ROCKINGHAM STATESMEN AND JURISTS.
John Sevier, a pioneer of the Shenandoah Valley and one of the builders of Tennessee, was one of the most distinguished of all the sons of Rockingham. A tall shaft in Knoxville marks honor to his memory; his nickname, “Nolichucky Jack,” is familiar on many tongues; and his native county may well learn to know him. He was born Sept. 23, 1745, the son of Valentine Sevier and Joanna Goade. He had a brother who also won distinction (see pages 63, 64).
After a short schooling in Fredericksburg and Staunton, John Sevier helped his father keep store. In 1761 he married Sarah Hawkins. After farming a short while in Long Meadows, he bought a tract of land where New Market now stands, and kept a store and an inn as part of the village he laid out. He gave the Baptist church three acres of land on which to erect a building. In 1770 he moved to Millerstown (supposedly Woodstock); but soon he became interested in the great southwest, and in 1773 moved to what is now East Tennessee, where his name was soon written large. In 1777 he was a member of the North Carolina legislature; and for the rest, we may quote part of the inscription o his monument:
Pioneer, soldier, statesman, and one of the founders of the Republic; Governor of the State of Franklin; six times Governor of Tennessee; four times elected to Congress; the typical pioneer who conquered the wilderness and fashioned the State; a projector and hero of King’s Mountain; thirty-five battles, thirty-five victories; his Indian war-cry, “Here they are! come on, boys, come on!”
It is said that some of Sevier’s early Indian fighting was
done from New Market. He died Sept. 24, 1815, near Fort Decatur, Ga., while on a mission to the Creek Indians.(1)
The records thus far examined seem to corroborate the foregoing statements concerning Sevier. The Augusta County records show the name of Valentine Sevier as early as 1746, perhaps earlier. Dr. Waddell points out the fact (Annals of Augusta, pp. 45, 46) that he was a member of Peter Scholl’s military company in 1742. In 1753 he was keeping a tavern near New Market and Tenth Legion (see page 49). From 1753 to 1773 he, with Joanna his wife, sold no less than eight tracts of land on Smith Creek, in the Long Meadow, and elsewhere in the vicinity, to Andrew Bird, the Holsingers, and others, as the Augusta records show. On May 10, 1765, Valentine Sevier, of Augusta, and Joanna his wife, sold to John Sevier, of Frederick (now Shenandoah), 378 acres, located on a branch of Smith’s Creek, in Frederick County, adjoining the land of John Hodges, Capt. Peter Scholl, and Jane Schene; the said land having been granted to Val. Sevier from Lord Fairfax in 1749. The next day, May 11, 1765, John Sevier and Sarah, his wife, mortgaged the same tract to Alex. Wodrow and John Neilson, of Falmouth, King George County, VA. At this time John Sevier was living on the land in question. The mortgage was witnessed by Joseph Hawkins and others.(2)
The archives of Shenandoah County, formed from Frederick in 1772, record a number of real estate transactions in which John Sevier was a party. In 1782 Val. Sevier’s “old house” was still a familiar landmark in the Long Meadow (see page 217). This, in all probability, was John Sevier’s birthplace.(3)
(1) See Harper’s Encyclopaedia of U. S. History, Vol. 3, p. 418; Vol. 8, p. 132; Vol. 9, pp. 40-43; Roosevelt’s Winning of the West, Vol. 1, pp. 223-230; Life of Gen. John Sevier, by F. M. Turner; Nolichucky Jack, by L. T. Sprague, in Outing Magazine, April, 1908.
(2) See records of Frederick County, Va.
