Skyline of Portsmouth, Va., sketched by J. C. Emmerson Jr. for his sister, Claudia Holland. It appears on the dust jacket of her first novel 'Center Aisle'
Web editor's note: The whole history of the Emmerson family of Portsmouth, Va., and much more, is found in "The Emmersons and Portsmouth 1785-1965," by J.C. Emmerson Jr., privately published in 1966. The book was distributed among family members, but is difficult to find in libraries. Your scribe also has a MS version of the book, which includes unpublished pictures and notes. I have also a copy of "Burwell Residents of King's Creek: A Plantation in York County Colonial Virginia" by Paul John (1982), a family history which includes descendants of Judge Thomas Emmerson. If any Emmerson descendant would like to update me on the progress of their families, please write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Your comments, corrections and additions will be much appreciated. All letters will be acknowledged.
1. THE REV. ARTHUR EMMERSON was born January 26, 1710/11 in Newcastle-on-Tyne, England, and died April 2, 1764, in Accomac County, Va., on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay. He married ANNE WISHART on January 9, 1738/39 in the home of her brother James nearby. She was a daughter of THOMAS WISHART and ------ HANDY. She was born March 2, 1714/15 in Princess Anne County, Va., and died September 25, 1766 in Accomac County.
JCE Jr. cites the Louisa Emmerson Papers:
"The Rev. Arthur Emmerson, first of the family to come to Virginia, was the son of John Emmerson of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, and was born in that city January 26, 1710. Receiving his B.A degree from Oxford University in 1733, he went to Antigua in 1736, coming to Virginia in 1737. On March 29 of that year he appeared in court in Accomack County, and took the oaths of government, continuing to serve as minister in the parish until his death in 1764. He was married January 9, l738 to Anne Wishart, daughter of Thomas Wishart of Princess Anne County, in which county she was born March 2, 1715. The ceremony was performed at the home of her brother on the Eastern Shore. He died April 2, 1764, and in the same year administration of his estate was granted to his widow. Her death occurred September 25, 1766. Mr. Emmerson is said to have lived at a place on the Seaside road near Kangotank, since owned by Mr. Lange. Under his ministry a church was erected on Assawoman creek, which survived until 1793, when the Convention granted permission to the vestry to sell their old glebe and purchase another. The ruins of the old church were still visible in l847, when Rev. Emmerson's great grand-daughter, Louisa Emmerson, visited the site in company with Eastern Shore relatives, and heard the following traditions of her ancestor, which she recorded in later years. Under ordinary circumstances a country parish is a barren field in which to look for incidents, and when we seek a history of events occurring more than a hundred years ago, in a small rural district where little or no record has been preserved, the case looks hopeless indeed. Yet, in reference to the present subject, we will mention that about l85O there was to be seen in Accomack County the brick foundation of a church near the Seaside road, with a stream of water nearby called "Old Church Branch." The spot on which the foundation rested, old people said, was Emmerson's Hill, and was sufficiently elevated to deserve the designation of "hill." Tradition said the Rev. Arthur Emmerson selected that site for a church because it was a part of the country destitute of religious privileges, and Old Church Branch was a never-failing stream of water, which made it peculiarly suited for the farmer, planter and fisherman of the district to assemble and meet together to worship Almighty God. From an old family now passed away comes another incident connected with this minister, which states he was sent for from a county on the western shore of Chesapeake Bay to officiate at a marriage, where his grave and solemn manner in performing the service made a lasting impression on many there. The parish he was visiting had been served by one who was too fond of sports, and where marriage and baptismal services were followed with scarcely an interval by the fiddle and the dance, thus robbing them of their sanctity,and so on this occasion, when the minister requested the couple he was joining together in holy wedlock to kneel and receive the benedic-tion, they were amazed at what, for the moment, was regarded as too ceremonious; but after this, said the informer, the minister was remembered as one true to his calling. The ruins of the old church were still visible in 1847, when Mr. Emmerson's great granddaughter, Louisa Emmerson, visited the site with Eastern Shore relatives, and heard the following traditions of her ancestors, which she recorded in later years. (Emmersons and Portsmouth, p. 11)
JCE also quotes "Record of Family," by Arthur Emmerson II:
"Arthur Emmerson was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, January 26, 1710/11, and departed this life on Monday, April 2, 1764, about 9 at night. Anne Emmerson, his wife, was born in Princess Anne County, in Virginia, March 2, 1714/15. Departed this life on Thursday, 25th September in 1766, about 1 o'clock in the afternoon." (Emmersons and Portsmouth, p. 11-12)
From the Accomac County Records, 1762:
For L600, Rev. Arthur Emmerson, Rector of Accomac Parish, and Anne his wife, sold to George Scott both of the above tracts (150 acres near Kicktank and Assawoman), "Except one acre of which is to be and remain for the use of the said Arthur, his heirs and assigns forever, for a burial ground, it being where the burial place now is." JCE writes: "Presumably, Arthur and Anne are buried in the reserved acre. It is doubtful that their tombstones are now in existence, as they do not show up in a WPA Tombstone Record Survey made a few years ago."
