Danville, Pittsylvania County Posters

August 21st, 2010

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History Posters -Danville, Pittsyvlania Co. VA

This is a part of the Clay Poster (No. 24)  showing a map of a large 9,600-acre land grant beginning above the Main St. Bridge in Danville an north to the ridge of the White Oak Mountains.  $5.00 (Large) plus actual postage.  For detail cut and paste htmls.

Posters, Charts and Historical Charts by Robert “Danny” Ricketts

102 Parrish Road Phone: 434-792-4943
Danville, VA 24540 Email: dan@rdricketts.com

SHIPPING & Handling: Priority Mail $5.00. Additional posters are shipped at no extra charge in the same mailing. Large posters are rolled in a large triangular priority tube; smaller posters are shipped in a priority box.

1. William Byrd’s 1728 Survey of Boundary Line Va-NC Map with campsites, entries from Byrd’s diary, area in Pittsylvania Co. in the Danville area. 11″ X 14″. $3.00

2. Main Street/Canal area of Danville, Virginia in 1871 showing covered bridge and 1796 Mill. Limited printing of 500 copies, each signed and numbered by artist Danny Ricketts in 1993. The original site for the beginning of Riverside Cotton Mills (now Dan River Inc.) is traced back to the original land grant. 11″X14″. $3.00

3. Danville, Virginia 1819 Property Owners for the first 119 lots shown on map. Name and date of purchase of the first lots sold beginning in 1796. Much more historical information. 11″x14″. $3.00

4. Danville, Va. Property owner tax lists for 1797 and 1819. Exact copies of the original hand written court records. 11″X 14.5″. $3.00

5. Map of Lots in Danville, Va. 1877 showing businesses and property owners. 11″X17.5″. $3.00

6. Capt. John & William Dix, Revolutionary War Patriots. Much history about Pittsylvania Co. including a list of the 30 members of the Committee of Safety, Oath of Allegiance, List of the 27 Revolutionary War Captains, Lieutenants, and Ensigns. Dix claims at the Court of Claims including hundreds of soldier, horses, and wagons transported across Dan River at Dix’s Ferry. 11″X14.5. $3.00

7. Porter Flagg (b 1808 Mass.) Stagecoach Driver. Early Free Black Property Owners. Flagg Island. Maps of Flagg Island and property on Dan River. 11″ X 14″. $3.00

8. Stage Line Map circa 1830. Milton NC to Fredericksburg Va. Cross Stages to Danville, Lynchburg, Richmond, Orange Court House, Charlottesville Goochland Court House. The line continued to Powelton, Georgia. List of distances between taverns and Court Houses. 1830’s woodcut of stage. 11″ X 13.5″ $3.00

9. Historical Map Danville, Virginia area. Roads Streams Houses Mills. Entries from President George Washington’s Diary: crossed Dan River here in 1791. 11″ X 14″ $3.00 (#20 below is a larger revised edition of this poster)

10. Land Grants Danville Va area. William Wynne (3,500 acres) photo of his Wynne’s 17th century 200 lb iron family chest from England is on poster. Other land grants include Nathaniel Terry, Absolom Bostick, Thomas Barnett, John McClain, William Travis, John Armstrong, Lewis Green (Chiswell), John Boyd, Edmond Floyd, John Cargill, William Hogan, and William Cornelius. Info on Indian Villages, First Blacks, Water Powered Grist Mills (Wynne’s Mill c 1754). 17.5″ X 22.5″ $5.00 http://rdricketts.com/scans/10wynne.jpg
Detail: http://rdricketts.com/scans/10wynneb.jpg

11. Col. John Donelson’s migration from Pittsylvania Co. to Nashville, Tennessee area in 1779. Map shows parts of Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina Georgia, Alabama, Missouri, and Illinois. Donelson was in charge of about 30 boats with 40 families who traveled by water 985 miles down the Holston, and Tennessee Rivers and up the Ohio and Cumberland to Nashville. Capt. James Robertson led men and animals over land to meet the others there. Over 100 names of the early setters. Entries from Donelson’s Diary of the trip. Daughter Rachel, born in Pittsylvania Co., was 12 years old during the trip and later married President Andrew Jackson. 17.5″ X 22.5″ $5.00 http://rdricketts.com/scans/11donelson.jpg
Detail: http://rdricketts.com/scans/11donelsonb.jpg

12. 1850 Historical Map of part of Pittsylvania Co. Roads Streams Houses Mills. Chalk Level, Mt. Airy, Markham, Sonans, & Greenfield Church. NE of Chatham, the county seat. 11″ X 17″ $5.00 http://rdricketts.com/scans/12chalklevel.jpg
Detail: http://rdricketts.com/scans/12chalklevelb.jpg

13. Last Capital 1865 Map. Danville showing the location of houses where the Confederate Cabinet stayed at the time of the surrender at Appomattox Court House. Sutherlin Mansion & Prisons where thousands of Union Soldiers died. 11″ X 22″ $5.00


Detail: http://rdricketts.com/scans/13danville1865b.jpg

14. 80 Indian Tribes of Virginia & 127 Powhatan Villages named. 17″ X 22″ $5.00


Detail: http://rdricketts.com/scans/14indiantribesb.jpg

15. Dan River Plantations & Mills 20 sketches with Historical Info. Dan’s Hill, Berry Hill, Ferry Farm, Briarfield, Oak Hill, Oak Ridge, Laurel Cliff, Bachelor’s Hall, Belle Grade, Bridgewater, Ferry Farm, Homes of Wm Bean, Nicholas Perkins, Thos. Harden Perkins, Wm Wynne, Robt Payne, John Dix, Joseph Motley, Thomas Fearn, John Dix Ordinary, Barnett & Townes 1796 Grist Mill, & Wynnes 1754 Grist Mill. History of each.  Dan’s Hill is one of the plantations.Col. Thiis was the home of Robert Wilson (b 24 Jan 1789 d 1873), who married Catherine A. Pannill. The children I have listed are John, George, Samuel Pannill, Robert A., William, Maria C., Mary D., Caroline (married Redd) Wilson, Harriet A. (married Cunningham). Not all of the children are named in his will, which was presented, to the court on 17 Nov 1873. The Dan’s Hill home tract of 1,562 acres was willed to his son Robert A. Wilson. The “Sandy River Tract” of 1,900 acres was divided between daughters Harriet A. Cunningham and Caroline E. Redd. The ten-acre “Scarce’s Mill Tract” of ten acres went to son Robert A. Wilson. Son Samuel P. Wilson had been “already advanced an equal portion of my estate.”

 17.5″ X 22.5″. $5.00


Detail: http://www.rdricketts.com/scans/15plantationsb.jpg


16. Samuel Harris’ Fall Creek Plantation. Pittsylvania County, VA. Survey of 6,592 acres. Col. Samuel Harris commanded Fort Mayo during the French & Indian War and was present when George Washington inspected in 1756. 17.5″ X 22.5″. $5.00


Detail: http://rdricketts.com/scans/16harrisb.jpg

17. Lynchburg Republican June 23rd 1845. Newspaper reprint. Death of President Andrew Jackson reported. Andrew Jackson’s wife, Rachael Donelson, was born at Markham in Pittsylvania County. In this newspaper it is said that the President was laid to rest at the Hermitage, Nashville, Tennessee. (See # 11 above – about John Donelson, Rachael’s father, and their migration to the Nashville area in 1779.) 23 in. x 35 in. (actual size of the original newspaper) $5.00


Detail: http://rdricketts.com/scans/17republicnpb.jpg

18. Principal Engagements of the Civil War. Location, dates, Commanders and Men Engaged. 16 inches x 20 inches. $5.00


Detail: http://rdricketts.com/scans/18engagementsb.jpg

19. Danville, VA Railroads 1910. Richmond & Danville, Lynchburg & Danville, The Piedmont, Danville & Western (“Dick & Willie”), Atlantic & Danville, Danville Street Car Co., Words to the ballard “Wreck of the old 97”, photos of wreck. 17.5″ x 22.5″ $5.00


Detail: http://rdricketts.com/scans/19railroadsb.jpg


20. President George Washington’s Southern Tour 1791 – Entries are shown from George Washington’s Diary beginning June 1, 1791. Areas shown are Danville, Virginia; part of Pittsylvania County, Virginia; and Caswell County, North Carolina. George Washington spent the night of Friday, June 3, 1791, at the Whit Gatewood house, crossed on Dix Ferry, and had lunch at Dan’s Hill with Colonel John Wilson, who was County Lieutenant during the Revolutionary War. Shown on the map are Laurel Cliff, Bridgewater, Bellegrade, and the homes of Thomas Fearn, Joseph Motley. Also shows Walters’ Mill, Dix Mill, Wynne’s Mill, Townes & Barnett’s Mill, Worsham’s Mill, Bryant’s Mill (Keen’s Mill), Beaver’s Mill, Clark’s Mill. Also shown are roads and waterways. 17.5″ x 22.5″ $5.00


