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HISTORY OF AMELIA COUNTY

Compiled from the notes of A. R. Hudgins


Contents Pages
1 - 6
Pages
7 - 13
Pages
14 - 20
Pages
21 - 27
Pages
28 - 34
Pages
35 - 41
Pages
42 - 47


{Page 7}

noise to advertise their coming into the community so people would come to buy meat.  These drivers would stop at any village or cross roads and sell hogs on the hoof to anybody who wanted to buy.  Boys would hear the shouts of the drivers for a long distance and would run to the roads to watch the great droves of hogs go by.  I have heard an old man say it took only a small quantity of corn to keep these hogs fat while on the march.  Railroads put an end to selling hogs by this method.

The tavern lot in Paineville was regular {sic} stopping and feeding place for those hog drivers.  This tavern was operated by the Jeter family.

Home Knit Stockings

Almost all children on the farms wore home knit stockings about 1900.  Some old women did lots of knitting for their families and for pay.  These were knit from white cotton and dyed grey by using the bark of maple and chincopin {sic s/b chincapin} with a little bluestone to set the dye.  After the feet of these stockings wore badly, they were unraveled and the string used to make very good balls for the children to play with.

All men wore home knit socks.  A few people raised sheep and sent their wool to Leaksville, North Carolina where it was made into excellent blankets and they paid the mill either in wool or in money.

Negro Slaves

The negro slave population of Amelia and Nottoway counties was 11,300 in 1790.  At this time there were 106 free negroes.  The white population was 6684.  Slaves did almost all of the hard work, except in cases where no slaves were owned.  Slaves were trained to be blacksmiths, carpenters, cooks and for many other purposes.  Some slave owners were good to their slaves and some were terribly mean to them.  It would seem that hardly anyone would mistreat his own property, but this general rule did not hold good in regard to negro slaves.  The author has been told of a harsh slave owner who made a boast that if he would work a mule for five years and a negro seven years he could make each of them pay for himself in that time.  This kind of slave owner was an exception to the general rule.

Slaves lived in "Slave Quarters."  Which were one or two room log houses, many of which were standing in 1900.  These were sometimes very comfortable houses with a large fireplace in each room.  Here the cooking was done in pots, skillets and ovens.  Often times a swinging rack was fastened to the side of the chimney inside the high fireplace, on which large pots were hung over to be swung back from the fire for the comfort and safety of the cook.  These houses were often crowded with as many as ten people in one good size room and attic.  Negroes were used to this and it probably suited them well.  Some negroes lived this way after 1900.

Negroes were bought and sold on the market.  They were made to stand on a block so as to be higher than the crowd and in full view.  They were hired by


{Page 8}

the year or sold outright to the highest bidder.  Sometimes they were taken to a distant state.

A slave trader, an old man, died in Amelia about 1897.  These traders went through the country with the slaves making trades whenever anyone would trade or buy.  The men were handcuffed and marching and the women and children were carried in covered wagons.  I have heard my grandmother say she had seen them go by singing.  She also knew what was called "Outlandish Negroes".  There were only a few of these just from Africa who had not learned to talk.

Prices of negroes varied considerably.  As much as $1800 or more would be the price of a young healthy man who had learned his trade, but it seems that the average price was much less than this.  Probably not more than $900, and sometimes the price was much less than $900.  Slave uprisings were feared and guarded against in these times.  I have never heard of any trouble like this in Amelia or nearby, but serious trouble of this nature occurred in Southampton County.

Many negroes, both men and women who had been slaves, lived in Amelia in 1900, and for many years after this date.

Josh and Stokes

Josh and Stokes were two negro slaves.  They were excellent fiddle players who were much in demand to play at balls in Amelia and adjoining counties.  It seems that they often played together and went long distances from home to place for their dances.  I do not know what their last names were.  One of them belonged to the Fowlkes family.  Many slaves did not have but one name, such as Sam, Dick, or John.  One of these men earned so much money as a musician that he was able to pay his yearly hire to his master.  In addition to this he paid so much a year as a price of himself that he bought himself out of slavery.  My grandmother told me she had been at dances where these men played.  She said one of them could make his violin talk.  At the proper time he would make it say "Take your seats ladies".

Jacob Whitworth owned a family of slaves named Montague.  Nathan Montague was the head of this family.  It seems that Thomas Whitworth either inherited or bought all of this family.  This family has some members in Amelia County at this time. (1947) Ten years ago one member was developing into a preacher.

