ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO
INCORPORATION OF WINCHESTER - POST-REVOLUTIONARY BOOM - SPLENDID EARLY SCHOOLS - FIRST NEWSPAPERS IN THE VALLEY - GRANDILOQUENT SALUTATORY - PORTRAIT OF WASHINGTON - THE CHURCH LOTTERY - SOME LOCAL ITEMS - DANCING MASTERS - MR. MCGUIRE'S BALL ROOM - SOME FANCY FIGURES - FIRST FIRE COMPANIES - NOTED TAVERNS - ESTABLISHMENT OF MANUFACTORIES - THEATRICALS - PROMINENT MERCHANTS - YOUNG LADIES SEMINARY - FINE STORES - FIRST ADAMS EXPRESS COMPANY - POST OFFICE - INDENTURED SERVANTS - SHAVED HEADS AND "IRON COLLAR" - JUST RECEIVED FROM CORK - VOTE OF THE COUNTY - GRAND CELEBRATION AND BARBEQUE OF 1788 - DESCRIPTION OF PARADE - FIRST EXECUTION - BRIEF, BUT TO THE POINT - LIST OF JUSTICES - LONGEVITY OF OLD CLERKS
In October, 1779, a dual act incorporating the towns of Alexandria and Winchester was passed by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth. The act provided for the election of officers of the two towns; the style of the corporations, qualification and eligibility of the mayor, and his judicial and ministerial powers; provided for a recorder, aldermen, sergeant, etc.; market days; misconduct of officers, vacancies, and penalties for refusing to qualify; election of common councilmen. That portion of the act, specially in regard to Winchester, is as follows:
Be it further enacted, That the town of Winchester, in the county of Frederick, shall be, and the same is hereby declared to be made corporate in the same manner, to all intents and purposes, as the said town of Alexandria; and that the freeholders and housekeepers thereof shall be entitled to the same privileges and in like manner, and under the like conditions and limitations; shall have the power of electing twelve able and fit men, to serve as mayor, recorder, aldermen and common councilmen for the same. The mayor of the town of Winchester first elected shall, before some justice of the quorum in the commission of the peace for the county of Frederick, take the oath of office. The mayor, recorder and aldermen shall have the same jurisdiction in civil and criminal cases; and shall, on the second Thursday in every month, hold pleas of action arising within the said town of Winchester, and the limits hereinafter mentioned, in like manner as the mayor, recorder and aldermen of the town of Alexandria. The mayor, recorder, aldermen and common councilmen of the town of Winchester, shall, in every instance have the same powers, rights and privileges, and be subject to the same penalties, limitations and manner of proceedings as the mayor, recorder, aldermen and common councilmen of the said town of Alexandria; and their jurisdiction shall extend to and over the out-lots belonging to the said town of Winchester.
This act, it will be noted, was passed during the very heat of the Revolution, and shows that notwithstanding the great interest the citizens of the valley took in the progress of the war, as evidenced in the number and gallantry of its soldiers, they also kept in mind the welfare of their towns. Two years after the above act of incorporation, when peace spread her white wings over the victorious colonies, an era of prosperity came to Winchester that amounted to what would now be called a veritable "boom." Various important businesses sprang into life; it became the mart for the production of several useful products on such a scale as would now, even, be deemed extensive. The manufacture of saddle-trees was carried on to a large extent, and were shipped northward and eastward, even entering the markets almost controlled by Carlisle, Penn., which at that time was the great rival in trade of Winchester. The hats of Winchester were famous far and wide, whilst the gloves of buckskin, made by three or four manufacturers were sought by all eastern dealers, and doubtless was the starting point of the celebrity of valley-made gloves that retain their reputation to this day. One of the largest tanneries was located here even before the Revolution and its leather was shipped as far north as Boston.
