Virginia Museum of Veiled History's Notable Events from September in Virginia History
by Larry Lamar Yates, Proprietor
Published September 2017
September 1, 1774.
DICK, the Property of the Subscriber, absconded about ten Days ago; he is a black Fellow, well set, about five Feet six Inches high, has remarkable white Teeth, thick Lips, and a Scab above his right Ear. He went off in a Boat, in all probability to make his Escape out of the Colony. I will give a Reward of 20s. if taken in the Colony, 40s if brought home to me, and 5l. if taken and secured out of the Colony, so as I may get him again. I forewarn all Masters of Vessels from harbouring or carrying him out of the Colony, at their Peril.
HEZEKIAH HALLIDAY, Isle of Wight County, Virginia
September 1, 1802
A verse from the supposed point of view of an enslaved Black man, given the name Quashee, was published in the Richmond Recorder to attack Thomas Jefferson. It included these lines:
“For make all like, let blackee hab
De white womans … dat be de track!
Den Quashee de white wife will hab,
And massa Jefferson shall hab de black. “
“Huzza for us den! we de boys
To rob, and steal, and burn, and kill;
Huzza! me say, and make de noise!
Huzza for Quashee? Quashee will
Huzza for massa Jefferson!”
September 3, 1852
Willis M. Carter was born to enslaved parents on that day. In 1863, his father died while carrying out fored labor on Richmond's Rebellion defenses. Carter took various steps to get an education, including attending a school in Washingotn DC. From 1881 to 1902, he taught school in Staunton Virginia. He became a leading figure in pro-Black politics in Western Virginia, and was a leading part of the opposition to the Jim Crow 1902 Constitution when he died in March 1902, while the Constitutional Convention was doing its ugly work.
September 4, 1917
Virginia woman Pauline Forstall Colclough Adams was one of thirteen picketers arrested for “flaunting their banners” before a selective service parade in front of President Woodrow Wilson's reviewing stand. They were imprisoned in the Occoquan Workhouse.
September 6, 1663
A group of indentured servants who had planned an armed rebellion against a member of the colonial Governor's Council were betrayed and captured in Poplar Spring, Gloucester County. It is not known whether any of the servants were Black or Indian. The rebellion was characterized by the General Assembly as “certaine mutinous villaines ... entered into such a desperate conspiracy as had brought an enevitable ruyne to the country had not God in his infinite mercy prevented it...”
In the same month, the General Assembly passed a law requiring that the Potomac and other northern tribes to return English hostages and to give hostages of their own people to the English.
September 6, 1772
Martha Jefferson died. She is best known for being Sally Hemming's half sister.
September 8, 1932
Virginia Patterson Hensley was born in Winchester, Virginia. Much to the amazement of Winchester's upper classes, she went on to become the most famous daughter of Winchester of the twentieth century, under the professional name Patsy Cline.
September 10, 1924
A.S.Priddy, Superintendent of the State Colony for Epileptics and Feeble-Minded, petitioned to have Carrie Buck, who was incarcerated at the Colony, sterilized. This followed a law passed early that year by the General Assembly, and Ms. Buck's case became the test case used to gain Supreme Court approval for this process, carried out in many states in the mid-twentieth century. Carrie Buck was designated as “feeble-minded,” and the petition stated that she would “transmit to her offspring some form of mental defectiveness … such as feeble-mindedness, insanity or epilepsy,” and also she was deemed “unfit to exercise the proper duties of motherhood.” Released from the Colony soon after her sterilization, Buck went on to lead a normal life. Her one daughter, born out of wedlock before her incarceration, was of normal intelligence. In 2002, the Virginia General Assembly passed a resolution honoring Buck's memory, and stating “legal and historical scholarship analyzing the Buck decision has condemned it as an embodiment of bigotry against the disabled and an example of using faulty science in support of public policy.”
September 11, 1865
This is one of the few dated public appearances of Mary Bowser, also known as Mary Richards and by other names. On this day, she spoke at the First Abbyssinian Church in Manhattan, New York.
Mary was born enslaved to the wealthy Van Lew family of Richmond, and her life was shaped by her young mistress, Elizabeth Van Lew, a woman of radical ideas. Van Lew had Mary educated in the North, and even serve in Liberia as a missionary, before she returned to Richmond in 1860.
