Rockingham County, Virginia
VAGenWeb Project


A History of Rockingham County
John W. Wayland Ph.D.

Chapter VIII

 

CHAPTER VIII.

THE DAYS OF RECONSTRUCTION

1865 - 1876.

 

     In no period of our nation’s history have so many great problems thrust themselves upon us as during the decade immediately following the Civil War.  America continued to be a world stage for the play of giants; and while the full light was upon the center, the great drama, in its subsidiary parts and inevitable accompaniments, was in thrilling action round all the widening circles. Although Rockingham County was more or less remote from the stage’s center, it never lost its cue or count from the bitter opening to the better end.  It played its part and suffered its share of the tragic years.

     In other chapters, under particular topics - roads and railroads, churches and religious life, education and schools, banking, manufacturing, etc. - will be found much of the matter that chronologically falls in this; but enough will doubtless be given here to justify the title:  “Days of Reconstruction.”

     The period was marked first by high prices and financial stringency; later came the rush of enterprise and speculation, attendant upon rising prosperity; then the crash of ‘73, and the tedious recovery from the shock.  In January, 1867, flour was selling in Harrisonburg at $12 and $12.50 a barrel; bacon, hog round, at 11 and 12 cents a pound; butter at 25 cents.  In the same issue of the Register from which these quotations are taken is found the following paragraph:

 

     At a recent sale in Shenandoah county of the property of Mrs. Hannah Wilkin, dec’d, wheat sold for $3.10 per bushel; corn, 69 cents; cows $25 and $32; beds and bedding each from $39 to $35. (1)

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(1)  Rockingham Register, January 17, 1867.

 

 

     One of the most striking features of the time, up to 1870, or thereabouts, was the prevalence of lawlessness.  Robbery and vandalism were rife.  There was robbing of stores, mills, smoke-houses, and persons.  Early in 1870 the street lamps of Harrisonburg were smashed, and a few months later a large number of shade trees about the public square and elsewhere were “belted” - the bark being cut off in a circle all around the trunks.  Cattle were killed in the fields - the meat being carried off, the horns and hide usually being left.  Hogs in their owners’ fields or sties were either butchered there or driven away.  Much of this freebooting was done by negroes lately slaves and by poor whites hard pressed by evil times; but it is also known that some of it was done by young white men of respectable families, whose foraging propensities still lacked restraint.  War is always demoralizing; and the country fell heir to more than one unwelcome legacy from the years of ‘61 to ‘65.

     But as already intimated, depression and stringency were soon overborne by the rising spirit of progress and the onrush of material prosperity.  In April, 1866, there were two iron foundries in full blast at Port Republic.  Conditions in May are thus graphically portrayed in the Register:

     The remarkable display of energy by the people of the Valley, since the close of the war, is the most forcible commentary that could be given of their character.  Without a currency, almost destitute of money, their fields laid waste, barns and other farm houses destroyed, stock stolen and driven off, no surplus supplies on hand, and their labor system broken up, yet they have managed to rebuild their fences and barns, repair their premises generally, and [make] progress in improvements heretofore not enjoyed.  Throughout the entire Valley steam saw-mills dot almost every neighborhood, factories and foundries are being built, and the slow and imperfect implements of agricultural husbandry heretofore used supplanted by the most improved labor-saving machinery.

     .  .  .  .  At Mt. Crawford a large Woolen Factory is in process of construction; also, an Earthen Ware establishment.  In Harrisonburg, Messrs. Bradley & Co. have in successful operation their Foundry, and will shortly commence erecting a much larger one, on ground recently purchased for that purpose near the old buildings.  At Port Republic and McGaheysville the spirit of enterprize is fully awakened, factories, foundries and mills being put into operation as rapidly as the workmen can

 

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complete their contracts.  Carding mills are, also, multiplying throughout the county, and many other improvements are being inaugurated, which we have not space to enumerate. (2)

 

     By June a great many of the barns and mills destroyed by Sheridan in October, 1864, had been replaced.  In September the editor of the Register wrote:

 

     Our friends, Henry E. Rhodes and David Weaver, have erected and completed not less than eight large Swisher barns within the last six months.  These barns are all in Rockingham, and all, with but one exception, take the places of barns burnt by Gen. Sheridan. (3)

 

     In his issue of October 11 the editor of the same journal devotes a full column to progress in the eastern section of the county:  The sawmills of Dr. S. P. H. Miller & Co., near Conrad’s Store; the iron furnace of Milnes & Johns, successors of the Forrer Brothers; the chapel erected by the ironmasters for the benefit of the iron-workers, etc.

