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December 12, 2017 / Joanne Yeck

Happy Anniversary Slate River Ramblings

Post Offices, 1895. Buckingham County, Virginia.


Today, Slate River Ramblings celebrates its fifth anniversary and we just crested 670 followers.
All of you help make the blog a success. Thanks to you for caring about the people and places of Buckingham County, Virginia.

Another year means there are more golden nuggets in the Slate River Ramblings archive. As of December, 2017, there are over 700 posts and 100s of comments by thoughtful readers. On a snowy winter day, where ever you are, dig into the archives!

Please invite your family and friends to join us as we continue to ramble through Buckingham County’s history. There is much more in store for 2018, including a new book about Randolph Jefferson’s clan and the early years of Scottsville, VA. Watch for it Summer 2018!

December 11, 2017 / Joanne Yeck

 Reconstruction in Buckingham County, Part X

Courtesy The Times and Library of Virginia

To catch up, follow this link: Reconstruction in Buckingham County, Part I

While little more is known about Solomon Brown, he and his wife, Harriet, had a son, Solomon Brown, Jr., born about 1868.  Shockingly, in 1898, he was murdered by Brown family neighbor and friend Allen Eppes.  Richmond’s The Times reported:


The Insane Slayer of Solomon Brown Placed in Jail.

Tries to Commit Suicide.

Buckingham C. H., VA., Dec. 22. — Special. — Allen Eppes, a well-to-do and respected colored man, on yesterday shot and killed Solomon Brown, also colored. For some time past Eppes has shown signs of insanity, and the killing of Brown is regarded as the act of a crazy man. It appears that Brown worked a part of Eppes’ farm, and the two were upon terms of intimate friendship. Yesterday Brown went to Eppes’ house and they had a talk in a perfectly friendly way. When Brown got up to leave and passed into the hall, Eppes grabbed a shot gun and fired both barrels at Brown, inflicting such injuries that he died in a short time.


Eppes was promptly arrested, and on his way to jail stated to Mr. Joe Cox, the special constable, that Brown was the best friend he had, and that the devil made him kill Brown. When Eppes arrived at jail and was given a cell he tried to kill himself with a stick of wood. The scene of the shooting was near Curdsville, twelve miles distant from here.

The general impression is that Eppes is crazy. Previous to this he has borne good character and has been very popular with the whites.

While the murder of Solomon Brown, Jr. tells us nothing about his father’s involvement in Buckingham County politics, intriguing questions remain. How was Allen Eppes connected to John W. Eppes, son of John Wayles Eppes (1773–1823) of Millbrook, Buckingham County and Eppes’ second wife, Martha Burke Jones, originally of Halifax County, North Carolina, and kin to Francis Eppes, grandson of President Thomas Jefferson?  Watch for much more about the Eppes family, coming to Slate River Ramblings in 2018.

Coming next: The sixth African American, “Cesar” Perkins, named by Lt. Jordan proved to be a man “acceptable to both classes,” and left a sterling legacy in state-wide politics.

December 8, 2017 / Joanne Yeck

Holiday Gift Ideas

Slate River Press


In need of a gift idea this holiday season? Give the gift of local history!

Here’s where you can purchase these books (and many others) about Buckingham County and Virginia:

In Virginia

Buckingham: Housewright Museum (U.S. Route 60, in the village of Buckingham)

Buckingham: Nancy’s Gift Shop (U.S. Route 60, in the village of Buckingham)

Scottsville: Baine’s Books and Coffee (485 Valley Street)

Monticello: Monticello’s Gift Shop [The Jefferson Brothers]

Charlottesville: Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society (200 Second Street, NE)

Appomattox: Baine’s Books and Coffee (205 Main Street)

Richmond: The Library of Virginia: The Virginia Shop (800 East Broad Street)

Not in Virginia?  Shop online at:

Braughler Books

Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society

Historic Buckingham Inc.

