The Library of Virginia is pleased to announce that the final batch of digital images of legislative petitions to the Virginia General Assembly, 1776-1865, is now available on Virginia Memory, the Library of Virginia’s digital collections website. The list of localities added includes present-day West Virginia and Kentucky counties and numerous localities classified as Lost Records Localities. With this addition, the number of legislative petitions available online number over 24,000.
Legislative petitions are one the few primary source documents that provide valuable insight concerning the plight of Native Americans during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. In reading them, one will discover the depth of poverty and disease Native Americans experienced in Virginia. An example can be found in a petition filed in October 1786 by Simon and John Turner of Southampton County asking the General Assembly for an act appointing trustees to join them in the conveyance of land owned by the Nansemond Indian tribe located on the north side of the Nottoway River. They introduced themselves as the “only surviving men of the Nansemond Indians.” Proceeds from the sale would be used to bring relief from “bodily infirmities” and oppressive poverty for the last of the Nansemond tribe, the two petitioners and three women, who currently resided with their friend and neighbors in the Nottoway tribe. The … read more »
Craig Moore, State Records Appraisal Archivist, died on August 13 after a lengthy battle with cancer. While long time readers of Out of the Box will know Craig from his many posts, he was anonymous to most researchers conducting archival research at the Library of Virginia. For most of Craig’s 15 years at the Library, he worked behind the scenes in the State Records section making some of the Library’s most significant collections accessible. His work will contribute greatly to understanding the state’s history for generations.
I met Craig in 1998 when he joined the Library’s Archives Reference staff. A year later we both started new positions in the State Records section and became “office mates.” Craig and I shared an office which was unusual in our (then) new building. Sharing a workspace can be a minefield of personality quirks. For us, it worked and we became good friends. We had similar interests (baseball, football, South Park, listening to Howard Stern, fantasy football, the music of Genesis, etc.), the same sense of humor (potty jokes made us giggle like school girls), and a love of history and our work as archivists. We laughed at the names he would see in the records such as: Bittle C. Keister, Reekes & Goode, Attorneys at Law, Garland P. Peed, M.I. Snoody, and many others that are … read more »
The Executive Papers of Governor Henry C. Stuart, 1914-1918 (LVA accession 28722) are now available to researchers as part of an ongoing project to arrange and describe the papers of Virginia’s governors that have been lost thus far in the archival backlog. Once housed in acidic boxes with some metal pins and staples, Stuart’s papers now have been reboxed and refoldered. More importantly, the papers have received detailed archival processing in order to unearth some of the gems below. Though not the most important administration of the 20th century, it is clear Stuart’s was eventful and the records illustrate the significant moments of his term in office. From the unveiling of a statue to Virginia’s dead at Gettysburg to the country’s initial involvement in World War I, Stuart’s papers are a valuable resource for early 20th century Virginia researchers.
-Craig S. Moore, State Records Appraisal Archivist
Public improvements, military claims, divorce, manumission of slaves, division of counties, incorporation of towns, religious freedom, and taxation are just some of the concerns expressed in the Library of Virginia’s collection of Legislative Petitions to the Virginia General Assembly, 1776 to 1865. In late 2012, the Library partnered with Backstage Library Works in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, to digitize the collection straight from the microfilm which was created in-house in 2002. Work has now begun to take the 150,000 digital images, unite them with the database entries constructed on the Library’s searchable website (Legislative Petition Online Database), and make them accessible through Digitool – the Library’s digital asset management system. Thus far, the counties from Accomack through Amelia and Appomattox through Barbour are available (Legislative Petitions on Digitool). Besides the images, these entries in Digitool provide the same information previously available on the Legislative Petition Online Database including the petitioner, date, description, and subjects. The petitions often contain hundreds of signatures and are a useful tool in genealogical research. Frequently, the petitions contain supplementary support documents useful in research including maps, wills, naturalizations, deeds, resolutions, affidavits, judgments, and other items.
There are many noteworthy and valuable documents among the over 1,000 petitions currently digitized. Accomack County alone includes several appeals of freed slaves for permission to remain in the state following their emancipation as required … read more »
The United States Marine Corps abounds with tradition and history. An important aspect of this history and tradition revolves around Presley Neville O’Bannon and the Marine Corps sword. Over two hundred years ago, O’Bannon, a Virginian born in Fauquier County, became the first American to raise the United States’ flag over foreign soil.
