Wednesday, February 15, 2012

W. W. Otey and G. H. P. Showalter

            William Wesley Otey had met and liked George Henry Pryor Showalter in Virginia around 1895, if not earlier. G. H. P. preached at the funeral of Otey’s infant son, Showalter Guy Otey, in 1896. Another of Josiah’s sons, Edward Thomas Showalter, wrote a notice about the baby’s death for the Octographic Review in January 1897; he, too, was a preacher, although never a controversialist like his father, or like Otey. Soon thereafter G. H. P. Showalter moved to Texas, where he served as president of Lockney Christian College from 1897 to 1902, and again from 1904 to 1906, the year when he moved to Austin, became president of Sabinal Christian College from 1907 to 1917, and bought the Firm Foundation, which he ran until his death in 1954, publishing both a weekly periodical and numerous books. He also earned a B.A. degree from the University of Texas in 1913. It is hardly surprising that he differed over the value of colleges with W. W. Otey, who never attended one.

Edward Thomas Showalter, c. 1965

            In 1912 Otey fell out with Daniel Sommer, in the course of a debate over evangelistic oversight. Sommer argued that when local elders could not resolve a congregation’s problems, evangelists had the authority to intervene. He attributed to Otey the position that “if they can’t settle their troubles, let them die, while the preacher goes and builds up new churches” (p. 244). As a result, Otey resigned from the Octographic Review and from then on wrote mostly for the Firm Foundation. G. H. P. Showalter had always found the Review’s positions too extreme, and welcomed the new contributor.

Cover of Simplified Bible Lessons (Austin, Texas: Firm Foundation, 1944),
G. H. P. Showalter and W. M. Davis

Advertisement for M. V. Showalter, Divine Biography, from the dust jacket of G. H. P. Showalter, ed., Harding College Lectures (Austin, Texas: Firm Foundation, 1952). Milton Vaden Showalter, another of Josiah’s sons, attended Peabody College in Nashville, Tennessee, graduating in 1901. He moved to Texas and taught at Lockney Christian College, where his brother G. H. P. was president. Subsequently he was on the faculty of Abilene Christian College from 1920 to 1933.

            The relationship between Otey and G. H. P. Showalter frayed in 1950, however, over another dispute. In the post-war era, churches had organized missions to foreign nations, and Otey criticized the practice, on much the same grounds as he had attacked supporting colleges, missionary societies, and orphanages: “First, is the method or plan unscriptural? Second, is all the work being done work that belongs to the church as it works?” (p. 431.) I am not qualified to determine what is scriptural, but even I can see that the answer to the second question was negative – a mission in Japan was sponsoring sewing schools, English classes, health centers, social services, commercial classes, and a college. G. H. P. Showalter was supporting these sponsorship projects, however, and he began to close the pages of the Firm Foundation to Otey. Otey made his case in a book, Living Issues, which he published in 1951 with a dedication to Josiah Thomas Showalter. But the personal contacts between G. H. P. Showalter and W. W. Otey came to an end in 1951.

George Henry Pryor Showalter in 1950

            Both were nearing the ends of their lives. G. H. P. Showalter died in 1954, age 84, and Otey wrote a warm tribute on his death, titled “A Great Servant Called Home,” and published in the Firm Foundation. In July 1956, “Minnie” (Showalter) Otey passed away, after several years of failing health. On 1 November 1961, William Wesley Otey himself died, at the age of 94. With his death, one of the last veterans of the great years of the Church of Christ in Snowville passed away.


Faithful readers: 
I will be traveling for most of the next two weeks, and will not publish another post until March 7.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

W. W. Otey and the Showalter Family

            William Wesley Otey’s mother was a first cousin of Josiah Thomas Showalter. Her name was Sarah Ann Showalter (1832-1929). She was the daughter of Isaac Daniel Showalter (28 July 1806-7 January 1837). He was apparently known as Daniel, and probably because of his brief life, he is sometimes omitted from Showalter family trees. He was, however, one of the more than ten children of Henry Garver Showalter (1766-1841) and Magdalena Halderman (c. 1765-c. 1818). Henry Garver Showalter was born in Pennyslvania and moved to southwestern Virginia, settling for a time in the Roanoke Valley before moving a bit farther west. Another of his children was David Halderman Showalter (31 December 1801-12 April 1877), father of Josiah Thomas Showalter.
            Daniel Showalter married in 1826 Sarah Ann Griffith (1810-c. 1866). In the eleven years before his death, they produced five daughters and one son. One of the daughters was Sarah Ann; the only son was Henry B. Showalter, born in 1831, who also plays a significant part in this story. On 7 December 1853 Sarah Ann Showalter married Joshua Otey (1829-1918), who was born close to Snowville, Virginia. Joshua found it difficult to earn a living; he worked for a time as a painter, tried carpentry, ran a sawmill and a grist mill, and fell back on farming, all without much success. He inherited a small parcel of land from his father, but sold it in 1858 and never again owned any land. His son, W. W. Otey, said that he was “the most optimistic, hardest working, poorest manager that I have ever seen” (pp. 18-19).

Henry B. and Elizabeth (Turpin) Showalter

            Sarah Ann’s brother, Henry B. Showalter, came to Joshua Otey’s rescue. In 1884, he arranged for the struggling Otey family to move onto his prosperous farm in Floyd County, Virginia. He needed  some extra hands, and Otey had seven sons, including William Wesley (born 14 March 1867). Soon after his arrival at his new home, on 29 December 1884, W. W. Otey met his cousin Amanda Elizabeth “Minnie” Showalter and it was love at first sight. They were married on Christmas Eve 1885, and made a home for themselves on a tract of uncleared land her father gave them. The following year, Otey declared his wish to be baptized in the Church of Christ, and Henry sent for his cousin, Josiah Thomas Showalter, at that time the best known of the active preachers in the area. Josiah not only baptized Otey, but also instructed him in leading worship and preaching. Soon Otey had revived the congregation of the disused church in the community of Showalter, Virginia, and begun his life’s work.

