James River at New Canton, photo by Joanne Yeck
My ancestor, Charles S. Saunders worked as a tailor in New Canton, Buckingham County. He married a planter’s daughter, Elizabeth Holman Chambers, and, eventually, took over a large portion of her father’s farm at Chambers’ Mills.
Here is a brief description of New Canton, as Charles Saunders knew it when he set up shop:
From The Gazetteer of Virginia (c. 1834)
New Canton, Post Village, in the northern part of the county, 63 miles west of Richmond and 138 from Washington, D.C., situated at the mouth of Slate Creek, on an elevated bank about a fourth of a mile from James River, commanding a beautiful perspective view down the river. It was once a place of considerable trade, but has been for sometime rapidly declining. It contains thirty-six dwelling houses, three mercantile stores, one tavern, one flour manufacturing mill, one tan yard, and one saddler. A Free House of worship is situated a mile from New Canton. . . .
New Canton has one attorney and one physician. Population 50.
By 1843, the town will also boast a tailor, Charles S. Saunders.
To be continued….
Courtesy Gordon G. Ragland, Jr., Maxey/Patteson Family Collection
Mary Louise “Lulie” Patteson is best remembered for her dedication to preserving the history of Buckingham County. Her long memory of people and places helped inform the Virginia Historical Inventory surveys recorded in the 1930s by Garnett Williams and Elizabeth McCraw. Her contributions to regional newspapers, particularly Charlottesville’s The Daily Progress and The Farmville Herald, were enjoyed and clipped by many devoted readers.
Miss Lulie was also a school teacher. In about 1897, after completing her education at Well Water School, she took the state board examinations for teachers. Her high scores earned her a “first grade” certification; however, this classification was reserved for teachers over twenty years of age, with a minimum of ten consecutive school months’ experience. Lulie was initially given a “second grade” certification instead, intended for competent, but inexperienced, teachers. With her “second grade” certification, Lulie could teach only in Buckingham County and work was scarce.
“On my 18th birthday,” she remembered, “I applied for a teaching position and was finally given a two months job at a school they were planning to close. My pay was $40 for the two months. I gave mother $35 and kept $5 for myself. It was difficult to obtain any teaching positions, I did not teach again until I was 21. At that time, I became assistant principal and teacher at Well Water School.”
For more about the life of Lulie Patteson, consult “Miss Lulie Patteson: Early Buckingham Historian,” in “At a Place Called Buckingham.”
Courtesy Jeremy Winfrey and Virginia Historical Society
Buckingham history is scattered everywhere!
An account between William Hill Winfrey and George Hocker of Hocker’s mill has survived and is contained in the Allen Papers, housed at the Virginia Historical Society.
Dated 1840-1843, it shows that “Winfree” purchased bran, flour, wool, and wood at Hocker’s Mill. Hocker also backed Winfree’s note to John Jenkins, due June 13, 1842, for $15.91.
Slate River Mills, rebuilt after 1905
Courtesy of Historic Buckingham
Hocker’s Mill, also known as Slate River Mills, was the subject of a very brief Virginia Historical Survey written by Garnett Williams. She located the mills at 1.9 miles south of Dillwyn; however, sometimes Mrs. Williams confused her directions. The mills are actually north of Dillwyn.
The original mill, owned over the years by the Hocker, Dowdy, Anderson, and LeSueur families, burned in 1905. One of the first water-turned mills in Buckingham County, Garnett wrote that it had been a very large, well-constructed building. The mill that replaced it burned in the 1940s.
In 1860, George Hocker reported proceeds for his grist mill, where he processed 15,000 bushels of wheat (worth $18,000) and 10,000 bushels of corn (worth $10,000). He employed three men at the mill. In 1870, Hocker reported earnings from both a grist mill and a saw mill. He worked at the saw mill and had four additional men in his employment.
Maysville Presbyterian Church, Courtesy Historic Buckingham
In 1856, when William H. Wilson advertised his intended sale of Oakley, he emphasized the farm’s proximity to Maysville and Buckingham Courthouse. This made the plantation an excellent choice for a professional working in the village or for a farmer desiring a ready market for his produce.
. . . The propinquity of the flourishing and delightful village of Maysville, affords a regular and sure market for milk, butter, poultry, and indeed, everything that can be furnished from the garden, dairy or stock, as well as a regular demand for from fifty to one hundred cords of fire wood.
The facilities of getting the crops to market are very great. Slate River is only one mile from the Farmville Plank Road, approaches within six miles of the place, and Hocker’s large manufacturing mills are only six miles distant, and the estate is most convenient to church, mill, and to the blacksmith’s shop.
One of the convenient churches was Maysville Presbyterian.
Coming Next: Hocker’s Mill
American Farm Scenes No. 3 (1853, by Fanny Palmer
In 1856, something was stirring in Buckingham County.
A significant number of valuable Buckingham farms and other businesses were advertised for sale in the Richmond newspapers. Did sellers attempt to take advantage of a strong market? Did they anticipate a dip? Was the climate in Buckingham shifting towards increasing industry, making those properties more valuable? Did the political battles over the Kansas Territory concern Buckingham County slaveholders? Was it just coincidental?
Among these advertisements was this one for Oakley placed by the owner, William H. Wilson:
VALUABLE BUCKINGHAM LAND FOR SALE
If not previously sold I will offer for sale at public auction, on the premises, on TUESDAY, the 2nd day of September next, my tract of land called OAKLEY, lying within one mile of Buckingham Court House, and containing about 600 acres.
It is seldom that so pleasant and desirable a residence, either for a private or professional gentleman, is offered for sale. It lies in one of the most healthy, wealthy and intelligent neighborhoods in the State. The situation is very elevated and beautiful, commanding an extensive view of the range of Blue Ridge Mountains, and of many of the fine plantations on Slate River. The improvements are sufficient for the accommodation of a large family, white and black, and in good repair, with an excellent ice house, all necessary outhouses, and an abundance of excellent spring water….
There is also a good mill seat on the estate, at which a mill once stood.
Coming Next: Maysville in 1856
In 1832, Daniel Guerrant advertised his tavern near Buckingham Courthouse for rent or lease. He is likely the same man who married the widow Elizabeth (Putney) Moseley. His offer read as follows:
FOR RENT OR LEASE – My Tavern in Maysville, at Buckingham Court-house; the buildings are spacious and well calculated for a public house. There is attached to the Tavern a convenient family house, and the other necessary out buildings, a well of excellent water and an extensive garden; the stables contains upwards of fifty stalls, situated at a convenient distance from the Tavern, on a lot of one and a half acres of ground. I would rent or lease the property for one or more years, as may best suit a tenant, and give possession on the first day of January next.
Maysville, August 31.
Is this the same tavern operated by a man named Daniel Guerrant in 1805 and 1811? Guerrant also held ordinary licenses in 1829, 1830, and 1831. Was one of his establishments called the Raleigh?
From more about Guerrant’s tavern(s), see Thomas Jefferson Slept Here