Promoted to 1st lieutenant in the Marine Corps, O’Bannon was assigned to the USS Argus in the Mediterranean during the war against Tripoli, one of the Barbary States on the north coast of Africa. Described by author Joseph Wheelan as “America’s First War on Terror,” the Tripolitan War sought an end to the exorbitant tributes of the Pasha of Tripoli, Yusuf Karamanli. William Eaton, navy agent to the Barbary Regencies, devised a plan to depose the Pasha by forming an alliance with Yusuf’s exiled brother Hamet. Eaton led an army consisting of Lieutenant O’Bannon and seven U. S. Marines from the Argus, along with an assortment of Tripolitans, Arabs, and European mercenaries. This army marched 520 miles across the Desert of Barca from Alexandria to attack the city of Derna, Tripoli’s eastern provincial capital. On 27 April 1805, a combined land and sea attack supported by the USS Argus, Nautilus, and Hornet, commenced against Derna. Later called the … read more »
An ongoing project to arrange and describe the executive papers of Virginia’s 20th century governors has brought to light many important and interesting papers of Governor Andrew Jackson Montague, who served as governor of the Commonwealth from 1902 to 1906. While in office, Montague campaigned against incumbent senator Thomas S. Martin for his seat in the United States Senate. Montague’s papers are unique among executive papers in that they include correspondence, voter lists, broadsides, and other material related to his campaign.
In addition to his campaign material, Montague’s executive papers contain a wealth of constituent correspondence. Letters from the attorney general, superintendent of the Penitentiary, adjutant general, state librarian, and superintendents of the state’s mental hospitals represent a large portion of these papers. Moreover, Montague’s correspondents include such notable figures of the early 20th century as Clara Barton of the American National Red Cross, Principal Booker T. Washington of the Tuskegee Normal & Industrial Institute, President Theodore Roosevelt, and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller.
Also well documented within Montague’s executive papers is the enlargement of the Virginia State Capitol. Montague’s term in office saw the most significant changes in Jefferson’s design of the Capitol with the addition of wings to the east and west sides of the structure. Included are bills, receipts, correspondence, minutes, reports, and other papers including manuscripts from architect John Keevan Peebles … read more »
The recent deactivation of Fort Monroe as a military installation and its transfer back to the Commonwealth of Virginia calls to mind the fort’s rich history. This history is well documented in the archives of the Library of Virginia. The Executive Papers of Governor Wilson Cary Nicholas contain a letter from President James Madison dated 29 May 1816 on the need to protect the Chesapeake Bay and fortify Old Point Comfort (Accession 41612). The Executive Communications to the Speaker of the House of Delegates include a letter from Secretary of War John C. Calhoun to Governor Thomas Mann Randolph in 1821 regarding the cession of the fortifications under construction at Old Point Comfort and the shoal called Rip Raps (Accession 36912, Miscellaneous Reel 5389). The archives also preserve a quartermaster letter book from the 1830s describing the day-to-day operations of the fort during that time period (Accession 24542, Miscellaneous Reel 475). A recently discovered letter from John Grant, acting engineer and draftsman for the Potomac Department, to Captain Matthew Fontaine Maury of the Advisory Council of Virginia contains Grant’s map illustrating Fort Monroe and nearby Fort Calhoun (Accession 50135). The fort continued to protect the Bay during the First and Second World Wars. The papers of George Edward Barksdale note the experiences of a soldier in the Army Medical Reserve Corps … read more »
An interesting letter was recently uncovered while processing the Executive Papers of Governor James L. Kemper. The letter, dated 28 September 1874, is written by David G. Yuengling, Jr., of the Champagne Ale Brewery in Harlem, New York. In the letter, Yuengling writes that he is sending the governor some bottles of old stout and discusses the progress of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad.
David G. Yuengling, Jr., was the son of a German brewer who immigrated to Pottsville, Pennsylvania, and established the Eagle Brewery in 1829. Yuengling partnered with his son in 1873, changing the name of the brewery to the present name of D. G. Yuengling & Son, famous for its Yuengling Lager. It was the junior Yuengling who oversaw the construction of a new brewery in Richmond in 1866. Located at 912 East Main Street, the brewery became known as the James River Steam Brewery and was later sold to the Richmond Cedar Works in 1878. Yuengling’s letter does not originate from Richmond, but instead from Harlem, on Ryerson & Yuengling, Champagne Ale Brewery stationary.
David G. Yuengling, Jr., was sent to Europe to learn brewing techniques and sought to expand his father’s business outside of Pottsville. The move to Richmond was one such venture, as was the establishment of the Champagne Ale Brewery on … read more »
“Remember Americans, that we must and shall be free and enlightened as you are,
will you wait until we shall, under God, obtain our liberty by the crushing arm of power?
Will it not be dreadful for you? I speak Americans for your good. We must and shall be free
I say, in spite of you. You may do your best to keep us in wretchedness and misery,
to enrich you and your children; but God will deliver us from under you.
And wo, wo, will be to you if we have to obtain our freedom by fighting.”
David Walker, Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World
David Walker, a free black man from Boston, wrote to Thomas Lewis in Richmond on 8 December 1829 enclosing thirty copies of the first edition of his pamphlet An Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World. Walker instructed Lewis to sell the pamphlet for twelve cents among the Richmond’s African-American population or to provide them free of charge. Walker used Old Testament theology and the natural rights philosophy of the Declaration of Independence to describe the plight of African-Americans, both slave and free, in four articles: “Our wretchedness in consequence of slavery,” “Our wretchedness in consequence of ignorance,” “Our wretchedness in consequence of the preachers of the religion of Jesus Christ,” and “Our wretchedness in … read more »