Search This Blog

Friday, January 3, 2014

George W.E. Row, Inc.

George Washington Estes Row

     During the last thirteen years of his life, George W.E. Row ran a large saw mill business in Spotsylvania and, for a time, another one in Stafford County. Over the years he had at least four partners, nearly 100 employees and well over 100 customers.
     Among the more valuable documents in the Row archive are four ledgers, providing information on a variety of subjects and transactions, spanning the years 1853-1883. Including the loose papers tucked into the ledgers, there are 358 pages of information. For the past 5 years I have studied those ledgers and have learned what I can about the people mentioned in them and now feel prepared to share what I know. Below is a representative page from one of the ledgers:

From the Row ledgers

     In an earlier post I described George's saw mill enterprise and tried to give an idea of its size and sophistication; to read that post, please click here. Today we will learn about who his customers were. They were businesses and individuals, rich and poor, well known and obscure, black and white. George shipped products from his saw mill on Joseph Talley's farm to customers from Orange County, Virginia to Baltimore, Maryland.

Stationery of George W.E. Row

     My intent in publishing this material is to make it available to fellow researchers and to be a resource for other historians. My great grandfather's business enterprises were how he made his living, provided for his family and achieved status in the community. In the 1870s the railroad business was big business. A great many saw mills and other contractors provided goods and services to the road builders. George Row may not have been the largest supplier of ties, fencing and other items in Spotsylvania, but he was no slouch. Had he not died suddenly at age 39 he would have left behind a legacy that would have been of considerable value. As it was, his early death consigned my great grandmother to years of poverty, stress and loneliness.
     I have listed the names of George's customers in alphabetical order. Where possible I have included a little information about them, and links to my previous posts which provide additional detail are indicated. [Please note that all images in my blogs may be clicked on for enlarged viewing]

Thomas Jefferson Almond. Orange County farmer who served on the board of supervisors. He was a cousin to George Row's first wife, Annie Tutt Daniel.

John Roberts Alrich. This image is part of the display for him at the Spotsylvania County Museum:

John R. Alrich

W.W. Ashby. He was named U.S. Consul to Columbia in 1892, where he drowned in a boating accident in 1898.

William Atkins

C.E. Barnes

John B. Bell

Benjamin Bowering. Born in England, he came to Fredericksburg and operated the Hope Foundry, where George Row bought the boiler and steam engine for his saw mill. Benjamin was the father of Andrew Bowering, who led the regimental band of the 30th Virginia Infantry and conducted the music played at the funeral of Stonewall Jackson.

Benjamin Bowering letter to Mary Elizabeth Row, 1884


George W. Bowler. Orange County farmer.

Carter M. Braxton. Confederate artilleryman and civil engineer for the construction of the Fredericksburg & Gordonsville  and Piedmont, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroads.

Vivian Carmichael Brooking, Spotsylvania farmer.

Lewis Brooks

Thomas Brooks

Brown, Graves & Company. Lumber merchants in Baltimore, Maryland.

Ernest L. Buchanan. Spotsylvania farmer.

William Shelton Buchanan. Father of Ernest L. Buchanan.

Mrs. Walter Cammack

Frances Chancellor. Widow of Sanford Chancellor. She and her children were living at Chancellorsville during the historic battle of the same name. The photograph below, taken before 1860, shows Frances and Sanford Chancellor and their family at their home, Forest Hall. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.

Chancellors at Forest Hall


George Edwards Chancellor. Served in the Ninth Virginia Cavalry and was a merchant in Fredericksburg.

Receipt of George E. Chancellor to George Row, 1883

Melzi Chancellor. Father of George Edwards Chancellor, Baptist minister and commissioner of revenue for Spotsylvania. Shown below sitting with his brothers Lorman and James Edgar Chancellor.

Chancellor brothers

John Chewning

John A. Childers

William A. Clear. Spotsylvania gold miner.

J.T. Coleman

William Graves Crenshaw. Commanded Crenshaw's battery early in the Civil War, then acted as a purchasing agent for the Confederate government in England. Owned Hawfield farm in Orange and was reported in his obituary to be the largest land owner in the county.

William Davenport. Spotsylvania farmer.

A.W. Dillard, Spotsylvania carpenter.

A.B. Donohoe.  Fredericksburg harness maker.

E.L. Doyle

Cecil Durrett

Austin J. Eipper, Spotsylvania blacksmith. From Pennsylvania.

Lucius M. Estes. Spotsylvania farmer and justice of the peace. During the 1870s he lived as a tenant farmer at Greenfield, the Row family farm.

Samuel Estes. Spotsylvania school teacher and justice of the peace. Father of Lucius M. Estes. In 1880 Samuel Estes fined George Row for his failure to appear for work scheduled on Catharpin Road

Samuel Estes fines George Row

Silas Faulconer. Spotsylvania farmer.

J. B. Ficklen. Owner of flour mill in Fredericksburg.

J.B. Ficklen invoice to George Row

Dr. Thomas W. Finney. Served in the Ninth Virginia Cavalry and was one of the doctors who treated the Row family over the years.

Receipt of Dr. Finney to George Row, 1882

Powhatan Thomas Foster. Spotsylvania farmer who married a daughter of Robert S. Knighton. His brother, Oregon Dallas Foster, was a merchant in Fredericksburg.

William Edwin Foster. Father of Powhatan Thomas Foster.

Fredericksburg & Gordonsville Railroad

Tom Gibson

William Gordon

William Gabine Green. Spotsylvania farmer.

William Gabine Green



Parmenas Clayton Harding. Spotsylvania farmer. Fought with the 9th Virginia Cavalry.

James Alfred Harris. Business partner of George Row. His brother, Thomas Addison Harris, was for many years sheriff and clerk of court for Spotsylvania.

