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Monday, November 17, 2014

Thomas Pearson Payne

Fisticuffs on the courthouse lawn. Late 1800s.

     He was devoted to his family, his church and his community. He played an active role in Spotsylvania politics for many years. The photographic record of his life and that of his family is vast; only a small sample can be shared with you today. Unless otherwise noted, all pictures are from the Colvin Collection. [Please click on the images in my blog for enlarged viewing]

Jesse William Payne

Catherine Hicks Payne and her son Zebulon "Buckshot" Payne

     Thomas Pearson Payne was born in Spotsylvania on 5 August 1852. He was the firstborn child of Jesse William Payne (1821-1881) and Catherine Ann Hicks (1833-1911), arriving seven months after his parents' wedding. Catherine Hicks was a daughter of Spotsylvania farmer and constable Thomas Hicks and the granddaughter of Thomas Hicks, long time Spotsylvania jailor. In the photograph below, Thomas Hicks, Jr. is believed to be standing at far right.

     Before joining the Confederate army, Jesse Payne rented the farm of Neil McCoull, which would become the epicenter of the vicious day-long fight at the Bloody Angle. Jesse lost an eye during the war but otherwise was able to return home safely. Jesse Payne died at age fifty nine while threshing wheat on the farm of his father in law.

Rebecca Catherine Lohr

     Thomas Payne married Rebecca Catherine Lohr of Madison County on 20 September 1872. Like his father, Thomas rented the McCoull farm where his seven children were born:

Frank Payne

- Benjamin Franklin "Frank" Payne (1873-1957) operated a saw mill near his home on Catharpin Road and was chief forest warden of Spotsylvania County for twenty seven years. He married my great aunt Lottie Kent in 1928.

Frederick Linwood Payne

Fred Payne at the McCoull house. About 1900.

Freemond Clifton Payne

- Fred Payne and his twin brother Freemond were born in 1875 and each lived into his nineties. We used to see them sitting out in the yard together on Catharpin Road in the 1960s.

Fred Payne, Charles Talley and Annie Rebecca Payne

- Annie Rebecca Payne (1878-1949) married Spotsylvania farmer Charles Talley in 1899 and had five children with him.

Nettie Payne

Merle Chilton Strickler

- Anzonetta "Nettie" Payne (1880-1961) married John Moncure Chilton in 1910. Their only child, Merle, taught school in Spotsylvania for 32 years and is fondly remembered by many of us.

Bessie Lee Payne

Fred Payne and John Calvin Jennings (right)

- Bessie Lee Payne (1882-1973) married John Calvin Jennings in 1901. Bessie was the postmistress at Finchville from 1908 until 1914, when the post office was discontinued and its operations were moved to Screamersville.

Ashby Payne

Ashby and Bessie Payne

- Ashby Payne (1885-1942) was the second husband of Ruby Ray Kent, whom he married in 1926. Ashby and Ruby lived near the intersection of Catharpin and Stewart Roads. Ashby is remembered for his fiddle playing at local dances and for providing liquid refreshment as well. He died after being kicked by a horse in the barn.
Spotsylvania Court House. Late 1800s.

     Thomas Pearson Payne served for a number of years as deputy commissioner of revenue for the St. George's district. In the group portrait above, he is seated second from left. There were apparently whisperings of voting irregularities during his tenure, but I have found no mention of it in the local newspapers of the time. Thomas was also elected as a delegate to the state Democratic convention in 1899:

Daily Star 1 September 1899

     Payne's long run as deputy commissioner of revenue ended in 1911 when he was defeated by Irvin Chandler Clore by fifty eight votes. Afterwards Thomas Payne served as county assessor. Clore went on to serve twelve years as deputy commissioner of revenue, twelve years as county treasurer and finally as a trial justice until his death in 1944.

Irvin Chandler Clore (courtesy of Wil Bowler)

     Thomas and Rebecca Payne became friends with Pennsylvania native John Okie and his family, who would come down to hunt with the Paynes in Spotsylvania. The following photographs were taken about 1900, possibly during the same outing. The Ferneyhough place mentioned in the photographs had once been the home of John B. Ferneyhough, located on Catharpin Road near Old Plank Road on the site of today's Sawhill subdivision:

Thomas Pearson Payne

Payne family at the Ferneyhough place

Ashby, Zebulon and Thomas Pearson Payne

Thomas Payne's dogs near Chancellorsville

     Thomas Payne's hunting dogs can be seen both in the photo taken at Ferneyhough's as well as on Old Plank Road within sight of Chancellorsville.
     Over the years Thomas acquired a number of parcels of land in Spotsylvania, including the places where his sons built their houses. He bought land for himself on the corner of Cartharpin and Piney Branch Roads on the Ni River, where he built his house. He called his home Hazelfield.

Paynes at home

     A good many of the Payne family photos were taken at Hazelfield. This rare interior picture made about 1905 shows Thomas strumming his banjo. In front his granddaughter Rubye is held by her Aunt Nettie, with her mother Emma Payne seated at right. Behind them are Rebecca, Ashby, Frank and Thomas.

Nettie Payne Chilton and Thomas Payne at the well at Hazelfield

Thomas, Rebecca, Frank, Nettie and Ashby

     Thomas Payne was a lifelong member of Goshen Baptist Church, where he was superintendent of the Sunday school.

Goshen Baptist Church

     So what the heck are those two fellows fighting about in the photograph at the top of today's post? Thomas Payne (right) and his brother James used to put on mock boxing exhibitions to entertain the crowds of people gathered there when court was in session.
     Thomas Pearson Payne died at home on 17 April 1934, having outlived Rebecca by eight years. He and Rebecca and all of their children are buried in the Confederate Cemetery in Spotsylvania.

Thomas and Rhoda posing for the camera

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