Historical Figure of the Week

William Seymour White (1853-1897)

William S. White was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia, the only son of Capt. Chester B. and Fannie W. White. After graduating from college, he taught school for a few years before commencing the study of law in the office of his brother-in-law, Judge John Tackett Goolrick. He was admitted to the bar in 1875 and practiced with Judge Goolrick for several years. When Goolrick bought a local newspaper and renamed it The Recorder, he placed William in charge of the editorial department. At about this same time, John B. T. Suttle died and the position of Commonwealth’s Attorney for Stafford County, Virginia became available. White was appointed to this position, took up residence near Stafford Courthouse, and won the subsequent election. A newspaper notice stated, “Mr. W. S. White, who was appointed Commonwealth’s Attorney of Stafford county to fill the vacancy occasioned by the death of the late Judge Suttle, and who, we learn will be a candidate for the position at the election in May, has moved from Fredericksburg to Stafford Court House” (Fredericksburg Star, Jan. 17, 1885). William served as Commonwealth’s Attorney for Stafford from 1884 to 1894.

After ending his term in Stafford, William moved back to Fredericksburg and renewed his activity at the newspapers, first with the Free Lance and then with the Fredericksburg Star. He was part owner of the latter when he died. William was one of the original members of the Battlefield Park Association and was chairman of the Battlefield Park Commission. In 1896 he was elected mayor of Fredericksburg and was president of the Virginia Press Association (Free Lance, Nov. 27, 1897).

In 1891 he married Helen (Sibley) Stokes (1841-1911).

William Joseph Wallis (1855-1930)

William J. Wallis was the son of Alfred Wickliffe Wallis (1823-1894) who came to Stafford County, Virginia around 1870 from Canada. The family settled on Windsor Forest, the old Downman family farm on the southwest side of Garrisonville Road (Route 610) between Joshua Road (Route 643) and Rock Hill Church Road (Route 644). The eastern part of this farm is now a subdivision by the same name, but the house, which survives, is now surrounded by Willowmere Park off Mountain View Road (Route 627). On July 21, 1893 William J. Wallis became a U. S. citizen in the Stafford Court. He was a member of the Stafford County Board of Supervisors from 1894-1896.

Abram Halsey Van Doran (1818-1901)

Abram H. Van Doran was born in New York. In 1850 he married Rachel Schenck (1821-1866) and came to Stafford shortly thereafter. He purchased land on the Warrenton Road (U. S. Route 17) not far from its junction with Poplar Road (Route 616). He called his farm Peach Lawn and Peach Lawn Drive (Route 749) is all that remains. In 1867 Abram Van Doran was Overseer of the Road “from Accokeek run to the Court House.” Abram left Stafford sometime after 1880. For him to have been overseer of the road from Accokeek Run to the courthouse suggests that he was living in that area at this time.

Thomas Norman Towson (1822-1863)

Thomas N. Towson was the son of Thomas Towson (1774-1861) and Eleanor Norman (1782-1848) of Stafford County, Virginia. In 1843, he married Mary Frances Smith (1824-1895) of Fauquier County, Virginia and they resided in William W. Robertson’s old stone house located between Garrisonville and Courthouse Roads in Stafford. Thomas inherited a freestone quarry from his father, but he died shortly after his father. His estate inventory included 1 jackscrew, 1 pair of quarry wheels, wedges, sledge hammers, picks, and 1 sawmill and fixtures. The total value of his estate was $1,570.95.

Herbert Minor Tolson (1856-1936)

Herbert Minor Tolson (1856-1936) was the son of James E. Tolson (c.1795-c.1867) and Anne E. Hickerson (c.1827-1897) of Stafford County, Virginia. He married Virginia Page Johnson (1855-1926) and lived at Stafford Store in the northern part of the county. In 1895 and 1896, Herbert M. Tolson taught school at Chappawamsic School. He served as the county’s Commissioner of the Revenue from 1895 to 1898 and from 1910 to 1924. He died of a stroke.

