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Friday, October 28, 2011

The Kales of Fredericksburg

706-708 Caroline Street, Fredericksburg

     Nancy Estes Row, my great great grandmother, was one of six daughters born to Richard and Catherine Estes of Spotsylvania. Unlike her brothers, who moved west to seek new destinies, Nancy's sisters for the most part married well and remained in Spotsylvania or Fredericksburg (the exception was Polly Estes Carter who separated from her husband William because of his drinking and returned  to Greenfield and lived with Absalom and Nancy Row until her death in 1863). Nancy's sister Catherine made a unique choice for her spouse and it is the story of that family that is the subject of today's post.
     Named for her mother, Catherine Estes was born in Spotsylvania on February 17, 1794. A notice of her marriage to Swiss immigrant Anthony Kale appears in the April 10, 1816 edition of the Virginia Herald. Anthony and Catherine had at least four daughters and three sons. An artifact that has survived for more than 160 years is this doll, named "Fanny Augusta Kale" by Catherine's privileged daughters.

     I do not know anything about the details of Catherine's life, so I will let this notice of her death from the October 1, 1859 edition of the Weekly Advertiser speak for itself:

Obituary of Catherine Estes Kale

Headstone of Catherine Estes Kale

     Catherine is buried by her husband in the Masonic Cemetery in Fredericksburg.

Chur, Graubunden, Switzerland

     Anthony Kale was born about 1790 in Chur, the capital of the Swiss canton of Graubunden. How he came to Fredericksburg, Virginia from landlocked Switzerland, what dreams and ambitions drove him to make the journey, from what European port did he sail to America, at what city did he disembark are questions for which I have no answers. I do know that the records I have show he came to Fredericksburg after 1810. We already know that he was married to Catherine Estes by the spring of 1816.
     It did not take Anthony much time to fall into step with one hoary American custom that would have been at odds with his Swiss countrymen. I refer, of course, to the ownership of African slaves. The censuses from 1820-1850 show that Anthony employed both free blacks as well as slaves. In the 1820 and 1830 census he had one of each category of servant. In 1840 he utilized the labor of five slaves. In 1850 he employed two free black and two slaves.
     In 1819 Anthony Kale purchased the property at 706 Caroline Street, where as a candy maker he operated a confectionery and retail grocery. In 1823 that building burned (along with many others in that section of Caroline Street). He rebuilt a three story structure there the following year on that same lot. Today that building is known as the Fredericksburg Visitors Center. During his lifetime the family lived in floors over the store. Mabel Row Wakeman wrote that he was very successful and enjoyed making candy into old age. This building was used by Federal troops to hold Southern prisoners during the Battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862.

Advertisement from Virginia Herald 28 May 1823

Transcription of Anthony Kale's advertisement

     In 1831 Anthony Kale built another three story building at 708 Caroline, next door to his home and business. This place was intended to be rental property and served that purpose for many years. His first tenant was Benjamin Long. The properties on Caroline Street, as well as another one on Princess Anne Street, remained in the Kale family until 1904. Anthony died in 1850 and is buried in the Masonic Cemetery in Fredericksburg.

Headstone of Anthony Kale

     Anthony and Catherine Kale's oldest daughter, Marie Louisa, was born in Fredericksburg about 1818. She married neighbor and tenant Benjamin Long on January 29, 1834. He died just two short years later and Marie Louisa then married Joshua T. Taylor and lived in Washington, D.C. When she died on December 8, 1872 her remains were brought back to Saint George's Episcopal Church for her funeral. She is buried near her parents in the Masonic Cemetery.

Joshua T. Taylor and Maria Louisa Kale Taylor

Headstone of Marie Louisa Kale

Monument of Marie Louisa Kale
Mary Kale Harding

Enoch Harding

     Mary Kale was born in Fredericksburg in August 15, 1826 and married Stafford farmer Enoch Harding on March 20, 1861. They had two sons together, Milton and Cleveland and Mary outlived Enoch by more that thirty years. In her will Nannie Row left to Mary her alpaca dress and her calico dress.
     Kate Kale was the only one of her family who never married. Born in Fredericksburg in April 1830, it was she who inherited her father's properties in town, which were sold at auction after her death. The 1860 census shows that she and her sister Mary were living together in town. Years later when she was too old to be alone she moved into Mary's house in Stafford and remained there until she died. In a letter written to Roger Mansfield in 1956 Mabel Row Wakeman said that Kate and her sister Julia "were both in more than comfortable circumstances." My great grandfather George W. E. Row, turned to both of them for monetary help to fuel his cash hungry businesses. The items shown below are from his estate papers.

