Tag Archives: Southwest Virginia

“By What Right?” Two Baptist Newspapers from Tazewell

TBCRecently, the Library of Virginia acquired two Baptist newspapers, the Primitive Baptist and the Tazewell Baptist, both from Tazewell, Virginia. The two papers share more than just denomination and place of publication: both are small format, measuring 9.5” x 12”, both issues are dated April 1890 and both are volume one, number four. It seems there was a rift in the Baptist Church and it played out in competing, and very similar, newspapers that began at about the same time. There is only one extant issue of each, so the duration of each paper is unknown.Baptist 2

Portrait of J. A. Leslie, from the Tazewell County Public Library Photograph Collection. Digital copy is available at the Library of Virginia.

The Tazewell Baptist, published by Rev. Joseph Albert Leslie, described itself as “Devoted to the work of the New Lebanon Association” and, among other causes, hoped to raise money for state missions. Leslie arrived in Tazewell to minister for the “fledgling flock” of the Tazewell Baptist Church and later served as a teacher at Tazewell College. The Primitive Baptist was published by John Newton Harman, Sr., also a teacher and one of the founders of Tazewell College. Harman’s newspaper espoused the ideas of the Primitive Baptist movement, a more conservative sect of Baptists, which claimed to adhere strictly to the teachings of the New Testament, with rules that forbade instrumental music and the collection of tithes and dancing, among others.

Page one of the April issue of the Tazewell Baptist posed the following question: “By What Right? We mean, by what right do our brethren assume the titles of “Regular” and “Primitive” Baptist? Do they mean that they are the only lawful representatives of the “first,” or “regular” Baptists of the New Testament, or even of America? We … read more »

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Courage Undaunted: Project staff brave the elements to help preserve and provide access to the Southwest Virginia Enterprise.

Thanks to the many alert colleagues throughout the Commonwealth, the Virginia Newspaper Project continues to receive tips from the field about original ink press newspaper files in need of preservation and cataloging. And if the title meets certain criteria, the Newspaper Project will place the title in the queue for digitization for inclusion in both the NDNP database (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov) and the Library of Virginia’s digital repository at http://virginiachronicle.com

A recent example of a great find comes from the western regions, in Wytheville, Virginia. Cathy Reynolds, Archivist at the Wytheville Community College has put together a fantastic run of the Southwest Virginia Enterprise from the earlier years in the 1880’s right up to 1923.

There’s actually more, but we wanted to make sure we were able to get the job done on this initial batch before moving forward with the post-1923 issues.

As many of you know it can be a bit of an adventure traveling from Richmond to Wytheville and back again. This time around, members of team VNP were caught in a flash snow storm that, as if on cue, produced heavy downpours and a thick fog on Afton Mountain.

However, despite the slow going, we made it back to the Library of Virginia and the handsome 11 volumes are safe and sound at VNP Headquarters.

According to Lester Cappon’s Virginia Newspapers 1821-1935, the Southwest Virginia Enterprise began in 1870 as a weekly and then moved to semi-weekly later that year. From 1870 to 1900, the Enterprise appears to have moved through a number of changes in publishers including J. A. Whitman, who, in 1908, merged the SWVE with the Wytheville Dispatch, a venerable newspaper that began publishing in 1862.

We include a few images happy to have the opportunity to preserve and provide better … read more »

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Mythology of the Allen Clan

Photo of Claude Allen from the Times-Dispatch Dec. 12, 1912

As the date of execution of Floyd and Claude Allen approached, public support for the doomed men grew. Many people believed Floyd and Claude were no guiltier than the other Allens involved in the courthouse shooting and thought execution an unfair punishment.  It was also brought to light that other people in the courtroom, like Dexter Goad, were probably just as responsible for the five deaths as any of the Allen men. Petitions pleading for executive clemency were submitted to the governor with tens of thousands of signatures. Richard Byrd, Reverend George W. McDaniel and US Senator Claude A. Swanson joined the fight to stop the executions, but Governor Mann, a steadfast supporter of capital punishment, was unsympathetic to the condemned men.

The date of execution was set for March 28, 1913; however on March 27, 1913 a strange turn of events occurred that almost prevented it. While Governor Mann was traveling to New Jersey, the Allen defense team asked Lieutenant Governor J. Ellyson to act as chief executive in Mann’s absence to commute the sentences. Ellyson conferred with Attorney General Samuel Williams and postponed the execution in order to settle the question on the constitutionality of commutation in Mann’s absence. When Mann heard the news of what was going on back in Virginia, he headed back on the first train and ordered the execution be carried out that afternoon. On March 28, 1913 at around 1:30 p.m. Floyd was executed in Virginia’s electric chair. According to the Rice Belt Journal, Floyd Allen “still limping from the wounds he received in the Hillsville court house battle, said the last tearful farewell to his boy and went with the prison guards to the death chamber. A groan escaped him while … read more »

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