James Benjamin Templeman (c.1822-1892)

James B. Templeman was the son of Edward and Setha Templeman of Stafford County, Virginia. He married Louisa Holmes (1830-1900) and resided on a 100-acre farm called Hopewell. This tract adjoined modern Lake Arrowhead subdivision. James was a member of Rock Hill Baptist Church where he served as clerk. He died of consumption. His obituary appeared in the same issue of the newspaper as did a brief article about the home of Mrs. James B. Templeman being destroyed by fire (Fredericksburg Star, Feb. 17, 1892).

James L. Taliaferro (c.1814-1904)

James L. Taliaferro lived near Potomac Run in Stafford County, Virginia. He was a Confederate veteran and was shot in the leg “which made him a cripple the remainder of his life.” In 1868, James purchased from John Moncure a tract of land “near Potomac Run Bridge, for the purpose of establishing a vineyard on a large scale, as he is well assured that no section of the country can surpass that portion of Virginia in grape growing” (Native Virginian, Nov. 27, 1868). James was a Judge of Elections for the Brooke Precinct in 1885. He died in 1904.

John O. Tackett (1848-1907)

John O. Tackett was one of four known children of Charles Addison Tackett (1814-1896) of Stafford County, Virginia. The first of this interesting family to come to the New World was Lewis Tacquitt, a French Huguenot who settled on Cedar Run (now Fauquier County) just below Broad Run. Sometime prior to 1872, John O. Tackett commenced running a stable on the Stafford Courthouse lot to care for the horses ridden or driven to court. From 1871 to 1875, he was Clerk of the Circuit Court. In Stafford, the Tackett family owned and operated Tackett’s Mills on the upper part of Aquia Run. For years, this local landmark provided a place to have grain ground, a store that carried many necessities, a lumber mill, post office, and a school. Tackett’s Mill was long the center of the upper Aquia Run community. In the late twentieth century, the surviving iron gearing from the mill was dismantled, moved, and reassembled in a shopping center at Lake Ridge in Prince William County, Virginia. John O. Tackett was a minister and was buried in the Tackett-Burroughs family cemetery near Remington in Fauquier County.

Joseph F. Swetnam (1835-1892)

Joseph F. Swetnam (1835-1892) was the son of John A. Swetnam (1792-1854) and Sarah Sanford (c.1811-after 1893) of Stafford County, Virginia. Joseph married Araminta Carneal (1846-1919) and lived for some years at Locust Grove near the junction of Sanford Drive (Route 670) and Greenbank Road (Route 656). Prior to the War Between the States, Joseph was employed as a clerk in Fredericksburg. During the war, he served with the Fredericksburg Artillery. Some years after the close of the war, he moved to Richmond, Virginia. In 1868, Joseph was overseer of the road “from Pedens Gate to Falmouth in the place of Abram Van Doran removed from the County.”

Broaddus Sullivan (1852-1935)

Broaddus Sullivan married Virginia Roberson of Stafford County, Virginia. In 1896, the Stafford Clerk of Court wrote, “Whereas the Bridge erected by the County over Potomac Run is in imminent danger of being destroyed by the back-water caused by the heavy driftwood &c, which has clogged the Run in the vicinity of said Bridge & demands immediate [sic], it is ordered that Broaddus Sullivan, overseer of the said road leading to said Bridge, shall proceed at once to clear out said drift and relieve said clogging & protect said Bridge at the least possible cost” (Stafford County Court Minutes, 1887-1898, pp. 467-468).

Edward Lee Sterne (1864-1937)

Edward L. Sterne was the son of Charles Montgomery Sterne (1827-1901) and lived at Roseville, Stafford County, Virginia. A newspaper announced, “Mr. E. L. Sterne, of Stafford, raised a cucumber from some seed sent him from Bakersfield, California by his friend, L. H. Jones, which measured 3 1/2 feet in length and 9 inches in circumference. This will be hard to beat” (Free Lance, Aug. 11, 1904). In December 1914, Edward paid $200 for a Trayser piano (Stafford Contracts 6). Edward L. Sterne was a trustee of the schools in the Rock Hill District from 1897 until at least 1913.

