Celebrating Women’s Equality Day | The White House

Celebrating Women’s Equality Day | The White House.

Railroaded in Colonial Virginia…


King George County, Port Royal, Virginia

We are picking up from Part 1 of this post, dated January 30, 2013, in King George County, Virginia, meandering toward our final destination the Centre Hill Mansion Museum to do the annual January 24th Ghost Walk through the house originally built by Colonel Robert Bolling (my paternal 6th great grand uncle) in 1823.

The linked videos above give you an overview of what we experienced that evening. However, when we left off on our historic trail to this event, we had about another hundred miles to travel. In King George County, we stopped at our favorite roadside diner, Horne’s,

Horne's Diner, Port Royal, VA

Horne’s Diner, Port Royal, VA

on MD Route 301/A.P. Hill Blvd, in Port Royal, Virginia for breakfast and to walk our dogs. (Horne’s is just northeast of Bowling Green where some of my paternal Bolling family are buried.)

Fort A. P. Hill (sandwiched between Port Royal and Bowling Green, Virginia) in Caroline County

After the American Revolutionary War and for decades to follow, ordnance, arms, and military stores increased at New London, Virginia, and this area became known as the New London Arsenal. By July of 1940, the Army General Staff’s War Plans Division raised a national army of four million men for simultaneous operations in the Pacific and European theaters.

Image of Lt Gen A.P. Hill

Lt Gen A.P. Hill

Named for Confederate Lieutenant General Ambrose Powell Hill, Fort A.P. Hill, “Where America’s Military Sharpens Its Combat Edge” is an all-purpose, year-round, military training center located about 90 minutes south of the National Capital Region. The installation was used as a maneuver area for Army Corps and National Guard divisions from Mid-Atlantic states. In 1942, it was the staging area for the headquarters and corps troops of Major General George S. Patton’s Task Force A, which invaded French Morocco in North Africa. In the early years of World War II, the post continued to be a training site; in 1944, it became a field training site for Officer Candidate School and enlisted replacements from nearby Forts Lee, Eustis, and Belvoir. During the Korean War, A.P. Hill was designated “Camp A.P. Hill”–a major staging area for units deploying to Europe. During the Vietnam War, the fort was the major center for Engineer Officer Candidate School training. With 76,000 acres (310 km²) of land, including a modern 28,000 acre (110 km²), live-fire range complex featuring more than 100 direct and indirect fire ranges, it remains one of the largest East Coast military installations where military units can engage in training from small unit operations to major maneuvers with combined arms and live-fire exercises.

Doswell, Hanover County, Virginia

Known on the east coast today for its King’s Dominion Theme Park, Doswell, an unincorporated community in Hanover County in the Central Region Virginia was originally farmland and called Hanover Junction.

The Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac Railroad - train starting out from Richmond, Virginia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac Railroad – train starting out from Richmond, Virginia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hanover Junction was located on the Virginia Central Railroad, and became part of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad (C&O) at a crossing of the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad, a north-south route. Both railroads today are owned by CSX Transportation, and many residents use the rails to commute to their jobs in Richmond.

historic Virginia Central/RF&P rail interchange at Doswell (Hanover County)

historic Virginia Central/RF&P rail interchange at Doswell (Hanover County)

From here, we are going to focus our attention on the importance of access to transportation for Virginian ancestors’ livelihood.  So we turn to the Virginia State Rail Plan histories published in 2008¹

Virginia was a farming colony until 1776. Its primary need for transportation was to move bulky, heavy tobacco leaves from farm fields to Europe. Large plantations and small farms produced a surplus of one staple crop, a crop that was good only for export. You can’t eat tobacco, so Virginians had to ship it to the customers overseas.

In the 1600’s and 1700’s, plantations were carved out of the wooded countryside, and early plantations were concentrated along rivers. Every plantation in Tidewater developed a wharf to ship tobacco directly to England – hauling 1,000-pound hogsheads of tobacco along muddy roads from the tobacco barns just to the wharf was hard enough. Roads were developed so people could walk or ride from farms to churches and the county courthouse, but there was little investment in upgrading the roads in Tidewater so Virginians could move freight in wagons.

wood for locomotive fuelOnce settlement moved upstream past the Fall Line in the 1720’s, however, the need for better roads increased. Starting in the 1830’s, the new technology of wood-burning locomotives and iron rails stimulated further the competition of commercial centers on the Fall Line to build low-cost transportation connections to inland “backcountry” or “hinterland” areas, far away from the port cities.

The first large-scale use of the steam-powered locomotive in North America was the South Carolina Canal and Rail Road Company, between Charleston and Hamburg, South Carolina (across the Savannah River from Augusta, Georgia). From the beginning, rail construction showed how one port city could use new transportation technology to intercept the trade of another port. The railroad enabled Charleston to “steal” from Savannah the trade in cotton grown in the South Carolina/Georgia Piedmont. Farmers had been carrying cotton in wagons to ships that could sail on the Savannah River, up to the falls at Augusta. With construction of the railroad, farmers found it easier to ship to Charleston by rail. The rail line provided benefits to one port city, at the expense of another.

Prior to the Civil War, Virginia’s railroads were not designed to create a logical transportation network linking all major cities in the state. Even in the cities, railroads built terminals in separate locations. In the days before “union” stations, draymen earned a good living hauling freight by horse and wagon from one railroad’s terminal to another, usually just several blocks away. It was inefficient, but each railroad was independent. The concept of a trade network based on rail transportation would require consolidation of separate railroad companies (which occurred in a series of mergers and hostile takeovers after the Civil War).

