African-American History In Patrick County
"I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." -- Martin Luther King, Jr., August 28, 1963
"…our country must abandon all the habits of racism, because we cannot carry the message of freedom and the baggage of bigotry at the same time." -- President George W. Bush, January 20, 2005
Their names were Peter, Jack, Charles, Bob, Moses, Jefferson, Suckey, Catharine, Lucy, John, Caroline, Winney, Amy, Lavina, Walter, Celia, Henry, Sucky, David, Luther, Louisa, John, Charles, Scott, Jackson, Seth, Nancy, Margarett Jefferson, Martha Jane, Alice, Sally, Gustavis, Samuel, Betty, Sampson, and Archibald. They were the largest group of people living at Laurel Hill during the time Archibald and Elizabeth Stuart lived there. Other than their names we know little about them. They were the slaves of Laurel Hill.
Their ancestors came from the west coast of Africa. They may have been captured by white slave traders or sold to the slave traders by other blacks who defeated their nation in battle. William Letcher’s will mentions nine slaves living at Laurel Hill in 1780. Their names were David, Ben, Randolph, Craft, Nann, Look, Abraham, Will and Dick. These people probably returned with Letcher’s widow Elizabeth and lived at Beaver Creek Plantation in Henry County, the home of George Hairston, the second husband of Mrs. Letcher.
The personal property records state slaves above the age of sixteen for tax purposes. The number of taxable slaves ranges from three in 1824, sixteen in 1846 to eleven in 1856 after Archibald Stuart’s death the preceding year. The 1850 slave schedule of the United States Census shows nearly thirty slaves mostly women and children.
What was life like for the slaves at Laurel Hill? Where did they come from? Where did they go? Was Archibald Stuart a kind owner? Was there an evil overseer at Laurel Hill? The answer to all these questions is we do not know. The information is from several sources such as the slave schedules of the 1840 and 1850 Census, the personal property records, and indentures in the deed books in the Patrick County courthouse. Indentures were agreements between Archibald Stuart and others for money and land with the slaves used as collateral
We do know of relationships between the blacks from these sources. In 1839, we know that Charles age 40 and Suckey age 43 had an infant child named Nancy and other children Margarett age 19, Jefferson age 19, Catharine age 17, Lucy age 15, John age 13, Louisa age 11, Charles Henry age 5, and Martha Jane age 3. The majority of the slaves were women and their children: Suckey her children: Catharine, Lucy, John, Charles and Caroline, Winney and her children: Amy, Lavina, and Walter, Celia and her children: Henry, Sucky, David, Samuel, and Luther, Catharine and her children: Alice, Sally and Gustavis.
J. E. B. Stuart owned two slaves while serving in the United States Army in Kansas. The woman was sold because of mistreatment of one of the Stuart children. The most famous of the Laurel Hill slaves was Bob or "Mulatto" Bob. He served General Stuart during the Civil War. At one point during the Chambersburg raid in October, 1862 Bob got lost with several of Stuart’s horses, but eventually returned to headquarters. His fate is unknown.
We know little about the fate of the slaves of Laurel Hill. There is no black Stuart living in Patrick County assuming that the former slaves took the name of their former owner. The J. E. B. Stuart Birthplace recently cleaned the traditional gravesite of the slaves and marked it with granite stone similar to the one denoting the state and national register of historic places. It reads simply "Dedicated To The Memory Of The Servants Who Lie Here," but for us all theirs’ is a lost history.
The Slave Cemetery at Laurel Hill offers an opportunity to sit and reflect on a part of our history that is does not show the best side of our ancestors, but it is a part of history that we should face head on and this part of Laurel Hill gives the visitor a chance to think about it.
Patrick County’s Civil Rights Mother
Kitty Reynolds (Courtesy of Kimble Reynolds, Jr.)
In the kitchen of the Reynolds Homestead hangs a picture of Kitty Reynolds, the slave that traditions says saved the life of her owner Hardin Reynolds when she distracted a raging bull long enough for the father of R. J. to escape danger, but it is as a mother than she should be more famous.
Burwell age nineteen and Lee age seventeen were children of Kitty Reynolds. On November 29, 1877, at the end of Reconstruction after the Civil War the Reynolds brothers got into a fight with the white brothers Green and Aaron Shelton near the present day site of the Patrick County Schools bus maintenance garage. The cause of the altercation was verbal harassment by the Shelton boys directed at a school for former slaves at the site overlooking Campbell’s Branch.
