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Tag Archives: Warren County

- A Serendipitous Discovery: The Carson Family of Warren County

One afternoon in the Archives Research Room, senior reference librarian Zach Vickery requested several of the questionnaires that the Virginia War History Commission collected to document Virginians’ World War I service. I was on duty and talked with Zach about the questionnaire of Irish-born nurse Anne Lougheed Carson. Later, Zach sent Carson’s passport application to me. The name of another applicant—Isabella McNeil Carson—was visible in one image, which revealed why the surname Carson and birthplace of Enniskillen were familiar. I had used Carson’s naturalization record in a presentation for the Library of Virginia’s Irish Ancestry Day in March 2017. My serendipitous discussion with Zach led me to discover that Anne and Bella were sisters and members of a fascinating family.

In 1908, sisters Annie Lougheed Carson (1887–1965), Isabella M’Neill Carson (1888–1981), and Mary Barrett Carson (1897–1980) left their birthplace of Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Ireland, for Moville and then Londonderry, where they boarded the Caledonia on 22 February. They arrived in New York on 2 March 1908 and met their uncle William Edward Carson of Riverton, Warren County, Virginia. Their brother George Flanagan Carson (1893–1923) had taken the same journey in August 1907. Their parents, James Lougheed Carson (1860–1934) and Jean McNeill Carson (1858–1934), as well as siblings Joseph Malcolm Carson (1901–1991) and Jean McNeill Carson (1902–1989), joined them after sailing aboard the Philadelphia from Southampton, … read more »

- Warren County Chancery Causes Digitized


Warren County courthouse. Courtesy of Tracy Harter.

The Library of Virginia is pleased to announce that digital images for Warren County chancery causes, 1837-1912, are now available online through the Chancery Records Index on Virginia Memory. Chancery suits are useful when researching local history, genealogical information, and land or estate divisions. They are a valuable source of local, state, social, and legal history, and serve as a primary resource for understanding a locality’s history.

The following are a sample of causes of interest for researchers of African American genealogy and history found in the Warren County chancery collection. In John J. Johnston vs. William A. Mitchell, etc., 1845-006, Johnston accused one of the defendants, James C. Mitchell, of secretly carrying enslaved people from Fauquier County to Washington, D.C., under cover of darkness and selling them to the infamous slave trader Joseph Bruin. Guardian of James R. Ash vs. James R. Ash, etc., 1850-007, involves a dispute over expense payments related the capture and sale of a runaway enslaved man named Tom. The chancery causes Duskin, an enslaved person vs. Admr. of Henry Self, etc., 1850-001, and John R. C. Reed vs. Admr. of Mary Shambaugh, etc., 1859-003, describe the forced migration of African Americans from Virginia to free states such as Ohio, Indiana, and Iowa in the pre-Civil War era.

The social and economic impact of the … read more »

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- Have You Seen The Vigilante Man?: Reconstruction Era Violence


Thomas Nast.

Life for African Americans in Virginia following the end of the Civil War can be described as uncertain at best. As the social balance between white and black Virginians was virtually turned on its head, Virginia’s African American population expected to be governed by the same system of law and order as their white neighbors. Unfortunately, this was usually not the case, and stories of mob violence directed towards African Americans permeate the historical record immediately following Emancipation. These stories are being uncovered daily by the Library of Virginia’s African American Narrative project and made public by the Library’s new exhibit, Remaking Virginia: Transformation Through Emancipation. These acts often erupted out of allegations of crimes committed by African Americans and usually ended in an illegal execution of the alleged criminals, bypassing the standard presumption of “innocent until proven guilty.”

Two instances of such violence were recently discovered in the Library’s collection of Coroners’ Inquisitions. Coroners’ inquisitions are investigations into the deaths of individuals who died in a sudden, violent, unnatural or suspicious manner, or died without medical attendance. They are a revealing and sometimes gruesome source of historical information. In Accomack County, sometime in early April 1866, a coroner and his jury were sent to examine the body of an African American man found hanging from a tree. He was named James Holden, but little … read more »

- Don’t Block the Vote

 



In honor of the upcoming Election Day, today’s post presents a record that illustrates the struggles that some Virginians experienced while attempting to exercise the right to vote guaranteed them by the Fifteenth Amendment.  Today’s ease of voter registration belies the fact that this has not always been so in Virginia for everyone.  The Commonwealth’s Constitution of 1902 was a post-Reconstruction attempt to whittle down the voter rolls by making property ownership, poll taxes, and literacy tests prerequisites to voter registration, thereby eliminating large numbers of African Americans and poor whites.  Section 19 of Article II specifically mentions the so-called “understanding clause” –  the requirement that a person applying to register must be able to read or have read to him a section of the Constitution and explain its meaning to the registrar.  It seems fairly clear that this understanding clause was not applied to every person registering to vote.


Voter refusal of Snowden Robinson, 15 September 1902.

Warren County kept a register of voters  titled “Refused Colored Applicants,” 1902-1903 (Barcode 1205724) consisting of dated entries by name of African American men attempting to register to vote, along with their ages, dates of birth, occupations, and how long they had lived in the state, county, and precinct. Also recorded is the section of the Virginia constitution that was given to the men for explanation (although not which article) and what their answers … read more »

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