Detail: http://rdricketts.com/scans/20washingtonb.jpg

21. Danville, Virginia in 1829 Drawing based on Thompson Coleman’s writing concerning early homes and businesses of Danville. This is the area from Grove Street Cemetery (c. 1827) down to the canal and Dan River. Residences of Capt. James Lanier (first mayor of Danville), John Ross, George Price, John W. Paxton, Capt. William Linn, Capt. John Noble, Robert Payne Esq., Samuel Patton, General B.W.S. Cabell (his son, Confederate General William Lewis Cabell, was born in this house and was later mayor of Dallas, Texas), Letha Flagg (free mulatto woman and ancestor of the late Rev. Doyle Thomas), Dr. Nathaniel T. Green, and many others. Some of the businesses shown on poster are: the newspaper “The Reporter”; William F. Russell, Tailor; Bell Tavern (later a bank where part of the Confederate gold was kept during the time Danville was the last capital of the Confederacy); Robert Carter’s Hatter Shop; Tan Yard; Market House; Pannil’s Tobacco Warehouse; Saw Mill with Sash Saw; Flour Mill; Mill with stone for grinding; Linseed Oil Mill with a cotton gin and wool carding machine; Roanoke Navigation Company Canal; Williams Tavern; Dye House; and many more. 11″ x 14″ $3.00


Detail: http://rdricketts.com/scans/21danville1829b.jpg

22. Capt. John Noble (1785-1858) Estate in North Danville, VA, listing his children and dates. John Noble was born on November 14, 1783 in Boston, Massachusetts. His father was lost at sea and his mother moved to Petersburg, Virginia before 1796. He was apprenticed to a shoemaker. Some time before 1807, he ran away and settled in Danville. In Nov. of 1821, he bought out Henry Neal’s Shoe Shop. He became wealthy and a large land owner. When Capt. Noble died in 1855 he owned 240 acres north of the Toll Bridge (Main Street). The Richmond and Danville Railroad, completed from Richmond in 1856, is shown on the map (the original was prepared in distribution of his property). The western boundary of the property is the Danville, Franklin and Botetourt Turnpike, which went 93 miles to Fincastle. The first five miles was completed in 1839 by contractor Robert Townes of Danville. There are many tidbits of historical information about this area of what is now Danville. The location of the old Worsham burial ground is shown. 17.5″ X 22.5″. $5.00


Detail: http://rdricketts.com/scans/22nobleb.jpg

23. Ricketts Land Grant and Homestead at Dry Fork, VA 1780 (near White Oak Mountain) History of the Town of Dry Fork. Ten generations of Ricketts in Pittsylvania County (photographs of six generations). Early records misspell the name “Rickles.” 17.5″ X 22.5″. $5.00


Detail: http://rdricketts.com/scans/23wmrickettsb.jpg

24. Charles Clay Land Grant survey 1755. 9,600 acres from Dan River in Danville to the crest of White Oak Mountain along the Franklin Turnpike. Much Clay family genealogy. 17.5″ X 22.5″. $5.00


Detail: http://rdricketts.com/scans/24clayb.jpg

25. Confederate Hospitals Danville, VA. Locations of hospital buildings and list of about 700 men who died there during the Civil War. Poster shows a Map based on drawing made by Freedmen’s Bureau in 1865. These Confederate buildings were confiscated at the end of the Civil War. The complex of thirty buildings shows eighteen numbered buildings to be sold as “not of use to the military or government.” One of these buildings was later used for the first Black church in Danville. The High Street Baptist and Loyal Baptist Church congregations came from this first church. 17.5″ X 22.5″. $5.00


Detail: http://rdricketts.com/scans/25confedhospitalsb.jpg

26. Confederate soldiers named Ricketts (Ricket, Rickets, Ricket, etc.). 136 names of soldiers 1861-1865 with rank, company, regiment and state. 17” x 22”. $5.00


Detail: http://rdricketts.com/scans/26confedrickettsb.jpg

27. “Roanoke Navigation Co. Danville, VA., Bateau Passage & Water Power”. Map of Danville showing the 3,200-foot long canal with four locks, which was completed in 1824. Several old maps are pictured including 1. A very early map of Winns (Wynnes) Falls and Dan River along the VA/NC line. This is prior to 1793 when the Va. Legislature established Danville. 2. A map prior to 1824 when the millrace was converted to a canal for bateau. Shows the 1796 mill of Barnett & Townes and the Old Saw Mill. 3. An 1854 map showing the Toll Bridge, the Basin, and three of the four locks (each 90 feet long). 4. An 1877 map of the Free Bridge and canal. 5. Drawing of the old mill near the locks. The Roanoke Navigation Co. completed the canal around the “Great Falls” or “Wynnes Falls” in 1824. The canal system here at Danville, Virginia extended the navigation from the Atlantic Ocean in the area of Roanoke Island/Nags Head, North Carolina up Dan River another 65 miles to Danbury, North Carolina. The Danville Canal system was 3,200 feet long, 30 feet wide and 3 feet deep. There were four locks 90 feet long which raised or lowered the bateau (batteau) barges a total of 27 feet. Traffic was heavy. The 1849 annual report showed that 3,607,341 pounds of manufactured tobacco passed through the canal. Shows the location where Confederate Gen. William Lewis Cabell was born. He was Mayor of Dallas, Texas after the War. Also, the location of a Civil War Gun Factory where Confederate carbines (Keen and Walker) were manufactured. James M. Walker, Mayor of Danville. The site of the “Wreck of the Old 97” (Sep. 27, 1903) is shown on the opposite side of Dan River. There is a Revolutionary War era description of the falls at Danville by Capt. John Smith of the 6th Maryland Regiment on Dec. 25, 1780. There is information about the “True Friends of Charity Colored Church, which was built in 1870 opposite the Court House. The decline in use of the canal began with the completion of the Richmond and Danville Railroad in 1856. The Danville Depot was a short distance east of the locks. Gen. Benjamin W. S. Cabell was the leading force in construction of the canal. He also promoted the first cotton mill in Danville, which evolved to what is now Dan River Inc. Waterpower from the canal provided electricity for what was the first municipal electric company in the United States. 17.5″ X 22.5″. $5.00


Detail: http://rdricketts.com/scans/27navigationb.jpg

Poster #28 1922 Chatterbox GWHS Danville VA. Exact copy of the first issue in 1922 of the Chatterbox. Originally Danville High School (later George Washington High School) Danville, Virginia. $3.00


Detail: http://rdricketts.com/scans/28chatterboxb.jpg

Poster #29 Rickett Steamer Built in 1858 (50 years before the Stanley Steamer) Limited Print Signed by artist. Only 500 printed in 1989. The vehicle was demonstrated in the presence of Queen Victoria in London in 1858. 11” x 17” on thick paper. $5.00


Detail: http://rdricketts.com/scans/29steamerb.jpg

Poster #30 Old 97 Engine – weight, HP, wheels. Bells, Whistles. The new engine (36 days from the factory) that wrecked in 1903 with specifications from the Baldwin factory in Philadelphia. The famous song was the first to sell a million records in the 1920s. On quality photographic type paper. History of Old 97
Nov. 2, 1902: The 57th United States Congress authorized a $140,000 annual contract between the U.S. Postal Service and the Southern Railway to carry mail from Washington, DC to Atlanta, Georgia. Substantial penalties would result if the mail was late arriving in Atlanta.
Dec. 5, 1902: Daily one way trips from Washington to Atlanta begin by train Number 97.
Aug. 21, 1903: Engine #1102, a 4-6-0 Class F-14, Baldwin Locomotive Works, Philadelphia.
Sept. 27, 1903: 8:00 am: Train Number 97 pulled by engine #1102 encounters a delay of one hour waiting for mail from New York and Philadelphia. It leaves Washington’s Union Station at 9:00 am. 1:00 pm: The express mail train #97 reaches Monroe, Virginia one hour behind time after traveling 166 miles along the 640 mile run. Engineer Joseph A. “Steve” Broady along with firemen Albion G. “Buddy” Clapp and John M. Hodge climb aboard the train for their 168 mile run to Spencer, North Carolina.
1:27 pm: Number 97 leaves Lynchburg after a brief stop…1 hour and 10 minutes late.
2:43 pm: Train Number 97 leaves the rails at a high rate of speed entering the curved trestle over Stillhouse Branch in North Danville. It careened into the stream 45 feet below, killing eleven and injuring six.
Oct. 1, 1903: Engine #1102 is towed to Spencer, North Carolina to be rebuilt.
Jan. 6, 1907: Train Number 97 is discontinued when Congress fails to allocate it’s funding.
1930: Engine #1102 scrapped in Princeton, Indiana.
16” x 20” $5.00

