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December 22, 2013 / Joanne Yeck

Stewards of the Poor


Buckingham County, Virginia (1916)

Octavia (location of one of Buckingham Counties first Poor Farms)

Ransons (Buckingham County’s last Poor Farm)

A list of Buckingham’s Overseers of the Poor, dating from 1816, discloses a group of gentlemen responsible for the care of the county’s needy. That year, Col. Robert Moseley served as President, joined by John Flood, William Bigley, Thomas Garnett, Stephen Chastain, Joseph L. Dillard, William Jones, John Johns, Jesse Holman, Robert Anderson, James Tapscott, and Miles Gipson, Jr.  Their accounts indicate that the poor were still under the care of individuals rather than living collectively at a Poor Farm.

Stephen Chastain, for example, provided for seven women, the children of three families, and a lone man.  Robert Moseley and the others all submitted similar lists, enumerating their expenses to be reimbursed by the county treasury.

In 1820, my ancestor, George Chambers, a thirty-six-year-old planter living on Slate River, was reimbursed by the county for over $1,100 for his work supervising the building of Buckingham’s first houses for the poor.  This was a sizable public investment at a time when many families in Buckingham lived in structures valued under $500.

It was the beginning of the county’s long commitment to the maintenance of at least two Poor Farms.

For more about the Buckingham County Poorhouses and Rev. John Spencer’s long service as Superintendent of the Poor: “Stewards of the Poor” (Buckingham Beacon, August 2012)

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