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1 Eastman Johnson (American painter, 1824-1906) Christmas Time the Blodgett Family 1864

Ambrose Ranson Remembers Jefferson County in the 1840s & 1850s Part 2

youtu.be/sKyR3ZLv55I TRT: 8:16

 

civilwarscholars.com/?p=11948 2436 words

 

This is taken from one of six essays written for Sewanee Review from 1913 to 1915 by Ambrose Robert Hite Ranson (1831-1919) about his growing up years living at his family home, Gap View, and his experiences during the Civil War as a Confederate officer. His observations are very informative about daily life pre-war amid unacceptable observations condoning the enslavement of other human beings. His account is still important in its rendering of daily work on a farm in the 1840s and 1850s in Jefferson County, Virginia, one of the most agricultural counties in the Virginias. These conditions were substantially different in the northern Shenandoah Valley when compared to the brutal monocultures in the deep South. Enslavement in Jefferson County, based on writings of those - white and black - who lived here then - was one of diverse work, the pervasive fear of being sold south, pockets of profound cruelty, and the tantalizing nearness of the option of escaping to freedom.

 

Made possible with the generous, community-minded support of American Public University System, providing an affordable, quality, online education. The views and interpretations in any videos here and at civilwarscholars.com do not in any way reflect modern-day policies of American Public University System, and are intended to encourage learning and discussion. More at apus.edu

 

REMINISCENCES OF THE CIVIL WAR BY A

CONFEDERATE STAFF OFFICER* 8058 words

 

(FIRST PAPER)

 

Plantation Life in Virginia Before the War Part 2

 

1. There_was_a_wedding_Bedington

There was a wedding in our neighborhood at Bedington, the home of the Bedingers, and my

 

2. sister_was_bridesmaid_Strother_WVU

3. to_her_cousin_Fannie_Davenport_wvhistoryonview

sister was bridesmaid to her cousin. In those days a house party was arranged in much more simple fashion than now. The houses had few rooms, but generally very large ones, and all the bridesmaids were quartered in one room. At this wedding there was a girl from Hoboken,

 

4. a_Miss_Sevens_Judy_James_Ware

a Miss Stevens, of the wealthy family of that name.

 

When my sister returned home she did not unpack her trunk until late at night. My father was sitting up reading, when she entered the room in great distress, holding in her hands Miss Stevens's jewel-case, containing such jewels as we had never seen before. It was

 

5. midnight_and_very_cold

midnight and very cold, and a heavy snow was falling.

 

6. Frank_his_trusted_servant_Strother_WVU

My father sent for Frank, his trusted servant, and giving the case into his hands and telling him it was worth more than all he owned, ordered him to get a horse and ride to Bedington four miles distant and give the case into the hands of Miss Stevens, and no one else. Frank made the ride that stormy night and compelled the lady to come down in her night clothes and receive the jewel-case and write a letter of acknowledgement. Some careless maid had packed Miss Steven's jewels in my sister's trunk.

 

7. Before_the_railroad_Map_Maryland_1831

Before the railroad was built, Frank drove the wagon of flour to Baltimore, and, even after the railroad was built, still Frank went every year before Christmas to Baltimore

 

8. load_of_flour_Currier_Ives

with a load of flour, bringing back a load which made everybody, white and black, happy at that festival.

 

9. arrived_after_dark_Strother_Feb_1855_P_300

He generally arrived after dark, and the big canopied wagon was driven to the front door and left there during the night, the six great smoking horses having been led away to the stable. After supper the wagon was unloaded and the treasures revealed to us, the children.

  

In those days the factor, or commission merchant, had duties which are unknown now. When he sold the flour he filled orders for every conceivable want of the family. I met an old factor, after I came to Baltimore to live, who told me he had, with the assistance of his

 

10. entire_trousseau_of_many_a_bride_Metropolitan_Museum

wife, bought and had made up the entire trousseau of many a bride, besides outfits for the entire families of his friends in the country. The reader can imagine what an event Frank's arrival with his wagon was to us. I have now a handsome service of china which was brought from Baltimore on Frank's wagon. One Christmas observance the negroes had which was very peculiar.