     In the Register of December 20 (1866), a correspondent from John J. Bowman’s mill, on Linville Creek, says:

 

     You can count around it [the mill] some fourteen new barns, one extensive tannery, and one first class up-and-down saw mill, all . . . . . . . erected during the past summer and the previous autumn.

 

     Among the other features of the year, a find of coal was reported on Briery Branch.  During the next decade or more this coal field was a center of interest and speculation.

     Early in 1867 it was announced that Philo Bradley & Co., operating the foundry in Harrisonburg, had sold within the past year more than 700 ploughs of their own pattern, and had been obliged to refuse orders for more. (4)

     A noteworthy instance of energetic push and practical method in rebuilding material fortunes out the wreck of war was cited at River Bank, tow and a half miles east of McGaheysville, where Larkins & Harlow had installed a circular

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(2)  Rockingham Register, May 24, 1866

 

(3)  Idem, Sept. 20, 1866

 

(4)  Idem, February 7, 1867

 

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saw, laid the foundations for a large flouring mill, and made other substantial improvements. (5)

     By the latter part of 1868 Harrisonburg had made so many important steps upward, and had so many more in contemplation, that we might truthfully declare that it was experiencing a moderate “boom.”  The same might be said of Bridgewater, Timberville, and other towns of the county.

     From 1866 to 1872 John Woods of Shenandoah, the famous bridge builder, had built or rebuilt no less than five bridges in Rockingham; one each at Bridgewater, Mt. Crawford, the crossing above Mt. Crawford, River Bank, and Conrad’s Store.

     In the last month of 1868 the Manassas Gap railroad was extended to Harrisonburg, and the first train ran into the town.  Other railroads were projected, and construction work on some was seriously begun.  In 1873 work was begun on the Washington, Cincinnati & St. Louis (narrow gauge) road, surveyed westward past Bridgewater; and in 1874 the Valley road was pushed on to Staunton.  Some of the wagon roads were laid out upon new routes, and many were improved one way or another.

     There was a revival in things spiritual as well as things material.  Soon after the close of the war, about 1867, a county library association was formed, with James Kenney as president.  In November, 1867, the Valley Musical Association was organized at Harrisonburg.  A great wave of temperance sentiment began to sweep over the country, and friends of temperance associated themselves for aggressive service under different names.  In June, 1868, the Ladies’ Memorial Association was formed, under the presidency of Mrs. C. C. Strayer, with Mrs. W. H. Ritenour and Mrs. M. M. Sibert, secretaries.  In the fall of 1868, and again in 1875, the second coming of Christ was preached in Rockingham and adjacent sections by William C. Thurman and others.  In May, 1873, a Young Men’s Christian Association was organized at the Episcopal Church in Harrisonburg, with F. A. Berlin, president; and in October of the same year the Rock-

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(5)  Rockingham Register, May 23, 1867

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ingham County Bible Society was organized at the Methodist Church in the same town, with Philo Bradley, president.

     In March, 1866, there was a small squad of Federal soldiers in the county, looking up horses, etc., bearing the United States brand.  They also made on or two arrests, under military orders.  Later, a number of the civil officers were removed by order of the military governor, but for the most part the military aspects of the reconstruction program were less prominent in Rockingham than in many other sections of the State.  On March 18, 1866, a large mass meeting of citizens of the county was held at the court house, and resolutions were adopted expressing hearty approval of President Johnson in his efforts to uphold the Constitution against infringement by Congress, and declaring a cordial loyalty to his administration.  On the whole, there appears to have been a good feeling between the two races, and a sensible cooperation between them. An exception to this might have been noted at Bridgewater, on the night of December 24, 1868, when some young white men entered the colored school building, recently opened by an agent of the Freedmen’s Bureau, and knocked out the windows, broke the stove, damaged the other furniture, etc.; but this act was not approved by the better judgment of the people at large. (6)

     A notable incident of the year 1866 was a violent tornado, which, on the 23d of April, swept in a semi-circle around Harrisonburg, not damaging the town, but blowing down barns and other buildings, uprooting trees, unroofing barns and houses, etc., in the vicinity.