Richard Mason Shelton (1820-1892)

Richard Mason Shelton was the son of Gustavus Shelton and Lucinda Pates of Stafford County, Virginia. He ran a livery stable at Stafford Courthouse where people coming to court could leave their horses to be fed, watered, and cared for. He also pleaded cases in court and served as attorney for some Stafford residents who submitted applications to the Southern Claims Commission after the Civil War. Richard married Eliza E. Shackelford (born c.1827). During the Civiil War, Richard M. Shelton was a Unionist and served as a guide for Federal troops. He spent part of the war in Washington where he had a job with the government. He lost property to both sides, the Confederates taking from him 2 horses, a gun, a drum, “& sundry articles.” The Union took vegetables from his garden, cordwood, fowls, and livestock. He submitted an application to the Southern Claims Commission asking for a reimbursement of $500 for his losses. Despite clearly being a Unionist, the commission granted him only $219. In his application, he deposed that he had been a drum major in the Stafford County militia prior to the war, but resigned on the day of the vote regarding secession. Two days prior to the vote, his militia captain, Aquilla Randall, told him that any man who voted against secession would have his property confiscated and be driven from the state. Robert Flatford told him that any man who voted against it would be shot. In April 1878, Richard claimed his homestead exemption, which consisted of 110 acres of land, 1 clock, 1 cart, 4 cattle, 1 colt, 1 mule, 5 shoats, 9 sheep, 1 table, and 7 chairs, all valued at $513.75.

Wilson Burrell Shackelford (1832-1915)

Wilson B. Shackelford was a Confederate veteran and lived his later years in Fredericksburg. In 1905, he advertised “One eight H. P. steam engine, one grist mill with two sets of runners, fifteen ares of land, known as the Long Branch Mill Tract. There are good indications of gold on this land. For information write to W. B. Shackelford, Coakley’s P. O., Stafford county, Va.” (Free Lance, Aug. 22, 1905). This may be the old Briggs’ Mill lot located near the junction of Stefaniga Road (Route 648) and Poplar Road (Route 616). In 1889 and 1890, Wilson B. Shackelford was an overseer of an unspecified section of road in the Aquia District of Stafford County, Virginia.

Thompson H. Shackelford (1865-1959)

Thompson H. Shackelford was the son of Wesley Shackelford and Jane Garrison of Stafford County, Virginia. He was a blacksmith and lived in Wide Water. Thompson married Emma Abel (born c.1874). In 1901, he was a constable for the Aquia District. The 1910 census denotes him as a “miner mineral mines,” possibly indicating that he was then working at the Austin Run Pyrite Mine.

James McClure Scott (1811-1893)

James McClure Scott was the son of Dr. James McClure Scott (1760-1822) and Mildred Thompson (1755-1829) of Albemarle County, Virginia. James, Jr. was born near Ivy Depot in that county. He married Sarah Travers Lewis (1813-1891) and lived for a time at her family home, Bel-air, in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. They subsequently built Little Whim on White Oak Road (Route 218) in Stafford County and moved there in 184=53. After losing a child, they decided that the water at Little Whim wasn’t good and they moved to Pine Grove, just across the Chatham Bridge from Fredericksburg. This house site seems to have beenn destroyed for construction of Woodmont Nursing Home. The present railroad tracks may also have passed over or near the house foundation. The invasion of Union troops during the Civil War forced the Scotts back to Bel-air where they spent the remainder of their lives. In 1855, James M. Scott was overseer of the road “from the old stage road leading from Aquia to Dumfries to the road leading from Aquia to the Potomac river.” His responsibility for this section of road in 1855 indicates that he was then living in northern Stafford County, possibly in Wide Water. Not long thereafter, he was residing further south. In 1859, James was overseer of the road “from the foot of James’ Hill to the stage road through Belleplains in the place of Littleton C. Fleming.”