(3) Inasmuch as John Sevier was a famous Indian fighter, as well as a statesman, it may be of interest to note in connection that Lewis Wetzel
Gabriel Jones, known as “The Lawyer,” was born May 17, 1724, near Williamsburg, Va., son of John and Elizabeth Jones, of Wales. Educated in London, he was admitted to the bar; in 1747 he bought land near Kernstown, Frederick County, Va., where he likely was residing the year before when he was appointed prosecuting attorney for Augusta County. October 16, 1749, he married Margaret Morton, widow of George Morton, and daughter of William Strother. August 8, 1751, he bought 244 acres of land from Christopher Francisco, the tract being on the north side of the river below Port Republic, whereon is the homestead called Bogota. He seems to have moved to Bogota about the end of 1753. There he had his home till he died, October, 1806. His wife lived till 1822, and in November of that year Charles Lewis, Sr., administrator, was arranging to make sale of the property on January 21, 1823. The property consisted of nearly 1200 acres of land, a frame dwelling house, with out-buildings, growing crops, and “upwards of FORTY very likely NEGROES,” together with household furniture, elegant prints, a large and well selected library, horses, cattle, and farming utensils. The place has since been owned by the Strayers, and is at present the residence of Dr. A. S. Kemper.
Mr. Jones had five children, one of whom died in infancy. One daughter (Margaret) married Col. John Harvie; another married John Lewis, of Fredericksburg; the third married a Mr. Hawkins, of Kentucky. His son, William Strother Jones, born March 21, 1756, was a student at William and Mary, a captain in the Continental Army, and later a colonel of militia. His wife was Fanny Thornton, of Fredericksburg.
Mr. Jones was the first lawyer for Augusta, and the first
the famous Indian fighter of the Ohio Valley, was also a native of Rockingham. His father, Capt. John Wetzel, born in Switzerland, 1733, was brought to what is now Rockingham in 1740. Here were born John Wetzel’s sons, Martin, Lewis, Jacob, George, and John. About 1769 John Wetzel moved west, settling on Wheeling Creek. – See Thwaites and Kellogg’s Frontier Defense on the Upper Ohio, 1777-1778, page 296. – The Wetzel names is still familiar in Rockingham.
also for Rockingham, in which he lived from its organization in 1778 (see pages 65-69). He held the office of commonwealth’s attorney in Rockingham till 1795, when he resigned and was succeeded by David Holmes. He represented Augusta in the House of Burgesses in 1757, 1758, and 1771. In 1788, he, with his brother-in-law, Thomas Lewis (page 127), was a member of the Virginia convention, and zealously favored the adoption of the Federal Constitution. He was a little man, of great integrity and explosive temper. His difficulty with Henry Brewster (page 73) would indicate as much. Dr. Waddell tells of another incident, which probably occurred at Woodstock. Hugh Holmes, opposing lawyer, sharp and witty, made old Mr. Jones angry, and he exploded. It happened again. The court of justices refrained from interfering as long as possible, but finally they put their heads together, and then, after due consideration, the presiding justice announced that the court would send Lawyer Holmes to jail if he did not quit making Lawyer Jones swear so.(4)
In 1778 George Rootes was admitted to the practice of law in Rockingham (see page 71). Michael Bowyer took the oath of an attorney in 1779 (page 73). The following were admitted to the Rockingham bar on the dates indicated:
Lewis Wolf, May 23, 1797.
John Monroe, April 23, 1798.(5)
Daniel Smith, December 16, 1800.
Robert Gray, June 18, 1805.
George W. Harrison, April 22, 1807.
(4) See Waddell’s Annals of Augusta, pp. 81-84; Wayland’s “German Element,” pp. 55, 66, 73, 86, 223, 224, 271; and an article in the W. Va. Hist. Mag., April, 1902, entitled, “The Lawyer,” by R. T. Barton. Mr. Barton, who lives at Winchester, is a descendant of Gabriel Jones. The Rockingham Register of Dec. 7, 1822, contains Chas. Lewis’ announcement of the Jones sale.
(5) Mr. Richard See, Jr., writing from Warsaw, Mo., May 20, 1922, says: “My grandfather on my mother’s side, who is now dead, was Judge Joseph Monroe. He was born and raised in Rockingham Co., Va.; moved to Benton County, Mo., many years ago; was a soldier in the war with Mexico, also in the civil war.”