"Of his antecedents, nothing is certain. The following information may be relevant: "The Mayors and Lord Mayors of Newcastle upon Tyne 1260-1940" by C.H.H. Blair reoprts on page 66 that in 1639 a John Emerson was sheriff; his arms azure on a bend silver three roundels gules - (VIII, 4.) He was son of George Emmerson of Ludwell in Weardale, yeoman; apprenticed to Robert Bewicke, boothman, 11 June 1616; admitted 1627; in 1625 was living at Hamburgh in his master's service; governor of the hostman's company 1660-61; buried in St. Nicholas Church, date unknown."
Children of ARTHUR EMMERSON and ANNE WISHART named in the "Record of Family" and all born in Accomac County are:
i. JOHN EMMERSON, born October 27, 1739; died July 11, 1759. Baptism: December 9, 1739.
ii. THOMAS EMMERSON, born August 14, 1741; died October 20, 1750. Baptism: September 13, 1741
2. iii. REV. ARTHUR EMMERSON (II) ., born August 31, 1743; died 1801, Portsmouth, Va.
3. iv. ANNE EMMERSON, born August 13, 1745.
v. WILLIAM EMMERSON, born July 15, 1747; died February 29, 1780; m. HANNAH --------- of Maryland. Baptism: September 6, 1747.
Memorandum found in Louisa Emmerson papers:
William Emmerson - 24 July, 1749 - 29 February, 1780. Wife Hannah to have the whole estate until my children arrive at lawful age to marry, she to bring them up. When my son becomes of age, I give him the plantation where I now live - wife and two children, Arthur and Anne Emmerson, resid. legatees, wife executrix with John Teakle. Louisa Emmerson noted: "Of their children who reached maturity, William married in Maryland, and the male descendants of his name have been extinct for many years."
vi. JAMES EMMERSON, born October 20, 1749; died January 15, 1776. Baptism: December 3, 1749.
JCE notes that the death date notation for James "Departed this life the 15th Jany 1776" is struck out in the Record of Family kept by Arthur Emmerson II (Emmersons and Portsmouth, p. 18) as is the same record for his sister on p. 20 JCE cites the William & Mary Quarterly II, vol. 5 1: 32: "James Emmerson attended William & Mary June 9, 1760 - March 19, 1762." The college is in Williamsburg Va.
vii. MARY EMMERSON, born May 13, 1752; died January 15, 1774. Baptism: June 14, 1752.
2. REV. ARTHUR EMMERSON was born August 31, 1743 in Accomac County, Va., and died 1801 in Portsmouth, Va. He married ANNE TAZEWELL NIVISON on November 28, 1770, in Brunswick County, Va., daughter of WILLIAM TAZEWELL and SOPHIA HARMANSON. She was the widow of the Rev. William Nivison, and mother of his two sons, John and William Nivison, who were closely associated with their step-family. They grew up to become prominent Norfolk merchants, and are buried in St. Paul's Church Yard there. She was born October 26, 1738, and died August 3, 1802, in Portsmouth. His baptism: October 9, 1743. He was originally buried on the grounds of Trinity Church, then reinterred with his wife in the family plot in Accomac County in 1828.
JCE cites the Louisa Emmerson Papers:
ARTHUR EMMERSON, the second of that name, was born in Accomac County, Virginia, August 31, 1743. He was educated at the college of William & Mary, and in 1768, visited England, where, on the 25th of September of that year, he was ordained Deacon, and on the 29th of that same month and year, to the office of Priest in the Church of England. From Bishop Mead's "Old Churches," we see that the subject of this notice was pastor of St. Andrew's Parish, Brunswick County, in 1773 and 1774. In 1770 he was married in Brunswick County to Mrs. Anne Nivison, daughter of William Tazewell. Later, he was connected with Meherrin Parish of the same county, as pastor and teacher, where he continued until peace was established, when he was called to Suffolk, in Nansemond County. This probably was in the year 1783. In 1785, he moved from Nansemond to Portsmouth, Norfolk County, where the pastoral office, in connection with a school, engaged his time and attention until the close of his life. He died in Portsmouth in 1801, aged 59 years.(Emmersons and Portsmouth, p. 19)
He taught school as well. JCE cites William & Mary Quarterly III:
Rev. Arthur Emmerson advertised in 1785 a schoolin Nansemond County for instruction in Latin, Greek and French and Italian languages -- number of scholars not to exceed twenty. Price of board and tuition L50 a year; particular attention to reading, writing and declamation." (JCE MS)
JCE also cites an unidentified clipping:
"The Rev. Arthur Emmerson appears to have taught at the College of William & Mary during the 1769 term, then to have been assigned to St. Andrew's Parish in Brunswick County, where on November 28, 1770, he married Mrs. Anne Tazewell Nivison, widow of the Rev. William Nivison. Later he was in charge of Meherrin Parish, set off from St. Andrew's in 1753. (Emmersons and Portsmouth, p. 28)
JCE also cites Trinity Parish Record:
"Upon arrival in Portsmouth in 1785, he made his home at the Glebe Farm, located at what is now Port Norfolk. He was the third rector of the parish. The house on the Glebe being in an uncomfortable condition, and Mr. Emmerson in a feeble state of health, he purchased a house and lot adjoining the church in town, the same on which his descendants, through his youngest son, Arthur, now (1855) reside. (Emmersons and Portsmouth, p. 43)
From the Louisa Emmerson papers:
Thirty years ago so of the old people of this community would relate what they knew and heard of the Pastor whose work and life ended at the beginning of this century. It was gathered from these old citizens that the Rev. Arthur Emmerson was a 'bookish man, with strong powers of concentration, and, as a consequence, unobserving and absent-minded, industrious and methodical.'
