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April 9, 2018 / Joanne Yeck

Peter V. Foland, Part II


Need to catch up? Click here: Peter V. Foland: Part I.

Thanks to Civil War records maintained by the National Archives, we have a glimpse into Peter V. Foland’s war experience, his loyalty to the Confederacy, and his deep Virginia roots.

On October 19, 1861, Peter claimed he was seventeen years old when he enlisted for twelve months of service in Company G of the 43rd Tennessee Volunteers. In fact, it is likely he was only sixteen. His death record gives his birth date as January 22, 1845.

Described as having gray eyes and light hair, with a fair complexion, at 5’3” he was a small young man, likely still anticipating a growth spurt. His discharge papers from this company state that he was born in Richmond County, Virginia. A fact that will be later contradicted.

He signed up at Mossy Creek, Tennessee, located in Jefferson County, where he lived with his father, Valentine Foland, a skilled cabinetmaker. Peter’s occupation, however, was recorded as farmer. He was enlisted by James W. Gillespie.

These volunteers would subsequently become Company G, 23rd Regiment Tennessee Mounted Infantry. To confuse matters further, they were also known as the 5th Regiment East Tennessee Volunteers and Gillespie’s Regiment Tennessee Volunteers. Later, in about December of 1863 when a consolidation of troops took place, the Regiment served as mounted infantry until they were paroled in Washington, Georgia in May of 1865. Peter Foland, however, would not be with them at the end of the war.

Significantly, in January of 1862, Peter was appointed fifer for the company. His great-grandfather, Randolph Jefferson, played the violin as did his great, great uncle, Thomas Jefferson. Perhaps, Peter’s musical talents came down through the Jefferson line.

His discharge papers, dated November 17, 1862, indicated that he owed no funds to the Confederate States and that he had served his full year. Peter headed home with $6.80 in back pay.

Learn more about Peter V. Foland’s parents in my new book: Peter Field Jefferson: Dark Prince of Scottsville & Lost Jeffersons.

Coming next: Peter V. Foland, Part III

April 5, 2018 / Joanne Yeck

Peter V. Foland: Part I

Mount Walla c. 2000. Home of Peter V. Foland and family.

Courtesy Virginia Department of Historic Resources

When researching a life story as complex as Peter Field Jefferson: Dark Prince of Scottsville, there is inevitably material, often fascinating, that does not end up in the final draft. This was the case of the life story of Jefferson’s grandson, Peter Valentine Foland, who upon his grandfather’s death inherited a significant fortune and eventually became Mayor of Scottsville, Virginia.

It is highly probable that the two men never met, however, Jefferson was determined to provide for his deceased daughter’s only child and did so in his last will written in 1854. At that time Peter was not yet ten years old. He would not come into his inheritance until he was twenty-one.

Peter Foland was born away from Scottsville and grew to manhood in Jefferson County, Tennessee. It is not known precisely when his mother, born Frances Ann Jefferson, died, though Peter was likely quite young. In 1860, he was living with his father, Valentine Foland; his stepmother; and three half-brothers. Sixteen years old, he was bound to serve in the coming Civil War. His father was a Virginia-born cabinetmaker, who had likely never been a slaveholder. Whether or not Valentine Foland sided with the Union or the Confederacy is unknown.

When Peter Field Jefferson died in 1861, his executors in Scottsville, Virginia were obligated to locate Peter Foland and inform him of his inheritance. How and when they finally found him remains a mystery.  It seems likely that was either prior to 1863 or after the end of the war. By 1866, Peter had turned twenty-one, claimed his inheritance, was residing in Scottsville, and had married a local girl.

Learn more about Peter Foland’s inheritance in my newest book: Peter Field Jefferson: Dark Prince of Scottsville & Lost Jeffersons.

Coming next: Peter V. Foland, Part II

April 4, 2018 / Joanne Yeck

Scottsville Tribute

Joanne Yeck and Raymon Thacker, 2010.  Photo by Connie Geary.

Those of you who had the opportunity to meet Raymon Thacker know what a treasure he was.

The photograph above documents a splendid conversation we had in July of 2010, while I was in residence for my Jefferson Fellowship.  Raymon shared numerous Scottsville stories and photos with me, several of which are included in my newest book, Peter Field Jefferson: Dark Prince of Scottsville and Lost Jeffersons.

On Sunday, April 8, at 2 PM, Scottsville Museum will open for the 2018 season with a tribute to Raymon Thacker’s long and illustrious life.  The ceremony at the Museum will be followed by the ribbon-cutting for the newly reconstructed canal packet boat at Canal Basin Square.  This event will be followed by live music.

For full details, click here: “Honoring Raymon Thacker at Spring Opening, 8 April 2018.”

Beginning April 8, Peter Field Jefferson: Dark Prince of Scottsville and Lost Jeffersons will be for sale at Scottsville Museum.

April 2, 2018 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham County: The Coming of the Canal

Courtesy Harpers Weekley.