Daniel Smith, “a learned, pure judge and good man,” was born at or near Harrisonburg, in 1779, son of John and Margaret Davis Smith, grandson of Justice Daniel Smith (pp. 54, 68); he married Frances Strother Duff, June 10, 1809; children, Margaret, Elizabeth, Lucius, Frances, Marie, John, Daniel; he died Nov. 8, 1850. In 1805 he was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates; from 1804 to 1811 he was commonwealth’s attorney for Rockingham; on April 10, 1811, he was appointed a judge of the General Court, and from the same date till his death (1850) he was judge of the circuit superior court for Rockingham County. He succeeded Judge Hugh Holmes, and was succeeded by Judge Green B. Samuels. His portrait now adorns the Rockingham County court room. Judge John Paul said of him:
No judge, perhaps, who ever presided on the Circuit Court bench in Virginia exerted a better or more lasting influence on the people within his jurisdiction. He was not only a great man intellectually, but he was great in the moral attributes necessary to the perfection of judicial character.
In the celebrated case of the National Bank against Steinbergen and others, involving over half a million of dollars, he gave a decision on Saturday in favor of the plaintiff; on Monday morning following he came into court and announced from the bench that he had erred in his former conclusions, and proceeded to reverse his decision. (6)
I have been told that Hudge Smith’s residence was a short distance northeast of Dayton, near the Shrum brick factory.
Robert Gray was born in Ireland, Nov. 1, 1781, but his family settled in the Shenandoah Valley about 1787. He was educated at William and Mary and at Princeton, and in 1805 located at Harrisonburg to practice law. Soon he married Isabella, daughter of Dr. Asher Waterman, and about 1812 built Collicello. (see pages 192, 220.) He was a lawyer
(6) See Judge John Paul’s address, made Oct. 15, 1896; Boogher’s Gleanings of Virginia History, pp. 339, 340; Waddell’s Annals of Augusta, pp. 150-152; Compton’s Rockingham Register sketches, No. 21.
of profound learning, an advocate and prosecutor of great eloquence. He wrote the proverbially bad hand of the lawyer (of his day). Once when he gave a check for several thousand dollars on a Winchester Bank – there were probably no banks nearer then than in Winchester – the payee had to ride back the 67 miles to Harrisonburg, the cashier having refused to cash the check, declaring the signature a forgery, because it was legible. He died Dec. 17, 1859, accounted the wealthiest citizen of Rockingham County. He had four sons, Algernon, Jouett, Douglass, and Robert (1826-1887).
Algernon S. Gray, eldest son of Robert Gray, was a lawyer with his father’s gifts of eloquence, and a colonel of militia for his county, but he was most of all a philanthropist. In the Virginia convention he tried all measures to avoid secession, moving the assemblage to tears as he depicted what would be the “most mournful Iliad in the history of the world,” but he did not withstand the action of the majority, or disregard the final peremptory orders from his constituents. During the war he gave much to feed the soldiers and provide for their families, - even took off his own shoes in the street to give to a Confederate soldier whose feet left bloody prints in the snow. He went to Richmond in behalf of the non-combatant Dunkers and Mennonites, of whom there were many in Rockingham. After the murder of John Kline it was said, “Colonel Gray next,” and he finally yielded to the entreaty of his daughters, going with tow of his brothers to Baltimore. After the war he returned to Rockingham, where he used his influence for education and progress. For a number of years he was U. S. Marshal for the western district of Virginia. – See pages 131, 132, above.
John Kenney, born in Augusta, 1791, located at Harrisonburg about 1817. He was commonwealth’s attorney, in the circuit court, 1847 to 1852, and circuit judge, 1852-60. He was also a member of the Virginia constitutional convention of 1850. He died in Harrisonburg, 1873, at the home of his son, Judge James Kenney. (7)
(7) See sketch of John Kenney in the Register of Feb. 21, 1873.
Mrs. Carr says: “The lawyers of that day [about 1820] were Robert Gray, David Steele, and Thomas Clark, and some younger ones I do not remember.” – See Chapter 27.
