T. J. MACON of Richmond VA
T. J. MACON
W. H. ADAMS, PUBLISHER
My Life's Gleanings is not intended to be a technical history cronologically arranged, but a reproduction of events that my memory recalls. By retrospecting to occurances that happened during my journey of life. To those who were contemporaneous with the gleanings alluded to they will recognize them. To the younger reader he will glean what happened in the past. The incident and anecdote is founded on facts. I launch the book on the highway of public approval, hoping the reader will not be disappointed.
MY LIFE'S GLEANINGS
COMPILED BY T. J. MACON
The author of these pages first saw the light of day at the family home of his father, Mr. Miles Cary Macon, called "Fairfield," situated on the banks of that historic river, the "Chicahominy," in the good old County of Hanover, in Virginia. My grandfather, Colonel William Hartwell Macon, started each of his sons on the voyage of life with a farm, and the above was allotted to my respected parent. Belonging to the place, about one or two miles from the dwelling, was a grist mill known as "Mekenses," and how the name of "Macon" could have been corrupted to "Mekenses," is truly unaccountable, yet such as the case. The City of Richmond was distant about eight miles to the South. This old homestead passed out of the Macon family possession about seventy years ago, and a Mr. Overton succeeded my father in the ownership of "Fairfield" and the mill. Later a Doctor Gaines purchased it. My highly respected parents were the fortunate possessors of a large and flourishing family of ten children, all of whom were born at "Fairfield."
The Macon manor house was situated just on the edge of the famous trucking section of Hanover County, which agricultural characteristic gave its soil an extensive reputation for the production of the celebrated and highly- prized melons and sweet potatoes of Hanover, known to
Eastern Virginia for their toothsomness and great size. This fine old plantation was surrounded by country estates belonging to Virginia families, who were very sociable, cultured and agreeable people. My father and mother were thoroughly imbued with the spirit of that old-time genial country hospitality, which was never found anywhere in this country more cordial, nor probably even equal, to it. It afforded them infinite pleasure to visit and to receive the calls of their neighbors. It was then the invariable custom, when guests were entertained, for the host to set out refreshments, always the best the larder afforded, and to insist upon a liberal partaking of it, for a refusal of the good cheer was indeed a rare thing, and it was not considered polite to decline joining in wishing good health and prosperity to your friends and neighbors, always of course in moderate bumpers, not in excess, and then the viands bountifully spread out were truly tempting, real old Virginia style of cooking, such as beaten biscuits that would almost melt in one's mouth, and other dishes almost too numerous to mention, and then such a hearty welcome accompanied the feast and "flow of soul," and when the parting came there was always an appealing invitation for a "speedy coming again" - a wish for another visit.
Now there was no sham-pretence in these old Virginia manners, but genuine heartfelt hospitality, which sprang from kind hearts. A striking habit or custom at that happy period in the "Old Dominion" life in the country was the intrusting of the white children of the family to the care of a good old colored nurse, or "Mammy," as they were affectionately called by them; their mothers turned the children over to their watchful supervision and they were truly faithful and proud of their control
of the little young masters and mistresses, thus relieving their "old mistress" of all care in rearing them. Well do I remember my "old Mammy," whose kindness and affectionate treatment, not only won my heart, but my prompt obedience to her commands and my cheerful recognition of the authority delegated her by my fond mother. I was the youngest of the family, and as time was welding each link in the chain of my life, it was passing like, as in all families at that period, situated as my parents were, smoothly and unruffled by excitement or troubles abroad. My mother owned a number of slaves, or servants, as Virginians generally termed them, whom she treated with kindness, and when sick she nursed them with the skill and tender consideration accorded members of her own family, and in return they looked up to, and respected, her; indeed revered "Old Missus," as they often called her.
At the time I am writing about, the life of the Virginia farmer was one to be much desired, for he was a baron in his realm, was lord of all he surveyed, and yielded no obeisance to any one, but to his Maker and his country. The dark shadows of coming dire events had not then cast their war-like omens ahead. The question of the Missouri Compromise, the admission of Kansas into the sisterhood of the States under the Lecompton Convention, the decision in the Dred Scott case, the political issues and measures which were the precursors of the great war between the States had not yet reached Congress. Everything that could render life pleasant was vouchsafed the country gentleman and planter, and his family about three-quarters of a century ago.
What was to happen in the near future no one at this early period could Cassandra-like predict, and yet there was in the political horizon a small pillar of portentous appearance, which was destined to cover the whole heavens with gloom and bring death to thousands of peaceful citizens in this country, through the clash of arms and fratricidal strife in which brothers were arrayed against brothers, and fathers against sons.
My father was an old line Whig and believed in the theory of government advocated by Alexander Hamilton, yet he recognized the autonomy of the States and approved some of the tenets of Mr. Thomas Jefferson, but did not agree with him generally, being in favor of a strong central government at Washington, though disagreeing with the extremists of both sections.
Being a close student of the political history of our country he subscribed to, and carefully read every page of, the National Intelligencer, owned and published by the Seaton brothers, which was the best exponent of the legislation of the time that has ever been issued; the editorials were clear and forcible and the reports of the debates in Congress were correct and complete. The political disputes on the Door of Congress began to be warm, and indeed acrimonious between the Northern and Southern members, which brought out the great efforts for peace of Henry Clay, of Kentucky, and prevented at that time a clash of arms between the sections. The admission of Kansas into the Union under the Lecompton Convention was but a link in the chain of events leading to the great Civil War. Well do I recall my respected parent's remark that the trend of the speeches by the Free-Soil, or Abolition, party in the North and those of the Seccessionists of the South, would certainly bring about a disruption of the United
States if persisted in; and alas! his children lived to see his remark verified in the year 1861.
Our family moved from old Fairfield to Magnolia farm, only about two miles north of Richmond, which place was then owned by the Nortons, and it was a quiet, pleasant home "far away from the madding crowd" in a sociable and agreeable neighborhood; it is at the present time owned by the "Hartshorne" Colored Female Institute and now is included within the corporate limits of the city of Richmond, Va. How rapidly the wheel of time brings changes in our surroundings. My father's children are advancing in years, the older ones are sent off to boarding schools, my oldest brother had just returned from Philadelphia, where he had attended the Jefferson Medical College as an office student of Dr. Thomas C. Mutter, the president of the college, who was first cousin of my mother - her maiden name was Frances Mutter.
From Magnolia we moved to "Rose Cottage," owned by a Mr. Richardson, the object in this move being to be near "Washington and Henry" Academy, a boarding and day school carried on by a Mr. and Mrs. Dunton; she was in charge of the small boys and the girls, while her husband taught the large boys. I was in Mrs. Dunton's department, being but a small chap, and as to whether I learned anything at this time it is a matter of considerable doubt. My mother furnished six pupils to this institution. The principals would come over to "Rose Cottage" two or three times per month, bringing their boarders with them, which visits they appeared to enjoy greatly as a good supper, with a large and shady yard to play in, was certainly well calculated to afford mirth and pleasure to both old and young. A Mr. Osborne, a Presbyterian minister, boarded at the academy, being a unique character and one of the
best men to be found anywhere; he formed the plan of teaching the scholars, young and old, the catechism of the Presbyterian Church, and all those who committed it to memory received a nice book as a prize. The climax of the scheme was an offer of a grand prize to any scholar that would repeat the whole of it without a hitch or halt. The children were thoroughly inoculated with Presbyterianism. The final trial of reciting, or memorizing, the catechism came off at the residence of Mr. Thomas Gardner. The contest was one long to be remembered, a Miss Fannie Shelton scoring the first honor, and Miss Newell Gardner the second. The supper provided for this happy occasion was a first class one in every respect. The best that a well- stocked farm house could produce, both in substantiate and nicknacks, such for instance, as broiled chicken, roast lamb and barbecued pig, with dessert of ice cream, yellow cake and pies in abundance; it was in short one of the finest "lay-outs" that I ever saw, and being an appreciative youngster I did ample justice to it indeed, and fairly revelled in the many good eatables so generously spread before us, and to this day I remember it with pleasure. "Rose Cottage" was truly a delightful home. The never-failing wheel of time was turning fast, and the water of life that once passed over it will never again turn it. We were all growing fast as we advanced in years. At this time my father bought a place on Nine Mile Road, about two and a half miles from the city, it was named "Auburn," and to it we moved bag and baggage.
Just as with "Fairfield" and Magnolia," we found hospitable neighbors, and genial intercourse was conspicuous. Among them were Colonel Sherwin McRae and family, a Mrs. Gibson, Mr. Tinsley Johnson, Mr. Galt Johnson, and many other well known families, nearly all of whom have
now moved away or have passed to the other side of the river. Mr. William Galt Johnson lived about a quarter of a mile from us, and there was a considerable intercourse between the two families. "Galt," as he was called, was a character of renown and possessed of much personality; one of his traits was never to give a word its correct pronunciation and yet he thought he was right always. I was visiting there one evening, and as supper was placed on the table the bell rang; Galt arose from his seat and in a clear voice said "the bell has pronounced supper ready, let's go." His wife, who was a cultivated lady, attempted to correct him by saying "announce, William," but she could never get him to change his mode of speech. Another of his peculiarities was his lack of fondness of church-going. Mrs. Johnson, his wife, was a regular attendant to the church and naturally desired her husband to accompany her, a most reasonable wish, but Galt made several excuses for not complying, and finally he urged as a last resort that he could not sit in a pew unless he could whittle a stick, and could not collect his thoughts sufficiently to listen to the sermon; so she told him that should not be a good excuse, and that he could take a stick along and trim it as much as he chose, and he consented to go with her, but did not receive much benefit from the sermon.
My mother determined to send me to live with my eldest brother, Doctor William H. Macon, who had recently married Miss Nora C. Braxton, the daughter of Mr. Carter Braxton, of "Ingleside," Hanover County, the owner of the celebrated plantation "New Castle," situated on the Pamunkey River. The name of my brother's home was "Woodland," about three miles below the well-known tavern at Old Church. The reason of my being sent to live with him was to be convenient to enter the school kept
by a Count Larry, one of the best teachers of his day and time. The school house was distant about three miles from my brother's place, and not too far away for a little boy to walk at that time. I was duly enrolled as a day scholar in Count Larry's establishment, which consisted of an unpretentious structure, about thirty feet square, with two doors, one for entry and the other for exit, and was lighted by two windows with which to admit the sunshine and fresh air in the summer time, and to shut out the "cold chilly winds of December." The school was composed of both boys and girls, and the Count sat in a large wooden chair, with a table at his side similar to those now seen in a modern dairy lunch room in the cities. On the table was placed all his text books and such other teacher's implements, or fixings, and then to descend as it were from the "sublime to the ridiculous," he installed, within easy reach, a large earthen "spittoon," or more modernly speaking, "cuspidor." The master, enthroned as like a ruler, or king, surveyed his pupils with great dignity and gravity. And although very kind and lenient in his dealings with his young charges, yet when occasion required it he could wield the birch with great effect, but always with prudence and moderation. He always kept a sharp pen-knife ready for use in making or mending quill pens, for steel pens were not then in use for the children; the goose quills were the only kind of pens we knew about, and it was no small job to keep a lot of chaps well supplied with writing materials, for he was constantly called upon.
We were given an hour at playtime, and about a mile and half away was a mill pond, which is probably there now unless dried up, and to this, in the warm weather, the boys, both large and small, repaired in great glee, but the girls did not accompany us.
Well school boys are proverbially as prone to mischief as are the sparks to fly upwards, and when the Count would be absorbed in study the boys would throw torpedoes upon the floor which would quickly arouse him from his studies, but was soon made to believe that it was but an accidental match dropped and trodden upon, though in truth it was pure deviltry on the part of some of the larger boys. An incident fraught with much concern to me in connection with a boy by the name of Benjamin Tucker, who was about my age, but much stouter and had by some means gotten me under a sort of "hack," and it becoming very annoying I finally concluded that the thing had gone far enough, so one day I lost patience with Benjamin and I just "pitched into" him and gave him a gentle thrashing; he had on a bran-new nine-pence straw hat which I got hold of and tore to smithereens. Well, after this "scrap" I had no further trouble with Master Benjamin Tucker. Another rather humorous matter which happened about this time at school was about a boy who was called "Phil." He was the pet and idol of his mother, who took a pair of his father's old pants and made him a pair from them, but the trouble was that the cloth was not sufficient for the garment, and resulted in their being too small and too tight in the body when his burley form was encased therein, and became as solid as a drumhead, and we had a popular game called hard ball and the mischievous fellows selected him as a special target, and when the ball struck him plumb it rebounded as if it was rubber, but at last he got tired of being made a butt of ridicule and a target in the game, so he complained to his mother and she reported the matter to our teacher, requesting that gentleman that the boys should be made to stop the treatment to her son; the Count, after giving it careful consideration, told his
mother that the only remedy that he could suggest was to get her boy a new and a more roomy pair of trousers, and cast the old ones which had caused his annoyance aside. Our old teacher was a good and faithful one, and if his pupils did not profit by his knowledge and training, it surely was not his fault. He possessed of course some objectionable habits, such as when school closed he would get on a "spree" and remain on it until school was assembled for work, when all traces of his riotous living had disappeared.
My brother, Miles Macon, afterwards commander of the Fayette Artillery, Confederate States Army, joined me at "Woodland" and became a scholar in our school; he was my senior by two years. Our country life there was very pleasant, for on Saturdays we would hunt birds all day, as my brother owned a fine pointer dag named "Roscoe," and we were hunting on "Spring Garden," owned by Judge Meredith, it being about seven miles from our place, when the old dog broke down from the infirmities of age and Miles and I carried him home on our shoulders, it being his last appearance in the fields that he had so successfully hunted, for he died soon afterwards.
About this period politics were coming strongly to the front, and I remember when Mr. Chastaine White was nominated by the Democrats for the General Assembly, and William C. Wickham was put up by the Whig party for the same office. My brother, Dr. Macon, was a Whig, and a friend and supporter of Wickham. The Democrat was of course elected, as at that time a Whig stood no show, however superior his qualification for the position might
be. Another feature of the times was the muster of the county militia, when the colonel commandant, arrayed in a uniform as gorgeous as that of a field marshall of France, put his men through a few drill evolutions and then disbanded them, after which all hands went willingly up and took a drink, and it was a field day, for Mr. Ellett who then kept "Old Church" Tavern and profited greatly by the crowd's liberal spending of money.
There were two churches near "Woodland," the Presbyterian was called "Bethlehem," a name connected with many good associations; the other was an Episcopal one, and named "Emmanuel," which name suggests many Christian ideas. As a boy I attended both these churches, and noticed one thing particularly that was that the male attendants, both communicants and non-communicants, gathered on the outside and discussed farming and neighboring topics and conditions generally. I also observed that those living a long distance from the church always dined with some friend near the church, this being, I thought, simply a species of "whacking" which was quite admissable under the circumstances.
The planters, who owned and cultivated large estates on the river, built summer residences on the higher lands of the same, in order to escape the malaria and chills, produced by the miasma arising from the marshes exposed to the sun and night air at low tide during the heated term, which the first killing frost in the fall would dispel and render the river residents healthy and comfortable when they would all return to their estates. I have never in my travels seen a more productive country in the State than the famous low grounds bordering the Pamunkey river, beginning about Hanover Town and continuing down that streaks to the celebrated "White House" plantation in New
Kent County, which estate originally belonged to General Custis, who was the first husband of Martha Washington (nee Dandridge).
Dr. William Macon, my brother, about this time came into possession of the Mount Prospect plantation in New Kent County, on the Pamunkey River, left to him by our grandfather, Colonel William Hartwell Macon, it being then one of the finest farms on the river; it adjoined the famous White House aforementioned, which latter plantation was inherited and occupied later by General William H. Fitzhugh flee, son of the famous General Robert E. Lee, of Confederate fame.
The York- River railroad passed through a portion of the "Mt. Prospect farm." A noted feature of the place was its very large and beautiful garden, almost every flower and plant known to Eastern Virginia florists was to be found there, and considerable expense had been made to render it a veritable Garden of Eden; and then, alas! when the great strife began between the North and the South, and our beloved old State became the battleground of the contending hosts of soldiers of both sides, and the Federal army, under General McClellan, advanced up the peninsula from Fort Monroe the farm became the camping ground, and his cavalry was picketted in that lovely spot, amid the almost priceless roses and violets, and needless to add that when those horsemen left it was a pitiable scene of "horrid war's desolating effects, as hardly a trace of its former beauty and vision of refinement remained.