 

11. when_the_hogs_were_killed_wikipedia

When the hogs were killed in December they preserved the bladders and, inflating them and tying the necks tightly to retain the air, they hung them up to dry, and on Christmas morning, while the stars were shining, they laid them on the frozen ground under the windows of the

 

12. and_exploded_them_by_stamping_on_them_Harpers_Aug_1872_P_350

white folks and exploded them by stamping on them, thus awakening the family and saluting them on the arrival of the great festival.

 

13. one_of_the_songs_Ox_Cart_Van_Gogh

I remember part of one of the songs which the ox-driver sang in a slow monotone, sitting on the pole of the ox-cart, and keeping time to the slow, swinging steps of the oxen: "See the bull go to school, hooie booie, hooie booie, See the bull go to school, hooie booie John. See the bull go to school, with his book on his horn, And that is the last of old blind John. See the cow build the mill, hooie booie, hooie booie, See the cow build the mill, hooie booie John. See the cow build the mill, water runnin’ up the hill, An that is the last of old blind John.” The verses were endless and seem to have been extemporized as he drove along.

  

14. The_masters_part_was_not_difficult_Harpers_August_1856_P_317

The master's part was not difficult. He was kind because kindness paid him well. He took care of his slave because it was money in his pocket to do so, and money out of his pocket if he did not. Of course, there were other and higher motives in individuals, but we must look for a motive for the multitude. That the negro was better housed, better fed, better clothed, and better looked after in sickness than now, was simply because the owner had money at stake. He had warm clothing, plenty of wholesome food, and a good doctor when ill, because of that money.

 

In September the cloth and yarn for his winter clothing were brought home from the factory, and the work of making up began and was only finished at Christmas. In every household there was a woman who could cut out the garments, and all the younger girls had been taught how to sew and knit. During the year, all the girls, in clean frocks, assembled in some room in the great house every morning, and the class of sewers and knitters was presided over by some

 

15. spectacled_old_negro_woman_Sojourner_Truth_wikipedia

spectacled old negro woman, whose word was law to them. The work of making up the clothing and knitting yarn socks went on under her supervision, and at Christmas every man and woman on the place appeared in new clothes and new shoes and warm woolen stockings. Every man had an

 

16. overcoat_every_four_years_Strother_WVu_Stephen

overcoat every four years, and a flannel jacket, called by them a ’warmus', to wear under his waistcoat in cold weather.

 

17. tobacco_was_issued_Dunhill

18. when_a_boy_I_loved_to_be_the_distributer_Srother_WVU_boy_smoking

His tobacco was issued to him once a week, and when a boy I loved to be the distributer. Sometimes it was bought in kegs of about 100 pounds, and was called 'black-strap', and one

  

19. Some_of_them_chewed_it_Kennedy_Swallow_Barn_P_405

20. smoked_it_in_their_corncob_pipes_Kennedy_Swallow_Barn_P_448

strap, sometimes two, was the ration. Some of them chewed it and some of them smoked it in their corncob pipes, when tobacco was raised from the virgin soil. Every year a farmer would clear a small patch of ground, sufficient for the wants of his farm, and plant it in tobacco. The fragrance of the negro's corncob pipe was notorious, and was due to the fact that no fertilizer had been used in growing his tobacco.

 

21. smoke

  

References:

 

Ranson, A. R. H. “Reminiscences of a Civil War Staff Officer By A Confederate Staff Officer, First Paper: Plantation Life in Virginia Before the War.” The Sewanee Review. Vol. 21, No. (4 Oct. 1913), pp. 428-447.

 

Ranson, A. R. H. “Reminiscences of a Civil War Staff Officer By A Confederate Staff Officer, First Paper: Plantation Life in Virginia Before the War.” The Sewanee Review.

Internet Archives. archive.org 26 January 1997 Web. 20 January 2014.

archive.org 26 January 1997 Web. 20 January 2014.

  

Lick Run Plantation - West Virginia Division of Culture and History

wvculture.org 2 March 2000 Web. 20 January 2014

www.wvculture.org/shpo/nr/pdf/berkeley/84003476.pdf

  

History coming alive: The Lick Run Plantation

June 20, 2010 The Journal News

Don C. Wood, Historical society

journal-news.net 16 August 2000 Web. 24 January 2014.