Virginia’s railroads were designed originally to transport farm products to specific ports. Different cities built different railroads to bring raw goods from the west to the specific port on the Fall Line, and to ship manufactured goods (especially imports from Northern manufacturing centers and overseas) back to rural communities. Railroads were tools for economic development of specific locations, and political decisions on what railroads to authorize affected the land use, population growth, and wealth of those locations.

One exception: the Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac (RF&P) ran north from Richmond to Fredericksburg, and then to docks on the Potomac River near Aquia. Unlike most other Virginia railroads, the RF&P emphasized passenger as well as freight traffic, connecting Richmond passenger traffic with points north via steamboats that sailed from the Aquia Landing up the Potomac River to Washington DC. Only the Richmond, Fredericksburg, and Potomac (RF&P) ran north/south, and was expected to make most of its income from transporting people.

The General Assembly authorized railroad lines that would steer trade from the Piedmont/Valley and Ridge provinces to a favored Fall Line port – and blocked most proposed railroad extensions that would have directed Shenandoah Valley trade to an out-of-state port. Multiple rail lines were authorized to cross the Blue Ridge and link Alexandria/Richmond with the Shenandoah Valley, but no railroad was built in the valley itself to link farm communities with each other – or with Baltimore/Philadelphia – until the 1880’s.

The Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) railroad was blocked from entering Virginia, except for a short extension to Winchester. Staunton and Winchester did not have a direct railroad connection until after the Civil War. Northern capitalists had to gain sufficient economic/political control to re-shape the pattern of railroads in Virginia, before rail lines were constructed to connect all major population centers.

Source: Library of Congress, Lloyd's official map of the state of Virginia from actual surveys by order of the Executive 1828 & 1859

Source: Library of Congress, Lloyd’s official map of the state of Virginia from actual surveys by order of the Executive 1828 & 1859

Prior to the Civil War, Alexandria built the Orange and Alexandria (O&A) railroad to connect to the farms in the upper Rappahannock River watershed in the Piedmont. Alexandria intercepted the trade in wheat and other products that might have gone down the Rappahannock River to Fredericksburg.

Alexandria then built the Manassas Gap railroad through the Blue Ridge at Manassas Gap, expanding its railroad connections into the Shenandoah Valley.

At Front Royal, rafts and boats bringing iron “pigs,” lumber, and farm products on the Shenandoah River could shift their goods to the Manassas Gap railroad, rather than float further downstream to Harpers Ferry, the C&O Canal, and ultimately Georgetown.

A recession or “financial panic” in 1857 forced Alexandria merchants to truncate plans to build a more-expensive Manassas Gap line. The original design was to build an independent, second track roughly parallel to the Orange and Alexandria (O&A) from Alexandria to Manassas, before turning west to cross the Blue Ridge. Without the financing after the recession, the Manassas Gap rail line was joined to the Orange and Alexandria at an insignifiant location.  That rail junction, known as Manassas, became the focal point of the Union Army in 1861. Union generals planned to use the rail line to haul hay and other supplies for the army, as it marched “On to Richmond” in the first major military campaign of the Civil War.

Source: Library of Congress, Map showing the route of the Washington and Atlantic Railroad and its connections (1883)

Source: Library of Congress, Map showing the route of the Washington and Atlantic Railroad and its connections (1883)

To capture even more business that might go to Maryland or Pennsylvania, Alexandria also built the Alexandria, Loudoun, and Hampshire (AL&H) railroad into Loudoun County. Alexandria had no direct railroad line to Fredericksburg until after the Civil War, when the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac (RF&P) was extended north to eliminate the inefficient transfer or cargo/passengers to steamships on the Potomac River.

Richmond built a number of rail lines. Even before the wood-burning locomotive was developed, rails (with cars pulled by mules) connected the coal fields of Chesterfield County with the city.

Virginia railroads in 1848 Source: Library of Congress, Railroads in Virginia and part of North Carolina, drawn and engraved for Doggett's Railroad Guide & Gazetteer

Virginia railroads in 1848
Source: Library of Congress, Railroads in Virginia and part of North Carolina, drawn and engraved for Doggett’s Railroad Guide & Gazetteer

Richmond built the Central Virginia Railroad to draw business from farms located along the upper reaches of the North Anna and South Anna rivers and some of the Rivanna River watershed in the Piedmont. The line was originally aimed at Harrisonburg in the Shenandoah Valley, but the Blue Ridge was too high a barrier. The route was curved south from Gordonsville, to Afton Gap. A tunnel was carved through the Blue Ridge where I-64 now crosses, and the rail line stretched past Staunton before construction was interrupted by the Civil War.

Virginia Central in 1852 Source: Library of Congress, Map of the Virginia Central Rail Road showing the connection between tide water Virginia, and the Ohio River at Big Sandy, Guyandotte and Point Pleasant

Virginia Central in 1852
Source: Library of Congress, Map of the Virginia Central Rail Road showing the connection between tide water Virginia, and the Ohio River at Big Sandy, Guyandotte and Point Pleasant

The Richmond and Danville Railroad was built to attract trade from as far away as Halifax and Pittsylvania counties, on the North Carolina border. Richmond built a rail line in the opposite direction to West Point. It is located at the confluence of the Pamunkey and Mattaponi rivers, the headwaters of the York River. The river channel was deeper there. Richmond was competing with Norfolk, with its naturally-deep harbor, in hopes of controlling the trade in coal, wheat, and tobacco from the Appalachian Plateau/Shenandoah Valley/Piedmont.

