Search This Blog

Thursday, November 18, 2021

The Great Fire of Orange


The ruins of Orange Baptist Church, 1908 (R. Duff Green)

About 5:30 Sunday morning. November 8, 1908.

     While making his customary rounds on the streets of Orange, the town's only policeman noticed a fire in the apartment over the drugstore of Dr. Lawrence Sanford Ricketts on Railroad Avenue.

     The policeman raced to the Baptist church and sounded the alarm on its bells. Within minutes, all able-bodied people within the sound of those bells grabbed pails from their homes and formed a bucket brigade to battle the blaze. Water was drawn from private wells and cisterns while terrified residents did heroic work in battling the flames. Unfortunately, there was a high wind that morning, and in a very short time the main business district was engulfed in flames.

     Shown below is a detail from the December 1905 Sanborn Company fire insurance map showing the section of Main Street and Railroad Avenue affected by the fire. Pink indicates buildings made of brick; yellow means it was a wooden structure. The note next to the Sanborn stamp sums up the inadequacy of Orange's readiness to react to a fire: "Water facilities: Private wells and cisterns. Fire Department: None. The town has two water tanks of 300 gallons each, mounted on wheels and drawn by hand. Hand pump of 40 gallons per minute capacity attached to each tank. Also one hand pump of same capacity used to fill tanks. About 600 feet of 1/2-inch hose. Carts equipped with buckets and axes. Topography mostly level, Streets not graded."

     By 8:00 a.m., it was obvious that the town's resources were inadequate to deal with the emergency. A message was sent to Charlottesville, and the fire department there responded with the urgency the situation demanded. A special train was outfitted with a steam-powered pumper, three horses, a tanker car filled with water and additional fire-fighting equipment. Fourteen trained firefighters were also on board. Within an hour of receiving the alert, the train reached Orange. 

     The unlikely team of townspeople equipped with buckets and professional firefighters from Charlottesville worked together to battle the flames. The Baptist church marked the easternmost extent of the fire, which stopped at Church Street to the south. An estimated $100,000 damage had occurred, only half of which was covered by insurance. Despite those uninsured losses, reconstruction on some of the now emptied lots began shortly after the fire.

     Based on newspaper accounts published in the aftermath of the disaster, I compiled this list of the destroyed properties:

-The Orange Baptist Church, which was valued at $6,000. Soon after the fire, members of the congregation began a subscription to raise the money to rebuild, and $4,000 was contributed right away. A brand new organ (valued from $1,350-$2,000 by the newspapers), obtained by the Lady's Aid Society, had just been installed. It was to be played for the first time on the morning of the fire.

-The drug store of Dr. Lawrence Sanford Ricketts and the two apartments above the store.

-The Ware-Watts Hardware Company.

-The real estate office of Adonirum Judson Harlow, who also owned the undertaking business mentioned below.

-Two vacant stores owned by G.A. Gaines. 

-The building owned by Mrs. J.E. Perry which housed the grocery store of J.D. Morris and the clothing store of Sol Cohen. 

-Emil Levy's dry goods store, "Levy's Busy Corner."

-Waite & Chewning Furniture Company.

-Dwelling owned by J. Martin and occupied by Mrs. Carrie Anderson.

-Dwelling of Mrs. Jane McDonald.

-Building owned by Mrs. Emma Slaughter of Washington, DC, which included an apartment and a bakery owned by Mr. Bushby.

-Business and residence of A.J. Harlow. Mr. W.L. Randolph was the licensed undertaker employed by Mr. Harlow. 

-The Southern Railway telegraph office and interlocking tower. The nearby telephone and telegraph lines were also destroyed.

     The following six photographs, taken the day after the fire, were shared with me by historian Ray Ezell. They are part of the Grymes Collection in the archives of the Orange County Historical Society. The captions for these pictures were written by Mr. Ezell:

     This photo is taken from Church Street, east of where it crosses the railroad tracks, and gives the widest perspective on the damage caused by the fire. The partially standing brick walls of the Orange Baptist Church are visible frame-right and the steeple of the Orange County Courthouse is visible frame-left.

