Skip to content
July 10, 2017 / Joanne Yeck

Civil War Personals

Courtesy Virginia Chronicle, Library of Virginia

During the Civil War, the personal notices that ran in Virginia’s newspapers were filled with heartbreaking requests.  On July 3, 1862, Richmond’s The Daily Dispatch, ran the following query about a Buckingham County resident:


INFORMATION WANTED. — I will be thankful for any information in regard to HOUSTON BLACKWELL, of Buckingham county, a private in Capt. Fontaine’s company, 57th Regt. Va., Vols. He is represented to have been wounded Tuesday evening last in the thigh.



Houston Letcher Blackwell, born on February 17, 1844 in Buckingham County, enlisted on August 22, 1861, survived his wound, and was mustered out on April 9, 1865 at Appomattox Court House.  It was a long war for Mr. Blackwell and his family. The son of Mary (Letcher) and John C. Blackwell, President of the Buckingham Collegiate Female Institute, he was also the nephew of John Letcher, who in 1861, was Governor of Virginia.

Young Blackwell, who died in 1885, fought at Gettysburg and papers concerning his war record are included in the Paul R. White Collection (2003) at the Library of Virginia. The collection contains White’s submission to the Gettysburg Wall of Faces Project, National Park Service at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and concerns men of Buckingham County who participated in the Battle of Gettysburg. Others included are John Garland Ayres (b. 1843), Samuel Bransford Ayres (1845-1879), Thomas E. Ayres (1847-1874), John Davidson Blackwell (b. 1838), and Garland Brown Hanes (1832-1879).


Leave a Comment
  1. Bill Emerson / Feb 2 2018 2:31 pm

    My great grandfather, George N. Bliss, a Union cavalry officer, wounded Robert L. Baber (1826-1917) when Bliss charged into the ranks of the 4th Virginia Cavalry on Sept. 28, 1864 in Waynesboro, Va. Bliss learned his name in 1903; they became friends, Bliss visited the Baber family and they exchanged several letters until Baber died.
    I am looking for info on Baber, his mill, and anything that would enhance my understanding of him and his family. I somehow cannot get the “Baber mill” search to work.
    Bill Emerson

  2. ahuntca / Jul 10 2017 1:56 pm

    Thanks! Blackwell’s father’s presidency of BFCI was beyond the time of my interest in BFCI but I am still interested. Your post also reminds me of the Ayres family name which I keep bumping into in my research. I have an Ayres family in my Genealogical line but it is one of those lines that I haven’t traced back very far in part because it’s the line of a first cousin, but a cousin who was very much part of the family reunions I attended as a child and who had close ties to the family. I only know of eastern KY roots, but I grow increasingly interested in knowing if they were prior to that, among the VA emigrants to KY. On the to do list for a day when I’m not doing my other research. Thanks for peppering my life with with such curiosities.

    • Joanne Yeck / Jul 10 2017 7:24 pm

      The Ayres are a fascinating family. I’m not one, but we’re kin-to-kin many ways. Enjoy the hunt! Joanne

  3. Joanne Yeck / Jul 10 2017 12:03 pm

    Bill, thanks, as always, for elaborating on the connection to the Davidson families. No doubt, the Letcher family had many interesting relations. Joanne

  4. Bill Davidson / Jul 10 2017 11:03 am

    It is not surprising to see that John Davidson Blackwell had the middle name of “Davidson.” The Letcher family had close connections to TWO different/unrelated Davidson families. William Houston Letcher (the father of Governor John Letcher of VA; William was also related to the Houston family that included General Sam Houston of “Texas fame”) married an Elizabeth Davidson. In addition, it appears that William Houston Letcher was himself a descendant of that same Davidson family, via an earlier Davidson woman who had married into the referenced Houston family. That Davidson family “traces back” to a Robert Davidson (he apparently married Ann Dunlap; he died in Augusta Co., VA around 1751, leaving a Will) who had come to VA from PA.

    The other/unrelated Davidson family that was also closely associated with the Letcher family “traces back” to the William Davidson who married Martha Baker of Prince Edward Co., VA. As I stated in an earlier post, that William Davidson APPEARS to have been the William Davidson “Junior” who was listed on the 1764 Buckingham Co, VA tithe list (if that was not him, then it would seem that Martha Baker’s husband just “fell out of the sky”). William Davidson and Martha Baker moved to Botetourt Co., VA by the 1760s or so, and one of their grandsons named James Dorman Davidson (a well-known attorney and poet n Rockbridge Co., VA) fathered five or more sons (three of whom were killed in battle while fighting for the Confederacy). One of those sons of James Dorman Davidson was named Greenlee Davidson (James had married a Miss Greenlee). Captain Greenlee Davidson was an officer in what was commonly called “Letcher’s Artillery,” and Greenlee was killed in the Battle of Chancellorsville in 1863. Prior to that, however, Greenlee Davidson had been placed in charge of the Confederate recruiting office in Richmond, VA under Governor John Letcher. Governor Letcher must have been very fond of Greenlee Davidson, since the Governor named one of his own sons Greenlee Davidson Letcher.

    Greenlee Davidson had a brother who was named Charles A. Davidson. Charles also fought in the war, but he survived. After the War, Robert E. Lee signed an “Amnesty Oath” document (promising no more hostilities against the North) in Rockbridge Co., VA (where the former General Lee had moved to head what was then Washington College….today Washington and Lee University). The referenced Charles A. Davidson was one of the witnesses to the signature of Robert E. Lee on that “Amnesty Oath,” and Charles’ signature is also clearly visible on that document. I can only image the emotion that must have been in that room when Robert E. Lee signed that document in the presence of one of his former loyal solders (who had several brothers who had died for the cause).

    Note: Another brother of Greenlee Davidson and Charles A. Davidson was killed in battle in the mountains. His death was actually a couple of weeks AFTER the surrender at Appomattox, VA. The news of the surrender had not yet reached that area. Just another tragedy from that horrible conflict.

    Note: I long-suspected that the William Davidson who married Martha Baker was a member of my overall Davidson family (several of whom were in Buckingham Co., VA when it was created as a named county in 1761)….but Y DNA testing shows that they were two different/unrelated families (and the above-mentioned Robert Davidson was a member of yet a third unrelated Davidson family). Like the unrelated Robert Davidson, the William Davidson who married Martha Baker had apparently also come to VA from PA….as had the Baker family. My Davidson family, however, was in James City Co., VA by at least 1682.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: