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February 27, 2020 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham County: A Thwarted Wedding

Those of us who have done extensive genealogy concerning our Buckingham County families know that marriage between first cousins was a common occurrence, especially during the nineteenth century. By the turn of the twentieth century, however, not everyone supported the practice as is revealed in this story that ran in the Appomattox and Buckingham Times and August 1901.

Young Couple in Buckingham Foiled.

A highly interesting incident occurred yesterday at the Tabernacle at Dillwyn, Buckingham county, at which there were 4,000 persons in attendance. James Benninghove and Mary Meadows, first cousins, were present, and expected to be married.

They had contemplated matrimony for some months, but had deferred the ceremony. About a month ago the young couple went to Norfolk on an excursion, and while there, it is stated, obtained a license to marry. They presented themselves to a local minister to perform the ceremony. While waiting for the divine to come into the parlor the couple concluded that they would wait until they returned home. When the parents of the young lady heard of this Norfolk episode they were very much offended.

The young man obtained a second license in Buckingham, but the girl’s brother balked the wedding. Young Benninghove, not to be outdone, a day or two ago secured another license, and by the aid of a young doctor hoped to have the ceremony performed yesterday during the services at the Tabernacle at Dillwyn. At one time they were nearly successful. Miss Meadows slipped out from the Tabernacle, where she was attending service, and joined the young doctor. The doctor summoned the expectant groom, who entered the Tabernacle and beckoned to the minister. He was discovered by her brother however, who went out, found his sister and led her back to the building. The young woman’s parents say that their only objection is the near relationship of their daughter and the young man.

— Special to the Baltimore Sun.


Evidence from the 1910 census indicates that the couple was successfully wed in 1901. A James and Mary Benninghove were enumerated in Marshall District, Buckingham County, married nine years, with four living children. James’ occupation is given as blacksmith.

February 24, 2020 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham County Churches: Grace Episcopal Church


Grace Episcopal Church. Courtesy Historic Buckingham.

According to Margaret A. Pennington and Lorna S. Scott, authors of “The Courthouse Burned —“, John Horsley gave the land for Grace Episcopal Church in the autumn of 1871. Logs from nearby woods were used for the framing and were hewn on the grounds. Jim Crews and his sons were responsible for much of the construction. More lumber was hauled from Payne’s sawmill by J. B. Horsley and H. D. Omohundro. The sand for the plastering came from an island in the James River. The two front doors arrived by packet boat and were carried by ox team to the site. The Bradys of West Virginia donated a memorial window in memory of Louise Brady Horsley.

In 1901, Grace Protestant Episcopal Church was the site of the wedding of Annie Dunscomb Horsley and Frank Russell Moon.

Click here for details: 1901: Moon-Horsley Wedding.

February 20, 2020 / Joanne Yeck

1901: Moon-Horsley Wedding

The July 3, 1901 edition of the Appomattox and Buckingham Times reported the union of two familiar Buckingham County families, Moon and Horsley. The lengthy description of the wedding read as follows:

On Wednesday, June 26, at 10:30 A.M., Miss Anne Dunscomb Horsley, daughter of the late John Horsley, and granddaughter of Hon. Sobieski Brady, of Wheeling, W. Va., was married to Mr. Frank Russell Moon, at Grace Protestant Episcopal Church, Buckingham County, Va.

The edifice was beautifully decorated for the occasion, ferns and daisies predominating in the floral decorations, and a large congregation was assembled to witness the ceremony. Mrs. Jno. B. Horsley played the wedding march from Lohengrin for the entry of the bridal cortege. Mr. Henry Burton Taylor, brother-in-law of the bride and Mr. John Sydnor [?] Horsley, brother of the bride, followed by the bridesmaids, Misses Moylan [?] Moon, Fannie, Jeanette, Mildred, Louise, and Ida Horsley, attired in organdie, and caring ferns and daisies, entered the church first. Then came the matron of honor, Mrs. Henry Burton Taylor, eldest sister of the bride, who wore her own wedding dress of white satin and carried ferns and daisies. The bride came next, accompanied by her brother, Mr. Alexander Caldwell Horsley. She wore white muslin trimmed with lace, and carried a posy of sweet peas. Mr. Cary Nelson Moon, a brother of the bridegroom, was his best man. Rev. T. H. Lacy, D. D., was the officiating minister.

After an elegant luncheon at the home of the bride, the couple left to spend the honeymoon at New York, Buffalo, and Niagara Falls. Returning they will be at home in Manteo, Virginia, where the bridegroom is engaged in business.

Many valuable gifts were received by Mr. and Mrs. Moon —

Warminster letter to Richmond Dispatch.

February 17, 2020 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham County Churches: Concord Baptist Church


Concord Baptist Church. Courtesy Historic Buckingham.

According to Margaret A. Pennington and Lorna S. Scott, authors of “The Courthouse Burned —“, Concord Baptist Church was founded in 1850, established on land given by Hugh and Henry Gill’s grandfather, and served the community around Sheppards in Buckingham County. Much of the lumber was donated by members and prepared at local, pit sawmills. Pennington and Scott noted, “The first church was divided into two rooms. Blacks worshiped in the north room while whites worshiped in the South room. After the war, the partition was removed and the black people built the church of their own.”