Receipt of Kate Kale for $150

Receipt of Kate Kale for $25

Check to Kate Kale for $25

     In her will Nannie Row left Kate her plaid summer shawl.
     During the last years of her life Kate was afflicted with a problem so unusual that it made the pages of The Free Lance. While sleeping her jaws popped out of joint and she would require medical attention. This happened three times. After at least one stroke Kate succumbed on July 12, 1904.

Julia Kale Alexander and Lucy "Lutie" Alexander

     Julia Anton Kale was born in Fredericksburg on July 27, 1833. She married Robert Brooke Alexander on September 29, 1852. Robert was publisher of the Democratic Recorder in Fredericksburg from 1857 to 1860, when it was sold to George H.C. Rowe.
     Julia and Robert had one daughter, Lucy ("Lutie") who was born in 1858 and died November 7, 1861. Lutie's headstone stands with those of her parents at the Masonic Cemetery:

          Dearest Lutie thou art gone.
          Death has broken life's silver chain;
          But to Heaven thy spirit's flown,
          Where we hope to meet again.
Lutie B. Alexander

     Robert Alexander was also buried in the Masonic Cemetery after his death in 1878. Julia appears to have been a lender of choice for George W.E. Row. At any rate he paid her $86.08 in 1881.

George W.E. Row check to Julia  Alexander 1881

     In her will Nannie Row left Julia a photograph of her father, Absalom Row. Julia died in Stafford on July 7, 1887.

Headstone of Julia Alexander

       Like their Estes uncles, all three Kale brothers moved west. William Kale was born February 26, 1819. He married Susan Ware and moved to Owen County, Kentucky. By 1840 he established a farm there near his uncle George Washington Estes (for whom my great grandfather was named). William and Susan Kale had eight children, at least four of whom did not live past the age of thirty five. Susan died in 1864. The 1880 census shows that 79 year old George Washington Estes was living with William and his children Kitty and Jeff Davis. William Kale died February 2, 1882.

     The other two Kale brothers went to Texas. Richard Kale lived in Denton, where he raised stock. The 1870 census shows him living alone. Richard Estes served in the 15th Texas Cavalry during the Civil War. He died February 9, 1872 and is buried in Denton, Texas.

Headstone of Richard Kale
     John P. Kale was the youngest of the Kale brothers. He was born in Fredericksburg in 1824 and moved to Texas, where he ultimately settled in Livingston, Polk County. In 1847 he wrote a letter From Liberty, Texas to my great great grandfather Absalom Row, shown below with my transcription.

John Kale to Absalom Row 19 February 1847

John Kale to Absalom Row 19 February 1847

Transcription of John Kale's letter

Transcription of John Kale's letter

     The 1850 census for Polk County shows that John was living on the farm of Harvey Sanderson and working as "Co. [County?] Clerk." It seems that John married a Mary Winifred Hicks in 1852. A son from that union, John, was born in 1862.
     John Kale enlisted in the 5th Texas Infantry, part of Hood's Division, on August 24, 1861. He was sent with his regiment to Virginia, where he took sick almost right away. The records show that he was sick in the General Hospital in Dumfries in November 1861. He is still on the sick rolls in Fredericksburg in March 1862. John was shot during the battle of Second Manassas on August 30, 1862. He was taken to General Hospital No. 21 in Richmond for treatment. The rolls for October 29, 1862 indicate that John was staying in private quarters, "having furnished a substitute." There is nothing else in his military record after his hospital discharge dated November 1, 1862.
     In 1867 John married Isabelle "Belle" Taylor Wallace. They had four daughters together, the last dying in childbirth with Belle on May 15, 1873.
     The 1870 census shows John Kale working as a dry goods merchant in Livingston. Aunt Mabel said that he prospered during those years. And yet by 1880 he is living alone and farming. His children are not listed with him on that year's census and there is some evidence that they may have been sent to live with relatives in Mississippi. John died in Livingston, Texas in 1886.