From the Trinity Parish Record:
He spent the remnant of his days in the faithful discharge of his ministerial duties, as far as his health would allow. He is spoken of by those who knew him, that are now living (1855) as a truly pious man and consistent Christian, but being always in very delicate health he was unable to perform much active labot, and resorting to his books for instruction and recreation, he fell into the habit of inattention to small matters and became proverbial for his unobserving and absent manner. .. .He was buried under the present doorway of Trinity Church, which was the chancel of the old church, but when the church was enlarged and changed (1828) his body was removed to Accomac County, and placed by the side of his wife. JCE MS; (Emmersons and Portsmouth, p. 22)
Children of ARTHUR EMMERSON and ANNE TAZEWELL are:
4. i. JUDGE THOMAS EMMERSON, born June 23, 1773, Lawrenceville Courthouse, Brunswick County, Va.; died July 22, 1837, Jonesboro Tenn.
ii. ANNE EMMERSON, born January 27, 1776; died January 13, 1777. Baptism: April 4, 1776.
5. iii. CAPT. ARTHUR EMMERSON, born January 31, 1778, Brunswick County , Va., now Greensville County ; died June 7, 1842, Portsmouth, Va.
iv. HENRY TAZEWELL EMMERSON, born January 14, 1780. He may have died young, as there is no mention of him in his father's will, written in 1801, when he would have been 21 years old.
v. LITTLETON EMMERSON, born about 1783; died 1817, in Tennesee.
LITTLETON EMMERSON went to Tennessee with his brother, Thomas, and died unmarried in 1817. There is little information about him available, save the references to him in his father's will, and in letters of Thomas to Arthur. (Emmersons and Portsmouth, p. 48) JCE quotes a letter from Judge Thomas Emmerson to Capt. Arthur Emmerson Knox County, Aug. 20, 1803: "As Littleton is so nearly of age, I think it would be best to defer buying land til then , when he should chuse what part of the country he should like to have it in. If it was bought now and he he should not like the situation, he would sell it as soon as he came of age & probably at a loss. He seems at present quite undetermined as to the place where he will settle, either in this state, Louisiana or Virginia. He says he shall go to Norfolk next spring. I don't know the reason, but I think he likes that part of the country better than any other. I have very little hope he will ever do well; I think in one year after he comes of age, he will get through his property. (Emmersons and Portsmouth, p. 64)
3. ANNE EMMERSON was born August 13, 1745 in Accomac County, Va. She married JOHN UPSHUR in 1763 in Northampton County , Va. He was born September 17, 1741 in Accomac County. Baptism: September 22, 1745.
JCE cites Louisa Emmerson Papers: "Anne, who married Mr. John Upshur, of the same county; she died young, leaving one son and two daughters. One of these daughters married Mr. Edmund Bailey of the same county, the other was married to Mr. Littleton Dennis, of Maryland, and the son married Miss Martin, of the same state, and from whom the Maryland Upshurs are descended. The descendants of the Baileys, as far as it is known, are in Virginia, while most of the Dennis family are in Maryland." (Emmersons and Portsmouth, p. 18)
Children of ANNE EMMERSON and JOHN UPSHUR mentioned in the Louisa Emmerson Papers are:
i. RACHEL REVELL UPSHUR, born May 24, 1771, Northampton County, Va.
ii. JAMES UPSHUR, born November 10, 1766, Accomac County, Va.
iii. ELIZABETH UPSHUR.
4. JUDGE THOMAS EMMERSON was born June 23, 1773, in Lawrenceville Courthouse, Brunswick County, Va., and died July 22, 1837 in Jonesboro Tenn. Baptism: June 25, 1773. He married (1) RACHEL BURWELL February 7, 1795, daughter of JAMES BURWELL and ANN JONES. She was born at King's Creek plantation, in York County, Va. in about 1773 and died April 22, 1832. Orphaned as a young child, a relative recalled that she was brought up in the family of Bishop James Madison, president of the College of William & Mary at Williamsburg, where Thomas was a student. (Burwell Residents of King's Creek, p. 57-1) He married (2) CATHERINE JACOBS. She was born November 19, 1789, in Wilkes County, N.C., and died December 10, 1858, in Jonesboro, Tenn.
