Sunday, June 14, 2015

James Henry Pattillo (1814-after 1900) My Paternal 2nd Great Grandfather Part 2

Civic Life & Role During the Civil War
This is the house James & his family lived in during the time
he served as Superintendent of the Poor House
In 1848, when James was 34, the Governor appointed him Superintendent of the Poor House. This was one of only 5 appointed positions the Governor made, so it was a prestigious appointment. James’ father and grandfather had both lived in Mecklenburg County. His grandfather Solomon died in the town of Boydton. So James’ family would have been well known. He was an important person in the community who was no doubt well-regarded by his peers, so a good candidate for appointment. During his time in office James and his family lived in the superintendent’s house near the poor house. It was a symmetrically design, 2-story structure with a stone foundation, 2 dormers and 2 brick chimneys. The poor house is where poor county residents, war widows and the disable lived. Residents worked on the Poor House farm raising food for them and for sale. Two years after his appointment James was elected to serve a second two-year term.
Mecklenburg County Poor House
Susan and Louisa’s father Robert Carter Land died sometime before April 1847.  Some sources say he died in 1844 but it wasn’t until 1855 that his estate was being settled in Chancery Court. Susan and Louisa’s brother Robert W. Land (1818-1877) was named administrator. The land and property in the estate was divided among Robert’s wife Elizabeth and their children. Because married women were not allowed to own property at that time James Henry inherited the portion of the estate that was left to both Susan and Louisa. This no doubt explains why the value of what James Henry owned was greater than anyone else listed on the page in the 1850 census. 

On September 19, 1855 James Henry and Robert W. Land filed a $1000 bond, and James was named administrator of his deceased wife Susan’s estate.
Poor House smokehouse (white structure), relocated

On September 27, 1856 James was appointed as the attorney-in-fact for Alexander W. Land- another of James’ brother-in-laws, and was charged with overseeing the sale and distribution of Elizabeth B. Land’s estate. Elizabeth was his mother-in-law. 

John Caknipe who has researched Randolph Macon College learned that from 1858 to  at least 1862 James served as the "Hotel Manager" at Randolph Macon College in the West Building - The Texas. While there one of his student residents was Melville Johnson from Napa in California.

In October of 1861, John T Wootton was appointed surveyor of the Boydton to Clarksville Road from Randolph-Macon College to Townes plantation. He was authorized to use hands from six farms. James provided one laborer to work on the road as did five of his neighbors. They built the section between Butchers Creek and Randolph-Macon College. The road was about 100 yards way from James and Louisa’s farm. The other farms that loaned labor included D.N. Carter, J.W. Wootton, and Wm H. Jones. According to Wikipedia “Boydton/Clarksville was the terminus of the 19th-century "Boydton Plank Road" which led to Petersburg. This 80-mile road was covered with wooden planks, making it superior to other roads which were just unpaved dirt and rutted.”

During the Civil War (1861-1865) James was too old to enlist. Instead he was appointed Captain of a militia group. In that capacity he and a group of his neighbors were responsible for patrolling the town and Randolph-Macon College. Other members of the squad were R.H. Isbell, James Steward and Wm. Snead. Randolph-Macon was founded as a Methodist Seminary and was an important institution in the county. During the Civil War it became a military cadet training school. After the war the school was relocated to Ashland, Virginia. The Boydton campus closed in 1868 – 3 years after the Civil War ended. The ruin of the college building still stands, now covered with vines and piles of brick that have fallen off this once impressive building. 
Ruin of Randolph-Macon College in Boydton, 2014

James also contributed to the Confederate war effort by providing 190 pounds of sheaf oats to help feed soldier's horses. A document from the War Department dated December 28, 1863 was a receipt for $7.60 for the oats James delivered on October 15, 1863. It was signed by Jack E. Haskins, Quartermaster CS Army and by Jas. H. Pattillo.

On September 17, 1873, James appeared in the Mecklenburg Circuit Court to respond to a contempt of court charge for failing to appear for jury duty – guess they took such things more seriously at that time than they do today.
War Department receipt for sheaf  oats
supplied by James H. Pattillo
In January of 1878, James served as a trustee for Mary Jane Pattillo, his brother Edward’s wife, so she could purchase a five-acre tract of land adjacent to where James was living. This deed did not mention Edward.

