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January 27, 2022 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Houses: Montevideo

Courtesy University of Virginia

In 1937, Rosa G. Williams surveyed Montevideo for the Virginia Historical Inventory. She began by locating the property, 9 miles west of Buckingham Courthouse on Route 60, then 7.4 miles northwest on Route 56, then 5.1 miles on Route 601. The house sat to the east of the highway.

Established in 1785, Montevideo was also known as Repton. The owners, as determined by Mrs. Williams were: Col. Joseph Cabell, Jr. (1785), Gov. William Cabell (about 1810), Maj. Charles Yancey (1830), Mrs. Charles Morriss (1835), Walter Morriss (1890), and Mrs. Walter Morriss (1920, still the owner in 1937).

The original house burned during the Civil War and, Mrs. Williams remarked, it was said to have been one of the “finest homes” in the county. The side of the house overlooking the James River was made of glass, indicating a spectacular view.

The property carries with it some fascinating tales. Mrs. Williams wrote:

In the year 1785, Col. Joseph Cabell, Jr. moved to Buckingham from Amherst County, and settled on the James River near Warminster. He built a lovely home and named it “Repton”. A number of years later, he sold the place to Governor William Cabell, who changed the name to “Montevideo”. Maj. Charles Yancey won his estate from Governor Cabell in a card game, and gave it to his daughter, Mrs. Charles Morriss.

According to tradition, Mr. Morriss found one of the colored boys asleep while minding the cows, and tied him to a board for punishment. The child’s mother, who was a slave and maid in house, to retaliate, started a fire in the bureau drawers, which destroyed the whole house. The colored boy grew up to be a noted colored preacher.

After the fire, the family moved into the Overseer’s House. It still stands, and is occupied by the widow of Walter Morriss who inherited it from his mother, Mrs. Charles Morriss.

If a Slate River Ramblings reader knows more about the burning of the dwelling house at Montevideo, please comment.

For more about Montevideo, click here For Sale: Montevideo

January 20, 2022 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Notables: Lucy McKinney

In 1904, the Appomattox and Buckingham Times reported the death of Lucy McKinney, “a very worthy” colored woman who fell from a cherry tree, breaking her neck. The correspondent from Andersonville in Buckingham County offered these details: “She lived but a short time. She did not speak after the fall. She was buried today (June 27, 1904). The children in the North sent a telegram not to bury her until they came. She lived at the Merryman place, immediately on the road from this place to the courthouse.”

In 1900, Lucy McKinney (age 56) celebrated forty years of marriage. The mother of twelve children, seven still survived. Two sons, John and Pollard, lived with her and her husband, James (age 64). In 1880, the family was enumerated as “mulatto.”

Currently, James McKinney’s possible connection to the family of Governor Phillip McKinney is unknown.

If a Slate River Ramblings reader knows more about Lucy McKinney and her family, please comment.

January 13, 2022 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Notables: William J. Plauf

Following the January 6, 2022 post at Slate River Ramblings, Bob Flippen commented that the Appomattox and Buckingham Times had misidentified William J. Phaup as W. J. Phauk.  Click here to read the post: Buckingham Notables: S. R. Morris

Bob kindly gave permission to share his transcription of a much lengthier report in The Farmville Herald, published on August 11, 1894.

Mr. Phaup’s Mournful Death

August 11, 1894

Not in the memory of the writer has there occurred in this locality a more tragic and distressing death than the one which accidentally befell that good man, Mr. William J. Phaup, near Buckingham Springs late Saturday evening. Mr. Samuel R. Morris was hunting not many yards from the roadside and had just shot at a squirrel, Mr. Phaup rode up, with one of his little boys riding behind him on a horse. “Hello, Sam,” exclaimed Mr. Phaup, “I’ll bet you didn’t kill him!”