31. Col. Nathaniel Wilson (1780-1857), a brother of Col. Robert Wilson of Dan’s Hill, lived in what is now Danville on his “Bellegrade Plantation,” fronting over a mile on Dan River (Woodall’s Chevrolet to Sandy Creek near the Stratford Inn) and up to the Keen’s Mill Pond at Colonial Heights. Col. Nathaniel Wilson owned more than 80 slaves when he died in 1857. These slaves, appraised after his death, were valued at $50 to $1,200 each, and their names are shown on the poster. The Keen’s water powered grist mill and mill pond is shown at what is now Wendell Scott Blvd. When the graves were moved from the Bellegrade cemetery, seven hermetically sealed iron coffins were found with a glass plate. Col. Nathaniel Wilson’s skin is said to have looked like parchment and he wore a string tie. The comb marks could be seen in his hair after more than a hundred years. During the 1830s, Nathaniel developed his “new town” subdivision along Wilson Street, which was incorporated into the town of Danville. Ann Benedict’s vacant schoolhouse on Wilson Street was used as the Executive Office Building for the Confederate government during April of 1865 when the capital was moved here from Richmond. 17” x 22” $5.00

32. Riverside Cotton Mills was established in 1882. After more than 100 years, this company which later became Dan River Mills no longer manufactures cloth in Danville, Virginia.  Some of the oldest of the buildings have been torn down for the old brick, heart pine framing and maple flooring. There are parts of three maps which were originally drawn in 1887, 1890 and 1910. A race by the Great Falls of Dan River provided water power for a grist mill which was built by John Barnett and Halcott Townes in 1796. The race was widened for the Roanoke Navigational Canal (see poster #27) which was completed in 1824. An earlier cotton mill was operating in 1828 and Riverside was established in 1882. Mill numbers one through eight are shown.

In 1904, the Dan River Mills opened in Schoolfield. Up stream on Dan River a high dam was built to generate electricity for a mill at the crest of the hill above. Over 800 houses were built in Schoolfield Village for mill families. See Poster #33 on Schoolfield Mill and Village.

There are drawings and photographs with details about the history of the Danville mills. At one time these mills were the largest in the south. During WWII, employment reached about 18,000. Building on the “Long Mill” on the north side of the river began in 1887. The 1920s covered bridge connecting the mills is among the longest in Va. Union Street Bridge, built in the 1880s, was originally a covered bridge. There is a drawing of the covered Main Street Bridge which as replaced in 1887 by a “fireproof” bridge which burned in 1927. . This 22” x 17 ½” poster is on thick card stock paper. $5.00

33. Schoolfield Mill & Village. There are maps and over thirty (30) pictures. The Dan River Mills here and Riverside Cotton Mills nearby later merged as one company. Riverside was organized in 1882 (see poster #32 in our store under History Posters). These mills originally operated by water power. Outside of the town of Danville, the mill owned about 1,700 acres where they built the mill and over 800 houses of mill workers. Electricity, and even toilet paper, was free. The first mill in Schoolfield began operating in 1904. A Park Place Mercantile Company store trade store is pictured. Employees could spend these tokens in the store and the amount borrowed was taken from their pay. There is a photograph of the 1930 strike. There is a photograph of Nancy Langhorn Astor (1869-1964) on her 1946 visit. Lady Astor, who was born in Danville, Virginia, became the first female to serve in the English Parliament. When she entered parliament, women in the United States could not vote. There are many interesting details and old photographs. This poster 23” x 17 ½” is on heavy card stock paper. $5.00

EMAIL: dan@rdricketts.com

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Thanksgiving on the Temple Mount Jerusalem

January 29th, 2010

November 2009 Jerusalem, Israel

Then the Lord said to him, Take off your sandals; the place where you are standing is holy ground. Acts 7:33
“Then the Lord said to him, ‘Take off your sandals; the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Acts 7:33
For Christians, Jews and Muslims, this is a very holy ground.  “By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice.”  Hebrews 11:17.  The Muslims built their golden domed shrine over the rock here on Mount Mariah where Abraham offered his son. 
Sid Roth led a group to Israel in November 2009.  We traveled throughout Isreal on the Purple Bus with Don Allen as our leader.

Nancye and Danny Ricketts at the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount.  This Islamic shrine was completed in 691 A.D. by Abd al-Malik.  It was said that “His building spoke to Jews by its location, to Christians by its interior decroration.”  It is near the center of the Temple Mount.  The dome, 60 feet in diameter, is covered with gold leaf.  The blue tiles have been replaced.  The original tiles were sent by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in 1545.  They were fired at the ancient town of Nicaea in Bythinia, where Constantine convened a church council in the 4th century.  I visited that walled city when in was in Turkey in 1962. 




This building next to the Dome of the Rock is called the “Dome of the Chain.” 


This old man wanted to be friendly, but he knew no English at all.


Nancye and Carroll.










This is the Moroccan Gate leaving the Temple Mount.


The Al-Aqsa Mosque is opposite the Dome of the Rock.  The dome is now covered with lead. 


Nancye in a Temple Mount gateway. 







Our guide Yosee tells about the Temple Mount.

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Danny Ricketts Blogger blogs: http://www.blogger.com/profile/09384259856105465851 

Danny Ricketts WordPress blogs:  http://rdricketts.com/blog/about/

((A note on spam.  Antispam has deleted 21,747 comments from my WordPress blogs alone.  2,565 comments have been approved.   There are hundreds of spams each day and I cannot check them all to see if they are valid.  Danny Dec. 10, 2010)).

William Travis and his Pittsylvania Co. VA Land

September 5th, 2009
The first large landowner in the area which is now Danville, Virginia was Col. William Wynne.  On 26 March 1748, he entered for 400 acres near an old cabin below the fork of Rutledges Creek.  At this time this area was a part of Lunenburg County.  Wynne later consolidated his land into a large tract of 1,810 on 30 June 1760.  He and his sons acquired other land adjoining for a total of more than 3,500 acres which stretched from the area of downtown Danville to the North Carolina border. 
The fork referred to is probably the one near the old road shown below.  William Wynne built a water-powered grist mill above that fork and on the old pioneer road to North Carolina.  This mill is mentioned in a road survey in 1754, indicating that the mill was built and operating at that early date.  At that time this area was a part of Halifax since 1752 and in Lunenburg before 1746.  The mill application has not been found.  Col.  Wynne lived near the mill and the mansion on this map may be his old homeplace.  Using this map and following the old roadbed to the creek we found remnants of the 12″ x 12″ wooden sill which was under the earthern dam to prevent the water from washing underneath.  At a 45 degree angle are planks nailed to this sill.  On the north side we found the wings of the dam and a sunken place nearby which was probably where the waterwheel was located. 
 On the south side is a high cliff.  The road south east by the mill and down the creek where it crossed near the fork and continued to the top fo the hill, then into North Carolina.  Just before entering Caswell County, the road forked.  The east fork went acros Hogan’s Creek, where Azariah Graves Walters built Walters Mill about 1840, about the time he bought this mill.  Since records cease about that time for the old Wynne mill, Walters may have used some of the machinery in his North Carolina mill. 
William Travis was born about 1746 and settled in southern Pittsylvania County, Virginia. In 1782, he lived on 109 acres on the waters of Rutledges Creek (Pumpkin Creek) in what is now Danville, Virginia. In 1784, he received a land grant for 300 acres which included the land on which he lived.
William Travis land grant, left of center on N.C. line, 1784

William Travis land grant, left of center on N.C. line, 1784

This is an 1870s map of the road from Danville to Caswell Courthouse

This is an 1870s map of the road from Danville to Caswell Courthouse


  • In 1806, William Travis, Sr. gave a part of his 300-acre land grant to his sons.  William Travis, Jr. received 75 acres along the state line and John Travis received 77 acres.
  • Descendants of William Travis, Sr. remained on the land.  In 1883, George A. Travis sold Suiter M. Coleman of Caswell County, North Carolina 84 acres on the waters of Pumpkin Creek, Penick’s Branch and on the Danville and Yanceyville Road.  The land adjoined Mrs. Susan M. Price. 
  • The Suiter Coleman house was at the crest of the hill on the east side of the Yanceyville Road about where the U.S. 29 bypass was built.  This tract “on the plank road” was part of the estate of John W. Travis, which was purchased by George A Travis in 1868. 
  • We do not know the father of Suiter Coleman.  In 1860, at age five, he is living in the household of Josias Travis, age 23.  Sallie Travis appears to be his mother.

