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Wednesday, August 19, 2020

William Aquilla Harris

William Aquilla Harris (Courtesy of Rich Morrison)


     He came from a distinguished family that arrived in Spotsylvania in the early 1840s, and during his long and useful life, William Aquilla Harris made a significant mark in the community in the form of public service. He is best remembered as an excellent physician, and was my family's doctor for decades.

     William was born in Spotsylvania County on December 28, 1877 to Thomas Addison Harris and the former Mary Elizabeth Poole. At the time of William's birth, Thomas was overseer of the poor for Spotsylvania. The county poor house was located off Gordon Road near Old Plank Road. I believe the overseer's house was located on the poor house property. Thomas would later serve as county sheriff for twenty years, and then served the last nine years of his life as clerk of the Spotsylvania court.

House on Court House Road opposite the court house (Confederate Memorial Literary Society)

           Four years after William's birth, Thomas bought a 260 acre farm that lay along a stretch of Court House Road from Brock Road north. This was the house in which William spent most of his childhood. As a young boy, Thomas had attended Shady Grove Church with his family. But now that he was established at the courthouse, he and his family became members of nearby Zion Methodist Church. In the photograph below, William Harris appears seated in front (#58):

Sunday school group of Zion Methodist Church, about 1885

     William appears in another group portrait of that era. The photograph below was taken at Spotsylvania Court House about 1890. Shown are William (#5) and his father, Sheriff Thomas Harris (#13):


          William was educated in the public school near the court house until he was 15, then was tutored by a Professor George Jenks, an Englishman. He then studied Under Dr. George Rayland of Johns Hopkins University. In 1898, William entered the Medical College of Virginia, and earned his medical degree in 1901. He was president of his class. 

9126 Court House Road

     Upon his graduation from medical school, Thomas gave his son a portion of the family farm on which to build a house. During that eventful year, on July 3, 1901, William married Dora Crismond, who was the daughter of Spotsylvania clerk of court Joseph Patrick Henry Crismond. They moved into their newly completed house at 9126 Court House Road in 1903. Dr. William Harris ran his medical practice from this house. William and Dora raised a son and two daughters here. This building still stands.

The Free Lance 11 January 1902

          Among Dr. Harris's earliest patients was my grandfather, Horace Row, and Zebulon "Buckshot" Payne, who were injured in a buggy mishap in 1902. Buckshot was seriously hurt. Twenty years later, Dr. Harris made out the death certificate for Mr. Payne, who drank himself to death. In 1939, Dr. Harris made out the death certificate for my grandfather, who died of a heart attack in Sperryville while picking apples.

Mary Houston (1882-1916)

     Three years later, Dr. Harris treated Horace's mother, Elizabeth Houston Row, while she was enjoying a visit from her niece, Mary Houston of Rockbridge County, Virginia. Upon her return home, Mary wrote a highly entertaining letter to her aunt, in which she made reference to William: "When your letter came, I was just starting to write to you. You don't know how sorry I am to know that you are not well again--I think I'll have to go back there and punch that doctor's head--he is too good looking anyway and a black eye would be just the thing for the old guy."

     William Harris was an early adopter of the automobile, and as by 1910 he was making house visits by car. This experience made him an avid and long-time proponent of improving local roads. He served for a number of years on the county's road commission. He was also a member of the Automobile Association of Virginia and the Fredericksburg Motor Club.

     In addition to his medical practice, William was actively involved in the civic life of his community. For a time he served as county coroner and was head of the board of health for Spotsylvania County. He served on the county school board. He was a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks. In 1912, he was appointed to the board of visitors of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute.

     In March 1917, Dr. Harris wrote this letter to my great-grandmother, reassuring her about her health and telling her that she should make the trip to visit her brothers in Rockbridge County. He also comments on the recent marriage of Horace to my grandmother, Fannie Kent. (Eleven years later, Dr. Harris signed my great-grandmother's death certificate).