A gentleman, Colonel Grandison Crump, taught school near the place, and I was made a scholar of his; it was quite like that of Count Larry's, except that the Colonel had no girls in his school. He sat is the same kind of armchair, and made and trimmed quill pens in the very same
way. He was a most excellent teacher and I fairly buckled down to hard study, and as a consequence learned more then ever before, or indeed afterwards, at school. Our teacher was not a young man, as he was near sixty years of age, and was deeply enamored with a certain beautiful girl living in Charles City County adjoining; a Miss Maria Jerdone was the fortunate one, a most attractive girl, and quite young enough to be his daughter, but which did not prevent the old Colonel from loving her with all the ardor of youth. He was then living in the family of Mr. Braxton Garlick at "Waterloo" plantation, on the Pamunkey, which gentleman was one of the most hospitable men that ever lived, and who joked with the Colonel about his attentions to the young lady, but which did not dampen his ardor towards her, though he did not gain his suit, as she afterwards married a Mr. Pettus, an A. M. of the University of Virginia, who taught, and was the principal of a female academy in Tennessee; they made a very handsome bridal couple, but she did not long survive the wedding, and Mr. Pettus married, as his second wife, a Miss Turner, and removed to Richmond, Va., where he had the misfortune to lose his second wife by death.
About this date I, who had grown to be a good-sized boy, remember well going down to New Kent Courthouse to see the cavalry troop with their new and very shody uniforms of light blue cloth with silver trimmings and metal helmet, with white plumes. This old company, one of the oldest in the State, was then officered as follows: Captain. Braxton Garlick; first lieutenant, George T. Brumley, with Southey Savage as orderly sergeant. On this occasion, after the commanding Deer had put the troopers through a few drilling paces, all of them, officers and private soldiers, with one accord repaired to the tavern bar room and there
regaled themselves with several fine juleps each; this treat had been set up by Captain Garlick, and he expected each man to do his duty in this valiant attack upon the enemy's fort, and truly was he not disappointed therein, although it was one of the hottest days I ever felt in the month of May.
Not far from my brother's residence, where I was then living, lived a man named Tip Rabineau, a unique character, his ways and dress were both similar to that of the person described as Dominie Sampson in Sir Walter Scott's novel "Guy Mannering." Tip was about six feet and two inches in height; he wore his pants too short and coat sleeves not long enough to cover his big wrists, and yet he had an accomplishment which gave him much distinction in the neighborhood as being one of the most successful hunters to be found anywhere around, ranking as one of the best shots in Hanover County. He used always a single- barreled shot-gun that measured about six feet in length and carried powder in a small round gourd, and the shot in a canvass shot-bag; for loading this muzzle-loader he used newspaper for wadding; the bore of this weapon was but little larger than a ladies' thimble, but with this primitive outfit he brought down a bird every time he fired at one. What finally became of Rabineau I know not since I lost sight of him.
Colonel Frank G. Ruffin, just before the beginning of the war, at my brother's invitation, came down to Mount Prospect, our home then, for the puprose of lecturing on agriculture to the farmers at New Kent Courthouse, on a court day, where a large crowd had assembled to hear him, and although whether theoretical or scientific farming had then attained the high degree it now enjoys is a matter of much doubt, yet he imparted to his listeners in a very pleasing
and instructive manner, many valuable ideas on the subject of the new way of tilling "old mother earth"; how poor, thin soil could be made to yield as much as the richest Pamunkey low grounds under his advanced system of cultivation. Of course there were some present who believed the Colonel, and others who did not fully accept his theories, for as a matter of fact, he was considered one of the least practical of the prominent farmers in the State, but one of the best theoretical ones. We passed a very pleasant day at the courthouse and I enjoyed, on our return home, as a boy, great pleasure and instruction from his most interesting and amusing conversation. Ah, indeed! was those the flush times in the old Commonwealth, the like of which will never again be known.
At about the period I am writing the York River railroad was being built from Richmond in an easterly direction about forty miles to West Point, in King William County, at the head of York River, and the junction of two rivers, the Pamunkey and the Mattaponi. The young men, the civil engineers employed about the surveying and construction of this work frequently visited "Mount Prospect," it being convenient to the camp, and we all enjoyed their society very much indeed, they being polished gentlemen, whose presence was an agreeable addition to any company; among them I can recall the names of Major E. T. D. Myers, General J. M. St. John, Colonel Jno. G. Clarke, Colonel Henry T. Douglass and others whose names I fail to remember now, but all were then young, intelligent men, each of whom afterwards attained important military positions in the Confederate service during the war which soon followed their railroad building on the peninsula. Colonel Clarke, above mentioned, subsequently married my sister, Lucy Selden.
The majority of them have now passed from this life on earth to join those on the "other side of the river," though their names and deeds are revered by their survivors. No State, nor country ever produced a braver or more accomplished group of heroes than they were.
Well, after attending Colonel Crumps' school for three years, when he closed for the summer vacation I bid farewell to his excellent tutorship. There were many quite pleasant associations connected with my school days there; I was considered one of his best boys; I packed up my few belongings there and returned to Auburn, my mother's home. My respected father died in the year 1852, and my mother then carried on the farming operations under the supervision of our servant Israel as her head man and overseer, who was one of the most efficient and faithful negroes I ever knew, performing his duties fully and satisfactorily to his mistress as manager of the hands.
Two of my sisters were then married, Sister Anne to Mr. Peyton Johnston, the senior member of the drug house of P. Johnston & Brothers, of Richmond; my other sister, Betty, married the Rev. Dr. Alexander Martin, of the Presbyterian Church in Danville, Va. Probably no minister in that denomination had a higher reputation for pulpit oratory; he preached with force and effect, and set an example of a pure, unselfish, Christian life.
After consulting the wishes of her single daughters my good mother decided to move to Richmond. She therefore rented a nice roomy house in a pleasant street in the city, and then a new leaf in the book of life was turned for me, as I of course continued to live with the family, but an era, or epoch in my journey of life now confronted me, as I was about to start to work to earn my own bread and meat. I therefore duly made application to the firm of Parker,
Nimms & Co. for a clerkship in their establishment, and the senior partner told me to call in a few days for an answer, which I accordingly did in due time and received a favorable one, and in a few days I began my life's work. I remained with that firm six years and only left in 1861 to join, or rather to go with the First Company Richmond Howitzers into the great war between the States, being a member before the same strife began, having joined in the year 1859 when the company was organized. The house of Parker, Nimms & Co. was one of the largest wholesale dry-goods houses in Virginia at that time. When a young man commenced his apprenticeship in a dry goods store, it took some time to become acquainted with the routine of the business; it was about twelve months before I was allowed to carry a customer through it. It was not then as now when there is a salesman in separate departments and buyers are taken to another counter and clerks; but then in my day when a salesman started with a customer or purchaser he carried him or her through every department until the memorandum of the buyer was complete. It was then considered quite undignified for houses of established reputation and standing to advertise their wares in the newspapers; how different it is now, when most of the articles are sold through the aid of printer's ink; then they were sold upon their merits and intrinsic values, and also by means of an agreeable mode of showing them off. The house had a large patronage in the city as well as from all parts of the State. By degrees I advanced and became familiar with the whole business, and my sales were footing up well, which gave satisfaction to my employers, and consequently my salary was advanced, that being a very important point to me.
The following incident occurred to a Colonel Jos. Weisiger,
who was a fellow clerk in the house of Parker, Nimms & Co., he was a very genial man, and had been the husband of the daughter of a wealthy planter, Colonel Bolling, who had settled on his daughter a handsome endowment at the time of her marriage, devising all the property at her death to the children by the marriage; so that when she died a few years later not a single dollar fell to the husband and he was then thrown out upon hits own resources for his living. Under such circumstances, he applied to the firm of Parker, Nimms & Co. for a position as salesman and he was given one. He was at the time waiting on a widow, Mrs. S_________ whose deceased husband had left her a fine estate, on the condition of her not again taking unto herself a help-mate, in which latter cases all of the property should go to her children by her former husband. She hesitated some time before again marrying the Colonel, the meanwhile became very attentive to her, visiting her frequently, and as she was very found of peanuts he bought a nice lot of roasted ones, tied them up nicely in a box, and placed them, as he thought, in a perfectly safe spot; when another clerk and I slyly opened the package, took out the "goobers," and replaced them with paper and saw-dust. Well, the fond lover, the Colonel, called on her and gaily presented the box, and her disappointment and his great mortification may be imagined when its contents were exposed to view.
There was another incident which happened during one of the hottest summers in Richmond, when the mercury ranged from ninety-five to ninety-eight degrees in the shade; the clerks in the store took it by turns in the afternoon to go down into the basement, where it was cool and dark, and stretch themselves out on a pile of goods for a quiet nap, as there was nothing much doing up stairs. So
one afternoon I went down there for my turn to sleep and fixed myself very comfortably; was soon sleeping as sweetly as an infant, when down came Weisiger, on mischief bent, took away my gaiters that I had removed from my feet and filled them up with paper, stuffed and rammed in hard, after which he placed them some distance from where I was, and then sprinkled water in the space between; he then went to the top of the stairs and called loudly for me, which of course awakened me, and I hurriedly reached for my shoes, but they were gone, and in order to reach them I had to walk on a wet floor in my sock feet, and hunt for them, but I finally found them and got things straight, to find out, when I went up stairs, that the thing was but a good joke on me. I told him that I certainly would get even with him yet on that; so some two or three evenings later he went down stairs for the same purpose and he was sleeping soundly when I got some paper, the kind that comes on blocks of ribbons, and made a funnel; I then took some lamp-black and placed in the top of it, going down I gave the funnel a whiff and the whole contents wells on his face, and the more he rubbed it the worse it became, so he came up stairs one of the most furious creature that ever I saw. A fellow-clerk, a Mr. Cagbill, furnished him with soap and turpentine, and assisted him in applying it so that his face was once more restored to its normal state, and finally pacified him by saying, well you played a good practical joke on Macon, who took it in a good spirit, and now one who cannot take a joke, should not play one on others. The Colonel was an old time Virginia gentleman and we afterwards became the best of friends, and often laughed at our tricks of other days.
The dry goods house of Binford, Mayo & Blair was one of the largest and best in Richmond. Mr. Binford was the
managing head of the firm, and they had a customer from the southside, who was a large tobacco planter, and came to the city twice a year, bringing with him a memorandum for dry goods to be purchased nearly a yard long, and the first thing he would do on reaching town was to visit the store and hand in his list of supplies - his memorandum - asking that it be filled in the best manner, and with reasonable prices, and when he collected from his commission merchant he would call and pay his bill before leaving for his home, which he never failed to do, and being a regular customer the thing went on year after year to the satisfaction of both parties. At last the planter died and his wife took his place and attended to his affairs in the city; she accordingly visited the store. Mr. Binford met her and tendered his sympathy in her misfortune and after a few minutes of conversation she drew out her long list and asked to be shown several articles and their prices, after examining them she remarked to Mr. Binford, I wish to look around some before purchasing and will return and go through with my bill. She called upon and went carefully over the stock of every house in that line in Richmond in order to see if he had been overcharging her husband. She returned to the store in the evening. Mr. Binford having preceded her but a few moments and was remarking to a clerk that he wished the old lady had died instead of her husband, who always came to town, gave me his memorandum to fill and everything worked smoothly, and now she comes in and runs around to every store in the city, almost; she heard every word he said, but instead of taking offense, she "pitched in," and went through her bill without a hitch. There was another incident in the Binford, Mayo & Blair house; it appears that one of the salesmen by the name of William Perkins, who was a bright
fellow, and a good clerk, had one especial accomplishment, that of being one of the best draw-poker players in the city, indulging in that game frequently. One morning the senior member of the firm called Perkins to go down stairs as he wished to have a little private talk with him. Mr. Perkins, said he, I am informed that you play cards a great deal. Perkins replied, sir, do I perform my duty satisfactorily to your house? Is there anything in my conduct here displeasing to you? If so, please let me know now. Mr. Binford said, sir, you are an efficient salesman, and we are well pleased with you. Mr. Perkins then said, well Mr. Binford, I do not understand why you should bring me down here to lecture me, to which he gravely replied, Perkins have you any real good pointers in draw-poker? Perkins told him that he thought he had, when Mr. Binford said, then press them, which remark ended the conference in peace and harmony.
Richmond about this time had some prominent hotels and restaurants, among the latter were "Zetelle's," Tom Griffin's, Charles Thompson's, and several others. There were no dairy lunches, nor snack-houses in town. Cold storage had not then come to the front. When a gentleman entered a restaurant and ordered a piece of roast beef, or a steak, he got home-killed beef, fat, tender and rich in flavor, and when he called for oysters they were set before him cooked with pure country butter, or genuine fresh hog's lard, and not cotton-seed oil. Coffee was then made of Java mixed with a little Rio, and not colored water, as is found at some of the eating houses of the day. To be sure one had to pay a little more for such a repast, yet he generally received full value for his money.
Age and experience have improved many thinks in the city. yet I do not believe that the restaurants of the present
time are as good as they were then. Among the hotels, the Columbian, owned and conducted by Mr. Spottswood Crenshaw, who was succeeded by Mr. Sublett, was situated at the corner of Cary Street and Shockoe Slip, and was the most popular hostelry for tobacco planters. It was very well kept, the table was supplied with the very best the market afforded; a marked feature of its dinners was that pitchers of toddy were freely distributed to refresh the thirsty guests. There was also the "American," which occupied the site of the Lexington - of the year 1912 - at the corner of Main and Twelfth Streets. The Exchange and Ballard on East Franklin and Fourteenth Streets, was regarded as the leading hotel, and it was one of the finest houses of its time; it was kept first by Colonel Boykin and afterwards by John P. Ballard and brothers, and last by Colonel Carrington. In those days there were no transfer companies, and each ran its own omnibus to bring to and fro the guests from the railway stations and steamboats. I well remember one of Sir. Ballard's teams, consisting of four fine iron-grey horses which he drove to one of his turnouts, and they were beauties, being driven by a negrowhip, who knew how to handle them to advantage.
At this period of time I was living in the country, and came to the city to attend the ceremony of laying the corner- stone of the Washington Monument in the Capitol Square. It was during the administration of Governor Jno. B. Floyd, and it was one of the worst days I ever experienced, being cold, rainy, and snowing, all the military of the city, besides the cadets from the Virginia Military Institute, of Lexington, were in the parade. It took several years to build the foundation for the monument, and then some time elapsed before the equestrian statue of Washington, which was designed by Crawford, arrived by
steamer from New York, when it was hauled from Rockets wharf on a flat with a long rope attached to it and drawn to its destination in the Capitol Square by citizens and placed it on its pedestal. When it was soon afterwards unveiled it was a "red-letter day" in Richmond and in the history of the State. This splendid triumph in sculpture dedicated to the renowned "Father of his country" stands this day where it was erected more than a half-century ago, and is considered by good judges to be the finest equestrian statue in the United States; it is surrounded by heroic size figures in bronze of several eminent Virginians.
The retail grocery stores were a prominent element of the city of Richmond's business, being an important part of its commercial greatness. Among them there were the firms of Walter D. Blair & Co., the senior member a genial gentleman whose elegant manners not only retained all of his old customers, but drew many new ones to his attractive store; William M. Harrison, Joseph Weed & Son and George Dandridge. These all kept liquors, as well as groceries. Mr. Dandridge had a clerk who was a good salesman and advanced the interests of his employer in every way he could, and yet he had one failing, being an honest frequent drinker, so one day his employer called him back to the rear of the store and said, now sir, you are a good salesman, and also a good man, and I have but one fault to find with you, namely, you take a drink with every customer that comes in here; yes, he answered I do, and if they don't come in fast enough I drink by myself, just to keep my hand in, and to encourage trade. Mr. Dandridge retained him in his employ and he finally became a member of the firm. The retail dry goods houses were distinguished for their efficiency and size; there were on Main
Street five or six and about the same number on Broad Street. I recall particularly the prominent one of Mann S. Valentine, who was one of the most successful merchants of Richmond. His son, Mann S. Valentine, Jr., was the discoverer of the formula for extracting and manufacturing for commerce the fluid extract of beef, known as "Valentine's Meat Juice," which at his death fell to his sons, who organized the Valentine Meat Juice Company, which has proved a boon to humanity, particularly to invalids. The enterprising firm conducts a very large export, as well as a domestic trade, and is composed of intelligent and progressive business men. Mr. M. S. Valentine, Jr., the founded of the present house, at his death, through his munificence, established and endowed the well known Valentine Museum, which is a lasting monument to his memory. It is kept in the best manner by his sons, who feel a great pride in it. Within its spacious rooms are to be found many of the finest relics of the arts of antiquity, and also specimens of Virginian and Southern fossils and curiosities, which have been collected and placed here at great expense and trouble. The building occupied by the Museum was originally purchased from James G. Brooks, and he, from Mr. Jno. P. Ballard, and he bought it from Mr. Wickham, so it is associated with historic memories, and it is truly one of the most interesting places in the city, and is visited daily by thousands of strangers visiting Richmond, as well as by the residents of the city. Mr. Edward S. Valentine is one of the most famous sculptors of his day, who designed and created out of Italian marble the celebrated recumbent statue of General Robert E. Lee, now in the chapel of Washington and Lee University at Lexington, Virginia. This is considered one of the best specimens of the fine arts in the world. Indeed it is an
effigy in marble which produces mingled emotions of admiration and awe, as it lies there in its silent vault illumined by electric lamps in its darkened chamber.