    At the time under consideration Harrisonburg was a great distributing point for mail.  From July 1, 1867, to June30, 1871, the mails went out thence into the county and adjacent sections according to the following schedule:

     To Waynesboro and intermediate points, 34 miles, and back, twice a week;

     To Keezletown, Roadside, and intermediate points, 18 miles, and back, twice a week;

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(6)  See the Old Commonwealth, January 6, 1869.

 

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     To Cootes’ Store, Broadway, New Market, etc., 33 miles, and back, twice a week;

     To Franklin and intermediate points, 43 miles, and back, once a week;

     To Bridgewater, Mt. Solon, Deerfield, Bath Alum, etc., 62 miles, and back, twice a week.

     E. M. Nuckols got the contract for carrying the mails between Harrisonburg and Waynesboro at $446 a year, for four years; and C. W. Airy secured the job of carrying them between Harrisonburg and Franklin at $300 a year. (7)

     The old county court, composed of justices of the peace, continued till 1870.  The circuit superior court, held first in 1809, was succeeded by the present circuit court in 1852.  The judge of the circuit court from 1866 to 1869, a critical period, was Hon. John T. Harris, a citizen of Rockingham, distinguished in various departments of public service.  No truer commentary on the times and no keener analysis of conditions can be found than that presented in his charge to the grand jury, May 11, 1867, and it is accordingly reproduced in full:

 

     I feel it my duty to say a word to you on the changed condition of our public affairs with a view that you may the more fully understand yours.

     Since our last meeting a very material and important change has taken place in our State and National relations.  For the first time in our history, the civil law has become subordinate to and dependent on the military. –This you may suppose works an important change in your duties, but it does not, as I will presently show.  You who have ever been taught that in peace at least, the civil tribunals are supreme, can scarcely realize that now they are a mere institution of the moment, liable at any time to be superceded or abolished at the will and pleasure of a military commander.  It seems anomalous that the power heretofore only secondary and used in aid of the civil law, shall, in the twinkling of an eye, become supreme, and all else to it secondary and only existing by its will and its pleasure.  Yet such is the stern reality, and one of the many sad results of the terrible conflict from which we have just emerged.  Changes as important and more marvelous than this have been wrought.  In a brief space the political institutions of a whole

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(7)  See Rockingham Register, January 10 and March 28, 1867.

 

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section have been changed.  From the greatest and most enlarged liberty compatible with republican government enjoyed by one class, and the most absolute servitude imposed on another, we witness a curtailment of the enlarged liberty of the one and an entire disenthrallment of the latter; and where once existed legal and political distinctions so broad, positive and marked, that it was thought nothing but Providence could remove them, now are seen the entire obliteration of those distinctions and all before the law are placed in a great measure upon an equal footing.

     The question recurs, shall we recognize the changes as facts fixed and irrevocable, and conform our actions accordingly, or shall we perversely and stubbornly refuse to do anything to ameliorate the condition of the people? – Wisdom, patriotism, love of family, love of friends and duty to posterity, all combine to enjoin upon us the full recognition of our true condition, and stimulate us to active exertion to do all that is possible to restore as far as may be the countless blessings we once enjoyed.  Fault-finding, crimination, recrimination, party strife, uncharitableness of thought and opinion will not promote this much desired result, but only tend to increase our troubles, intensify the feelings of hostility and postpone the end desired, if not sought by all, the restoration of the States to all the rights and powers to which they are now entitled.  This consummation so devoutly wished can best be attained by a strict adherence to the appeal made us by the General commanding this State, wherein he says: -“The undersigned appeals to the people of Virginia, and especially to Magistrates and other civil officers, to render the necessity for the exercise of this (military) power as slight s possible by a strict obedience to the laws and by impartial administration of justice to all classes.”  Strict obedience to the laws and impartial administration of justice to all classes, the cultivation of kindly feelings one for another, a due deference to the opinion of those who differ from us, an honest effort to overcome prejudices of a century, the banishment of visionary hopes of other and better terms of National adjustment, a frank and manly acceptance of the terms and conditions imposed upon us, will tend in a great degree to lighten our burthens and bring us back to other and better days.

