I'm a Virginia historian and legal expert who is related to individuals who rode on the Mayflower ship, American founding father George Mason IV, three Union veterans from the U.S. Civil War, two of whom marched with General Sherman to Atlanta, two Confederate veterans, and President Theodore Roosevelt’s and Franklin Roosevelt’s family.
In 1815, Henry Brown was born into slavery at the Hermitage Plantation in Louisa County, Virginia. Up until his teenage years, Henry Brown did work on the fields within the plantation.
In 1830, Henry Brown was sent to work in Richmond, a year before the events of Nat Turner’s Rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia. In 1849, Henry Brown mailed himself, in a 3 foot long and 2 and a half foot tall box, onwards to freedom into the city of Philadelphia. Once out of the box, earned the nickname of Henry “Box” Brown and sung a bible verse to celebrate his freedom. As a free man, Henry Brown spoke out, as an abolitionist, and became part of the “Underground Railroad”. However, due to the United States Congress’s passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, Henry Brown relocated to Great Britain so that he could not be re-enslaved in Virginia.
In 1818, Henry Pendleton purchased a plot of land, in Louisa County, from William Callis. The next year, Henry Pendleton built the Pendleton Home, also known as the Cuckoo Home, on top of the ruins of the Cuckoo Tavern that was in that property.
In Louisa County, at the site where the Cuckoo Tavern once stood, is two historical markers depicting Jack Jouett’s ride from Cuckoo to Charlottesville, which was made to warn Thomas Jefferson and the Virginia General Assembly members of the British advance towards Charlottesville. May historians consider Captain Jack Jouett, Junior to be the “Paul Revere” of Virginia.
Peter Cartwright was born in Amherst County, Virginia, three miles southeast of the town of Shipman. Later in life Peter Cartwright relocated to Illinois and was elected to the Illinois General Assembly. In 1846, Peter Cartwright ran against Abraham Lincoln for a U.S. Congress seat and lost.
In 1850, a Highland County Courthouse was built in the county seat of Monterey, Virginia. In 1918, the United Daughters of the Confederacy placed a statue in honor of the Confederate veterans of the county who faught in the Battle of McDowell, and in other battles throughout the war.
In 1947, a fire at a local restraunt spread all the Highland County Courthouse, which burnt down the structure. In 1948, a new courthouse was built, which still stands to this day.
Next to the United Daughters of the Confederacy Monument is a historical marker dedicated to the town of Monterey, during the United States Civil War, which contains a photograph of a 1908 Confederate reunion at the steps of the Highland Inn.
In the town of McDowell, ten minutes from Monterey, stands a 1928 historical marker dedicated to the Battle of McDowell.
The Battle of McDowell was one which was faught with deception. Stonewall Jackson keep some of his troops in Highland County, while marching the rest of the troops south of the Shenandoah Valley so that Union spies would report southward troop movement to their commanders. However, after the march, Stonewall Jackson had his troops take a train to Staunton and marked them to Highland County.
At Sitlington’s Hill, within the town of McDowell, a locality named after former Virginia Governor James McDowell whom served on the first board for the Virginia Military Insititute, Union and Confederate forces clashed.
Currently, the Felix Hull House is a privately owned residence. The staff at the Highland County Museum, a museum at a house identical to the Felix Hull House, mentioned that while the home is in need of renovation, the owners have decided to not renovate in the near future.
In 1910, the Montpelier Train Depot was built near the home of James Madison, the fourth President of the United States of America. After the Montpelier Train Depot was decommissioned, then building became a United States Postal Service center. The exhibit “In the Time of Segregation” is exhibited at the depot.
The Gilmore Farm, also known as the Gilmore Cabin, was owned by George, a former slave, and his wife Polly who lived in proximity to President James Madison’s Montpilier. George and Polly leased the farm from Doctor James Ambrose Madison, the great-nephew of President James Madison.
In 1824, from November 15th to the 19th, General Marquis de Lafayette visited James Madison’s Montpelier. The general returned for a second visit on August 21st, 1825.
