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Sunday, July 17, 2011

John Sanders Row

John S. Row

     John Row (1831-1892) was a brother of Dr. Elhanon Row. The 1850 census shows that nineteen year old John was deputy sheriff of Orange County and the 1860 census indicates that he was sheriff. By the outbreak of the Civil War John Row was serving as deputy for Sheriff James L. Robinson. John married Eliza Walker in 1853 and they had eight children between 1855 and 1873.

Captain John Row, 6th Virginia Cavalry

     John Row resigned as deputy sheriff of Orange and enlisted in Company I of the Sixth Virginia Cavalry on April 1, 1862. On April 20 he was promoted to Captain. Among the men under his command were his cousin (and my great grandfather) George Washington Estes Row and his friend Jonathan T. Mann of Orange County.

Sheriff Robinson's letter to Secretary Randolph

     On September 16, 1862 Sheriff James Robinson wrote a letter to Secretary of War G.W. Randolph. Robinson stated that John Row had volunteered to serve in the Confederate army "before the deputies were exempt by law from the service. It is now necessary that I should have him to assist me to collect the Revenues...Therefor pray you to discharge him from the service so that he can return to his duties as deputy."

John Row's letter of resignation

John Row's letter of resignation

     The following day Captain John Row tendered his resignation to Colonel Thomas S. Flournoy of the Sixth Cavalry. John pleaded his case by stating that he had "a large amount of business unsettled and no other person can settle it without serious loss to myself and those who are bound as security for me, for large sums from loss, and to do so I feel it my duty to resign my commission." John's resignation was approved and on October 7, 1862 he was once again a private citizen.

Jonathan T. Mann

Sarah Mann

     Jonathan Mann of the Sixth Cavalry was a friend and neighbor of John Row. Originally from New Hampshire, Mann came to Virginia in 1849, when he married Sarah Spencer of Fluvanna County. The Manns settled in Orange and at the outbreak of the war Jonathan cast his lot with that of his adopted state and joined the Confederate army, enlisting on the same day as John Row. Two months after John's resignation Corporal Jonathan T. Mann was promoted to Lieutenant. He was killed at the battle of Brandy Station on June 9, 1863.

John Row to Sarah Mann 4 August 1863

     Between August 1863 and October 1869 John Row wrote at least five letters to Mann's widow, Sarah. I discovered these letters last year at the Central Rappahannock Heritage Center in Fredericksburg. After the death of her husband, Sarah moved back to Fluvanna to stay with relatives. Orange County had become a desolate, dangerous place as John wrote on August 4, 1863: "It is impossible to say how long our army may stay here or whether it would be safe for you to come over. We are afraid of Yankee cavalry raids where I live. Our infantry is above me and I fear the cavalry will make a dash over below me."

John Row to Sarah Mann 20 February 1864

     On February 20, 1864 John wrote to Sarah: "I hope we will all get through this war soon and come out of it better and wiser people. I will try to do my duty while I am here to everybody and trust my family to the protecting care of a kind Providence. I have been in many difficulties and have always found someone to help me in time of trouble. I shall go forward not doubting but that all will be well for me and and all those dependent upon me no matter what befalls me. We must never give up--keep up in spirits, do our duty and trust God and He will take care of us."
John Row to Sarah Mann 22 October 1869

     Of course the cares and troubles of John Row and his acquaintances did not end with the surrender at Appomattox. On October 22, 1869 John wrote of this sad incident: "I did not give you the history of Wm. Walker's misfortune because I did not like to think about it. He was in a desponding condition about money matters and attempted to take his own life and his daughter, seeing him with pistol in hand and knowing his constitution attempted to take it away. In doing so, she pulled the pistol down upon her right breast and was shot through the lung, the ball passing through. She lived from Friday until Monday morning. She was rational and was willing to die. Her mother has been ill ever since and I suppose it will be a long time before she is herself again."

George W.E. Row promissory note to John Row

     After the war John, Eliza and their children resumed their lives on the family farm in Orange. John maintained close ties with his Spotsylvania cousins, including George Washington Estes Row. In 1882 John provided a loan of one hundred dollars to George, for whom cash flow often remained a challenge.

John Row to Nannie Row 6 July 1885

John Row to Nannie Row 6 July 1885

John Row to Nannie Row 6 July 1885

     In July 1885 John wrote a letter to George's sister Nannie, who still lived at Greenfield. John described the wedding of his son William to Blanche Johnson. Alluding to his reduced economic circumstances, John remarked that he was glad they did not want a party since he could not afford one and that "I felt badly that I had nothing to give them."

Virginia Star article on area goldmines

     In an 1880s edition of the Virginia Star and article was written about the various gold mining operations underway in Spotsylvania and Orange. Mention is made of Joseph Trigg, who lived near Greenfield. Noted also was John Row on whose property "recent experiments develop an immense quantity of ore and assays have been made of the same." I do not know if this made any difference in John's fortunes, but I would like to think so.
     John Row died on April 10, 1892 and is buried at Graham Cemetery in Orange County.

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