After the Civil War
When the civil war ended the land James and other confederates owned was so heavily taxed that many were forced to sell their land. According to John Caknipe, “the tax was as much as 100% of the land value, so the only way to pay the tax was to sell the land.” This is how the civil war was paid for and the country rebuilt. The tax was repealed in 1868 but by then it was too late - most farmers had lost their land.

It appears that James was one of those farmers who was forced to sell his land. I found a document dated September 1, 1866 in which James sold to his brother Edward a one half interest in his 246 acre farm on the headwaters of Layton’s Creek for $5. In exchange, Edward provided a bond for $1242.79 to cover James’ debts. This was the parcel that James had purchased jointly with his brother-in-law, John B. Land. In addition to the land he sold one horse, a pair of mules, a stock of hogs, his cattle and sheep, his household and kitchen furniture, plantation utensils, a small carriage, one buggy, one wagon, one cart, and all of his crops of every description.  
James would have come here to the Boydton Tavern to
accept his appointment as Captain of the Militia

The document then detailed all of James’ debt, which were divided into three categories. The first class debt was owed to the estate of R. Walker who had sold the land to James and John. James also owed $408.36 to his sister-in-law Sarah F. Land and $670.80 to N.S. Edmunds – likely a relation to his sister Ada who married Lewis J. Edmunds. He owed $45 to a Dr. L. Watson and, interestingly the document specified that he was to pay Edmund A. Davis $400 in “Confederate currency”. Given that the Confederates lost the war that money was probably not worth much. There were six other first class debts.

Second class debt was money owed to Dr. William H. Innis against a loan of $800 that James and John B. Land took out for their lumber business. Third class debts were owed to Alfred Boyd & Son and Edwin C. Terry. The document said that James would “retain possession of the property conveyed until the same shall be sold to execute the purpose of the trust. The trustee is hereby authorized and directed to apply the proceeds of the sale of said property after first paying the expenses of executing and recording this deed to the payment and discharge of the debt.”

After he sold the farm and much of what he owned, James moved to Christianville and likely continued to farm, but as a share cropper. Sharecropping is a system of agriculture in which a landowner allows a tenant to use the land in return for a share of the crops produced on the land.

James’ son James William left Boydton sometime between July 1860 when the census was taken and April 2, 1879 when he married Carrie B. Stover in Tarrant, Texas. It is probable that James W. left shortly after the Civil War ended, knowing that there was little reason for him to remain in Virginia. I can imagine that this would have been extremely difficult for everyone. The Pattillo’s had lived and prospered in Mecklenburg and nearby counties for five generations. They had owned large acreage of land, had standing in the community – and then rather suddenly everything was taken from them with the Confederate defeat. The lives they’d known for generations were profoundly changed. James W. chose to leave Mecklenburg and everything familiar in order to make a new life for himself. It is doubtful that James Henry ever saw his son again, or any of James William’s children.
James William Pattillo with his 3 oldest
children Jo, Mary & Lewis


James’s son, Robert Henry Pattillo remained in Mecklenburg, married and had five children, 2 sons and 3 daughters. Interestingly, three of Robert’s children followed their uncle to California and lived in Los Angeles. Robert’s eldest son, Robert Nelson Pattillo worked with James William in the concrete finishing business, and later started his own concrete business. Robert Henry died in July of 1899 when he was only 41 years old. His father James would have been 75. Louisa, James’ second wife, died sometime before the 1900 census.

During this time, James Henry witnessed the marriages of four of his children after the war concluded. Sarah Z. married John W.Gaulding in 1874 when James was 60. Then Robert H. had married Belle Nelson in 1875, James W. married Carrie Brooks Stover in 1879, and his youngest, Ada married Thomas W. Browder in 1888.

The last census that James appeared on was taken in June of 1900. At that time he was living in Christianville with his youngest daughter Ada, her husband Thomas and their four children. Thomas was a farmer. James probably died in Christianville. Someday I hope to visit Virginia again and will look for his grave or other evidence of when he died and where he was buried.


James Henry Pattillo's signature


Sources: US Censuses, Circuit Court documents, will book records, marriage record, Fold3 and John Caknipe, Historian

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