Educational matters received attention at a very early date, and in addition to two or three strictly private schools for the lower branches two fine classic and academic institutions were opened. In the Alexandria Advertiser of June 22, 1786, one year before the first newspaper was published in Winchester, the "trustees of the Winchester Latin, Greek, and English schools," advertise that having elected "Mr. Armstrong and Mr. Potter, two gentlemen of character and abilities, to take charge of the institution, do hereby give notice that the schools will be opened on Monday, the 10th of July." They set forth that "the climate is healthful, the country plentiful and the town growing." The price of tuition was four guineas per annum. The trustees also state that "there being clergymen of the Episcopal, Presbyterian, and Lutheran churches, who officiate regularly in this
Pages 151-154 are missing from the book.
Gentlemen of this town that he will teach Dancing in the
modern method of Europe at Mr. McGuire's Ball-room, as he has been employed in
the first families in Richmond and its neighborhood. He will attend
gentlemen every evening, and will teach the use of the globes, having a pair on
a new construction, with Captain Cook's discoveries." But the following
advertisement of another dancing master, which appeared in the Gazette of
October 8, 1788, is curious enough for the preservation, and it is, therefore,
To The Ladies and Gentlemen of this Town and County:
THEIR much obliged and very humble servant, informs them, that he will teach on Fridays and Saturdays, at Mr. McGuire's, the following elegant, fashionable, tasty, and approved parts in the science of Dancing:
Minuets. - De la Coeur, Devonshire, Prince of Wales, Lady Beeties, etc.
Allemandes. - Stringsley's, Theodore's Aldridge's, etc.
Cotillions. - La Vaudreuil, La Bon Homme, L'Bagatelle, La Suisse, etc.
Country Dances. - Allemande Hopsasa, the Augustine, the Lovely Spring, the German Spa, the Theodore, Kenny's Dance, La Belle Katharine, the Innocent Maid, and True Felicity.
And he begs them to believe that he will use all kinds of industry, all manner of decorum, and every specie of attention, that the first rate Dancing Masters are so much praised for. He has procured the best white Music that is to be had in these parts, and will teach both in private and in publick. Those who may doubt his abilities in the above science, may receive proof from the most incontestable evidence.
There was a fire company in Winchester before 1787, and, indeed, it may have antedated the Revolution, for it is altogether probable that the enterprising citizens of that colonial burg, who must have known of the companies in Williamsburg, Fredericksburg and Alexandria, should have organized for protection against the devouring element, even though it was (which is quite probable) a bucket and ladder company. In proof of the existence of a genuine fire company there was printed in the Gazette of October 12, 1787, a card from a correspondent, which reads as follows:
Messrs. Printers: - As the welfare of the borough of Winchester in a great measure depends on the exertions of its inhabitants, in guarding against the most dangerous of the elements, by forming a Second Fire Company in this place; it is earnestly requested, that those who wish to become members, will meet, at Mr. Edward McGuire's Tavern, on Saturday the 13th instant, at 5 o'clock in the evening, to propose rules and regulations for the government of the same. CIVIS.
Winchester, Oct. 9, 1787
Following this suggestion a regular notice appeared
November 16, as follows: "Notice is hereby given to those gentlemen who
are subscribers to the Winchester Fire Company, that a meeting is appointed to
be held at Mr. McGuire's Tavern, tomorrow evening at 6 o'clock." The
organizations seems to have been effected in the fall, and on May 14, 1788,
further measures were adopted, as the following notice in the Centinel sets
forth: "The members of the Winchester Fire Company are to observe, that a
meeting will be held at the Market House, this evening at 7 o'clock, for the
purpose of establishing the said Company, and to be incorporated as agreeable to
an Act of General Assembly in such cases." This company is thought to have
purchased the first engine brought to the town, within the next year, 1789, as
it is not probable that two engines would be required at that time. The
first company, as has been surmised, used buckets and ladders only. That
old engine was the apparatus known as the "goose-neck." The foundation thus laid
for organization against fire, has resulted in one of the most effective and
best equipped departments, of its size, anywhere to be found.