In 2021, the William C. Pomeroy Foundation placed a historical marker, regarding General Marquis de Lafayette’s two separate visits to President James Madison’s Montpelier, at the grounds of the Montpelier Train Depot.
On October 15th, 1836, Major General Thomas Lafayette Rosser was born in Campbell County, Virginia. The Rosser family would later move to the the Texas, the state from where Thomas Lafayette Rosser would apply to join the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. While attending West Point, Rosser was roommates with future General George Armstrong Custer. Custer, who was from Ohio, nicknamed Rosser “Tex” since his family was from Texas.
After West Point, Major General Rosser served in the Confederacy and later for the United States Army during the Spanish-American War. Between those two wars, Major General Rosser was the Chief Engineer of the Northern Pacific Railroad and for the Canadian Pacific Railroad. On March 29th, 1910, Major General Rosser died in Charlottesville, Virginia and was buried in the Riverview Cemetery, that had been established eighteen years prior.
The new county was cut from the mother county by a line running from the most western point in the line of Louisa County directly to the lower edge of Scott’s Ferry, on the Fluvanna, now the James River …. embracing all of Albemarle Countt lying eastward of that line, including the islands in the river … to the Goochland County line, a few hundred yards beyond the town of Columbia …
In March 1865, a year after the Battle of Rio Hill, forces under General Armstrong Custer Accidently burnt down the textile mills, that produced uniforms for the Confederacy, at the Woolen Mills within Charlottesville, Virginia.
In 1867, construction on the Lee Chapel, began on the grounds of Washington College. The new chapel was completed in time for the spring semester in 1868. General Robert Edward Lee, who ordered construction of the chapel, began attending Christian services at the building with other students and administrators.
After General Lee’s passing, Washington College was renamed to Washington and Lee College in his honor. General Lee, his wife, his sons, and several of his other family members were buried in a crypt within the basement of the church. In 1875, five years after General Lee’s death, a statue of the “Sleeping General”, that was sculpted by Edward Virginius Valentine, was sent to Washington College.
In 1931, two years after the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost billions of dollars in value on “Black Tuesday” and from the market downturn afterwards, the Rap brothers built the Paramount Theater in Charlottesville, Virginia.
In 1821, at a period after the end of Spanish rule in Mexico, Stephen Fuller Austin brought 300 families to the Spanish province within Texas. In 1823, due to the lack of military forces to protect the American colonists, Austin decided to create the policing force called, “Texas Rangers”. During the course of the Texas Revolution Stephen Fuller Austin became the first commander of the Texan military forces. After Texas won its independence, Sam Houston was elected to be the first President of the Republic of Texas and he nominated Stephen Fuller Austin to be the first Secretary of State for the new nation. However, two months after obtaining that appointment, Secretary Austin caught a severe cold and passed away.
Two decades ago, private donors from Texas and Wythe County, Virginia financed the creation of a monument dedicated to Stephen Fuller Austin, at the site of the former cabin that he was born in. Three miles from the Stephen Fuller Austin Memorial Park, the Fincastle Resolutions was signed by American Revolutionaries, which influenced the tenants of Thomas Jefferson’s drafts of the Declaration of Independence.
Walter Crockett began his military career as a member of the militia for Augusta County, Virginia. After attaining the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, Walker Crockett served in the militias within Botetourt and Fincastle county. Later, after Fincastle county was dissolved, he served in Montgomery county. Walter Crockett served in the Point Pleasant expedition of 1774, during Lord Dunmore’s War and during the Revolutionary War he served in the military in Southwest Virginia. During the American Revolution, he also served in the Virginia House of Delegates, representing Montgomery County, and he was at Virginia’s convention to ratify the United States Consitution. In 2001, a historical marker was dedicated to former Virginia House of Delegates member Walter Crockett.
In the 1874, the Miller School was designed by architects Albert Lybrock and David Wiley Anderson, five years after Samuel Miller’s death. In 1878, there was a grand opening for the school that Samuel Miller ordered to have created in Albemarle County, Virginia in his last will and testament.
