Thank you for hanging in there with me!
Much Love, Lori
Lately all I have wanted to do is listen to and play music. Working on my Master's Degree in Public History over the last few years has left me a bit drained so I turned to my first love, music. In times of stress, trauma and discomfort, music has always soothed my soul. I am working my way back to history and writing about it in particular. I get disheartened when some of my hard work is stolen, photos lifted from my Facebook, Ancestry and Website without credit that I had to take a step back from my own public history work. Much of my historic focus since graduating in August has been on Preservation Mathews, Inc. a Non-Profit that I helped get off the ground in 2016. I am presenting to our local government next week, asking them to consider becoming part of the National Park Service's Certified Local Government Program. This has been a time consuming endeavor that is finally seeing the light of day. I am excited to be done with this. I have been working on some fun genealogy projects for clients, including doing research using records from Mexico that are in Spanish from the Nineteenth Century. I continue to serve on the board of The Fairfield Foundation and am still involved in our Rotary Club. I am working my way though a lot of Martin Diggs Diaries as well and know that is what your readers want more of. I am also blogging about music now as well on my other site: www.rocknrollroadtrip.com
Thank you for hanging in there with me!
Much Love, Lori
Like many women of today I am a wife, a mother and until this past June a graduate student. In late June I turned in my final paper. That final paper was a write up of a project that I developed and implemented with The Fairfield Foundation. It was a labor of love, but labor none the less and by the time the final draft was submitted (at our friends beach house in the Outer Banks none the less) I was ready for some serious down time. Only I would wait until we are on vacation to turn in my thesis. So...I took the entire summer off of running my genealogy and historical research business. It was amazing. The time off cleared my head and gave me an idea of how I want to proceed with my company. It is now mid September and I have repainted my office, de-cluttered and am ready to jump back in to my love of history and genealogy. I am taking new clients now and also working on a lot of transcription work. The latest is Martin Diggs 1942 Diary. Martin was a pillar of our community, a member of the local Board of Supervisors during 1942. He also was chair of many events in the community. He was a historian and a prolific writer who left behind boxes and boxes of writings that I devour like a child on Christmas morning. I am dividing his diary up by the week and posting them as I finish them. As of right now I have about 20 years worth of diaries! I could be at this for a while. The diaries are found within this website on the upper tab under J. Martin Diggs Diaries. Check back often! I have much to share! Blessings to all! Lori
Thank you for all the kind comments and support this last week when I have been getting a lot of great press for simply doing two things that I absolutely LOVE to do: Genealogy and Volunteering! Today's issue of the Gloucester-Mathews Gazette-Journal has another great article of the dig at Gloucester Point with the story of finding the descendants of Lt. Dickson which I was part of. To read the article click below on the Gazette-Journal link below.
The Gloucester-Mathews Gazette-Journal
To read the Daily Press Story by Mark St. John Erickson wrote that the Associated Press picked up (it was in a LOT of Newspapers across the country) please click on the Daily Press link below.
The Daily Press
To read the blog by The Fairfiled Foundation about the discovery of all the cool artifacts at the archaeology site at Gloucester Point and the brass nameplate that led us to Lt. Dickson please click on the link below.
The Fairfield Foundation
To read about my small part in all this please click on the link below to go straight to that blog on my site.
Lori Jackson Black Genealogy and History Blog
I wonder who he is. Does he have any descendants? What is his story? All of those questions began in mid January at an archaeology site in Gloucester Point, Virginia when the Data Investigations archaeology team of Anna Rhodes and Michele Brumfield excavated a brass plate that most likely was a nameplate on Lt. Dickson’s trunk. Intrigued with tracing Lt. Dickson I sat down and logged on to my laptop to begin the search. The answers came quickly. It did not take long to find another person researching Lt. Dickson when I logged into my Ancestry.com account. I did some preliminary research and concluded that her James Dickson was the same James Dickson whose nameplate had been found. I sent her a brief email explaining the discovery and within twelve hours of my contacting her she had responded enthusiastically. Her name is Janine Chadwick and she is married to the 4 times Great-Grandson of James Dickson and was excited to share her research with me. She also told me and the others from Data Investigations that there was another descendant in Michigan who she had been in contact with. This was exciting and I connected with “cousin Shirley” in Michigan through emails. Janine and her husband Craig were able to visit the site and see the plate later that same week. Shirley shared her research with me and in an email she asked me if I was going to publish a blog about James’ genealogy, so here it is, Shirley, a timeline of events in the life of “our” Lt. James Ranaldson Dickson.
I give many thanks to Shirley Reeve and Janine Chadwick for sharing their research and for sharing a love of family history and genealogy. I also thank everyone at both Data Investigations and The Fairfield Foundation for sharing this find with the public. The Fairfiled Foundation has published a blog about the discovery of Lt. Dickson's name plate along with the other magnificient finds at the archaeology site at Gloucester Point on their webiste: www.Fairfieldfoundation.org
Lt. James Ronaldson Dickson, Esquire of Blairhall
3 April 1756-4 June 1829
James was fifth and final child born to the Reverend Doctor David Dickson of Kilbucho, Scotland and his wife the former Anne Gillon of Wallhouse on the 3rd day of April 1756 in Uphall, West Lothian, Scotland. James’ father Rev. Dr. Dickson first studied law and later was a writer in Edinburgh before settling on a life in the Ministry. He was married first to a Miss Hogg of Newliston who died without children followed by his marriage to Anne in Peebles, Peeblesshire, Scotland. The family was prominent yet not wealthy as reported in the history of Peeblesshire.
