M. W. Fourqurean, born Oct., 1815, died April 15, 1836.
Daniel W. Fourqurean, born 1788, died Dec. 3, 1854.
Elizabeth Eggleston Boxley, born 1822, died 1875.
Near Black Walnut is a small stone enclosure in which are two slabs: "Sacred to the memory of Reuben Fourqurean, born Feb., 1812, and his wife, Mary Baynham (Boxley) Fourqurean, born Nov. 7, 1818, died April 15, 1868."
In this stone enclosure is also a monument, "sacred to the memory of Thomas E. Owen, who married the widow of Reuben Fourqurean."
The children of Reuben D. Fourqurean and Mary Baynham Boxley were:
(1) Elizabeth B. Fourqurean, wife of R. E. Jordan, Sr.
(2) Mary F., wife of Capt. Joh Fry (parents of the late John D. Fry, of Richmond, and of Miss Mamie Fry).
(3) Emma F., wife of William M. McCorkle (parents of Walter McCorkle, of Lynchburg, Va., and George McCorkle).
(4) Willie Fourqurean, wife of Joseph Stebbens, Sr. (deceased), parents of Mrs. John Walker.
(5) Thomas Fourqurean, married first Miss Gavin, of Texas, married second Miss Johnson, of Texas.
(6) George F., married Miss Cousins (parents of Annie, Archie, and Henry Fourqurean).
William French was born in Ireland, April 29, 1725. Died May 2, 1791. He married Winifred, who was also born in Ireland, 1722, and died May 1, 1786. The children were: Katherine, born February 5, 1747; Elizabeth, born March 30, 1749; Susannah, born January 1, 1751; Mary, born January 22, 1753; Margaret, born January 9, 1754; James, born November 5, 1756. (James went to Kentucky and married Miss Calloway, and was the grandfather of General J. B. Hood, C. S. A.); William, born September 18, 1758, died July 20, 1760; Stephen, born March 1, 1760, died May 22, 1842 (married Elizabeth Helen, born June 7, 1764); and Kizzie French, born December 5, 1761.
Stephen French and Elizabeth Helen had Susannah French, born November 21, 1790, died May 25, 1795; William French, born April 26, 1793; James French, born March 18, 1801, died May 6, 1850 (married Sarah Scarborough Butler Henry, daughter of John Henry and Margaret Williams, and granddaughter of Judge James Henry, of Accomac county, Virginia, and his wife, Sarah Scarborough, who was a daughter of Sir Edmund Scarborough, of England); and Stephen French, born July 29, 1804.
James French and Sarah S. B. (Henry) French, had Marcellus French, born February 14, 1831, at Warrenton, Virginia, married Elizabeth H. Logan (daughter of Senator Richard Logan, of Halifax county, Virginia), October 28, 1857.
Matilda Caroline French, born July 26, 1833, married first Franklin Gray, second Samuel Hewes of California, and died January 3, 1887. (She had one daughter by first husband, Franklin French Gray.)
James Henry French was born at Warrenton, March 26, 1835, and died at San Antonio, Texas, September 26, 1893. He married Sarah Lorrinilla Webb in San Antonio, October 15, 1856, and had Junius Rufus French, Olive Ann French, James Vassar French, Sarah Lorrinilla French and Franklin Gray French.
Junius butler French, born at Warrenton, Va., August 7, 1837. Killed at Gettysburg, July 1, 1863.
Rosalie Henry French, born August 4, 1839, and died in California, August 28, 1889. Married Arthur H. Brown.
Marcellus French and Elizabeth H. (Logan) French had the following children:
(1) Margaret Logan French, born in Halifax county October 26, 1858, died January 29, 1879.
(2) James French, born in San Antonio, Texas, in 1860, died in Halifax county, August, 1861.
(3) Sarah Henry French, born July 29, 1861, married Charles C. Carrington, of Halifax county, Va., August 20, 1883.
(4) Charles R. French, born December 25, 1863, married Mrs. Letitia Thornton (nee Edmondson), of Halifax county.
(5) Marcellus French, born June, 1865, died 1865.
(6) Junius butler French, born May 21, 1867; married first Hattie B. Dix, of Accomac county; married second, Miss Sadie Wyatt, of Chattanooga, Tenn.
(7) William Logan French, born April 19, 1869, in Pittsylvania county, Va.; married Sarah Lorrinilla French, of San Antonio, Texas, January 30, 1896.
(8) Julius Coleman French, born July 8, 1872; married Addie M. Sparrow, November 13, 1885.
Copy of a Letter to Miss V. Alice Henry, of Ingrim, Va.
My Dearest Cousin:
I hope you will excuse this delayed reply to your sweet letter of June 1st. I have been very constantly at work and you know that my business takes me from home a great part of my time. You are young and it gives me great pleasure that you take an interest in your family history; young people care too little in acquainting themselves with their ancestry and their genealogy, but, my child, the time is not far distant in the future when it will be difficult for many people to prove themselves of pure blood without an ancestral tree; some are laboring with that question now. When my home was destroyed by fire, September 25th, 1906, I lost all of my records of my past life, and everything that I held dear. Among them was a complete record of the Henry family, made by Prof. Totten, of Yale University, in tracing the genealogy of Patrick Henry, who was the greatest statesman this country ever produced.
Alexander Henry, the grandfather of Patrick Henry, and the grandfather of Judge James Henry, of Accomac county, consequently they were first cousins.
James Henry, my great-grandfather and your great-great-grandfather, was a judge under the kings of England, educated in law at Edinburgh University in Scotland. He was a member of the Continental Congress and of the House of Burgesses of Virginia, and judge of the General Court, now called the Court of Appeals. His statue is in the Library in Washington. He was a very wealthy land owner in Northumberland, King and Queen and Halifax counties.
He owned 20,000 acres, on a part of which you now live. The line to cut off the County of Pittsylvania from Halifax was run in 1767. The old part, the west end of the house in which you live, was then standing. The bricks in the west end chimneys were brought from England, and also the mahogany doors. That portion of the house was built before the Revolution, when the country was nearly all forest and bears were plentiful.
Judge Henry never lived there, but my grandfather, John Henry, traded his estate in King and Queen county for ‘Woodlawn’ with his brother, Charles, who was given the Halifax land but refused to live in such a wild country. His son, Charles, while on a visit to his Uncle John was stabbed by a man named Griffin and died in the little room back of the parlor. Griffin escaped punishment, so you can believe it was a wild country.
Grandma sent my mother away from Halifax to her aunts Eustice and Moncure in Stafford county, where she met my father, who lived in the adjoining county of Prince William. When they were married my father moved to Fauquier county, where I was born, and then my mother was separated from grandma about two hundred miles. They used to visit each other in their carriages.
Grandma twice carried me home with her, once when I was four years old, and again when I was six. I used to go hunting with my uncles, James, Sam, and John, who kept me good by threatening me with the bears.
Peytonsburg was the first county seat of Halifax. When the Pittsylvania line was run, the court house was cut off a mile into Pittsylvania county.
The branch that crosses the road at Gordon Kirby’s used to run from the Court House Spring, and it is called Court House Branch to this day.
Peytonsburg has but few contemporaries, the first court was held there about *1748. Its appearance detracts from the veneration it is entitled to from its longevity. How much longer it may linger it is impossible to surmise.
[*In this I am sure he is in error, as Halifax county was not organized until 1752. This may have been Punch Spring, where the court was held in May, 1753.]
When I was a little ‘kid’ my mother wrote her letters to that office, with 25 cents postage. My grandparents had the most beautiful flower garden in Halifax. There was no flower or shrub in England that was not transplanted to that garden. It was scientifically laid off into terraces and the hedges trimmed so flat that snakes could sun themselves on the smooth level tops. When my mother left the Moravian School at Salem, she told me that her father, John Henry, took her to school in Richmond, Virginia, in his four-horse carriage.
When Judge Henry visited his Halifax estate he traveled in his four-horse coach, which had the family coat-of-arms on the doors.
Judge Henry’s wife was Sarah, daughter of Colonel Edmund Scarborough Henry. The Scarborough family of Accomac county were very distinguished people and were living there as early as 1638.
I have the genealogy of the Williams family, which furnished to the National Legislature seven member of Congress, two United States Senators, two State governors and several judges.
Two sons of Nathaniel Williams, of Hanover county, Virginia, married two sisters, Sarah and Rebecca Lanier. Robert Williams, my great-grandfather, married Sarah, whose Daughter Patsey, married John Henry, and Patsey’s sister, Sarah, married James Chalmers.
This is all I can do for you at present. I will try to get another copy of the Henry family, it will surprise you.
Berryman Green was born in Westmoreland county, Virginia, in 1754. This family dates back to an illustrious line of "Buckton," Northamptonshire, England.
He enlisted in the Revolutionary war as a private, in 1776, and served through the war as quartermaster on General Washington’s staff. He was unfit for active service, being lame.
He married Nancy Terry, daughter of Nathaniel Terry, gent., burgess of Halifax county.
He died in this county September 13, 1825. Nancy, his wife, died February 20, 1837. They were buried at the old "Thompson Place," near "Banister Lodge."
Their children were, viz.:
(1) Elizabeth Dickerson Green, who married her cousin, Colonel Joe Coleman Terry.
(2) Berryman Green, Jr., married Ariana Vaughan.
(3) Mary Green (died).
(4) Sarah Green (died).
(5) Thomas Jefferson Green, married Frances Keeling Burton.
(6) Nathaniel Terry Green, married Annie Colquehoun.
From Colonel Berryman Green descended some of Halifax county’s most honorable and substantial citizens.
This data given is from the family Bible.
Excerpts From the Family of Berryman Green, the Revolutionary Soldier.
Written by Mrs. Emma Green Phillips, as told her by her mother.
Francis Keeling Burton, born at "Nine Oaks," North Carolina, December 11, 1797, married October 5, 1818, at Chapel Hill to Thomas Jefferson Green, born December 26, 1795, and had issue:
(1) Sarah Elizabeth Green, born July 7, 1819, at Chapel Hill, N. C.
(2) John Burton Green, born September 10, 1820, in Halifax, Virginia.
(3) James Minge Green, born February 23, 1822, died unmarried.
(4) Frances Keeling Green, born March 23, 1824.
(5) Berryman Green, born September 15, 1825 (the day after the death of his grandfather, Captain Berryman Green (Revolutionary soldier).
(6) Thomas Jefferson Green, born March 4, 1827.
(7) Nathaniel Terry Green, born March 17, 1829.
(8) Robert Bromfield Green, born December 28, 1830.
(9) William Leigh Green, born December 22, 1832.
(10) Emma Green, born January 16, 1835.
(11) Clarence Green, born September 12, 1838 (died in infancy).
(12) Alexander Ridley Green, born December 8, 1841.
I have given the names of the children of Thomas Jefferson Green and his wife, Frances Keeling Burton, because they belonged to Halifax county, and it was from her mother that Emma Green Phillips received the interesting reminiscences recorded.
"My father, Thomas Jefferson Green, gave to my brother, Robert Bromfield Green, a condensed history of our line as follows:
"There were six brothers (Greens) born in Northamptonshire, England, near Stratford-on-Avon and Sulgrave Church.
"During the reign of Charles II and the life of Cromwell there was a division of the family, some in favor Cromwell and some for King Charles.
"About the year 1630 Sir William Green sailed ‘on the ship Speedwell’ for America and came to Virginia and settled on the Eastern Shore in Westmoreland county. In Bishop Meade’s book, ‘Old Churches and Families of Virginia,’ he says of Westmoreland: ‘It was called the Athens of Virginia because of the worth, talents and patriotism of its people.’
"Here my great-grandfather, Thomas Green, was a vestryman in Pohick church and counsellor to King Charles II. He married Anna Berryman. Their son, Berryman Green, my grandfather, was named for his mother’s father, Berryman.
"Judge Berryman Green, of Danville, Virginia (now dead), bore the name, also the Rev. Berryman Green, of the Theological Seminary near Alexandria, Virginia. Some of the Greens were called ‘White Greens’ because of their fair complexion and light hair. My grandfather was of the fair Greens, but I have been told that he had a glint of red in his hair. One of the ‘Red Greens’ was duff Green, of Orange county, Virginia.
"Mr. Berryman Green was captain of a company in the War of the Revolution. When General Washington, with his army, was in Pennsylvania, about the time of the Battle of Valley Forge, his men were in great need and suffering for food and supplies. He wrote an urgent call to General Lee to find him an energetic and trustworthy officer for quartermaster to look after the comfort of his men. General Lee wrote him he had found the right man for the work, Captain Berryman Green, but he hesitated about accepting the position, as it would put him out of line of promotion in the army.; General Washington was so insistent that Captain Green resigned his position and went to aid him in relieving the suffering and the need of the army there. It was there Captain Green met his first wife, Anne Pritchard. Her parents were from England and loyal to the crown. General Washington ordered Captain Green to secure rooms for the officers. He found a large, comfortable house, and was making the rooms on the lower floor, on hearing someone open a door across the hall he doffed his hat and turning bowed to a lovely woman with black hair and eyes. She spurned his salute with a shrug and turned her back on him. But that day their fate was sealed. It proved to be love at first sight and they were soon after married. In those days there were no railroads or stage coaches, most of the travel was on horseback. My grandfather owned a splendid horse and his bride was a magnificent rider; so when he began his long trip to Virginia he proudly seated his beautiful bride on his charger and for his mount took a work horse; thus they happily jogged along through the wild country with ‘saddle bags’ to carry their clothing instead of trunks of the present day, and were half way to their Virginia home when the charger took fright and ran away, throwing his wife and breaking her leg above the knee. This happened near a farm house, where she was taken in and cared for until able to travel, when she was placed in an army wagon on a bed to finish their journey to their Westmoreland home, where they lived for some time. Then his first wife died, I do not know the date. She left five children. Anne, the oldest, married a Mr. Barksdale and moved to Ohio before the State was cut off from Virginia. Hulda (or Hilda) married Colonel James Thompson and lived in Halifax county. Lucy married Colonel Stephen Davenport, who owned a farm near Colonel Thompson’s estate. Hannah died unmarried, and Anthony Wayne, named for ‘Mad Anthony Wayne,’ the fiery fighter. Uncle Anthony lived in Halifax county on the south side of Dan river, married and raised a family. When the mother of these children died, they being young and helpless, grandfather and children moved to Halifax county. He endeavored for some time to look after them, but found it absolutely necessary for their happiness and comfort for him to marry again. Colonel Nathaniel Terry, who fought at the Battle of Yorktown and was aide to General Washington, lived in Halifax, and Captain Green knew him intimately during the war, so he visited Colonel Terry to ask his advice. (This Colonel Terry was a member of the House of Burgesses at Yorktown, Virginia. There is a monument to the members of the House and his name is inscribed thereon.)
"When my grandfather arrived at the home of Colonel Terry he found there three young ladies, the Misses Terry, his host’s daughters. After becoming well acquainted with them, he asked permission to address his daughter. Colonel Terry answer, ‘There are three of them, Captain, take your choice.’ He chose Nancy, the eldest, and was accepted. They were married and his second wife proved to be the kindest and most affectionate stepmother to his first children, who loved her devotedly.
"Colonel Terry was a very influential and wealthy gentleman in Colonial days, and after the Revolutionary war had enormous land grants (extending along the Banister river form Pittsylvania county, down through Halifax for miles below ‘Banister Lodge’), ‘for services rendered in the war.’ Nancy, who married Captain Green, must have fallen heir to some of it.’’
"I have not seen the Terry coat-of-arms, but the grandson of my aunt, Elizabeth Terry, Mr. David Webb, of Halifax county, has it.