Locust Hill was the birthplace of explorer Meriwether Lewis, whom lived there until the age of six, at the time his family moved to Georgia. Before joining the United States Army, Meriwether Lewis did manage the Locust Hill estate, and resided on the land for a second time during his adulthood.
Wilfred Emory Cutshaw is a former professor of both the Hampton Military Academy and of the Virginia Military Insititute who served, under General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, in multiple military artillery divisions. In 1873, Cutshaw became Richmond’s City Engineer, a position that he served in until his death. Presently, Cutshaw is buried in Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery, alongside with thousands of other Confederate veterans.
In 2015, a historical marker was dedicated to Wilfred Emory Cutshaw inside of the William Byrd Park that he had designed while he was Richmond’s Engineer.
On April 28th, 2022, the James Monroe Memorial Foundation hosted the 264th Birthday Celebration Ceremony for the fifth United States President James Monroe. Several leaders of chapters of the Sons of the American Revolution, Daughters of the American Revolution, Society of Colonial Wars, Society of the Cincinnati, and other historical organizations were present. In addition, Bill Thomas, the director of the James Monroe birthplace and Sara Bon-Harper, the director of the Ashland-Highland estate were present, in addition to various decendants of James Monroe.
On July 4th, 1831, James Monroe became the third and the final United States President to pass away on American Independence Day. In 1858, James Monroe’s body was taken out of the Gouverneur family’s vault, in the New York City Marble Cemetery, and was transported to Richmond, Virginia via the Jamestown steamer. James Monroe was reinterred at the Hollywood Cemetery, a cemetery that had opened a mere two years earlier, and became the first famous individual to be buried on the hilly grounds, along the James River.
In 1796, the Virginia General Assembly appropriated taxpayer dollars for the construction of a new Virginia State Penitentiary. Benjamin Henry Boneval Latrobe, who later hired by U.S. President Thomas Jefferson to become a ”Surveyor of Public Buildings” and the second architect for the United States Capital, took on the role of primary architect for the new penitentiary.
In 1807, seven years after the opening of the penitentiary, United States President Thomas Jefferson accused the former United States Vice President Aaron Burr, whom had served under his first term as President, with treason. Aaron Burr was alleged to have spent time traveling in the western parts of the United States to devise a plan to seize land in Mexico, for the purpose of provoking a war a foreign nation, so that his followers would take up arms against the United States. Ultimately, Aaron Burr was arrested in the Mississippi Territory, within the area of the future states of Alabama, while he was with sixty of his followers attempting to travel to New Orleans. Aaron Burr was moved to the Virginia State Penitentiary while awaiting his federal court case.
The court case turned into a showdown between United States President Thomas Jefferson, Aaron Burr and United States Supreme Court Justice John Marshall. However, on September 1st, 1807, Aaron Burr was acquitted of all charges of treason.
Benjamin Brown, Senior and his eldest son patented land before and after the creation of Louisa County Virginia. In 1750, after the creation of Albemarle County, King George II of England granted Benjamin Brown, Senior land east and west of the Doyles River. Benjamin Brown and his wife Sara Brown became the founders of Brown’s Cove, Virginia and an area along the foothills of the Shendoah Mountains.
The Brown’s Cove Patriots Historical Marker is dedicated to the seven sons of Benjamin Brown, Senior, who all served during the course of the American Revolution against Britain. The historical maker is located off of Blackwell Hollows Road in Brown’s Cove, next to the Doyles River, in Albemarle County, Virginia.
In 1828, General John Hartfield Cocke, a War of 1812 Veteran who was a friend of then deceased United States President Thomas Jefferson, built the Delevan building, which was also known as “Mudwall”, in Charlottesville, Virginia. That same year General Cocke was also building a new Fluvanna County Courthouse and a stone jail, currently called the “Old Stone Jail” in Palmyra, Virginia.