Josiah Thomas Showalter, c. 1906

            Josiah Thomas Showalter and his cousin Henry had been in close contact long before Otey’s baptism. Josiah, his brother William, and their cousin Henry all enlisted together in the Confederate army. They joined the Floyd County Company, which became Company A of the 54th Virginia Infantry. Their company was in fierce battles at Chickamauga and Chattanooga, Tennessee, in September and November 1863; at numerous battles in Georgia trying vainly to stop Sherman’s advance, including at Atlanta in July 1864; and the company remained in service until April 1865, surrendering in North Carolina at the war’s end. Henry and William were front line soldiers; Josiah’s job was to carry ammunition to the front lines. Henry reported that the fighting never became too rough for Josiah to supply adequate ammunition. He also wrote to his wife, on 12 November 1863, between the battles of Chicamauga and Chattanooga:
Josiah Showalter has been here to see me today... He is very religious. He has prayer meetings at his quarters frequently. He told me today he thought he ought to preach and wanted to know what I thought of it. I told him if that was his feelings that I could not see anything against it and that I thought it might do a great deal of good. He appears to be perfectly resigned to his fate. Let him be where he may be, as much so as any man I ever saw reads his Bible and studies it whenever he has a chance. He has written to [Chester] Bullard to see the church asking if they think he ought to preach or not but has received no answer yet. He is the most changed man you almost ever saw for five or six months past and I hope he will hold on to the good way in which he has started. (p.8.)
By 1870, Josiah was an elder of the Cypress Grove Church of Christ, in Snowville, and strongly advocated a pacifist resolution, which the elders passed in 1871, recommending to members of their church “that they declare their determination, that under no circumstance will they bear arms, or engage in these wars” (p. 70).
            As I have said in previous posts, Josiah took a very conservative stand on all the issues facing the church, and W. W. Otey seemed to be in complete accord with him. Both fulminated against the introduction of organs into the churches, and both opposed the creation of missionary societies to do the work of the church. Josiah wrote regular articles under the heading “Jottings from Virginia” for a periodical called American Christian Review (which later merged with the rival Octographic Review and took its name), the leading organ of the “anti” wing of the church. In 1889, Otey also began to write for it, and formed close ties with its editor, Daniel Sommer. Josiah, meanwhile, was campaigning against Bible colleges and the use of the name “Christian Church”.
            When a person is convinced that he is speaking God’s truth, it is probably inevitable that conflicts will arise with others who hold the same conviction. It was not long before Josiah and W. W. Otey clashed. In 1894, Josiah wrote in the Octographic Review that “Prof. C. D. M. Showalter had purchased an interest in Milligan College,” and he urged readers “to send their children there for a classical education, suggesting also that there their morals would be ‘looked after’.” (p. 121.) Otey wrote a scathing reply: “That colleges have been a source from which evil has sprung among the disciples is a statement that cannot be successfully denied. ... I believe Milligan College in Tennessee to be in all probability the most dangerous among the disciples.” (p. 121.) Showalter responded in kind. Cecil Willis, the author of Otey, is naturally partial to his subject, whom he knew as a friend in his old age and who probably related this incident to him from his own perspective. Willis does not quote enough of the debate to enable one to judge it impartially. Apparently Otey disapproved of Milligan’s president, Josephus Hopwood, because he supported the missionary societies. And the polemicist betrayed something Josiah Showalter had told him in confidence, namely, that Hopwood had called Josiah Showalter “an extremist”.

C. D. M. Showalter holding the blogger, 1936

            Willis was misinformed about some of the facts, however. He begins the story saying that “it was incorrectly reported to Josiah that his son had purchased a part of Milligan College” (p. 120). As I have documented in earlier posts, C. D. M. Showalter had in fact bought the college, and was co-owner with his father-in-law, James Lewis English. The purchase was, however, intended to help the college through a financial crisis; President Hopwood retained control of the academic operation of the school, and the deed provided that the trustees could repurchase the college, and they did so a year later. Willis reiterates his error: “Otey’s criticism must have been especially stinging, since Showalter believed his son now owned part of the school. Actually J. T. Showalter had been misinformed. His son did not own part of Milligan College.” (p. 121.) If Josiah was stung, it may have been because he had several children, plus a son-in-law and a daughter-in-law, who were enrolled in, or graduates of, or teaching at, Milligan; but it was more probably because a kinsman he regarded as a friend and disciple had attacked him publicly and revealed a secret in doing so.
            Otey and Josiah Showalter continued to be friends after this quarrel, but the tension continued to simmer. In 1910, a new squabble erupted when G. H. P. Showalter (another of Josiah’s sons and another Milligan graduate) published a defense of schools. Otey responded, and Josiah chimed in with the argument that Otey was inconsistent, because he had sent two of his own daughters to Lynchburg College, where Josephus Hopwood had gone after leaving Milligan. Willis interjects the misleading note that “Showalter’s son, C. D. M., had married the daughter of the owner of Milligan College, James L. English” (p. 220), to explain why Josiah was still bothered by the conflict. He concedes that both Otey and the Showalters (Josiah and G. H. P.) were finding “petty faults” with each other, and acknowledges that Josiah continued to praise and admire Otey. As in the earlier incident, not enough of the evidence is cited to permit a fair evaluation; was it inaccurate to assume that Otey’s epithet “most dangerous” applied to Hopwood as well as to the college? I can’t say, but the debate sounds to me more like political candidates than a trio of churchmen.

From G. H. P. Showalter, Travel Talks (Austin, Texas: Firm Foundation, 1938), p. 18

            There is no doubt that Josiah Showalter was a cantankerous man. He was dropped from the contributorial staff of the Octographic Review in 1901, apparently because he disagreed with the editor, Daniel Sommer, over pacifism. Afterwards, Josiah published mainly in the Firm Foundation, a periodical based in Austin, Texas, which his son G. H. P. Showalter bought around 1907 and ran for 47 years. Josiah was an old man by this time, however; he died in 1915. Most of his work and most of his battles were behind him. Two of his sons became preachers, however, and one worked closely with W. W. Otey, as I will explain in the next post.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Life of William Wesley Otey

            W. W. Otey, Contender for the Faith: A History of Controversies in the Church of Christ from 1860-1960 (Akron, Ohio, 1964), published by the author, Cecil Willis, is a very different sort of book from the one I talked about in my two previous blog posts. Otey, as I will abbreviate the title, is a biography, not a memoir. Moreover, it focusses on a limited aspect of its subject, as the subtitle suggests. William Wesley Otey was a redoubtable debater; the author writes near the end, “It was extremely difficult for Otey to stay out of a fight.” (p. 350) He debated Mormons, Primitive Baptists, Dunkards and the progressives and digressives of his own church. He argued forcefully, always from the conservative side, in the controversies over instruments, societies, colleges, co-operation among congregations, evangelistic oversight, premillennialism, and church unity.