The first son of David and Anne, William Dickson is born.
The only daughter, Elizabeth Dickson is born.
Second son, John Dickson is born.
Third son David Dickson is born.
James is born, the fourth son and fifth child of David and Anne is born at Uphall, West Lothian, Scotland.
Oldest Brother William Dickson inherits all the Dickson family estates from his uncle William, who is the older brother of his father David. This includes the Dickson family estates known as “Mitchelhill”, “Parkgatestone”, “Kilbucho” and “Calzeat” William now is an officer who has been in the American Colony. He returns to Peeblesshire to recruit for the militia. He falls into debt and has to sell most of his inherited property to satisfy his debts.
1 February 1778
James Dickson, age 21, is commissioned a Lieutenant in the 80th Regiment of Foot. One thousand men from the city of Edinburgh, Scotland make up the regiment.
The 80th Regiment of Foot goes on detachment to the Firth of Fourth, Scotland and was reported fit for service.
17 March 1779
The 80th Regiment of Foot joins the 76th Regiment and leaves for Portsmouth, England to await transport to North America.
27 August 1779
The 80th Regiment of Foot landed in New York and encamped at Bedford, Long Island.
9 April 1780
James' father David dies. He leaves his estate "Coulter" to his son John.
5 January 1781
The 80th Regiment sailed from Richmond, Virginia, where they had destroyed the magazines, to Portsmouth, Virginia where they took their post on the Elizabeth River.
In the following weeks detachments from the 80th and 76th along with some Hessian troops moved up the James River. Their mission was to destroy enemy stores and stockpiles. The made it to Williamsburg and then moved on to Petersburg where they encountered large quantities of tobacco in which they were ordered to destroy.
2 May 1781
The deployed unit of the 80th Regiment was picked up at Bermuda Hundred and taken back down the river. On May 9th they returned to Petersburg and took possession of the city on May 10th.
6 July 1781
At the Battle of Green Spring in James City County, Virginia on July 6, 1781 it was reported that “Lafayette galloped back to the advance guard under Wayne, but it was too late. Wayne was advancing with several regiments of Pennsylvania Continentals, Light Infantry, and Virginia Riflemen. The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Pennsylvania ran headlong into a brigade under Lieutenant Colonel Dundas consisting of veterans troops of the 43rd Regiment of Foot, as well as the Scots of the 76th and 80th Regiments of Foot. This brigade pushed back Wayne’s men as Lt. Colonel Yorke’s Light Infantry battalions pushed forward on the British right. A second line consisting of the battle hardened Guards, 23rd, and 33rd regiment of Foot was held back as a second line.”
1 August 1781
The 80th Regiment of Foot landed at Gloucester Point also known at Tyndall’s Point. In the heights above Gloucester Point was a small village known as Gloucester Town which was made up of about a dozen residences that the British fortified. The 80th Regiment was joined at Gloucester by the Hessian regiment of Prince Hereditaire and the Queens Rangers. Cornwallis wants to maintain Gloucester Point as a possible means of escape. Illness and exhaustion are rampant throughout the camp.
22 August 1781
Fortifications at Gloucester Point are nearly complete ahead of those across the river at Yorktown.
1 October 1781
Reinforcements arrive at Gloucester Point.
2 October 1781
Lieutenant Colonel Dundas sends out members of the 80th to forage for food. American troops are heading towards Gloucester Point from Gloucester Courthouse.
3 October 1781
The Battle of the Hook takes place in Gloucester Point.
12 October 1781
Lt. Col. Dundas takes part of the 80th Regiment of Foot to Yorktown for duty.
15 October 1781
Hope of escaping the Americans through Gloucester had diminished. Most of the 80th Regiment made it back to Gloucester Point. Weather prevented the escape of most to Gloucester. The river came under the control of the American and French.
17 October 1781
The British wave a white flag and want to negotiate a surrender at Yorktown.
19 October 1781
The Articles of Capitulation are signed at Moore House in Yorktown
Troops at Gloucester Point surrender and are marched out in formation. They laid down their arms and returned to their camp as prisoners. Officers were allowed to keep their private property and their side arms. Approximately 1900 British troops were too sick to fight at the time of surrender.
Troops were removed to Winchester, Virginia and Maryland. The 80th Regiment of Foot was removed to Fredericktown, Maryland.
New Years 1782
The 80th Regiment of Foot was removed to Lancaster, Pennsylvania where they were kept in a stockade under strict guard.
Prisoners were marched from Lancaster, Pennsylvania to New York through Philadelphia. The 80th Regiment of Foot were sent to Kingsbridge, New York to await transport back to England.
In May James, age 27, goes on half pay from the military and marries Ms. Anne Ranaldson, of Blairhall on 22 August 1783 in New Gray Friars Parish, Edinburgh. James then takes on the name of James Ranaldson Dickson, Esquire.
James and Anne have their first child, a son, David Somerville Ranaldson Dickson.
Daughter Anne Ranaldson Dickson is born.
Son Andrew Ranaldson Dickson is born.