“Look up the tree and see,” replied “Sam”, at the same time breaking his gun to reload, and as he brought the stock and barrels together, one of the shells went off, the load entering Mr. Phaup’s left side, one or two shot taking effect in the little boys face. As soon as the shot was fired the mortally-wounded man reigned in the frightened horse and reeled in the saddle. Mr. Morris caught him, and let him down as easily as he could to the ground, and as this was being done he spoke his last and only words. They were: “Lord have mercy! My friend, you shot me to the heart and killed me.” It appears that one of the hammers to Mr. Morris’ gun would not stand half-cocked, and hence the premature discharge.

Mr. Morris leaned the dying man against a tree and as tenderly cared for him as it was possible under the circumstances, but he lived only two minutes. A colored boy, named Philip Gray, who witnessed the whole occurrence, was sent after a wagon, and the body taken a short distance to Buckingham Springs, from which place the awful news was dispatched to the family of the deceased, only a few miles off.

Mr. Morris then sent for Mr. P. M. Jones, who is a magistrate of that district, and requested a coroner’s inquest. A jury was at once summoned, and after the evidence of Mr. Morris, G. W. Carter (brother-in-law of Mr. Phaup) and the negro boy who saw the accident, render the following verdict: “We, the jury, find that William J. Phaup came to his death from a gunshot wound, caused by the accidental discharge of a gun in the hands of Samuel R. Morris, and we, the jury fully exonerates said Samuel R. Morris from all blame for the accident.”

The deceased leaves a wife and seven little children. He was the son of Mr. J. J. Phaup, who dropped dead on Main Street in this place last September, and the brother of Rev. Leroy J. Phaup, of the Virginia Methodist Conference.

Mr. Phaup was very highly thought of by not only the people of his immediate community but by all who knew him. He was a valued and valuable man, and the church, in which he was a useful officer, the neighborhood and the state lose an upright and worthy Christian and citizen in his untimely death.

The little son who was also shot at the time of his father’s accident, at last reports was doing very well, and it is hoped no serious results will come of his wound.

The funeral of Mr. Phaup occurred at 5 o’clock from Smyrna church, conducted by Rev. Mr. Proctor, the pastor, assisted by Rev. L. B. Spencer, of Lunenburg, and Rev. R. H. Bennett, of Farmville, and his remains laid to rest by the side of his father in the church yard cemetery. The procession was one of the largest ever seen in that county which attested the high regard in which the deceased was held by those who knew him. A large number of friends from Farmville attended the sad rites. The stricken and greatly bereaved widow and fatherless children, and the neighbor and friend from whose hands the heart-rending accident occurred, all have the unfeigned sympathy of good people.

Robert G. Flippen compiled two volumes of newspaper articles concerning Buckingham County which originally appeared The Farmville Herald: Historical Notes on Buckingham, 1890-1899 and Historical Notes on Buckingham, Volume II, 1900-1909.

To learn more, click here: Buckingham County News: The Farmville Herald

January 6, 2022 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Notables: S. R. Morris

Buckingham Springs (Courtesy Historic Buckingham)

On August 16, 1894, the Appomattox and Buckingham Times ran the following notice for a tragic death in Buckingham County:

A few days since Mr. S. R. Morris, of Buckingham Sulphur Springs, accidentally shot and killed Mr. W. J. Phauk.* Mr. Morris was squirrel hunting and had just killed a squirrel when Mr. Phauk rode up. Mr. Morris was using a breech loader and had put in another shell and was in the act of snapping the gun together again when the gun discharged, the charge striking Mr. Phauk in the heart, killing him almost instantly. Mr. Phauk was buried the following day at Smyrna Methodist Church of which he was a constant member. Mr. Phauk leaves, besides a wife and seven children, a mother and three brothers to mourn his ultimate end

*”Mr. W. J. Phauk” is William J. Phaup.

Click here to learn more about Smyrna Methodist Church.

For much more about the Morris family and Buckingham Sulphur Springs, please search the archive at Slate River Ramblings and consult “’Going to the Springs’ in Buckingham County” in my book, At a Place Called Buckingham,” Volume Two.