The wholesale grocery houses of Richmond at this time were large and served their purpose well. I recall to memory the firms of E. & S. Wortham & Co., which did a very large business, having the patronage from the extensive plantations on the Pamunkey River in grain and produce. Also Stokes & Reeves, Selden & Miller, Hugh Fery & Sons, and Dunlop & McCauce, the latter firm dealt principally in New Orleans sugars and molasses, carrying on the largest business in that line of any house in the city. Next I must mention the many tobacco manufacturers, which business was a very important one, as it is now. The factories of James A. Grant, William H. Grant, William Greanor, Robert A. Mayo & Son, James Thomas, Jr., and many others, all did a tremendous trade in this lucrative business.
A unique feature was the agencies for hiring out negro hands and servants, it forming a large part of the business of the real estate men. Richmond was then said to have one hundred tobacco factories in active operation.
My memory reverts to an interesting event in the year 1860, when Edward, the Prince of Wales, of the Royal family of Great Britain, visited Richmond, coming here from Washington with his retinue who were entertained at the old Exchange and Ballard House - then in its prime. The Prince stayed over Sunday and attended church at Saint Paul's. Doctor Minnegerode was then the rector of the parish, and he preached a good practical sermon for the distinguished guests. I remember well seeing the
Prince, who was then a beardless youth, of a good figure and looks, he returned to the Capital City the next day, pleased with his trip; it was an epoch in the history of Virginia, socially speaking. Another incident was the lecture delivered here by Mr. Thackery, the great novelist, at the Athenaeum, which building was then just in the rear of the Broad Street Methodist Church, the subject of the lecture was the "Georges," and it was a chaste and interesting address, full of anecdotes, with a vein of sarcasm interspersed throughout.
Another lecture about this time was that of the Hon. Edward Everett, delivered at the old African Church; the subject was General George Washington. He was lecturing under the auspices of the Mount Vernon Association for the purchase of that place from its owners. The Mount Vernon papers which were then published by Mr. Bowner in the New York Ledger, were edited by him, and this address by him here was a literary treat, as was everything emanating from his cultivated mind; the church was filled with a highly appreciative audience, and all went home well pleased.
The local politics were to some extent interesting, as almost every man discussed them in public. The African Church was used on Sundays as a negro meeting house for worship, and during the week for political gatherings by the white people, it being the largest in town. The colored people were of course paid for the use of their church building. When a person announced his candidacy for any office in the gift of the people, he was requested to define his position and views on the questions of the day. For instance when the subject of a free bridge between Richmond and Manchester over the James River was debated
the people were called upon to express their ideas pro and con in the old African Church.
There was a prominent local politician by the name of George Peake, who whenever a speaker uttered a sentiment of which he approved, would emphasize it by loudly exclaiming, "Why, certainly," and everybody knew where the voice came from, as he was notorious. On one occasion I was present at a meeting when a Mr. Martin Meredith Lipscomb was a candidate for the office of city sergeant, he was an illiterate man, but had the conceit and obstinacy of a government mule, and was arguing the point that when a man was born on the lower round of the social ladder he should not be debarred from rising to the upper ones, and to illustrate his point said he, now suppose I had been born in a stable, just then some wag in the crowd interrupted him by yelling out, then, sir, you would have been a mule; this rudeness silenced the speaker for a moment, but without taking any notice of it, he resumed his argument. This Mr. Lipscomb was a notorious office-seeker and never failed to announce himself as a candidate for almost every position from the mayoralty down to a constable, for nothing seem to daunt "old Martin Meredith," as he was called, in his attempts to hold some office, although failure was his only reward.
In the celebrated campaign, just before the great war, for Governor between Henry A. Wise, the nominee of the Democracy, and the Hon. Stanhope Flournoy, the champion of the Whig party, the "Know-nothings" excitement was in its incipiency and they supported the Whigs in this contest. Hon. Henry Winter Davis, of Maryland, one of the best political orators of his day, spoke in advocacy of "Know-nothingism," and his remarks were good and convincing from his standpoint, but the strong logic, and Herculean
thrusts of Mr. Wise utterly destroyed the fallacies of the opposition, and the Know-nothing party died, then and there. Governor Wise was one of the most gifted and forcible, as well as interesting, speakers in the State. At this time there were many fine public speakers; I will mention Mr. John Minor Botts, an old-line Whig, one of the most accomplished orators of Virginia, he spoke but seldom and only on important occasions. Another prominent one was Marmaduke Johnson, a distinguished lawyer of the city, who was never surpassed in eloquence. There was also Colonel Thomas P. August, whose addresses were always received with delight by an audience of his fellow citizens. Mr. John Caskie, who represented the city and district in Congress; he was a very fluent and convincing speaker, and it was a forensic treat to listen to him. There were many others whose acquirements in oratory were not easily equalled before, or since, this day and time.
Richmond about this period of its history was in its prime, and prospects were very bright. The churches were an important feature; among the most prominent were old St. John's, on that part of the city called "Church Hill." In this venerable edifice, Patrick Henry delivered that celebrated speech, which kindled the first sparks, that fired the colonies to burst into rebellion against the tyranny of old King George the Third. Also there was the Methodist Church, which stood originally between Fourteenth and Fifteenth Streets on East Franklin, the congregation of which removed to their new building now on Broad Street. The Second Presbyterian, on Franklin then occupied the site of Randolph's paper box factory; this congregation built a fine house at the corner of Fifth and Main Streets. The pastor of this was one of the most celebrated divines of his day; he was succeeded by the distinguished
pulpit orator Doctor Moses Hoge. The First Presbyterian originally stood where the City Hall now rears its lofty towers, and a large and more modern church was erected at the corner of Grace and Madison Streets. Doctor Moore was for a long time the beloved pastor of this congregation. The Monumental Episcopal, with so many historic associations clustering around it, was built on the spot occupied by the old Richmond Theater, which years ago was burned to the ground, consuming many of the most esteemed and prominent citizens of the city and State. Doctor Woodbridge filled the pulpit of this sacred building for many years, and never was there a purer and holier minister of Christ. I remember well some of the vestrymen, such men as Mr. James Gardner, Mr. George Fisher, and others of the same stamp; they were as good men as the world ever produced, and their memory is held in kindest remembrance by all who knew them. Next, in point of age and reverence, I mention Saint Paul's Episcopal, situated at the corner of Grace and Ninth Streets. If all the religious and historic memories of this church were fully recounted it would almost suffice to fill a volume. General Robert E. Lee's family attended this church, as did also the General, whenever he visited his home during the progress of the great war, although he was seldom away from the front. Miss Hettie Carey and General John Pegram were married there, just before the end of the hostilities, and if my memory serves me, about a week later his lifeless body rested upon a bier in front of the altar, where he had so short a time before plighted his troth to his beautiful and most gifted bride. Doctor Minnegerode was the rector of this parish and he was one of the best theologians in the Episcopal denomination, was a distinguished professor at the Theological Seminary near
Alexandria, Virginia, when called to the charge of St. Paul's. It was while President Jefferson Davis was worshipping in this sanctuary on a sabbath morning, that a message informed him of the fall of Petersburg, Va. One of the largest and most influential congregations worshipped in Saint James Episcopal Church, whose first minister for a long time was Doctor Empie, who was succeeded as rector by the venerated and most beloved of pastors, the Reverend Joshua Peterkin, of sacred memory, who was regarded by all as a beacon light of undefiled Christianity, and a lowly follower of the Blessed Saviour of mankind.
The Church of "All Saints," on West Franklin Street, though one of the youngest Episcopal congregations, is one of the very best and most popular. Doctor Downman, the rector, is a man of ripe scholarship in divinity and of sterling piety. The vestrymen of "All Saints" are ever to the front in every deed of charity, and for the amelioration and uplifting of suffering humanity. I recall as members of this vestry Mr. F. S. Valentine, Mr. John Tyler, Mr. Peter H. Mayo, and several other well known citizens.
St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church, at the corner of Grace and Eighth Streets, is one of the oldest churches in Richmond. I remember when Bishops McGill and Keane officiated there. There was once a theological discussion carried on through the newspapers between the Bishop McGill and Doctor Plummer, of the Presbyterian denomination, who were two intellectual giants, and were well matched in vigor and zeal. I recall an amusing incident: there lived out on the Brook Turnpike a certain lady who drove to church every Sunday to her carriage, a pair of rat-tailed sorrel horses that always came quietly down the street to the church, but when their mistress was once in the vehicle, and their heads were turned homewards,
after services were over, they ran at a sharp gallop all the way until they reached the front gate at their home.
A very attractive feature of these churches was the fine choir music, which I am sure has never been surpassed. I remember when the choir of Monumental was composed of Mr. John Tyler, Miss Emily Denison and other noted vocalists, while at the organ presided Mr. Leo Wheat. When the funeral services were held there of Major Wheat, the commander of the New Orleans Tigers, who was killed at Cold Harbor in 1862, Miss Denison sang a solo, entitled "I Would Not Live Always." I thought it one of the sweetest and most pathetic hymns that I ever heard. At Saint Paul's Madam Rhul was the leading soprano, and her notes were as sweet as the warbling of a mocking bird. On one occasion I heard her when she sang that fine old hymn, "Jesus, Lover of My Soul," to the air of "When the Swallows Homeward Fly," and indeed I do not believe that it has ever been surpassed in that grand old edifice.
Among the many interests, commercially speaking, were the real estate firms, for instance I mention, Goddin and Apperson, Taylor and Williams, Hill and Rawlings and Holliday and Rawlings. The movement of real property then was not quite so lively as it is now, but nevertheless they all did a fair business.
Another important business was that of the wholesale drug houses, among the largest were, Purcell, Ladd & Co., Peyton Johnston and Brother, Adie and Gray, William Beers & Co.; and I doubt if there has ever been any larger houses in that line, before or since. Their trade was extensive and came from all parts of the State, and neighboring States to the south. There was then no selling
goods through travelling salesmen by samples, but the purchasers came in person direct to headquarters and laid in their supplies.
Another leading feature of Richmond's make-up was its corps of physicians. A man who is a specialist nowadays in any particular calling is termed a doctor, but I am now only alluding to the Doctors of Medicine - the M. D.'s - the followers of Esculapius of yore. Among these was first and foremost, Francis H. Deane, whose presence even almost revived a patient; many sick fellows recall his genial face when entering the sick chamber. He practiced in our family over thirty years. Also there was Doctor Cunningham, who was regarded as one of the best; Doctor Bell Gibson, who was esteemed the most eminent surgeon in the State. Another noted surgeon was Doctor Petticolas, whose general practice was very extensive. Then I must mention those great and good men, Doctors Skelton and Knox, who were shining lights in their profession, whose memory is cherished, as well as that of old Doctors McCaw and Marks.
The wholesale shoe houses were a big item in the city's mercantile life. Among the leading ones were Hubbard, Gardner and Carlton, which concern did the largest business in foot-wear in Richmond; their trade was co-extensive with the State. It is doubtful if there is now a house in their line conducting a larger trade. Then there was the old and staunch firm of Putney and Watts, and also White and Page, besides several large retail stores.
At this gentlemen did not wear machine-made boots and shoes, but had them to order by native shoemakers. The fashionable footdress then was Congress gaiters and boots; Oxford ties were worn in the summer. The change in men's attire is quite distinct, as formerly gentlemen wore
broad-cloth made with a Prince Albert or frock coat with pants and vests to match. A very popular style was a blue cloth clawhammer coat with plain brass buttons. Linen suits were much worn in the hot season.
At one time a Mr. Selden kept a large boarding house called "The Richmond," which stood at the corner of Governor and Ross Streets. It was a fine house and was particularly popular with young clerks, and among the boarders was a unique person named Beau Lambert, he was a very fastidious man in his dress, always wearing a fine black suit with a dress coat, and was particular in parting the skirts of his coat on sitting down. Accordingly one day Henry Thornton, a young fellow, full of fun and tricks, took from the dinner table a dumpling of meal out of a dish of jowl and turnip salad and slipped it in Lambert's coat pocket. It was a very greasy and disagreeable joke, and Beau did not find out who was the perpetrator for some days, and of course he was very much displeased, but mutual friends arranged the matter amicably, and they became good friends afterwards.
The gambling establishments were an important part of the city's life at this juncture. The law against faro banks was not strictly enforced as it is now. Their rooms were elegantly furnished, and every night a sumptuous supper was spread before their patrons, which was greatly enjoyed by many planters coming to town to sell their crops. Among the most popular ones were Worsham and Brother, the Morgan Brothers and Nat Reeves. The credit of these men was as good as that of any merchant in town. I recall an incident in connection with these games, to wit: There were three students at the medical college who were gay and up-to-date boys, but were not blessed with much cash, who frequently visited Mr.
Reeve's rooms. On a certain Saturday night they went out with a tumbrie cart to procure subjects for the college to be dissected. They first backed up the cart in front of his entrance, and then asked each other how much money they had between them; one had a dollar and a half, another two dollars and the other only fifty cents, making all but three dollars, which was not enough with which to get on a good "spree." So it was arranged, in order to carry out their fun to the best advantage, in the following manner, they appointed one as spokesman to run the small sum in their pool at Mr. Reeves' bank in a game of fare, and as the boy walked up to the cashier to invest it in "chips," Mr. Reeves said, "I will not sell you any, for if you should make a run on me you might win from me several hundred dollars, and if I should beat you in the game I should only gain three dollars," and so, at these words, he took out of the drawer a ten-dollar bank note and handed it to him, saying, "Now boys go ahead, and don't come back here again tonight." Now, that was all they wanted; it played right into their hands, for the money enabled them to pass a gay and joyous night. These three youngsters afterwards graduated well, and all of them became successful practitioners of the "Art of Healing."
Before the beginning of the war between the States. In those days on each "Fourth of July" picnics and barbecues were held. On one of these days I attended a barbecue at Buchanan's Spring, which was then outside the city in the county of Henrico. A large and enthusiastic crowd was present and there were various devices for promoting mirth and pleasure. A Mr. James Ferguson, one of the city's most prominent merchants, was there, and also Mr. William F. Watson, a lawyer of high standing
Mr. Ferguson was a man of fine figure and was considered one of the best dancers in town. Mr. Watson was a portly man and weighed about two hundred and twenty pounds, and almost as broad as long. The weather was very warm indeed, and it was arranged to dance an Irish jig, there being no ladies present. They stripped off everything but their underwear and they footed it out to a finish, and it was called one of the best displays of that lively dance that had been seen for many days. The championship was awarded to Mr. Watson.
One of the most noted military organizations in Richmond at that time was the old State Guard, which occupied the armory near the Tredegar Iron Works. It was offered by Captain M. Dimmock, Lieutenant Gay and Lieutenant Clarke, and was as well drilled as the cadets at West Point. The officers frequently gave exhibitions of drills on Capitol Square, and it was a treat to see their skirmish drills, which drew a large concourse of spectators, and was one of the most interesting sights I ever witnessed. After the war the organization of the State Guard was abolished.
Of the theaters of the city, the most prominent one was the old "Marshall," which stood where the Meyer Greentree furnishing store now is located, at the corner of Seventh and Broad Streets. It was leased by Mr. Taylor. The stock company was composed of some of the most distinguished actors of the day, who have appeared on the stage of this country. Among them were Joseph Jefferson, Booth, John Owens, Adams, Boniface and Mary Devlin, who afterwards married Edwin Booth.