Petersburg developed as the southern gateway to Richmond, via the RF&P. The South Side Railroad connected Petersburg to the farms in the Appomattox River watershed, and the Petersburg and Roanoke railroad captured business from cargo shipped by batteaux and canal boats down the Roanoke River.

During the Civil War, the Confederacy was quick to use railroads, bringing troops from the Shenandoah Valley to Manassas in July 1861 and building the first military railroad between Manassas and the front lines at Centreville in early 1862.

In 1861, Robert E. Lee warned that the failure to connect the lines of the Alexandria, Loudoun and Hampshire Railroad (AL&H) with the tracks of the Orange and Alexandria would be costly. When the Union invaded Alexandria in May, 1861, two locomotives were stranded on the AL&H. The Confederacy had to haul them overland across the hills of Fauquier county, to Piedmont Station (today known as Delaplane) on the Manassas Gap Railroad.

The Richmond and Danville Railroad created a dilemma for Confederate officials. North Carolina strongly resisted the decision by Confederate officials to construct the Piedmont Railroad, connecting Danville and Greensboro. That state wanted the trade from its Piedmont to go through Wilmington, NC rather than a Virginia port. The national Confederate government ultimately rejected the states rights concerns of North Carolina, and forced construction of the Piedmont Railroad as a military necessity. After the Civil War, farmers on the North Carolina Piedmont could ship their cargo and buy their goods from Petersburg and Richmond, costing North Carolina businesses some economic opportunities.

Piedmont Railroad, built during Civil War to connect Greensboro NC and Danville, VA Source: The National Map, Seamless Server Viewer

Piedmont Railroad, built during Civil War to connect Greensboro NC and Danville, VA
Source: The National Map, Seamless Server Viewer

Roanoke and Manassas grew from the start as towns where two railroads connected. Not every railroad intersection developed into a town – Doswell, for example, has remained a tiny crossroads community for 175 years.

When railroads were constructed, physical geography trumped political geography. Some towns with county courthouses were completely bypassed, leaving a few centrally-located communities to stagnate. For example, the Orange and Alexandria Railroad followed the flattest path south and bypassed the court houses built on the tops of hills – Fairfax Court House (Fairfax), Brentsville (Prince William County), and Warrenton (Fauquier). The town of Fairfax coped by developing Fairfax Station, and Warrenton later managed to get a spur line connecting it to the railroad.

In Prince William County, however, Brentsville remained isolated from the population growth stimulated by the railroad. After several hotly-contested elections, Manassas was able to get the county voters to move the courthouse to combine the government center with the county’s commercial center. After the move, Brentsville essentially disappeared off the map for 100 years, until local officials decided to restore the old courthouse as a historic site.

Railroads in Virginia, 1855 (note that Roanoke did not exist before the war) Source: Library of Congress - Williams' commercial map of the United States and Canada with railroads, routes, and distances (1855)

Railroads in Virginia, 1855 (note that Roanoke did not exist before the war)
Source: Library of Congress – Williams’ commercial map of the United States and Canada with railroads, routes, and distances (1855)

Hopewell–Home of Robert Bolling’s Kippax Plantation

Robert Bolling's Kippax Plantation, Hopewell, VA

Robert Bolling’s Kippax Plantation, Hopewell, VA

Hopewell is an independent city in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The population was 22,591 at the 2010 Census.[3] It is in Tri-Cities area of the Richmond-Petersburg region and is a portion of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). 

The city was founded to take advantage of its site overlooking the James and Appomattox Rivers. City Point, the oldest part of Hopewell, was established in 1613 by Sir Thomas Dale . It was first known as “Bermuda City,” which was changed to Charles City, lengthened to Charles City Point, and later abbreviated to City Point. (At this time, Bermuda, the Atlantic archipelago, was considered part of the Colony of Virginia and appeared on its maps.) Hopewell/City Point is the oldest continuously inhabited English settlement in the United States, Jamestown no longer being inhabited.

“Charles City Point” was in Charles City Shire when the first eight shires were established in the Colony of Virginia in 1634. Charles City Shire soon became known as Charles City County in 1637. In 1619 Samuel Sharpe and Samuel Jordan from City Point, then named Charles City, were burgesses at the first meeting of the House of Burgesses.

The burgesses separated an area of the county south of the river, including City Point, establishing it separately as Prince George County in 1703. City Point was an unincorporated town in Prince George County until the City of Hopewell annexed the Town of City Point in 1923.

During the American Civil War, Union General Ulysses S. Grant used City Point as his headquarters during the Siege of Petersburg in 1864 and 1865. Grant’s headquarters, which President Lincoln visited, were located at Appomattox Manor, one of the three plantations of Richard Eppes, who cultivated wheat and other grains and held 130 slaves at the beginning of the war.

His property included most of the present day city of Hopewell and Eppes Island, a plantation across the James River from City Point. Richard Slaughter, a former slave of Eppes, escaped to a Union ship during the Civil War, as did all but 12 of Eppes’ 130 slaves, choosing freedom. Slaughter recounted his life story for a Works Progress Administration interviewer in 1936.

