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Monday, May 28, 2012

The Rows of Caroline County-Part 1

Birth record of Keeling Row

     Keeling Row was born in Orange County on February 25, 1785. He was the sixth child of Thomas and Rachel Keeling Row and an older brother of my great great grandfather Absalom Row. The image of his birth record, seen above, comes from the Rows' Book of Common Prayer. The original is located in the Special Collections Department of the Library of the University of Virginia, Keeling, Rowe and Farish Family Papers 1765-1877, Accession # 11144.

Detail of map of Caroline County, 1863

     Keeling moved to Caroline County as a young man. The large plantation he established there was located in the northwest part of the county, about two miles south of the Rappahannock River. On the map detail shown above, you can find his farm near the bottom-center of the image where it says "Bow." Keeling married Rebecca Dillard, the first of his three wives, in Caroline on January 10, 1811. They had two daughters, Alice (born 1815) and Rachel Keeling (1817-1895).

War of 1812

     During the War of 1812 Keeling served in Captain Duvall's Company of Virginia militia. After his death his widow Fannie Bates Row applied for a widow's pension based on his service. The cover sheet for that file is all that I have been able to find. However, Keeling's service is mentioned in The Row Family of Virginia by Marie Clark: "Keeling was drafted and served as Pvt. in Captain Duvall's Company of Virginia militia, commanded by Col. Hungerford in War of 1812 and received an honorable discharge. His widow applied for and received a pension of $8.00 per month, also a land warrant under the Act of 1855 for about 160 acres of land."
     Rebecca Row died sometime before 1822. Keeling next married Fanny Brumley on March of that year. There are no known children of that union and Fanny died before 1836.
     Keeling married for the third and final time on February 8, 1836, taking as his bride Fannie Bates (1797-1883). Keeling and Fannie had four children together: Carlton (1838-1864), James (1840-1901), Mary (1842-1913) and Robert Beverly (1844-1898).
     Keeling's daughter Rachel also wedded in 1836, marrying neighbor William Hayter Farish on January 27. (One of Rachel's cousins, also named Rachel Keeling Row, married William's brother Charles Tod Farish). William and Rachel had six children: Catherine Row (1837-1910), Keeling Row (1839-1911), William Duval (1842-1914), John Thomas (born in 1844), Joseph Thomas (1845-1889), and Fannie Alice (1851-1896).

1860 slave census, page 1

1860 slave census, page 2

     By 1860 Keeling Row was one of the wealthiest men in his section of Caroline. He owned two named farms, "Rowe's Cottage" and "Headlong." The 1860 census shows that the value of his real estate was $27,000 and his personal property was valued at $53,105. Much of his personal wealth was tied to the value of his fifty four slaves.
     Keeling's two oldest sons joined Company B of the Ninth Virginia Cavalry (in which my great grandfather also served for the first eleven months of the war). The youngest son, Robert Beverly, may have served in the Thirtieth Virginia Infantry, but that is not clear from the record.

Runaway slave affidavit

     On May 19, 1862 Keeling Row submitted an affidavit which stated that eighteen of his slaves were "abducted and harbored by the enemy." Depositions supporting his claim were provided by his son in law William Hayter Farish, his overseer William Edwards and his neighbor R.H. Buckner. Fifteen of these slaves escaped en masse on April 24: Henry, Addison, Simon, Griffin, William, Robert, John, Willis, Joe, Reuben, Presley, Lacy, Lucinda, Margaret and one whose name is not legible. On May 14 Rillis and Isabella and her infant child "disappeared in like manner." Mr. Edwards, the overseer, testified regarding the three who escaped on May 14: " of Mr. Corbin's servants told me that these three passed by his house on their way to the enemy. Mr. Corbin lives near the [Rappahannock] river. I saw at this servant's house some bacon and furniture left by the three slaves & identified these." The depositions of Farish, Buckner and Edwards were taken by justice of the peace M.T. Campbell who said this task fell to him because "there is no judge of the Confederate States, nor any commissioner of the court thereof, nor any notary public within the said county."

