Thursday, May 26, 2011

Watts Collection, documents 101-125

Checklist of documents in the Watts Collection at the Historical Society of Western Virginia, Roanoke, Virginia. To consult these documents, go to and click on “Visit HMWV's Virtual Collection!” The documents can be found by a keyword search, or by catalog number using “Click and Search”.

The 25 documents in this set date mostly from 1833 to 1837, although not in chronological order. There is one from 1831, and none from 1836. Many are brief business accounts and receipts, of relatively little interest; but the long statements from the Lynchburg merchant Richard Tyree give a sense of the life and activity on the Oaklands plantation, both in the house and on the farm. There are a number of letters from George Hancock, who was living near Louisville, Kentucky, and trying to wind up his affairs in Virginia through Edward Watts; a few other letters relate to the same subject. As usual, some documents concern land sales. In 1998.26.116 Edward Watts purchased from John Buchanan Floyd and his wife Sarah (Preston) Floyd a tract adjacent to the Oaklands plantation. Documents 1998.26.123 and 125 relate to land held by the Stoner family, situated in the eastern part of what is now Roanoke County, along Glade Creek and the Great Road. Besides their farm, the Stoners ran a store. In 1845 Samuel Stoner died quite young, and the store failed, owing a large debt to a Richmond dry goods merchant, Fleming James. James employed William Watts to handle the lawsuits, which led over the following two or three years to James’s acquisition of the Stoners’ land. Copies of these documents were probably made in preparation for those lawsuits.

doc #

September 1833
Account statement from the Clerk of Botetourt County Superior Court, Virginia, regarding suits brought by Thomas Newman Eubank and Richard Shelton Ellis, administrators for John Ellis, on behalf of John Matthew Otey

April 1833
Account statement from the Sheriff of Botetourt County, Virginia, for services related to suits brought by Thomas Newman Eubank and Richard Shelton Ellis, acting as administrators for John Ellis, for the benefit of John Matthew Otey

September 1833
Account statement of John Matthew Otey from the Clerk of Botetourt County Superior Court, Virginia, relating to suits against Robert J. Yancey and George H. Joplin

about September 1833
Memo of expenses in the case of John Matthew Otey, assignee of Richard Shelton Ellis, versus Robert J. Yancey

July 1833
Memo of expenses owed to the sheriff of Botetourt County, Virginia, in the case of John Matthew Otey versus George H. Joplin

June 1833
Memo of expenses owed to the sheriff of Botetourt County, Virginia, in the case of John Matthew Otey, assignee of Richard Shelton Ellis, versus Robert J. Yancey

June 24, 1833
Letter from Henry Edmundson at Fotheringay, Montgomery County, Virginia, to Edward Watts at Big Lick (Roanoke), Botetourt County, Virginia, concerning payments due to George Hancock on notes from J. W. Richardson

                                                                                       Fotheringay June 24th 1833
Dear Sir, The first moment after communicating with Mr Richardson I employ in now answering your communication to me of 16th, which I offer as an apology for delay.

Fotheringay was the name of the estate of the Hancock family; it was located at Shawsville, Virginia, just west of Salem. When George Hancock left the Roanoke Valley for Kentucky, he sold or leased Fotheringay to Henry Alonzo Edmundson, and some dispute arose about payments. The house is still standing, and at least until recently belonged to descendants of the Edmundson family. There is an interesting article on Fotheringay at

February 1837-December 1838
Account of Edward Watts with J. Fetz for miscellaneous supplies and services

February 14, 1831
Letter from George Hancock near Louisville, Kentucky, to Edward Watts, near Salem, Virginia, regarding complicated arrangements about debts owed by Henry Edmundson and J. W. Richardson for land sales, involving several other people, identified only by last names but probably including Allen Taylor, Chiswell Dabney, William Langhorne, and William Lewis, and involving the Fotheringay estate in Montgomery County, Virginia

                                                                                                Near Louisville Ky Feby 14th 1831
Dear Sir, After mailing a letter to yo this morning on the subject of Mr Richardson's business I found in the office a letter from Mr Richardson on the subject enclosing one from Majr Edmondson in which he informs me that he had interpreted my letter to him as authority to release to Mr Richardson, although in it he was required to do so only "upon your written authority" and further states that if he has gone counter to my wishes that he will be responsible for the debt Richardson owes me. I am sorry that Majr Edmondson has done this and have so written to him, and have further requested him & Mr Richardson to arrange the business with you as directed in my letter sent this morning.