Son William Ranaldson Dickson is born.
Daughter Margaret Elizabeth Ranaldson Dickson is born.
Daughter Jane Ranaldson Dickson is born.
James and Anne welcome their seventh and final child, daughter Isabella Edwards Ranaldson Dickson.
1 February 1799
Anne and James inherit Blairhall from Anne’s brother who left no legitimate heirs. His illegitimate heirs sue Anne and James for promissory payments. The abstract of the court case states,
“Andrew Ranaldson executed a strict entail providing that when he died, his estate at Blairhall would pass to his eldest son John Ranaldson and John’s lawful male heirs; the entail also named substitutes who would inherit if John’s line failed. John succeeded to the estate but died without lawful issue. As a result, the estate passed to his sister, Defender Ann Ranaldson Dickson. Following this transfer, controversy arose concerning certain debts that John contracted prior to his death, including sums due to Barbara Nicholson for board of John’s natural daughter; an annuity in favor of Elizabeth Hutcheson; a bond in favor of Elizabeth’s son John Ranaldson, upon his achieving the age of twenty-one; and a bond to James Tait. Pursuer John Syme became the trustee for these creditors and sought to collect a portion of the debts from Ann and her husband James Dickson. Syme argued that although the deed contained a “resolutive clause”—which extinguished the title of any heir who attempted to contract debts against the estate—that clause was ineffective against the “institute,” or person to whom the estate was first given (i.e., John). Offering a different reading of the deed, Ann answered that the clause was effective against John, and therefore she was not liable for any of his debts.”
10 June 1808
James' daughter Margaret Elizabeth dies at age 16 at Blairhall.
12 March 1812
Anne Ranaldson deeds another family estate "Shiresmill" and some other family land to son David to satisfy the Chancellor of Ireland that he was suitable to marry Anna Crymble, a ward of the Irish Court.
29 June 1812
James' oldest son Lt. David Somerville Ranaldson Dickson of the Royal North British 2nd Dragoons married Anna Crymble of Ballyclare, Ireland in Edinburgh. David would eventually settle in Canada.
James' oldest brother William, now a Brigadier General, dies with no heirs. Brother John Dickson inherits what remains of the old family estate which is now only Kilbucho Place (the manor house) and a small amount of property called Calzeat.
The next time we see Anne and James is in 1818 when an ad is in the newspaper announcing to any creditors that a meeting will be held on the 19th of November where “matters of importance will be laid before them”. James had been named in some court records during some of his brother William’s troubles with his creditors.
Anne Ranaldson Dickson dies at age 69.
4 June 1829
Lt. James Ranaldson Dickson, Esq. dies at Torrie, Scotland at age 73.
13 February 1838
Son, David Somerville Ranaldson Dickson dies in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is this ancestor that Craig and Shirley are descended from.
Son, William Ranaldson Dickson, Lt 13th Regiment of Foot, upgraded to Major in 1841 and at his death he was Lt Col and Assistant Adjutant General of Forces in Canada died in Quebec.
 University of Virginia Law School “Scottish Court of Sessions Records, John Syme v. Anne Ranaldson Dickson” http://archives.law.virginia.edu/scos/node/15336
Chadwick, Janine. Personal Genealogy of the Dickson Family
Dickson, Charles Ranaldson Memo (Grandson of Lt. James Ranaldson Dickson) in the possession of Shirley Reeve.
The Fairfield Foundation www.fairfieldfoundation.org
Graham, James J. Colonel. Memoir of General Graham with Notices of the Campaigns in Which He Was Engaged From 1779-1801.Edinburgh: Printed Privately by R. & R. Clark, 1862.
Hatch, Charles E. Jr. "Gloucester Point in the Siege of Yorktown 1781" The William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 20, No. 2 (Apr., 1940), pp. 265-284
Reeve, Shirley. Personal Papers and Genealogy of the Dickson Family
Scottish Court. Revised Reports Court of Sessions, 1815-1825. Edinburgh: William Green and Sons, 1906
The University of Virginia Law School “Scottish Court of Sessions Records, John Syme v. Anne Ranaldson Dickson” http://archives.law.virginia.edu/scos/node/15336
Hello everyone! I just wanted to give everyone an update about what I am doing! I miss my blog but have been working very hard at promoting public history and preservation while still seeing clients and going to grad school full time! Here is what this last month has looked like:
The L.M. Callis House has completed its move and is nestled in its new foundation right on Main Street in the Mathews Courthouse. That task being completed I moved on to volunteer work with the Gloucester, Virginia based Fairfield Foundation whose mission focuses on Archaeology, Preservation and Education in the area. It has been a joy to work with such a dedicated group of volunteers and staff. This past summer I got to participate in my first dig in Mathews where the old Mathews Hotel was. My mentor, Tom Karow, has been patient with me as I learn the ins and out of Archaeology.