Library of Virginia: The Virginia Shop

December 7, 2017 / Joanne Yeck

Reconstruction in Buckingham County, Part IX

Stanton Family Cemetery, Courtesy Virginia Department of Historic Resources

To catch up, follow this link: Reconstruction in Buckingham County, Part I

And what of the African Americans on Lt. Jordan’s list? With one exception, evidence of these men participating in government remains elusive.

In 1870, a man named Woodson Washington (“Mulatto,” age 40) lived in Curdsville Township and Peter Fontaine (Black, age 56) was enumerated in Marshall Township.  The John Stanton on the list is likely John Stanton (“Mulatto,” age 34), living in the northeast section of Buckingham County, a member of the well-known and established “Free Black” Stanton family. For more about the family and their cemetery, click here:

Buckingham Notables: The Stanton Family & Stanton Family Cemetery

There were multiple John Scotts living in Buckingham County in 1870. One John Scott (Black, age 40) was enumerated in Curdsville on the same page as Solomon Brown (Black, age 57). Living between them was John W. Eppes (White, age 53), of Millbrook, and an African American named Allen Eppes (Black, age 25).

In 1866, Solomon Brown was contracted by Eliza J. Eppes (with her brother-in-law and agent E. W. Hubard) to serve for one year as “headman and supervisor” at the Eppes plantation Millbrook. Perhaps, his record as a foreman came to the attention of Lt. Jordan.  Any government service by Solomon Brown is yet to be found.

Coming Next: Reconstruction in Buckingham County, Part X

December 4, 2017 / Joanne Yeck

Reconstruction in Buckingham County, Part VIII

Courtesy The Whig

To catch up, follow this link: Reconstruction in Buckingham County, Part I

In February of 1868, news of a “Conservative Meeting in Buckingham County” was reported in Richmond’s Whig. Names of several of the men listed by Lt. Jordan as viable leaders in Buckingham County’s post-war government appear in the article. The purpose of the meeting was to organize a Conservative Party “in accordance with the plan recommended by the Conservative Committee in Richmond.” Mr. Richard Ivanhoe Cocke was named Chairman. Representatives from Buckingham’s District included: Dr. Charles E. Davidson (District No. 1); Alexander J. Bondurant (District No. 2); and J. B. Ficklin (District No. 5).

According to the article, the meeting attracted more than “an ordinary interest.” The “crippled condition” of the Commonwealth was discussed and attendees were encouraged “to put forth every effort to kindle the hope and arrest the sinking fortunes of the State.”

Whig Editor Alexander Moseley was in attendance and was asked to address the group:

He said his opinions in regard to the white man and the negro cooperating in any movement whatever, had undergone an entire change; he once thought there was hope of such a thing, but was now convinced that oil and water should sooner unite than the two classes upon any common measure; it was, therefore, necessary for us to make a “pull together” to defeat the forthcoming Constitution, although the captivating clause of repudiation should be inserted to make us except universal suffrage.

Alexander Moseley had long been known as a generous and equitable man. For him to despair the future of racial integration indeed represented a pivotal moment in Virginia’s political history. For more about Alexander Moseley’s gift of Alexander Hill to his former servants and slaves, click here: Alexander Hill.

For Moseley’s life story, consult “At a Place Called Buckingham,” Volume Two.

Coming next: Reconstruction in Buckingham County, Part IX

November 30, 2017 / Joanne Yeck

Reconstruction in Buckingham County, Part VII

Richmond Hospital Map.  Courtesy Civil War Richmond.


To catch up, follow this link: Reconstruction in Buckingham County, Part I

The last white man named on Lieut. Jordan’s list was “Dr. E. C. Davidson.” His first initials are reversed in the document. He was Dr. Charles E. Davidson of Maysville (a.k.a. Buckingham Court House). The 1860 slave census indicates that Dr. Davidson owned no slaves. Not being a planter, he had no need of field labor and, apparently, did not own a domestic servant.

A small collection of letters written by Dr. Davidson survives, archived at the Virginia Historical Society.