The City Point Railroad, built in 1838 between City Point and Petersburg, was used as a critical part of the siege strategy. It is considered the oldest portion of the Norfolk and Western Railway, now a part of Norfolk Southern.

Further Reading:

In his 2009 Book: Railroads in the Old South: Pursuing Progress in a Slave Society (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009), Aaron W. Marrs challenges the accepted understanding of economic and industrial growth in antebellum America (1781–1860–pre Civil War) in his original study of the history of the railroad in the Old South.

Marrs draws from familiar and overlooked sources, such as personal diaries of Southern travelers, papers and letters from civil engineers, corporate records, and contemporary newspaper accounts,to skillfully expand on the conventional business histories that formerly characterized scholarship in this field. By positioning railroads within the antebellum life, he examines how slavery, technology, labor, social convention, and the environment shaped their evolution.

March 2002:  University of Kentucky archaeologist Donald W. Linebaugh has located the original 17th century dwelling house of merchant-trader Robert Bolling in Hopewell, Va.– By Dan Adkins

Linebaugh and six UK College of Architecture graduate students in the college’s historic preservation program will excavate the site for artifacts during the week of March 11 through March 16. The site is on the Kippax Plantation at 999 Bland Ave., Hopewell, Va. During the 20th century, the property was the dairy farm of the late Stephen and Mary Mikuska Heretick

Linebaugh said Bolling was married to Jane Rolfe, the granddaughter of Pocahontas and John Rolfe.

Bolling imported trade goods from England and other parts of Europe and sold them to traders who traded for furs with Native Americans living further inland.Linebaugh said the structure was built about 1680 and was destroyed in the early 1700s. Artifacts recovered from the fill within the cellar date from 1730 to 1740. The house was owned by Robert Bolling until his death in 1709, and then by his son Drury until his death in 1726.

Linebaugh, director of the UK Program for Archaeological Research in the College of Arts and Sciences and assistant professor of anthropology, has been working at the Kippax site since 1981.

During his tenure at the College of William and Mary from 1988 to 1997, students and volunteers from the community assisted the excavations.Since 1997, he has continued his work with help from students and staff at UK. The work has identified a number of plantation buildings, fence lines and features that date from the late 1600s to mid-1800s, as well as evidence of early Native American occupation of the property.

Last spring, Linebaugh and several students identified several large structural post holes with late 17th century artifacts. The post holes were tied to a small brick-lined cellar that had been excavated in the early 1980s and appeared to be part of a large post-in-ground dwelling.Linebaugh said the structure was built about 1680 and was destroyed in the early 1700s. Artifacts recovered from the fill within the cellar date from 1730 to 1740. The house was owned by Robert Bolling until his death in 1709, and then by his son Drury until his death in 1726.

Drury’s widow lived in the house until it became the property of Theodorick Bland through his marriage to Drury Bolling’s daughter Frances.A.R. Bolling Jr., sixth great-grandson of Robert Bolling (1646-1709), said, “The Bolling Family Association is delighted that Dr. Linebaugh has accomplished so very much in his search for historical data at the site of Robert Bolling’s first home in America. We look forward to his continuing work at this important site.”Linebaugh said the Bolling Family Association plans to visit the excavation site Friday afternoon (March 15). 


My Other Uncle John–Blair, that is…

Historic Governor's Palace at Williamsburg

Historic Governor’s Palace at Williamsburg

John Blair, Sr., 4-term Acting Governor of Virginia:

The Reverend Doctor James Blair He sat on Virginia’s Governor’s Council for over 25 years and was favorite nephew of James Blair (1655-1743), an Anglican Minister and Founding President of William and Mary College in Williamsburg, Virginia. Among John Blair’s many personal and professional accomplishments that follow, he also was father of United States Supreme Court Associate Justice John Blair, Jr. (1732 – August 31, 1800), who in his own right was an American politician, founding father, and jurist. John Blair’s son, James, was my paternal first cousin 9 times removed, based upon my family’s lineage as follows:

     John BLAIR, Sr. (1687 – 1771) Bruton Parish Cemtery, Williamsburg, VA

Bruton Parish Cemtery, Williamsburg, VA

My 8th great grand uncle—Father of John Blair, Jr.

Dr. Archibald BLAIR (1657 – 1736) Father of John BLAIR Archibald Blair's Storehouse Today, Williamsburg, VA

Archibald Blair’s Storehouse Today, Williamsburg, VA Colonial Williamsburg® Digital Library research.history.org 

Nov. 18, 1700. Lot #46 on which stands the so-called Storehouse of Dr. Archibald Blair, on Duke of Gloucester Street,—was among the first (1700) of the deeded lots in the City of Williamsburg. Its original owner is recorded as Archibald Blair, a brother of the more famous James Blair, founder of the College of William and Mary. For an understanding of the place of Dr. Archibald Blair in the local community, we should recall his activities as a merchant and trader within the town. He was also an “apothecary” and is known to have practiced his semi-medical profession as surgeon and physician. 1719 In May, 1719 there is a transfer of property recorded which gives the accepted name of the building, as follows: “One certain lot or half acre of land lying and being in the City of Williamsburg denoted in the plat of the said city by the figures 47, and adjoining on the Great Street2between the Storehouse of Mr. Archibald Blair, and the house of Henry Gill . . .” York County Deeds, III Card 259 Research Department. There are several subsequent mentions of the storehouse, down to 1729, see Research Report on The Storehouse of Dr. Blair. 1719-1765 John Blair Sr. was in partnership with Dr. Archibald Blair for a period of years and following the death of Archibald Blair in 1734, he continued his business activities in association with various members of the Prentis family. It is believed that these activities were carried on at this building. It is presumed that there was a supplementary warehouse at one or both of the Williamsburg landings, or elsewhere in the town.