Hotels, or as they were called until recent years, ordinaries or taverns, were plentiful in Winchester before 1790, and as well kept, possibly, as their successors hereabouts of the present day. Edward McGuire kept the most noted, and evidently the high-toned hostelry. His tavern was the place of meeting for all public affairs, and is frequently mentioned in the old newspapers. Auctions were held in front of his house on London Street; dancing assemblies met there; church committees and political caucuses convened in his parlors, and he had a spacious ball-room for the young bloods and fair belles of fashionable Winchester. He kept his tavern many years before and after the Revolution, and seems to have been the successor of Henry Heth, who kept the tavern in 1756, at which Col. George Washington "put up" whilst sojourning here during the building of Fort London. Thomas Edmondson also kept a fine tavern up on the hill opposite the fort. In 1782 Edmondson had an act of assembly passed which gave him the right to lay off five acres of land in the northern part of the town into half-acre lots, and on one of these built his tavern. It was a palatial affair for that day; so magnificent, in fact, that he had a cut made of it which is printed at the head of his advertisement in the Centinel. It was two stories high and had a porch with steps running up each end. Across the front of the second story ran a veranda the full length of the building, something wonderful in architecture for the town of Winchester in 1788. Across the pavement swung high in air between posts the sign, which was a white full-rigged ship on a dark ground. He also had a billiard-table for the accommodation of his guests. Philip Dalby owned a tavern, but just where it was located had been lost. It was called "The House." John Walters kept the "Black Horse," and patriotic old Philip Bush kept the "Golden Buck," on Cameron Street, south of Water. There were, doubtless, several minor places of resort for the traveler and the thirsty citizen, for the taverns all sold spirits at that day, as they have done ever since, and everybody, it seems, preachers and all, took a turn at the flowing bowl whenever they felt like it.
Evidences of great material prosperity appear throughout the volumes of old papers, from which the foregoing and following facts are gleaned. What must have been the outlook for business in 1787, when two European architects establish themselves in Winchester? As appears from their advertisement, "George Newsam and Edward Slater, from London and Berlin, architects and builders, respectfully inform the public that they have commenced business in Winchester, etc.," and asking a share of the public patronage. And what must the ladies think of the retrogression of their "dear old Winchester" of to-day when they are informed that one hundred years ago James Ridley had a corset manufactory right in their town? They were called stays at that time, and he invites the ladies to patronize him, as he "makes stays in the French, Italian, and English fashions." They even had an amateur dramatic association, for on the evening of October 6, 1788, they performed a play called the "Royal Convert," a tragedy. Tickets, at 1s-6d. were to be had at either of the printing offices, and the performance came off at the Market House.
Alexandria and Fredericksburg merchants advertised extensively in the two papers, the Valley being to those cities their greatest market. W. Haycock, from Alexandria, opened a "soap-boiling and tallow-chandling" establishment, and informed country merchants that he could supply them at short notice. Thomas Owram & Co., settled here and erected on Piccadilly Street, the "Winchester Hemp and Flax Manufactory." They furnished all kinds of linen threads, ropes, bolting-cloths, etc. Jonah Hollingsworth and George Matthews, at "Abraham's Delight," southeast of town, commenced the fulling and dyeing business on a large scale. Two book-binderies were in operation, and several cabinet-makers and upholsterers had shops, whilst there were real estate dealers, combined with other businesses, usually, and lawyers and doctors in abundance. Meshach Sexton appears to have been engaged in the sale by public auction of a number of tracts of land. He held his sales as seen by his advertisements, in front of John Donaldson's door. The latter conducted some prominent business, merchandising, presumably.
