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Saturday, March 5, 2016

Lorman Chancellor

Lorman Chancellor, seated at right, with brothers Melzi and James

     Andrew Lorman married Mary Longwill of Cecil County, Maryland, about 1763. Their son, William, was born in 1764. The Lorman family settled in Falmouth, Virginia, where Andrew worked as an artisan at Hunter's Forge, which produced everyday iron implements as well as weapons and other supplies for the Continental Army during the American Revolution. Andrew died in Falmouth in 1773.
     Five years later, in 1778, the widowed Mary Lorman married James Lyon of Falmouth. Young William Lorman did not get along with his father-in-law, and in due course he left Virginia and moved to Baltimore, Maryland. One wonders if James Lyon ever had occasion to regret the rift with his stepson, given that William became one of Baltimore's leading citizens and amassed a considerable fortune.
     Among William Lorman's many achievements was his election to the original board of directors of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. He also became president of the Bank of Baltimore. William married Mary Fulford and they had one son, Andrew, born in 1795.
     Meanwhile, James and Mary Lyon had one daughter, Ann, born in Falmouth in 1783. Ann married Richard Pound, formerly of Culpeper County, and they lived at Fairview in western Spotsylvania County. Richard and Ann Pound had four daughters: Francis Longwill, Margaret Lyon, Elizabeth Richard and Mary Ann.
     After Richard Pound's death in 1812, Ann Lyon Pound's half-brother, William Lorman, acquired Fairview and what would later become Chancellorsville through the satisfaction of a deed of trust in 1813. He retained ownership of this 854-acre tract until he transferred title to Ann and her children by pocket deed in 1839, which was not recorded until 1842.
     Ann Lyon Pound married George Edward Chancellor in 1814. As a wedding present, William Lorman built for them the commodious house known to history as Chancellorsville. Located on the Orange Turnpike just east of Fairview, Chancellorsville was home to the extended Chancellor family, their white employees and their slaves. It's location on the Turnpike at the hub of Old Plank Road, the road to Ely's ford and the River Road to Fredericksburg gave it strategic importance during the battle fought there in 1863.

Chancellorsville (Library of Congress)

     This depiction of Chancellorsville was made from memory in the mid-1870s by Fredericksburg photographer Frederick Theodore Miller, the son of German immigrants who were crucial in the development of Tabernacle Methodist Church.
     Lorman Chancellor was born in this house in January 1817. After the death of his father, he served as postmaster at Chancellorsville 1837-1843, and as assistant marshal was the U. S. census taker for the eastern district of Spotsylvania in 1850. Lorman studied law and was a practicing attorney in Spotsylvania by the time he married Margaret Elizabeth Smith, of Middleburg, Virginia, on September 6, 1847. They made their home at Woodlawn, the large farm located near Chancellorsville.
     Lorman and Margaret had nine children together, only three of whom survived until adulthood. The deaths of some of these unfortunate children were reported in local newspapers, and it is instructive to read these accounts here, if only to remind ourselves that in the mid-nineteenth century being educated, wealthy and socially prominent--as the Chancellors certainly were--provided no protection from illnesses that today would be either treatable or preventable. Their very first child died the year after she was born:

Fredericksburg News, 26 October 1849

     The next two Chancellor children, Clarence Smith and Hugh Mercer, shared a fate similar to that of little Florence, when they died within days of each other in early spring of 1853. This undated newspaper clipping comes from the archive of Chancellor descendant George Harrison Sanford King and can be found at the Central Rappahannock Heritage Center. The horrifying complication of "cancrum oris," suffered by Hugh, is Latin for "cancer of the mouth" and refers to what I believe we know today as flesh-eating bacteria:

          Elizabeth Pembroke, the fourth child of Lorman and Margaret, was likely their only living child when they moved from from Spotsylvania to Middleburg by the late 1850s. Lorman placed this advertisement in the January 11, 1858 edition of the Alexandria Gazette:

     It did not take Lorman long to establish himself as a man of prominence in Middleburg. He set up his law practice there and was elected mayor, a position he held throughout the Civil War. The 1860 census indicates that he was quite well to do for that time, enjoying an aggregate wealth of $43,300. The Chancellors lived in this house, which still stands at the corner of South Jay and Washington Streets. Here were born Lorman and Margaret's only two sons who survived childhood: Sanford Carroll (1860-1905) and Arthur Bernard (1864-1931). Both became successful attorneys.