Aunt Judy Lewis

This slave woman belonged to Thomas Whitworth.  She was the cook when Thomas took his bride in the summer of 1852 to live at what later became known as "Whitters Quarter".  This was located between Stocks Creek and Rocky Branch.  She was his cook as long as she would serve.  When negroes became free when the Yankee army passed through Amelia, she told him she wanted to stay with him as long as she lived.  When this faithful old woman was too feeble to do any work she was provided a home at "Whitters Quarter" in a log cabin or slave quarter and was looked after by her son named Lud Lewis who was living there.  Aunt Judy died about 1885.  Lud died on this farm about 1893.  Aunt


{Page 9}

Judy was paid wages after the war.

In the south there were, no doubt many thousands of cases like this one, in which the slaves loved their masters, and when emancipation came in 1865, these negroes did not want to leave.  This applied to the older slaves.

The Last Amelia Indian, Perhaps

About the year 1900, a man named Mat Tucker came to live near Paineville.  He was classed as a negro, and associated with them.  He had a negro wife.  This man was short, his hair was not at all kinky, like a negro's hair, but was straight and very black.  He wore it long, down to his shoulders.  He was very old at this time.  A white man who was in position to know claimed he was about one hundred and four years old then.  He was still an excellent worker on the farm, and could do a real good day's work, at such hard work as drawing shingles.  He used to tell the boys that he was a grown man "When the stars fell."

It seems that Mat Tucker was born and raised just about on the line between Amelia and Prince Edward Counties.  He was born a slave and remained one until negroes were free.  He claimed to be part Indian, and the author is of the opinion that he must have been about three fourths Indian, and very little negro.

He had at least one son by a former wife, who post office {sic?} was Gills.  After living in and near Paineville for about three years, this very old man went back to the western part of Amelia to live, and after a few years he became blind.

His swarthy complexion, straight black hair and his very advanced age, and his claim to be part Indian convinced your author to believe that he really was Indian, no doubt about it.  He died about 1908 or later.

A Black Bear

About 1902 a bear wandered into Amelia from the west and spent a night or more in the thicket on the creek below Perrin's Mill.  A half grown boy named Bill Orange saw his tracks on Rocky Branch and became alarmed and hurried home at a high rate of speed and spread the alarm.  Neighbors were told and Mr. Booker Wingo was sent for and told to come with his dogs, gun, and buckshot.  This man had seen bear tracks and as soon as he saw these tracks he said they were bear tracks.

The hunt started then and there.  The dogs followed the trail and in a short while the bear was on the run going west.  One or more men in Amelia saw the bear but did not shoot him.  He got across the Appomattox River about Stoney Point and the newspapers reported that he was killed by a man named Hix in Cumberland or Buckingham County.

This bear was the only dangerous wild animal to run free about Paineville so far as the author ever heard.


{Page 10}

Tobacco Raising and Selling (1900)

Tobacco was the principle money crop in Amelia.  It was generally planted in June and cut in September and October.  Sometimes it was partly cured on Scaffolds built in the tobacco fields.  Most farmers primed and topped so as to leave nine leaves to a stalk.  The plants were split down the stalk and then cut off and laid down and allowed to "fall", get supple.  It was then put in the barn.  A barn was filled only once in a year then.

In Amelia, it was "sorted", (graded into three grades), into long, short and lugs.  In an average crop about half would be long, which was the best grade.  It was tied into bundles about nine or ten leaves to a bundle and people who tied it were paid five cents for a hundred bundles.  A good worker could earn about forty-five cents a day.  No food was furnished the workers.

Some of this tobacco was sold to John Allen's Factory at Amelia Court House, some was sold to Hobson's Factory at Sunnyside, a little west to Blackstone.  Most that was raised in western Amelia was sold in Farmville, where there were four large warehouses.  Most of it was carried to market by wagons pulled by one, two, three or four horses or mules.  Some went to market in ox carts.  No trucks were there until about 1913.

The author of this went to Farmville several times with Buck Orange and was allowed to ride the wheel horse and drive the four horse team a part of the way.  When steep hills were reached farmers would use their teams to help one another get up the hill.  Loads were piled up high, some as much as six feet from top to wagon bed, and covered with cloths, old quilts, sacks, etc.  I will try to give the average prices received for tobacco in 1900.  The best grade averaged about ten cents a pound.  The cheapest grade sold for about five cents a pound and the second grade for about seven and a half cents a pound.  The prices varied from time to time and for no apparent reason.  We went to Farmville reaching there before sunset, would sell the next morning and come home that day.  We often slept in a heated room in one end of the warehouse.  If we did not have bedding of our own, we slept on hard boards.