Isaac Samuels Pennybacker, one of the most distinguished sons of northern Virginia, was born at Pine Forge, near New Market, Shenandoah County, Va., Sept. 3, 1805. From 1837 to 1839 he was a representative in Congress from the 16th district of Virginia, composed of the counties of Rockingham, Shenandoah, Page, Warren, Hardy, Pendleton, and Bath. Later he was judge of the U. S. District Court, and a regent of the Smithsonian Institution. From 1845 till his death, January 12, 1847, he was a U. S. Senator from Virginia. It is said that he was offered the Attorney-Generalship of the United States by President Van Buren.
At the time of his death Senator Pennybacker’s family was living in Harrisonburg, where he had resided from some time preceding. Some years later suit was brought in court for possession of the Waterman house, south side of the Harrisonburg public square, the same that is now occupied by Dr. R. S. Switzer and his sister, Mrs. Burkholder, with the lot whereon it stands. In the report of the said suit the following passage occurs:
The plaintiff alleges in his bill that Isaac S. Pennybacker, his father, died about the year 1848, intestate, possessed of this lot, “leaving as his only heirs-at-law his widow, Sarah A. Pennybacker, and three infant children – John D., Isaac S., and your orator J. Edmund Pennybacker – to whom said lot of land descended”; . . . . . . . (8)
This would appear to fix the place of Sen. Pennybacker’s residence in Harrisonburg.
Senator Pennybacker’s wife was Sarah A. Dyer, daughter of Zebulon Dyer, of Pendleton County. She died in Franklin, W. Va., June 17, 1891, aged 75. His sons, John D. and J. Ed., were both men of prominence, the former having served in the State senate, from Rockingham, from 1859 to 1863, - See pages 282, 295, above. Ex-Gov. S. W. Pennypacker. Of
(8) See 75th Va., page 672.
Pennsylvania, is a relative of the family. Miss Kate Pennybacker, of Linville Creek, is a grand-daughter of Sen. I. S. Pennybacker, and possesses an excellent oil portrait of him.
In 1844 the Rockingham Register contained cards of the following Rockingham lawyers:
Herring Chrisman Jacob P. Effinger
F. L. Barziza E. A. Shands
In 1854 the following were advertised in the same paper:
Allan C. Bryan & John C. Woodson
E. A. Shands & S. M. Sommers
J. C. C. Brettell J. N. Liggett
Allan C. Bryan, born at Edom, was a brother of Daniel Bryan, the poet. Pendleton Bryan, lawyer, who died in Harrisonburg, Aug. 30, 1906, was a son of A. C. Bryan.
John C. Woodson, who died in Harrisonburg, Apr. 25, 1875, aged 52, had represented Rockingham in the legislature, etc. The Register of Apr. 29, and May 6, 1875, contained sketches of his life.
Jacob N. Liggett was born in Harrisonburg, January 2, 1829, the son of Samuel and Romanzy Nicholas Liggett. He graduated in law from the University of Virginia. During the civil war he served in various commands; and among his papers is a note written by Ashby, commending his courage and service. In 1860 he was a Presidential elector on the Douglas and Johnson ticket. Following the war he represented Rockingham in the Virginia House of Delegates, and was elected to the convention that drew up the Underwood Constitution in 1868. From the latter body he was expelled by a partisan vote, because he did not hesitate to express his unvarnished opinion of the body and its proceedings. He was a lawyer of ability, a writer and reader of discrimination, and an orator of no mean powers. In 1852 he married Evelyn Winfield of Rockingham; following her death in 1884 he married Isabella Spence of Westmoreland County, who survives him. He died in Harrisonburg, May 8, 1912.