"Captain Berryman Green moved with his family to large fertile farm he owned about two miles from the county, seat, then called ‘Halifax Court House,’ but there was no court house there then.
"Berryman Green was then deputy clerk, and seeing the need of more room than he then had, and also seeing the need of a room in which to hold court, he built a house, so large, so the country people then thought, that they called it ‘Green’s Folly,’ but to my grandfather it seemed wisdom. After passing through a large front porch you entered a very spacious, high-pitched hall. This he intended to be, and was, used as a court room until the court house was built. On the right hand was a room for the jury, on the left his bedroom, back of this the nursery and back stairs, and back of the large jury room was the dining-room; the main stairway led from the hall to the second floor.
"The house is still in good state of repair. In the front porch there now stands two long wooden benches that my grandfather had made of boards, four inches thick, with solid board legs, mortised in with solid wooden pegs, not a nail in them, and just as perfect as though made yesterday. These I saw in July, 1914, when I was taken there to see the dear old homestead by my niece and her husband, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Penick.
"Halifax Court House of olden days is now called ‘Houston,’ and the good people of Houston and South Boston bought the old seat of ‘Green’s Folly’ and converted it into a beautiful ‘club house.’ Some changes were made, but the electric lights and baths were run by water from the splendid old well.
"The children of my grandfather, Berryman Green, and his second wife, Nancy Terry, were, viz.:
"(1) Elizabeth Dickerson Green, who married Colonel Joseph Coleman Terry (her cousin, Berryman Green, married Aria Vaughan).
"(2) Mary (Polly), never married.
"(3) Sarah (Sallie), died in girlhood.
"(4) Thomas Jefferson Green, married Frances Keeling Burton.
"(5) Nathaniel Terry Green, married Anne Colquehoun.
"My grandfather was careful that all of his children should be educated. Aunt Polly, being the youngest living daughter, was petted and kept at home and taught until grandfather said she must have better opportunities. So after much preparation of a suitable wardrobe, she was packed off to a first-class boarding school for higher studies. She went on a bright Monday morning, and on the following bright Saturday morning she came back gave notice that she would ‘never go back again,’ and she never did. Being naturally bright and witty in conversation, with a sufficient tang of sarcasm to interest and amuse without offending, warm-hearted and affectionate, she endeared herself to every one, and my father and mother were devoted to her.
"My father was the fifth child of Captain Berryman and Nancy (Terry) Green. He and Nathaniel Terry Green, about one year younger than my father, were as devoted to each other as twins. Their primary education was in some country school, for there were no free schools in those days. Then they went to a noted teacher in the higher branches of education, a Mr. Levi Holbrook, who pre pared them for college.
"When my father was about eighteen years old, my grandfather and my father set out on horseback for long jaunt through the wilds of colonial or old Virginia to survey and sell his land grants which he had received from General Washington ‘for services rendered in the War of the Revolution,’ in all four thousand acres (copied from General Survey in Land Office, Washington, D. c., September 22, 1910), as follows: In the counties of Fayette, Pickaway, Ross, Madison, Franklin, Pike, and Fairfield; townships, Darby, Union, Monroe, Deer Creek, Perry, Deerfield, Wayne and Sunfish. Since that time the city of Cincinnati has been built on some of that land. All of the land, except what he gave to his first child, Ann Barksdale, he sold for four dollars an acre.
"On his return to Halifax he entered his two sons, Thomas Jefferson and Nathaniel Terry Green, in the University of North Carolina, called ‘Chapel Hill.’ He told them his chief reason for selling his lands was to have the means to give them a college education, and that they must study earnestly and do their utmost to distinguish themselves in later life.
"Grandfather’s earnest admonition was kept in loving remembrance, and brought him rich reward in their brilliant success, both graduating with high honors at the same time – ‘Uncle Nat’ choosing the medical profession and my father taking the law course. Both became eminent in their professions and won sincere respect and appreciation from all who knew them.
"My mother’s parents were James Minge Burton and Elizabeth (Ridley) Burton. They had three sons, John, Robert and Broomfield Burton, and two daughters, Frances Keeling Burton and Martha (Patsy) Burton. They entered the two eldest boys in the University of North Carolina, ‘Chapel Hill,’ about the same time my father went there, and he knew the Burton boys and visited them in their home. There he met their sister, ‘Frankie,’ Miss Frances Keeling Burton, loved her on sight, for she was more than pretty, with lovely, gentle manners, and sang sweetly, so they were engaged before they left college, and a month or two after he graduated they were married in the hall of the University, October 5, 1818, to please the students and their many friends, as my grandmother’s parlor was not large enough to accommodate half of the guests.
"They had a most cordial and affectionate invitation from my mother’s uncle, James Hamilton, and Aunt Polly, his wife (formerly Mary Ridley), to come to New York and spend their honeymoon with them, but as he was anxious to begin in his new profession, he declined this invitation and started the next day for their new home in Virginia.
"She brought with her an offshoot of white jasmine (her favorite flower) and planted it near the garden gate of her new home in Halifax, and nourished it all through her life, and gave to her granddaughter, Frances Burton Coles, a slip from it, which is flourishing now at ‘Riverside.’ Frances Burton Coles and her youngest brother, James Alexander Coles, are living on the farm, both in very feeble health.
"In the year 1802 my father was elected to the House of Delegates, and while in Richmond he took grandfather there to be treated by noted physicians, but he did not improve. He returned home, hi sufferings greatly increased, and he died September 14, 1825, and was buried in the family burying ground at the home of Uncle James Thompson and Aunt Hulda, his wife (one of grandfather’s first wife’s daughters). Grandmother did not live long after grandfather’s death, and at her death was buried beside him, and Aunt Polly, who died many years afterwards, asked to be buried at their feet. His youngest daughter, Sarah, was the only member of his family to be buried at the old home near Houston. I do not know who bought the place, but Captain Philip Howerton was living there in my young days, a splendid type of the "Old Virginia Gentleman,’ with a charming family of four daughters and one son – a place where the young people flocked for fun and jollity. After Captain Howerton’s death it changed hands, and has changed many times since.
"While a delegate in Richmond my father had his portrait painted, he said, ‘that my children might know how I looked when I was young,’ and he also had a miniature painted for a gift to my mother. It was a work of art and set in a frame of heavy red gold, oval in shape, with a lock of his hair under glass in the back. My mother said when he gave it to her there was a blue ribbon run through the ring and tied in a ‘love knot,’ that she might wear it on her neck. When mother died she gave it to my sister (Frances Keeling Coles), and when she died it went to Frances Burton Coles, who has now given it to her niece, Frances Keeling Coles (widow of Mr. Arthur Burroughs) and great-granddaughter of my mother.
"While my grandfather was in Richmond my father, fearing that he would not live long, had his miniature painted also and gave it to him ‘to do with just as he pleased.’
"When he died he willed that it be given to his oldest daughters and granddaughters through succeeding generations. It passed through the hands of all his daughters by his second wife, and their daughters, until it came to Cousin Emily Yancey, of Richmond, Virginia, and when she died she charged that it be sent to Aunt Polly Green, his last living child, and unmarried.
"When Aunt Polly Green died she left it to my sister, Sarah Elizabeth Faulkner. After its various wanderings, I saw it for the first time after I was married, when on a visit to my sister, she then told me of my grandfather’s will in regard to it. She said she would give it to ‘Mittie’ for her lifetime, and then it would go to little ‘Sadie,’ MIttie’s oldest child, and her grandmother’s special pet.
"When my father was in Richmond, my mother was living a few miles from Halifax Court House, up the mountain road, with her two little children, Sarah, one year old, and John Burton, an infant. She had faithful, devoted servants, and felt secure, but one morning (I do not remember the exact date, but it was between 1820 and 1821) my mother was aroused early in the morning by the cook knocking at the door and calling in a frightened tone, "Get up quick, Mis Frances, and dress. Oh, my poor dear mistis; the niggers is a risen, away down yander in Southampton, date ole Nat Turner done started de debbil’s work, killin’ de pore white folks.’ My mother hastily dressed the children and herself, when Dick, the man my father had charged to take care of his mistress till he got home, appeared at the door and said, ‘Missis, don’t you be scared, ain’t nobody gwinter hurt you, for I got a good place for you, you just give me a comfort and some pillows and blankets and I’ll be back here by eleven o’clock.’
"My mother hunger her treasured miniature around her neck, packed a basket of food, and with Dick carrying Sarah and the basket, and she with the baby boy, they soon reached the hiding place, which was a cave under the hill, the mouth concealed by bushes.
"Dick had swept it out, and with fresh dry leaves covered with an old rug had converted it into a very comfortable hiding place. He brought an old tin lantern and three tallow candles, and a box of matches, and it was there my mother said she spent her first night in a pre-historic home, many years before kerosene oil was heard or dreamed of.
"’Des lay down and go to sleep, Mistis,’ said the faithful Dick. ‘Kass I ain’t gwine to close my eyes dis night, and nobody ain’t going to hurt you, tell dey pass over my dead body, and dat will be a long time from now.’
"There she spent a day and two nights; early in the morning after the second night, the faithful guard went to get breakfast for the cave dwellers and inquire if there was any news, when suddenly my father galloped to the door, his horse white with foam, and he nearly wild with fright, as he called to
Dick, ‘Where are my wife and babes?’ ‘Come on wid me, Mars Tomie, and I’ll show you ‘zactly whar dey is,’ and on reaching the mouth of the cave, Dick pulled back the concealing branches, with a broad grin, said, ‘Go right in dar, Mars Tom, my Mistis jest as well and purty as ever.’
"My father thought it was a dreadful experience. ‘Yes,’ said my mother, ‘but I wore your miniature next to my heart, for I thought if I had to die I would have my dear husband’s picture on my heart.’
"My father, it seems, had heard of the Nat Turner insurrection, and had traveled day and night without stopping, except to relay horses on the route.
"I do not know how long my father was in the Legislature; he had been Commonwealth’s Attorney, long before I was born, until the Confederate war. After the war a Yankee wanted him to sign an oath that he had never given aid or comfort to the Confederate army; he answered, ‘I will never swear to or sign my name to a lie, I had five sons, two sons-in-law, and one grandson in that army; I gave it all the aid and comfort I possibly could, and would continue to do so if it was necessary,’ so his office was taken from him and given to a Yankee shyster lawyer. I do not know his name, but I know they could never strip him of the honors he had won, long before they invaded and devastated our beloved Southland, God bless her.
"In 1843, about October 1st, my mother received an invitation to visit her uncle, Dr. James Ridley, of Oxford, North Carolina; her youngest child, Alexander Ridley Green, was just two years of age.
"When my father came from Pittsylvania court, she gave him the letter to read. After reading the letter he insisted on her going, saying: "The older boys are here to take care of the younger, the servants are here to wait on them; it is all right, even if I should have to leave them to attend court, so write your uncle to expect you, Emma and Baby Sandy week after next, and get yourself ready for the trip through the country.’
"At the appointed time we left home for Black Walnut, a village south of Dan river, and stopped with Mrs. Easley, my mother’s friend, a grand old lady, who gave us a most cordial reception. There I met her three children, Fannie, Mary and William Easley, a youth who in after years was captain of a company of United States soldiers in the war with Mexico in the regime of Santa Anna; this handsome gallant officer was killed in that war.
"Her two daughters married two brothers, Drs. Charles and John Craddock.
"Early the next morning we left Mrs. Easley’s on our journey to Oxford. We had fair weather until noon, when it clouded up and a steady rain set in, continuing until night, with creased violence and pitch darkness. Between 8 and 9 o’clock the horses came to a dead stop, and little Sandy, being by that time coughy and croupy, my mother said to the driver, almost in despair, ‘What shall we do?’
"In a few minutes we heard the steps of a horse (mother had just given the baby a dose of cough syrup, measured in her thimble); a gentleman called out in the darkness, ‘Who’s there?’ ‘Kind sir,’ my mother answered, ‘we are travelers, fast in the mire and darkness, with my little children and by baby threatened with the croup. My husband told me on leaving home that if I could reach the home of Dr. Tharp before the night of the second day I might feel assured of a warm welcome.’ When asked her husband’s name, she told him, "Thomas Jefferson Green, of Halifax Court House, Virginia.’ He said, ‘Mrs. Green, how glad I am to have met you at this critical moment, for I am Dr. Tharp, and will soon have you in my home, just up the avenue there, in call.’
"Then he turned to Uncle Allen, the driver, and said, ‘Well, old man, haven’t you any light?’ ‘No, massa, I was dependin’ on de moon, but she done zerted me de fust time, when I needed her de most."
"’No one in the carriage to help you?"
"’No, sar, massa, just my mistis and her two little children wid nuss gal, an’ a nuss ain’t no count ‘ceptin’ to hold a baby and de rattle.’
"’That’s right, old man,’ said the doctor, laughing.
"Then the doctor gave a ferryman’s call, and immediately an answer came from the house. ‘Order supper for travelers,’ he said, ‘and bring a double team of mules and boys with torchlights.’
"In five minutes I heard the clanking of chains on the mule teams, and looking out had my first view of a parade of torchlights, not those of paper boxes on poles, as in the national capital, but Simonpure lightwood knots from giant pines of grand old North Carolina, held high in the hands of about twenty men and boys, faming and flashing in the darkness as they marched down each side of the team.
"It was a beautiful sight to my young eyes; the jaded horses were taken out and the four mules hitched to the carriage, the drivers mounted their teams, and with Allen on the seat, moved off with as little effort as if the carriage had been a paper box.
"Up the avenue of cedars we moved with the ‘light brigade’ each side, escorting us, Dr. Tharp riding horseback near mamma.
"Mrs. Tharp and her two daughters met us in the front porch with lights and kind greetings. We were taken to a cheerful room with a blazing fire. The doctor treated little Sandy and we were invited in to a bountiful and hot supper. They all sat at the table with us and talked to mamma. After supper I was put to bed and knew nothing more until I was aroused for breakfast.
"The doctor and his wife wanted mamma to stop over and pay them a visit, but she was anxious to get to Oxford that day, so everything was made ready for the last lap of our trip.
"After saying ‘farewell’ to the ladies, my mother turned to the doctor to thank him and to say ‘good-bye.’ ‘Not yet, Mrs. Green,’ he said, ‘I am going to Oxford with you to see that you do not have another such one as last night.’
"We were received with open arms by Uncle James and Aunt Betsy, and it seemed so strange to me to hear them call my mother ‘Frankie,’ as if she were but a little girl.
"Uncle James came in the next morning from the farm yard and said: ‘Frankie, I must apologize to you for reproving your driver a few minutes ago for neglecting to wash the horses’ legs last night after their long drive. I told him that was not the proper way to treat your carriage horses.’ He seemed very sorry and humble, and said, ‘Lor, Marse Jeems, I hope you don’t think these is my mistuses’ carriage horses. Sir, deese is de plow horses, and de traveling carriage. No, sir, Marse Jeems, my mistis’ blooded horses is at home eatin’ dey long corn, and her visitin’ carriage is got de kiver on it in de carriage house, waitin’ for her to go back home.’
While Uncle James was telling this mamma’s eyes opened wide with amazement and laughter. ‘Is it possible that that scamp has concocted such a romance for your deception and his defense? He told the truth when he said they were the plow horses, and should have added, ‘and for every other purpose.’ You must excuse him, uncle, it is a habit among Virginia darkeys to brag on what they call ‘our quality folks’ when speaking of their masters and mistresses, as well as everything belonging to them.’
"Everybody laughed at Uncle Allen’s expense over his amusing pride and pomposity."
The Harts were once very prominent in this county, owning large landed interests, and the tradition is that South Boston was built upon a part of the Hart estate, which tradition is partly true, as there are many deeds on record from Anthony Hart to Thomas B. Jeffress, and we know that George Carrington was the founder of old South on the south side of Dan River, and Captain E. B. Jeffress the founder of the present South Boston.