JCE cites Louisa Emmerson Papers:
THOMAS EMMERSON was born June 23, 1773, in Brunswick County, Va. He was educated at William & Mary college, and on the 7th of February, 1795, was married to Miss Rachel Burwell, of York County. She had been left an orphan at an early age, and was brought up by her cousin, Bishop Madison, president of the college, who performed the wedding ceremony. Thomas Emmerson and his wife moved to east Tennessee soon after their marriage, and located at Knoxville. After some years they went to Jonesboro, at which place he purchased a farm and carried out many experiments in agriculture, more for his own gratification than pecuniary interest. They had five children. Thomas Emmerson entered the practice of law in Tennessee, and after having filled some of the highest judicial positions in that state, he left the Supreme bench in consequence of ill health, several years before his death. Mrs. Rachel Burwell Emmerson died April 22nd, 1832, aged 55. Thomas Emmerson later married Catherine Jacobs of Jonesboro, who survived him 21 years, dying in 1858. there were no children by the last union. Thomas Emmerson died July 29, 1837, at the age of 64 years. (Emmersons and Portsmouth, p. 48)
He was an officer in the artillery company mustered by his brother, Capt. Arthur Emmerson His home was a brick dwelling at the back of the family lot, but facing King Street. It survived until about 1897. I do know (from my father) that Thomas Emmerson built it. On the east side, built into the wall with blue bricks, was "T E." I think it was grandpa's brother. My father pointed out the TE and said (Thomas) built it, and put the initials as above, they were very large letters and spread across the entire side of the house. (Emmersons and Portsmouth, p. 50-51)
In Emmersons and Portsmouth, p. 169, JCE cites "Biography of Thomas Emmerson" by Henry Fielding Beaumont, published in "Virginia Magazine of History and Biography (1905), Vol. 12, p. 209:
Judge Thomas Emmerson came to Tennesee in 1800. He was a member of the District Court of Virginia, even though he was then only 27 years of age
Children of THOMAS EMMERSON and RACHEL BURWELL are:
6. i. ANNE MADISON EMMERSON, born December 28, 1795; died November 5, 1821.
ii. ARTHUR BURWELL EMMERSON, born February 23, 1799; died August 17, 1823, in Virginia.
iii. SOPHIA TAZEWELL EMMERSON, born July 6, 1801; married DR. JOSEPH BROWN MACKEY REESE, November 30, 1820, Maryville, Tenn.
iv. ELIZABETH JONES EMMERSON, born June 8, 1807; married ONSLOW G. MURRELL, August 4, 1825.
v. THOMAS BACON EMMERSON, born August 4, 1811; married ELIZABETH ATHENIE GREEN, August 21, 1833, Jonesboro, Tenn. He died in 1858.
JCE cites biography of Judge Thomas Emmerson by Henry Fielding Beaumont, of Atlanta (1905)
Judge Emmerson left a son, Thomas II, who married a Miss Green of Washington County, and by whom there are living today Ada Emmerson, granddaughter of Judge Emmerson, who married E.A. Broyles of Knoxville; and John L. Davis, a wealthy coal operator of the same place, a cousin of hers, but with these exceptions there are no descendants of Judge Emmerson. (Emmersons and Portsmouth, p. 170)
JCE cites Louisa Emmerson Papers:
Mrs. Rachael Burwell Emmerson died April 22nd, 1832, aged 55 (Emmersons and Portsmouth, p. 48) JCE also includes in his book (p. 277) a letter from her grandaughter Emily L. Jarnigan, describing the family's situation after the War Between the States, and on p. 280, another from Kate S. Murrell, a cousin.
JCE cites a newspaper clipping reporting the death of Judge Emmerson's widow:
Mrs. Thomas Emmerson died Dec. 10, 1858. DIED - at her residence at Jonesborough, Tenn., Friday the 10th of December, 1858, Mrs. Catharine Emmerson, age 69, 21 days. Mrs. Emmerson was the daughter of Mr. Duftie Jacobs and relict of the late Judge Emmerson, and was born in Wilkes County, N.C. on the 19th day of November, 1789. From North Carolina she removed with her father to Jonesborough in 1796. On the 8th of March 1832 she was married to the Hon. Thomas Emmerson. (Emmersons and Portsmouth, p. 238)
5. CAPT. ARTHUR EMMERSON was born January 31, 1778 in Brunswick County, Va., now Greensville County, and died June 7, 1842 in Portsmouth, Va. He married MARY ANN HERBERT January 20, 1805, in the home of her parents. She was a daughter of THOMAS HERBERT and SOPHIA EDWARDS. She was born November 8, 1786, and died September 6, 1859 in Portsmouth Va. The couple is buried in Cedar Grove Cemetery, Portsmouth.
To view an album of their portraits, click here.