 In 1900, Sallie is 72 years old and gives her birth in May of 1828.  Suiter was born in December of 1854 and wife Isabel in July 1842.  He is listed as a widow and had only one child (Suiter) who is living. 

William Travis died in 1814. 

Other blogs: http://megiddofirstlast.blogspot.com/

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My 4th Great Grandfather’s Rock House circa 1779 (needs work)

August 6th, 2009

There are only four old rock houses known in Pittsylvania County.  One of them was built by my fourth great grandfather William Davis about 1779.  His land on Banister River, the Great Cherrystone and Little Cherrystone Creeks is not far from from Chatham.  Chatham is the exact center of Pittsylvania County as it was after Henry County was taken off in 1777. 

Grandfather William Davis’ next neighbor to the north were the Woodings of “Little Cherrystone” (after the small stream of the same name).  Little Cherrystone runs by the Wooding house on the east and flows into the Great Cherrystone.  The artist left it out of this map.  The Pigg Mill was in operation when Davis bought the property.

In 1789, the same year that Pres. George Washington took his oath as President, William Ricketts married Nancy Davis, daughter of William Davis.  When he died in 1791, Davis left his daughter Nancy Davis a Negro Girl named Dafney.  This was William Ricketts second marriage.  The lived on “the Dry Fork of White Oak Creek” in the gap where the railroad came through in 1874.  William Ricketts died in 1832.  The following year his son lost the 205-acre family land, part of which was a land grant dated 1780, for a debt of $37 and some pennies. 

This is the Davis rock house in the 1960s.  The jungle has taken over and the house has really gone down in the last 45 or 50 years.  This end wall is leaning out and in danger of falling.

Only the red tin roof can be seen from the old dirt road near the rock house.  Weeds and trees have grown up all around the house.  Behind the house from this view is the old cemetery with a few field stones and lots of periwinkle. 

Sylvia is starting up the stairs. 

This the upstairs in the Davis rock house.  Note the wall leaning out.  At left is Taylor Meadows who lives nearby.  He collects old mill stones.  He has the old grind stone from the 1768 mill which William Davis was operating during the Revolutionary War.  Herman Melton, an expert on water powered grist mills, believes this to be the oldest surviving grindstone found in Pittsylvania County.  At right is Sylvia Lynch Matthews, of Hot Springs Village, Arkansas.  My neice Sylvia is a 5th great grand daughter of William Davis.  She is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution based on her relationship with Davis.

The is the other window and an original shutter held by Taylor Meadows.  There is a small fireplace in this chimney.

This is the original chair rail inside the 18-inch rock wall

Note the huge soapstone slab over the fireplace.

This is Sylvia Lynch Matthews at the site on Great Cherrystone Creek where the 1768 Pigg/Davis Mill was located.  Taylor Meadows found the giant millstone here. 

This is on page 151 of Herman Melton’s book Pittsylvania’s Eighteenth Century Grist Mills.  The millstone is in Taylor Meadows yard.

Pittsylvania Court Order:  Pigg for a Water Mill – At a Court held for Pittsylvania County the 26th day of August 1768.  Present His Majesty’s Justices Hugh Innes, John Wilson, John Dix, Robert Chandler, and Theophilus Lacy, Gentlemen

On the Motion of William Pigg, leave is given him to build a Water Grist Mill on Great Cherry Stone Creek, he being owner of the Land on both sides of the said Creek where such Mill is proposed to be built.

See other blogs: http://megiddofirstlast.blogspot.com/

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Confederate Soldiers Of Halifax Co., VA Pruett/Hoge

May 16th, 2009

My grandmother and her father came to Danville in 1888 from Halifax County.  Her father Nathaniel Pruett, his brothers and neighbors served during the Civil War.   

My grandmother Annie Brooks Pruett Jones (1880-1969) was always next door for me when I was young. My parents worked long and hard hours at the C & G Cafe on Craghead Street. During the 1940s, the warehouse district was booming with tobacco factories and many businesses. Annie and Dan Jones bought four lots at the corner of Washington and Valley (later Aspen) Streets in 1908. In 1927, they gave my parents a lot where they built our house.

This is Annie Pruett Jones.  She was, in my oipinion, the most kind and consistent person who ever lived.  We never saw her angry or unkind in any situation.  Before I left for the Air Force in January 1961, she told me:  “Danny, no matter how bad things are, never tell you mother about your problems.  It will cause her a lot of worry and won’t help you at all.”  So everyone at home thought I had nothing but wonderful times.  Hey, it worked for me too!  I convinced myself that those times in Texas and Turkey were an opportunity for learning and enjoying where I happen to be at the time.

This is Laura Lavelette Driscoll Pruett.  The death notice was inside her trunk at her daughter Ethel’s house on Richmond Ave. (earlier John St.).  Emma was the oldest; born in 1866, the year after the Civil War was over.  Another child William David Pruett was bron in 1879 and died 15 June 1901.  Laura and Nathaniel Pruett had nine children.

Laura’s grandfather was William C. Pruett (1815-1880).  His father Asa Prewitt (Pruett) died in 1815, the year he was born, and his mother Tabitha (Ferguson) (born circa 1788) died in 1817.  William C. Pruett’s grandfather Robert Ferguson, father of Tabitha, became guardian of Willam C. and his brother Thomas Stuart Pruett.  Robert Ferguson has a lengthy record of service during the Revolutionary War.  After Tabitha died, he married Bersheba Newbell of Milton, North Carolina.  It appears that the lines are misplaced on William C. Pruett’s gravestone in the family cemetery:

These are the six living children at the time of the photograph.  Left to right: (1) Ida K. “Beauty” Pruett (b 1877) who married a Slagle and secondly John A. Cain (2) William Taylor Pruett (b 1868) who married Mary Olivia Hudson (3) Mary Watkins Pruett (b 1874) who married James Petty (4) Annie Brook Pruett (1880-1969) who married Mark Daniel Jones (5) John Pruett (b 1883) who married Sally Darnell and (6) Ethel Kate Pruett (b 1888) who married John M. “Coy” Hardister. 

William Taylor Pruett’s descendants have Nathaniel Pruett’s pistol which he carried through his service in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. 


Annie was born in the Birch Creek District of Halifax County on September 30, 1880.  This is the census taker’s record on July 2, 1860, twenty years before she was born.  Her grandfather was William C. Pruett was born in 1815 and died the year she was born.  William C. Pruett’s wife was the former Frances Epperson.  Annie’s father Nathaniel Pruett (1837-1900) is a 23-year old bachelor when this form was completed.

This is from a tin-type of Nathaniel Pruett (1837-1900) and his wife Laura Lavelette Driskill Pruett (1848-1933) of Charlotte County, Virginia.  Nathaniel enlisted in Richmond on February 20, 1862 in Co. B of the 60th Virginia Infantry, Confederate States of America.  He served until April 1865 and was with Gen. Robert E. Lee’s army at the surrender at Appomattox Court House.  A record dated December 31, 1864 states that he was “absent without leave since December 29, 1864.  It is no coincidence that on December 30, 1864, Nathaniel and Laura were married in Caswell County, North Carolina.  Is is likely that Nathaniel met Laura through a soldier buddy of Charlotte County.  It is not clear how they chose Caswell County for the wedding.  I know that my child-bride of 41 years was too young for Virginia, so we traveled to Carolina for our wedding.

 The road from the Pruett farm down to Barksdale Depot, near Dan River, was a busy one.  In 1855, the same year that the railroad construction reached that area, the Brooklyn Tobacco Factory was built a couple of miles to the north.  Fertilizer was also brought north to the farmers from the depot.  Near neighbors of the Pruetts, about two miles south, were the Hoge family.