A Shameful Practice in Farmville

High salaried tobacco buyers who were employed to buy tobacco in Farmville indulged in a low contemptible practice to rob the farmers and enrich themselves in this shameful way.  So called commission merchants were often employed to sell a farmer's tobacco.  This commission merchant did absolutely nothing of importance.  He just stood around during the sale and later on collected his fee.  His name was always on the pile of tobacco he had been employed to sell, where all of the buyers could see it.  If a pile of tobacco did not have the name of a commission merchant on it that meant the buyer of it would not get any graft to put in his own pocket.  For this reason, he would always bid less for it to impress on the farmer the importance of always having a commission merchant to sell his tobacco.

The farmers knew of this low, dirty trick of the buyers who worked hand


{Page 11}

in hand with these commission merchants and got probably at least half of the money fees the farmers had to pay.  As a boy I have heard farmers talk about this fraud.  No one seemed able to stop it.  It is entirely possible the buyer, who got about half of the fee the farmer was robbed of, had to pay a part of what he got to the man who employed him. Graft money often had to be split into a good many parts or else the one who did not get any, would expose those who did.

Englishmen Near Lodore and Morven

Sometime after the Civil War, probably about 1875, a great many people, most of whom were from England, settled on farms in Amelia County near Lodore.  This was only a post office, it was not a village of any size.

Some of these people were wealthy and prominent and lived in great style.  They had money to loan with farm mortgages as security.  It seems that they built good brick houses and some of them put slate roofs on barns and sheds.  For a while there was a large community of these people who brought in new ideas and ways of living and they must have been a good stimulus to the county, which was then going through the hardships of reconstruction following the war.  At this time the people of Amelia were in great poverty and needed some new blood and outside financial help.  Some of the families who came into the county at this time were:  Blacker, Hunter, LeGasher, Muldoon, and Anderson.  This community was not permanent.  Some went away, of course, others remained but it seems they did not have children to carry on after them.  By the year 1900 about all of them had left.

Note:  The author visited the very large farm formerly owned by the Englishman Blacker, about three miles from Morven.  The house was of brick and wood.  It was well preserved in 1943.

Mica Mines

Very rich and valuable mica deposits were discovered in Amelia about 1870 near Grub Hill Church, Lodore, and Chula.  These mines were worked with considerable profit for some time but before many years they had been worked out, and no more good mica was left, so the mines were abandoned.  I have read in a book by a geologist that there was good evidence that these mines had been worked long before the "coming of white men".

Mica has been dug around Paineville but never found in paying quantities.  The Schlegel mica mine was operated near Jetersville with some profit.  A northern man named Z. S. Tower from Ohio was digging for mica around Paineville about 1901 about a mile east of the village on the north side of a branch on Delaneys farm.  This mine or hold did not pay.

A prospector from Pennsylvania of considerable experience name {sic s/b named} John Byerley spent some time at Paineville with his brother Peter.  (Peter lived


{Page 12}

there for some time.)  It was about 1930 that he was there prospecting for anything that was to be found.  Peter told me that his brother found aluminum ore in large quantities.  John also found gold on a farm to the east of Byerley's which was formerly Thomas Whitworth's Farm.  Even though finding traces of different ore was reported, nothing was ever mined around Paineville in paying quantities, to the knowledge of your author.

A lithia spring was found on the George Wiley farm about three or four miles north of Paineville just before 1900.  It was not used or developed.

Gems of some kind were being mined near Chula between 1915 and 1935.

Johnsons

When I was a small child my grandmother Whitworth told me that her grandfather was Richard Johnson who married Ann Vaughan. Richard Johnson fought in the war of the Revolution.  Grandmother said there was a horn tumbler at her fathers with the letters R. J. carved in it that was used to drink brandy from in the harvest fields by the hands, who mostly were negro slaves.  She said this tumbler had a wooden bottom fastened in with small brass nails.  In her old age she read in a magazine that many of the soldiers of the Revolution had horn tumblers with their initials cut on them.  This interested her and caused her to wonder what ever become {sic s/b became} of the one with R. J. on it.  We have no idea what became of it.

Richard Johnson lived and died on Sandy Creek not far from Deatonsville, Virginia.  We have recorded that he was born about 1733.  He was in the war of the Revolution, probably as a private.  The author of this does not know anything of her ancestors.  We do not know when he married Ann Vaughan, daughter of Robert and Martha Vaughan.  They were married before Robert's will was written in August 1771.  Richard Johnson died in 1833 on his farm on Sandy Creek about a mile or more northwest of the village of Deatonsville, Virginia.  His family attended the Sandy Creek Baptist Church.