     Notwithstanding these important revolutions, the Judiciary still exists – still continues to perform its varied functions, and to this time has not been touched even by the hand of the military.  And you, gentlemen, are not only permitted by enjoined to perform your time-honored and sacred duties without “fear or favor,” only remembering that so far s pertains to your office and duty, that the law has wiped out all distinction of caste, and placed all, in regard to “crime and punishment,” on a common footing.  I trust, gentlemen, you will prove equal to the occasion.(8)

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(8)  Rockingham Register, May 16, 1867.

 

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     This authoritative recommendation, so obviously the expression of common sense and prophetic wisdom, must have had a far-reaching influence, and doubtless accomplished much in bringing the people at large to “a frank and manly acceptance” of the results of the was and the actual conditions of the time, and thus in relieving Rockingham from some of the unfortunate experiences that attended reconstruction in so many other places.

     The number of white voters registered in Rockingham in 1867, - the first registration under the reconstruction laws of Congress, - was 3228, a very large number considering all the circumstances; and the number of colored men registered was 418.(9)  These figures, compared with corresponding ones in other sections of the South, will in large measure explain why the process of reconstruction was accomplished here with so little disturbance.

     There were nine voting places in the county at this time (1867), namely, Roadside (near Conrad’s Store), Port Republic, Mt. Crawford, Bridgewater, Hopkins’ School House, Harrisonburg, Lacey Springs, Bowman’s Mill, and Squire Fulk’s.  The colored voters were lined up in “Loyal Leagues,” but of course this made little difference, they being so few.  At the election, October 22, 1867, the whites cast 261 votes for a constitutional convention in Virginia, and 1082 votes against such a convention; the negroes cast 304 votes for, and 10 votes against, a convention.  At the same time J. N. Liggett and John C. Woodson, Democrats, were elected delegates for Rockingham by decided majorities. (10)

     The watchful editors of the Register, J. H. Wartman and S. M. Yost, reported what they regarded as a decided movement of immigration into Rockingham from the States north and west during the year 1867, etc.; but at the same time they were obliged to chronicle with regret a continuance of the westward movement on the part of home folks.  About the only consolation the loyal editors had in the matter was

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(9)  Rockingham Register, October 17, 1867.

 

(10)  Rockingham Register, October 24, 1867.

 

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that many of those who left Rockingham had the Register sent after them.  Before me is one of the old ledgers used in the Register office – the one covering the period from 1857 to 1868; and from it one can determine not only the names of many who had left the county during these and preceding years, but also the places to which they had gone.  In this particular ledger there are the names of 1343 subscribers to the Register, 214 being in States other than Virginia; and these 214 names are thus distributed:

Illinois,

43

New York,

2

West Virginia,

38

Alabama,

1

Indiana,

30

District of Columbia,

1

Ohio,

23

Florida,

1

Iowa,

21

Georgia,

1

Tennessee,

21

Kansas,

1

Missouri,

14

Kentucky,

1

California,

4

Massachusetts,

1

Pennsylvania,

4

Oregon,

1

Texas

3

Washington Territory,

1

Maryland,

2

 

 

 

     The following table, showing the number of marriage licenses issued to persons of both races in Rockingham during certain years, will be of interest.

 

Year.

To White.

To Colored.

Total

1865

208

1

209

1866

277

4

281

1867

254

13

267

1871

163

22

185

1872

 

 

196

1875

186

22

208

 

     In January, 1868, the Register paid a handsome compliment to Joseph D. Price, “formerly of Maryland, but now a permanent resident of this place [Harrisonburg] – a gentleman who has done more to stimulate enterprise and business in this part of the State than any other citizen of the Valley.”  Price was at the time head of a wood-working factory company in Harrisonburg, and a dealer in real estate.