“At a Place Called Buckingham,” Volume Two is currently discounted online at Braughler Books.

December 30, 2021 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Crimes: Whiskey Leads to Murder, Part III

The Roanoke Times. Courtesy Virginia Chronicle.

Need to catch up? Click here: Buckingham Crimes: Whiskey Leads to Murder, Part I

On August 3, 1904, the Appomattox and Buckingham Times published news about the murder trial of John Henry Banks, “The trial of John Henry Banks indicated for the murder of John Brown consumed only an hour or two of the time of the court. The jury in a few minutes after retirement, returned with a verdict of murder in the first degree. The judge fixed upon September 30 as… [Illegible].”

Later, on August 24, 1904, the Times printed more about Banks’ fate, the details again submitted by correspondent Quoit.

The colored man Banks who is confined in jail, condemned to be hung on 30 September was visited in his cell by your correspondent… Banks was intently studying the contents of the book he held in his lap when you’re correspondent entered. I inquired as to what kind of book he was reading. He replied it was the Bible. I asked him if he realized that his time was short, and if he was ready to meet his Maker. He replied that he was ready. I then asked him to let me see the book he was reading. He handed it to me [illegible] …I then asked him if he knew that it not the Bible, and if he could read it all. He replied he could read a little, but did not know that the book he was reading was not the Bible. I told him I would send him a Bible if he would like to have one. I was informed that his fellow prisoner, Robert James, who is charged with felonious shooting, was at that time using the Bible and that he could have the use of one whenever he wanted one. He said that he had made his peace with God and was ready to go. But your correspondent was irresistibly impressed that he hardly recognized what he was saying.

John Henry Banks had nearly two months to consider his actions and repent before meeting his Maker.

On October 1, 1904, the Roanoke Times ran a brief statement concerning the hanging of John Henry Banks:

Murderer Pays Penalty.

Richmond, Virginia, September 30 —Special. — John Henry Banks, a negro, was hung at Buckingham Courthouse today the murder in July (sic) last of John Brown, also colored.


Readers are left with several questions. Did Elmore Eldridge survive? What was the grievance between John Henry Banks and Preston Eldridge? Did Banks, as the Roanoke Times suggested, also hold a grudge against John Brown?

December 23, 2021 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Crimes: Whiskey Leads to Murder, Part II

Appomattox and Buckingham Times. Courtesy Virginia Chronicle.

Need to catch up? Look here: Buckingham Crimes: Whiskey Leads to Murder, Part I

In June of 1904, John Henry Banks shot and killed John Brown in Buckingham County, leading to his immediate arrest. He blamed whiskey for stimulating his act of violence.

On June 29, 1904 the Appomattox and Buckingham Times ran an article written by correspondent Quoit who visited Banks in the Buckingham County jail.

The writer interviewed Banks in his cell this morning, and he seems to be frightened to utter dejection, imbecility and apparent helplessness. He asked in a hopeless tone of voice if I thought he would be hung for his crime. I, of course, could offer him no reasonable hope from human hands, pointed him to Him [Illegible] … to call upon Him early and earnestly.

Banks claims that the awful deed was the result of too much whiskey which was purchased of a respectable (?) white lady from him by his uncle, Joe Banks.

Readers what do you suppose the state of your feelings would be if you were made conscious of the fact that your illegal act was the cause of the death of one of your fellow creatures in this world? This seems to be the fact in this case. Banks says that he can give no reason for his crime except that he was crazed by liquor. It is strange, however, to relate that this same Banks is the nephew of Jim Banks, who, it will be remembered, about a year ago killed Mary Etta Brown, his niece, and half-sister of John Henry’s, and at the same time burned the body together with the house in which it laid, made his escape and is now at large somewhere, it is supposed in West Virginia. Although heavy rewards were offered for his capture, he has never been apprehended.

