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Recollections of My Early Life (Volume II)


[II 1]
Sheridan’s Raid—continued—from Vol I.
The officer then spoke to my Aunt & told her that what he supposed was true—that it was merely an attack by Bushwhackers. But he added, that as a man had been shot near our house there was danger of some marauding party burning the house out of revenge. He therefore urged my Aunt to send me to get a Guard—saying that he knew General Devins, who was in command of our section of the Camp, would gladly give us one. That he thought Genl Devins’ headquarters were in a large brick house on a hill near us. I at once agreed to go, and as the nearest large brick house was Mr Andrew J. Brown’s (now Genl Rosser’s) I trotted off down the road towards it. Just beyond Meadow Creek beginning at the line, between
[II 2]
Genl Rossers and what is now my land a tract of woods then stood & the woodland extended up to the top of the present Meadow Creek long hill, about opposite the Country Club building. You could not then, see the Brown house from our house as you can now. About halfway up the hill there was a gate and a wood road which led to the stable—which is still the same as in Brown’s day—only added to a good deal. That stable was then just on the edge of the woods. I trotted along up the hill thro’ the gate and along the wood road, until I came to the stable— On looking up to the house I saw that it was being looted. Men were coming out of it with arms full of various things and there was a stir & bustle about & around it, that child as I
[II 3]
was, I knew would not be about a house where a General had headquarters. A trooper, evidently drunk, was riding down towards the stable flourishing a large bottle and shouting in a maudlin sort of a way. I turned to go back, when he saw me & yelled—“Halt, there, Halt there, d-mn—you”. I did not halt: On the contrary I turned & trotted briskly back along the wood road. To my horror & dismay, the trooper put spurs to his horse and followed me yelling “Halt! I tell you Halt” At that I ran like a deer & the drunken wretch drew his revolver and began to fire at me. It seemed to me every ball came right by my head. Ye Gods how I did run, but he came after me, emptying his pistol. At a turn of the road I dashed out into
[II 4]
and struck across the woodlands—I ran until I came to the Creek jumped into it and crawled under one of the banks, where I had often gone after rabbits when the snow was on the ground. High water dug a sort of cave under these banks in many places, & being high & dry at low water & completely sheltered, rabbits often crouched there during snow storms. I found a dry place & stretched out with a heart beating so loud it seemed to me it could have been heard in Charlottesville. I laid in this shelter probably half an hour & hearing no more shots or hoof beats, I crawled out & went home by the path which led from Morea. When I reached home another fright confronted me. The house was entirely surrounded by troopers on horseback. A
[II 5]
silent line that stood at attention. I crawled thro the line no one seeming to notice & found Aunt Mat: talking to an officer on the back porch. As I got on the porch, he saluted, bowing very politely & walked away to where an orderly held his horse. He mounted, gave a sharp quick command, & the troopers were soon gone— Aunt Mat: who was frightened out of her wits, told me that she couldn’t understand what was the matter. That the troops rode up, surrounded the house and the officer came down & told her he wanted “General Duke” & that she had better tell him to come out & give himself up. Aunt Mat: assured him that “Colonel” Duke whose house this was, was not there, but away with his regiment. The officer then said he would have to search
[II 6]
the house, which, with several other men, he did. Finding no one, he made an apology & told my Aunt she ought to have a guard as she was there alone. He told her that Genl Devins’ headquarters were on the Staunton road at a large brick house in a Southerly direction from our house. He then very politely & courteously took his leave.
Aunt Mat: then told me she thought Devins’ headquarters must be at the “Jewry” house—the residence of two old ladies known as the Misses Jewry—the house afterwards dubbed “Seymour”, by Judge Goodyear who bought it of a German named Haze, who bought it of the Jewrys. Senator Thos S. Martin has lately purchased the property. So I told Aunt Mat I would go there
[II 7]
and off I started, but this time with leaden feet, for I had to go thro’ the long stretch of the Poorhouse woods, and the sun was about setting. But the thought of SunnySide in flames, stirred me & spurred me. I first went to Mr Anderson’s, where I found mother & Mary & told her of my errand. I begged little Dick Anderson to go with me, but his mother wouldn’t hear of it. Mr Anderson said he would sent old man Hearst—one of the paupers—with me, & old man Hearst came & off we went up the wood road & by the Barbecue Spring. Old Hearst was a thin, undersized old man—almost bald, with a thin gray beard and the expression of one to whom Fate had done her worst, and who no longer cared for anything in this
[II 8]
world. We walked along in the darkling woods—for the sun was about down, & I do not think either of us spoke a word. We reached the Jewry house & here a sight met us, that seemed to paralyse old Hearst, for he stopped as tho’ shot and stared, at the figure of a man swinging to a small tree just a foot or so from the side door of the house. I saw, however, that the man was suspended by his thumbs—his feet just touching the ground—or rather the tips of his toes. He was groaning mournfully, & two or three men stood near him joking at him. One of the men saw Hearst and asked him sharply what he wanted. Hearst was struck dumb. He simply pointed at me with his finger & muttered something. I then spoke up & told the men that I must
[II 9]
see Genl Devins on important business— They took me into the dining room—then in the basement & I found it filled with soldiers laughing & chatting. One of them—with stripes on his arm—was told my errand— He asked me what I wanted with the General— I told him, and he began to joke me. Asked it we had any apple jack at my house— Now I had never heard of “apple Jack” in my life, but I knew that a yankee had taken off a great jar filled with “apple butter” despite Aunt Mat’s plea that it was absolutely necessary to have it “in case of sickness”. So I thought this was what he meant & I indignantly said “We did have a big jar of it, but you miserable fellows stole it all & my mouth watering
[II 10]
for it too”. There was a roar of laughter at this. “By-G— “Sergeant,” said one of them. “Give the little rebel a drink”, and the sergeant held his canteen out to me. “Take a swig, boy”, he said, “I like your pluck. This is some fine”. But I pushed the canteen away & told them I wouldn’t drink with them. This of course raised another shout & I felt perfectly at ease & began to talk with them as boldly as if I was a man. The merriment at my speeches, must have been rather loud, for presently a young man with shoulder straps on his coat came in asked what was the matter & why all this noise. There was silence & I—being then decidedly “cocky”—spoke up & said “I want to see Genl Devins at once. I’ve talked to these men long
[II 11]
enough”. The young man took me by the hand and led me up stairs into the room on the left of the passage as you go in. In this room were several men in handsome uniforms & seated in their midst was a man with a heavy square cut beard. The officer with me spoke to him. “Genl Devins”, he said, “this boy wants a guard for his house”. Devins simply looked at me & said, “Send him to Custer”, and went on talking.
The young lieutenant—for such he was—took me out of the porch & pointing down the railroad said “Go to Genl Custer’s headquarters down yonder in the house back of the University & tell him Genl Devins sent you, & he will give you the guard.” I went back to the lower room, found old Hearst & off we started.
[II 12]
About the time we got upon the railroad track night had fallen & so we trudged along in the dark, neither speaking a word, until we got to what was then known as the Carr’s Hill crossing—a point just about where the boys now cross the C & O R.W. track to go to the Athletic field. Here we turned off & scarcely had we taken half a dozen steps when we heard the rattle of a gun and a man stepped out of the shadow & said sharply “Halt! Who comes there?” We stopped in our tracks & I answered promptly “People to see Gen Custer, sent by Genl Devins.” “Advance & give the countersign”, said the sentry—for it was a sentinel. “I don’t know it,” I said, “I’m only a boy”. The sentry walked then closely up to us—his gun slung into position across his body. “Stand where you are.” He said. You can well imagine we stood.
[II 13]
“Corporal of the Guard,” he shouted, “Post No—” I’ve forgotten the number. An answer came & presently two men approached. I told my story, & the Corporal bade Hearst & myself follow him. We did so & he led out to what I knew as the McCoy house— The house Dr Chancellor afterwards bought—then Col Peters—who added to it, and where now resides Dr Alderman (1907)* (*St Paul’s Memorial Church now (1911) stands on its site.) The House was then entirely different from what it is now. It was then a rather small brick house—a passage on the left hand side and the parlour on the right. On the right side of the yard, about where the Booker house now stands, was a two story tenement house for students—a single room depth and a portico two stories high running along its front. Into one of these rooms the Corporal
[II 14]
led me, and I was again subjected to a good deal of good natured guying. I suppose the Corporal had sent a messenger to the General for by and by a man came in & told me to go with him, bidding Hearst remain where he was until I returned. I was then taken in the McCoy house parlour which was crowded with officers. One of them who looked to me like a boy & who had long yellow hair like a womans, spoke to me. “Well boy; what do you want?” “I want a guard”, I replied boldly & I expect somewhat pertly— “Your men have insulted my mother, robbed our house and they say are going to burn it tonight.” “Where’s your father?” said this young man looking at me with a rather amuzed glance. I suppose he must have thought I represented very little that needed guarding. I was barefooted:
[II 15]
Had on a pair of muddy & stained trousers & a thin patched jacket with which the briars had played havoc— “He’s with his regiment” I replied. “Where he ought to be—for he’s Colonel of it.” His whole manner changed at once. “Is your father a field officer?” he asked.
“I don’t know what that means,” I replied—“He is a Colonel in the Confederate States Army & his name is Duke.”
“Well!” said he—“that’s quite a different matter. Where do you live?” I told him. He turned to a man & said “Orderly bring so & so here”. The man saluted & in a short while returned with a huge six-footer. He told him to go with me and remain at my father’s house until the rear-guard left & to see to it that we were not molested in any way.
[II 16]
He then told me that this man would take care of us and bade me go with him.
I recall hardly anything of Custer’s appearance beyond the fact that he looked very young and had long yellow hair, hanging down below his coat collar & I think on his shoulders. I never saw him afterwards.
I followed my Michigander, who went out to get his horse. I then picked up old Hearst & with him & our guard—who rode his horse—we went across the fields & soon got home. I found mother had returned, but she was wild with anxiety over my absence so late in the night.
Our guard & my safe return seemed to have a very happy effect & we were all soon sitting down by the fire chatting away. This soldier
[II 17]
was a large, tall, pleasant looking man, quite a talker.
He told us, the war would soon be over, that Richmond—which he said was entirely surrounded by Mountains with only one outlet, was now bound to fall, as this raid had effectually closed up that only exit. And the joke on mother was, that she forgot her geography and moaned over the fate of the City. But I remember very little more—for the excitement of the day & my two long trips had worn me out. I faintly recall Mammy Rose washing my feet in warm water, and moaning over “de po’ chile’s feet cut with rocks & torn with briars.” I was soon asleep in that happy sleep of childhood & the Yankees & the robberies & the anxieties & troubles of the day faded into nothingness.
[II 18]
It seemed our Guard had failed to get from the proper officer any papers stating his position & several times during the next day he was asked for his “papers” by one or two impudent marauders whom he prevented from coming into the house: About 12 o’clock a stubby little Irishman came over to visit him & he asked this Irishman to remain and take care of us until he could get his papers. Off he rode and in half an hour was back with his papers: But during the interval four or five men rode up the stable and began to take out what little hay was left in it. Down went our little Irishman & told them the “General’s” orders were that nothing was to be molested on this place, and that he was the Guard.
“Where are your papers?” asked one of them— As quick as a flash the little fellow jerked
[II 19]
out a long “naval” revolver. Click went the lock, as he cocked it. “Here dom ye,” said he. “Here’s me papers”. The fellow looked into the muzzle of the revolver and laughed “They’re good, Paddy,” said he—“Come along boys.” and off they rode minus any hay.
Our guard left the next day towards noon & we were told that the yankees were gone. About three or four I walked over to the camp near the University & saw everything in motion & came back to give the news.
The following morning I was playing in the yard under the big oaks, when I heard a familiar voice say “Tom”. I couldn’t believe my ears. It was my father’s voice. I looked around & there he stood in his grey uniform smiling at me.
[II 20]
My joy at seeing him was tempered by the thought of the danger he was running from stragglers or men left behind as a sort of a rear guard. So as I ran to kiss him I said, “Oh! Papa come in the house quick & hide: The Yankees may not be all gone”. He laughed at my fears & taking me in his arms kissed me & bade me not not to be uneasy. Mother was of course overjoyed to see him, but like myself terribly frightened at the thought of the risk he ran. He told us that he had obtained a furlough & started home. When he reached Gordonsville he heard of the raid & at once went across the Mountain between Gordonsville and Barboursville to the house of a Mr Ben: Johnson who had married his cousin. He borrowed a horse from him and rode to Gilbert’s farm &
[II 21]
thence around, making careful enquiries as to the raid, & learning that the rear guard had gone he ventured home. He did not know what had happened: Was afraid they had burned the house, and of course was in great trouble & anxiety. As he came down the road he could just see the tops of the chimneys, & not until he heard the “quack, quack” of some ducks in the yard did he feel assured. “If they haven’t taken the ducks,” he said to himself, “they have hardly burnt the house,” so he rode joyously up to the gate & saw all was safe & me at play. He had hardly been in the house an hour when we heard a man’s step on the back porch. He started to go out, but mother threw he arms around his neck & begged him not to go out. “Go: go:” she said to me,
[II 22]
“and it is a yankee or any one you do not know, call loudly for me— If you know him come right back & tell us who it is.” I rushed out & to my great delight saw that it was Prof Wm H. McGuffey of the University. Dr McGuffey was Professor of Moral Philosophy in that Institution. Being a Presbyterian Minister & the University practically closed, he had charge of the Church in Charlottesville & had come over to see how mother—one of his parishioners—had fared, after the raid. I didn’t wait to report but ushered him immediately into the room. He was very much surprised to see father but much pleased. He told him he thought all the yankees had gone & that he was perfectly safe, but that before Father exposed himself to general view or went into town it was
[II 23]
important to know that all the troops had left: That there was really more danger from stragglers & camp followers, than from the troops. The latter might capture, but the former would murder. So it was suggested that I should accompany him back to the University & remain at his house whilst he went on a reconnoitering tour & would send me back with a report.
So after a little chat, off we went—the Doctor & I—across the fields to his house, the last pavillion on the left hand side (West Lawn) of the Lawn as you face the Rotunda. He turned me over to the tender mercies of Mrs McGuffey & went off to learn what he could of the Raiders whereabouts. Whilst he is out I might as well here say something of the man— For
[II 24]
in my judgment he was the greatest teacher I ever knew and a most remarkable man in every way.
Born & I believe reared in the State of Ohio, he came to the University of Va in 18[ ] and no son of Virginia was ever more loyal to her than he was. He filled, for awhile the pulpit of the Presbyterian Church in Charlottesville, whilst carrying on his duties at the University. He was Pastor when I was born & christened me. A thin spare man, bald as a bat, close shaven a little below the average height—with a keen incisive gray-blue eye—A quick walker—Seemingly stern & grave he was really very tender hearted & full of fun and jokes. As a preacher he was dry, & “lectury”, tho’ he used to weep very often in the midst of his sermon. He shook his head very much both in preaching and lecturing, and had a curi-
[II 25]
-ous way of smacking his lips between sentences. He taught moral philosophy and logic and political economy—turning the latter over to Prof Holmes when the chair of History & Literature was established. His sermons were dry, as I have said, but wonderfully logical, I have heard. My grandfather used to say that he never knew a man who could “dovetail” a subject like the Dr. He was the author of the celebrated and widely used McGuffey’s spellers and Readers—books which I used entirely when I was a boy, and a complete set of which he gave me after the war. Like a fool I let them get away from me. Of the man as Professor I will write more fully—if I am spared and have energy enough to complete these random reminiscences thro’ my college days, as
[II 26]
I hope to do.
The Doctor came back about dinner time, & told me I was to stay to dinner and then return home and tell my father that no vestige of the yankees was left, and that some Confederate Soldiers were now in the town, & he thought all danger was over. So after a bountiful meal I scurried across the fields with the news.
My brother Willie came in the next day I think with news of the safety of our Buckeyeland kin & some funny stories of Uncle Kits excitability. I do not remember how long Father stayed with us. It must have been a very short while. I remember distinctly going with him to the Junction—as it was then called, now the Union Station & saw him walk up the Railroad track towards Lynchburg. I think he walked the greater part of the way &
[II 27]
from Lynchburg went to Richmond by train. I did not see again for over four months & then after the surrender of Genl Lee & his own imprisonment in Johnson Island Prison.
The month which elapsed between Sheridan’s Raid & the Surrender must have gone very rapidly. I recall nothing of it beyond the fact that our rations became very limited & we were often hungry for something to eat. We first heard of the evacuation of Richmond form an old Irish ditcher—named Daly—who had come our to do some ditching. He told us that Richmond had fallen & the army gone off to the South. Our agony and distress and deep anxiety can be better imagined than described. Some days after the same man brought us a rumour of the Surrender.* (*It was merely a rumour & was not then true) We did not believe it.
[II 28]
I recall very well that the day after the rumour was abroad we—that is my mother, brother & sister & myself had been over to the University Chapel. As we came home & reached the edge of the woods where the shelter house was a shower of rain came up and we went into that house. Whilst there we heard the far off roar of what we knew were cannon. My mother at once said “Listen children! Genl Lee had not surrendered! That noise you hear is the sound of cannon.” It was indeed the sound of cannon. For it was the salute the Federals were firing, over their victory, but which Genl Grant ordered to be stopped.* (*My brother says this was Sunday afternoon Apl 9th ) Within a day later we had the sad news confirmed & I do not think that in all my life I felt greater dismay & sorrow. My mother’s condition can be well imagined,
[II 29]
when as day after day the paroled soldiers came in, no news came of Father. At last she heard from one of his men of the 46th Regiment that he had seen the Colonel at the head of his regiment entering the battle of Sailor’s Creek on Apl 6th, and that he had heard they were all captured. This was—as it turned out—true, but rumour after rumour reached us: One that he been seen on his way home: Another that he had been seen wounded. Mother’s courage and hope was sublime. Facing her was ruin & despair & sorrow & foreboding. But she kept a stout heart. In the course of a week—perhaps more—we heard that the Yankees were in the town and it was true. A company had come in and camped near town in what was known as Craven’s woods.
I had
[II 30]
overlooked the fact that in the Winter of 1864-5 my brother & myself were sent to School to Mr Wm Carroll to whom we had previously gone. We walked in every day to the School house which was in the house in which Mr Carroll resided. A frame house on the public square—the second from High Street and the western side of the square. In this way we carried home every day the news of the town. I remember Genl Lee’s farewell address was printed by old Mr Jas Alexander whose printing office and residence covered the present site of The People’s National Bank and Gilmore’s Furniture store. He got it up on a small slip of paper and sold it for two eggs a copy. Confederate money, of course had ceased to have any value & we had no gold or silver or greenbacks.