I remember seeing there Burton, in his famous role of "Toodles"; Clarke, in "Our American Cousin," and Neaffie, in "Hamlet," in which Jefferson took the character of the grave-digger. These have never been surpassed in America.
An entertaining gleaning is that respecting "Fairfield race track," situated on the Mechanicsville Turnpike. This was the most prominent race course of its day in the State. It was run and owned by a Mr. James Talley, who was one of the best horsemen in Virginia. When the place was at its zenith it had a long string of race horses in its stables, among them being some of the most celebrated the world has ever seen; there was the great racer, and sire of racers, "Revenue," owned by Mr. Botts; "Talley Ho," owned by Mr. Selden C. Mason; "Engineer," a splendid grey; "Red-Eye," sire of "Planet"; Martha Washington, "Iina" and many others. These were the very flowers of the thoroughbred stock of the South. Every Sunday evening in the spring of the year the horses were exercised around the course and were given a "right sharp brush." Several of my friends and I were in the habit of going out and viewing them while at their exercises and it was well worth the while to see such spurts of swift speeding. Truly those were the palmy days of racing, and they will never again be reviewed in Virginia, at least in this part of the State, for conditions are greatly changed.
I recall the heaviest fall of snow one spring while I was living in Richmond that ever took place in the memory of the oldest inhabitants; it commenced on a Saturday night and fell continuously until the Monday following. I was then carrying the keys to the store of Parker, Nimmo & Co., and had to open the house with the assistance
of the porter. We had to dig away the drift, which had reached to the top of the door, before we could even see it, let alone get in it. On that Sunday night a large fire occurred near the Old Market House. It was so bitterly cold during the snow spell that Doctor Cox, of Chesterfield county was frozen to death just as he was about entering the gate to his farm. On Monday the temperature moderated and the younger ones had a galla time snow-balling every one mounted or in sleighs that passed on the main streets; each corner was occupied by squads, who pelted them without mercy or hesitation.
There was in the city one George Washington Todd, a beacon light of the sporting crowd. He was a man of splendid physique, about six feet two inches in height and built in proportion; possessing a fine voice, a good deal of wit and humor and the cheer of a brass monkey. He had no moral reputation and no one would credit him. On a certain day when there was a political meeting over on the Eastern Shore, Governor Wise was one of the speakers, and after the speaking was over Todd walked up to the Governor and passed the compliments of the day thus: Cousin Henry, how are you to day? The Governor replied I do not know of any relationship between us. Todd then said, now, Governor, were you not born in Accomack. He said yes. Well, then, as I was also born in Accomack, does not that make us cousins? The cool effrontery of the fellow somewhat astonished the Governor.
A noticeable feature was the elegant jewelry establishments. The most prominent were Mitchell and Tyler and C. Genet & Co. Then a person thought they could not buy a reliable article unless it came from one or the other store. The first named, Mitchell and Tyler, enjoyed a
very large and paying patronage. In their employ was a gentleman by the name of Hicks, who was at the head of the watch-repairing department, and it required quite an artist in that line to fill the position, as then the simple American watches had not come into general use, for those mostly carried were of Swiss and English or other foreign makes. This gentleman was full of pleasing humor and wit, and as he was in the front of the store, when a person would enter and inquire for a certain clerk by the name of Christian, he would jokingly say that in the rear were several young men, some members of the church, but whether a Christian could be found among them he could not say.
I was attending the races at Fairfield and it was a field day. Of course there was a large crowd present, the gambling stands were well patronized, as usual and at one particular table there was a large farmer betting very freely, who seemed to have plenty of money, and a smart fellow who lived in the city observed the way things were running, for every time the farmer put down a bet the dealer would win and raked it in. So after that every time the farmer would make a bet, this man would put one down opposite, or bet against him, and this continued until the farmer had exhausted his pile; the Richmond man winning all the bets, which did not please the dealer, who said to him, "Why don't you let an honest man make a living?" The man saw that the gambler was fleecing the farmer, and he had coppered and won of course, thus blocking the dealer's game.
President James Monroe's remains were brought to
Richmond and interred in Hollywood Cemetery, having as an escort of honor the famous Seventh Regiment of New York. This was the finest volunteer military organization that I ever saw, it being the crack corps of that city; they marched like a machine, their alignment was perfect; the uniforms were grey dress coats. The hospitality of the people of the city was extensive and most cordial. The visitors were not allowed to open their pocketbooks for anything purchasable; even if they went in for a cigar, it was already paid for, they were informed. Being composed of the best citizens of the Metropolis, gentlemen all, they did not abuse the privileges granted them in the slightest degree.
Most important events were just on the eve of happening. The election for the national Presidency was booming in the near future, and politics were attracting the attention of the whole country. The two main parties which were confronting each other were the Democratic on the one side and on the other the Free Soil or Abolition party of the North, which had united and formed the Republican, the strength of which latter party was growing stronger every day. Its platform of principles was antagonistic to the Democratic party and to the Southern States on the slavery question. In November, 1859, old John Brown, who had figured conspicuously in the fights, organized a hostile gang of Abolitionists and came down to Virginia, presumably to incite the negroes against their masters and urge them to insurrection. Their field of operation was in the county of Jefferson and adjoining one. The government of the United States dispatched
Colonel Robert E. Lee, in command of a small body of marines, to capture Brown and his party and to defeat his diabolical scheme. The fanatical wretches took refuge in the engine house at Harper's Ferry. They were then taken to Charlestown and placed in the jail, being turned over to the State authorities by Colonel Lee. Governor Henry A. Wise at that period of time was filling the gubernatorial chair, and he immediately dispatched the military companies of Richmond to the scene of action, in order to protect the citizens in this critical emergency. Indeed it was the real beginning of the great war.
Old John Brown, the leader and arch-conspirator against the peace and dignity of Virginia, was duly tried and summarily executed. Next, one Cook was tried, who was a very young man and nephew of the Governor of Indiana, who employed Senator Daniel Voorhies to defend him. The case was pathetic in the extreme; many persons in court were moved to tears, but the law was inexorable and he was judged guilty and shared the fate of his leader. After the executions the military returned home. The 1st Company of Howitzers had just been formed and organized, and on this occasion acted as infantrymen. The whole country was then in a great state of excitement and unrest. In a short time the nominations for the Presidency would be made. James Buchanan, of Pennsylvania, was the President then, and the feeling between the North and the South was becoming more and more intense, and what would be the, outcome few could predict. A political storm they all feared was to culminate in a dreadful, cruel war between the States.
In the year 1860 the Democratic party held its convention in the city of Charleston, S. C. It divided into two section, one wing nominated John Breckinridge, of
Kentucky, as their standard bearer, and the other put forward as their nominee Stephen A. Douglas, of Illinois. The Whig party chose John Bell, of Tennessee, to lead it. The newly formed Republican party had nominated Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois.
The canvass was conducted with force and vigor. The Republicans had grown in numbers and strength and presented a formidable menace to the South. The most strenuous efforts were made by each section to elect its candidate; the issue was great and clearly defined. In the South the ablest speakers were brought out to present the danger which threatened the institution of slavery in the success of the Lincoln party; yet it seemed a forlorn hope to expect to elect Southern Democrats like Breckinridge and Lane, as there were two other Democratic tickets in the field, which, of course, split the conservative or Southern vote, while the North or Abolition party had only one ticket in the field.
The Wigs of Richmond had built, on Fourteenth and Franklin Streets, a large wooden structure capable of seating a crow - that party had a large majority in the city - and held frequent meetings therein. It was called the "Wigwam." I well remember that the night before the election Mr. William L. Yancy spoke in advocacy of Breckinridge at the Metropolitan Hall, on Franklin Street near the Exchange Hotel. Others spoke at the "Wigwam" for the Douglass ticket. The last speaker there was A. Judson Crane. The evening was advancing and the audience had been listening for hours to burning words from the lips of gifted orators, and well do I recall his closing remark, to-wit: "It makes no difference for whom you vote, as before the sun of tomorrow goes down Abraham Lincoln will have been elected the President
of these United States." This prediction proved only too true, since on the following fourth day of March he was inaugurated, and in his address said that he would use all the men at his command to bring back into the Union, by force of arms if necessary, the seceding Southern States. This was truly cold comfort for the Southern people. John Letcher was the Governor of Virginia, and the General Assembly was in session, which drew up and passed a bill for the calling of a State convention that the people indorsed by a large majority. Then came the most important part, the election of delegates to it. As a matter of fact the State was largely Democratic, and in an ordinary election for State offices a Whig stood no chance of election, but such was not the case in this one, for no party lines were brought into play and therefore the ablest and most intellectual men were selected, irrespective of party affiliations. This important meeting of Virginians, called the "Secession Convention," assembled in Richmond - the building used for its sessions was the Mechanic's Institute, located on Ninth Street between Main and Franklin Streets and then occupied the present site of the building of Ebel and Sons, merchant tailors. It organized, by election, Mr. Janney, of Loudon county, as president, an old line Whig, and was opposed to secession at the very start. Mr. Eubank was made clerk.
I doubt if an abler, more intellectual and patriotic set of men were ever before gathered together in this State for the discussion of a subject so delicate and so portentous. They seemed to fully realize the gravity of the situation that confronted the old Commonwealth. The convention was divided into two parts; the one the original secessionists, who were in favor of going out of the Union
at once, as many of the other States had already done, the other was mainly composed of old line Whigs, who were in favor of preserving the Union as long as a chance remained. The debates in the convention were of the most absorbing interest to the whole population, and even the heads of the commercial houses would leave them in charge of clerks. The female heads of families, just as soon as their morning duties were arranged, would repair to the Mechanic's Institute to listen to the speeches, so supreme was the general interest taken in the outcome of it. And it was not at all surprising that such was the case, for it was a most momentous era in our history. Nobody could foretell the future at that early day. The members did all they could to avert civil war. Several delegates were sent to the seat of government at Washington to endeavor to secure a peaceable solution of the vexed questions. It was a time of suspense and almost anguish; the Union hung as by a thread as it were, and then at this critical juncture the President, Abraham Lincoln, issued his celebrated proclamation, calling upon Virginia, the "Mother of States, and "of the Union," for seventy-five thousand men as her quota with which to assist him in coercing, by military force of arms, her sister States. The convention did not hesitate an instant, it promptly passed the Ordinance of Secession almost unanimously, there being but one dissenting voice. With the secession of this State the last gleam of hope for peace vanished as the snow flakes before the rays of the sun. The Federal government had sent reinforcements and provisions for a siege to Fort Sumter, which was then commanded by Major Anderson. The people of South Carolina considered this a declaration of war, and at once, under the direction of General Beauregard, attacked the
fort and caused its surrender. This was the beginning of the great war between the States of the Union, which was to call to the front every true Southerner to do or die for the South land; it was the first clash of arms in that bloody drama which was to last for four long years of terror to the people of Virginia, and the sacrifice of the life's blood of thousands of her noblest and most gallant sons. Richmond, with her open gates of welcome to the splendid troops from the South and Southwest, was the rendezvous of all the soldiers to be organized hurrying to the front. Everything then seemed bright and all believed the war would soon be over.
The Southern ports were soon blockaded by the Federal vessels of war and the South then had to rely entirely upon her own resources. Excepting a few articles, such as coffee and tea, brought in through the blockade, substitutes were found for each of these articles.
During the first year the currency of the Confederacy depreciated but little, but in the second year it began to go down in value, until it became before the end almost worthless. Richmond, in spite of the privations of the people, was gayer and more brilliant socially than it ever was since or before. There were in the city a great many refugees from all parts of the South, which formed a social element that made a delightful society. There were dances and theater parties held frequently; many clerks, male and female, employed in the government departments; soldiers on furlough from the army, all combined to form a gay company of ladies and gentlemen.
General Beauregard was in command of the Army of the Potomac, as General Joseph E. Johnston was in the
Valley of Virginia opposing General Patterson of the Federal forces. The first battle of Manassas was fought on the 21st day of July, 1861, this being the first big fight of the war, and in this the Southern troops were completely victorious, driving back to Washington the Northern army in a regular panicstricken mob. This victory buoyed up the spirits of our people in the city and they did not fully realize the gravity of the war until it had been waged sometime. The social life in the city became more pleasant as time passed, and large entertainments were given almost every night. Mrs. Randolph, the wife of the Secretary of War, who was one of the leaders in society at this period, lived on East Franklin Street, two doors from the residence of General Lee's family. Her house was the centre of social attraction. She gave theatrical rehearsals and readings, which were attended by the soldiers who were in the city en route to and from the front and while on furlough.
There was a prominent feature of nearly every family then, which was the open house for the entertainment of the soldiers, sick or well, all of whom received the heartiest welcome and the kindest treatment. I recall Mr. James Gardner, of the firm of Gardner, Carlton & Co., whose house was headquarters for the distinguished artillery company from the city of New Orleans, the Washington Artillery, as well, also, for other Southern soldiers. Mr. Peyton Johnston, of the firm of P. Johnston and Brother, kept open house to all worthy Confederates. I well remember meeting there a unique character, a Major Atkins, of the cavalry corps, who divas an Irishman, and enjoyed the soubriquet of "Charles O'Malley." He was one of the finest specimens of manhood that I ever beheld; he was about six feet two inches in height and well proportioned.
He was of course in the service of the Confederacy, but was unfortunately called to his home in Ireland before the close of the war. He sent his young brother to take his place in the Confederate ranks, joining Mosby's men, but was killed shortly after joining.
Of the newspapers of Richmond, both before and during the war, there was the Equirer, first owned and edited by Colonel Thomas Ritchie and afterwards by William F. Ritchie. Among the editors were Roger A. Pryor and O. Jennings Wise. This sheet before the war was the leading Democratic organ. And then came the Richmond Whig, edited by Mr. Robert Ridgway, which was the organ of the old line Whigs of Virginia; and then the Dispatch, owned by Mr. Cowardin and edited by Messrs. Baldwin and Pleasants. Next I mention that caustic sheet the Examiner, owned and edited by John M. Daniel, who was one of the most sarcastic writers of his time, whose criticisms of public men and of the Confederate government were biting and severe.
The "Alexandria Sentinel" was removed to Richmond at the beginning of the war. Of course, when hostilities began all the old party lines in politics were obliterated. They were only to be found and known as the Southern or Secession party or States Rights men. The armies of the Confederacy were achieving success in nearly every encounter, while the North was making tremendous efforts to fill up the depleted ranks by enlarging the drafts. The South meanwhile was also putting forward all her limited resources to counteract that of the North, and yet the Southern cause was being worn out day by day by the
forces of attrition. Her ports being closed by the blockade, she was becoming exhausted by slow degrees being decimated by disease and lack of proper nourishment, as well as by the bullets of the enemy. So when the strong attack by Grant was made on the lines around Petersburg, the thin grey line gave way, was forced back by overwhelming numbers and began its final retreat to the fatal field of Appomattox, where General Lee sadly signed articles of peace and surrender of the remnant of the gallant old Army of Northern Virginia.
The Southern people had fought and suffered for four long, dreary years for what they believed was right, and there was no unprejudiced commentator of the Constitution who did not give the South the right to secede from the sisterhood of States when her rights by the spirit as well as the letter of that instrument had been withheld and denied her.