JCE cites "Eminent & Representative Men of Virginia & the District of Columbia of the Nineteenth Century," (1893):
Captain Arthur Emmerson . . who was among the useful citizens of Norfolk County, Virginia, was born in Brunswick County (now Greensville County) in 1778. He located in Portsmouth with his father in 1785, and was educated with the object of entering the Episcopal ministry, but later gave his attention to the study of law, and finally concluded that the sea was his vocation, which he adopted and followed for 20 years. In 1798 while on the ocean, his ship was captured by the French and taken to France, where he was detained one year. In speaking of this event in his after life, he would say the only hardship was being away from his home, while the compensation was learning the language. In 1805 he was married to Mary Ann Herbert, daughter of Thomas Herbert, of Norfolk County, whose farm and residence are now the Gosport Navy Yard. they had a family of twelve children, only four of whom reached maturity; the eldest, Thomas, died in 1837; Arthur died in 1870, John in 1885, and one sister (Louisa Emmerson) survives these brothers. When in 1809, the Congress of the United States passed the "Non-intercourse Act," which caused the Merchant Marine to withdraw from service, Capt. Emmerson gave his attention to surveying land, and about this time he organized an artillery company in Portsmouth, of which he was elected Captain, and as such served his country through the War of 1812. His company was actively engaged at Craney Island. He was for 25 years preceding his death called on to fill various offices by the citizens of his town and county; his home was where his father lived and died, near Trinity Church, of which his father was rector, and when this church was reopened in 1821, Capt. Emmerson was elected vestryman and warden. After his death, his son Arthur filled the same office until his death, and Arthur's brother John was in the same office until 1880, when he resigned. (Emmersons and Portsmouth, p. 49)
He was put forward as a candidate for Congress without success. JCE cites Louisa Emmerson Papers:
In the fall of 1834, the Whig Party of the 2nd Congressional District selected Capt. Emmerson to oppose the Democratic candidate for Congress. With but little hope of doing more than keeping the party together, he agreed to accept the nomination. The result was as expected, the election of the Democratic candidate. JCE cites an unnamed published source drawn from an account of her father's career by Louis Emmerson details his seafaring career; letters and voyages (Emmersons and Portsmouth, p. 148-49, to p. 158)
John C. Emmerson recalled:
I don't know how tall grandpa was, or his weight, but he was a very large man, and active. It was said, he could reach up and get his fingers on a window sill, he could climb in. Grandpa's office was a small brick building up against the church wall ... Back of the office was a shed, Dumb Ned's house. Dumb Ned was grandpa's body servant. When grandpa died, Dumb Ned went to the foot of High Street and dived overboard, and was never seen again.
I have heard father say that when grandpa's friends asked "How are you today, Captain Emmerson," he always answered, "Physically all right, financially sick."
Grandpa died in 1842. After the War they found several five-gallon demijohns of the best French brandy-- over 20 years old at least. Grandpa evidently brought them from France and hid them.
Our books were in the office during the War, and the Yankees did not steal them-- the negroes told them that the office was the "dead house" for the church yard. (Emmersons and Portsmouth, p. 195, and MS)
JCE cites the Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography, Volume II VIII -- Prominent Persons
CAPT. ARTHUR EMMERSON was born in Brunswick (now Greensville) county, Virginia, in 1778, son of the Rev. Arthur Emmerson (q. v.) and Anne Nivison Tazewell, his wife, daughter of William Tazewell. In 1785 he was in Portsmouth, with his father. He was educated for the church, later studied law, and finally took to the sea, which he followed for twenty years. In 1798 his ship was captured by the French, and he was held prisoner for a year, during which time he learned the language of his captors. In 1809 he busied himself as a surveyor. He organized an artillery company in Portsmouth, and commanded it during the war of 1812. At various times he filled all important local offices, and at his death was clerk of the county court. He married Mary A., daughter of Thomas Herbert, of Norfolk county. He died January 7, 1842. (The Emmersons and Portsmouth, p. 196)
The family bible and the Trinity Church Parish Register also contain the records of eight children who died in infancy.
Surviving children of ARTHUR EMMERSON and MARY HERBERT are:
i. THOMAS EMMERSON, born September 3, 1808; died August 19, 1837.
The only available record of Thomas, beyond the dates of birth and death, is the recollection of John C. Emmerson, of having heard that his uncle went West as an Indian agent, and that "he was highly regarded by the Indians." (The Emmersons and Portsmouth, p. 196)
A family tradition that Thomas Emmerson served with the Indian Office receives no support from the National Archives; it seems that Thomas, with his uncle Littleton, must remain for the time one of the "mystery men" of the family.
JCE cites a clippping from a newspaper, The Beacon, of Sept. 20, 1837:
Departed this life on the 19th of August, near Grand Gulph, Mississippi, of congestive fever, Mr Thomas Emmerson, eldest son of Arthur Emmerson Esq., in the 27th year of his age. (The Emmersons and Portsmouth, p. 202)
ii. ARTHUR EMMERSON IV, born June 1, 1817, Portsmouth Va.; died December 15, 1870, High Street, Portsmouth.
To view a photo-biography of Arthur IV, click here
JCE cites Memorials of Old Virginia Clerks, pp.267-279
In 1840, Capt. Arthur Emmerson (III), a magistrate of Norfolk County residing in Portsmouth, was elected Clerk of the Court to fill a vacancy occasioned by the resignation of Mr William H. Wilson. Judge Baker at the same time appointed Arthur Emmerson Jr (IV) clerk of the circuit court in the same county, and Arthur Emmerson Jr, becoming his father's deputy, was thus at the age of 23 chosen to fill a very responsible position. In 1842, Capt. Emmerson died, when his son was elected by the magistrates to fill the office of Clerk of the County Court. Mr. Emmerson's school days were passed in his native town During the Civil War, when Norfolk County was evacuated by the Southern soldiers, he remained by the records until Norfolk and Portsmouth passed under military control, and he was removed by the military governor of this district. . In December 1864, he declined to take the oath required by the Federal Government, and left his home for the Confederacy. Mr. Emmerson died at his home in Portsmouth December 15, 1870. (The Emmersons and Portsmouth, p. 198)
Arthur IV was apparently imprisoned in Fortress Monroe, he then joined brother John and family in Pulaski. (Emmersons and Portsmouth, p. 265; see here a letter in which he puts his affairs in order before trouble with the Federal authorities.)
Post-war letters to his sister Louisa Emmerson Emmersons and Portsmouth, p. 304 ff.