John Francis Lewis, born near Port Republic, March 1, 1818, came of the family of which Gen. Andrew Lewis and
Col. Charles Lewis were earlier representatives. (See page 127, not.) He was a planter for many years. In 1861 he was one of Rockingham’s delegates to the State convention, and the only member east of the Alleghanies who refused to sign the ordinance of secession. (See pages 131-3.) In 1865 he was an unsuccessful Union candidate for Congress, but in 1869 he was elected lieutenant-governor (Gilbert C. Walker, governor) by 20,000 majority. In the same year he was chosen U. S. Senator for Virginia, serving in that capacity till March 4, 1875. In 1881 he was again elected lieutenant-governor of Virginia (W. E. Cameron, governor). In 1872 he was mentioned as a possible candidate for the Vice-Presidency, on the Grant ticket. He died in September, 1895. John F. Lewis, of Lynnwood, is his son, as was also the late Daniel Sheffey Lewis (pages 334, 335).(9)
John Thomas Harris, for many years a distinguished citizen of Rockingham, well known throughout Virginia, and conspicuous in many national issues, was born in Albemarle County, Va., May 8, 1823, the son of Nathan Harris and Ann Allan Anderson. When he was five years old his parents moved to Augusta County, his early education being received in Albemarle and Augusta schools. At the age of 20 he taught school in Augusta, studying law in the meantime. Having graduated from the law school of Judge Lucas P. Thompson, he was licensed and admitted to the bar in 1845 by Judges Baldwin and Smith, and located in Harrisonburg.
In 1848 he was a canvasser for Cass and Butler, and four years later rendered effective service in Pierce’s campaign. The same year (1852) he was elected commonwealth’s attorney for Rockingham County, holding the office by re-election till 1859. In 1856 he canvassed Virginia as a Presidential elector for James Buchanan, and the next year was appointed a member of the board of visitors to the Virginia Military Institute. In 1859, after a memorable campaign, in which the
(9) Biographical sketches, etc., of Sen. Lewis appeared in the Rockingham Register, Oct. 28, 1869; Jan. 14, 1875; Sept. 6, 1895.
field at the start was against him, Mr. Harris was elected to Congress from the 9th district of Virginia, then composed of the counties of Highland, Bath, Rockbridge, Augusta, Rockingham, Shenandoah, Hardy, and Pendleton. He was re-elected in 1861.
Although opposed to secession, Mr. Harris promptly followed Virginia when she withdrew from the Union, and served two terms in the General Assembly during the war. From 1866 to 1869 he was judge of the 12th judicial circuit of Virginia, which included Rockingham (see pages 161-163, above). In 1870 he was elected again to Congress, this time representing the 7th district, and was continuously re-elected till 1880. In 1881 he resumed the practice of law, devoting himself chiefly to contested election cases, for which his long experience in Congress had given him special fitness. In 1888 he, with Richard F. Bierne, was an elector at large on the Cleveland ticket, and the following year was a rival of P. W. McKinney for the Democratic nomination for the Governorship. Later he was appointed by Gov. McKinney one of the commissioners for Virginia to the World’s Columbian Exposition, and as a member of the executive committee took a prominent part in the great celebration. He died at his home in Harrisonburg, October 14, 1899.
On May 29, 1854, Mr. Harris married Miss Virginia M. Miller. The following children were born of the union; Anna H. Heard, 5908 Cabaune Ave., St. Louis; Virginia O. Beall, St. Regis, St. Louis; Graham H. Harris, 1438 N. State St., Chicago; John T. Harris, Harrisonburg; Hatton N. T. Harris (died 1905); Edith Harris (died 1904); and Clement C. Harris, who died in infancy. Hatton Harris was a surgeon in the U. S. Navy; Graham H. Harris and John T. Harris are prominent lawyers.
For many years, beginning with or before the war, one of the prominent citizens of Rockingham, and for some time an influential member of the legislature, was Dr. S. H. Moffett. During the war he was a director on the board of
the Western State Hospital, at Staunton. The Register of Nov. 17, 1881, and Aug. 7, 1896, contained interesting accounts of him as a politician and statesman. The same paper, in 1863, contained cards of John W. G. Smith, E. T. H. Warren, and John C. Woodson, Rockingham lawyers.
The following list, for 1866 and 1867, is made up from several copies of the Register, compared with a copy of the Old Commonwealth of Oct. 10, 1866.
