Skip to content
December 18, 2017 / Joanne Yeck

Reconstruction in Buckingham County: Caesar Perkins, Part II

 

The “New” Main Street Baptist Church. Clifton Forge, VA.

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

Beyond his involvement in politics, Caesar Perkins was a leader in the African-American religious community. By 1868, he was a Trustee of Fork Union Baptist Church, which included a school for African-American children. According to the Encyclopedia Virginia:

On August 16, 1870, Perkins purchased for $1,675 the 628 acres in Buckingham County where he had been raising corn, oats, tobacco, and wheat on the farm he rented. In January 1873, however, he signed over his considerable amount of personal property to lien holders to secure the remainder of the purchase price. He also operated a store in Buckingham Court House and in June 1871 received a license to sell alcohol there. In 1872 he was licensed to keep two ordinaries in the county.

Later in the decade, Perkins served as assistant assessor for the county and served as a Supervisor for Maysville Township, fulfilling Lt. Jordan’s confidence in him.

By 1877, Caesar Perkins completed a divinity degree, was ordained as a Baptist minister, served as pastor at Zion Grove Baptist Church in Buckingham County and, later, served as Treasurer of the Slate River Baptist Association. Over the years, he officiated at numerous marriages in Buckingham County.

According to the Encyclopedia Virginia, in the early 1890s, Caesar Perkins moved west to help establish a new church in Clifton Forge, Alleghany County, Virginia:

By 1891 Perkins had moved to Clifton Forge, where he acquired property and operated a brickyard for the nearby Iron Gate Land and Improvement Company. He suffered financial difficulties and his property was sold at public auction in 1896. While living in Clifton Forge, Perkins helped establish Second Baptist Church (later Main Street Baptist Church), of which he was pastor, and facilitated the transfer of property to the church in 1897.

 

According to The Clifton Forge Woman’s Club holiday tour guide of historic building in Clifton Forge:

The Main Street Baptist Church was organized in 1895 and was the inspiration of the Rev. Cesar Perkins, a slave born in Buckingham County, Virginia. . . . He purchased a small wooden building which had been used as a church from a white congregation for $13,350.00 that same year. In 1921 the wooden building was replaced with the beautiful brick church you see today at a cost of $75,000.00. The sanctuary seats 250 members, many of whom, in years past, mortgaged their homes during the depression to maintain the church and its parsonage.

In 1900, Perkins and his second wife, the widow Lucy J. Claiborne, were enumerated twice on the Federal Census, in Clifton Forge and in Buckingham County. In November of 1904, in Buckingham, he helped found a chapter of the Colored Knights of Pythias, a fraternal and benevolent association, eventually becoming the District Deputy Grand Chancellor for the county and organized additional lodges. According to the Encyclopedia Virginia, “He donated a house and lot to the Maysville school district in August 1910.” He died on September 22, 1910, in Richmond, Virginia, following a long illness. He is buried on his property near Dillwyn in Buckingham County.

Coming next: Reconstruction in Buckingham County: Caesar Perkins, Part III

December 14, 2017 / Joanne Yeck

Reconstruction in Buckingham County: Caesar Perkins, Part I

Caesar Perkins. Courtesy E. Renée Ingram and Charles W. White, Sr.

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

In 1870, Caesar (a.k.a. Cesar) Perkins, “Mulatto,” lived in Buckingham County’s Maysville Township. Thirty years old, he was probably the youngest African American on Lt. Jordan’s list. His contribution to Virginia’s post-Civil War government earned him a lengthy entry at Encyclopedia Virginia. What follows is a summary of his political career and some of his other accomplishments.

According to the 1900 census, Caesar Perkins was born in March of 1839. In 1870, his mother, Clarisse (a.k.a. “Clarissy”), age forty-seven, and Joseph Moseley (a.k.a. Mosley), age seventy, lived together in Buckingham’s James River Township; their relationship is not stated on the census. Several sources identify them as husband and wife, despite their age difference. It has been suggested that Perkins adopted the surname of his “last,” former owner, William H. Perkins, who was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates during the 1853–1854 session.

Caesar Perkins first married a woman named Susan (a.k.a. Susannah). Her maiden name may have been Eldridge. In 1880, her sister, Lavinia Eldridge, was living with the Perkins family. Together, Caesar and Susan they had two daughters, Mary A. (born abt. 1862) and Mildred (born abt. 1868).

In an election on July 6, 1869, Caesar Perkins and a man named James H. Noble defeated candidates of the Conservative Party, winning by about 225 votes, earning two seats in Virginia’s House of Delegates. They would be among the men to ratify the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

For more about the forming of the Conservative Party in Buckingham County click here:

Reconstruction in Buckingham County, Part VIII

In the fall of 1869, Caesar Perkins attended a convention of Radical Republicans. The goal was to reorganize and strengthen the party against the Conservatives who had been victorious in recent elections. During 1870–1871, Perkins was on the Committee of Claims in the General Assembly.

Significantly, in January of 1873, Perkins was named by the Governor of Virginia as one of the curators to oversee the educational fund for Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (later Hampton University). Click here for more about Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute.

Simultaneously, Perkins continued his work with the Republican Party and, in 1884, he was named as an alternate delegate to the Republican national convention in Chicago. In 1887, he served a second term in the Virginia House of Delegates, representing Buckingham and Cumberland counties.

For much more about African American politicians, educators, and religious leaders in Buckingham County, Virginia, consult Buckingham County by E. Renée Ingram and Charles W. White, Sr.

Coming next: Reconstruction in Buckingham County: Caesar Perkins, Part II

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:

TWO TRAGEDIES IN BUCKINGHAM.

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 ARRESTED.

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