Checklist of documents in the Watts Collection at the Historical Society of Western Virginia, Roanoke, Virginia. To consult these documents, go to http://www.vahistorymuseum.org/ 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”.
This group of 25 documents is very coherent; all them date from 1846 and relate to the business and legal affairs of the Watts family. Sixteen are letters from Fleming James to William Watts, primarily about his ongoing case against the Stoner family; another is a letter from Fleming James’s son John Quarles James, and yet another is an enclosure sent with one of the letters. The seven remaining relate to legal business, mainly the collection of debts, but one is the receipt to Edward Watts for taxes paid on his estate, Oaklands, in 1846.
September 11, 1851
Copy of records in a cause heard in the Circuit Superior Court of Law and Chancery in Roanoke County, Virginia, in the case of Wiley P. Wood and Joseph Rives, plaintiffs, against Charles Pinckard and Tyree Glenn Newbill, defendants; Newbill failing to appear, Pinckard is the sole defendant; document includes copies of the decree of the Roanoke County court of 26 August 1846, a commissioner’s report by Frederick Johnston with statements by the two parties of 10 June 1847, a second decree by the Roanoke County court of 27 March 1848, a second commissioner’s report by Johnston of 28 June 1848, a third decree by the Roanoke County court on 26 August 1848, and a decree of the Virginia Court of Appeals meeting at Lewisburg, Virginia (now West Virginia), with Pinckard as appellant, finding in favor of the appellees Wood and Rives, on 11 September 1851. The case arose because Newbill, who was one of the legatees and the administrator of an estate, mismanaged it, apparently because his own affairs were in disarray. In an effort to solve his own problems, he sold some of the assets of the estate at sacrifice prices to Pinckard, but later filed an oath of insolvency and left the area. Wood and Rives had been his sureties; when other legatees and creditors sued the estate, they had to pay. They then sued Pinckard and Newbill; in the latter’s absence, only Pinckard’s situation is exposed, and the argument was that he knew, or should have known, that he was purchasing bonds obtained fraudulently, and therefore had to return the money. The commissioner’s reports are efforts to clarify the accounting. In the end, the Roanoke County Court ruled in favor of Wood and Rives, and on Pinckard’s appeal, the Virginia Court of Appeals sustained the decision.
First page of the copy of records in the case of Wiley P. Wood and Joseph Rives, plaintiffs, against Charles Pinckard and Tyree Glenn Newbill, defendants, showing the red ribbon used to bind legal documents.
At a Circuit Circuit Superior Court of Law and Chancery held for the County of Roanoke on the 26th day of August 1846
Wiley P. Woods & Joseph Rives Pffs }
against } In Chancery
Charles Pinckard and Tyree G. Newbill Dfts }
The parties in this cause, by their counsel, agree here in Court, that the Exhibit mentioned in the plaintiff’s Bill marked “F” purporting to be the receipt from the Counsel of Mary & Catharine Phillips to the plaintiffs, was executed by the Counsel for the said Mary & Catharine Phillips, and that the sum of money therein mentioned was paid by the plaintiffs as the security of the said Tyree G. Newbill as therein stated. And thereupon the cause came on to be heard upon the Bill, answer, replication thereto, exhibits, examinations of witnesses, and the order of publication awarded in this cause on the 3d day of December 1844 against the defendant Tyree G. Newbill, which appears to have been duly published in the mode prescribed by law, and was argued by counsel. Upon consideration [continues for 24 pages]
This case is described and explained in Virginia Reports Jefferson-33 Grattan 1730-1880, July term 1851, Lewisburg; it began with the death of Mary Crafton or Crampton in 1836; her will left half her estate to Tyree G. Newbill and the other half in equal shares to Mary and Catharine Phillips; Newbill was named administrator of her estate, and Wiley P. Woods and Joseph Rives were his surety; in November 1836 Newbill sold Crafton’s personal property and sold two slaves for $2450, paid for with bonds, which Newbill then sold to Charles Pinckard at a discount; c. 1840 Newbill became insolvent and left the region; the Phillips women, not having been paid, sued and won a decree in 1844, which was paid by Woods and Rives; they then sued to recover the value of the bonds from Pinckard, on the grounds that he had knowingly assisted in Newbill’s fraudulent misuse of the estate; and the courts concurred. It is not clear why this document is among the Watts papers; no one in the family is mentioned, and nothing indicates that they served as attorneys for any of the parties.