During the United States Civil War, also referred to as the “War Between the States”, the Delevan building became part of Charlottesville General Hospital, that the Confederate government established after the Battle of First Manassas. In addition, the Albemarle Courthouse, the Charlottesville Townhall, the anatomical theatre and the Rotundra at the University of Virginia, various homes and hotels were all part of the makeshift Charlottesville General Hospital. After the Battle of First Manassas, the Delevan Hospital, also called the Mudwall Hospital, received the first wounded troops from a nearby Virginia Center Railroad station. On March 3rd, 1865, Union General Philip Henry Sheridan, and his calvary, occupied the town of Charlottesville. At the time, the Charlottesville mayor, Charlottesville town council members and University of Virginia professors asked the Union for protection as the Charlottesville General Hospital fell under Union control. During the occupation, the Union accidently burnt down a textile mill, owned by the Charlottesville Manufacturing Company, while attempting to burn down a Virginia Center Railroad trestle in the Woolen Mills District. However, no other buildings were burnt down, during the occupation, and General George Armstrong Custer temporarily in a Charlottesville historic home called, “The Farm”.
In 1864, before the Union occupation of Charlottesville, the Charlottesville African Church Congregation was organized. In 1868, that congregation bought the property, where the Delevan Hospital had once stood, in order to erect a house of worship. In 1877 construction began on the Delevan Baptist Church, which was also known as the First Baptist Church. In 1883, construction of the baptist church was completed and it has been a place for Christians to worship ever since.
A historical marker for the Charlottesville General Hospital is posted on the grounds of the University of Virginia, in an area formerly known as Monument Square, next to where the George Roger’s Clark Monument used to be until the university relocated that historical statue to storage on July 11th, 2021.
John West, a former slave who later worked as a barber, was a resident of Charlottesville, Virginia. As a member of the Four Hundreds Club, John West and others would purchase plots of land in Charlottesville for $400. As a property owner, John West lobbied the Charlottesville City Council to create a high school for Black children. The City Council eventually agreed to fund to create a new school, which is presently called the Jefferson High School.
In 1896, artist Harold Warren Billing was born in Brooklyn, New York. Throughout his life he crafted various murals of landscapes in both the states of New York and in Virginia.
Harold Warren Billing created a mural of Charlottesville with one piece dedicated to the local mountain scapes, another to the view of the city from afar, and his last piece the view of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello from the mountains. In 1955, Harold Warren Billing’s three piece mural of Charlottesville was donated by Mrs. Inez Duff Bishop.
On Saint Valentine’s Day, in 1826, Edgar Allan Poe registered to attend undergraduate classes, in Ancient and Modern Languages, at the University of Virginia. As a student he wrote the short story, “A Tale Of The Ragged Mountains”, which was about his prospective of the Blue Ridge Mountains surrounding Charlottesville. John Allan, his adoptive father, refused to pay any of the debts that Edgar Allan Poe accumulated while pursuing higher education. Therefore, Edgar Allan Poe dropped out of the prestigious school, after a single semester, due to not having the funds to continue his enrollment.
A mere two years after Edgar Allen Poe dropped out of the University of Virginia, he enlisted in the United States Army and was stationed at Fort Monroe, a military installation named after President James Monroe.
Former United States President Thomas Jefferson designed a Rotundra, which was structurally based on the ancient Greek Pantheon, to be built on the lawn of the University of Virginia that he founded in 1819. Construction of the Rotundra began in 1822 and it was not completed until two years after Thomas Jefferson’s death in 1828. The Rotundra was the last of the original buildings to be built on the lawn, in an area which Jefferson deemed to the “Academical Village”.
Two years after the death of General Cocke’s friend Thomas Jefferson, he embarked on the designing and the construction of the Fluvanna County Courthouse and of a jailhouse, which is presently known as the “Old Stone Jail”. Both structures were built in Palmyra, a town in Fluvanna County named after King Solomon’s former trading post.