In the matter of merchants, Winchester was well supplied. Hamilton Cooper & Co., kept a general assortment of wet and dry goods, and Richard Gray, in addition to wet and dry goods, kept scythes, sickles, bar-iron and castings. "Archibald Magill, at his store opposite the church" kept a fine assortment of "moreens, sagathies, durants, camblets, joans, spinnings," etc., in addition to a full line of patent medicines and hardware. Philip Bush, Jr., "at the sign of the 'Golden Urn,' opposite Mr. Wm. Holliday's dwelling house," was a jeweler and goldsmith, and Robert Wells, opposite Mr. Jesse Taylor's store, was a watch and clock maker. Mr. Wells advertised to "make repeating eight-day clocks and watches of the most modern construction," and you can rely upon it that he did make them, for in that day when a man advertised to do a thing, he did it. James Mercer advertises 4,067 acres of land, not many miles from Winchester. Joseph Gamble's tailoring establishment was at "Mrs. Troutwines, in Cameron street near the Market-house," and Hugh Jerdon had his boot and shoe manufactory "nearly opposite the Lutheran Church on London street." Henry Bush has a parcel of choice leather for sale at his store, and Philip Dalby offers to sell "an elegant double chair," a kind of gig, or as we would now call it, a buggy. Richard Gray wants all kinds of country produce, and will receive all grain delivered at fifteen mills in the county, which he names as follows: Morgan's, Brown's, Lewis', Bull's, Sncker's, Wormley's, W. Helm's, M. Helm's, G. Bruce's, Hite's, Perkin's, Stroop's, Gibb's and Wilson's mills. Flour on the Alexandria market was quoted at 31s. per barrel, $5.16 2/3, the Virginia shilling being 16 2/3 cents. Daniel Norton & Co., in the fall of 1787, advertised "Fall Goods just imported in the Dade, Captain James Grayson, master," among which are "duffel and rose blankets, negroe cottons, bath coatings, callimancoes, wildbores, ladies fashionable hats and ribbons of the newest taste." Their store was on the corner of Loudon and Piccadilly Streets. Thomas Clark, painter, glazier, paper-hanger, gilder, etc., advertises that "having laid in a stock of oil and colours and as good a stone to grind them on as can be procured, he flatters himself, etc." He also adds that he "has an ingredient for destroying bugs and fleas," which shows that our little brown friend, who has the reputation of "getting there all the same," although he be wingless, is not a modern innovation. In the spring of 1788, "Miss Maria Smith proposes to open a school in Winchester for the instruction of young ladies in Reading, Spelling, Tambour, Dresden Embroidering, and all kinds of plain and colored needle work." Miss Smith states that she "has had the honor of educating some ladies of the first rank." John and James McAllister opened a general store "at the sign of the 'Total Hogshead' opposite the bridge in Winchester." This firm was one of the largest in the town, and purchased "tobacco, hemp, gensang, deerskins, mustard and flax seed, military certificates, beef, pork, etc." The name of the old firm is written on the margin of the papers from which these facts are copied, and the volume belonged originally to them. J. Gamul Dowdad was also a well-known merchant. He advertises "linens, woolens, fashionable silks, rum, wine, bar-iron and steel." A professional "mineralist" located in Lancaster, Penn., offers his services to the citizens of this section in the assaying of all ores and minerals. John Hite, Jr., has just erected his "new and elegant mill on Opeckon."
A mail factory was started by J. & J. McAllister, and Robert Sherrard at his new store offers a beautiful assortment of early spring goods; Henry Beatty has for sale a quantity of linseed oil; Col. John Peyton orders a muster of the militia of Frederick County; Thomas Eagen offers for sale a valuable and convenient stone house opposite the church on Loudon street, and J. H. Jones tenders his thanks to the public for patronizing his school so liberally. William Holliday offers for rent his elegant two-story stone house; also has for sale a likely Negro woman, with two children, and a "sign for a tavern keeper, whereon the likeness of General Washington is beautifully represented on one side, and Benjamin Franklin, Esq., on the other, the painting executed by a masterly hand at Philadelphia." Thomas Deaderick advertises as a watch and clock maker, gold and silversmith.
There must have been bad boys in those early times as well as at present, for John Peyton, clerk of the corporation, publishes an ordinance of the common council in part as follows: "Whereas the practice of throwing stones at the public buildings in this place, has become so general, that considerable injury has been occasioned thereby; and it is necessary that such pernicious and idle proceedings should in future be restrained, therefore be it hereby resolved, that it is indispensably the duty of parents to caution their children against the same." A resolution was passed prohibiting shooting at a mark within the corporate limits.
