Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Life Gleanings:
Electronic Edition.
Macon, Thomas Joseph, 1839-1917

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First edition, 1996.

ca. 200K

Academic Affairs Library, UNC-CH
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,

This work is the property of the University of North Carolina
at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.

Call number E605 .M33 1913

Life Gleanings
Compiled by T.J. Macon

Richmond, Virginia
W.H. Adams, Publisher

The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-CH
digitization project, Documenting the American South, or the Southern Experience in
19th-century America.

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Library of Congress Subject Headings,
21st edition, 1998

Macon, Thomas Joseph, 1839-1917.
Virginia -- Social life and customs.
Richmond (Va.) -- Social life and customs.
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal
narratives, Confederate.
Virginia -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal
Richmond (Va.) -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal


Natalia Smith,
project editor,

finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.


Claire LaForce

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Richmond, VA.


My Life's Gleanings is not intended to be a technical
history cronologically arranged, but a reproduction of events
that my memory recalls. By retrospecting to occurances
that happened during my journey of life. To those who were
contemporaneous with the gleanings alluded to they will
recognize them. To the younger reader he will glean what
happened in the past. The incident and anecdote is founded
on facts. I launch the book on the highway of public
approval, hoping the reader will not be disappointed.




The author of these pages first saw the light of day at
the family home of his father, Mr. Miles Cary Macon,
called “Fairfield,” situated on the banks of that historic
river, the “Chicahominy,” in the good old County of Hanover,
in Virginia. My grandfather, Colonel William Hartwell
Macon, started each of his sons on the voyage of
life with a farm, and the above was allotted to my respected
parent. Belonging to the place, about one or two miles
from the dwelling, was a grist mill known as “Mekenses,”
and how the name of “Macon” could have been corrupted
to “Mekenses,” is truly unaccountable, yet such as the
case. The City of Richmond was distant about eight miles
to the South. This old homestead passed out of the Macon
family possession about seventy years ago, and a Mr. Overton
succeeded my father in the ownership of “Fairfield”
and the mill. Later a Doctor Gaines purchased it. My
highly respected parents were the fortunate possessors of
a large and flourishing family of ten children, all of whom
were born at “Fairfield.”
The Macon manor house was situated just on the edge
of the famous trucking section of Hanover County, which
agricultural characteristic gave its soil an extensive reputation
for the production of the celebrated and highly-
prized melons and sweet potatoes of Hanover, known to
Eastern Virginia for their toothsomness and great size.
This fine old plantation was surrounded by country estates
belonging to Virginia families, who were very sociable,
cultured and agreeable people. My father and mother
were thoroughly imbued with the spirit of that old-time
genial country hospitality, which was never found anywhere
in this country more cordial, nor probably even
equal, to it. It afforded them infinite pleasure to visit and
to receive the calls of their neighbors. It was then the
invariable custom, when guests were entertained, for the
host to set out refreshments, always the best the larder
afforded, and to insist upon a liberal partaking of it, for
a refusal of the good cheer was indeed a rare thing, and
it was not considered polite to decline joining in wishing
good health and prosperity to your friends and neighbors,
always of course in moderate bumpers, not in excess,
and then the viands bountifully spread out were truly
tempting, real old Virginia style of cooking, such as beaten
biscuits that would almost melt in one's mouth, and other
dishes almost too numerous to mention, and then such a
hearty welcome accompanied the feast and “flow of soul,”
and when the parting came there was always an appealing
invitation for a “speedy coming again” - a wish for another
Now there was no sham-pretence in these old Virginia
manners, but genuine heartfelt hospitality, which sprang
from kind hearts. A striking habit or custom at that
happy period in the “Old Dominion” life in the country
was the intrusting of the white children of the family to
the care of a good old colored nurse, or “Mammy,” as
they were affectionately called by them; their mothers
turned the children over to their watchful supervision
and they were truly faithful and proud of their control
of the little young masters and mistresses, thus relieving
their “old mistress” of all care in rearing them.
Well do I remember my “old Mammy,” whose kindness
and affectionate treatment, not only won my heart, but my
prompt obedience to her commands and my cheerful recognition
of the authority delegated her by my fond mother.
I was the youngest of the family, and as time was welding
each link in the chain of my life, it was passing like, as
in all families at that period, situated as my parents were,
smoothly and unruffled by excitement or troubles abroad.
My mother owned a number of slaves, or servants, as Virginians
generally termed them, whom she treated with
kindness, and when sick she nursed them with the skill
and tender consideration accorded members of her own
family, and in return they looked up to, and respected,
her; indeed revered “Old Missus,” as they often called her.

At the time I am writing about, the life of the Virginia
farmer was one to be much desired, for he was a baron
in his realm, was lord of all he surveyed, and yielded no
obeisance to any one, but to his Maker and his country.
The dark shadows of coming dire events had not then cast
their war-like omens ahead. The question of the Missouri
Compromise, the admission of Kansas into the sisterhood of
the States under the Lecompton Convention, the decision
in the Dred Scott case, the political issues and measures
which were the precursors of the great war between the
States had not yet reached Congress. Everything that
could render life pleasant was vouchsafed the country
gentleman and planter, and his family about three-quarters
of a century ago.

What was to happen in the near future no one at this
early period could Cassandra-like predict, and yet there
was in the political horizon a small pillar of portentous
appearance, which was destined to cover the whole heavens
with gloom and bring death to thousands of peaceful citizens
in this country, through the clash of arms and fratricidal
strife in which brothers were arrayed against brothers,
and fathers against sons.
My father was an old line Whig and believed in the
theory of government advocated by Alexander Hamilton,
yet he recognized the autonomy of the States and approved
some of the tenets of Mr. Thomas Jefferson, but did not
agree with him generally, being in favor of a strong central
government at Washington, though disagreeing with
the extremists of both sections.
Being a close student of the political history of our country
he subscribed to, and carefully read every page of, the
National Intelligencer, owned and published by the Seaton
brothers, which was the best exponent of the legislation
of the time that has ever been issued; the editorials were
clear and forcible and the reports of the debates in Congress
were correct and complete. The political disputes
on the Door of Congress began to be warm, and indeed acrimonious
between the Northern and Southern members,
which brought out the great efforts for peace of Henry
Clay, of Kentucky, and prevented at that time a clash of
arms between the sections. The admission of Kansas into
the Union under the Lecompton Convention was but a link
in the chain of events leading to the great Civil War.
Well do I recall my respected parent's remark that the
trend of the speeches by the Free-Soil, or Abolition, party
in the North and those of the Seccessionists of the South,
would certainly bring about a disruption of the United
States if persisted in; and alas! his children lived to see
his remark verified in the year 1861.
Our family moved from old Fairfield to Magnolia farm,
only about two miles north of Richmond, which place
was then owned by the Nortons, and it was a quiet, pleasant
home “far away from the madding crowd” in a sociable
and agreeable neighborhood; it is at the present
time owned by the “Hartshorne” Colored Female Institute
and now is included within the corporate limits of
the city of Richmond, Va. How rapidly the wheel of time
brings changes in our surroundings. My father's children
are advancing in years, the older ones are sent off to
boarding schools, my oldest brother had just returned from
Philadelphia, where he had attended the Jefferson Medical
College as an office student of Dr. Thomas C. Mutter,
the president of the college, who was first cousin of my
mother - her maiden name was Frances Mutter.
From Magnolia we moved to “Rose Cottage,” owned
by a Mr. Richardson, the object in this move being to be
near “Washington and Henry” Academy, a boarding and
day school carried on by a Mr. and Mrs. Dunton; she was in
charge of the small boys and the girls, while her husband
taught the large boys. I was in Mrs. Dunton's department,
being but a small chap, and as to whether I learned anything
at this time it is a matter of considerable doubt. My
mother furnished six pupils to this institution. The principals
would come over to “Rose Cottage” two or three
times per month, bringing their boarders with them, which
visits they appeared to enjoy greatly as a good supper,
with a large and shady yard to play in, was certainly well
calculated to afford mirth and pleasure to both old and
young. A Mr. Osborne, a Presbyterian minister, boarded
at the academy, being a unique character and one of the
best men to be found anywhere; he formed the plan of
teaching the scholars, young and old, the catechism of the
Presbyterian Church, and all those who committed it to
memory received a nice book as a prize. The climax of the
scheme was an offer of a grand prize to any scholar that
would repeat the whole of it without a hitch or halt. The
children were thoroughly inoculated with Presbyterianism.
The final trial of reciting, or memorizing, the catechism
came off at the residence of Mr. Thomas Gardner. The
contest was one long to be remembered, a Miss Fannie Shelton
scoring the first honor, and Miss Newell Gardner the
second. The supper provided for this happy occasion was
a first class one in every respect. The best that a well-
stocked farm house could produce, both in substantiate and
nicknacks, such for instance, as broiled chicken, roast
lamb and barbecued pig, with dessert of ice cream, yellow
cake and pies in abundance; it was in short one of the finest
“lay-outs” that I ever saw, and being an appreciative
youngster I did ample justice to it indeed, and fairly revelled
in the many good eatables so generously spread before
us, and to this day I remember it with pleasure. “Rose
Cottage” was truly a delightful home. The never-failing
wheel of time was turning fast, and the water of life that
once passed over it will never again turn it. We were all
growing fast as we advanced in years. At this time my
father bought a place on Nine Mile Road, about two and a
half miles from the city, it was named “Auburn,” and to
it we moved bag and baggage.
Just as with “Fairfield” and Magnolia,” we found hospitable
neighbors, and genial intercourse was conspicuous.
Among them were Colonel Sherwin McRae and family, a
Mrs. Gibson, Mr. Tinsley Johnson, Mr. Galt Johnson, and
many other well known families, nearly all of whom have
now moved away or have passed to the other side of the
river. Mr. William Galt Johnson lived about a quarter of
a mile from us, and there was a considerable intercourse
between the two families. “Galt,” as he was called, was
a character of renown and possessed of much personality;
one of his traits was never to give a word its correct pronunciation
and yet he thought he was right always. I was
visiting there one evening, and as supper was placed on
the table the bell rang; Galt arose from his seat and in a
clear voice said “the bell has pronounced supper ready,
let's go.” His wife, who was a cultivated lady, attempted
to correct him by saying “announce, William,” but she
could never get him to change his mode of speech. Another
of his peculiarities was his lack of fondness of church-going.
Mrs. Johnson, his wife, was a regular attendant to the
church and naturally desired her husband to accompany
her, a most reasonable wish, but Galt made several excuses
for not complying, and finally he urged as a last resort
that he could not sit in a pew unless he could whittle a
stick, and could not collect his thoughts sufficiently to listen
to the sermon; so she told him that should not be a
good excuse, and that he could take a stick along and
trim it as much as he chose, and he consented to go with
her, but did not receive much benefit from the sermon.
My mother determined to send me to live with my eldest
brother, Doctor William H. Macon, who had recently
married Miss Nora C. Braxton, the daughter of Mr. Carter
Braxton, of “Ingleside,” Hanover County, the owner of
the celebrated plantation “New Castle,” situated on the
Pamunkey River. The name of my brother's home was
“Woodland,” about three miles below the well-known
tavern at Old Church. The reason of my being sent to live
with him was to be convenient to enter the school kept
by a Count Larry, one of the best teachers of his day and
time. The school house was distant about three miles from
my brother's place, and not too far away for a little boy
to walk at that time. I was duly enrolled as a day scholar
in Count Larry's establishment, which consisted of an unpretentious
structure, about thirty feet square, with two doors,
one for entry and the other for exit, and was lighted
by two windows with which to admit the sunshine and
fresh air in the summer time, and to shut out the “cold
chilly winds of December.” The school was composed of
both boys and girls, and the Count sat in a large wooden
chair, with a table at his side similar to those now seen
in a modern dairy lunch room in the cities. On the table
was placed all his text books and such other teacher's
implements, or fixings, and then to descend as it were from
the “sublime to the ridiculous,” he installed, within easy
reach, a large earthen “spittoon,” or more modernly
speaking, “cuspidor.” The master, enthroned as like a
ruler, or king, surveyed his pupils with great dignity and
gravity. And although very kind and lenient in his dealings
with his young charges, yet when occasion required
it he could wield the birch with great effect, but always
with prudence and moderation. He always kept a sharp
pen-knife ready for use in making or mending quill pens,
for steel pens were not then in use for the children; the
goose quills were the only kind of pens we knew about,
and it was no small job to keep a lot of chaps well supplied
with writing materials, for he was constantly called upon.
We were given an hour at playtime, and about a mile
and half away was a mill pond, which is probably there
now unless dried up, and to this, in the warm weather, the
boys, both large and small, repaired in great glee, but the
girls did not accompany us.

Well school boys are proverbially as prone to mischief as
are the sparks to fly upwards, and when the Count would
be absorbed in study the boys would throw torpedoes
upon the floor which would quickly arouse him from his
studies, but was soon made to believe that it was but an
accidental match dropped and trodden upon, though in
truth it was pure deviltry on the part of some of the larger
boys. An incident fraught with much concern to me in
connection with a boy by the name of Benjamin Tucker,
who was about my age, but much stouter and had by some
means gotten me under a sort of “hack,” and it becoming
very annoying I finally concluded that the thing had gone
far enough, so one day I lost patience with Benjamin and
I just “pitched into” him and gave him a gentle thrashing;
he had on a bran-new nine-pence straw hat which I got
hold of and tore to smithereens. Well, after this “scrap”
I had no further trouble with Master Benjamin Tucker.
Another rather humorous matter which happened about
this time at school was about a boy who was called “Phil.”
He was the pet and idol of his mother, who took a pair of
his father's old pants and made him a pair from them, but
the trouble was that the cloth was not sufficient for the
garment, and resulted in their being too small and too
tight in the body when his burley form was encased therein,
and became as solid as a drumhead, and we had a popular
game called hard ball and the mischievous fellows selected
him as a special target, and when the ball struck him
plumb it rebounded as if it was rubber, but at last he got
tired of being made a butt of ridicule and a target in the
game, so he complained to his mother and she reported the
matter to our teacher, requesting that gentleman that the
boys should be made to stop the treatment to her son;
the Count, after giving it careful consideration, told his
mother that the only remedy that he could suggest was to
get her boy a new and a more roomy pair of trousers, and
cast the old ones which had caused his annoyance aside.
Our old teacher was a good and faithful one, and if his
pupils did not profit by his knowledge and training, it
surely was not his fault. He possessed of course some objectionable
habits, such as when school closed he would
get on a “spree” and remain on it until school was assembled
for work, when all traces of his riotous living had disappeared.

