BLAIRS OF RICHMOND, VIRGINIA Part 6

account. Their method was to use the grace of friendship for God’s service. A leading physician of the city said that he owed his conversion to a conversation he had with Parson Blair while they were out hunting together. To a young man of his acquaintance, Parson Blair wrote congenially at length of the pursuits the young man cared for, and then tenderly and gravely bade him enlist these interests in the service of God.

“In the year 1823,” writes Thomas Rutherfoord in his autobiography, “every member of our family experienced a severe affliction in the death of our well-beloved friend and brother, Rev. John D. Blair, who had been to me from our earliest acquaintance to the day of his death a friend and brother indeed, and one on whom I could repose for advice and consolation on every occasion of difficulty or distress. Often did we look for the society of each other when gloomy weather would seem to forbid the expectation of any other company. I can never forget the mutual enjoyment we had on such occasions. Alas, one of the strongest cords which can attach man to earth was broken when he died.”

Forty of his pupils became members of Christian churches, as recollected by Mrs. Blair’s niece, Mrs. Juliet Drew.

It must be remembered that for a quarter of a century Mr. Blair was the only Presbyterian minister in the extensive field of Hanover County and the city of Richmond. During all of that time he was daily employed in teaching school; he served as pastor of two congregations; to them, and to other folk, he performed baptism, marriage, and funeral rites; regularly he delivered sermons, and ministered to the poor, the sick, and the dying.

But the peculiar and best service which the two Parsons rendered their community was the one frequently alluded to in public addresses by the late Rev. Dr. Moses D. Hoge, that Buchanan and Blair had laid so well the foundations of Christian unity in their city that Richmond ever after continued to practice the spirit of toleration and friendship among her various churches and that any attempt at the opposite in Richmond would not be endured. *50

Were the two Parsons never aggressive?

One day Buchanan wrote: “Come to my house; we will not discuss the apostolic succession, but we will unbend the bow.”

“I will come,” replied Blair, “and we will sharpen our arrows, not against each other, but against the common foe.”

*50 Upon the erection of the Monumental Church, on the site of the Richmond theatre, which had been destroyed by fire, the Episcopalians on Shockoe Hill secured it and removed to that building. It is said that both Parson Buchanan and Parson Blair had desired that this edifice, built by public subscription, should be undenominational in its character. It is also said that Parson Blair, through modesty, would not use his influence to secure it for the Presbyterians, as he might have done. It was doubtless less through modesty than through the principle which the two clergymen, with a spirit in advance of their time, had so long striven to impress: that religious denominations should act in unity. It may have been due also to his reluctance to disturb the friendly relation of the joint congregation at the Capitol, that Parson Blair had delayed the formal organization of the Presbyterian Church on Shockoe Hill.

See also Longer note 16: The Presbyterian Church on Shockoe Hill, Richmond, Virginia.

All friends here are well except Mrs. Munford, who I fear is getting worse every day.

I was at the Dr’s yesterday evening, where I saw your mammy, Sister Adams, and the children all well, except that your sister still complains a little now and then of rheumatic pain. Miss Betsy Adams was at Mr. Smith’s. Mr. Lipscomb’s second daughter died the day before yesterday, and Mr. William Dabney’s youngest child (between two and three weeks old) on Friday. On Saturday evening, I married Mr. Bootwright for the third time. He was married to a daughter of Mr. Murphey’s, who lives by Major Holloway’s. I recollect nothing more of news. Yes, the lady that married old Captain Boothe is dead, but possibly this happened before you left home. I write to Dr. Adams. Give my love to little Mary and Antoinette Radford and Miss Sally Brand. I am glad she is with you. Keep up your spirits, my dear. A month more and we shall have the pleasure of meeting.

Your ever affectionate husband, John D. Blair

(Used by permission of Mrs. Thomas Nelson Williamson.)