     During World War I, Dr. Harris volunteered his services with the 304th Sanitary Train, which provided medical support for the 79th Division during its service in France. On June 30, 1918 he departed from Hoboken, New Jersey aboard USS Mongolia as a major in the Medical Reserve Corps. In June the following year he returned to the United States as a lieutenant Colonel in the MRC aboard USS Shoshone.

Member of House of Delegates, 1938

     Dr. Harris served three terms in the House of Delegates, 1936-1942. It was during this time that his wife's health began to fail. Dora Harris died at their home on April 29, 1938 She lies buried in the Confederate Cemetery at Spotsylvania Court House. The following year, on October 19, 1939, William married Mattie Puckett of Russell County Virginia.

     William Aquilla Harris died suddenly at home of coronary thrombosis on May 25, 1944. He is buried near Dora in the Confederate Cemetery. 


     After William's passing, Mattie Harris taught at Spotsylvania High School. She died on September 22, 1956. She is also buried in the Confederate Cemetery.

Mattie Harris at Spotsylvania High School, 1954



Biography of Thomas Addison Harris:

Biography of Joseph Patrick Henry Crismond:

Thursday, August 6, 2020

The Harris Brothers Go To War

Map detail of Spotsylvania County, 1863

     In the early 1840s, Robert McCracken Harris moved his family from Warren County, New Jersey to Spotsylvania, where he had bought a 250-acre farm near Shady Grove Methodist Church. His first four children were born in New Jersey; the next five would be native Virginians. The Harrises attended Shady Grove and enjoyed the respect of their neighbors. They did not own slaves. Instead, Mr. Harris employed two free women of color, Bettie and Mary Curtis, who lived on their farm for years.
     As the social and political structure of the nation began to fracture with the coming Civil War, it would have been interesting to hear conversations within the walls of the Harris home regarding their allegiances. All four of their sons of military age fought during the war. Only three wore the Confederate uniform.
     Charles Montreville Harris (1845-1918) enlisted in the Fredericksburg Light Artillery. Although I could find no information about him from the compiled service records of Confederate soldiers, his service was mentioned in his obituary. He returned to Spotsylvania after the war and married Margaret Victoria Faulconer in 1868. They settled in Orange County, where he successfully farmed until he died of a stroke on November 19, 1918.

The Daily Star 20 November 1918

     Two Harris brothers, John A. (1840-1908) and Thomas Addison (1844-1912), enlisted in Company D of the 30th Virginia Infantry. They served with Benjamin Cason Rawlings (1845-1908), the Spotsylvania lad who ran away from home in December 1860 in order to join the Confederate army in Charleston, South Carolina. Several months later, he transferred to Company D of the 30th, where he was promoted to lieutenant at age17 and became captain of the company at age 18 in 1863. In the early 1900s, Ben wrote a memoir of his experiences during the war, which was the subject of Byrd Barnette Tribble's book Benjamin Cason Rawlings: First Virginia Volunteer For the South.

Lieutenant Benjamin Cason Rawlings (Courtesy of Byrd Tribble)

     In his memoir, Ben related an incident involving John Harris. The 30th had been deployed to City Point, Virginia in late May 1862 to keep an eye on Federal gunboats in the James River:

     "One night around one or two o'clock I was roused by one of the guards, calling me to come down right quick. I found big excitement in camp. Everything was dark; all fires and lanterns were out. Brumley, one of the pickets, had brought in a prisoner. He reported that he had started from his post with Harris, another picket, and another prisoner. The other prisoner had stabbed Harris, whom Brumley had been obliged to leave along the edge of the railroad tracks while he brought his prisoner in. I was ordered to send out a detail of a corporal and four men to bring in the wounded man to camp. We found Harris with six or seven wounds in his breast and arms, near death from loss of blood. We carried him on a stretcher to our regimental surgeon and sent for whiskey.
     "...I got a first hand account of the trouble from Sergeant Johnson. Near the crossroad, a sentinel saw two men come blundering in from the bushes and arrested them. One seemed to be a sailor. The sergeant foolishly neglected to search them but put each one in the charge of a picket and started them to camp. Brumley, who was not more than 15 years old, kept his in front of him at the muzzle of his gun, but Harris let his prisoner walk by his side and talk to him. After a short distance, this sailor, a big, strong fellow, all at once threw his left arm around Harris, grabbed his gun, stabbed him seven or eight times in the breast and shoulder, and ran back into the bushes. Brumley was just a few feet ahead of Harris, but it was too dark for him to help, so he kept marching and left Harris by the railroad. I went on to City Point, notified the pickets, and then came on back, reaching camp just before daylight, very tired.
     "The next day some of the cavalry ran across the escaped prisoner in the woods and arrested him, putting him on a horse behind a cavalryman to send him to camp. As soon as the two were out of sight of the other men, the Yankee jerked the cavalryman's pistol out of the holster, knocked him on the head, and took off for the bushes again. He was never seen afterwards. The two were supposed to be spies sent from the boats and no doubt they got back that night. Harris was sent to the hospital and finally after a long time recovered and served the rest of the war. He is now a successful merchant in Fredericksburg but still carries the scars on the breast and arms."

Thomas Addison Harris (Courtesy of Rich Morrison)

     Thomas Harris was discharged from the 30th Virginia on July 23, 1862. A month later, he joined Company E of the 9th Virginia Cavalry at Hanover Court House. He served as a scout for General J.E.B. Stuart. On June 21, 1863 Thomas's horse was killed in action during a fight with Alfred Pleasanton's cavalry at Upperville in Loudoun County. The wartime exploit for which he is best remembered took place during the Battle of Five Forks on April 2, 1865. Much of the fighting took place at "Burnt Quarter" in Dinwiddie County. Widow Mary Gilliam, who was then nursing a sick servant, and three of her daughters were trapped in their house as the fighting raged around them. Confederate General W.H.F. Lee, realizing that their lives were in peril, asked for five volunteers to escort them to safety. Corporal Thomas A. Harris was one of those five. Mary Gilliam refused to leave her ailing slave, but her daughters were safely brought out of harm's way. During this action Thomas was severely wounded, and his career as a cavalryman came to a close.
     Thomas returned to Spotsylvania after the war, married and raised a large family. Over the years he held a number of positions of public trust, including twenty years as Spotsylvania sheriff and nine as clerk of the Spotsylvania court. Several years ago, I wrote a biography of Thomas Harris, which can be read at
     William Harris (1836-1911), the oldest of the fighting Harrises, evidently identified more closely with the cause of the United States than his brothers, and he cast his lot with the Union army. He chose not to enlist in a New Jersey regiment, probably to avoid the possibility of shooting at his own brothers. Instead, he "was in active service on the western frontier as a scout," as reported in his obituary. I found a pension card which indicates that he served in the 25th Wisconsin Infantry and in the Veteran Reserve Corps. The V.R.C. allowed soldiers who were too sick or too badly injured for service in the field to perform light duties, such as those of a guard or hospital orderly. Like his three brothers, William returned to Spotsylvania after the war.

Pension card of William Harris

     John Harris married Annie McCracken, who was also from New Jersey, in 1873. By that time John owned a grocery at 615 Commerce (now William) Street near the city cemetery of Fredericksburg. John and Annie had three sons and a daughter, all of whom survived to adulthood.
     On October 14, 1870, William Harris married his neighbor, Mary Ann "Annie" Buchanan, at the Spotsylvania home of her brother, William Shelton Buchanan. Annie had grown up at "Shady Grove Corner," the Buchanan farm across Catharpin Road from Shady Grove Church. Before she married John, she taught school for a time at Hazel Hill. At the time they were married, William was working as a caretaker at Oakley farm which had been bought from Leroy Dobyns by Joseph Lichtenstern in 1868. William worked there until 1872, when Lichtenstern sold Oakley after running up large debts. William and Annie then moved to Fredericksburg and settled at 724 Commerce Street. John took William into the grocery business, which was thereafter called Harris & Brother. They remained in partnership until 1896, when William retired from the business.