My brother, Miles Macon, afterwards commander of the
Fayette Artillery, Confederate States Army, joined me at
“Woodland” and became a scholar in our school; he was
my senior by two years. Our country life there was very
pleasant, for on Saturdays we would hunt birds all day, as
my brother owned a fine pointer dag named “Roscoe,”
and we were hunting on “Spring Garden,” owned by Judge
Meredith, it being about seven miles from our place,
when the old dog broke down from the infirmities of age
and Miles and I carried him home on our shoulders, it being
his last appearance in the fields that he had so successfully
hunted, for he died soon afterwards.
About this period politics were coming strongly to the
front, and I remember when Mr. Chastaine White was
nominated by the Democrats for the General Assembly,
and William C. Wickham was put up by the Whig party
for the same office. My brother, Dr. Macon, was a Whig,
and a friend and supporter of Wickham. The Democrat
was of course elected, as at that time a Whig stood no show,
however superior his qualification for the position might
be. Another feature of the times was the muster of the
county militia, when the colonel commandant, arrayed in
a uniform as gorgeous as that of a field marshall of
France, put his men through a few drill evolutions and then
disbanded them, after which all hands went willingly up and
took a drink, and it was a field day, for Mr. Ellett who
then kept “Old Church” Tavern and profited greatly by
the crowd's liberal spending of money.
There were two churches near “Woodland,” the Presbyterian
was called “Bethlehem,” a name connected with
many good associations; the other was an Episcopal one,
and named “Emmanuel,” which name suggests many
Christian ideas. As a boy I attended both these churches,
and noticed one thing particularly that was that the male
attendants, both communicants and non-communicants,
gathered on the outside and discussed farming and
neighboring topics and conditions generally. I also observed
that those living a long distance from the church always
dined with some friend near the church, this being, I
thought, simply a species of “whacking” which was quite
admissable under the circumstances.
The planters, who owned and cultivated large estates on
the river, built summer residences on the higher lands
of the same, in order to escape the malaria and chills, produced
by the miasma arising from the marshes exposed to
the sun and night air at low tide during the heated term,
which the first killing frost in the fall would dispel and render
the river residents healthy and comfortable when they
would all return to their estates. I have never in my travels
seen a more productive country in the State than the
famous low grounds bordering the Pamunkey river, beginning
about Hanover Town and continuing down that
streaks to the celebrated “White House” plantation in New
Kent County, which estate originally belonged to General
Custis, who was the first husband of Martha Washington
(nee Dandridge).
Dr. William Macon, my brother, about this time came
into possession of the Mount Prospect plantation in New
Kent County, on the Pamunkey River, left to him by our
grandfather, Colonel William Hartwell Macon, it being
then one of the finest farms on the river; it adjoined the
famous White House aforementioned, which latter plantation
was inherited and occupied later by General William
H. Fitzhugh flee, son of the famous General Robert E. Lee,
of Confederate fame.
The York- River railroad passed through a portion of the
“Mt. Prospect farm.” A noted feature of the place was
its very large and beautiful garden, almost every flower
and plant known to Eastern Virginia florists was to be
found there, and considerable expense had been made to
render it a veritable Garden of Eden; and then, alas! when
the great strife began between the North and the South,
and our beloved old State became the battleground of the
contending hosts of soldiers of both sides, and the Federal
army, under General McClellan, advanced up the peninsula
from Fort Monroe the farm became the camping
ground, and his cavalry was picketted in that lovely spot,
amid the almost priceless roses and violets, and needless
to add that when those horsemen left it was a pitiable scene
of “horrid war's desolating effects, as hardly a trace of
its former beauty and vision of refinement remained.
A gentleman, Colonel Grandison Crump, taught school
near the place, and I was made a scholar of his; it was
quite like that of Count Larry's, except that the Colonel
had no girls in his school. He sat is the same kind of armchair,
and made and trimmed quill pens in the very same
way. He was a most excellent teacher and I fairly buckled down
to hard study, and as a consequence learned more
then ever before, or indeed afterwards, at school. Our
teacher was not a young man, as he was near sixty years
of age, and was deeply enamored with a certain beautiful
girl living in Charles City County adjoining; a Miss Maria
Jerdone was the fortunate one, a most attractive girl, and
quite young enough to be his daughter, but which did not
prevent the old Colonel from loving her with all the ardor
of youth. He was then living in the family of Mr. Braxton
Garlick at “Waterloo” plantation, on the Pamunkey,
which gentleman was one of the most hospitable men that
ever lived, and who joked with the Colonel about his attentions
to the young lady, but which did not dampen his
ardor towards her, though he did not gain his suit, as she
afterwards married a Mr. Pettus, an A. M. of the University
of Virginia, who taught, and was the principal of a
female academy in Tennessee; they made a very handsome
bridal couple, but she did not long survive the wedding,
and Mr. Pettus married, as his second wife, a Miss Turner,
and removed to Richmond, Va., where he had the misfortune
to lose his second wife by death.
About this date I, who had grown to be a good-sized boy,
remember well going down to New Kent Courthouse to see
the cavalry troop with their new and very shody uniforms
of light blue cloth with silver trimmings and metal helmet,
with white plumes. This old company, one of the oldest
in the State, was then officered as follows: Captain. Braxton
Garlick; first lieutenant, George T. Brumley, with
Southey Savage as orderly sergeant. On this occasion, after
the commanding Deer had put the troopers through a
few drilling paces, all of them, officers and private soldiers,
with one accord repaired to the tavern bar room and there
regaled themselves with several fine juleps each; this treat
had been set up by Captain Garlick, and he expected each
man to do his duty in this valiant attack upon the enemy's fort,
and truly was he not disappointed therein, although
it was one of the hottest days I ever felt in the month of
Not far from my brother's residence, where I was then living,
lived a man named Tip Rabineau, a unique character,
his ways and dress were both similar to that of the
person described as Dominie Sampson in Sir Walter Scott's
novel “Guy Mannering.” Tip was about six feet and two
inches in height; he wore his pants too short and
coat sleeves not long enough to cover his big wrists,
and yet he had an accomplishment which gave him
much distinction in the neighborhood as being one
of the most successful hunters to be found anywhere
around, ranking as one of the best shots in Hanover County.
He used always a single- barreled shot-gun that measured
about six feet in length and carried powder in a small
round gourd, and the shot in a canvass shot-bag; for loading
this muzzle-loader he used newspaper for wadding;
the bore of this weapon was but little larger than a ladies'
thimble, but with this primitive outfit he brought down a
bird every time he fired at one. What finally became of
Rabineau I know not since I lost sight of him.
Colonel Frank G. Ruffin, just before the beginning of the
war, at my brother's invitation, came down to Mount Prospect,
our home then, for the puprose of lecturing on agriculture
to the farmers at New Kent Courthouse, on a court
day, where a large crowd had assembled to hear him, and
although whether theoretical or scientific farming had then
attained the high degree it now enjoys is a matter of much
doubt, yet he imparted to his listeners in a very pleasing
and instructive manner, many valuable ideas on the subject
of the new way of tilling “old mother earth”; how
poor, thin soil could be made to yield as much as the richest
Pamunkey low grounds under his advanced system of cultivation.
Of course there were some present who believed
the Colonel, and others who did not fully accept his theories,
for as a matter of fact, he was considered one of the
least practical of the prominent farmers in the State, but
one of the best theoretical ones. We passed a very pleasant
day at the courthouse and I enjoyed, on our return
home, as a boy, great pleasure and instruction from his
most interesting and amusing conversation. Ah, indeed!
was those the flush times in the old Commonwealth, the like
of which will never again be known.
At about the period I am writing the York River railroad
was being built from Richmond in an easterly direction
about forty miles to West Point, in King William
County, at the head of York River, and the junction of two
rivers, the Pamunkey and the Mattaponi. The young men,
the civil engineers employed about the surveying and construction
of this work frequently visited “Mount Prospect,”
it being convenient to the camp, and we all enjoyed
their society very much indeed, they being polished gentlemen,
whose presence was an agreeable addition to any
company; among them I can recall the names of Major
E. T. D. Myers, General J. M. St. John, Colonel Jno. G.
Clarke, Colonel Henry T. Douglass and others whose names
I fail to remember now, but all were then young, intelligent
men, each of whom afterwards attained important military
positions in the Confederate service during the war which
soon followed their railroad building on the peninsula.
Colonel Clarke, above mentioned, subsequently married my
sister, Lucy Selden.

The majority of them have now passed from this life
on earth to join those on the “other side of the river,”
though their names and deeds are revered by their survivors.
No State, nor country ever produced a braver or
more accomplished group of heroes than they were.
Well, after attending Colonel Crumps' school for three
years, when he closed for the summer vacation I bid
farewell to his excellent tutorship. There were many quite
pleasant associations connected with my school days there;
I was considered one of his best boys; I packed up my few
belongings there and returned to Auburn, my mother's
home. My respected father died in the year 1852, and my
mother then carried on the farming operations under the
supervision of our servant Israel as her head man and overseer,
who was one of the most efficient and faithful negroes
I ever knew, performing his duties fully and satisfactorily
to his mistress as manager of the hands.
Two of my sisters were then married, Sister Anne to Mr.
Peyton Johnston, the senior member of the drug house of
P. Johnston & Brothers, of Richmond; my other sister,
Betty, married the Rev. Dr. Alexander Martin, of the Presbyterian
Church in Danville, Va. Probably no minister in
that denomination had a higher reputation for pulpit oratory;
he preached with force and effect, and set an example
of a pure, unselfish, Christian life.
After consulting the wishes of her single daughters my
good mother decided to move to Richmond. She therefore
rented a nice roomy house in a pleasant street in the city,
and then a new leaf in the book of life was turned for me,
as I of course continued to live with the family, but an era,
or epoch in my journey of life now confronted me, as I
was about to start to work to earn my own bread and meat. I
therefore duly made application to the firm of Parker,
Nimms & Co. for a clerkship in their establishment, and the
senior partner told me to call in a few days for an answer,
which I accordingly did in due time and received a favorable
one, and in a few days I began my life's work. I remained
with that firm six years and only left in 1861 to
join, or rather to go with the First Company Richmond
Howitzers into the great war between the States, being a
member before the same strife began, having joined in the
year 1859 when the company was organized. The house of
Parker, Nimms & Co. was one of the largest wholesale dry-goods
houses in Virginia at that time. When a young man
commenced his apprenticeship in a dry goods store, it took
some time to become acquainted with the routine of the
business; it was about twelve months before I was allowed
to carry a customer through it. It was not then as now
when there is a salesman in separate departments and buyers
are taken to another counter and clerks; but then in
my day when a salesman started with a customer or purchaser
he carried him or her through every department
until the memorandum of the buyer was complete. It was
then considered quite undignified for houses of established
reputation and standing to advertise their wares in the
newspapers; how different it is now, when most of the
articles are sold through the aid of printer's ink; then they
were sold upon their merits and intrinsic values, and also
by means of an agreeable mode of showing them off. The
house had a large patronage in the city as well as from all
parts of the State. By degrees I advanced and became
familiar with the whole business, and my sales were footing
up well, which gave satisfaction to my employers, and
consequently my salary was advanced, that being a very
important point to me.
The following incident occurred to a Colonel Jos. Weisiger,
who was a fellow clerk in the house of Parker, Nimms
& Co., he was a very genial man, and had been the husband
of the daughter of a wealthy planter, Colonel Bolling,
who had settled on his daughter a handsome endowment
at the time of her marriage, devising all the property at
her death to the children by the marriage; so that when
she died a few years later not a single dollar fell to the
husband and he was then thrown out upon hits own resources
for his living. Under such circumstances, he applied to
the firm of Parker, Nimms & Co. for a position as
salesman and he was given one. He was at the time waiting
on a widow, Mrs. S_________ whose deceased husband had
left her a fine estate, on the condition of her not again taking
unto herself a help-mate, in which latter cases all of the
property should go to her children by her former husband.
She hesitated some time before again marrying the Colonel,
the meanwhile became very attentive to her, visiting her
frequently, and as she was very found of peanuts he bought
a nice lot of roasted ones, tied them up nicely in a box, and
placed them, as he thought, in a perfectly safe spot; when
another clerk and I slyly opened the package, took out the
“goobers,” and replaced them with paper and saw-dust.
Well, the fond lover, the Colonel, called on her and gaily
presented the box, and her disappointment and his great
mortification may be imagined when its contents were exposed
to view.
There was another incident which happened during one
of the hottest summers in Richmond, when the mercury
ranged from ninety-five to ninety-eight degrees in the
shade; the clerks in the store took it by turns in the afternoon
to go down into the basement, where it was cool and
dark, and stretch themselves out on a pile of goods for a
quiet nap, as there was nothing much doing up stairs. So
one afternoon I went down there for my turn to sleep and
fixed myself very comfortably; was soon sleeping as sweetly
as an infant, when down came Weisiger, on mischief
bent, took away my gaiters that I had removed from my
feet and filled them up with paper, stuffed and rammed in
hard, after which he placed them some distance from where
I was, and then sprinkled water in the space between; he
then went to the top of the stairs and called loudly for me,
which of course awakened me, and I hurriedly reached for
my shoes, but they were gone, and in order to reach them
I had to walk on a wet floor in my sock feet, and hunt for
them, but I finally found them and got things straight,
to find out, when I went up stairs, that the thing was but
a good joke on me. I told him that I certainly would get
even with him yet on that; so some two or three evenings
later he went down stairs for the same purpose and he was
sleeping soundly when I got some paper, the kind that
comes on blocks of ribbons, and made a funnel; I then took
some lamp-black and placed in the top of it, going down I
gave the funnel a whiff and the whole contents wells on his
face, and the more he rubbed it the worse it became, so he
came up stairs one of the most furious creature that ever
I saw. A fellow-clerk, a Mr. Cagbill, furnished him with
soap and turpentine, and assisted him in applying it so
that his face was once more restored to its normal state,
and finally pacified him by saying, well you played a good
practical joke on Macon, who took it in a good spirit, and
now one who cannot take a joke, should not play one on
others. The Colonel was an old time Virginia gentleman
and we afterwards became the best of friends, and often
laughed at our tricks of other days.
The dry goods house of Binford, Mayo & Blair was one
of the largest and best in Richmond. Mr. Binford was the
managing head of the firm, and they had a customer from
the southside, who was a large tobacco planter, and came
to the city twice a year, bringing with him a memorandum
for dry goods to be purchased nearly a yard long, and the
first thing he would do on reaching town was to visit the
store and hand in his list of supplies - his memorandum -
asking that it be filled in the best manner, and with reasonable
prices, and when he collected from his commission
merchant he would call and pay his bill before leaving for
his home, which he never failed to do, and being a regular
customer the thing went on year after year to the satisfaction
of both parties. At last the planter died and his wife
took his place and attended to his affairs in the city; she
accordingly visited the store. Mr. Binford met her and
tendered his sympathy in her misfortune and after a few
minutes of conversation she drew out her long list and
asked to be shown several articles and their prices, after
examining them she remarked to Mr. Binford, I wish to
look around some before purchasing and will return
and go through with my bill. She called upon and went carefully
over the stock of every house in that line in Richmond
in order to see if he had been overcharging her husband.
She returned to the store in the evening. Mr. Binford
having preceded her but a few moments and was remarking
to a clerk that he wished the old lady had died instead
of her husband, who always came to town, gave me
his memorandum to fill and everything worked smoothly,
and now she comes in and runs around to every store in
the city, almost; she heard every word he said, but instead
of taking offense, she “pitched in,” and went through her
bill without a hitch. There was another incident in the
Binford, Mayo & Blair house; it appears that one of the
salesmen by the name of William Perkins, who was a bright
fellow, and a good clerk, had one especial accomplishment,
that of being one of the best draw-poker players in the
city, indulging in that game frequently. One morning the
senior member of the firm called Perkins to go down stairs
as he wished to have a little private talk with him. Mr.
Perkins, said he, I am informed that you play cards a great
deal. Perkins replied, sir, do I perform my duty satisfactorily
to your house? Is there anything in my conduct
here displeasing to you? If so, please let me know now.
Mr. Binford said, sir, you are an efficient salesman, and we
are well pleased with you. Mr. Perkins then said, well
Mr. Binford, I do not understand why you should bring
me down here to lecture me, to which he gravely replied,
Perkins have you any real good pointers in draw-poker?
Perkins told him that he thought he had, when Mr. Binford
said, then press them, which remark ended the conference
in peace and harmony.
Richmond about this time had some prominent hotels
and restaurants, among the latter were “Zetelle's,” Tom
Griffin's, Charles Thompson's, and several others. There
were no dairy lunches, nor snack-houses in town. Cold
storage had not then come to the front. When a gentleman
entered a restaurant and ordered a piece of roast
beef, or a steak, he got home-killed beef, fat, tender and
rich in flavor, and when he called for oysters they were
set before him cooked with pure country butter, or genuine
fresh hog's lard, and not cotton-seed oil. Coffee was
then made of Java mixed with a little Rio, and not colored
water, as is found at some of the eating houses of the day.
To be sure one had to pay a little more for such a repast,
yet he generally received full value for his money.
Age and experience have improved many thinks in the
city. yet I do not believe that the restaurants of the present
time are as good as they were then. Among the hotels,
the Columbian, owned and conducted by Mr. Spottswood
Crenshaw, who was succeeded by Mr. Sublett, was situated
at the corner of Cary Street and Shockoe Slip, and was
the most popular hostelry for tobacco planters. It was
very well kept, the table was supplied with the very best
the market afforded; a marked feature of its dinners was that
pitchers of toddy were freely distributed to refresh
the thirsty guests. There was also the “American,” which
occupied the site of the Lexington - of the year 1912 - at
the corner of Main and Twelfth Streets. The Exchange
and Ballard on East Franklin and Fourteenth Streets, was
regarded as the leading hotel, and it was one of the finest
houses of its time; it was kept first by Colonel Boykin and
afterwards by John P. Ballard and brothers, and last by
Colonel Carrington. In those days there were no transfer
companies, and each ran its own omnibus to bring to and
fro the guests from the railway stations and steamboats.
I well remember one of Sir. Ballard's teams, consisting of
four fine iron-grey horses which he drove to one of his
turnouts, and they were beauties, being driven by a negrowhip,
who knew how to handle them to advantage.
At this period of time I was living in the country, and
came to the city to attend the ceremony of laying the corner-
stone of the Washington Monument in the Capitol
Square. It was during the administration of Governor
Jno. B. Floyd, and it was one of the worst days I ever experienced,
being cold, rainy, and snowing, all the military
of the city, besides the cadets from the Virginia Military
Institute, of Lexington, were in the parade. It took several
years to build the foundation for the monument, and
then some time elapsed before the equestrian statue of
Washington, which was designed by Crawford, arrived by
steamer from New York, when it was hauled from Rockets
wharf on a flat with a long rope attached to it and drawn
to its destination in the Capitol Square by citizens and
placed it on its pedestal. When it was soon afterwards
unveiled it was a “red-letter day” in Richmond and in
the history of the State. This splendid triumph in sculpture
dedicated to the renowned “Father of his country”
stands this day where it was erected more than a half-century
ago, and is considered by good judges to be the
finest equestrian statue in the United States; it is surrounded
by heroic size figures in bronze of several eminent
The retail grocery stores were a prominent element of
the city of Richmond's business, being an important part
of its commercial greatness. Among them there were the
firms of Walter D. Blair & Co., the senior member a genial
gentleman whose elegant manners not only retained all of
his old customers, but drew many new ones to his attractive
store; William M. Harrison, Joseph Weed & Son and
George Dandridge. These all kept liquors, as well as groceries.
Mr. Dandridge had a clerk who was a good salesman
and advanced the interests of his employer in every
way he could, and yet he had one failing, being an honest
frequent drinker, so one day his employer called him back
to the rear of the store and said, now sir, you are a good
salesman, and also a good man, and I have but one fault
to find with you, namely, you take a drink with every customer
that comes in here; yes, he answered I do, and if
they don't come in fast enough I drink by myself, just to
keep my hand in, and to encourage trade. Mr. Dandridge
retained him in his employ and he finally became a member
of the firm. The retail dry goods houses were distinguished
for their efficiency and size; there were on Main
Street five or six and about the same number on Broad
Street. I recall particularly the prominent one of Mann
S. Valentine, who was one of the most successful merchants
of Richmond. His son, Mann S. Valentine, Jr., was the
discoverer of the formula for extracting and manufacturing
for commerce the fluid extract of beef, known as “Valentine's
Meat Juice,” which at his death fell to his sons,
who organized the Valentine Meat Juice Company, which
has proved a boon to humanity, particularly to invalids.
The enterprising firm conducts a very large export, as well
as a domestic trade, and is composed of intelligent and progressive business men. Mr. M. S. Valentine, Jr., the founded
of the present house, at his death, through his munificence,
established and endowed the well known Valentine
Museum, which is a lasting monument to his memory.
It is kept in the best manner by his sons, who feel a great
pride in it. Within its spacious rooms are to be found
many of the finest relics of the arts of antiquity, and also
specimens of Virginian and Southern fossils and curiosities,
which have been collected and placed here at great
expense and trouble. The building occupied by the Museum
was originally purchased from James G. Brooks, and
he, from Mr. Jno. P. Ballard, and he bought it from Mr.
Wickham, so it is associated with historic memories, and
it is truly one of the most interesting places in the city,
and is visited daily by thousands of strangers visiting
Richmond, as well as by the residents of the city. Mr. Edward
S. Valentine is one of the most famous sculptors of
his day, who designed and created out of Italian marble
the celebrated recumbent statue of General Robert E. Lee,
now in the chapel of Washington and Lee University
at Lexington, Virginia. This is considered one of the best
specimens of the fine arts in the world. Indeed it is an
effigy in marble which produces mingled emotions of admiration
and awe, as it lies there in its silent vault illumined
by electric lamps in its darkened chamber.
The wholesale grocery houses of Richmond at this time
were large and served their purpose well. I recall to memory
the firms of E. & S. Wortham & Co., which did a very
large business, having the patronage from the extensive
plantations on the Pamunkey River in grain and produce.
Also Stokes & Reeves, Selden & Miller, Hugh Fery & Sons,
and Dunlop & McCauce, the latter firm dealt principally
in New Orleans sugars and molasses, carrying on the largest
business in that line of any house in the city. Next I
must mention the many tobacco manufacturers, which
business was a very important one, as it is now. The factories
of James A. Grant, William H. Grant, William Greanor,
Robert A. Mayo & Son, James Thomas, Jr., and many
others, all did a tremendous trade in this lucrative business.