 

Stone homes in Berkeley County are rare, but our Fall Tour is fortunate to be able to showcase five - one in Bedington, two in Martinsburg, one in Arden and one in Jones Springs. Our sixth home is a "green" and eco-friendly home located at Broomgrass in beautiful Back Creek Valley.

 

One of the finest, early, native limestone farm complexes in our country is the Lick Run Plantation, located at 1210 Bedington Road. The complex consists of a beautiful stone mansion, a huge stone barn and a stone mill. The mansion house has never before been open to the public.

 

The Light family was a very well-known family of Berkeley County. In 1816, Samuel Light sold the Peter Light mill, stone house and barn to Henry Bedinger and Stephen W. Foreman.

 

A court suit in Chancery Court decreed that Foreman owned one-third interest in the mill tract of 306 acres and one-third in the Hock tract of land. They were put up at an auction on May 13, 1829. Bedinger had pulled down the old log mill and built the beautiful, native limestone mill building in 1816.

 

The notice in the Martinsburg Gazette read as follows: "The Hoke tract has the largest limestone spring in Berkeley County. The 300 acre tract is improved with a merchant mill, dwelling house, kitchen and large barn, all built of stone. Also a miller house and sundry outbuildings."

 

Bedinger purchased the one-third interest giving him full ownership. Major Bedinger did not live on the Lick Plantation but at his 1802 stone house, Protuma, south of Martinsburg. Later the area around the mill took the name of Bedington after Bedinger. (After the death in 1843 of Bedinger, Elizabeth Bedinger Davenport inherited the Bedington Lick Mill tract with 306 acres and the adjoining Hoke tract of 154 acres. At her death in 1865, the Bedington tract then went to Frances W. Gibson, wife of John Thomas Gibson, who sold the Lick Farm in 1865 to John and Emanuel Kennedy). A court case developed and the Lick Farm was sold for $16,250 to John Kennedy.

 

www.journal-news.net/page/content.detail/id/538868/Histor...

  

bridesmaid to the wedding was Georgianna Hite (Ranson) Washington - the daughter of James Lackland Ranson by his wife Frances Madison Hite she was born ca. 1822 @ Jefferson County, Virginia now West Virginia she married 22 Oct. 1845 @ Charles Town, Jefferson County, Virginia now West Virginia to Benjamin Franklin Washington son of John Thornton Augustine Washington by his wife Elizabeth Conrad Bedinger & died December 3, 1860 @ San Francisco, San Francisco County, California.

  

Miller, Thomas C.; Hu Maxwell. (1912). “West Virginia and Its People, Vol. 3.” New York, NY: Lewis Historical Company. Print.

 

Miller, Thomas C.; Hu Maxwell. (1912). “West Virginia and Its People, Vol. 3.” books.google.com 24 November 2005 Web. 25 January 2014. p. 1204.

 

books.google.com/books?id=Fnk_AAAAYAAJ&pg=PA1204&...

  

1. James Lackland Ranson, b. Dec 1821

2. Deborah Frances Ranson, b. 29 Nov 1823

3. Ambrose A. M. Ranson, b. 21 Jan 1827

4. Sarah Elizabeth Bibb Ranson, b. 21 Aug 1829

5. Ambrose Robert Hite Ranson, b. 12 Apr 1831

6. Georgiana Ranson b: 1822

  

United States. Bureau of the Census; United States. National Archives and Records Service. (1964). “Population schedules of the seventh census of the United States, 1850, Virginia.” [microform] (Volume Reel 0953 – 1850 Virginia Federal Population Census Free Schedules – Jackson, James City, and Jefferson Counties).” Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. Print.

 

United States. Bureau of the Census; United States. National Archives and Records Service. (1964). “Population schedules of the seventh census of the United States, 1850, Virginia.” [microform] (Volume Reel 0953 – 1850 Virginia Federal Population Census Free Schedules – Jackson, James City, and Jefferson Counties).” Internet Archives. 31 July 2008. Web. 3 February 2014.

archive.org/details/populationschedu0953unix

 

Jefferson County, Virginia

28 1187 1202 Ranson James L. 59 M WFarmer 61,200 VA

29 1187 1202 Ranson Frances M. 58 F W VA

30 1187 1202 Washington Georgana 28 F W VA

31 1187 1202 Ranson Bettie B. 20 F W VA

32 1187 1202 Ranson Ambrose R. 19 M W VA X

33 1187 1202 Ranson James F. 17 M W Va X

34 1187 1202 Washington John J. 4 M W VA

35 1187 1202 Washington Franklin B. 2 M W VA

  

Image Credits:

  

Gap View Farm, Charles Town, W. Va. (042619)

wvhistoryonview.org 9 October 2010 Web. 26 January 2014.

wvhistoryonview.org/cgi/i/image/image-idx?rgn1=ic_all;op2...

