State Highway Marker

State Highway Marker

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

1863: Sunken Mules and Quick-Pig

An excerpt from Thirteenth Regiment of New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865: A Diary Covering Three Years and a Day by S. Millett Thompson (Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1888)


July 8(1863). Wed. Hot; heavy showers. Reg. marches at 6 a.m. to New Kent Court House and about six miles beyond. Distance twelve miles. Roads one mass of mud. Two wagons are mired in one place, cannot be extricated and are burned. The worst roads and worst mud we ever saw. As we march to-day over a bad corduroy road, old, rotten and strewn with army waste, a big darkey, leading a mule, gets off the road with his charge and into a deep slough. The darkey is rescued with a pole, but the mule goes down down, until his ears and sorry countenance are alone visible- a sudden struggle, a gulp or two, and a few bubbles are the last signs of the mule. The darkey's sole comment, given with a scared grin, was: "I, golly! Done gone forebber!" as he plainly saw how he himself might also have gone under, but for that pole and a few strong men. The Thirteenth are all placed on picket, tonight as rear-guard, and forage far and wide for something good to eat. 
During the first halt, near New Kent Court House, of scarcely half an hour and in a pouring rain, some of the men have a lunch of 'quick-pig.' They had caught him a mile or two back, had knocked him on the head and partly dressed him while they marched. Instantly upon halting the pig is cut into very thin slices and distributed, a fire is built- of dry wood found in some wood-shed by the way, rolled in a rubber blanket and lugged may be for a mile or more- the thin slices of meat are rolled in salt, put on a green stick, and broiled in the fire. When a dozen veteran soldiers start upon an affair of this kind, a halt of ten or fifteen minutes suffices to furnish them with a hearty meal.
After this first halt, the 13th moves a little way to drier land near some buildings, and remains there for nearly two hours. Then marches about four hours to make six miles; the teams in the train, we are guarding, sticking fast in the mud at every few rods. We are marching to Hampton as a convoy to the wagon train. 



Monday, May 8, 2017

"Regarded As One f the Most Interesting Seventeenth Century Structures . . ."

                                     



                                         Historical Markers Placed in New Kent

Historical markers are now being placed in New Kent County, particularly along Highway No. 451, which follows the old county road, according to Dr. H.J. Eckenrode, head of the history division of the State Conservation and Development Commission.
Among the places being marked are the "White House," once the home of Mrs. Martha Custis, who became the wife of George Washington, and later the property of General W.H.F. Lee, son of General Robert E. Lee; old St. Peter's Church, regarded as one of the most interesting seventeenth century structures in the state; "Eltham," once a famous estate; and Eltham's Landing, the scene of a skirmish in the War Between the States. A new marker is to be placed at New Kent Courthouse.

-Richmond Times-Dispatch, March 27, 1931



Tuesday, May 2, 2017

OIL IN NEW KENT.
Four Inch Stream Forced, Out of Limb of a Tree. 
(Special to The Times-Dispatch) 
ROXBURY, VA., April 4.— Near the famous Long Bridge that spans the historic Chickahominy Swamp, a quarter of a mile from Roxbury, is a huge cypress tree which leans over the swamp. About thirty feet from the ground is a large limb, which extends over the main stream, and forced through this limb by some hidden power is a four-inch stream of pure oil. The surface of the water is covered with oil, and fears for the fish are apprehended, as the oil floats down the stream for many miles. 
Mr. M.C. Talley*, who discovered it, says he attempted to get to the limb from which it spouted to catch some of the fluid to have it tested, but the water was so high that the attempt was futile. Were the oil comes from or what it will prove to be is a mystery. The tree stands over the land of Mr. Robert Taylor, who a few years bought it from the heirs of the late John T. Harris†. Mr. Taylor, who is an expert in coal mining, which business he followed in the far West before casting his fortunes in the Sunny South, believes there is coal oil on his farm. If such proves a fact, the farm that cost $3,000 a few years ago will go up into millions. The place where the tree stands is famous place for crowds of fisherman from Richmond, and it will be learned with interest by the anglers who frequent this place all summer and fall that the sport they love so well at this hallowed spot is a thing of the past.
The pressure that forces that oil up the tree through a hollow for thirty feet and out through the limb is necessarily enormous.