James Wilson Schooler (1824-1916)

James Wilson Schooler was the son of Thomas E. Schooler (c.1787-1861) and was born in Stafford County, Virginia. In 1850, he was living in the household of William Irvine (c.1806-1887) in the Hartwood area of the county. During the War Between the States, he served in the 30th Virginia Infantry. In 1882, he was overseer of the road “from Grayson’s Shop to Hartwood Church and from Hartwood Church to Christies.” James W. Schooler was a constable from at least 1865 to 1867. In 1915 James, then 91 years of age and “at present an inmate of the Soldiers’ Home, Richmond,” attended a Confederate reunion in Fredericksburg, Virginia where he marched in the parade. James made a habit of returning to Fredericksburg each year to enjoy the fair. He did so in 1916, celebrated his 92nd birthday while there, and the following day suffered a massive stroke. He died and was buried in the Confederate Cemetery in Fredericksburg.

Charles W. Schooler (1840-1910)

Charles W. Schooler was the son of John P. Schooler (1812-1875) and Laurinda Jones (1815-1870) of Stafford County, Virginia. During the War Between the States, he served as a private in Capt. James D. Bruce’s Company of the 47th Virginia Infantry. He was a color bearer and according to his veteran’s papers “bore the colors with distinguished gallantry in every battle from Seven Pines to Chancellorsville where he was wounded through one of his legs or arms. From the time he was wounded there has been no regular color bearer to the Regt. and he a few days ago received a transfer to cavalry.” Charles married Virginia C. Watts (1848-1903). He was a constable in the Aquia Township in 1870, 1887, and 1888 and, possibly, in other years, as well. Charles employed himself as a fisherman and died at his home near Brooke. At the time of his death, he was listed in the county court records as a pauper.

Robert Campbell Rodgers (c.1807-1888)

Robert C. Rodgers was born in Ireland, the son of Robert Rogers (c.1780-1857) of Londonderry. Upon leaving Ireland, he landed first in Philadelphia where he took a job as a bookkeeper. Robert became a naturalized citizen around 1842 and settled in Stafford County, Virginia around 1848. The elder Robert Rogers joined his son in Stafford after his wife’s death in Ireland. The younger Robert married Mary Keith Briggs (c.1816-1895) of Stafford and ran a store on what’s now the Verizon Telephone Company’s parking lot on Warrenton Road. The Rodgers family owned the farm on which now stands Hartwood Elementary School. Both Robert and his father died in Stafford County. The Rodgers family were cousins to the Irvines who lived at nearby Hartwood. Following the War Between the States, Robert submitted a claim to the Southern Claims Commission asking to be reimbursed for $1,918 worth of wood and corn taken from his farm by the Union army. His claim was rejected. In 1865, Robert C. Rodgers was overseer of the road “from Richland Hill to D. S. Coakley’s Store.” From 1873 until at least 1881, he was registrar for the Hartwood Precinct.

Theophilus Reed (born c.1785)

Theophilus Reed seems to have been born in either New York or Pennsylvania. He came to Falmouth, Stafford County, Virginia in 1806 and from then until 1822 was engaged in the milling business with Robert Dunbar (c.1745-1831). In 1837, he was Assistant Flour Inspector in Falmouth. He also worked at various times for William C. Beale and for the firm of Brooke & Ficklen, another Falmouth milling concern. Theophilus married Elizabeth Hanna in New York. They left Stafford and moved to Kentucky and then on to Cincinnati, Ohio.

Edgar Howard Randall (1853-1919)

Edgar H. Randall was the son of Aquilla Randall (c.1816-1900:1910) who had moved to Stafford County, Virginia from Maryland. Edgar was a carpenter as well as a surveyor. He also served as principal of Ebenezer School in Garrisonville (closed c.1890). Waller S. Gill (1871-1947) was his assistant at the school. From 1886 through 1918, Edgar H. Randall served as Surveyor of Stafford County. He married Sudie V. Gill (1857-1946) and lived in the white frame house at 1202 Mountain View Road (Route 627) just east of Byram’s Market. Both Edgar and Sudie are buried at the old Ebenezer Methodist Church cemetery near Onville. During the mid-eighteenth century, the Accokeek Iron Company mined iron ore from various places in the Mountain View area. A large mine pit survives in the woods behind E. H. Randall’s house.