William Holliday informs the public that he has taken into partnership with himself, Adam Douglas and will be pleased to see his customers at his new stone house; Adam Kiger has reduced the price for making suits of clothing to twelve shillings; J. & J. McAllister are selling pine apples, oranges, lemons, figs, etc. Archibald Magill had a fine grocery, liquor and hardware store on the corner of Loudon and Piccadilly streets, and Adam Heckman announces himself postrider from Winchester to Staunton (there then being but few post offices established in the valley), and that he would carry letters to Newtown, Stover's Town, Miller's Town, New Market, Rockingham Town, Kersel Town, etc.; also, that he would carry packages, which shows that this Adam, as an express company, anticipates Alvin Adams of Massachusetts, by more than half a century. In the post-office at Winchester there were fifty-nine letters unlifted; to several persons two and three apiece. At that day a letter cost twenty-five and thirty cents, and the receiver had to pay for it. "Literary fellers," as Ben Butler called the newspaper men, were in demand, as an advertisement appears in the Gazette for a "person capable of conducting a newspaper." Meshach Sexton in 1788 established an oil-mill and hemp-mill, and Daniel Miller and Hane Cavert, tailors, offer to make a suit of clothes for twelve shillings. John Kean kept a store next door to McGuire's tavern, and W. Anson was a painter and upholsterer; Peter Kehoe was a first-class shoemaker, and Edward Powars was a "tailor and habit-maker" in addition to being the gaoler for the sheriff.
As illustrative of not only what we should now consider a cruel and unjust custom and law, but one that we should find difficult of execution, a few extracts from advertisements in regard to the "indentured servants" of one hundred years ago will be given. It is strange that our Revolutionary fathers should have overlooked this tyrannical custom, in regard to white servants, at least. In the Gazette of November, 1787, Mr. Hamilton Cooper, the merchant, offers $10 reward for the return to him of his Irish servant man, Dennis Wheelan, who, the advertiser says, after describing Wheelan's appearance, "was bred to the engraving business, writes an excellent hand, and seems to have had a good education; can perform on the violin, and is very artful and cunning; who ever secures him so that he may be conveniently come at, shall receive the above reward." How a man of the attainments stated could have become a slave to another is hard to tell. A number of similar advertisements are printed, and the inventor of the steam boat, James Rumsey, offers rewards for several. But here is what might now be termed a "local item," one of those little incidents happening every day; the editor says: "We are authorized to inform the public that the runaway servants of the Potomac Company were not sentenced to have their heads shaved (as mentioned in this paper of the 26th of January last), the season being thought to be too severe for such an operation. Their eyebrows only were shaved and their hair cut short." In another paper of about this date John Selye offers $20 reward for the return to him of John Jacob Pegel, a Dutchman, 45 years of age, and James Collins offers $20 reward for the apprehension of Nancy Murray, an Irish servant woman, but Nancy stole some things from her master. Rumsey, however, caps the climax when he states in his advertisement of Francis Murray having run away that he, in addition to having his eyebrows shaved off, "had on when he left, an iron collar." That was not very remote from the habits of the days of Gurth and Wamba! One can scarcely realize how slowly progress progresses. As a curiosity and worthy of preservation the annexed advertisement, copied from one of the old papers, is here given entire:
Just received from Cork, and to be disposed of for ready cash, or crop tobacco on a short credit.
A few healthy men and women who have from three and one-half to four years to serve under indentures. Among the men there are laborers, waiters, writers, weavers, shoemakers, taylors, whitesmiths, coopers, plasterers, and tillers, hair-dressers, skinners, and breeches makers. The women are washers, seamstresses, &c.
HOOE & HARRISON.
Alexandria, October 23, 1788
An election was held in Winchester, on Tuesday, March 4, 1788, for two delegates to represent Frederick County in the convention to be held for the purpose of considering the ratification of the Federal constitution by Virginia. Four candidates were voted for, which resulted in the election of the two who were favorable to "ratification." The poll was as follows: John S. Woodcock, 191; Alexander White, 162; John Smith, 117; Charles M. Thruston, 71. This, 541 votes, was the entire vote of Frederick County, including what is now Frederick, Clark and Warren.
In the Winchester Gazette of July 2, 1788, the following in regard to the convention is to be found:
"Last Sunday evening arrived in this town from the convention at Richmond, Col. R. Humphreys and Col. E. Zane, by which gentlemen a letter was brought from Alexander White, Esq., to the mayor, with the pleasing intelligence that Virginia had adopted the new constitution."