The cover of W. W. Otey, Contender for the Faith, by Cecil Willis

            Perhaps I am less informed than I ought to be, but I had no idea what most of these controversies were about. And the biographer does not offer much explanation; Willis was writing for initiates, who were aware of these matters beforehand. In a nutshell, as I understand it, all these controversies within the Church of Christ concerned the mission to recreate the church as Christ had founded it – that is, nothing would be allowed in the church for which there was no precedent in Scripture. According to Otey and other “Anti” evangelists, nothing in Scripture authorizes musical instruments in church, or any delegation of the individual congregation’s authority to a society of any sort. Add to the book’s narrow focus the fact that “Otey was dead serious most of the time” (p. 280), and except for historians of religion, Otey is not much fun to read.
            The accounts of this argumentative culture are nevertheless sometimes entertaining, and remind me a great deal of the Presidential debates of recent years. According to the biographer, 1908 was the most significant year in Otey’s life, because it was the date of the “famous Otey-Briney debate” (pp. 194-212). John Benton Briney was a “digressive” preacher in the Church of Christ, reputed to be a formidable debater, and his party issued the challenge. The two men agreed to argue two propositions: “The use of such organizations as the Illinois Christian Missionary Society, the Foreign Christian Missionary Society, etc., is authorized in the New Testament Scriptures and acceptable to God,” and “The use of instrumental music in connection with the songs sung by the church on the Lord’s day, when assembled for edification and communion, is opposed to New Testament teaching and sinful.” Otey took the negative on the first and the affirmative on the second.
            Shortly before the scheduled meeting, however, Briney demanded a change of venue, which Otey arranged with some difficulty, for a site in Louisville. Otey then tried to arrange a planning meeting with Briney, who declined to come to a hotel and refused to allow Otey to bring his team to Briney’s home. Otey bargained to bring at least a stenographer, but Briney would permit only Otey’s words to be recorded. Then Briney refused to argue an affirmative version of his position on instrumental music. When the event finally occurred, it was generally agreed that Otey won, and the printed account of the debate sold out quickly.
            Not long afterward, another opponent, R. O. Rogers, resorted to personal attacks, calling Otey “a sort of ecclesiastical tramp” who deserted his wife and children for eight months a year, leaving them “to shift for themselves on a fourteen-acre tract of the most sterile land that lay beneath ‘the shining canopy of God’s blue heaven.’” He charged that Otey had his own “Ladies Aid Society” in the form of his wife and daughters, and that while the family fed “on the husks that the swine did eat,” the preacher was feasting on “floating islands and two story pies” (p. 217). This debate concerned instrumental music again, and somewhere amidst the invective Brother Rogers invoked 1 Corinthians 14 in support of it; but observers considered it an easy win for Otey, despite the effort to Swift-Boat him.
            I confess to a certain sympathy for Rogers in my feelings about this biography. Otey’s family are virtually invisible. In the opening pages, the author quotes a moving passage Otey wrote in 1956 as an obituary tribute to his wife. It describes their first meeting: “Our eyes met and held as if by magic for a moment,” and ends “I loved her more than seventy years.” (p. 35). They had nine children, of whom seven were still living in 1956, along with fourteen grandchildren and four great-grandchildren (p. 358). There is almost no mention of them, though. We learn that his two eldest daughters attended Lynchburg College, a fact which some critics found inconsistent with Otey’s views on colleges and the Church of Christ (p. 220); and that his son Ray wanted to go to Abilene Christian College in 1929, but Otey moved to Rocky, Oklahoma – and Ray went instead to an osteopathy college in Missouri (pp. 255-56).

W. W. Otey, his wife Minnie, and their children, in 1920
Front: Joe, W. W., Minnie, D. S.
Back: Ray, Ola, Bentley, Willie, Verna, Lucille
            As related by Willis, Otey’s life was almost entirely made up of preaching, debating, leading church meetings, submitting articles to church periodicals, and writing books. He began his career in western Floyd County, Virginia, in the corner formed by the borders with Pulaski and Carroll Counties; the post office was called Showalter, Virginia, and it no longer exists, alas. Otey was baptized there in 1886 and began to preach in the late 1880s. Except for a few months in Ohio, he remained in western Virginia until 1904, when he moved to Indiana. After seven years there, he moved to Kansas in 1911, then to Oklahoma in 1929, to Texas in 1934, and back to Kansas in 1939, residing in Belle Plaine until his wife’s death, after which he moved to Winfield, near his daughter’s home. He died there on 1 November 1961, at the age of 94, justly honored for his lifetime of service to his church.

 Brother and Sister Otey, 1950

            I have omitted something up to this point, which will explain why I read this book and thought it was worth talking about in this blog. W. W. Otey’s mother was named Sarah Ann Showalter. The wife he loved for seventy years was Amanda Elizabeth “Minnie” Showalter. He was baptized by Josiah Thomas Showalter. George Henry Pryor Showalter’s periodical Firm Foundation published 192 of Otey’s articles between 1928 and 1954. Even though Cecil Willis devotes very little space to Otey’s family, he says a good deal about the connections with the Showalters and about the complicated relationships between Otey and his Showalter kin. The next two posts will explore those topics.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Virginia Connections of the Maverick Family

            Carl Adams, the correspondent who guided me to the Memoirs of Mary Ann Maverick, was interested in the life of her father, William Lewis Adams, between 1800 and 1816, when the Adams family was in Botetourt County. (If any readers of this blog have information about this subject, please get in touch with him or me; his email address is He had found in this blog the description of a document in the Watts Collection of the Historical Society of Western Virginia, 1998.26.015, which begins: “Deed made Oct 12th 1815 by Wm L. Adams & wife to Edward Watts, conveying a certain tract or parcel of land lying & being in the County of Botetourt on Evans' Spring Branch including the greater part of the Round Hill and being the same tract on which the said Adams once lived.”

Deed made Oct 12th 1815 by Wm L. Adams & wife to Edward Watts, conveying a certain tract or parcel of land lying & being in the County of Botetourt on Evans' Spring Branch including the greater part of the Round Hill and being the same tract on which the said Adams once lived, & is bounded as follows:

The sellers, he explained to me, were William Lewis Adams and Agatha Strother (Lewis) Adams, the parents of Mary Ann Maverick. The tract of land they sold to Edward Watts in 1815 became the core of Oaklands. Moreover, the substantial addition that Watts later bought from the heirs of Andrew Lewis (not the famous general, but one of his grandsons), had belonged to cousins of Agatha Strother Lewis (1998.26.31).
            Then my correspondent very generously sent me a copy of a letter archived in the Maverick Family Papers at the University of Texas. It was addressed to Mary Ann Maverick, dated  Beaverdam, 5 August 1857, and was written by Lizzie Maverick (Houston) Allen. Samuel A. Maverick’s great-niece, Elizabeth M. Houston (1835-1919), married John James Allen Jr (1831-bet. 1880 and 1900) around 1857. Mary Ann Maverick’s memoirs mention seeing her as a girl in San Antonio in 1855. In the letter, she is obviously newly wed, has not been away from Texas very long, and is eager to return: “I like Virginia well enough,” she writes, “ but I will be very glad to get back to Texas once more where I will be sure to stay the rest of my days.”

She and her husband went back soon afterwards, and their first two children were born in Texas in 1858 and 1859; but they returned to Virginia before 1861, and apparently remained near the Allen homestead in Botetourt County for the rest of their lives. Lizzie was still living there at the time of the 1900 census, although she moved in with a married daughter in New York City before 1910.
            Lizzie’s letter also relates that  her husband “went yesterday to Oaklands (your father’s old home) to see his brother-in-law who is sick.”

That brother-in-law was William Watts, who was the widower of Mary Jane Allen, a sister of John James Allen Jr. William and Mary Jane (Allen) Watts’s son, John Allen Watts, who was only two years old at the time of Lizzie’s letter, and at least two relatives of his generation, William Gordon Robertson and George W. Morris, became friends with yet another Maverick during the college years. Albert Maverick (1854-1947) was the ninth of Mary Ann (Adams) Maverick’s ten children. His birth is described thus: “On Sunday, May 7, 1854, was born our ninth child, Albert. I was very weak and did not have milk enough for him.” As a young man, he seems to have cut a striking figure. William Robertson wrote about him to John Allen Watts, who was at William and Mary: “Maverick is a club-mate of mine and is one of the best fellows I ever saw. When last heard from, he was in hot pursuit of buffaloes, and was in imminent danger of being skalped by the Indians. He went home the middle of the session; he said he took ‘the wrong tickets’ and was doing nothing. He will come back next year and take the Engineering course.” (2007.32.169, June 20 1874).