     This view shows the wholesale destruction along Railroad Avenue and the south side of East Main Street. The burnt out walls of the Orange Baptist Church are visible in the background and the ruins of Levy's Busy Corner building are in the foreground. Mayor Perry's distinctive turreted house is also visible in the background obscured by the smoky haze from the smouldering hot spots.

     This view is taken from where Main Street crosses the railroad tracks and looks to the south. Levy's Busy Corner (built earlier in 1908) had been destroyed by the fire, as well as Z.W. Chewning's Furniture Store directly east across the tracks from Levy's. The Southern Railway telegraph station, also destroyed, would have stood directly behind the photographer. Careful interpretation of the photo shows men at the tops of the telegraph poles re-stringing telephone and telegraph lines which were destroyed in the fire.

     This photo is looking northeast from where Main Street crosses the railroad tracks. The ruins of the building on the north side of Main Street are visible as well as the impressive (former) People's Grocery Warehouse which borders the burnt district on the north.


     This photo is looking south from the north side of East Main Street through the burnt district. The pile of rubble in the foreground is from the former Z.W. Chewning and Waite Furniture Company, which today is the location of the Orange Railroad Depot building. This shot makes clear the extent of the fire damage to the south along Railroad Avenue and on West Main Street.


      This photo is taken from the railroad tracks, probably near the location of the railroad passenger depot. Large crowds are visible that have descended upon the burnt district to survey the damage. Railroad Avenue is at the left of the frame, and the ruins of the Orange Baptist Church is visible at the right of the frame.

     So, what caused the great fire of Orange? [1]

     In the immediate aftermath of the fire, there was some speculation that the cause of the conflagration was a cat that had knocked over lantern. Like the story of Mrs. O'Leary's cow and the Chicago fire of 1871, the cat tale  proved to be apocryphal. It soon became apparent that the unknowing culprit was 77-year-old Towles Terrill, who lived in one of the apartments over Dr. Ricketts's drug store. Towles lived in the most meager of circumstances in his modest quarters. It was said that his bed consisted of a large wooden box filled with crumpled newspapers. While perhaps lighting his pipe that morning, his unextinguished match found its way into the detritus of his room, which then caught fire. Although he did not suffer serious burns from his mishap, by the time he was carried to safety he had lost consciousness from smoke inhalation. He did not regain his senses until Tuesday. He was still in critical condition, however, and it was feared that he might succumb to broncho-pneumonia. He was taken to the hospital in Charlottesville, where he eventually recovered. 

Map detail of Orange County, 1863

     Born on March 20, 1831, Towles Terrill was one of ten children born to Dr. Uriel Terrill (1793-1885) and the former Janet Lovell. The Terrill farm lay along the Orange Turnpike about five miles east of the town of Orange. On the map detail shown above, the Terrill farm can be seen at the right-center of the image. Towles Terrill spent his first 31 years working on this farm. 

     In addition to being a well-respected physician in Orange County, Dr. Terrill was also active in the political life of Virginia. In the 1840s, Dr. Terrill's name appeared in various newspapers because of his activities with the Whig Party. When that party lost its influence ten years later, Dr. Terrill switched his allegiance to the Democratic Party, to which he remained loyal for the last thirty years of his life. 

     On the eve of the Civil War, Dr. Terrill would have been considered a wealthy man. The 1860 census shows that his personal and real estate was valued at $48,460. The high value of his personal estate reflected his investment in the 37 enslaved people he owned. 

     During the Civil War, Dr. Uriel Terrill willingly sold goods and services to various quartermaster officers of the Confederate army. In 1863, he filed a claim for losses incurred when the divisions of Confederate generals Early and Johnson camped on his property. The claim involved the confiscation of a large amount of his fencing, which was then used as firewood. On October 31, 1863, Confederate quartermaster Major Robert H. Turner paid Dr. Terrill $319.20, the full amount of his claim.