Nathaniel and his four brothers were about the same age as the Hoge brothers.  Our great grandfather Nathaniel Pruett was born in 1837 and his brothers Thomas, John, Robert and Zachariah Taylor were born from 1841 to 1849.  Moses Hoge was born in 1834 and Achilles Whitlock Hoge.  They lived about two miles apart and surely were acquainted with one another by meeting at the Dan River for fishing and around the depot and nearby store.

//PLEASE NOTE: The Barksdale Depot porperty is posted.  Be sure to obtain permission from the land owner Jack Butler before you visit the site.//

During my research, a tradgic story unfolded about these neighborhood boys.  Dr. Thomas Hoge (1799-1876) owned a large tract south just past the Mercy Seat Presbyterian Church (established 1847).  Dr. Hoge lived in the old home of his father-in-law Achilles Whitlock.  He died in 1811 and is buried with his wife Agnes in the family graveyard near the house.  Notice in the census record above that Dr. Hoge had only two sons.  Both sons died on the same day during the Civil War.  They were manning a 12-pound cannon during the Battle of Cloyd’s Mountain near Dublin Depot in Pulaski when they fell.  They were both a part of the Ringgold Battery.

Not much is known about Moses J. Hoge, the older son, except that he was born in 1834 and died with his brother on May 9, 1864.

Achilles Whitlock Hoge, named for his grandfather Achilles Whitlock who died in 1811, entered the service early in the War.  He enrolled as a student at Hampton-Sydney College in the fall of 1860.  His grandfather Dr. Moses Hoge, who died in 1820, was president of the college beginning in about 1807. 

In 1861, the President of Hampton-Sydney Dr. J. M. P. Atkinson formed a company and he served as captain.  The company trained at Camp Lee, two miles outside Richmond, Virginia.  The chaplain of the camp was his uncle Rev. Moses Hoge.  Dr. Hoge wrote about having lunch with “Whitlocke Hoge.”  He also noted: “I have fitted up a large tent at the camp and provided it with a fine library of books and magazines as a free reading room for the men.  It will afford much pleasure particularly for the Hampton-Sydney boys.” 

The Hampton-Sydney boys were a part of the “Battle of Rich Mountain,” which is sometimes described at the “first real battler of the War.”  It appears that all the students were captured.  Federal reports state that a thousand prisoners were taken and only 600 escaped. 

The first “college-boy” military company came under fire on Sunday July 7, 1861.  They were camped at a river crossing half-way between Buckannon and Beverly (West), Virginia at the Middle Fork Covered Bridge.  Soldiers from Ohio and Indiana fired on the 101 young men from Hampton-Sydney and Union Theological Seminary.  Capt. Atkinson was Pastor of a church in Georgetown in Washington, D.C., just a few years before.  One student had a finger shot off, but the entire company was captured.  

Three days later,on July 10th, the “boys” were pardoned by Gen. George McClellan with the condition that they return to their studies.

The Barksdale Depot of the Richmond and Danville Railroad was only several hundred yards south of Dr. Hoge’s home.  The line was completed from Richmond to Barksdale (another of Achilles Whitlock’s daughters Sally married Claiborne W. Barksdale in 1831) Station in 1855.  The line was completed to the south sdie of Danville in 1856.  Regular passenger service to Danville was quick and convenient. 

On Marcy 16, 1862, the Ringgold Battery (Co. B) 13th Battalion Virginia Light Artillery was organized and mustered in Danville.  Archilles Whitlock Hoge became 2nd line lieutenant.  His brother Moses probably enlisted as a private at the same time. 

Medical Doctor, Capt. Crispin Dickinson, who lived at Toshes in Pittsylvania County, was commander of the company of 130 men during a fierce battle at Dublin Depot in Pulaski County on May 9, 1864.  The fighting is known as the Battle of Cloyd’s Farm.  The Ringgold Battery had three Napoleons and one three-inch rifle.  Lt. Achilles Whitlock Hoge was in command of a 12-pound Napoleon.  There were twenty-nine men, including his brother, acting as support for the gun.  The federal troops had twelve artillery pieces.  One of thier shells apparently struck Hoge’s position.  Both he and his brother fell mortally wounded at their position.  Both of Dr. Hoge’s sons were dead.

Update:  One May 21, 2009, my sister Elaine and I went to Halifax County.  We stopped by the old house where cousin Morton Pruett lvied.  He is said to have lived part time in the old cabin. 

This house was a step up from the old cabin for the Pruetts.  It is located on Mercy Seat Church Road betwee the intersection with Melon Road and the old cabin. 

We found the graves of Dr. Thomas Hoge and family.  There is a four-sided oblisk in memory of “two noble brothers.”  Next to the Hoge cemetery is the Stamps cemetery.  I believe that Dr. Hoge lived where the graveyard is when he first married Mary C. Whitlock.  The cemetery is on Carter Trail off Hackberry Road, a short distance south of the Sutherlin Mill.  They married on 22 August 1825.  Mary’s mother Agness died in 1830 and Dr. Thomas Hoge bought the home place between the future location of Mercy Seat Church and Barksdale Station.  In Thomas Hoge’s will he states that he bought 486 acres from Thomas Hoge and wife.  Dr. Hoge may have had a child to died and established a cemetery there and is not buried in the Achilles Whitlock cemetery to the east.   

The iron fence around the Hoges is made by the Cincinnati Iron Fence Co. in Ohio. 

The Hoge brothers bodies were brought home from the area of Dublin in Pulaski County, Virginia.  This memorial is engraved on four sides (one unreadable).  This side reads “In commemoration of two noble brothers – Private Moses J. Hoge and Lieut. A. Whitlocke Hoge who fell at the Battle of Cloyd’s Farm.”  Cloyd’s farm and mountain are a few miles north of Dublin, Va.

This side of the marker reads:  In Memoriam Achilles Whitlocke son of Mary C & Thos. Hoge Born August 22, 1840 died May 9, 1864.

Moses J. Hoge, born May 2, 1833, was seven years older than his brother Achilles.  They were killed the same day on May 9, 1864, probably by the same artillery shell from Federal cannon fire during the Civil War. 

“Thomas Poage Hoge – An eminent and faithful physician for over fifty years – fourth son of Elizabeth Poage and Rev Moses Hoge D.D. Pres. Hampton-Sydney College Virginia born March 14, 1799 died April 23, 1876.  Dr. Moses Hoge (1752-1820) was president of the college beginning in 1807.  Achilles Whitlocke Hoge was a first-year student at the college when the War Between the States began. 

This old drag pan belonged to the father of the 89-year-old landowner.  It was near the double Richmond and Danville Railroad bridge.  One man and a mule could move a lot of dirt in a day with this.  The wooden handles have rotted away.  The 1850s railroad builders probably used a similar scoop to level the right-of-way.

This view is looking north towards Dr. Hoge’s house.  His father and mother-in-law are buried in the heavily overgrown graveyard near the center.  Our great great grandfather William C. Pruett was appointed surveyor of roads by the Halifax County Court beginnin in 1854.  In 1866, he was appointed “Overseerer of the road from Dr. Hoge’s to Barksdale Depot.”  That would be this very path.  The Depot, store and Dan River are not far in the other direction.

This is a closer view of the house above.  The part with the steep roof was the office of Dr. Thomas P. Hoge.  He moved here in 1830 after his mother-in-law Agesss Whitlock died.  The doctor’s office was moved from a couple hundred feet east to enlarge the old house.  There was another section in front, which was separate.  It was destroyed by fire long ago. 

((A note on spam.  Antispam has deleted 21,747 comments from my WordPress blogs alone.  2,565 comments have been approved.   There are hundreds of spams each day and I cannot check them all to see if they are valid.  Danny Dec. 10, 2010)).

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Excursion to Whitlock Post Office/Barksdale Station Halifax Co., VA

April 20th, 2009

     On April 16, 2009, my son Bobby and I set out in search of Barksdale Station in Halifax County.  A couple of weeks ago our cousin Bill Pruett (Bill’s branch of Ohio put in an “i”.  The Preutts spell the name at least eight different ways) came to explore the area where his Pruett (our way of spelling) ancestor departed for Cincinnati, Ohio in 1898. 

//PLEASE NOTE: The Barksdale Depot porperty is posted.  Be sure to obtain permission from the land owner Jack Butler before you visit the site.//

     On that day we went to the Pruett graveyard on the Mercy Seat Church Road where my 2nd great grandfather William Pruett is buried.   (Research is difficult because the same family uses Pruit, Pruitt, Preut, Pruett, Prewet, Prewett, Pruiet, and Pruiett.  The computer doesn’t like you leaving a letter out or having too many.)