Brigadier General John Hartwell Cocke II, whom was born in Surry County, Virginia, attended school at William and Mary, where he empathized with abolitionist views from the abolitionist minded faculty on campus. In 1800, General Cocke ran for the Virginia House of Delegates and lost, never to run for that seat again. General Cocke lived in Surry County until he moved to the Bremo estate, in Fluvanna County, in 1809. On May 5th, 1817, General Cocke founded the Agricultural Society of Albemarle and devoted time towards educating the African American slaves that he inherited from his father John Hartwell Cocke and his mother Elizabeth Kennon Cocke. General Cocke became an official of the American Colonization Society, which sought to resettle freed black slaves and manumitted slaves to the African country of Liberia, and he joined the Virginia Society for the Promotion of Temperance. Soon after joining the Virginia Society for the Promotion of Temperance, he became the Vice President in 1826 and the President of that organization in 1830. As a devout Christian, not only did he not consume alcohol, he never sought ownership of any tobacco crops, despite the popularity of tobacco in the Commonwealth. Later in life his abolitionist views, which he acquired at William and Mary, subsided and he turned more into an anti-abolitionist by siding with the Confederacy during the start of the U.S. Civil War.
General Cocke had three sons, one of whom was named Philip Saint George Cocke. Philip Cocke was born in 1809, in Surry County, and attended the University of Virginia from the years of 1825 and 1827 to 1828. On July 1st, 1828, Philip Cocke entered the United States Military. In 1832, after graduating from the United States Military Academy, Philip Cocke served in Charleston, South Carolina as a second lieutenant of artillery, for the U.S. Army, during the South Carolina Nullification Crisis. On April 1st, 1834, Philip Cocke resigned his military commission so that he could marry Sally Elizabeth Courtney Bowdoin. From 1853 to 1856, Philip Cocke served as president of the Agriculture Society to Albemarle, that his father has once served as president for. In 1860, in response to John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry the year prior, Philips Cocke organized a calvary troop and the year after he joined the Confederate army. Upon joining the Virginia volunteers for the Confederate cause, his rank was reduced from Brigadier General to Colonel. During the Battle of First Manassas, which was called the First Battle of Bull Run by the Union Army, Philip Cocke commanded the fifth brigade of Confederate Virginia volunteers, as U.S. Senators, Confederate President Jefferson Finis Davis. and others were looking on as spectators. Months after the battle, Philip Cocke resigned from the Confederate army, due to physical disability and nervous prostration, and committed suicide in December 26th, 1861.
William Harris Crawford, who was born in Amherst County, Virginia, ended up residing in Georgia early in his life. Crawford served as the Secretary of War and as the Secretary of the Treasury for the United States before running for the office of United States President, as a Democrat, in 1824.
In 1827, a year after the passing of President Thomas Jefferson, the Maplewood Cemetery was established within a plot of land granted to Nicholas Meriwether II, by King George II, in 1725. War of 1812 veterans, Confederate veterans, Spanish American War veterans, Philanthropist Paul Goodloe McIntire, former slave and Civil Rights activist Fairfax Taylor, and many other members of the Charlottesville community are buried within the grounds of the Maplewood Cemetery.
In 1735, Nicholas Meriwether II added used part of his land grant, which he added 1,900 acres to, for the foundation for “The Farm”.
While visiting the Piedmont Virginia Community College, I got to see a “Vanguard of Freedom Historical Marker” that was erected, in honor of the United States Army in 1975, on the campus grounds during the United States Bicentennial. The plaque, near the foothill within the college’s entrance, discusses Revolutionary War Patriots, Thomas Jefferson’s friends Captain Meriwether Lewis, whose relative Phil Anderson still lives in Charlottesville, and Lieutenant William Clark, President Zachary Taylor, Confederate Generals Stonewall Jackson and Robert Edward Lee, Confederate Colonel John Mosby, the Confederate soldiers, from Albemarle County, who served in Gettysburg during Pickett’s Charge, Charlottesville author Stephen McDowell is related to one of the few Albemarle County Confederates who survived Pickett’s Charge, Union General Winfield Scott, who was a native Virginian, Virginia Spanish American War veterans, Virginian World War I and World War II veterans.
Next to the “Vanguard of Freedom Historical Marker” is a secondary marker, attributed to the United States Bicentennial, which is dedicated to the Irishmen and Irishwomen who settled in Virginia and in other parts of the United States of America.