May 9, 1846
Letter from Fleming James, in Richmond, Virginia, to William Watts, in Big Lick, Roanoke County, Virginia, covering a deed to Moomaw, requesting that the money be delivered as soon as possible by a bank draft from Buchanan, Virginia; discussing an impending banking crisis and the current shortage of money; expressing his impatience with delays in his case against Daniel, John and Samuel Stoner; asking for information about crops on the Stoner land, in particular whether they have been affected by Hessian Fly infestation
October 29, 1846
Letter from Fleming James, in Richmond, Virginia, to William Watts, in Big Lick, Roanoke County, Virginia, enclosing an advertisement to be published in Big Lick, Fincastle, at the Stoners’ property, and in the Valley Whig newspaper, for a sale, probably of the property of the Stoner family from whom James had been trying to collect a debt owed to his company, F. & J. S. James & Co; also mentioning Mr Langhorne, who was planting fields of wheat, corn, and tobacco on behalf of James
December 9, 1846
Letter from Fleming James, at Stoners Store, to William Watts, in Big Lick, Roanoke County, Virginia, reporting the arrangements he has made regarding the sale of the Stoner property, and other arrangements, with requests for Watts to obtain written final agreements; he has purchased the Coiner land, and rented it to William S. Minor’s father for one year; he wishes Watts to settle a land matter quickly with St Clair; he has rented a place to young Carney, whose father is posting bond, the contract to be drawn up by Landon Cabell Read; he has bought William McDermid’s crop of clover seed and received assurances that McDermid will pay off his debts by Christmas; he has obtained a secret agreement with John Stoner that John will persuade his mother to sell her dower rights; he has also purchased four horses and wagon gear from William S. Minor
January 15, 1846
Letter from John Quarles James, in Richmond, Virginia, to William Watts, in Big Lick, Roanoke County, Virginia, sending the price – $425 – paid for a slave named Baldy Jim and inquiring about some groceries sent to Edward Watts, which may have been lost because of problems in transportation at Lynchburg
January 14, 1846
Letter from Fleming James, in Richmond, Virginia, to William Watts, in Big Lick, Roanoke County, Virginia, replying to one from Watts, agreeing to his proposal to sell land to Moomaw, giving Watts carte blanche to deal with Baldy Jim, enclosing copies of judgments against Samuel Stoner, asking Watts to examine the Donnans’ claim against the Coiner land, expressing pleasure that matters have been settled with Landon Cabell Read, hoping that other matters involving Nelmes, Moomaw and McDermid will be settled soon, asking Watts to collect back rents from Martin for a mill, inquiring about crops from Barnes, and repeating his strong wish to have all his affairs settled quickly
October 12, 1846
Letter from Fleming James, in Richmond, Virginia, to William Watts, in Big Lick, Roanoke County, Virginia, expressing his surprise that Langhorne has refused to seed wheat for him, as he had previously promised, except on condition that his lease of the land be extended another year, which James cannot do without breaking his commitment to Perkins and Dabney, his managers; he outlines the offer he had made, granting Langhorne the right to seed the lands of Nelmes, Carney, William S. Minor, and Mary (Dagen) Stoner, with his share of the profit to be adjudged by Edward Watts and William Madison Peyton; he has recently seen Peyton, who encouraged him to have William Watts get it done, and James pleads with to agree
April 16, 1846
Letter from Judah Myers, in Richmond, Virginia, to William Watts, in Big Lick (Roanoke), Virginia, requesting that Watts forward to him, as trustee for John E. Watkins, formerly a merchant in Richmond, money from a claim against S. P. Thompson; includes endorsement by Watkins and certification by the postmaster Zachariah S. Robinson that a check for $172.60 was mailed on 29 April 1846
The closing line of the letter with the signature of Judah Myers,
followed by the endorsement and signature of John E. Watkins
The object therefore of the present is to say that you will please forward to money to me as Trustee for J. E. Watkins. Yours Respy [Respectfully], Judah Myers
Dear Sir, The above statement made by Mr Myers is correct and you will please pay the Money over to him. Yours very Respectfully, J. E. Watkins
Judah Myers was born 19 Mar 1807 in Richmond, Virginia, and died 1 Mar 1852 in Richmond, Virginia; he is buried in Shockoe Cemetery. John E. Watkins was born 28 Feb 1789 in Goochland County, Virginia, and died 21 Feb 1855 in Ampthill, Chesterfield County, Virginia; he lived and was buried in Ampthill Plantation. He married Judith Eveline Watkins (1794-1872), and they had many children.