See 1998.26.107.

January 31, 1837
Receipt from David Palmer to Edward Watts for fifty dollars

December 31, 1837
Account of Edward Watts with Richard Tyree showing purchases of foodstuffs, household supplies, building materials, agricultural supplies and sundries, and sales of tobacco and pork; among the items mentioned are glass, grain, sheat iron, grindstone, nails, tea, brown sugar, oil and jugs, leather, coffee, cotton yarn, medicine for a horse and doctors’ bills.

[column 1]
Dr                    General Edward Watts in a/c
July     3  To Cash Pd for 59ll best brown sugar at 9¢ & kegs 1/6    $    7.63
  "        8  "  Cash Pd Freight on 10 sacks salt from Richm[on]d 3/        5.00
  "            "      "     "   Drayage on Same                                                     .50
  "            "      "  Cash for storage & Delivering same                              1.00
  "      11  "  Cash paid R. B. Norvell pr order                                         22.82
  "     24   "  Cash Pd expence on one Barrell glass from Richmond        0.38
  "     26   "  Cash Pd for 70ll grain 3 ps at 5¢                                         3.50

[column 2]
                        with Richard Tyree                                                         Cr
June  20  By Balance due to this date per a/c                                   $ 608.73
Sepr    1  By 1 Hhd Tobo one half Stemd viz
                        E. W. Martins no 1913.150.1578 at $730 $115.19
                        J. P. Coms $2.88 paid for Cooprage 3/-         3.38     111.81
Decr 11   By Sales of 20 old hams of Bacon 194ll at 1/-   $  32.33
                                  Coms off                                                .81         31.52

April-November 1837
Account of Isaac McDaniel, bringing suit against Meador for the benefit of Catherine McDaniel, with R. D. Mitchell, clerk of Bedford County, Virginia, for legal expenses

November 21, 1837
Memo from Thomas A. Lovelace to Edward Watts, asking that he pay John M. Petty with Lovelace's interest in some tobacco

November 4, 1837
Covenant between Elijah Kelley and Eli Arthur for the sale by Kelley to Arthur of a tract of land on Back Creek, in Botetourt (now Roanoke) County, Virginia

November 1836-June 30, 1837
Account of Edward Watts with Richard Tyree showing purchases of foodstuffs, household supplies, building materials, agricultural supplies and sundries, and sales of flour, tobacco and pork; among the items mentioned are molasses, lemons, salt, a gudgeon, mats of wadding, a hat, grass seed, canvas, 40 apple and 2 cherry trees, green paint, white lead, a trunk, scythes, plaster, shipping costs, postage, and bills paid on Watts’s behalf to other merchants, including the Gwathmey family

November 7, 1833
Deed of John Buchanan Floyd and Sarah Buchanan (Preston) Floyd his wife, of Wythe County, Virginia, to Edward Watts, of Botetourt (now Roanoke) County, Virginia, for the sale of about 175 acres of land adjoining the Watts estate; includes certifications from justices of the peace in Montgomery County, Virginia, and certification of admission to record by the clerk of the Botetourt County Court

his heirs and assigns, and that the sd party of the first part their heirs executors &c shall warrant and forever defend the sd tract or parcel of land, with all its appurtenances unto the sd party of the second part his heirs & assigns, against all and every person or persons claiming or to claim the same. In witness whereof the sd party of the first have hereunto set their names & affixed their seals this day and date first written, John B. Floyd {seal}, Sarah B. Floyd {seal}

John Buchanan Floyd (1806-1863) was elected Governor of Virginia on January 1, 1849, for a three year term. His mother and his wife were both members of the Preston family, and thus kin to the Watts family.