     Bill and I walked down where the timber was recently cut and found the old cabin where my grandmother Annie Pruett Jones may have been born in 1880.  Bobby and I found that at the chimney end of the short logs, there were railroad spikes holding the logs in line. Below is one of the forged iron spikes from the old 1850s cabin placed in an old iron tie plate from down by the railroad track:.  They seem to match perfectly.  The plate may have been for the early U-Rail track.

Cousin Bill Pruiett took this photograph of me at the old Pruett cabin on Mercy Seat Church Road.  The back side has completely caved in.  Each of the short logs behind me had a shop-made railroad spike holding it in place.  The logs are oak and hand-hewn.  The cabin seems very small but was typical of all, except the very wealthy, even for those with large and extended families living together. 

The graveyard is between the cabin and main road. When my 2nd great grandfather William Pruett died in 1880, he left the “Mansion” tract to his son Zachariah Taylor Pruett.  My grandfather Nathaniel Pruett, his brother received 50 1/2 acres which he still owned in 1898.  Taylor Puett’s son Morton lived in the homeplace until he died in 1946.  He built another house, but lived at times in the old cabin.  My aunt and uncle, aged 87 and 89, remember visiting “Mo’en” as they called him. 

Angie Morton Pruett was a son of Zachariah Taylor Pruett.  They remained on the Pruett land which today is owned by Ann Tingen, a direct descendant. 

This is the early tie plate with a spike from the cabin.  My grreat grandfather William Pruett (father of Nathaniel Pruett who was my grandmother Annie Pruett Jones’ father) mentioned his “shops” in his 1876 will.  William Puett moved from Pittsylvania to Halifax in the 1850s, so we believe that he may have had a blacksmith shop and forge to produce iron products for the railroad.  At right is a modern 132-pound/yard rail which is just over seven inches tall.  At right are rails used during the Civil War, which are less than four inches tall.  At left is a U-Rail and center another early rail.  We believe that the U-Rail may have been inserted in the iron tie plate about.  During the Civil War, the Richmond and Danville line had 61 miles of 52-pound U-Rail.  This is almost half of the 140.5 miles of main track. Here is another well worn old railroad spike from the railroad bed near Barksdale Station.Here are more iron spikes from the area.  The ones at upper left are probably 50 years old.  The others are much older. This gadget was by the railroad tracks near the double arched Double Creek bridge trestle.  We haven’t figured out what it was used for.  (update: Experts tell me this device clamped underneath the track on either side of the wooden tie to keep the track from shifting lenthwise.  It is not a old as it looks.)Here is the area from an 1895 map: The line from Ringgold to Barksdale, then on to Paces, News Ferry, and South Boston is the Richmond and Danville Railroad.  The 140 1/2 mile line was completed in 1856. 
Just over a mile due south of the old Purett cabin is the old Mercy Seat Presbyterian Church, which was organized in 1847.    The Mercy Seat Presbyterian Church probably looked about the same when the railroad was being being built in the 1850s.  The Pruetts probably went to church here, but I don’t know if they have old records.  The original church of the same name was located in the Brooklyn and Elmo.  In 1847, a church was reorganized and built in this location near Barksdale Station. The woodwork in the church is beautiful.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the famous Black cabinet maker Thomas Day made these pews.  His shop was only about eight miles up Dan River. 

Old lock inside the front door of the church.

The iron fence and gate was made by a company in Knoxville, Tennessee. 

Continuing south past the old Achilles Whitlock (died 1811) house and cemetery, less than a mile from the church, is the site of Barksdale Station.  Here is a shot of the beautiful valley and the double arched railroad bridge across Double Creek:     Construction of the Richmond and Danville Railroad reached Barksdale Station in September of 1855.  The 140.5-mile railroad was completed to the depot on Craghead Street in Danville in May of 1856.  From Barksdale Station to the Danville Depot is only 13 miles.  Before the railroad, the bateaux route through Milton, North Carolina was almost 24 miles.  A freight and passenger depot was constructed at Barksdale a few hundred yards east of the double arched trestle across Double Creek.  The trestle is a work of art, with very large cut stones forming the graceful arches above the fast-flowing creek below.  It is interesting to note that when the trestle was flanged out to make it higher and wider, some of the old metal tract can be seen jutting out of the concrete above the original top of the bridge.  On towards Danville, crossing Sandy Creek there is a trestle with five arches. 
The depot building was located on the south side of the tracks, because most of the freight came mostly from the river.  That would seem strange today since there are no roads south, east or west from that area.          Between the bridge and the depot site we picked up shop-made railroad spikes of varying sizes.  They appear be original to the 1850s. From the area where we believe the depot was constructed, we found a path on an even grade to the southeast to the Dan River.  At the river, where a small branch enters, there was a deep cut out back in the bank.  We believe that this may have been the landing for the bateaux, which carried freight to and from Barksdale Station and Milton, North Carolina, which is eight miles upstream.  Here’s a ten-minute quick sketch of what we found.  Improvements are coming when I get in the  mood. 
The Whitlock Post Office was located in a store on the east side of the road a short distance across the tracks from the depot. Here’s an old hand molded brick from the building which we believe was the old store.  This is an old hand-molded brick from the ruble of the old store.  This is typical of the hand-made brick of the area from the 1700s to the mid 1800s.  Note at the bottom there is a flange on both sides, which is unusual.      The Barksdale Depot was especially important during the War Between the States.  The Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia required large amounts of food and supplies, which came from the south by the Richmond and Danville Railroad.  From Milton, in North Carolina, the bateaux could bring tons of supplies from the counties of that state to be transferred to the railroad and hauled to Richmond.
Tons of freight was handled here until the 1870s when Maj. William Sutherlin of Danville built the Milton and Sutherlin Railroad.  This narrow gauge railroad was constructed from the Richmond and Danville near the line between Pittsylvania and Halifax counties.  The large Sutherlin Mill was built about the same time on Barker’s Creek.  Milton was seven miles south from this point.  With the railroad traffic, the bateaux became soon became obsolete. When the railroad was abandoned here, the area became remote and untraveled.  


We did not find this, but the best artifact of the day was a fragment of a Richmond and Danville Railroad signal lamp globe.  The glass was red as this one with some of the fancy logo “R & D RR.” 


Bobby found in the the spring branch south of the tracks, not far from the iron tie plate. 

We believe that it came from a railroad lamp similar to the one above.

Thanks to Bobby for all the great photographs.

Copyright 2009 by Robert D. “Danny” Ricketts


Contact: dan@rdricketts.com

Crew of Tin-Clad U.S Ship Buried in Danville

March 22nd, 2009

During the War Between the States, no battles reached the town of Danville, Virginia.  There were hospitals for men from both sides where many men died.  Near the depot of the Richmond and Danville Railroad, there was a 30-building hospital for Confederate troops, but that is another story.

Up the present Lee Street, less than a mile from the Confederate hospitals, there were hospital buildings and tents for Union prisoners, who were confined in large old tobacco factories. There were six large prisons where United States men were held.  Number six was for U. S. Colored Troops. 

The soldiers and sailors were transferred here in Danville from overcrowded Richmond prisons.  Those who died were buried near the hospital. In 1866 the federal government reburied the remains and established a National Cemetery here.  A 1,590-foot stone wall surrounds the graves.  A marker on an upright cannon states that there are 1,171 known interments and 143 unknown.  Later veterans from other wars were added.  


The Danville, Virginia National Cemetery.  Note the old stepping stone block in front of right gate post which ladies used to step out of 19th century carriages.

History is fortunate that the Rev. George Washington Dame lived near by.  He ministered daily in the prisons and to those confined to the hospitals.  He also identified the graves of most of those who died with wooden crosses recording their name and military unit, if known.  The government used these crosses to erect white upright stones as permanent memorials to these men.  Rev. Dame came to Danville in 1840 and was President of the Danville Female Academy.  He was also the longtime Episcopal Rector.  In 1852, he built his house on three acres of land on Colquhoun Street, near the National Cemetery property.  Rev. Dame was born in New Hampshire.  During the War, one of the prisoners was his cousin from New England.  During the Federal occupation of Danville by the Sixth Corps, U.S. troops were assigned to guard his home.  In order to save his adopted hometown bank, Rev. Dame hid a metal box with two thousand dollars in gold in the ashes of his fireplace.  The gold was the capital of the Danville Bank. 

For each of the gravestones in the National Cemetery, there is an important life and interesting story.  Some will never be known.  I am researching as many as possible for recorded history.