A unique feature was the agencies for hiring out negro
hands and servants, it forming a large part of the business
of the real estate men. Richmond was then said to
have one hundred tobacco factories in active operation.
My memory reverts to an interesting event in the year
1860, when Edward, the Prince of Wales, of the Royal
family of Great Britain, visited Richmond, coming here
from Washington with his retinue who were entertained
at the old Exchange and Ballard House - then in its prime.
The Prince stayed over Sunday and attended church at
Saint Paul's. Doctor Minnegerode was then the rector
of the parish, and he preached a good practical sermon for
the distinguished guests. I remember well seeing the
Prince, who was then a beardless youth, of a good figure
and looks, he returned to the Capital City the next day,
pleased with his trip; it was an epoch in the history of
Virginia, socially speaking. Another incident was the lecture
delivered here by Mr. Thackery, the great novelist,
at the Athenaeum, which building was then just in the rear
of the Broad Street Methodist Church, the subject of the
lecture was the “Georges,” and it was a chaste and interesting
address, full of anecdotes, with a vein of sarcasm
interspersed throughout.
Another lecture about this time was that of the Hon.
Edward Everett, delivered at the old African Church; the
subject was General George Washington. He was lecturing
under the auspices of the Mount Vernon Association
for the purchase of that place from its owners. The Mount
Vernon papers which were then published by Mr. Bowner
in the New York Ledger, were edited by him, and this
address by him here was a literary treat, as was everything
emanating from his cultivated mind; the church
was filled with a highly appreciative audience, and all went
home well pleased.
The local politics were to some extent interesting, as almost
every man discussed them in public. The African
Church was used on Sundays as a negro meeting house for
worship, and during the week for political gatherings by
the white people, it being the largest in town. The colored
people were of course paid for the use of their church
building. When a person announced his candidacy for any
office in the gift of the people, he was requested to define
his position and views on the questions of the day. For
instance when the subject of a free bridge between Richmond
and Manchester over the James River was debated
the people were called upon to express their ideas pro and
con in the old African Church.
There was a prominent local politician by the name of
George Peake, who whenever a speaker uttered a sentiment
of which he approved, would emphasize it by loudly
exclaiming, “Why, certainly,” and everybody knew where
the voice came from, as he was notorious. On one occasion
I was present at a meeting when a Mr. Martin Meredith
Lipscomb was a candidate for the office of city sergeant,
he was an illiterate man, but had the conceit and
obstinacy of a government mule, and was arguing the point
that when a man was born on the lower round of the social
ladder he should not be debarred from rising to the upper
ones, and to illustrate his point said he, now suppose I had
been born in a stable, just then some wag in the crowd interrupted
him by yelling out, then, sir, you would have
been a mule; this rudeness silenced the speaker for a moment,
but without taking any notice of it, he resumed his
argument. This Mr. Lipscomb was a notorious office-seeker
and never failed to announce himself as a candidate for
almost every position from the mayoralty down to a constable,
for nothing seem to daunt “old Martin Meredith,”
as he was called, in his attempts to hold some office, although
failure was his only reward.
In the celebrated campaign, just before the great war,
for Governor between Henry A. Wise, the nominee of the
Democracy, and the Hon. Stanhope Flournoy, the champion
of the Whig party, the “Know-nothings” excitement
was in its incipiency and they supported the Whigs in this
contest. Hon. Henry Winter Davis, of Maryland, one of
the best political orators of his day, spoke in advocacy of
“Know-nothingism,” and his remarks were good and convincing
from his standpoint, but the strong logic, and Herculean
thrusts of Mr. Wise utterly destroyed the fallacies of the
opposition, and the Know-nothing party died, then
and there. Governor Wise was one of the most gifted and
forcible, as well as interesting, speakers in the State. At
this time there were many fine public speakers; I will mention
Mr. John Minor Botts, an old-line Whig, one of the
most accomplished orators of Virginia, he spoke but seldom
and only on important occasions. Another prominent
one was Marmaduke Johnson, a distinguished lawyer of
the city, who was never surpassed in eloquence. There
was also Colonel Thomas P. August, whose addresses were
always received with delight by an audience of his fellow
citizens. Mr. John Caskie, who represented the city and
district in Congress; he was a very fluent and convincing
speaker, and it was a forensic treat to listen to him. There
were many others whose acquirements in oratory were not
easily equalled before, or since, this day and time.
Richmond about this period of its history was in its
prime, and prospects were very bright. The churches
were an important feature; among the most prominent
were old St. John's, on that part of the city called “Church
Hill.” In this venerable edifice, Patrick Henry delivered
that celebrated speech, which kindled the first sparks, that
fired the colonies to burst into rebellion against the tyranny
of old King George the Third. Also there was the
Methodist Church, which stood originally between Fourteenth
and Fifteenth Streets on East Franklin, the congregation
of which removed to their new building now on
Broad Street. The Second Presbyterian, on Franklin then
occupied the site of Randolph's paper box factory; this
congregation built a fine house at the corner of Fifth and
Main Streets. The pastor of this was one of the most celebrated
divines of his day; he was succeeded by the distinguished
pulpit orator Doctor Moses Hoge. The First
Presbyterian originally stood where the City Hall now
rears its lofty towers, and a large and more modern
church was erected at the corner of Grace and Madison
Streets. Doctor Moore was for a long time the beloved
pastor of this congregation. The Monumental Episcopal,
with so many historic associations clustering around it,
was built on the spot occupied by the old Richmond Theater,
which years ago was burned to the ground, consuming
many of the most esteemed and prominent citizens of
the city and State. Doctor Woodbridge filled the pulpit
of this sacred building for many years, and never was there
a purer and holier minister of Christ. I remember well
some of the vestrymen, such men as Mr. James Gardner,
Mr. George Fisher, and others of the same stamp; they
were as good men as the world ever produced, and their
memory is held in kindest remembrance by all who knew
them. Next, in point of age and reverence, I mention Saint
Paul's Episcopal, situated at the corner of Grace and Ninth
Streets. If all the religious and historic memories of this
church were fully recounted it would almost suffice to fill
a volume. General Robert E. Lee's family attended this
church, as did also the General, whenever he visited his
home during the progress of the great war, although he
was seldom away from the front. Miss Hettie Carey and
General John Pegram were married there, just before the
end of the hostilities, and if my memory serves me, about a
week later his lifeless body rested upon a bier in front of
the altar, where he had so short a time before plighted his troth to
his beautiful and most gifted bride. Doctor Minnegerode
was the rector of this parish and he was one of
the best theologians in the Episcopal denomination, was
a distinguished professor at the Theological Seminary near
Alexandria, Virginia, when called to the charge of St.
Paul's. It was while President Jefferson Davis was worshipping
in this sanctuary on a sabbath morning, that a
message informed him of the fall of Petersburg, Va. One
of the largest and most influential congregations worshipped
in Saint James Episcopal Church, whose first minister
for a long time was Doctor Empie, who was succeeded as
rector by the venerated and most beloved of pastors, the
Reverend Joshua Peterkin, of sacred memory, who was
regarded by all as a beacon light of undefiled Christianity,
and a lowly follower of the Blessed Saviour of mankind.
The Church of “All Saints,” on West Franklin Street, though
one of the youngest Episcopal congregations, is one
of the very best and most popular. Doctor Downman, the
rector, is a man of ripe scholarship in divinity and of sterling
piety. The vestrymen of “All Saints” are ever to the
front in every deed of charity, and for the amelioration
and uplifting of suffering humanity. I recall as members
of this vestry Mr. F. S. Valentine, Mr. John Tyler, Mr.
Peter H. Mayo, and several other well known citizens.
St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church, at the corner of
Grace and Eighth Streets, is one of the oldest churches in
Richmond. I remember when Bishops McGill and Keane
officiated there. There was once a theological discussion
carried on through the newspapers between the Bishop
McGill and Doctor Plummer, of the Presbyterian denomination,
who were two intellectual giants, and were well
matched in vigor and zeal. I recall an amusing incident:
there lived out on the Brook Turnpike a certain lady
who drove to church every Sunday to her carriage, a
pair of rat-tailed sorrel horses that always came quietly
down the street to the church, but when their mistress
was once in the vehicle, and their heads were turned homewards,
after services were over, they ran at a sharp
gallop all the way until they reached the front gate at
their home.
A very attractive feature of these churches was the
fine choir music, which I am sure has never been surpassed.
I remember when the choir of Monumental was
composed of Mr. John Tyler, Miss Emily Denison and
other noted vocalists, while at the organ presided Mr. Leo
Wheat. When the funeral services were held there of
Major Wheat, the commander of the New Orleans Tigers,
who was killed at Cold Harbor in 1862, Miss Denison
sang a solo, entitled “I Would Not Live Always.” I
thought it one of the sweetest and most pathetic hymns
that I ever heard. At Saint Paul's Madam Rhul was the
leading soprano, and her notes were as sweet as the warbling
of a mocking bird. On one occasion I heard her
when she sang that fine old hymn, “Jesus, Lover of My
Soul,” to the air of “When the Swallows Homeward Fly,”
and indeed I do not believe that it has ever been surpassed
in that grand old edifice.
Among the many interests, commercially speaking,
were the real estate firms, for instance I mention, Goddin
and Apperson, Taylor and Williams, Hill and Rawlings
and Holliday and Rawlings. The movement of real property
then was not quite so lively as it is now, but nevertheless
they all did a fair business.
Another important business was that of the wholesale
drug houses, among the largest were, Purcell, Ladd &
Co., Peyton Johnston and Brother, Adie and Gray, William
Beers & Co.; and I doubt if there has ever been any
larger houses in that line, before or since. Their trade
was extensive and came from all parts of the State, and
neighboring States to the south. There was then no selling
goods through travelling salesmen by samples, but the
purchasers came in person direct to headquarters and
laid in their supplies.
Another leading feature of Richmond's make-up was
its corps of physicians. A man who is a specialist nowadays
in any particular calling is termed a doctor, but I
am now only alluding to the Doctors of Medicine - the
M. D.'s - the followers of Esculapius of yore. Among
these was first and foremost, Francis H. Deane, whose
presence even almost revived a patient; many sick fellows
recall his genial face when entering the sick chamber. He
practiced in our family over thirty years. Also there
was Doctor Cunningham, who was regarded as one of the
best; Doctor Bell Gibson, who was esteemed the most eminent
surgeon in the State. Another noted surgeon was
Doctor Petticolas, whose general practice was very extensive.
Then I must mention those great and good men,
Doctors Skelton and Knox, who were shining lights in
their profession, whose memory is cherished, as well as
that of old Doctors McCaw and Marks.
The wholesale shoe houses were a big item in the city's
mercantile life. Among the leading ones were Hubbard,
Gardner and Carlton, which concern did the largest business
in foot-wear in Richmond; their trade was co-extensive
with the State. It is doubtful if there is now a house
in their line conducting a larger trade. Then there was
the old and staunch firm of Putney and Watts, and also
White and Page, besides several large retail stores.
At this gentlemen did not wear machine-made boots
and shoes, but had them to order by native shoemakers.
The fashionable footdress then was Congress gaiters and
boots; Oxford ties were worn in the summer. The change
in men's attire is quite distinct, as formerly gentlemen wore
broad-cloth made with a Prince Albert or frock coat
with pants and vests to match. A very popular style was a
blue cloth clawhammer coat with plain brass buttons.
Linen suits were much worn in the hot season.
At one time a Mr. Selden kept a large boarding house
called “The Richmond,” which stood at the corner of
Governor and Ross Streets. It was a fine house and was
particularly popular with young clerks, and among the
boarders was a unique person named Beau Lambert, he
was a very fastidious man in his dress, always wearing
a fine black suit with a dress coat, and was particular in
parting the skirts of his coat on sitting down. Accordingly
one day Henry Thornton, a young fellow, full of
fun and tricks, took from the dinner table a dumpling
of meal out of a dish of jowl and turnip salad and slipped
it in Lambert's coat pocket. It was a very greasy and
disagreeable joke, and Beau did not find out who was
the perpetrator for some days, and of course he was very
much displeased, but mutual friends arranged the matter
amicably, and they became good friends afterwards.
The gambling establishments were an important part
of the city's life at this juncture. The law against faro
banks was not strictly enforced as it is now. Their rooms
were elegantly furnished, and every night a sumptuous
supper was spread before their patrons, which was greatly
enjoyed by many planters coming to town to sell their
crops. Among the most popular ones were Worsham
and Brother, the Morgan Brothers and Nat Reeves. The
credit of these men was as good as that of any merchant
in town. I recall an incident in connection with these
games, to wit: There were three students at the medical
college who were gay and up-to-date boys, but were not
blessed with much cash, who frequently visited Mr.
Reeve's rooms. On a certain Saturday night they went
out with a tumbrie cart to procure subjects for the college
to be dissected. They first backed up the cart
in front of his entrance, and then asked each other how much
money they had between them; one had a dollar and a
half, another two dollars and the other only fifty cents,
making all but three dollars, which was not enough with
which to get on a good “spree.” So it was arranged, in
order to carry out their fun to the best advantage, in
the following manner, they appointed one as spokesman
to run the small sum in their pool at Mr. Reeves' bank
in a game of fare, and as the boy walked up to the cashier
to invest it in “chips,” Mr. Reeves said, “I will not sell
you any, for if you should make a run on me you might
win from me several hundred dollars, and if I should
beat you in the game I should only gain three dollars,”
and so, at these words, he took out of the drawer a ten-dollar
bank note and handed it to him, saying, “Now
boys go ahead, and don't come back here again tonight.”
Now, that was all they wanted; it played right into their
hands, for the money enabled them to pass a gay and
joyous night. These three youngsters afterwards graduated
well, and all of them became successful practitioners
of the “Art of Healing.”
Before the beginning of the war between the States. In
those days on each “Fourth of July” picnics and barbecues
were held. On one of these days I attended a
barbecue at Buchanan's Spring, which was then outside
the city in the county of Henrico. A large and enthusiastic
crowd was present and there were various devices
for promoting mirth and pleasure. A Mr. James Ferguson,
one of the city's most prominent merchants, was there,
and also Mr. William F. Watson, a lawyer of high standing
Mr. Ferguson was a man of fine figure and was considered
one of the best dancers in town. Mr. Watson was
a portly man and weighed about two hundred and twenty
pounds, and almost as broad as long. The weather was
very warm indeed, and it was arranged to dance an Irish
jig, there being no ladies present. They stripped off
everything but their underwear and they footed it out to
a finish, and it was called one of the best displays of that
lively dance that had been seen for many days. The
championship was awarded to Mr. Watson.
One of the most noted military organizations in Richmond
at that time was the old State Guard, which occupied
the armory near the Tredegar Iron Works. It was
offered by Captain M. Dimmock, Lieutenant Gay and
Lieutenant Clarke, and was as well drilled as the cadets
at West Point. The officers frequently gave exhibitions
of drills on Capitol Square, and it was a treat to see their
skirmish drills, which drew a large concourse of spectators,
and was one of the most interesting sights I ever
witnessed. After the war the organization of the State
Guard was abolished.