We walked into school along the
[II 31]
Public road—Preston Avenue it is now called— It was then known as the Poor House Road. Patterson’s Drug Store was then the first store one came upon as you entered the town by this road. It is now No [ ]* (* Now Shapero has erected a handsome store room on this site). Main Street & occupied as a bar room. In the rear of the store was the telegraph office and Marco Paoli—a youth a little older than Willie was the operator. The messages were then printed, in the Morse alphabet on long slips of paper tape— As we went into school we frequently stopped in the rear of the store to chat Marco. One morning we came in early—the date of course is easy to fix, April [ ] and we walked in the office to find it in a great state of excitement. Patterson—a small man with a long brown
[II 32]
Beard was walking the floor in a state of repressed excitement—an expression in his face of joy mingled with fear. Three or four others—one I remember was Mr Wm Sharp of Norfolk if I am not very much mistaken, and all seemed doubtful as to whether they should rejoice or be sorrowful. “Read it again Marco”, said one as we entered the room. Marco pulled the long paper slip thro’ his fingers and read. “President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated last night in Ford’s theatre by Wilkes Booth”
There was quite a discussion as to whether that meant that he was dead until finally Marco went to the machine & read some more tape. “Yes!” he said died at such and such an hour”. My brother & myself waited for no more. Off we sped as fast as we could run & dashed into
[II 33]
the school room— School was just assembling. “Oh! Mr Carroll, Mr Carroll,” we shouted “Old Abe Lincoln has been killed, The South will be free yet— Hurrah! Hurrah!” For to us Lincoln represented the entire Yankee nation & with his death it seemed to us, all our losses would count for nothing. “Be quiet,” and sit down”, said Mr Carroll who as usual was smoking his long pipe. Down we sat rather abashed at the way our news was received. The old gentleman paced the floor awhile; then he said sharply. “What’s that foolishness, about Lincoln?” We told him & he paced the floor nervously. Presently he said. “Well! boys I think I’ll let you go for the day”, and out he hurried on his way to the telegraph office, whilst we broke out into shouts at
[II 34]
holiday & in gladness to know of the death of “the tyrant”. Of course none of realized what a horrible crime it was. Lincoln to us was a bug bear—a clownish ape, who had brought on the war—who had stolen our slaves—incited them to insurrection—was the exciting cause of all our troubles. The whole sentiment of the town seemed one of joy at the news. I remember seeing the same old Mr Jas Alexander—who tho’ born in Boston & raised there almost to manhood, was a great secessionist—talking that day on the corner of the street to an excited crowd & jumping up and down—as he usually did when excited & saying over and over again—“Sic semper tyrannis”, which was the motto of the State, & which Booth shouted as he jumped to the stage after his awful deed. I suppose old
[II 35]
man Jimmie had heard this and was repeating it, tho’ he may have been using it as an appropriate expression of his own feeling. Of course we hurried home to take mother the glad news, but to our surprise she took it very seriously and sorrowfully. She talked to us of the wickedness of the act and its foolishness, as well, & told us that so far from doing the South any good, she feared it would do us a great deal of harm! That whilst she thought Mr Lincoln was a bad man, in that he forced the war upon us & freed the slaves—thus robbing us of what was as much our property as our horses or money or furniture yet no man had a right to take his life and that one ought to be sorry for him and his poor wife & children. In all this she was of course right, but it
[II 36]
was hard for us to look at it that way.
Evidences of our conquered condition soon forced itself upon us— Sentinels were placed upon the public square & on Main Street & in front of what was then the Farrish Hotel—now the Colonial—there was hung a large United States flag—a sight as abhorrent to us as the blue uniform of the Soldier who with fixed bayonet walked up & down the pavement under it— It seemed to be the pleasure of the sentinel there to see that every one who walked along that street walked right under that flag— More than once I heard him call out to some man who got off the pavement before he approached that part of it over which hung the flag, “Come back here, you d—med rebel & walk under that flag”. I saw this happen several times
[II 37]
during one recess— It soon got so that people entirely abandoned walking in front of the hotel; But very soon the flag was taken down & things resumed their normal course. Ex-Confederate soldiers soon came back to the town, & as the poor fellows had no other clothes than their uniforms, they were subjected to a good many petty persecutions. At first the Provost Marshal issued orders that no man should appear in the town in a Confederate uniform— The hardship of this order being made apparent it was changed and the wearer of the uniform was ordered to remove the military buttons or have them covered over with cloth. A great many old soldiers thereupon got crape & draped every button.
Sentinels were placed on the street & if a man came along with a uniform and uncovered
[II 38]
buttons, he was stopped and his buttons all cut off. I saw one day a funny occurence on Main Street. I was on my way home from school and a long heavy man wearing a Confederate uniform, with buttons uncovered, came walking along the street. A vigilant sentinel ran out and without saying a single word commenced clipping off the buttons with some sharp instrument. The man then stopped, looked at the man who had stopped him & who was then mutilating his clothes, for one moment: Then he raised a ponderous fist and knocked the fellow halfway across the street. As he fell he yelled “murder” & “corporal of the guard”, lustily & in a moment the pugilist was in the hands of a squad who seemed disposed to handle him roughly. Just then an officer came along & enquired the cause of the trouble
[II 39]
He spoke sharply to the sentinel whose nose was bleeding and whose blue uniform was covered with mud, and asked him what was the matter. He gave his version, & then the officer turned to the Confederate and asked his account of the matter. He told him that this chap—pointing at the Sentinel—had come up stopped him & commenced cutting off his buttons without a word to him. “In course, I knocked him down— Wouldn’t you have done it?” The officer laughed. “Hadn’t you been told to have your buttons covered with cloth?” he asked “No!” replied the man. “Didn’t the sentry tell you of the order?” “No! sirree!” he replied, “just commenced a’whacking my buttons off— I thought he wanted them to show his gal how he had worsted a rebel, & I couldn’t stand it Capn.”
[II 40]
“Didn’t you tell the man of the order?” asked the officer of the sentry. “No!” he replied, “My orders were to cut off all exposed buttons, & not to tell anything.” this rather surlily—“Then, he served you right”, the officer said.
“Go home, my man, he said to the Confederate,” & get your wife or sweetheart to put cloth over your buttons & don’t be so handy with your fists, next time.” The Confederate saluted & walked away to the great disgust of the blue coats. “A d-mned shame,” I heard the officer mutter & then he turned to his man. “Do your dirty business in as decent a manner hereafter as you can, & molest no man, until you have explained the order to him. I will not report you this time as you have had punishment enough.”
Orders were issued that all men were to take the oath of allegiance
[II 41]
and the Provost Marshal office was soon filled with reluctant “swearers.” They say that old Cousin Wm (Billy) Gilmer—one of the greatest characters I ever knew & of whom I hope to write a brief sketch before I am through, came down & was duly sworn. When he got through he solemnly leaned over the desk & extended his hand to the astonished officer who grasped it with some hesitation. “We’re all brothers, now”, said Cousin Billie beaming on him. “I hope so Sir,” replied the officer politely. “All good union men?” Yes! I trust so”. “The fact is”, continued Cousin Billie “We’re all one & I’m a yankee just like the rest of you”. “If you care to put it that way”, smiled the officer, Yes!” Cousin Billie then leaned over the desk & in the most confidential way whispered. “Well! didn’t old
[II 42]
Stonewall & Bob Lee lick hell out of us, until we starved ’em out?” And off he went ere the astonished officer could reply.
But to return to the “narrow things of home”. Weeks rolled by and no news came of father. Provisions grew scarcer than we had ever known. We were often hungry for the actual want of food.
Mother called all the negroes up as soon as the news reached us that the Federal troops had taken charge of the town. She told them they were free to go—that if they chose they could stay & work the place & get what food they could, but she had no money to pay them wages— Little Henry—who was foreman—then told mother that they had all talked the matter over & had determined to remain just as of old “until Marse Walker comes home, and then we will see what he wants us to
[II 43]
do.” And stay they did with the exception of Jane—the Cook—who left a few weeks before Father returned. Uncle Gilmer came in to see us & finding our pitiable plight, sent us a four horse load of flour & meal & meat & some rye & sorghum— So we got along & vegetables began to come in. I have often thought since with feeling of almost awe and wonder and admiration and love of my noble mother in these hours of agony and doubt & despair. She maintained a calm dignity—a quiet cheerful manner never doubting or despairing or repining. She went her way looking after the household & servants, maintaining order & discipline, teaching us our Bible lessons—seeing that we studied our tasks & from her lips I never heard a word of bitterness or of ill temper or of reproach at the
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fate of her country or her property or herself. A Christian woman, she placed her trust in the good God who did all things well & her husband never showed greater courage on the field of battle than she did in those dark & trying hours.
At last a letter came. Never shall I forget the day. Wilbur Keblinger—a member of old Company B—son of the old Post Master walked all the way out to SunnySide & asked for Mother. She was at Mrs Andersons— Then he told us that Capt Billy Woods—an old merchant in town—had a letter from Father & in it one to mother. Down we hurried with Wilbur & I can see mother now as she thanked God for the letter. “You thought he was dead”, she said, All of you thought it. I knew, I knew he was not. God had kept him for me”, and then she read both letters—for Capt
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Billy had sent both. They told us he was in Johnson Island prison—a prisoner of war—but bade us hope for his early release & home coming. Letters came after this with regularity as often as the prison rules allowed. To understand something of the difficulties of communication one must understand that most of the Railroad bridges had been burned and there were very few engines. Handcars were rigged up & drawn by horse—or mule-power between bridges. One or two such cars, I remember were fixed so that the horse or mule could be taken aboard on the down grades & thus run much faster. I remember one car that ran between Mechums River and the Rivanna Bridge. The mule as soon as he had got the car to the top of the grade would stop and decline to go a foot further. He would then
[II 46]
be put in the place prepared for him on the car & down the grade the whole business would rush—Mr Mule looking very much pleased. At the foot of the grade he would, of his own volition back off the car & walk around in front ready for business. I several times rode from the top of the grade at the University down to the lower depôt.
Several robberies having taken place around us, & my brother being the oldest male on the place & he only seventeen, we were advised to apply for a guard, which we did, and the provost Marshall sent us first an old German named Schmitz—a quiet nice inoffensive old man, who made himself as pleasant as he could be, and who was respectful and polite & well behaved in every way. He only remained with us a week, I think, and then a sour faced mean looking puritanical
[II 47]
down-easter was sent to take his place. He was what Mr Bob Whitehead used to call a “sanctimonious son-of-a——” and was as disagreeable as the other man was pleasant. He brought with him a bible which he constantly perused—especially the old Testament—and from it he drew many illustrations to point out to us the wickedness of slavery and the just retribution we of the South had received for our treatment of the poor “Africane” as he called him. He sat a great deal with the negroes—read to them prayed in most unctuous tones with them, and we afterwards understood was “patriarchal” in some ways not today considered exactly compatable with our present system of morals & civilization. Later on he returned home once or twice in a very pious and lacrymose frame of mind & it was suggested that the holy
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man was drunk, as it subsequently turned out he was rather frequently. He and Aunt Mat: used to have some lively spats & with her quick way & wit and ready tongue she frequently ran him out of the room. I remember once he was sitting out under one of the oaks perusing his Bible, when Aunt Mat: went by. “Miss Eskridge”, he called out to her, “Do you know I think the Africane is a descendant of that wife which Cain took when he went into the Land of Nod.” “No question of it Mr Brown, replied Aunt Mat quickly “For they have been a sleepy headed race from time immemorial.”
The provost marshall at this time was a man named Stratton. His title was not Provost Marshal, but Commandant of The Post. Very soon after his arrival he was taken in charge by Mr Woods Garth—Wm H. Southall, Maj Green
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Peyton, Col Stevens—Jas Ross and Billy Gilmer— These were—or rather most of them, genuine types of the old Virginia Squire—high livers, hard drinkers and jolly good fellows every way. Poor Stratton soon fell a victim to their wiles and was in a state of glorious intoxication most of his sojourn. He went to their houses; was dined and wined & “whiskeyed” and “brandied” until he wound up in delirium tremens & was withdrawn.
A branch of the Freedman’s Bureau was established in Charlottesville within a month or so after the occupation by the Federals. Of its object & workings I know very little, but I witnessed one of its “trials” which I think I will preserve here to show the comical side of it.
It seems that Mr J. Woods Garth—a large planter and one of my
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father’s warmest friends—had hired a lot of negro men to worm tobacco: One of the men had shirked his work & on being rebuked for it became very saucy— Thereupon Mr Garth, who hadn’t gotten used to the new order of things, had two of the other hands take the offending darkey & tie him to a tree whilst he proceeded to give him a good sound flogging. As soon as he was let down, the whipped darkey came into town & made complaint— Mr Garth was accordingly arrested & the day of his trial the Court House was packed with a large crowd of negroes and anxious whites. In the mean time Mr Southall: Maj Peyton—Dr Stevens & Cousin Billy Gilmer had been seeing Maj Stratton & when he ascended the Bench in full uniform with his sword clanking long side of him he was as drunk as a Lord. Mr Garth was brought
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in between two soldiers with drawn bayonets. I supposed he would be hung or shot & was in a terrible state of excitement. Maj Stratton in a very thick voice asked Mr Garth what he had to say, telling him that he was accused of having whipped a coloured man very severely. “That’s right,” said Mr Garth, “I hired that nigger to worm tobacco. I went over his rows and found he was leaving a great many worms on the plants. I spoke to him time & again about it. He continued to neglect his work & became very “sassy” and impudent & I had two of the hands tie him to a tree & I gave him a good thrashing.”
Stratton looked very solemn and owlish. “These people are free, now Missur Garth”, he said, “You ain’t no business thrashing ’em like you used
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to do,”
“Now boy”, he called to the negro, “what have you got to say about this?
“Well!” said a burly impudent looking black, as he came out of the crowd in front of the bench, “Well” Capn, what Woods Gath says is ’bout correct”.
As he said “Gath” I saw Mr Garth’s eye flash, and Stratton stiffened up & glared at the fool darkey, who went on.
“Well! Woods Gath hired me to “wum” terbacca— I was a’ “wumming” it, & may be I did leave a few wumms on the leaves and he kept a’pesterin’ me & sassying me & I sassed him back—I’se jes as free as he is—and den he made two dem po’ white folk trash niggers ketch me and tie me to a tree & he tuk his cowhide and cut
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my back all to pieces.”
Stratton glared at him & swayed backwards & forwards—“An did you leave worms on them leaves?” “Course I did, Marse Capn,” said the negro rather jauntily. “You carn’t wum terbacca, without leaving a few womm-s.”
Stratton brought his sword down with a bang, & leaning over the table in front of him, yelled out. “You d— black — — — —. You go right back to that field & go to work & if you leave a single worm on a single leaf in a single row—Mr Garth you thrash his hide off, & send him back to me & I’ll have him shot.”
The Court broke up, the complainant fleeing as from the wrath to come & Stratton & Mr Garth & several others wended their way over to the Huffman’s Saloon on the right hand
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corner of the square facing the Court House—the room is now occupied by Harmon as a law office.
Now I have said this trial was under the auspices of The Freedsman’s Bureau. Since commencing it, I do not think this is correct, for I do not believe that organization began its work in Charlottesville until after Stratton left. I am not certain, either as to whether it was in 1865 or 1866. I only remember the trial, not its date, & put it down now for want of a better place.
The Spring wore on into summer with no especial event to impress itself upon my memory. The fields were plowed—crops sown—Jane, the Cook, left us. We had the usual round of visitors—for no matter how “hard up” we were the old hospitable ways were
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kept up. Kinsfolk came & went— Our boy friends came to visit us and in the month of July Gilmer Tucker—Cousin Lizzie Tucker’s son—nephew of J. Randolph Tucker— & grandson of Gov Thos Walker Gilmer—was at home. He and I were playing “seven up” on the steps that led up the grassy slopes in rear of the house—now taken away & a area-way—occupying their place— Mother was watching us & Mary & Willie standing near. Our Yankee Guard was sitting on the fence which separated SunnySide from the woodland, which used to be between us & the University. None of the present outbuildings were then standing or the high fence between the present woodyard & back yard of the house: So there was an unobstructed view of the woodland & the path
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leading from it to the house. I happened to look up & there I saw a familiar figure coming down the pathway. I did not wait for a second glance—“There is Pa, dear Pa”, I shouted & up I jumped & down the lane I ran—forgetting a very sore & much bandaged “big toe.” I met him at the branch & as I kissed him, I felt, I believe the happiest moment of my life.
The residue of the family were close behind, & such a scene of rejoicing one seldom sees in this weary world. Soon the darkeys were all about us & their joy was as great as ours— One or two of them knelt down and actually kissed his feet— He still wore his uniform. The tattered old gray coat is still at SunnySide. Our “faithful guard” never came to the house again. Father saw him sitting on the
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fence, but neither spoke— I think he was afraid the Colonel might take summary vengeance on him, for his meanness—& so went away. Two days later quite a surprise came, in the shape of two or three boxes, which Father brought back from prison. He had gone in empty handed & he came back with many gifts— It seems he was about the last to leave prison. Those who went before him gave him their blankets & over-coats & caps & lamps— He brought back a cap & overcoat for each of us & for each negro. Blankets galore & many other things. The first Kerosene lamp I ever saw he brought back from the Island & along with the lamp he brought a gallon of Kerosene. Mother laughed & said he had “spoiled the Egyptians”.
The next few days were
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very happy despite the poverty and hard times. Father did not go into the town for a day or so, and I have often heard him since then tell of his feelings when he opened his office door—20 C.H. Square—now a two story building—then a one story office, the room my stenographer now occupies— It was the present room, with a little room back of it—where the coal room now is,—which was connected with the office by a door & which had one window opening out on High Street.
He found Sheridan’s men had been in the office. Had amused themselves by overturning the chairs & tables—scattering his papers on the floor &c &c. He went to work straightened up the furniture—got his papers on his table & then sat down & put his face in his hands with a sudden feeling of absolute despair. What future awaited him?
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Here he was, ruined— Owing more money than he possessed property— His slaves all freed— He, himself worn by war & the prison house—a young family on his hands— Not one cent in his pocket— Who can gauge the depths of his despair, when to all the loss of his own private fortune was added the loss of the cause he had fought for, and the country he loved. There came a rap at the door. “Come in”, he said; And an old client came in. After the usual greetings the gentleman asked father for his advice on some legal subject & when it was given asked for the amount of his fee. “Oh! the usual one,” said father, “five dollars”,
Down in his pocket went the man & pulled out two dollars & a half in silver and a two dollar and a half gold piece, handed them to father
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took a receipt and thanking him walked out. Father said that at once the clouds lifted, the sun shone, all was bright and beautiful & he felt that starvation was no longer to be feared. He kept the two dollar & a half gold piece up to his dying day. It was not long before business began to be very brisk & in a short while my father had to associate with him Jas D. Jones a life long friend & very able office lawyer.