February 16, 1846
Executor’s receipt from Charles L. Mosby, executor of Thomas A. Holcombe, deceased, to William Watts, for payment of a court judgment for a debt of $109.92 against J. C. Jeffress and John Shirey in the Circuit Superior Court of Roanoke; with interests and costs the final amount paid was $148.30
Receipt from the Sheriff’s office of Roanoke County, Virginia, signed by J. K. Pitzer, deputy sheriff, to Edward Watts for taxes paid for 1846, amounting to $158.16½, the largest items being 1 white and 81 black tithes, 98 slaves, and 2250 acres of land
Receipt from the Sheriff’s office of Roanoke County, Virginia, to Edward Watts, for taxes paid in 1846
Edward Watts Dr
1846 To Roanoke Sheriff
1 W & 81 B Tythes 75 " " 61.50
98 Slaves 32 31.36
1 Carriage 4.50
2 G watches 2.00
2 Pianoes 6.00
$140 Silver Plate 2.10
$161 Interest 2.41½
52 Horses 5.20 53.57½
2250 acres Land " " _43.09
Recev payment $158.16½
J. K. Pitzer D. S.
November 27, 1846
Letter from J. Sibley of the firm of Buck and Potter, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to William Watts, in Big Lick, Virginia, regarding the collection of a claim against George W. Anderson; Watts has written that he has received $123.62 on the account, and is asked to forward a check for the amount; document includes certification by the postmaster Zachariah S. Robinson that the check, drawn by Samuel Mead, cashier of the Bank of Virginia, Richmond, has been mailed
Dec 9th 1846
Wm Watts this day deposited in this Post Office a letter directed to Messrs Buck & Potter, Philadelphia, enclosing a draft drawn by Saml Mead, cashier of the Bank of Virginia, Richmond, on the Farmers & Merchs Bank, Philadelphia, dated “Richmond Nov 26th 1846” <in favor of Buck & Potter> payable to Buck & Potter or order for one hundred & twenty two dollars & fifty five cents ($122.55 cts) with direction to send said letter to Buck & Potter at Philadelphia. Z. S. Robinson, P.m. [postmaster] Big Lick Va
This note was written by William Watts and signed by Zachariah S. Robinson, who was born in 1806 and died in 1873; he married 14 Jun 1830 in Botetourt County, Virginia, Hannah Stover (1812-1886). Buck & Potter were silk merchants in Philadelphia.
May 4, 1846
Letter from Judah Myers, trustee for John E. Watkins, in Richmond, Virginia, to William Watts, in Big Lick, Virginia, acknowledging receipt of a check for $172.60 on the Bank of Virginia in payment of a claim against S. S. P. Thompson
May 1, 1846
Letter from Ezekiel Hunn of Hunn and Remington, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to William Watts, in Big Lick, Virginia, authorizing the transfer of money collected from David Fenton Kent and giving instructions; he expresses his outrage at Kent’s behavior, and urges Watts to pursue him for a fine as well as the debt, offering double commission on the fine
January 6, 1846
Letter from Fleming James in Richmond, Virginia, to William Watts, in Big Lick, Virginia, covering notice of the taking of a deposition from Jeremiah Kyle Pitzer in the case against Alexander P. Eskridge as trustee for Samuel Stoner; also inquiring about earlier letters sent, and requesting a memo regarding those named in Stoner’s deed of trust, especially the Donnans, who are making a claim on the Coyner land; saying that his son John Quarles James has sent the last of the contested acceptances of Daniel Stoner
December 31, 1845
Copy of the notice of the taking of a deposition from Jeremiah Kyle Pitzer and others in the Circuit Superior Court of Law and Chancery in Roanoke County, Virginia, in the case of Fleming James and Edwin James, merchants and partners trading under the firm and style of F. and J. S. James and Company, plaintiffs against Alexander P. Eskridge, trustee, and others, including Hubbard, Gardner and Company, which initiated the procedure; this copy was sent under cover of a letter, 1998.26.414; the suit involves the debts of Samuel Stoner
November 24, 1846