Funeral at Trinity Church,resolutions and tributes Emmersons and Portsmouth, p. 312
JCE recalls his father's description of Arthur IV's death:
"I don't know the date, but Uncle Arthur lost his office to a carpet-bagger, I think it was to Brady, an Irishman. He then took the old office as his. He was going up the steps, about three of them, to the office of Judge C.W. Murdaugh (don't think he was judge at the time) just before he opened the door he fell to the ground - apoplexy. (Emmersons and Portsmouth, p. 268)
iii. LOUISA EMMERSON, born December 21, 1819, Portsmouth, Va.; died there May 24, 1907. Burial: Cedar Grove Cemetery, Portsmouth, Va.
To view an album of her portraits, click here
The death of Miss Louisa Emmerson, which occurred at 7 o'clock yesterday evening, cast a shadow over the lives of a large number of our citizens, to whom she was so well and favorably known for many years. Miss Emmerson was the daughter of Capt. Arthur Emmerson and granddaughter of the Rev. Arthur Emmerson, who was rector of Trinity Church from 1785 to 1801. She was born in Portsmouth December 21, 1819, and spent her entire life of 88 years in her native city. At the time of her death, she was the oldest member of Trinity Church by baptism and confirmation. She was noted for her charities, her Christian character, her amiability and unassuming modesty. Possessing a remarkably well stored mind and pleasing conversational ability, she was always a favorite in social life, with the young and old. The funeral service will be held at the family residence, at 421 High St., on Sunday afternoon at 5 o'clock. (Emmersons and Portsmouth, p. 332.)
7. iv. JOHN EMMERSON, born July 11, 1821, High Street, Portsmouth, Va.; died March 12, 1885.
6. ANNE MADISON EMMERSON was born December 28, 1795, and died November 5, 1821. She married DR. ALEXANDER MCGHEE January 11, 1816. He was born in 1790 and died in 1841.
Children of ANNE EMMERSON and ALEXANDER MCGHEE are:
i. BARCLAY MCGHEE.
ii. RACHAEL MCGHEE.
iii. JANE MCGHEE.
7. JOHN EMMERSON was born July 11, 1821 in High Street, Portsmouth, Va., and died March 12, 1885. He married SUSAN BARRON COCKE June 16, 1859, daughter of CHARLES LEONARD COCKE and ANN COWPER. She was born August 28, 1840, and died December 25, 1926. His baptism: April 28, 1822, Trinity Church, Portsmouth, Va. Her baptism: May 9, 1850, Trinity Church. The couple is buried in Cedar Grove Cemetery, Portsmouth, Va.
To view portraits of John and Susan Emmerson and read anecdotes of the War years, click here
To view portraits of Charles Leonard Cocke and Ann Cowper, click here.
JCE Jr. cites Eminent and Representative Men of Virginia, etc. (1893):
Mr John Emmerson, like his father, was called to offices of a miscellaneous nature... this gentleman's calling was steam engineering, which he is said to have understood thoroughly, and which no doubt gave his mind that bent and disposition to investigate scientific subjects, to which he was inclined through life. During the War Between the States he entered the Signal Corps and was afterward commissioned Captain and sent to supervise the commissary department in Southeastern Virginia, where he was at his post when the war ended. He died at his home in Portsmouth in 1885, aged 64. A widow and four children survive him. He married in 1859 Susan Barron Cocke, daughter of Charles Leonard Cocke. (The Emmersons and Portsmouth, p 199)
In recording John Emmerson's military service, JCE cites Stonewall Camp, Records of Confederate Veterans:
"He entered the service of the Confederate States in March 1862 in Norfolk, Va., as a corporal in the Independent Signal Corps, commanded by Major James F. Milligan, and in the same year was promoted to Commissary with the rank of Captain, in Col. Archibald C. Godwin's regiment, the 57th North Carolina Infantry, in which he served until 1864, when he was transferred to the Department of Southwest Virginia, where he served until the close of the war. (Emmersons and Portsmouth, p. 246)
Before going to Pulaski, the family was in Sussex - sister Annie was born there, in Dr. Brigg's home, I think, they also satyed at a Mr. Overton's, near Stony Creek - that was when my father was in the Signal Corps. Afterwards, in 1864, the family went to Pulaski. Major Cloyd was in the commissary department. (Emmersons and Portsmouth, p. 247)
He also recalled:
My father seems to have traveled right much in the early days. He and Aunt Lou went to Florida in a stage coach. She said she brought the magnolia tree home in her hands, and it was 65 years old -- and that was several years before she died in 1907. According to his son, John Emmerson was, at some time between leaving the railroad and going with the Bank of Virginia, engaged in the mercantile business in Lynchburg prior to the War Between the States. (The Emmersons and Portsmouth, p. 199)
John Emmerson was nine years old when the first American railroad began operation; 13 when the first locomotive of the Portsmouth and Roanole Rail Road made its maiden run to Suffolk. After serving an apprenticeship in the local railway shops he became a locomotive engineer, operating engines of the Portsmouth & Roanoke and Wilmington& Weldon railways. Once when my father was engineer for the Portsmouth & Roanoke, he said that he missed the Coast Line at Weldon by a few minutes, so he followed the Coast Line (without orders) and overtook it 19 miles away, which he made in 22 minutes, and delivered the mail. An engineer who would do that today probably would be charged with attempted murder. (The Emmersons and Portsmouth, p. 200)
JCE cites his father's memories in "My Father," recollections of John Emmerson by John C. Emmerson:
I have heard Aunt Lou say that my Father would not go to school. On one occasion a servant took him in her arms and carried him there bodily, that, I presume when he was a mere child. I have heard him say that he did not know one rule of English grammar, yet he spoke correctly and was a fluent conversationalist -- he could entertain a room full of company -- Arthur had his talent in this particular. His handsome writing was like steel engraving, you have seen it in his books, I presume. He had a wonderful memory. He handed me one day Pope's "Essay on Man," then repeated the first chapter, I having it before me; could say it was almost perfect; and he said he had not read it for twenty years. He could quote Byron, Shakespeare by the hour, Burns, Milton and many others. Aunt Lou read history, I don't believe he did. He read everything, poetry was his favorite reading; he, I believe, was the best self-educated man I ever knew, as a conversationalist he had no equal. If I could tell the war stories he and O.V. Smith used to tell, it would fill a shelf of books.