Mary Elizabeth Bland Blair BOLLING (1709 – 1775)

Elizabeth Blair (c) Bradford Museums and Galleries; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Elizabeth Blair
(c) Bradford Museums and Galleries; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Daughter of Dr. Archibald BLAIR

Robert BOLLING Jr (1730 – 1775) (Third Robert Bolling buried in Blandford Cemetery Mausoleum, Petersburg, VA Bolling Family Mausoleum

Bolling Family Mausoleum

Son of Mary Elizabeth Bland Blair BOLLING

Jane BOWLING BOLLING (1750 – 1795) Daughter of Robert BOLLING Jr

Elizabeth “Betsy” BOWLING BOLLING GARRISON (1765 – 1826) Daughter of Rebecca “Jane” BOWLING BOLLING

Joseph James HIGGINBOTHAM (1797 – 1877) Son of Elizabeth “Betsy” GARRISON

Elizabeth “Betsy” LEWIS (1805 – 1892) Daughter of Joseph James HIGGINBOTHAM

Lawrence T “Larl” BOLING (1838 – 1910) Son of Elizabeth “Betsy” LEWIS

Edward Bud Vincent BOWLING Sr (1872 – 1946) Son of Lawrence T “Larl” BOLING

Jesse Burton BOLING (1902 – 1978)

Jesse Burton Boling & Sisters (1954)

Jesse Burton Boling & Sisters (1954)

Son of Edward Bud Vincent BOWLING Sr

Frank Burton BOLING (1928 – )


Son of Jesse Burton BOLING

Joanne Carol BOLING DICKINSON JoanneQuillPen - Copy

Daughter of Frank Burton BOLING

John Blair’s Life’s Time Line Follows:  You can read the full article  first published on July 29, 2010 and last modified:  August 9, 2013–Contributed by John C. Van Horne and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography:  http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Blair_John_ca_1687-1771

John Blair’s Life – Time Line:

  • 1687 – Around this year, John Blair is born in Scotland to Archibald Blair and his first wife.
  • 1715 – Either John Blair (ca. 1687–1771) or a namesake cousin is named keeper of the royal storehouse in Williamsburg.
  • August 17, 1724 – John Blair takes the oaths of office as justice of the peace for York County. He holds the office until 1745.
  • 1726 – John Blair buys Chowning’s Tavern, a property in Williamsburg he continues to own until sometime before 1739.
  • 1726 – In about this year, John Blair marries his first cousin Mary Munroe. They will have at least eight daughters and four sons.
  • February 5, 1727 – John Blair is appointed naval officer for the upper district of the James River. He holds the position until 1728.
  • August 15, 1728 – John Blair is appointed deputy auditor general of Virginia, a position he holds until his death in 1771.
  • 1733 – Archibald Blair, brother of James Blair and father of John Blair, dies. Blair and his son had partnered in a Williamsburg business known as Dr. Blair’s Store.
  • 1734 – John Blair succeeds his father, who died in 1733, as burgess for Jamestown.
  • 1736–1740 – John Blair serves as burgess for Williamsburg.
  • 1740–1759 – For about fourteen years during this period John Blair partners with John Blair Jr., the son of a cousin, in a Williamsburg store.
  • April 22, 1741 – John Blair begins service as clerk of the governor’s Council.
  • October 15, 1741 – John Blair ends his service as clerk of the governor’s Council.
  • 1742 – John Blair sells Raleigh Tavern, a property in Williamsburg that he had rented to a succession of tavern keepers.
  • 1744 – Beginning as early as this year, John Blair serves as a vestryman of Bruton Parish.
  • November 15, 1744 – King George II names John Blair to the governor’s Council.
  • 1745 – John Blair and seventeen other men receive a grant for one hundred thousand acres of land on the Potomac and Youghiogheny rivers.
  • 1745 – John Blair serves on the committee of three councilors and six burgesses appointed to revise the laws of Virginia.
  • February 1745 – Virginia governor William Gooch recommends that John Blair be appointed to a vacant seat on the governor’s Council. A recent inheritance has raised Blair’s estimation in the governor’s eyes, but Gooch does not know the king has already named Blair to the Council.
  • August 6, 1745 – John Blair takes his seat on the governor’s Council, serving until 1770.
  • 1747 – John Blair sits on a committee that oversees the rebuilding of the Capitol after it burns.
  • 1749 – By about this year, John Blair is a churchwarden for Bruton Parish.
  • 1751 – John Blair (ca. 1687–1771) is probably the John Blair who serves as mayor of Williamsburg.
  • August 1757 – John Blair becomes the senior member, or president, of the governor’s Council.
  • 1758 – John Blair serves on the board of visitors for the College of William and Mary, which was founded by his uncle, James Blair.
  • January 12, 1758 – With the departure of Lieutenant Governor Robert Dinwiddie, John Blair, president of the governor’s Council, becomes acting governor of Virginia.
  • March 31, 1758 – In response to an address by the acting governor, John Blair, relaying the ministry’s request that Virginia raise an additional force for offensive operations against the French in the Ohio Valley, the General Assembly votes to create a second regiment.
  • June 5, 1758 – With the arrival of the new lieutenant governor, Francis Fauquier, John Blair, president of the governor’s Council, ends his service as acting governor of Virginia.
  • September–October 1761 – John Blair, president of the governor’s Council, serves as acting governor of Virginia while the lieutenant governor, Francis Fauquier, is in New York to consult with General Jeffrey Amherst during the French and Indian War.
  • 1763 – John Blair, president of the governor’s Council, is appointed to a committee to correspond with Virginia’s London agent.
  • September–December 1763 – John Blair, president of the governor’s Council, serves as acting governor of Virginia while the lieutenant governor, Francis Fauquier, is in Georgia. • March 1768 – Following the intentions of Lieutenant Governor Francis Fauquier, who has recently died, Acting Governor John Blair calls the General Assembly into session.
  • March 4, 1768 – After the death of Lieutenant Governor Francis Fauquier, John Blair, president of the governor’s Council, begins service as acting governor of Virginia.
  • April 1768 – Acting Governor John Blair transmits to London the General Assembly’s addresses to the king and Parliament challenging the asserted right of Parliament to tax the colonies. The ministry is so offended that a new governor, Norborne Berkeley, baron de Botetourt, is speedily appointed and sent to Virginia.
  • October 26, 1768 – With the arrival of the new Virginia governor, Norborne Berkeley, baron de Botetourt, John Blair, president of the governor’s Council, ends his service as acting governor.
  • 1769 – The public hospital for lunatics is established and John Blair, president of the governor’s Council, is appointed to sit on its board of trustees.
  • October 15, 1770 – In ill health, John Blair ends his twenty-five years’ service on the governor’s Council. He resigns rather than serve as acting governor upon the death, also on this day, of Governor Norborne Berkeley, baron de Botetourt.
  • November 5, 1771 – John Blair dies in Williamsburg and is buried in Bruton Parish churchyard.