Letter from Fleming James, in Richmond, Virginia, to William Watts, in Big Lick, Virginia, discussing his plans to travel to Roanoke County in December for the sale of the Coiner land, noting the possibility that he will stay the first night with William C. Langhorne and stating that he will be extremely busy setting up his estate with his estate managers and his slaves, who will be escorted from Green Springs and Lynchburg, Virginia, by his son John Quarles James; he also says that he is counting on William’s father Edward Watts to assist him in the sale, and he asks William to evict Carney from the land and to prepare a deed with the dates and bounds left blank; he mentions at the end that he is sending a bale of blankets from Temple Gwathmey to Edward Watts, to the care of Richard Tyree in Lynchburg; and he urgently wants William to reply by return mail
September 17, 1846
Letter from Fleming James, in Richmond, Virginia, to William Watts, in Big Lick, Virginia, describing a trip to the North during which he used the railroad; and complaining, as usual, of how busy he is, having had to deal with three estate managers in Louisa County, Virginia; he sends condolences on the recent death of William’s brother, James Breckinridge Watts; then takes up several business matters, including the final stages of the lawsuit against the Stoner family, involving Mary (Dagen) Stoner, Alexander P. Eskridge, and a farmer named Carney; the possible sale of the Coiner property to William S. Minor, if he can persuade Polly (Huckstep) Coiner to reduce the price; the state of William C. Langhorne’s corn crop, in which James has an interest, but cannot understand what Langhorne writes to him; a shipment of flour from Landon Cabell Read, with some from William McDermid that was rejected; and a requested delay in payment of a debt from James S. Walrond and his partner Boyd, merchants near Buchanan in Botetourt County, Virginia
May 2, 1846
Letter from Fleming James, in Richmond, Virginia, to William Watts, in Big Lick, Virginia, enclosing a power of attorney enabling Watts to provide indemnifying bonds in James’s case against Daniel Stoner; he also responds to Watts’s letter describing the condition of James’s land in Roanoke County, under the management of William Langhorne, and deals with matters concerning other tenants on his land William C. McDermid, Carney, Nelmes, and Landon Cabell Read; he expresses the hope that a business with Moomaw will be settled soon, and says that he would prefer not to bring suit against John Stoner
March 11, 1846
Letter from Fleming James, in New York, New York, to William Watts, in Big Lick, Virginia, enclosing a (missing) document answering a bill by David Gish, and accepting Watts’s reasons for not dining with him the previous day; James also reviews various business matters pending in Roanoke County, Virginia, asking Watts to settle them as fast as possible – these include wheat from William McDermid, flour from Landon Cabell Read, a deed for Moomaw, differing recollections of Jeremiah Whitten, Elijah McClanahan and William Madison Peyton who were commissioners to determine Catherine (Ammen) Stoner’s dower rights, William C. Langhorne’s lease and an opinion of Edward Watts thereon, and a negotiation with Mary (Dagen) Stoner about the sale of her dower; the letter concludes with promises to visit Watts’s mother, Elizabeth (Breckinridge) Watts, and brother, James Breckinridge Watts, who were in New York because James was ill.
June 27, 1846
Letter from Fleming James, in Richmond, Virginia, to William Langhorne, at Stoner’s Store, Roanoke County, Virginia, acknowledging receipt of a letter about their joint crop of wheat, described as fair rather than good, but now secured against rust, and other crops of corn, oats, tobacco and clover. James gives details of his planned trip to Roanoke County, by way of Louisa, Albemarle, Nelson and Amherst Counties, and Lynchburg, Virginia. He also discusses the sale of a house to Yelverton Oliver, and asking Langhorne to forward the letter to William Watts, who will play a part in selling the house, and acknowledging Watts’s letter about Mrs Stoner.