James Kenney (10)
Allan C. Bryan
Geo. G. Grattan
Jno. C. Woodson
J. S. Duckwall
Wm. B. Compton (12)
F. A. Daingerfield (11)
Wm. H. Effinger
G. S. Latimer
J. N. Liggett
A. M. Newman
Chas. A. Yancey
Wm. S. Rohr
Thos. L. M. Chipley
J. Ed. Pennybacker
G. W. Berlin
Warren S. Lurty
B. G. Patterson
Granville Eastham (1834-’95) (13)
Chas. E. Haas
J. S. Harnsberger
Charles Triplett O’Ferrall was born in what is now Berkeley County, W. VA., Oct. 21, 1840, and died in Richmond, VA., Sept. 22, 1905. He was a Confederate cavalry officer, and rose to the rank of colonel. After graduating in law, in 1869, he located at Harrisonburg, and had his home there until December, 1893, when he moved to Richmond. From 1874 to 1880 he was judge of the Rockingham County court, and from 1894 to 1898 he was governor of Virginia. For twelve years of the interim he was a member of Congress from the 7th district of Virginia. Although not regarded as
(10) Sketch of in the Register of Oct. 19, 1894.
(11) See page 319; also McDonald’s History of the Laurel Brigade, pp. 379, 380.
(12) Sketch of in the Register of July 29, 1896.
(13) Sketch of in the Register of March 22, 1895.
a profound lawyer, he was an efficient judge, and as a popular orator in political campaigns he had few equals.
Governor O’Ferrall’s mother was Jane Laurens, born in Fauquier County, VA., in 1817. She died in Bridgewater in May, 1891, having lived there several years preceding. Her grave is in Woodbine Cemetery, Harrisonburg. She had the Spartan spirit and the tender devotion of the lady of Shunem. Few stories are more touching and stirring than the brief account Col. O’Ferrell gives of her journey to his bedside, after he had received what was supposed to be a mortal wound, near Upperville, in June, 1863.
In 1862 Col. O’Ferrall married Annie McLain; his second wife, whom he married in 1891, was Jennie Knight Danforth.
In addition to numerous political essays and speeches, he published an autobiographical volume entitled “Forty Years of Active Service” (see page 326). In this he has a number of interesting things to say of Rockingham, her people in general and his colleagues in particular. For example, he says of George E. Deneale, who was his colleague in the Virginia House of Delegates in 1871-3, “He was called ‘the old many eloquent.’” In telling of the famous Lawson trial of 1877, he gives graphic descriptions of John Paul and John Roller, as follows:
The Commonwealth’s Attorney who prosecuted in these cases was John Paul, who afterwards served a term in Congress and was then appointed United States District Judge for the Western District of Virginia. He was one of the ablest prosecuting attorneys I have ever known; his congressional service was creditable, and his career as Judge from 1883 to 1902, when he died, was marked with ability and with an honesty and uprightness of purpose that drew plaudits from the bar of his district, and stamped him as a just, impartial, and incorruptible judge.
The leading attorney for the defense was John E. Roller, and well did he act his part and do his duty. Astute, cautious, and watchful, never tiring, never lacking in quickness to object to what he conceived to be an improper question, and then maintaining his position with great force; searching and severe in the cross-examination of opposing witnesses, and drawing most skilfully [sic] from the witness for the defense every point favorable to his clients. Between the two – Paul and Roller – it was indeed a battle royal and a fight to the finish. They were
both young men, neither forty – the latter, who was the junior, not more than thrity-five. * * * * * * *
A distinguished and highly-esteemed member of the county bar . . . . . . . Colonel Robert Johnston, was elected as my successor. (14)
John Paul, statesman and jurist, was born near Ottobine, June 30, 1839, the son of Peter Paul and his wife, Maria Whitmer. He was commonwealth’s attorney for Rockingham County, 1871-7; in 1880 he was elected to Congress; and in September, 1883, he was appointed U. S. judge for the western district of Virginia, in which capacity he served with distinction for 18 years, - till his death, Nov. 1, 1901. (15) His wife, whom he married in November, 1874, was Miss Katherine S. Green (see pages 326-7). One of his sons, John Paul, Jr., is now Virginia senator from Rockingham.