At least three headstones are connected with what a Confederate termed ‘one of the nicest little episodes of the War.”  They were crew members under the “only U.S. Navy ship’s captain to be captured by Confederate States Army horse cavalry.”  This unlikely event happened at Rodney on the Mississippi River.  Three of the sailors lie buried here in Danville today. 

This episode began when Rev. Daniel S. Baker came onboard the Tin-clad gunboat “Rattler” and invited the Capt. to hear him speak on September 13, 1863.  Rev. Baker, a “Northern Sympathizer,” had recently resigned as Pastor of the Red Lick Presbyterian Church and was waiting a boat to travel north up the Mississippi River.  The Rev. Robert Price, of the Rodney Presbyterian Church, had offered to allow Rev. Baker to speak.  Capt. E. H. Fentress, of the Rattler, had standing orders not to venture ashore, but he saw no danger in attending the nearby church.  


The Rattler was a converted 165-ton stern-wheeler with two thicknesses of half inch iron plate armor.  It was considered a Tin-clad, “Bullet proof, but not cannon proof.”  There were six big guns: Two 30 PDR (14 KG) Muzzle-loading Parrott Rifles. Bore diameter 4.2 inch (107 mm) and Four 24 PDR (11 KG) Muzzle-loading Napoleon smooth bores. Diameter 5.82 inch (148 mm).  It was thought “By her mobility and protection” she was “Virtually invulnerable from attack by land” and “could fight every boat on the Mississippi, except the heaviest ironclads.”  All these expectations added to the embassment when the captain and many of the crew were taken by a troop of Confederate calvary. (drawing F. Muller c 1900)

Shortly after the church service began, in walked Lieutenant Allen of the Confederate States Calvary, backed up by a group of fifteen horsemen.  He apologized to Rev. Baker and demanded that the Union men surrender.  It seems that only Engineer Lt. A. M. Smith carried a weapon to the church.  Smith fired about four times and some Confederate shots when through the windows and into the ceiling, but no one was seriously hurt.  Of the twenty-three that attended, six slipped back to the ship and 17 were captured. 

When word of the capture reached the ship, shelling of the town commenced.  One cannon ball stuck in the front of the church.  The Confederates sent word and promised to hang all of the captives if the town received further damage and the shelling stopped.

The captain and sailors were eventually taken to Virginia.  Captain Fentress was taken to Libby Prison in Richmond.  His name appears on a playbill for a ”Libby Prison Minstrels” on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1863.  He is shown as “Scenic Artist.”  Seven of his men were brought to the prisons in Danville and are shown on hospital and National Cemetery records: 

      (1)   Arthur Rogerson entered the Danville Prison Hospital on December 11, 1863.  There is a notation “Gunners Mate-Gunboat Rattler.” He complained of “Dropsy.” He was returned to the prison quarters on December 29, 1863.  

(2)   Oloff Nelson (Quarter Gunner on the Rattler) was admitted to the Danville Hospital (no date) and died there on May 29, 1864 of smallpox.  He is buried in plot number D-475.  His headstone reads: “475 O. Nelson U.S. Navy.”

(3)   John A. Roycroft (Corporal of the Rattler – the ship policeman) entered the hospital on February 23, 1864 and was returned to prison quarters on April 10, 1864.  In July of 1870, John A. Roycroft married his wife Anne and they lived in Baltimore County, Maryland.  John is still listed as a mariner. In 1880, he has come ashore and is a policeman.  

(4)   Frederick Plump (Seaman on the Rattler) was admitted to the Danville Hospital on March 6, 1864.  He died there on March 23, 1864 of acute diarrhea.  He is buried in the National Cemetery in plot D-460.  His stone reads: “460 F. Plump U.S. Navy.”

(5)   Walter Keef (Seaman on the Rattler) entered the hospital on April 2, 1864 and was returned to prison quarters on April 11, 1864.  His record indicates that he was from the “Gunboat Rattler” and he was removed to Richmond.  He was probably taken back there for exchange. 

(6)   Thomas Brown entered the hospital on December 11, 1863 with dropsy and pneumonia.  Note: “Marine Gun Boat Rattin (sic). Effects Overcoat, shoes, cap.”  He died on January 25, 1864.  His National Cemetery marker reads: “45 T. Brown.” 

(7)   Maurice Ivory (shown as Cpl.) entered the hospital on December 15, 1863 and returned to prison quarters on January 26, 1864.  He was back in the hospital in April 1864 with rheumatism. 

(Text and photographs copyright 2009 Danny Ricketts)

Robert D. “Danny” Ricketts


Contact: dan@rdricketts.com

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Third Ave. Christian Church Began 1914 in Allen School

March 1st, 2009

On October 1, 1917, my mother Annie Marie Jones (Ricketts) began the seventh grade at Allen School on Third Ave. in what was then Pittsylvania County, Virginia.  Here is her report card for that year:

The two-room school was named for Alonza Jefferson Allen.  He was a building contractor who lived on Myrtle Ave. and probably built the building.  According to Uncle Austin Jones, my mother’s brother, he was also a local politicial.  One of the teachers in 1917 was Mary Arnett, whose nephew was a well known Dr. Arnett of Danville. 

“Teachers Allen School, Miss Pricie Chaney and Miss Gladys Motley.”  This photograph was in my mother’s papers.  Florine Evans name is written on the back.  Florine Haraway Evans was born in 1909, six years after Marie Jones.  At one time the Haraways lived on the opposite corner from the Jones family on the corner of Aspen and Dean Streets.  In 1920, Florine was 11 years old.  Here is the census record:

Census records are notorious for having wrong dates.  Samuel and Libbie Haraway were married in 1900 and Alfred Haraway was born in 1901, the same year as our dad Reuben E. Ricketts.  The 1910 census is probably right: Alfred L Haraway age 9 (b 1901), Verna Haraway (Price) age 7 (born 1903) (Verna was the same age and best friend of Marie Jones), Junnia age 4 (born 1906) and Florine age 1 (born 1909).  Since Florine was younger these two teachers may have been later than 1917. 

Our mother, Marie Jones, was born on November 12, 1903 at 501 Middle Street in Danville.  In the spring of 1904, when she was only a few months old, her dad Mark Daniel Jones (1878-1946) and wife Annie Brooks Pruett Jones (1880-1969) bought a 35-acre farm about where the post office is now located on Westover Drive.  In 1908, they bought four lots at the corner of Washington and Valley (now Aspen) Streets.  This property was about 100 yards from the city line at 7th Street and Washington until annexed in 1931.  All my brothers and sisters were born in the house which our parents built on one of these lots in 1927. 

Apparently, Marie began school at Allen School in 1911.  That same year her two little sisters both died within a few months.  She was left an only child until her sister Florence was born in December 1913.  She often spoke of being afraid as a child of dying like her sisters.

Third Avenue Christian Church obtained permission from the county school board to begin a church in the Allen School building in 1914.  At first Sunday School was taught on Sunday afternoon by leaders from other churches in Danville.  During the summer of 1914, Rev. S. B. Clapp of Elon College, North Carolina was asked to preach one Sunday each monty.  Then on Octover 25, 1914, Third Avenue Christian Church was organized with 28 charter members.  A revival that fall made the school building inadequate for the fast growing congregation.  A 40 x 60 foot building with three Sunday School rooms was constructed and services were held on the first Sunday in January 1916.  In 1937, an open air tabernacle was built.  There was a sawdust floor and park benches for seats.

A cinder block building was used from 1939 until 1962:

Left is the cinder block tabernacle which was used until 1962.  At center is the brick chapel.  At right are Sunday School rooms.  This photograph and other are from a 1946 directory.  The directory mentions that Rev. Percy Ricketts (born 1904) had been with the church for five years.  Our Uncle Percy left his job at the Register and Bee Newspaper in 1941 (the year that I was born) and began a full time ministry.  He was assistant Pastor under Rev. Matthew Sorrell who was the Pastor from 1926 until 1954, a total of 28 years.


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Big Auction at Dry Fork – Estate of William Ricketts 1833

January 11th, 2009

William Ricketts’ will was written on November 2, 1826 and he died shortly before June 20, 1832.  The date of William Ricketts is not certain, but when census taker Thomas W. Wooding (1800-1869) came around in 1830, William was listed as being between 90 and 100 years old.  That would make his birth date in the 1730s.   


Following the name of the heads of families are 48 collumns.  William Ricketts is 90-100 years old, second wife Nancy Davis Ricketts 70-80, and one female slave, later identified as Izabell, is 24-35 years old. 