Anthony Hart was born in King and Queen county, Va., October 14, 1755. He died in Halifax county after 1832, as his pension claim was allowed at that date.
A Revolutionary soldier, he enlisted on February 10, 1776, fought in the battles of Gwynn’s Island, Brandywine, and Germantown, and was honorably discharged in 1781.
He fought under Captain Gregory Smith, Thomas Hill and William Lumpkin, Colonels William Nelson and Matthews.
He married Elizabeth ------------- as by deed 1821 Anthony Hart, Sr., and wife, Elizabeth, sells to John Hart land in Halifax county for 86 pounds of current money of Virginia in 1823, and again Anthony Hart and wife, Elizabeth, sell to John Hart land in Halifax for seven hundred and ten dollars.
In 1807 Anthony Hart bought of Elizabeth Franklin land in Halifax county. He may have married this Elizabeth Franklin later.
Anthony Hart had very large land interests in this county. His son, Ambrose Hart, born 1784, married Rebecca Carlton and emigrated to Missouri, where he died in 1858 and is buried in the old Hart cemetery in Calloway county.
Anthony Hart had sons, John Anthony, Jr., and perhaps others. The old Hart home of this county, near Bold Springs, was destroyed by fire many years ago, and the graveyard on the place has no gravestones or monuments of any kind.
Negroes own the land of the old home site, and there is nothing to recall, even a memory, of what the place once was.
Patrick Henry owned land in this county, but never lived on it. He was our next door neighbor in Charlotte, but he left numberless descendants through his sixteen children in this county to perpetuate his greatness.
Patrick Henry was a great man, a celebrated man, but not entirely through inheritance, as some genealogists would have us believe. He sprang into greatness on the spur of the moment through the courage is his convections. Opportunity makes the man; "if this be treason, make the most of it."
There are Henrys and Henrys in this county, and it is of them we wish to write because they are close kin to Patrick the orator.
Alexander and Jean (Robertson) Henry, of Aberdeen, Scotland, were the grandparents of Patrick Henry, and also of James Henry, of Accomac county, Va. This James Henry owned twenty thousand acres at one time in the counties of Halifax and Pittsylvania, just on the line, lying mostly on Sandy creek (about five miles from Peytonsburg). This land was a vast wilderness when James Henry, of Accomac county, came into possession of it, but he had an eye to business almost equal to that of Mr. James Bruce (who came into this county years later), but he evidently did not purpose to live here, though he did visit his possessions from time to time, driving in his "coach and four," upon the doors of which coach his coat-of-arms was emblazoned. The mystery will ever be how he traveled over the Halifax roads in a coach, or having made one trip ever ventured on the second. We know by the records that he did make several journeys to Halifax, and the wildness of the backwoods not appealing to him, he finally employed as his agent a Mr. William Ryburn. We also find that James Henry had leases running form twenty to twenty-five years, with all specifications as to what was to be built and produced on the same in his contracts.
James Henry was a prominent man, member of the Continental Congress, House of Burgesses, and judge. He married Sarah Scarborough, daughter of Colonel Edmund Scarborough, also a man of affairs. Charles Henry, the son of Judge James Henry, inherited one of these plantations in Halifax, but refused to live in such a wild country, and traded it to his brother, John Henry, for his home in King and Queen county, and it was here that Charles Henry’s son, Charles, "was stabbed by a man named Griffin" while on a visit to his Uncle John and "died in the little room back of the parlor," and was buried in the graveyard, at the east end of the then beautiful terraced garden at "Woodlawn," the name of John Henry’s seat.
A tragedy to begin with, without a coroner or trial, an unquenchable desire to know why Griffin stabbed such a youth, so far from home, and what became of Griffin, filled our minds as we looked on the worn slab that covered his grave, but we do know that wherever he went he carried the mark of Cain.
James Henry the second (son of John, son of James) married twice; his first wife was a Miss Graves and his second wife Mrs. Laura Graves (nee Willis), by whom he had Charles (1), Patrick (2), Jennie (3), Bettie (4), and Mattie (5).
James Henry (second) hade brothers, Robert Henry (attorney in Richmond, Va.) and S. Hugh Henry (?).
Charles Henry (the son of James, second, and Mrs. Laura Graves) was born 1874 and died 1914. He left the old home to his widow, whose maiden name was Virginia Walton.
Patrick Henry, the brother of Charles, lives near on some of the same tract of land. He married Miss Mary Nash, a sister of Daniel Nash, of this county.
The old "john Henry" place, as it is called, has gone down almost beyond recall unless one had a fortune to spend on it. A widow with such an estate and with such labor conditions as now prevail is helpless, but Mrs. Henry has an interesting family and two sons-in-law, who will do all in their power to restore and beautify the place if conditions are propitious. We had the pleasure of meeting one of her sons-in-law, Mrs. Claude Yeates, a prosperous young farmer and employee of the Co-operative Tobacco Association, who is greatly interested in restoring the Henry home and surroundings to something like its original beauty, but it will take years of labor and thousands of dollars. Its inaccessibility because of bad roads militates against every effort for its good.
In spite of the roads, we paid a visit to the old place that revealed much that was interesting and unknown to us before.
What remains of the original house is not imposing, but commands our respect and admiration by virtue of its age and what it has been. It was built before the Revolution, and follows the same lines of architecture then in vogue, steep roof, tall chimneys built with brick brought from England (this, we think, is a tradition0, large square rooms with a transverse hall, from which a quaint old-fashioned stairway leads to the chambers above; half way up the stairway there is a balcony, from which many an old-time belle looked down on departing beaux.
There is always something so attractive about a balcony stairway it takes the memory back to the days when belles in flounce and furbelow coyly flirted with beaux in knee breeches and gold buckles.
As the scent of a flower will bring back memories sweet or bitter, so the sight of an old home will suggest tragedies and skeletons in closets, and there were so many closets in the old time homes, but the seal of silence was on "Woodlawn," for those who knew were lying the graveyard, guarded by the giant poplar that has stood sentinel all these lonely years, or in the tulip terrace in the garden, where James Henry and his wife lie buried beside little Virginia, who in sheer loneliness had claimed the gay flaunting tulips as the companions of her young life, and requested to be buried under them when she died. The gaudy tulips did not long survive the three who were laid to sleep beneath them, and we saw neither flower nor shrub that once adorned those broken terraces.
Three generations of Henrys are buried there, but among the stones, so time-worn, we could decipher only the name on one of them:
"Samuel Hugh Henry, born February 11, 1812; departed this life, April 25, 1840."
What relation he bore to James and John Henry we do not know, but the court records show one Hugh Henry and his wife, Mary, who bought land as early as 1745 (before the county was taken from Lunenburg).
From the graveyard we went back into this unique old house with its inside door of mahogany brought from England, its high arch dividing the front from the back of the hall, so curiously wrought; the shelves in the hall filled with no doubt many valuable books; but with it all there was a primitive air of simplicity instead of grandeur, even though the portraits of three generations hung on the walls, from the dimpled baby to the hoary grandsire of these erstwhile distinguished Henrys.
About a half mile from this place Sandy creek rushes and tumbles over the rocks like the water at "Lodo" until it reaches the smooth level rock, where the old grist mill once stood and did service for a hundred years or more, and was only recently destroyed by the worst freshet that had occurred in that length of time.
Across Sandy creek is a good new bridge, and then – it would takes pages to describe the road of about four miles that led to the highway.
It was a beautiful afternoon in September, everything in nature was aglow with life, the bird songs and hum of insects filled the cool woods with music, the black-eyed susans smiled up in our faces, while the goldenrod hung its head for shame that it had forgotten to bloom. In the shady dells the smell of damp moss and wild grape gave us new life, but the winding road through it this September afternoon was as forbidding as Dante’s Inferno; but we could not leave hope behind, so we pressed on afoot, over rocks and ruts washed out and up by the storms of a hundred years, while our chauffeuse, a brave woman, drove the machine into, across and over deepest ruts and boulders until we felt that the automobile could stand no more, but our object must not be defeated – so we got there and were fully repaid for our efforts. But how James Henry ever reached there in a coach and four, unless he was escorted by numberless "out-riders" to extricate him when necessary, is more than we can comprehend. Once more let us state that we are for good roads now, henceforth and forever – for "many a flower is born to blush unseen" in Halifax county "and waste its fragrance on the desert air" without them.
One of the earliest American Colonists of the family was William Hodges. He was born in Kent, England, and came to Kent county, Maryland. From Maryland two of the sons came to Virginia, viz.: John and William.
The records of Prince William, Va., contain under date of June 5, 1780, the following: "To John Hodges, Gent., is due two thousand acres under the King’s proclamation for services of a certain Francis Eppes during the last French wars who was a lieutenant in the Second Virginia Regiment and which said Eppes hath assigned to said Hodges."
In the early records the name is variously spelt Hodges and Hodge, and is said by those in authority to have been originally the same name, and those in Virginia springing from the same root.
The Hodge and the Hodges families of Maryland and Virginia bore the same coat-armor.
The Hodge name in this county is spelt both with and without the "s," as shown by deeds and marriages in the same family, it being a name that is hard to drop the "s" even in conversation.
From investigation we are disposed to think that the name was originally Hodge, but when you relate having visited Mr. Hodge, you naturally have been over to Hodge’s house, and the possessive case easily adds the "s," and so the habit of calling and spelling the same names differently is quickly and easily acquired. The error in spelling names is often times attributable to clerks of the courts, and less than a hundred years ago the spelling and diction of clerks in some courthouses caused us to wonder how they ever attained such an office.
The earliest Hodge marriage in this county was that of Fleming Hodge to Betsy Powell in 1792, and in 1805 William Hodge to Mary lax. The earliest Hodges was Thomas Hodges to Keziah Hawkins, 1798, and John Hodges to Lucy Overby, 1806, and the names of Hodge and Hodges have mingled and multiplied in Halifax since those dates and have intermarried with many of the county’s prominent citizens.
On the roadside between South Boston and Clover is a quaint old house with a history all its own, built so long ago the oldest representative of the builder cannot tell the date, but it was built by the father of Julius Caesar Hudson, and was one of the earliest inns of this county. His father, William Hudson (?), was the host for many years and entertained celebrated travelers in his day. He left it to his son, Julius Caesar, who married, February 25, 1813, M. Womack. They must have found the Womacks good housewives, for his son, William Royall Hudson, took to wife in 1841 Miss M. J. Womack. When the die was cast for Julius Caesar Hudson, and he crossed the Rubicon, the old inn fell into other and strange hands, but one who goes in it and observes the old-time balcony stairway, the closets and cuddies can conjure up many stories of its past, but none so interesting or thrilling as the real truths about celebrated men who have found rest and refreshment there a century ago. The place is now occupied and cultivated by thrifty colored people, but in a little walled-in, neatly kept square we found three large grave stones, keeping watch as it seemed over the graves of:
"William H. Hudson, born 1827, died 1878.
Mary G. Hudson, born 1840, died 1883.
Kate, wife of J. A. Craddock, born 1844, died 1883."
Bye the occupants of the house we were told that it was the "Old Hudson" home; so we continued our search and found the son of William Royal Hudson was Henry Calvin Hudson, who married Mary Carden, and we find in the town his daughter, Blanch Hudson, wife of Mr. Letcher Johnson, one of South Boston’s most worthy citizens.
The Hudsons are very numerous in the county and have intermarried with the Betts, Seays, Thweatts, Allens, Wilkins, Burtons, Owens, Chandlers, Lloyds, Raglands, Abbotts, Lanes, and Wades.
The emigrant Hudson came from England to the Eastern Shore.
The first Hudson we find in Halifax county was William Hudson, who built the old Hudson Inn, described above, lying on the right-hand side of the road that leads to Clover. He is buried on Dr. Cardens place near Clover.
His son, Julius Caesar Hudson, lived in Old Boston for many years, then moved to Dry Branch, near Clover. His son, William Royal Hudson, lived and died near Scottsburg, and his brother, Horatius Alex. Hudson, lived and died at Paces.
Henry Calvin Hudson was born near Scottsburg, and at the age of thirty moved to Scottsburg, opened a store, and at one time owned almost the entire village. He left Scottsburg about eighteen years ago and now resides near Dry Bridge, Powhatan county.
Men of wisdom have declared "there is an end to all things," but to genealogy there is no end, and the great need is some one to carry the records on, without fear of skeletons in closets or rotten limbs on ancestral trees. All have them from the bluest blood to the veriest plebeian, and for that very reason all should be stimulated to the best that is in them.
Money is power and creates prominence, and we all love prominence, it is thoroughly human, but it is not happiness, and even contentment without godliness is not recommended by Holy Writ. What is needed is character, courage to face the world with our honest convections, and it must be based upon the principles of truth and fearlessness.
With the present generation it is not what the people have been or have done, but what they are doing and will continue to do for the good of humanity, the uplifting of the helpless and the spread of the kingdom.
William Hudson’s Will.
Book 6, page 419, Nov. 18, 1802:
"I, William Hudson, etc., wife Mary Hudson, daughters Nancy Robins, Judith Billington, William Thornton Hudson, Robert Hudson, John B. Hudson, my brother Robert Hudson, five hundred acres of land in Halifax county, and ten slaves. Brother Robert Hudson from Amelia Co.
Philemon Hurt, one of the most approved and useful preachers of the Roanoke Association, was a native of Caroline county, Virginia. He was born October 6, 1758. When he was quite a youth his father removed to Bedford county. As early as his eighteenth year he entered the army, participating in many of the stirring scenes of the Revolution. He was engaged in several battles at the North, and won the praise of his superiors and fellow-soldiers as a brave man. Having passed through his term of service, he again volunteered and took part in the eventful conflict at Guilford, North Carolina. ***
At the close of the war he settled in Halifax county. *** He soon entered the ministry. IN 1793 he was called to the pastorate of Catawba Church, Halifax county. Whether he was permanently the pastor of any other church cannot be distinctly stated, but in connection with the above-named body he was a laborious, active minister for more than thirty years. ***
His eldest son, Robert Hurt, was often permitted, in the same pulpit with his aged father, to preach the gospel. ***
His youngest son being about to remove to the western country, he determined to leave his native State in his old age. Accordingly, in the year 1827, he migrated to Carroll county, Tennessee. *** On the 19th of January his Divine Master called him. *** - (From Virginia Baptist Ministers, by James B. Taylor, published in New York by Sheldon & Co., 1860, second series, page 94.)
1782, April 10: "Know ye all present that we Moza Hurt & Philemon Hurt of county of Halifax are bound unto His Excellency Governor Benjamine Harrison for the sum of, etc.
"Whereas there is a marriage depending by God’s permission between Moza Hurt and Phebe Mann of said county, etc.
The records show many deeds, wills, and marriages of the Hurt family, but Hon. Samuel L. Adams says:
"The record of the Hurt family in Halifax county is rather meager considering the number of ministers it produced. I was surprised not to find a will of the Rev. William Hurt, the late Baptists patriarch, who seems to have died intestate. I have heard a great deal of him, and he was a giant physically as well as a man of considerable mental attainment.
"They still have his old large ‘grandfather’s chair’ at ‘Hunting Creek’ Baptist Church, about six miles from Lenig. I inspected it carefully during the summer of 1909 while the Dan River Association was being held at that place. He was pastor of Hunting Creek and other Baptist churches in this county."
In 1800, August 12, Philemon Hurt’s daughter, Sally, married John Robins Hall, and in 1803, his daughter, Patsy Hurt, married Nathaniel Barksdale, Jr. The witnesses were Armstead Barksdale, J. Wimbish, and Randolph Vaughan.
