Editors Note: This post originally appeared in the Virginiana section of Virginia Memory.
The beautiful maps in the Voorhees collection and those that reside in Special Collections are well known to Library of Virginia researchers. Yet thousands of rough but informative maps exist in the Library’s local government records collection. Often classified as “plats,” these detailed property maps were created and filed as part of county land records, chancery records, or other legal proceedings.
Some of the most interesting local plats are found within criminal papers. Murder trials occasionally required jurors to consider a particular crime scene, and the resulting sketches created for this purpose offer fascinating glimpses into landscapes and violent episodes. One is featured on the Library’s 1997 web exhibit The Common Wealth: Treasures from the Collections of the Library of Virginia. This drawing shows a portion of Manchester, Virginia, in 1869, at the time of a barroom-related shooting, complete with building facades and streets. And in her 2003 book A Murder in Virginia, based on three Commonwealth Causes against Pokey Barnes, Solomon Marable, and Mary Abernathy, historian Suzanne Lebsock drew upon a court-directed plat from Prince Edward County to illustrate the scene of an infamous 1895 crime involving four black defendants.
While processing Henry County’s criminal causes, I came across a number of particularly gruesome plats. The most remarkable one … read more »
At the 24 February 1910, meeting of the Manchester Ordinance Committee, committee member W. W. Workman moved that the city auditor be requested to advertise for bids for tin wagon license plates. J. H. Gallagher, house and sign painter, submitted his bid for the job by letter declaring he would do the job at 5 cents per license for the year 1910. Included with his letter were two identical samples of his work. Measuring 2 x 7 inches, the tin signs are painted a dark yellow with black numbers and red letters. The initials l.H.W. possibly mean licensed hack wagon, while C.M. surely stands for the City of Manchester.
The following meeting of the Ordinance Committee was held on 23 March 1910, when Mr. Broaddus moved that the bids for the license plates be laid on the table until the next meeting. Unfortunately for Mr. Gallagher and any other bidders, no one was to receive the job. The City of Manchester was annexed to the City of Richmond in April 1910.
The original licenses and the Ordinance Committee Minute Book, 1904-1910, are available on microfilm.
-Sarah Nerney, Senior Local Records Archivist