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February 13, 2020 / Joanne Yeck

1899: George R. Davis Arrested

Concord Baptist Church. Courtesy Historic Buckingham.

In August 1899, Buckingham County resident George R. Davis was arrested in Washington D.C. charged with theft and with attempted murder of Arthur Baumgarten. According to the report in the Appomattox and Buckingham Times, Davis was an messenger for the Southern Express Company whose routes ran between Washington and Atlanta. The news article went on to explain Davis’ impulsive behavior:

For some time valuable packages have been rifled while en route from Washington to the south, and the Pinkerton Detective arrested Davis. The latter was taken into the superintendent’s office and was identified by Baumgarten as the “Mr. Smith” who had bought from him a seal of the express company. When confronted and accused, Davis said that he valued his character more than any man’s life, and, pulling his pistol, he fired four shots in rapid succession, one of which vary slightly wounded Baumgarten in the finger. As his route lay in the District of Columbia and in four states, it is not known where Davis will be tried on the charges of theft, as no one except the thief — whether the accused or someone else — knows just where the robbery occurred.

A dispatch from Farmville says: George Robert Davis, who was under arrest in Washington, was born in Prince Edward county, and raised in Buckingham county, where his widowed mother, whose sole support he is, now resides.

He is descended from and closely related to one of the best families of Virginia and has ever been regarded a young man of exceptional qualities, modest and bearing, and sober, moral habits.

He is a member of Concorde (sic) Baptist church, Buckingham county.

His host of friends and relatives here refuse to believe that he is guilty as charged.

I have seen a letter written to his uncle here, in which he firmly states that he is innocent of the charges against him, other than attempting to shoot his accuser, which he did under the impulse of the moment.


Does a Slate River Ramblings reader know what became of George R. Davis and to which Buckingham County Davis family he belongs? If so please comment below.

February 10, 2020 / Joanne Yeck

1898: News From Lawford


In the April 28, 1898 issue of the Appomattox and Buckingham Times, a new correspondent was heard from Willie Witt who lived in the neighborhood of Lawford. He wrote:

To the Editor of the Appomattox in Buckingham Times: — A copy of your paper fell into my hands sometimes since and I was struck forcibly with it. While I read various articles etc., I found no piece from my neighborhood — Lawford, Buckingham Co.  Standing in fear of the waste basket I write a few words, just to show that we are in the land of the living.

The wheat crop here promises good and fruit is not all killed. We have a few peaches left and apples promises to be about one-half crop.

This is a very quiet business-like vicinity. The farmers are preparing for a large crop of tobacco as the prices are good this year. Everybody is talking war talk just at this time, nearly all the men around here are too old, so they needn’t come around here looking for soldiers. I agree with Sam Jones in regard to the war. I do not see that Spain could insult the honor of the United States and if she did destroy 266 men on the Maine, the war will destroy more, but if the men want to fight I can stand it.

Willie Witt.


Google Maps locates the neighborhood of Lawford near the intersection of Routes 717 and 613, in the eastern part of the county.

February 6, 2020 / Joanne Yeck

 1898: Wedding Bells in White Hall

In April 1898, Buckingham Court House correspondent “Gipsy” sent this pleasant news to the Appomattox and Buckingham Times:

While Spanish and American ships were firing the big guns abroad, Cupid with his tiny darts is making havoc of hearts at home. The scene in Whitehall (Dillwyn) to day was one of the happiest ever witnessed in Buckingham. Mr. J. M. Hinds and Mrs. E. V. Cobbs, were united by Rev. J. J. Spencer at Whitehall the home of the bride, there are also two other bridal parties at Whitehall and they all left together for an extended wedding tour. Mr. Hinds has long been a resident of our county, he is an energetic businessman and we congratulate him on having won for his bride one of the most attractive and charming young ladies of that community. We will close, wishing much happiness to the newlywed, and peace and quietude for our country.

April 26th. Gipsy.


For more about Rev. John J. Spencer follow these links:

Buckingham Notables: Rev. John J. Spencer, Part I

Buckingham Notables: Rev. John J. Spencer, Part II

February 3, 2020 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Baptist Church, Part IV

Rev. William Harris Taylor (4 August 1811-24 October 1889).

Courtesy George Cauble.


Need to catch up? Click Here: Buckingham Baptist Church, Part I


Buckingham County historian Lulie Patteson was fortunate that records from Buckingham Baptist Church’s earliest years survived into the twentieth century and no doubt relied on them for her article, “Old Church in Buckingham Still Stands as Lighthouse of Gospel,” published in 1959 in The Daily Progress.

She concluded her history by discussing the long career of Rev. William Harris Taylor, known to his congregation as “Uncle Taylor.” Like Rev. Chastain before him he serves the church for an impressive forty-one years. Miss Patteson wrote:

“Uncle Taylor”, as the pastor following Smith was called by his congregation, was greatly beloved. He was born and raised a short distance from Buckingham church and was baptized into the membership of Enon Church when he was 30 years of age. He died, while pastor on Oct. 24, 1887. . . .