Each Tuesday we gather at the Fairfield Foundation's Center for Archaeology, Preservation and Education in Gloucester to wash artifacts, and work on the restoration of the building which is an old Texaco gas station. It is a lot of fun to get to scrape paint and slowly see the old building come back to a glorious form. This brings me to last Tuesday night a week ago. I walked in a little late, having to stop and secure some Starbucks after a long day. There on one of the artifact sorting tables was a beautiful brass plate that had been dug up at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. The brass plate was engraved "Lt. Dickson, 80th Rgt". One of the guys, I think if was Fairfield co-director Thane Harpole, off-handedly asked what I could find about Lt. Dickson. Well, nobody loves a challenge more than I do. I got home that night around 9pm and was not sleepy as I downed the aforementioned venti Starbucks, so I got on my computer and started looking for Lt. Dickson. By this time a few people had added their two cents worth on the Fairfield Foundation Facebook page about the 80th Lt. Dickson. This made my job much easier. The first step was to Google Lt. Dickson to see if there was anyone else writing about him. I stumbled across an old court case which listed Lt. James Dickson of the 80th Foot! This court case, published in 1799, was exactly what I needed so that I could go onto Ancestry.com and Findmyfamily.com and put together a profile of Lt. Dickson. I spent the next few hours doing just that. Once I built his tree on Ancestry, which is the online repository that I use to store data, I decided to look up anyone else researching the same family. I came across a woman named Janine Chadwick and sent her a email through the ancestry messenger then I went to bed. Well, by the time I got going I had heard back from Janine. Her husband was a direct descendant of James Dickson! Emails went back and forth as we connected Janine with the rest of the team including DATA Investigations Archaeologist Michele Brumfield, the one who found the artifact.
Later that same Wednesday, I was contacted by Mark St. John Erickson, a reporter for the Daily Press, a newspaper located in Newport News, Virginia. This was exciting for me as I love to talk about history with anyone! Everything had moved very quickly and Mr. Erickson had talked to the Chadwicks about their connection to the artifact and Lt. Dickson already! This was followed a few days later by Janine and Craig Chadwick driving to Virginia from their home in North Carolina to see the plate in person. My favorite thing to do is to connect people! This brings us to yesterday when the Daily Press article came out. It was fabulous! AND as if that wasn't exciting enough, it was then picked up by the associated press (AP) and was featured in newspapers across the country including the Washington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle. I love what I get to do every single day!
To read Mark St. John Erickson's story about the dig site, the artifacts and Lt. James Dickson. Click Here
To see photos of the plate please go to the Fairfield Foundation Facebook
To all my loyal readers: I miss you! I am so sorry that I have not been updating lately! I went back to graduate school to pursue a Masters Degree in History with a concentration on Public History. I am in my last semester and working on my practicum and final capstone project and paper. I have also dedicated a lot of time to Preservation Mathews, getting their 501 c3 status, working with Morgan Alley at Dunton, Simmons and Dunton to get this done. It was very exciting. I also wrote their by-laws and organizational papers. I am currently acting as their secretary and helping manage their website and social media. The most exciting part about all of this is that we saved the L.M. Callis house from being destroyed! We are now fundraising to pay for this! For more information visit the Preservation Mathews website at www.preservationmathews.org
I hope to be back blogging soon. I am going to be working with The Fairfield Foundation on a my practicum in the next few months and will keep you all posted. I still have boxes of Martin Diggs papers that I will get to eventually! Untill we meet again please enjoy these photos of the L.M. Callis House being moved! Best, Lori
This story was found within the same Diggs Family History compilation that was found among the possessions of J. Martin Diggs. This is another Civil War story that appears to also have been written by S.P. Jordan in 1948.
This is about the death of Andrew Jackson Diggs of Mathews County, Virginia. He was the brother to Joyce Diggs and the son of Augustine Diggs and Lucy Ann Eddens. His wife was the former Martha Wesley Hudgins. They had three children, Viola, Nannie and Andrew Jr. They had one child, Bernard who died as an infant in 1858.
“…In 1861 Drew Diggs declared himself a secessionist and believer in States Rights. The time had come when brother was to be arrayed against brother. He enlisted in the Confederate Army July 23, 1861, at the age of 35. Troop F 5th Virginia Calvary. He was shot twice through the body and passed at the Battle of Haymarket or Thoroughfare Gap 22nd June 1863. In commemoration for his loyalty to the Southland and his supreme sacrifice, the Confederate Veterans of Mathews County, Va. named their organization The Diggs, Lane Camp of the Confederate Veterans. His Army record is recorded in the archives of Virginia. His loyalty and valor is commemorated by and exhibit of his accouterments, now in the Confederate Museum (now the American Civil War Museum) in Richmond, Va. It is of great interest to record a letter written by his Commanding Officer, notifying his family of his death on the field of battle.”
The following is the letter that his commanding officer sent to his wife informing her of his death.
Mrs. Diggs Louden (sic) Co. Va
June 23 1863.
It is with great pain I have to announce to you the death of your beloved husband and one of our best men. He was shot by the Yankees in a charge on yesterday and lived but a short while. I was with him when he died. He was perfectly resigned to death, asked me to give his love to his wife and children and to tell them all to meet him in Heaven and that he died a glorious death in defense of his country.
He was in his right mind up to the time of his death and often called on the Lord that he might die.
His last words were in speaking of his wife and children. I have had him buried at the place called Shakersville (sic-actually Snickersville) in this county and in a nice coffin and shall have his clothes and all taken care of and sent home as son as we can. Tip Fitchett, Geo. Hudgins, and Seth Marchon were also with him and took good care of him. All was done for him that could have been done.