Further Reading

Van Horne, J. C., & the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. John Blair (ca. 1687–1771). (2013, August 9). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Blair_John_ca_1687-1771. Gentry, Daphne and Brent Tarter, “The Blair Family of Colonial Williamsburg: A Research Note,” Magazine of Virginia Genealogy 32 (1994): 103–112. First published: July 29, 2010 | last modified: August 9, 2013

Introducing Beau…Part 4, Dogs are Family, too!

Contributing Author:  My  Daughter, Jennifer

My 18th Birthday Present


It was November 1991, I had just started college two months before and my brothers were already out of the house when Mom and Dad brought Beau home to me as a birthday present. He was a cute puff of grey, black, brown and white fur with a curly tail like a pig.

Keeshond Pup

Keeshond Pup

My parents were told Beau was a Keeshond. But, as Beau continued to grow his features weren’t looking so much like those of a Keeshond–we realized he was a mix. He wasn’t getting very tall and his coat was less full and more wiry than that of a Keeshond’s. And when he got even older, he looked like Splinter from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but with the curly tail of a Keeshond.

I Wanted a Well-Behaved Dog





I wanted a well-behaved dog who didn’t escape, so I immediately began training him to follow me and stay close when outside. I would take him out several times in the evening and night and put him in a crate next to my bed and wish him a good night. However, Beau had other plans and would whine all night unless I shared my bed with him. And, with my hectic work and school schedules, I always caved in to sleep over staying awake and seeing through Beau’s training. So our nightly ritual became Beau joining me in my room after first checking to make sure Mom and Dad were tidy in their beds. Beau wasn’t a big dog, but it sure felt that way when he tried to take over my bed. I had nightly discussions with him.  I told him, “You can sleep on my bed, but you have to wait until I’m settled and ready for you to get in.” Every night he would wait patiently at the foot of my bed for me to complete changing into night clothes.  I would then give him the command…”Ok, ready!” Then Beau jumped up on the bed, plopped next to me, used all four legs to push me off the center of the bed so he could claim it for himself. He was my dog and I guess you could say we spooned.

BeauTrimmedWhen Beau was about one, Mom suggested that I take him to a groomer for an extreme doggie makeover.  Well, as you can see from Beau’s attitude to the left, he wasn’t quite sure even who he was after that trimming.  And when we got done laughing and crying, all of us anxiously awaited the regrowth of his coat which took a couple of months.

Yet, Another Partier and Adventurer

BeauPup15Like PeeJay, in my post Drawn to Dogs…, Beau was a partier and adventurer. Before we fenced our yard, he would shoot out the front door and roam our street.  One neighbor, in particular, didn’t seem to take to Beau and we think the feeling was mutual.  Then, one Friday afternoon Beau got out and went on a run.   We searched and called for him, but Beau was nowhere to be found.  By midday Saturday, Dad decided it was definitely time to call the animal shelter.  They advised us that we would have to come check out their recently picked up strays.  But–that they were closing in 20 minutes. Unbeknownst to us, the neighbor who disliked Beau had reported him to the animal shelter.  With no time to waste Mom and dad charged for the car and sped away in hopes of reaching the shelter which was about 15 miles away down a congested main highway, in the middle of a weekend shopping day and with several stop lights that could delay them. Somehow, they made it to the shelter before it closed.They divided up the kennels between them and went cage to cage looking for Beau.  As it turns out, Beau must have known they were there because he saw Dad before Dad or Mom saw him.  He started barking and jumping up and down like a crazy dog.  Dad alerted the attendant that this was our dog.  She immediately opened the cage and Beau came out on a run and climbed up dad’s body like a cat climbing a tree to get away from a sworn enemy dog out to kill him. Beau kept on climbing up dad’s body until he reached the top of  his head. Once there, he sat down on the top of dad’s skull and wrapped his paws around his neck as if he was clinging for life.  The shelter employee said there was no doubt in her mind that Beau had literally reconnected with his family and calmly said; “Now, that’ll be $100!” Low and behold, Beau was scheduled to be euthanized if my parents hadn’t claimed him in time.