(LONGER NOTE 11)

POLE GREEN CHURCH

Pole Green Church, Hanover County, Virginia, was located near the Totopotamoy Creek, not far from old Atlee railroad station. “When I first knew it, the pulpit looked like an inverted wine-glass, with winding stairs and two closed doors. Near the pulpit was a Precentor’s stand, where the “Clark” stood with his tuning-fork in hand and raised the tunes. There were also square pews for the families of the elders, which were closed, and thus furnished places for us small children to sleep, under the profound and prolonged services of the day. Over the pulpit was a sounding-board. The church was modernized in my boyhood, received a cannon-ball from Jackson’s flanking army, and was burned (in battle) in the Grant Campaign of 1864.”

(Articles on Hanover County, Virginia, in the “Richmond Dispatch,” by Rev. Thomas W. Hooper, minister of Pole Green Church.)

The name Pole Green probably had its origin from the Hanover estate of George Polegreen.

(LONGER NOTE 12) JORDAN-WINSTON FAMILY

Samuel Jordan arrived at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1610. He was the owner of the plantation “Jordan’s Journey,” now Jordan’s Point, on lower James River. He fortified his house, “Beggar’s Bush” (named after Fletcher’s comedy), and escaped the Indian massacre of 1622. He resided there when the Virginia census of 1623 was taken. He was a member of the first Virginia House of Burgesses in 1619.

Thomas Jordan, son of Samuel, was born in England in 1600. He came to Virginia on the ship Diana. He was recorded in 1623 as a soldier under Sir George Yeardley. He settled in Isle of Wight County and was a Burgess in 1629, 31, and 32. In 1635, he was a patentee of lands.

Thomas Jordan (1634-1699), son of Thomas, lived at Chuckatuck, Nansemond County. He became a Quaker and was much persecuted. He married Margaret Brasseur, daughter of Robert Brasseur, a Huguenot immigrant and Quaker.

Samuel Jordan, son of Thomas (1679-1760), married Elizabeth Fleming, daughter of Col. Charles Fleming, of New Kent County. *51

*51 Col. Charles Fleming was the son of Sir Thomas Fleming Knt., who emigrated to Virginia in 1616 and settled in New Kent County. Sir Thomas was the son of John, Lord Fleming, Earl of Wigton in Scotland, descended from a long line of nobility and royalty which included King Robert Bruce I., King Robert II., King Robert III., of Scotland, and King William I. of England. (See Browning’s “Americans of Royal Descent,” page 388.)

Col. Samuel Jordan, son of Samuel, settled at the Seven Islands, Buckingham County. He was a landowner of considerable extent. He was Justice of the Peace for Albemarle from 1746-61, Captain in 1753, Sheriff from 1753-1755, Presiding Justice of the Peace, and Lieutenant of the County in 1761. He was a Burgess from Buckingham in 1767-69 and probably earlier. (“Cabells and their Kin.”) Col. Samuel Jordan married, 1st, Ruth Meredith, daughter of Samuel Meredith, Sr. (b. about 1698; d. April 14, 1762), of St. Paul’s parish, Hanover County. Ruth Meredith was born about 1722 and married about 1738; she died in 1744. Her eldest daughter married John Hunter, of New York. Her daughter Mary Jordan married Geddes Winston, of Hanover County (parents of Mary Winston, who married Rev. John Durburrow Blair). Col. Samuel Jordan married, 2nd, in 1745, Judith Scott, widow of Peter (?) Ware. The issue of both marriages: seven daughters and one son.

(For Winston and Jordan Families, see “Harrisons of Skimino,” by Fairfax Harrison; “Cabells and Their Kin,” by Alexander Brown; “The Winstons,” by Clayton Torrence; “The Edward Pleasants Valentine Papers”; the Winston genealogy by Isaac Winston, in the Virginia Historical Society; “The Two Parsons,” by George Wythe Munford; and Thomas Rutherfoord’s autobiography.)

Col. Samuel Jordan, of “Seven Islands,” Buckingham County, Virginia, died July 21, 1789. He left a daughter, Mary Jordan, who married Geddes Winston, *52 of Hanover

*52 Geddes Winston, a man of considerable landed estate in Hanover County, Virginia. He was entitled Gentleman and Justice, in Hanover records.

