In December 1872, Richmond’s Whig printed a letter from a Buckingham County correspondent. It was signed only with the initials M. B. D. What began as a description of cruel weather during 1872 turned into an opportunity to both criticize and praise black freedmen in the county, naming farmers and two men who represented the county in Richmond. The letter’s lengthy title aptly describes the breadth of its author’s focus.
The Winter Drouth—Cold Weather—Negro Improvidence—
Energy of Colored Farmers—Black Radicals
Buckingham C. H., December 12th, 1872.
A rude gauge, constructed on the most primitive plan, but accurate withal, indicates a decrease of nine inches in the rain-fall of the present year, compared with that of last. This test was obtained about the center of this county, and I suppose is about an average of the Southside section embracing at least one hundred square miles. The drouth has continued into the Winter, and the mills dependent on small streams, as a consequence, are all standing still. The little brooks are reduced to silvery threads winding through the sedge fields, and in the forests they are hidden ‘neath the fallen leaves, and are now frozen. The absolute lack of humidity in the atmosphere gives peculiar zest to the cold and adds a considerable percentage to the doctors’ bills for curing frostbite.
In his next statement, our correspondent found that both Man and Nature could be cruel.
Coming Next: “Winter in the County”