During 1861–1862, Davidson was an Assistant Surgeon for the Confederate States Army, working at the Globe Hospital (a.k.a. General Hospital No. 11) and at General Hospital No. 21, both in Richmond, Virginia. By September of 1865, he served in the medical department of the U.S. Army and became a Freedman’s Bureau agent in November of 1865.

In 1870, he reported $1,800 worth of real estate and $300 worth of personal property. He lived with his wife, Eveline, and four young children in Maysville Township, Post Office: Curdsville.   He died later that year.

Of all the white men listed by Lieut. Jordan, Dr. Davidson appears to have the longest involvement in Buckingham County politics and county government. In 1860, he was named among the county’s prominent Whigs.  During 1865, he publicly expressed loyalty to the Federal Government and was appointed to join the Overseers of the Poor. Additionally, he was a delegate to a convention held in Fluvanna County for the purpose of nominating a candidate to represent Buckingham’s Senatorial District. In 1868, he served the county as a Superintendent, representing District 1.

An obituary for his charming widow, Eveline (Parrack) Davidson, appeared in the March 22, 1905 issue of the Appomattox and Buckingham Times:

Buckingham, Va. March 20. — Departed this life on Tuesday night, March 14, 1905, at her late home in this village [Buckingham Court House], Mrs. Eveline Davidson, widow of the late Dr. C. E. Davidson, and sister of Mrs. Mary E. Shaw and the late David A. Parrack, at the ripe old age of eighty years. Mrs. Davidson would have reached her eightieth year had she lived until April 11, 1905. She was possibly one of the most widely known ladies of this section. Of a striking genial and cheerful disposition, with happy expression for every one with whom she came in contact, and was an inspiration to “look on the bright side.” Mrs. Davidson leaves two sons — Mr. D. Elwood Davidson, now of Boydton, Va., and Mr. T. J. Davidson, of this village.

Coming Next: Reconstruction in Buckingham County, Part VIII

November 27, 2017 / Joanne Yeck

Reconstruction in Buckingham County, Part VI

1860 Slave Census, Buckingham County, Virginia. Click to enlarge.


To catch up, follow this link: Reconstruction in Buckingham County, Part I

The next white man named on Lieut. Jordan’s list of potential public servants was John R. Gilliam

A John R. Gilliam, age fifty-three, appears on the 1860 census, enumerated in Buckingham County’s District 1. Gilliam’s post office was Buckingham Court House and he lived with Margarete A. Mathews and what are probably her children, although the census does not indicate the relationship of the individuals living in the household. Gilliam may be a widower and Margarete may be his widowed daughter. He was a prosperous farmer, owning $11,600 in real estate, consisting of over 1,000 acres, and $24,755 and personal property, including thirty-three slaves living in six dwellings. These details make Gilliam another incongruous candidate for post-war government, at least on paper. . . . Did he really resist the “Rebel Cause”?

As yet, I have not found him on the 1870 Federal census nor any reference of him in Buckingham County politics or government.

Slate River Ramblings reader, L. D. Phaup commented: “John R. Gilliam lived at the home I was raised in. The home is Osceola and is located on State Route 609 in the Francisco District of Buckingham County. The home is one of the oldest homes in the county going back to the 1740’s. The home was a stage coach stop on the road from Richmond to Lynchburg and remains of the road can be seen today. The home is standing . . . . You can get information on this property on the internet as it was in the Gilliam family back into the 1700’s. I believe John R. in in the family cemetery located close to the home.”

Coming Next: Reconstruction in Buckingham County, Part VII

November 23, 2017 / Joanne Yeck

Reconstruction in Buckingham County, Part V

Courtesy Carl Weaver, Find A Grave.

To catch up, follow this link: Reconstruction in Buckingham County, Part I

The next name on Jordan’s list is very-well known in, and far beyond, Buckingham County. Alexander J. Bondurant was the son of Thomas Moseley Bondurant, publisher of Richmond’s Whig. By 1870, he had removed to Nelson County, thus, did not remain active in politics in Buckingham. Again, his service for the Confederate States of America, would seem to make him a peculiar entry on Lt. Jordan’s list.