Speaking of his mother-in-law, Mary Jordan Winston, Thomas Rutherfoord in his autobiography says: “Mrs. Winston was a woman of excellent sense, and good manners, and possessed of the remains of great beauty.”

A portrait of her, in old age, is in the possession of Miss Ellen Donnell Codrington Blair, Richmond, Virginia.

Issue of Geddes and Mary Jordan Winston:

  1. Rebecca Winston married William Radford. Their daughter, Sarah Radford, married William Munford, of Richmond, of ancient lineage, Member of the Virginia Council of State, and translator of the Iliad. His distinguished son, George Wythe Munford, was the author of “The Two Parsons.” Robert Beverley Munford, Robert Beverley Munford, Jr., and Beverley Bland Munford, descendants of William Munford, have represented their family with honor as Richmond citizens and Virginia gentlemen.

There is a very attractive description of Rebecca Winston Radford, as well as an account of her husband’s romantic adventures, in “The Two Parsons.”

  1. Samuel Jordan Winston, Brigade Major and Military Instructor of the Militia for a great number of years. He was a very handsome, genial man, a bachelor, and withal such a fine figure on his horse that it is said all the children ran out to see him ride by. He inherited the family home, “Laurel Grove.” An immense military funeral was given him. It is probably true, as has often been stated, that he was buried upright in the avenue leading up to Laurel Grove house.
  2. Mary Winston married Rev. John Durburrow Blair. (See Longer note on her husband.)
  3. Sarah Winston found a devoted consort in Thomas Rutherfoord, emigrant from Scotland, who became one of the leading successful merchants and citizens of worth in Richmond, and progenitor of the Richmond family of the name.

The Rutherfoords of Richmond intermarried with families of the following names: Tinsley, Alsop, Moncure, Goodwin, Harvie, Bernard, Thomas, and others.

  1. Martha Bickerton Winston, of whom Mr. Rutherfoord commented: “In truth, I do not know whether I ever saw a handsomer woman than Patsy was when she arrived at her prime.” She married Henry Smith Shore, Mayor of Richmond, Captain of the Richmond Blues, a college man, and a traveler.

Their granddaughter, Martha Drew, married Hancock Lee, of the distinguished Lee family of Virginia. Miss Juliet Lee, their daughter, represents the Winston-Shore line in Richmond.

  1. Margaret Winston, the youngest of the lovely Winston sisters, with her entrancing dark eyes, married one of the leading men of Richmond, Dr. John Adams. He was a man of great property and influence. He built for his residence the beautiful mansion on Church Hill, afterwards owned by the Van Lews.

For a most interesting account of Dr. Adams, see “The Two Parsons,” page 76. Dr. and Mrs. Adams left many descendants who intermarried with families of the following names: Pickett, Lathrop, Stokes, Heron, and others.

  1. Dr. William Winston, younger son of Geddes Winston, practiced medicine in the counties of Hanover and Louisa. He married a Miss Shelton.

Coat of Arms

The coat-of-arms as entitled of Winston, or Winstone:—

Arms—Sa. A plate between three towers.

Crest—Ar. A dexter hand holding four arrows.

Motto—Virtute non Verbis. — Deeds, not words.

(As given for Virginia Winstons by Captain Isaac Winston, of the U. S. Coast Survey, and by Mr. Frederick J. Winston, eminent lawyer of New York, as entitled by the Winstons of this Country.)

(LONGER NOTE 13)

WASHINGTON HENRY ACADEMY

Washington Henry Academy, in Hanover County, Virginia, was commenced at Hanover Town, in January 1778, by the opening of a public subscription to which many noted Virginians contributed. The school was in active service for a hundred years but fell a victim, in 1878, to the rising free school system. Its long line of alumni contains many honorable names.

The academy stood about one and one-quarter miles from (old) Atlee station, on the Chesapeake and Ohio R. R. None of the buildings remain. To the president, a residence was allotted, with a garden, stable, etc.