Now that the surrender had taken place a new era confronted the people. I returned from the field of surrender and stopped at Maynard's farm, where the "Soldiers' Home" now is. I gave my parole as a private in the 1st Company of Richmond Howitzers. After reaching home I walked down Main Street, and could hardly recognize my surroundings. The great conflagration which ensued at the evacuation, had left a mass of debris impossible to imagine or describe by an old resident of the city. The South was now a conquered country, though never recognized as a government de Jure, nor de facto by the Federals, and according to the theory advanced and upheld all through the conflict by them, we should have at once enjoyed all the rights which belonged to the seceded States before a separation occurred. But such was never the case, as a system of legislation was begun
that was a blot upon the civilization of the nineteenth century. I allude to the reconstruction era in Virginia, which period has been depicted by several writers. As the ashes from old Virginia arose Phoenix like from humiliation and re-established her State government, thereby enabling her to get rid of the barnacles which had nearly sapped her political life and she struggled on through many trials and hindrances until at last each year brought new evidences of substantial success and prosperity. New conditions now confronted this community, as before the war the State had borrowed large amounts of money to aid her infant enterprises and improvements, which by lapse of time had accumulated in interest unpaid a considerable amount. Then there sprung up the Readjuster party, and its opponent, the "Debt-paying" or McCullough party. The former maintained that as the State has emerged from the conflict of arms financially ruined and it could not be expected to pay in full the original debt, but should be allowed to scale it so as to enable the State to meet her obligations. The Funders or Debt-paying party claimed that a just debt should be paid dollar for dollar. The two parties went before the people, and Governor Cameron was the nominee of the Readjusters and John Warwick Daniel was the Funder candidate for the office of Governor, and the Readjusters won and Cameron was elected Governor with the whole legislature Readjusters. With the election of a Readjuster State government there was a complete change in the whole administration at Richmond. Not a single "Funder" or Debt-payer was left in office; there took place a regular clearance of the Augean stables. There never was a more prosprictive party formed. General Mahone exercised supreme control. He had some very able lieutenants who aided him
in carrying out his drastic policy. The British bondholders employed Mr. William I. Royall, a distinguished lawyer of this city, paying him a large salary to look after their interests. He kept the State on a gridiron by attempting to force a reception of coupons cut from the bonds as payment of State taxes. These coupons were of no value as a circulating medium, and consequently would deprive the State of all means of carrying on the government if they were successful. The Funding party, realizing that they had made a mistake in their way of settling the debt, changed front and adopted the Readjuster theory or plan of scaling down. They appointed a committee of the best men in the country, with ex-President Grover Cleveland as one, to formulate a settlment on the basis of the Riddlebarger bill. The creditors accepted the terms and the vexed question was thus forever settled, at least so far as Virginia was liable. Mr. Royal of course lost thereby his lucrative job. The Century bonds were issued and a sinking fund set aside for the payment of interest. This settlement killed the Readjuster party and the offices of the State were restored to the Conservative party. General Mahone and his lieutenants flopped over to the Republican party. Virginia has been steadily prosperious ever since then.
Virginia, after the permanent settlement of the "debt question" and the subject was finally eliminated from the State politics, sprang forward upon an era of great prosperity and advancement, which continued without interruption until the "Free Silver" and "16 to 1" craze set in politics, and the false idea that sixteen ounces of
silver was always equal in value to one ounce of gold took complete possesion of the field throughout the State. This was one of the delusions championed by Mr. William Jennings Bryan, one of the most plausible and eloquent stump speakers in the country. He threw all of his most forcible energy and talent into the attempt to convince the people that it was the panacea for all the ills of humanity - it was his idea that a purely economic issue would be a cure-all for all the woes of the flesh.
In 1894 William Jennings Bryan was nominated by the Chicago Convention upon the "Free Silver" platform. General Simon Bolivar Buckner, of Kentucky, with Palmer, of Illinois, were chosen by the gold standard wing of the Democratic party as the standard bearers of the Democracy. William S. McKinley, then Governor of Ohio, was the nominee of the Republicans, also on a gold standard platform and high protective tariff. When the election was held that fall, the "Free Silver" motion was overwhelmingly defeated and killed. In the campaign Virginia voted largely for the Bryan ideas. So completely had his influence infatuated many sober-minded, good Democrats that they considered it almost treason to the party in one who did become misled by this delusion. When Lamb was nominated for Congress in the Third District of Virginia he was an advocate for Free Silver. A few nights before the nominating convention came off, I met Captain George D. Wise and asked him how he stood on the question, and he answered, "I am a Gold Standard Democrat." For this frank avowal I have always admired him. It was a decisive and unequivocal stand on the issue which was then at its height, and it cost him his seat in Congress, for Captain John Lamb, the opponent, was selected and afterwards seated as the member
from the Third District of Virginia - the Richmond district.
The Honorable Charles T. O'Ferral, the member from the Seventh District of Virginia, and who, with the aid of Mr. Randall, of Pennsylvania, the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, by their skill defeated the infamous Force Bill offered by Senator Lodge, of Massachusetts, which was antagonized by the whole South as sectional and unjust to it. Governor O'Ferral was almost ostracized by his party - that is, by the ring - because he would not subscribe to the "Free Silver, 16 to 1 craze." The old State finally emerged from this veritable "Slough of Despond," and its motto seems to be "Excelsior" and progress. The former political issue of gold or silver seems to be side-tracked and does not appear in the platforms of any party, but is relegated to oblivion as a subject of politics, and it is to be devoutly hoped that it will remain there for all time and never again cause so much unnecessary bitterness and division in the old party.
The State being relieved to a great extent from the handicap resulting through the late canvass and excitement; though her Congressmen and the State officers were elected on the Free Silver platform, yet it ceased to play a part in the policy of the State or the country at large.
The commercial and economic status of the old Commonwealth improved every day. The General Assembly drew up a bill calling upon the suffragans of Virginia to decide whether a convention should be called or not. They, the voters, decided that one should be called, whereupon the Legislature so enacted, and the election was held. In the year 1903 the convention to frame a new Constitution assembled in the hall of the House of Delegates in the old Capitol in the city of Richmond. They
were confronted a great many intricate and difficult problems. First and foremost was the question as to the best manner to deal with the negro vote. Next in importance was the creation of the State Corporation Commission, or Railroad Supervision Act. Probably no member of that body deserves more credit for the establishment of this important branch of Virginia's judiciary system than Allen Caperton Braxton. By his logical reasoning and indefatigable energy was largely instrumental in having that great measure passed. There were many other salutary laws framed and incorporated in the fundamental body of the State; which has put the convention on record as having been one of the very best bodies of men ever assembled in Virginia for the important duty of forming the organic law of this old Commonwealth. The grand work accomplished by them will ever be duly appreciated until time shall be no more and forever ceases.
A question of absorbing interest to all the people is the temperance issue. A large and influential portion of citizens advocate a State-wide or general prohibition law. The other portion oppose it strenuously. In the Assembly, or Legislature, an act called an Enabling Statute was introduced, which proposed to put before the voters the question whether they should choose for State-wide prohibition or not, and upon the verdict thus rendered it was to be returned to the Legislature at its next session for its final action, on the principle of the Initial and Referendum.
The American people are upon the eve of a Presidential canvass and election. The issues are vital and most important and are clearly defined.
Governor of New Jersey, the Honorable Woodrow Wilson, is at this writing - August, 1912 - the chosen standard bearer of the Democracy, whose platform of nation-wide issues contain the soundest principles of a true Republican form of government ever devised by mankind. The cardinal or main feature of it is the revision of the present tariff downward; in other words a reduction of the same down to a revenue basis.
The present President, Honorable William H. Taft, is the nominee of the regular Republican party, which party platform advocates a high protective tariff, which has resulted in building up trusts in nearly everything and advancing greatly the costs of living.
On the 5th day of November, 1912, the election will take place, when the people of the United States of North America will decide whether the theories of the Democracy or those of the Republican party shall be the best for their interests and national welfare. The lines are now clearly drawn and all good Virginians are deeply interested in the result of the great battle of ballots.
To return in retrospect and compare the present with the past, the individual then sees the changes made by the passage of time. I well remember when Mr. Cyrus W. Field, the promoter of the Atlantic Cable, was considered a regular crank, or semi-lunatic, for such unpractical ideas as he advanced. Now nearly every part of the globe is connected by submarine cables. Take up the numerous inventions and discoveries of "Edison, the great wizard of electricity," and regard the chaining of lightning by man, making it a motive power, and an illuminator for dispelling the darkness of the past, as to its many uses for mankind. Take the railroad engines, which were a few years since small affairs. and the small and light
wooden cars hauled by them, and contrast them with the palatial trains built of steel and the mammoth locomotives that now draw them on the heavy 100-pound rails at the rate of sixty miles per hour. Note the buildings in the great cities called "skyscrapers" which rise almost to the clouds, and the many other improvements in architectural steel structures, as the splendid bridges of that material that span large streams and bridge at dizzy heights ravines and mountain gorges. Fifty years ago the total population of Richmond was only about forty thousand souls, while today - 1912 - it is nearly one hundred and eighty thousand all told.
Thus we see what tremendous changes are produced by the passage of "resistless time," which even the most far-sighted human being could hardly imagine or predict. Now who can safely foretell what may happen within the next half century? Nearly every day science is bringing to fight marvelous inventions in the industrial world, and the swift strides in everything pertaining to the everyday life of the human family is most remarkable. Fearful accidents and awful calamities, destructive of life and property, follow each other almost equal to views of the kaleidoscope in suddenness and variety. Truly is this a wonderful period of the world's existence.
A striking feature of the great commercial advance of the United States is its vast increase in the railroad connections, which now penetrate the remotest sections, bringing them into touch with all the large centres of trade and commerce. That great artery of business, the Union Pacific Railroad stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the great ocean on the west coast, the Pacific. And now, as I write, in but a short time hence the famous canal, the Panama, which will draw in the tides of the
Atlantic and discharge them into the Pacific, for the first time in history, will be in operation, owing to the indomitable energy and skill of Americans. And also regard the wonderful achievements in the aerial world, the art of flying by men..
The individual views with wonder and almost awe the great events which the evolution of time has produced. If things are such in this, the twentieth century of the Christian era, what may the next one show forth to the eyes and imaginations of mortals? Can any person now living even speculate? There are a few who predict revelations in the invisible world, or the spiritual life, and who can say nay to it, in the light of discoveries and development of the present age? Time only can tell what the veil of the future now hides from human view.
A prominent element of Richmond's professional status was its legal bar, as its lawyers comprised many of the ablest attorneys in the State. Among the most prominent ones of the ante-bellum period were Mr. James Lyons, Sr., Jno. M. Gregory, Raleigh T. Daniel, John Howard, Alexander H. Sands, Edward and Henry Cannon, Messrs. Johnson, Griswold, Claiborne, Howison, August, Randolph, Littleton, Tazewell, Marmaduke, Johnson and many others, who shed a lustre upon their distinguished profession of the law. The bar of Virginia has always ranked as the highest in the land, and not even excelled in ability by that of the old Mother Country, England. There were two lawyers who were conspicuous men for their homeliness. One was Mr. Joseph Carrington, of Richmond, the other was William Wallace Day, of Manchester, Va. A
dispute having arisen as to which was the uglier of the two, and as it was very difficult to say which was, so the friends of each agreed to appoint a committee to decide the matter, and the one who was adjudged to be the uglier by it was to receive a prize of a fine penknife. The prize knife fell to the lot of Mr. Day as the successful contestant, and accordingly it was handed him as the award of not beauty, but of plain features at least, if not downright ugliness. Both of these worthy gentlemen were prominent and successful lawyers of the Richmond bar.
The annexation to Richmond of the several adjacent towns has added greatly to the population and proved a decided benefit to each. The former city of Manchester, which was for a long time an independent corporation (even said to be older than Richmond as a town), was lately joined to its sister city over the James River and is now called Washington ward, or more properly speaking, "South Richmond." It is now rapidly advancing in prosperity and is also improving in appearance in streets and parks. Consolidation or merger of interests and cooperation seems to be the spirit of modern times and of the age of commerce and money-making.
Before the war Richmond banks formed a very important element of its business equipment. The old Exchange Bank occupied the building at present the home of the First National, between Eleventh and Twelfth Streets on Main, but which last named one will soon be removed to its new home, southwest corner Main and Ninth Streets - nineteen stories high. Then comes next in rank the Farmers Bank, and then the Bank of Virginia, and the Bank of the Commonwealth. A good deal of banking was transacted by private bankers, such as C. W. Purcell & Co., Sutton, Enders & Co., Coddin, Harrison & Co. These were
all first-class and model institutions in their line, and occupied a high place in the business world of the city.
One of the unique characters in the State was the celebrated Parson Massie, as he was always called, though he was a full-fledged politician of the Readjuster period and was an efficient aid to General William Mahone. When the debt settlement was made, he returned to the Old Democratic fold. The "Parson" was truly one of the most plausible and eloquent speakers on the Hustings. No man in Virginia was more perfectly conversant with all the issues of the day, and there lived none who could "rattle" or disconcert him, for his extraordinary coolness and his undoubted courage always discomforted his opposers. He was elected and became the head of the whole school system of Virginia for many years.
Among the military companies of the city was the old Richmond Insight Infantry Blues, the organization of which dates back almost to Colonial times, and whose military record is as bright and efficient as a Damascus blade. It was commanded by officers whose memory will be revered and honored as long as time lasts. I can recall the names of some as Captains Bigger, Patton, O'Jennings, Wise, and its war captain, Levy. Since the War between the States, it has been reorganized and formed into a battalion of three companies. It still retains its former and ancient prestige gained in the past, and is justly regarded as one of the best military commands to be found anywhere. The personel of this old crack corps is A No. 1. No higher class young men are enrolled in any companies. Next comes the old Richmond Grays, one of the best-drilled companies in the State. The material of which this was composed was unsurpassed in Richmond and its appearance
on the streets always elicited special notice and praise.
Then came the Young Guard of the Commonwealth, commanded by Captain John Richardson. This company always received praise for its soldierly bearing, for to see this body of young men marching in open order down Main Street was a sight well worth seeing.
Then I mention Company A, which was commanded by Captain R. Milton Carey, which was another of Richmond's crack companies, being composed of the very elite of the city, and always reflected great credit on its native city. Then next I recall the Richmond Fayette Artillery, Captain Clopton, which was the only company of artillery in the city.
Another prominent infantry company was the Walker Light Guards. This was organized by Captain Walker, but a short time before the war and it made a fine record during the war between the States, being considered one of the very best commands in the Fifteenth Virginia Regiment. A large and fine cavalry company called the Richmond Troop added much to the city's reputation for its military organization, as it was drilled and commanded by an ex-West Point graduate, Captain C. Q. Tompkins, who was a splendid officer and made his troop a model cavalry company.
A striking evidence of the progress in Virginia of its agricultural progress is the extensive plant of the Virginia Carolina Chemical Works. The main offices are in Richmond and the works are located near the city. The different fertilizers, which are varied and adapted to all important crops in the South, are distributed all over the
country through its many agencies in all the largest cities. It is said that by the application of these to the soil, that two blades of grass will spring up where At one grew before. thus causing almost worn out fields to put on a grass sward and then heavy crops of tobacco and other products. This beneficial aid to nature appeals to the farmers and encourages them to never despair, but to always resort to the excellent fertilizers which are made and adapted to each crop by the reliable Virginia-Carolina Chemical Company, and then his plantation will always yield a large and remunerative increase our its former productions.
Among the pleasant and interesting customs of the past, was the regular habit of Virginians to gather together just before important elections and hold barbecues, which were always well-gotten up and carried out by a committee appointed for the purpose, who attended to the cooking; there was always a quarter of fat beef, and a whole mutton barbecued to a turn, and when dinner was announced the political speakers adjourned the meeting until the crowd had partaken generously of the meats and also of the good toddies furnished freely to the voters assembled on the festive occasion.
And when dinner was all over, the orators would resume their pleas for votes. The last barbecue of this extensive sort that I remember attending was at the Drewry Mansion, near Manchester. It was a very delightful place for such a meeting of suffragans; it being a handsome dwelling in a beautiful grove of stately old oak trees, commanding from an eminence a magnificent view of the plantation and the winding James River below. Among the speakers on the occasion were George D. Wise and
Richard Beirne, who pleased every man present and all returned home well satisfied with the whole outing.
Among the well-known characters of Richmond was one George Dabney Wootton, who came here before the war and was employed by the South, a newspaper published by Mr. Roger A. Pryor, and when the paper was discontinued he scraped together a smattering of what he thought was law, and hung out his shingle at the police court. Many people credited him with having "rats" in his head. One thing is certain, the man possessed inordinate self-reliance, or "brass," as it is called. He advertised a good deal in the newspapers and a certain Western man, who read his "ads," came on to the city with a good fat case of law, involving a large amount of money, which he placed in Wooten's hands, but subsequently finding that it would not be safe under Dabney's skill, in other words he was not qualified to manage so large a case, he sent and offered him a nice sum of money if he would give up the matter, but the learned attorney declined to withdraw from the case, and said that he proposed to go through with it. His client then had to employ assistant counsel, and obtained the legal service of Col. James Lyons, one of the most eminent lawyers of the bar of Virginia. Of course that settled it so far as Mr. Wootten was concerned.
I remember several years ago, when Mr. Isador Rayner, the United States Senator from Maryland, spoke at the Academy of Music, upon the subject of the tariff. Now, as a matter of fact, this is a generally dull subject, consisting of so much detail, and so many statistics and figures. But on this occasion it was quite the reverse of dull, for he discussed this intricate question in such an interesting manner that our attention was rivetted throughout the address, and every listener was charmed from the beginning
to the finish. It was indeed one of the very finest speeches that I ever heard.