My father's activities in Pulaski during the war were highly praised by Major Cloyd and all the people up that way -- before going to Pulaski he was in the Signal Corps, up James River. My father never "beat around the bush" -- straight out -- you always knew how he stood on any subject. About 1871 or 2, the Democratic Club induced him to join. He did not wish to do so, but he did. They had a meeting at the "Old Bazaar," at the southwest corner of High and Dinwiddie streets. During the meeting, speeches &c, he offered a motion that no member would accept any public office. It almost created a riot; it turned out that everybody there except him, was after office. He resigned that night. My father said that the Emmersons never kept accounts against each other, he could use Uncle Arthur's bank account as his own and vice-versa. Am not positive, but believe he never bought anything that he did not have the money to pay for -- never made a note.
My father was what we now call quite a "wisequacker." At a 'fair' once, Mrs. D. J. Godwin (a local lawyer's wife, partner of Judge Crocker) asked him to get her a chair, which he did. As she took her seat, she said, "You are a jewel." "No," he replied, "I am a jeweler. I have just set the jewel." I have seen this in print since, but I am sure it is original. You remember Mary Bingley -- her father was a no-account somebody, lazy and would not work. My father was at one time an engineer on the locomotive and worked Sundays. "Uncle William," as I called Mr. Bingley (no kin) urged him to stop. My father said, "Uncle William, I'll make a bargain with you and keep the Fourth Commandment. If you'll work six days, I'll rest the Seventh." The subject was never discussed again. There is not much more to tell you of my father. He was a mechanic in the Portsmouth Railroad shops, then an engineer on the P & R and the Wilmington and Weldon, then conductor in Lynchburg, and had a store there next; then, as far as I know, note clerk in the Virginia State Bank, then the War. My father told me that some day we would have wireless communication. That prediction has been fulfilled; at the time I was doubtful. He got his idea from this story: The Hindus of India told the British the day that Waterloo was fought that a great battle had taken place in the West. His idea of heaven was that when we pass away, the mysteries of life and the universe are all cleared up. I have heard him say -- and many times: "I wait all winter for summer and all summer for winter." (Emmersons and Portsmouth, p. 328)
A local paper noted the passing of Susan Barron Emmerson, who died Dec. 25, 1926:
Mrs. Susan Barron Emmerson, widow of John Emmerson, died at 1:25 o'clock yesterday at her residence, 421 High St. she was a member of Trinity Protestant Episcopal Church, was a prominent worker, and had a large circle of friends and acquaintances. She is survived by two daughters, the misses Annie and Mary Emmerson; one son, John C. Emmerson, six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Mrs. Susan B. Emmerson, widow of Capt. John Emmerson, was one of the city's oldest residents, having reached the advanced age of 86 years. She was a woman of strong personality, great force of character, and throughout her lifetime, led in all she undertook. Her activities had been over a period of years, antedating the Civil War. She died in the old Emmerson home, in which she had lived for years and years. (Emmersons and Portsmouth, p. 334)
Children of JOHN EMMERSON and SUSAN BARRON COCKE are:
i. MARY EMMERSON, born March 14, 1860, Portsmouth Va.; died November 4, 1937, Richmond, Va. Baptism: July 27, 1860, Trinity Church, Portsmouth, Va.; burial: Cedar Grove Cemetery, Portsmouth.
ii. ANNIE EMMERSON, born March 12, 1862, at Invermay, residence of Dr. John Briggs, Sussex County , Va.; died May 21, 1953, Richmond, Va. Baptism: Trinity Church, Portsmouth, Va. Burial: Cedar Grove Cemetery, Portsmouth, Va.
8. iii. JOHN CLOYD EMMERSON, born January 10, 1865, Oak Lawn, residence of Major Joseph Cloyd, Pulaski County , Va.; died June 27, 1942, Parrish Memorial Hospital, Portsmouth, Va.
iv. ARTHUR EMMERSON V, born April 21, 1869, Portsmouth, Va.; died there August 7, 1918. Baptism: August 22, 1869, Trinity Church, Portsmouth, Va. Burial: Cedar Grove Cemetery, Portsmouth, Va.