March 28, 1846
Letter from Fleming James, in Richmond, Virginia, to William Watts, in Big Lick, Virginia, saying that he has returned from New York, whence he sent a document to Watts, with his signature certified by commissioner Mason; asks about progress on Moomaw’s deed and urges prompt action, saying that he wishes to finish this business; raises an issue about payment of $120 to William C. Langhorne for boarding James’s negroes for a year, and cites his responsibility as a trustee and guardian for refusing to pay the lump sum in advance; gives news from New York of Watts’s mother Elizabeth (Breckinridge) Watts, who was well, and brother James Breckinridge Watts, who was recovering and should return to the healthier climate of Virginia, in James’s opinion
Fleming James’s report on his visit to James Breckinridge Watts in New York
I called to see your brother James & your excellent mother just before I left New York. James was mending, & so well that your mother, at his instance, had gone out to return the calls or visits of friends, which deprived me of the pleasure of seeing her. She was however very well. Have James brought back to good old Va. The New Yk climate will destroy him if he remains there. Present me kindly to your father & family & believe me with all respect, Yr obt sert [Your obedient servant], Fleming James
PS Please inform me what Mr Lang[hor]ne has done with the [boy] or young fellow Will[iam I] sent to him. F. J.
Fleming James was a dry goods merchant based in Richmond, Virginia, who often traveled to New York on business. James Breckinridge Watts, William’s older brother, had gone to New York to attempt to practice law there. He fell ill, probably with tuberculosis, and died on 20 Aug 1846, at Red Sulphur Springs, Virginia (now West Virginia). See the blog posting for the previous set of Watts Collection documents.
October 24, 1846
Letter from Fleming James, in Richmond, Virginia, to William Watts, in Big Lick, Virginia, expressing pleasure at the news that William C. Langhorne has sowed wheat on land he farms for James, and suggesting more arrangements, such as that Langhorne rent Mary (Dagen) Stoner’s property, with an agreement that James will take the old houses and buildings off his hands, and further that Langhorne cultivate William McDermid’s place and the St Clair’s place; James also worries about where he will stay in Roanoke County, Virginia, and plans to take over the old mansion house on the land where Langhorne was living in a newer house; he presses Watts to make these arrangements; in closing, he asks if any of the Roanoke people will be at a Convention about to be held in Staunton, Virginia
October 3, 1846
Letter from Fleming James, in Richmond, Virginia, to William Watts, in Big Lick, Virginia, promising to return a bond in John Stoner’s case, after a delay in the mail caused by a breach in the canal along the James River; reluctantly providing the names of his deceased brother Joseph S. James’s children for a lawsuit; expressing a preference not to allow another division of the St Clair land, which might affect the Stoner and Coiner tracts; clarifying his request for Edward Watts to report on William C. Langhorne’s crops, and withdrawing the request; discussing at length the payment due from Carney’s purchase of some land; explaining that news from Europe indicates a sharp rise in the price of wheat, and so he wishes to Langhorne to plant wheat on all available land; ends saying he hopes to see William Watts’s sister Anne (Watts) Holcombe on her journey to Cincinnati
April 21, 1846
Copy of a letter (1998.26.421) from Fleming James, in Richmond, Virginia, to William Watts, in Big Lick, Virginia, saying that he has returned from New York, whence he sent a document to Watts; asks about progress on Moomaw’s deed and urges prompt action; raises an issue about payments to William C. Langhorne for boarding James’s negroes for a year; gives news of Watts’s mother Elizabeth (Breckinridge) Watts and brother James Breckinridge Watts in New York. The duplicate is followed by a new letter, from the same to the same, explaining that a delay in receiving a reply has led him to resend the letter; making arrangements about various pieces of business with people in the Roanoke area, including Moomaw, Nelmes, William McDermid, Langhorne, and Landon Cabell Read; asking about a shipment of plaster sent to Langhorne; urging Watts to take action in the lawsuit against Daniel, John, and Samuel Stoner, and expressing distrust of Joseph Kyle Pitzer of the Botetourt County sheriff’s office; and asking for a report on Langhorne’s crops.
August 1, 1846
Letter from Fleming James in Richmond, Virginia, to William Watts in Big Lick, Virginia, enclosing a copy of the statement of Alexander P. Eskridge of Fincastle concerning the debts of Mrs Catharine Stoner to him as trustee, with instructions on giving an annexed negotiable note to Mrs Stoner; reports that McClanahan & Co have at last delivered 11 barrels of flour sent by Landon Cabell Read, who has changed Stoner’s brand to his own name and displeased James; moreover the flour is condemned as funky and short, and is sold for much less than what James expected, and he thinks Read should make good the loss; asks Watts to help persuade William C. Langhorne to seed a crop of wheat; sends thanks from Mrs James for hospitality during her recent visit to the Valley of Virginia