It was before this event, however, & in September, I think, he began to take me to the town with him & put me to work at my books. I commenced the study of Latin, in Anthon’s Grammar, I remember & he taught me in this language as well as in Arithmetic and Geography— My brother was sent to a private school taught by Mr J. Samuel Coffman at
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the Brown’s place “Rugby”.
In February 1866 my father—I suppose finding that he could not spare the time to teach me any longer entered me at this same school & my brother & I walked to it every morning.
The school room was in the basement & the scholars were, not only boys, but men who had fought in the war— Some of them with their teacher & in the same company—R.W. (Dick) Duke & Charlie Sinclair, had been in the Artillery Company with him. Of the scholars I recall these two & Cephas Sinclair—John Antrim Jim - Lewis & Andrew Brown—sons of the owner of Rugby—Willie Massie—Lewis Teel—Walker Maury—Frank Rives—Garrett Pretlow & doubtless several others I could recall—Lilly Brown—now Mrs Frank Moore—used to come in for Latin and French classes— Mr Coffman
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was a very stern, severe man; a firm believer in the efficacy of birch or any other kinds of rods obtainable & he used them most unmercifully—especially on Andrew Brown & Walker Maury. I escaped the rod altogether—just how, I don’t know, except that I was fond of my books & was well behaved. Mr Coffman tried on one occasion to whip Lewis Brown, but Lewis promptly knocked him down & ran out of the room & never returned to school again. He used to come to the window & drive us to desperation by making faces at us. He never returned to his studies at any school, and his father & himself had a serious falling out, in the course of a year & Lewis left home. For awhile he stayed with us; then he stayed at Morea & worked for Aunt Mary as an ordinary hand. In the summer of 1867 or 68, I do not
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now remember which, he was taken very ill, returned home & died of typhoid fever— He was only seventeen—a boy of lovely disposition, true and sweet & honest— I loved him very much & shed many tears at his funeral. He lies buryed under the trees near the house at Rugby in an unmarked grave & under the turf where we played our schoolboy games.
At Mr Coffman’s I read Cornelius Nepos & studied very well— Colby’s Mental Arithmetic was my bête noir & gave me more trouble than anything else.
The school closed—as schools closed in those days—early in July 1866, and it was during that summer that Robert S. Towles—mother’s nephew—came from Louisiana to live with us & go to school, as his two elder brothers Wm E. & John T. had done before the war. His brother Dan: T. came the next Spring.
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Retrospect
These rambling reminiscences have been written at intervals for over eight years. A few pages at a time & in a very desultory way. My “consecutive memory” commences with the Fall of 1866, but before I go on with my later school days I want to jot down a few of the memories which have suggested themselves to me as I have read over the preceding pages— I failed to note that I went to the depôt, to see the train which brought the body of Genl Stonewall Jackson thro’ the City in [ ] 1863. The body was taken to Lynchburg via Charlottesville & then on the canal to Lexington. The coffin was on a bier in a baggage car, a guard of honour at the head and foot of the coffin. The whole car was filled with flowers, & the station platform was crowded with weeping men
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and women— I took some flowers and handed them to an officer in the car. The bells of all the churches in the town tolled on the arrival of the train & as it went thro’ the town, and the sorrow of the people was exceedingly great— I recall early in the war when we were living on High St—seeing Gens J.E.B. Stuart and Fitz Lee at Mrs Shackelford’s—she living next door— Fitz’ long goatee was about the only thing I remember about him & I have no recollection whatever of Stuart’s appearance.
I remember seeing Mosby just after the war and it was on the same day the following incident occurred, told me by Maj Horace W. Jones.
There was a large reward offered for the capture of Mosby. He had come to see his mother who was then living in the house we knew as Dr Poindex-
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-ters—afterwards owned by Dr W.C.N. Randolph—& just opposite the First Baptist Church on Jefferson St. The Federals then had a company or so encamped in or near Charlottesville & Maj Jones met at the Depôt (present C & O) a squadron of Cavalry the lieutenant in command of which knowing Maj Jones hailed him & told him that they understood Mosby was at Ivy Cottage—Maj Jones’ residence about a mile beyond SunnySide— The major replied that he did not know where Col Mosby was, but he had never been to Ivy Cottage to his knowledge.
He then walked back up Main Street & up towards Poindexter’s house, when to his amazement & surprise he saw Col Mosby on horseback talking to his mother in rear of the house— He, at once hurried up to him & told him he had better get away, as
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a Yankee Squadron was then probably coming up Main Street on their was to Ivy Cottage, bent on capturing the Colonel— Mosby then made a few enquiries—opened the dark cloak he had on, looked at two revolvers—then thanking Maj Jones, deliberately rode down to Main Street. Maj Jones followed him & as he turned into the Street saw the column of soldiers riding down the street. Mosby quietly rode right up to them & instead of getting out of their way rode right thro’ them, the horsemen parting to get out of his way. The column went on to Ivy Cottage, but where Colonel Mosby went the Major did not know. Of course none of the federal troopers knew Mosby, or if they did never “let on”.
Thos J. Williams has since this time told me he was standing in the front of the Alexander Building—now People’s National
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Bank & saw this occurrence.
I have known Col Mosby very well indeed, of late years—& I once asked him why he took such a risk. He laughed & said he did not know, but that he had often found the boldest way was the best & he did not believe he would be recognized.
“But had you been”? I asked—“Well” he said slowly—“Then I reckon I could have demoralized them & gotten away”.
Mosby when a young man shot a man named Turpin on Main Street. He was tried and given twelve months in jail. Whilst a prisoner my brother Willie used to visit him & chat with him & he has never met me he did not allude to this kindness on a small boy’s part.
Whilst in jail he studied law—Judge Robertson who was the prosecuting attorney—lent him
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his law books.
Fitz Lee I also got to know very well, he living a year in Charlottesville— The last time I saw him, was in Washington a short time before his death. He went with me into the Raleigh Hotel & we had a couple of gin fizzes together & a very pleasant chat. He was a delightful, genial, whole souled man & I do not believe ever knew what fear meant. I asked him once if he did, & he “laughingly put the question by”. I often smile over the comparison he made, when he & I took a couple of Mint Juleps in the same hotel. The waiter brought them with straws in them. Fitz threw the straws on the floor & said laughingly. “Duke! I would just as soon kiss a woman through a veil as drink a julep thro’ a straw”
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I take these pages up again in 1916, having laid them by for several years & on reading them over I find I have omitted some of my earlier “cronies”. I think I was a little oldish boy. Anyway, a good many of the older men took a great deal of notice of me. One of them was old man Ben Powell—a tailor who had his shop in the long wooden building on the Court House Square, in what is known as the McKee Block. It had then a double porch extending its whole length. I used to sit in Ben’s shop & watch him sew & talk to an old lanky cadaverous man who was a very peculiar—it seemed to me half crazed individual— He was a spiritualist & used to go out to the Graveyard & sit down by the graves and mutter to himself. I was very much afraid of him.
Ben Powell was a “spiritualist” of a different kind and used to get on the wildest drunks every now & then. There was a large & deep mud-
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-hole right in the street in front of Ben’s shop. I remember seeing him once walk out of his shop in an immaculate white suit & wearing a silk hat. He walked deliberately into the mud hole and sat down violently. One can imagine the splash and the result, but Ben sat there blandly smiling on the crowd that gathered about him & it took much persuasion to get him to come out & go to bed. He lived in a little brick house just across the street in the rear of the present Episcopal Church—in those days it was in front as the Church’s entrance has been reversed. Ben lived up & into the seventies. He was an ardent Free Mason & was present when I took the degrees in that venerable Institution. We were friends up to his death. He accumulated some property & left two sons who lived in the West—very worthy & excellent men.
The Brockmans were also
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tailors and lived on “Vinegar Hill”. Tandy & Fontaine One had a beard which came below his waist. He kept it hidden under his waistcoat on week-a-days but on Sunday it appeared in all of its glory, finely brushed & flowing over his vest. He was noted for a grewsome fondness for “shrouding” dead people—a task which he performed for the mere pleasure of it.
He also was a devotee of the flowing bowl.
Mr Conner (O’Conner as his wife has it on his tombstone) was Wertenbaker’s cutter. A tall grave, dignified man— He looked, & acted as any high bred gentleman would have done. He was very handsome, with courtly manners which seemed natural to him. From Dublin, but with no accent. Mrs Conner kept a boarding house—in one of the oldest homes on High Street—on the site of Ben Dickerson’s present residence— The house has been rolled down on 4th St across from the goal, & just below it has been rolled
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the house we lived in from 1853 to 63. Both houses have been remodeled—
I boarded with Mrs Conner & nicer kindlier people than the husband & wife & two girls I never knew. Devout Catholics—in their house I met Bishop—afterwards Cardinal—Gibbons & Bishop afterwards Archbishop Keane—both of whom when I met them were Bishops of Richmond & charming men.
I recall Andrew Farish & John Fry—men whom I was to know well when I grew up & the former a client who gave me a great deal of business. I will have much to say of him later on I hope.
But these two & Alfred Benson were rather out of the pale when I was a boy— They were gamblers & I was always taught to look at them with no favourable eye.
Alfred was a great favorite with men, however, & I once heard his old mother Mrs Benson say, “I do think often—Mrs Duke—“ speaking
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to my mother, :What a large funeral Alfred will have.” He did.
Old man Peterson—the gaoler—was another man I used to watch with much awe— He was very fat—rubicund—& generally in his shirt sleeves. He lived in the front part of the gaol & I think, kept a sadler’s shop there— When asked whom he had in gaol he always replied, “Same old criminons and ijiots.”
Insane person were then & to our shame, often since kept in gaol— I remembered hearing loud yells from the gaol yard when the whipping law was in force & some unfortunate thief receiving nine & thirty. This law—abolished for awhile—was revived after I commenced practicing law & several thieves were sentenced & received their dose after I had been at the Bar several years. One was a client of mine, a young jew who stole from his co-religionist & got thirty nine lashes on one Friday & a similar dose the next. He richly deserved it. Old Simon Leterman was
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anxious to convict him of grand larceny & two of his friends, the boy’s friends Heller & M. Kaufman who were in the clothing business were called as our witnesses to prove the value of the clothes this young scamp had stolen from Leterman. It was as good as a play to hear their testimony— Leterman had sworn that a pair of trousers was worth six dollars. Heller held them up to the jury: “Gents,” he said scornfully, “Come to my stohse und I sells you all of dese pants you vant for three dollars a pair & den I make a dollar on each.” Kaufman—who was a splendid fellow—testified fairly as to values & brought down the amount to less than $50— There had been repeated thefts & so the Judge gave him nine & thirty lashes in two cases. Leterman insisted on seeing the whipping, but the gaoler refused to allow him the pleasure. I believe whipping for petty thieving the right punishment. Its a splendid deterrent.
If it was made optional with
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the Judge I think much good might be done to the community where the petty negro thieves do not mind a term in gaol any more than the ordinary man does a bad cold.
I find that I have failed to jot down the great excitement which took place in 1863 when a Yankee raid was expected & the home guard called out to defend the City. My brother was then (15) fifteen years of age & mustered into service. Col Taliaferro, from Orange County—or rather just over the line in Culpeper—was refugeeing at the University. He was placed in command & marched these home guards down to the railroad bridge over the Rivanna, the one over the river & just about half a mile below the bridge over Moore’s Creek. He actually had breastworks dug right under the bridge— Why, Heaven only knows, as they would have been overlooked and commanded by the hills on Pantops.
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A couple of cannon were mounted on the hill above the bridge. My brother—“Teague” Leitch & Moses Kaufman were all in the command & spent one or two nights in camp. The alarm was a false one, so the troop was disbanded & ordered back to the town. I remember visiting my brother whilst he was in camp & taking him something to eat. I inspected the breastworks with great awe & also the cannon. Old soldiers who saw the location of the breastworks laughed at them a great deal later on. As my brother was “sworn in”, it made him a Confederate Soldier & he has been duly admitted to the John B. Strange Camp of Confederate Veterans. He “did his bit” anyway & I think was clearly entitled to join. I envy him—for to have served in the Confederate Army even an hour is a patent of nobility.
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1866 — 1870
In the Fall of 1866 Major Horace W. Jones opened a boys school at his house “Ivy Cottage”, just about a mile west of “Sunny Side” & the first of September, my brother, Bob Towles & I entered the School. There were only three other pupils: John Robertson—son of Judge Wm J. Robertson of Charlottesville—Garrett Pretlow of Southhampton County—& Frank P. Venable—Son of Col Chas Venable Professor of Mathematics in the University of Va & who had been on Gen R.E. Lee’s staff.
Frank was afterwards Professor of Chemistry in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill & later President of that Institution. All of these pupils are yet living (1916) except Garrett Pretlow who died a few years ago.
Maj Jones was a superb teacher—an elegant gentleman & gallant soldier. He was Major & Commissa-
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-ry in Picketts Division—A handsome man & splendid disciplinarian. His discipline was founded on the boy’s own self respect & sense of justice & brute force had no place in his curriculum— He appealed to the boy’s sense of honour—made him realize that he came of gentle stock & had to be a gentleman. “Disce aut discede” [Learn or leave] is the motto of Winchester School “Study & be a gentleman, or depart” was the unwritten motto of Major Jones School. He was a born educator & no man ever did his country greater service than he did, in the training of boys & young men.
When his health failed & poverty stared him in the face, in his old age—his former pupils got together & raised over two thousand dollars & sent him not as a gift, but, as I put it in the letter I wrote with the first five hundred in gold,
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“as a part payment of much larger debt we owe you.”
I well remember the anxiety of his “old boys”—as to how “the Major” would take our offering. He was a proud man—highly sensitive & we did not know if he would accept our gift. So when the first five hundred was raised I got it all in twenty dollar gold pieces—had them highly polished & put in a neat box & with a little note in which I used the above language—sent it to him. He took it in the right spirit & the first thing he said, after expressing his gratitude to his brother Jas D. Jones who at our request took it to him, “Now James, take this & pay my note in bank.” His gratitude & emotion when three times afterwards five hundred dollars was handed him was as his brother said: “A pleasure to see & a thing to remember”.
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He died a short while after the last five hundred was given him & out of one or two tardy subscriptions a monument was erected to him over his grave in Maplewood Cemetery.
His wife Sue Duke was a daughter of Alexander Duke with whom my grandfather always claimed kin— Their fathers—strange to say were double first cousins—tho none of my generation knew this until Mrs Jones & I got to looking up the family tree— Her mother was a Garrett, whose mother was a Bolling & so Mrs Jones had the blood of Pocahantas in her veins. Her father, Alexander Duke & my wife’s uncle Charles Slaughter taught School together in the old Midway building, which stood on the site of the present High School Building— Duke & Slaughter
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was the firm & the “firm” of Duke & Slaughter—which was formed Octo 1st 1884 may have been said to be a successor.
Mrs Jones—who is still living—was and is—a very intellectual highly cultivated woman— Quite handsome—a charming talker & a dear friend of my dear mother’s— “Ivy Cottage” was, and is, beautifully situated on a High hill about three miles west of Charlottesville on the White Hall road—and about one mile from Sunny Side. The view of the Blue Ridge Mountains & the hills & dales between Ivy Cottage Hill & those mountains is exquisitely lovely. The house was an old fashioned frame house, with a straight narrow hall & two rooms on each side— Our school room was the near room on the right hand side as you entered. The old house was pulled down & a new one on practically the same lines
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erected within the last twenty five years, by Mr Coleman—the father-in-law of my brother Willie, who little imagined I suppose when we went to School there, that at this place he was to meet & marry his future wife. In front of the house grew two immense pine trees under whose shade we often studied in the hot days of late Spring and early summer. My School days at Ivy Cottage, were the happiest school days of my life.
Some description of the scholars might not be amiss.
Garrett Pretlow was a cousin of Mrs Jones—his mother being a daughter of Alex: Garrett for many years Clerk of the Courts of Albemarle—and who built the handsome brick house in the beautiful oak grove near the Rothwell Cold Storage. His father was Dr Thos Pretlow of Southampton County noted for its fine apple
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brandy—now indeed the “dream of a dram”. He was a small red faced man, who always wore shining black broad-cloth & a shiny silk hat— Garrett was stouter than his father, but equally red faced. He had been out with the home guard & a yankee bullet had pierced thro’ one of his cheeks, being caught in the mouth. The wound was still red & not entirely healed over. Garrett was a blunt sort of a young man, with rather gruff manners and hoarse voice. He had been a pupil of Coffman’s with Willie & myself.
John Robertson was next in point of years. A tall olive complexioned boy—quiet & rather grave. He was a son of the distinguished lawyer & jurist Judge Wm J. Robertson. He studied engineering at the University & lives now in California. It has been many years since I have seen him.
My brother came next in point
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of years & was very popular with teacher & scholars.
Bob (R.S.) Towles was the son of my mother’s eldest sister Aunt Fanny Peyton Towles, who was the wife of Maj John T. Towles of “Weyanoke” near Bayou Sara La He was curly haired—very freckled face—a wild, good natured boy, who never studied much. He had learned to swear & did so violently and profanely. I had never uttered an oath in my life, until I met Bob—but am sorry to say I learned under his tuition & surpassed my tutor. A vile, vulgar, senseless habit, of which I broke myself in after years with very little difficulty.
I came next & can only say that I was freckled faced—wild high tempered & impulsive. I had then a heavy suit of hair & a big cowlick that gave me a lot of trouble— I feel
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it very often now (in my mind’s eye) fall over on my forehead & brush it impatiently away, to find it only a freak of the imagination.
Frank P. Venable was the youngest pupil. Curly haired, with quite an exalted idea of himself, we never got on very well together & once had quite a fight. He rode from the University to school on a Shetland pony. John Robertson tramped the three miles from his father’s house on Park Street & Willie & Bob & I walked from Sunny Side.
Major Jones taught me more in the ten months at Ivy Cottage than I ever learned in any other ten months of my school life. With such a small number of pupils he had time to give each one of us careful attention & as the term lasted from Sept 1st to June 30th—with a week at Christmas & Whitsunday (one day)
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as our only vacation we got over a great deal of ground.