Aaron Shelton knocked Lee Reynolds over a log near the road and Burwell stabbed the former with a knife resulting in Shelton’s death the next day. In April 1878, Patrick County tried the two Reynolds brothers separately. Judge William Treadway presided and with all white juries even though attorneys for the brothers Andrew M. Lybrook and William Martin asked for the juries to be one third black. The court found Burwell guilty of first degree murder after a second trial. Lee received an eighteen-year sentence for second-degree murder after a second trial. The attorneys petitioned Judge Alexander Rives of the Federal District of Western Virginia to move the cases to federal court on the grounds that the state court denied the defendant’s rights due to a lack of blacks on the juries and they could not receive a fair trial in Patrick County due to their race.
On November 18, 1878, Deputy U. S. Marshall O. R. Wooten arrived in Stuart to take the Reynolds brothers under his protection. This set off a chain of events that ended up in the U.S. Supreme Court. Editorials in newspaper and Resolutions in the Virginia General Assembly said Judge Rives actions were a "Federal usurpation of power" and "unwarranted by the Constitution." Virginia’s Attorney General asked Congress to pass legislation to prevent Federal courts from "usurping" the power of state courts. Newspapers as far away as Baltimore and New York commented on the case that began as a senseless killing in Patrick County.
Judge Rives responded by calling two grand juries that included black men that eventually indicted judges in Amherst, Appomattox, Bedford, Botetourt, Buckingham, Campbell, Charlotte, Franklin, Fluvanna, Halifax, Henry, Nelson and Roanoke counties including Judge James D. Coles of Pittsylvania County and Judge Samuel G. Staples of Patrick County for excluding African-Americans from juries violating the Civil Rights Act of 1875 and the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which guaranteed "equal protection of the law."
Of all the judges arrested only Judge James Doddridge Coles of Pittsylvania County refused bail and petitioned the U. S. Supreme Court for a writ of habeas corpus claiming he had not violated any law becoming a case forever known as Ex Parte Virginia. On March 15, 1880, the Supreme Court denied the petition, thus upholding Judge Rives actions as part of decisions on three separate cases commonly referred to as "The Civil Rights Cases" that set precedents for the protection of rights for the former slaves. The courthouse in Chatham received National Landmark status in 1987 due to this case instead of Patrick mainly because the National Park Service did not dig deep enough to find the roots of the case were in Patrick County. Further information can be found in the writings of Herman Melton’s Pittsylvania County’s Historic Courthouse: The Story Behind Ex Parte Virginia and "Thirty-Nine Lashes-Well Laid On:" Crime and Punishment in Southside Virginia 1750-1950.
Burwell Reynolds received a sentence of five years for manslaughter for killing Aaron Shelton. Patrick County did not prosecute Lee Reynolds and released him. Kitty Reynolds continued to be a cherished member of the Reynolds family. Tobacco magnate R. J. Reynolds would send a car from Winston-Salem up to Patrick County and bring her to stay with his family. She never realized the full impact of her involvement as a "mother" of Civil Rights in Patrick County.
The Rock Spring, Reynolds Homestead left and the kitchen where Kitty Reynolds lived and worked on the right.
Patrick County’s Black Population in the Civil War
When the Civil War broke out in April 1861 Patrick County’s slave population was around 2000 souls. The county received a request near the end of 1862 from the Governor of Virginia for slaves "to labour on fortifications and other works necessary for the public defence." Patrick County appointed a committee to procure slaves in each of the county’s districts and sixty-three slaves were delivered to the Sheriff on December 30, 1862.
Another request occurred in September 1863 for slaves to appear on October 12, 1863. January 1865 saw the third request for slaves from the Confederate government to appear at the courthouse on April 17, 1865. The war in Virginia ended on April 9, 1865 with Lee’s surrender to Grant at Appomattox Court House. It is doubtful that these last seventeen people ever saw service for the South. The total number of slaves requisitioned for Confederate service throughout the war was 130 people.
Between 1820 and 1860, there were never more than 140 free people of color living in the county. A law passed on February 12, 1863, for the "enrollment and employment of free Negroes." On September 29, 1863, James or Jarvus Beaver, Alis or Alice Fenly, Josephus Givny, Soloman Johnson, Edward Loggin, Jackson Loggin, Samuel Nelson, Governor Phillips, Peter Rickman, Harrison Steward, Henry Steward, Salie Stuart, Granville Stuart, William H. Travis and John Vaughan, all "free people of color" were conscripted into service for the Confederate cause from Patrick County.
Records exist relating to several of these people. Governor Phillips was five foot ten inches tall and had black eyes, black hair and a black complexion. He reported to New Bern in Pulaski County on July 1, 1864 to Lieutenant Poole under the direction of the Confederate Quartermaster Department under the command of I. H. Lacy. Others reporting to New Bern were Granville Stewart, Josephus Goins, William Harris, James M. Hickman, Soloman Johnson and Jacob Lac. All reported being born in Patrick County, but may not have been enrolled from the county.