A year later, George Morris wrote: “A. Maverick Esq has gone to Indiana, but he told me before leaving that he would be at Oaklands the latter part of August. I wish he would come sooner, he is one of the best friends I had in College.” (2007.32.178, July 16, 1875).      

             It sounds as though young Albert was a bit of a maverick, as befits the son of the man who left his cattle unbranded and thereby made his name an eponym for an independent and nonconformist person.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mary Ann (Adams) Maverick

            Not long ago, a correspondent recommended to me that I read The Memoirs of Mary A. Maverick: A Journal of Early Texas (San Antonio: Maverick Publishing Co., 2005), and I am happy to pass along the suggestion with my endorsement. It’s a short and very readable book, only about a hundred pages of text (including illustrations), with a few more pages of front and back matter. This is the fourth version of the work: the first was the original manuscript, completed in 1881, but known only to family members; the second was an edited version of the manuscript, prepared by one of the author’s sons, George Madison Maverick, and duplicated in a small number of copies in 1896; the third was prepared by Rena Maverick Green, a daughter of the first editor, and was privately published in 1921; and the fourth, which I read, was edited by Maverick Fairchild Fisher, a fifth-generation descendant of the author. Mr. Fisher has provided very helpful illustrations, explanatory notes, and an index.

            The book is about Texas, but it has more to do with southwest Virginia than you might suppose, as will be clear in next week’s post. The story begins: “My maiden name was Mary Ann Adams. I was born March 16, 1818, in Tuskaloosa County, Alabama. My parents were William Lewis Adams of Lynchburg and his wife Agatha Strother Lewis of Botetourt County, both of the state of Virginia.” Mary Ann Adams was a great-granddaughter of General Andrew Lewis, an early settler in the region and a military leader in the American Revolution. In my youth, his name was attached to the Roanoke County High School in Salem, which now bears the ho-hum designation Salem High School. At least the local hero is still commemorated in the name of Fort Lewis Mountain.

             In the early 1800s William and Agatha Adams moved to Alabama, where Mary Ann was born and raised. She married Samuel Augustus Maverick on 4 August 1836 at her widowed mother’s home near Tuscaloosa. Samuel was from South Carolina, but had already taken up residence in Texas; in fact, Mary Ann says that he had been presumed lost at the fall of the Alamo earlier in 1836. After the wedding, the couple paid farewell visits to friends and family, including the groom’s father, who tried in vain to persuade his son to settle in South Carolina. They were still in South Carolina when their first son was born, but set off on 7 December 1837 for Texas. Their destination was San Antonio, where they arrived on 15 June 1838.

Samuel Augustus Maverick

            This was very much a frontier region, contested both by Indians and by Mexicans. In the last stages of the journey, the travelers were accosted by a band of Tonkawa Indians, who said, “Mucho amigo” but looked very menacing wearing war paint and carrying Comanche scalps from a recent battle. The Comanches were still more threatening, and harassed the community in raids and battles from 1838 until 1842, when the Mavericks were forced to evacuate their home in San Antonio for a while. Mary Ann tells an amusing tale of meeting the Cherokee chief Bowls and declining his invitation to dance, and heart-rending stories of recovering captive children from the Comanches after they had been tortured and mutilated.
            It was conflict with Mexico, however, that led the Mavericks to flee their home. Between its revolution against Mexican rule in 1836 and its annexation by the United States in 1845, Texas was in principle an independent republic. Mexico, however, continued to claim sovereignty, and periodically sent armed forces into Texas. One such invasion in March 1842 provoked the evacuation of many women and children; another in September 1842 resulted in the capture of Samuel Maverick and about fifty others. The prisoners were taken to Vera Cruz and Mexico City, but ultimately released on 30 March 1843, after an intervention by the American ambassador, General Waddy Thompson.
            Mary Ann and her children spent the first two years of their exile from San Antonio, 1842-44, on a ranch near La Grange on the Colorado River, east of Austin. The climate seemed unhealthy, however, and after Samuel’s liberation they moved to the Matagorda Peninsula on the Gulf Coast. They stayed three years on the coast, but Samuel was spending more and more time in San Antonio on business, so they all moved back there in 1847. Texas had joined the United States, and settlers were flocking to the state. One chapter of the memoir covers all the events from 1847 to 1859, and both the Civil War and the death of Mary Ann’s husband Samuel in 1870 are dealt with in an epilogue.

Mary Ann (Adams) Maverick (center), c. 1852, 
with her children, clockwise from the top left: 
Sam, Lewis, William, Mary, and George

            Obviously, the chaotic and often terrifying days of the early settlement of Texas most interested the memoirist. To a 21st-century reader, the ordinary hardships of the time, which also afflicted the friends and family left behind in civilized Virginia, South Carolina, and Alabama, are just as difficult to imagine living through. Between 1837 and 1857, Mary Ann Maverick bore ten children. Of her pregnancies and the deliveries, she says nothing; her account of her firstborn’s arrival is typical: “Here on Sunday, May 14, 1837, was born our son Sam.” The list of diseases they suffered from or were threatened by, however, is given at appalling length – yellow fever, brain fever (meningitis), congestive chills (malaria), ague, whooping cough, measles, dysentery, bilious fever (typhoid), influenza, scarletina, cholera, smallpox, mumps – not to mention accidents like broken bones, blows to the head causing convulsions, and snakebites. They were beset by floods, snowstorms and hurricanes. I suppose that children who survived into adulthood had to be hardy and resilient; Mary Ann Maverick certainly was, but even her sturdy health began to fail with her last pregnancies, when she was weak, fainted, and could not nurse her newborn infants.
            She nonetheless lived on until 24 February 1898. During her last years, she donated stained glass windows and other important items to Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church in San Antonio. She was also active in civic organizations, especially a historical society campaigning to preserve the Alamo church. When she died, a local newspaper called her the city’s “best beloved friend”.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Watts Collection, documents 476-500

Checklist of documents in the Watts Collection at the Historical Society of Western Virginia, Roanoke, Virginia. To consult these documents, go to and move the cursor to the “Virtual Museum” tile at the top. Then click “Virtual Collections” on the menu that appears. The documents can be found by a keyword search, or by catalog number using “Click and Search”. Some or all of the documents described here may not yet be available online, but all may be consulted on site.