While many persons on the north bank of the James River celebrated the extension of the James River and Kanawha Canal to Scottsville, Albemarle County, Virginia, citizens of Buckingham County may have had their reservations about this improvement. In 1841, the following letter was sent to Richmond’s Whig and to the Enquirer signed by six of Buckingham’s leading citizens, expressing their opinion about the coming of the canal:

Having been informed that the efforts now making [before] the General Assembly of the State, by the Stockholders of the James River & Kanawha Company, to procure such a modification of their Charter, as to substitute Bridges for the accommodation of the trade on the South side of the James River, in the place of water communication with the Canal by Locks and Dams; and that in order more readily to be relieved from the obligations which we believe said Company have come under to the South side, public papers have been industriously circulated[ [in] this county by persons personally interested, or mistaken in [their] views, under such circumstances as are calculated to mislead the General Assembly as to what is the Southside interest; and knowing that if this object is accomplished, its effect will be most disastrous to us as individuals and the county at large, we would respectfully request the people of the County of Buckingham who feel an interest in this subject, to meet us at our next Court, to [—] with us in considering and taking such action as in [our] opinion may be best calculated to preserve our rights and benefit the county.

We would also, respectfully request that the legislature (and if it would have more effect, we would implore the body,) not to act hastily upon the subject. We can [—] better, we believe, with the present arrangement and the use of Small Boats, than to adopt Bridges. Let the people have time for reflection, that they may act understandingly upon the subject, and place their views before their representatives

R. Eldridge, Reuben B, Patteson, Benj. C. Walker, Wm. Patterson, J. T. Bocock, Wm. Leitch.

Learn much more about the canal’s impact on Scottsville in my new book:

Peter Field Jefferson, Dark Prince of Scottsville and Lost Jeffersons


March 30, 2018 / Joanne Yeck

Book News


I’m delighted to announce that my newest book, Peter Field Jefferson: Dark Prince of Scottsville and Lost Jeffersons, is now available.

Currently, copies are for sale at the venues below. As more booksellers have copies, I will post updates here at Slate River Ramblings.

Available online: Braughler Books Store

Available in Buckingham County: Nancy’s Gifts

13126 W James Anderson, Buckingham, VA.

Phone: (434) 969-2162.



Learn more about the descendants of Randolph Jefferson. . . .

Peter Field Jefferson: Dark Prince of Scottsville follows the rise and fall of Randolph Jefferson’s most successful son. Nephew to President Thomas Jefferson, Peter Field proved that at least one member of the family had a head for business. The story of his life parallels that of the changing cultural landscape of the James River’s Horseshoe Bend across seven decades—rising from virtual frontier to the establishment of Scottsville in Albemarle County, through the building of the James River and Kanawha Canal, and culminating in the early months of the Civil War. Jefferson’s success as a self-made man is tainted with great personal loss, making his story a distinctively American tragedy.

Lost Jeffersons is a collection of essays which follows descendants of Randolph Jefferson and their kinfolk. Their fates reveal, in part, the genetic decline of one branch of the Jefferson family. A microcosm of Virginia’s gentry, multiple generations of cousin marriage resulted in a concentration of undesirable traits—including alcoholism, idiocy, and insanity—compromising individuals who might otherwise have led productive and useful lives.

March 29, 2018 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham County Obituaries, Part IV

Buckingham County, Virginia.  Photo by Joanne Yeck.

Click here for Buckingham County Obituaries, Part I

On January 5, 1899, the Appomattox and Buckingham Times printed this report from Ransons’ correspondent “Artificer”:

Editor Times – A shocking accident occurred on the farm of Mr. Samuel D. Holman, a few miles from this place last Friday afternoon, when George, the 14-year old son of Mr. Holman, accidentally shot and instantly killed his cousin, Sammy Loving, about the same age.

The two boys had been hunting together all day, and in the afternoon came home for dinner, and afterwards started to get to Mr. Connor’s store, at Eldridge’s Mill. They had not gone far from the house when Sammy Loving said to George Holman, “You hold my gun while I run back and get my rabbit skins to sell Mr. Connor.” George says he reached out to take Sammy’s gun, and just then his own gun, which he held under his arm, went off in some way he does not know how, the load entered the boy’s head, tearing away the whole top and scattering his brain on the ground and fence which was near the boy. He died instantly, George dropped his gun and ran back to the house almost scared to death, not knowing the boy was dead.

An inquest was held Saturday, and the jury returned a verdict of accidental killing.

The burial took place Saturday afternoon at Mr. Holman’s.

The deceased was the oldest son of Mrs. Mary Loving and a nephew of Mr. Sam Holman.
It will be remembered by the readers of the TIMES that only a few weeks ago, on the same place, Ansell Newton, a boy about 15 years old who also lived at Mr. Holman’s, was found dead in the woods near home, having been shot and killed by someone unknown. He had been hunting during the day with a youth, Willie Jamison, and not coming home at night friends went to look for him. Not finding him at the Jamison home, they became alarmed and looked for him all night and until noon the next day, when they found his body in the woods.

The Jamison boy was arrested and placed in jail, but was afterwards released on bail, and will be tried by the grand jury next court. It is believed by most people that Newton was accidentally killed by the Jamison boy, and that he was afraid to tell it.