Of the theaters of the city, the most prominent one
was the old “Marshall,” which stood where the Meyer
Greentree furnishing store now is located, at the corner
of Seventh and Broad Streets. It was leased by Mr.
Taylor. The stock company was composed of some of
the most distinguished actors of the day, who have appeared
on the stage of this country. Among them were
Joseph Jefferson, Booth, John Owens, Adams, Boniface
and Mary Devlin, who afterwards married Edwin Booth.
I remember seeing there Burton, in his famous role of
“Toodles”; Clarke, in “Our American Cousin,” and
Neaffie, in “Hamlet,” in which Jefferson took the character
of the grave-digger. These have never been surpassed
in America.
An entertaining gleaning is that respecting “Fairfield
race track,” situated on the Mechanicsville Turnpike.
This was the most prominent race course of its day in the
State. It was run and owned by a Mr. James Talley,
who was one of the best horsemen in Virginia. When
the place was at its zenith it had a long string of race
horses in its stables, among them being some of the most
celebrated the world has ever seen; there was the great
racer, and sire of racers, “Revenue,” owned by Mr. Botts;
“Talley Ho,” owned by Mr. Selden C. Mason; “Engineer,”
a splendid grey; “Red-Eye,” sire of “Planet”;
Martha Washington, “Iina” and many others. These were
the very flowers of the thoroughbred stock of the South.
Every Sunday evening in the spring of the year the
horses were exercised around the course and were given
a “right sharp brush.” Several of my friends and I
were in the habit of going out and viewing them while
at their exercises and it was well worth the while to
see such spurts of swift speeding. Truly those were the
palmy days of racing, and they will never again be reviewed
in Virginia, at least in this part of the State, for
conditions are greatly changed.
I recall the heaviest fall of snow one spring while I was
living in Richmond that ever took place in the memory
of the oldest inhabitants; it commenced on a Saturday
night and fell continuously until the Monday following.
I was then carrying the keys to the store of Parker, Nimmo
& Co., and had to open the house with the assistance
of the porter. We had to dig away the drift, which had
reached to the top of the door, before we could even see
it, let alone get in it. On that Sunday night a large fire
occurred near the Old Market House. It was so bitterly
cold during the snow spell that Doctor Cox, of Chesterfield
county was frozen to death just as he was about
entering the gate to his farm. On Monday the temperature
moderated and the younger ones had a galla time
snow-balling every one mounted or in sleighs that passed
on the main streets; each corner was occupied by squads,
who pelted them without mercy or hesitation.
There was in the city one George Washington Todd,
a beacon light of the sporting crowd. He was a man of
splendid physique, about six feet two inches in height and
built in proportion; possessing a fine voice, a good deal of
wit and humor and the cheer of a brass monkey. He
had no moral reputation and no one would credit him.
On a certain day when there was a political meeting over
on the Eastern Shore, Governor Wise was one of the
speakers, and after the speaking was over Todd walked up
to the Governor and passed the compliments of the day
thus: Cousin Henry, how are you to day? The Governor
replied I do not know of any relationship between us.
Todd then said, now, Governor, were you not born in Accomack.
He said yes. Well, then, as I was also born in
Accomack, does not that make us cousins? The cool
effrontery of the fellow somewhat astonished the Governor.
A noticeable feature was the elegant jewelry establishments.
The most prominent were Mitchell and Tyler and
C. Genet & Co. Then a person thought they could not
buy a reliable article unless it came from one or the other
store. The first named, Mitchell and Tyler, enjoyed a
very large and paying patronage. In their employ was
a gentleman by the name of Hicks, who was at the head
of the watch-repairing department, and it required quite
an artist in that line to fill the position, as then the simple
American watches had not come into general use, for
those mostly carried were of Swiss and English or other
foreign makes. This gentleman was full of pleasing
humor and wit, and as he was in the front of the store,
when a person would enter and inquire for a certain
clerk by the name of Christian, he would jokingly say
that in the rear were several young men, some members
of the church, but whether a Christian could be found
among them he could not say.

I was attending the races at Fairfield and it was
a field day. Of course there was a large crowd present, the
gambling stands were well patronized, as usual and at
one particular table there was a large farmer betting
very freely, who seemed to have plenty of money, and
a smart fellow who lived in the city observed the way
things were running, for every time the farmer put down
a bet the dealer would win and raked it in. So after that
every time the farmer would make a bet, this man would
put one down opposite, or bet against him, and this continued
until the farmer had exhausted his pile; the Richmond
man winning all the bets, which did not please the
dealer, who said to him, “Why don't you let an honest
man make a living?” The man saw that the gambler
was fleecing the farmer, and he had coppered and won
of course, thus blocking the dealer's game.
President James Monroe's remains were brought to
Richmond and interred in Hollywood Cemetery, having
as an escort of honor the famous Seventh Regiment of
New York. This was the finest volunteer military organization
that I ever saw, it being the crack corps of that
city; they marched like a machine, their alignment was
perfect; the uniforms were grey dress coats. The hospitality
of the people of the city was extensive and most
cordial. The visitors were not allowed to open their
pocketbooks for anything purchasable; even if they went
in for a cigar, it was already paid for, they were informed.
Being composed of the best citizens of the Metropolis,
gentlemen all, they did not abuse the privileges granted
them in the slightest degree.

Most important events were just on the eve of happening.
The election for the national Presidency was
booming in the near future, and politics were attracting
the attention of the whole country. The two main parties
which were confronting each other were the Democratic
on the one side and on the other the Free Soil or Abolition
party of the North, which had united and formed the
Republican, the strength of which latter party was growing
stronger every day. Its platform of principles was
antagonistic to the Democratic party and to the Southern
States on the slavery question. In November, 1859, old
John Brown, who had figured conspicuously in the fights,
organized a hostile gang of Abolitionists and came down
to Virginia, presumably to incite the negroes against their
masters and urge them to insurrection. Their field of
operation was in the county of Jefferson and adjoining
one. The government of the United States dispatched
Colonel Robert E. Lee, in command of a small body of
marines, to capture Brown and his party and to defeat
his diabolical scheme. The fanatical wretches took refuge
in the engine house at Harper's Ferry. They were then
taken to Charlestown and placed in the jail, being turned
over to the State authorities by Colonel Lee. Governor
Henry A. Wise at that period of time was filling the
gubernatorial chair, and he immediately dispatched the
military companies of Richmond to the scene of action,
in order to protect the citizens in this critical emergency.
Indeed it was the real beginning of the great war.
Old John Brown, the leader and arch-conspirator against
the peace and dignity of Virginia, was duly tried and
summarily executed. Next, one Cook was tried, who was
a very young man and nephew of the Governor of Indiana,
who employed Senator Daniel Voorhies to defend
him. The case was pathetic in the extreme; many persons
in court were moved to tears, but the law was inexorable
and he was judged guilty and shared the fate of his leader.
After the executions the military returned home. The
1st Company of Howitzers had just been formed and organized,
and on this occasion acted as infantrymen. The
whole country was then in a great state of excitement
and unrest. In a short time the nominations for the Presidency
would be made. James Buchanan, of Pennsylvania,
was the President then, and the feeling between the North
and the South was becoming more and more intense, and
what would be the, outcome few could predict. A political
storm they all feared was to culminate in a dreadful, cruel
war between the States.
In the year 1860 the Democratic party held its convention
in the city of Charleston, S. C. It divided into two
section, one wing nominated John Breckinridge, of
Kentucky, as their standard bearer, and the other put
forward as their nominee Stephen A. Douglas, of Illinois.
The Whig party chose John Bell, of Tennessee, to lead
it. The newly formed Republican party had nominated
Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois.
The canvass was conducted with force and vigor. The
Republicans had grown in numbers and strength and
presented a formidable menace to the South. The most
strenuous efforts were made by each section to elect its
candidate; the issue was great and clearly defined. In
the South the ablest speakers were brought out to present
the danger which threatened the institution of slavery
in the success of the Lincoln party; yet it seemed a forlorn
hope to expect to elect Southern Democrats like Breckinridge
and Lane, as there were two other Democratic tickets
in the field, which, of course, split the conservative or
Southern vote, while the North or Abolition party had
only one ticket in the field.
The Wigs of Richmond had built, on Fourteenth and
Franklin Streets, a large wooden structure capable of
seating a crow - that party had a large majority in the
city - and held frequent meetings therein. It was called
the “Wigwam.” I well remember that the night before
the election Mr. William L. Yancy spoke in advocacy of
Breckinridge at the Metropolitan Hall, on Franklin Street
near the Exchange Hotel. Others spoke at the “Wigwam”
for the Douglass ticket. The last speaker there
was A. Judson Crane. The evening was advancing and
the audience had been listening for hours to burning words
from the lips of gifted orators, and well do I recall his
closing remark, to-wit: “It makes no difference for
whom you vote, as before the sun of tomorrow goes down
Abraham Lincoln will have been elected the President
of these United States.” This prediction proved only too
true, since on the following fourth day of March he was
inaugurated, and in his address said that he would use
all the men at his command to bring back into the Union,
by force of arms if necessary, the seceding Southern
States. This was truly cold comfort for the Southern
people. John Letcher was the Governor of Virginia, and
the General Assembly was in session, which drew up and
passed a bill for the calling of a State convention that
the people indorsed by a large majority. Then came the
most important part, the election of delegates to it.
As a matter of fact the State was largely Democratic,
and in an ordinary election for State offices a Whig stood
no chance of election, but such was not the case in this
one, for no party lines were brought into play and therefore
the ablest and most intellectual men were selected,
irrespective of party affiliations. This important meeting
of Virginians, called the “Secession Convention,” assembled
in Richmond - the building used for its sessions
was the Mechanic's Institute, located on Ninth Street
between Main and Franklin Streets and then occupied
the present site of the building of Ebel and Sons, merchant
tailors. It organized, by election, Mr. Janney, of Loudon
county, as president, an old line Whig, and was opposed
to secession at the very start. Mr. Eubank was made
I doubt if an abler, more intellectual and patriotic set
of men were ever before gathered together in this State
for the discussion of a subject so delicate and so portentous.
They seemed to fully realize the gravity of the situation
that confronted the old Commonwealth. The convention
was divided into two parts; the one the original
secessionists, who were in favor of going out of the Union
at once, as many of the other States had already done,
the other was mainly composed of old line Whigs, who
were in favor of preserving the Union as long as a chance
remained. The debates in the convention were of the
most absorbing interest to the whole population, and even
the heads of the commercial houses would leave them in
charge of clerks. The female heads of families, just as
soon as their morning duties were arranged, would repair
to the Mechanic's Institute to listen to the speeches, so
supreme was the general interest taken in the outcome of
it. And it was not at all surprising that such was the
case, for it was a most momentous era in our history.
Nobody could foretell the future at that early day. The
members did all they could to avert civil war. Several
delegates were sent to the seat of government at Washington
to endeavor to secure a peaceable solution of the
vexed questions. It was a time of suspense and almost
anguish; the Union hung as by a thread as it were, and
then at this critical juncture the President, Abraham Lincoln,
issued his celebrated proclamation, calling upon Virginia,
the “Mother of States, and “of the Union,” for
seventy-five thousand men as her quota with which to
assist him in coercing, by military force of arms, her
sister States. The convention did not hesitate an instant,
it promptly passed the Ordinance of Secession almost
unanimously, there being but one dissenting voice. With
the secession of this State the last gleam of hope for peace
vanished as the snow flakes before the rays of the sun.
The Federal government had sent reinforcements and
provisions for a siege to Fort Sumter, which was then
commanded by Major Anderson. The people of South
Carolina considered this a declaration of war, and at once,
under the direction of General Beauregard, attacked the
fort and caused its surrender. This was the beginning
of the great war between the States of the Union, which
was to call to the front every true Southerner to do or
die for the South land; it was the first clash of arms in
that bloody drama which was to last for four long years
of terror to the people of Virginia, and the sacrifice of the
life's blood of thousands of her noblest and most gallant
sons. Richmond, with her open gates of welcome to
the splendid troops from the South and Southwest, was
the rendezvous of all the soldiers to be organized hurrying
to the front. Everything then seemed bright and all
believed the war would soon be over.

The Southern ports were soon blockaded by the Federal
vessels of war and the South then had to rely entirely
upon her own resources. Excepting a few articles, such
as coffee and tea, brought in through the blockade, substitutes
were found for each of these articles.
During the first year the currency of the Confederacy
depreciated but little, but in the second year it began to
go down in value, until it became before the end almost
worthless. Richmond, in spite of the privations of the
people, was gayer and more brilliant socially than it ever
was since or before. There were in the city a great many
refugees from all parts of the South, which formed a
social element that made a delightful society. There were
dances and theater parties held frequently; many clerks,
male and female, employed in the government departments;
soldiers on furlough from the army, all combined
to form a gay company of ladies and gentlemen.
General Beauregard was in command of the Army of
the Potomac, as General Joseph E. Johnston was in the
Valley of Virginia opposing General Patterson of the Federal
forces. The first battle of Manassas was fought on
the 21st day of July, 1861, this being the first big fight
of the war, and in this the Southern troops were completely
victorious, driving back to Washington the Northern
army in a regular panicstricken mob. This victory
buoyed up the spirits of our people in the city and they
did not fully realize the gravity of the war until it had
been waged sometime. The social life in the city became
more pleasant as time passed, and large entertainments
were given almost every night. Mrs. Randolph, the wife
of the Secretary of War, who was one of the leaders in
society at this period, lived on East Franklin Street, two
doors from the residence of General Lee's family. Her
house was the centre of social attraction. She gave theatrical
rehearsals and readings, which were attended by the
soldiers who were in the city en route to and from the
front and while on furlough.
There was a prominent feature of nearly every family
then, which was the open house for the entertainment of the
soldiers, sick or well, all of whom received the heartiest
welcome and the kindest treatment. I recall Mr. James
Gardner, of the firm of Gardner, Carlton & Co., whose
house was headquarters for the distinguished artillery
company from the city of New Orleans, the Washington
Artillery, as well, also, for other Southern soldiers. Mr.
Peyton Johnston, of the firm of P. Johnston and Brother,
kept open house to all worthy Confederates. I well
remember meeting there a unique character, a Major Atkins,
of the cavalry corps, who divas an Irishman, and enjoyed
the soubriquet of “Charles O'Malley.” He was one of
the finest specimens of manhood that I ever beheld; he
was about six feet two inches in height and well proportioned.
He was of course in the service of the Confederacy,
but was unfortunately called to his home in
Ireland before the close of the war. He sent his young
brother to take his place in the Confederate ranks, joining
Mosby's men, but was killed shortly after joining.
Of the newspapers of Richmond, both before and during
the war, there was the Equirer, first owned and edited
by Colonel Thomas Ritchie and afterwards by William F.
Ritchie. Among the editors were Roger A. Pryor and
O. Jennings Wise. This sheet before the war was the
leading Democratic organ. And then came the Richmond
Whig, edited by Mr. Robert Ridgway, which was the
organ of the old line Whigs of Virginia; and then the
Dispatch, owned by Mr. Cowardin and edited by Messrs.
Baldwin and Pleasants. Next I mention that caustic sheet
the Examiner, owned and edited by John M. Daniel, who
was one of the most sarcastic writers of his time, whose
criticisms of public men and of the Confederate government
were biting and severe.

The “Alexandria Sentinel” was removed to Richmond
at the beginning of the war. Of course, when hostilities
began all the old party lines in politics were obliterated.
They were only to be found and known as the Southern
or Secession party or States Rights men. The armies of
the Confederacy were achieving success in nearly every
encounter, while the North was making tremendous efforts
to fill up the depleted ranks by enlarging the drafts. The
South meanwhile was also putting forward all her limited
resources to counteract that of the North, and yet the
Southern cause was being worn out day by day by the
forces of attrition. Her ports being closed by the blockade,
she was becoming exhausted by slow degrees being
decimated by disease and lack of proper nourishment, as
well as by the bullets of the enemy. So when the strong
attack by Grant was made on the lines around Petersburg,
the thin grey line gave way, was forced back by overwhelming
numbers and began its final retreat to the
fatal field of Appomattox, where General Lee sadly signed
articles of peace and surrender of the remnant of the
gallant old Army of Northern Virginia.
The Southern people had fought and suffered for four long,
dreary years for what they believed was right, and there was no
unprejudiced commentator of the Constitution who did not give
the South the right to secede from the sisterhood of States when
her rights by the spirit as well as the letter of that instrument had
been withheld and denied her.
Now that the surrender had taken place a new era
confronted the people. I returned from the field of surrender
and stopped at Maynard's farm, where the
“Soldiers' Home” now is. I gave my parole as a private
in the 1st Company of Richmond Howitzers. After reaching
home I walked down Main Street, and could hardly
recognize my surroundings. The great conflagration
which ensued at the evacuation, had left a mass of debris
impossible to imagine or describe by an old resident of
the city. The South was now a conquered country, though
never recognized as a government de Jure, nor de facto
by the Federals, and according to the theory advanced
and upheld all through the conflict by them, we should
have at once enjoyed all the rights which belonged to
the seceded States before a separation occurred. But such
was never the case, as a system of legislation was begun
that was a blot upon the civilization of the nineteenth
century. I allude to the reconstruction era in Virginia,
which period has been depicted by several writers. As
the ashes from old Virginia arose Phoenix like from humiliation
and re-established her State government, thereby
enabling her to get rid of the barnacles which had nearly
sapped her political life and she struggled on through
many trials and hindrances until at last each year brought
new evidences of substantial success and prosperity. New
conditions now confronted this community, as before the
war the State had borrowed large amounts of money to
aid her infant enterprises and improvements, which by
lapse of time had accumulated in interest unpaid a considerable
amount. Then there sprung up the Readjuster
party, and its opponent, the “Debt-paying” or McCullough
party. The former maintained that as the State has
emerged from the conflict of arms financially ruined and
it could not be expected to pay in full the original debt,
but should be allowed to scale it so as to enable the State
to meet her obligations. The Funders or Debt-paying
party claimed that a just debt should be paid dollar for
dollar. The two parties went before the people, and Governor
Cameron was the nominee of the Readjusters and
John Warwick Daniel was the Funder candidate for the
office of Governor, and the Readjusters won and Cameron
was elected Governor with the whole legislature
Readjusters. With the election of a Readjuster State
government there was a complete change in the whole administration
at Richmond. Not a single “Funder” or Debt-payer
was left in office; there took place a regular clearance
of the Augean stables. There never was a more prosprictive
party formed. General Mahone exercised supreme control.
He had some very able lieutenants who aided him
in carrying out his drastic policy. The British bondholders
employed Mr. William I. Royall, a distinguished lawyer
of this city, paying him a large salary to look after
their interests. He kept the State on a gridiron by attempting
to force a reception of coupons cut from the
bonds as payment of State taxes. These coupons were of
no value as a circulating medium, and consequently
would deprive the State of all means of carrying on the
government if they were successful. The Funding party,
realizing that they had made a mistake in their way of
settling the debt, changed front and adopted the Readjuster
theory or plan of scaling down. They appointed
a committee of the best men in the country, with ex-President
Grover Cleveland as one, to formulate a settlment
on the basis of the Riddlebarger bill. The creditors accepted
the terms and the vexed question was thus forever
settled, at least so far as Virginia was liable. Mr.
Royal of course lost thereby his lucrative job. The Century
bonds were issued and a sinking fund set aside for
the payment of interest. This settlement killed the Readjuster
party and the offices of the State were restored
to the Conservative party. General Mahone and his lieutenants
flopped over to the Republican party. Virginia
has been steadily prosperious ever since then.

