Olivet Presbyterian Church

Olivet Presbyterian Church
Olivet Presbyterian Church from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The S.S. Chickahominy, Part I

From the Clyde to the James . . .

"The new steamship line of the Chesapeake and Ohio Newport News to Liverpool commenced its service September 9. An English company called the Chesapeake and Ohio Steamship Company Limited was organised through the efforts of officers of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad Company establish this line with a capital of $1,000,000 and $750,000 in five per cent debentures and the railroad company subscribed for $600,000 of the stock The contracts were let in 1892 for building six vessels for the line. Three of the ships Appomattox, Greenbrier, and Chickahominy are all being built at West Hartlepool They are 345 ft in length with cargo capacity 5,000 tons measurement and fittings for 550 head of cattle. The other three ships were built at Linthouse on Clyde and are named Rappahannock, Shenandoah, and Kanawha. They are 370 ft in length with cargo capacity of 6,785 tons measurement each and fittings for 770 head of cattle each. The Rappahannock is ready for service and the Appomattox is booked to sail from England in a few days. The six ships are expected to make weekly sailings from Newport News. This will allow six weeks for the round trip including the taking on and discharging of cargo. It is very probable that other ships will be added to the fleet but no arrangement has been made as yet for them. "

 -Railway News vol. 60, published 1893.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The "Baltimore Patriot" on White House- 1855

The below is excerpted from a contemporary report from the Richmond Dispatch . . .

The White House.-The house in which Gen. Washington was married, was in New Kent County, Va, and known as the White House. It has been demolished, and a new edifice occupies its site. A correspondent of the Baltimore Patriot writes:
"The White House as it now stands, on a slightly elevated bluff of the Pamunkey, it the conspicuous object of the country around. The site was selected with that controlling regard for the picturesque which is the characteristic of Eastern Virginia — But the building in its exterior is unpretending— to plainness. A stranger is slow, to realise that so rich in historic associations, this is also the mansion of
tract of 8000 acres, busy with 130 negroes, and an annual yield in wheat alone of 11,000 bushels— Yet it is not by the exterior that a stranger is to judge of the Old Dominion.

"Washington married at 27. As the widow of John Parke Custis, Mrs. Washington was entitled to one-third of the New Kent estate, and forty-five pounds stirling, the remaining two thirds being  divided between her two children, a son and daughter -the grandson, George P. Curtis, of Arlington, is the present proprietor of the White House estate."

"As a matter of general interest to our readers in tide-water Virginia, we would state, in connection with the above notice, that a line of stages will shortly be established on the route between Richmond and the White House. Thence passengers can take passage in the York River steamers for any landing in King and Queen, Gloucester, James City, York, or for other points, and avid the round about way which they are now forced to adopt. In some future number of our paper, we propose to embody some facts that we have collected with regard to the country bordering on York river, which cannot fail to prove interesting.

 -The Daily Dispatch(Richmond), March 21, 1855

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Hard Times- 1854

HAVING sold my farm in the County of New Kent, I will offer for sale, at public auction, on TUESDAY, the 28th day of the present month, (November,) commencing at 10 o'clock, (if fair, if not, the next fair day.) all the Crops, Stock and Farming Implements of every kind on the place, consisting of between 500 and 600 barrels of Corn, Blade and Top Fodder. Shucks. Hay, Sheaf and Seed Oats, Wheat and Oat Straw: Horses and Mules the most of them young and large; Cows Oxen, Hogs, &c; Farming Implements of every kind; together with one first rate Threshing Machine; two Wheat Fans nearly new; one Corn Sheller; one Cutting Box; one Grind Stone; two Penitentiary made Wagons(???); two Ox Carts: Horse Cart; Whip and Cross Cut Saws; Carpenters' Tools, &c.
TERMS OF SALE.—All sums under $20, cash: that amount and over, six months credit, the purchaser giving bond with approved security.
       no2o—td*         JOHN GEORGE.

of the personal Estate, advertised by John George, Esq., (say 10 o'clock,) will be sold, the valuable Farm recently owned by him, containing 1096 acres, according to recent survey. It lies on the main road leading from Richmond to New Kent Court House, 15 miles distant from the former. The place is so well known, and its productiveness as a farm so well established, that a further description is deemed unnecessary. The present owners having changed their determination with respect to settling, prefer to sell it.

The terms accommodating, and made known at the hour of sale.

    GODDIN & APPERSON, Auctioneers.

