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March 6, 2014 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Mystery: The Enigmatic W.B.M.

Slate-River-Ramblings_Buckingham_Harriss_Ridley-MoseleyRidley Moseley Harriss, Courtesy Fran Harris-Hill

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.

Slate-River-Ramblings_Buckingham_Harriss Sampler


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  1. Steve Craig / Mar 8 2014 10:00 am

    I didn’t a little nosing around on Ancestry and offer that perhaps WBM is William Branch Moseley, born about 1812, Buckingham Co., VA, removed to Woodville, McCracken Co., KY where he is listed in the 1870 & 1880 census records. In 1870, he is 58 years old and his spouse is Sally (38) and their children are Susan (14), Charles (12), James (10) and Emma (7) – all born in VA. In 1880 he is widowed and living with Barnett (76) and Susan (70) Hill and his relationship to head of household is brother-in-law. The Hills and their children were all born in VA. Jannie (22) and Emma (20) Moseley’s relationship to HOH is granddaughter. Interestingly, Next door is Branch M. Hill, (50) b. VA – probably a son of Burnett Hill. In 1870, these Hill families lived next to the William B. Moseley – perhaps his wife was Sally Hill? Were the Hills related to the Moseleys through the Branch family?

    William Branch Moseley’s parents were Capt. William Moseley (c.1773-1819) and Margaret Ridley Branch (c.1787-1865 – called Ridley in census records) of Buckingham County. Ridley (Branch) Moseley married Stephen Pankey after Capt. William’s death. She was a daughter of Peter Branch (c. 1755-1809) and Judith Jones. Peter Branch was the son of Matthew Branch and Ridley Jones.

    I did not find any familial connection between William Branch Moseley and Ridley Moseley Harris, but they were born about the same year in Buckingham County and with both Moseley and Ridley names in common one wonders . . .

    • Joanne Yeck / Mar 8 2014 10:06 am

      Thanks, Steve. Several followers of Slate River Ramblings agree that William Branch Moseley is a good candidate for the mysterious W.B.M. Thanks, very much, for posting these details. Hopefully, someone who knows more about the families can comment on a connection between the Moseley and Harris(s) families. It seems likely that Ridley Moseley Harris was named for Margaret Ridley Branch Moseley — doesn’t it?

      • Steve Craig / Mar 8 2014 10:14 am

        That’s what I was thinking, too. None of my family lines here, but I love a good mystery. I enjoy your blog very much. My Buckingham Connection is Nathaniel Morris (c. 1744-1813) who lived along the Willis River near Curdsville/New Store. Lots of good mysteries in a burn county!

      • Joanne Yeck / Mar 8 2014 10:32 am

        Steve, I’m delighted to hear you enjoy Slate River Ramblings. In case you missed my article about the Morris family and Buckingham Springs, here’s a link to the post and to the article in the BUCKINGHAM BEACON.

      • Steve Craig / Mar 8 2014 10:59 am

        Joanne – thanks for sending the Buckingham Springs article! I am working on my first publication – Descendants of Nathaniel Morris of Buckingham County, which I hope to finish his year. My line is through the eldest son John Morris who built his home at Mt. Rush. Just bought your books this morning and look forward to reading them both.

      • Joanne Yeck / Mar 8 2014 11:42 am

        Steve, Great news! Both about your purchase of books and your work on the Descendants of Nathaniel Morris. Keep up the good work! Joanne

  2. Joanne Yeck / Mar 6 2014 9:25 am

    Larry, I agree!

  3. Larry Lamb / Mar 6 2014 9:24 am

    Beautiful Sampler!


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