We have a new exhibit coming! Thanks to COVID, we're exploring a digital route. This format will not only make our exhibit available for anyone with web access, but it also doesn't have to be taken down every 3 months for care and maintenance. We're very excited to explore the potential for future exhibits! Because the formatting has taken up so much of the archivist's time, we've included a link here to preview the progress:
PLEASE NOTE: this is nowhere near the final product! It's simply a little snapshot of where we are in the process of designing an exhibit that spans over 30 years.
Art at the Mill is a huge event that has, in one way or another, touched the lives of many Clarke County residents. We'd love to include your stories, memories, and pictures in our exhibit! If you're interested in sharing, please reach out to our archivist, or comment below!
This week's post is brought to you by the mystery that is Israel Spencer Jackson and his first wife, Dora. A few weeks ago, Archivist Melanie did a program with the George Tyler Moore Center for the Study of the Civil War about her current research project, centering around Israel and Dora. After the program, while digging around in some categorized archive files, this document was found:
Now that Virginia is in Phase 3, and we are allowed to gather in large numbers, are you planning any big dinners? If so, let us help!
These recipes come to you straight from the Clarke Courier, and could really take a good meal and make it great.
This week we bring you a brief look at the life of Ellen M Locke. Like many women of her era, little is known about her directly, but we can surmise many details from looking at her family records, specifically census documents. Here is what they tell us:
This week's blog is a very brief look at the American Colonization Society, which had a small following here in Clarke County. Much has been written on the subject at large by other institutions, so look for further reading suggestions at the bottom.
This week's blog post is a reminder that Clarke County was built on the backs of thousands of men, women, and children who were held in perpetual bondage, and it is a tribute to those men, women, and children who's voices have been silenced within the narrative.
To make sure their voices are coming through loud and clear, there will be no interpretation or explanation given to accompany the following images. Some have been transcribed for ease of reading, but that is all.
The Archivist, the author of this blog, invites you to join her in these conversations, and to help bring these voices back to the present.
Divorce is no small matter, particularly in 1835. In the United States, it wasn't until well into the twentieth century that divorce became somewhat less stigmatized, although divorces in general still favored men over women. Women were, throughout history, left to bear the brunt of social stigmatization over divorce and other matrimonial troubles. It was usually seen as a woman's duty to ensure the happiness of her household, and for rich women, the burden was especially high. More was a stake in a marriage between two wealthy families than was for more common families.
Exploring the intricacies of marriage in the 19th century would fill dozens of blog posts, so if you want to read more, check out this lecture, written by Hendrik A. Hartog of the University of Wisconsin Law School entitled Marital Exits and Marital Expectations in Nineteenth Century America.
While digging through the Clarke County deed books, we once again found some intrigue - record of the divorce in 1835 of John W Byrd and his young wife Mary F Page, the second daughter of Ann Meade Randolph Page of Annfied. Seeing written evidence of a divorce this early in the century is intriguing enough, but reading further, the questions grow.
Clarke County Deed Book a:111-113
Less than a month after John Brown's infamous raid on Harper's Ferry, Clarke County slave owner's worst nightmare was realized: evidence of a potential slave insurrection was discovered.
Where do the poor people go?
What is a community to do to help those who cannot help themselves, who are stuck in a rut, down on their luck, with no support system in place?
Throughout the 19th and early 20th century, being poor was largely considered to be a dishonorable state of existence, and most people who fell into that category (including the elderly and disabled) were largely ostracized, yet supported, by society at large. In America, county level governments took charge of instituting and maintaining houses to care for the poor - poorhouses, almshouses, county farms, etc - and they were organized and run by Overseers of the poor. The idea behind agriculture-based poor-relief is that those needing the relief will reside and work on the farm and raise some, if not all, the food they plan to consume.
Clarke County had one poor house that we know of, although it's possible there were earlier versions. Sometime in the mid-nineteenth century a large farm was built 3 miles north of Berryville, in what is now known as Stringtown. Records for the County Farm are scarce (at least during COVID closures), so we don't know much about it. It was in operation "for more than fifty years" according to the land deed documenting the sale of the farm to the Nicodemus family in 1946. County Farms, or Poorhouse farms, generally began to decline after 1935, when the Social Security Act went in to practice, meaning it's fairly likely the complex was built in the second half of the century.
Philip Henry Powers is the last Clarke County Educator we will cover in our mini-series, for now, and boy is he an interesting one.
Born April 10, 1828 to William Afton Powers and Alice Maher Saunders, in King and Queen County Virginia, Philip spent his life as an educator, a soldier, a farmer, and a father.
Melanie is the current archivist for the Clarke County Historical Association, in Berryville, Virginia. She is a graduate from Shepherd University, where she earned a degree in History.