Richard's will is dated November 1817.  In it he names these people:  my wife, Ann Johnson; my son, Willis Johnson; My son, John Johnson; My daughter Sarah C. Johnson; My son Robert Johnson; My granddaughter, Frances M. Meador; My granddaughter, Martha J. Meador; my son, Richard Johnson two dollars amount in currency of the commonwealth; my son James Johnson two dollars amount in currency of the commonwealth.  His will was recorded at Amelia Court House in 1817 book number 13.  It was witnessed by Her{n}don Green, John Lockett and James Lockett.  Willis and John Johnson were executors of this will.  When this will be {sic s/b was} proved in 1833, one son, Robert was living in or near Winchester, Franklin County, Tennessee.  I never heard my grandmother speak of an uncle living in Tennessee and have not been able to find any trace of him.

Richard Johnson willed considerable property away.  He was in very comfortable circumstances.  I have been told that he would help those who came to him with a hard luck tale, but had little patience with them, and thought they were lazy, and would often "cut them out" for being trifling.


{Page 13}

Willis Johnson's name is the first in the will of Richard's children so he must have been the oldest one.  I have heard my grandmother speak many times of her Uncle Willis.

Willis married Martha B. Orange (called Pasy) on December 20, 1824.  They raised two children, George W. and Ann Rebecca.  George W. married Ann Jane Legon {sic ? Ligon ?} in 1850 and left issue.  Ann Rebecca had an unfortunate love affair, and some thought that she died of a broken heart.  Grandmother seriously doubted this.  She was about the same age and Ann Rebecca's very good friend.  Ann Rebecca was about eighteen when she died.

John Johnson, we feel sure, was the second child of Richard and Ann Johnson.  He was born on the farm on Sandy Creek in September 19, 1784.  He married Mary A. Wooldridge of Midlothian, Chesterfield County, Virginia, on December 22, 1814.  He was thirty and she was sixteen.  He was married during the second war with England, in which he had already served.  He probably got acquainted and married her when he was wearing a uniform.  Her relatives ran a tavern near Midlothian.  These relatives were named Spears.  The old tavern is now (1946) the residence of Julian Spears, who is very old.

The tavern was on the direct road from Amelia County to Richmond, probably the stopping  place for many Amelia people going to and from Richmond.  John Johnson had the nickname of "Coonrod" but no one seems to know how he got this name, maybe in school.  He died in 1849.

Mary Wooldridge was a member of a prominent family that owned valuable coal lands in Chesterfield County.  Her uncle, Dave Wooldridge, was the principal owner of these lands.  She inherited an interest in these lands.  A part of this interest was willed to my grandmother, Susan Johnson Whitworth, she in turn willed her interest to her three daughters living in 1908.  Not a dollar was ever realized by any member of these generations so far as the author ever heard.

The Chesterfield coal mines, owned by the Wooldridges, were the first commercially operated coal mines in this nation.  This may seem hard to believe but you may look it up to be sure.  For a long time these mines could not compete with richer mines to the west and were abandoned.  They were reopened to some extent about 1920 and operated in a small way.  It seems this coal is deep in the ground and not of the best quality.  Millions of dollars were spent here and some old machinery was rusting there in about 1922.  Hundreds of deep pits were dug and many of them and open and flooded now.  It is dangerous to walk about there at night.

John and Mary Wooldridge Johnson had two daughters who went to live in Missouri.  Mary A. Johnson married John Gauldin in December 1836.  Martha L. Johnson, in August, married Samuel {?.} Williams, (1839).  The two brides went with their husbands to live in Missouri in the fall of 1839.  I have been told they went part of the way through Pennsylvania.  Railroads were being built then.  The Baltimore & Ohio, which was one of the first, ran trains into Cumberland, Maryland in 1836.  It is very probably {sic s/b probable} that this road was operating trains from Baltimore to Pittsburgh in the late fall of 1839.  After they reached Pittsburg {sic s/b Pittsburgh} they went by boat or steamer down the Ohio then on the


Contents Pages
1 - 6
Pages
7 - 13
Pages
14 - 20
Pages
21 - 27
Pages
28 - 34
Pages
35 - 41
Pages
42 - 47

Source: Booklet on file at the Virginia State Library Archives, #F 232 A54 H76.
Transcription by Susan Shields Sasek, 9 Feb 2004.


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