I read during the session three books of Caesar: two orations of Cicero—Some of Livy and the greater part of Virgil’s (We spelled it Virgil—not Vergil then) Eneid. I hated Caesar—cared little for Cicero or Livy, but enjoyed Virgil exceedingly. Major Jones made us read a great deal of Latin. He did not want to make us philologists, but desired us to be good Latin scholars & to thoroughly read the great classics— I studied mathematics—ancient and Modern History—Reading and Spelling. The Major did not teach any English Grammar—holding that a thorough drilling in Latin Grammar with reading & writing exercises in English gave a boy as good an instruction in English Grammar as he needed. Exercises in English were required every week & were severely criticised.
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Three events of that session stand out very clearly in my mind.
One was the big snow storm which took place sometime during the winter. Not only was the snow very deep & drifting, but it turned very cold & froze on top, so that we walked to school on top of the snow. The road from the gate to the house at Ivy Cottage had been worn into a deep gully. This was filled up entirely so that no trace of the road could be seen. Frank Venable rode his pony up the road & broke thro’ & the animal went entirely out of sight— Frank yelled for help & we beat down the crust around the animal & he got out. I am not sure whether this snow was in December 1866 or January 1867, but I think the former. Our seasons have assuredly changed, for December in my boyhood was usually
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a cold, snowy month. I have often heard my father say that if you did not get ice before Christmas you stood very little chance of getting it all. This certainly used to be the case, but for the last few years the reverse has been the case— You did not get any ice until after Christmas. Today—December 7th 1916 has been like a Spring day—overcoats absolutely unnecessary & we have had very little cold weather. This was the case last year also. But on Decbr 19th of this month the snow was 6 inches deep.
This second event I remember so clearly is breaking in the ice whilst skating on Major Jones’ ice pond. This pond was in the woods a mile away from the house. We rushed up to it in recess once & put on our skates. The ice was very thick but I ventured up to the head of the pond
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and broke through the ice on the channel. I went over my head but caught on the edge of the ice as I came up & tho’ it broke before me I worked my way to the shore & set off in a run to the house. By the time I got there every stitch of my clothing was frozen stiff & they had to thaw me in front of the kitchen fire & getting off my clothes wrapped me up in blankets until my clothes were dried. I did not catch cold and was not in anyway injured.
The third event was a fight between Garrett Pretlow & my brother, which—as they were large boys was rather savage. In the scuffle Garrett was struck on the badly healed wound on his cheek, which began to bleed & scared us all very much. It stopped the
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fight & my brother & Garrett made friends & were warm ones up to the day of Garrett’s death. (* This fight took place when we were scholars at Coffman’s & they made friends when they met at Maj Jones.)
I do not remember what the fight was about, but I expect it grew out of my brother’s teasing characteristics. I remember he & Garrett once had a great argument on the question of catching a “Cancer”. Willie insisted a Cancer could be caught. Garrett, who was very solemn insisted it could not and gave instances of husband & wife one of whom had a cancer for twenty years & the other never “caught it”. Willie insisted that the knew instances innumerable where many cancers had been caught. The dispute was growing quite warm when Major Jones came & Garrett appealed to him;
“Major, Willie says a Cancer
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can be caught & won’t listen to reason or argument. I want you to tell him he is wrong.”
“But he is not wrong Garrett”, the Major replied. “I have seen cancer’s caught often,” and his eyes twinkled as Garrett stared at him, “A “cancer” means a “crab”, you know”. The boys all shouted & finally Garrett had to join in the laugh.
I look back to the ten months spent in this school with much pleasure: Particularly in the months of May & June when we studied out on the lawn under the shade of the great pines, whose soughing I have always loved.
Summer came & school broke up & Bob Towles & I went down to “Buckeyeland” to visit Uncle Gilmer & Aunt Milly—Father’s sister— “Buckeyeland”—or Buck Island is the name of that portion of the Flatwoods which lies along or
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adjacent to Buckeyeland Creek.
About ten miles from Charlottesville Uncle Geo: Christopher Gilmer had a large farm. He had a Grist Mill & numerous barns & tobacco houses & was a very successful farmer. A man of a good deal of culture he read a great deal & wrote much for the papers—particularly for the Southern Planter. He was a small wiry man—very high tempered & exciteable—with a very loud high pitched voice when he was aroused. His brother Thomas Walker Gilmer, had been Governor of the State—Member of Congress & at the time of his death was Secretary of the Navy under Tyler— Uncle Gilmer had been married to a Miss Lewis, by whom he had three children. Lee: Walker: & Bettie, who married a neer-do-well—named Mays. After his first wife’s death he married my Aunt Mildred Wirt Gilmer by
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whom he had two children—Maria & Frank. Maria was a very pretty girl, with lovely dark eyes. She grew up & married a Dr [ ] Cunnningham of the Army & died out on the frontier. He husband brought her body back to Charlottesville & it was buried in our section, & later on my dear Sister’s body was buried near her. They were devoted to one another. The house at Buckeyeland was a very old one; story and a half high, with a front porch of comfortable size—a large living room & to the left a big room which Uncle & Aunt Gilmer used as their bedroom, but in which we used to sit, especially when a fire was needed, as it had a fire place & the living room, which was really a large hall, had not.
We boys slept in a ceiled room with sloping sides & which was very comfortable. Some years afterwards Uncle Gilmer practically rebuilt the house—carrying it up
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to two stories, destroying its old time picturesque character, but making it a more modern and more comfortable house— It was burned a good many years later & Aunt Milly & Uncle Gilmer occupied “the office”, that small building which was an appendage to every old Virginia farm house.
Two things were peculiar about Buckeyeland— One was the Mill which very often stood idle quite a time for lack of water to run it. The other was that no well could ever be dug deep enough to find water, so water had to be “toted” from a Spring about half a mile from the house: The Spring was beautifully situated amidst three big oaks in front of the house. The nearest neighbour was Mr John M. Hart, who lived on a high hill about a mile South west. He was one the best men I ever knew & his wife who still (1917) lives, was & is a lovely woman. Her sister Miss “Pat:” Anderson lived
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with them.
My several visits to Buckeyeland are very much mixed & it is hard to separate the events of one visit from another. I remember riding behind my father from Charlottesville to the place & night overtook us about a mile this side of the “Morven” (Sam: H. Marshall’s) gate. It was drizzling rain and my father tried a “short cut” thro’ the flatwoods & “got lost”. The rain began to be torrential & the night very dark. Old “Noble” father’s war horse—who lived to be over thirty years old by the way—did not seem to know the way & presently Father admitted to me that we were lost, but I need not be frightened as the wood road we were following must lead somewhere into the main road. We were both wet to the skin, but he attempted to cheer me by singing a song the refrain of which I remember after
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all these years -
“What shall we do with the drunken sailor?
Put him in a boat & make him bail her.”
I think I can yet hum the air to which he sung it— Presently a light appeared amongst the trees & father rode towards it & it proved to be a cabin on the plantation— So we were soon at the house & before a roaring fire forgot our troubles.
And speaking of rain I remember being at Buckeyeland once with Bob & Dan Towles & Dick Anderson. We went to spend the week’s end & stayed a week, on account of a steady rain which lasted all that time. An old carpenter named Abner Williams—rather weak in the upper story—was also storm bound. He taught us to make a sort of gun by splitting tobacco sticks about one third down & then inserting a short piece of stick across
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the open cleft. In some way—I do not now remember—by pressing the cleft stick this piece flew out with some violence. We worried the poor old fellow nearly to death, by shooting at him, with the guns he had taught us to make.
Uncle William Duke & his wife & daughters were at Uncle Gilmers on one of my visits & he taught school in one of the cabins on the place. Bob: Randolph & Bob Carter (Rev: R.S. now of Orange) went to school to him together with several girls—one very pretty one a Miss Hoard—& one very ugly one a Miss Johnson & a Miss Harris whom Bob Randolph afterwards married. Bob Carter lived at the old home Redlands & Bob Randolph at the old home near him.
Having nothing better to do I attended school—altho’ it was in my vacation— & then commenced the warm friendship with Bob
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Carter which still continues. Bob was a wild boy—a wilder youth & young man—but eventually saw the error of his ways & became an Episcopal Minister— No finer fellow ever lived—drunk or sober— I may have, if I continue these reminiscences into my maturer years—many a story to tell of dear old Bob— (He died in Septbr 1918)
Uncle William subsequently took charge of the Slate Quarry about two or three miles from Buckeyeland & lived there several years. I went to see him once or twice & looked with much awe at the deep slate quarries, the big dam & the works which were then lying idle.
Uncle Gilmer had a large number of slaves. “Chunk” Anthony was his head man—an unusually smart, stout, negro who became a prominent politician in later years— Paul and Silas were two younger negro men, who very
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often played with us, tho’ much older. I defended one of Paul’s sons in my early career as a lawyer, for stealing corn. The jury gave him one year in the Penitentiary. Woods forgot to prove the venue & I got a new trial, but alas! he got two years on the next trial—to my great discomfort.
In the fall of 1867 Major Jones opened his school on the Court House Square in the rooms now occupied by Allen & Walsh. The rooms have been subsequently subdivided. He had quite a large School & Jas: M. Davis who was then a student of law at the University taught several classes. Amongst the scholars were Armistead Gordon—now Rector of the Board of Visitors of the University—Eugene Saunders (now dead,) but at one time a prominent Lawyer in La & U.S. District Judge) his brother Ed: Saunders—now a prominent physician in St Louis: Gordon Robertson—who was Judge of the Corporation Court of Roanoke & now dead & many others whose
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names I do not now recall.
Major Jones taught here two years & I advanced in languages, but was very dull in mathematics. I still am. We were thoroughly drilled in reading & spelling.
My brother Willie gave up school after the one year at Ivy Cottage & undertook the management of the farm. He was one of the hardest workers I ever knew.
I generally spent my recess hours at my father’s office. I’m afraid I was a rather unsocial, shy and lonesome sort of a boy. Egotistical & hating teasing or being teased and the rough ways of most school boys. I do not think I had any friends, certainly no close ones. Shelton F. Leake Jr was a friend & remained so all the years in which he lived in Virginia: Jas Blakey was another— Both are now with the silent majority.
I do not recall very much of the session of 1867-68— During the summer of 1868—in August I think—I went to Staunton & thence to
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Cousin “Sandy” Stuart’s farm on North River. It was a lovely place, tho’ the house was an unpretentious wooden building, erected on a hill above the clear beautiful North River. Maggie Stuart—now Robertson—and I became much attached to each other in a boy & girl friendship, which has grown into the warm regard of our maturer years. Witty—smart—splendid company—a magnificent woman in every way, she is still the loved kinswoman & dear friend. But my warmest admiration & devotion went out to Cousin Susie whose loveliness of person was a reflex of the loveliest of characters. She was a beautiful girl—then about 18 I suppose— Tall, graceful—willowy—lovely fair hair, beautiful blue eyes, shapely features & pure complexion—I fairly worshipped her. Her voice was very sweet—“soft, gentle and low” & her whole manner one of dignity and sweetness. She married
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in after years Revd R.A. Gibson now Bishop of Virginia, and has these several years past been with the Angels who never welcomed a purer, sweeter, lovelier soul.
Archie Stuart was several years younger than I, a handsome, mischievous splendid boy. He shoved me off of a footbridge into the river one day & I got a fine wetting and a very angry temper.
My dear sister was with us & she and Maggie commenced then a friendship and love which grew with the years & never were two sisters more devoted to one another. I look back to that visit as one does upon a happy dream. The farm was a few miles west of Waynesboro & I have never revisited it.
In the Fall of 1867 Father made up his mind to come into the town, so that Mary & I could go to School & not have to come
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in to school from the country in bad weather. He accordingly rented two rooms in the house owned by Mrs Doctor Leitch on the corner of 2nd & High St— The two rooms had once been Dr Leitch’s offices & were almost entirely distinct from the main house, being entered by a porch which whilst facing on High Street was some ten feet back of that street. Father & Mother occupied the back room— Mary slept in the front room which was used as a sitting & dining room & I slept in a two roomed frame building the Doctor had built to use as an office— It stood on the site of Harman Dinwiddie’s home, but nearer High St.
In my room was the dessicated body of a small boy, which had been opened, dried & the arteries painted blue & the veins red: The skull was intact with the skin dried on it & the teeth showing thro’ the thin dried lips.
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It was a horrible looking thing & I put it in the front room, but would often wake up at night & cover my head under the bed clothes for fear of seeing it walk into the room. I passed very many unhappy nights in that room.
We brought one servant with us who was cook & housemaid—Rhoda—a very efficient, rather likely brown-skinned negress. A good cook & neat, excellent servant.
The main house was occupied by Mr Carroll & his wife— Mr Carroll had been my old school teacher & then had a school, but father preferred Major Jones. During the winter Fannie Stiles a niece of Mrs Carroll from Pennsylvania paid her a visit of several months. She was a beautiful creature & I can recall her trim, lithe figure, flashing black eyes—milk & roses skin & her grace in every movement. I fell desparately in love
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with her, of course, tho’ she was at least three years older than I, but “I never told my love”, being content with silent devotion. I remember her kissing me once or twice in a joking way. Heavens! how I treasured the memory of those kisses.
She was courted very wildly by Willie Davis—Dr John Staige Davis’ eldest son— Someway or other the course of their true love didn’t run smooth & Willie announced his intention of joining the patriots who were struggling for Independence in Cuba—one of the innumerable Revolutions having that year broken out in the Island. I remember seeing him in his grey uniform—a single star on the collar & he & his love & his volunteering were a nine day’s wonder in the town. But Fanny went away & Willie remained. He graduated in medicine at the
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the University, went in the Navy—& was after transferred to the Army. He married subsequently & I think is still living, but has seldom returned to his old home. He was a very handsome fellow—but I have not seen him for many years.* (*I met Willie at the University Club in Balto) he did not marry Fanny, I may say en passant.
I recall the election for the Constitutional Convention, called the “Black & Tan” Convention from its mixed nature. Our delegates were Clif: Thompson—a scalawag—son of an English Officer who came here with the Hessians & remained— He was a tobacconist. J.S.T. Taylor * (*James S. Taylor) —my mulatto neighbour was the second delegate, “Jim” as I knew him & know him now. The third delegate was Mr Jas C. Southall son of V.W. Southall a highly educated, gentleman, who was elected despite the negro vote. All the negroes voted then
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and many of the white gentlemen were disenfranchised.
We were then District Number 1 & our Ruler was General Canby. My brother Willie began then to take much interest in politics tho’ he did not become a voter until the following year. I should say 1869 This Convention adopted a Constitution entirely uprooting old Virginia’s system of County Administration. It was a horrible melange & upset our old traditions & engrafted Yankee Supervisors and Townships upon us. Amongst its most horrible provisions was a clause absolutely disenfranchising every man who had held Civil office before the war & had served in the Confederate Army. This would have disfranchised my father. The Convention put forth its work in 1868 & Genl Grant, then President, permitted a separate vote on this clause,
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which was defeated. We returned to Sunny Side in the Spring of 1868 and I walked into school every morning & back in the afternoon.
In the Fall of 1869 we again moved into town for the winter months but this time occupied rooms on Main Street in the building known as the Mannoni Building on the corner of 5th & Main St, mother & Mary occupying two rooms on the second story facing Main Street & on the Eastern end of the Building. I occupied a room on the floor above them next to the Odd Fellows Hall which was then in that building. The Mannonis kept a confectionery store in the room on the Western corner & I renewed my old friendship with John & Andrew. Whilst we living there a young nephew came from Corsica to live with them—Tony—Anthony—Mannoni— He is now a prosperous citizen & depôt
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agent of the N & W. R.W at Marion— He was younger then, full of fun & mischief & sang the Marseillaise with great fervour.
I made a good deal of progress this session in Latin & recall reading Livy— which I found easy, but dull—and some books of Ovid & I think one book of the odes of Horace. I also commenced Greek & read some of Xenophon, before the end of the session. I was—if anything—rather more unsocial that session than the session before, & spent most of my recesses at Father’s office—where my office now is. It was then a one story building. My Father built in 1858, I added the upper story—the County joining in putting a story on to its offices on the Eastern side of Father’s office sometime in the latter part of 1879— My present office & the story above I added on since my marriage probably in the late 80’.
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The session of 1868-69 was rather uneventful as far as I can recollect. I joined the “Sons of Temperance” in the Spring of 1869, but withdrew that Fall— It was quite a large organization & admitted boys of fifteen. I was a constant attendant at its meeting & very proud of my membership. Quite a temperance wave went over the country about that time & I remember a large mass meeting in the Town Hall at which Micajah Woods made an address in which he made a slip of the tongue which caused a good deal of laughter— He spoke of “iron tears running down Pluto’s cheek”
In 1870 my Father was nominated by the Conservative party as candidate for Congress. Gilbert C Walker was nominated for Governor and Col R.E. Withers for Lieutenant Governor in 1869, elected in 1869 * (*Robert Ridgeway was elected Member of Congress from our District in 1869 served <illegible> Jan’y 4 1870 & dying in summer 1870. My father was elected to succeed him.) The Conservative party was a combination of the best
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white elements in the State. The old line Whigs positively refused to vote any “Democratic” ticket, and as there were a few decent—very few—white republicans who had come in from the North—these with the Whigs and Democrats formed the Conservative party. My Father was a member of the Convention which nominated Walker—who was a New Yorker & mild Republican— He became a staunch Democrat later on. Col Withers—then the Editor of a Lynchburg paper—was a prominent Candidate for the Gubernatorial nomination. It was thought wisest to nominate Walker to catch the respectable republican vote & Withers was so disgusted that when nominated for Lieutenant Governor, he at first declined to accept the nomination. My father went to him and begged him to accept telling him that his
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self sacrifice & acceptance of the office would mean his ultimate election to the United States Senate. He finally prevailed on Withers to accept the nomination & the prediction my father made came true. He was elected United States Senator by the next Legislature.
My father’s nomination for Congress of course delighted us very much. His opponent was Alexander Rives a former prominent member of the Albemarle Bar—who had “ratted” and became a “scalawag” republican. During the contest Mr Ridgeway the sitting member, died & my father was nominated to fill the vacancy in the 41st Congress, caused by Ridgway’s death— There was quite a contest between my father & Rives & father “tanned” the old man’s jacket most thoroughly.
Rives had used his influence as a Republican to have my
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father’s “disabilities” removed. That is to have President Johnson solemnly “pardon” him for having been a civil officer & then fought in the Confederate army. Rives obtained a great many pardons for prominent people in Albemarle & charged them for it. In one instance he charged Mr Ferneyhough a wealthy citizen of the County $500 for his “pardon”. He declined to take any fee from my father—as they were brother lawyers, but he was foolish enough in several of his speeches to throw up to my father his having obtained his pardon & charging him nothing for it. Father submitted to this for a short while, but finally retorted, as by saying that when he was elected to Congress as he knew he would be, he would tender the gentleman $500, that being the amount he charged an old friend, Mr Ferneyhough.