William’s son Nathaniel, who was our great, great grandfather was living separately in 1830.  The neighbors are different and he is not living close to his parents.  He is shown to be between 20 and 30, but other censuses list his birth date at 1795.  He has one child under five, which is probably our great grandfather Reuben B. Ricketts who was born in 1830. 

The writing in the census records is that of Thomas W. Wooding (1800-1869) who later built “Meadowwood” near Chalk Level.  He was captain of a company of militia during the War of 1812.  He served with the 4th Va Militia and was discharged at Norfolk in 1815.  Thomas W. Wooding also was the census taker in 1820 when the entire report was hand written.  In 1830, a printed form was used.  Thomas W. Wooding reported that there were 26,022 persons in his district as of December 2, 1830.  Coleman Echols assisted him in 1830. 

William Ricketts’ 205-acre plantation, part of which he owned since 1780, and all his personal property, was sold for a debt of $37.90 the year following his death.  Robert Wilson of Dan’s Hill held a deed of trust for the real estate which was sold separately. 
William Ricketts’ personal property was sold on September 23, 1833.  Fourteen of his Dry Fork neighbors came made purchases.  Apparently none of the Ricketts descendants had the money to buy anything at the auction.  It is too bad that someone in the family did not have two cents to buy the old family Bible. 
(1) Robert Hutchings purchased a small trunk and toilet for 35 cents, a hand saw, reep hock, drawing knife and culling knife for 50 cents.  His total purchase was 85 cents.
(2) Ambrose Jackson made the following purchases: a jug, crock and coffee pot 30 cents, a lady’s saddle $1.00, a cotton wheel and cards 80 cents, a loom and barrel 31 cents, two bee stands 50 cents, a cupboard $5.05, six barrels @ 12 ½ cents $5.17 ½, one spotted sow and five pigs $1.50, a small spotted hog 55 cents, one bay mare $25.00, and a large pot and hooks.  His total was $36.13 ½.
(3) Henry Emmerson bought a lot of pewter 25 cents, a pewter basin 31 cents and a pewter dish $1.01 for a total of $1.57.
(4) Thomas S. Jones (Sheriff) bought one flax wheel for 84 cents.
(5) Mary Waller bought a pair of sad irons and a pair of scales for 54 cents, a pine table for 87 ½ cents, one bed and furniture for $3.05. Her total was $4.46 ½ cents
(6) Jesse C. Carter (lived at “Oakland” on Banister River) bought a pair of steel guards $1.37 ½.
(7) John Dickson bought a coffee mill 12 ½ cents, a taylors goose (A taylors goose is an iron for pressing the seam of clothes) 54 cents, one set plow gear 62 ½ cents, an axe, plow, hoe and hilling hoe 92 cents, one chest and rumlet 40 cents, one lot earthen ware $1.00, one looking glass (mirror) 31 cents for a total of $3.92.
(8) Matthew Hall bought one yearling $3.65.
(9) Robert Chattin bought a pair of tongs, a skillet and one pot &c. for $1.00
(10) John Thompson bought a spice mortar for 77 cents.
(11) William Walton bought one Bible and Testament for two cents.  (Boy would I love to have that.  It was probably the family Bible with birth and death dates.)  (In 1826, when Wiilliam Ricketts’ will was written, William Walton was a member of the House of Delegates in Richmond, Virignia.  See a separate post on the Walton family of Pleasant Gap).
(12) Henry Mitchell bought a decanter and tumbler for 30 cents.
(13) Ephraim Jackson, Junior bought one bed and furniture for $5.05, three bed covers $1.30, one cow and bell for $8.00 and one white sow and seven pigs for $2.56.  His total was $16.91.
(14) Abel Jackson bought one fat cow for $10.65.
The sub total for these sales is $88.40 ½.
There is added the sale of a Negro woman “Izbell” on May 19, 1834.  Abner Bennett paid $209.00 for the only slave owned by William Ricketts.  In his will written in 1826, William intended that “One Negro woman Izabelle shall go to either of my four younger children, and if, after going to either of them she should become dissatisfied, that she may go from one to the other as she may think proper.”  Apparently, Izabelle was born between 1795 and 1806.  She is shown on the 1830 census along with William Ricketts (he is between 90 and 100 years old – born in the the 1730s), and two females, one of which is 20-30 and the other 70-80 years old.  William’s second marriage in 1789 was to the much younger Nancy Davis, daughter of William Davis of Cherrystone Creek.  William Davis was operating a grist mill on Cherrystone Creek during the Revolutionary War.  They lived in the old Davis Rock House which is still standing. 
The total sales for William Ricketts estate of $297.40 ½ was recorded at the Pittsylvania County Court on September 15, 1834. 


See a separate post about the land on White Oak Mountain on the Dry Fork of White Oak Creek.

 See blog index at:   http://rdricketts.com/blog/


website: http://www.rdricketts.com 

Contact: dan@rdricketts.com

See other blogs: http://megiddofirstlast.blogspot.com/

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William Ricketts Cabin & Barn on White Oak Mountain at Dry Fork

January 10th, 2009

Well, Bobby just relocated these ancient pictures of grandson Joey, Bobby and I on our excursion looking for the cabin our 3rd, 4th and 5th grandfather William Ricketts.  According to Bobby, these pictures are ten years ago in 1996, before we moved to Broken Arrow, Oklahoma for two years of Bible School at Rhema.

 The year after William Ricketts, 3rd great grandfather, died in 1832, the family lost the 205-acre farm on the Dry Fork of White Oak Creek for a debt of just over $37.  The Ricketts men did not own land for quite a while and lived as “share croppers.”  I think the land owner got three fourths and the share cropper got one fourth.  But they did get a place to live and plenty of firewood.  They could have a garden and not much more, but their only risk was the fertilizer.  Sometimes that was a problem in years when tobacco prices were down.   

Willam began obtaining land at Dry Fork, just a short distance south of where the Depot and Post Office were built, in 1780.  The Revolutionary War was still raging when he settled about six miles due south of Pittsylvania Court House.  This was only three years after the courthouse was moved from Callands to the present county seat of Chatham. 

As often happened we had done our homework (or Clerk’s Office work).  I located a 1910 map after tracing the land down to 1910.  The Branch running east into the Dry Fork of White Oak Creek was identified as Ricketts Branch.  We followed a road south off the Dry Fork Road (sr 718) for about a mile where it crossed Ricketts Branch.  When we reached the fork of the branch shown on the map, we hiked up the hill.  We came upon very large rocks which were the foundation and walls of the root cellar of the old Ricketts plantation house.  There was nothing left except the foundation.  We found no metal objects with the metal detector in the surrounding area.  Before we got back to do more exploration, a housing development was build which destroyed the site. 

My grandmother Lucy James Ricketts wrote about living in an old cabin in the 1800s in this area (see: http://family.rdricketts.com/lucysketch.html ).  It was near the railroad and not far from her sister who lived on the old Edward Robertson place north of the cabin below.  I think ii is very likely that, without knowing it, they lived in the old 1700s cabin where her husband Charlie Edward’s great grandfather lived over a hundred years before.

William Ricketts had 55 acres surveyed in 1780 and purchased an adjoining 150 acres in 1786.  He lived here until he died in 1832.  He is probably buried in a community type cemetery just north of his land.  The cemetery is on property owned by Revolutionary veteran Edward Robertson who was born in 1755 and died in 1826, shortly before William Ricketts.

Here is Bobby and Joey at the old foundation of William Ricketts cabin.  Joey is now six feet plus and this is a few feet ago. 

Here is Joey in 2009.  He is an 18-year old senior at Brookville High School in Campbell County, Virginia.  Bobby, Kim and Joey live at Forest, Virignia. 

Back down on Ricketts Branch, we found the rock foundation of an old tobacco fire box.  Most old log barns for curing tobacco had two of these fireboxes. The two walls were usually capped by a single stone about as wide as the box was high.  Often soapstone which was easily shapped, was mined and cut to fit on top of the firebox. Wood was burned here and the heat circulated through flues inside the barn to dry and cure the tobacco.  The resulting product is a golden brown, pliable tobacco which was not entirely dried out in the week-long continious heating process.  The tobacco that I see today is very dry and brittle.  Danville was the main auction market for this “golden leaf” for over a hundred years. 

See blog index at:   http://rdricketts.com/blog/


website: http://www.rdricketts.com

Contact: dan@rdricketts.com

See other blogs: http://megiddofirstlast.blogspot.com/

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