A prominent and remarkable man was in his day, Mr. Joseph Mayo, who succeeded Mr. Lambent as the chief magistrate or mayor of Richmond; he was a good lawyer, indeed one of renown, and the author of the celebrated work called "Mayo's Guide," a book of high standing, and an authority at the bar for all legal forms used in the Richmond courts. At that time the Mayor performed the office of police judge, and well I do recall seeing him seated in his big chair with all the high dignity of a Roman senator; he was always dressed in a blue dress coat with brass buttons and ruffled shirtbosom. He dispensed even handed justice, and was a highly esteemed citizen of Richmond.
When the army of Northern Virginia, under General Robert E. Lee, was fighting at Spotsylvania Courthouse; occurred the battle at New Market, between the Confederate forces under General Jno. C. Breckenridge, and those under the Northern General Siegel. When Grant withdrew his dines of battle General Lee marched on parallel lines to Grant's. We stopped at Hanover Junction and there sharp skirmishing took place. The railroad train conveying the cadets of the Virginia Military Institute stopped a short time, and I went on board and inquired if Cadet George Kennon Macon, my brother, was aboard the train, and the answer was, to my distress, that he was not, as he had been wounded in that celebrated charge of the cadets at New Market, in the Valley of Virginia, by a canister shot passing through his arm, and he had to be left behind under the care of those kind and skillful surgeons of the corps - Doctors George Ross, and Marshall. Captain Miles C. Macon, of the Fayette Artillery, my brother, also, was then just recovering from a spell of
typhoid fever, which had prevented his being in the engagement at the front, went up to the valley and brought our wounded brother down to our mother's home in Richmond, and it is needless to say that everything that love and sympathy could suggest or inspire was employed to relieve his pain and hasten his recovery. He was the idol of the family, and his wound was attended to by that most skillful surgeon Doctor Petticolas. It was an ugly wound and he suffered from it to the day of his death.
The brilliant charge of those young boys - cadets - at the severe fight of New Market, forms one of the brightest pages of military glory, and in all history there has never been its equal. Their steady, stoical bravery at the crisis of the battle, under circumstances and surroundings that staggered the old veterans. As these gallant youths moved across the field in the face of a withering fire of artillery concentrated on them, they were literally mowed down, but their ranks were filled up as cooly as if they were on parade, and they never faltered in their charge until they had captured the guns before them. This was, as often written, one of, if not the most striking achievements, of the great war between the States. Many have blamed the commandant of the institute, General Smith, for allowing the boys to be carried to the front, though he had no option in the matter; it was a case of emergency; of salvation to the army, and indeed of safety to the institute, and accordingly General Breckenridge called forth the corps, and they were eager for the fray, and proved their mettle.
A gleaning of significance was: A certain lady was the fortunate possessor of two sons whose ages were respectively twelve and fourteen years; these boys were once invited to a juvenile party, their mother having provided
them new roundabouts with plain brass buttons and trousers to match with well starched collars, their faces having been, of course, washed clean, and the chaps were well dressed and smart looking. Before parting with them, when they were leaving home for the entertainment, their mother, after carefully inspecting them, said, now boys you are both big fools, and now don't you open your mouths while at this party. The host of the entertainment came to them and complimented their behaviour and appearance, and inquired about their mother. The boys looked directly at one another, but remained as dumb as oysters in the shells. Their hostess fared no better, and received no satisfaction when she kindly inquired of them about their parent. As she left the boys she remarked, well those are certainly the greatest dunces that I have ever seen. They overheard her remark, and one of them said to the other brother, they have found us out. Let us go home. Those very boys afterwards developed into intelligent men. It was truly wrong in their parent to thus discourage her boys on their first start into society; she should have taken an optimistic view of the matter, as the final result proved, as they both grew up to be well informed members of society.
A characteristic feature of the period of the time in which I am engaged writing, is the friendly relations now existing between the sections of the country; the North and the South. Nearly half a century has elapsed since the surrender at Appomattox. All the acrimony engendered by the late strife, has ceased. The bone of contention, the "Slavery Question," which once divided the States, no longer exists, and now we see the Southern girl marrying the Northern beau, and the Northern knight wooes and weds the Southern heroine, and thus results a commingling of blood and interests.
During the winter just preceding the great war between the States, a Miss Duryea, the daughter of Colonel Duryea, of New York, was making a visit to my brother-in-law and his family, Mr. Peyton Johnston, of Richmond, they being strong mutual friends. The colonel consented to her visiting in Richmond, and she was a very attractive young lady, and as I was at the time a young man, I was, to some extent, drawn to her. I well remember that she played a good game of single-hand euchre, and that we had many pleasant games together. She left for the North just before the beginning of the war. Her father commanded the Duryea Zouaves.
A unique character of the city was one Captain John Freeman, who commanded one of the passenger boats between West Point, Va., and the City of Baltimore. He was a great epicure, and was noted for providing the best meals on his steamer of any one of the line, and passengers to and from Baltimore and Virginia deemed themselves fortunate when they found themselves his guests for the trip on the York River and the Chesapeake Bay route. The genial old sailor had, by good feeding, acquired a fine front of genuine aldermanic proportions. A certain man once approached him and remarked that he could give him a receipt which, if he would follow well, would reduce his stomach to its normal size within thirty days. The captain listened attentively to him, and then he replied, "My good friend, it has taken me about thirty-five years and several thousand dollars to obtain the generous front that I have, and now you come and tell me how to get rid of it in thirty days or so, after all my time and money has been spent in acquiring it. Now, my dear sir, I must most respectfully decline to make use of your receipt."
During the war between the States a certain quartermaster with the rank of major, whose duty never took him outside Richmond in extremely hot weather, when the mercury in July ranged from ninety to ninety-five degrees, had a negro boy whose sole employment was to fan him and keep off the flies. Now, this worthy official of the Army of the Confederacy always thought himself to be one of the hardest worked men in the service. Peace to his ashes; he has long since "passed over to the other side of the river."
A time of great interest to the Virginians in the past, was the exhibition of the annual State Fair, when almost every farmer and family came to Richmond during the month of October to attend it. They would put off until then to do the shopping and trading for the fall and winter. The city would then be thronged with the visitors from almost everywhere. All the hotels and boarding houses were then filled, and all hands bent upon seeing and being seen, would flock out to the Fair Grounds. At night the Mechanic's Institute was open and filled with machinery and mechanical products. The Fair Grounds were situated then at now the corner of Main and Belvidere Streets, which had been used during the war as Camp Lee. It is now the beautiful spot called Monroe Park.
One of the most important insurance companies in the city is the Virginia Fire and Marine. This old and strong institution antedates the great war, and its officers were at one time as follows: President, Mr. Thomas Alfriend; secretary, W. L. Cowardin, who afterwards became the president. At this writing - the year 1912 - Colonel William H. Palmer is the president and Mr. W. H. McCarthy
is the secretary. It has a corps of efficient clerks and its business is vast, and constantly increasing. The prestige and conservative mode of doing business of this model fire company, commend it to the confidence of the insuring public.
A unique man of Chesterfield county was a certain Mr. W. B. C., who was considered the best set-back player in Manchester, and could play longer on a small capital, or "stake," than could be found anywhere. He took few chances in "bidding," but when he offered so many points for his hand, the board of players deemed it advisable to let him have all the points that he claimed, as he was sure in the end to score them all. He was a very genial, pleasant companion, and he was welcomed in a game.
Many of the landmarks, in the matter of buildings, have been torn down and thus removed, and in their places more modern ones erected in Richmond. For instance, the old Swan Tavern, which stood on Broad between Eighth and Ninth Streets. In its day, before the war, it was a famous hostelry. It was there that the celebrated trial of the notorious Aaron Burr was held. Burr had been indicted by the federal court for high treason against the United States government, in attempting, by filibustering means, to inaugurate a separate government in the then new Southwestern States. Very able legal talent was engaged in this case, among whom was Mr. Jno. Wickham, Luther Martin and several others of national reputation. Chief Justice John Marshall presided at this trial. Mr. Burr was acquitted. He had been for several years an important figure in American politics and history, and had been a candidate for the nomination of the Federal or Whig party against Mr. Thomas Jefferson, the nominee of the Republican-Democratic party. In the election that
fall there was a tie vote in the electorial college, and in consequence the election was thrown into the House of Representatives at Washington. The leader of the Federal party, Alexander Hamilton, gave the deciding vote which elected Mr. Jefferson as the President of the United States.
This embittered Mr. Burr towards Mr. Hamilton, and he made a most severe personal attack upon him through the newspapers. This drew from Hamilton a challenge to mortal combat on the field of honor and resulted in the death of the latter by the bullet of Burr's pistol.
Alexander Hamilton was considered by many as one of the greatest men of his time, and was the brains and leader of his party, then styled the Federal, or later the Whig party. His theory of government exists to this day and time.
A prominent citizen was Mr. Jesse Wherry, a man of wit and humor, a good mimic and was a candidate at the time for Commissioner of Revenue, to succeed Parson Burton, who had died. During the canvass he attended a Methodist religious meeting and when the preacher offered up a long, earnest prayer, Wherry emphasized it by his approval in frequent and loud amens. A party out of spite informed the leaders of the meeting that Jesse was not only not a Methodist, but not even a member of any church whatever. This action came very near causing the defeat of Mr. Jesse Wherry for the office, for the whole meeting voted for his opponent. There once lived in Richmond a man by the name of Hicks, who kept a livery stable on South Tenth Street, between Main and Cary. He owned a fine female pointer dog named "Sue." She had a pedigree nearly a yard in length. The puppies he found a ready sale for at a good price. One day a party approached
Hicks and said: "I wish you would give me one of her puppies." He replied: "You go to Major Doswell and ask him to give you one of Sue Washington's colts." "It costs the major a good deal of money to produce her colts," exclaimed the party. "Don't you suppose it costs me something to obtain my thoroughbred puppies," was Mr. Hick's reply.
I remember well the time when the last mortal remains of the great Confederate general, Stonewall Jackson, were brought to Richmond for interment. The body lay in state in the rotunda of the capitol and all who desired could view the corpse. There lay still in death, the man who had been the right-hand and arm of General Robert E. Item and but few, if any, who passed around his bier failed to shed tears of sorrow at the great calamity which the South sustained thereby. Upon a caisson was placed the casket and conveyed to Hollywood Cemetery.
His faithful colored body-servant led the famous old sorrel horse that had carried him through so many battles. At the battle of Fredericksburg, General J. E. B. Stuart, with the aid of his servant, had provided the old horse with an entirely new equipment - new saddle and bridle - and when his men saw their general seated on his familiar old sorrel, bedecked and ornamented with the new trappings, they were utterly amazed at the improvement. His new uniform of Confederate grey, which had been procured for the general without his knowledge, became him well and was admired by all.
In turning back a page of my life, my memory recalls several members of the 1st Howitzers, to which I belonged during the great war. One was Lieutenant John Nimmo,
who joined in the year 1861, just before the company left Richmond for the front. He was living in New York when the war began, but returned to his native State, and joined us, being elected to a lieutenancy. His physique was remarkable, being very tall, and as slim as a fence rail almost, and with a long neck and mustaches as flowing as those of a "grenadier of the foot guards" of France. His individuality was marked; possessing a great fund of wit and humor, enlivened by a slight vein of sarcasm. He had read a good deal, and had also touched elbows with the great world, which rendered his conversation always very entertaining. His gallantry on the field of battle was conspicuous, being one of the coolest men in action that I ever saw. His memory is cherished highly by every surviving member of the company. He has long since passed to the "bourne whence no traveller returns," and rests on the other side of the river.
A striking member of our company, "the 1st Howitzers," was Carey Eggleston. He was a long, gawky looking young soldier, and did not make a very good showing on dress parade, but just as soon as fight opened, and our guns were turned loose upon the enemy, his whole nature seemed to change with the excitement, and he seemed exhilarated with ardor of battle. At the battle of Spotsylvania Court House he was acting number one at the gun where I was number three, when a fragment of shell shattered his arm. Gangrene afterwards set in and caused his death. He was but a mere youth, only eighteen years old, and was the only one I ever knew that really loved fighting.
Of some interest to many is the 7:32 A.M. accommodation train on the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad from Ashland to Richmond. It conveys as passengers
daily business and professional men to the city. A prominent characteristic of these travelers is the haste displayed by each in getting the morning's paper; indeed it seems that to secure one at all hazards and risks, the most desirable accomplishment in daily life, and then to quickly board the train and rush for a seat on the shady side - if it happens to be the summer season - while the less fortunate make out the best they can on the sunny side. The choice of seats, of course, is reversed in the winter time, when the sun is the favorite side. After obtaining his favorite seat the "newspaper fiend" draws his paper, folds, presses down its side in the most skillful way, and then holds its pages up to his eager gaze with the thrilling delight of what he gleans in its perusal. This folding and preparation of the journal is done with a peculiar expertness by the veteran news fiend, for instance, when he wishes to find the continuance of an article from one page to another, he will turn it over and rearrange it in a most adroit manner, that no amateur could perform; only the genuine newspaper fiend could accomplish such a result. He first folds the sheets into a quarto or folio size with the greatest finesse, and takes fresh hold reading. When you notice his lips quiver, he has come to something especially interesting; he becomes quite oblivious to all outside influences, being entirely absorbed in what he is enjoying in the columns of the news items. As a matter of fact he is not fond of books; a fine volume of literature is not varied enough for his tastes. The morning paper, fresh with news of the whole world, appears to him as a perfect kaleidoscope of reading matter, which he perfectly appreciates until the train reaches its destination.
During the battles around Richmond, when the Federal
army under General Geo. B. McClellan invested the city. One of the brighest pages in the history of the Confederate war was enacted. The noble women of the South by a concert of action, united in aiding the surgeons in alleviating the pain and suffering of the wounded. The whole seemed a veritable hospital. Even the churches were stripped of their cushions to be used therein for the comfort of those who were brought in from the front. The kind sympathy and cheering words of these devoted women caused many a wounded soldier to look and revere and thank his Creator that such ministering angels had been provided to sooth him and inspire hope in his weak and stricken body. This gracious and noble conduct of the women of the Confederacy forms one of the most valuable pages in the annals of the great war between the North and South. Many who took part in that memorable struggle and strenuous time have passed over the river that separates life from eternity, but their deeds and their memory will be cherished as long as time endures.
A gleaning of some moment is the tearing down of the old Reuger building to give place to a new and more modern structure of ten stories. It will stand upon the site of the original house, on the corner of Ninth and Bank Streets, where it had stood for more than half a century as a restaurant and hotel. It is doubtful if any establishment of its kind ever dispensed better cheer in either liquor or substantial refreshments, than the "Reugers" - father, son and grandsons - served up to their many patrons. In the new hostelry there will be maintained the same high prestige hitherto enjoyed by the lovers of good fare in Richmond and vicinity.
A prominent person in Richmond during the period "antebellum," was Captain Sam Freeman, who was the
superintendent of Capitol Square and the public buildings within the same. It was he that introduced the squirrels on the grounds, and took a good deal of interest in and care of them, being his especial pets. After the close of the great war, the former office was merged in that of the Inland and Superintendent of Public Buildings.
I recall a very high-toned gentleman, a first-class Virginian, who was waiting upon a very attractive lady, who was riding in a carriage with the window down. He being at the time on horseback, and drawing alongside the vehicle, he leaned over and remarked to her: "Miss Judy, I have a disagreeable duty to perform, namely, to court you." She very promptly replied: "Well, Colonel, if it is such a disagreeable task to you, I would advise you not to perform it." But being so full of his subject, he continued his courtship, and, of course, was promptly discarded. She afterwards married another gentleman who was more tactful in his mode of courting her.
An incident which I recall to memory was: There was a Mrs. R. C. Cabell, a sister of old General Wingfield Scott, one of the leaders of society in her day in Richmond. She drove to her carriage a fine pair of slick brown mules, well roached. It was swung on "C" shaped leather springs, and had steps which were unfolded for the occupants to descend or ascend. The seat of the coachman was perched high up in front, and altogether it was a truly unique turnout, which always attracted much notice. In general appearance it was quite similar to the vehicle exhibited in the wild west show of Buffalo Bill.