The Confederate war effort was enhanced by the use of slave and free Negro labor for jobs such as building trenches and support staff such as teamsters, cooks and personal servants to officers. They were used as non-combatants and never saw service fighting for the South. This labor force freed the white men to fight and help make up for the disparities in numbers that gave the Union forces a considerable advantage.
The Emancipation Proclamation freed all slaves in Patrick County in January 1863 as it was under Confederate control. The Thirteenth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution ratified in December 1865 ended slavery. The Fourteenth Amendment ratified in 1868 guaranteed citizenship, equal protection and due process. The Fifteenth Amendment in 1870 protected voting rights
Patrick County’s Civil War Soldiers in the United States Colored Troops
Many slaves followed George Stoneman’s United States cavalry when it passed through Patrick County in April 1865. The Reynolds’ slaves followed the Yankee raiders. Hardin Reynolds told his other son Abram, "My son the Yankees have been here and torn up everything and my Negro men have all gone with them." Upon arriving in Danbury, Stoneman felt the number of former slaves following the raid endangered the future safety of all involved. Stoneman sent "several hundred" under guard to East Tennessee, where many of the men enlisted in the 119th United States Colored Troops.
The regiment organized at Camp Nelson (www.campnelson.org ) near Nicholasville, Kentucky from January 18 until May 16, 1865 (Other records indicated June 6-July 12). Equipped with .577 caliber Enfield rifles, George Gray, Peter Gray, Edmond Hylton, Jacob Reynolds, Miles Reynolds and Samuel Tatum of Patrick County served under Colonel Charles G. Bartlett and Lieutenant Colonel Thomas R. Weaver. The regiment mustered out of the service of the United States on April 27, 1866.
GRAY, George. Company H, 119th U. S. Colored Infantry (Kentucky Infantry), April 14, 1865-April 27, 1866. Widow, Lavina, applied for pension. Lived at Colesville Post Office.
GRAY, Peter. Company K, 119th U. S. Colored Infantry (Kentucky Infantry), April 14, 1865-April 27, 1866. Lived at Consent Post Office.
HYLTON, Edmond (Edward). Company H, 119th U. S. Colored Infantry (Kentucky Infantry), April 14, 1865-April 27, 1866. Lived at Consent Post Office.
REYNOLDS, Jacob. Company K, 119th U. S. Colored Infantry. Widow, Letty, applied for pension. Lived at Patrick Springs Post Office.
REYNOLDS, Miles. Company H, 119th U. S. Colored Infantry. Widow, Rhoda, applied for pension. Lived at Patrick Springs Post Office.
TATUM, Samuel. Company H, 119th U. S. Colored Infantry (Kentucky Infantry), April 14, 1865-April 27, 1866. Lived at Dobyns Post Office.
Summary of Six Former Slaves that Join the United States Colored Troops
From Patrick County Virginia
By Cynthia Wilson
The following three soldiers are very familiar with each other. Their pension files a loaded with depositions that they gave for each other. They seem to have joined the Union Army at the same time and were mustered out at the same time and returned to Patrick County about the same time.
Born on 2 February 1849 and died 26 April 1916 in Patrick County Virginia. He married twice: Mary Joyce (1843-1896, daughter of Samuel and Leathe Joyce) on 4 January 1854 and Onie Price in January 1901. To the first union 11 children were born: Henry, William, George, Mary, Samuel, James, General, Gabriel, Louisa and 2 unnamed children. No children were born to the second marriage.
He entered the Union Army on 14 April 1865 at Greensville, Tennessee and transferred to Camp Nelson, Kentucky on 10 May 1865 and served in Co. H, 119th USCT and mustered out 27 April 1866.
In his deposition dated 20 September 1895, he said that he was owned by Jeremiah W. Hylton: “… I was owned by Jeremiah Hylton, now dead. I resided in said neighborhood from my birth until April 1865… I left my old mistress [Nancy Hylton] April 9th 1865 and I returned to her on the 8th day of May 1866.”
A search of my records on slaves in probate records, shows that at age 6 months, he and his twin brother, William were owned by Jeremiah Hylton – inventory dated September 1849. In a division of slaves on 17 October 1849, Nancy Hylton, Jeremiah’s wife, received the twin boys. Later on 7 November 1850, they were sold to A. (Augustus) J. Hylton for a total of $300.00. Augustus later died about 1861, but his inventory dated 8 August 1861 does not list either of the boys. Their mother, Lacky was also part of the September 1849 inventory and was given to Augustus Hylton.