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Rives never alluded to the subject again. My father’s district then took in Greene— Fluvanna, Albemarle Nelson—Amherst—Campbell—Lynchburg and Appomatox. Many of his old soldiers of the 46th regiment were from those counties & they rallied to my father’s support to a man. He was triumphantly elected. It was well I had resigned from the “Sons of Temperance” for at the great rally to celebrate his victory held in Charlottesville I drank several glasses of beer & was very hilarious. There was an immense crowd in town the night of the celebration & father & others spoke from the porch of what was then the “Albemarle Insurance” Company’s building—the structure on the S.W. corner of Main & 4th Sts—now occupied (1917) by Keller & George &c. The enthusiasm was very great & father made a splendid speech.
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In detailing my school years I have neglected a very important event at which one might be tempted to smile, but one which really had a remarkable influence on my after life. That was a visit paid to Morea & SunnySide by my Aunt Lucy Bills— Father’s eldest Sister—her husband Maj John Bills of Bolivar Tenn & their daughter, my dear Cousin Lucy—who afterwards—married Wilbur Armistead— Lucy was then in her eighteenth year— Just as pretty as she could be—with the most charming ways about her—full of life and fun & happiness. I shall not try to describe her. I worshipped her almost as soon as I saw her & in the after years we became dear friends & loved one another with a love which combined brotherly & sisterly affection with something of the “sweetheart” in it. No woman ever influenced me
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more— And now altho’ she has been dead twenty four years I look back upon the hours spent with her as amongst the happiest of my life. Dear, sweet cousin—she loved me & spoilt me & petted me—being just three years older—& in many ways she moulded my character & ways of thought— I love her yet with an affection hard to describe & cherish her dear memory, as one of the dearest things in life. It was in the summer of 1868 she came to visit us & it was made peculiarly happy to my brother Willie, as Father delighted his soul by giving him the money to take a trip with Uncle Bills—Aunt Lucy—Cousin Lucy & a Cousin of hers Octavia Polk, to the Northern Cities & Niagara Falls. He went off one of the happiest of the happy and came back with a mind very much improved by the travel and a heart very much affected
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by Lucy’s charms. I believe he loved her if anything more than I did & I believe, but for the near relationship it might have been a match.
The session of 1869-70 was destined to be my last year at school. Maj Jones had associated with him Wm R. Abbot—who married a distant cousin—Lucy Minor— Mr Abbot was a fine teacher if his pupil was apt & if he liked him; But he was much prejudiced & he & I developed a mutual dislike—the whys & wherefore’s I never could understand. Doubtless I was a very conceited young chap & he was a very conceited man. Anyway I despised him & he me. He had a very sharp tongue—was sarcastic & didn’t hesitate to use his sarcasm whenever he saw fit. I was decidedly “stuck up” & impudent I expect & we had a hard time together. Had I been younger I believe he would have thrashed me, but as I was beyond the thrash-
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-ing age he would sneer at me & I would sneer back at him until in a tremendous rage he would order me to leave the room—& I would majestically stalk out into Maj Jones’ room, where I had my desk. One reason I never was a good Greek scholar—a thing I deeply regret—was that Mr Abbot taught me what Greek I knew & I did not take kindly to his teaching. Major Jones—in his quiet tactful way tried to keep the peace, but I never got over my intense dislike of Mr Abbot & am sorry to say it remained even up to his death— I do not think he—on his part ever got over his dislike for me, tho’ in after years we met pleasantly. But he never—as Maj Jones did—claimed me as a pupil—or congratulated me on any success in life.
Amongst my school mates were John B. Minor—dear old John—who lives near Eastham & who was
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Mr Abbot’s brother-in-law—Walter D. Dabney—afterwards Assistant Secretary of State & Law Professor at U of Va whose friendship grew with the years & ceased only with his death. Armistead C. Gordon—with whom I used to discuss literary subjects & who has in late years reminded me, how he & I sat under the shade of a tall tree near the school house and wept over the death of Charles Dickens. Lewis Wood—a thin little devil—a great tease—with whom I had many a scrap, but with whom I have ever had a warm friendship—Wm Gordon Robertson—afterwards Judge of the City of Roanoke—his brother—or rather step brother Geo: W. Morris, who succeeded me as Judge—J. Ad: Patterson, who has become a Philadelphia millionaire—his brother Willie—Tom Massie—the brother of my dear friend of after years & of today—Gertrude Massie—his Cousin Willie Massie & many others I cannot now
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recall. The school room was on the corner—N.E. of the lot on which now stands the McGuffey School. Our playground was the green which stretched between it & the old Episcopal Church which stood on the site of the present one—but being entered from what is now the chancel of the new Church. This old Church had an exceedingly tall & sharp pointed steeple, which in a high wind fell over in the street—fortunately we were in school when it fell. The wonder is that it had not fallen long before it did, for it was supported on rather thin scantlings which had rotten at their bases— This fact was an unfortunate one for me—for as I was going from school the afternoon of the disaster, I passed Cousin Lucy Abbot sitting on the porch of the house she & Mr Abbot occupied—the newly revamped house on the corner of High & third
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Streets—then a frame building, which has since been stuccoed & made into two “apartments.” Cousin Lucy was an ardent Church woman & I being of Presbyterian extraction & thinking myself quite a wit remarked to her as I passed, “Oh! Cousin Lucy, your steeple is like your Church. Stuck up & high, but rotten at the base”. I never dreamed of the storm I was raising. She took it good naturedly & simply laughed & said “If you come up on the porch I’ll box your impudent jaws, you young Calvinist.” But the speech was overheard & Heavens, how I caught it. It really was magnified into a very serious thing & some of the Congregation actually refused to speak to me, whilst others said they would like to carry out Cousin Lucy’s threat in earnest. It distressed my mother very much—which distressed me more than anything else & some of her “episcopal” friends were actually
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cool to her for some time.
I made good progress in Latin & in Geometry—actually making 99 on both of my examinations on the latter subject. I read several satires of Juvenal & the Germanicus of Tacitus & one or more books of the annals. In Greek I read two books of the Iliad, but was always at daggers draw with Mr Abbot. Evidently my father took more notice of it than I knew of, for just before the end of the session he told me I should enter the University the next year.
My joy & delight can well be imagined: To be a Student: Why it was the height of every town boy’s ambition & I felt that life was really commencing for me— In the summer of 1870 my Father took Louis T. Hanckel into the firm, which then became, Duke, Jones & Hanckel—under which style it continued until January
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1875, when it was dissolved & Father took me in partnership with him—the firm of Duke & Duke commencing January 1st 1875.
1870-1874
During the summer of 1870 I commenced the study of German under Gaetano Lanza (Gaddy as he was usually called). He was the son of Chevalier Gaetano Lanza who was a political refugee from Italy & who taught school & lived in the house on what is now known as West Main Street—J.D. Via now owns & occupies it (1918) The elder Lanza was a tall grave white headed old gentleman with grizzled side whiskers—quite thin & very reserved. I knew very little of him, but those who knew him held him in high esteem as an estimable gentleman & fine scholar—“Gaddy” had a room in the Old Midway Building which stood on the site of the present public school on the summit of Vinegar Hill. I am inclined to think he & his father & mother
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were then occupying a suite of rooms in this many roomed house, having given up the house in which they lived when I first knew them.
“Gaddy” afterwards was an Instructor in Latin & Mathematics at the University. He married a Miss Miller—niece of Dr Dice—moved to Boston & occupied an excellent position in educational circles in that City.
My Father allowed me to buy at the University of Va bookstore from my friend of after years Dr Marcellus McKennie a very handsome two volume edition of Schiller which I still possess. “Gaddy” taught me the Alphabet: Gave me some lessons in pronunciation: Got me a Dictionary & Grammar & then opened Schiller at Wilhelm Tell read me the opening scene—first in German, then in English. I shall never forget the verse he made me memorize tho’ I did not then understand a word of it:
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“Es lächelt der See, er ladet zum bade” &c
Der knabe schlief ein am grünen Gestade” &c &c
[The lake smiles, it invites one to swim
The boy fell asleep on the green shore.]
“Now, said he, I want you to take your dictionary— Find as many of the words as you can recognize in that little song & read it to me day after tomorrow.”
I stood aghast: But I did it & was amazed to see how easily I did it. And so I began to read German before I studied any grammar.
I believe “Gaddy’s” method the right one. To commence reading a foreign language at once: Stumble over it, if you will: Puzzle over it, but work at it & then as you study the grammar, words come to you intelligently: You learn the grammar in reading. I certainly made wonderful progress in July: August & September 1870 & Lanza told my father I had a genius for languages & that it was wonderful how well I could pronounce.
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In the Fall of 1870 I went with Louis T. Hanckel, on a short trip to Washington. I had never been over that Railroad—i.e. the one between Washington & Charlottesville, since 1861 & then no further north than a short distance beyond Manasses. I had never been north of the Potomac, so this trip was quite a novelty to me. I think we stayed at The National Hotel & at Harvey’s Restaurant I ate my first steamed oysters. It was in the same Restaurant that I took my two sons Walker & Jack & gave them their first steamed oysters— Washington then was far from being the place it is now. The Pennsylvania side of the Capitol was almost entirely unimproved—the present terraces having been all built since, & the view of that side of the Capitol was not at all attractive. They were then paving Pennsylvania Avenue with wooden blocks & the street railways were, of course, horse power.
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Very few of the handsome residences had then been erected— Mr Corcoran’s house was considered extra-ordinarily fine & we went to it to see his pictures—the nucleus of the present Corcoran Art Gallery— I always had a taste for pictures—the “Farmington” pictures having given me some education in respect to the fine arts. These pictures were hung in the parlour & in an extended room on the left as you entered the house. I still recall many of them as I go into the new marble gallery now such an ornament to the Capitol City. I recall very little of this visit, except my indignation at negroes being allowed to ride in the Street cars. These poor creatures gave themselves great airs & were quite insolent & disagreeable. I do not think I rode much in the Street cars after finding that they were allowed to do so.
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Mention of “Farmington” reminds one that I have forgotten to allude to many pleasant hours passed in this old house during my boyhood. It is the house now owned by Cousin Warner Wood’s widow & heirs.
The original house—that is the present main brick building was built my Father’s great Uncle George Divers—whose wife was a daughter of Dr Thos Walker of Castle Hill. “Uncle Divers”, as I always heard him called, was a man of large means. He owned, in addition to the present Farmington estate all the land to the West of it up to the present Ivy Depôt. At his death—being childless—he divided his estates between his own nephews and nieces & those of his wife. In this way—Cousin “Billy” Gilmer—thro’ his father came into possession of the beautiful little farm a part of which is now
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owned by Higginson. The house in which Uncle Divers lived and died was planned by Mr Jefferson & remains as to the old brick buildings substantially the same— The rooms on the right and left of the main entrance originally were one story—that is went up all the way to the cieling of the rooms above. They were so tall Genl Peyton who subsequently bought the property—put in a floor & made rooms above them, those with the round windows.
Mr Jefferson & “Uncle Divers” were great friends & there used to be great rivalry between them as to who had the first green peas & asparagus in the Spring.
Farmington, was, & still is a beautiful place. Uncle Divers was very hospitable & used to entertain the Professors of what was then the new—University a great deal. He and his wife are
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buried in the little brick enclosure in the edge of the wood as you go up to the house— Altho’ he left those nephews & nieces of his own and his wife’s, large and handsome estates—they left the graves of these old people absolutely unmarked & unprotected. The Professors at the University got together & put up the brick enclosure now around the graves. “Farmington” property was left to a [ ] White one of “Uncle” Divers own nephews. He sold it to General Peyton who added what we used to call the “Bachelors quarters”—the long wooden extension on the left as you face the house.
He or his children sold the property to an Englishman named Miller & thro’ him—strange to say—it came back into the kinsfolk of “Aunt” Divers.
This happened “thuswise”. There lived
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in England a Mr [ ] Miller who was a sea captain. He had two children—a boy and a girl—Mary Miller was the girl. The elder Miller came to this Country prior to 1812 bringing his daughter with him. He came to Norfolk, then to Albemarle, & was for awhile at Monticello. He was detained here for some reason & died leaving this little girl—a stranger in a strange land.
Just below Monticello at the place now known as “Carleton”, lived General Bankhead. He took this little girl & reared here— She visited around amongst neighbours, at my Grandfather’s amongst other places and there met Joseph Wood a cousin of my Grandfathers. She married him & had two children Drusilla & Warner. Joseph Wood dying she married a man named [ ] Harper. In the mean time young Miller in England worked his way up and became an eminent Engineer & a
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man of large wealth— He was a man of high cultivation—a friend of Chas Dickens—the Hogarth’s &c &c. Sometime in the forties he wrote to this Country asking if any one knew of his father & sister & his letter was read in a large Whig Convention of which my grandfather was a member. On hearing it he got up and stated the fact that the lady in question was—as it happened—then at his house. She was then a widow for the second time. So Mr Miller then wrote over here & Cousin Mary—as we called her—and Cousin “Lou”—as Cousin Drusilla was called went over to England & remained there for eleven years. In 1858 or 59 Mr Miller came to this Country bringing them with him.
Cousin Warner—all this time remained on his farm on Moorman’s River—a mile or so above Ballard’s old Mill. When Mr. Miller
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came he brought with him all of his furniture—books—pictures &c having determined to make this country his permanent home. For awhile he boarded at Mr John Woods Jr’s in the house which was then on the corner of Park & High Street—a house has now been built between that & on the actual corner.
He suffered horribly with the gout & was wheeled around in a roller chair, by an English servant—who left him after having been in this country less than a year.
Mr Miller bought Farmington & moved his beautiful furniture, pictures &c into it. But hardly had he become settled before a severe attack of the gout compelled him to seek a warmer climate: So he went to Charleston S.C. where he died shortly after his arrival.
Cousin Mary & Cousin Lou & Cousin Warner then occupied Farmington & as Cousin Mary was very fond
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of Father we went there a great deal. She was a short, plump, pleasant little woman—very active & bustling & very sweet & kind. Strange to say, she occasionally dropped an “h” where it should have been sounded & sounded it, where it should have been dropped—or rather where it did not occur. Amongst Mr Miller’s pictures was a superb Landseer “The Children of the Mist” a herd of deer in the mist. There were also Coopers and Leslies & several by minor artists— There were also very fine proofs of Tom Landseer’s engravings of Sir Edwin’s pictures. I have spent many an hour even whilst a small boy gazing on all of these pictures & tho’ too young to know anything about Art, I think they gave me an education far above the average. “The Children of The Mist” went back to England after Mr Miller’s
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death, he having left the choice of any one of his pictures to a friend, who selected this. There is yet a fine engraving of the picture at Farmington. At Cousin Mary’s death the property descended to Cousin Warner & Lou & so came back into the blood of “Aunt” Divers, they being descended from her father.
Cousin Mary embarassed me very much when I was a boy of about seven or eight years of age by giving me a silver quarter. It was the law of the Medes & Persians at home that none of us should accept money: So I refused it: But the old lady insisted & Father—who was in the house—waived the rule in this one instance. I held on to that quarter for many months—finally buying a “baby waker” with it, which Alfred Benson took from me & slyly slipped his knife blade into the rubber bag
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which when blown up, made a horrible noise as the air escaped thro’ a whistle. When I took it from him & proudly blew it up, the bag at once broke. I “howled” in a fashion so much more horrible than the whistle that Alfred gave me a quarter to stop. I think I spent that quarter for candy.
I visited Farmington very often in my boyhood days & after I was a young man— Indeed went there quite frequently up to the time of Cousin Mary’s death. When I went to England in 1882 she gave me letters of introduction to Lady Landseer & Tom Landseer: But both had died the year before or even earlier.
I used to enjoy the books in the Library very much & poured over “Il Vaticano” the vellum bound volumes of which I handled with much care. A handsome copy of Don Quixote with Tony
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Johannot’s Illustrations, also gave me much pleasure.
Cousin Warner looked a typical English Squire—tho’ I do not believe he ever went out of the State of Virginia—Plump—smooth shaven—very florid—round faced—very quiet & phlegmatic. Brief in speech—a splendid farmer & one of the neatest men I ever knew. After the death of his mother & sister, he married Maggie Woods—daughter of Jno R. Woods & sister of Micajah Woods. He was over sixty when he married, but was the Father of [ ] sons & one daughter. I asked him once if he read any novels in Mr Miller’s library. “Of course not”, he replied, Why they are all his”. He was rather well read in history, however, but delighted more in his broad acres & fat cattle than in anything else.
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And now a new life was to dawn for me. I was to be a student. It was with a half shrinking, but very proud feeling with which I entered the Proctor’s office & matriculated. The Proctor was Maj Green Peyton—a tall red faced—side whiskered gentleman—very bluff & short in his manner. I grew to like him very much & in my “grown up days” had many a drink with him. The Major‘s weakness was ardent spirits, but he carried an immense load of it with small evidences of the fact. An excellent business man & much liked by his friends, but not popular with the “ ‘oi polloi.” When the Readjuster’s, “readjusted” the University, he was removed & the Bank of Albemarle was organized with the Major as its Cashier. When the Demo[c]rats came back into power, the Major was reappointed & died whilst in the office.
He lived in the middle pavilion on East Range—the one now occupied
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by Rev Bev: D. Tucker (1918)
I duly matriculated & entered the “schools” of Latin—German—Mathematics & Anglo Saxon. Latin was taught by Col Wm E. Peters, who had been a gallant Confederate Soldier; wounded at Warfield in Kentucky. He was absolutely fearless: Had wounded his man in a duel during the Civil War, tho’ a staunch Presbyterian of the bluest shade. His first wife was a beautiful woman & his young son—Willie—then a mere child—a beautiful boy. After his wife’s death, he married her sister—not a pretty woman—& had two sons—Dr Don Peters & [ ] The Colonel was a martinet in his classroom. Insisted upon absolute order & once enforced it, by knocking one of his pupils—a man named Clarkson—down, because he would not keep order. I saw Clarkson fall, but did not see the blow. The unfortunate affair was duly made up—mutual regrets
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&c passed, but “order” was always kept in The Latin room. Colonel always spoke of The Latin. He was a tall taciturn man—and taught latin as if he was making philologists. He loved to dwell upon “constructions” and grammatical niceties. I can see him now with the long white rod with which he would pick out sentences & words & syllables on the blackboard & can hear his sharp & strident tones as he dwelt lovingly upon “Ut,” (oot, as he called it) “with the subjunctive.” I had been taught to pronounce Latin as English is pronounced. Colonel—during my first year used the German pronunciation, changing it somewhat in the second year. For instance, in my first year we were taught to say.