Crackers and popcorn were popular snacks in our home and Beau quickly learned to ask for them. Whenever someone was snacking on popcorn, Beau would say, “pop-coooorn” and he would be rewarded with a kernel, which he also could catch from quite a distance in the air. One day, Beau was so excited saying and eating popcorn, he coughed and an unchewed piece flew out of his mouth and landed on Dad’s shoulder. I seem to recall Dad just took it from his shoulder and placed it in his mouth, along with a few other kernels he was chewing. You see, Dad always has shared all that he has with his family and in ours, dogs are family, too.

On occasion, Beau was moody and wouldn’t always go outside when we wanted him to. He clued us in early on in his life that he liked to chase small animals and birds.  So we added squirrels, grackles, and rabbits to his vocabulary.  To get him to got outside, we only needed to say; “Beau, squirrels,” or,  “Beau get the grackles,” and one day just for fun we told him to go get that rabbit that was up the tree.  Beau stood there and barked for several minutes before giving up.

BeauPoolTime4Beau liked to be wherever I was; even the pool. But, he wasn’t like other dogs. He did not like to get wet. Instead, he enjoyed getting on a raft and floating around the pool. [One drawback was that he his toenails, despite their trim, would eventually puncture the float.  So, we replaced many-a-raft over each swimming season.]

When I moved in with my husband, it was a place where dogs were not allowed and I could not take Beau with me. Plus, it would have been hard on Mom and Dad because though they gave him to me as a birthday present, I knew he was the family’s dog. One day, Brian and I took Beau to our home.  We had him concealed in a moving box. As we drove through the complex trying to be nonchalant, Beau popped his head out of the box and we were afraid we were going to get caught. Luck was with us and we entered and left unnoticed.

In the summer of 2003, Beau had been with us for 12 years.  He was starting to languish and periodically his stomach and bowels would get upset.  One Sunday morning, Beau refused to go outside.  So mom carried him out and sat him down on the grass.  He immediately laid down and wouldn’t respond. She called me immediately and we called our vet who was willing to see us as soon as we could get him there.  And, just as I had carried him as a pup, I wrapped him in a blanket and carried him into our vet.  The vet told us that more than likely cancer was taking him from us and the kindest and most compassionate thing we could do for Beau now was to say our goodbyes and let him go to sleep.  So mom and I kissed him and assured him it would be okay to say goodbye.  And as we held him in our arms, we felt his lifeforce pass on.

Jenny, Dad, and Beau in Washington County, MD

Jenny, Dad, and Beau in Washington County, MD

Anyone who doesn’t think dogs are family, too, hasn’t enjoyed the unconditional love and companionship that animals bring with them into the homes of their families.

Drawn to the Dogs: Part 3–Dogs are Family, Too!

Contributing Author–My Son, Jeff

Adventurers at Heart

Our children, Bobby, 14; Jeff, 12; and Jennifer 7, were always adventurers at heart. I like to think they got this trait from me, and I got it from my maternal grandmother, Loretta Lathrop Ford. I wish so very much that they had had a chance to know her, but, unfortunately, she passed when Bobby was an infant.

In 1980, our local neighborhoods were less congested and calmer, and the streets were much safer. And, after depleting all known in home childcare providers, this was the summer when our family agreed that our eldest son, Bobby, would step up and be responsible for himself and his siblings.

The kids would usually sleep in until 9 or after, watch some cartoons, and get themselves dressed and fed. I worked just 4 miles away and I would come home at lunchtime and return again around 5. And, often, I would receive phone calls from home whenever there were questions to be answered or permissions granted. This wasn’t always an ideal situation, but we all fortunately survived with many stories to tell and laugh about later.

PeeJay–a Siberian Husky Mix

PeeJay4One day, near the end of summer, one of our kid’s many adventures led Jeff to encounter Pee Jay–a Siberian husky mix pup. It all started when he decided to cut through some woods as a shortcut to a place behind Silver Hill Road, in Suitland, which was about two miles away. The kids referred to this place as “the pits.”   Through my research today, I learned that the property had been owned by Buffalo Sand and Gravel, Co., Inc., and it had been a gravel quarry–hence, “gravel pits” or “pits” as the kids called it.  One section of the pits had a large mound of earth known as “Boot Hill,” where kids would play–what else–but “King of the Hill.”  And, for whatever other reasons, this is the place where the kids gathered.  And, it was there, just inside the woods adjacent to the pits that Jeff found Pee Jay.  She looked to be about 6 to 8 weeks old.

