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Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Enigmatic Mr. Scott

Robert Scott

     Smuggler? Blockade runner? International man of mystery? Robert Scott may have been all of these things. Or perhaps he was something else altogether. What is certain is that virtually everything about him remains shrouded in mystery. And that makes him a most intriguing fellow indeed.
     William A. Stephens (1821-1886) was a friend and neighbor of the Rows of Greenfield in Spotsylvania. Over the years William worked as a farmer, constable and estate appraiser. He also owned and operated Stephens Station, a stop on the Piedmont, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad that ran from Fredericksburg to Orange. In addition to friendship William A. Stephens had numerous ties to the Rows. His signature appears on many documents relating to them including depositions, appraisals and chancery proceedings. In 1905 his grandson Scott T. Stephens bought Greenfield from Abbie Row, thus bringing to an end 110 years of the Estes-Row ownership of the family farm.
     In 1843 William married Mary Eleanor Scott (1826-1897), the daughter of the well to do Day Scott. Robert Scott is presumed to be one of Mary Eleanor's brothers, although I cannot find anything regarding his birth records. From the beginning Mr. Scott was an enigma wrapped inside a riddle. When I first came across his photograph in my great grandmother's (Mary Elizabeth "Lizzie" Houston Row) album three years ago I did not have the faintest idea who he was.
     Last year I discovered a number of letters written to Spotsylvania historian Roger Mansfield by Mabel Row Wakeman, Lizzie Row's daughter. In a letter penned by her in 1967 she went into some detail regarding the family connections of the Scott, Todd, Chancellor and Stephens families. All of that is interesting on its own merits, but today we are concerned with Robert Scott so below is my transcription of that portion of her letter that gave me my first insight into his world.
Mabel Row Wakeman to Roger Mansfield November 1967

Mabel Row Wakeman to Roger Mansfield November 1967

     But that is just the beginning of the story.
     Recently I took a renewed interest in Robert Scott and made inquiries with a few fellow researchers who would possibly have some new information to offer. As is so often the case, my cousin and fellow researcher, Kathleen Colvin, had personal knowledge of just what I was looking for. It is not possible for me to improve upon Kathleen's story telling abilities so with her permission I am presenting here her story as she shared it with me this week.

Kathleen Colvin's story of Robert Scott

Kathleen Colvin's story of Robert Scott

     My great grandparents, George W.E. and Lizzie Row, were impressed by Robert Scott and attempted to learn of his activities after he left for France. In a letter written by George in May 1882 he cryptically observed that "We have not heard anything from Mr. Scott's affairs. The mystery seems doomed not to be revealed as a great many letters have been written and nothing received."
     With the help of Mabel and Kathleen we have been given a tantalizing glimpse into "Mr. Scott's affairs". If any of my readers know more about Robert Scott I would be pleased to hear from you.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sarah Jane Daniel, Part 2

Receipt for Annie Daniel's horse

      Despite the death of her husband, the pillaging of Forest Grove and the stress of having to become a proprietor of a boarding house in Culpeper whose clientele were Union officers, Sarah Jane mustered the strength and resiliency to survive. Once she and her children, together with the now freed Millie Jackson and her children, moved back to Forest Grove conditions began to slowly improve, but improve they did. By 1866 money could even be found to buy a bay mare named "Beauty" for eighteen year old Annie.

Annie Tutt Daniel

     I do not know for certain when and how Annie Daniel met my great grandfather,  George Washington Estes Row. We already know that her uncle Thomas Jefferson Robinson served with George in the Sixth Virginia Cavalry. And George's cousin John Row had served as a deputy to another of Annie's uncles, sheriff James L. Robinson of Orange County. There is among George W.E. Row's papers what could possibly be a clue as to when Annie and George began their romance. Perhaps it was at a party at Clover Dale, the Crittenden farm near Forest Grove, that the two met. In any case George thought this invitation was important enough to keep for the rest of his life.
Invitation envelope

Invitation to party at Clover Dale, January 1867

     Whatever the circumstances, 24 year old George and 19 year old Annie met and fell in love and were married at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Culpeper on October 31, 1867. Officiating at the ceremony was Reverend John Cole, who had seen his church safely through the war. George Row placed on Annie's finger a ring made from gold mined at Greenfield. A reception for the couple was held at Forest Grove that evening.