He was struck on the left side by two balls both passing through. May the Lord ever bless you and his three children. I pray, for you have lost a good husband abd they a good father, and the country a good soldier.
My love to your Mother and all the family and Geo. Hudgins wishes also to be remembered to them.
As ever your Friend and Obedient Servant,
T. Fitzhugh, Capt.
Click here to see photos of the jacket that Andrew J. Diggs was wearing at the time of his death. It is in the permanent collection at the American Civil War Museum (formerly the Museum of the Confederacy) in Richmond, Virginia. They also have his pants and his cartridge box. All were sent back to his wife after his death as promised and they were donated by his son Andrew Jr. to the museum.
Last week I visited my Mother in Law who inherited her house from her father, Martin Diggs. While cleaning out a closet she came across two folders marked Diggs. This was not surprising as Martin did a lot of research on the family, taking trips to the National Archives in Washington DC with his good friend Milton Murray. These folders contain various research, correspondence and compilations from many people. It appears to have been put together about 1951 or so as this is when the dates in the genealogies stop. Many of the pages have written notations on them and corrections in Martin's handwriting. The most exciting finds were some of the stories that had been included, particularly about life during the Civil War in Mathews County, Virginia. The following is the first in a series that I will continue as time allows for transcription. I hope you enjoy this story as much as I did.
Pompie Adkinson Miller
by S.P. Jordan
"It is well to relate an incident of the Civil War in connection with Joyce Diggs Miller (note: born 1823 and died 1900, daughter of Auguston Diggs and Lucy Ann Eddens and wife of Booker M. Miller). A strange and unusual occurrence of humane and Christian duty on the part of an Anglo Saxon Southern Mother, and love and devotion on the part of a slave born Negro boy. It is believed to be the only incident of its kind to be recorded in the entire South, and is on which our Northern friends cannot comprehend or accept as fact.
When the Federal Army, under the command of General McClellan occupied the Virginia Peninsula between the James and York Rivers in 1862, foraging parties of soldiers visited the plantation of Booker (M.) and Joyce Diggs Miller. Every Negro slave left their home and went off with the Yankee soldiers. Later, when inspecting the Negro cabins Mrs. Miller found a little Negro baby boy, dirty and half naked, behind a cabin door. It had been abandon (sic) by its mother. Mrs. Miller could not let the Negro baby die; nursing bottles or nipples were not convenient, so the baby was carried into the house, washed and dressed in clothes of her own babies. Mrs. Miller nursed the Negro boy until he could walk. Segregation was necessary. The boy was given a room and received the same attention which was given the other children of her family. The boys name was Pompie Adkinson, but when he grew to manhood he took the name of Pompie Adkinson Miller. Four of Mrs. Miller’s men were seafaring men. When Pompie came of age, he to (sic) went to sea, and at the end of each month sent a portion of his wages home to his “Missie”. This money was not disbursed, but was placed in trust for the Negro boy. Portions of the old plantation was given to the sons when they married and established homes of their own. Pompie was deeded and acreage and Mr. Miller built him a home upon this allotment, appropriating the money Mrs. Miller had placed in trust for this purpose. After the death of Booker and Joyce Diggs Miller, the surviving members of the family sold the residue of the old farm and settled in Norfolk, Va. Pompie married and raised a family. Of that family of fourteen souls, Pompie the Negro slave boy, remained on his allotment of the old plantation until his death.
Pompie had the good will and respect of every white family on the North River, Mathews County, Va. He was a good man and a Christian. There was a strange attachment, a regard and affection of the part of the Negro boy for the entire Miller family, and that there were no expectation of reward, other than the kindness of his white benefactors."
Note in pencil on page: father of “Miss Effie” Jordan who visited “Aunt Ola” Hudgins a month or so every summer …of Port Haywood.
Pompie's real name appears to be Alex or Alexander. I was able to find him living with the family in two census records. The first, in 1870 has him listed as just Alex and in 1880 he is listed as Alex Atkinson. In June 1887 a marriage record in Mathews County listed a A. Adkinson marrying a J. Ferguson. I am intrigued by this story and will be doing some further investigations! If you know anything about Alex Pompie Adkinson Miller please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
This is a portion of a paper that I wrote for a Civil War History class that I took about ten years ago, shortly after moving to Mathews County, Virginia. I am currently the curator of the Tompkins Cottage (part of the holdings of the Mathews County Historical Society) in the Mathews County Historic Courthouse. It is full of Sally's belongings and I feel like I have gotten to know her better through curating her many things she left behind for us. I am hoping to continue this research and expand on this shortly, but for now, enjoy this short history of Sally and her family. -Lori
Sally Louisa Tompkins was born at Poplar Grove, Mathews County, Virginia on the 9th of November, 1833. Sally was the youngest child of Christopher Tompkins and his second wife Maria Booth Patterson. Christopher Tompkins was born in 1778 in Caroline County, Virginia. He ran away to Norfolk, Virginia as a young teen hoping to be a sea Captain, but starting first as a cabin boy. He managed to work his way up to Captain and spent many years as a merchant on the high seas. He traveled the world many times going to far off places such as the Indies and Mediterranean, and finally the Caribbean. It was his job to oversee the work being done on a new ship in the shipbuilding town of Mathews, when he met his first wife, Elizabeth Cary Smith whom he married in 1806. Their children were Martha Tabb born 1807, Harriet Paulina born 1809, Henry Armistead, born 1811 and Christopher Quarles born 1813. He kept sailing the seas in the first few years of his marriage, and when finally settling in Mathews became a member of the state legislature. Additionally, he was a Colonel in the Virginia Militia,, fighting in the war of 1812. Elizabeth Smith Tompkins died just four weeks after Christopher Quarles birth leaving the elder Christopher a widow with four young children. The grief was compounded in 1814 with the death of three year old Henry. This was the first in a series of family deaths that would not stop until the middle of the Civil War. The next year, 1815, Christopher Tompkins married Maria (pronounced Mariah) Booth Patterson. Maria came from a very wealthy family in Mathews County, Virginia and upon his marriage to Maria the Tompkins family settled into the Patterson family estate called Poplar Grove. Maria was the daughter of local leader John Patterson, a Revolutionary War Veteran and was brought up with the luxuries of southern antebellum society. She was devoutly religious and made a fine mother to all the Tompkins children. Maria bore Christopher four more children: Elizabeth Patterson in 1816, Benjamin Goodloe in 1818, Maria Mason in 1831 and then Sally Louisa in 1833.