 

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     In May, 1868, Mr. Ela, member of Congress from New Hampshire, made a political speech in Harrisonburg, dividing time with Hon. John B. Baldwin. According to the facetious (though I suspect slightly prejudiced) report given in the next issue of the Register, the gentleman from New Hampshire was somewhat enlightened and very decidedly out-argued.

     In September, 1868, it was announced that the people of East Rockingham were to have improved mail facilities – that the mail was to be carried to Keezletown, McGaheysville, and Roadside three times a week instead of twice, as before.

     Early in 1870 some changes were made in the political divisions of the county, and the nine townships, according to the new arrangement, had the following names, with the respective areas, as indicated:

 

 

sq. mi.

Brock’s Gap,

171.7

Plains,

84.8

Linville’s Creek,

91.0

Elk Run,

107.6

Stonewall (Including McGaheysville, Port Republic, Etc.),

94.2

Ashby (including Cross Keys, Peale’s Cross Roads, etc.),

59.8

Harrisonburg,

29.0

Central,

144.8

Franklin (including Mt. Crawford, Bridgewater, etc.),

95.1

                           Total,

878.0

 

(561,920 acres).

 

     Of the total, about 500 square miles were reckoned as mountain land, the remainder, 378 square miles, being comparatively level. Of these 378 square miles, nearly one-fourth was supposed to be in timber in 1870.  It is safe to

 

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conclude that practically all the mountain land was in timber. (11)

    According to the current edition of Johnson’s Cyclopaedia, there were about this time 14 flouring mills in the county.  This was doubtless below the actual number; for the Register of November 3, 1870,gives the following statistics for the four townships named:

 

 

People.

Productive

 

 

Industries

Elk Run,

2341

10

Plains,

3040

30

Brock’s Gap,

1366

16

Linville,

3547

17

 

     The most memorable, as well as the most disastrous, incident of the year 1870 was the great flood in October.  The Shenandoah River, as well as many others streams of Virginia, rose to an unprecedented height, field crops, fences, bridges, buildings, stock, and even people being carried away in the rush of swirling waters. At Bridgewater, Mt. Crawford, Port Republic, River Bank, Conrad’s Store, Shenandoah City, and many other places in Rockingham and Page the damage done was incalculable, and in many cases irreparable.

     In the Register of September 14, 1871, the following figures of values, prepared by S. R. Sterling, appeared:

 

Township.

Real Estate.

Personal Property.

Harrisonburg,

$   930,389.82

$   377,063.88

Central,

1,127,827.13

372,617.00

Franklin,

1,048,063.47

397,534.00

Ashby,

901,783.07

182,333.00

Plains,

1,276,247.00

349,152.00

Linville,

1,179,022.29

320,132.00

Stonewall,

681,966.21

159,069.00

Elk Run,

545,095.41

92,580.00

Brock’s Gap

91,503.29

43,118.00

    Total,

$  7,781,897.69

$  2,293,598.88

       Grand Total,

 

$10,075,496.57

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(11)   See Rockingham Register, May 5, June 2, and August 25, 1870.

 

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     Appended is this note:  “Stonewall and Elk Run Township were seriously injured by the flood of 1870, and these assessments were made since then. The re-assessment of the lands in these Townships has greatly reduced their value.”

     In January, 1872, John E. Roller of Rockingham introduced in the Virginia Senate a bill proposing to re-arrange the townships of the county, reducing their number, etc.  On March 2, following, this bill was passed, and the next month George J. Kisling, Henry Neff, and George H. Dinges, commissioners, appointed under the Act, made a division of the county into five townships, or districts, as at present constituted.

     Prices of some common necessities and luxuries in June, 1872, were as follows:  Flour, $8.50 to $9.75 a barrel; wheat, $1.85 a bushel; corn 80 cents a bushel; bacon, hog round, 8 cents a pound; chickens, live, $3.00 a dozen; turkeys, 7 cents a pound.

     In the Presidential campaign of 1872 Rockingham seems to have been enthusiastic for Greeley and Brown, giving them 2130 votes; but the 735 votes cast for Grant and Wilson at the same time is a surprisingly large number, considering everything.

