Historical Figure of the Week

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 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) 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 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 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 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) 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 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 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 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 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 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.