     Dr. Terrill remained on his farm for just six more years after the conclusion of the war. In 1871, just one year after the death of his wife, he sold his farm to New Jersey native Henry Mason for $9,000. He moved in with the family of his daughter Mary Julia and lived with them for the rest of his days. 

     Despite the sadness and turbulence of his later years, Dr. Terrill remained active in the political arena, and was elected to the House of Delegates at least once. He was still serving as a legislator at age 90.

     Towles Terrill worked as a laborer on his father's farm until April 17, 1861, when he joined the militia company known as the Montpelier Guards. The following month, the Guards became Company A of the 13th Virginia Infantry. Towles's war record shows that he stood 5'7" tall, had a light complexion, gray eyes and dark hair.

     Except for a bout of illness early in the war, the first two years of Towles's service in the Confederate army seemed to go well. He was marked "present" on the surviving muster roles during that time. But his fortunes took a dramatic turn on May 6, 1864.

     During the Battle of the Wilderness, the 13th Virginia Infantry was part of Pegram's brigade in General Jubal Early's division. During the fighting on May 6, Towles was struck by a bullet in his left leg "just below his knee and fractured the bone somewhat." After a long convalescence, he appeared before a medical examining board on March 21, 1865. The board then issued a certificate of disability, which stated that he was "entirely disabled and cannot perform in any branch of field service." The board recommended that he be reassigned to duty with Major Cornelius Boyle [2], provost marshal at Gordonsville.

Certificate of disability of Towles Terrill

     Towles was greatly troubled by his injury for the rest of his life. In 1884, he applied for aid under the provisions of an act of the General Assembly which entitled soldiers and marines "wounded in the late war" to receive some small compensation. His application included a certification from Dr. William Shepherd Grymes (who served as regimental surgeon of the 13th Virginia Infantry at the beginning of the war) that Towles's wound "required the resection of one of the bones of the leg and is to be presumed that he is more or less disabled for physical labor." For his sacrifice during the war, Towles received $60 on February 12, 1886.

     After the war, Towles returned to his family's farm. Unable to endure the physical rigor of farm labor, he looked for work in another sphere. In 1869, he was hired as a traveling agent for the firm of Miller & Hopkins, land agents. His work carried him to destinations across the state, and he became well known for his outgoing personality and the knack for telling a good story. His popularity and ability to gain the attention of people he wished to impress was documented in an article that appeared in the Alexandria Gazette on May 11, 1887. By then he was known as "Colonel" Terrill, and was turning on the charm during an extended stay at the Metropolitan Hotel in Washington, D.C. Apparently, his reason for being in the nation's capital was to draw attention to the sad condition of the graves of the Madison family at Montpelier. He hoped to convince those in power to provide funding for a suitable monument for the father of the constitution. Such was Towles's eloquence on this subject, reported the Alexandria Gazette, that a New Yorker at this gathering offered to pay Towles's expenses to come back to Washington during the next session of Congress. 

     In his later years, Towles became a teacher in the Orange County schools. The Daily Star reported in October 1899 that Towles was teaching in one of the "colored" schools. When he retired from teaching in 1911 at age 80, he was granted an annual pension of $91.50.

     "Colonel" Terrill seemed to have learned little from his brush with death in November 1908. By 1916 he was living in an apartment on the second floor of the Gaines Building on Railtoad Avenue. On October 30, 1916, a fire broke out in his room. What happened next was reported in the November 3 edition of the Culpeper Exponent:

     The cause of death listed on his death certificate is "suffocated by smoke, caught in a burning building. His undertaker is shown to be A.J. Harlow, who lost his residence and businesses in the 1908 fire. Towles Terrill is buried in Graham Cemetery.

Special thanks to Ray Ezell for his assistance with this article.