     In 1873 the assessors’ books showed the number of horses in Rockingham County to be 7550, and their value $418,297.00.  At the same time there were 16,946 cattle, valued at $226,948.00

     As an example of the numerous development enterprises of 1872, 1873, etc., many of which found Black Friday of September, 1873, an unlucky day, the Virginia Improvement Company may be cited.  This company was chartered and organized in 1873, with a capital stock of $500,000.00.  B. B. Thomas was president; R. N. Pool, vice-president; Robt. C. Thomas, secretary; Eugene Borda, treasurer; and Henry M. Clay, general superintendent.  The principal offices were at Philadelphia, Pa., and Bridgewater, Va.  The principal objects appear to have been the building of North River Railroad and the booming of Bridgewater.

 

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     In the State election of 1873 Rockingham gave 2794 votes to Kemper (Conservative) and 623 to Hughes (Republican).  There were at this time 19 voting places in the county, distributed among the five townships as follows:

     In Stonewall three:  Conrad’s Store, McGaheysville, and Port Republic.

     In Ashby five:  Cross Keys, Mt. Crawford, Dayton, Bridgewater, and Ottobine.

     In Central three:  Keezletown, Harrisonburg, and Mt. Clinton.

     In Linville Creek four:  Melrose, Edom, E. Hoover’s Cooper Shop, and Singer’s Glen.

     In Plains four:  Tenth Legion, Timberville, Cootes’ Store, and Wittig’s Store.

     In April, 1874, the county supervisors adopted the plans of Julius C. Holmes of Charlestown, W. Va., for a new court house; in May the contract for the building was let to Homes at $11,450.00; and in December the new building was used for the first time.

     I have before me a diary, covering the years from 1873 to 1880, kept in the exact hand of James Kenney, who for nearly four years, 1870 to 1873, was judge of the Rockingham County Court.  Two items from this diary are here introduced.

 

    Feb. 8, 1875 – Wednesday – 7 A.M. 10 degrees below 0.  Clear & cold.  The coal oil in the lamp on the office mantel piece froze.  I do not mean solid, but it had that white, milky look like sweet oil when it freezes.  This is decidedly the coldest weather I can remember.

    Apr. 24, 1875 – Saturday – J. R. Jones (12) who owns the old stone Pres. Church on East Market St. is now having it pulled down for the erection of a new building for business purposes on the same site.  My earliest

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(12)   John Robert Jones, son of David S. and Harriet Yost Jones, was born in Harrisonburg in 1828.  As captain he served the South with distinction in Florida, March, 1861; in April following he enlisted a company of 104 men in Rockingham County, Va., and joined Gen. Johnston at Winchester, his company a little later being made Co. I, 33d Va. Infantry, Stonewall Brigade.  In August, 1861, he was made lieutenant-colonel of the 33d regiment, and in July, 1862, was promoted to the rank of Briga-

 

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recollection of a church was this one where I went to Sunday school at least 44 years ago. (13)

 

     At the April court, 1875, ten licenses for selling liquor in Rockingham County were granted:  five at Harrisonburg, one at Timberville, two at Broadway, one near Airey’s still house, and one at Rawley Springs.  Applications for four others were refused.

     On August 4, 1875, the 10th Regiment, Virginia Volunteer Infantry, the history of which as been given in the preceding chapter, held a reunion at Brock’s Springs, and effected a permanent organization. (14)

     The Reconstruction Period and this chapter may both be fittingly closed with two more extracts from Judge Kenney’s diary, which are here with presented.

 

1876  Saturday Jan. 22

                                        I have just returned from a visit to the Soldiers’ Monument.  It was completed on yesterday, the 21st of January 1876.  The monument is quite handsome and speaks well for the taste of those who got up the design and for the skill and workmanship of Anthony who did the stone work and carving and superintended the erection.  I had the honor of preparing two of the inscriptions.  Shortly after the was which ended in 1865 a Memorial Association was formed by some of the ladies of our town and county.  The bodies of the Confederate soldiers who had died or were buried in this Rockingham County were removed to a lot adjoining Woodbine Cemetery, and every year since the war the ladies have designated a day, and with processions, dirges, muffled drums, and tolling bells laid spring flowers and ever greens above the dust of the dead soldiers, and this spring these ladies can point with pride to this beautiful tribute of patriotism and gratitude.

