Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Valley of the Shadow - Civil War-Era Newspapers

I stumbled upon a website last night, after a trip to Waynesboro, Virginia, called The Valley of the Shadow. I was looking online for a map of Riverview Cemetery when I stumbled upon this jewel of a website. It is apparently part of the University of Virginia's website, at least it is housed there. The site has summarized all of local happenings from newspapers of Augusta County, Virginia (as well as Franklin County, Pennsylvania) between 1857 and 1870. Their goal was to capture attitudes and events on the home front before during and after the Civil War. They do not focus on national or international events, unless they absolutely involve local interests.

Papers for Augusta County, Virginia include:
  • Staunton Vindicator (1859-1870)
  • Staunton Spectator (1857-1870)
  • Valley Virginian (1865-1870)
Papers for Franklin County, Pennsylvania include:
  • Franklin Repository (1859-1870)
  • Semi-Weekly Dispatch (1861-1862)
  • Valley Spirit (1859-1870)
  • Waynesboro Village Record (1863)
I will give you an example of what can be found. There is a nice search feature, pretty basic but it does the job. I searched by last name and found these articles about my wife's great-great-grandfather, Alexander S. Bush and his brush with the law. I would have never known about this incident if it were not for this website! Just think of how things would have changed for my family if he now not acquitted. Alex was just married in August of 1869 and got into a heap of trouble only a few months later.

Staunton Vindicator, February 11, 1870

Arrest of the Waynesboro Burglars
(Page 3, Column 01)

"Summary: Deputy Sheriff Bull arrested a black man named Bill Mowry, aka Murray, who was wanted for a number of burglaries. "He was known to be a desperate character, and one that would resort to any expediency to accomplish his purpose." On his testimony, warrants were issued for the arrest of a white man named Alexander Bush, a white man named James Terrell, a black man named Jesse Harden, and a black man named Sam Harden. All are wanted for robbing the store of C. R. Haines, the home of Mrs. Wright, and stealing brandy from the distillery of Simon Koiner, the property of John N. Crouse. Warrants were also issued for a black man named Isaac Walker and a black man named Primus Bowles for stealing from the smoke house of David Wines. Justice Clinedinst committed all in custody to jail to await trial. The paper extends thanks to the sheriff for chasing Murray through the brush and arresting him, even though the suspect was armed with a Colt navy shooter. (Names in announcement: SheriffBull, BillMowry, BillMurray, AlexanderBush, JamesTerrell, JesseHarden, SamHarden, C. R.Haines, Mrs.Wright, SimonKoiner, John N.Crouse, IsaacWalker, PrimusBowles, JusticeClinedinst)"

Staunton Spectator, , 1870
(Page 3, Column 01)

"Summary: Seven prisoners charged with felony were sent from the Waynesboro to the Chambersburg jail under the direction of Justice William W. Clinedinst. Two prisoners were white men: Alex Bush and James Terrill. The remaining five were black men: William Murry, Primus Bowles, Isaac Walker, Jesse Hardin, and Samuel Hardin. (Names in announcement: AlexBush, JamesTerrill, WilliamMurry, PrimusBowles, IsaacWalker, JesseHardin, SamuelHardin)"

Staunton Vindicator, April 1, 1870
(Page 3, Column 01)

"Summary: Briefly summarizes cases at the court, mostly dealing with theft. (Names in announcement: JamesTerrell, AlexBush, JesseHarden, SamHarden, CharlesHaines, WilliamMurray, SimonKoiner, DanielWine, PrimusBowles, IsaacWalker)

Full Text of Article: The County Court has been in session since Monday last. Very little of general interest transpired. The trial of Jas. Terrell, Alex Bush, Jessee and Sam Harden (colored,) for breaking into the store-house of Mr. Charles Haines, of Waynesboro', took place on Wednesday, and all the parties were acquitted.

Alex Bush, Jesse and Sam Marden, colored, and Wm. Murray, colored, were retained in custody and tried on Wednesday evening on the charge of stealing 40 gallons of Brandy from Simon Koiner's still-house, and acquitted. Murray was re-arrested on the charge of stealing bacon from Daniel Wine. A nolle prosequi was entered in the cases of Primus Bowles and Isaac Walker, charged with larceny."

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