"On receipt of the above important information the extreme joy of the inhabitants of this town was fully evinced by the sparkling eyes and elated spirits which shone conspicuous through all ranks of people. Being desirous publicly to demonstrate their approbation of the happy decision of a subject for which they had been several days waiting with the most anxious expectation, on Monday afternoon the infantry company, commanded by Capt. Heiskell, and under the immediate orders of Maj. McGuire, appeared on the parade, when after discharging nine volleys in honor of the nine pillars which now support the glorious American fabric, they marched through the town, performing a number of evolutions, street firings, &c., as they passed. Toward evening a large quantity of combustibles were collected, and conveyed to Federal Hill, by the Federal Wagon, drawn by nine horses, decorated. As soon as night came one, fire was set to the materials collected, which exhibited a large and
beautiful bonfire, and which was seen for many miles in the vicinity. The court house and several other buildings were elegantly illuminated on this joyful occasion. At nine o'clock, a select number of pure Federals retired to Mr. McGuire's and spent the remainder of the evening in the greatest conviviality, mirth and good humor. After supper, the following toasts were announced, and drank with the most heartfelt satisfaction:
1. His Excellency, Gen. Washington.
2. His Most Christian Majesty
3. The Marquis de la Fayette
4. The Hon. Benjamin Franklin, Esq.
5. The memory of the American Worthies who fell in the late revolution.
6. The United States.
7. The memorable 4th of July.
8. The Patrons of Freedom.
9. The friends of the Federal Constitution.
10. May the manufacturing spirit increase as the Federal Union becomes permanent and respectable.
11. The Majority of the Virginia Convention.
12. May the Federal Pillars be raised to the highest pitch of greatness.
13. May the sword never be drawn but in the cause of justice.
company then departed, solacing themselves with the pleasing expectation, that
which will result from the establishment of that government they had been celebrating, would render us a respectable, happy and wealth people."
From the Centinel of the following week, July 9, 1788, an account of the double celebration of the "Ratification and Fourth of July" is taken:
"Friday last being the glorious ANNIVERSARY OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCY, the same was observed here with every token of heartfelt satisfaction and joy. The Federal constitution having been so recently adopted by this State, and although great rejoicings were held in town on Monday the 30th ult. In consequence thereof, it was determined by the inhabitants to celebrate these two important events (which will shine conspicuous in the annals of our country till time shall be no more) at one and the same time, with a GRAND PROCESSION, etc.
"At 12 o'clock the different crafts, consisting of upwards of two hundred, with Capt. HEISKELL's Company of Light Infantry, commanded by Maj. MCGUIRE, assembled at the court house, from whence they marched in procession through the principal streets to the Federal Spring, at Gen. Wood's plantation, where an elegant Barbequi was prepared for their reception. Having arrived at this delightful spot, where zephyrs gently fan the air, and stately trees afford a pleasing shade, the light infantry fired ten volleys in honor of those States which have adopted the Constitution (New Hampshire having ratified it before Virginia, though the account had not come to hand previous to our last publication) after which the whole partook of the regalia. The jovial bowl and glass went briskly round after the repast, and the good humour and conviviality which prevailed among all ranks, would have done honor to an assemblage of the first characters in the world. A large concourse of the Federal Fair honored the sons of freedom with their presence, which added greatly to the brilliancy and harmony of this auspicious scene. At 5 o'clock the whole returned to town, and the day concluded with military evolutions, etc. In the evening bonfires and illuminations were exhibited, and a splendid parade took place. The following is the order the procession, each craft bearing implements suitable to their several occupations:
"The Light Infantry Company.
Farmers with Sheefs of Wheat.
Bakers and Brewers.
White and Blacksmiths.
Watchmakers and Silversmiths.
Carpenters and joiners.
Clergy and Bar."