Poplar Grove and John Patterson:
The family home, Poplar Grove, was and is a grand estate. It stands in Mathews County on the waterfront of the East River. The East River Flows into the mouth of the York River and goes on to the Chesapeake Bay. Adjoining the mansion was a tide mill used to mill grain and flour. It is rumored to have milled grains for General George Washington during the battles at nearby Yorktown, Virginia. The house was built several generations before coming into the hands of Sally’s maternal Grandfather, John Patterson. He acquired the house in a card game with his boss, at which time the house sat on over 1000 acres of waterfront property.  The original name of the estate was East River Warehouse. John Patterson was an ardent Whig and planted rows and rows of Poplars in support of his political party, as this was their symbol. During his time as owner of Poplar Grove, the main house was expanded to reflect the prosperity of the Patterson family. In 1782 the house was redesigned by the architect who had designed Mount Vernon for George Washington. By 1820 John Patterson had acquired a total of 69 Slaves, attesting to his mounting wealth. John Patterson’s eldest daughter Maria Booth Patterson inherited Poplar Grove upon the death of her father in 1824. Her husband Christopher kept the mill running and continued to make a good and prosperous living at Poplar Grove. He ran a mercantile and had several other buildings in the Mathews community. Poplar Grove provided Sally Tompkins with a wonderful place to grow up. Her father Christopher died and is buried there, as well as the burial plots of several of Sally’s siblings. The house was sold to a cousin of Maria Booth Patterson Tompkins, John Tabb in 1849, following the death of Christopher Tompkins and most of the Tompkins children. In the middle of the Civil War, the Union Army burned the Mill to stop them from supplying anymore grain for the Confederacy. The Mill was rebuilt and used until the 1920’s. Poplar Grove is still a private residence and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Poplar Grove has also attained a celebrity all its own. In the 1970’s former Beatle John Lennon bought the estate. He is said to have only stayed there one night before his untimely death. Following his death, Yoko Ono donated the proceeds of the estates sale to a local Virginia charity.
Elizabeth Patterson Tompkins:
Elizabeth Tompkins was Sally’s older sister and one whom Sally greatly looked up to. She was sometime referred to as Lizzy by family members. It is said that she was so shy that she was practically a recluse in her home. She also had one of the best religious libraries in the area, to which she frequently lent out to friends. In her religious fervor she had also freed some of her slaves and sent them back to Liberia. In an encounter with one of Lizzy’s freed slaves in Liberia, Dr. Charles Fahs, or Uncle Doctor as he was referred, reported that most of the slaves had died shortly after arriving in Liberia as they could not access the funds Lizzy had for them, nor could they care properly for themselves. One freed slave told Uncle Doctor that he just wanted to return to Poplar Grove and be with his people. Elizabeth was a shy young woman in her early twenties when she took it upon herself to rebuild the Kingston Parish Church (Christ Church) that stood near her home Poplar Grove. The Church had been left in ruins many years before and the Tompkins family had to travel several miles to attend Church services at Ware. Elizabeth spearheaded the rebuilding efforts, overseeing all aspects of the remodeling. She solicited the necessary funds for the rebuild and even obtained all the workers necessary for the job. Work on the new facility, Christ Church, was completed in 1841. A new minister was sent for and the family began attending their new Church faithfully. The following year Elizabeth Tompkins died on September 2, 1842 at the age of 26.
There were many sad occasions in Sally Tompkins childhood. The first was the death of her father Christopher in 1838. The family remained at Poplar Grove after his death, but in 1842 a massive tragedy would strike the Tompkins family. Elizabeth Tompkins had become very ill and died suddenly on September 2, 1842. Martha Tabb, The oldest Tompkins daughter came to Poplar Grove from her nearby home Auburn for the funeral of her sister. They had been very close. After arriving back home at Auburn, Martha took ill with the same illness that had killed her beloved sister. Martha died on September 17, 1842 soon after the death of two of her own children. The next oldest sister Harriet had come to Auburn to nurse her sister Martha and the children. Harriet too fell ill. She died just a few days later on September 20, 1842. Harriet and Martha are both buried in the Tabb family plots at the Auburn estate in Mathews, Virginia. After the death of Martha Tompkins Tabb, her remaining children were sent to live at Poplar grove with Sally, her mother and her sister Maria. These children would become the closest family to Sally as we later learn from her will. Benjamin Tompkins, Sally’s older brother died in August 1847. He left a wife and two small children. Following Benjamin’s death there were only three of the Tompkins children left living. Maria Booth Patterson Tompkins reluctantly sold the family estate Poplar Grove after Benjamin’s death and fled to a new life with her remaining daughters, Sally and Maria Mason. Christopher Quarles Tompkins the oldest remaining Tompkins child had already attended the United States Army Academy at West Point and was a straight laced military man traveling the country. He had given his blessing to the sale of Poplar Grove to Maria’s cousin.