- Times Dispatch, April 5, 1904


* I believe this is actually Nathaniel C. Talley.

† In 1890 Robert Taylor bought the farm, "Soldier's Rest," from the heirs of John T. Harris.



A look at the time of year when this was published might shed light on this strange story. 😃




Friday, April 21, 2017

100 Years Ago- From School to War,1917-


Fired by accounts of German atrocities and disappointed in missing a train. John Stone, principal of the high school at Quintin(sic). New Kent County, walked twenty miles Saturday night and presented himself at the recruiting station in Richmond yesterday morning as a candidate for any fighting the government might, have for him. He was not eligible for enlistment in the active service on account of being  more than thirty years old, but he was enrolled in the coast-defense reserve. He left Richmond by train yesterday afternoon to finish his term of teaching at Quinton before putting on the uniform.

-Richmond Times-Dispatch, April 9 1917



Wednesday, April 12, 2017

School Report of 1839- Part II

Some more information pertinent to the early "public" schools of New Kent post of April 2.

A)The post mentioned the "200 poor children in county." The 1840 Census luckily breaks down by race, sex and age. To give you and idea of what percentage of the county's children were considered poor. Looking at school age children, for New Kent it gives a total of 359 white males aged 5 through 14, and 307 females the same age.(The school system of course was only available to whites.)

B)Some background on the public school system, such as it was, of the time.
Charity or Public Schools-  . . . The lack of funds, as we have seen, was the cause of the failure of Jefferson's [education] plan of 1796, and this law[school law of 1810] said that all money coming into the state treasury from fines, forfeitures and certain other sources should be set aside to provide schools for the poor children in every county. The money thus set aside was called the "Literary Fund." In 1816 the money loaned by Virginia to the United States government in 1812 to help carry on the war with Great Britain was repaid to Virginia, and the General Assembly added this money, amounting to over $1,200,000, to the Literary Fund. Beginning in 1818 $45,000 each year was paid out of the interest on this fund for schools. Later on the amount increased as more fines came in. 
Only the children of poor white people could get the benefit of this money. In 1825 for instance, 10,226 children went to these schools; in 1851 31,486 were sent, and in 1859 54,232 were sent, the money coming annually from the fund for the schools being about $160,000. The schools were charity schools and wrongly called public schools. They were open only about three months in the year and nothing but reading writing and arithmetic were taught. Especially in the eastern section of Virginia it was considered a disgrace to be so poor as to have to go to the "public schools" and long after they had ceased to be charity schools and had become schools for all classes, rich and poor alike, and good enough for the richest as well as the poorest boy and girl, the "public school" was looked down upon in some parts of Virginia because the old idea of charity school still stuck.   

-School History of Virginia- Edgar Sydenstricker, Ammen Lewis Burger-1914




Sunday, April 2, 2017

School Report of 1839

ABSTRACT OF SCHOOL COMMISSIONERS REPORTS FOR THE YEAR 1839 
NEW KENT- The teachers patronized by the school commissioners are of good moral character and qualifications. The children progress as well as children generally do and some beyond mediocrity The school commissioners take the liberty of suggesting an opinion, that if the price of tuition were raised to six cents per day, more good might be done. Most of the common school teachers would not take them in their schools, but for philanthropic feelings, and the more efficient teachers, who reject them now, might be induced to take them in their schools.

-9 common schools
-200 poor children in county
-56 attending per diem
-5384 days attended
-rate of tuition 4 cents a day
-$250.88 annual expenditure 




Saturday, March 25, 2017

Play Ball


     Base-ball and Commencement Exercises
           [For the Dispatch.
The people of New Kent and James City counties had the pleasure of witnessing at Barhamsville on Tuesday the 13th one of the finest games of ball ever played in this section, it was between the West Point and Lofty Academy clubs. The academy boys won by a score of 6 to 5, Mr. Diggs, of the Point, being umpire. 
The night following (14th) about six hundred persons assembled at Liberty church to witness the closing exercises of the academy. It was a most enjoyable occasion, such as Major Vaiden always gives, and the immense crowd present attest their popularity, Fauquier county carried off most of the prizes, Master E.L. Childs getting an elegant cup, while Messrs. Shumate, Holtzclaw, and Coates won beautiful premiums.       A PATRON

-  Richmond Dispatch- June 17, 1888