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Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Family Museum

U.S. Patent granted to George W.E. Row

     In the course of writing this blog for the past two years, I have shared a good many images of artifacts from my family's archive, chiefly from the nineteenth century. Today I thought it would be fun to create a virtual museum of these objects to share with you. For me, handling these items gave me a more solid connection with my ancestors and helped take some of my perceptions out of the realm of the abstract and move them into the more tangible and the personal. So, for those of you who are--like me--interested in history that is three dimensional, please join me as we stroll through these exhibits from Virginia's past. This is a large exhibit, so please feel free to dip in and out as it suits you. (All images are clickable for larger viewing)

Patent of George W.E. Row

Patent drawing of George W.E. Row

Model of car coupling

Model of car coupling

     In January 1875 George Washington Estes Row, my great grandfather, was granted a patent for an improved railroad car coupling. Above we see the actual patent and the hand made wooden model which he made demonstrating his concept. I do not think he ever made any money from this--there were hundreds of such patents for couplings granted in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Still, it was quite an achievement for one who left school at age seventeen to spend four years in the saddle fighting in the 9th and 6th Virginia Cavalry. More can be read about this period in George Row's life here.

Supplement to the Revised Code of the Laws of Virginia

Supplement to the Revised Code of the Laws of Virginia

The Virginia Justice

The Virginia Justice

     Absalom Row, father of George W.E. Row, served as justice of the peace in Spotsylvania County for about thirty years. These are the law books he used to carry out his duties. I have written about my great great grandfather here and here.

Anvil of Warner David Kent

     This hand forged anvil belonged to my other great great grandfather, Warner David Kent, who learned the blacksmith trade in Fluvanna County before moving to Spotsylvania in 1852. He and his family survived a dramatic and life threatening episode during the battle of the Wilderness, which I describe in this post.

Bayonets of George W.E. Row

     In the early 1960s my father found these Civil War era socket bayonets in the attic of Sunshine, the house built in 1880 by George W.E. Row, My father painted them black and they have been displayed on one wall or another for 50 years.

Funeral card of Bettie Row Rawlings

     This memorial card of my great great aunt Bettie Row Rawlings was given to me a few years ago by Byrd Tribble. Bettie was my great grandfather's sister and was married to Zachary Herndon Rawlings. I wrote Bettie's life story here.

Fulton & Eastman's Bookkeeping Book

Fulton & Eastman's Bookkeeping Book

     My great grandfather had to teach himself the basic principles of bookkeeping in order to successfully operate his saw mill business after the Civil War. He learned how to do so from this book.

Williams & Victor clock

Description of Williams & Victor clock

Williams & Victor silverware
     Jehu Williams (1788-1859) married my third great aunt, Hettie Row of Orange County, on Christmas Day 1814. She was the first of his three wives. Jehu partnered with Fredericksburg native John Victor and they worked as silversmiths and clock makers in Lynchburg for decades; their work is still sought after by collectors. These examples of their craftsmanship were photographed at the Lynchburg Museum in 2010.

"Fanny Augusta Kale"

     This doll, which dates to the mid-1800s, came from the old family plantation of Greenfield and may have been a gift from, or plaything of the Kales. Considering her advanced years, Fanny is in remarkably good shape.

Commission of Elhanon Row

Commission of Elhanon Row (reverse)

     Elhanon Row (1798-1874) of Orange County was the youngest brother of Absalom Row. Elhanon Row served as the first elected sheriff of Orange County and school commissioner. In May 1862 he was appointed Colonel of the Third Regiment, First Brigade of the Second Virginia Militia. Sixty years earlier his father Thomas Row held the colonelcy in the same regiment. This document is part of the holdings of the Orange County Historical Society.

Aultman-Taylor envelope

     My great grandmother, Lizzie Houston Row, placed in this envelope the flowers she and George W.E. Row wore on their wedding day in Rockbridge County on December 14, 1875. The dried remains of those flowers are still in the envelope. Lizzie's father George Houston and her brother Finley were sales agents for Aultman-Taylor in Rockbridge.
Geography book of George W.E. Row

Geography book of George W.E. Row

Quill pen of George W.E. Row

     School boy items of my great grandfather, George Washington Estes Row

Checkbook of George W.E. Row
First pages of George Row's checkbook

     My great grandfather's account with the banking house of Conway, Gordon and Garnett.

Lock of hair from George W.E. Row

"Robert's hair"

Lock of hair from Robert Alexander Row

     A practice that was quite common in the nineteenth century, but which probably seems morbid to 21st century sensibilities, was clipping a lock of hair from the recently departed to keep as a memento. Lizzie Houston Row clipped hair from her eight month old son Robert in 1881 and from "the dear forehead" of her thirty nine year old husband in 1883. 