"Liberty" Meeting House was on land purchased from Jacob Keys, nearly a hundred and fifty acres, also a small strip purchased from Moon, 130 acres, on Staunton river, and on the west side of the road leading to "Hatt creek,’ in Campbell county.
Several of the Hurt families migrated to Southwest Virginia, Tennessee, and Texas, and other States, leaving many prominent descendants to represent them. They also distinguished themselves as soldiers of the Revolution and later wars. Among the most distinguished was John Hurt (chaplain) of the Continental line, one of the bravest of the brave.
John Hurt, chaplain of Sixth Virginia Regiment, October 1, 1776; brigade chaplain, August 18, 1778, to close of the war.
"To the Hon. Speaker of the House of Delegates, the petition of John Hurt, clerk, humbly showeth that he hath served as Chaplain to a Regt. Or Brigade raised by the state and upon Continental Establishment, upwards of three years and there being no lands allowed by law to Chaplains he therefore humbly prays the Honorable House, that they may be allowed the like quantity of lands as given to the Commissioned Officers receiving the like pay and rations, upon serving the term required by law for officer and soldier.
In the Land Office, Military Records.
"I do certify that Mr. John Hurt is entitled to the proportion of land allowed a Brigade Chaplain of the Continental Line, who has served seven years.
"Signed Thos. Meriweather, Benj. Harrison. "Jan. 14, 1784."
James Hurt is entitled to the proportion of land allotted to a private in the Continental Line for three years’ service. One hundred acres assigned to James Hurt, delivered to Joseph Anthony, November 7, 1808.
In 1854, John Linn Hurt was appointed deputy clerk for Halifax county, later he was clerk of the Circuit Court for Pittsylvania county, a position he filled for twelve years. In 1877 he was elected State senator. He was twice married – first, to Miss Nannie Kate Clement, of Pittsylvania; second, to Miss Sallie T. Douglas.
Many deeds, wills and marriages of the Hurts are recorded in this county.
Upon the authority of Mr. W. G. Stanard, secretary of Virginia Historical Society, who has made a chart of the Irby family, we give the origin of the Irby family.
The chart begins with William De Irby, Knight, in 1251, and running through many generations brings us to the first Virginia emigrant, Dr. William Irby, who settled in Charles City county the latter part of the seventeenth century. He married a daughter of Baron Blunt, an English woman.
William Irby was granted by the King of England a very large concession of land in Charles City county and lived and died there on the grant, leaving by his will much valuable silver, especially plate. Judged by the standard of his times he was a man of very large wealth. He was related to the Baron of Boston, England, whose family name is Irby.
Dr. William Irby left one son, William Irby, and several daughters. His descendants moved to Charlotte county and then to Halifax county, where we find William Irby, Gent., one of the first magistrates of this county, in which he figures conspicuously in its early formation and affairs. He left no will, but a lengthy and explicit inventory covers several pages of the court records, indicating a man of considerable wealth.
Through his son, Anthony, and Anthony’s son, William Irby, the Halifax Irbys descend from Samuel James Irby, who built a small and unpretentious house about a mile east of the present Halifax Court House. His son, Morgan Irby, built the first part of the present old Irby home, about a mile west on the Mountain Road, very close to the postoffice of Vernon Hill, in this county.
Meade Adams Irby, the son of Morgan Irby, made additions to the house, and it remained in the name of his wife, Amanda Tanner (James) Irby, until her death. It now belongs to her son, Thomas Ratcliff Irby.
The old place at one time consisted of a thousand acres, and when Meade Adams Irby inherited from his uncle, Jarrett Irby, who lived near Meadesville in this county, six hundred acres of land, he sold it and made with the money received from the sale some improvements and additions to the home at Vernon Hill, which at the time of his death had been reduced to about five hundred acres.
Meade Adams Irby was the first person in Halifax county to learn the art of curing bright tobacco, and farmers sent to him from miles around to come to their places and give them the art of curing their tobacco bright, to which he gladly responded, making no charges for time and work expended.
According to the records, we find the Irbys thrifty, industrious land owners and planters. The War Between the States resulted in many losses to them, as to nearly every other land owner in Halifax county, but with their innate energy, perseverance and industry they are now in line with the prosperous, and some of them who left the county after the war have amassed fortunes.
They have intermarried with many prominent families in the county and in other States.
Edward Bedford Jeffress, known as the "Father of South Boston," was born in Lunenburg county, the extreme corner adjoining Nottoway and Prince Edward, in 1823. He married in 1846 Mary Harwood Harvey, born February 1, 1825. He died in 1891. They had the following children:
(1) Narcissa Jane, married P. H. Yancey.
(2) Drusilla Thomas, married J. D. Terry.
(3) Susan Ann, married E. B. Yancey.
(4) Thomas Warren Jeffress.
(5) William Edward Blanton Jeffress.
(6) Mary Catherine, married W. T. Carter.
(7) Charles James, married Maria Osborne (of North Carolina).
(8) Coleman Bedford Jeffress.
(9) Sarah Henry Jeffress, married J. W Elliott, February 6, 1889.
(10) Martha Wyatt Jeffress, born October 6, 1868, married January 22, 1890, Charles L. Norwood, born March 5, 1869, died February 23, 1905.
They had the following children:
(1) George W Norwood, born November 12, 1890.
(2) Marie E. Norwood, born February 21, 1894, married October 18, 1919, Eugene Homer Riely.
(3) Irene T. Norwood, born July 9, 1895, married Howard Edmunds, Jr.
The father of Edward Bedford Jeffress was Coleman Jeffress, born 1798, married 1819, Narcissa Hamlett (daughter of James Hamlett, born February 4, 1751, died October 20, 1819). He married November 11, 1772, Mary Bedford (died June 12, 1812), daughter of Thomas Bedford, Gent., of Goochland county, Va., born 1725, died 1785; married 1753 Mary Ligon Coleman.
Thomas Bedford was a member of the Committee of Safety in the Conventions of 1775-76 for Charlotte county. He was justice of the peace for Charlotte county up to 1778, when he resigned. He was justice of the peace in Cumberland county in 1749.
Hening’s Statutes, Vol. 7, page 307: "Whereas it is necessary that trustees be appointed for towns erected in the counties of Halifax and Lunenburg, therefore enacted by the authority aforesaid, Thomas Bedford, Clement Read, Paul Carrington, and others be appointed."
The will of Thomas Bedford, recorded in Charlotte county, February 3, 1785, shows a large estate of slaves, lands and other commodities, which he divided equally amongst his fourteen children, giving each a handsome estate.
Obedience Hamlett (daughter of James and Mary Bedford Hamlett) married in Halifax county William Majors, her first husband, by whom she had two sons, Samuel Majors and Drewry Majors. She married second James Faulkner and had James Faulkner, Jr., Leander Faulkner, A. H. Faulkner, and Mary E. Faulkner, who married James Ball, of Prince Edward county.
E. B. Jeffress’s line runs back to Miles Cary (1) through Harwood Cary, Sr., of Prince Edward county, who married Mary Cardwell (died 1845), and had Elizabeth Cary (who married Thomas Harvey) and William Haynes Cary. [William (4), Harwood (3), William (2), Miles (1), 176501852, of Prince Edward county.
William Haynes Cary (1) married Lucy Cardwell and by her had Patsy Cary, born 1794, and married Wyatt Cardwell. He married second Esther Jackson and had five children, all of Prince Edward county.
Will of Thomas Bedford (in Charlotte County)
"I, Thomas Bedford the older, of Charlotte county. "My dear faithful and beloved wife Drucilla (Coleman), son Stephen, married Jane Daniel; daughter Elizabeth, married Joseph Fuqua; daughter Mary, wife James Hamlett; daughter Martha, wife of Charles Crenshaw; son Thomas Bedford, first lieutenant in Revolutionary War, married Anne Robertson (born 1735); Benjamin (went to Kentucky), sons Littlebury, Archibald, daughters Anne, Janey Flippen Bedford, married Colonel Lewis Thornton; Peggy Bedford, son Charles Westley Bedford, John Bedford; daughter Susannah Bedford, wife of Anthony Walke.
The county of Halifax has many worthy descendants of E. B. Jeffress, who was a man worthy of emulation in character and in business, for by integrity and uprightness he won for himself not only a good name, which is better than riches, but riches sufficient to leave his family more than comfortable. He owned hundreds and hundreds of acres of land that he bought from Anthony and Ambrose Hart, the land upon which South Boston is built, and through his mercantile business and various land sales he accumulated a fortune for his time.
A family chart has been prepared showing the lineal descendants of John Fitz-Geoffreys, who emigrated to this country from Ireland about the year 1700. From this chart the relationship of the various branches of the family may be accurately traced, the diagram giving as far as possible the names, dates of birth, marriages and deaths.
The information from which this chart was compiled was furnished by members of the different branches most competent to know, and is the result of an extensive correspondence extending over a period of about four years. The Fitz was dropped and the spelling changed to Jefferess.
Sir Herbert Jeffries (Jeffery-Jeffress) died in Virginia in 1678. William Jeffries was in Middlesex county in 1772.
Alexander, Richard and John Jeffries were in the Revolutionary War.
Samuel Jordan started from England in the "Sea Adventurer," was wrecked on the "Vext Bermoothea," spent a year on that island. He landed in Jamestown in 1609; was member of the first Assembly of Virginia which met in Jamestown in 1619.
(2) Thomas Jordan (son of Samuel), born 1600 in England, married Lucy Corker, daughter of Captain Corker of Surry county, Va. (He was burgess in 1629-1632, was a soldier with Yardley.)
(3) Thomas Jordan, born 1634, married Margaret Brasseur (Brashear). She was born July, 1642, died October 7, 1698. He was a burgess, 1696-97, Nansemond county, Va. (See the Virginia Colonial Register, page 91.) His sons were Thomas (III), John, Robert, Benjamine, Matthew; Samuel Jordan, born February 15, 1679. (Called Colonel Samuel Jordan of Amelia). He married Elizabeth Fleming, daughter of Colonel Charles Fleming, of New Kent county, Va., October 10, 1703 (or 1713). (These Quaker records preserved in Baltimore. His will dated 1760, and probated 1761 in Amelia county, Va.)
(4) William Jordan, married Mary ---------. Issue: William, Granville, Robert.
(5) Robert Jordan, born 1717, married before 1749 Susannah. "On account of having to take the oath he did not fight in the Revolution" (this from family records), but was loyal to the King during that time and succeeded in keeping his son, Robert (the youngest son), out of the army; but his sons, William and Henry, were both soldiers of the Revolution, and also Granville. This Robert Jordan bought tobacco during the Revolutionary war. After its close the prices went up and he found that he had amassed a fortune, and his granddaughter writes: "At the time of his death he was immensely rich, besides leaving eighty negroes."
(6) Robert Jordan, Sr. (Royalist), born 1755, married 1778 Elizabeth Church, daughter of Richard Church, of Amelia county. (Richard Church was the son of Leonidas and Judith Church.) He died in 1816. Issue: Robert, Richard, Samuel, Henry, Elam, John, Elijah, Mary, Elizabeth, Martha. (The six oldest sons were all soldiers in the War of 1812.)
(7) Elijah Jordan, born 1804, married Martha Faulkner. Both died in 1886. Issue: Robert, John, Joseph, William, Clement, Samuel, Lucy, Mattie, Caroline (two last died young). Lucy married William Slate.
(8) Robert Elijah Jordan, born March 3, 1828, married Elizabeth Baynham Fourqurean, daughter of Reubin D. Fourqurean and his wife, Mary Baynham Boxley, August 30, 1855. He died December 17, 1894. Issue:
(1) Mary R. Jordan, born May 31, 1862; married October 26, 1880, Mr. Garland Faulkner. They have three children, viz.: Bessie, wife of Rev. James M. Owens; Dr. Garland E. Faulkner, and Mr. Frank F. Faulkner, of Louisiana.
(2) Emma McD. Jordan, born November 9, 1865; married Mr. Thornton Easley. She died May 5, 1894. He died a few months later, ‘tis said, of a broken heart. They left two children: Willie Jordan Easley, wife of John W. Easley, and Thornton Jordan Easley.
(3) Robert Elijah Jordan, born December 7, 1867; married January 6, 1892, Hallie Lafayette Turner, daughter of Mrs. Wirt Johnson Carrington by her first husband, Allen Howard Turner. R. E. Jordan departed this life April 2, 1920. Issue: Wirt Carrington Jordan, wife of Mr. Acree D. Irby (they have one son, James Morgan Irby); Elizabeth Baynham Jordan, Hallie Turner Jordan, Robert E. Jordan.
(4) Willie Jordan, born August 24, 1870; married Virginus L. Fowlkes, vice-president of Planters and Merchants National Bank of South Boston. Children: May Hyde Fowlkes, wife of Philip Howerton Kasey (two children, Elizabeth Kasey and Virginus Kasey); Virginus Lee Fowlkes, wife of Watkins Hunt; Robert Jordan Fowlkes, and Ola Fowlkes.
Mr. Virginus L. Fowlkes married for his second wife Miss Elizabeth Warrener, of Amelia county, who descended on her maternal side from William Cabell, of "Union Hill" (no children).
Robert Jordan, Jr., and Elizabeth (Church) Jordan had Elijah Jordan, married Martha Faulkner. Their son, John Jordan, married Martha Faulkner. Their son, John Jordan, married Susan Rebecca Chambers. Their son, Thomas Jordan, married Ella Young, daughter of Matthew Hubbard Young, son of Thomas Young, of Mississippi. Thomas and Ella (Young) Jordan have the following children: Herman, Jordan, Hurt Jordan, Hugo Jordan, Hammett Jordan (married Fannie Reily, of Halifax, and had Carrington, Frances Reily, Mary Green, and William Jordan), Nora Jordan (wife of Henry Milton Booth, had Charles B. (who married Charline Hester), John R., and Mary Jordan Booth), Bessie Jordan.
Six of the sons of Elijah and Martha Jane (Faulkner) Jordan fought in the War Between the States and came out safely. In a litter received from Joseph E. Jordan, he says: "All six of the boys were in the Civil War – John M., Joseph E., W. I., and C. H. Jordan – from the first to the close. R. E. joined the company the second year of the war, and the youngest, S. H., when they called for the younger ones, and it seemed a miracle that we all came out safe and sound with no broken bones. The voice of our country was to us the voice of God."
John M., Robert E., William I., and Joseph E. Jordan enlisted in the Black Walnut Cavalry company and were mustered into service May, 1861, William Easley, captain Company "c," Third Virginia Regiment, Fitz Lee Brigade, Stuart’s Division. C. H. Jordan belonged to the "Danville Grays," Pickett’s Division.
Neither R. E. or John Jordan were wounded. Joseph was shot in the hip and W. I. was wounded in the left arm. He was courier for General LaFayette McLaws for fourteen months and was in many important battles. C. H. Jordan was wounded at the battle of Gettysburg. John M. was one of the youngest men in the Third Virginia Regiment. He started in as a private and soon rose to the rank of captain. He surrendered his company at Appomattox. The officers from South Boston were Colonel T. H. Owen, Lieutenant J. H. Chappelle, and Lieutenant James W. Hall.
The Jordan sons and soldiers were:
(1) Robert E. Jordan, married Elizabeth B. Fourqurean.
(2) Joseph Jordan, married Miss Yarbrough, of North Carolina.
(3) William I. Jordan, married Miss Lightfoot Hobson, of Danville, Va. Had one child, Lightfoot Jordan.
(4) Clement Jordan, married Miss Louise Slate.
(5) John Jordan.
(6) Samuel Jordan.
(7) Lucy Jordan, wife of Rev. William Slate.