[1] While the fire of 1908 is usually thought of as the "great" fire, another blaze struck Railroad Avenue just nine months later on July 20, 1909, as reported in that day's Richmond Times Dispatch:

     The Sanborn Company fire insurance map of September 1909 shows an empty void along Railroad Avenue where the destroyed buildings once stood:


 [2] While it is unlikely that Towles spent very much time, or any, with Cornelius Boyle at Gordonsville, I thought it worthwhile to write a little about him. Dr. Cornelius Boyle (1817-1878) was a lifelong resident of Washington, D.C. until the start of the Civil War. He was one of the city's leading physicians, and was well-connected politically and socially. In 1852, Boyle wrote the death certificate of John Payne Todd, the step-son of President James Madison:

Dr. Boyle also treated Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner after he was caned by South Carolina Senator Preston Brooks on the Senate floor in 1856.

Dr. Boyle sympathized with the Southern cause and was part of a network of other influential people in Washington who wished to give aid and comfort to the Confederacy. At he beginning of the Civil War, Boyle and his family left Washington and moved to Virginia. He was selected by Robert E. Lee to act as provost marshal at the critical rail junction at Gordonsville, which was linked to both Richmond and Washington. Intelligence gathered by spies in Washington would be sent to Gordonsville, and from there Boyle would ensure that it reached Richmond. 

Dr. Boyle led a fascinating life, which is referenced in this article which I think many of you will find interesting: Secret Societies of the South

My primary sources for this article were contemporaneous articles from the following newspapers:

-The Alexandria Gazette

-The Daily Press (Newport News)

-The Free Lance (Fredericksburg)

-The Culpeper Exponent

-The Culpeper News

-The Richmond Times Dispatch

-The Shenandoah Herald (Woodstock)

-The Native Virginian (Orange)

-The Daily Star (Fredericksburg)

I also used information from the website of the Orange Volunteer Fire Company



Sunday, June 13, 2021

Henry Robey and Hopewell Nurseries


 (Photograph of Henry R. Robey from Glen Holmes's compilation of "Robey Family History," Courtesy of R. Brooks Robey.)

     Henry Richard Robey was born in Fredericksburg on July 26, 1810 to Richard Robey and the former Ann Jones. Richard served in the American Revolution and participated in the siege of Yorktown in 1781.


 (Page 660 of "Virginia Silversmiths, Jewelers, Watch and Clock Makers,  1697-1860, " by Catherine B. Hollan. Hollan Press, 2010. Courtesy of R. Brooks Robey.)

     Henry was an energetic young man with good business sense, and by the age of 20 he was in the grocery business in Fredericksburg with jeweler James R. Johnson. This enterprise did not last long, as Mr. Johnson moved to Richmond to try his luck there. Next, Henry partnered with William C.C. Abbott. This effort was also short-lived, as Henry's real interest appeared to lie in the cultivation of trees. By 1835, Henry was already advertising trees for sale in two of Fredericksburg's newspapers, The Virginia Herald and The Political Arena

(Map detail of Spotsylvania County, 1863.)

     In May 1838, Henry bought from James Ross a 494-acre farm in Spotsylvania named "Hopewell." This place was located on the south side of what is now called Old Plank Road behind Zoan Baptist Church, In the years leading up to the Civil War, Henry added to Hopewell's size. The 1860 census showed his farm to then consist of 701 acres. The nurseries also included a few greenhouses, traces of which could still be seen in the 1930s.


(Image courtesy of John Ryland Orrock.)

     Henry married his first wife, Clarissa Taliaferro Brooke, on June 3, 1834. Over the next nine years they would have six children together, only two of whom survived infancy--Charles Henry and William Brooke. Clarissa herself died on January 28, 1843, two weeks after the birth of her last child.

     In November of the following year, Henry married Susan Frances Brownlow. They had two children together, Susan and Henry, Jr., both of whom lived to adulthood.