Reception for George and Annie Row

     The newlyweds then returned to Greenfield, the Row farm in Spotsylvania, where they lived with George's mother and sister. In late 1868 Annie came back to Forest Grove in the last weeks of her pregnancy and gave birth to Absalom Alpheus Row on December 1.
     Soon after they were married the Rows and Sarah Jane Daniel were named as defendants in a suit filed in chancery court by Thomas Alcocke, Samuel Daniel's executor. There were still outstanding issues requiring resolution and Alcocke sought help from the court. Most of these problems were taken care of within a few years, but the division of Forest Grove among the heirs of Samuel Daniel did not occur until 1876.
     Annie Row's second child, Annie D. Row, was born on March 4, 1871. Soon after Annie's birth George Row traveled to Butler in Freestone County, Texas to explore the possibility of buying land. During the six months he was there he lived with Sarah Jane's sister Anne and her husband Dr. Vivian Quisenberry. To read more about George Row's time in Texas click here.
     George returned to Spotsylvania by September 1871. If there had ever been any concrete plan to sell Greenfield and move west, that dream vanished when Annie Row died of diphtheria on November 4. She was just 23 years old. George placed her obituary in the Row Bible.

Obituary of Annie Row

     Four days after Annie's death an estate sale took place at Greenfield. Eight month old Annie D. Row was ultimately sent to Forest Grove to be cared for by her grandmother. George's sister Nannie took care of Abbie. George qualified as the administrator of his late wife's estate. The correct date on the certificate confirming George as administrator should be 1872, not 1871.

Page from Row estate sale 1871

Certificate of administration January 1872

     Shortly before Annie's death, her sister Sallie Bet married Thomas Rixey on October 23, 1871. During their short time together she would bear three children, only one of whom would survive to adulthood.
     Tragedy struck three more times in 1872. Sallie Bet's first child, Alpheus Daniel Rixey, died. Sarah Jane's only son, 14 year old William, drowned on July 12. According to Virginia's death records little Annie D. Row died at Forest Grove on August 27 (her headstone says July 29) and is buried there.
     Sarah Jane married a second time on October 29, 1874. I know very little about James W. Stewart (1827-1910). It is possible he was from Spotsylvania. He moved to Forest Grove and farmed there for the rest of his life. In her surviving letters Sarah Jane signed her name "SJS."
     The same year Sarah Jane remarried, her daughter Sallie Bet gave birth to a daughter, Blanche Medora. A second daughter, Sallie Daniel Rixey, was born on November 7, 1876. Incredibly, Sallie Bet died of scarlet fever just seven days later. Little Blanche Medora followed her mother to the grave on November 28. Sallie Rixey came to Forest Grove and was raised by her grandmother. Thomas Rixey moved to Missouri where he married two more times and lived until 1918.

Division of Forest Grove 1876

     In 1876 a final settlement regarding Samuel Daniel's estate was decreed by the circuit court in Culpeper and a partitioning of Forest Grove was made among his heirs. George W.E. Row received a tract of 80 acres, known as the Wharton farm. Abbie received a lot totaling 24 1/2 acres.
     Catherine Medora "Kate" Daniel, Sarah Jane's only surviving child, married Charles Bruce Williams on December 6, 1882. They lived at the farm known as Fairview which was across the road from Forest Grove. Over the next 19 years Kate gave birth to seven children, all of whom would live to old age. Kate herself lived until 1949.

Row taxes in Culpeper 1879

     The settlement of the Daniel estate and the division of Forest Grove should have been the end of that drawn out affair, but there would be one more turn of the wheel in this drama and one more burden to be borne by Sarah Jane. Shortly after the death of George W.E. Row in 1883 Sarah Jane and George's sister Nannie were notified that he had neglected to pay taxes that had been due on his and Abbie's land in Culpeper. For a man who kept such careful accounts in businesses I have never fathomed how it was possible for this to escape his attention.