This is a relatively ill-assorted group of documents. They range in date from 1850 to 1853, and cover many different topics. The largest number (8)  relate to various lawsuits in which William Watts was a lawyer or adviser. A small group (5) concerns the Exchange Bank of Virginia; William Watts had just taken the presidency of the newly founded Salem branch. Several documents (4) concern land sales, but with no relation to each other. Several (4) involve politics and public affairs. A final group (3) is made up of account statements and receipts. And one letter is a personal request for advice.

doc #

December 24, 1850
Letter from John Benjamin Irwin Logan, in Norfolk, Virginia, to William Watts, in Big Lick, Roanoke County, Virginia, announcing his resignation as cashier of the new Salem branch of the Exchange Bank of Virginia, which he has submitted to William Willoughby Sharp

December 26, 1850
Letter from John Benjamin Irwin Logan, in Richmond, Virginia, to William Watts, in Big Lick, Roanoke County, Virginia, withdrawing his tender of resignation as cashier of the new Salem branch of the Exchange Bank of Virginia, and trying to arrange a meeting with Watts in Lynchburg, where the letter was postmarked four days after being written; an apparent postscript from the postmaster Armstead P. Neal seems to request that the meeting be in Salem, Virginia

December 27, 1850
Letter from John Benjamin Irwin Logan, in Richmond, Virginia, to William Watts, in Big Lick, Roanoke County, Virginia, trying to schedule a meeting with Watts either in Lynchburg or in Richmond, Virginia

December 31, 1850
Letter from John S. Wilson, in Buchanan, Virginia, to William Watts, in Roanoke County, Virginia, agreeing with Watts that the tolls are excessively high, given the condition of the road, and asking Watts to support Mr Boyd in Richmond in trying to have them reduced

March 13, 1851
Letter from William Wilson Corcoran, in Washington, DC, to Cary Breckinridge, in Fincastle, Virginia, asking for a reply to his offer to purchase lots in Washington, DC

I have therefore to ask an answer by return mail, and if the price I offer is not satisfactory, state the lowest figure, & I will determine, at once, whether I will take them. Respectfully yrs, W. W. Corcoran

See my earlier post on James Breckinridge’s land holdings in Washington, DC. 

April 5, 1852
Letter from Henry Scarsbrook Langhorne to William C. Langhorne, demanding that he produce a letter from William Watts referred to in a deposition by Morton, and notifying William that further depositions will be taken at the tavern house of William Terry in Liberty (Bedford), Bedford County, Virginia

April 7, 1852
Letter from William C. Langhorne to William Watts, at Fincastle, Virginia, covering the return of the letter requested in 1998.26.481, suggesting that John A. Langhorne also give a deposition, reporting on his own ill health, noting that his brother Henry Scarsbrook Langhorne has retained counsel, and touching on other aspects of the lawsuit

April 17, 1852
Letter from Gustavus Adolphus Wingfield, in Liberty (Bedford), Virginia, to Alfred Terrell Dillard, proposing a compromise with John M. Patton regarding a fee and percentages of a recovery in the name of Dillard and Alexander Cabell

May 26, 1851
Letter from Robert Jamieson, in Alexandria, Virginia, to William Watts, in Richmond, Virginia, asking if Watts’s bank can supply Jamieson’s with some banknotes, because they are pressed for currency; also regrets a difficulty in Norfolk, and predicts earnings of 5 percent for the past six months

We are at present so greatly pressed for currency, that I shall feel much obliged, if your bank can furnish us with a parcel of your notes in exchange for ours, and beg you will let me know if it is in your power to aid us. If you have any notes in Richmond to fill up, I will undertake to letter and number them as before, after your name is inserted. Please let me hear from you at your earliest leisure and Oblige your Obt Servt [Obedient Servant], Robt Jamieson

Robert Jamieson was the son of a Scottish-born baker, who settled in Alexandria, Virginia, and founded a large bakery business there. Robert took over the direction of the business in 1821 and continued to run it after he became president of the Alexandria branch of the Exchange Bank of Virginia around 1850. He was still president in 1861.

June 24, 1851
Two separate but related documents are classified under this number. Letter from William M. Cook to William Watts, covering a copy of the record in a court case concerning a slave named Daniel, and sending snippets of news. Letter from William H. Richardson, secretary of the commonwealth of Virginia, to William M. Cook, concerning the payment due to Cook from the auditor of public accounts in the case concerning the slave named Daniel.

July 24, 1851
Letter from Andrew Dannon, in Covington, Virginia, to an unnamed addressee, presumably William Watts, objecting to a plan to combine Alleghany and Craig Counties in an electoral district for a delegate to the state legislature, and appealing to the addressee to have the Constitutional Convention reconsider the matter

August 25, 1850
Letter from William Watts, at home at Oaklands, Roanoke County, Virginia, to William C. Langhorne, at Cloverdale, Botetourt County, Virginia, giving his opinion that an effort by Langhorne’s brother Henry Scarsbrook Langhorne to compel someone to go onto William’s land has no legal basis and will not be supported by the courts in Bedford and Botetourt Counties

August 25, 1851
Letter from John Robin McDaniel, in Lynchburg, Virginia, to William Watts, in Big Lick (Roanoke), Virginia, asking him to name a price for lots he owns in Lynchburg

September 2, 1851
Letter from Charles Scott Carrington, at Halifax Court House, Virginia, to William Watts, in Big Lick (Roanoke), Virginia, asking whether Big Lick would be a suitable place for his brother Paul Scott Carrington to practice medicine

Please remember me to my cousins, your lady & the family at Oaklands. Shall we not have the pleasure of seeing all of you in Halifax this fall? Very truly yours, Chas. S. Carrington

Charles Scott Carrington (1820-1891) lived at Mildendo in Halifax County, Virginia. He graduated from Hampden-Sydney College in 1839 and practiced law. William Watts and his siblings were second cousins of Charles Carrington, as follows: Charles Carrington was a son of William Allen Carrington and Sara Embra Scott; Sara Embra Scott was a daughter of Charles Tomkies Scott and Priscilla Read; Charles Tomkies Scott was a brother of Mary (Scott) Watts, grandmother of William Watts.

September 6, 1851
Letter from William Ransom Johnson, in Petersburg, Virginia, to William Watts, in Big Lick, Roanoke County, Virginia, asking Watts to take depositions from Yelverton Neal Oliver for a case pending in the chancery court of Louisville, Kentucky

November 17, 1851
Letter from Samuel C. Robinson, in Lexington, Virginia, to William Watts, in Big Lick (Roanoke), Virginia, asking him to send the power of attorney to vote the shares of his father Edward Watts at a stockholders’ meeting of the James River and Kanawha Canal Company to Dr Archibald Graham, whose presence in Richmond, Virginia, would be more certain

Lexington 17th Nov 1851
Dear Watts, Please enclose to Dr Graham in Richmond the letter of attorney (which you promised me), to act as your father’s proxy in the meeting of the James River Company.

Samuel C. Robinson (c. 1815-aft. 1870) owned iron furnaces in Botetourt County, Virginia; by 1860, he had moved to Richmond, Virginia, where he was recorded in the census as lumber merchant (1860) and a merchant in iron works (1870). He married in 1849 in Rockbridge County, Virginia, Margaret A. Graham (c. 1825-aft. 1870); she was a daughter of Dr Archibald Graham (c. 1794-aft. 1860), who lived in Lexington, Virginia.
            According to Langhorne Gibson, Jr, in Cabell’s Canal: The Story of the James River and Kanawha (Richmond, Virginia: The Commodore Press, 2000), the company formed to construct a canal linking the James River with the Kanawha River was formed in 1785. It would have built and operated a waterway linking the mid-Atlantic cities of Richmond and Norfolk with the Ohio River in the Middle West. It was completed as far as Lynchburg in 1840, and was extended to Buchanan in 1851. Improvements to the North (Maury) River were to link Lexington to the network of waterways. The project had met constant financial difficulties, however, and by 1851 many of the backers wanted to turn the company over to the state. The development of railroads offered viable competition, and recurrent floods made the canal system unreliable. It was never completed west of Buchanan, and ceased to function in 1880.