    Over the years, Henry propagated untold numbers of trees, and he shipped his products to customers across Virginia and to many states in the eastern United States. By the 1850s, Henry was widely considered to be one of Virginia's leading arborists. His name frequently appeared in trade journals and catalogs, a few examples of which are shown here:

(From Eric Mink's article: Landscaping the Rappahannock: Spotsylvania's Hopewell Nurseries)

(From The Southern Cultivator, 1854.)

(From Eric Mink's article: Landscaping the Rappahannock: Spotsylvania's Hopewell Nurseries)

(From The Cultivator, Vol. 1, No. 6, 1844. Courtesy of R. Brooks Robey.)

(From The Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste, January 1861. Courtesy of R. Brooks Robey.)

     Henry Robey's business was frequently featured in newspaper articles:

(The Fredericksburg News, 6 February 1852.)

(The Alexandria Gazette, 23 September 1850.)

 (Fredericksburg News, 14 May 1858.)

(Richmond Enquirer, 31 August 1860.)

     From the Rumsey Auctions website I learned that one of Henry's customers before the Civil War was William Massie (1795-1862) of Nelson County, Virginia. In 1815, Massie's father gave him a 1500-acre estate named "Pharsalia." This well-diversified farm included a number of money-making enterprises, including large and well tended orchards. Massie had plenty of help to see to all this work; the 1850 census shows that he owned 139 slaves.

(William Massie. From Find-a-Grave).

(Envelope from Hopewell Nurseries addressed to William Massie, Esqr., Massies Mills, Nelson County Va. Dated November 1861. Note the Confederate stamp. From Rumsey Auctions.)

     Henry's two oldest sons served in the Confederate army during the Civil War. William rode with the 9th Virginia Cavalry, Charles enlisted in the 55th Virginia Infantry. William survived the war without being wounded, captured or hospitalized. Charles was not so fortunate. He spent much of the war seriously ill, both at home and at Confederate hospitals. He suffered from a variety of chronic complaints, including hepatitis, neuralgia and diarrhea. On April 3, 1865 he was captured by Union forces while still a patient in one of the hospitals in Richmond. He was first taken to Libby Prison, and from there was transported to Newport News on April 23. There he remained a captive until he took the oath of allegiance to the United States on July 1, 1865. He then returned to Spotsylvania and continued working at Hopewell. 

     Henry had his own troubles during the Civil War. During the Battle of Chancellorsville, Hopewell was used as a campsite by Cobb's Legion and the 4th Virginia Cavalry. A field hospital was set up there. Ordnance wagons and troop baggage trains were parked there. "For want of axes" needed to chop firewood, Confederate soldiers instead helped themselves to Henry's fencing in order to build fires. Hundreds of horses grazed freely on his land, eating up half the grass he would have otherwise cut for hay that year. Henry submitted a claim for damages to the Confederate army, which was approved just days before the end of the war. 

     Henry's second wife Susan died on April 12, 1865. It is said she died upon hearing the news of the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox. Nine months later, Henry married his third wife, Ann Lucas. 

     During the 1870s, St. George's Episcopal Church in Fredericksburg underwent a tumultuous period during which two of its pastors resigned from the pulpit. Reverend Magruder Maury, who had been rector at St. George's since December 1864, resigned in 1871 in a dispute over his salary. His replacement, Reverend C. Murdaugh, also had his problems with the parish. He resigned in 1877 in order to form Trinity Episcopal Church in Fredericksburg. About a third of St. George's members followed him there. In 1871, Henry deeded an acre of his land in order build St. George's Chapel. I have not discovered whether there is any connection between St. George's problems in Fredericksburg and Henry's building the chapel, but the timing is interesting. The chapel once stood on what is now called Old Plank Road at the far east corner of Henry's property, probably near the intersection with Ziyad Drive. Services were regularly held there well into the twentieth century. The chapel ultimately fell into disuse and succumbed to decay.


