Dr. Robert C Randolph lived with his family at "New Market" during the Civil War. Two of his four sons who served died in or as a result of conflict, and it's been said he staunchly supported the Confederacy until his death in 1887. But that's not what we're looking at today. Within the pages of Dr. Randolph's diary lies a clue to a very interesting man who spent his live in close proximity to the Doctor: Charles.
Charles, later known as Charles Jackson (when the surname is implemented is unknown), served as Dr. Randolph's butler at "New Market" until his death in 1883. Allegedly he requested to be buried in Old Chapel Cemetery, near the family he served all his life--regardless if this is true or not, he was, in fact, buried in Old Chapel. His son, also Charles Jackson, accompanied one of Dr. Randolph's sons to war (we speculate it was Archibald, who was the one to survive the war uninjured).
While much of his life is open to speculation, there are a few things we know. We know he was Dr. Randolph's butler. We know his wife was enslaved in Lynchburg (there's an earlier diary entry noting Charles had gone to visit her), and we know that Charles had his own house (it's often referred to as "Charles's house"). We know that his house was ransacked by Yankees in 1863, and that later in 1865 Dr. Randolph had a Yankee soldier sleep in his house (see photo above). What happened after this incident, we don't know. Dr. Randolph makes no mention in his diary.
If you'd like to know more about Charles' story, be sure to check back in with us in May for our Spring Archives Lecture!
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.