The Free Lance 17 February 1885

     In 1894, Harris & Brother was burglarized by professional safe crackers, as reported in the June 12, 1894 edition of The Daily Star:

     John Harris played an active role in the civic life of Fredericksburg. He was involved in local Democratic politics and served as town magistrate. He was a devoted member of the Baptist Church and of organizations like the Sons of Liberty. He died at home on May 3, 1908

The Daily Star 4 May 1908

     William outlived his brother by three years. He passed away at his home on January 10, 1911. He and Annie are buried at Shady Grove Methodist Church.

The Daily Star 10 January 1911

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Fisticuffs on Princess Anne Street

Cardinal Richelieu Coleman (Library of Virginia)

     Cardinal Richelieu Coleman was born at "Alta Vista," a large farm in eastern Spotsylvania County, on November 19, 1878. His father, Solon T. Coleman, was a well known citizen who was active in Democratic Party politics. Solon was appointed as a registration official in the county in 1867 and was elected to the House of Delegates in 1893. He died the following year.
     Richelieu followed in his father's footsteps and immersed himself in the boisterous world of local politics while still in his early twenties. He was elected twice to the House of Delegates, in 1909 and 1911; the portraits above were taken with the other delegates during those sessions. After his stint in the state legislature, Richelieu was elected as deputy commissioner of revenue in Spotsylvania. During the 1920s, he was working in the Virginia attorney general's office, was a member of the Virginia State Democratic Committee and served on the Spotsylvania County Elections Board. Richelieu's son, Solon Bernard Coleman (1901-1974), also decided on a life of public service and served as commonwealth's attorney, was elected to the Virginia state legislature and was appointed circuit judge.

Charles Ainsworth MacHenry (The Daily Star 29 June 1925)

     Charles Ainsworth MacHenry (1875-1957) was an attorney in New York City. In 1916, he bought historic Oakley farm on Catharpin Road. At the time, Oakley consisted of 1,081 acres. In 1919, he added an additional 730 acres. Like most of the owners of Oakley since the 1860s, MacHenry was largely an absentee landlord. However, he qualified as an attorney in Virginia and practiced in Spotsylvania when he happened to be there. He employed William Lee Kent as caretaker at Oakley 1916-1919, and then hired George Day Stephens to oversee the property until 1926. He also had two engineers, named Stockwell and Ashmead, tending to the mining activity at Oakley. The mining venture was not a success. In 1926, he sold Oakley to George Beals, whose family has owned it ever since.

Oakley, 1935 (Frances Benjamin Johnston)

William Lee Kent

George Day Stephens (Courtesy of Matt Ogle)

     A general meeting of concerned Spotsylvania citizens met in the court house on March 17, 1924. MacHenry was the primary speaker that evening. The stated purpose of the meeting was to discuss the secretive manner in which a road bill had been passed by the legislature. A resolution was passed in which Governor Trinkle was asked to veto that bill. Those in attendance wanted to address other concerns, and MacHenry was only too happy to oblige. Another resolution was passed asking the Governor to remove Judge Frederick William Coleman (Richelieu's cousin) from office as Spotsylvania's Commissioner in Chancery and Commissioner of Accounts.
Frederick William Coleman (The Daily Star 29 March 1926)

     The following day, March 18, 1924, an angry confrontation occurred on Princess Anne Street, as described by that day's edition of The Daily Star:

     The case had the usual number of delays and postponements and finally came to trial in early May 1924. Once again, this was front page news in the May 3, 1924 edition of The Daily Star:

     Fortunately for Richelieu Coleman, his life was not defined by this unfortunate incident. He went on to serve in a number of positions of public trust over the coming years, as described in obituary published in the May 8, 1963 edition of The Free Lance-Star:

Friday, July 24, 2020

"He looked at me in a defiant manner"

Wilson Comfort (Courtesy of Tyler Talley)   

Thomas H. Comfort, a black citizen of Spotsylvania County, was born about 1862 to Wilson Comfort and Sarah Ann Brown. Thomas married Mary Woolfolk on December 23, 1884. Their time together would be short.