(The Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Washington Henry Academy, covering a long period of time, a very readable volume, may be found in the Archives of the Virginia State Library.)

WINSTON-JORDAN FAMILY CHART

Permission to use the following valuable chart was courteously given by the compiler, Rev. Arthur P. Gray, descendant of William Radford and Rebecca Winston, sister of Mary Winston Blair.

Florence

Robert Brasseur Huguenot Immigrant

Samuel Jordan Immigrant, 1610 Burgess d. 1623

Thomas^1 Jordan Immigrant b. 1600

William Winston York Co. d. 1702

Anthony Winston Hanover Will 1717

Col. Chas. Fleming New Kent d. 1728

Margaret Brasseur 1642-1708

Thomas^2 Jordan 1634-1699 Nansemond

Elizabeth Dabney

Elizabeth ^ Samuel^2 Fleming Jordan 1679-1760

Samuel Meredith d. 1762

Col. Samuel^3 ^ Ruth Jordan Meredith 1704-1789 d. 1744 7 Islands

Wm. W. Winston

Jas. Winston b. 1683

John ^ Sarah Geddes , Winston b. 1707

William E. Winston

Rebecca Geddes Mary Jordan d. 1811 Geddes Winston Hanover d. 1794

Rebecca ^ William Winston ^ Radford d. 1803 Goochland

Sarah Winston Thomas Rutherfoord

Barbara Overton

TABLE SHOWING THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MARY WINSTON BLAIR AND PATRICK HENRY AND DOLLY MADISON

Isaac Winston, Jr. of Hanover

(brothers)

Sarah Winston m. Col. John Henry

Patrick Henry.

Mary Winston m. Maj. John Coles

Mary Coles m. John Payne.

William Essex Winston

Geddes Winston of Hanover m. Mary Jordan.

Dolly Payne m. President James Madison.

Mary Winston m. Rev. John D. Blair.

(LONGER NOTE 14)

TWO LITTLE BLAIRS

The death of Parson Blair’s little lad of eight years was a deep grief to his father, who wrote a touching poem on his death. “His heart was as mild as the dove’s; his brown hair as soft as its down.” They seemed great companions. Willie was buried in St. John’s churchyard.

Mary Jordan Blair, second daughter of Rev. John Durburrow Blair, probably died in infancy as we know nothing of her, and she is mentioned in neither her father’s nor her mother’s will. Doubtless, she was also buried in St. John’s churchyard.

(LONGER NOTE 15)

THE BLAIR HOUSE, RICHMOND

The stuccoed wing of Parson Blair’s house was run up into a second story with dormer windows above. The wooden cottage was later removed, and “612” remained the Blair residence. Without, it maintained an air of plain but dignified simplicity; within, one found large rooms and a wide hall, a curving mahogany stair-rail, and large wooden mantels, some of which were beautifully hand-carved. The brass knocker of the house is now in possession of Mrs. William Northrop.

At the rear extended a long grassy yard with charming flower-beds and ornamental shrubs. A mimosa tree, sent by Mrs. Gamble, from Florida, should be remembered, as it was the reputed mother of all mimosas in Virginia.

Evening prayer-meeting for his people was held once a week in the parsonage. The candles in their silver candlesticks were lit. The tall parson assumed his solemn aspect, put on his tiny steel spectacles, arose, and opened the Good Book.

The gentle hospitality which began in Mary Winston’s time ever continued there, reaching through the occupancy of Col. Walter Blair, and his son-in-law and daughter, Major and Mrs. John Hayes Claiborne. After the last of the Blairs moved away, the old home was leveled to the ground.

(LONGER NOTE 16)

 

THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH ON SHOCKOE HILL, RICHMOND, VIRGINIA

The Presbyterian Church on Shockoe Hill, built in 1721, of which Rev. John Durburrow Blair was the first pastor, stood at the northwest corner of Franklin and Eighth Streets. It was a substantial brick building with a steeple. We have little knowledge of the interior except that there was no organ or melodion; the choir-leader raised the tunes by his tuning fork.