     At some time, probably in the early 1870s, Henry Robey--who was active in local politics--ran for justice of the piece, as shown on the election broadside above (which I found among my great-grandfather's papers). I was not able to learn if Henry won.


(From The Daily Star, 13 January 1895.)

     Beginning in the early 1850s, construction began what would become the Potomac, Fredericksburg and Piedmont Railroad, a rail line that would connect Fredericksburg with the Town of Orange. Work stopped on the railroad during the Civil War, and resumed shortly thereafter. The railroad passed through Hopewell, and "Robey's" became one of the scheduled stops. The first train to rumble down the tracks left Fredericksburg on February 26, 1877.

(Fredericksburg News, 10 February 1876.)

     Henry Robey did not live to see that day. He died at his home on February 7, 1876. The funeral was held at the chapel near his house, and he was buried in the Fredericksburg Cemetery. His wife Ann followed him to the grave just nine months later.

     After the Civil War, Henry's youngest son, Henry, Jr., moved to Arkansas and lived there until his death in 1909. William Brooke Robey had seven children by two wives. His oldest daughter, Lula, taught in the public schools of Spotsylvania County. In 1898 she married Charles Andrew Orrock. Charles's father, James Orrock, was a Scottish immigrant who worked as a nurseryman for Henry Robey. One of Charles and Lula's daughters, Mollie, was one of my teachers at Chancellor Elementary School.

     Charles Henry Robey worked at Hopewell until his father's death in 1876. In the 1880s, Charles attended the Fredericksburg Normal Institute, and began teaching in the Spotsylvania County schools in the 1890s. Charles was also a journalist and wrote many articles for the local newspapers. His unmistakable literary style was fluent, vivid and highly entertaining. In 1896, he wrote an article describing the violent confrontation between Phenie Tapp's new husband and her long-time lover. If you have not read my article on Phenie before, I think you will find this interesting: The World According to Phenie Tapp. Charles died in the Confederate Home in Richmond in 1903.

My thanks to John Ryland Orrock for providing background information for this article. 

I will mention here again Eric Mink's article on Hopewell. This is well worth your time: Landscaping the Rappahannock: Spotsylvania's Hopewell Nurseries

For those of you who may be interested in the history of St. George's Episcopal Church here is the link to the article I consulted for this post: The Saints Split: Trinity Episcopal is created from St. George's , 1877

Friday, May 7, 2021

The McCrackens


     For a number of reasons, not the least of which were the oppressive policies of absentee British landlords, the potato became the main source of sustenance for the rural poor in Ireland by the 1800s. When Ireland's potato crop was blighted by the Phytophthoria infestans mold in 1845, the effect on the country's people was immediate and devastating. During the next ten years, more than one million Irish starved to death, and another two million left Ireland. The engraving of the effects of the famine in Skibbeeren shown above was made by Irish artist James Mahony in 1847.

     Among those who emigrated from Ireland during this period were the McCracken family, who found their way to Spotsylvania County by the 1850s. Thomas and Emma McCracken and their four sons--Patrick, Michael, Bernard ("Barney") and Terence prospered in their adopted country and contributed a great deal the civic and economic life of Spotsylvania and Fredericksburg. Their lives would be noted for both episodes of sublime grace and madness.

     Bernard McCracken, more commonly known as Barney, was born in Ireland in 1836. At the beginning of the Civil War, some say he briefly served the Confederacy in Captain Thornton's Company of Irish Volunteers, which became part of the 19th Battalion of Virginia Heavy Artillery. But by 1863 Barney was working in a liquor shop in Washington, D.C. when he registered for the draft, as seen in the image below. Whether he ever wore a Union uniform is not known, but is doubtful as his name appears in the 1864 edition of the city directory as a "saloon keeper."