“Tcitero” Tcaiser”.
“Matcenas atavis edite regiboos” [Descended from royal ancestors]
In my second year we said Kikero
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and Kaiser and
“Makenas” edite &c.
We read a satire of Juvenal & the De Officiis of Cicero & an ode or two of Horace’s, but spent most of our time over construction &c &c. Many years afterwards, when I had lost the awe in which I stood towards the Colonel, I reproached him for his neglect of the beauties of Latin Literature.
“Do you know,” I said, “Colonel your teaching of Latin reminded me of a physician who would take an exquisitely beautiful woman—strip her naked, put her upon a block & with a scalpel which he used unmercifully, dissect muscle after muscle, cut down into joint after joint & say ‘Gentlemen don’t regard this woman’s beauty: See how exquisitely that muscle works—how charmingly those bones are articulated?” “Ugh!” he replied “From what
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I recollect, Sah! of your work in my class—I do not think you would have been able—to use your own figure of speech—to know a muscle from a bone”, And the Colonel was right. I soon lost interest in his Latin & made very poor progress— But for those who wanted to be teachers & to know The Latin, the Colonel’s methods were fine. My German & Anglo Saxon Professor was M. Schelé DeVere—poor old Schéle— He was a Swede by birth, but the frenchiest of the french. Dapper—dressed to kill—moustache waxed to needle points— Hair carefully dressed— Deportment à la Turveydrop (See Bleak House) precise—formal—polite to the ultimate degree—he was much laughed at—but liked & to those who would study a most excellent teacher. He became addicted to mor-
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-phine in his latter years—having commenced to use it for some spinal trouble & had to leave the University in his old age under a cloud— He died, a very old man, in Washington—in almost abject poverty.
He wrote & published several valuable volumes “Studies in English” &c &c & was a brilliant man in many ways. He married a daughter of Alexander Rives & by her had one daughter—a lovely girl—who died young. After his first wife’s death he married her sister—a very precise—“prunes & prisms” old lady—as I recall her. He occupied the second pavilion on West Lawn & was very fond of entertaining young people & used to give very pleasant dances & dinners. I was very fond of the old man & was his counsel in his last serious trouble—anonymous letter writing & prevarication—& I have always thought he might have been “let down”,
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a little gently—especially in view of the reputation he had brought to the University & his long & brilliant services as Professor of Modern Languages.
My teacher in Mathematics (of which—by the way I never knew anything) was Col Charles S. Venable—a very stout, handsome man, with fine eyes & bushy head & broad beard of dark brown hair. I do not think he was a good teacher except of advanced pupils—taking for granted that his pupils knew too much & being very learned in his subject it was hard for him to understand the depths of ignorance in his scholars especially in me. He was very impatient of “slackers”, and woe to the man who said “unprepared” more than once or twice. After those “corks”, the Colonel seemed to despair of ever put-
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-ting anything into a bottle of that character & seemed to ignore the unfortunate’s youth’s existence.
I do not think he ever “called on me to recite—” a single time after Christmas, after I had made one or two egregious failures I do not blame him.
He had been on General R.E. Lee’s staff & was as intimate as any one could be with that great man. Later on I hope to tell some of the anecdotes he told me of our beloved Chieftan—the greatest man in my opinion in all the tide of time
So behold me duly matriculated; But before I go no further with my student days I must mention with much love & affection my Sweetheart & ever dear friend Sally Knight, who came to visit us just before the session opened. During the Civil War when my Father’s regiment was in Camp near Drewry’s
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Bluff Col Wm C. Knight lived at the old Colonial residence Wilton—a superb old Virginia Mansion with its thick walls secret passages &c &c. Father was invited to visit Wilton & Mother & Mary were asked to come to see him there. A friendship sprang up between the families that has lasted now into the third generation. The family was a charming one: Col Knight was a highly cultivated gentleman of ample means—a most kindly, quiet man whose natural modesty kept him from occupying a prominent place in the State. His wife was an exceedingly bright, witty woman, very deaf, but with a readiness of tongue & a quickness of repartee which was only equalled by dear old Aunt Mat: She was Colonel Knight’s second wife. By his first wife he had one daughter—Jennie—who married first Clarence Danforth [Henry Delaphaine Danford] & after his death married Col Chas T. O’Ferrall for many years Congressman from this District & afterwards Governor of Virginia. I may
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say en passant, that Col O’Ferrall addressed her whilst she was on a visit at SunnySide & he came over “expressly on purpose”.
By Col Knight’s second marriage [to Cleverine Thomas] he had three children—Willie Wray and Sallie B. Between Sallie and my sister Mary sprang up a friendship that only death severed—they loved one another as tho’ they were sisters and frequently exchanged visits. Sally’s first visit to Mary was in the fall of 1870. She was then just fifteen years old, but looked two years older— Exceedingly pretty—lovely hair—bright clear complexion & a lovely tho’ petite figure. Of course I fell in love with her & she reciprocated & when I entered the University I was proudly conscious that I had a sweetheart who had promised to “wait for me.” We wrote to each other regularly—exchanged photographs & I have now a tress of her fair hair, put away with the treasures of
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my youth. I believe we would have married had I felt able to do so; but I had made up my mind early in life never to marry as long as my father owed any debts & I stuck to it. We drifted quietly & without a break from our love into a warm friendship. We never had a quarrel or even a “love tiff” & today “Cousin” Sally—an old woman & a grandmother is as dear to me as tho she were of my own flesh & blood.
She married a splendid fellow Chas E. Wingo of Richmond & is the mother of five sons & one daughter. Her youngest son John whilst a student at the University was a constant visitor at SunnySide & to my own home. He is a promising young lawyer in Richmond—married & has one child.
“Cousin” Sally hurried to Lynchburg on hearing of Mary’s death. As I was leaving she said to me. “Cousin Tom, why don’t you marry
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Edith Slaughter—if she will have you. She will make you a splendid wife”. And then I told her that Edith & I had been engaged for nine months. She seemed overjoyed at the intelligence & was I know sincerely anxious that I should be happy. She & my dear wife became sincere friends & she has visited us more than once. We went together to the Cemetery in Charlottesville when she was here once & it gave me a strange sensation to see her putting flowers upon my little boy’s grave. It was on that occasion that she laid some roses on my mother’s grave and turned to me and said:” “Cousin Tom I loved your mother, as much as I did my own & I loved Mary better than any one on this earth” And I verily believe she did.
Mrs Knight’s sister—a Mrs Parrish was a very handsome widow—& they used to tease mother about my father’s partiality for her.
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Dear old mother used to admit that if she could be jealous of any one it was of Mrs Parrish—“for you know,” she said, “I’ve always believed Mr Weller was right when he bade us beware of the vidders”. Mrs Parrish was very attractive, & sprightly & when her sister remonstrated on her being so gay within a year after Mr Parrish’s death she replied, “Why my Dear,” he is just as dead as he will be ten years hence”. She married later on a very grave dignified old gentleman Mr Henry B. Hudnall of Richmond. Both are long since dead.
The Knight’s & the Duke’s kept up their friendship & visits were constantly exchanged until old age & death came on, but no two families unconnected by blood were ever closer together in my opinion. May the friendships still existing in the third generation last through many more.
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I remained at home, with the understanding that I was to get my dinner at “Morea”, on those days in which I had lectures which kept me up to, or near the dinner hour—which happened about 3 times a week. I walked across the fields, thro’ a very thick wood on land which now belongs to me, then the property of Wm P. Farrish’s estate. Part of these woods were the shadiest I ever knew, the trees and underbrush making a regular tunnel where the path ran thro— Even on the brightest day in summer it was dim twilight in these woods & at night it was almost impenetrable darkness. The boarders at “Morea” were. Paul Tudor Jones—a first Cousin once removed—half nephew of Lucy Bills’ Armistead—his room-mate Chas A. Miller—both of Boliva Tenn: Augustus Barnes of Opelika Ala: Ed: Ballard a grandson of my father’s uncle Jas Duke—of this County [ ] Patten of [ ]
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and Barnett Gibbs of Texas—a very swarthy stout young man—whose nickname was “black” Gibbs. He afterwards became quite prominent in Texas and was at one time Lieutenant Governor of that State. At the University he was quite a politician—as I will describe later on. Charles Augustus Jenkins was another boarder—a rather curious sort of a man, who is now a Baptist Preacher in Winston-Salem N.C. I believe—a very good fellow in many ways, as indeed all of these young men were. I “took to” Barnes at once & we were very good friends. We were in the German class together & I very often got up my lessons with him in that language. Tudor Jones and myself became excellent friends—as befitted near kinsmen—and the whole crowd at Morea were very congenial & I got along splendidly with them. At Gibbs’ and Jones’ solicitation I joined the Washington Literary
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generally known as the “Wash”, just as the Jefferson Literary Society was always known as the “Jeff”. There was great rivalry between these Societies & they really furnished the only “College Spirit” in the University. For strange as it may appear to the “modern” student—the “rah! rah! rah! U. <of> V. &c” man, we had no college spirit. The desire of the student was to be “a man” & to put off all boyish things. So we had no “college yell”, no “college songs & indeed every student tried to look as much unlike a student as possible. I entered the Latin, German Mathematics & Anglo Saxon Schools as I have heretofore stated.
I began to make friends quite rapidly: My schoolboy’s shyness wore off & I am afraid I was a rather conceited impudent youngster. I am satisfied that I was “cultivated” by a good many men in the “Wash” Society in order to get my vote for Medalist. In those days the Medalist for the
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best debater was chosen by popular vote—as was the Final Orator & Final President & politics ran very high. The Societies were large & well attended & the only College Spirit as I have said was contained in their activities. Edw:Farrar of New Orleans, since a very distinguished Lawyer in New Orleans & Fergus Graham of [ ] were candidates for the Medal in the “Wash”. I was solicited by the friends of both sides, but finally voted for Farrar. Gibbs was Candidate for Final President & was elected.
Sometime during the Fall as I was walking up the brick pavement towards the Rotunda I was joined by John Frost Walker of South Carolina whom I knew slightly. He informed me that I had been elected a member of the Zeta Psi Fraternity & wanted to know if I would accept an invitation
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to join. I promptly accepted as I had been much taken with the Society’s Badge & some pictures I had seen of its members. Little did I know then what that acceptance meant to me. It did more for my future career in life than anything else I can now imagine. For to it I owe my wife & thro’ her my connection with Kountze & thro’ him to the small competency which now assures me of an old age of modest & serene comfort—I trust. For the members of my “Club”; We called them “Clubs” in my college days, soon began to visit “Sunny Side” and after I left the University they continued to visit there. Saml G. Slaughter of Lynchburg joined the Fraternity in 1881 whilst his Sister Edith was at Edge Hill He was in the habit of coming to SunnySide where my sister was one of the attractions. He brought his sister to visit my sister. The visit was returned in Lynchburg and Dr
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Charles Slaughter fell in love with my sister & they were married: I returned the compliment & fell in love with his sister & we were married. My wife’s Father recommended me to Luther Kountze in 1888 as a young Lawyer ready to work up titles in West Virginia. Kountze retained me & that led to my long association with him, & my taking stock in the Ohio & Big Sandy Coal Company & from the sale of part of its property in 1917 my wife from her Father’s estate’s share in it & I from my share are rendered independent. So to my Fraternity I owe my wife & thro’ her my fortune—but of it all she is the best treasure I have ever received.
I was duly initiated just before Christmas* (* November 6 1870—) in a room in the old Midway Building which stood on the site of the present Midway public school. Walter G. Charlton of
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Savannah Georgia was the other goat. Fraternities were then conducted in a much more modest & unpretensious manner than of late years. There was an immense amount of secrecy about all their proceedings. They had no houses—& the room they rented & their hours of meeting were studiously concealed— My fraternity did not meet until 10 o’clock at night & I would steal away from my room or my friends as if I was bent on a burglary the night the “Club” met.
The room was plainly furnished—the regalia of the simplest kind—ours with the stands & other paraphinalia had been bought from the Chapter at Chapel Hill N.C. when the University there was closed in Reconstruction days. Most of the members were North Carolinians at first. I think I was very fortunate in my “Club”—not only for the rea-
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-sons I have given, but for the men it made me associate with. They were Geo: M. Smedes of Raleigh N.C. long since dead: Wm L. Whitaker of Texas a very tall taciturn man—now dead. S.F. Mordecai of Charleston S.C. now a prominent lawyer there. J.D. Smith of N.C. of whom I know nothing now: H.L. Staton of N.C. with whom I was quite intimate—a very nice dressy fellow with charming manners. He is Clerk of a North Carolina Court & I met him about 20 years ago in Washington—a little dried up old man—but with the same pleasant ways of “lang syne”. Walter G. Charlton, with whom I was very intimate—a charming intellectual fellow—of Savannah Georgia— He became very prominent in Georgia & was Solicitor General & then Judge of a Savannah Court— He too has gone over to the majority. We never met after our University days were over, but kept up a
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desultory correspondence & used to send messages to one another up to the day of his death. I met his wife & a daughter—a sweet pretty girl who became a hopeless lunatic. His son—was a scapegrace—whom I helped out of trouble here & who was very dissipated & I think not very strong minded.
E.J. Lilly was another Zete of that year. A handsome pleasant fellow— He and I kept up a correspondence, but I have lost track of him now.
The member who pledged me was John Frost Walker—“Jack Frost” as we called him—one of the best kindest hearted men I ever knew. He remained in Charlottesville for a year or so after I commenced the practice of the law: Married Nannie Flannagan—daughter of B.C. Flannagan of this place & his son Geo: E. Walker is now a practicing lawyer here. Dear
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old “Worthless” as his nickname was—we were close & intimate friends—have met now & then on his visits here & I have a tender spot in my heart for him always.
Of course my fraternity mates were my intimates, but I made many friends outside of its ranks. I am afraid I did not study very hard, but I had a “good time” & enjoyed college life immensely. It was a vastly different life to what it became later. We were treated as men & did what we pleased—so long as we behaved like gentleman— The only rule of the University, was that you were not allowed to “cut”, that is absent yourself from more than three lectures in any one class in one month. If your did, you were summoned before the faculty & had to give a good reason for you absence. Of course if you were sick or absent
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with leave, you were not within the penalty of the law.
Men then did everything possible to avoid looking like students. We had no college yell—no college songs—tho’ of course we sang a great many of the old standbyes— Football was an entirely impromptu affair & from fifty to a hundred men engaged in it. Base-ball was played & once or twice a year a match game was had with Washington & Lee (then Washington College) & the V.M.I.
Dikes & Calathumps were the only “amusements”, in which the students in a body took part & it is hardly correct to speak of these amusements as being taken in a body by the students: Sometimes ten—twenty or thirty students would start a dike or calathump & as a snow ball grows in rolling down a hill, so the crowd frequently grew as the procession
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passed until often a hundred or more students engaged in the “fun”. A “dike” was a fiendish affair. Any man who put on his best clothes was said to be “on a dike”, & when a poor devil arrayed himself in his best clothes & started at night to visit his best girl a lot of fellows would rush out with improvised torches, making the night hideous with shouts & ringing of bells & beating of tin blowers or pans & escort the unfortunate “dikee” to the door of his “best girl”. The crowd would swell as he went along & the solitary policeman in Charlottesville would take to cover. The impromptu torches often shed grease on the poor fellows clothes & that was the bad part of it. Clothes were scarce & came high in those days.
Calathumps were simply a noisy
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crowd which went in procession from the University to Charlottesville & thro’ the Main Street—blowing horns—beating tin pans & yelling furiously. Unfortunately a good many of the “Calathumpers” used to imbibe very freely & often misbehaved themselves outrageously. I never was in but one & was very much ashamed of myself for that— The crowd went down Main Street—running over the Police & wound up at Prof: Hart’s Female School—Saint Anne’s has succeeded it. Prof Hart came out wildly excited & as soon as he could be heard, yelled out, “Gentlemen I pray you to desist: “One of my lady boarders has fainted & another is about to faint”. This was irresistible & with a shout & cheer the crowd returned to the University.
There was a good deal of drinking amongst some of the students— Not before I believe than would
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be found among six hundred young men assembled anywhere— But the vast majority of the students were hard working, plodding fellows. The Faculty of my day were superb men: Giants’s intellectually & to know & associate with them was an education in itself. Dr Cabell: Dr Minor—Dr Davis: Holmes: McGuffey Gildersleeve: Venable: Francis Smith: Mallet—Schele—Peters—Harrison They were men: great teachers—splendid exemplars—Oh! quantum mutatus ab illo (1918) [Oh! how much has changed from earlier time Virgil Aeneid] Dr Socrates Maupin—old “Soc” as the boys called him had been everything a man & teacher ought to have been, but was failing very much in 1870. He was Chairman of the Faculty when I matriculated, but was killed by a fall from an omnibus in Lynchburg in Octo 1870 I think. Dr Cabell was very handsome—tall—stern—grave— Of all the Faculty he was the only one who
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had no nickname. There was “Guff” & “John B” & old “Pete” &c &c, but it was always “Doctor” Cabell. Most of the Professors were very hospitable & entertained the students during the session & at the “Finals” kept open house. Schèle used to give pleasant dances & dinner parties. There was a delightful feeling of friendliness between the Professors & students never verging on familiarity, and we all felt that the members of the Faculty were our friends. The “honour system” in those days needed no “honour committee” or anything of the kind. A student had to be as to “examinations” like Caesar’s wife, above suspicion—or leave the University.
My first session at the University there were two bar rooms right at the gates— One in a brick building now gone, just above the Anderson building—the other at Ambroselli’s—in a yellow wooden building which stood on the corner of 14th & Main
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Streets— Main Street has been cut down to allow the undergrade crossing. In the old days the railroad crossing was at grade with the street & “Ambro’s” as we called it not a stone’s throw from the track. Fourteenth Street was “non-est” [not established]. Back of Ambro’s was a field & the only house then in that field was the “Blue Cottage”, which stood on the site of the house now owned by Peyton. Some of the old oak trees that shadowed it are now in situ. Life was quite primitive in those days. The Boarding House keepers furnished the room & board for $20 a month—students brought their own coal & those who did not have gas in their rooms used Kerosene lamps—which with the oil, they themselves, furnished. Bathrooms were few & far between— A tin “hat” tub & cold water were our morning means of bathing, but once or twice a week
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our janitor brought in kettles of hot water & we had warm baths—tho’ I must say the morning tub was the exception—not the rule. The food was good—plain, but plentiful & good. Twice a week we had dessert & those days were known as “Boss days—“Boss”, being the slang work for dessert. Students never hesitated to bring in a fellow student to a meal & often to share a bed & the boarding house keepers never “kicked” or made an extra charge—as the exchange of meals about evened it up. There were three so called Hotels—boarding houses rented to persons who furnished the rooms on the Lawn & Ranges & had a certain number of the occupants of these rooms assigned them as boarders. One kept by Henry L. Massie was on the Northern end of West Range. The Misses Ross kept the one on the Southern end of the same Range & Wm L. Jefferies—the old
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saddle & harness maker—kept the only one on East Range—at the Southern end thereof— The Misses Ross were gentlefolk in reduced circumstances— They lived in the house next to their large dining room & were noted for their good fare.
