Monument to Elder Poindexter P. Smith (1793-1845)
Fork Union Baptist Church Cemetery, Fluvanna County, Virginia
Courtesy Find a Grave
In the early 1820s, Baptist minister Rev. Poindexter Patteson Smith was ordained and devoted himself to churches in Buckingham, Fluvanna, and Cumberland counties. They included Mulberry Grove and Buckingham Baptist. Each month, he traveled eighty miles on horseback to serve his congregations. He was pastor of Chestnut Grove Baptist Church from 1835 to 1845, the year of his death.
In 1840, Rev. Smith conducted a school in northeastern Buckingham County. That year he enrolled fifteen scholars; his neighbor, Elijah G. Hanes, taught thirty-eight pupils at nearby Humanity Hall Academy.
Rev. Smith came late to his own education. According to biographer James Barnett Taylor:
Having entered the ministry, and being conscious of the deficiency of his early education, he connected himself with a school in the vicinity of his residence, devoting himself chiefly to the study of English grammar. He afterwards taught school. . . . The need of due preparation for the work of preaching the gospel was felt. “I would recommend,” he afterwards said, “all young ministers to strain every point to obtain a good education. I speak from a knowledge of the want of it.”
Was Rev. Smith an adult pupil of Elijah G. Hanes at Humanity Hall Academy? It was certainly in “the vicinity” of Smith’s Buckingham farm.
If a Slate River Ramblings reader knows more about Rev. Smith’s school and/or his education, please comment.
Chestnut Grove Baptist Church, Courtesy Historic Buckingham
Nineteen Buckingham County churches were referred to in Thomas Baldwin’s Gazetteer of the United States (1854). Thus far, fourteen likely candidates have been identified. Here’s number fifteen — Chestnut Grove Baptist Church.
In 1828, the Appomattox Association minutes recorded the first official meeting of Chestnut Grove Baptist Church. In 1831, the congregation of thirty-one members joined with other Buckingham County churches in the James River Association.
Over the years, the church building has been expanded. Today, the original building is the sanctuary.
Two volumes of the church’s records, covering 1881-1950, are available on microfilm at the Library of Virginia.
To read previous posts featuring Buckingham’s mid-19th century churches, just type Thomas Baldwin in the search box and enjoy the results!
Coming next: Rev. Poindexter P. Smith, pastor, Chestnut Grove Baptist Church.
Ridley Moseley Harriss was born in Buckingham County in 1812 and died there in 1901. The daughter of William C. Harris, Jr. and Judith (Grizzle Harris), in 1835, Ridley stitched a sampler, signing her name with a double “ss.” Filling out the alphabet line, she included her initials. Beneath them, she placed the initials W.B.M. (See sampler below.)
Who was W.B.M.? A cousin? A suitor? Her intended husband?
At twenty-three, Ridley might have been eager to marry; however, she remained a spinster.
In a letter dated April 30, 1847, written by William D. Spencer of Buckingham to his Uncle Levi, Spencer wrote, “tell Ridley there is a young man in my acquaintance over here that wants to see her very bad I think and she had better come over in search of him as he does not know the way so far from home as to come to see her.”
Levi was Ridley’s brother and, at the time, she lived with him in Charlotte County. Did Ridley pursue the ardent young man? If so, nothing came of it. In 1853, she returned to Buckingham and, on April 5th, married James Monroe Flood, a widower with seven young children. At forty-one, she had her work cut out for her.
Can a Slate River Ramblings reader help identify the mysterious W.B.M.? If so, please comment.
Many thanks to Fran Harris-Hill for sharing Ridley Moseley Harriss’ story.
Dixie, Courtesy Historic Buckingham
In 1937, Rosa G. Williams described “Dixie Hill” (a.k.a. Dixie) for the Virginia Historical Inventory. Once owned by Jack Jones, it was purchased in 1872 by Rev. John Spencer, who is buried on the place.