A significant evidence of the great commercial development
merit and advance in importance is proven by the establishment in Richmond of the office of Winston and Company, engineers and contractors. This eminent firm is composed of native Virginians, "to the mannor-born," and their thorough knowledge of the profession places them in the front rank in this country, and by means of their skill and experience are able to handle the most intricate problems that may be submitted to them in both civil and mechanical engineering line. This distinguished firm of native Virginians now has under construction the contract with the City of New York, involving several millions of dollars, to concentrate and dam-up the waters of several streams in the Catskills, and then to convey by means of tunnels and aqueducts under the Hudson River many miles, for the purpose of adding to the supply of water for that centre of population.
This is indeed a gigantic undertaking and is almost equal in importance to the country at large as is that of the Panama Canal, now being built by the United States government. This firm of Southern men has built important works for Boston, as well as that celebrated piece of work, the settling basins, for Richmond, which gives us such fine, clear water as we now enjoy.
The prominent firm, the Messrs. T. W. Wood and Sons, seedsmen, is a business of large proportions. Its products are thus distributed throughout this State and the other Southern ones. Mr. Henry W. Wood, the head of the house, is a merchant of great capacity, who through his fine methods has built up the largest and most important seed business in his city, and furnishes the farmers of this State and elsewhere with a most important article of agriculture, to-wit: pure and well selected seeds. This eminent concern bears a striking evidence of the improvement
which the evolution of the wheel of time has wrought.
On the Ashland accomodation train one day there were seated two persons, whom we shall designate as Mr. T. and Mr. S. They were sitting on opposite sides of the aisle of the car and the latter had a horse that Mr. T. knew, and the conversation ranged on the subject of horseflesh, or rather their knowledge of the same, and incidentally Mr. S. said that he would take twenty-five dollars for his animal. Mr. T. at once produced the sum and handed it over to Mr. S., who took the money and dashed it down to the floor, exclaiming that he was only jesting and did not desire to sell his horse for the price stated. In reply Mr. T. said that it was a plain transaction with him, and that he claimed a delivery of the horse, to which demand Mr. S. demurred. The case was finally carried to the court of Hanover county, and was at last settled by awarding Mr. T. fifty dollars in lieu of the nag, which belonged to the firm of S. and H. This was one of the most remarkable cases ever on the docket of the Circuit Court of Hanover for many years.
In the good old county of Goochland there lived two men who were neighbors and great friends, and as a matter of course took an interest in each other's welfare. They were in one respect totally different in character: The one was very neat and tidy in his attire; but his friend was quite the opposite, being careless in his dress and rather untidy in his appearance. As he was about to move to Richmond to reside, his friend kindly offered him some good advice. Said he: "Since you are going to a city to reside, where one's dress is more scrutinized than in the country, the first thing on reaching town go to O. H. Berry's Clothing House, corner Eleventh and Main Streets,
and buy a fashionable cutaway suit of clothes. And then I would advise with your white shirt you wear a white necktie whenever an occasion offers, as it is the proper thing to do." He accordingly adopted his good friend's advice and then wrote as follows:
"I have done as you suggested; went to O. H. Berry's elegant establishment, where I procured the latest shape in cutaway suits, but in regard to that white necktie, dear boy! I am constrained to say that from my observation here, they are, except by preachers, worn mostly by the barbers and colored waiters in the restaurants. Still, to please my good friend, I shall decorate my neck with one when occasion offers."
Edward S. McCarthy was elected captain of the 1st Company of Richmond Howitzers at the reorganization on the Peninsular in 1862. He was possessed of a most decided personality; he was rather stout in figure, with a large, full face, piercing eyes, and in manner rather inclined to be reticent in speech; but he had a heart as large as a barn door, was sympathetic with all who needed a friend and as brave as Marshall Ney. Careful of his men under fire, never seeking his own protection, even under the most trying ordeal of a very severe fire from the enemy's guns, such was the character of Captain Edward S. McCarthy, the gallant commander of the 1st Company Richmond Howitzers, who was struck, at the second battle of Cold Harbor, by a minnie ball from the rifle of a sharp-shooter. The brave and noble soldier never uttered a word after the fatal ball entered his body. I was within three feet of him when he fell. No more gallant soul, no finer Virginian gentleman ever yielded up the ghost on the field of patriotism and duty than this Confederate warrior. What an
awful thing is war; when such specimens of manhood may be immolated upon the red, gory alter of the God of War.
During that heavy snowfall in the winter of 1858, the passenger train on the then called Virginia Central Railroad - now named the Chesapeake and Ohio - was stalled and completely held-up by a tremendous drift just opposite the well known farm, "Strawberry Hill," which is about six miles from Richmond. On the train, as a passenger, was a Mrs. Jones, a distinguished actress of that time, and there was also aboard the cars a Mr. Hugh Fry, of Richmond. The passengers all decided to leave the train and go up to the house for diversion or entertainment.
Mrs. Jones found herself involved in a dilemma, as she had on but a very thin pair of shoes, whereupon Mr. Fry, with the gallantry of a Sir Walter Raleigh, came to her relief and took off the boots he was wearing and insisted on her using them. Then came up an unforeseen difficulty to be overcome; the legs of his boots were too small for the fair lady's understandings, whereupon Mr. Fry with his pen-knife slit the tops so that they went on smoothly and thus kept the feet of the fair wearer dry and quite comfortable.
This incident of the antebellum days was regarded as one of the best displays of knight-errantry in the annals of the Old Dominion.
One of the most pleasant and entertaining clubs in the 1st Company of the Richmond Howitzers was the card club. Nearly every game in Hoyle was played, but the most popular one was draw poker. We used corn grains for chips, and the antes were not very large in amount,
as we were then receiving as pay only twelve dollars per month, and that at long intervals. When a player had not the cash to settle up with the game, he would give an order on next forthcoming pay, which was always honored. Some of the men became good poker players. Many of those who were then participants in the game of cards, as well as of "grim war," have passed away to the other side of the great river of life.
I recall some of the most pleasant times of army life, while we were encamped in winter quarters, in the enjoyment incident to a good game of "poker." They were as a rule genial, bright fellows, and good cannoneers as well, but always ready for the call to arms. We were then all young and hopeful; the survivors are now old and quite "unsteady on their pins." Their gait is slow, and many winters have frosted their once sunny locks.
In the good town of Ashland, in Hanover county, Va., situated about sixteen miles north of Richmond, on The Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railway, is to be found one of the very prettiest towns in the South. This place enjoys the distinction of being the birthplace of the illustrious statesman, Henry Clay, called the "Great Commoner," whose efforts in Congress postponed the dreadful strife between the sections for many years. It was he who uttered the lofty, patriotic words, "I would rather be right than be President." Ashland is not very far from Hanover Court House, where John Randolph and Patrick Henry, the renewed orator of the Revolution, locked horns in the trial of the famous Parson's tobacco case, in which the former, Mr. Randolph, came very near putting the great pleader "on the gridiron." The celebrated college at this place, named after two distinguished men, "Randolph-Macon," is one of the best and most
prosperious institutions of learning in the State, with a corps of professors of ripest scholarship and thoroughly equipped for the respective chairs of instruction which they fill. The town has good water and excellent social advantages, being two most important elements for comfort and pleasure in any place of residence. The large, old forest trees, which still stand in their pristine grandeur in the streets and yards of Ashland, add much to its appearance and render it attractive. Many people come to this village to spend the summer months and enjoy the advantages it affords of country, pure air and also its nearness to the city. Mr. Robinson, who was one of the first presidents of the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad, took great interest in Ashland and did much to advance it in every respect. He established a fine, turfed race course and started many other improvements which have all now passed away and are only remembered by the elder members of the community. An attractive and well-kept hotel occupies a prominent position on the main street fronting the railroad, and is well patronized. So that taking into consideration all the conveniences and beauties of the town, it may well be called a desirable place for a home.
The morning accommodation train on the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad is, you may say, somewhat unique, since among its regular passengers or commuters from Ashland may be found almost every kind of human industry represented. For instance, there is the lawyer, and there the judge as well. The representative of the steam and marine navigation insurance. Also a representative of agricultural implements. The interests
of the tiller of the soil are likewise well represented, and last, though not least, the grain and feed business has its agent here, with various other lines of commercial life well represented, all forming a most pleasant company of genial and sociable men. The conversation abounds in honest interchange of ideas, which are both instructive and entertaining. In these cases there are but little or no egotism indulged in, only a clear-cut discussion of questions and topics which are daily presented to everybody at this time. The daily morning and evening newspapers, which are full of all the stirring events of the day, being perused by all, and thus each and every man obtains therefrom plenty of information as food for a general diffusion of thoughts and ideas. Hence this train may be truly a unique one.
An interesting incident was that of the independent fire department of Richmond in the days before the war. This consisted of several companies, between which there existed a considerable degree of rivalry. The engine and the reel, or hose carriage, were drawn by the men. Captain John Fry commanded number three engine. Captain Bargamin was chief of number one. As a matter of course where there was so much rivalry among them, at every fire there arose a contention as to which company was entitled to attach its hose to the nearest plug, and it generally resulted in a free fight between the two companies. Then fighting was only regarded as a sort of recreation of a manly sport. But time and the experience in the late war taught them to look upon it in an entirely different light. Such is the change of sentiment and morals produced by time and trouble.
Our present splendid fire department, under the pay system, is one of the city's best assets, presents quite a
contrast to the old days. With the new automobile fire engines, carrying hose, ladders, chemical apparatus and everything needed at a big fire, capable of throwing powerful streams of water, the fires of today do not reach often to conflagrations of the size as of yore. The whole system now works like a clock. And the employment of the best mechanical skill, in addition to the use of the motor power to supersede horse power, proves the rapid and great advance of modern conveniences as contrasted with the old-fashioned, hand-power machines.
The people of the United States of North America at this time are confronted with many important and intricate problems of government for their solution. Indeed, we have reached a crisis in the political and commercial life of the country. At this writing, the fall of the year 1912, the country is on the eve of an important presidential election. Governor Woodrow Wilson, of New Jersey, and Governor Thomas R. Marshall, of Indiana, head the Democratic ticket. Mr. Wm. H. Taft, the incumbent, is the nominee of the regular Republican Protection party; while Colonel Theodore Roosevelt is the leader of the third party of high tariffites, commonly termed the Bull Moose or National Progressives.
The letter of acceptance of each of the candidates gives to some extent the policy of the administration that is advocated by them. There are some wrongs to remedy and some new measures to adjust and policies to inaugurate. In the meantime the people are looking with eager eyes at the contest and are anxious to know the final result in November as to which party will be successful and the
kind of government that will rule them after the 4th of March, 1913.
An interesting history of by-gone days was that of the old James River and Kanawha Canal, which was in its day a very important means of transportation to all points situated in the valley of the James above Richmond to the westward. The State of Virginia, which built and owned it at the beginning of the war, sold it to the Richmond and Alleghany Railroad Company, which constructed a railroad on its bank known as the Richmond and and Alleghany Railroad. This road finally fell to the control of the Chesapeake and Ohio Company by purchase of its stock and bonds, and thus the use of that fine work as a means of transport became a thing of the past - too slow for the age of steam and electricity.
A striking feature of Richmond during the war were the levees or social receptions held at the Governor's mission every Thursday night. They were largely attended by the citizens as well as by the soldiers that were passing through the city, affording a pleasant opportunity to the boys in grey to and from the front, to meet the fair ladies of the Confederacy, who lent their charming presence and society for the enjoyment of the officers and men, affording a very delightful recreation and change from the hardships and many privations of field duty.
Colonel William Smith, nick-named Extra Billy while in Congress, was one of the bravest and most popular officers in the Army of Northern Virginia. His regiment had won distinction on many fields of battle. An election was held in the army and every man in all the Virginia regiments voted for him to be the Governor of Virginia, and it proved a wise selection, for his intense devotion to the cause of the Confederacy, as well as his conspicious
gallantry, endeared him to every one who wore the gray. Very well do I recall the occasion when the guests at the Mansion passed in review and gave him the compliments of the evening. His genial manners to all will long be remembered.
Doctor Hunter McGuire, the medical director of Stonewall Jackson's corps, by his sympathetic manner and great skill as a sergeon, saved many a poor Confederate's life and also soothed his suffering body when tortured by wounds received in battle. He was the physician who attended his mortally wounded chief, after he was stricken down at Chancellorsville, by the accidental fire of his own men. All that could be done, he did to save his valuable life, but all was in vain, as pneumonia set in and the great soldier passed away, to the deepest sorrow and grief of the whole South. Doctor McGuire, after the war, settled in Richmond and established a very large and lucrative practice, gaining a national reputation as an eminent surgeon, his operations in the line of surgery being quoted all over the country for their skillful application of the principles of that great art.
Doctor McGuire's great, tender heart was always open to the needs of the Confederate soldier, or to the aid of the "Lost Cause" in keeping alive in the memories the glories of those who fell in defense of their homes and families. His memory is still revered by the old and the young for his many noble traits of character and his deeds as a citizen and physician.
A man by the name of Robert Jennings was a sergeant in the 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry, and when his regiment was passing through the county of Matthews, during the war, he was so much pleased with the surroundings that he said if he came out of the conflict unharmed, he would
buy a farm there, and as he was fortunate enough to survive, both sound and well, and being the possessor of a snug sum of ready money, he carried out his intentions by purchasing a nice home and launched out ill the very laudable occupation of tilling the soil. "Colonel Bob," as he was called, being of a genial nature, attended court at the county seat every court day, his object in so doing was to become well acquainted with the citizens, and being a man of means and of a liberal disposition, he treated, or "set up" drinks and cigars to the people very freely. He began by ordering the best to be had, such as fifteen-cent drinks in thin glasses and Henry Clay regalia cigars, and consequently became exceedingly popular, indeed was one of the most popular men in Matthews county, on account of his liberality and frequent attendance on court day. His farm and affairs were neglected, which compelled him to mortgage his property and was thus reduced to the necessity of ordering ten-cent drinks and cheaper cigars. So they, from calling him "Colonel," changed his title to "Major Bob," and as he still neglected his farm and its management, and was again forced by lack of money to put a second deed of trust on his farm, he was now reduced to the rank of "Captain Bob." He then reduced the cost of his drinks down to "shorts," or five-cent drams, and stogies for smokes. Well, finally things went from bad to worse, and Captain Bob had to place a third deed or mortgage on his place, and then it went into the hands of the trustee and was advertised for sale. A man from Minnesota came and said that he liked the place and also liked the people, as they were in general simple-minded, honest folks, he would send his son down in the winter and he would come in the summer.
"Bob," for they now only called him plain "Bob," overheard
the man say "a simple-minded people," remarked: "Well, that is what I thought a few years ago, when I first came down here, with about seventy-five thousand dollars, and now I haven't got money enough left to pay my steamboat fare to the city of Norfolk"; and whatever afterwards became of Mr. Robert Jennings I do not know.
When General McClellan advanced up the peninsular formed by the James and York Rivers, from Yorktown and Old Point Comfort, and laid sedge to Richmond in the spring of the year 1862, the Federal gunboats steamed up the James River and attempted to pass by the Confederate fortifications at Drewry's Bluff, called "Fort Darling" by the Federals, and then began a fierce artillery duel between them. At the crisis of the battle the principal gun, a thirty pounder, was thrown from its trunions, and by the skill and coolness at this critical juncture of Major Jno. G. Clarke, the engineer in charge, it was safely remounted and the enemy's fleet repulsed, thus saving the city from bombardment. Major Clarke was promoted to the rank of colonel of the engineer corps, and was at the battle of Gettysburg, where he directed and superintended the placing of the pontoon bridges at "Falling Waters" for General Lee's army to pass over after the fight. He was then promoted again to be full colonel of engineers. Upon the death of Colonel Harris he was put in command of Charleston, S. C.
During the important period of history known as "Reconstruction," General Canby sent one of his aides, a Lieutenant Terfew, to the county of bleary, in order to reduce the population to terms. The county seat was his destination and court was in session when he arrived and
at the mid-day recess. This officer, upon dismounting, very warm and dusty, it being the latter part of June, found a large number of citizens assembled in front of the hotel, to whom he stated, that by order of General Canby, he was there to reconstruct the county and to inaugurate amicable relations between the government at Richmond and the good people of the county and thus prevent friction. The crowd present selected as their spokesman an old justice of the peace, and accordingly addressed the officer in these words:
Lieutenant Terfew, sir: Any one coming to the good old county of Henry with such good credentials as you bear, to-wit: The sword in one hand and the olive branch in the other, a slight or any discourtesy extended or offered you will be regarded by each one of us as an affront individually, and will be resented and treated as it deserves." After this the lieutenant inquired if he could procure any refreshment, whereupon the landlord stepped forward and said: "Oh, yes, just follow." The officer then invited the whole party to join him in a sociable drink. Eleven of them accepted; among them was the justice who had replied. They walked up the passageway, then faced to the right and then front-faced to the counter at the bar and each called for what he wished. Each one took apple brandy. Then he remarked: "Gentlemen, as I am tired and thirsty, I wish to repeat, won't you all again join me." Upon this the old justice spoke up thus: "Now, lieutenant, we will repeat, but not at your expense. Landlord, just chalk the last drinks down to me." As they were filing out of the bar the landlord beckoned to the lieutenant and asked him who was going to pay for those last drinks. "That old fellow has been playing that trick on me for the last five years,"
he said. The result was that the officer was successful in fully reconstructing the county.