Map detail of Spotsylvania County, 1863

     Jesse H. Stubbs, Jr. (1841-1919) was born in southwestern Spotsylvania County to Jesse Stubbs and Sarah Elizabeth Prewett. The Stubbs farm can be seen in the center of the map detail above. Jesse enlisted in Company I of the 6th Virginia Cavalry on May 4, 1861. He was absent from his regiment for a time in 1862 while recuperating from pneumonia. When he returned to active duty, he spent much of the remainder of the war on detached duty as a teamster for the quartermaster department. After the Civil War, Jesse returned home to Spotsylvania. He married Ann Judson Sanders on October 24, 1869. In the years that followed, Jesse earned his living as the owner of a grist mill and also ran a steam saw mill. He was active in local politics and appeared to be well regarded in the community.
     On March 18, 1889 Thomas Comfort was working at the saw mill of Jesse Stubbs. He and Jesse were standing at opposite ends of the carriage which had just come off its track, apparently because a log was not placed properly on it. Thomas attempted to get the carriage back on the track by lifting up on it with a stick. Stubbs told him he was doing it the wrong way, and Thomas replied that he knew what he was doing, "to which he added an impolite word." Jesse picked up a five-foot black gum stick and struck Thomas twice. The first blow Thomas averted by throwing up his arms. The second blow smashed into the left side of Thomas's head, instantly rendering him unconscious. Jesse asked some of his other employees to carry Thomas out of mill shed. He was carried outside and laid on a pile of wood chips. Thomas lay insensible there for a time before regaining consciousness. When he woke up, he seemed not to understand what had happened to him. After a while, he managed to stand up and began tottering off in the direction of his home.

John Duerson Pulliam and his wife

     Shortly thereafter, Thomas was seen by witness Cleverious Woolfolk staggering across one of the fields of Dr. John Duerson Pulliam's farm. Mr. Woolfolk helped Thomas reach his home, where he died shortly thereafter. A Dr. Woolfolk was summoned to examine Thomas's body, and he and Dr. Pulliam, who acted as coroner, performed an autopsy. During the trial of Jesse Stubbs four months later, Dr. Pulliam testified that he issued a warrant for Jesse's arrest the following day. The charge was murder.

The Free Lance 22 March 1889

The Free Lance 9 July 1889

     A trial was held at Spotsylvania Court House on July 2, 1889. Representing the prosecution were Commonwealth's Attorney Alfred Benjamin Rawlings and William Seymour White. White had suffered from poor health most of his life and had to be rolled about in a wheel chair. However, this is no way stopped him from accomplishing a great deal during his short life. In addition to his work as an attorney, White was also the editor of The Free Lance and the mayor of Fredericksburg.

William Seymour White (Ancestry)

     The lawyers who defended Jesse Stubbs were also at the top of their profession. St. George Rose Fitzhugh was counsel for the RF&P and PF&P Railroads and the Weems Steamboat Line, and had once been city attorney of Fredericksburg. Lee Jackson Graves, who grew up on a farm near the Stubbs's property, succeeded A.B. Rawlings as commonwealth's attorney in 1899.