The connection between John Henry Banks and Jim Banks sheds light on the relationship between the Banks and Brown families. John Henry’s mother had children with at least two men, one named Banks and the other named Brown. Robert E. Brown, enumerated with John Henry in 1900, may have been his half-sibling. Does the “E” in Robert’s name stand for Eldridge?

John Henry was married to the daughter of Preston Eldridge. In 1900, Preston and his wife, Bettie, had been married 28 years. Numerous children and grandchildren were living with them, including the wounded Elmore who was born in May of 1881, making him 23 years old at the time of the shooting. The Eldridges lived in Marshall District where Preston owned his own farm and his son Ned was a slate quarryman.

Coming Next: Buckingham Crimes: Whiskey Leads to Murder, Part III

December 18, 2021 / Joanne Yeck

Book News: ”At A Place Called Buckingham”

I’m delighted to announce that “At A Place Called Buckingham” is now available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and many other online bookstores.

These booksellers also carry my titles Peter Field Jefferson & Lost Jeffersons, Peter Jefferson’s Snowdon, and The Blackest Sheep: Dan Blanco, Evelyn Nesbit, Gene Harris and Chicago’s Club Alabam.

Thanks, as always, for your ongoing interest in Buckingham County’s fascinating history.

Follow these links to learn more:

Joanne L. Yeck at Amazon

Joanne L. Yeck at Barnes & Noble

December 16, 2021 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Crimes: Whiskey Leads to Murder, Part I

Appomattox and Buckingham Times. Courtesy Virginia Chronicle.

On June 26, 1904 the Roanoke Times ran a short article, “Negro Kills Another Negro.” Simply stated, John Henry Banks had shot and killed John Brown near Johnson Depot in Buckingham County and the newspaper suggested a possible motive. “Brown some time ago had the boy arrested for disturbing preaching at a colored church. He was a deacon of the church and was highly respected by all who knew him. But for the interference of white men Banks would have been lynched by negroes of the neighborhood.”

John Henry Banks was hardly a boy. Based on his age recorded in the 1900 census, in June of 1904, he had just turned 22. Later reports place his age at 24.  In 1900, he was living in Marshall District with his 71-year-old grandmother Polly Banks. Three of the four grandchildren living with Polly had the surname Banks. The fourth was an 11-year-old named Robert E. Brown, revealing a connection between the Banks and Brown families

On June 29, 1904 the Appomattox and Buckingham Times ran a detailed article written by a correspondent named Quoit, filling out the story and mentioning the wounding of Elmore Eldridge.

It seems that Buckingham is getting to be the Fayette county of West Virginia. Dark and damnable crimes seem to be coming of common occurrence. While the sale of whiskey in the county of Buckingham is forbidden by the laws of the land, in consequence of the violence of this well known set of principles, with penalty attached, there is languishing in the jail of this county one John Henry Banks, a negro of the age twenty four years, from Marshall District, charged with the terrible crime of murder.

Banks, on the night of June 24, near Johnson’s depot, in this county, shot to death an old colored man by the name of John Brown, and wounded a young man by the name of Elmore Eldridge, after firing thirty or more shots to frighten away and terrify the crowd that had assembled at the house of the parents of the wife of this man Banks — to offer prayer for her restoration. — Banks’ wife being a consumptive and having gone to the home of her parents, Preston Eldridge and wife, against the protest of Banks — in his absence. The shot that ended the life of John Brown, a man who bore an exceptionally good reputation for a colored man, was, it is agreed, intended for Preston Eldridge or his wife, both of whom Banks had declared he intended to kill.

Coming Next: Buckingham Crimes: Whiskey Leads to Murder, Part II


The incarceration of John Henry Banks took place concurrently with a long and involved case of arson. Click here to read the Slate River Ramblings series about The Famous Forbes Case of Buckingham County.