In 1895, Rev. R. B. Boatwright served as pastor as well as at Buckingham, Cedar, and Enon Baptist churches. In 1953, the original building burned. It was replaced with the new brick church, which still serves the community.

In 1899, one member of Concord Baptist Church, George R. Davis, ran into trouble with the law. Click here for details: 1899: George R. Davis Arrested.


Learn more about the church today at their website: Concord Baptist Church.


February 13, 2020 / Joanne Yeck

1899: George R. Davis Arrested

Concord Baptist Church. Courtesy Historic Buckingham.

In August 1899, Buckingham County resident George R. Davis was arrested in Washington D.C. charged with theft and with attempted murder of Arthur Baumgarten. According to the report in the Appomattox and Buckingham Times, Davis was an messenger for the Southern Express Company whose routes ran between Washington and Atlanta. The news article went on to explain Davis’ impulsive behavior:

For some time valuable packages have been rifled while en route from Washington to the south, and the Pinkerton Detective arrested Davis. The latter was taken into the superintendent’s office and was identified by Baumgarten as the “Mr. Smith” who had bought from him a seal of the express company. When confronted and accused, Davis said that he valued his character more than any man’s life, and, pulling his pistol, he fired four shots in rapid succession, one of which vary slightly wounded Baumgarten in the finger. As his route lay in the District of Columbia and in four states, it is not known where Davis will be tried on the charges of theft, as no one except the thief — whether the accused or someone else — knows just where the robbery occurred.

A dispatch from Farmville says: George Robert Davis, who was under arrest in Washington, was born in Prince Edward county, and raised in Buckingham county, where his widowed mother, whose sole support he is, now resides.

He is descended from and closely related to one of the best families of Virginia and has ever been regarded a young man of exceptional qualities, modest and bearing, and sober, moral habits.

He is a member of Concorde (sic) Baptist church, Buckingham county.

His host of friends and relatives here refuse to believe that he is guilty as charged.

I have seen a letter written to his uncle here, in which he firmly states that he is innocent of the charges against him, other than attempting to shoot his accuser, which he did under the impulse of the moment.


Does a Slate River Ramblings reader know what became of George R. Davis and to which Buckingham County Davis family he belongs? If so please comment below.

February 10, 2020 / Joanne Yeck

1898: News From Lawford


In the April 28, 1898 issue of the Appomattox and Buckingham Times, a new correspondent was heard from Willie Witt who lived in the neighborhood of Lawford. He wrote:

To the Editor of the Appomattox in Buckingham Times: — A copy of your paper fell into my hands sometimes since and I was struck forcibly with it. While I read various articles etc., I found no piece from my neighborhood — Lawford, Buckingham Co.  Standing in fear of the waste basket I write a few words, just to show that we are in the land of the living.

The wheat crop here promises good and fruit is not all killed. We have a few peaches left and apples promises to be about one-half crop.

This is a very quiet business-like vicinity. The farmers are preparing for a large crop of tobacco as the prices are good this year. Everybody is talking war talk just at this time, nearly all the men around here are too old, so they needn’t come around here looking for soldiers. I agree with Sam Jones in regard to the war. I do not see that Spain could insult the honor of the United States and if she did destroy 266 men on the Maine, the war will destroy more, but if the men want to fight I can stand it.

Willie Witt.


Google Maps locates the neighborhood of Lawford near the intersection of Routes 717 and 613, in the eastern part of the county.

February 6, 2020 / Joanne Yeck

1898: Wedding Bells in White Hall

In April 1898, Buckingham Court House correspondent “Gipsy” sent this pleasant news to the Appomattox and Buckingham Times:

While Spanish and American ships were firing the big guns abroad, Cupid with his tiny darts is making havoc of hearts at home. The scene in Whitehall (Dillwyn) to day was one of the happiest ever witnessed in Buckingham. Mr. J. M. Hinds and Mrs. E. V. Cobbs, were united by Rev. J. J. Spencer at Whitehall the home of the bride, there are also two other bridal parties at Whitehall and they all left together for an extended wedding tour. Mr. Hinds has long been a resident of our county, he is an energetic businessman and we congratulate him on having won for his bride one of the most attractive and charming young ladies of that community. We will close, wishing much happiness to the newlywed, and peace and quietude for our country.

April 26th. Gipsy.


For more about Rev. John J. Spencer follow these links:

Buckingham Notables: Rev. John J. Spencer, Part I

Buckingham Notables: Rev. John J. Spencer, Part II

February 3, 2020 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Baptist Church, Part IV

Rev. William Harris Taylor (4 August 1811-24 October 1889).

Courtesy George Cauble.


Need to catch up? Click Here: Buckingham Baptist Church, Part I


Buckingham County historian Lulie Patteson was fortunate that records from Buckingham Baptist Church’s earliest years survived into the twentieth century and no doubt relied on them for her article, “Old Church in Buckingham Still Stands as Lighthouse of Gospel,” published in 1959 in The Daily Progress.