Enon Baptist Church, Courtesy Historic Buckingham.

Fifty-three, 37 and 41 — an aggregate of 130 years in three pastorates. What a record of congenial relationship and what a beautiful spirit of mutual satisfaction must have existed between pastors and people. Surely Buckingham church may well be proud of its pastoral record as well as those who have gone forth from its membership to bear witness to the Christian training received within its walls. It may be that Renee Chastain, from his unmarked grave on the neighboring hillsides, watches over the “cloud of witnesses”, who have looked down on those “who now run with patience, the race set before us”.

Following in Lulie Patteson’s footsteps, Mary Bondurant Warren transcribed fragmentary minutes and marriage records written by Rev. René Chastain, included in her book, Buckingham County, Virginia Church and Marriage Records 1764-1822, which is available online at New Papyrus Publishing Company.


Thanks to Phil James for sharing Lulie Patteson’s article.

For more about Rev. Taylor, click here Buckingham Notable: Rev. William H. Taylor

For more about Buckingham Baptist Church and Rene Chastain, search the archives at Slate River Ramblings and enjoy the results!

January 29, 2020 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Baptist Church, Part III

Monument to Elder Poindexter P. Smith (1793-1845)

Fork Union Baptist Church Cemetery, Fluvanna County, Virginia. Courtesy Find a Grave.


Need to catch up? Click Here: Buckingham Baptist Church, Part I


Lulie Patteson’s article, “Old Church in Buckingham Still Stands as Lighthouse of Gospel,” published in Charlottesville’s The Daily Progress, preserved interesting details about the history of Buckingham Baptist Church, focusing on the contribution of its first pastor Renee Chastain and his successor, Poindexter Smith:

Buckingham church had representatives at the first general meeting ever held by Virginia Baptist. Renee Chastain, pastor and William Johnston, member, road over the bridle paths to Elisha Braig’s “Meeting House” in Orange County in May, 1771, where the meeting was held. Twelve Baptist churches were represented and Frederick County, on one hand, and Pittsylvania, on the other, were the limits of this gathering in the first effort of this individual-spirited denomination to cooperate with each other.

It is said that Renee Chastain was made moderator of the Middle District Association several times. It then included all the Baptist churches south of the James River to the North Carolina line and from Petersburg in the East to Bedford in the West. When the Appomattox Association was formed from the Middle District, the pastor of Buckingham became its first moderator.

The report of Buckingham Church to this general meeting in 1778 gave number of members is 52 and 16 additions by baptism. Buckingham Church has had many long pastorates. . . .

Poindexter Smith who was born in Buckingham but spent much of his early life in Tennessee and served in the War of 1812, followed Chastain. He was converted and joined Red Oak Church; was an overseer before his ordination; pastor of Buckingham Church for 37 years; and buried at Old Fork church in Fluvanna.


For more about Poindexter Smith, search the archives at Slate River Ramblings and enjoy the results.

Coming next, Buckingham Baptist Church, Part IV


January 27, 2020 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Baptist Church, Part II

Buckingham Baptist Church Historic Marker. Photo by Joanne Yeck.


Need to catch up? Click Here: Buckingham Baptist Church, Part I


In 1959, Lulie Patteson contributed a lengthy article to Charlottesville’s Daily Progress concerning the long history of Buckingham Baptist Church, highlighting the contribution of its pastor Rev. Renee Chastain, writing:

When Buckingham church was organized, Renee Chastain was called its first pastor. We are not told if he preached a “trial” sermon or not. If you did, it must’ve been one of great power, for he served as its pastor for 53 years. Cumberland, Providence and Mulberry Grove also later came under his care.

This stalwart little flock numbered twenty-nine whites and four Negroes. Their names on the church role were as follows: Renee Chastain and w; (note the small “w” for wife, and the husband’s name in capitals!!); Wm. Anderson and w.; Seth Corson and w.; William Johnston; John Epperson, George Epperson; Thomas Holland and Stephen Garrett; John Acers and w.; Robert Huddleston and w.; Henry Baker; James Ford and Philip Vest; Benjamin Goss and Benjamin Bristo; Wm. Peasley, John Arnold, Hannah Hudgin, Sarah Wheeler and Lettice Hammond; and several other names that are blurred.

Miss Patteson goes on to remind us that during the time that Rev. Chastain was pastor of Buckingham Church, Baptists were persecuted by both civil and religious authorities in Virginia. William Webber, in Chesterfield County, was jailed for preaching the gospel. Webber invited Rev. Chastain to baptize his converts. And, despite being given orders to the contrary, Chastain honored Webber’s request.

Coming next: Buckingham Baptist Church, Part III

January 23, 2020 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Baptist Church, Part I

 Buckingham Baptist Church. Photo by Joanne Yeck.