Lee Jackson Graves

     During the trial, Jesse testified in his own defense. He said that Thomas was trying to get the carriage back on the track incorrectly. When he told Thomas he was going about it in the wrong way, Thomas "made a vulgar, insulting remark to him." He then told Comfort to get away from his saw mill. "He looked me square in the face in a defiant manner. I then struck him on the head with the stick I had in my hand. As he fell, I caught him to prevent him from falling on the saw."
     William Seymour White "then opened the case for the prosecution. Those who heard his efforts, many of them gentlemen of the highest culture, and much observation of the practice of law, pronounced his speech as one of the master efforts of the Spotsylvania bar in the memory of the oldest citizen."
     There is an old adage among lawyers who try cases in court that goes something like this: If the law is against you, argue the facts. If the facts are against you, argue the law. If both are against you, argue like hell. At the conclusion of Mr. White's speech, Mr. Fitzhugh argued like hell during a three hour tirade during which he presented to the members of the jury what he wanted them to believe was really at stake in this trial. From the November 9, 1889 The Free Lance:
     "It was thought by many that the argument made by Mr. Fitzhugh was impolitic as it might have been from a standpoint of public policy, especially coming from him, a man who stands at the head of the bar of the State, and otherwise a representative in and of the important relations of life, yet it was the only alternative under the evidence in the case. Mr. Fitzhugh told the jury of the superiority of the white man over the negro. He held that the deceased was an insolent trespasser upon the rights of the prisoner, and that he therefore had a clear right to do what he did do, should it be construed that he intended to kill the negro; but that the evidence proved that there was no intention upon the part of the prisoner to take the life of the deceased, and where there is no evil intent, there can be no offense in law no matter what the result. He dealt severely with the character of the deceased, as being an impudent hater of the white race, and that as well as on previous occasions, he not only tried to domineer and declare himself the superior of the white man, but was there grossly insulting Mr. Stubbs upon his own premises. He held that nature never intended for the negro to enjoy the franchise of the white man. That whilst he was opposed to slavery, he was opposed to the enfranchisement of the negroes. That that was an occasion in which the verdict of the jury should teach the survivors of the dead negro what they may expect to become of them in such an altercation (or words to that effect). He went so far as to say that if the jury convicted Mr. Stubbs, that the negroes would put an interpretation upon it that would have to wiped out with blood. Such was the tenor and the line of Mr. Fitzhugh's argument."
     When St. George Fitzhugh finished his summation it was nearly midnight. Court was then adjourned and reconvened the following morning. After a brief consultation, the jury returned a verdict that Jesse Stubbs was guilty of involuntary manslaughter. He was fined $100 and released.
     Eight months after he was murdered, Thomas Comfort's youngest son was born. His widow named him in her late husband's honor.

To read a short biography of Dr. John Duerson Pulliam, click here:

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Lewis Boggs and the Mule Incident at Livingston

Lewis Alexander Boggs (Ancestry)

     Hugh Corrans Boggs was born in County Donegal, Ireland on June 6, 1763. His family emigrated to the United States, where in 1789 he was ordained as an Episcopal priest by the Right Reverend William  White, Bishop of Pennsylvania. That same year, Reverend Boggs was appointed rector of the Berkley Parish in Virginia and served as the pastor at Mattoponi Church in King and Queen County until his death in 1828. Mattaponi was built as an Anglican church in the 1730s and still stands today as Mattoponi Baptist Church. During his years in Virginia he preached at a number of churches and taught at the Llangollen Academy in Spotsylvania.

Map detail of southern Spotsylvania County, 1863

     Reverend Boggs settled in Spotsylvania County, where he married Ann "Nancy" Holladay on December 29, 1796. He built a fine house called "Livingston" on land given to him and Nancy as a wedding gift by her father, Lewis Holladay. In the map detail above Livingston--denoted as "Boggs"--can be seen at center right They had one son, Lewis Alexander Boggs, who was born on December 27, 1811. When his father died in 1828, Lewis obtained possession of the pulpit Bible of Mattoponi Church which had been published in England in 1754.

Mattoponi Baptist Church today (Wikipedia)

     Lewis Boggs was married three times (he outlived all three wives) and was the father of eight children, all of whom lived to adulthood. Lewis lived at Livingston until his death on July 15, 1880. He was a man of great energy who contributed much to the civic life of Spotsylvania. He served as a lieutenant in the 16th Regiment of the Virginia Militia, was active in Whig politics, served for many years as justice of the peace and was a lay-delegate for the Berkeley Parish to many annual conventions of the Virginia Diocese. He served on the first vestry of Christ Church when it was built at Spotsylvania Court House in 1841. He donated the church Bible from Mattaponi to Christ Church, where it continued to be used as the pulpit Bible for many years, and is still brought out on special occasions.