Page from Keeling's claim for damages

     In 1863 Keeling suffered further economic hardship, this time at the hands of the Confederate Army. During the winter of 1863 General A.P. Hill's Division had camped on the Row property. Thousands of panels of fencing were taken apart and used for firewood. Acres of trees were cut for firewood and also used to corduroy roads. Corn and stacks of fodder were seized by Confederate troops. Keeling submitted a claim for damages totaling $7,948.80. A year later this still claim still had not been attended to. A written explanation was provided by Colonel A.S. Pendleton: "Hd. Qtr. 2nd Army Corps, Mar. 14 '64. I certify that the enclosed account of damages to the farms of Keeling Row by the troops of Gen. Jackson's command is correct...I give this certificate because the account was not presented to Gen. Jackson in his lifetime, and as I was his Adjutant General I was cognizant of the facts."
     Of course, the war also brought a human cost that had to be borne. Keeling's younger son James, a private in the Ninth Cavalry, was captured during the Gettysburg campaign. Some of his records show that he was taken in Montgomery County, Maryland on June 28. Other documents indicate that his capture occurred on July 2. Either way, James was hauled off the to Old Capitol Prison in Washington City, where he stayed until his transfer to the prison at Point Lookout in Maryland on August 22. There he languished until he was exchanged on Christmas Day 1863. Once released, James rejoined his regiment. His name last appears on a company muster roll dated September 30, 1864. He is marked as present.
     James's older brother Carlton was promoted to second sergeant of Company B of the Ninth Cavalry. He was hospitalized at Chimborazo Hospital No. 4 from January 1 to May 1, 1864 with a diagnosis variously given as "scabies," "camp itch," or "morbis cuti." The fact that he was kept on the disabled rolls for four months tells us that this was no laughing matter. Sergeant Row then rejoined the Ninth, with whom he served for the rest of his short life. On August 16, 1864 he suffered "a gunshot wound of the left side in the Battles of the 16th at Wheeler's Tavern." Carlton was admitted to the Receiving and Wayside Hospital, or General Hospital No. 9, in Richmond. His situation was dire: "Wounded in lines Aug. 16 by a minie ball in back. Ball entered two inches to the right of the spinal column, passed inwards, then outwards and lodged as near as could be ascertained immediately behind the anterior superior process of the ilium. There was paraplegia below the wounds." Carlton Row died on August 27 and was buried in Hollywood Cemetery. His brother James claimed his personal effects and Keeling was listed as Carlton's legal representative.
     Three of Keeling's grandsons also served in the Ninth Cavalry.
     Keeling Row Farish enlisted in Company B with his Row cousins on May 6, 1861. Keeling was captured in Caroline on April 25, 1862 and appears on a roll of prisoners aboard the steamer Coatzacoaclos. He was exchanged at Aiken's Landing on August 5, 1862. In December of that year his black mare was killed in action during a fight at Barker's Crossroads in Fauquier County. On June 10, 1863 the muster rolls show that Keeling was "on detail to nurse his wounded brother." He rejoined the Ninth a month later.
     Joseph T. Farish enlisted in Company B on June 3, 1863. Six days later he was shot in the knee during the battle of Brandy Station. His leg was amputated that same day. He recovered in a "private hospital," (that is, his home) and was cared for by his brother Keeling. Once he was well enough Joe Farish served in the Invalid Corps. He received his parole in Bowling Green in May 1865.
     William Duval Farish enlisted in the Ninth Cavalry on May 1, 1861. He received a medical discharge on May 16, 1862 for "hypertrophy of the heart." He reenlisted on March 5, 1863. Like his brother Joe, William was wounded at Brandy Station, but his injury was not serious and he was back on active duty within a month. He was hospitalized again in December 1864, suffering from rheumatism. William was paroled at Bowling Green on May 3, 1865.

Letter of Martha Row Williams, 6 March 1865

     A month before the surrender at Appomattox Martha Row Williams wrote a letter to her sister Nan and mother Nancy Estes Row, who were living as refugees in Goochland County. She mentioned her brother (my great grandfather, George W.E. Row): "I was so glad to see George & he looked so happy while here. I suppose he told you all about his dance & how he liked it. The girls were mightily pleased with him." Then Martha goes on to write about her Caroline relations: "Joe F[arish] was here that night & left the next morning for Caroline. Mr. [William Hayter] Farish was here the day before George was here. He says Uncle Keeling is not looking so well but is heartier than he ever knew him & he don't have neuralgia in his face at all. Jim [James Row] is at home on furlough & Joe sorter talked like he was going to be married. I don't know whether it is so of if Joe was only telling to get a laugh on Jim."
     With the end of the Civil War Keeling and Fannie Row, together with their three adult and still unmarried children, faced a present of loss and devastation and a future that held little promise in a world turned upside down. The Rows may have still been wealthy compared to their neighbors, but that wealth had shrunk to $14, 250 from a pre-war high of $80,105. Life would be very different from now on.


  1. Pat, Thank you for the the great article & all the documentation. I love reading about the Rowe family :) You are a wonderful storyteller!

  2. Thanks for the kind words, Beth.

  3. are the rows and rowes the same family?

    1. Originally, they were all Rowes when they came to America from England. The part of the family that settled in Orange, Spotsylvania, Caroline and King George Counties favored the "Row" spelling. I believe they are ultimately related to the Rowes of Fredericksburg, but I have not yet traced that connection.