November 26, 1851
Letter from George Plater Tayloe, at his home Buena Vista in Roanoke County, Virginia, to William Watts, at his home Oaklands in Roanoke County, Virginia, discussing plans for Tayloe’s electoral campaign for a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates; mentions several Whig allies—Dr John Hook Griffin, Henry E. Blair, and James Kyle—and his Democratic opponent, Robert Craig, and several regions in Roanoke County—Stoner’s Store (Bonsack), Salem, Big Lick (Roanoke City), Catawba, Botetourt Springs (Hollins)

July 24, 1852
Bill and receipt from Adolphus E. Huff, signed by Thomas Baylor, to Edward Watts, by his agent W. M. Burks, for $6.50 paid cash in full for 39 yards of laid linen

August 14, 1852
Copy of a notice from John M. Patton to Alfred T. Dillard, demanding a copy of an earlier letter from the same to the same, regarding Dillard’s engaging Patton as his attorney in the case of Cabell vs Dillard, which Patton wants produced as evidence in the case Patton vs Dillard, pending in the Roanoke County Circuit Court

March 25, 1852
Plat and survey by John Snyder, surveyor of Roanoke County, Virginia, made for Charles Houts, of 114 acres of land, which Houts bought from Berryman Stoutmyer, part of the tract of Gasper Stoutmyer deceased, located in Roanoke County adjacent to lands of Edward Watts and Urias Powers, including a portion of Evans Spring Branch (Lick Run), and bounded in part by Cove Road and the Turnpike (Orange Avenue)

Surveyed for Charles Houts 114 acres of Land which he has bought of Berryman Stoutmyer, the S[ai]d 114 Acres is part of the Tract of Gasper Stoutmyer Deceased & is lying in the County of Roanoke and is bounded as followeth, Beginning on the East Side of Evans Spring Branch opposite a white oak corner to the land of General Edward Watts and Urias Powers at 1

Charles Houtz (c. 1826-1857) was born in Salem, Virginia, and died in Johnson County, Missouri. Berryman Stoutmyer (1822-1900) was born in Botetourt (now Roanoke) County and died in Clinton County, Missouri. His father Gaspar Stoutmyer (1787-1822) died in Botetourt (now Roanoke) County. These names, both first and last, are spelled variously.

The tracts belonging to Caspar Stoutamire and Uriah Powers are shown approximately in this detail of a map of “Roanoke County Farms 1825 to 1875” by J. R.Hildebrand

September 1, 1852
Copy of a deed between Berryman Stoutamier and Elizabeth (Pettit) Stoutamier his wife of the one part, and Charles Houtz of the second part, for the sale to Houtz of a tract of 114 acres of land in Roanoke County, Virginia, adjacent to lands of Edward Watts and Urias Powers, including a portion of Evans Spring Branch (Lick Run), and bounded in part by Cove Road and the Turnpike (Orange Avenue)

October 18, 1852
Receipt signed by Thomas G. Huff to Hugh M. Burks for payment a note on John Bushong, executor, to Edward Watts

March 24, 1852
Receipt signed by William Moncure Woodson for $247.28 to Edward Watts in payment of all accounts, with Woodson accepting responsibility for paying a bill to Dr Thomas Goode for attending Hector

January 7, 1853
Letter from Harris, Turner & Hale, druggists in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to William Watts, in Big Lick (Roanoke), Virginia, asking Watts to send a draft or check for the proceeds of their account against Dr John McChesney

May 31, 1853
Receipt from John Benjamin Irwin Logan, cashier of the Exchange Bank of Virginia, Salem, for two thousand dollars in notes received from Wright Southgate, cashier of the Exchange Bank of Virginia, Norfolk, by the hands of William Watts

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Watts Collection, documents 451-475

Checklist of documents in the Watts Collection at the Historical Society of Western Virginia, Roanoke, Virginia. To consult these documents, go to and move the cursor to the “Virtual Museum” tile at the top. Then click “Virtual Collections” on the menu that appears. The documents can be found by a keyword search, or by catalog number using “Click and Search”. Some or all of the documents described here may not yet be available online, but all may be consulted on site.

This set of documents is relatively coherent chronologically, but reflects the diversity of William Watts’s activities. The group begins with 4 documents from 1847, the first of which accompanied the last letter in the previous group, and the other three of which relate to Fleming James and his long-standing affairs. The next item, 1998.26.455, in fact contains 20 documents, all of them brief account statements from local sheriffs, relating to law cases handled by the Wattses in the 1840s. The next item, 1998.26.456, is an account statement prepared by Edward Watts regarding the administration of the estate of his father, William Watts, who died in 1797. The remaining 19 items are letters from almost as many different writers, involving legal business like giving and taking depositions; family business, like the sale of James Breckinridge’s lots in Washington, DC; the opening a branch of the Exchange Bank of Virginia in Salem, of which William Watts was president; William Watts’s absence during the fall for the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1850-51; and requests from recommendations and advice.

doc #

August 30, 1847
Copy of an account statement of the debts of James McClanahan to Harrison Carter France and Edmund Thomas Starling of $198 and $74.51 respectively, sent by William Watts to James Moss Smith with 1998.26.450

October 12, 1847
Letter from Fleming James, in Richmond, Virginia, to William Watts, in Big Lick, Roanoke County, Virginia, explaining that he has delayed his trip to Roanoke County to accommodate Landon Cabell Read, but will depart soon and be at Stoner’s Store in six days; asking Watts to collect debts from Captain Nelmes and Abraham Carney, and have his account of charges against James ready to be settled; giving news of Alice Matilda Watts

December 7, 1847
Letter from Fleming James, in Richmond, Virginia, to William Watts, in Big Lick, Roanoke County, Virginia, lamenting the lack of a letter from Watts for the past month and asking for news about rents owed by William C. Langhorne and William McDermid; also sending news of William’s sisters Alice Watts and Ann Selden (Watts) Holcombe, Thomas Philemon Holcombe and William J. Holcombe, called Willie, saying that the Holcombes have gone to Charleston, South Carolina

August 24, 1847
Account statement from Jeremiah Kyle Pitzer, deputy sheriff of Roanoke County of  the claims of David Gish, James Howell and others against Fleming James and William McDermid, showing an initial debt of $197.36, with interest, costs, and commissions bringing the total to $270.17, and credits for payments by to Hiram Haydon, by McDermid, and by William Watts to Gish leaving $70.19 due to Howell

Twenty account statements from sheriffs and clerks of courts in Bedford, Franklin, and Roanoke Counties, for charges related to executions of court orders in the 1840s, all presumably involving William Watts as lawyer although he is not always mentioned. Names of the court officers include Green B. Board,  Moses Greer Carper, M. Davis, John Hook Griffin, Frederick Johnston, James Kyle, Nathaniel J. Manson, Armistead Otey, Jeremiah Kyle Pitzer, John R. Steptoe, and Caleb Tate. Names of parties include Nathaniel Burwell, Thomas Saunders Gholson, William Gish, William R. Jones, James McClanahan, William S. Minor, Maclin S. Stith, Samuel Stoner, John W. Thompson, Thomas S. Walton, John E. Watkins, Hugh A. Watt, John F. J. White, Joseph Wilson, and the firms Eskridge and Holcombe, Gaynor Wood and Company, and Peck White and Company.

about 1849
Account statement of the estate of William Watts, prepared by Edward Watts, showing amounts paid and due to himself and to his sisters, Anna Maria (Watts) Gwathmey, Mary (Watts) Morris, Martha Watts, Alice (Watts) Saunders, Elizabeth (Watts) Brown, or to their heirs and representatives; among the latter, Robert Carter Gwathmey, William Watts Gwathmey, and P. B. Winston are mentioned by name.