In 1959, Buckingham County historian Lulie Patteson chronicled the history of Buckingham Baptist Church for Charlottesville’s Daily Progress in an article entitled “Old Church in Buckingham Still Stands as Lighthouse of Gospel.” Her evocative style was present in the opening paragraph:

Watched over by the sacred dust of those who have worshiped within its walls through the more than 180 years of its service as a lighthouse of the gospel, old Buckingham church still stands, staunch and beloved; still serving the community as actively as ever.

It was back in the years before the colonies had been forced into protest against the unfair domination of the English that Christopher Clarke, in 1780, came to this section of Buckingham County and preached. Buckingham had been cut from Albemarle County in 1760 (sic) and the whisper — ever-growing — louder of the coming conflict no doubt cast an anxious shadow over the land.

Miss Patteson goes on to relate what happened next. In May of the following year, Rev. Renee Chastain served a Baptist congregation. According to Miss Patteson, Rev. Chastain had just turned twenty-nine years old and was married. She continues:

The brave little band met for a while in an arbor but in 1772, a small “meeting house” was built which, with an addition built years later stands today is the oldest church of any faith in Buckingham County.

It has been said that this had once been the site of the Episcopal church but if so, it had been abandoned before Christopher Clarke held his meeting. The established Church of England preached loyalty to the crown too strongly at that time to be accepted by the man who had lived under its tyranny and who now, were like young eagles beginning to feel the stretch of their wings.

Coming next: Buckingham Baptist Church, Part II

January 21, 2020 / Joanne Yeck

Publication News: “Buckingham County Goes Dry!”

I am delighted to report that, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Prohibition, my article, “Buckingham County Goes Dry!”, appears in this month’s issue of the Buckingham Beacon.

If you live in Buckingham County, you can pick up a copy of the Beacon at a variety of locations. If not, click here to download a PDF of the January 2020 issue at Fluvanna Review:

January 20, 2020 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham County Houses: View Mountain (a. k. a View Mount)

View Mountain (a. k. a. View Mount). Courtesy Historic Buckingham.

On April 29, 1937, Rosa G. Williams surveyed the Buckingham County house View Mountain for the Virginia Historical Inventory. She described the location as “5 miles east of Spouses Corner on Route #60; thence south .1 mile on Route #623; thence 1.5 miles east on Route #634; thence south .3 mile on private road to the house.”

Dating the house to the late 1700s, the owners included the Bolling family (about 1775), a Mr. Martin (about 1804), William [Guthrie] (about 1835), Poindexter [Shepard] (1849), and Henry Wise [Shepard] (1909). Due to the lack of deeds preserved in the county courthouse, Mrs. Williams had to estimate the dates of the owners.

She went on to describe the house:

“View Mountain” is located at the foot of Willis Mountain, the view being very lovely from the backyard. There is an old board fence surrounding the yard which contains thirteen very large boxwood and several original oak trees.

The original house consisted of only two rooms that about 1852 more rooms were added later. Now the house consists of eight rooms; the original being constructed of heart pine put together with wooden pegs and shop made nails. The rooms are all plastered with very wide baseboard.

Mrs. Williams went on to note the houses historical significance:

This property was part of the grant originally given the famous Bolling Family of Virginia. An old road once passed through this place and the present owner says he is often heard his father speak of seeing slaves go by with hogsheads of their masters tobacco drawn by oxen on the way to market.

If anyone knows more about View Mountain (a.k.a. View Mount), please comment below.

January 16, 2020 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham County Houses: John Woodson House

John T. L. Woodson House, 2005. Photo by Joanne Yeck.

Early in my ramblings in Buckingham County, I learned that frequently the directions to a historic site recorded in the Virginia Historical Inventory are incorrect. Such was the case with my ancestor’s house near Slate River. Surveyed by Elizabeth McCraw, on June 15, 1937, she located it north of Ranson instead of south.

She believed the house was built by Charles Saunders, Woodson’s father-in-law, as early as 1840. John T. L. Woodson and Mary Elizabeth Saunders were married on October 23, 1867 in Buckingham County. The house may have been a wedding present. Mrs. McCraw noted that it had always been known as the John Woodson house and that B. F. Dawson was the current owner.

Mrs. McCraw goes on to describe the modest dwelling.

Just in the distance of the front yard from the public road is this 1 ½ story house, plain but attractive, containing eight rooms and Hall. In the hall is a cased-in one flight stairway. The floors have uniform white planks. The wainscoting in each room is chair rail high. There is a fireplace and only one window in each room. The windows are small, each containing 12 panes of glass 10×12 inches in size. The upstairs rooms are “old-fashioned”, built up in the eaves of the roof, having small gable end windows. The house has two chimneys, each one part rock and part brick. The one time outside kitchen has been pulled up and added to the house as a storeroom. In addition three rooms have been added to the original house. All are well kept in good repair.

The survey makes it clear that the house has no historic significance, however, I was personally grateful that Elizabeth McCraw chose to survey it, leaving clues for me to find in the 21st century.

The house was demolished in late 2019.  Slate from the roof and bricks from the chimney were salvaged.  Here’s hoping they help restore another Buckingham County home.