August 27, 1834
Letter from George Hancock at Louisville, Kentucky, to Edward Watts near Big Lick (Roanoke), Virginia, asking about the financial situation of people who owed him money and explaining his need to have the money quickly because of plans to purchase an estate in Louisiana

March 7, 1834
Letter from Henry Robinson at Taylorsville, Hanover County, Virginia, to Edward Watts in Botetourt County, Virginia, inquiring about redeeming land possibly sold for taxes and then reselling it

or in any other way that you may direct. I would thank you to answer this letter as soon as convenient. You will direct your letter to me Hanover Taylor's Ville. Yours with respect, Henry Robinson

Henry Robinson has not been identified. See also 1998.26.159.

December 14, 1834
Letter from Charles L. Mosby at Lynchburg, Virginia, to Edward Watts in Botetourt (now Roanoke) County, Virginia, asking for his help in obtaining money for members of the Kyle family from the estate of James Walson

I have said to him, that it can be done at your next court. You will please communicate with him, as soon as you receive this. Very respectfully I am yours &c, C. L. Mosby

Charles L. Mosby was an attorney in Lynchburg, but the parties involved in the case have not been identified.

January 24, 1834
Letter from George Hancock near Louisville, Kentucky, to Edward Watts near Big Lick (Roanoke), Botetourt (now Roanoke) County, Virginia, mainly about recovering a debt owed by Henry Edmundson, but including a comment about the current political situation, hoping that Virginia will swing to support of Henry Clay and his bold challenge againt Andrew Jackson

August 23, 1834
Receipt from William Woodson to Edward Watts for a share in tobacco sales conducted by R. & T. Gwathmey in Richmond, Virginia, and Holcombe & Tyree in Lynchburg, Virginia, showing itemized expenses for shipping and processing

February 16, 1834
Letter from the Franklin Literary Society of Randolph-Macon College, in Boydton, Virginia, to Edward Watts, naming him an honorary member, signed by W. R. Drinkard, J. Carrol and C. H. Blake; the letter was addressed to Botetourt County Court House, that is, Fincastle, Virginia, and was forwarded to Big Lick (Roanoke)

                                                                                                Franklin Hall, February 16th 1834
Sir, As a body united in the name of the Franklin Literary Society for Randolph Macon College for our mutual improve[me]nt an[d] the promotion of literary knowledge, and considering honorary members highly necessary to the accomplishment of these ends, we have taken the liberty to elect you as an honorary member of the above named society. We do assure you we shall feel ourselves highly honoured by your accepting the appointment. Yrs Very respectfully, W. R. Drinkard, J. Carrol, C. H. Blake, Com[mit]te[e]. Genl Edward Watts

Randolph-Macon College was founded in 1830 by Virginia Methodists. It opened in 1832, and was originally located in Boydton, Virginia, but moved to Ashland, Virginia, in 1868. See There were chapters of the Franklin Literary Society at numerous American colleges in the 19th century. The papers of this chapter are on deposit at the college library. See

June 15, 1834
Letter from George Hancock at Louisville, Kentucky,  to Edward Watts, near Salem, Virginia, regarding payment of a draft on the Bank of Virginia for Henry Edmundson's debt, which has become expensive because of President Andrew Jackson's opposition to the banks

October 29, 1834
Plat and survey of land on Glade Creek in Botetourt (now Roanoke) County, Virginia, for Samuel Stoner, created by William Anderson, listing the smaller tracts acquired by the Stoner family, describing the boundaries, and setting out a reservation within the tract, which Daniel Stoner and his wife will retain until their deaths, at which time the entire tract will become the property of Samuel Stoner