 Statement of my account with the estate of Wm Watts
Assets receivd on account of land                                                           3078.
deduct for commissions                                                                           _153.90
            subject to distribution                                                                  2924.10
Having no interests in this fund each share one fifth is 584.82
of the above R. C. and W. W. Gwathmey have receivd in advance           980. excess      395.18
The heirs of Mrs Morris through P. B. Winston                                        480. def           104.82
Mrs Brown has recd                                                                                  550. def             34.82
To be paid to the committee of Martha Watts                                            584.82
To be settled with F. Saunders on account of his land                            _584.82
            deduct excess to Gwathmeys                                                       _395.18
            add deficiency to Mrs M. & Mrs B.                                             _139.64

This account, presumably prepared by Edward Watts to be copied and circulated to the other heirs, must have been prepared in early 1849, soon after the death on 26 December 1848 of Temple Gwathmey, whose two surviving sons – Robert Carter Gwathmey and William Watts Gwathmey – are listed among the heirs. William Watts died 20 December 1797, leaving six children: one son, Edward; and five daughters: Elizabeth (c. 1781-1843), married Preston W. Brown; Martha (1783-1853), never married; Mary (1784-1835), married Richard Morris; Alice (c. 1793-1867), married Fleming Saunders; and Anna Maria (1794-1819), married Temple Gwathmey.

April 18, 1850
Letter from H. G. Richardson, in Farmville, Virginia, to William Watts and Edward Watts Saunders, at Big Lick, Virginia, stating that he will pay a bond within the next three months

September 25, 1850
Letter from Gustavus Adolphus Wingfield in Liberty (Bedford), Virginia, to Edward Watts, in Big Lick (Roanoke), Virginia, making arrangements to take a deposition from Watts and providing a letter for him to communicate to William Madison Peyton, who was a party to the suit

September 25, 1850
Letter from Gustavus Adolphus Wingfield in Liberty (Bedford), Virginia, to Edward Watts, in Big Lick (Roanoke), Virginia, explaining why his client Matthew Pate wishes to obtain a deposition from Watts in the case of Peyton and Bailey, claiming under McClure, versus Pate, regarding a marshal’s sale of land in Big Lick belonging to John Pate and Edmund Pate in 1826, in which both Watts and James Breckinridge played a part; the letter is extremely deferential, and asks Watts as a personal favor to find it convenient to attend the taking of the deposition at Neal’s Tavern at the Lick on October 3

October 12, 1850
Letter from Abraham Hupp, in Salem, Virginia, to William Watts, in Richmond, Virginia, informing him that he has been appointed to represent the Light Infantry Grays at a convention in Richmond, and asking him to attend

 Salem Va Oct 12th 1850
Dear Sir, Our company the “Light Infantry Grays” at the Sept muster appointed you among other members to attend a volunteer convention to be held in Richmond I believe the 17th inst. Believing that you have not been informed of the fact, and that none of the other members appointed will attend, I take the liberty of writing to you, and at the same time insist on your representing us in that convention, and go for anything that will be of interest to volunteer companies.

Abraham Hupp (1826-1864) ran a tin shop in Salem, VA; he organized the first volunteer military company in Roanoke County, Virginia, in the early 1840s, “The Yellow Jackets”; after it disbanded, he organized the “Salem Light Infantry Grays”, which disbanded after a few years. Following John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry in 1859, he organized the “Salem Flying Artillery” which fought throughout the Civil War. Hupp himself became ill in 1862 and had to return home, where he died of cancer.

October 26, 1850
Letter from William Richard Galt, in Norfolk, Virginia, to William Watts, in Richmond, Virginia, at the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1850, asking permission to use his name as a reference in a prospectus for a new school in Buchanan, Virginia; he cites his own references as William Willoughby Sharp, president of the Exchange Bank of Virginia in Norfolk; Jordan Anthony, who forwarded Sharp’s letter to Watts; and Tazewell Taylor, a Norfolk delegate to the convention. He also invokes a slight acquaintance with Watts when they were students at the University of Virginia around 1840, mentioning that he has recommendations from the faculty there

 Norfolk, Oct 26, 1850
Dear Sir, I take the liberty of addressing you on a subject of much importance to myself, and in which you can be of essential service to me. About two months since I was in the town of Buchanan, Botetourt Co. endeavoring to ascertain what prospects there were of my succeeding in opening a male boarding-school there.

William Richard Galt (1818-1892) was a noted educator. He came from a distinguished family, originally from Williamsburg, Virginia. Watts’s favorable answer to this letter, dated 31 October 1850, is in the Galt family papers in the special collections of the library at William and Mary University, along with copies of the recommendations from faculty and numerous other letters from individuals agreeing to serve as references. He published a prospectus for the “Mountain Home School”, and was living in Botetourt County, Virginia, at the 1860 census, so that one can assume that this project came to fruition. After 1860, however, the census located him in Norfolk, Virginia, where he became head of the Norfolk Academy.

October 28, 1850
Letter from William G. Peck, at Big Lick (Roanoke), Virginia, to William Watts, in Richmond, Virginia, giving news on the state of his farm under Walker’s supervision, on his father Edward Watts’s hunting trip to Greasy Creek, on the deer killed by Colonel Oliver, A. White and John Lewis, on preparations for a wedding at Colonel Peyton’s; wishing Watts and his new wife happiness and asking for news about the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1850

October 28, 1850
Letter from Philip J. Ellicott, in Baltimore, Maryland, to William Watts, in Big Lick, Roanoke County, Virginia (forwarded to Richmond, Virginia), asking about progress in an effort to recover a debt from Oliver, who failed to appear in court in Washington in a case in which Ellicott had stood as his security

November 4, 1850
Circular letter from William Willoughby Sharp, president of the Exchange Bank of Virginia, at Norfolk, Virginia, to William Watts, George W. Shanks, Powell A. Huff, Abram Hupp, Charles L. Snyder, Robert Craig, and George Plater Tayloe, directors of the branch of the Exchange Bank of Virginia at Salem, Virginia, stating that the stock subscription for the Salem branch of the bank has been fulfilled, and giving instructions for putting the branch into operation

 Exchange Bank of Virg[ini]a, November 4, 1850
Messrs Wm Watts, Geo. W. Shanks, Powell A. Huff, Abram Hupp, Chs L. Snyder, Robert Craig, & G. P. Tayloe, Directors Br. Exch. Bank Va at Salem
Gentlemen, The amount of stock subscribed here and at other points, together with the subscriptions reported by you on the 4th ulto being nearly equal to your proposed capital, it is proper that arrangements be made, without further delay, to put your Branch into operation.