On April 3, 1865, “Evacuation Day” of the Confederate troops, when Richmond was in flames, the church burned to the ground, the steeple catching fire first. The church is said to have been the last building in the city destroyed that day by the fire in its long progress up Shockoe Hill.

The present handsome buildings and large membership of Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, Richmond, are the outgrowth of Parson Blair’s Capitol Congregation of 1792, the oldest group of Presbyterians in the city, as he himself was the first Presbyterian Minister of Richmond.

(LONGER NOTE 17)

WILL OF REV. JOHN D. BLAIR, as recorded in the records of the Chancery Court, City Hall, Richmond, Va., Book 3, pages 324, 325.

In the name of God Amen. I John D. Blair of the City of Richmond, being sick in body, but of sound mind and memory, do make the following disposition of my little worldly estate: viz:

After the payment of all my just debts which to the best of my recollection are neither numerous nor large I give and devise to my beloved wife Mary Blair all my property, both real and personal, to her and to her heirs forever, fully confiding in her discretion to make such future conveyance or disposition thereof by deed or last will and Testament, to and among my children as she may think proper and right according to her knowledge of my intentions and wishes in their favor. I desire that my estate be not appraised and that no part thereof be sold except for the payment of my debts, or with the consent of my wife in which case I fully authorize and empower her to make any sale that in her opinion may be conducive to her convenience and benefit, or advantageous to such of my children as she may choose to provide for by deed or will as above mentioned.

I hereby constitute and appoint my dear wife Mary Blair and my Son, John G. Blair, executrix and executor of this my last will and Testament and desire that they may not be required to give any security for performance of the trust hereby reposed in them.

In testimony whereof and of all and singular the premises I have signed my name hereunto this 29 day of September in the year of our Lord Christ one thousand eight hundred and twenty-two.

John D. Blair.

Signed and acknowledged as the last will of the Testator before us

Wm. Munford John Adams Robert A. Mayo

By way of Codicil to my said last will and Testament I desire that my funeral may be without pomp or parade and that none of my Family shall wear mourning on account of my death. As witness my hand this 29 day of September in the year 1822.

John D. Blair.

Signed and acknowledged as a Codicil to the said Last will before us

John Adams Wm. Munford Robert A Mayo

(LONGER NOTE 18)

LEXINGTON, VIRGINIA, BLAIRS

Descendants of Rev. John Durburrow Blair have served in every war of the United States, beginning with the American Revolution; but one branch of his descendants deserves conspicuously the title of “The Military Blairs” for continued and merited honor as soldiers. These are the Blairs of Lexington, Virginia.

Beginning with William Barrett Blair, 3rd son of John Geddes Blair (himself in the War of 1812), we find this record:

“William Barrett Blair graduated U. S. Military Academy at West Point, July 4, 1838; appointed Second Lieut., 2nd Reg. Artillery, July 9th; 1st Lieut, in same, Nov. 1840; Commissary of Subsistence Nov. 1, 1841; Brevet Captain April 18, 1847 for gallant and meritorious service in the battle of Cerro Garda, Mexican War; Commissary of Subsistence with rank of Capt., Sept. 27, 1850; made a member of the “Aztec Club”, City of Mexico, (of officers seeing service in the Mexican War), Oct. 19, 1849. Appointed Commissary of General Subsistence with rank of Col, in the provisional Army of Virginia by Gov. Letcher; Professor of Natural Philosophy in V. M. I., Lexington, Virginia, 1865-187 — ”

William Alexander Anderson married Mary Louisa Blair, daughter of Col. William Barrett Blair; as a youth of 16 entered the war service of Virginia with the Liberty Hall Volunteers, Co. 1, Stonewall Brigade. Severely wounded at the first battle of Manassas, he yet volunteered in an artillery company of wounded soldiers which guarded the roads around Charlottesville. Maj. Anderson’s subsequent services to his State were too many and too extensive for limited mention. In the State Senate he worked ardently for public education in schools and colleges. He made unceasing efforts for the overthrow of the Mahone government. Maj. Anderson was one of the U. S. commissioners to the Paris Exposition of 1867, receiving a diploma and medal from the French government. In 1900 he was chosen president of the Virginia Bar Association, when his fine speech on “Virginia Constitutions” received wide praise. He served ably in the Constitutional Convention, promoting progressive legislation. As Attorney General of Virginia, 1902-1910, he won cases of immense constitutional and financial importance, notably the great case of Virginia against West Virginia. He was trustee and rector of Washington and Lee University and commandant of the Lee-Jackson camp of Confederate Veterans.