Virginia, after the permanent settlement of the “debt
question” and the subject was finally eliminated from
the State politics, sprang forward upon an era of great
prosperity and advancement, which continued without
interruption until the “Free Silver” and “16 to 1” craze
set in politics, and the false idea that sixteen ounces of
silver was always equal in value to one ounce of gold took
complete possesion of the field throughout the State. This
was one of the delusions championed by Mr. William Jennings
Bryan, one of the most plausible and eloquent
stump speakers in the country. He threw all of his most
forcible energy and talent into the attempt to convince
the people that it was the panacea for all the ills of
humanity - it was his idea that a purely economic issue
would be a cure-all for all the woes of the flesh.
In 1894 William Jennings Bryan was nominated by
the Chicago Convention upon the “Free Silver” platform.
General Simon Bolivar Buckner, of Kentucky, with Palmer,
of Illinois, were chosen by the gold standard wing
of the Democratic party as the standard bearers of the
Democracy. William S. McKinley, then Governor of Ohio,
was the nominee of the Republicans, also on a gold standard
platform and high protective tariff. When the election
was held that fall, the “Free Silver” motion was
overwhelmingly defeated and killed. In the campaign
Virginia voted largely for the Bryan ideas. So completely
had his influence infatuated many sober-minded, good
Democrats that they considered it almost treason to the
party in one who did become misled by this delusion.
When Lamb was nominated for Congress in the Third
District of Virginia he was an advocate for Free Silver.
A few nights before the nominating convention came off,
I met Captain George D. Wise and asked him how he
stood on the question, and he answered, “I am a Gold
Standard Democrat.” For this frank avowal I have
always admired him. It was a decisive and unequivocal
stand on the issue which was then at its height, and it
cost him his seat in Congress, for Captain John Lamb, the
opponent, was selected and afterwards seated as the member
from the Third District of Virginia - the Richmond
The Honorable Charles T. O'Ferral, the member from
the Seventh District of Virginia, and who, with the aid
of Mr. Randall, of Pennsylvania, the former Speaker of
the House of Representatives, by their skill defeated the
infamous Force Bill offered by Senator Lodge, of Massachusetts,
which was antagonized by the whole South
as sectional and unjust to it. Governor O'Ferral was
almost ostracized by his party - that is, by the ring - because
he would not subscribe to the “Free Silver, 16 to 1
craze.” The old State finally emerged from this veritable
“Slough of Despond,” and its motto seems to be “Excelsior”
and progress. The former political issue of gold
or silver seems to be side-tracked and does not appear in
the platforms of any party, but is relegated to oblivion
as a subject of politics, and it is to be devoutly hoped that
it will remain there for all time and never again cause so
much unnecessary bitterness and division in the old party.
The State being relieved to a great extent from the
handicap resulting through the late canvass and excitement;
though her Congressmen and the State officers were
elected on the Free Silver platform, yet it ceased to play
a part in the policy of the State or the country at large.
The commercial and economic status of the old Commonwealth
improved every day. The General Assembly
drew up a bill calling upon the suffragans of Virginia
to decide whether a convention should be called or not.
They, the voters, decided that one should be called, whereupon
the Legislature so enacted, and the election was
held. In the year 1903 the convention to frame a new
Constitution assembled in the hall of the House of Delegates
in the old Capitol in the city of Richmond. They
were confronted a great many intricate and difficult
problems. First and foremost was the question as to the
best manner to deal with the negro vote. Next in importance
was the creation of the State Corporation Commission,
or Railroad Supervision Act. Probably no member
of that body deserves more credit for the establishment
of this important branch of Virginia's judiciary
system than Allen Caperton Braxton. By his logical
reasoning and indefatigable energy was largely instrumental
in having that great measure passed. There were
many other salutary laws framed and incorporated in the
fundamental body of the State; which has put the convention
on record as having been one of the very best bodies
of men ever assembled in Virginia for the important duty
of forming the organic law of this old Commonwealth.
The grand work accomplished by them will ever be duly
appreciated until time shall be no more and forever ceases.
A question of absorbing interest to all the people is
the temperance issue. A large and influential portion of
citizens advocate a State-wide or general prohibition law.
The other portion oppose it strenuously. In the Assembly,
or Legislature, an act called an Enabling Statute was
introduced, which proposed to put before the voters the
question whether they should choose for State-wide
prohibition or not, and upon the verdict thus rendered it was
to be returned to the Legislature at its next session for
its final action, on the principle of the Initial and

The American people are upon the eve of a Presidential
canvass and election. The issues are vital and most
important and are clearly defined.

Governor of New Jersey, the Honorable Woodrow Wilson,
is at this writing - August, 1912 - the chosen standard
bearer of the Democracy, whose platform of nation-wide
issues contain the soundest principles of a true Republican
form of government ever devised by mankind. The
cardinal or main feature of it is the revision of the present
tariff downward; in other words a reduction of the same
down to a revenue basis.
The present President, Honorable William H. Taft, is
the nominee of the regular Republican party, which party
platform advocates a high protective tariff, which has
resulted in building up trusts in nearly everything and
advancing greatly the costs of living.
On the 5th day of November, 1912, the election will take
place, when the people of the United States of North
America will decide whether the theories of the Democracy
or those of the Republican party shall be the best
for their interests and national welfare. The lines are
now clearly drawn and all good Virginians are deeply
interested in the result of the great battle of ballots.
To return in retrospect and compare the present with
the past, the individual then sees the changes made by
the passage of time. I well remember when Mr. Cyrus W.
Field, the promoter of the Atlantic Cable, was considered
a regular crank, or semi-lunatic, for such unpractical ideas
as he advanced. Now nearly every part of the globe is
connected by submarine cables. Take up the numerous
inventions and discoveries of “Edison, the great wizard
of electricity,” and regard the chaining of lightning by
man, making it a motive power, and an illuminator for
dispelling the darkness of the past, as to its many uses
for mankind. Take the railroad engines, which were a
few years since small affairs. and the small and light
wooden cars hauled by them, and contrast them
with the palatial trains built of steel and the mammoth locomotives
that now draw them on the heavy 100-pound rails at the
rate of sixty miles per hour. Note the buildings in the
great cities called “skyscrapers” which rise almost to
the clouds, and the many other improvements in architectural
steel structures, as the splendid bridges of that material that
span large streams and bridge at dizzy
heights ravines and mountain gorges. Fifty years ago
the total population of Richmond was only about forty
thousand souls, while today - 1912 - it is nearly one hundred
and eighty thousand all told.
Thus we see what tremendous changes are produced
by the passage of “resistless time,” which even the most
far-sighted human being could hardly imagine or predict.
Now who can safely foretell what may happen within
the next half century? Nearly every day science is bringing
to fight marvelous inventions in the industrial world,
and the swift strides in everything pertaining to the everyday
life of the human family is most remarkable. Fearful
accidents and awful calamities, destructive of life and
property, follow each other almost equal to views of the
kaleidoscope in suddenness and variety. Truly is this a
wonderful period of the world's existence.
A striking feature of the great commercial advance of
the United States is its vast increase in the railroad connections,
which now penetrate the remotest sections,
bringing them into touch with all the large centres of
trade and commerce. That great artery of business, the
Union Pacific Railroad stretches from the Atlantic Ocean
to the great ocean on the west coast, the Pacific. And
now, as I write, in but a short time hence the famous canal,
the Panama, which will draw in the tides of the
Atlantic and discharge them into the Pacific, for the first
time in history, will be in operation, owing to the indomitable
energy and skill of Americans. And also regard
the wonderful achievements in the aerial world, the art
of flying by men..

The individual views with wonder and almost awe the
great events which the evolution of time has produced.
If things are such in this, the twentieth century of the
Christian era, what may the next one show forth to the
eyes and imaginations of mortals? Can any person now
living even speculate? There are a few who predict revelations
in the invisible world, or the spiritual life, and
who can say nay to it, in the light of discoveries and
development of the present age? Time only can tell what
the veil of the future now hides from human view.
A prominent element of Richmond's professional status
was its legal bar, as its lawyers comprised many of the
ablest attorneys in the State. Among the most prominent
ones of the ante-bellum period were Mr. James Lyons, Sr.,
Jno. M. Gregory, Raleigh T. Daniel, John Howard, Alexander
H. Sands, Edward and Henry Cannon, Messrs. Johnson,
Griswold, Claiborne, Howison, August, Randolph,
Littleton, Tazewell, Marmaduke, Johnson and many
others, who shed a lustre upon their distinguished profession
of the law. The bar of Virginia has always ranked
as the highest in the land, and not even excelled in ability
by that of the old Mother Country, England. There were
two lawyers who were conspicuous men for their homeliness.
One was Mr. Joseph Carrington, of Richmond, the
other was William Wallace Day, of Manchester, Va. A
dispute having arisen as to which was the uglier of the
two, and as it was very difficult to say which was, so the
friends of each agreed to appoint a committee to decide
the matter, and the one who was adjudged to be the
uglier by it was to receive a prize of a fine penknife. The
prize knife fell to the lot of Mr. Day as the successful contestant,
and accordingly it was handed him as the award
of not beauty, but of plain features at least, if not downright
ugliness. Both of these worthy gentlemen were
prominent and successful lawyers of the Richmond bar.
The annexation to Richmond of the several adjacent
towns has added greatly to the population and proved a
decided benefit to each. The former city of Manchester,
which was for a long time an independent corporation (even
said to be older than Richmond as a town), was
lately joined to its sister city over the James River and
is now called Washington ward, or more properly speaking,
“South Richmond.” It is now rapidly advancing in
prosperity and is also improving in appearance in streets
and parks. Consolidation or merger of interests and cooperation
seems to be the spirit of modern times and of
the age of commerce and money-making.
Before the war Richmond banks formed a very important
element of its business equipment. The old Exchange
Bank occupied the building at present the home of the
First National, between Eleventh and Twelfth Streets on
Main, but which last named one will soon be removed to
its new home, southwest corner Main and Ninth Streets -
nineteen stories high. Then comes next in rank the
Farmers Bank, and then the Bank of Virginia, and the
Bank of the Commonwealth. A good deal of banking was
transacted by private bankers, such as C. W. Purcell & Co.,
Sutton, Enders & Co., Coddin, Harrison & Co. These were
all first-class and model institutions in their line, and
occupied a high place in the business world of the city.
One of the unique characters in the State was the celebrated
Parson Massie, as he was always called, though
he was a full-fledged politician of the Readjuster period
and was an efficient aid to General William Mahone. When
the debt settlement was made, he returned to the Old
Democratic fold. The “Parson” was truly one of the most
plausible and eloquent speakers on the Hustings. No
man in Virginia was more perfectly conversant with all
the issues of the day, and there lived none who could
“rattle” or disconcert him, for his extraordinary coolness
and his undoubted courage always discomforted his opposers.
He was elected and became the head of the whole
school system of Virginia for many years.
Among the military companies of the city was the old
Richmond Insight Infantry Blues, the organization of which
dates back almost to Colonial times, and whose military
record is as bright and efficient as a Damascus blade. It
was commanded by officers whose memory will be revered
and honored as long as time lasts. I can recall the names
of some as Captains Bigger, Patton, O'Jennings, Wise, and
its war captain, Levy. Since the War between the States,
it has been reorganized and formed into a battalion of
three companies. It still retains its former and ancient
prestige gained in the past, and is justly regarded as one
of the best military commands to be found anywhere. The
personel of this old crack corps is A No. 1. No higher
class young men are enrolled in any companies. Next
comes the old Richmond Grays, one of the best-drilled
companies in the State. The material of which this was
composed was unsurpassed in Richmond and its appearance

on the streets always elicited special notice and praise.
Then came the Young Guard of the Commonwealth,
commanded by Captain John Richardson. This company
always received praise for its soldierly bearing, for to
see this body of young men marching in open order down
Main Street was a sight well worth seeing.
Then I mention Company A, which was commanded by
Captain R. Milton Carey, which was another of Richmond's
crack companies, being composed of the very elite
of the city, and always reflected great credit on its native
city. Then next I recall the Richmond Fayette Artillery,
Captain Clopton, which was the only company of artillery
in the city.
Another prominent infantry company was the Walker
Light Guards. This was organized by Captain Walker,
but a short time before the war and it made a fine record
during the war between the States, being considered one
of the very best commands in the Fifteenth Virginia Regiment.
A large and fine cavalry company called the Richmond
Troop added much to the city's reputation for its
military organization, as it was drilled and commanded
by an ex-West Point graduate, Captain C. Q. Tompkins,
who was a splendid officer and made his troop a model
cavalry company.

