Search This Blog

Monday, September 10, 2012


Glenburnie, Spotsylvania 1897

     In today's offering we will be taking a look at the stories behind some of the faces in another captioned photograph of old Spotsylvania. In this collection of photographs shared with me a few years ago, the persons were identified and the captions were composed, I am told, by historian Robert Hodge.
     Long before the era of unified school districts and the brick and mortar buildings most of us are familiar with, schools in Spotsylvania were often affiliated with churches or had prosaic names like "Public School # 1." Other had more intriguing names like "Pineapple" and "Chivis". Frequently families taught school in their own homes. My own great grandmother, Lizzie Houston Row, hired Maria Marshall, a great granddaughter of U.S. Chief Justice John Marshall, to teach her three children at home. Lizzie herself taught a session at Sunshine, the family farm, and included some of the children of neighbor John James Stephens. The following term the Stephens family did the honors.
     John Henry Biscoe was another Spotsylvania resident who held school in his house. He is (3) in the photo above. Glenburnie, owned by the Biscoe family for 150 years, is still actively farmed by his descendants. JH Biscoe's wife Mollie (4) is standing next to him at far right.
     John Henry's half sister Sallie (1) stands next to him at far left. She was married to Marcus Aurelius Chewning, who fought with the Ninth Virginia Cavalry during the Civil War. During his checkered career as a Confederate trooper he served as a scout, bugler and tracker of Confederate deserters. Marcus is well known for a daring exploit during the battle of the Wilderness. This story is told in a superbly researched article written for the Culpeper Star-Exponent by Josef Rokus and can be read here. I highly recommend it to my readers. Mertie (9), a daughter of Marcus and Sallie, stands in the second row.
     Also seen in the photograph are JH and Mollie Biscoe's sons (11) and (19) and their daughters (15), (16), (18), (19), (20), and (22).
     John Henry Biscoe (1857-1943) was an energetic and enterprising man. He served as county surveyor and registrar and for a time was postmaster at Granite Springs. In 1901 he was elected to the House of Delegates. The small photo below below comes from the Library of Virginia. Below his likeness is a ringing endorsement of his candidacy written by a Democratic supporter who signed himself as "Citizen."

John Henry Biscoe

The Free Lance 13 June 1901

     JH Biscoe and his son Henry Curtis (11) owned an establishment in Fredericksburg located at 407-409 Commerce (now William) Street, JH Biscoe & Son. Here they sold feed and seed, buggies, wagons and farm equipment. In 1913 H.C. Biscoe opened the Buick dealership at the corner of Commerce and Winchester Streets.
JH Biscoe & Son (Courtesy CRHC)

The Free Lance 23 April 1904

     One of the Biscoes' customers was my grandfather, Horace Row, who bought an Osborne hay mower from them in 1904.

JH Biscoe receipt to Horace Row, September 1904

No comments:

Post a Comment