When the War of the Rebellion began, both Van Lew and Mary were key to the espionage of the U.S. forces in the Rebellion capital of Richmond. Mary is generally believed to have actually worked in the “Confederate White House” and spied on Jeff Davis himself.
At the Abbyssinian Church, she told of her adventures in Liberia and and against the Rebellion, but also criticized the Freedman's Bureau and even Northern Blacks for not doing enough for equality for Black people.
Mary founded a short-lived school in Georgia. After it closed in 1867, when she was 26 years old, she disappeared from historical view.
September 12, 1570
Two Spanish priests, who had just landed on the Chesapeake Bay shores of Vireginia, on that day wrote to their superior in Cuba. They had returned with a man they knew as Luis de Velasco, but whose original name is recorded as Paquiquineo. Paquiquineo was a native of the area, and soon left the priests to return to his people. In February, he was part of a group that killed the priests and most of their party.
September 15, 1958
Virginia Governor Lindsay Almond used his power under the Massive Resistance law to close Warren County High School in Front Royal, Virginia, because it had been ordered by the courts to desegregate. By the end of September, 12,700 white Virginia students had their schools closed.
September 18, 1850
The Fugitive Slave Act was signed on this day by President Millard Fillmore. It was written and moved through the Senate by Virginia Senator James Russell Mason, a resident of Winchester, Virginia. It expanded the powers of the federal government to help chase down persons who tried to get freedom from slavery.
September 21, 1893
Thomas Smith, a Black man accused of beating and robbing a white woman, was lynched in Roanoke by a small group of white men, described at the inquest as “persons unknown to the jury.” After the killing, a larger crowd gathered, until, according to the Roanoke Times, 4,000 people gathered to see Smith's body burned. The Times also reported that “Smith's sister, a girl 15 years of age, stood by and witnessed the terrible fate of her brother's remains.” Ultimately three men were convicted of being in the lynch mob and each sentenced to fines and 24 hours in jail.
September 26, 1926
Ku Klux Klan members presented a flagpole and benches for students to “sit and contemplate the present, past and future glories of white Virginia” to William and Mary College. Five thousand Klan members from around Virginia for the event. W&M President Chandler closed the event with a speech extolling “a spirit of tolerance, charity … and Christian forbearance.” Over time, the flagpole was vandalized, and African-American employees used the benches to wait for the bus. After being moved a few times, the flagpole's location is now unknown.
September 27, 1667
The General Assembly resolved any confusion about enslaved people getting freedom by becoming Christians with these words: “ the conferring of baptism does not alter the condition of the person as to his bondage or freedom.” This meant that slavery was clearly based on perceived racial identity; earlier, the justification for slavery had been that it only applied to non-Christian peoples.
September 27, 1937
Walter Plecker, who served as Virginia's registrar of vital statistics for 34 years, made it his mission to enforce the Racial Integrity Act, and prevent “mixed marriages.” In a letter of this date, he enlisted the County Circuit Court Clerk of Botetourt County in his effort to end the marriage of Grace Vernon Mohler to Samuel Christian Branham, because he has received information that Branham is not white. In the letter, Plecker, who later expressed favorable views on Nazi programs, went on at length about the “favorite trick of these mixed breeds ...[to] go around to other counties where they are not known and in their applications swear that they are white.” He went on to say he had mad “a thorough study of the racial origin of this Branham family. All of the Amherst County Branhams are classed as "free issue", descendants of the antebellum free negroes.” In fact, in Amherst County, Branham is a common surname among the Monacan Indians. Plecker also made it a mission to deny the existence of many Indians and Indian communities, defning them as “colored” or “white.”
September 28, 1781
Combined American and French forces began the siege of Yorktown, the final battle of the American Revolution.
September 30, 1762
Rev. William Yates and the Treasurer of the Virginia Colony, Robert Carter Nicholas, wrote a joint report to benefactors in Britain who were financially supporting a school for Black children (mostly enslaved children) in Williamsburg. The two noted the many barriers to such a school, including that “we fear that [the enslaved people] are treated by too many of their Owners as so many Beasts of Burthen, so little do they consider them as entitled to any of the Privileges of human Nature..” Such a school would have been illegal under laws passed in independent Virginia after Nat Turner's 1831 revolt.
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