A striking evidence of the progress in Virginia of its
agricultural progress is the extensive plant of the Virginia
Carolina Chemical Works. The main offices are in Richmond
and the works are located near the city. The
different fertilizers, which are varied and adapted to all
important crops in the South, are distributed all over the
country through its many agencies in all the largest cities.
It is said that by the application of these to the soil, that
two blades of grass will spring up where At one grew
before. thus causing almost worn out fields to put on
a grass sward and then heavy crops of tobacco and other
products. This beneficial aid to nature appeals to the
farmers and encourages them to never despair, but to
always resort to the excellent fertilizers which are made
and adapted to each crop by the reliable Virginia-Carolina
Chemical Company, and then his plantation will always
yield a large and remunerative increase our its former
Among the pleasant and interesting customs of the past,
was the regular habit of Virginians to gather together
just before important elections and hold barbecues, which
were always well-gotten up and carried out by a committee
appointed for the purpose, who attended to the cooking;
there was always a quarter of fat beef, and a whole
mutton barbecued to a turn, and when dinner was announced
the political speakers adjourned the meeting until
the crowd had partaken generously of the meats and
also of the good toddies furnished freely to the voters assembled
on the festive occasion.
And when dinner was all over, the orators would resume
their pleas for votes. The last barbecue of this extensive
sort that I remember attending was at the Drewry
Mansion, near Manchester. It was a very delightful place
for such a meeting of suffragans; it being a handsome
dwelling in a beautiful grove of stately old oak trees,
commanding from an eminence a magnificent view of the
plantation and the winding James River below. Among
the speakers on the occasion were George D. Wise and
Richard Beirne, who pleased every man present and all
returned home well satisfied with the whole outing.
Among the well-known characters of Richmond was
one George Dabney Wootton, who came here before the
war and was employed by the South, a newspaper published
by Mr. Roger A. Pryor, and when the paper was
discontinued he scraped together a smattering of what he
thought was law, and hung out his shingle at the police
court. Many people credited him with having “rats” in
his head. One thing is certain, the man possessed inordinate
self-reliance, or “brass,” as it is called. He advertised
a good deal in the newspapers and a certain Western
man, who read his “ads,” came on to the city with a good
fat case of law, involving a large amount of money, which
he placed in Wooten's hands, but subsequently finding that
it would not be safe under Dabney's skill, in other words
he was not qualified to manage so large a case, he sent
and offered him a nice sum of money if he would give up
the matter, but the learned attorney declined to withdraw
from the case, and said that he proposed to go through
with it. His client then had to employ assistant counsel,
and obtained the legal service of Col. James Lyons, one of
the most eminent lawyers of the bar of Virginia. Of course
that settled it so far as Mr. Wootten was concerned.
I remember several years ago, when Mr. Isador Rayner,
the United States Senator from Maryland, spoke at the
Academy of Music, upon the subject of the tariff. Now,
as a matter of fact, this is a generally dull subject, consisting
of so much detail, and so many statistics and figures.
But on this occasion it was quite the reverse of dull,
for he discussed this intricate question in such an interesting
manner that our attention was rivetted throughout the
address, and every listener was charmed from the beginning
to the finish. It was indeed one of the very finest
speeches that I ever heard.
A prominent and remarkable man was in his day, Mr. Joseph
Mayo, who succeeded Mr. Lambent as the chief magistrate
or mayor of Richmond; he was a good lawyer, indeed
one of renown, and the author of the celebrated work called
“Mayo's Guide,” a book of high standing, and an authority
at the bar for all legal forms used in the Richmond
courts. At that time the Mayor performed the office of
police judge, and well I do recall seeing him seated in his
big chair with all the high dignity of a Roman senator;
he was always dressed in a blue dress coat with brass buttons
and ruffled shirtbosom. He dispensed even handed
justice, and was a highly esteemed citizen of Richmond.
When the army of Northern Virginia, under General
Robert E. Lee, was fighting at Spotsylvania Courthouse;
occurred the battle at New Market, between the Confederate
forces under General Jno. C. Breckenridge, and those
under the Northern General Siegel. When Grant withdrew
his dines of battle General Lee marched on parallel
lines to Grant's. We stopped at Hanover Junction and
there sharp skirmishing took place. The railroad train
conveying the cadets of the Virginia Military Institute
stopped a short time, and I went on board and inquired
if Cadet George Kennon Macon, my brother, was aboard
the train, and the answer was, to my distress, that he was
not, as he had been wounded in that celebrated charge of
the cadets at New Market, in the Valley of Virginia, by
a canister shot passing through his arm, and he had to be
left behind under the care of those kind and skillful surgeons
of the corps - Doctors George Ross, and Marshall.
Captain Miles C. Macon, of the Fayette Artillery,
my brother, also, was then just recovering from a spell of
typhoid fever, which had prevented his being in the
engagement at the front, went up to the valley and brought
our wounded brother down to our mother's home in Richmond,
and it is needless to say that everything that love
and sympathy could suggest or inspire was employed to
relieve his pain and hasten his recovery. He was the idol
of the family, and his wound was attended to by that most
skillful surgeon Doctor Petticolas. It was an ugly wound
and he suffered from it to the day of his death.
The brilliant charge of those young boys - cadets - at
the severe fight of New Market, forms one of the brightest
pages of military glory, and in all history there has
never been its equal. Their steady, stoical bravery at the
crisis of the battle, under circumstances and surroundings
that staggered the old veterans. As these gallant youths
moved across the field in the face of a withering fire of
artillery concentrated on them, they were literally mowed
down, but their ranks were filled up as cooly as if they
were on parade, and they never faltered in their charge
until they had captured the guns before them. This was,
as often written, one of, if not the most striking achievements,
of the great war between the States. Many have
blamed the commandant of the institute, General Smith,
for allowing the boys to be carried to the front, though
he had no option in the matter; it was a case of emergency;
of salvation to the army, and indeed of safety to the institute,
and accordingly General Breckenridge called forth
the corps, and they were eager for the fray, and proved
their mettle.
A gleaning of significance was: A certain lady was the
fortunate possessor of two sons whose ages were respectively
twelve and fourteen years; these boys were once
invited to a juvenile party, their mother having provided
them new roundabouts with plain brass buttons and trousers
to match with well starched collars, their faces having
been, of course, washed clean, and the chaps were well
dressed and smart looking. Before parting with them,
when they were leaving home for the entertainment, their
mother, after carefully inspecting them, said, now boys
you are both big fools, and now don't you open your
mouths while at this party. The host of the entertainment
came to them and complimented their behaviour and appearance,
and inquired about their mother. The boys
looked directly at one another, but remained as dumb as
oysters in the shells. Their hostess fared no better, and
received no satisfaction when she kindly inquired of them
about their parent. As she left the boys she remarked,
well those are certainly the greatest dunces that I have
ever seen. They overheard her remark, and one of them
said to the other brother, they have found us out. Let us
go home. Those very boys afterwards developed into intelligent men. It was truly wrong in their parent to thus
discourage her boys on their first start into society; she
should have taken an optimistic view of the matter, as the
final result proved, as they both grew up to be well informed
members of society.
A characteristic feature of the period of the time in
which I am engaged writing, is the friendly relations now
existing between the sections of the country; the North
and the South. Nearly half a century has elapsed since
the surrender at Appomattox. All the acrimony engendered
by the late strife, has ceased. The bone of contention,
the “Slavery Question,” which once divided the
States, no longer exists, and now we see the Southern girl
marrying the Northern beau, and the Northern knight
wooes and weds the Southern heroine, and thus results
a commingling of blood and interests.

During the winter just preceding the great war between
the States, a Miss Duryea, the daughter of Colonel Duryea,
of New York, was making a visit to my brother-in-law
and his family, Mr. Peyton Johnston, of Richmond, they
being strong mutual friends. The colonel consented to her
visiting in Richmond, and she was a very attractive young
lady, and as I was at the time a young man, I was, to some
extent, drawn to her. I well remember that she played a
good game of single-hand euchre, and that we had many
pleasant games together. She left for the North just before
the beginning of the war. Her father commanded the
Duryea Zouaves.
A unique character of the city was one Captain John
Freeman, who commanded one of the passenger boats
between West Point, Va., and the City of Baltimore. He
was a great epicure, and was noted for providing the
best meals on his steamer of any one of the line, and passengers
to and from Baltimore and Virginia deemed themselves
fortunate when they found themselves his guests
for the trip on the York River and the Chesapeake Bay
route. The genial old sailor had, by good feeding, acquired
a fine front of genuine aldermanic proportions. A
certain man once approached him and remarked that he
could give him a receipt which, if he would follow well,
would reduce his stomach to its normal size within thirty
days. The captain listened attentively to him, and then
he replied, “My good friend, it has taken me about
thirty-five years and several thousand dollars to obtain
the generous front that I have, and now you come and
tell me how to get rid of it in thirty days or so, after all
my time and money has been spent in acquiring it. Now,
my dear sir, I must most respectfully decline to make use
of your receipt.”

During the war between the States a certain quartermaster
with the rank of major, whose duty never took him
outside Richmond in extremely hot weather, when the
mercury in July ranged from ninety to ninety-five degrees,
had a negro boy whose sole employment was to fan him
and keep off the flies. Now, this worthy official of the
Army of the Confederacy always thought himself to be one
of the hardest worked men in the service. Peace to his
ashes; he has long since “passed over to the other side of
the river.”
A time of great interest to the Virginians in the past,
was the exhibition of the annual State Fair, when almost
every farmer and family came to Richmond during the
month of October to attend it. They would put off until
then to do the shopping and trading for the fall and winter.
The city would then be thronged with the visitors from
almost everywhere. All the hotels and boarding houses
were then filled, and all hands bent upon seeing and being
seen, would flock out to the Fair Grounds. At night the
Mechanic's Institute was open and filled with machinery
and mechanical products. The Fair Grounds were situated
then at now the corner of Main and Belvidere Streets,
which had been used during the war as Camp Lee. It
is now the beautiful spot called Monroe Park.

One of the most important insurance companies in the
city is the Virginia Fire and Marine. This old and strong
institution antedates the great war, and its officers were
at one time as follows: President, Mr. Thomas Alfriend;
secretary, W. L. Cowardin, who afterwards became the
president. At this writing - the year 1912 - Colonel William
H. Palmer is the president and Mr. W. H. McCarthy
is the secretary. It has a corps of efficient clerks and its
business is vast, and constantly increasing. The prestige
and conservative mode of doing business of this model
fire company, commend it to the confidence of the insuring
A unique man of Chesterfield county was a certain Mr.
W. B. C., who was considered the best set-back player in
Manchester, and could play longer on a small capital, or
“stake,” than could be found anywhere. He took few
chances in “bidding,” but when he offered so many points
for his hand, the board of players deemed it advisable to let
him have all the points that he claimed, as he was sure
in the end to score them all. He was a very genial, pleasant
companion, and he was welcomed in a game.
Many of the landmarks, in the matter of buildings, have
been torn down and thus removed, and in their places more
modern ones erected in Richmond. For instance, the old
Swan Tavern, which stood on Broad between Eighth and
Ninth Streets. In its day, before the war, it was a famous
hostelry. It was there that the celebrated trial of the
notorious Aaron Burr was held. Burr had been indicted
by the federal court for high treason against the United
States government, in attempting, by filibustering means,
to inaugurate a separate government in the then new
Southwestern States. Very able legal talent was engaged
in this case, among whom was Mr. Jno. Wickham,
Luther Martin and several others of national reputation.
Chief Justice John Marshall presided at this trial. Mr.
Burr was acquitted. He had been for several years an
important figure in American politics and history, and had
been a candidate for the nomination of the Federal or
Whig party against Mr. Thomas Jefferson, the nominee
of the Republican-Democratic party. In the election that
fall there was a tie vote in the electorial college, and in
consequence the election was thrown into the House of
Representatives at Washington. The leader of the Federal
party, Alexander Hamilton, gave the deciding vote
which elected Mr. Jefferson as the President of the United
This embittered Mr. Burr towards Mr. Hamilton, and
he made a most severe personal attack upon him through
the newspapers. This drew from Hamilton a challenge
to mortal combat on the field of honor and resulted in the
death of the latter by the bullet of Burr's pistol.
Alexander Hamilton was considered by many as one
of the greatest men of his time, and was the brains and
leader of his party, then styled the Federal, or later the
Whig party. His theory of government exists to this day
and time.
A prominent citizen was Mr. Jesse Wherry, a man of wit
and humor, a good mimic and was a candidate at the time
for Commissioner of Revenue, to succeed Parson Burton,
who had died. During the canvass he attended a Methodist
religious meeting and when the preacher offered up
a long, earnest prayer, Wherry emphasized it by his approval
in frequent and loud amens. A party out of spite
informed the leaders of the meeting that Jesse was not
only not a Methodist, but not even a member of any church
whatever. This action came very near causing the defeat
of Mr. Jesse Wherry for the office, for the whole meeting
voted for his opponent. There once lived in Richmond a
man by the name of Hicks, who kept a livery stable on
South Tenth Street, between Main and Cary. He owned
a fine female pointer dog named “Sue.” She had a pedigree
nearly a yard in length. The puppies he found a
ready sale for at a good price. One day a party approached
Hicks and said: “I wish you would give me
one of her puppies.” He replied: “You go to Major
Doswell and ask him to give you one of Sue Washington's
colts.” “It costs the major a good deal of money to
produce her colts,” exclaimed the party. “Don't you
suppose it costs me something to obtain my thoroughbred
puppies,” was Mr. Hick's reply.
I remember well the time when the last mortal remains
of the great Confederate general, Stonewall Jackson, were
brought to Richmond for interment. The body lay in state in
the rotunda of the capitol and all who desired
could view the corpse. There lay still in death, the man
who had been the right-hand and arm of General Robert E.
Item and but few, if any, who passed around his bier failed
to shed tears of sorrow at the great calamity which the
South sustained thereby. Upon a caisson was placed the
casket and conveyed to Hollywood Cemetery.
His faithful colored body-servant led the famous old
sorrel horse that had carried him through so many battles.
At the battle of Fredericksburg, General J. E. B. Stuart,
with the aid of his servant, had provided the old horse
with an entirely new equipment - new saddle and bridle -
and when his men saw their general seated on his familiar
old sorrel, bedecked and ornamented with the new trappings,
they were utterly amazed at the improvement. His
new uniform of Confederate grey, which had been procured
for the general without his knowledge, became him
well and was admired by all.

In turning back a page of my life, my memory recalls
several members of the 1st Howitzers, to which I belonged
during the great war. One was Lieutenant John Nimmo,
who joined in the year 1861, just before the company
left Richmond for the front. He was living in New York
when the war began, but returned to his native State,
and joined us, being elected to a lieutenancy. His
physique was remarkable, being very tall, and as slim as
a fence rail almost, and with a long neck and mustaches as
flowing as those of a “grenadier of the foot guards” of
France. His individuality was marked; possessing a great
fund of wit and humor, enlivened by a slight vein of
sarcasm. He had read a good deal, and had also touched
elbows with the great world, which rendered his conversation
always very entertaining. His gallantry on the
field of battle was conspicuous, being one of the coolest
men in action that I ever saw. His memory is cherished
highly by every surviving member of the company. He
has long since passed to the “bourne whence no traveller
returns,” and rests on the other side of the river.
A striking member of our company, “the 1st Howitzers,”
was Carey Eggleston. He was a long, gawky looking
young soldier, and did not make a very good showing on
dress parade, but just as soon as fight opened, and our
guns were turned loose upon the enemy, his whole nature
seemed to change with the excitement, and he seemed
exhilarated with ardor of battle. At the battle of Spotsylvania
Court House he was acting number one at the
gun where I was number three, when a fragment of shell
shattered his arm. Gangrene afterwards set in and caused
his death. He was but a mere youth, only eighteen years
old, and was the only one I ever knew that really loved
Of some interest to many is the 7:32 A.M. accommodation
train on the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad
from Ashland to Richmond. It conveys as passengers
daily business and professional men to the city. A
prominent characteristic of these travelers is the haste
displayed by each in getting the morning's paper; indeed
it seems that to secure one at all hazards and risks, the
most desirable accomplishment in daily life, and then to
quickly board the train and rush for a seat on the shady
side - if it happens to be the summer season - while the
less fortunate make out the best they can on the sunny
side. The choice of seats, of course, is reversed in the
winter time, when the sun is the favorite side. After obtaining
his favorite seat the “newspaper fiend” draws his
paper, folds, presses down its side in the most skillful way,
and then holds its pages up to his eager gaze with the
thrilling delight of what he gleans in its perusal. This
folding and preparation of the journal is done with a
peculiar expertness by the veteran news fiend, for instance,
when he wishes to find the continuance of an article from
one page to another, he will turn it over and rearrange
it in a most adroit manner, that no amateur could perform;
only the genuine newspaper fiend could accomplish
such a result. He first folds the sheets into a quarto or
folio size with the greatest finesse, and takes fresh hold
reading. When you notice his lips quiver, he has come to
something especially interesting; he becomes quite oblivious
to all outside influences, being entirely absorbed in
what he is enjoying in the columns of the news items. As
a matter of fact he is not fond of books; a fine volume
of literature is not varied enough for his tastes. The
morning paper, fresh with news of the whole world, appears
to him as a perfect kaleidoscope of reading matter,
which he perfectly appreciates until the train reaches its
During the battles around Richmond, when the Federal
army under General Geo. B. McClellan invested the city.
One of the brighest pages in the history of the Confederate
war was enacted. The noble women of the South by a concert
of action, united in aiding the surgeons in alleviating
the pain and suffering of the wounded. The whole seemed
a veritable hospital. Even the churches were stripped of
their cushions to be used therein for the comfort of those
who were brought in from the front. The kind sympathy
and cheering words of these devoted women caused many
a wounded soldier to look and revere and thank his
Creator that such ministering angels had been provided
to sooth him and inspire hope in his weak and stricken
body. This gracious and noble conduct of the women of
the Confederacy forms one of the most valuable pages
in the annals of the great war between the North and
South. Many who took part in that memorable struggle
and strenuous time have passed over the river that separates
life from eternity, but their deeds and their memory
will be cherished as long as time endures.
A gleaning of some moment is the tearing down of the
old Reuger building to give place to a new and more modern
structure of ten stories. It will stand upon the site
of the original house, on the corner of Ninth and Bank
Streets, where it had stood for more than half a century
as a restaurant and hotel. It is doubtful if any establishment
of its kind ever dispensed better cheer in either
liquor or substantial refreshments, than the “Reugers” -
father, son and grandsons - served up to their many
patrons. In the new hostelry there will be maintained the
same high prestige hitherto enjoyed by the lovers of good
fare in Richmond and vicinity.
A prominent person in Richmond during the period
“antebellum,” was Captain Sam Freeman, who was the
superintendent of Capitol Square and the public buildings
within the same. It was he that introduced the
squirrels on the grounds, and took a good deal of interest
in and care of them, being his especial pets. After the
close of the great war, the former office was merged
in that of the Inland and Superintendent of Public
I recall a very high-toned gentleman, a first-class Virginian,
who was waiting upon a very attractive lady, who
was riding in a carriage with the window down. He being
at the time on horseback, and drawing alongside the
vehicle, he leaned over and remarked to her: “Miss Judy,
I have a disagreeable duty to perform, namely, to court
you.” She very promptly replied: “Well, Colonel, if
it is such a disagreeable task to you, I would advise you
not to perform it.” But being so full of his subject, he
continued his courtship, and, of course, was promptly
discarded. She afterwards married another gentleman
who was more tactful in his mode of courting her.