Edmund applied for pension under a disability which was inflicted in the Fall and Winter 1865 when exposed to bad weather at the camp. He claimed that he contracted “rheumatism” and that affected his entire life – could not do manual labor. In the end he was given a pension of $20 per month. His widow, Onie, applied for expenses incurred in the burial of her husband and accrued pension benefits. On 23 May1928, years after her husband died, she was given a total of $2169.40.
Born 14 November 1847 and died 12 July 1937 in Patrick County Virginia. Was the son of Charles and Celia Tatum. He married Arabella Hylton (1858 – 1922, daughter of Bette Hylton) on 12 December 1873 in Stokes County, North Carolina. They were the parents of 11 children: Cora, Susannah, Nannie, S. Russell, Flora, Patrick, Samuel, Harry, Annie, Thomas & Ethel.
He enrolled in the USCT at Greensville, Tennessee on 14 April 1865 into Co. K. 119th Kentucky, commanded by John Wright and was transferred to Camp Nelson on 10 May 1865. His unit was mustered out on 17 April 1866 at Louisville, Kentucky.
He applied for disability with the following conditions which he attributed to over exposure to the weather: Rheumatism, Erysipelas and Nasal Polypus. His medical record for his time in the service listed his visits to the doctors with the following ailments: 14 May 1865 to 8 August 1865, Measles; 14 to 16 September, Mumps; 17 September 1865, Bil; 29 & 30 December 1865, Inflammation of the Larynx; 3 to 6 January 1866; Inflammation of the tonsils; and 13 to 21 January 1866, Constipation. In a deposition from Peter Gray dated 30 June 1892, he confirms that Samuel went to the hospital in the early part of May 1865 and did not return to duty until August.
He was granted a pension of $20 per month but later requested an increase in the pension and was denied several times. After his death, his son, Thomas Tatum attempted to recover $200 for the burial expenses, but only received $100.
Born 13 June 1845 and died 8 July 1919, son of Charles Pringle and Susan Gray. He married Adaline Joyce on 11 April 1875. She was born May 1852 and died 19 Nov 1937 and was the daughter of Sam and Leatha Hines Joyce. Peter and Adaline were the parents of 9 children: John, William, George, Lucy, Mater, Charley, Ernest, Joseph and Raleigh.
Peter enlisted at Greensville, Tennessee on 14 April 1865 and was transferred to Camp Nelson on 10 May 1865 into Co. K, 119th USCT under the command of Captain John Wright. During his service time, he was injured when he jumped a ditch and fell causing an umbilical hernia later in life. He spent most of the summer going to the hospital for illnesses: 14 July 1865, Rheumatism; 15 & 16 July 1865, Cold; 19 July 1865, Cough; 28 – 30 August 1865, Mumps and 8 April 1866, Jaundice. He applied for pension on many occasions and received his first pension of $6 on 1 July 1905, but the month before his death he was receiving $20 per month. After the completion of his military service he moved to Sandy Ridge P.O. in Stokes County North Carolina. During the Fall of 1867, he moved to Russell Creek in Patrick County and remained there until his death.
His wife Adaline made her first application for widow’s pension on 30 July 1919. It was on affidavit dated 14 August 1928, that she identified her siblings: Henry, Lum, Isabelle, Bettie, Martha, Ann, Louvenia and Nancy and that her parents, Samuel and Leathe were deceased. Adaline received $9 per month.
Peter does not talk much about his family or life in Patrick County. In a General Affidavit given by Jessie Clark and Henry Tatum dated 20 August 1900, they talk about knowing Peter “since he was a small boy. That they were all born within three or four miles of each other..” If this correct then Peter was owned by Daniel Gray; Henry Tatum was owned by Edward Tatum; and Jesse Clark is the brother of Lavinia Clark Gray (George Gray’s widow) and owned by Joseph Clark.
Information for the following soldiers was obtained from their Widow’s Civil War Pension files obtained from the National Archives in Washington DC. These three (3) soldiers’ military service was cut short due to fevers and disease. Their widows in many instances struggled to get documents that confirmed their very existence. They, because of their status as slaves prior to the War, had to get depositions to prove prior and current marriages, births and deaths of children and to have consistent dates that slaves normally had difficulty knowing.
Born about 1835 and died 11 June 1865. George was married to Lavinia/ Louvenia Clark on 25 December 1858. Lavinia was born about 1835 (daughter of Martha Clark) and died 2 April 1916. There were no children born to this union. Although there is a child in the pension records who identifies herself as Nannie Gray, daughter of Lavinia. (Nannie was found in the census record as “Lillian”.)