Just before the close of the war a foraging squad of Federal cavalry, under the command of Lieutenant Rowland Wood, was sent out and reached the fine, old colonial residence of a Mrs. Swann, whose plantation was well stocked and in fair condition, as in fact many places had not suffered from the visits of the foragers and prowlers of either army. Indeed this was one of the fortunate ones. It was named "Meadow Brook," and was truly a very fine estate. The ladies of the mansion used an old- fashioned knocker on the front door; and Miss Ida Swann answered the front door. The officer was struck as soon as she appeared, as he recognized in her the same young lady that he had known and greatly admired before the war. She was the ideal Virginian girl, high spirited and loyal to the South, with an independent bearing, a characteristic of the well-bred country maiden. She was fond of out-door life and exercises, like Diana Vernon, so beautifully described by Sir Walter Scott in one of his novels. The Federal officer stated his errand in the most polite way, of course, which was to some extent a matter of embarrassment to him under the circumstances, and after having made an inspection and found that there was comparatively nothing on the premises which would be of any value to the cavalry service, he came across her own riding horse, which he decided was too delicate to bear a trooper. So he returned to camp, having done nothing injurious to the place. It happened this was near the close of the war, and shortly afterwards the Southern army surrendered at Appomattox to General U. S. Grant. Then the lieutenant cast aside his uniform and donned a citizen's suit, and after things had quited down, he concluded
to make a friendly visit to "Meadow Brook," where he found Miss Swann in the bloom of health and buoyant spirits. And by his manly and straight-forward course of conduct, he gradually regained his former position in her esteem and by degrees the old flame of affection was rekindled, and in the old church near-by they stood before the altar and plighted their mutual troth and vows and were made man and wife by the sacred rites of matrimony. Their life has been, and is now, one of connubial bliss and contentment with their lot, because of the pure love and congeniality existing between them.
In this, the first decade of the twentieth century, we find new conditions confronting the people called by many in the political sense, "Progressive." There are many conditions in both the commercial and political orders of the time which are deemed by the leaders to need a change. For instance, the control of cities through new municipal legislation, and a Board of Control, or Administration. In the national affairs: The election of Senators by the direct vote of the people, and by the means of primary elections in the States in the nomination of candidates for the Presidency, instead of the old modes of by conventions and legislatures. Time will surely prove whether the changes called for, and now inaugurated in some cities and States, will be any improvement over the former system.
We are now living in an age of decided change and advances. Everything that conduces to the progress and betterment of society, in its general sense, ought to be given a trial in order that the masses of citizens may be
uplifted and conditions of living be ameliorated and advanced, both physically and morally.
It has been asserted that the Confederate soldier was addicted to the evil habit of emphasizing his ordinary conversation in a manner of speech not admissable in a Sunday school room. As a matter of fact a great many of the hardest fighters and most gallant commanders were real profane men, that seemed to believe that an order accompanied by an oath would be executed with more dispatch than if not so given. Many soldiers were kept from using oaths before a battle on account of the penalty accruing from breaking the Third Commandment, to-wit: "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless, that taketh his name in vain." I do not think there was more swearing among soldiers than there was before the war. To say the least, the habit is very vulgar and unrefined, aside from its wickedness, and should never be taught children; yet there have been occasions when an oath seemed to give an order more effect and vim; still it is not advisable and should be only, if at all, used seldom in any company, but such is the frailty of human nature that soldiers are prone to do that which they ought not to do. I am opposed to cursing, and think it ought never to be resorted to if possible to avoid it. The human family, if it tries hard so to do, can abstain from the habit, and they can accustom themselves to speak without violating the commandment of God.
Years ago there settled in the county of Hanover a Mr. James Ames and Jane, his wife. They were very industrious, thrifty citizens. He had purchased his farm
through a real estate firm of Richmond, on the terms of three equal payments. He paid promptly the first two, but six months before the third one fell due, he found himself confronted with unforeseen conditions: There had been a long, distressing drought, which had cut short his crops, and one of his mules had broken his leg, so that altogether he was in a sad state of mind. The third and last installment on his farm was nearly due and his wife, who was a sensible and practical woman, said to him, now let me see if I can assist in this difficulty, to which he assented. Accordingly she went to Richmond to the firm from which the farm was bought, with that native dignity inherent to the country lady, and asked to see the head of the firm, and was told that he was not in, being detained at his home on account of sickness in his family, upon which she obtained the address of his residence, where she went, and finding him, stated her business. He told her that he was quite unfit to attend to any kind of business by reason of his distress; whereupon she told him that she was a skillful nurse, and that if he so desired it, she would remain over in town a few days and would assist in nursing his sick family that was suffering with measles, requiring constant, careful nursing. Under her efficient attentions and skillful nursing they were finally restored to health and to their normal condition. So he rode down to his office with Mrs. Ames, and asking for the deed he marked the balance due paid in full. It thus resulted that James obtained a clear title to his farm through the cleverness of his good wife. Now what is it that a good smart woman cannot accomplish?
A prominent, burning question of the day and time is that of woman suffrage, and why not give them the right to vote? This is a day of progress and change, and the
right of females to exercise the privilege of suffrage should be freely accorded the sex which has really had a controlling influence in the affairs of mankind since the day of Adam and Eve. Did she not, by means of her persuasive arguments, induce, through mother Eve, the father of men, Adam, to eat of the forbidden fruit? Woman has always been a beacon light to man in guiding him in the paths of right and duty.
Yes, indeed, there are many worse things in human economy than woman suffrage. So it is to be hoped that the next General Assembly of Virginia may accede to the petitions presented them in advancing the cause of equal suffrage. Woman is now the great propelling force of the present age of political economy. They have always exercised the right to vote, I believe, in choosing vestrymen of the church, and in some school matters in some cities, and so why not give them the right to participate in regular elections of State and municipal officers? It is the inherent right or privilege of the sex to do as she pleases or deserves, and there should be no law to prevent her exercising her own sweet will in such matters. I believe women are possessed of as much intelligence as men are, and in some respects they have more, hence they should not be debarred from the polls in the general elections of those who are to represent them, as well as men, in the administration of everyday affairs. I should like to be a registrar of precinct which numbered a large proportion of suffragettes. I would not challenge the vote of a single one.
The Howitzer Association is formed of the surviving members of the three companies, the first, the second and third. It has a reunion and banquet on each thirteenth day of December, which is the anniversary of the
battle of Fredericksburg. A good supper is spread on that night and many recollections of the great war are recalled and renewal of fellowship and general intercourse is enjoyed, which cements the attachments between each of the survivors of the three companies. Alas! How sad to realize that so many of your comrades have passed away.
In the voyage of life you sometimes meet persons, who say that they wish to banish all reminder of the great war between the States, or as we say, the Confederacy. Such people it might be properly asked, did they fight so hard, and were they so zealous that they dislike to revert to their prowess on the field of battle? Or did they shirk their duty to their country so very adroitly that they hate to be reminded of it? The true soldier of the Confederacy, the gallant boy who shouldered a musket at the call to defend his home and fireside, and who faithfully performed his duty, whether as a private or as an officer, should have no desire to entirely wipe out of memory that eventful period in his own history, and of his country that awful time which tested the metal of which men were made, but he should wish rather to have a full and correct account of that great conflict given to the present and the future generations.
The majority of the survivors of the Confederate armies do not believe that they ought to forget or erase from their minds all memory of the battles of Sharpsburg or Antietam, of Spottsylvania Court House, of Gettysburg, or of Chickamauga and Shiloh. I am at a loss to comprehend from what basis these tender-nerved Confederates reason, and I reflect that fortunately there exists but a few such among those who "wore the gray."
In the days by-gone there lived in Richmond a prominent
dealer in horses and mules by the name of Benjamin Green, whose early career began as a contractor, having built the bridge over the James River for the railroad to Petersburg. His establishment was the largest entreprise in the livestock line in Virginia. It was generally conceded that any one who was so unfortunate as to have a transaction with him was certain to be worsted, or at least to get the small end of the trade. His intercourse with the farmers was very extensive and it was said that any man who purchased an animal and threw himself upon Green's honor in the transaction, never failed to obtain a fair, square deal. In the other hand, if the purchaser relied upon his own judgment of an animal he was very apt to get the worst of the bargain. Ben Green was a smooth talker and a keen, first-class salesman. His residence was a beautiful place about two or three miles west of the city on the Broad Street Road, where he entertained his guests in a sumptuous manner, and was looked upon as one of the most remarkable men in the State.
Colonel Richard Adams was a prominent citizen of Richmond and was at one time appointed high sheriff of Henrico county. At that time the office was one of dignity and emolument, and it was one that was frequently sublet to a second party, and such was the case with Colonel Adams. He then boarded at the old Exchange Hotel when it was kept by Colonel Boykin, he was a widower, being left with three children at his wife's death. One of the latter was Mary Adams, who married General George Randolph; another one, Catherine Adams, who died while attending the school conducted by Mr. Ice Febre, and a son by the name of Samuel Adams, comprised his family. He was a life-long friend of my father and his family and was a regular
visitor of the same. He was a great epicure and if any one knew what was good in the way of living and the proper way to cook a choice cut of meat, he was that man. When we lived in the country he often came out, and would always forestall his coming by sending us a nice leg of mutton or lamb, a nice tenderloin of beef, a roast of beef or a fine piece of sturgeon. My mother, who was noted for her good housekeeping, always directed the cooking of the particular dish which he sent out to us. When it was placed upon the table, hot and juicy, the old gentleman would exclaim that, "It is cooked and served up to a dot, it could not be improved."
Colonel Adams was not what is known as a gourmand, but a high-toned Virginian gentleman, who preferred the best meats to be obtained in the markets, and prepared for the table in a manner that would cause the smiles and approval of epicures. One day he was dining with a friend whose custom was to invite his guest to join him in a toddy before the dinner was announced. Well, as the gentlemen were standing in front of the sideboard, their drinks were made of fine old Clemmer Whiskey, five years old, oily and fragrant. Holding their glasses in their hands, Mr. J commenced to tell an anecdote, but the suspense becoming too great, the Colonel appealed to him to jump over the bars, and not wait to pull them down, in other words to razee his story so as to proceed with their drinking, which would serve to whet their appetites for the good dinner awaiting their presence.
The First Baptist Church, which is situated on the corner of Broad and Twelfth Streets, is one of the oldest ones in the City of Richmond. It stands on the same ground it was built on nearly a century ago. Its pulpit has been occupied by the most distinguished divines in
the Baptist denomination, such, for instance, as Doctor Broaddus, whose reputation as a pulpit orator has rarely, if ever, been excelled, Doctor Burrows, who was its pastor during the great war of 1861 to 1865 and after the same Doctor Cooper, whose ministration as its pastor is held in kindest reverence and esteem by all who were fortunate enough to be under his pastorate charge.
This congregation is now served by one of the most gifted clergymen in the church to which he belongs, but also one of the most eloquent pulpit orators in the South, namely, Doctor G. W. McDaniel. Were all the reminiscences of this sacred and strong edifice written up in full it would fill a volume.
A prominent representative of the female element of Richmond society previous to the war was Mrs. Cora Ritchie Mowatt, a leader in the best social circles. She was formerly an actress of distinction and of excellent reputation. She had considerable literary ability and had written a history of her life as an actress, entitled "An Autobiography of An Actress." She afterwards married William F. Ritchie, the editor of The Enquirer, the organ of the Democratic party of the State of Virginia. This talented and popular lady was truly a "beacon light" of the social and fashionable society of the time.
A GLEANING OF HISTORY.
After the war the present or junior company of Richmond Howitzers was organized or formed. It is well officered, Captain Myers being its commander, Lieutenant Pollard, first lieutenant, and Lieutenant Reese, second lieutenant. Its commanders are young men of the first character and material. The corps de esprit of the company is the highest order. It has the advantage over the
old company, in as much as its battery and equipment is of the very latest or advanced excellence of modern ordinance. It is an ornament to the military organization of the State and city, and no doubt may be entertained that whenever an opportunity is offered it will sustain the prestige of the old company. I do not intend to say that the 1st, 2d and ad companies of Howitzers were superior to other artillery companies in the Army of Northern Virginia, yet I do say that they were never placed in position in any line of battle that they did not hold it until ordered out. The young company is composed of the same kind of material, hence it may be safely asserted that the junior organization will perpetuate the name and prestige of the old company. At the reunion of the Howitzers Association, on the 13th of December, the junior company are always welcomed guests.
From 1861 to 1862 the army of the Confederacy was under the control of the several States composing the Confederacy on the peninsula. A reorganization of the army occurred and the troops of the separate States were turned over to the Confederate government and enlisted for the war. New officers were elected and an entire change made in reforming the Confederate Army. The name was then changed from Army of the Potomac to Army of Northern Virginia.
One of the most unique men Virginia ever produced was Captain George Randolph, who was Secretary of War of the Confederate States. He organized the First Company of Richmond Howitzers; he had been in some way connected with the United States Navy and he conceived the idea of equipping the company with boat Howitzers with a long trail attached to the piece and drawn by the cannoneers. This plan was abandoned and the pieces
were mounted on light carriages and drawn by two horses. Captain Randolph was a lineal descendant of Thomas Jefferson and a man of striking personality; in physique he was tall and slender, with high cheek bones, with an eye as clear seeing as an eagle. In social intercourse he was rather reticent, though true as steel; he was a Democrat and ardent advocate of the rights of the South. At this time no Democrat received any political preferment in Richmond, yet when they were casting around for the ablest and best men to send to the Secession Convention party lines were ignored and he was elected a member, and a wise choice it was. His speeches and debates were among the ablest, emanating from that group of forensic and intellectual giants. Upon the secession of Virginia he donned his artillery uniform and concentrated all his force and energy in organizing the Howitzers Battalion consisting of the first, second and third companies. He was made Major. John C. Shields, captain 1st Company; J. Thompson Brown, captain 2d Company; Robert Standard, captain 3d Company. Major Randolph, with second and third companies was sent to the peninsula under General McGruder. The first company was sent to Manasas under General Beauregard, thus forming a part of the army of the Potomac.
After the lapse of time Mr. Davis realizing the brilliant qualities of Major Randolph, appointed him Secretary of War. Yet the ailment that he had long suffered with caused him to resign and in quest of alleviation of his suffering he took passage on a blockade runner and died abroad. Mr. Seddon succeeded him as Secretary of War of the Confederate States. General Randolph's name is held in high esteem by all who admire a high type of manhood and knightly bearing.
Captain Meriweather Lewis Anderson was mustered into the service of the State of Virginia at the commencement of the Confederate War as orderly sergeant of the First Company of Richmond Howitzers. Subsequently he was elected lieutenant when Captain E. S. McCarthy was killed at second Cold Harbor. He, by seniority of rank, became captain of the company. No braver officer ever buckled saber around his waist than this gallant Confederate soldier. He was with the company in nearly every battle it engaged or participated in.
The record that Captain Anderson left is bright as the finest damascus blade. He has passed to the other side of the river, and may his memory be cherished by all who honor indomnitable courage and devotion to the lost cause.
During the war my company, the First Howitzers Camp, was surrounded by infantry regiments; it was in the fall of the year hostilities had ceased, so a couple of cannoneers and myself took a walk for recreation and to see what was going on. We came to an infantry regiment going through dress parade. It was a novel sight. The colonel had an old cavalry sword attached to a cirsingle thrown over his shoulders. The officers wore similar side arms. The adjutant used a ram-rod for a sword; he formed the regiment and presented it to the colonel. The company officers marched forward and gave the customary salute when the colonel put the regiment through a few evolutions and disbanded. It was one of the best fighting regiments in the army, yet paid little attention to the formula of show on dress parade, but when charging the enemy or holding their position in line of battle they were all right.
Posted By: Joe Elia