  

Old Mill at Bedington; Martinsburg, W. Va. (041803)

wvhistoryonview.org 9 October 2010 Web. 26 January 2014.

wvhistoryonview.org/cgi/i/image/image-idx?rgn1=ic_all;op2...

  

Mrs. John Thomas Gibson (d: 1909)

wvhistoryonview.org 9 October 2010 Web. 26 January 2014.

wvhistoryonview.org/cgi/i/image/image-idx?rgn1=ic_all;op2...

  

Mary Picton Stevens (May 19, 1840 – September 21, 1903), who went on to marry Virginia politician Muscoe Russell Hunter Garnett

wikipedia.org 27 July 2001 Web. 18 January 2014.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwin_Augustus_Stevens

  

Mary Picton Lewis & son, Edwin Augustus Stevens Lewis

Photo owned by James and Judy Ware

John Reagan

Mrs. Judy C. Ware

2716 Jaclyns Trail

Edmond, OK 73012

waregenealogy.com 28 June 20-12 Web. 26 January 2014.

www.waregenealogy.com/GraceEpiscopalChurch-Chapter5.htm

  

File:American Homestead Winter - Currier and Ives.png

wikimedia.org 24 July 2003 Web. 26 January 2014.

commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:American_Homestead_Winter...

  

Whipper

Strother, David H., "Virginia Illustrated." Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, New York, NY: Harper and Bros. Volume 11, Issue: 63, (Aug., 1855). pp. 289-311. Print.

 

Strother, David H., "Virginia Illustrated." Harper’s New Monthly Magazine. Cornell Digital Library - The Making of America. 19 July 2011. Web. 29 January 2014.

 

p. 289 the whipper full

ebooks.library.cornell.edu/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-idx?c=ha...

  

Strother, David H., "Virginia Illustrated." Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, New York, NY: Harper and Bros. Volume 10, Issue: 57, (Feb., 1855). pp. 289-310. Print.

 

Strother, David H., "Virginia Illustrated." Harper’s New Monthly Magazine. Cornell Digital Library - The Making of America. 19 July 2011. Web. 29 January 2014.

teamster p. 300

ebooks.library.cornell.edu/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-idx?c=ha...

  

Sojourner Truth - Carte de Visite

wikipedia.org 27 July 2001 Web. 18 January 2014.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Carte_de_visite.jpg

  

Ox Cart in the Snow by Vincent Van Gogh

bandagedear.com 29 October 2010 Web. 26 January 2014.

www.bandagedear.com/artist/vincent-van-gogh/14

  

“The factor” commission merchant

Strother, David Hunter

Dove Baggage Master Dec. 1st 1858. Baltimore

images.lib.wvu.edu 6 August 2004 Web. 20 January 2014.

images.lib.wvu.edu/cgi/i/image/image-idx?rgn1=wvca_cr;op2...

  

Strother, David Hunter; Lock’s Old Stephen. 1845. Martinsburg Va.

images.lib.wvu.edu 6 August 2004 Web. 20 January 2014.

images.lib.wvu.edu/cgi/i/image/image-idx?rgn1=wvca_cr;op2...

  

“Ambrose Ranson smoking a cigar”

Strother, David Hunter; Martinsburg 1845

images.lib.wvu.edu 6 August 2004 Web. 20 January 2014.

images.lib.wvu.edu/cgi/i/image/image-idx?rgn1=wvca_cr;op2...

  

“Farm Gate”

Strother, David Hunter; Martinsburg October 2nd, 1859

images.lib.wvu.edu 6 August 2004 Web. 20 January 2014.

images.lib.wvu.edu/cgi/i/image/image-idx?rgn1=wvca_cr;op2...