Mrs. Williams located the house 2.8 miles south of Buckingham Court House, on Route 638, thence 0.8 miles on private road to the house. Her description reads in part:
The old house is in very good condition. There are nine rooms, and it is thought that six were built originally, and that three were added later. There is a little enclosed porch or hallway between these rooms. There are four large closets; some have said that one of the largest closets was used by Mr. Jones, as a wine closet, as he was said to have been a very heavy drinker. There are three very large fireplaces. The rooms are all plastered, and have wainscoting about twenty two inches wide. The house was constructed of heart pine, and put together with wooden pegs and shop-made nails. The roof was originally shingled, and the shingles were put on with wooden pegs. In 1892 the shingles were taken off, and slate put on. That is the only repair work that has been done to this house since it has been in the Spencer Family.
The old kitchen was torn down about 1920. It is said that the fireplace in the old kitchen was long enough to use a six foot log.
Philip W. McKinney
In 1899, Hampden-Sydney College’s student publication, Kaleidoscope, printed a tribute to the distinguished alumnus, Philip W. McKinney (1832-1899). Born in Buckingham County, McKinney served as Governor of Virginia from 1890-1894.
The memorial article was written by Thomas J. Garden who had known McKinney since college days. To Garden, McKinney was “Phil,” a humble, diffident, and refined boy from Buckingham County. Garden wrote:
To say that he was born May 1st, 1832, and died March 1st, 1899, is all that he would wish to be said about him. Such was his aversion to praise, and so retiring was he in the sweetness of his nature that he shrank from any demonstrations of display made in his honor….
Educated at an old-field school at New Store, his home and native place in Buckingham County, Virginia, by good instructors he early was prepared for college and it was at Hampden-Sidney that the writer had the privilege and the honor of first knowing his classmate Phil W. McKinney,—a diffident blushing youth of seventeen, gentle in manner, courteous to all, fluent and attractive in conversation, a good speaker and such were his oratorical gifts that he easily carried off the prize as best speaker in our graduating class of 1851. While at college, I had the best of opportunities to know Phil McKinney. We often prepared our recitations together, took long walks in the groves and around the campus grounds, and after we left college he induced me to take a school at New Store and I lived in the same room with him for years and I can say neither at college nor during all these fifty years that have passed in which we have been thrown frequently together I have never known him to take even a drink of ardent spirits or utter an oath, or bet at a game of chance, and his language has been always chaste and refined. Of how many public men of these days can this truthfully be said?
Ruins of Shepherd’s Tavern (2010), Photo by Darlene Farmer
The February 10th post concerning Gen. Robert E. Lee’s camp in Buckingham County, located on the land of William Shepherd (Sheppard), generated some interesting discussion among readers of Slate River Ramblings.
Readers wondered if the oak tree described by Camm Patteson still standing at Lee Wayside. There is no historic marker identify such a tree. Today, the spot has a dozen or so thriving oaks. Any one of them might be Gen. Lee’s oak tree or its descendant.
Not far from the Lee Wayside, the chimneys of Shepherd’s Tavern still stand.
For more about Gen. Lee’s camp in Buckingham County see Rose Cottage.
Shaft mining in central Virginia, c. 1865 (Harper’s New Monthly Magazine)
On July 14, 1838, a letter to the Editor ran in the Washington D.C. newspaper, Madisonian, for the Country. It was in response to “extracts from the New York Gazette, on the subject of Gold Mines in Virginia.” The letter discusses several Buckingham County gold mines which were active in 1838 and was signed, simply, BUCKINGHAM.
Here’s what the correspondent had to say about the Morton mine:
The Morton mine has been opened by shafts . . . about one hundred feet deep – several veins cut – and the ores have been worked on a small scale, but with profit, for some three years. The motive power used in propelling the machinery is the water derived from a small creek, which was entirely insufficient, during most of last summer, to do anything. The veins are not very large, so far as opened, but they are sufficiently numerous and productive to justify the application of a considerable capital, and steam power, which is in contemplation by the proprietor. The present machinery consists of a Chilean mill, and stamps for crushing the rock, with the ordinary washers for separating the gold from the sands. This mine promises well, by good working, with proper machinery; but too little is done at present.
Want to learn more about Buckingham gold mines?
Put “gold” in the search box at Slate River Ramblings and enjoy the results!