Robert McCracken Harris. Father of James Alfred, Leonidas, Thomas Addison and William Harris. Came to Spotsylvania from New Jersey before the Civil War.

William Harris. Born in New Jersey and returned north to fight with the Union army with another brother. After the war he came home to Fredericksburg and owned Harris & Brother grocery.

John Hicks

William Stapleton Hicks.  Spotsylvania merchant who ran Hicks' store. Melzi Chancellor married my great grandparents, William Franklin Kent and Lottie Conley, at Stape's house in 1878.

E.T. Hilldrup

John G. Hurkamp. Neighbor of George Row who ran a tannery in Fredericksburg and served on the city council. Hurkamp Park is named in his honor.

Simon Hirsch. Fredericksburg merchant who served on the city council and the school board.

Welford Jackson

Jacob Johnson

Lify Johnson

R.J. Johnson

Mat Johnston

Amos Jones

Lawrence Jones

Fleming Meredith Kendall. Orange County farmer.

Warner Kent. My great great grandfather. Arrested by Union troops during the battle of the Wilderness and taken to the Old Capitol Prison.

William Franklin Kent. My great grandfather. Son of Warner Kent

Warner Kent

William Lee Kent. Grandson of Warner Kent.

William Lee Kent

Charles D. King

Asabel Kishpaugh, teamster at the saw mill in 1880. Born in New Jersey

Robert S. Knighton.  Spotsylvania farmer. Built the coffin for my great great grandmother, Nancy Estes Row in 1873. Bought 43 acres of Greenfield land after the death of George Row.

Robert S. Knighton

Joseph Kronk. Farmer. Came to Spotsylvania from Pennsylvania.

Lewis Kronk. Farmer, blacksmith and brother of Joseph Kronk. Came to Spotsylvania from Pennsylvania.

Lewis Kube. Spotsylvania farmer.

Joseph Lancaster

Larkin W. Landram. Wagon maker.

William Edward Lang. Fredericksburg merchant.

Willard S. Leavell. Spotsylvania farmer.

John Lewis

Allan Mason

James Mason

Richard Mason

Michael McCracken. Fredericksburg merchant. Murdered by his son in 1891.

Absalom McGee. Spotsylvania farmer and unionist during the Civil War. Arrested 3 times by Confederate authorities. During the battle of Chancellorsville, Jackson's flank attack swept through his property.

John Miller

Payne & Hawkins.  Fredericksburg lumber merchants. John Thomas Payne was also a partner in business with George Row. John Hawkins ran a saw mill in Spotsylvania.

Robert L. Pendleton. Spotsylvania farmer.

Perry, Smoot & Company. Lumber merchants in Alexandria, Virginia.

Piedmont, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad

Alfred Poole. Spotsylvania farmer. A local school was taught at his place during the late 1800s. A grandson of Alfred, Patrick Fleming, was adopted by Lucius M. Estes.

Benjamin Warner Pritchett. Spotsylvania farmer. Fought with the 55th Virginia Infantry during the Civil War.

Benjamin Warner Pritchett

James Boswell Rawlings. Spotsylvania farmer, justice of the peace, gambler and gold miner. Father of Zachary Herndon Rawlings and Benjamin Cason Rawlings.

Henry Roberts. Born in England. He and George Row did not have a harmonious business relationship. Roberts refused to pay George the final amount owed for building materials delivered to his property near Spotsylvania Courthouse. George successfully attached a mechanic's lien to Roberts's property.

Charles Robey. Spotsylvania farmer.

Edward P. Roney. Gold miner and postmaster at Roney's Store, Spotsylvania. From Maryland.

George Thomson Rowe. Oldest son of Absalom Peyton Rowe, Fredericksburg merchant and mayor.

John Row Sisson. Farmer, carpenter and cousin of George Row.

Beverly Slaughter. A former slave of William Edwin Foster, remembered for taking care of the Foster family while William fought with the Ninth Virginia Cavalry.

Dr. Smith

Spotsylvania County

Major Stanard. Spotsylvania farmer.

William A. Stephens. Neighbor and close friend of the Rows. Estate appraiser and justice of the peace.

John Henry Swift. Spotsylvania farmer.

Joseph Talley. Spotsylvania farmer. George Row's saw mill was located on his property, about a mile and a half south of Todd's Tavern. George had contracted to harvest timber on two hundred acres of Talley's woodlands.

Joseph Talley receipt to GWE Row for timber, 5 March 1881


Littleton Talley, Spotsylvania farmer.

Nathan Talley, Spotsylvania farmer. Brother of Joseph Talley

William Talley, Spotsylvania blacksmith.

Jesse Thornton

George Timby. Spotsylvania farmer.

T.T. Tinder

Oscar Beadles Todd. Spotsylvania farmer whose family were the original owners of Todd's Tavern. Served with the Ninth Virginia Cavalry.

Richard Lewis Todd. Brother of Oscar Beadles Todd. Also served in the Ninth Virginia Cavalry.

John A. Towns. Spotsylvania grocer.

Joseph Trigg. Spotsylvania farmer and neighbor of the Row family.

S.W. Valentine

Rev. Washington, Spotsylvania laborer.

Allen Webb

Richard Webb

Sam S. White. Spotsylvania farmer and commissioner of revenue.

John Willoughby. Spotsylvania farmer.

Robert L. Wiltshire. Orange County farmer.

J.P. Woody

Jane Young. Sister of Atwell and Humphrey Young










1 comment:

  1. Benjamin Warner Pritchett. He is my GGG Grandfather. His Granddaughter Nelly Bly Pritchett Carter was my Greadmother. I have never seen this photo before. Thank you.
    Great blog!
    Charlie Carter

    ReplyDelete