Lewis Boggs, Jr., and family at Livingston, 1900 (Ancestry)
     For decades, Livingston was a large and prosperous farm, consisting of 2,000 acres, and as of 1860 it utilized the labor of 63 enslaved people. Among them was Julia Ross Frazier, who was born at Livingston about 1856. She, her parents and her 16 siblings accounted for almost one-third of the slaves at Livingston. By the 1930s, Julia was living at 311 Hawke Street in Fredericksburg, where she was interviewed by WPA researcher Claude W. Anderson on April 20, 1937.
     During her interview with Mr. Anderson, Julia remembered Lewis Boggs as a "good man. There wasn't any beating. My master wouldn't allow any." Julia's mother was the cook for the Boggs family, and Julia was put to work cleaning the house. She enjoyed dusting in Lewis's "reading room." She loved looking at his books when no one was around, even though she would not learn to read until after the Civil War.
     Once the Ross family was emancipated, Julia's father took her and one of her sisters to Fredericksburg, a walk of some 20 miles, to get work. He found employment for Julia as a house servant for George Aler, a prominent citizen of the town who owned a brick manufactory, was Director of the Water Power Company, Superintendent of Streets and a member of the Fair Committee. He also had been for many years one of Fredericksburg's most active slave traders.

Fredericksburg News

     Julia remembered this from her time with the Alers: "Man cussed every breath he took. Had a saint for a wife. He couldn't help it; just natural with him. One day he told me 'By God you go down and get so-and-so out of the closet.' His son was a doctor and I didn't know there was anything in the closet. I opened the door and a skeleton was hanging in there just a-shaking. I let out a whoop and fell right out. Did he laugh! Biggest joke he had in a long time."
     Another event from Julia's days at Livingston involved Lewis Boggs, his mule and a slave named Charlie:
     "One day Charlie saw old Marsa coming home with a keg of whiskey on his old mule. Cutting across the plowed field, the old mule slipped and Marsa come tumbling off. Marsa didn't know Charlie saw him, and Charlie didn't say nothing. But soon after a visitor came and Marsa called Charlie to the house to show off what he knew. Marsa say 'Come here, Charlie, and sing some rhymes for Mr. Henson.' Don't know no new ones, Marsa,' Charlie answered. 'Come on, you black rascal, give me a rhyme for my company--one he ain't heard.' So Charlie say, "All right, Marsa, I give you a new one if you promise not to whip me.' Marsa promised, and then Charlie sung the rhyme he done made up in his head about Marsa:

Jackass rared,
                                                                          Jackass pitch,
                                                                          Throwed old Marsa in the ditch.

     "Well, Marsa got mad as a hornet, but he did not whup Charlie, not that time anyway. And child, don't you know we used to set the floor to that there song? Mind you, never would sing when Marsa was around, but when he wasn't we'd swing all around the cabin singing about how old Marsa fell off the mule's back. Charlie had a bunch of verses:

Jackass stamped,
                                                                        Jackass neighed,
                                                                        Throwed old Marsa on his head.

     "Don't recollect all that smart slave made up. But everybody sure bust their sides laughing when Charlie sung the last verse:

Jackass stamped,
                                                                        Jackass hupped,
                                                                        Marsa hear you slave, you sure get whupped."

     Julia Ross Frazier was an active member of Shiloh Baptist Church (Old Site) in Fredericksburg. She founded the Church Aid Club there in 1921. She died shortly after her interview with Mr. Anderson, and is buried in the Shiloh Baptist Cemetery (Old) on Monument Avenue in Fredericksburg.


Weevils in the Wheat: Interviews with Virginia Ex-Slaves. The University Press of Virginia, 1976.