The Gift

Now, Jeff was an avid outdoorsman and animal lover who was always bringing home animals that he had found, had saved, had captured, or just plainly encouraged them to follow him home. Jeff knew if he asked to bring home another animal that we would say no. On the other hand, if he showed the pup to mom first, then she would fall instantly in love with her and would help him win over his dad.

So together, Jeff and mom decided they would wrap up this little ball of salt and pepper fluff in a cardboard box and give her to dad as an early birthday present so it would be even harder for him to say no this time. But, too, we all knew that dad was a softy at heart and once he saw the adorable little ball of fluff pup inside the nicely decorated box that he would be unable to resist her, even if he did lay down some hefty rules about care and responsibilities. And, true to form, dad didn’t disappoint. We now had another family member–one, we would quickly learn was a great companion for the kids and also had an adventurous spirit!  What better a fit could we have asked for?

A New Home, Companionship, Love, and Adventure

We would soon learn just how good a fit PeeJay was as a family member and adventurer. The kids enjoyed taking her everywhere in the neighborhood that they went. PeeJay loved it, too.  She loved everybody and everybody loved her.  If the boys went to the creek to catch frogs, PeeJay went along, too, and even would go in the water for a swim.  The problem with her swimming in the creek was she always came back smelling of sewer gases and we would have to bathe her and put odor repellent on her to get rid of most of the smell, but it would take about a week for all of the stink to go away.

PeeJay sensed when the family was going to leave home and not take her.  She didn’t like being alone and it seems as if she always had a plan should she be left home alone.

In those days, we didn’t have air conditioning and in the spring, summer, and fall months, we would raise our windows so the air could circulate through the screens and inside the house.  Jennifer often had visits from PeeJay who had adeptly torn through the screens at home to go meet and greet her at school at recess time and sometimes to walk her and the boys home in the afternoons.  All the school and church staff and children knew PeeJay.  But, I did get a few calls asking me to leave work to come get PeeJay because she was distracting the kids from their studies.  I have this somewhat of a “Little House on the Prairie” picture in my mind where PeeJay is gazing inside a classroom window at Jennifer and Jennifer is embarrassed but waving her arm furiously out the window at PeeJay trying to shoo her away.

The boys always took PeeJay down the street to the “circle” where many of their friends lived in the cul de sac.  If the boys played tag, PeeJay played tag.  If the boys played ball PeeJay played ball, and if the boys wrestled, PeeJay was in the thick of it.  She truly was just like having a fourth child, and most times well behaved.

PeeJay3However, on this one day after the parents had gone to work and the children to school, I’m thinking PeeJay had an Elmer Fudd moment and thought; “shhhhhh….. be vewy vewy quiet, I’m wabbit hunting.”  And, sure enough, the kids’ best friend Tommy, had a pet rabbit in his backyard. This was the day that PeeJay made enemies by eating “wabbit for wunch.”  I think Tommy’s mom disliked dogs anyway, but this was totally unacceptable behavior for any man or creature in her book. I think until this day, that she has not forgiven PeeJay or us for allowing her to roam and be free with the kids (even if it was against our will or wishes, or best efforts to keep her in–short of caging her).

We also made the initial mistake of having PeeJay ride along with us to visit my parents who lived about two miles away, but across a major highway.  One Sunday evening after returning home from our visit with family, dad called at 11 o’clock to say; “We have a visitor at our front door.  Do you know where all of your children are?”  Low and behold, when we let PeeJay outside before we turned in for the night she had decided she wanted more time with my parents and their dogs–who all got along famously.  After the shock, surprise, and a few laughs, we got dressed and went back to mom and dad’s to retrieve PeeJay.  The first time, we thought; “Oh, how clever a dog you are, PeeJay!” But when she started making it a nightly ritual, praises were the last words in our minds or out of our mouths.  So this one night after retrieving PeeJay several times before and receiving yet another call from dad, we asked him to turn out his lights and go to bed and ignore her.  As hesitant as we all were, PeeJay within half an hour meandered her way back to her own front door and we let her in.  There also were a few times where we would head to mom and dad’s and stop by the Giant Food Store to take a few things to contribute to a family meal.  And, when we got to our parents we found that PeeJay had arrived ahead of us!

???????????????As the kids grew older, they still involved PeeJay in everything they did.  I won’t ever forget the feelings I felt when I saw Jeff riding a motorcycle down the street and sitting just as casual and as proud as she could be in the seat in front of him was PeeJay. She had his kerchief wrapped around her neck and sun glasses covering her eyes.  I swear if dogs could smile, that she was wearing one, too!

Doggone that Adventurous Spirit

PeeJay6-1984Over the years, it got increasingly difficult for us to get PeeJay back in the house before we left for work, or school, or elsewhere.  Jennifer now was in eighth grade.  It was sprinkling rain outside, we were running late, and PeeJay knew she was going to be closed in the house with the windows shut.  Jenny and I chased her several times.  PeeJay thought this was a game and every time she’d let us get close, she would dash away again.  Fed up and running late one day in 1987, I asked Jennifer to get in the car and assured her that PeeJay would return home shortly or be home when we returned.  Well, much to our dismay, PeeJay never returned to us.  We don’t know if someone stole her as friendly as she was, or someone or something harmed or killed her.  Despite all my denials, the kids thought for years that I had gotten fed up with PeeJay’s antics and had taken her to the animal shelter. PeeJay added so much fun and joy to our family.   PeeJay was a part of our family for about eight years.  We will always miss and remember our family’s days with PeeJay–Doggone it!