She concluded her history by discussing the long career of Rev. William Harris Taylor, known to his congregation as “Uncle Taylor.” Like Rev. Chastain before him he serves the church for an impressive forty-one years. Miss Patteson wrote:

“Uncle Taylor”, as the pastor following Smith was called by his congregation, was greatly beloved. He was born and raised a short distance from Buckingham church and was baptized into the membership of Enon Church when he was 30 years of age. He died, while pastor on Oct. 24, 1887. . . .

Enon Baptist Church, Courtesy Historic Buckingham.

Fifty-three, 37 and 41 — an aggregate of 130 years in three pastorates. What a record of congenial relationship and what a beautiful spirit of mutual satisfaction must have existed between pastors and people. Surely Buckingham church may well be proud of its pastoral record as well as those who have gone forth from its membership to bear witness to the Christian training received within its walls. It may be that Renee Chastain, from his unmarked grave on the neighboring hillsides, watches over the “cloud of witnesses”, who have looked down on those “who now run with patience, the race set before us”.

Following in Lulie Patteson’s footsteps, Mary Bondurant Warren transcribed fragmentary minutes and marriage records written by Rev. René Chastain, included in her book, Buckingham County, Virginia Church and Marriage Records 1764-1822, which is available online at New Papyrus Publishing Company.


Thanks to Phil James for sharing Lulie Patteson’s article.

For more about Rev. Taylor, click here Buckingham Notable: Rev. William H. Taylor

For more about Buckingham Baptist Church and Rene Chastain, search the archives at Slate River Ramblings and enjoy the results!

January 29, 2020 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Baptist Church, Part III

Monument to Elder Poindexter P. Smith (1793-1845)

Fork Union Baptist Church Cemetery, Fluvanna County, Virginia. Courtesy Find a Grave.


Need to catch up? Click Here: Buckingham Baptist Church, Part I


Lulie Patteson’s article, “Old Church in Buckingham Still Stands as Lighthouse of Gospel,” published in Charlottesville’s The Daily Progress, preserved interesting details about the history of Buckingham Baptist Church, focusing on the contribution of its first pastor Renee Chastain and his successor, Poindexter Smith:

Buckingham church had representatives at the first general meeting ever held by Virginia Baptist. Renee Chastain, pastor and William Johnston, member, road over the bridle paths to Elisha Braig’s “Meeting House” in Orange County in May, 1771, where the meeting was held. Twelve Baptist churches were represented and Frederick County, on one hand, and Pittsylvania, on the other, were the limits of this gathering in the first effort of this individual-spirited denomination to cooperate with each other.

It is said that Renee Chastain was made moderator of the Middle District Association several times. It then included all the Baptist churches south of the James River to the North Carolina line and from Petersburg in the East to Bedford in the West. When the Appomattox Association was formed from the Middle District, the pastor of Buckingham became its first moderator.

The report of Buckingham Church to this general meeting in 1778 gave number of members is 52 and 16 additions by baptism. Buckingham Church has had many long pastorates. . . .

Poindexter Smith who was born in Buckingham but spent much of his early life in Tennessee and served in the War of 1812, followed Chastain. He was converted and joined Red Oak Church; was an overseer before his ordination; pastor of Buckingham Church for 37 years; and buried at Old Fork church in Fluvanna.


For more about Poindexter Smith, search the archives at Slate River Ramblings and enjoy the results.

Coming next, Buckingham Baptist Church, Part IV


January 27, 2020 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Baptist Church, Part II

Buckingham Baptist Church Historic Marker. Photo by Joanne Yeck.


Need to catch up? Click Here: Buckingham Baptist Church, Part I


In 1959, Lulie Patteson contributed a lengthy article to Charlottesville’s Daily Progress concerning the long history of Buckingham Baptist Church, highlighting the contribution of its pastor Rev. Renee Chastain, writing:

When Buckingham church was organized, Renee Chastain was called its first pastor. We are not told if he preached a “trial” sermon or not. If you did, it must’ve been one of great power, for he served as its pastor for 53 years. Cumberland, Providence and Mulberry Grove also later came under his care.

This stalwart little flock numbered twenty-nine whites and four Negroes. Their names on the church role were as follows: Renee Chastain and w; (note the small “w” for wife, and the husband’s name in capitals!!); Wm. Anderson and w.; Seth Corson and w.; William Johnston; John Epperson, George Epperson; Thomas Holland and Stephen Garrett; John Acers and w.; Robert Huddleston and w.; Henry Baker; James Ford and Philip Vest; Benjamin Goss and Benjamin Bristo; Wm. Peasley, John Arnold, Hannah Hudgin, Sarah Wheeler and Lettice Hammond; and several other names that are blurred.

Miss Patteson goes on to remind us that during the time that Rev. Chastain was pastor of Buckingham Church, Baptists were persecuted by both civil and religious authorities in Virginia. William Webber, in Chesterfield County, was jailed for preaching the gospel. Webber invited Rev. Chastain to baptize his converts. And, despite being given orders to the contrary, Chastain honored Webber’s request.

Coming next: Buckingham Baptist Church, Part III