The children of Rev. William Slate and Lucy (Jordan) Slate were:
(1) W. Clem Slate, first wife Fannie Easley (three children). He married second Janie Ragland (five children).
(2) Samuel L. Slate, married Sarah Yonge, of Columbia, Ga.
(3) E. S. Slate.
(4) Lucy Slate, wife of Thomas Webb, manager of trust department in South Boston National Bank. Their children: Dorothy, Lucy, Ella, Thomas and William.
(5) Mary Slate, wife of Ratcliffe Irby.
(6) Gertie Slate, wife of F. J. McGranighan.
Rev. William Slate was pastor of Winn’s Creek (Baptist) Church for twenty-five years or more, and was a faithful Christian worker at all times and in all places.
Elijah Jordan, son of Robert Jordan, Jr. (the Royalist), and his wife, Elizabeth Church, had among other children three daughters, one of whom married a Jamieson. Their daughter, Mamie Jamieson, married J. H. Hickey, and James Hickey, their son, married Miss Cook.
Tribute to Robert E. Jordan, Sr.
"Robert E. Jordan, Sr., was born in Halifax county, Virginia, where his whole life was spent. In his youth he entered the store of Mr. Jack Rogers at Woodsdale, N. C. From there he went to Black Walnut, Va., entering the employ of William L. Owen & Co. Upon the death of Mr. Reubin M. Fourqurean in 1851 he was admitted into an interest in the business, and the firm was Owen, Jordan & Co. In 1855 he moved to Catawba, in which year he married Miss Bettie A. Fourqurean, whether he carried his bride, and where he remained until the breaking out of the war. Casting his lot with his native State, he became a member of Company "C," Third Virginia Cavalry, and although of feeble constitution and under great bodily suffering, he stood to his post and shared with his comrades the hardships and dangers of the marches and battles that shed much luster on Fitz Lee’s cavalry.
The close of the war found him shattered in health, and it was nearly a year before he could resume active business.
Removing to Republican Grove about this time, he formed a business connection with his brother, William I. Jordan, which continued for a number of years.
In 1869 he came to South Boston, Virginia, when it was a mere hamlet with two stores, and from then until the time of his death, a period of twenty-five years, he was closely identified with its business interests and an active factor in its development and growth.
In 1875 he retired from mercantile life and opened the first bank in Halifax county after the war under the firm name of R. E. & W. I. Jordan, which in 1885 was merged with the Planters and Merchants Bank, of which institution he was an honored officer.
The success of this bank is largely due to the confidence and esteem in which he was held by the public.
In his private life he was gentle, tender, affectionate. As a Christian he was of deep humility, free from guile, and without envy or bitterness. Of him it may be truthfully said that he was one of the best men that ever lived.
The large number that gathered at his funeral (among them many member of his old company) attested the love and esteem in which he was held.
The above tribute to R. E. Jordan, Sr., was written by one who knew him almost a lifetime. We are putting it in this history as most worthy for his descendants to honor and emulate.
Tribute (In Part) to R. E. Jordan, Jr.
"IN the death of Robert Elijah Jordan, Halifax county has lost one of her most beloved and useful citizens, the Commonwealth of Virginia one of her most distinguished bankers, and the South a loyal son, true to her traditions of noble manhood and purity of character. He was the late president of the Planters and Merchants National bank, a Mason of high rank, an esteemed vestryman in the episcopal Church, and a beloved trustee of the local school. His was the wholesome natural life free from cant and pretense. He thought and spoke and lived the Christly life as unconsciously as he breathed. Small wonder then that all admired him, aye and loved him, and looked upon him as a bulwark and tower of strength. He was a fearless business man, recognized throughout his State as a man of sterling character, of keen business sagacity, of conservative principles; add to this the Christly spirit and what a man.
Be it resolved, That this expression of our gratitude for his life and our affection for the man be spread upon the records of the vestry, a copy sent to the town papers and to the Southern Churchman, and that a copy be sent with our love and sympathy to his sorrowing family.
R. A. PENICK, S. W., T. C. WATKINS, Jr., D. H. LEWIS, Rector."
"Entered into rest eternal at an early hour on Good Friday, April 2, 1920, in his fifty-third year, Robert Elijah Jordan, vestryman and junior warden of Trinity Church, South Boston, Va., and superintendent of the Sunday school."
Ernest C. Lacy, clerk of the Circuit Court of Halifax county, is an ex-service man with a record in the aviation corps in France, and for a number of years before beginning his term in the clerk’s office he was actively identified with banking in his native county.
Mr. Lacy was born in Scottsburg, Halifax county, September 2, 1888. His grandfather, Micajah Lacy, was a lifelong resident of Halifax county, owned and operated a large farm and also conducted a hardware business in Halifax for a number of years. The last ten years of his life he spent in retirement at Scottsburg. He entered the Confederate army, but was captured and spent most of his time as a prisoner at Point Lookout, Maryland. James T. Lacy, Sr., father of the clerk of the Circuit Court, was born in Halifax Court House in 1865 and now lives at Scottsburg. His home has been in that village since about 1883, and he was active in business as a tobacconist until 1913. He owns farms to the aggregate of twelve hundred acres in Halifax county, and has had a very busy and successful career. His interests have extended into politics and into religious work. He served as a member of the House of Delegates, representing Halifax county two sessions and two sessions in the State Senate. In March, 1919, he was appointed clerk of the Circuit Court of Halifax county to fill out the unexpired term of Gran Craddock, and filled that office until May, 1921, when he resigned on account of ill health. In his younger years he acted as a colporter, selling Bibles and Sunday school literature, and has long been a prominent member of the Scottsburg Baptist Church, is a deacon, and for forty years was superintendent of the Sunday school. He is a member of the Masonic fraternity. James T. Lacy, Sr., married Ada B. Crews, who was born in Chesterfield county in 1858. Of their children Ernest C. is the oldest; James T Jr., is cashier of the Boston National Bank of South Boston; Ruth F. is the wife of Kenneth Patty, a lawyer and coal broker at Graham in Tazewell county; Miss Edith J. lives at home; Alton G. is deputy clerk of the Circuit Court under his brother; Marie died in infancy.
Ernest C. Lacy acquired his education in the public schools of Scottsburg, graduating from high school in 1907, and then from Hampden-Sidney College, where he completed the classical course and received the B. A. degree in 1910. After leaving college he acted as principal of the High School at Rodden, Virginia, a year, spent one year as bookkeeper for the State Bank of Charlotte county at Drakes Branch, and coming to Halifax was assistant cashier of the Bank of Halifax from 1912-1917. In 1917 he was promoted to cashier and served until May, 1918, when he resigned to begin his active military service. He had volunteered for the aviation corps, and in May, 1918, he went to France, becoming a member of the northern bombing squadron and was situated near Bruges, Belgium. He returned home January 1, 1919, and was relieved from active duty in March of that year and received his permanent discharge from U. S. N. R. F. in May, 1922.
In March, 1919, Mr. Lacy resumed his duties as cashier with the Bank of Halifax, and served in that capacity until August 1, 1920, when he was appointed deputy clerk of the Circuit Court of Halifax county under his father, and on May, 1921, succeeded his father, who resigned as clerk of the Circuit Court. His term extends to January 1, 1928. His offices are in the Court House of Halifax.
Mr. Lacy is a Democrat, is deacon and treasurer of the Beth Car Baptist Church of Halifax, is worshipful master of Halifax Lodge, No. 96, A. F. & A. M., a member of Halifax Chapter, No. 38, R. A. M., at South Boston, Lynchburg Lodge No. 321, B. P. O. Elks, Houston Council No. 202, Junior Order United American Mechanics, at Halifax, Halifax Camp No. 112, Woodmen of the World, and the Kiwanis Club of South Boston. Mr. Lacy is a director of the Bank of Halifax and owns one of the comfortable homes of that town.
He married at Richmond, Va., December 8, 1917, Miss Marian E. Chalkley, daughter of Edward H. and Lula (McGruder) Chalkley, residents of Drakes Brank, Va., where her father is station agent for the Southern Railway Company. Mrs. Lacy is a graduate of the Drakes Branch High School and also of the Harrisonburg State Normal College. They have one child, Ernest C., Jr., born June 6, 1920.
(Copied From a Letter to Mr. James T. Lacy, Jr.)
"Lacys of Scottsburg, Halifax county, were descended from pure Anglo-Saxon stock. They came to this county before the War of 1812, and your great-grandfather Lacy was in that war." (We find in Heitman’s list of 1812 soldiers from Virginia the name of Westwood Armstead Lacey, Virginia Cadet, M. A., September 18, 1817, second lieutenant, Fourth Infantry, July 1, 1822; died November 3, 1829. This may or may not be the great-grandfather Lacy of the Scottsburg Lacys.)
Your grandfather Crews people also came from England; some of them settled out west.
My great-grandfather was Jaques (James) Martin, one of the little colony of Huguenots who left France in 1698 because of religious persecution and settled in Manakin Town, on James River, in Powhatan county, Va. Beverly in his History of Virginia says of them: ‘The French refugees sent in thither by the charitable exhibition of his late majesty, King William, are naturalized by a particular law for that purpose.’ Those who went over first were advised to set on a very rich piece of land about twenty miles above the falls of James River, which land was formerly the seat of a great and war-like nation of Indians, called Monacans. These refugees were freed from every public tax for several years. Some of their descendants are now living in this county. Many of them settled in Chesterfield and adjoining counties.
William Martin, son of Jaques Martin, married Elizabeth Stratton. The Strattons were of Anglo-Saxon origin, and the first one of the name who came to America was Joseph Stratton, of Plymouth, England, who settled in James City county, Va., in 1628. He was burgess in 1629-32. He died in 1641, leaving large landed estate in England. In 1678 there were many Strattons living in Chesterfield county, and research there ought to establish the dates, etc., of the above lines connecting them with this Lacy family."
In the marriage list, which is always so helpful in seeking out lines, we find the marriage of one John Lac, September 15, 1784, to Alice Sydnor, and in 1799, Moore Lacy to Dorothy Ragland; October 18, 1804, Thomas Lacy married Fanny Powell, and in July 5, 1843, Armistead M. Lacy married S. T. Barksdale. In 1849, Charles L. Lacy married Mary T. Baker, and in November 2, 1853, Melcajah T. Lacy married Martha F. Greenwood, and are the parents of James T. Lacy, Sr., of Scottsburg.
Of the Lacys of South Boston, a descendant writes: "Our great-grandfather, John Lacy, married in 1874 Alice Sydnor, a widow. They had three sons, John, Samuel and Robert. He owned a great deal of land on Millstone Road, and left each of his sons a home on that road. Our grandfather was Robert. He lived on land lying near Millstone Church. He had four sons, William, Alex, Charles and Jo9hn, who was a missionary to Africa. Our father’s name was Charles. He lived all his life in the old homestead, now owned by my brother, Dr. J. B. Lacy."
We can certainly vouch for the probity, honor and usefulness of most of them who settled in this county, as they have held some of its most important offices.
Dr. W. T. Lacy and son, Dr. Malcolm Lacy (dentists), belong at present to South Boston.
The Lawsons belong to a very ancient family from England and Scotland, where they flourished centuries ago. There were many Lawsons in Yorkshire, England.
There was a Rowland Lawson who died in Lancaster county, Va., in 1661. His children were Rowland, John, Henry, Letitia, and Elizabeth.
John Lawson, surveyor, came to North Carolina in 1700. He wrote a valuable history of the early Carolinas. They have always been staunch, determined church people, leaning mostly to the Scotch Presbyterianism.
The Lawsons who married in Halifax county were William Lawson, who married Jane Banks in 1758, May 24; John Lawson, who married Martha Bates, 1778, August 8; John Lawson, who married Ann Irvine, 1782, February 17; Thomas Lawson, who married Hannah Fuqua, 1782, January 4; David Lawson, who married Winnie Dodson, 1794, October 12; John Lawson, who married Elizabeth Miller, 1786, April 24; Francie Lawson, who married Betsy Taylor, 1791, February 16; G. M. Lawson, who married Angelina Marshall, December 21, 1836; and James E. Lawson, who married Julia Ann Johnson, November 18, 1835.
David Lawson married Jane Bailey. Robert William Lawson (son of David) was born in the village of Harmony, Halifax county, 1853. He married Mary E. Craddock, daughter of Dr. John Craddock, of Black Walnut, November 16, 1898. By this marriage he left three children, Robert Lawson, J. J. Lawson, and Mary Elizabeth Lawson. His widow married Mr. Lewis Johnston, son of Rev. Lewis Johnston, and his wife, Miss Dupuy. They have one son, Lewis Johnston, Jr.
In the Revolutionary war Robert Lawson was major of the Fourth Virginia Regiment, later brigadier general, and commanded a brigade of Virginia troops under General Greene at the battle of Guilford.
The Revolutionary roster is reeking with Lawsons. They were brave men, and ‘tis said "they were set in their ways," which is all right if their ways were set for liberty and righteousness; for ‘tis said also that there was never a time when there lacked a man of the Lawson name to stand before the Lord.
In 1812, October 12, one Thomas Brandon was guardian of Priscilla, John F., and Catherine D. Lawson, as recorded in Halifax.
John J. Lawson, brother of Robert Lawson, married Eliza Craddock, sister of Robert’s wife. They had the following children:
John Lawson, married Nancy Carrington, daughter of Henry Paul Carrington.
Bessie Lawson, wife of Tyree Wright.
Barksdale Lawson, married Sallie Williams.
Janie Lawson, wife of Julian East.
Venable Lawson, married Vivian Moseley.
Marie Lawson, wife of Ernest Harding.
Stebbens Lawson, married Elizabeth Houston.
Katherine Lawson, wife of Thomas Sutherlin.
The tradition is that Benjamin Watkins (the youngest brother of Thos. Watkins of Chickahominy), the first clerk of Chesterfield county, an office he held to the end of his life, and a man of genius, though with little education in the schools, cultivated his excellent understanding assiduously and was regarded as an excellent scholar. However much he cultivated his "excellent understanding," he did not comprehend that the course of true love is not to be thwarted even if the parent did not relish the idea of his daughter marrying a poor English clergyman.
The Hon. Benjamin refused to accept the situation until the congregation of the Rev. William Leigh took the matter in hand and built a home and furnished it for the happy young couple; so in spite of father and fate, they started on life’s highway happy and unfettered with life’s financial cares.
The Rev. William Leigh was a royal character, with lion-hearted antecedents, and not to be downed, as his father-in-law soon learned, and repenting him of his course, did the proper thing by his son-in-law and beloved daughter, and all the ambition he could ever have had for his daughter culminated in his two grandsons, Benjamin Watkins Leigh and his brother, Judge William Leigh, who lived in Halifax county. It was said of him that for almost a quarter of a century in which he had been the judge of the Halifax court he had discharged each and every duty with a fidelity and ability equal to any other man in Virginia, and had won by universal consent the title of a "just and upright judge."
He was the friend and adviser of John Randolph of Roanoke, and the sole executor by his will of 1821, and he, with Henry St. George Tucker, were the final executors by the will of 1832.
No character stands out more clearly in this county for acumen, probity and pureness than that of Judge William Leigh, and his descendants would do well to honor his memory by emulating his virtues, for we shall not see his like again.
Two daughters of Thomas Watkins married the two Leighs. Mary Selden Watkins married Benjamin Watkins Leigh (his first wife), and Rebecca Watkins married William Leigh. Their sister, Hannah Cary Watkins, married Dr. John Barksdale, of Halifax. Their children were (1) Thomas W. Barksdale, (2) Alice S. Barksdale, (3) Benjamin Watkins Leigh Barksdale, and (4) Rebecca Barksdale.