            Glade Creek crosses the plat at the bottom, flowing to the left in a southeasterly direction. The Great Road also crosses the plat, just above Glade Creek. Two tributaries of Glade Creek are named, Welchman’s Run and Dry Branch, and Big Spring is shown right beside the creek. The north-south orientation line crosses the plat diagonally near the top. Although it is not marked on the plat, the survey indicates that the north-south line is close to the summit of Read Mountain, which was known as Mills Mountain at that time, and is also called Dead Man’s Mountain by local residents. This tract fills most of the area defined by the northeast boundary of Roanoke City, Glade Creek, the county boundary with Botetourt County, and the crest of Read Mountain.
            The column of figures at the top left adds the acreage of the tracts described in the document, and the total is written in the center of the map. The figures alongside the boundary lines give the direction in the form North or South, number of degrees East or West, and the length in poles. A pole, also called a rod, is equal to 5.5 yards.

November 10, 1834
Letter from Joab Early to Edward Watts, in Botetourt (now Roanoke) County, Virginia, asking him to obtain the dismissal of his suit against Benjamin Whiteneck and stating that he will see to the survey of Richardson's land

September 20, 1834
Agreement between Daniel and Samuel Stoner concerning the sale of the plantation of their father, Daniel Stoner Sr, to Samuel Stoner, providing for payments, reservation of certain parts of the land for lifetime use, and the schedule of delivery of full possession; the land was located in Botetourt (now Roanoke) County, Virginia

All and each of us do bind our Selves in the sum of Five thousand dollars to comply with the with[in] agreements giving from under our hands and Seals this <17th> 20th day of September 1834. Witn[es]s [Witnesses’ names not copied]. Daniel Stoner {seal}, Samuel Stoner {seal}

More to come.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Oaklands, part 2

            In an earlier (December 30, 2010) post on Oaklands, the Watts estate in Roanoke, I concluded, “ Alas, so far, I have found no image whatsoever of the original house at Oaklands.” My cousin Sarah wrote me soon afterwards to call my attention to a book called The Architectural Heritage of the Roanoke Valley, by W. L. Whitwell and Lee W. Winborne (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1982). The endpapers reproduce a perspective map of Roanoke in 1891, with a view more or less from the top of Mill Mountain, that is, looking from the southeast across the city toward the northwest.

Perspective map of the city of Roanoke, Virginia, 1891
(Copies of the map can be purchased at

            The horizon is ringed by mountains. Just in front of them, at the top just to the right of the center, is a small hill labeled “Round Top”, which I knew as “Round Hill”. It was a landmark easily visible from the house in South Roanoke where I grew up, and it was part of Oaklands. Right in front of Round Top on the map is the legend “Oakland Improvement Company”. And in front of that legend is a large house standing alone in the midst of open fields. It must be Oaklands.

Detail of the perspective map of Roanoke, Virginia, 1891

            In my very first post, on December 28, 2010, I mentioned that a real estate developer had bought Oaklands. The date was around 1890. Until then, J. Allen Watts and his family had lived in the house, but the city of Roanoke was booming and the land looked ripe for development. An entrepreneur named Cornelius O’Leary purchased the land in 1890 and formed a company called Oaklands Improvement Company. J. Allen Watts and his family moved into the city, and the house at Oaklands was rented out. In 1897, it burned to the ground.

Stock certificate for the Oaklands Improvement Company

            Unfortunately, the representation of the house on the map appears to be a stylized icon, signifying a large house, rather than a realistic drawing. There is, however, a description of the original house, by someone who had seen it: my grandmother, Jean (Watts) Staples. She was born September 10, 1886, while her parents still lived at Oaklands. There is a photo of her as a small child, probably at Oaklands around 1888, with her two older brothers, Hugh (b. 1884, d. 1908) and William (b. 1882, d. 1932), and a negro man identified only as “Uncle Lou”. Uncle Lou may be Lewis Burwell (b. c. 1826, death date unknown), who appears in the census for Roanoke County in 1870 and 1880 as the dining room servant and then butler of Francis and Letitia (Watts) Sorrel. Letitia Watts (b. 1829, d. 1900) was my grandmother’s great aunt. She grew up at Oaklands, and inherited a large parcel of the land, which she and her husband named “The Barrens” and where they resided as neighbors. Letitia lived to see the original house destroyed by fire, and my grandmother appended her lament at the end of her own reminiscence.