In 1785 Philip Bush, Edward McGuire and Joseph Holmes, were appointed a committee to sell the old courthouse and agree with proper mechanics to build a new one, but nothing was done in the matter, as possibly they could not get a purchaser. And a few years later John Kercheval was paid the sum of £18 for "repairing the courthouse." In 1795 several sums were also appropriated for the same purpose, and $20 was pair for "iron-work for hanging the bell." In 1798 $100 was appropriated to put repairs upon the same building, which shows that the justices concluded to make the building answer their purposes. In 1805 a new clerk's office was built, at a cost of $1,100.
The first execution occurred in the winter of 1791. James Medlicot was arrested and arraigned before the justices on July 31, 1790, for the murder of William Hefferman, on the night of July 29, two nights before. He was tried, convicted and hung some time during the following year, as in the county levy for 1792, Edward Smith and Isaac Miller, are each paid £1 10s. for erecting a gallows.
The old dispensers of law in those primitive times had a mode and brevity of procedure that was truly startling. Here is the entire record of a case as copied verbatim from the proceedings of the justices nearly one hundred years ago. It comprises the arraignment, trial and conviction of a culprit and tells its own tale.
"At a court of Oyer and Terminer held in Frederick County, the 5th day of June, 1798, for the trial of Ralph, a negro man slave, the property of James Strother, on suspicion of feloniously plotting and conspiring the murder of the said James Strother and Elizabeth, his wife, on the 5th day of May, last, by exhibiting or administering to them the seed of a certain Noxious and Poisonous Herb, called James Town Weed.
"Present, Charles Mynn Thruston, James G. Dowdal, Thomas Buck, Gerrard Briscoe, Matthew Wright and Charles Smith, Gentlemen, justices.
"The prisoner was led to the bar and it being demanded of him (having had Archibald Magill assigned to him as counsel), whether he was guilty of the facts wherewith he stood charged, or not, said that he was in no wise thereof guilty, whereupon sundry witnesses were examined, on consideration of whose testimony, and the circumstances attending the same. It is the opinion of the Court that he is guilty, and thereupon it is considered that he be hanged by the neck until he be dead, and that the sheriff of this county cause execution thereof to be committed and done upon him, the said negro Ralph, on Friday, the 20th day of July next at the usual place of execution between the hours of ten in the forenoon and three in the afternoon of the same day.
"Ordered, that it be certified as the opinion of this Court that negro Ralph, the prisoner at the bar, is of the value of three hundred and thirty-three dollars and one-third of a dollar.
"Charles Mynn Thruston."
February 4, 1799, John Rust was arrested and sent on
for trial at the District court, for the murder of his slave man Jacob, and
January, 1801, Jack, a slave of Bushrod Taylor was tried for murder, but was
found not guilty. The gentlemen justices in this case were G. Briscoe, C.
Baldwin, James Singleton, J. Caldwell and Daniel Conrad. Hugh Holmes was
Jack's attorney. Four cases in ten years - two white and two black - one
of each color being hung, equalized the matter.
Following is a complete list of the justices of the peace for Frederick County from 1779 to the present time, or rather, to a recent period.
1779 - John Smith.
1783 - Thomas Buck, Isaac Hite.
1798 - Charles Smith, George Blakemore.
1799 - John B. Tilden, Joseph Blake, Joshua Gore.
1801 - Benjamin O'Rear, John Jolliffe.
1802 - Moses Russell, Edward McGuire.
1804 - Edward Smith, Joseph Tidball, William Cooke, James M. Marshall, William Castleman.
1808 - Griffin Taylor, Robert Vance, Samuel Baker, Lewis McCoole, John S. Ball, William Vanmetre.
1809 - James Ware.
1811 - Robert Berkeley, William Snickers, Mandly Taylor, Bushrod Taylor, William Lynn, Charles Brent, Jr., Jacob Heironomus, Dolphin Drew.
1813 - Beatty Carson, John Bell, Joseph Gamble.
1815 - William B. Page, Baalis Davis, John Newman.
1816 - David Meade, Treadwell Smith.
1817 - James Baker, James B. Wiggington, George H. Norris, George Lynn.
1819 - William S. Jones, John White, Samuel Baker, Jr., William Stephenson, Frederick Smith, Simon Carson, George Reed.