The Logan family went from Scotland to Ireland, and from Ireland to Philadelphia, Pa., where David Logan married. (See Americans of Royal Descent.) They were powerful feudal barons of Scotland.
From Pennsylvania David Logan and his wife came to Augusta county, Va., where their son, Benjamin Logan, was born, and baptized by the Rev. Mr. Craig, May 3, 1743. This Benjamin became the distinguished General Benjamin Logan of Kentucky.
There was a David Logan in the earliest records of Halifax, and some of his descendants still live in the county. (See wills.)
Elizabeth H. Logan, daughter of Richard and Mary Margaret (Coleman) Logan, married Marcellus French. The Logans of this county intermarried with the Caldwells, Barksdales, Sydnors, Holts, and Colemans.
As far back as 1783, we find William Lovelace joining himself in matrimony to Sally Frambrough, and in1789, July 27, Charles Lovelace marries Rhoda Hart.
The emigrant Lovelace came to the Eastern Shore and his descendants scattered through the various counties, coming this way until 1825, when we find the marriage of James Lovelace to Elizabeth Paynor; in 1829, Charles Lovelace to Harriet R. Butler; and in 1845, June 11, John S. Lovelace married Amelia A. Baker. In 1849, November 22, James S. Lovelace married Martha Ann Barksdale.
The grandfather of Charles L. Lovelace, of South Boston, William Oldham Lovelace, married Miss Womack. His son, John Logan Lovelace, married America Baker, and our Citizen, Charles L. Lovelace, married Miss Elizabeth Hodge, whose connections, Mortons, Edmunds, Jennings, etc., of this county, have so intermarried with the Charlotte families of same name that the lines are as intricate as the web around the Lady of Shalott; so we leave them to those who are most interested to untangle.
Charles L. Lovelace and Elizabeth (Hodge) Lovelace have the following children:
(1) Charles Branch Lovelace, married Mildred Skinner.
(2) Sallie J. Lovelace, wife of John O. Harris.
(3) Eva Lovelace, wife of Lester Lane Dillard.
(4) Margaret C. Lovelace.
(5) William Henry Lovelace.
The Medley family came from England, and were among the early settlers in Virginia, coming to Halifax county before 1851, when Isaac Medley (the first on record) left his will, with a very large estate in slaves, land, stock, etc., to his wife, Martha F. Medley, his three sons, James, Isaac and Granville C., and his four daughters, Martha Jackson, Mary A. Lea, Sarah Burke, and Rebecca Ballou (see will). He also mentions a brother, James T. Medley.
We next find in 1805 the will of James Medley, who names three daughters, Jenny Atkisson Lucy Medley, Mourning Medley, and Polly Wood, and two sons, James Towles Medley and Isaac Medley. (This Isaac Medley may have been the one who made the above will in 1851.)
For three generations the James Medleys came down until they reached our present James H. Medley, deputy clerk of Halifax Court. The present James H. Medley has been for thirty-three years clerk and deputy clerk of this court. His father, James Medley, Jr., was born in Halifax county, Va., and married Miss Sallie Dix, of Accomac county, and had the following children:
Margie M. Medley, married Captain Marcellus French (second wife).
Granville C. Medley (deceased), married Lucy Booth; left two daughters, Kate C. and Nellie.
Walter W. Medley.
James H. Medley, married Lucy Walton Claytor.
Mr. S. C. Morton, lately deceased, was for more than half a century a prominent, useful and good citizen of South Boston. He was twice married having married sisters (Misses Edmunds) and left a large and interesting family to carry on his name and respect his memory.
The genealogy of the family has been carefully and completely compiled by Mr. W. s. Morton of Charlotte County, from which county the Morton family came to Halifax, and where they were amongst the most honored citizens.
Mr. S. C. Morton left several sons, prominent business men, who have sought homes in other States and daughters who have married out of this state (except Mrs. Penick and Mrs. Lovelace).
The first Owen we find in the county was William Owen, whose will is of record 1752, at the organization of the county. The next Richard Owen 1753, wife Elizabeth, daughter Mary Nicholds, sons Richard, William, James and Ambrose.
We find the records teeming with deeds and sundry wills, etc., but the family is too extensive to give them in order and relationship. However, we will give the three brothers whose many descendants live in this county, active business men and women of worth to carry on the line. The three brothers, William L. Owen, Robert Easley Owen, and Thomas E. Owen were considerable men, in the making of Halifax.
Mr. William L. Owen, of Black Walnut, Halifax Co., married Sept. 8, 1842, Miss Harriet Easley, of this county. He amassed a fortune in the mercantile business, always carrying a line of goods especially "fine silks" out of the usual in this county at that time. He was a good financier, and a shrewd, clean business man, and left his family not only well provided for but rich.
Following the Civil War he was one of a committee to visit President Lincoln and present a protest against the activities of the "Carpet Baggers’ in Virginia and other Southern States, during the Reconstruction period.
The children of Mr. William L. Owen and his wife, Harriet (Easley) Owen, were as follows:
(1) Daniel W. Owen, president of the Planters and Merchants National Bank, married Miss Nannie E. Hundley. They had Fannie Craddock, William L., Sue Watkins, Charles Hundley, Dan Bailey, Edwin Edmunds, and Fred Clement Owen.
(2) Arch A. Owen.
(3) Rufus Owen.
(4) J. Bailey Owen.
(5) Minnie Owen, wife of Dr. J. B. Brookes.
(6) Hallie B. Owen, wife of Thos. Easley.
(7) Frances Owen, wife of t. S. Wilson.
(8) Helen Owen, wife of Dr. F. S. Whaley.
Children of Frances Owen and Rev. Thornton s. Wilson (son of S. B. O. Wilson, of Albemarle county, Va.)
(1) William Owen Wilson, married Ida Louise Nelle.
(2) Thornton w. Wilson, married Elizabeth Raine.
(3) Sallie B. Wilson, wife of Malcolm Campbell.
(4) Samuel B. Wilson.
(5) Arch A. Wilson.
(6) Harriett E. Wilson, wife of Rev. Grayson tucker.
(7) Frank D. Wilson.
The Wilson family have carried on fourteen generations of Presbyterian ministers. "Ye shall know them by their works."
In connection with his ministerial and other obligations Rev. Thornton S. Wilson is also Chairman of the Halifax County School Board.
Robert Easley Owen, the owner of Mayo place and plantation, where he is buried beside his wife, Mary (Howerton) Easley, also owned a large estate and was considered a rich man. He built a modern house on the site of the old Mayo home that was burnt down years ago. He left this plantation and home to his daughter Mary, who married Mark Harris, the grandfather of Mr. John Harris, and it was through the Owens that Mr. Harris fell heir to the beautiful summer home "Mayo," a name given to it when Major William Mayo, with William Byrd and others, made the dividing lines between Virginia and North Carolina.
Thomas E. Owen, who married the widow of Reuben D. Fourqurean, June 26, 1853, had the following children:
(1) Nannie Preston Owen, wife of Col. Henry Easley.
(2) William E. Owen, who married Mattie Easley, parents of Louise Owen, (wife of Rev. David Lewis).
(3) Irving Owen, the first wife of Mr. John (Jack) W. Easley.
The Owens and Easleys, as will be seen from this record, have so intermarried that it would take an expert to straighten out the lines and relationships. Among the wills and deeds there are many who add the "s" to the name, and it will be found that some in the same families have adopted the "s" probably from the spelling of the clerks.
Among the early settlers were the Palmers. Most of them came from the Eastern Shore, but their ancestors were originally from England. Meade, in his "Old Churches, Families and Ministers of Virginia," says on page 200, Vol. 1: "Another residence of Nathaniel Bacon must have been near Williamsburg, for his tombstone now lies in a field on Dr. Tinsley’s farm, while the tombstones of the Palmer family are in the garden of that place."
Dr. Byron S. Palmer, of New York, and Dr. W. B. Palmer, of Alabama, are compiling the Palmer Families of the United States, and the compilation has already reached several large volumes. William Palmer was one of the earliest recorded in this county, and Chillian Palmer was a vestryman in the old Antrim Parish, as recorded in its first church records by Bishop Meade.
Chillian Palmer had seven sons and three daughters, and the descendants of those traced show men of talents, distinguished professors, physicians, surgeons and prominent officials throughout the Southern and Western States.
The will books of this county abound in various Palmer wills, some very interesting, giving evidence of wealth and culture. Many of them were Revolutionary soldiers, Elisha, Jeffrey, Thomas, William and Henry enlisting from this county, and some of them received bounty warrants for their services.
They intermarried with the LeGrands, Fourqureans, Christians, Hubbards, Hartwells, Pettus, and other prominent families.
Mr. Henry Palmer, a brave disabled old soldier of the War Between the States, far advanced in his eighties, is now living in a part of the house built by his grandfather, a hundred and fifty years ago. Though very feeble, almost decrepit, his mentality was perfectly clear as he gave us the early history of his family, as far as he had recorded it, back to England.
His long silvery white hair and beard, his smooth creamy complexion and luminous brown eyes, that lit up or filled with tears as he told the story of his young life and its disappointments by virtue of the war, gave him a personality that was irresistible, for he bore not only the wounds of the enemy, but the wounds of a heart too proud to offer itself, with its disabled body, to the young woman he loved; and so he lived in the old home, and struggled on as best he could, for those were Reconstruction days, when the South was beginning to learn how to live without help and to stand alone without uttering a complaint. The front of the old Palmer home has fallen to decay, but the ell, in which Mr. Henry Palmer lives, is in good condition considering its age. It was once two stories, a large house for that day and generation. Some of the beautiful cedar trees that once circled the yard, and bordered the driveway to the main road, are still standing, but many because of their intrinsic value have been disposed of, thereby adding to the neglected appearance of the place. An old lady told us that she had been entertained there, in days gone by, when the place had a very imposing air and that many merry parties of young people, attending the all day meetings at "Hunting Creek" Church, had enjoyed with her its hospitality; but time, the war, the wounded soldier, the neglected acres, among which was "God’s acre," tell a tale that needs no interpreter, and just so has many an old Virginia gentleman laid down his arms, and fought to a finish the battles of his impoverished and ruined life. Many patrimonies in the county have fallen into alien hands, and there are those who know not the history of the homes they have bought and in which they now live. The history of the "once upon a time" owners whose ancestry touched the hem of royalty, and whose descendants are wandering in strange lands under foreign skies and wondering how it happened that the dear old home seat slipped from their possession, leaving nothing could claim but a few graves overgrown with briars and broken tombstones lying prostrate amid the dense tangle.
What remains of the dilapidated home of Dr. Moses Palmer, built more than a hundred years ago, is still standing on the roadside between Halifax and South Boston, and sleeping near by under the waving corn are some of the family that reveled in prosperity and enjoyed life’s luxuries more than a century ago. There is always something tragic in an old house that, like dead men, "tells no tales." Many of the old homes in the county have been destroyed by fire, among them some of the old
seats, but it was…[rest of paragraph missing]
[Erratum, p.235, (paragraph 3). Chillian Palmer, vestryman in 1752, would have been no youth but mature and dependable, and more likely a brother or father than a son of a man in the Revolution.]
…quehanna river. In his transcript of the original records Niell tells us that Edward Palmer, for whom this island was named, was a distinguished London virtuoso, who on July the third, sixteen and twenty-two, (July 3, 1622), received a patent of land from the Virginia Company. In his will, dated November 22, 1624, he leaves all his lands and tenements in Virginia and New England, in event of all issue failing, to remain for the founding and maintenance of this university. He then provides that all those who can thereafter prove their lawful descent from his grandfather, John Palmer, Esq., of Leamington, and from his grandmother, "being sonnes, shall be freely admitted and brought up in such schools as shall be fit for their age and learning, and shall be removed from time to time as they shall profit in knowledge and learning, and further my will is that the schollers of said universitye for avoiding of Idleness at their houres of recreation shall have two paynters, the one oyle cullors and the other for water cullors, which shall be admitted fellowes in the same college to the end and intent that the said schollers shall or may learne the arts of payntinge, and further my will and mind is that two grinders the one for oyle cullors and the other for water cullours and also couleers oyle and gumme water shall be provided from tyme to tyme at the charges of the said college beseeching God to add a blessing to all these said intents."
Unfortunately for the youth of the province this ideal plan did not materialize.
Among the worthy descendants of Chillian and Luke Palmer, his brother, were Dabney Palmer, who married, went to Mobile, Alabama, where he amassed a large fortune. Having no children, he educated several orphans, and in his will he desired most of his slaves manumitted and sent North, and desired that the balance be treated humanely. Isaac Palmer, son of Chillian, went to Missouri; he married Martha Adams, of Halifax county, and his daughter married Judge Ryland, one of Missouri’s most eminent jurists. Dr. Thomas W. Palmer, president of Alabama College, has a son now living in New York, who is attorney for the Standard Oil Company, having in charge the legal end of their business for South America, his work being entirely in Spanish-American law. Dr. Thomas W. Palmer’s brother, Dr. R. D. Palmer, is now the president of the Florida Medical Association, and has been honored with all the positions in the medical fraternity. These are sons of Stephen Palmer and the grandsons of Chillian Palmer, of Halifax county.*
[*Erratum: (page 236, paragraph 3) Dabney Palmer could not have been a descendant of both brothers without being at least one generation later than he was. He was probably son of Luke.]
[*Erratum, p. 237, line 9. Dr. Thos. W. Palmer was grand-son (not son) of Stephen and great-grandson of Chillian Palmer.]
-Hist. of Ala. & her people. Amer. Hist. Soc. 1927. III, 713-714.
Martin Palmer, son of Chillian, settled in Monticello, Florida. His son, Martin Palmer, Jr., wrote the Constitution of Florida, and was a member of the Secession Convention. Sarah, the daughter of Chillian Palmer, Sr., married Rev. -------- Chappell, and their grandson, Rev. E. B. Chappell, is the editor of the Sunday School Magazine of the M. E. Church, South.
Frank Stockton, the eminent writer of Philadelphia, descended from Martin Palmer, through his son, Luke, brother to Chillian Palmer, and William Cabell Palmer, mentioned in Lyon G. Tyler’s genealogical work, is a descendant of William Palmer, the brother of Chillian.
The Palmers of the Eastern Shore, Maryland and North Carolina, and the Halifax Virginia Palmers, can all be traced back to Edward Palmer of Palmer’s Island.
From the fly leaf of an old Bible belonging to the late Bishop Charles Clifton Penick, consecrated third bishop, missionary district of Liberia, February 13, 1877; resigned (because of ill health), October, 1883; died April 13, 1914.
Charles Clifton Penick, son of Edwin A. Penick and his wife, Mary M. (Hamner) Penick, who was the son of Charles Penick and Sallie (Foe) Penick, son of Charles Penick, who was the brother of William Penick, son of William Penick and Judith (Pate) Penick, son of William Penick of Wales, who married an Irish woman named Judith and settled in Hanover county, Virginia.
Charles Penick married Elizabeth Foe and had Edwin Anderson Penick, Sr., born February 24, 1820, who married Mary Maurice Hamner, and had the following children:
(1) Charles Clifton Penick, born December 9, 1843; married Mary Hoge, April 28, 1881.
(2) William E. Penick, born August 1, 1846.
(3) Robert A. Penick, born November 25, 1848; married Sallie Jones, January 4, 1871.
(4) Elizabeth Penick (died young).
(5) Edwin Anderson Penick, Jr., born October 8, 1851; married October 22, 1884, Mary Shipman.
(6) Maurice Hamner Penick, born March 16, 1854; married Louise Easley.
(7) Clara L. Penick, born February 5, 1857.
(8) Watkins Breedlove Penick, born July 14, 1861.