For much more about Prohibition in Buckingham County, click here: The Buckingham Whiskey Wars: Part I

If you enjoy reading about Prohibition, flappers, speakeasies, and Al Capone’s Chicago take a look at my book, The Blackest Sheep: Dan Blanco, Evelyn Nesbit, Gene Harris and Chicago’s Club Alabam.

December 12, 2021 / Joanne Yeck

Happy Anniversary Slate River Ramblings

Buckingham County: Sharon Baptist Church

Sharon Baptist Church. Photo by Joanne Yeck.

This week, Slate River Ramblings celebrates its ninth anniversary.

Thanks to all of you — over 830 followers — for your continuing interest in the history of Buckingham County, Virginia.

New to Slate River Ramblings? Catch up by exploring the blog’s archive which is a rich depository filled with nuggets about the people and places in Buckingham. As of December 2021, there are over 1,110 posts and nearly 3,500 comments by thoughtful readers. To explore the archives just enter your favorite topic or surnames in the search box.

If you aren’t already familiar with my books, click on the covers on the right to learn more. Titles from Slate River Press are always available online at Braughler Books.

Please invite your family and friends to join us as we continue to ramble through Buckingham County’s history. More to come in 2022!

December 9, 2021 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Notables: Elijah Hanes

Buckingham County: Humanity Hall Academy

Humanity Hall. Courtesy Historic Buckingham.

In 1958, Buckingham County’s beloved historian Lulie Patteson published her article “Elijah Hanes set Lofty Standards,” in Charlottesville’s Daily Progress.

She begins by describing Elijah Hanes’ arrival in Buckingham County to tutor for the Brown family, who lived at Physic Springs. Hanes married a Miss Baughn of Hanover County and started a family in Buckingham. Later he bought property not far from Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute and established his own school, Humanity Hall Academy.*

The entire Hanes family was engaged in education. Miss Patteson wrote, “Col. Hanes had as instructors, among others, his two sons, Maj. Garland Hanes and James Hanes. When Major Garland Hanes married Miss Elizabeth Blackwell, daughter of Dr. J. C. Blackwell, president of Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute, another teacher was added to the faculty. Later, Miss Josie Blackwell, sister of Mrs. Maj. Hanes, also taught in the school.”

Patteson found the academy’s name apt. “The school seems to have been appropriately named, for there are many graduates from Humanity Hall Academy who rendered special services to humanity, such as ministers, teachers, lawyers and doctors, as well as in humbler, but no less necessary, work.”

Patteson goes on to explain that Elijah Haynes was a deeply religious man. As there was no church convenient to Humanity Hall, he and others constructed Hanes Chapel, located about a mile northeast of the academy, at what was then called Stony Point. Later, the original chapel was moved to the Hanes farm and a new building constructed about a half mile east of the school.

By 1958, traces of the once prestigious school had disappeared in the Buckingham landscape. Patteson writes, “The dormitories and classrooms are all gone. Only the mansion and an old office building beside it remain. The sole reminder of the site of the dormitories is a grave with a heavy stone slab over it. Here lies a young man named Clarke, from Madison County, who it is said was visiting one of Col. Hanes’s daughters when he had taken ill of fever. After lingering sometime he died and was interred here.”

To learn much more about Elijah Hanes, Humanity Hall Academy, and Hanes Chapel please search the archive at Slate River Ramblings and consult “Elijah G. Hanes and Humanity Hall Academy” in my book, “At a Place Called Buckingham,” Volume Two.

“At a Place Called Buckingham,” Volume Two is currently discounted online at Braughler Books.

* Elijah Hanes came to Buckingham from Hanover County, where he may or may not have married a Miss Braughn. Once in Buckingham, he boarded with the Brown family and eventually married Garland Brown’s daughter, Mary Jarman, on December 2, 1824. Did Lulie Patteson confuse Brown and Baughn? Why would she note specifically that Miss Baughn was from Hanover County? Did Hanes marry twice? If a Slate River Ramblings reader knows more about Miss Baughn, please comment.