Auditor of Virginia to Nannie Row December 1884

Taxes due

Culpeper tax receipt 1886

     During the years 1884-85 Sarah Jane Stewart and Nannie Row exchanged letters regarding Abbie's problems, both monetary and personal. Only Sarah Jane's part of the correspondence survives. The first of these, mailed to Nannie from Culpeper in April 1884, finds Sarah fretting about Abbie's prospects for gainful employment. She wrote: "Hope Abbie will get into business that suits him. Mr. Strother said he wrote a letter of recommendation to Mr. Barbour, thought he might aid him, as he was a great friend of Mr. Daniel...Mr Z. Rawlings and Mr. Williams [Abbie Row's uncles, married respectively to his aunts Bettie and Martha] might be able to aid Abbie in getting a situation. Mr. Strother and everyone thinks Abbie ought to have gone to school two years longer and then he could get in business. As it is he will have to work with his hands and his head not able to help him." Sarah Jane also included an accounting of money charged to Abbie's share of the land in Culpeper. By now as his father's heir he owned both his own tract as well as that of the late George Row.
Sarah Jane to Nannie April 1884

Sarah Jane to Nannie April 1884

Abbie Row's account 1884

     In a letter written in September 1885 Sarah Jane goes into some detail about the difficulties she and Mr. Stewart were encountering in their effort to straighten out Abbie's tax problems. The bureaucracy of Culpeper Court House, small though it was, worked at its customary leisurely pace. "It is the hardest matter to find them in the office and get anything done by them." Her son in law Charles Bruce Williams enclosed $5 toward purchasing Abbie's land. Abbie ultimately sold both plots to Williams.

Sarah Jane to Nannie September 1885

Sarah Jane to Nannie September 1885

     Sarah Jane's granddaughter Sarah Jane Rixey, whom she had raised at Forest Grove since infancy, married William Dearmont in 1907. They settled in White Post, Virginia where Dearmont was in the horse business. They raised a large family and Sallie lived until 1943.
     The grandchildren of Sarah Jane Robinson Daniel Stewart remembered her as a tiny woman who loved to rock on her porch at Forest Grove. They called her "Mamie." She died at home on August 23, 1914. She is buried at Fairview Cemetery in Culpeper.

     In 1940 Margaret Jeffries, a researcher and writer for the Works Progress Administration, interviewed 90 year old William Yager, whose family was owned by Sarah Jane Daniel during the Civil War. Jeffries was the daughter of the late Judge William Jeffries of Culpeper and she had already written much about her home county. Yager was then living in a house inherited from his sister near the old Antioch Church. In Part 1 of Sarah Jane's story we learned of Yager's remarkable experience during the battle of Cedar Mountain. Jeffries' account of her interview with William Yager can be found in Weevils in the Wheat, Charles Perdue et als, University of Virginia Press, 1992. The quotations here come from that source.
      Yager told Jeffries that his health as a child was delicate and he nearly died from typhoid fever. He gave a glimpse into how close Sarah Jane Daniel was to her servants when he said: "I slep' right in a trundle bed under old Miss's bed jus' like the rest of the children...I wuz bo'n into the Daniels family. You know Miss Kate Williams, lives right over there? Well, she's my young mistis [mistress]." In 1940 Sarah Jane's daughter Kate was 78 years old.
     "None of us lef' our white family...All our colored people 'cept my mother went off with the Yankees. But we stayed with our white folks 2 or 3 years after de war. We worked for our close and food same as we done 'fore."
     "An' then when the Yankees come they jus' 'stroyed everything. What they didn't want they jus' killed. 'Cept two cows. They musta tied 'em up at camp an' they got loose an' come home. An' I took them cows to town when we moved and kept 'em clean through the war. I can tell you their names right to this day. They wuz Nellie an' Viney."  
      "Uncle William never did go to school. He was but a lad when the war started anyway. Most slave owners did not educate their slaves. 'No'm, slave people jus' got somethin' in their stummicks an' somethin' on their backs,' he stated. 'But I schooled ever one o' mine. I sure did.'"