(3) Robert A. Penick, born November 25, 1848; married first Sallie Tanner Jones and had:
(1) Elmer Maynard Penick, born September 9, 1871; married Ida Trent Vaughan and had Irvie, Maynard, Elizabeth, Charles and Robert.
(2) Clifton Hamner Penick, born February 2, 1873.
(3) William Lucas Penick, born October 2, 1874; married Lucy Morton and had Charlotte, Marcia, William L., William, all except Marcia deceased.
(4) Charles Anderson Penick, born March 7, 1877; married Elizabeth A. Green and had Charles Anderson Penick, Jr.
Robert A. Penick, married second, August 26, 1880, Fannie A. Easley and had Henry E. Penick, Mary Louise Penick, Elizabeth Archer Penick, Robert Penick and Ruth Easley Penick, wife of Mr. Alexander Whaling.
On the records at the court house we find the will of Nathan Penick (captain in War of 1812). He moved to Halifax from Nottoway county and died in this county.
His daughter, Judith Penick, married Joel Hawkins (her first husband), and had two sons, William N. and Thomas M. Hawkins, who were left out of their grandfather’s will for some unexplained reason. Nathan Penick had a son, Thomas R. Penick, also William Penick, "a noted Baptist minister," and Branch Penick; daughters, Louisa Penick, Mary Ann Smith, Elizabeth Robertson, Judith Owen (formerly Judith Penick Hawkins).
This will was probated November 12, 1847. Witnesses, Thomas Averett, James F. Hill and Edward M. Carrington. Grandchildren, the children of Elizabeth Robertson, were Lucy Robertson, who also married an Owen; Edward J. Robertson and Robertson R. Robertson.
A witness in the will of James Bruce, dated September 28, 1836, was named William Penick,* and James Bruce leaves a legacy of five hundred dollars each to his three friends, James Atkisson, William Penick, and James S. Easley. [The Penicks are staunch Episcopalians, and Robert A. Penick (lately deceased) was vestryman and warden in Trinity Church, South Boston, from its organization until his death.]
We find no connection between this lie and Bishop Clifton Penick’s line, but we do know that the Penicks were and are staunch members of the Episcopal Church, faithful workers in the spread of the kingdom, and have in this line the Right Rev. Edwin A. Penick, D. D., of Charlotte, N. C., the youngest bishop on record in the Episcopal Church.* [*After reading the James Bruce letters we find that William Penick was one of his most efficient and trusted agents, as were also James Atkisson and James S. Easley.]
The Ragland family is now of Welsh origin, but descended from Norman stock, which goes back to the Herberts who followed William the Conqueror to England. They settled in Monmouthshire, Wales, and some three hundred years after their coming to England one Robert, youngest son of Evan Thomas Herbert, had a son, John, who was brought up by his uncle, Sir William Thomas Herbert, of Raglan.
This Sir William Herbert was a contemporary of Sir Roger Vaughan, who with him was knighted by Henry V on the battlefield of Agincourt in 1415 before the battle was fought. Sir Roger Vaughan fell in the battle. His daughter, Elinor, married Robert Herbert, father of John, and John Herbert took the name of Raglan.
Raglan castle in Monmouthshire, one of the great strongholds of the Middle Ages, and one of the famous places of Great Britain, passed form the Herberts to the De Clares, from then to the Berkeleys, etc.
The family belonged in England to what is known as the gentry, and had a coat of arms which was brought to Virginia by the American founder of the family, John Ragland, who married his kinswoman, Anne Beaufort, in Wales. They emigrated from Monmouthshire, Wales, to Virginia, probably about 1720, for in 1723 they were settled in "Ripping Hall" on Mechums creek, near the mouth of the Chickahominy river, in Hanover county, Virginia. The old home was occupied up to the time of its destruction by fire in 1823. John Ragland took out land patents which aggregated over fifteen thousand acres in the counties of Hanover and Louisa.
John Ragland had by his wife, Anne Beaufort, six sons and three daughters. The sons appear to have been James, Samuel, Pettus, John, Evans, and William. The three daughters married, one a Tinsley, one a Jones, and one a Bowe.
The Virginia roster of the Revolutionary soldiers shows eleven Raglands – David, Dudley, Evan, Edmund, Finch, Gideon, John , Pettus, Pettus, Jr., Shelton, and Thomas.
The late Major Robert L. Ragland worked out the family history in detail from John down, but we are especially concerned with the lines of Ragland in Halifax county, one of which was Joseph E. Ragland (better known as "Ned" Ragland).
Evan Ragland, son of John the emigrant, married Susannah Lipscomb, and moved from Louisa to Halifax county, settling on Banister river, a few miles above its confluence with the Dan river. They had five children – Nancy, Lipscomb, Evan, John, and Anne. Two of his sons, Evan and John, were very zealous churchmen in the Episcopal Church of that day, and Evan was a gallant Revolutionary soldier, and was severely wounded in the war, his wounds never healing. He never married and bequeathed the bulk of his estate to Antrim Parish.
John, the son of Evan (grandson of John the emigrant), married his cousin, Elizabeth Pettus, and they had nine children – Susannah, Evan, Nancy, Dabney, John, Lipscomb, Anne, Martha and Samuel.
Dabney Ragland, son of John, married, December, 1822, Harriet Byron Faulkner and had six children, Robert Lipscomb, Samuel H., John Pettus, Joseph E., Elizabeth A., and Harriet D. Ragland. This makes Joseph Edward Ragland fifth in descent from John the emigrant.
John was a Revolutionary soldier. His son, Dabney, was a soldier in the War of 1812; and the four sons of Dabney were Confederate soldiers. There is evidently an old Roman strain in the family, because at the outbreak of the Civil War Dabney called his four sons together and told them that it was their duty to go to fight for their country.
The coat-of-arms of John Ragland the emigrant is described thus:
"Argent, three unicorns passant in plae sable. Crest, a unicorn statant gules, armed, crined and enguiche (unguled?) or."
Mr. "Ned" Ragland began his business life at the age of fifteen (1853) as clerk in the store of his brother, the late Major Robert Lipscomb Ragland, in the village of Hyco. Later he became connected with the firm of Tucker, Chappell & Co. In 1859 he went with the firm of Owen, Jordan & Co., at Black Walnut, where he remained until March, 1860, when the firm name was changed to Owen, Ragland & Co., Mr. William L. Owen, one of the partners, retiring and Mr. Ragland taking his place.
The war clouds were even then lowering, and a few months later, in 1861, Mr. Ragland entered the Confederate army, was a member of Company C of the Third Virginia Cavalry, which company was then under the command of Captain John A. Chappell and Lieutenant John M. Jordan, who surrendered the company at Appomattox after Captain Chappell was killed at Winchester in 1864. From that time until the surrender of lee’s army at Appomattox on April 9, 1865, Mr. Ragland served gallantly and well as a private soldier, always at his post of duty, and was among the ragged survivors with Lee at the end.
Returning home after a short rest, he engaged in the mercantile business at Harmony, with T. B. Traynham and Mr. John M. Owen as partners. This firm continued in business until the death of Mr. Owen, in 1871, when Mr. Ragland returned to Hyco. His mercantile career, except in the four years interval of the war, covers a period of sixty-one years. He has not amassed a great fortune, but has gained a competency and the esteem of the people of a wide area. Speaking of his business history, he says: "I have tried to do my duty as I see it to my fellow men, and I have no regrets for the past in my dealing with my customers, doing unto them as I would be done by." That he has lived up to this creed is shown by the regard in which he is held by the people of his native county in which his long life has been spent.
A Democrat in his political beliefs, he has never sought office, but has served his people as notary public and postmaster of the village in which he lives for forty years, an office more useful to the people than lucrative to the holder. He has been a Mason since 1859, and for many years a trustee of the Southern Methodist Church of his locality.
He is an earnest and devoted advocate of the prohibition of the liquor traffic, and from time to time has contributed articles to he press of his section in advocacy of that cause. Through his long life his favorite reading has been the Bible, and for fifty years he has been a consistent follower of the Christian faith.
He has been twice married. His first wife was Mary S. Bailey, daughter of John and Elizabeth Bailey, of Person county, N. C., to whom he was married May 3, 1868. After a brief married life she died, leaving an infant boy, Charles Dabney Ragland.
On December 14, 1872, Mr. Ragland was married in Halifax county to Lucy A. Lawson, a daughter of David and Jane Lawson.
The child of his first marriage, Charles Dabney Ragland, was an unusually promising and brilliant young man. After receiving a liberal education he entered on his duties as professor chemistry at Randolph-Macon College, but his useful life was cut short in his early prime, on October 30, 1900, when he passed away. This son married Miss Mary Fisher Luckett and had one daughter, Mary Bailey Ragland.
Of the second marriage there are two children:
Janie H. (married W. C. Slate, president of the Slate Seed Company). They have five children, Lucile, Mary Elizabeth, Joseph Edward, Martha and Elise Slate.
The son, David Lawson Ragland, married Mary W. Stovall. He is in business in Lynchburg. They have five children, Mary L., Charles Dabney, David L., Jonathan B., and William W. Ragland.
On a recent visit to the Ragland home we found an aged but very active couple. Mr. Ragland has the advantage of his wife in years – I should say a good many years – and yet he does not seem old, for he is inwardly young, with a mind as clear and bright as a man of fifty, and a most wonderful memory. This interesting couple live alone in the old home (except for the servants), and the quiet air of contentment and happiness was refreshing to one who sees only the turmoil and rush of life as it is today.
The genial face and kindly smile of Mr. "Ned" Ragland is not easily forgotten, and his hospitality bespeaks him to the manner born.
Among the prominent Scotts of Halifax county was John Baytop Scott, born 1761 in this county. He ran away from Hampden-Sidney College when he was only 16 years of age to join General "Light Horse" Harry Lee’s Legion, and became lieutenant. In April, 1805, he was made civil commandant of the District of Mississippi at Cape Girardeau, Mo. (See Army of the U. S.) He was captain of the "Silver Grays" in the War of 1812, and brigadier general of State troops in Governor Floyd’s administration.
Member of the Cincinnati and candidate for Congress without opposition when he died, in 1813.
He married first Elizabeth, sister of Hon. Henry Coleman, of Halifax county, by whom he had no children. He married second Patsy, daughter of William and Rachel Thompson (a cousin to his first wife). They had nine children, viz.: Polly C. Scott, William T., John Watts, Thomas Baytop, James Baytop, Francis Tompkies, Martha A., Christopher Columbus, and Elizabeth R. C. Scott.
In 1803, December 24, Polly C. Scott married John R. Cocke in this county and removed in 1824 to Greene county, Alabama, where they had the following children: John, Lucy, Patsy, and William.
Many of the descendants of the above John Baytop Scott live in Prince Edward and Bedford counties.
The Stebbens family, of great antiquity, belong properly to Deerfield, Mass., from whence the progenitors of the Halifax county Stebbens came.
Joseph and Charles Stebbens were the sons of Joseph Stebbens, of Deerfield, Mass. Joseph, the second, married Mary Grundy, of Petersburg, Virginia. Joseph Stebbens, the third, married Willie Fourqurean, of Halifax county. They had two children, Laura, wife of Dr. John Walker, and Joseph Stebbens, Jr. (attorney). Mr. Joseph Stebbens and his son, Joseph, Jr. (both deceased), were among the most prominent men of South Boston; the death of each was a tragedy. One in the prime of life and usefulness, the other just beginning his professional career, beloved and honored by every one, his passing seemed the "irony of fate," but –
"The irrevocable hand that opes the year’s fair gate Doth ope and shut the portals of our earthly destinies; We walk through blindfold, and the noiseless doors Close after us forever."
With the passing away of these two ended the male line of this family.
Charles Stebbens (son of Charles) married Charlotte Carter Walden (Chesterfield county, Virginia), and their son, Harvey Brokenbrough Stebbens, married Frederica Keeper (Smithfield, Va.) Their children are:
Charlotte Russell, wife of Dr. N. E. McDaniel, of Bath county (three children).
Julia Wilton Stebbens.
Charles Halifax Stebbens, married Margaret Logan Carrington (five children, Margaret C., Sallie French, Frederica Cary, Charlotte Carter, and Charles Harvey Stebbens).
H. B. Stebbens, Jr.
Louse Cary Stebbens, wife of George C. Carrington (one son).
William Keeper Stebbens, wife of Edmund Wilcox Hubbard, Buckingham county (two children).
Rebecca Stebbens, wife of William Priddy Ingram.
Shirley B. Stebbens.
Edwin A. Stebbens.
Virginia Carter Stebbens, wife of James B. Ingram.
Miles Cary Stebbens, married Julia Strong Gale (Hampton, Va.).
Mr. Charles Halifax Stebbens, cashier of the Planters and Merchants National Bank, is one of South Boston’s most honored and efficient citizens.
In 1747, November 13, James Terry surveyed for David Stokes 400 acres on both sides of Grassy creek, then Lunenburg (now Halifax) county.
William, Henry and Sylvanus Stokes each married in this county, but they seem to have migrated to other States.
A great deal of investigation along the Stokes lines has been done by various genealogists and families, but very little is found in this county in regard to the Stokes family.
This excerpt from a letter written by Mr. Iverson Stokes, deceased, of Todd county, Ky., may be of help to some of the readers of this history:
"I am the son of David and Sarah Stokes. David Stokes was a native of North Carolina, as was also his wife.
David’s father was John Stokes, a native Englishman, who emigrated to America prior to the Revolutionary War, and was a soldier in that struggle.
John Stokes was also of English descent on the maternal side, and his ancestors on that side also participated in the Revolutionary war.
John Stokes settled in North Carolina; he had ten children – nine sons and one daughter.
David Stokes, his son, grew to manhood in North Carolina, married there, and removed to Kentucky, where he followed farming. He raised a family of twelve children, seven sons and five daughters.
In 1829 David Stokes emigrated to Illinois and settled in the extreme part of what is now Christian county, where he entered land from the government and improved a farm. He died November 14, 1844. His wife survived him twelve years."
The names of above David Stokes’ children were, viz.: Gabriel, Armstrong, Rachel, Harmon, Elizabeth, Young, Robert, Susan, Ann, Allen and Iverson.
David’s wife was named Sarah – tradition says Sarah Hopkins.
The celebrated John Stokes, of North Carolina, married Elizabeth Pearson, daughter of Richmond Pearson, and there is some evidence of David being his son, but it cannot be proven without searching the records of North Carolina.
Captain John Stokes, Revolutionary soldier of Virginia, received a bounty warrant for his services of 4666 2/3 acres of land, which was located in Ohio.
There are many of the name in Lunenburg county and in various counties in North Carolina.
Nathaniel Terry was one of the justices of the first court held for Halifax county, 1752; justice of the peace, 1753-54; captain of militia and burgess for several sessions. He held all the offices and enjoyed all the honors that Halifax could offer, and when he died, ripe with years, he was buried in the old "Thompson burying ground" without a stone to mark his last resting place.
Nathaniel Terry, Gent., has left in Halifax county numberless worthy descendants, and his children’s children are scattered throughout many States.
His son, James Terry, also a burgess, died suddenly while on duty in Richmond and is buried beside the church in old St. John’s churchyard.
His daughter, Nancy, married Colonel Berryman Green, and, according to the statement of Mr. David Webb, a direct descendant, they are all buried in the old "Thompson graveyard." (No stones to verify it.)
The services of Nathaniel Terry, Gent., have furnished eligibility to Colonial Dames and Daughters of the American Revolution sufficient for his numerous descendants of four generations.
Added to his many offices he was also sheriff of the county for several years.
All of the Thorntons of Halifax descended from William Thornton, Gent., who emigrated to Virginia and settled in York county (now Gloucester county) in 1646. He built his house four miles north of Gloucester Point and called it "The Hills" after his English home.