Jean, Hugh, and William Watts with Uncle Lou, c. 1888

            Although my grandmother would have been only four years old or less when her family moved into town, they probably visited the old house occasionally. The graveyard was still being used; Jean Gamble Robertson was buried there in 1895, George Watson Carr in 1899, and Letitia (Watts) Sorrel in 1900. Her father, J. Allen Watts, had a substantial interest in the development company and probably wanted to see what was being done with the property; in fact, little if anything was done with it by Oaklands Improvement Company. The economy crashed in 1893, Roanoke’s boom subsided, and the land, still a farm, reverted to the Watts family. J. Allen Watts himself was buried there in 1904, and the ownership passed to his heirs. Even if my grandmother’s recollections were hazy, however, her mother, Gertrude (Lee) Watts, lived until 1953, and could have refreshed her daughter’s memory. Here is the description, written by Jean (Watts) Staples around 1920:

            About the year 1820 Edward Watts came to Botetourt County from his former home near Lynchburg and built the residence "Oaklands", which was to be the fami1y home for more than eighty years. His lands were located in that portion of Botetourt which a few years later was cut off and became Roanoke County. The house was situated in what is now North West Roanoke, and the lane in front of the yard is now called Rockland Avenue.
            "Oak1ands" was not a pretentious place, but very commodious and livable. It was built of clapboards painted white, with green blinds and broad verandahs. One porch extended across the entire front of the house and another across the back and around two sides of an ell or addition built back from the southeast portion of the house, which faced north. As in so many houses of the period, a broad hall extended from the front porch to the back and into this opened the big front door, which stood ajar in all seasons of the year as a sign of hospitality and welcome to all who might come.
            Off to the east of the house stretched a lovely lawn and beyond that the gardens. These covered quite a large piece of ground and were enclosed by hedges of osage orange, except on the far and lowest side where there was a background of lovely willows and other trees.
            In the center of the flower garden was a summer house completely covered with climbing roses, honeysuckle and jasmine. Around it were grouped the beds containing a wide variety of flowers which were the object of loving care by the ladies of the family. After a 1apse of more than a hundred years there are still a few of the old shrubs and flowers still living: a profusion of jonquils, coming up each spring, one clump of the old box-wood, some pirus japonica and 1ilac bushes. These are just about all that was left of the old garden.
            The home burned to the ground in 1897 and for many years there were no members of the family living on the place, so that the garden was neglected and almost disappeared. Soon after the fire, the place was visited by Mrs. Letitia Sorrel, daughter of Edward Watts, and in her diary she wrote the following sad words:
            "The birds sing their requiem over the broken roof tree and the soft winds wail among the blackened trees. I passed on into the garden, once so beautiful, so fragrant with its lovely flowers. The daffodils and jonquils, crocus and sweet lily of the valley were springing up everywhere, uncared for. But the roses and the jasmine were one mass of dead wood and unkempt branches. The beautiful microphillas trailing on the ground, the summer house a mass of ruins; the galicanthus and the many fragrant shrubs thrown aside, only the lilacs and snowballs holding watch over their broken sisters. Alas, what a picture and alas that I should have lived to see it. My dear old home! There is nothing left but memories."
            The dearly beloved lady who wrote these lines has been dead for many years. Long afterwards her great nephew, William Watts, built a modest home on the site of the old one and once more, after many years, there are roses blooming in the garden. Little by little, as it can be done, the former beauty and order are being restored. And "Oaklands" is no longer only a memory but is once again a home.