Henry L. Massie—afterwards Post Master lived in the house at the Northern end of West Range—his dining hall fronting North & on the east side of the house. Both it & the Ross dining room are now Chemical Laboratories I believe. Massie had too beautiful daughters—Susie—who died young & Loula [Lulie] who was a great belle & who at the time of her death was engaged to “Alph” Thom—now A.P. Thom a prominent railroad lawyer. Each boarding house—as I have said,—had a part of the Lawn and Range assigned to them— Dawson’s Row was assigned to the Misses
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Ross. There was one curious thing about Dawson’s Row which lasted all the time I was at the University and for several years after and that was the characteristics of the students in the different houses. These houses were numbered—commencing with the house on the East, which was just next to the last house occupied by the Chaplain—or I should have said “lettered.—“A. B. C. D E & F”. House “A”, right next to the Chaplains, always had the toughest lot of fellows in it. To say that a man lived in House “A” meant that he was a wild—hard-drinking—card playing chap— House “B” was better & as you approached “Monroe Hill”—as the group of buildings near the house in which Thornton, now (1918) lives, together with that house was called—the men became more studious. Carr’s hill—a row of buildings where the President’s home now stands, had also
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a lot of “gay boys” on it, but by no manner of means as gay as House “A”. I had many friends on Carr’s Hill, but never very many in House “A”. Whitaker and his brother, the latter afterwards a Zete—lived on Carr’s hill. Most of my Fraternity mates boarded at Dr McKennie’s on what is now upper Main Street—the house Livers now lives in—and I used to take many a meal there— Dr McKennie’s mother—was Uncle Bob Rodes’ sister, so I was always assured of a warm welcome— It was at that house I first saw iced tea & it being in decanters I thought it was sherry & was rather taken aback when I tasted it. It was not then considered an “Awful Sin” to have wine on the table & Dr Schélé always had it at his dinners— At home whenever any of the boys came over to see me, we had our toddies or in season our Mint Juleps & my
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own dear mother—the best of women—always sent the decanter & sugar & ice to the office in the yard when I came over with any of my friends. I never saw any one of them, even to the slightest degree under the influence of liquor at our house & I believe if young men had been raised as we were to have our toddies at home—less drunkeness would have been the result.
Dr Marcellus McKennie—“M. McKennie M.D.” as he styled himself—never practiced his profession, but took up the business his father C.P. McKennie established at the University—i.e. running the University Bookstore—“established in 1825”. It is gone now—the old bookstore—which stood on the site of what is now known as the “Chancellor Building” “Doc” as we called him, was a large, bluff, kindhearted man—An only son—badly spoiled I think I was very fond of him & in later years he & I became very intimate
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associates in Free Masonry.
He presided over the foot of Cousin Hetty’s table—was a good carver—a good liver & entirely too fond of good whiskey. He had two sons—Cummings—and George & two daughters Annie & Hetty. Cummings & Annie were older than I, George about my age & Hetty probably a year younger. Cummings was a rude—boisterous bluff boy & man—big hearted—amiable & kindly. George had a terrible fall on the ice whilst skating, when he was about sixteen years of age & it really left him unable to do much study. With him originated the story that has been told of so many men— For it really happened & I heard it but a very short while after it occurred. Prof Beck—a brilliant erratic German was Professor of Civil Engineering. He was a very odd, curious sort of a man & constantly said, both in his
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lectures & private conversation, as an interjectory remark “Sirree! do you understand”. On one occasion he asked George McKennie—“Sirree McKennie do you understand? Tell me the cause of the Aurora Borealis: George scratched his head— “Well! really, Professor,” he said” I did know, but I’ve forgotten. “Gracious Heavens!” cried Beck, “what a loss to Science. The only man who ever knew the cause of the Aurora Borealis, has forgotten it.”
And speaking of Beck, I was in his lecture room, when a little Creole from New Orleans, was whispering over his desk to his brother who sat in front of him. Beck was lecturing, but Turpin spoke so loud he heard him. Wheeling around with the chalk in his hand—he had been demonstrating—he cried out sharply: “Sirree Toorpan—vat a pity your ears are not as long as dose of de
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animal you resemble, so dat you could converse across your desk, vidout disturbing my class”. Turpin was not very bright & Beck made quite a butt of him. On one occasion, they told me, he was examining Turpin on some problem in higher mathematics. He soon saw “Toorpan,” as he called him, was out of his depth, so he deliberately went on making the most absurb algebraic calculations on the Blackboard & rapidly firing leading questions at him, to all of which “Toorpan”, was responding very glibly “Yes! Yes! Oh! Yes Professor—Certainly! Very true” & having gotten him to readily assent to problems absolutely absurb & impossible, he wheeled on him. “Sirree Toorpan, do you understand you are a fool”, & went on to the next student. Poor Turpin stood dumb in his tracks until
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Beck looked at him with a twinkle in his eye. “Sit down—Toorpan—Sit down— There are others just as bad in the class, but they are not so glib with their tongues”. And “Toorpan” sat. For a number of years Mrs Beck was childless—to the Professor’s great chagrin. Finally under the advice of Dr John Staige Davis she went to the Hospital & underwent some operation. About a year later she presented the Professor with a fine boy. Old Beck was in McKennie’s bookstore shortly after the birth of this son & was being congratulated by several ladies, to his evident delight & at the same time confusion. Just then Doctor Davis entered the store. Beck rushed at him, seized him by the hand, shook it vigorously & yelled out. “Not me Ladies— Not me— All the congratulations are to the Doctor, dear, here. He
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is responsible for dat baby”.
Doctor Davis used to say, that he never knew exactly how he got out of the store
Better had this boy never have been born. He grew up—a brilliant fellow, but got into bad company—became a theif and wound up in a Penitentiary in one of the Northern States.
But to return to the McKennies. Cummings was not brilliant tho’ a good fellow in every way— Dear old Doctor got on one awful spree one night & fell in a ditch very near home. Several of the boys pried him out & as they were escorting him to the gates, he burst into tears. “Oh! boys! boys!” he wailed—”I think I am the d—ndest fool in the world,” and then he paused—“except my son Cummings”. Just over the arch way which connected & still connects the old
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McKennie house with the building to the west, used for student rooms—was a room with two windows. The room could only be entered from the Doctor’s bed-room— He called it his “study”, but no one was ever allowed to enter it. As a matter of course it was considered a very mysterious apartment & one night a lot of us got a ladder & put it against the window sill & Jack Frost Walker mounted the ladder, raised the window, went in & came back with this report. “The study has in it—One chair—one sofa—one table one glass & a large demi-john of excellent whisky”.
Doctor McKennie had been at the Virginia Military Institute with my Father—graduated high in his class & like my father married in Lexington—his wife being a Miss Cummings. He was considered a very promising young
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man, but never did more than promise. But like Cummings he was kind hearted & true & I got to love the old man. He died when I was in Kentucky on one of my trips for the coal companies & I heard of his death in a little place in Martin County called Eden. I could not keep back a tear & am not ashamed of it. His bookstore was a favorite resort of mine & I used to “loaf” there a great deal. As I bought all of my books from him he never minded my use of the store & my habit of pulling down & reading many of the books whilst I stood at the shelves. Our intimacy then commenced continued & as I grew into manhood & older we were warm friends. Cummings & I too were good friends up to the day of his death & George & I were intimate friends.
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My Father was elected to fill out the vacancy caused by the death of Robt Ridgway in the 41st Congress & at the same time was elected for the full term of the 42nd Congress. He was sworn in as a member in December 1870 & a curious episode in this connection will show what miserable hounds the Republicans were in that day & what dirty dogs our carpet baggers & scalawags were. A favorite dodge of the Republicans in Congress in those days in the attempt to keep out the Democratic members from the South, was to raise some technical objection to the members credentials—refer them to the Committee on credentials & keep them there on one prextext after another until the term of the Congress was about to end. They then reported favourable—they could not have the infinite mean-ness to do otherwise—the member was sworn in—probably on the last day of the term—and tho’ he drew
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his entire salary—his vote was lost to his party. This trick was tried on my Father. Rives contested his election: That was universal on the part of the Republicans who were defeated in the South, as under the rule as it then stood they were allowed a considerable sum to “carry on” the contest.
Rives had no earthly ground for any contest—but he needed the money. Even the most partizan Republican could find no ground by any means whatever to sustain a contest. But a dirty little carpet bagger who misrepresented the Norfolk District thought he had worked out a scheme to refer Father’s credentials to the Committee & keep him out of his seat in the usual way. When Father’s credentials were presented this little wretch, Jas H. Platt, Jr, was his name called attention to the fact that they read “R.T.W.
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Duke was elected” &c. With great gravity he insisted that they should have read “duly elected” and were therefore defective & should go to the Committee for investigation. It was at once shown that the word “duly” had never been used in any certificate of election for any member from Virginia at any time; but the poor little creature insisted on his motion. Blaine, who was then Speaker put the motion & declared it lost. A division was called for & the members stood. Blaine again declared the motion lost & said, “The member from Virginia will come forward & be sworn in” Blaine afterwards told Father that as the standing vote the motion was really carried, but that he did not propose to let such a contemptible dirty piece of work go through & he knew the members would be ashamed to ask for a roll call. Blaine & Father became very good friends
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and Father admired his talent and owned to his wonderful magnetism, but always said he was not a high man & decidedly tricky. He stopped over in Charlottesville on one occasion after Father & I became partners & paid him a visit of an hour or so between trains.
Before Father went off to Washington he called me in his office and giving me some money, said to me. “My Son, you are now going to be treated as a man, as young as you are. I want you to behave like one and always remember that you are a gentleman. You are going to have many temptations & may yield to some of them. I am not going to ask you to do this thing or that thing or to refrain from this or that. I always want you to be clean & honest and upright, but there is only one thing I cannot forgive and that is a
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lie. You may drink & be a gentleman: you may play cards & be a gentleman: you may do many other things you ought not to do & be a gentleman; but you cannot lie & be a gentleman. So always tell me and every other man the truth no matter how it hurts. Remember that I am your best friend and never hesitate to come to me no matter how large or small your trouble and tell me the truth always.” And I always did. I went to him always no matter what I had done & I found him always the kindest, truest, wisest, most sympathetic counsellor. He never found fault: He listened: he asked few questions and them frankly advised or admonished. In the long years of intimate connection as father & son & as law partners we grew into the sweetest, tenderest most beautiful relationship. I loved him and admired him as I did no other man & I love him still. Heaven
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would not be Heaven with out him & from him I learned what the Fatherhood of God means and try to love God & trust God as I loved and trusted him.
Mother went to Washington with Father & she kept all of my letters of the Fall & Spring of that session & I have them now. Very gushing—youthful letters they are & reading one to my wife some time ago I said, “Isn’t that just like a letter of Walkers”? In the month of February 1871 I had the great pleasure of being allowed to take one or two days off and spend them in Washington with Father. He and mother boarded with a Mr & Mrs Anderson in their house on the northern side of Judiciary Square. Mr Anderson was a Clerk in the Post Office Department I think—certainly in one of the Departments. He was a man to whom the term “lovely”
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could be well applied. A gentle, kindly, guiless old gentleman, the narrow horizon of whose life never ventured two hundred miles from Washington. He was born in that City; When old enough became a page in the Senate—then a Government Clerk & a Government Clerk he remained until discharged—I think under Arthur’s regime. He did not survive his discharge six weeks. “Just died of a broken heart” his wife said. He had accumulated nothing & would have been dependent upon charity had he lived.
He came down the following summer & spent his vacation at SunnySide & no man ever enjoyed a visit more. He gave father a gold headed cane which I now have. A great many people to whom he did favours in his department used to send him canes— He had half a dozen handsome gold headed ones. “I wish”, he pathetically remarked as he gave this one to Father-
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“that they had sent me barrels of flour instead”.
His wife was a stout nice old lady who must have been a beauty in her day. She came of a good family & was a “thoroughbred” in her manner—never anything, however but gentle and kindly. The couple was childless, so they adopted a girl—I think Mrs Anderson’s niece, whom I scarcely remember. Her name was Josie & I do not think I recall anything else about her. A young French woman—Miss Prudhomme lived with them—half protegé—half parlour boarder. She taught french to various pupils & was a pleasant nice woman.
Mother had very little to do with the “political society” of Washington—which in those days was badly mixed. She got in with the old Georgetown aristocrats, who held themselves quite above the common herd & very properly so. One
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of her intimate friends was a Mrs [ ] Beatty—a superbly handsome old woman with magnificent white hair, a clear complexion & the carriage of of a queen. They say that in her younger days she had an audience with the Pope. She positively declined to lower her veil as his Holiness came down the line and an officious Chamberlain was urging her doing so, when the Pope drew nigh.
With a benevolent smile the old man checked the official. “Nay! Daughter” he said. “God has made you so beautiful, surely his poor servants ought not to be deprived of the sight of His fair creation”; He then asked her name & hotel & the next day a superb set of cameos came to her with the Pope’s best wishes & blessing. Little did he imagine to what use his gift would be applied. Mrs Beatty was Presbyterian of the strictest type—and a
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Southern Presbyterian at that. Of course there was no Southern Presbyterian Church in Washington but Mrs Beatty & other Southerners got up one & Mother visited with them. They organized in an “upper room” and called the Revd Dr Pitzer as their Pastor and Mrs Beatty sold her cameos & applied the purchase money to the purchase of a communion service. Under Dr Pitzer’s charge the Church grew & outgrew its “upper room”. There is now a handsome Southern Presbyterian Church in Washington and President Wilson attends it.
Dr Pitzer remained its Pastor until a very few years ago. In Decbr 1899 when I spoke with Presdt McKinley at Mount Vernon Dr Pitzer wrote me a very nice note of congratulation, tho’ I had not seen him since <1871>. His wife was a Miss McClenahan
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of Roanoke & had a sister visiting her when I came to Washington & we had quite a pleasant flirtation & exchanged a few letters.
Some ten years ago I was going thro’ Roanoke & saw a woman with snow white hair dressed most elaborately in purple velvet & with a big picture hat adorned with white feathers. Her back was towards me & I noticed a slim waist & rather girlish figure— I felt somewhat disgusted at seeing an old woman as I thought so youthfully dressed & pinching in her waist; Shortly after I walked into my seat in the Pullman & in it was my “old woman”—a beautiful girl of about 20 with a complexion like milk & roses—a regular beauty—with snow white hair. Of course I got into conversation with her & found she was Bessie McClenahan’s half sister. Bessie had married & died when this young lady was a
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little girl—“so small”, she said, “I just remember her”. She told me her hair turned white with no earthly reason she knew of—just began to have streaks thro’ it & then almost of a sudden became as I saw it. “I know, I’m a freak”, she said “but I will not dye it.” “Heaven forbid,” I said “for you are one of the freaks which enchant men”. She laughed & said “I had not forgotten to be a flatterer”. But I was no flatterer— She was beautiful & very sweet and pleasant— She explained her elaborate costume by saying she was going to the next station to some entertainment & she soon got off. I have never seen her since.
But to return to Washington. It was a queer old set Mother went with. Folks who had great-grandparents & even further back & who looked with infinite
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scorn on the rabble that made up the political set. I used to tease Mother a good deal about a remark I heard her make when somebody asked her about going with Father to the President’s (Grant’s) reception. “Well!”, she said “Walker wants me to go & I suppose I must, but you know the Grant’s are really rather common people & oh! what a set they tell me you are forced to meet there.” She only went once.
Washington was then a rather crude place. They were paving Pennsylvania Avenue with wooden blocks when I first saw it & the terraces on the South side of the Capitol were not built. This “front” of the Capitol was very bleak & bare & an ugly twisting stairway had to be climbed to enter from that direction. And the Congress & Society was about as tough a set as one cares to see. The Southern States were
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mostly represented by Carpet baggers & scalawags & negroes— In the Senate Hiram R. Revels [ ] were negroes— Ben: Butler represented Massachusetts in part. Garfield was in the house & he & Father had a little spat one day discussing the South. The Lobby was in great force—and amongst its members were a good many very handsome & flashy women.
Liquor was freely sold in both House & Senate Restaurants, as it was until only a few years ago, and the sight of a man “under the influence” was very frequent and scarcely created any notice. The rules of the House were not so strict then & the Son of a member was allowed to go on the floor of the house at will. I went on the floor several times & sat in father’s seat or any other seat that happened to be vacant near him. Ben Butler once came
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up to where I was sitting & put his hand on my shoulder. The way I “wiggled” from under the hated touch would have amused him no doubt had he noticed it, but he was intent on what some one was saying & paid no attention to me or my movements.
In the same house in which Father & Mother boarded Philetus Sawyer his wife & two daughters boarded also. Philetus had gone out west he said, with his axe on his shoulder & his wife cooked for him. He was then a millionaire & afterwards United States Senator from [ ]. A plain old man & his wife a plain, tall <rathered> hard featured, but pleasant kindly woman. The youngest daughter was quite pretty, but the oldest plain. The old man one day told the girls that they were “no account”. That unlike their mother they did not know how to cook a decent meal.
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Thereupon the girls got breakfast for him & his wife & a very good breakfast it was. On telling him that they had prepared the breakfast, he laughingly said he did not believe it & that they must cook breakfast the next morning & do as their mother did, wait on the table & then sit down & eat their own breakfast. They did so, and when they sat down & turned over their plates there was a check for twenty thousand dollars under each girls plate.
Some fifteen or more years ago I attended a meeting of the Shriners in Washington made memorable by the fact that Admiral Schley was initiated & I sat by quite an old man, whom some one said was ex-senator Sawyer. So I spoke to him & told him who I was. He at once spoke of Father in the nicest way & said he remembered my Mother & Father with the greatest pleas-
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-ure.