Later in life he moved to Stafford county. He married three times, and is said to have had nineteen children. Is it any wonder that the records of Virginia have been searched to a finish to follow these numerous lines in their various ramifications?
Dr. Richard Thornton, of Halifax county, was the seventh child (a twin) of Francis Thornton, born August 22, 1747. Francis Thornton was a soldier of the Revolution, being a member of Lee’s Battalion of Light Dragoons. He was the son of William Thornton (4) and is said to have married Miss Lacy.
Dr. Richard Thornton, was born December 23, 1786. He married first Miss Smith and settled in Halifax county, about twenty miles from the county seat, where he lived and died. He is buried there by his first wife and two of his daughters.
We went to the old home place, it had been destroyed, and on the site was a small modern house, owned by a Mr. Marshall and rented to a tenant, who very kindly showed us the family burying ground of the Thorntons. This was enclosed in an iron picket fence four feet high. The gate was locked. The tenant knew nothing of the key, so with some difficulty one lady in the party managed to climb the fence and, with the assistance of the tenant, who could not read, managed to push aside the mingled white roses in full bloom and the blackberry vines in full rich bearing that entwined above the stones, of which there were four (the inscription on one could not be deciphered), and this is what we found after brushing the hard mould from the letters:
"Rebecca, wife of Dr. D. T. C. Peters, Daughter of Richard Thornton. Born Nov. 7, 1816. Died Aug. 30, 1846.
"Mary L., wife of Dr. A. L. Peters, Daughter of Richard Thornton. Born May 18, 1820. Died Sept. 20, 1848.
"Charles S., son of Dr. Peters. Died 1850.
"Pat Matthews, beloved son of D. T. C. And Rebecca Peters. Born June 5, 1841. Died May 31, 1853."
Don Peters and his brother, Dr. Alexander Lemuel Peters, were the sons of Elisha and Cynthia Peters, of Lynchburg, Virginia.
Dr. Lemuel Peters was born and raised in Bedford county, graduated at the University of Virginia, and located at Meadville, Halifax county, Va., where he followed the practice of his profession until his death in 1885.
Richard Thornton Peters (son of Dr. Alexander Peters) married Bettie White. They had several children, among them Rebecca, who married Henry Howard, of South Boston, Va., and had one child, Thomas O’Conner Howard.
It will be impossible to carry out the various Thornton family lines in this short space, so I will only mention the heads of the families in this county.
John Wyatt Thornton, brother of Dr. Richard T., was born October 14, 1775. He married Betsy Vawter.
Mary Jane Thornton, daughter of John Wyatt, married C. T. C. Carr, of Halifax county, Va., February 15, 1843, and their youngest daughter, Lola Jane Carr, married William Marion Bates, of Halifax county, September 13, 1882. He was the eldest son of James Madison and Martha (Owen) Bates.
Dr. John Lemuel Thornton, only son of John Wyatt and Betsy (Vawter) Thornton, of Charlotte county, was a surgeon in Carter’s Company and served until his marriage, in 1862, to Saluda Garner. Among their twelve children was Dr. Richard Presley Thornton, born September 13, 1868, and married June 5, 1889, Lena Maud, daughter of C. H. and Lula (Slate) Jordan. They have nine children.
The Wade family came from England and were among the earliest settlers in the Colony of Virginia. As far back as 1656 we find one Daniel Wade, of Surry county, petitioning Lieutenant Governor Francis Nicholson to remit a fine which had, according to law, been imposed for replanting tobacco after the first of July, the penalty being a fine of 10,000 pounds of tobacco. One object of the fine was to prevent an overproduction and the other to insure a better quality; the ultimate purpose was, of course, to maintain a high price on the product, on which the planter depended for his revenue.
The first marriage recorded in Halifax county was that of Elizabeth Wade and Nathaniel Hunt, and the first court was held "in the house of Hampton Wade."
In the old vestry books of Antrim Parish, 1752-53, we find the names of Edward and Andrew Wade. (Meade’s Old Churches and Families of Virginia.) From these two brothers, through George and Robert Wade, descended the Wades of Halifax county and the South and West.
Richard, the son of George Wade, married Sarah, a daughter of John and Sarah (Dickie) Chappell, on September 4, 1806. Shortly after their marriage they settled on what was formerly known as the McPhaile plantation, one of the finest on Dan river, but later removed to their home, a few miles south of South Boston, where Richard Wade died and where his widow continued to live for thirty-two years until she passed away.
A descendant says of the old home: "The old house, which was her home for more than sixty years, is still standing, a monument to the honest workmanship of the mechanic of a century ago. It is of a quaint and antiquated appearance, plain and unassuming, as was the good woman who occupied it, but it was a Christian home, proverbial for its hospitality, and the latch-string always hung on the outside. The framing timbers of the house were of hewn oak, put together with mortise and tenon, and the weather-boarding of black walnut, was nailed on with wrought iron nails, evidently made by a country blacksmith. It is a story and a half high with an ell, and the rooms, which are unusually large, are square. At each end of the house stands a brick chimney, built on the outside in the old style, and the fireplaces, which were large enough to take in a six-foot back log, have over them hand carved mantels of unusual height. As if in contrast to the mantels, the windows are unusually small. On the outside of one of the chimneys is durably chiseled the year in which the house was built, 1801.
"Sarah Wade was born April 18, 1785, and passed away April 23, 1874. Her remains rest in the family cemetery, near the old house, which can be readily found from the large cluster of cedar trees surrounding it. Over her grave has been erected a large and beautiful monument as a memorial of the loving affection with which her memory is cherished by her descendants."
The Adams, Garlingtons, Comptons, Wades and Chappells were buried in the churchyard of the old "Bold Spring" Church.
The Watkins families of Halifax county are very extensive, and many of them are descendants of Thomas Watkins, of Chickahominy, "Swift Creek." A name like the ancestral "Joel" Watkins, almost in toto, known for honesty, integrity and uprightness.
Among the descendants are many professional men, scholars and patriots. It is said of "Joel" Watkins of "Woodfork," Charlotte county, the third son of Thomas, of Chickahominy, that "he was the very best man that ever lived in this world, remarkable for plainness, benevole3nce and integrity, a friend to the friendless, comforter of the widow, father of the orphan, adviser of the youth, friend of the poor, and at his death mourned by all."
Among the papers of the late Hon. John Randolph was found a manuscript written by himself, of which the following is a copy:
"On Sunday, the second day of January, departed this life, at an advanced age, beloved, honored, lamented by all who knew him, Colonel Joel Watkins, of the county of Charlotte and State of Virginia. Without shining abilities or the advantages of an education, by plain, straightforward industry, under the guidance of old-fashioned honesty and practical good sense, he accumulated an ample fortune, in which it is firmly believed there was not one dirty shilling.
"These fruits of his own labors he distributed with a promptitude and liberality seldom equaled but never surpassed, in suitable provisions to his children at their entrance into life and on every deserving object of private benevolence or public sprit; reserving to himself the means of a generous but unostentatious hospitality. Nor was he liberal of his money only. His time, his trouble were never withheld, on the bench or in his neighborhood, when they could be usefully employed. If, as we are assured that peacemakers are blessed who shall fell stronger assurance of bliss than must have smoothed this old man’s passage to an unknown world?"
What a noble incentive to emulation, and when added to it the patriotic spirit that made the roll of Virginia Revolutionary soldiers rife with the name of Watkins, it is something indeed to be proud of.
Among the earliest of the county was Thomas Watkins of the county militia; Jesse Watkins, who later settled on his bounty lands in Tennessee; three William Watkins left wills recorded in Halifax. Alexander Watkins built a magnificent home for that period (soon after the Revolutionary war), still standing, now owned by strangers. The frescoed alabastine walls of marvelous whiteness and hardness, the smooth hardwood floors and marble mantels would make any housewife green with envy.
The name is still abundant in the county, in all the walks of life, good, bad and indifferent.
I wish I had space here for the romantic wooing and winning of Mourning Watkins by the Rev. James King, of East Tennessee (now Bristol, Tenn.), who was anything else but reverent at the time of his courtship; but the charming little Mourning made it interesting for her guardian, Mr. Coleman, when he told her lover that he could not marry her unless his estate was equal to the amount of her dowry when she arrived at the proper age to marry. James King was already a rich man for his generation. He was the son of James King, "patriot of 1776." He doubled his riches and brought his bride to "Sapling Grove," where, as a little child, I knew and loved them in their last years. "Parson" King, as he was called, was a staunch Presbyterian, but not a stern one, for through the gentle influence of his little "Church of England" wife he developed into the broadest, sweetest and most generous character, whom every one loved almost to adoration. He gave to Bristol, Tenn., King College, a school from which many young ministers and professional men have gone forth into the world and reflected honor upon their alma mater.
H. J. Watkins.
Henry Joel Watkins was born October 9, 1849, in Halifax county. His father, Richard Venable Watkins, of Charlotte county, moved to Halifax in the early thirties. He married first Miss Simms, of Halifax county, who lived only one year; married secondly Miss M. A. E. Baskerville, of Lombardy Grove, Mecklenburg county, Virginia; of her there were born thirteen children (twelve reached the years of maturity), six boys and six girls, H. J. Watkins being the youngest.
He was, on account of his youth, the only son that was not enlisted in the War Between the States. He was the first graduate of Cluster Springs High School and afterwards M. S. of Hampden-Sidney College; moved to Charlotte county in 1870, was made treasurer of the county, and subsequently superintendent of schools of Charlotte.
He moved back to Halifax in 1890, and has since then been actively engaged in public education, serving as trustee of the schools of South Boston for twenty years and as superintendent of schools of Halifax county for eleven years.
The grandparents of Mr. "Hal" Watkins, as he is more familiarly known, were Captain William M. Watkins, of Charlotte county, and his wife, Ann Venable.
Captain William M. Watkins was a contemporary of John Randolph of Roanoke, and served in the State Senate from the Charlotte district for two terms, and was a great rival of John Randolph in politics, being of opposite political faith.
His home is known as "Do Well." Hon. Abram Venable, who served a number of years in the Congress of the United States from North Carolina, was a brother of Mrs. William M. Watkins.
Public education has been Mr. Hal Watkins’ slogan all of his life, and public Christian education more nearly described the nature of his life’s work. For this he stands today and states in no uncertain language that it is the hope of the world.
Mr. Watkins is a staunch advocate of Bible teaching (now under discussion) in all public schools.
Mr. H. J. Watkins married Miss Rose Overby, who died in 1921, leaving the following children:
(1) Henry Joel Watkins, married Marguerite Richmond, of England.
(2) John Overby Watkins, married Eva Tuggle, of Texas (they have three children, Eva, John and Douglas).
(3) Richard Venable Watkins, married Christine Boog in Alaska.
(4) Imogene Watkins.
Dr. Henry Easley, of Cluster Spring, married Miss Louise Ann Rebecca Watkins, daughters of William Watkins, better known as "Billy" Watkins.
The sons of "Billy" Watkins were Nathaniel and Samuel; the daughters, Susannah, Louise Ann Rebecca, Mary, Martha and Roxanna. This Samuel Watkins was the father of Mrs. C. J. Hunt and the grandfather of Watkins and Francis Hunt, merchants of South Boston.
We do not know the emigrant of the Willingham family, but we do know that they were not among Halifax county’s earliest settlers. Who and whatever the emigrant Willingham was his descendants have illustrated the legacy he left them in character and brains, and the present generation are showing what they can do by doing it.
Andrew Jackson Willingham (deceased), once a leading citizen of South Boston, married Miss Mildred Pollard, daughter of Isaac Pollard, and left the following children:
(1) William A. Willingham, of New York, who married Miss Manfell of English parentage.
(2) Mary Willingham, wife of W. A. Gray.
(3) E. Wiltse Willingham, married Miss Mamie Easley.
(4) Miss Susie Willingham.
The Willinghams are, and have always been, strong supporters of the Baptist Church in South Boston, and are known for their liberality in church and charitable work generally. Mr. William A. Willingham is a prominent tobacconist, a financier and an all-round business man. He has recently built one of the handsomest and most perfectly equipped homes in this town for his mother.
The Wimbish family settled early in Halifax county, and in 1770, March 9, James Wimbish made his will. His wife was named Sarah, of whom he speaks as "My well beloved wife Sarah, and it is my will that my estate shall be kept together until my beloved son, John Wimbish, shall arrive of age." John was his only son. He makes Sarah, his wife, his executrix, and Samuel Wimbish and Elijah Hunt his executors. Witnesses: John Hunt, John Logan.
June 10, 1818, we find the will of John Wimbish:
"I, John Wimbish, of Halifax county, State of Virginia, parish of Antrim, etc.
"I give to my wife, Nancy, all my estate, both real and personal, of every description for her use, and to the end that she may dispose of it only to my children, to-wit: John H. Wimbish, Elizabeth Craddock, Abram Wimbish, Judith A. Wimbish and Mary Wimbish, to them and their heirs forever. (Nancy is vested with power to dispose of any part of the estate for the benefit of his children, and after her death all to be equally divided between the children. Nancy, his wife, executrix.)
Witnesses: Robert Hurt, Catherine C. Vasser, Joseph M. Crew. Samuel Williams, C. H. C.
June 24, 1845, we find the inventory and appraisement of the estate of John H. Wimbish (deceased). The appraisers were James Holt, James Young and William Bailey.
The estate consisted of eighty-five negroes, a large plantation, mansion house, furniture, mahogany and walnut, piano and guitar, silver, cut-glass and china (a very long list), silver candlesticks, brass candlesticks, farm utensils and crops, cattle, horses, hogs, sheep, cows, a large crop of tobacco and several farming machines. The list covered several pages and showed him to have been in very comfortable circumstances, if not rich.
Mrs. Eliza (Wimbish) Poindexter, daughter of Major John Wimbish and Nancy (Williams) Wimbish, was born October 18, 1800, in Halifax county. She married in early life Dr. Granville Craddock, who left her a widow with two sons and two daughters. Afterwards she became the wife of Rev. A. M. Poindexter, D. D., in which relation she was the mother of one daughter and two sons.
Granville Craddock was chief presiding justice of the Court of Halifax and a most efficient and popular county treasurer. He was the grandfather of Mr. John W. and A. P. Craddock. He had a brother, William Craddock.
Thomas Yuille figured at an early date in Halifax county. In 1792 he bought 500 acres of land on Childrey creek from William Oliver (both of Halifax county).
Witnesses to the sale were William H. Hurt, Elizabeth Hurt, Jr., David A. Rice, Samuel Clemens and James Clemens.
Account current of Thomas Yuille (deceased), taken November 9, 1843, Daniel B. Easley, administrator de bonis non, with the will annexed, of Thomas Yuille, deceased, we find the same administrator indebted to the estate of his testator in the sum of two thousand five hundred and seventy-four dollars, including interest to November 9, 1851. "All of which will more fully appear by reference to the foregoing statement which is submitted as a part of the report," which was recorded February 23, 1852.
At Williamsburg, in the old Bruton Churchyard, may be seen the following inscription on one of the tombstones:
"Here lieth the Corpse of John Yuille (Merchant) son of Thomas Yuille of Darleith in the County of D------- in Scotland, who died at Wm—burg, in Virginia upon the 2nd day of Oct. 1746, in the year 27 of age."
The Yuille coat of arms are on the tombs with description of same and this motto, "Numine et Virtute."
A stretch of one hundred and two years between the deaths of the two Yuilles. The name is an unusual one, they may have been related. Thomas Yuille, of this county, left descendants, and I find that some of them changed the spelling of the name to Ewell, so I have not traced the family further.
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