Oaklands in 2011
photo courtesy of my cousin Katherine

            The “modest home” built by William Watts “long afterwards” – around 1917 – still stands. It has lasted longer than the original house, which burned about eighty years after it was built. William Watts, his wife Ellen (Catogni) Watts, and their son William Watts lived there, and the family still owns it. The former beauty and order were indeed restored, and the old traditions of hospitality continued.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Showalter Family & Milligan College, part 2

            After his graduation from Milligan in 1891, C. D. M. Showalter took a job for a year running a school at Greendale, Virginia, a short distance northwest of Abingdon. His wife Lou Ella and his sister Kate accompanied him, and assisted in operating the school. Walter Lee Dudley continued courting Kate by mail, and tells in his memoirs of attending a religious meeting near Greendale and staying with the Showalters. The next year, 1892-93, C. D. M. Showalter was living at Tazewell, Virginia, where he was principal of another school. According to Dudley, “his sister, Miss Kate, was boarding with him and going to Tazewell Female Seminary” from which she graduated in June 1893. The building housing the seminary burned later in 1893, and the women’s college became part of Tazewell College.

Tazewell school, 1893
Lou Ella (English) and C. D. M. Showalter,
in the back row, the woman second from left and the man next to her, in the center

Tazewell Female Seminary, class of 1893
Sarah Katherine Showalter on the left

            The following year, C. D. M. left Tazewell to become principal of a school in Rockwood, Tennessee, which was the home address he gave in January 1894, when he re-entered the history of Milligan College. His alma mater had never been on a very solid financial footing. In 1893, the United States suffered one of its periodic economic panics, this one generally regarded as the worst before the Great Depression. The proximate cause was a speculative bubble based on railroad companies, which had expanded furiously over the previous two decades. The bubble burst in 1893, with the usual accompaniment of banks closing, high unemployment, and a widespread collapse in the economy.
            Milligan College was caught in the crunch. The trustees of the college were the legal owners of the property, and they had borrowed money to finance new buildings on the campus. Tuition revenue fell as students and their families were pinched. Josephus Hopwood, who was an inspiring teacher and spiritual leader, was a rather soft-nosed businessman, and at this point he was focussed on running for governor of Tennessee on a Prohibition platform.
            So on January 27, 1894, C. D. M. Showalter of Rockwood, Tenn. and J. L. English of Rocky Mount, Virginia, signed an contract with the trustees of Milligan College to assume responsibility for a debt of $3700, including principal, interest, insurance and other charges, which the trustees agreed to repay by June 1, 1900. The co-signer of the contract, and probably the source of most of the money involved, was James Lewis English, C. D. M.’s father-in-law, a prosperous farmer who lived in Rocky Mount, Virginia. Besides his daughter Lou Ella, he had sent a son to Milligan, Reverdy Johnson English, who graduated in 1895.

First paragraph of the contract
between C. D. M. Showalter and James Lewis English,
and the trustees of Milligan College

Signatures of C. D. M. Showalter and James Lewis English to the contract

            A transcription of the contract document can be read online, but see the note on sources at the end of this blog posting. Most of the contract deals with details of the loan and its repayment, but it includes one unusual and significant provision: “The possession of Milligan College is subject to a private agreement between J. Hopwood Leasor and C. D. M. Showalter.”

Opening lines of the private agreement between
C. D. M. Showalter and Josephus Hopwood

Closing lines and signatures to the private agreement between
C. D. M. Showalter and Josephus Hopwood

            Here is a full transcription of that private agreement, signed two days before the contract:

Milligan College, Tennessee
Jan. 25, 1894
            In consideration that the Board of Trustees of Milligan College have this day given a first lien mortgage deed to C. D. M. Showalter and J. L. English on all the college property and the Young Ladies Home.
            J. Hopwood and C. D. M. Showalter enter into the following articles of agreement.
1.         That J. Hopwood continue as president of the college for the term of six years from June 1894.
            That he shall have full power to select or discharge teachers and have entire control of the literary departments of the school and have the discipline of the institution under his management, and have the direction of such other duties, as belong to these department.
2.         That C. D. M. Showalter shall have the full business management of the college and Young Ladie’s Home.
            He shall collect all tuitions and fees and collect all board from those boarding at the Young Ladie’s Home. He shall pay all teachers and bear all other running expenses of both the Home and the College, and shall keep both buildings and grounds in as good repair as when he receives them and shall have control of all other business pertaining to these departments.
            2.         C. D. M. Showalter agrees on the request of J. Hopwood to make a statement in detail of the finances of the college and the home as often as three times each year.
3.         At any time that J. Hopwood desires to discharge said Showalter, he can do so on payment of all money which said Showalter and English have paid into institution with 6 per cent interest, to be paid semi-annually.
4.         J. Hopwood surrenders to the use of college and Ladies Home his pianos and all other furniture without other rent than the considerations here-after named.
5.         Said Showalter is to teach not more than five classes a day unless he so chooses, and Mrs. Showalter is to teach not more than four classes each day.
6.         Anything that said Showalter and Hopwood may not agree upon as to what department a question belongs, the department shall be determined by arbitration.
7.         J. Hopwood and Mrs. S. E. L. Hopwood shall continue the care of the girls in the home.
8.         It is mutually agreed that all stock shall be kept off of the campus.
9.         After all current expenses are paid in both home and college, J. Hopwood is to have one half of the profits and C. D. M. Showalter one half.
10.       Mrs. LaRue is to be boarded for $6.00 and the child Jessamine is not to be charged for.
11.                                                                               J. Hopwood
                                                                         C. D. M. Showalter

            In a nutshell, Josephus Hopwood was the academic administrator, C. D. M. Showalter was the financial administrator, and they were to split any profits. C. D. M. and his wife joined the faculty; Mr. and Mrs. Hopwood lived in the Ladies’ Home, in effect a girls’ dormitory, where they served as resident advisors. Mrs. LaRue was Mrs. Hopwood’s mother, who apparently also lived in the Ladies’ Home. The child Jessamine was the first of C. D. M. and Lou Ella (English) Showalter’s children, born August 15, 1892. Their second, Ernestine, was born at Milligan College, February 3, 1895.
            The terms of the contract make it clear that Showalter and English intended to rescue the college, not take it over. The trustees retained the right to terminate the arrangement at any time by repaying the money, as did President Hopwood. In the event, just a year later, a group of three faculty members obtained a loan and bought back the rights. They ran the school for a short time, while Hopwood pursued his unsuccessful campaign to become governor, but after the election Hopwood took over full responsibility in late 1896.
            It is hard to believe that much profit was being made from the deal while it lasted, and C. D. M. may have been eager to move on for another reason. In 1896 he was a awarded a scholarship to study mathematics in the graduate school of Johns HopkinsUniversity.  My father told me that graduate school had been an unhappy experience for his father; the required level of proficiency was higher than anticipated, and he decided not to continue to a degree. Even so, in the Milligan College Yearbook “New Horizon” for 1911-12, he included it in his list of accomplishments:

Principal at Greendale, Va., and Rockwood, Tenn. Teacher of Mathematics at Milligan. Post-graduate student at Johns Hopkins University. Principal and Superintendent Harriman city schools. Principal Tazewell College and Business School. Fire insurance adjuster and special agent for Southern Underwriters for Virginia and West Virginia. At present President and Treasurer of the Savings Investment Corporation, Roanoke, Va.

Harriman is a surprise in the list; it is a town in Tennessee, not far from Rockwood and also in Roane County. The list appears to be in chronological order, suggesting that after leaving Johns Hopkins, C. D. M. and his family returned to Tennessee for a time. In the last years of the 1890s, however, he was at Tazewell College. In the 1900 census he was recorded living in Tazewell, profession teacher, with his wife and three children, the newest arrival being my father, English Showalter, born October 15, 1897 at Snowville, Virginia, the home of C. D. M.’s parents.

            Also in 1900 C. D. M.’s name appears in a news item from the “Clinch Valley News” reporting the annual meeting of the trustees of Tazewell College.