J. Samuel Harnsberger, the son of Jeremiah and Elizabeth Harnsberger, was born in the easter part of Rockingham County, near Conrad’s Store, now Elkton, November 17, 1839. In 1861, while a student at the University of Virginia, he entered the Confederate army, serving under Gen. Henry A. Wise in West Virginia; later he was a member of Co. F., 12th Virginia Cavalry, organized by Major Harry Gilmore, and afterwards commanded successively by Clarke, Figgett, and O’Ferrall. In 1862 he was a special aide to Stonewall Jackson, just preceding the famous Valley campaign. After the war he returned to the University to study law, and then located at Harrisonburg to practice his profession. About 1904 he was appointed U. S. Commissioner for the Western District of Virginia, and held this position till death, which occurred at his home in Harrisonburg, May 2, 1912. In 1871 he married Carrie V. Harnsberger, who, with two sons and a daughter, survives him. The sons are George S. Harnsberger, Harrisonburg, and Gilbert M. Harnsberger, Shenandoah City, Va. The daughter is Mrs. Bartow Jones, Point Pleasant, W. Va. During the last years of his life
(14) See pages 206, 207 of “Forty Years of Active Service.”
(15) See “John Paul, 1839-1901,” by John T. Harris.
Captain Harnsberger collected a large amount of material towards a history of the Harnsberger family.
Within the years 1876 to 1881, the following were among the lawyers of Rockingham:
Edwin C. Bruffey
G. F. Compton (pages VI, 319)
R. S. Thomas
Geo. A. Roszelle
Robt. B. Ragan (died 1881)
Henry V. Strayer (died 1900)
John A. Cowan
O. B. Roller (1855-1912) (16)
In 1905, Winfield Liggett, a well known member of the bar, died.
George Bernard Keezell was born near Keezletown, July 20, 1854, son of George Keezell and his wife, Amanda Fitzallen Peale. He was an only child, and his father, who married late in life, died when his son was eight years old. He was educated in private schools and at Stuart Hall, a collegiate institution, in Baltimore. At the age of 16 he took up farming, residing with his mother at the home built by his grandfather in 1794. Shortly after he was 21 he was elected a justice of the peace; and in 1883 he was elected to the State senate, being re-elected four successive terms from 1895 to 1911. His senatorial service was the longest of any man in this generation. He was always in the thick of every fight, and was regarded as an authority on financial matters, having served as chairman of the Finance Committee a number of years. He resigned from the senate in 1910 to accept appointed as treasurer of Rockingham County, and served one year of an unexpired term. He has always been a Democrat in politics, and for 25 years was chairman of the party organization of his county. In 1901 he was a member of the Virginia constitutional convention, and was a presi-
(16) See pages 173, 178, above.
dential elector in 1904. He has served on the State Board of Fisheries by appointment of four successive governors, Tyler, Montague, Swanson, and Mann.
Senator Keezell has always taken an active interest in education, serving many years as local school trustee. In the senate he was on the committee for Public Institutions and Education, and was patron of the bill establishing the State Normal and Industrial School at Harrisonburg. He was also a member of the committee which made the preliminary report favoring such schools, and was especially active and influential in locating the Normal at Harrisonburg. Since its establishment he has served as chairman of the Board of Trustees. In 1912 the “Schoolma’am,” the 200-page annual published by the student body, was dedicated to him, with the characterization: “A Progressive Farmer, A Virginia Statesman, A Patron of Education, and A Friend of Virginia Teachers.”
Mr. Keezell’s grandfather, George Keezell, was the founder and patron of Keezletown (see pages 193, 194); his father, George Keezell, was a soldier in the War of 1812. In 1886 Mr. Keezell married Miss Kate M. Hannah, who died in 1902, leaving four sons and two daughters; in 1903 he married Miss Belle C. Hannah, one of the best known teachers of Rockingham.