In 1868, Alexander J. Bondurant served the county as a Superintendent for District No. 2.

In March of 1910, his brief obituary was printed in Lynchburg, Virginia. It reads as follows:

 A. J. Bondurant, Lynchburg.

Lynchburg, Va., March 7. — Alexander J. Bondurant, of Buckingham County, Virginia, aged seventy-four, died here today of appendicitis. He served in the civil war in Malone’s brigade, and from 1896 to 1901 was a tobacco expert in Victoria, Australia. Since that time he had been professor of agriculture at the Alabama Polytechnic Institute. Last year he celebrated his golden wedding, and his wife survives. Among the surviving children are A. L. Bondurant, professor of Latin at Mississippi University, and G. P. Bondurant, an attorney-at-law at Birmingham, Ala.

For much more about this family, put Bondurant in the search box at Slate River Ramblings and enjoy the results.

Coming next: Reconstruction in Buckingham County, Part V

November 20, 2017 / Joanne Yeck

Reconstruction in Buckingham County, Part IV

Courtesy Historic Buckingham

In early 1867, a dozen men were recommended by Lieut. 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 slop of Willis Mt. 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. Thomas married as his second wife 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

November 16, 2017 / Joanne Yeck

Reconstruction in Buckingham County, Part III

In early 1867, a dozen men were recommended by Lieut. 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

When the Buckingham County courthouse burned in 1869, records documenting the county’s immediate post-war transition were irreplaceably lost, making Jordan’s recommendations for new public servants all the more valuable.  Whether or not these men ever served their county is another matter.

Census records, historic newspapers, Jeanne Stinson’s abstracts of the county’s “Board of Supervisors minute book 1870–1887,” and other scattered sources offer clues to Buckingham County’s postwar experience.

Following the surrender at Appomattox, in July of 1865, elections were held in Buckingham County. Robert K. Irving continued in his job as County Clerk. Dr. Charles E Davidson, one of the men on Jordan’s list, was elected to join the “Overseers of the Poor.”

On August 22, 1865, a revealing article was printed in Richmond’s Whig entitled, “Virginia. Expressions Of Public Sentiment.” Dr. Davidson, chaired the committee, expressing fidelity to the Federal Government. Buckingham County’s statement read as follows:

Public meeting in Buckingham. — At a meeting of the citizens of Buckingham county, convened at the Court House, on the fifteenth instant, on the motion of Col. W. W. Forbes, Dr. Chas. E. Davidson was called to the chair, and Ro. K. Irving was appointed Secretary.

On the motion of Col. W. W. Forbes, the following preamble and resolutions were submitted, and unanimously adopted, viz:

Whereas, since the surrender of Generals Lee and Johnston, the fidelity of the people of Virginia to their pledges solemnly made to support the Federal Government, is questioned, we therefore adopt this mode of expressing our opinions and vindicating our loyalty.

Resolved, That, as honorable men, we will, in good faith, abide by all the legitimate results of our defeat.

Resolved, That our pledges of fidelity to the State and Federal Governments were honestly made, and will be faithfully observed.

Resolved, That the conduct of President Lincoln and President Johnson since the close of the Rebellion, has been characterized by a spirit of moderation and a laudable desire to adjust conflicting opinions and existing difficulties upon a firm and solid basis.

Resolved, That Governor Pierpont has gained our good opinion by conciliatory deportment, and we cheerfully tender him our thanks for his efforts on behalf of our State, and trust he may speedily affect our restoration to the Union, and full participation in all its advantages.

Resolved, That the foregoing resolutions to be published in the Richmond newspapers, and a copy be forwarded by the Secretary of this meeting to Governor Pierpont.

Ch. E. Davidson, Ch’n.

Ro. K. Irving, Sec’y.

City papers please copy.

Coming next: Reconstruction in Buckingham County, Part IV