Monday, October 24, 2011

George W.E. Row and the Freedmen

1856 inventory of slaves of Absalom Row

     When Virginia seceded from the Union in April 1861 George W.E. Row, my great grandfather, was a seventeen year old schoolboy. At that time he was attending the Locust Grove Academy for Boys in Albemarle County. George rushed home to be among the first to enlist in the Ninth Virginia Cavalry. The following year he transferred to the Sixth Virginia Cavalry and fought the entire war. By the time he returned to Spotsylvania in May 1865 and signed his oath of allegiance at Waller's Tavern, he had long since grown to manhood.
     With that came a new set of responsibilities that he now had to assume when he and his mother and sister returned to the family plantation. Greenfield had fortunately avoided the wholesale ransacking and pillaging wreaked upon so many of their neighbors. Still, much of the fencing had disappeared into the flames of soldiers' campfires. The farm had essentially been abandoned since the the battle of the Wilderness and there was much work to be done.
     Greenfield's woes began in the summer of 1862 when most of Nancy Row's slaves escaped to freedom, never to return. Still, some of those enslaved blacks remained with the Rows during the war years and possibly for some time after that. Some of the names of the slaves which appeared in the 1856 inventory and appraisement of Absalom Row's estate can also be found in letters and papers after the mass escape of 1862. Limus still worked at Greenfield for a time and near the end of the war was hired out to a Mr. Childs in Spotsylvania. William was provided with passes so that he could transport supplies between family members at Greenfield and Hadensville (where the Rows lived as refugees during much of the last year of the war) and Richmond, where the family of George's sister Martha Williams lived. In April 1864 William had been hired out by Martha for $30-$40 per month until October. After that he spent some time making shoes at the Williams' house before being utilized to move goods as needed. Henry, Horace and Albert--former slaves of Absalom Row--also remained loyal to the Rows. Their names are mentioned in some surviving papers, including George Row's memo book.

Memo book of George Row

     When the Rows returned to Greenfield in late spring of 1865 one of the first orders of business was to reconstitute a work force. The former masters found themselves in the unfamiliar situation of having to pay wages to their hired help. In the early years after the war the Federal occupation forces and the Freedman's Bureau took a keen interest in matters regarding the employment of former slaves. Written labor contracts between freedmen and white farm owners became quite common as a consequence. These often took the form of sharecropping arrangements. Three such contracts signed by my great grandfather survive among his papers.

Contract with Henry Slaughter

     In February 1867 George Row wrote a labor agreement with Henry Slaughter. I cannot be certain, but it is quite possible that this was the same Henry who had been a slave of George's father Absalom. This was a simple sharecropping arrangement, as no money would exchange hands. George pledged to "furnish the land and team and also to feed the same to Henry Slaughter, who on his part agrees to work as much land as he can possibly do in corn and oats...He [Slaughter] to work himself, grown son and two small boys...He Slaughter to do one half of the fence and GWE Row the other half..."

Contract with Charles Gibson

Duplicate bond for Louisa Gordon

     In December of that same year George inked a labor contract with Charles Gibson. "GWE Row agrees to furnish to the said Chas. Gibson a house for his family and for his personal services he the said Row agrees to pay him one hundred ($100.00) dollars in current money for the year beginning Jan 1st 1868...And they also further agree and covenant  that for the services of Martha and Thomas children of the said Chas. Gibson. That they will be fed and clothed by the said Geo. W.E. Row. And for Louisa Gordon he (GWE Row) agrees to pay the sum of twenty [five] ($25.00) Dollars in current money. She the said Louisa Gordon to cook, wash, milk etc. as she had done this year 1867..."

Account with Charles Gibson 1869

Account with Louisa Gordon 1869

     By the 1870s George Row was responsible for managing operations at Greenfield for his mother and sister, his own farm which he called Sunshine and his burgeoning saw mill business. These enterprises required the labor of many hands and an ever increasing number of employees appear in the Row ledger books. My great grandfather kept detailed records regarding the compensation provided to these people. These "pay stubs" show that payment took the form of cash, foodstuffs,  tobacco, whiskey, clothing and so on. Below are shown a few examples of these records.