Many of the men who have gone out from Rockingham to other counties and States have become eminent; a few examples are given.
William Taylor, born in Alexandria, began the practice of law in Rockingham; was elected a representative for Virginia to the 28th and 29th Congress; he died Jan. 17, 1846, in Washington.
Thomas H. Ford, born in Rockingham, Aug. 23, 18---; went when young to Ohio; became a lawyer; in 1855 was elected Lt. Governor; died in Washington, Feb. 29, 1868.
In 1871 Andrew J. Kearney, son of Martin L. Kearney of Rockingham, was judge of the parish court of Cameron, La., and was connected with the Cameron Times. At the
same time H. H. Stevens, son of E. H. Stevens, was an influential member of the Louisiana legislature.
In 1880 died Judge Wm. P. Daingerfield, and eminent jurist of California. He was born in Virginia in 1824, and began the practice of law in Rockingham and Pendleton. – See page 126.
Chas. H. Lewis, secretary of the commonwealth prior to 1870, and minister to Portugal, 1870 to 1875, was a brother to Sen. John F. Lewis, of Rockingham; and Judge Lunsford L. Lewis, well known throughout Virginia, is a member of the same family.
Sylvester Lamb, of Toledo, a very distinguished member of a recent Ohio legislature, is a descendant of Peter Lam of Rockingham.
The late James W. Marshall, of southwest Virginia, famous as “Cyclone Jim,” spent part of his early life in this county, having numerous connections here.
Judge Charles Grattan, a distinguished jurist of Augusta County, was a native of Rockingham, and a brother of Judge George G. Grattan.
Hon. James Hay, the distinguished member of Congress from the 7th district of Virginia, was a Rockingham lawyer and teacher from 1877 to 1879. The present circuit judge, T. N. Haas, was one of his pupils. Mr. Hay married his first wife, Miss Tatum, in Harrisonburg, Oct. 1, 1878.
Additional matter relating to this chapter is given in the Appendix.
We append here a few statements regarding certain sons of Rockingham distinguished in fields other than law and statesmanship.
Col. John W. Dunlap, born here in 1814, lived here till 1858; then he moved to Iowa; he died in Jackson County, Iowa, Nov. 5, 1869.
Rev. Dr. A. S. Gibbons, president Univ. of the Pacific, 1852-7 and 1872-9, was born near River Bank, Rockingham Co., Va., about 1822.
About 1871 Nat Ervin, who had gone from Rockingham
to Iowa some years before, came back on a visit. He had increased $1000 to $150,000 in the meantime.
In 1872 the following Rockinghamers were good citizens at and near Kingston, Ga.: James G. Rogers, Jonathan Speck, Peter Hollen, and the “Harris Boys.”
In the 70’s Dr. J. R. L. Hardesty, son of Isaac Hardesty of Harrisonburg, was an eminent surgeon and eye specialist of Wheeling. In 1875 the Khedive offered him a position at $7000.
Gen. C. C. C. Carr, of Chicago, was born in Harrisonburg, 1842. – See pages 120, 269, etc.
Maj. Walter Reed (1851-1902), surgeon U. S. A., hero and benefactor, spent part of his boyhood in Harrisonburg, where his father, Rev. L. S. Reed, had his home for many years.
Dr. O. C. Brunk, of Richmond, formerly superintendent of the State hospital at Williamsburg, is a native of Rockingham.
Mr. L. J. Bricker, of St. Paul, a prominent railroad official, is also a Rockinghamer.
Rev. David W. Gwin, A. M., D. D., M. D., LL. D., of Columbia, S. C., clergyman, educator, editor, and author, was born in Bridgewater, Dec. 6, 1838, the son of David S. Gwin, merchant.
In the blowing up of the Main, February 15, 1898, Frank T. Kelley, of Rockingham, was killed. Dr. Lucien G. Heneberger, of Harrisonburg, was surgeon on the ship, but escaped with his life.