In July 1814, entrepreneur William Weaver made a chance investment in the Virginia iron industry along with his new partner, Thomas Mayberry. Weaver and Mayberry purchased Union Forge (later renamed Buffalo Forge), located in Rockbridge County, and two blast furnaces, Etna Furnace and Retreat Furnace, in neighboring Botetourt County. Later, Weaver would become a prominent and successful ironmaster in Virginia and one of the largest slaveholders in Rockbridge County.
Initially, Weaver staffed his furnaces with a mixture of white laborers and hired slaves, but in October 1815 he purchased 11 slaves. Weaver would use this group of slaves, which included a valuable ironworker named Tooler, to form the basis of his large crew of skilled ironworkers.
In 1825, Weaver filed a chancery suit in the Augusta County courts to dissolve his partnership with Mayberry. It was a rather acrimonious dissolution, with contention over who owned the slaves purchased in 1815. In a cagey move, Weaver had the bill of sale for the slaves made out to himself, rather than to the partnership of Weaver & Mayberry, claiming that Mayberry was against slave ownership. While examining volumes found at the Augusta County Courthouse, I discovered nine volumes belonging to Weaver and his iron interests, which had been used as exhibits in the case.
The volumes cover a variety of topics and document the purchases Weaver and … read more »
Virginia’s historic records have always existed under the threat of floods, hurricanes, fire, and war. Sometimes the records were saved. Sometimes they were lost.
When the Botetourt County courthouse was gutted by a fire on 15 December 1970 no one at the time could foresee that such a horrible loss would spur the creation of legislation five years later that created a uniform system for records management in Virginia. The Virginia Public Records Act, passed in 1975, set in motion an effort not only to manage all the state’s records but also to preserve and copy vital historic records contained in local courthouses.
Preservation and duplication efforts continue today with The Library of Virginia’s (LVA) records managers and archivists. The Circuit Court Records Program (CCRP), which began in 1991, continues to not only preserve, digitize, and microfilm historic records from around the state but also to reach out to circuit court clerks in each locality, offering them professional support and financial assistance in the form of grants. To date, the CCRP has funded nearly 1,000 projects worth more than $15 million to preserve records in the circuit court clerks’ offices. Nineteen years later, access to Virginia’s historic records has never been wider with more than 5 million chancery court images now available online. Clerks also have the option of sending historic record collections to the … read more »