     Soon after the Civil War, Barney married Mary F. Bowling and settled in Louisa County, where they had three children together. Barney became active in Republican Party politics and for a time served as tax assessor for Louisa and Orange counties. In 1869, he was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates. The one term he served in that august body was notable for the press coverage devoted to his escapades on the floor of the House. The two articles below--the first from The Daily Dispatch of April 13, 1870 and the second from The Daily State Journal dated March 16, 1871--are examples of a colorful personality, or one that is slightly unhinged:

     Thirty-five-year-old Bernard McCracken died in Fredericksburg on December 17, 1871. He is buried in the Confederate Cemetery there.

     In 1856, Barney's father Thomas bought a 325-acre farm in western Spotsylvania County near Parker's Store, and divided it between himself and his sons Patrick and Michael. Where his youngest son Terence was at that time is not known; he may have been attending school somewhere. In the 1863 map detail of western Spotsylvania, the McCrackens' farm can be seen in the lower left of the image as "McCrackings."

     Patrick McCracken was born in Ireland on December 4, 1826. He married Elizabeth Dickey of Orange County on March 2, 1857 and they made their home at Patrick's farm.They had one son, William, who died young.

     In April 1862, troops of the United States army crossed the Rappahannock River and occupied Fredericksburg, where they remained until August. Some time in July Patrick McCracken drove a wagon load of produce into Fredericksburg to sell. His presence aroused the suspicion of overly vigilant soldiers, who arrested him and sent him to Washington, D.C. where he languished in the Old Capitol Prison for nine weeks. Patrick finally was admitted to the office of General James S. Wadsworth, who was at the time military governor of the Washington district. Wadsworth quickly decided that there was no legal basis to detain him and freed Patrick after he pledged to not support the Confederacy.

     The lives of General Wadsworth and Patrick McCracken were fated to intersect one more time two years later, during the Battle of the Wilderness. On May 6, 1864 Wadsworth was leading his men in the chaotic fighting near the intersection of Brock and Plank roads when he was shot in the back of his head. While his wound was mortal, death was not instantaneous. He was taken to a Confederate field hospital set up on the Pulliam farm. Below is a photograph taken in 1866, showing the place were General Wadsworth was wounded:

     News of Wadsworth's wounding and his presence at the temporary hospital at the Pulliam farm reached Patrick McCracken. Patrick packed up some food and took a bucket of milk with to go to Wadsworth and do what he could for him. Once he got there, he learned from Dr. Zabdiel Adams, who was also a wounded prisoner who had tried to help Wadsworth, that the General was unconscious and unable to eat or drink. Patrick said that the doctor could have the milk and food instead. The next day, Patrick returned to the Pulliam farm with some sweet milk, which he used to moisten Wadsworth's lips. 

     Wadsworth died the following day. When Patrick showed up to care for Wadsworth, he learned that he had died and had been laid aside for burial. Patrick had the General's body transported to his farm, where he made a coffin out of some doors and boards that he painted black. Patrick dug a grave in his family's cemetery and placed Wadsworth in it and covered the coffin with a plank and then dirt. He then fashioned a grave marker and placed it at the head of the grave. 

     Several days later, Union General George Meade sent a letter to General Robert E. Lee, seeking to make arrangements to retrieve the body of General Wadsworth. On May 12, under a flag of truce, Union soldiers came  to the farm of William A. Stephens and learned from the Confederates where the General's body had been taken. An ambulance was dispatched to the McCracken farm, and the mortal remains of James S. Wadsworth began their long journey to his home town in New York.

     The day after Wadsworth died, Patrick wrote this letter to his widow, which was printed in the 1865 edition of the New York State Agricultural Society:

     Mrs. Wadsworth sent a sum of money to Patrick as a token of her appreciation for his kindness. According to McCracken family lore, Patrick and his brother Terence used that money to start their grocery business in Fredericksburg. 

     Within two months of the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox, Patrick opened a grocery store in Fredericksburg on what is now known as William Street. From the June 24, 1865 edition of The Fredericksburg Ledger:

     Not long after, Patrick's brother Terence joined him as a partner in the business. After Patrick's death, Terence would have at least one other partner, but he never changed the name of the business.

