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Sunday, July 7, 2013

A Murder in Old Lexington

William George White

     Just recently I learned for the first time about the story of Tom Blackburn, a VMI cadet who was slain in downtown Lexington in 1854. Given the prominence of the persons involved in this tale and the wealth of detail surrounding this event, I do not know how this has escaped my attention before. Fortunately, that was remedied this past week by well known author and journalist Dan Morrow, whose book will be published by The History Press later this year. I urge all my readers to keep their radar on for its release. Dan has serialized much of the story in his newspaper, The Middleburg Eccentric. Here are the links to the story as it appeared in that paper: This is history writing at its best; vivid in detail, superbly researched and includes rarely seen photographs. I have read Dan Morrow's serial twice already. It is that good. [All images in my blogs can be clicked on for larger viewing.]
     The cast of characters in this story includes Lexington merchant William George White, who was married to Ann Eliza Houston, an aunt of my great grandmother Lizzie Row. The Whites were the parents of six children. Letters written to Lizzie Row by two of their daughters--Clara and Maggie-- survive. Their oldest son, William, left Washington College to join the Rockbridge Light Artillery in 1864 and survived the war.

Ann Eliza Houston White

     So what is the connection of William  George White to the fate of Tom Blackburn? I do not believe I am giving away too much to mention here that the unfortunate cadet died on the door leading to the cellar of White's business. The photograph below, taken during the funeral of Robert E. Lee in 1870, clearly shows White's place of business. Across the street stands Lexington Presbyterian Church. William George White was one of the pallbearers that day. Many thanks to Dan Morrow for sharing this photo with me.

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