1824 - John Helskell, Daniel Gold, Robert T. Baldwin, David Castleman, Edward J. Smith, Joseph Berry, John W. Pugh, George N. Blakemore, Samuel Gardner, Cornelius E. Baldwin, Jonathan Kackley, Francis Stribling, John Gilkeson, Thomas Cramer.
1825 - John Hays, William Wood, Nathaniel Burwell, Dawson McCormick.
1831 - John S. Davison, John Rust, Robert M. Marshall, James Gibson, Talliaffero Stribling, Abraham Miller, Charles H. Clark, Francis B. Whiting, John Richards, Nash L. Gardner, Philip Smith, James B. Hall, Richard W. Barton, Jonah Lockhart.
1836 - Richard M. Snyder, James B. Brookings, Seth Mason, Joseph G. Gray, Archibald S. Baldwin, John W. Miller, Jacob Senseney, Robert L. Baker, Henry W. Richards, Elijah Phifer.
1838 - Ed J. Davison.
1840 - John S. Magill, Joseph Neill, Cornelius B. Hite.
1843 - Daniel Collins, James P. Riely, Jacob Baker, Isaac F. Hite, Walker M. Hite, Jonathan Lovett.
1847 - Samuel Cox, James H. Burgess, George Wright, James W. Mason, William J. Rowland, Joseph Long, William Smith, William Rosenburg, Alfred Parkins, Mager Steel, John Bruce, John W. Pyfer.
The new constitution of 1851 having gone into effect, made a change in the manner of selecting magistrates, and an act passed by the General Assembly April 22, 1852, entitled "An act providing for the election, qualification, powers, duties, and compensation of Justices of the Peace, Clerks of Circuit and County Courts, Attorneys for the Commonwealth, Sheriffs, Commissioners of the Revenue, Surveyors, Constables, and Overseers of the Poor," made more explicit the said change. At a Court held August 2, 1852, in accordance with a stipulation of the bill, John S. Magill was elected presiding justice. The magistrates by districts were as follows:
District No. 1 - James P. Riely, James R. Brooking, William A. Bradford and Joseph E. Payne.
District No. 2 - James Senseney, Andrew Kidd, Joseph S. Davis, and Henry W. Richards.
District No. 3 - Isaac Russell, Abraham Nulton, Mordecai B. Carmell and Robert Glass.
District No. 4 - Henry P. Ward, David L. Clayton, Robert L. Baker and William J. Rowland.
District No. 5 - Henry H. Baker, Daniel Hinckle, James Robinson and Daniel Collins.
District No. 6 - Felix Good, James Cather, Robert C. Bywaters and Edward R. Muse.
District No. 7 - Joseph Richard, Ananias D. Russell, Joseph Bromback and William Rosenburger.
District No. 8 - John S. Magill, John B. McLeod, Mager Steel and Isaac F. Hite.
At that date F. W. M. Holliday was commonwealth's attorney and Thomas A. Tidball, clerk.
There has been a singular
longevity attending the early clerks of the court of Frederick County. The
first clerk James Wood, took the position in November, 1743, and died in the
winter of 1759-60; Archibald Wager was appointed and held the place till May 4,
1762; James Keith qualified at the last date mentioned, and held it until he
died in October, 1824, having served as clerk sixty-two years and five months.
Thomas A. Tidball qualified as clerk November 1, 1824, and died April 5, 1856,
having served as deputy clerk and clerk for over fifty years. At his death his
son, Allen S. Tidball, was appointed till a clerk could be elected, and Thomas
A. T. Riely being chosen, he qualified June 2, 1856. Mr. Riely having died
in 1858, R. E. Seevers was appointed till an election could be held, when James
P. Riely, Sr. was chosen and entered upon his duties in July, 1858, and served
till August, 1859, when he dying his son, J. Chap Riely, was appointed to fill
the vacancy, being afterward at the regular election selected by ballot.
He remained clerk from that time until the close of the war, although C. W.
Gibbons filled the position by military appointment. Gibbens was succeed
by his son, C. M. Gibbens, but in 1870 J. H.