An incident which I recall to memory was: There was
a Mrs. R. C. Cabell, a sister of old General Wingfield Scott,
one of the leaders of society in her day in Richmond. She
drove to her carriage a fine pair of slick brown mules,
well roached. It was swung on “C” shaped leather
springs, and had steps which were unfolded for the occupants
to descend or ascend. The seat of the coachman
was perched high up in front, and altogether it was a
truly unique turnout, which always attracted much notice.
In general appearance it was quite similar to the vehicle
exhibited in the wild west show of Buffalo Bill.
A significant evidence of the great commercial development
merit and advance in importance is proven by the establishment
in Richmond of the office of Winston and Company,
engineers and contractors. This eminent firm is
composed of native Virginians, “to the mannor-born,” and
their thorough knowledge of the profession places them
in the front rank in this country, and by means of their
skill and experience are able to handle the most intricate
problems that may be submitted to them in both civil and
mechanical engineering line. This distinguished firm of
native Virginians now has under construction the contract
with the City of New York, involving several millions of
dollars, to concentrate and dam-up the waters of several
streams in the Catskills, and then to convey by means of
tunnels and aqueducts under the Hudson River many
miles, for the purpose of adding to the supply of water
for that centre of population.
This is indeed a gigantic undertaking and is almost
equal in importance to the country at large as is that of
the Panama Canal, now being built by the United States
government. This firm of Southern men has built important
works for Boston, as well as that celebrated piece
of work, the settling basins, for Richmond, which gives
us such fine, clear water as we now enjoy.
The prominent firm, the Messrs. T. W. Wood and Sons,
seedsmen, is a business of large proportions. Its products
are thus distributed throughout this State and the other
Southern ones. Mr. Henry W. Wood, the head of the
house, is a merchant of great capacity, who through his
fine methods has built up the largest and most important
seed business in his city, and furnishes the farmers of this
State and elsewhere with a most important article of
agriculture, to-wit: pure and well selected seeds. This
eminent concern bears a striking evidence of the improvement
which the evolution of the wheel of time has
On the Ashland accomodation train one day there were
seated two persons, whom we shall designate as Mr. T.
and Mr. S. They were sitting on opposite sides of the
aisle of the car and the latter had a horse that Mr. T.
knew, and the conversation ranged on the subject of horseflesh,
or rather their knowledge of the same, and incidentally
Mr. S. said that he would take twenty-five dollars
for his animal. Mr. T. at once produced the sum and
handed it over to Mr. S., who took the money and dashed
it down to the floor, exclaiming that he was only jesting
and did not desire to sell his horse for the price stated.
In reply Mr. T. said that it was a plain transaction with
him, and that he claimed a delivery of the horse, to which
demand Mr. S. demurred. The case was finally carried to
the court of Hanover county, and was at last settled by
awarding Mr. T. fifty dollars in lieu of the nag, which
belonged to the firm of S. and H. This was one of the
most remarkable cases ever on the docket of the Circuit
Court of Hanover for many years.
In the good old county of Goochland there lived two men
who were neighbors and great friends, and as a matter of
course took an interest in each other's welfare. They were
in one respect totally different in character: The one
was very neat and tidy in his attire; but his friend was
quite the opposite, being careless in his dress and rather
untidy in his appearance. As he was about to move to
Richmond to reside, his friend kindly offered him some
good advice. Said he: “Since you are going to a city to
reside, where one's dress is more scrutinized than in the
country, the first thing on reaching town go to O. H.
Berry's Clothing House, corner Eleventh and Main Streets,

and buy a fashionable cutaway suit of clothes. And
then I would advise with your white shirt you wear a
white necktie whenever an occasion offers, as it is the
proper thing to do.” He accordingly adopted his good
friend's advice and then wrote as follows:
“I have done as you suggested; went to O. H. Berry's
elegant establishment, where I procured the latest shape
in cutaway suits, but in regard to that white necktie, dear
boy! I am constrained to say that from my observation
here, they are, except by preachers, worn mostly by the
barbers and colored waiters in the restaurants. Still, to
please my good friend, I shall decorate my neck with one
when occasion offers.”
Edward S. McCarthy was elected captain of the 1st
Company of Richmond Howitzers at the reorganization
on the Peninsular in 1862. He was possessed
of a most decided personality; he was rather stout
in figure, with a large, full face, piercing eyes, and
in manner rather inclined to be reticent in speech; but he
had a heart as large as a barn door, was sympathetic
with all who needed a friend and as brave as Marshall
Ney. Careful of his men under fire, never seeking his
own protection, even under the most trying ordeal of a
very severe fire from the enemy's guns, such was the
character of Captain Edward S. McCarthy, the gallant
commander of the 1st Company Richmond Howitzers, who
was struck, at the second battle of Cold Harbor, by a
minnie ball from the rifle of a sharp-shooter. The brave
and noble soldier never uttered a word after the fatal
ball entered his body. I was within three feet of him
when he fell. No more gallant soul, no finer Virginian
gentleman ever yielded up the ghost on the field of patriotism
and duty than this Confederate warrior. What an
awful thing is war; when such specimens of manhood may
be immolated upon the red, gory alter of the God of War.

During that heavy snowfall in the winter of 1858, the
passenger train on the then called Virginia Central Railroad -
now named the Chesapeake and Ohio - was stalled
and completely held-up by a tremendous drift just opposite
the well known farm, “Strawberry Hill,” which is
about six miles from Richmond. On the train, as a passenger,
was a Mrs. Jones, a distinguished actress of that
time, and there was also aboard the cars a Mr. Hugh Fry,
of Richmond. The passengers all decided to leave the
train and go up to the house for diversion or entertainment.
Mrs. Jones found herself involved in a dilemma, as she
had on but a very thin pair of shoes, whereupon Mr.
Fry, with the gallantry of a Sir Walter Raleigh, came
to her relief and took off the boots he was wearing and
insisted on her using them. Then came up an unforeseen
difficulty to be overcome; the legs of his boots were too
small for the fair lady's understandings, whereupon Mr.
Fry with his pen-knife slit the tops so that they went
on smoothly and thus kept the feet of the fair wearer
dry and quite comfortable.
This incident of the antebellum days was regarded as
one of the best displays of knight-errantry in the annals
of the Old Dominion.
One of the most pleasant and entertaining clubs in the
1st Company of the Richmond Howitzers was the card club.
Nearly every game in Hoyle was played, but the
most popular one was draw poker. We used corn grains
for chips, and the antes were not very large in amount,
as we were then receiving as pay only twelve dollars
per month, and that at long intervals. When a player
had not the cash to settle up with the game, he would
give an order on next forthcoming pay, which was always
honored. Some of the men became good poker players.
Many of those who were then participants in the game
of cards, as well as of “grim war,” have passed away
to the other side of the great river of life.
I recall some of the most pleasant times of army life,
while we were encamped in winter quarters, in the enjoyment
incident to a good game of “poker.” They were
as a rule genial, bright fellows, and good cannoneers as
well, but always ready for the call to arms. We were
then all young and hopeful; the survivors are now old
and quite “unsteady on their pins.” Their gait is slow,
and many winters have frosted their once sunny locks.
In the good town of Ashland, in Hanover county, Va., situated
about sixteen miles north of Richmond, on The Richmond,
Fredericksburg and Potomac Railway, is to be found
one of the very prettiest towns in the South. This place
enjoys the distinction of being the birthplace of the illustrious
statesman, Henry Clay, called the “Great Commoner,”
whose efforts in Congress postponed the dreadful
strife between the sections for many years. It was he
who uttered the lofty, patriotic words, “I would rather
be right than be President.” Ashland is not very far
from Hanover Court House, where John Randolph and
Patrick Henry, the renewed orator of the Revolution,
locked horns in the trial of the famous Parson's tobacco
case, in which the former, Mr. Randolph, came very near
putting the great pleader “on the gridiron.” The celebrated
college at this place, named after two distinguished
men, “Randolph-Macon,” is one of the best and most
prosperious institutions of learning in the State, with a
corps of professors of ripest scholarship and thoroughly
equipped for the respective chairs of instruction which
they fill. The town has good water and excellent social
advantages, being two most important elements for comfort
and pleasure in any place of residence. The large,
old forest trees, which still stand in their pristine grandeur
in the streets and yards of Ashland, add much to its appearance
and render it attractive. Many people come to
this village to spend the summer months and enjoy the
advantages it affords of country, pure air and also its
nearness to the city. Mr. Robinson, who was one of the
first presidents of the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac
Railroad, took great interest in Ashland and did
much to advance it in every respect. He established a
fine, turfed race course and started many other improvements
which have all now passed away and are only
remembered by the elder members of the community. An
attractive and well-kept hotel occupies a prominent position
on the main street fronting the railroad, and is well
patronized. So that taking into consideration all the
conveniences and beauties of the town, it may well be
called a desirable place for a home.

The morning accommodation train on the Richmond,
Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad is, you may say,
somewhat unique, since among its regular passengers or
commuters from Ashland may be found almost every kind
of human industry represented. For instance, there is the
lawyer, and there the judge as well. The representative
of the steam and marine navigation insurance. Also a
representative of agricultural implements. The interests
of the tiller of the soil are likewise well represented, and
last, though not least, the grain and feed business has its
agent here, with various other lines of commercial life
well represented, all forming a most pleasant company of
genial and sociable men. The conversation abounds in
honest interchange of ideas, which are both instructive
and entertaining. In these cases there are but little or
no egotism indulged in, only a clear-cut discussion of
questions and topics which are daily presented to everybody
at this time. The daily morning and evening newspapers,
which are full of all the stirring events of the
day, being perused by all, and thus each and every man
obtains therefrom plenty of information as food for a
general diffusion of thoughts and ideas. Hence
this train may be truly a unique one.
An interesting incident was that of the independent
fire department of Richmond in the days before the war.
This consisted of several companies, between which there
existed a considerable degree of rivalry. The engine and
the reel, or hose carriage, were drawn by the men. Captain
John Fry commanded number three engine. Captain
Bargamin was chief of number one. As a matter of course
where there was so much rivalry among them, at every
fire there arose a contention as to which company was
entitled to attach its hose to the nearest plug, and it
generally resulted in a free fight between the two companies.
Then fighting was only regarded as a sort of
recreation of a manly sport. But time and the experience
in the late war taught them to look upon it in an
entirely different light. Such is the change of sentiment
and morals produced by time and trouble.
Our present splendid fire department, under the pay
system, is one of the city's best assets, presents quite a
contrast to the old days. With the new automobile fire
engines, carrying hose, ladders, chemical apparatus and
everything needed at a big fire, capable of throwing powerful
streams of water, the fires of today do not reach
often to conflagrations of the size as of yore. The whole
system now works like a clock. And the employment of
the best mechanical skill, in addition to the use of the
motor power to supersede horse power, proves the rapid
and great advance of modern conveniences as contrasted
with the old-fashioned, hand-power machines.
The people of the United States of North America
at this time are confronted with many important and intricate
problems of government for their solution. Indeed,
we have reached a crisis in the political and commercial life
of the country. At this writing, the fall of the year
1912, the country is on the eve of an important presidential
election. Governor Woodrow Wilson, of New
Jersey, and Governor Thomas R. Marshall, of Indiana, head
the Democratic ticket. Mr. Wm. H. Taft, the incumbent,
is the nominee of the regular Republican Protection party;
while Colonel Theodore Roosevelt is the leader of the third
party of high tariffites, commonly termed the Bull Moose
or National Progressives.

The letter of acceptance of each of the candidates gives
to some extent the policy of the administration that is
advocated by them. There are some wrongs to remedy
and some new measures to adjust and policies to inaugurate.
In the meantime the people are looking with eager eyes at
the contest and are anxious to know the final result in
November as to which party will be successful and the
kind of government that will rule them after the 4th
of March, 1913.
An interesting history of by-gone days was that of the
old James River and Kanawha Canal, which was in its
day a very important means of transportation to all points
situated in the valley of the James above Richmond to
the westward. The State of Virginia, which built and
owned it at the beginning of the war, sold it to the Richmond
and Alleghany Railroad Company, which constructed
a railroad on its bank known as the Richmond and
and Alleghany Railroad. This road finally fell to the control
of the Chesapeake and Ohio Company by purchase of
its stock and bonds, and thus the use of that fine work
as a means of transport became a thing of the past -
too slow for the age of steam and electricity.
A striking feature of Richmond during the war were
the levees or social receptions held at the Governor's
mission every Thursday night. They were largely attended
by the citizens as well as by the soldiers that were
passing through the city, affording a pleasant opportunity
to the boys in grey to and from the front, to meet the
fair ladies of the Confederacy, who lent their charming
presence and society for the enjoyment of the officers and
men, affording a very delightful recreation and change
from the hardships and many privations of field duty.
Colonel William Smith, nick-named Extra Billy while
in Congress, was one of the bravest and most popular officers
in the Army of Northern Virginia. His regiment
had won distinction on many fields of battle. An election
was held in the army and every man in all the Virginia
regiments voted for him to be the Governor of Virginia,
and it proved a wise selection, for his intense devotion
to the cause of the Confederacy, as well as his conspicious
gallantry, endeared him to every one who wore the gray.
Very well do I recall the occasion when the guests at
the Mansion passed in review and gave him the compliments
of the evening. His genial manners to all will long
be remembered.
Doctor Hunter McGuire, the medical director of Stonewall
Jackson's corps, by his sympathetic manner
and great skill as a sergeon, saved many a poor Confederate's
life and also soothed his suffering body when tortured by
wounds received in battle. He was the physician who
attended his mortally wounded chief, after he was stricken
down at Chancellorsville, by the accidental fire of his own
men. All that could be done, he did to save his valuable
life, but all was in vain, as pneumonia set in and the great
soldier passed away, to the deepest sorrow and grief of
the whole South. Doctor McGuire, after the war, settled
in Richmond and established a very large and lucrative
practice, gaining a national reputation as an eminent surgeon,
his operations in the line of surgery being quoted
all over the country for their skillful application of the
principles of that great art.
Doctor McGuire's great, tender heart was always open to
the needs of the Confederate soldier, or to the aid of
the “Lost Cause” in keeping alive in the memories the
glories of those who fell in defense of their homes and
families. His memory is still revered by the old and the
young for his many noble traits of character and his deeds
as a citizen and physician.
A man by the name of Robert Jennings was a sergeant
in the 9th Pennsylvania Cavalry, and when his regiment
was passing through the county of Matthews, during the
war, he was so much pleased with the surroundings that
he said if he came out of the conflict unharmed, he would
buy a farm there, and as he was fortunate enough to
survive, both sound and well, and being the possessor of
a snug sum of ready money, he carried out his intentions
by purchasing a nice home and launched out ill the very
laudable occupation of tilling the soil. “Colonel Bob,” as
he was called, being of a genial nature, attended court
at the county seat every court day, his object in so doing was
to become well acquainted with the citizens, and being a
man of means and of a liberal disposition, he treated, or
“set up” drinks and cigars to the people very freely. He
began by ordering the best to be had, such as fifteen-cent
drinks in thin glasses and Henry Clay regalia cigars, and
consequently became exceedingly popular, indeed was one
of the most popular men in Matthews county, on account
of his liberality and frequent attendance on court day. His
farm and affairs were neglected, which compelled him to
mortgage his property and was thus reduced to the necessity
of ordering ten-cent drinks and cheaper cigars. So
they, from calling him “Colonel,” changed his title to
“Major Bob,” and as he still neglected his farm and its
management, and was again forced by lack of money to
put a second deed of trust on his farm, he was now reduced
to the rank of “Captain Bob.” He then reduced the cost
of his drinks down to “shorts,” or five-cent drams, and
stogies for smokes. Well, finally things went from bad to
worse, and Captain Bob had to place a third deed or
mortgage on his place, and then it went into the hands of
the trustee and was advertised for sale. A man from Minnesota
came and said that he liked the place and also liked
the people, as they were in general simple-minded, honest
folks, he would send his son down in the winter and he
would come in the summer.
“Bob,” for they now only called him plain “Bob,” overheard
the man say “a simple-minded people,” remarked:
“Well, that is what I thought a few years ago, when I first
came down here, with about seventy-five thousand dollars,
and now I haven't got money enough left to pay my steamboat
fare to the city of Norfolk”; and whatever afterwards
became of Mr. Robert Jennings I do not know.