P.S. Immediately after the sale of the Land, and before the sale of the perishable Estate, will be sold 24 valuable Slaves,belonging to John George, Esq —Among them are some valuable men, boys and girls,and all of them, with two exceptions, are young and likely.
Terms- Six months credit, for approved, endorsed negotiable note, with interest added.
 no 21                        GODDIN & APPERSON, Aucts.

Mr. GEORGE having concluded not to sell the Negroes, they will not be offered, as advertised                               GODDIN & APPERSON. Aucts.
no 23       

 -The Daily Dispatch(Richmond), November 22, 1854

 . . . BUT . . .

NEGROES FOR HIRE —For hire for the remainder of the and for the next year, 6 men, good farm hands, drivers and managers of horses; 4 boys, from 10 to 14 years of age, and 2 girls, one about 14 and the other about 11 years old; the last will be put out to a good home for food and clothing. Also one old man, who would be very useful about a stable in cutting and preparing feed for horses. Apply to the subscriber on Marshall, near 3d Street.                            de3—3t*                JOHN GEORGE.

-The Daily Dispatch(Richmond), December 11, 1854

According to the 1850 Census, John George owned some 27 slaves in New Kent.
I assume that this is the John George resident in the city of Richmond at the time living on the corner of 3rd and Marshall, son of Major Byrd George and Mary Garthright. John George would die in November of the following year.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

A County's Records Lost To Fire . . . And It's Not New Kent.

The following piece might seem of peripheral interest to those interested in New Kent history, but beside the physical proximity there is the fact that King William County was formed out of King and Queen County in 1702 which itself had been part of New Kent until 1691.

And it shows how county records could be lost to fire even in the post-bellum era.


King William County-Clerk's Office Burnt on Sunday Morning. The clerk's office of King William County Court was destroyed by fire about 6 o'clock Sunday morning with all the records and papers of the County and Circuit courts. Nothing was saved.
Mr. Winston, the clerk of both courts, was in the city yesterday buying new books, &c., and he states his belief that the fire was the work of an incendiary. A window-blind usually kept closed was found open when the fire was first seen, and this, with other circumstances, he thinks removes the probability of an accidental fire. There were no stoves used in the building. The heating was done by the use of wood in a big open fire-place, in front of which there was a hearth near about five feet square. Mr. Winston's deputy was the last to leave the place Saturday night, and he informs Mr. Winston that he left the fire very low. The fire seems to have broken out on the lower floor, and when discovered was far beyond control.
The building was of brick, two stories high, and covered with slate, It had been burnt once before (about 1840), but then most of the records were saved. It was insured for $1,200 in the Virginia Fire and Marine Insurance Company, and that sum will go a considerable ways towards replacing it; but the loss of records is irreparable. Many of these dated back to 1715, and with them were evidences of debt, deeds and deed-books, and business paper that cannot be replaced, and which will entail a world of trouble upon the people of the county. There was no fire-proof safe for the keeping of precious records.
The loss is complete.
Mr. Winston estimates his own loss in evidences of debt and other property, at |$2,500, All the deeds, except one sent to his house, had been put on record, but originals, by hundreds, were burnt with the books.
There are plenty of other counties in the State with papers of equal value as poorly protected against fire as was King William. Well would it be if they took warning from her misfortune.

-The Richmond Dispatch, January 20, 1885

(Oh, and I'm sure the open fire left unattended over night had nothing to with the loss.)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

"Beneath the Stately Pines"

The Burial-Place of Rev. David Mossom and His Wife.
On the south shore of the historical Chickahominy river, near Providence Forge, there is a colonial grave-yard. It is about an acre in area and is covered with forest trees, some of which are very large. In fact, the old grave-yard is overgrown with virgin pines. The undergrowth is so dense as to make it next to an impossibility to discover a grave or grave-stone. The indications go to show that at some remote period a house or building once stood in this locality. Feasibly it was a church. There it only one grave marked, which is a slab of Portland stone, and on which is distinctly discernible the following epitaph:
"Here lyeth interred the body of Elizabeth, late wife of the Rev'd Mr.David Mossom, rector of the parish of St. Peter, in New Kent county, and daughter of Henry Soane Gent. She departed this life April 2, 1759 in the 55th, year of her age."
This was the wife of Rev. David Mossom, who performed the marriage ceremony for General George Washington, in St. Peter's church, New Kent county, January 6, 1759. He was a Cambridge scholar. Starling is the estate on which the old grave-yard is. It has been owned by the Jerdones since 1771 and now includes 3,000 acres of land. John Smith was caught by the Indians in this vicinity, and it is supposed that in the same locality Pocahontas saved the life of the historic John.
It is presumed that Rev. Mossom is buried beside the grave of his wife, and it is a fitting spot- this sanctuary beneath the stately pines- for the last long resting places of the good old divine and hi beloved helpmate.The soughing of the pines chant a continual requiem for the dead and the  still waters of the old Indian Chickahominy sooth the "dull, cold ear of death."