Jenny Carter, cook, 1882

Henry Collins 1878

William Lewis 1881

     In addition to these routine forms of compensation, George Row also paid sums such as the $11.28 for the warrant costs of Row friend Lucius Estes in the case of Mansfield Washington in 1880. I do not know what difficulty Mansfield had with the law but he was important enough to George to keep him out of jail.

Mansfield Washington 1880

     Among the dozens of freed men and women who worked at the Row farms and saw mill, I want to mention two who stand out from the rest. Washington (also called  "Wash") Comfort was an employee of my great grandfather for years. A few of the records from the Row ledgers are as follows:

Receipt to GWE Row 1872

Account with Washington Comfort 1876

Account with Washington Comfort 1877

     What makes Washington Comfort unique is the fact that he may have had a will written. The records relating to his estate, which I found this year at the Central Rappahannock Heritage Center, show that John Alrich was named as the executor his estate. Alrich who served in the Ninth Virginia Cavalry with George Row, was treasurer of Spotsylvania County in 1882. At the top of the first of these pages, shown below, Wash's estate is credited with $11.50 for corn sold to Geo. W.E. Row after the estate sale. Further down the page we see a charge against the estate for $7.91 "due by decedent on Judgment due in favor of Geo. W.E. Row." Robert S. Knighton, who is due $4.00 for building Wash's coffin, had also built the coffin for George's mother Nancy Row in 1873.

From the estate of Washington Comfort

     Atwell Young also merits our attention because of what we know of him from the record. First, he was not really a freedman in our usual understanding of the term. The 1850 census shown below indicates that he and his family were free people before the Civil War.

1850 census for Atwell Young

     Atwell was a trusted employee of the Rows for many years. An example of one of his "pay stubs" is shown here.

Atwell Young 1870

     In 1884, the year after the death of George Row, my great grandmother Mary E. ("Lizzie") Row signed a sharecropping agreement with Atwell Young to work on Sunshine Farm. William A. Stephens, a neighbor of the Rows, signed as a witness. Lizzie leased to Atwell the field to be cultivated in corn, from which she was to receive one fourth of the crop. Lizzie and Atwell agreed to evenly divide "the crop of clover and grasses grown on the farm upon which I now reside."

Lizzie Row-Atwell Young contract 1884

Lizzie Row-Atwell Young contract 1884

     Last year I combed through the Row records and tried to identify the names of the freed men and women (and children) who worked for my ancestors. The list below was the best I could do at the time. Their names and their stories are important to my family's history and I regret not knowing more about each of them.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Witness to History

Richmond Bread Riot

     In last week's post I shared the sad story of Margaret, the servant of James T. Williams' business partner Samuel C. Tardy. The same year that Margaret was put to death, James himself was witness to another lurid spectacle that took place in Richmond. By the spring of 1863 hunger was becoming a serious problem in the old Confederacy, a problem that would only worsen as the war dragged on. A combination of factors was responsible for this unwelcome turn of events. With a large percentage of the able bodied men of the south serving in the army, the farming was left to wives, children and the elderly. Those families that had previously depended on slave labor (such as the Rows of Greenfield plantation) now found themselves without that work force, as tens of thousands of slaves were  escaping to Union occupied territory. The Federal blockade of southern ports was a major factor in causing shortages, of course, as was the destruction or seizure of miles of an already rickety rail system [Please note that all images in my blog may be clicked on for enlarged viewing].
     A sense of desperation began to grip those wives and mothers left to take care of hungry families while their men served in the military. In Richmond these women made their demands known to the government, which they believed had an obligation to take care of them. The Confederate authorities could do little to ease the suffering of their citizens, and the activities of hoarders and speculators only added to their difficulties.

Governor John Letcher

     On April 2, 1863 a large contingent of these poor women who had reached the breaking point took to the streets to get food for their families by any means necessary. In no time they became a rampaging mob of looters, smashing storefronts and stealing whatever was at hand. The city descended into chaos.
     The Richmond Dispatch published a retrospective look at the events of that dark day in the edition published on January 20, 1889. Included were letters submitted by some citizens who were present then, including James T. Williams. His memory of that historic riot appears below under the heading of "Honest John Letcher's Dues."