Sampler of Hetty Bare, August 1836

     This sampler was sewn by Hester Bare (also spelled Bear) when she was fifteen years old. Her daughter married William George Houston, the younger brother of my great grandmother.

Memo book of Horace Row

     The little memo book used by my grandfather as a boy.

Houston desk

     This solid piece of furniture has been passed down by my Houston relatives with the understanding that it once belonged to General Samuel Houston, my second cousin five times removed.

Houston spoon

Houston spoon (detail)

Houston silver
     Silver pieces handed down from my great grandmother, Lizzie Houston Row

Apothecary scales of George W.E. Row

     These scales were used by my great grandfather while he worked in the drug store of his uncle Dr. Vivian Quisenberry in Butler, Texas in 1871. George Row had gone out there to scout for land to buy with the unfulfilled dream of moving his family out west.

Horace Row's Easy Book

Horace Row's Easy Book

     Baby book given to my grandfather at age three by his cousin Janie Williams of Lynchburg.

Match safe

     Match safe that belonged to my Row ancestors.

Trunk of Lizzie Houston Row

Trunk of Lizzie Houston Row (interior)

Mourning dress of Lizzie Houston Row

Mourning hat of Lizzie Houston Row

     The trunk of my great grandmother holds a great many treasures, including the mourning outfit she wore to her husband's funeral.

Checkbook of Lizzie Houston Row

From the checkbook of Lizzie Houston Row

From the checkbook of Lizzie Houston Row

    Images from my great grandmother's account with the banking house of Conway, Gordon and Garnett.

Funeral flowers

     Flowers saved from the funeral of Lizzie Houston Row's mother, June 1899 at New Providence Presbyterian Church in Rockbridge County.

New Testament of Fannie Kent Row

     This New Testament belonged to my grandmother.

Mustache cup

     This mustache cup was given to George W.E. Row shortly before his death in appreciation for teaching the men's Bible study class at Shady Grove Methodist Church.

Kent pie safe

     This pie safe belonged to the family of Warner David Kent, my grandmother's grandfather. The top of it was chopped by a hatchet wielded by a Union soldier in the frenzied search for food or valuables in May 1864. Many thanks to John Cummings for this photograph.

Oath of Allegiance of G.W.E. Row

Parole of George W.E. Row

     These two documents effectively ended my great grandfather's role in the Civil War.

POSOA badge

POSOA badge (reverse)

     This badge of the Patriotic Order of the Sons of Americal belonged to Samuel Tilden Wakeman, husband of my great aunt. Sam Wakeman deeded a small parcel of land at Catherine's Furnace to be used by the local branch of the POSOA.

Side saddle

     This side saddle belonged to my great aunt, Mabel Row Wakeman.

Quilt from Greenfield

     This quilt was made at Greenfield plantation, which had its own weaving house, probably by my great grandfather's cousin Rachel Row Farish.

Rifle of Richard Estes

Rifle of Richard Estes (detail)

     This rifle belonged to my third great grandfather, Richard Estes (1758-1832). It hung over the fireplace at Greenfield for one hundred years. The rifle is over six feet in length and it is said that fourteen inches had been cut off the barrel so that it would fit over the mantle. This type of gun with its exaggerated length was used to trade with the Indians. The brave who could provide a stack of furs equal to the height of the gun would get the rifle.

From the Prayer Book of Thomas and Rachel Keeling Row

     This artifact is one of the crown jewels of this virtual museum. These pages from the Book of Common Prayer which belonged to Thomas and Rachel Row of Orange County documented the births and deaths of their fourteen children, as well as the birth of the slaves who lived on their farm.

Valise of Nanny Row

     This valise of my great great aunt Nanny (also spelled Nannie) was used to keep her important papers during her years at Greenfield.

Williams stone

     This stone was used by the family of James Tompkins Williams of Lynchburg to step into the carriage outside their home. It is now part of the family's burial plot. James T. Williams was a son of Jehu Williams and husband to my great great aunt Martha Row.

Sarah Row memorial

     This needlepoint was made to commemorate Sarah Row, a sister of my great grandfather. Sarah is buried in an unmarked grave at Greenfield.

Ink stamp of George W.E. Row

Ink stamp of George W.E. Row

Stamp of GWE Row

     This is a handmade ink stamp which belonged to my great grandfather.

Swords of George W.E. Row

Cavalry saber of George W.E. Row

     The curved cavalry saber and scabbard were used by my great grandfather during the Civil War. The straight foot officer's sword was likely captured from a Yankee soldier by Private Row.