It is remarkable that two boys of about the same age, both living on the same farm, should be killed in the same manner so near the same time. At the time the Newton boy was killed George Holman was in school at Well Water.
The sad death of young Loving has cast a gloom over the entire community, who deeply sympathize with the sorrowing mother in her sore affliction.

March 26, 2018 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham County Obituaries, Part III


Click here for Buckingham County Obituaries, Part I

Public concerns about responsible gun use and gun-control are not new. In 1908, the Appomattox and Buckingham Times printed the following news of the death of Willie Jones. Sent from Manteo:

Two young colored man, Clair [Sinclair] Perkins and Willie Jones, were going along the public road Saturday night shooting their pistols. Just as Jones came up along the side of Perkins he shot and killed Jones, the bullet going right through the temple. It was purely accidental as the boys were the best of friends. How long will it be that nine-tenths of the negro boys are to have pocket guns and be shooting at will on the public highway. We have laws, and good one too, but my, how they are ignored.

The fact that this happened on Saturday night, may indicate that Perkins and Jones were in high spirits. These kinds of accidents were not at all exclusive to the African-American community.

Coming next: Buckingham County Obituaries, Part IV


March 22, 2018 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham County Obituaries, Part II

In the autumn of 1837, Richmond’s Enquirer published several obituaries reported from Buckingham County. Click here for Buckingham County Obituaries, Part I.

Reported deaths included:

— Also, Capt. Robert Hill, a resident of our Court house; the gentleman a very fine character, of amiable and bland disposition, courteous manners, and generally much esteemed by his acquaintances. He has left a young and amiable widow to lament her early deprivation.

— Also, Lion E. Hooper, merchant, of Curdsville, in the prime of life, of breast affection. Mr. Hooper was much esteemed, and deservedly so, through the circle of his acquaintance, as an upright, just man, of fair prospects, but nipped by untimely death. He has left an amiable widow and several young children to bewail their great loss.

—Also, George Carter, a deserving, valuable man, in the prime of life, with a scrofulous disease, leaving a young widow to lament her heavy bereavement.

In the 19th century, scrofulous, a specific form of tuberculosis, was particularly prevalent among slaves in Buckingham County, however, it affected the entire population.

If a Slate River Rambling reader can expand on the lives of Messrs. Hill, Hooper, or Carter, please comment.

Coming next: Buckingham County Obituaries, Part III

March 21, 2018 / Joanne Yeck

Central Virginia Genealogy Association


Are you working on Buckingham County genealogy?  If your family is like mine, the story of your ancestors’ lives spills over into adjoining counties. Sometimes, those counties have helpful records that are missing in Buckingham due to the 1869 courthouse fire. Central Virginia Genealogy Association bridges those county lines bringing researchers together from: Albemarle, Amherst, Appomattox, Augusta, Bedford, Buckingham, Campbell, Culpeper, Fluvanna, Goochland, Greene, Hanover, Louisa, Madison, Nelson, Orange, Page, Rockbridge, Rockingham, and Shenandoah.

This collection of counties represents Old Albemarle County, beginning with its creation from Goochland County in 1744. Learn much more at the Central Virginia Genealogy Association website.

Annual membership includes a quarterly publication, Central Virginia Heritage. The 2018 Spring issue features my article, “Two Alexander Moseleys,” one of whom was the man behind Alexander Hill in Buckingham County.

Print copies can be ordered from Amazon.

March 19, 2018 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham County Obituaries, Part I


In the 19th century, news of Buckingham County reached regional and city newspapers via  correspondence. As a result, obituaries might be bundled, sometimes without specific dates. Such was the case in the autumn of 1837. Following an unusually lengthy obituary for the esteemed Archibald Austin, Esq., Richmond’s Enquirer printed several obituaries from Buckingham County. Given the loss of Buckingham County death records prior to 1869, these obituaries are particularly valuable.

Click here to read the obituary for Archibald Austin, Esq.

Austin’s obituary was followed by a notice concerning Thomas May, in which we also learn about the death of his wife:

— Also, Thomas May, proprietor of the Manor at our Court-house—an honest, worthy man, of kind and social feelings, his lady having deceased about three years before him. He has left an amiable family of sons and daughters to mourn their great bereavement.

Thomas May was remembered by the Town of Maysville (a. k. a. Buckingham Court House), which was established in 1818. May’s death notice was followed by one for William Lewis:

—Also, William Lewis, an honest man by nature and practice—pure amongst the purest; eminently gifted with virtuous, kind and social feelings and his family, to his neighbors and toward all mankind. He has left an amiable wife and several daughters to mourn their irreparable loss.

This notice was of particular interest to me, as William Lewis was briefly father-in-law to my ancestor John M. Harris. Lewis died in September of 1837 at White Sulphur Springs, Virginia. Presumably, he had gone in hopes of restoring his health. His wife, Ann “Nancy” (Tindall), survived only until May 27, 1838. Their daughter, Mary Tindall Lewis, who had cared for both parents, married my widowed ancestor in Buckingham County on October 5, 1842. A shock to all, Mary was dead by June 10, 1843.

Coming next: Buckingham County Obituaries, Part II