A New Life:
In 1849 Maria Booth Patterson Tompkins took her two remaining children, Maria Mason and Sally to Norfolk. Sally was enrolled as a student at the Norfolk Female Institute during the 1849-1850 school year. The school was brand new at the time and was affiliated with the Episcopal Church. The 1850 census shows all three ladies living in Norfolk. It is unclear exactly what year the three women left for Richmond, Virginia.
The 1860 census has Sally and her sister, Maria Mason Tompkins living at the Arlington House in Richmond, Virginia. Maria Booth Patterson Tompkins died in 1854 in Richmond so it is assumed that the three ladies arrived there between late 1850 and 1854. The remaining Tompkins ladies still had a strong family connection to both Mathews County and Poplar Grove. Maria Booth Patterson Tompkins and later Maria Mason Tompkins would both be returned to Poplar Grove for their final resting place. Once in Richmond, St. James Episcopal Church became the center of life for Sally. Richmond became the Capital of the Confederacy at the start of the Civil War. Life was tranquil for the residence of Richmond until the Battle of Bull Run in July 1861.
Civil War Comes to Richmond, Virginia:
The Battle of Bull Run (Manassas) changed life forever in Richmond, Virginia. Mayor Joseph May sent out a call to all that could help, to nurse the wounded Confederate soldiers. Sally Tompkins at once obtained the mansion owned by a Judge John Robertson. Judge Robertson had fled Richmond for the countryside at the onset of the war. Sally took Judge Robertson’s house and turned it into Robertson Hospital. The Hospital was established on July 31, 1861 and took its first patients on August 3rd. The hospital was staffed by a group called the Ladies of Robertson Hospital. In truth, these ladies all were members of St. James Episcopal Church and Sally Tompkins was leading the ladies in all matters concerning the hospital. The first mention of the hospital appeared in the Richmond Enquirer on August 5, 1861. During the next four years, Sally funded the hospital at mostly her own expense, using her vast inheritance. The wounded kept coming and Sally ran a tight ship. On September 9, 1861 Sally received a commission as a Captain, Calvary unassigned, Confederate States Army. This was the first and only commission of a female Officer in the Confederacy. The popular story is that after an order closing down private hospitals came, Sally marched to Confederate President Jefferson Davis and showed him her unmatched survival rate, which led Davis to grant her a Commission, making Robertson Hospital a Confederate Government supported entity. Author Rebecca Barbour Calcutt points out in her Book Richmond’s Wartime Hospitals, that Sally’s commission was dated only 5 weeks after the opening of her hospital. She goes on to point out that the reorganization of the Richmond hospitals did not occur until a full year later in September 1862. It leads one to speculate how and why this commission was granted.
Ensuring the survival of Robertson Hospital and returning the injured back to service became the most important thing for Sally. She had with her several of the family slaves from Poplar Grove. They did the cooking, cleaning and heavy caring at the hospital. The two most popular slaves were Glad Betsy Ashberry, and Sad Betsy Curtis who were called that because of their dispositions around the hospital. In running the hospital it is said that Sally ran the hospital “with a stick in one hand and a Bible in the other”. The Bible and God were her main sources for healing her soldiers. The other was cleanliness. In many written accounts it talks of how she believed “cleanliness was next to Godliness”. This was before the time that antiseptics and cleanliness were known to be beneficial. She had the services of a renowned Doctor, Dr. A.Y.P. Garnett of Washington, who did the surgeries. Several other Doctors passed time at the Hospital as well. While the good Doctors did the bloody work, Sally and her ladies did the caring work. There was always a hot meal thanks to Mrs. John Spotswood who lent her slave Sally to the Hospital to cook for the duration of the War. Captain Sally always made sure that the men leaving had clean clothes and warm socks knitted by Captain Sally herself, and as much Religious council as they needed. Two of the most important people to Sally were the men who brought her the much needed supplies, Benjamin Fickley, Esquire and Captain Snowden who ran blockades and brought Sally whatever she needed.
The running of the Robertson Hospital was not without a few problems. Sally was under constant scrutiny of the Confederate leaders in her management of the hospital. She was ordered to close on at least two occasions, once in 1862 and again in 1864. Sally was not afraid to fight for her hospital. She always won, and her hospital remained open.
