Monday, March 12, 2007

Reconstruction: After the Civil War on Clover Fork

"West Virginia was a union state for the last two years of the Civil War,
but its experiences during Reconstruction were every bit as traumatic
as that of the Confederate states."
~ Ronald L. Lewis,.
Eberly Family Distinguished Professor of American History,
West Virginia University 1

To the right: An artist of the era, Alsatian immigrant Joseph H. Diss Debar, sketched the hope of many in West Virginia after the Civl War but the reality was in some cases quite different.

One example of how it was during the Reconstruction is the Lewis County Registration Board's 1869 disenfranchisement hearings.2

What Happened
According to a Hackers Creek Pioneer Descendants article, 3 "On October 4, 1869, the Lewis County Registration Board gave notice that open sessions would be held concerning charges that certain residents were or had been sympathetic to the Confederate States. All that was required for an individual to be charged was for someone to "think" that the person was a southern sympathizer. It was up to the person charged with the crime to prove his innocence, but the Registration Board could disallow any or all testimony that it wanted. An individual found guilty lost all civil rights & was not considered a citizen of the state. There was no appeal to any court over the decision of the appointed board.
"Three members of this board were James McCorley, his son-in-law James Coonrod, & Dr. W. H. Hall. Shortly after the hearings started, Dr. Hall resigned. He declared that his conscience & the oath he had taken would not allow him to be a part of this travesty of justice.
"When the notices were sent to the individual charged, they were told that they would need two witnesses to testify on their behalf. Once the hearings began, however, they were informed that they had to have four witnesses and no time would be allowed to obtain additional witnesses. "
Who Was Accused
Forty-three (43) men were charged and twenty-nine (29) of those were found guilty. They are listed below, with an asterisk* next to the ones who were found guilty.
John G Arnold, Z Curtis, Benoni Mitchell, Philip E Barb,* Minter B Dennison, Joseph Mitchell, * Joseph Bennet,* Martin Fox, Samuel Posey, Joseph D Bennet, Walter Fox, T S Posey,* Marcelles Bennet, Nimrod B Foster, E Riffle, Anthony R Blake, Joseph Hall, J S Riffle, * John Scott, B S Blake,* William F Heetor,* H H Rittenhouse,* Stewart Blake,* James M Heflin,* Thomas Scott,* W A Blake. George A Hoover, John Sims,,* Evan Cooper, * Jonathan Lewis,* Alexander Skinner,* J A Craig,* P A Larentz, D J Skinner, Salathiel Craig,* J C Jenkins, G B Skinner,* W W Craig,* Henry McCally, Joseph B Wallace,* Robert Crawford,* R B McCutchin,* C D Curtis, J W D McCutchin.
To the right are two of the accused and convicted: above is John Scott Riffle, Alexander Skinner is below him. Both photos were taken years after the war.
So, Who's Who?
But who was B.S. Blake or D.J. Skinner? Is that Alexander Skinner the Orlando patriarch or one of the several offspring named for him? Which of these fellows were Orlando's grandfathers? Their collective Civil War stories are part of Orlando's story.

Below are my working notes on the individuals who were accused.4 They have a long way to go. If you know about any of these fellows, please let me know!
Below is the man's name, his age in 1860, the name of his wife and/or parents. Then follows whatever information we have about his service or life. At this early stage, in only a couple cases are we quite certain we identified the man correctly. You are welcome to share your information, corrections, questions..
How many of these Lewis County residents can be connected to what would become Orlando? So far, most of them.
1. John G Arnold
Co. A 114 Virginia Militia, Mounted Co., Private

2. Philip E Barb * 20 In 1870 living in Jane Lew, m. Joanna Pritt, 4 children ages 2 to 8.

3. Joseph Bennet * 55 m. (1805-1880) m. Mary Coleman, Sarah Perkins. son of William and Rebecca (McCally) Bennet.
Was tried for treason and disenfranchised in 1869. He left the state and moved to Illinois where he died.
4. Joseph D Bennet (David Joseph?)15 m. Agnes Jane Haymond
5. Marcelles Bennet 24 m. Christina Eakle in 1843. They lived in Battle District.