Lorman Chancellor house (Google)

     On August 3, 1858, the Alexandria Gazette reported that Lorman had been elected captain of the local militia unit, the 132nd Virginia. Lorman was still captain of the 132nd when the Civil War began in April 1861. In July, Governor John Letcher made him colonel and ordered Lorman's men and other militia units "of all counties north of the James River and east of the Blue Ridge",  to march to Manassass and rendezvous with General Bearegard. The 132nd Virginia did as instructed, but arrived too late to see action during the Battle of Manassas.
     On February 27, 1862, Union Colonel John W. Geary (later General Geary, who at some time during the war arrested Lorman's brother, Reverend Melzi Sanford Chancellor of Spotsylvania) invaded Loudoun County. A week later, Confederate General D. H. Hill was ordered to abandon Loudoun and transfer his troops to Richmond to help fight off General George McClellan, who had landed a massive army in the Virginia Peninsula with the intention of taking the Confederate capital, Richmond. The remaining Confederates in Loudoun County retreated southward to escape Geary's advance.
     Among those in a column south of Middleburg fleeing toward White Plains was James E. McCabe, who was acting as overseer of a group of slaves who had been building fortifications near Middleburg. McCabe's responsibility was to move these slaves far enough away so that they could not be liberated by the approaching Federals. Also in retreat with this column was Colonel Lorman Chancellor and his 132nd Militia, as well as a group of men who had been conscripted and were none too happy to be in their situation. McCabe reached White Plains first, and locked up the laborers in his charge in a building that could be easily guarded. When Colonel Chancellor arrived, he demanded that McCabe remove the slaves in order that Chancellor could lock up his untrustworthy draftees instead. McCabe refused, and Lorman hit him with the hilt of his sword. McCabe thereupon drew his pistol and fired at Lorman and inflicted a slight flesh wound. The surlier elements under Lorman's command refused to help him and in fact were cheering for McCabe.
     Lorman returned to Middleburg to recover, and he was arrested by Federal authorities on March 28, 1862. On that date he signed a parole as a prisoner of war, in which he agreed "not to bear arms against the United States or to assist its enemies...until regularly exchanged."

Parole of Lorman Chancellor, March 1862

     On March 9, 1863, Colonel John Mosby had dinner at Lorman's house just prior to embarking on a lightning raid on a Federal encampment at Fairfax Court House. Mosby and his partisans managed to slip past the large numbers of Union troops there and Mosby himself found young Union General Edwin Stoughton asleep in his bed. He awoke Stoughton with a slap on his rump with the flat of his sword and placed him under arrest. In addition to the hapless general, Mosby's men also captured a number of Union soldiers and horses.
     A month later, on April 4, Lorman Chancellor was identified as a member of Mosby's Rangers and was arrested at his home and taken to the Old Capitol Prison in Washington, DC. He was paroled several days later, and on April 17 was among a group of prisoners taken by Captain R. W. Healy of the 58th Illinois Volunteers to City Point, Virginia, where they were released.
     Some of Middleburg's residents pleaded with Mayor Chancellor to disassociate himself from John Mosby, fearing that by assisting the partisans the town faced the possibility of being burned by the Federal army in retribution. Lorman refused to disavow General Mosby and Middleburg survived the war.
     After the Civil War, Lorman resumed his law practice, but like many in those early post-war years he was financially embarrassed and was obliged to declare bankruptcy. He and Margaret took in her mother and several other Smith relatives as boarders to make ends meet. Fortunately for Lorman, his wealthy Baltimore cousin, Andrew Lorman, died and left him the tidy sum of $72,000, according to the January 22, 1872 edition of the Alexandria Gazette.
     Margaret Smith Chancellor died on November 8, 1883. In his later years, Lorman spent time in Baltimore where he lived with his daughter, Elizabeth Pembroke Annan. Despite his advancing years, he still had enough energy to take long trips by carriage. On July 21, 1893, the Roanoke Times reported that Lorman and two of his nephews drove a horse-drawn phaeton from Baltimore to Fredericksburg, stopping at his old house in Middleburg along the way.
     Lorman Chancellor died February 9, 1894 at his daughter's house in Baltimore. His obituary, which appeared four days later in The Free Lance, is part of the George Harrison Sanford Collection at the Central Rappahannock Heritage Center in Fredericksburg.

Obituary of Lorman Chancellor

Among the sources for this article are:

Happel, Ralph. The Chancellors of Chancellorsville, published in The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, vol. 71, no. 3 (July 1963).

Chamberlain, Taylor M. and Souders, John M. Between Reb and Yank: A Civil War History of Northern Loudoun County, Virginia. McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. Jefferson, NC: 2011.


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this. I hadn't explored this branch of my family tree but adds one more to the 3 Florence Chancellors already there!
    Florence Chancellor Rowe Barnick