  

canopied wagon

Strother, David Hunter; Montgomery Geb. 7th 1857.

images.lib.wvu.edu 6 August 2004 Web. 20 January 2014.

images.lib.wvu.edu/cgi/i/image/image-idx?rgn1=wvca_cr;op2...

  

horses eating hay

Strother, David Hunter; Untitled

images.lib.wvu.edu 6 August 2004 Web. 20 January 2014.

images.lib.wvu.edu/cgi/i/image/image-idx?rgn1=wvca_cr;op2...

  

tobacco plants in spring

wikipedia.org 27 July 2001 Web. 18 January 2014.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Nicotiana_Tobacco_Plants_1909p...

  

Mr. Fezziwig’s Ball

Dickens, Charles. (December, 1843). “A Christmas Carol.” Illustrated by John Leech. Chapman & Hall, 186, Strand: London. Print.

 

Dickens, Charles. (December, 1843). “A Christmas Carol.” Internet Archives. archive.org 26 January 1997 Web. 20 January 2014.

ia600204.us.archive.org/12/items/achristmascarol00046gut/...

  

Baltimore City 1850s

painting by George A. Frederick

georgeafrederick.com 28 January 2011 Web. 24 January 2014.

georgeafrederick.com/baltimore.html

 

Map of the country embracing the various routes surveyed for the Balt. & Ohio Rail Road by order of the Board of Engineers. Drawn by Lt. J. Barney, U.S. Army. memory.loc.gov 4 May 1999 Web. 27 January 2014.

/cgi-bin/map_item.pl?data=/home/www/data/gmd/gmd384/g3841...

  

Wedding (dress) 1820-1869, Plate 075

Costume Institute Fashion Plates. Metropolitan Museum of Art Libraries 12 February 2011 Web. 24 January 2014.

libmma.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p1532...

  

Delft plate (1760-1780)

wikipedia.org 27 July 2001 Web. 18 January 2014.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Delft_plate_faience_Famille_Ro...

  

Two Boys Blowing a Bladder by Candle-light

wikipedia.org 27 July 2001 Web. 18 January 2014.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:BoysBlowingBladder_by_Peter_Pe...

 

Two Boys Blowing a Bladder by Candle-light

Date1773

Mediumaquatint, red and brown print

Source/Photographerhttp://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/aqtn/ho_68.589A.htm

  

Eleazer Hutchinson Miller (American artist, 1831–1921) Selling Christmas Greens

bjws.blogspot.com 10 June 2010 Web. 26 January 2014.

bjws.blogspot.com/2013_12_20_archive.html

  

Eastman Johnson (American painter, 1824-1906) Christmas Time the Blodgett Family 1864

historytoday.com 5 February 1998 Web. January 25 2014.

www.historytoday.com/penne-restad/christmas-19th-century-...

  

Dunhill Early Morning Pipe Tobacco, 1990's Murray

Date15 March 2007

SourceOwn work

AuthorSjschen (Sjschen)

wikipedia.org 27 July 2001 Web. 18 January 2014.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:DunhillEarlyMorningPipeMurrays...

  

some men chewed it

Kennedy, John P. (1856). “Swallow barn; or, A sojourn in the Old Dominion.” revised edition. New York, NY: G. P. Putnam & Sons. Print.

 

Kennedy, John P. (1856). “Swallow barn; or, A sojourn in the Old Dominion.” revised edition. Internet Archive archive.org 26 January 1997 Web. 20 January 2014.

archive.org 26 January 1997 Web. 20 January 2014.

  

Eastman Johnson. (painting) The Chimney Corner, 1863. Oil on canvas. 39.37 x 33.655 cm. (15½" x 13¼")

Museum of Art, Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute (Utica, New York, United States).

  

Eastman Johnson (American painter, 1824-1906) Fiddling His Way 1866 Detail.

Eastman Johnson - Fiddling His Way - Oil on canvas - 24.35 x 36.25 in - 1866 - Scanned from Eastman Johnson: Painting America - fig 78 pg 149

Author died more than 70 years ago - public domain

wikimedia.org 24 July 2003 Web. 26 January 2014.

commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Eastman_Johnson_-_Fiddlin...

   

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