6. Anthony R Blake 25 y/o, m. Rebecca Posey in 1855. Born in Braxton County.
With his brother Stewart McClung Blake, was mustered into the 125th West Virginia State Militia in 1860.
7. Ballard Smith Blake* 19 m. Mary Jane Riffle in 1865. Brother of Anthony and Stewart Blake.
8. Stewart McClung Blake * 30 y/o, m. Lucinda Posey
With his brother Anthony Blake was mustered into the 125th West Virginia State Militia in 1860.

9. William Albert Blake 20 m. Salina Posey

10. Evan Cooper * 21 m. to Della or Delila Fox
11. A Craig *
12. Salathiel Craig *

13. W W Craig*
14. Robert Crawford *
15. Zachariah W. Curtis ?? b. 1803 in Lewis County, VA, m. Sarah Cutright?? ?
16. C D Curtis
17. Minter Bailey Dennison 32 y/o, m. Elizabeth Greathouse, Minerva Jane Furr.
No record of Minter's involvement but per Don Norman, Minter's brother Salathiel fought in Co. C 31st VA Infantry. Two sons of his uncle Edmund Dennison died in the war, his brother Gabriel's son, John M. was in Co. G, 62nd & died.

18. Martin Fox 41y/o, m. Mary Elizabeth Watson
19. Walter Fox 39 m. Deborah Adeliade Hinzman, Susan E. Harrison

20. Nimrod Brandon Foster 29 m. Mary Elizabeth Dawson

21. Joseph Hall

22. William F Heetor *

23. James Madison Heflin * 33 m. Hester Ann Cooper

24. George A Hoover ?1815 ?Christine Varner?
25. J C Jenkins

26. P A Larentz (Phil A. Lorentz?)
27. Jonathan Lewis *
28. Henry McCally
per Richard McCauley, In the fall of 1869 Henry was charged as being a Southern sympathizer. Being too sick to respond to the summons, Henry, at the age of 80, was disenfranchised. This means that he had no rights as a citizen of the state. Shortly thereafter he moves to Kentucky where the disenfranchisement has no effect. There in 1873 Henry died. His wife Sarah died on November 30, 1887.
29. J W D McCutchin
30. R B McCutchin *
31. Benoni Mitchell 45 s/o Rev. Elam Mitchell
32. Joseph Mitchell *
33. Samuel Posey 19 m. Mary Ellen Posey, Phoebe Riffle, s/o Edward & Catherine (Scott) Posey
34. Thomas Scott Posey * 36, m. Mary Ellen Smith, Phoebe Riffle, s/o Edward & Catherine (Scott) Posey
.35. E Riffle several possibilities
36. John Scott Riffle * ?12 Mary Ann Skinner

37. H H Rittenhouse *

38. Thomas Scott*

39. John Sims*

40. Alexander Skinner* 53y/o (father of the other Skinners who were accused or his son Alexander Skinner who was 12 y/o?
41. Draper John Skinner s/o Alexander and Phoebe Skinner, m.

42. Granville B. Skinner* s/o Alexander and Phoebe Skinner, m.
43. Joseph B. Wallace* .
For more on the Civil War in the Orlando area see

1. Ronald L. Lewis, Eberly Family Distinguished Professor of American History, West Virginia University. From his course "

2. The action was taken based on the 1866 Disenfranchise Amendment to West Virginia’s Constitution It read,

"No person who, since the first day of June, 1861, has given voluntary aid or assistance to the rebellion against the United States, shall be a citizen of this state, or shall be allowed to vote at any election held therein, unless he has volunteered into the military or naval service of the United States and has been or shall be honorably discharged therefrom."

It was in effect from Feb 13, 1866 to October, 1870. According to Dr. Ronald L. Lewis this amendment disqualified between 1,500-2,500, and legalized removal of ex-confederates from state and local offices statewide.

.3. Disenfranchisement is an article from an unidentified source posted at Hacker Creek Pioneer Descendants site, transcribed by Bill McCutchan.

4 In most cases only one man in the appropriate age range in Lewis County had a given name, or a name that matched the given initials. In a few cases the age seems improbable, like J. S. Riffle being John Scott Riffle who would have been only 12 when the war began and 16 when it was over. For that reason I've listed the ages in 1860 of the men I've identified.
Where there is more than one man of the appropriate age with the given name, I've have noted that there are several possibilities.
A number of the names have not been identified yet, and so no inflormation is provided after their names.

1 comment:

  1. interseting, would like to learn more

    how did these confederates regain their citizenship? and when