William Willoughby Sharp (1801-1871) lived in Norfolk, Virginia, where he was head of the Exchange Bank of Virginia. It was organized in 1837 and had branches in Richmond and Lynchburg. William Watts served as the first president of the newly organized Salem branch of the bank, which was authorized by an act of the General Assembly of Virginia on 15 March 1849. The other addressees of the letter, who were directors of the bank, were among the leading businessmen of the region: George W. Shanks (1809-1876) was a merchant; Powell A. Huff owned a hat factory; Abram Hupp (1826-1864) ran a tin shop; Charles L. Snyder (c. 1815-1863) was a tanner and farmer; Robert Craig (1792-1852) was a planter and had served in the Virginia House of Delegates and the U. S. House of Representatives; George Plater Tayloe (1804-1897) was a major landowner and businessman.

November 12, 1850
Letter from Morris and Brother, booksellers, signed by A. Morris, in Richmond, Virginia, to William Watts, in Big Lick, Roanoke County, Virginia, informing him that the $10 note on the Bank of Virginia with which he paid for two copies of Hugh Alfred Garland’s The Life of John Randolph of Roanoke, for himself and for James Philemon Holcombe, was a counterfeit, and giving details about the appearance of the note and the way in which the forgery was discovered

November 15, 1850
Letter from John T. Anderson, in Fincastle, Virginia, to William Watts, at Oaklands, in Roanoke County, Virginia, saying that he has $2450 to pay off a bond on James Shanks, which he had hoped to give Watts when he passed through Fincastle returning from Richmond, but now knows that Watts returned by Lynchburg and so he proposes to bring or send the money to Salem, Virginia; also expresses a wish to change the date of the case of Francis vs White in Roanoke County Court

November 29, 1850
Letter from Walter S. Leon to Cary Breckinridge, in Fincastle, Virginia, repeating an offer from Mr Corcoran to buy lots

December 6, 1850
Letter from William Ransom Johnson Jr, in Petersburg, Virginia, to William Watts, in Big Lick, Roanoke County, Virginia, expressing satisfaction that Watts has sold a slave mother and child and adding his confirmation to the sale; also congratulating Watts on recent honors

December 10, 1850
Letter from Jordan Anthony, at the Bank of Virginia in Buchanan, Virginia, to William Watts, presumably at home in Big Lick, Roanoke County, Virginia, transferring his money to the new Exchange Bank of Virginia branch in Salem, Virginia

 Office Bank of Virginia, Buchanan Dec 10th 1850
Dear Sir, I have received your favor of the 9th instant. There is a balance of $1053.30 standing to the credit of your account on the Books of this Office. I am happy to hear you have been placed at the head of the Banking institution to be put in operation in Salem. We must when necessary confer with each other and harmonize.

Jordan Anthony (1788-after 1866) was a cashier at the Bank of Virginia branch at Buchanan, Virginia; his niece Julia Anthony Breckinridge married Peachy Gilmer Breckinridge, an attorney and a cousin of William Watts. In the 1860 census, Julia and her husband were living in her uncle’s household.

December 13, 1850
Letter from Green James, in Fincastle, Virginia, to William Watts, in Big Lick (Roanoke), Virginia, asking him for a letter of introduction to assist in his application to obtain the advertising of the United States mail routes in Virginia for his newspaper, the Valley Whig; he explains that he does not know the Postmaster General Nathan Kelsey Hall or any other member of the Cabinet, but knows that Watts is acquainted with Alexander Hugh Holmes Stuart, Secretary of the Interior; he notes further that General Augustus Alexandria Chapman gained the contract for the Fincastle Democrat under the previous presidency, and hopes that the current administration (under Millard Fillmore) will be favorable to a Whig editor

December 14, 1850
Letter from John Thomas Anderson, in Fincastle, Virginia, to William Watts, in Salem, Roanoke County, Virginia, asking Watts to attend, on behalf of client Noah S. Brown, to the taking of depositions from Roberts and Ballard by Alfred Terrell Dillard; Anderson thinks both deponents are interested in the outcome of the suit and therefore incompetent to give testimony; he also says that he will leave for Richmond on January 2, 1851, traveling by way of Lynchburg, and hopes to have Watts’s company

December 13, 1850
Letter from William Coleman Campbell, in Salem, Virginia, to William Watts, in Big Lick (Roanoke), Virginia, requesting a letter of recommendation from Watts in support of his application to the Virginia Military Institute, on which he has sought advice from John William Tayloe, Madison Pitzer, and Benjamin Harrison Smith

 Salem Dec 13th 1850
Mr Wm Watts
Dear Sir, In accordance with your suggestion, I wrote to Mr J. W. Tayloe of the V. M. I. in relation to the appointment of State Cadets, and recei[ve]d an answer on the 10th inst stating, that there was a vacancy in this Gen[era]l District, and advising me to send on my recommendations immediately.

William Coleman Campbell (1832-1873) was a Salem, Virginia, native; he graduated from V.M.I. in the class of 1855, never married, made his career in mining and writing for newspapers. He died in Salt Lake City, Utah. John William Tayloe (1831-1904) was born in Big Lick (Roanoke). He entered V.M.I. in 1849 as a member of the class of 1852, but resigned in 1851. He moved to Alabama, where he enlisted as an officer in the Confederate army in 1861. After the war, he moved to Birmingham, Alabama, where he died. Further information on both men may be found in the online archives of V.M.I. 

December 16, 1850
Letter from Kent, Kendall & Atwater, in Richmond, Virginia, to William Watts, presumably at home in Big Lick (Roanoke), Virginia, discussing options for recovering a debt from George Callaway Langhorne, for which Tayloe has proposed notes from Samuel P. Holt which he, Tayloe, will endorse, this arrangement being contingent on the sale of property by Langhorne to Holt; otherwise Watts is to have the execution against Langhorne levied; Rass will carry the letter to Watts, and consult with him about Langhorne, and about a debt of Edmund Penn White

December 19, 1850
Letter from William Langhorne, at Cloverdale, Virginia, to William Watts, at home (at Oaklands, Roanoke County, Virginia), asking to be excused from attending a taking of depositions at Bedford County Court because of his rheumatism, and giving advice about points on which to question others who may attend,  mentioning his son George Callaway Langhorne and brothers Maurice Langhorne and Henry Scarsbrook Langhorne, Mr Tompkins, Mr Otey, Mr Radford, and Dad Hanes

December 24, 1850
Letter from William Willoughby Sharp, in Norfolk, Virginia, to William Watts, in Salem, Roanoke County, Virginia, informing him that John Benjamin Irwin Logan has resigned as cashier of the planned Salem branch of the Exchange Bank of Virginia, and suggesting Robert McCandlish as a replacement; mentioning also the problem of any delay because the stock has already been issued