-Richmond Dispatch., February 05, 1893

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Sheridan March 1865- "Hams Tied to Their Saddles"

The following 1873 testimony is from the case of Henry B. Masters of New Kent before the Southern Claims Commission. The Southern Claims Commission was designed in the early 1870's to ". . .allow Union sympathizers who had lived in the Southern states during the American Civil War . . . to apply for reimbursements for property losses due to US Army confiscations during the war."

This claim brought by Henry B. Masters is actually over the property of his father, Stephen B. Masters, deceased by 1873. Henry Masters was born in the North and according to his testimony spent the entire war there, except for one abortive trip to Virginia in 1861(though he was not so much a Northern man that he ever served in the Union army). Henry Masters being absent at the time of raid  and Stephen Masters dead, the claim relied on the eyewitness testimonies of various of Stephen's "servants." The testimony was given in Richmond, Virginia, before M.F. Pleasants, Clerk of  the United States Circuit Court of the Eastern District of Virginia, April 4, 1873

Thereupon, The said. . . .Joseph Burrell(colored). . . being, about the age of. . . . 48 years, by occupation a . . .farmer. . . .and resident of the. . . .the. . . .county of . . . .New Kent. . . .and State of Virginia, having been by me first cautioned and sworn to testify the truth, the whole truth and nothing, but the truth, in the matter of the claim aforesaid, I did carefully examine, apart from all the other witnesses named in this case, and he did thereupon depose, testify and say, as follows, viz:

I was a slave during the war & hired to Stephen B. Masters the father of the of the claimant from 1862 till the end of the war, & after that till now- I am now living with his son, the claimant- I haven't left the place since 1862- I was living on the place all through the war from the time of McClellan's advance till now. The property was taken in the Spring of the year but I can't tell what year it was- It was towards the end of the war. The soldiers who took the property were all cavalry- they said they were Sheridan's men. They stopped from morning till night but did not camp all night. I saw them take 14 hogs. They killed them all on the place- 6 were full grown & the rest were shoats. I saw them drive away two cows- they were full grown. I did not see the fowls taken or the meat. I was not at the house. But I saw the soldiers have the hams tied to their saddles. I couldn't say how many but I could think at least 20. I saw the corn taken. We had shelled & measured 100 bushels, & put it away in the dwelling house- that was all carried off in bags. We had put away 111 bushels in the ear in the crib. We has used about half of that & it was all taken, every bit. I saw the two guns, a double barreled gun & a rifle after they were broken of their stocks & utterly ruined. I saw a good, new citizens saddle carried off. We had portable steam engine for cutting  wood that was very much damaged. I saw a barrel of apple brandy entirely used up. I think it held 10 barrels. I did not see the things taken out of the house, but I was there just after the soldiers left & I know the sheets & bedding, knives & forks & all such were taken. The house was cleaned out. The potatoes & turnips were under my charge. A large quantity if potatoes were taken but I can't say now how many. I am sure upwards of 50 bushels of Rutabaga turnip were taken. They were all(potatoes & turnips) put away in the cellar.
The soldiers took away everything they wanted. The officers seemed as bad as the men. They did not burn any fences or buildings & they hurt nobody. After they were gone, there was nothing left to eat. This was done by Sheridan's men, in the Spring & it was the last time any soldiers were there.

                      Joseph  Burrell         his  X  mark
                      witness M.F. Pleasants

Friday, April 3, 2015

Sheridan March 1865- The Last Campaign V

Sheridan's Grand March Across The Peninsula from the Pamunkey To the James.

 [Correspondence of the New York Tribune.]