William Dandridge Alexander Anderson, son of the above, earned scholarships in Latin, French, and English at Washington and Lee University; in June, 1904, at U.S. Military Academy, West Point, graduated 2nd in a class of 123 members; 1st in mathematics and French; cadet officer each year for which such officers were allowed; 2nd Lieut. of Engineers June, 1904; 1st Lieut. January, 1906; Captain, February, 1912; Major, July, 1916; Lt. Col., December, 1927.

Space does not allow, we regret to say, the long list of Col. Anderson’s extensive and splendid work as U.S. Engineers’ Officer. Among positions of great responsibility we may regard: in immediate charge of the compilation of the Military Map of Cuba, 1907, 1908; later company commander, post commander, battalion commander, department and district engineer, and department chief of staff; in charge of roads and trails, military mapping and fortification construction all in the Panama Canal Zone; instructor in U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and elsewhere by special appointment, in various branches of Military Engineering; consulting engineer on extensive constructions; to date, U.S. District Engineer, Mobile, Ala., in charge of harbors on the Gulf Coast in Alabama and Mississippi, and channels of various rivers.

William Anderson McNulty, grandson of Maj. William Alexander and Mary Louisa Blair Anderson, entered U.S. Military Academy at West Point as a cadet July 1, 1929; graduated June, 1932.

Other honors besides military ones have been won by Blairs of Lexington. Not the least member of this distinguished family was Henry Wayne Blair, only son of Col. William Barrett Blair, of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey (1857-1884): cadet at V.M.I.; graduated with high honor, 1870; entered U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey as Aid, 1872; promoted to be Sub-Assistant in 1878; made Assistant, August, 1882; gave much study to the subject of Standards of Weights and Measures; awarded a diploma at the Southern Exposition held at Louisville, 1883, for a comparing apparatus of standard line measures.

“A young officer of marked ability and high character, of whom it is not too much to say that had he lived, he would have stood among the foremost in rank in the work. . . . He served with great credit and exhibited unusual aptitude in every branch of the work assigned to him. Mr. Blair’s frank, affectionate, and manly nature endeared him to his comrades; his conscientious and efficient discharge of duty won for him the respect and regard of the older officers. . . . Deep religious conviction was the guiding force of his whole being, and the very flower and crown of his stainless life.” (Tribute of respect from U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey.)*53

Ellen Graham Anderson, daughter of Maj. William Alexander and Mary Louisa Blair Anderson, student of the Art Club, Richmond, Virginia, and the Art Students’ League and New York School of Art. Studied in Paris; has exhibited in the Architectural League of New York, the Chicago Art Institute, and other large exhibitions; is devoting her time to landscape work in Virginia.

*53 Henry Wayne Blair suffered a severe illness during the summer of 1884. On his supposed recovery, he proceeded to Nashville to visit his fiancée, suffered a relapse from over-exertion, and died in Nashville.

(LONGER NOTE 19)

ROLFE ELDRIDGE GLOVER. GLOVER LINE

Rolfe Eldridge Glover (1858-1930) was born at “The Wilderness,” Buckingham County, Virginia. Although his parents lived in Richmond, his grandparents and his great-grandparents lived in Buckingham County. He was a graduate of Richmond College (B.A. 1878, M.A. 1879); President of the Common Council of the City of Richmond (July 1, 1892-July 1, 1896); and member of the Sons of the American Revolution. He is buried in Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Virginia.

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