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8. JOHN CLOYD EMMERSON was born January 10, 1865, at Oak Lawn, residence of Major Joseph Cloyd, Pulaski County , Va., and died June 27, 1942 in Parrish Memorial Hospital, Portsmouth, Va. He married CLAUDIA MILDRED VAUGHAN November 22, 1888, in Elizabeth City, N.C., daughter of FRANCIS VAUGHAN and ANNIE SCOTT. She was born February 10, 1868, in Elizabeth City, N.C., and died January 31, 1944 in Portsmouth, Va. His baptism: December 28, 1865, Trinity Church, Portsmouth, Va. The couple is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery, Portsmouth Va.
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Children of JOHN C. EMMERSON and CLAUDIA VAUGHAN are:
9. i. BERTHA VAUGHAN EMMERSON, born August 31, 1889, Elizabeth City, N.C.; died July 12, 1964, Portsmouth Va.
ii. JOHN CLOYD EMMERSON JR., born July 6, 1891, Portsmouth Va.; died February 3, 1980, Portsmouth, Va. Burial: Oak Grove Cemetery, Portsmouth, Va.
"Uncle Cloyd" was a lifelong journalist. He is remembered fondly by his nieces and nephews as a wise and learned man. He was the author of "The Emmersons and Portsmouth," published in 1966, on which this compilation is entirely dependent, as well as several works of Portsmouth and Chesapeake Bay maritime history.
10. iii. SUSAN BARRON EMMERSON, born July 24, 1893, Portsmouth Va.; died January 6, 1981.
11. iv. FRANK VAUGHAN EMMERSON, born March 16, 1898, Portsmouth, Va.; of Cedar Fields, Surry County , Va.; died February 12, 1961, Richmond Hospital, Richmond, Va.
v. COL. ARTHUR EMMERSON VI, born 1900, Portsmouth Va.; of Coke, Va. He married MARGARET BUCHANAN COLE November 23, 1921. Children and grandchildren.
13. vi. CLAUDIA-MILDRED EMMERSON, born December 8, 1903, 419 High St., Portsmouth, Va.; died July 25, 1986 in Richmond, Va.
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9. BERTHA VAUGHAN EMMERSON was born August 31, 1889 in Elizabeth City, N.C., and died July 12, 1964 in Portsmouth Va. She married WALTER VERNON GRESHAM November 12, 1914. He was born August 12, 1888, and died June 29, 1960. The couple is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery, Portsmouth, Va.
Children of BERTHA VAUGHAN EMMERSON and WALTER GRESHAM are:
i. SUSAN BARRON EMMERSON GRESHAM, born October 19, 1915, Portsmouth Va.; died June 26, 1990. She married FRANCIS ROGERS TOMS March 2, 1943. He was born July 26, 1908, and died September 20, 1988. The couple is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery, Portsmouth, Va. Two children, grandchildren.
ii. A son, born May 6, 1921, Portsmouth Va.. Children and grandchildren.
10. SUSAN BARRON EMMERSON was born July 24, 1893, in Portsmouth Va., and died January 6, 1981. She married STEWART LEIGH SILVESTER January 19, 1918. He was born February 28, 1885, and died October 5, 1941. The couple is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery, Portsmouth Va.
Children of SUSAN BARRON EMMERSON and STEWART LEIGH SILVESTER are:
i. STEWART LEIGH SILVESTER JR., born November 26, 1918, Portsmouth Va.; died June 4, 1945, Portsmouth Va. Burial: Oak Grove Cemetery, Portsmouth Va.
ii. A daughter, born March 5, 1922, Portsmouth, Va.
11. FRANK VAUGHAN EMMERSON was born March 16, 1898 in Portsmouth, Va. His residence was Cedar Fields, Surry County, Va. He died February 12, 1961, in Richmond Hospital, Richmond, Va. He married ELIZABETH CROWE on June 21, 1924. A native of Georgia, she was born November 17, 1903, and died January 6, 1980. The couple is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery, Portsmouth, Va. Five children, grandchildren.
13. CLAUDIA MILDRED EMMERSON was born December 8, 1903 in 419 High St., Portsmouth, Va., and died July 25, 1986 in Richmond, Va. She married BERNARD PEABODY HOLLAND JR. April 28, 1928, son of BERNARD PEABODY HOLLAND SR. and EMILY RANDALL GREGORY. He was born August 12, 1902, in Virginia Beach, Va., and died in July 16, 1970 in Richmond, Va. He is buried in Eastern Shore Cemetery, Va. Beach.
Claudia Mildred Emmerson was educated in Portsmouth Public Schools and at Stuart Hall, Staunton, Va.; author, "The Primrose Path," 1947; "Center Aisle," 1949; both published by Rhinehart & Co., New York. Residence, Richmond, Va. (The Emmersons and Portsmouth, p. 438)
Their daughter writes in May 2000: BERNARD PEABODY HOLLAND JR. was born in 1902 and died in 1970 in Richmond, Va. He earned a law degree from the University of Virginia. He worked for the Seaboard RR, The Reconstruction Finance Corporation in Washington and then for the Smaller War Plants bureau. After the war he moved to Richmond, Va. and worked for Reynolds Metals. He was a master bridge player.
The two children of CLAUDIA MILDRED EMMERSON and BERNARD PEABODY HOLLAND JR. are living; also two grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, four great-grandchildren.
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