            At a meeting of the incorporators of Tazewell College held at the office of J. N. Harman, in the town of Tazewell, Va., June 29th, 1900, there were present J. N. Harman, George W. Gillespie and Hon. J. H. Stuart, who were appointed incorporators of said college by a act of the Legislature of Virginia passed on February 5th, 1892, and also the following incorporators who have been associated with them under said act, to wit: J. A. Leslie, Prof. C. D. M. Showalter and W.C. Pendleton.
      On motion, the following Board of Trustees was elected to serve one year and thereafter until their successor shell be chosen, viz: Hon. W. B. Spratt, L. C. Shelburn, Prof. P. H. Williams, J. N. Harman, G. W. Gillespie, W. C. Pendleton, J. A. Leslie, W. J. Shelburne, Judge J. H. Stuart and Prof. C. D. M. Showalter

Tazewell College, late 1890s

According to his newspaper obituary, C. D. M. was president of Tazewell College for several years. My father’s recollection was that C. D. M., in partnership with John Newton Harman, a Virginia state senator from the Tazewell area, editor of the local newspaper and author of Annals of Tazewell County, had bought Tazewell College, and that C. D. M. sold his interest on moving to Roanoke in 1903. From that date on, he was a businessman, assisted by his wife in the early years. And Tazewell College was destroyed in a fire a few years later, just as the women’s seminary had been in 1893.

Obituary of C. D. M. Showalter from the Roanoke Times

            Milligan College did not advertise itself as a teachers’ college; it offered several courses of study, including business. It nonetheless inspired all the Showalters who went there to become teachers themselves. Following C. D. M. Showalter, Josiah Wesley Showalter returned to Pulaski County, Virginia, and according to an obituary by his brother G. H. P. Showalter, he was a farmer and school teacher his entire life; in the 1909-11 yearbooks for Milligan, he gives his occupation as principal of a high school near Snowville, Virginia. G. H. P. himself went immediately after graduation to become president of Lockney Christian College in Lockney, Texas, from 1895 to 1905, and then of Sabinal Christian College in Sabinal, Texas, from 1906 to 1907. Both had missions similar to Milligan’s, but neither school survived very long; Lockney opened in 1894 and closed in 1918, Sabinal opened in 1907 and closed in 1917. Edward Thomas Showalter, according to Ralph Stewart, attended Milligan but graduated from Peabody College in 1900. After graduating he taught in Nashville and in Woodville, Mississippi, before returning to his native region where for the rest of his life he pursued a triple career as farmer, preacher, and teacher in the Pulaski County public schools. Julia Rowlett (Showalter) Massie taught Latin in high school in Clifton Forge, Virginia, until her retirement. Edward Rodney Massie eventually became an insurance broker, but in the first few years after graduation he, like Julia, reported his occupation as teacher.

Sarah Katherine Showalter, c. 1891

            Sarah Katherine (Showalter) Dudley may perhaps not have attended Milligan, but she was certainly part of the college community in 1890 and 1891, when she met Walter Lee Dudley. After their marriage, they settled in Oranda, Virginia, near Strasburg, where he founded the Oranda Institute at which they both taught from 1895 to 1907, when he accepted a full-time position as a preacher in Pennsylvania. Lou Ella English, who graduated with her future husband C. D. M. Showalter in 1891, taught alongside him in several places in the 1890s, including Milligan itself. Teaching is a family tradition, which I look back on with pride, and I admire Milligan College for inspiring and preparing so many of the Showalters to become teachers.

The manuscript documents quoted and transcribed, and partially reproduced in this post, are used by permission of Milligan College. They can be found in Milligan College Archives, Hopwood Correspondence, 1868-1936. All rights belong to Milligan College without restriction. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Meredith Sommers, archivist at Milligan College, for her generous help in finding and sending materials for this post.
The text of the contract can be found online at; this version does not contain the notarized signatures and county clerk’s certificate of registration, which are included in the Milligan manuscript copy.
Census records can be found online at
Cornwell, Cynthia Ann. Beside the Waters of the Buffalo: A History of Milligan College to 1941 (Milligan College, Tennessee: Milligan College History Project, 1989).
Dudley, Walter Lee. Footprints on the Sands of Time: An Autobiography (Winchester, Virginia, 1943).
Hopwood, Josephus. A Journey Through the Years: An Autobiography (St Louis: The Bethany Press, 1932).