When General McClellan advanced up the peninsular
formed by the James and York Rivers, from Yorktown and
Old Point Comfort, and laid sedge to Richmond in the
spring of the year 1862, the Federal gunboats steamed
up the James River and attempted to pass by the Confederate
fortifications at Drewry's Bluff, called “Fort
Darling” by the Federals, and then began a fierce artillery
duel between them. At the crisis of the battle the principal
gun, a thirty pounder, was thrown from its trunions,
and by the skill and coolness at this critical juncture of
Major Jno. G. Clarke, the engineer in charge, it was
safely remounted and the enemy's fleet repulsed, thus
saving the city from bombardment. Major Clarke was
promoted to the rank of colonel of the engineer
corps, and was at the battle of Gettysburg, where he
directed and superintended the placing of the pontoon
bridges at “Falling Waters” for General Lee's army to
pass over after the fight. He was then promoted again to
be full colonel of engineers. Upon the death of Colonel
Harris he was put in command of Charleston, S. C.
During the important period of history known as “Reconstruction,”
General Canby sent one of his aides, a
Lieutenant Terfew, to the county of bleary, in order to
reduce the population to terms. The county seat was his
destination and court was in session when he arrived and
at the mid-day recess. This officer, upon dismounting,
very warm and dusty, it being the latter part of June,
found a large number of citizens assembled in front of
the hotel, to whom he stated, that by order of General
Canby, he was there to reconstruct the county and to
inaugurate amicable relations between the government at
Richmond and the good people of the county and thus
prevent friction. The crowd present selected as their
spokesman an old justice of the peace, and accordingly
addressed the officer in these words:
Lieutenant Terfew, sir: Any one coming to the good
old county of Henry with such good credentials as you
bear, to-wit: The sword in one hand and the olive branch
in the other, a slight or any discourtesy extended or
offered you will be regarded by each one of us as an
affront individually, and will be resented and treated
as it deserves.” After this the lieutenant inquired if he
could procure any refreshment, whereupon the landlord
stepped forward and said: “Oh, yes, just follow.” The
officer then invited the whole party to join him in a
sociable drink. Eleven of them accepted; among them
was the justice who had replied. They walked up the
passageway, then faced to the right and then front-faced
to the counter at the bar and each called for what he
wished. Each one took apple brandy. Then he remarked:
“Gentlemen, as I am tired and thirsty, I wish to repeat,
won't you all again join me.” Upon this the old justice
spoke up thus: “Now, lieutenant, we will repeat, but
not at your expense. Landlord, just chalk the last drinks
down to me.” As they were filing out of the bar the
landlord beckoned to the lieutenant and asked him who
was going to pay for those last drinks. “That old fellow
has been playing that trick on me for the last five years,”
he said. The result was that the officer was successful
in fully reconstructing the county.
Just before the close of the war a foraging squad of
Federal cavalry, under the command of Lieutenant Rowland
Wood, was sent out and reached the fine, old colonial
residence of a Mrs. Swann, whose plantation was well
stocked and in fair condition, as in fact many places had
not suffered from the visits of the foragers and prowlers
of either army. Indeed this was one of the fortunate
ones. It was named “Meadow Brook,” and was truly
a very fine estate. The ladies of the mansion used an old-
fashioned knocker on the front door; and Miss Ida Swann
answered the front door. The officer was struck as soon
as she appeared, as he recognized in her the same young
lady that he had known and greatly admired before the
war. She was the ideal Virginian girl, high spirited and
loyal to the South, with an independent bearing, a characteristic
of the well-bred country maiden. She was fond
of out-door life and exercises, like Diana Vernon, so beautifully
described by Sir Walter Scott in one of his novels.
The Federal officer stated his errand in the most polite
way, of course, which was to some extent a matter of
embarrassment to him under the circumstances, and after
having made an inspection and found that there was
comparatively nothing on the premises which would be
of any value to the cavalry service, he came across her
own riding horse, which he decided was too delicate to
bear a trooper. So he returned to camp, having done nothing
injurious to the place. It happened this was near
the close of the war, and shortly afterwards the Southern
army surrendered at Appomattox to General U. S. Grant.
Then the lieutenant cast aside his uniform and donned
a citizen's suit, and after things had quited down, he concluded
to make a friendly visit to “Meadow Brook,”
where he found Miss Swann in the bloom of health
and buoyant spirits. And by his manly and straight-forward
course of conduct, he gradually regained his former position
in her esteem and by degrees the old flame of affection
was rekindled, and in the old church near-by they
stood before the altar and plighted their mutual troth
and vows and were made man and wife by the sacred rites
of matrimony. Their life has been, and is now, one of
connubial bliss and contentment with their lot, because of
the pure love and congeniality existing between them.

In this, the first decade of the twentieth century, we
find new conditions confronting the people called by many
in the political sense, “Progressive.” There are many
conditions in both the commercial and political orders of
the time which are deemed by the leaders to need a
change. For instance, the control of cities through new
municipal legislation, and a Board of Control, or Administration.
In the national affairs: The election of Senators
by the direct vote of the people, and by the means
of primary elections in the States in the nomination of
candidates for the Presidency, instead of the old modes
of by conventions and legislatures. Time will surely prove
whether the changes called for, and now inaugurated
in some cities and States, will be any improvement over
the former system.
We are now living in an age of decided change and
advances. Everything that conduces to the progress and
betterment of society, in its general sense, ought to be
given a trial in order that the masses of citizens may be
uplifted and conditions of living be ameliorated and advanced,
both physically and morally.
It has been asserted that the Confederate soldier was
addicted to the evil habit of emphasizing his ordinary
conversation in a manner of speech not admissable in
a Sunday school room. As a matter of fact a great many
of the hardest fighters and most gallant commanders were
real profane men, that seemed to believe that an order
accompanied by an oath would be executed with more
dispatch than if not so given. Many soldiers were kept
from using oaths before a battle on account of the penalty
accruing from breaking the Third Commandment, to-wit:
“Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain,
for the Lord will not hold him guiltless, that taketh
his name in vain.” I do not think there was more swearing
among soldiers than there was before the war. To
say the least, the habit is very vulgar and unrefined,
aside from its wickedness, and should never be taught
children; yet there have been occasions when an oath
seemed to give an order more effect and vim; still it is
not advisable and should be only, if at all, used seldom
in any company, but such is the frailty of human nature
that soldiers are prone to do that which they ought not
to do. I am opposed to cursing, and think it ought never
to be resorted to if possible to avoid it. The human family,
if it tries hard so to do, can abstain from the habit, and
they can accustom themselves to speak without violating
the commandment of God.

Years ago there settled in the county of Hanover a
Mr. James Ames and Jane, his wife. They were very
industrious, thrifty citizens. He had purchased his farm
through a real estate firm of Richmond, on the terms of
three equal payments. He paid promptly the first two,
but six months before the third one fell due, he found himself
confronted with unforeseen conditions: There had
been a long, distressing drought, which had cut short his
crops, and one of his mules had broken his leg, so that
altogether he was in a sad state of mind. The third and
last installment on his farm was nearly due and his wife,
who was a sensible and practical woman, said to him, now
let me see if I can assist in this difficulty, to which he
assented. Accordingly she went to Richmond to the firm
from which the farm was bought, with that native dignity
inherent to the country lady, and asked to see the head
of the firm, and was told that he was not in, being detained
at his home on account of sickness in his family, upon
which she obtained the address of his residence, where
she went, and finding him, stated her business. He told
her that he was quite unfit to attend to any kind of business
by reason of his distress; whereupon she told him
that she was a skillful nurse, and that if he so desired it,
she would remain over in town a few days and would
assist in nursing his sick family that was suffering with
measles, requiring constant, careful nursing. Under her
efficient attentions and skillful nursing they were finally
restored to health and to their normal condition. So he
rode down to his office with Mrs. Ames, and asking for
the deed he marked the balance due paid in full. It thus
resulted that James obtained a clear title to his farm
through the cleverness of his good wife. Now what is
it that a good smart woman cannot accomplish?
A prominent, burning question of the day and time is
that of woman suffrage, and why not give them the right
to vote? This is a day of progress and change, and the
right of females to exercise the privilege of suffrage should
be freely accorded the sex which has really had a controlling
influence in the affairs of mankind since the day
of Adam and Eve. Did she not, by means of her persuasive
arguments, induce, through mother Eve, the
father of men, Adam, to eat of the forbidden fruit?
Woman has always been a beacon light to man in guiding
him in the paths of right and duty.
Yes, indeed, there are many worse things in human
economy than woman suffrage. So it is to be hoped that
the next General Assembly of Virginia may accede to the
petitions presented them in advancing the cause of equal
suffrage. Woman is now the great propelling force of
the present age of political economy. They have always
exercised the right to vote, I believe, in choosing vestrymen
of the church, and in some school matters in some
cities, and so why not give them the right to participate
in regular elections of State and municipal officers? It
is the inherent right or privilege of the sex to do as she
pleases or deserves, and there should be no law to prevent
her exercising her own sweet will in such matters. I
believe women are possessed of as much intelligence as
men are, and in some respects they have more, hence they
should not be debarred from the polls in the general
elections of those who are to represent them, as well as
men, in the administration of everyday affairs. I should
like to be a registrar of precinct which numbered a large
proportion of suffragettes. I would not challenge the vote
of a single one.
The Howitzer Association is formed of the surviving
members of the three companies, the first, the second
and third. It has a reunion and banquet on each thirteenth
day of December, which is the anniversary of the
battle of Fredericksburg. A good supper is spread on
that night and many recollections of the great war are
recalled and renewal of fellowship and general intercourse
is enjoyed, which cements the attachments between
each of the survivors of the three companies. Alas! How
sad to realize that so many of your comrades have passed
In the voyage of life you sometimes meet persons, who
say that they wish to banish all reminder of the great
war between the States, or as we say, the Confederacy.
Such people it might be properly asked, did they fight
so hard, and were they so zealous that they dislike to
revert to their prowess on the field of battle? Or did
they shirk their duty to their country so very adroitly
that they hate to be reminded of it? The true soldier
of the Confederacy, the gallant boy who shouldered a
musket at the call to defend his home and fireside, and
who faithfully performed his duty, whether as a private
or as an officer, should have no desire to entirely wipe
out of memory that eventful period in his own history,
and of his country that awful time which tested the
metal of which men were made, but he should wish rather
to have a full and correct account of that great conflict
given to the present and the future generations.
The majority of the survivors of the Confederate armies
do not believe that they ought to forget or erase from
their minds all memory of the battles of Sharpsburg or
Antietam, of Spottsylvania Court House, of Gettysburg,
or of Chickamauga and Shiloh. I am at a loss to comprehend
from what basis these tender-nerved Confederates
reason, and I reflect that fortunately there exists
but a few such among those who “wore the gray.”
In the days by-gone there lived in Richmond a prominent
dealer in horses and mules by the name of Benjamin
Green, whose early career began as a contractor, having
built the bridge over the James River for the railroad
to Petersburg. His establishment was the largest entreprise
in the livestock line in Virginia. It was generally
conceded that any one who was so unfortunate as to have
a transaction with him was certain to be worsted, or at
least to get the small end of the trade. His intercourse
with the farmers was very extensive and it was said
that any man who purchased an animal and threw himself upon
Green's honor in the transaction, never failed to obtain
a fair, square deal. In the other hand, if the purchaser
relied upon his own judgment of an animal he was very
apt to get the worst of the bargain. Ben Green was a
smooth talker and a keen, first-class salesman. His residence
was a beautiful place about two or three miles west
of the city on the Broad Street Road, where he entertained
his guests in a sumptuous manner, and was looked
upon as one of the most remarkable men in the State.
Colonel Richard Adams was a prominent citizen of
Richmond and was at one time appointed high sheriff of
Henrico county. At that time the office was one of
dignity and emolument, and it was one that was
frequently sublet to a second party, and such was the
case with Colonel Adams. He then boarded at the old
Exchange Hotel when it was kept by Colonel Boykin,
he was a widower, being left with three children at
his wife's death. One of the latter was Mary Adams,
who married General George Randolph; another one,
Catherine Adams, who died while attending the school
conducted by Mr. Ice Febre, and a son by the name of
Samuel Adams, comprised his family. He was a life-long
friend of my father and his family and was a regular
visitor of the same. He was a great epicure and if any
one knew what was good in the way of living and the
proper way to cook a choice cut of meat, he was that
man. When we lived in the country he often came out,
and would always forestall his coming by sending us a
nice leg of mutton or lamb, a nice tenderloin of beef, a
roast of beef or a fine piece of sturgeon. My mother,
who was noted for her good housekeeping, always
directed the cooking of the particular dish which he sent
out to us. When it was placed upon the table, hot and
juicy, the old gentleman would exclaim that, “It is cooked
and served up to a dot, it could not be improved.”
Colonel Adams was not what is known as a gourmand,
but a high-toned Virginian gentleman, who preferred the
best meats to be obtained in the markets, and prepared for
the table in a manner that would cause the smiles and
approval of epicures. One day he was dining with a friend
whose custom was to invite his guest to join him in a
toddy before the dinner was announced. Well, as the
gentlemen were standing in front of the sideboard, their
drinks were made of fine old Clemmer Whiskey, five years
old, oily and fragrant. Holding their glasses in their
hands, Mr. J commenced to tell an anecdote, but
the suspense becoming too great, the Colonel appealed to
him to jump over the bars, and not wait to pull them down,
in other words to razee his story so as to proceed with
their drinking, which would serve to whet their appetites
for the good dinner awaiting their presence.
The First Baptist Church, which is situated on the
corner of Broad and Twelfth Streets, is one of the oldest
ones in the City of Richmond. It stands on the same
ground it was built on nearly a century ago. Its pulpit
has been occupied by the most distinguished divines in
the Baptist denomination, such, for instance, as Doctor
Broaddus, whose reputation as a pulpit orator has rarely,
if ever, been excelled, Doctor Burrows, who was
its pastor during the great war of 1861 to 1865 and after
the same Doctor Cooper, whose ministration as its pastor
is held in kindest reverence and esteem by all who were
fortunate enough to be under his pastorate charge.
This congregation is now served by one of the most
gifted clergymen in the church to which he belongs, but
also one of the most eloquent pulpit orators in the South,
namely, Doctor G. W. McDaniel. Were all the reminiscences
of this sacred and strong edifice written up in full
it would fill a volume.
A prominent representative of the female element of
Richmond society previous to the war was Mrs. Cora
Ritchie Mowatt, a leader in the best social circles. She
was formerly an actress of distinction and of excellent
reputation. She had considerable literary ability and had
written a history of her life as an actress, entitled “An
Autobiography of An Actress.” She afterwards married
William F. Ritchie, the editor of The Enquirer, the organ
of the Democratic party of the State of Virginia. This
talented and popular lady was truly a “beacon light” of
the social and fashionable society of the time.

After the war the present or junior company of Richmond
Howitzers was organized or formed. It is well
officered, Captain Myers being its commander, Lieutenant
Pollard, first lieutenant, and Lieutenant Reese, second
lieutenant. Its commanders are young men of the first
character and material. The corps de esprit of the company
is the highest order. It has the advantage over the
old company, in as much as its battery and equipment is
of the very latest or advanced excellence of modern ordinance.
It is an ornament to the military organization of
the State and city, and no doubt may be entertained that
whenever an opportunity is offered it will sustain the
prestige of the old company. I do not intend to say that
the 1st, 2d and ad companies of Howitzers were superior
to other artillery companies in the Army of Northern
Virginia, yet I do say that they were never placed in
position in any line of battle that they did not hold it
until ordered out. The young company is composed of
the same kind of material, hence it may be safely asserted
that the junior organization will perpetuate the name and
prestige of the old company. At the reunion of the Howitzers
Association, on the 13th of December, the junior
company are always welcomed guests.
From 1861 to 1862 the army of the Confederacy was
under the control of the several States composing the Confederacy
on the peninsula. A reorganization of the army
occurred and the troops of the separate States were turned
over to the Confederate government and enlisted for the
war. New officers were elected and an entire change made
in reforming the Confederate Army. The name was then
changed from Army of the Potomac to Army of Northern
One of the most unique men Virginia ever produced was
Captain George Randolph, who was Secretary of War of
the Confederate States. He organized the First Company
of Richmond Howitzers; he had been in some way connected
with the United States Navy and he conceived
the idea of equipping the company with boat Howitzers
with a long trail attached to the piece and drawn by the
cannoneers. This plan was abandoned and the pieces
were mounted on light carriages and drawn by two horses.
Captain Randolph was a lineal descendant of Thomas Jefferson
and a man of striking personality; in physique he
was tall and slender, with high cheek bones, with an eye
as clear seeing as an eagle. In social intercourse he was
rather reticent, though true as steel; he was a Democrat
and ardent advocate of the rights of the South. At this
time no Democrat received any political preferment in
Richmond, yet when they were casting around for the
ablest and best men to send to the Secession Convention
party lines were ignored and he was elected a
member, and a wise choice it was. His speeches and
debates were among the ablest, emanating from that group
of forensic and intellectual giants. Upon the secession of
Virginia he donned his artillery uniform and concentrated
all his force and energy in organizing the Howitzers
Battalion consisting of the first, second and third companies.
He was made Major. John C. Shields, captain
1st Company; J. Thompson Brown, captain 2d Company;
Robert Standard, captain 3d Company. Major Randolph,
with second and third companies was sent to the peninsula
under General McGruder. The first company was
sent to Manasas under General Beauregard, thus forming
a part of the army of the Potomac.
After the lapse of time Mr. Davis realizing the brilliant
qualities of Major Randolph, appointed him Secretary of
War. Yet the ailment that he had long suffered with
caused him to resign and in quest of alleviation of his suffering
he took passage on a blockade runner and died
abroad. Mr. Seddon succeeded him as Secretary of War
of the Confederate States. General Randolph's name is
held in high esteem by all who admire a high type of manhood
and knightly bearing.

Captain Meriweather Lewis Anderson was mustered
into the service of the State of Virginia at the commencement
of the Confederate War as orderly sergeant of the First
Company of Richmond Howitzers. Subsequently he was
elected lieutenant when Captain E. S. McCarthy was
killed at second Cold Harbor. He, by seniority of rank,
became captain of the company. No braver officer ever
buckled saber around his waist than this gallant Confederate
soldier. He was with the company in nearly every
battle it engaged or participated in.
The record that Captain Anderson left is bright as the
finest damascus blade. He has passed to the other side
of the river, and may his memory be cherished by all who
honor indomnitable courage and devotion to the lost cause.
During the war my company, the First Howitzers Camp,
was surrounded by infantry regiments; it was in the fall
of the year hostilities had ceased, so a couple of cannoneers
and myself took a walk for recreation and to see what
was going on. We came to an infantry regiment going
through dress parade. It was a novel sight. The colonel
had an old cavalry sword attached to a cirsingle thrown
over his shoulders. The officers wore similar side arms.
The adjutant used a ram-rod for a sword; he formed the
regiment and presented it to the colonel. The company
officers marched forward and gave the customary salute
when the colonel put the regiment through a few evolutions
and disbanded. It was one of the best fighting regiments
in the army, yet paid little attention to the formula
of show on dress parade, but when charging the enemy
or holding their position in line of battle they were all

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