George enrolled at Boon, North Carolina on 14 April 1865 as part of Co. H, 119th USCT. On 10 May 1865 he was stationed at Camp Nelson, Kentucky. He entered the General Hospital and died 11 June 1865 as a result of Typhoid Fever. He is buried at Camp Nelson National Cemetery in Nicholasville, Kentucky in Plot C, O, 1180. His “Record of Death and Interment” was issued by Daniel Meeker, Surgeon in Charge.
In her widow’s pension deposition, Lavinia stated she was owned by “Clark”. I checked my book of slave names in probate records and found that she was indeed owned by a “Clark”, specifically Joseph Clark who died 5 July 1858. Lavinia was 14 years old (in the possession Mr. Houlway) and her mother, Martha was 35; each had a value of $375 and $800, respectively.
Lavinia’s daughter on several occasions pleaded with the Pension Board to get some relief on the debts left by her mother.
Born about 1823 and died 3 June 1865. Miles was married to Rhoda Reynolds on 25 December 1849 in a ceremony conducted by Harden W. Reynolds. Rhoda was born about 1828 and died 27 January 1896. Miles and Rhoda were the parents of 8 children: Ann, Mariah, Cynthia, Matilda, Columbus, Nancy Jane, Emily and Miles.
Miles was enrolled in the Union Army at Boon, North Carolina on 14 April 1865 as part of Co. H. 119th USCT Kentucky. On 10 May 1865, he was transferred to Camp Nelson, Kentucky and within days, 16 May 1865 entered the General Hospital for the treatment of measles. He died from that disease on 3 June 1865 and is buried at Camp Nelson National Cemetery in Nicholasville, Kentucky in Plot: C, O, 984. His “Record of Death and Interment” was issued by Daniel Meeker, Surgeon in Charge.
In a statement by Harden Reynolds and Richard Reynolds on 9 December 1879, they confirmed that Harden was the owner of Miles and Rhoda before Miles’ departure to the Army.
Born about 1824 and died 13 June 1865. He was married near Christmas of 1848 in a ceremony performed by his owner, Harden W. Reynolds to Letty Cox. Letty, according to Nancy J. Cox Reynolds, Harden’s wife, was raised by her father, Joshua Cox. Letty was born about 1822 and died 7 March 1894. Jacob and Letty were the parents of 3 children, Mary, Adaline and Henry. I did find a fourth child, Susan, not identified by Letty in her widow’s deposition.
Jacob enrolled in the Army at Boon, North Carolina 14 April 1865 after following General Stoneman out of Danville North Carolina on 8 April 1865. He joined Co. K of the 119th USCT Kentucky under the command of Capt. John Wright at Camp Nelson, Kentucky. On 14 May 1865 he entered the General Hospital at the camp for the treatment of measles. He died on 13 June 1865 from the complications associated with measles. Jacob is buried at Camp Nelson National Cemetery in Nicholasville, Kentucky in Plot C, O, 1177. A “Record of Death and Interment” was issued by the Daniel Meeker, Surgeon in Charge.
In a deposition given by Harden Reynolds on 18 January 1875 he confirms the story told in Tom Perry’s book, of his slaves leaving to join Stoneman. He stated, “ … that they [Letty and Jacob] remained on his farm and as his property until Genl Stoneman made his raid through this County on the 8th day of April 1865, at which last date Jack Reynolds left with General Stoneman’s command as this affiant was informed by the hands on the plantation …”
Letty was granted widow’s pension and receive $12.00 per month until her death.
Cynthia A. Wilson
2611 East Yesler Way
Seattle, WA 98122
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Christine's Genealogy Website: http://ccharity.com/
Lest we forget: http://www.coax.net/people/lwf/default.htm
Africana Heritage: http://www.africanaheritage.com/
Booker T. Washington National Monument (Birthplace)
African-American Genealogy Message Board
African-American Genealogy Group
Cyndi’s List African-American Page
African-American Civil War Memorial
Black History Month in Virginia
African-Americans in Virginia
African-American Heritage Sites in Virginia
African-American Driving Tour of Wytheville
The Black History Center and Museum in Richmond
Maggie L. Walker Historic Site in Richmond
Virginia Black History Archives at VCU
Harrison Museum of African-American Culture
Civil Rights In Education Heritage Trail
Other Related Sites
Writings of John Hope Franklin
Writings of Ira Berlin
Library of Congress
African-Americans in the Civil War
Copyright 2007 Thomas D. Perry. No material to be used without permission. Contact Information: P. O. Box 50 Ararat VA 24053 email@example.com