We used to tease mother a good deal about going to the Theatre just to please Father. Being a Presbyterian of the old school, the Theatre was looked upon as an “abomination of desolation”. But after going with Father several times she became quite reconciled & being fond of music used to attend the Opera regularly when ever there was Opera in Washington. During this visit I saw my first Opera—Trovatore— Emma Abbot being the soprano and Tom Maas the tenor. I do not think I ever heard a sweeter voice than Maas—& that this was not a youthful fancy was proven to me when in the summer of 1882 I heard him sing in the great Albert Hall in London in Concert with Adelaide Nillson— I have heard, I can safely say, the greatest tenors of the last thirty odd years. De Retzke—Caruso—Dalmorès
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Alvany &c &c, but I have never heard a voice that moved me as much as Maas’. He sang a little falsetto it is true, but I like that. Nillson sang also & what a gorgeous voice she had. One number was Handel’s “Let the bright seraphim,” with a trumpet obligato. I never imagine I will hear anything sublimer until I hear “the bright seraphim in shining row &c &c” That was a memorable day. Nillson & Maas in the afternoon & at night in Covent Garden Patti in Il Barbiére. Nillson sang “Way down upon the Swanee River” as an encore, and Patti “Home, sweet home”. I wept profusely at both, for they suggested home & I was homesick, all by myself in London.
C.D. Fishburne & Louis T. Hanckel were in father’s office during the winter of 1870-71 helping Mr Jones. My sister
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Mary was at “Buckeyeland” at Uncle Gilmers being taught by Miss “Lou” Armstrong. Bob & Dan Towles—who had been living with us went to Hanover Academy in 1870-71
I remember in 1871 a snow-storm followed by sleet—it was in January—then a severe cold snap & the snow became a mass of ice. I had to walk to the University the morning after the freeze & it took me nearly two hours to do so, as I would repeatedly slide back the whole length of a hill I had just climbed, sometimes falling down & rolling over & over to the bottom.
I took dinner at Morea & going to lecture after dinner Tudor Jones who was walking behind me caught hold of my cape & made me pull him up the hill, I did so patiently until near the top, when I unbuttoned
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the cape & down the hill Tudor went the cape in his hand. He came very near landing in the University Pond.
I recall a big dinner father gave in the Spring when he came home for a few days. Col R.R. Prentis B. Johnson Barbour—Green Peyton: Woods Garth—Dr. McKennie, Mr Jas D. Jones & about a half a dozen more were guests & the fun was fast & furious. Col Prentis was on a pledge not to take over one drink a day—so he mixed a huge toddy & when he had drunk it half way down would set it on the mantel piece & one of the party would fill it up. Dr. McKennie got very full & went at Johnson Barbour with a carving Knife, but was disarmed. He fell down in a ditch going home & had to be prized out with fence rails. In one
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of my letters I mentioned the fact that the Doctor was deeply repentant of his “evil behaviour”. Dear old Doc:
Col Prentis had been for many years Proctor of the University but at that time had commenced the practice of law in Charlottesville. He bought the “Valentine” house on Park Street & added the Mansard roof now on it. He was the father of Robt R. Prentis, my old friend now on the Supreme Court Bench.
It was during the Spring of 1871 that our neighbour F.B. Moran married & bought his bride to the house Geo: Sinclair had built & to which he added, on the farm between SunnySide & Capt H. Clay Michie’s. Mrs Moran was a Miss Blackburn—a handsome woman—several years older than Moran—the greatest talker I ever knew & decidedly “Keerless” with the truth.
[II 201]
And now before going on with the period of 70-74 I shall make an interlude and write of the Neighbourhood.
It was a charming neighbourhood. There is no doubt of that & composed of people belonging to a generation we will never see again—altho’ all of them were not to “the manner born.” Our nearest neighbour was F.B. Moran—a New Yorker who father was a Belgian—whose mother was a Philadelphian & he a Cosmopolitan. He was educated in Lausanne—had lived in Texas & in Clarke County Va where he met the lady who subsequently became his wife. He came to Albemarle in 1869 and bought from George Sinclair the Farm right across the public road towards the North. He added to the house Sinclair had built & was a gay wild fellow whom we all liked very much. His marriage did not change
[II 202]
him much. Mrs Moran was a very excitable woman & did not improve as she grew older;
Our next nearest neighbours were the Brown’s—A.J’s family who lived at “Rugby”—The Rosser place— There were six “girls”. Bettie—a grave tall woman, who married a Dr Moses & moved to Knoxville: Susie—a gay wild girl—who married a student named Staley: Lilly who was the beauty of the family & married Frank Moore, son of the Revd Mr Moore of Richmond—who was one of the wildest men at the University—went to Germany—graduated there at one of the Universities—came back & became a Presbyterian Minister—as his Father was & was a very popular & eloquent preacher in Louisville Ken: He left the Church on account of his views as to the observance of Sunday—he believing in a Continental
[II 203]
Sunday—went to New York to practice Law & died there after a few years a very much disappointed man. Maggie the fourth girl was a brown eyed beauty who was lame from the effects of a white swelling— She married Huck of Texas— Cornelia & Willie were quite young in the 70s— Cornelia died in the lunatic asylum— Willie married Dr Dold—now of New York—& died leaving two sons— There were five boys— Jim: now in Texas— Andrew who died in Texas— Lewis—of whom I have spoken & Charlie who is now (1919) in the freight office in Charlottesville.
Mrs Brown was a Miss Minor & a distant kinswoman of Father’s— We always called her “Cousin Bettie”. She & her husband got along very badly. He was an ill tempered man & she a high strung woman.
[II 204]
He was much in debt & Rugby had to be sold in [ ]. They subsequently separated & were very bitter towards one another.
It was a gay household. All were musical & when Moore & Moses were at the University they & the girls would walk over to SunnySide with guitars & sing— How I remember those old songs—“Loreena” “Rock me to Sleep Mother” “The Vacant Chair” &c &c.
Cousin Bettie played dance music remarkably well their house was a favorite resort for impromptu dances. Ivy Cottage—the residence of Major & Mrs Jones I have already spoken of. Just across from it lived Wm H. Inloes—a very quiet excentric Marylander. He had been with Harry Gilmore in the Confederate Army & so was older than either Moran or Willie, but always ready for a bit of fun or a spree. I remember on one occasion in Char-
[II 205]
-lottesville, we had been taking a good deal of the cup that cheers as well as inebriates & about 12 midnight went to the Old “Stage Yard”, which then occupied the greater part of the Square in rear of the City Hall & my brother & an ex-federal soldier—a very large man got into an altercation. The Yankee remarked that if Willie had not been such a small man he would have hit him: Thereupon Will swelled up & told him “Never mind my size. Just hit away!” Then Inloes walked up. “You had better be careful”, he said very solemnly, “I’ve seen a much smaller man than he, kill a Yankee “deadever” than hell.” Upon this hint our friend fled & we all rode home in a fine humour.
One of the most charming families was that of the Goodyears—who came in 1868 and bought the old Jewry place—where
[II 206]
Senator Martin resides now (1919). Judge Chas Goodyear was a splendid old fashioned gentleman from Ithaca—New York. He had been a member of Congress & Circuit Judge & was a gentleman of refinement, education & good breeding. His wife a gentle sweet old lady. But his daughters-in-law were two of the handsomest women I ever saw. Mrs Charles (Eirene) was a Miss King—whose father was a Presbyterian Missionary in Greece & her mother a Greek, who lived up to some thirty years ago. She was superbly handsome.
Mrs Geo: (Elizabeth) was a Miss Briscoe of Philadelphia & as a family of Briscoes had intermarried with the Baldwins, who had intermarried with Mother’s family I at once claimed kin. “Cousin Libby”, I called her & so she remained to the end. She too was superbly handsome. I never saw two more beautiful women.
[II 207]
Mrs Charles had two children—Charlie & Mary—the latter became very intimate with my sister & indeed there was a constant interchange of visits between the families.
Mary & I became intimate friends & still remain so. She married an Englishman named McNeale—had two sons & McNeale dying she came back here to live. She afterwards married Louis Smoot of Alexandria & Washington & our friendship has lasted up to date. She was a pretty girl & is a very handsome woman now—1919.
Mr Woods Garth lived at Birdwood—where Hollis Rinehart now lives—& was a type of the old Virginia fox-hunting—hard-drinking Squire— His wife was not exactly of our set, but a good fine woman & Birdwood was the seat of a hospitality such as exists no longer.
[II 208]
I paste here two pictures of this charming old place as it was when I first knew it— The house & the Avenue leading to the Road.
[II 209]
And speaking of Judge Goodyear & Mr Garth reminds me of the trial of Mr Garth for the killing of Updike. My father was Attorney for the Commonwealth & had been & continued to be Mr Garth’s intimate friend, altho’ he prosecuted him as vigorously as if he had never known him. Updike & Mr Garth were neighbours & no man was ever a better neighbour than Mr Garth. It being before Mr Garth’s mother’s death, he was living at “Chestnut Ridge” where Calhoun now lives. Updike who was a “Valley Dutchman” was a tall powerful man—high tempered & not of a very neighbourly disposition. They had some trifling dispute about a plant bed & it grew into a bitter quarrel. One April Court day in 1869 they met on the corner of Main & Fifth Streets & got into an altercation. Updike knocked
[II 210]
Mr Garth down & as fast as he got up continued to knock him down. Mr Garth opened a spaying knife in his pocket & rising on his knees cut Updike across the abdomen, & also stabbed Updike’s brother who ran in to part them. Had the wound been given today, when abdominal surgery is so advanced & anti-septics used, Updike would probably have recovered; but the wound became infected—peritonitis set in & Updike died. Mr Garth begged to be allowed to see him before he died, but Updike refused. Mr Garth started to my Father’s office to have him defend him, but as his foot was on the doorstep remembered that Father was Attorney for the Commonwealth.
The trial was held before the old examining Court—three justices. Judge Goodyear being the presiding Justice & Jesse Jones & Mr Jas Lobban associates.
[II 211]
Mr Garth was kept in jail & the trial excited an immense interest. My father was devoted to Mr Garth & Mr Garth to him, and so the people who knew this sympathised very much with father, but—as might be expected watched his conduct of the case with deep interest. If any thought he would fail or ever falter in his duty they were grievously dissappointed. Never was a case pressed with greater strength and vigour, or with greater fairness. I heard his closing speech, and shall never forget the dramatic incident that then took place. Mr Garth’s mother had died during the trial & he had been allowed to attend her funeral in the custody of the Sheriff. Of course the deepest sympathy was felt for him, but there was an undercurrent of ill feeling amongst people of Updike’s class.
As I have stated my Father
[II 212]
conducted the case with wonderful ability and skill—so I have been told—and yet with absolute fairness— His closing argument was very strong, forceful and eloquent. In the midst of it Mr Garth, who was sitting just behind him bowed over in his chair and buried his face in a great red bandana handkerchief & was evidently sobbing. My Father—for some reason turned around & saw him & stopped in his speech. He stood quietly a moment & then walked out of the Court House. Not a person stirred: The Justices sat silent and unmovable. Father went back of the Court House & for five minutes wept like a child— He then returned to the Court House with traces of tears on his cheeks. There had not been a sound or a movement in the vast crowd during his absence or when
[II 213]
he returned. Quietly he resumed his argument & then in a burst of eloquence he drew a picture of the murder & the necessity of the enforcement of the law regardless of men— I know I was thrilled—the crowd seemed to hang on his lips: the justices seemed deeply stirred, and when he took his seat, for a moment there was not a sound or a movement— Mr Garth raised his head—wiped his eyes & half stretched his hand out as if he was seeking my father’s which hung almost at him. Then he drew it back & gave a loud sigh—almost a sob. And then Judge Goodyear announced that the Court would retire for a conference. I was not in the Court room when the decision was given. Two of the justices—Mr Jones & Mr Lobhan voted for dis-
[II 214]
-charge on the ground of self defence— Judge Goodyear voted to send the accused on to the Grand Jury, but of course the majority carried & Mr Garth was discharged.
The Updike’s took the case to the Grand Jury, but the bill of indictment was not found: They then appealed to the Military, but the General in command declined to interfere, so the matter was ended. Mr Garth continued Father’s friend & client & it was “Walker” and “Woods”—as long as they lived.
Another case which excited great interest was the trial of [ ] Ayres for the killing of [ ] Brown in [ ] 18[ ]
Both Brown & Ayres were Englishmen—Ayres living in Loundon County. Brown came to this Country with his wife & they were entertained by & stayed some time at Ayres’ home. Ayres’ daughter— a woman
[II 215]
considerably advanced in the twenties, was seduced by Brown. In the mean time Brown moved to Charlottesville and occupied a house on Ridge Street next to the house which John L.Walters lived & in which the tragedy of John’s killing took place.
Miss Ayres was confined & told her father the name of her seducer. Ayres got on the train—reached Charlottesville in the early morning hours & went to Brown’s house. Brown in his nightgown opened the door at Ayres’ knock & held out his hand: “Why! Ayres—old man I’m glad to see you”, he said. “Ayres—who had his pistol in his hand replied. “I did not come to shake hands with you, but to kill you”, & commenced firing. Brown turned & ran & Ayres followed him shooting. Brown ran under his wife’s bed & the
[II 216]
last shot was made by Ayres as he stooped & fired at the man under the dead. Brown died in a few moments & Ayres quietly came into town & surrendered himself. He was indicted by the grand jury & his trial was of course one that excited much interest—public sentiment being somewhat divided. Of course there was immense indignation against the seducer who violated the hospitality of his friend by doing him the greatest injury one man can do another. At the same time many thought that a woman of the mature years of Miss Ayres—she was 26 or 27 years old, ought to have been wise enough not to accept attention from a married man whose wife was in the same house with them. She claimed that she was hypnotized by Brown & it was in evidence that he was a wonderful hypnotist. Ayres was defended
[II 217]
by Judge Wm J. Robertson—Shelton F. Leake & probably one or two others I do not now remember.
Father made a powerful presentation of the Commonwealth’s case, but the jury acquitted Ayres without leaving the box. Old man Chewning who was foreman wrote the verdict, “We the Jury find the prisoner guilty of justifiable homicide”. When Judge Cochran instructed them to change it to a verdict of “not guilty”. Judge Robertson arose—“If your Honour please”, he said “We prefer to let the verdict stand, as an evidence that in the good old County to kill the seducer of an innocent girl is justifiable”.
The last criminal case of a serious nature my father conducted before he resigned to enter Congress was that of John Henry Salmon who was indicted for the killing
[II 218]
of his mother & brother—a most horrible murder committed for the sake of the little farm near Stony Point in the Mountains. The case was tried in the Circuit Court, Judge Shackelford presiding. Salmon was defended by Mr Leake, Mr Blakey & I believe Mr Southall. The evidence was entirely circumstantial, but damning & Salmon was found guilty and condemned to be hanged. His counsel moved for a new trial on the ground that the Jury had been allowed to read the newspapers during the trial & Judge Shackelford granted it. In the mean-time all criminal cases were transferred to the County Court—my father went to Congress—Micajah Woods—a young lawyer—was elected to succeed him & in some unfortunate way three terms of the County Court slipped by & under the Statute Salmon had to be released. He left the County & when last heard from was
[II 219]
living near Parkersburg West Va. There was practically no doubt of his guilt.
Dr Austin—a neighbour of Salmon’s—when he had moved for a new trial came up to him as he was leaving the Court room & solemnly abjured him. “Mind what you do”—John Henry”, he said “It may go a great deal harder with you on a second trial”. As John Henry had been sentenced to be hanged, he did not exactly view it from Dr Austin’s standpoint. The Doctor was a curious character very fond of big words & not exactly accurate in the use of them. He came into Father’s office once in a great state of excitement. “Col Duke”, said he, “I have discovered a mine of lumbago on my plantation”. “I cannot imagine a better find for a physician” my father replied with a twinkle in his eye—but the Doctor did not see the point.
[II 220]
I was examining him once in a railroad case & asked him what he had to say in regard to a statement made by one of the interesses for the road. It is superlatively incongruous, Sir!” he replied.
At a warrant trial of an Irish Ditcher named Donavan—an excellent man when not in his cups, but a “divil of a bhoy” when he was—the Doctor said to the magistrate—”Sir! in the midst of the fray—or rather melée, there was Donavan, Sir, a wild & turbulent Irishman, I confidently believe under the influence of ardent spirits—flourishing a dangerous weapon—a short club—which the French call a shindalig.” “You missed,” with both barrels, Doctor”, Mr Leake who was present quickly remarked, but the Doctor understood him not.
[II 221]
I have wandered somewhat from the neighbours and might return to say, that there was a great deal of visiting amongst these neighbours. The two Goodyear ladies with Mamie used to come home very often—dropping into tea or dinner & were always welcome. My sister & Mamie were great friends & Mamie & I were very “intimate enemies”, as we used to “spat” at each other a great deal. The hospitality in those days was the genuine unpretentious hospitality of old Virginia. The “servant problem” had not begun to vex us & the experiences of the war had taught us to take what was set before us and be thankful. “Our board was frugal, but our hearts were great” and so we gave dinners and teas & dropped in without the formality of an invitation, tho’ generally being invited to come at
[II 222]
any time we chose.
In the summer of 1871 I used to go with my brother & his friends to various simple entertainments at WhiteHall—where there were several pretty girls—at Rio Mills—Hydraulic Mills &c.
We had dances—always the “square” dances as waltzing & round dances were looked upon as highly improper. Tableaux & little plays were also very much used as a means of entertainment & the rehearsals for them were frequent & afforded the young folks much opportunity for friendly association.
“Tournaments” were also a favorite method of exhibiting your skill in horsemanship & there were generally two or three every summer largely attended & ending with a ball at night.
A tournament was entirely a “ring Affair”. A level piece of ground was selected & three
[II 223]
and three posts with horizontal arms projecting from them planted at intervals of about twenty feet apart. From the horizontal arm hung a wire from which was suspended an iron ring about three inches in diameter the ring being hung upon a bent projection of the wire—so as to slip off very easily. The “Knights” carried long lances of wood & starting about one hundred—or less—yards from the first ring rode at the fastest rate they could make their horses go, taking if they could the rings with their lances. He who took the most rings in three runs was proclaimed the victor & had the inestimable glory of crowning some fair one as the Queen of Love & Beauty. This was done amidst much applause & the pair led off the
[II 224]
dance that night. The “Knights” always chose some high sounding title—”Knight of Ivanhoe”—”Knight of the Forest” “Knight of Fair Ladies” & now & then “Knight of Virginia”, “Albemarle” &c &c. A great laugh was once raised when the “Herald” called out “Knight of Albemarle are you ready”? & a long-lank-red headed individual—in his shirt sleeves rode up to the starting point & raising his “lance” yelled out—“I are”. But the tournaments were great fun & gave occasion to friendly meeting amongst the young folks— An oration—“charge to the Knights”—was always made generally by some young lawyer—& many flowers of rhetoric were brought into full bloom.
Ah! me—the Queens of Love & Beauty are old women now or under the sod & the good Knights are—so many of them—dust—cinererque sine nomen” [and are as ashes without name].
May 23rd 1919



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