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November 20, 2017 / Joanne Yeck

Reconstruction in Buckingham County, Part IV

Mount Ida, courtesy Historic Buckingham.

In early 1867, a dozen men were recommended by Lt. Col. John W. Jordan as fit for leadership in Buckingham County’s new Reconstruction-era government.  Their names are listed here:

Reconstruction in Buckingham County, Part II

The first name on Jordan’s list was Thomas H. Garnett of Curdsville. In 1877, a Thomas H. Garnett served the county as coroner. Beyond that, at present, his involvement in post-war politics or government remains a mystery. Slate River Ramblings reader, Harry Holman commented:

“Thomas Henry Garnett lived near “Garnett’s Chapel,” on Hooper’s Mountain. The property adjoined my Grandmother Ellie Hooper Holman’s old home where the Hoopers lived since colonial times. This Thomas H. Garnett was born in 1819 as Thomas Henry Garnett, son of Mr. Garnett and Mary Cooke Garnett and grandson of Stephen Cooke, a brother to Mrs. Elizabeth Cooke (Col. George) Hooper of “Hooper’s Mt.” Thomas Henry Garnett married Ann Elizabeth Eldridge, daughter of Thomas Kidder Eldridge and Mary Ayres Eldridge, the daughter of Rev. John Ayres of “Edgehill,” Buckingham County. My grandmother fondly referred to Thomas Henry Garnett’s two children as Uncle Tom and Aunt Polly.”

Harry Holman, believes that Garnett died on September 7, 1906, age eighty-eight. “At that time he was a member of Smyrna Methodist Church and was buried on the western slope of Willis Mountain. It was said of him that he was ‘one of the best known and beloved citizens of the county….’”

The second man on Jordon’s list was Thomas Leitch of New Canton, the son of Irish immigrant and wealthy planter, William Leitch. Educated at the University of Virginia, Thomas M. Leitch (1826-1886) was a Lieutenant in the 18th Regiment, Virginia Infantry, making him an odd candidate for one who was “originally opposed to the secession movement and those among them who have in any way given encouragement to the Rebel Cause did it reluctantly and because they were compelled to do it to protect themselves & property.” The family lived at Mt. Ida, near New Canton. In 1880, Thomas Leitch was still living in Buckingham County with his wife, Martha, and nine children. Harry Holman offered these details about Leitch’s life and family:

“Thomas Maurice Leitch (1826-1886) was born the son of William and Mary Ann Langhorne Leitch.  His second wife was Martha G. Spencer (1839-1892), the daughter of Nathan and Martha Meredith Spencer of Buckingham and granddaughter of Judith Ayres Spencer–eldest child of Col. Nathan Ayres (d. 1822). Among the Leitch children were Mildred Fontaine Leitch, who married John Ayres Gary and lived at “Locust Hill,” on James River across from Columbia. My Grandmother Holman frequently visited her and called her “Cousin Mildred.” Her brother was a distinguished Methodist missionary (educated at Randolph-Macon and Vanderbilt) and principal of a high school in China. He died young–no descendants.”

Click here for more about Mt. Ida.

Next named was J. B. Finklin of New Canton. Thus far, Mr. Finklin is a somewhat elusive character, though, he did enter post-war politics. In 1868, Ficklin served the county as a Superintendent for District No. 5 and, in August of 1879, a brief article in Richmond’s Daily Dispatch mentioned him as a canvasser in the Sixth Congressional District, specifically the Buckingham Senatorial District.

If a Slate River Ramblings reader can expand on the life of J. B. Finklin, please comment below.

Coming next: Reconstruction in Buckingham County, Part V

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