Jones Landing, James River (Va.), March 20th.— daylight in the morning the valley of the Pamunkey was a scene of activity and preparation for the day's march, the cavalry hosts, in response to the trumpet calls, being gradually formed into line. Boon the variegated battle-flags of the regiments were streaming over the wooded hills that overlook the Old White House estate. General Custer's mounted veterans led the van, the winding horns of his buglers making the vernal woods resonant with their melodies.
The march was onward, mid stirring martial music, fluttering banners, the songs of Spring birds and the aromatic air of the bud. hug forest, through former scenes of conflict and disaster, to the historic banks of the James. Two days' march, with three days' rations in saddle-pouches and grain sacks, was expected to mingle the mounted heroes of the valley with their infantry comrades and compatriots of the Potomac and the James for the grand final conflict.
On the hill immediately overlooking the old White House estate on the road leading out to the New Kent and Charles City road, we passed the ruins of what had been a very old residence, on a very fine site. Nothing remained of the buildings except the brick chimneys and the ruins of a few old log out-houses. A decaying peach orchard, on the side of the hill toward the White House, the trees of which continue to blossom even in their old age, was completely overgrown with the cedar trees indigenous to the soil. From this place, on the hill, we had a fine view of the Pamunkey Valley below, and the wagon-train and the last of the troops gradually falling into line, and the last of the steamers, except one gunboat left as rear guard, winding down the deep, meandering Pamunkey.

Was most delightful, over a moist sandy road, for the most part spacious, winding over wooded hill and dale and cultivated plain, across rushing mill streams and babbling brooks. In passing through the variegated forest, particularly embellished by the green cedar and the red-berried laurel, and an occasional clump of rosebushes, red-berried, and containing a last year's bird's nest, by the roadside, I confess a disposition to loiter, and gather for those romantic humanitarians, Mrs. Rev. Dr. Hutter and Miss Louise Eglantine Claghorn, of Philadelphia, another bouquet of battle-field forest foliage to sell at a grand Sanitary Fair, as a present for the President or somebody else, for the benefit of our brave soldiers.
These attractions, together with those of an occasional neatly cut bank exposing primeval geological strata for examination, required a stoicism to resist them that I confess I was hardly master of. Once or twice I did fall out of line to gather a few specimens, botanical and geological, but I found it so difficult to regain my position again in Sheridan's lumbering cavalry that I made up my mind to resist the temptation to letter. It is about twenty miles from the White House across the Peninsula, to Wilcox's Landing, on the James river. This distance, except about a mile and a half on the West End, we made on the 24th, the column all getting into camp, within our lines, near Mrs. Wilcox's place before dark, without having seen or heard of an enemy. The country through which we passed has evidently once been one of the finest and most highly cultivated regions In the State, particularly from the Chickahominy to the James. We passed many fine plantations bearing unmistakable signs of former magnificence, but which now wore the appearance of being almost deserted. No gangs of slaves could be seen tilling them as in former days. We passed one church and one mill on the road, the latter on a fine stream of water, and both apparently in a good state of repair, but the occupation of both seemed to be gone. The grass was springing up in the gateway of the former, and the dust of many days apparently had settled upon the overshot water wheel of the latter.
At one place on the road, in New Kent county, we exchanged a magnificent war panorama for a single beautiful tableau— is, a good-looking lady came down to the gate with her pretty daughter and little son to see the column pass. They naturally took rather an artistic position, and showed by their manifestations that they had the intelligence to not be afraid of the Yankees, and to appreciate the glorious American Union for which they were fighting. These were about the only Caucasian women that we saw on the route.

We found the pontoon bridge all right across the Chickahominy, spanning two different channels, and guarded by a piece of our artillery and a portion of General Dodge's infantry. The historic Chickahominy was pretty high, and brought up in our minds many associations of the old Peninsular campaign and subsequent marches. At William Jordan's fine place, on the west bank of the Chickahominy, we were presented with another tableau on the hillside, near the road, this time on a larger scale and of another color, consisting of ebony old men and ebony women, old and young, and children of the same, here thrown in promiscuously, Yankee admirers and Union and Liberty appreciators.
The march to-day from Mrs. Wilcox's place, a mile and a half from James river, up along the Charles City road, via General Ord's headquarters, and his pontoon bridge to this place, was not so pleasant as that or yesterday, the road not being so good, etc., but was not without interest.
A grand inception was given to General Sheridan's braves by the Army of the James, on our entrance into General Ord's lines. The frowning, bristling battlements swarmed with his men, coming out to meet and welcome the recognized heroes of the valley.
The bands of the forts struck up stirring martial airs, which were responded to by the bands of the cavalry host. Old comrades recognized each other after long separation, and fell upon each other's shoulders and wept of sheer joy at the grand reunion.
The pontoon bridge across the James, through which the River Queen, the Margaret Washington and the George Steers had just passed, was soon swung into position, and the trampling host were seen winding down the hills on the north side, across the river, over the valleys, and up the hills on the south side of the James, where, at this writing, they are going into camp, for probably a two days stay , previous to further important operations.