Captain Sally also had volunteers in her patients. John Crumley had been wounded and had been a patient of Sally’s. He could not return to duty, so he took it upon himself to become the gardener at Robertson Hospital where he stayed until he passed away near the end of the war. Another was Lamar Holyday who had been wounded in the thigh at Gettysburg. He stayed on as a pharmacist and clerk until he could return to normal military duty. In one of the saddest stories to come out of Robertson Hospital, a young lad of just 14 years old named Nathaniel Newman had run away from his home in Georgia to follow his father into war. His father Captain Newman brought a sick Nathaniel to Captain Sally’s hospital, where it was found that Nathaniel was suffering from consumption. With no cure, Sally made the boy as comfortable as possible and called in Reverend Joshua Peterkin for a baptism. Shortly after the baptism, young Nathaniel died. The hospital was overcome with sadness for the young lad. 
There were many successful recoveries to come out of Robertson Hospital. The fall of Richmond came in April 1865. Sally held fast and maintained her hospital. The last patient was not discharged until June 13th 1865. Robertson Hospital had treated 1,331 over four years and had just a 5.5% mortality rate. The death of her sister Maria Mason in 1864 was a personal loss. The War was over, but Sally’s kind spirit remained. Her slaves were free to go, but most stayed.
Sally had a rare relationship with her slaves. She had just one slave leave her during the war, but he soon returned to her with his apologies. In 1864 Sally had even hired an attorney to fight charges of robbery against her slave William. Following on her sister Elizabeth’s footsteps, Sally made sure her slaves were taken care of for the rest of their lives.
There are many other stories about Captain Sally and her involvement with Robertson Hospital that just cannot be explained as they are too great in number for a short paper such as this. She was the Florence Nightingale of the Confederacy. In the Post war years Sally lead a comfortable life, finally retiring to an estate in Port Royal, Virginia. She always traveled to Confederate Memorial rallies and anything to do with her dear Episcopal Church. Advancing in age, she was asked to be the guest of the Confederate Women’s Home in Richmond, where she was treated as a matriarch. It was here where she died on July 25, 1916. She was taken back to her home in Mathews to be laid besides her sister Elizabeth at Christ Church. In the years following the death of Sally Tompkins, four chapters of the United Daughters of the Confederacy have been named after her. In Mathews, Virginia a memorial stands at the Court House Square. St. James Episcopal Church in Richmond has a stained glass likeness overlooking their members every Sunday.
 Memoir of Christopher Tompkins Late of Mathews County Virginia Compiled by his Son, Christopher Tompkins from Papers and Records of Authentic Character. 1860
 Anna Maria Yeatman, Personal Family History of the Yeatman and Patterson Family, 1912
 Charles E. Hatch Jr., Mathews County Places and Names (1967)
 Martin Diggs, Mathews County History since 1791 Pg. 81
 Mathews County Federal Census, 1820 Pg.15
 Tompkins Cottage, Mathews County Historical Society
 National Register of Historic Places #69000259
 New York Times, January 23, 1984
 Anna Maria Yeatman, Personal Family History of the Yeatman and Patterson Family, 1912
 Personal Family History of the Yeatman and Patterson Family, Anna Maria Yeatman, 1912
 Kingston Parish Church records 1652-1976
 Sally Tompkins Christening, Ware Episcopal Church, Gloucester County, Virginia 1833
 Kingston Parish Register 1652-1976 Pg. 25
 www.Ancestry.com, Sally Tompkins Family Tree
 E. Randolph Trice, “St. James History”, http://www.doers.org/pages/history.htm
 Richmond Enquirer, August 5, 1861 Pg 3. www.mdgorman.com #530371 “ANOTHER HOSPITAL. The ladies connected with St. James Church have established a hospital on the corner of Main and Third streets, for our wounded soldiers. About twenty persons are now in this hospital, and as the ladies have the management of it, we feel assured that the inmates will receive every attention.”
 Eleanor S. Brockenbrough Library, Museum of the Confederacy, Richmond VA
 Rebecca Barbour Calcutt, Richmond’s Wartime Hospitals, Pg 28
 Martin Diggs, History and Progress of Mathews County, Pg. 92
 G.E.T. Lane, Mathews News Reporter, December 12, 1916
 Archives at the Museum of the Confederacy, Richmond, Virginia
 Calcutt, Pg. 172-174
 www.moc.org, Museum of the Confederacy, online archive
 Mabel Boardman, Under the Red Cross Flag at Home and Abroad. Pg. 75
 Elizabeth Dabney Coleman. "The Captain Was a Lady." Virginia Cavalcade, vol. 6 (summer 1956-spring 1957), pp. 35-41.
 Richmond Whig & Public Advertiser, Richmond, VA, Tuesday, August 28, 1838
Many of you have watched the television shows such as "This Old House" and the more recent show on the DIY Network "Rehab Addict". I am one of THOSE people. I love old houses. I hate to see them abandoned, torn down and lost forever! I own a 1920 Cape Cod style home with my husband that still has some of the original glass door knobs and light fixtures. My previous home was a typical early twentieth century foursquare with an original asbestos roof! I love both houses! In my small Virginia town there are many old abandoned homes that *could* be saved. This includes the house pictured to the left. It is on the local demo list. I will not go into this too much as my friend Rosemary Thornton wrote about this same house today. Please visit her blog at her website http://www.searshomes.org/index.php/2016/02/19/thou-shalt-not-destroy-good-old-work-or-houses/
My goal in this blog is to raise awareness that these houses are savable. They are made of materials unavailable to us today.
I do not want to see history in a landfill.