     By 1870, Patrick and Elizabeth were living in Fredericksburg. The 1870 census tells us that also living in the McCracken household was Patrick's clerk, 27-year-old George Edward Chancellor. The son of Reverend Melzi Sanford Chancellor, George was a veteran of the 9th Virginia Cavalry. Within a couple of years, George opened his own store at the corner of William and Charles streets (this building still exists and serves as home to Castiglia's Italian Restaurant). Shown below is an 1866 photograph of George Chancellor (seated, wearing striped pants) with his family.

     Elizabeth Dickey McCracken died on October 21, 1873. Patrick followed her to the grave on June 18, 1875. They are both buried in the Confederate Cemetery in Fredericksburg.

     Like his brother Patrick, Michael McCracken also began his adult life as a farmer and slave owner in Spotsylvania near his parents. Also like his older brother, Michael married a woman from Orange County, Martha Jane Almond. They exchanged vows in Orange on December 23, 1856. They had two sons--Melvin, born in 1861 and Thomas, born in 1864.

     Michael enlisted in Company E of the 9th Virginia Cavalry on April 5, 1862. By September he was detailed as an ambulance driver. He remained at this duty until he was dropped from the rolls on June 1, 1863, when he was awarded a mail contract. 

     Michael and his family remained on his farm until after the 1870 census. By 1873, the McCrackens had moved to Fredericksburg, where Michael started out as a saloon keeper. A few years later he and Martha built a hotel on Commerce (modern William) Street. There was also a McCracken Spoke Factory in Fredericksburg, but to which brother or brothers this enterprise belonged is not known. Michael became active in the civic affairs of Fredericksburg. He was a member of the fire department, an officer in the Building and Loan Association, a member of the Rappahannock Boat Club, and he served as town magistrate. 

     By the mid-1880s, the behavior of Michael's son Thomas was already making the news, but not in a positive way. From the December 11, 1885 edition of The Free Lance:

     Martha Almond McCracken died on August 17, 1887. She lies buried in the Confederate Cemetery in Fredericksburg. From The Free Lance:

     Four years later, the McCracken family's name would again appear in the newspapers in a highly unfortunate, indeed tragic, event. On February 20, 1891, Thomas McCracken murdered his father on William Street. The particulars were described in February 22 edition of The Richmond Dispatch:

     In the ensuing trial, Thomas was found not guilty by the jury by reason of insanity. He was committed to the Eastern State Hospital in Williamsburg. He was furloughed for a few days the following year to visit his family at Christmas. From The Free Lance dated December 30, 1892:

     Thomas was released from the asylum in 1902. The 1910 census shows that he was single and working as a house dealer in Bruton, Virginia. In 1920, Thomas McCracken, employed as secretary-treasurer of a syrup company, was living in Richmond with his wife and children. By 1930 he was living alone in Williamsburg and working as a house painter. After that, I find no mention of him in the public record.

     The youngest of the McCracken brothers, Terence, was born in Ireland on June 21, 1844. He married Margaret Scott on December 26, 1866. By 1876, Margaret and both of their children had died. The following June he married Frances Catherine Doherty at St. Peter's Catholic Cathedral in Richmond. They had two sons, both of whom survived to adulthood. 

     In addition to owning the grocery and dry goods store with his brother Patrick, Terence was a member of the Building Association, the fire department, the grain exchange and the Chamber of Commerce. Beginning in the 1880s he served on the board of directors of the Eastern State Hospital, where his nephew Thomas would be committed in 1891. 

     Terence spent the last weeks of his life as a patient at the Laurel Sanitarium in Laurel Maryland, which treated mental illness and alcoholism. He died there on June 21, 1918. He is buried in the Confederate Cemetery in Fredericksburg. From his memorial on Findagrave:

My source for the story of Patrick McCracken and James S. Wadsworth is The Ultimate Price at the Battle of the Wilderness