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dier-general.  He was captured at Gettysburg, and held as a prisoner at Johnson’s Island and at Fort Warren till July, 1865.  For a number of years following the war he was a dealer in agricultural implements, and a writer on agricultural subjects.  For eight years or more, from about 1876, he was commissioner in chancery for the circuit court.  He died April 1, 1901.

 

(13)  I am indebted to the kindness of Mr. Chas. Switzer, of Harrisonburg, for the loan of the Kenney diary.

 

(14)  Rockingham Register, August 12, 1875.

 

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     Mrs. Juliet Strayer (15) is the president of the Association and to her more than any other person belongs the credit of erecting this Monument.

 

December 31, 1876, Sunday

     This is the last day of the year 1876, a year that will be considered in the future history of the nation as remarkable for many reasons.  This is the 100th year of our national independence, that is that on the 4th of July, 1776, the colonies through their representatives in Congress assembled at Philadelphia declared their independence of Great Britain and after a seven years war assisted by the French their independence was acknowledged.  The anniversary was celebrated by a national exhibition at Philadelphia.  It was called the Centennial Exhibition and all the nations of the earth were invited to participate and most of them did.  The exhibition was a complete success.  I went to the exhibition and was astonished at its magnitude.

     This has also been a remarkable year for the Presidential election.  It is remarkable in this, that questions have arisen for which there is neither law nor precedent to decide.  Hayes, Governor of Ohio, was the administration or Republican candidate, and Tilden Governor of New York the Democratic or Conservative candidate.  Soon after the election (which was held on Nov. 7, 1876) it was announced that Tilden had received 203 electoral votes and Hayes and 163, it requiring 185 electoral votes to decide, but in a short time it was reported that South Carolina, Florida and Louisiana, had gone for Hayes and those the states having 19 electoral votes would change the whole matter give Hayes 186 votes and leave Tilden 184.  The Democrats charged that it was a fraud perpetrated by the retiring board all of whom were of the administration party, that they had changed the true vote and counted the Hayes electors in.  Affairs were in this situation when Congress met in December, the Democrats having a majority in the house of representatives and the Republicans in the Senate.  Both house of Congress at once appointed committees to proceed at once to those three states examine into the questions of fraud.  So far only one committee have reported & they say that South Carolina voted for Hayes by a small majority.  The people of the whole country are greatly excited and many persons

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(15)    Juliet Lyle Strayer, wife of Crawford C. Strayer, lived in Harrisonburg over 40 years, and was president of the Ladies’ Memorial Association about 35 years.  She was born Nov. 12, 1826, the daughter of Abraham and Martha Reid Smith of Rockingham, and died in Harrisonburg Aug. 31, 1893.  On the entrance to the soldiers’ section of Woodbine Cemetery is a tablet with this inscription:  “To the Memory of Mrs. Juliet Lyle Strayer Founder and for Many Years President of the Ladies Memorial Association.”

 

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fear a civil war, but I have no apprehensions.  Most persons are willing that the Congress settle the question, and I think they will.  The popular vote was Tilden 4,268,207.  Hayes 4,027,245.  Peter Cooper 82,920, and about 11,000 scattering.  The administration is with Hayes and is loth to see the power pass from their party.  There are more than 100,000 office-holders, all appointees of the administration and they will do anything they dare to retain their party in power.  In South Carolina in addition to the presidential contest they have one for Lieut. Governor,  Members of Congress and members of the State Legislature. The Democrats claim the election of their candidates and the Republicans the election of theirs.  Both Governors have been inaugurated, and there are two Legislatures, each body claiming to be the Legislature of South Carolina according to the laws and constitution of the state.  The administration sides with the republicans and keeps its candidate in power by the aid of the United States soldiers.

     In Oregon the Governor refused to certify the election of Hayes electors in full and gave a certificate to one of the Tilden electors.  At this date, the 31st of December, 1876 no one can forsee the result but I hope the whole matter may be settled without bloodshed.  I have been through one war and do not wish to see another.  (Added later) On the 25th and 26th of January 1877 Congress passed a compromise election gill selecting a committee of 15 to decide all disputed questions as to the electoral vote.

 

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