The Far Left Branch, Ch.2

Capt William Scott 1756-1819*

My fourth great-grandfather was Capt. William Scott, born in 1756 in Caroline County, VA to Thomas and Martha. Some of our family records say that his name was William Rice Scott, but I can’t find it in official records elsewhere.

He was the second-to-last child, one of eight kids (Only one girl. Poor Frances!) I’m curious to know what these kids did with their time growing up. What were their lives like? Did they play? Go to school? 

And what about their mom, Martha? Did she have many more children? How many died young? Was she just a baby-making machine or did she subtly plot by whispering in the ears of her friends about how they should smash the patriarchy?

I don’t have any clue, but when William was eight (fun fact!)…

British carpenter and weaver James Hargreaves invented the spinning jenny, the hand-powered multiple spinning machine. His invention was the first machine to improve upon the spinning wheel. At the time, cotton producers had a difficult time meeting the demand for textiles, as each spinner produced only one spool of thread at a time. Hargreaves found a way to ramp up the supply of thread.

And now, as William turns 20 and joins the war effort, here’s an abbreviated refresher course on the American War of Independence, also known as the Revolutionary War, which I plagiarized completely from The History Channel website;

The Revolutionary War (1775-83), also known as the American Revolution, arose from growing tensions between residents of Great Britain’s 13 North American colonies and the colonial government, which represented the British crown. Skirmishes between British troops and colonial militiamen in Lexington and Concord in April 1775 kicked off the armed conflict, and by the following summer, the rebels were waging a full-scale war for their independence. France entered the American Revolution on the side of the colonists in 1778, turning what had essentially been a civil war into an international conflict. After French assistance helped the Continental Army force the British surrender at Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781, the Americans had effectively won their independence, though fighting would not formally end until 1783.

Back to William at age 20.

William enlisted in the Revolution in 1776 {Cue the Hamilton cast bellowing “To the Revolution!”}. After becoming a lieutenant, he was said to have raised a company of his own and became its captain. He fought in the battle at Great Bridge, near Norfolk, Virginia. (I’ll point out here that many sources say he enlisted in ’76, but the Battle at Great Bridge took place in 1775, so I don’t know what to tell you about that).

When five of his wife’s brothers were killed in battle, he transported their bodies from Norfolk to his home for internment. From Norfolk, he “marched” from Virginia to Georgia along with his brother Captain Thomas Scott, another lieutenant, and an ensign (I did find their names but they’re B-listers so I’ll keep them out of it).

When they arrived at Savannah, Capt. William was placed under Col Crittenton of the Georgia Regiment. During the Battle at Briar Creek in 1779 he was taken prisoner, carried to Savannah and confined there during the siege until “his release was secured”.

Some artists rendering of what the Battle at Brier Creek may have looked like. (Apologies to the artist – I couldn’t find a credit.)

At the end of the war Capt. William settled near his brother Samuel Beverly Scott (I’ll get to him. He’s a piece of work!) in Campbell County VA.

He married Anne Jones on March 1, 1781 and they had five girls and five boys (thank you for evening out the gender balance, Anne and William!); Mary Anne, Martha, Gabriel, Robert, Harriet, Susan (or Suzanna), William Waller, Anne, Thomas, and Hugh Roy. 

In 1782, a manumission law is passed in Virginia permitting slaveholders to emancipate their slaves. Many whites wanted this in the name of “natural right of liberty or religion objections”. Since slaves were so “necessary” economically, not many whites utilized this law. Furthermore, many slaves were freed because of their faithful service, as opposed to their master’s ideological or moral objections to slavery. Slaves often negotiated their own manumission, saving up enough money to buy their own freedom, then would often saved loved ones by purchasing their freedom as well. SOURCE

I think we can assume that William was also a plantation owner. According the Southern Campaign American Revolution Pension Statements Pension application (say that five times fast) which Anne filed in 1838 when she was 75 and a longtime widow (what took her so long?) the government gave him 4000 acres for serving for the entirety of the War of Independence. Maybe they used it, maybe they sold it. I don’t actually know. But records show that in 1784, he bought 1150 acres of land on either side of the James River in Bedford, Campbell, and Amherst Counties. He paid 2000 pounds for it. What a bargain.

I see a lot of this in the family’s VA history – buying land along a river. Wise move as I’m sure it contributed to ease of exportation of product.

Another indication of this livelihood is the below is a copy of the 1810 US Federal Census, when William was 54 years old. This census lists members living in the household in addition to slaves owned. In later years, censuses become more informative (What do you do for a living? Can you read and write?). There was the creation of the Slave Schedules of 1850 and 1860, which are both record-keeping and heartbreaking, and don’t even include names.

The penmanship in these forms fascinates me and – interesting fact – US Marshals were tasked with going door to door to collect info until specially hired and trained census-takers took over for the 1880 and subsequent censuses.

If you’re just joining me, I will repeat what I said in my first entry about these blog entries; I am not sharing these slave-related documents for shock value or to romanticize it. I am not proud of my ancestors’ roles in this horrid part of our history, but I am interested to share what I’ve learned, both about what their lives were like and what life in general was like. This includes the documentation of humans forced into slavery.

And let’s be real; this cataloging/story-sharing that I am doing here is a way for me to process this information which only came to my attention that past April, right after turning 43.

Capt. William Scott died in 1819 at age 63, and its thought that his war wounds contributed to his death.

This headstone below, which is the headstone of his son Thomas Hazelwood, causes some confusion for me because I cannot find an instance where my fourth great-grandfather is referred to as William Waller Scott, as is alluded to on the stone. He does have a son named William Waller (he’ll be in the next ‘chapter” since he’s my third great-grandfather).

So maybe he was a William Waller after all? 

(Are you still awake? I know, it’s probably pretty boring if it’s not your family. Keep going, I promise it might get slightly more interesting)

This headstone refers to William Scott as “Capt. Wm. W. Scott Who served in the War of 1776”

Now that William (Rice/Waller?) Scott’s story has been told, just for kicks I’ll move on to Samuel, who was my fifth-great uncle.

Major Samuel Beverly Scott 1754-1822

During the June 2019 family gathering in Lynchburg, my cousin Jason asked me why I was so fascinated by Samuel. It’s an excellent question considering I’m not descended from him directly. I suspect it’s because more facts are known about him than others I am directly descended from.

Samuel Beverly was two years older than William. He too fought in the Revolutionary War and on his tombstone, he is listed as Major.  In 1786, two years after marrying Ann Roy, he purchased 400 acres in Lynchburg, where he built their home plantation on Forest Road and named it Locust Thicket. By his death is 1822, his land holdings were around 1,755 acres.

Here comes my favorite part. Samuel had a land dispute with Thomas Jefferson

Click HERE to read Thomas Jefferson’s complaint against Samuel which he filed in 1810. I’m sure none of the parties involved found it amusing, but I sure do. Long story short, Samuel kept building over Jefferson’s property line. The parties went out with a land surveyor and the surveyor confirmed that Scott was wrong. Jefferson left town for some government commitments (IE to jaunt on up north to be President of the United States for a bit) only to return and find that Samuel was still being a jerkface and building to his heart’s content.

Fun stuff.

In 1812, Scott wrote this complaint. I tried to read it but honestly not even Google translate could make sense of it for me (no I didn’t actually put it in Google Translate. I’m kidding and besides, Google Translate is garbage).

In the end Jefferson won, and Major Scott was bitter about it until his death. Years later, after Jefferson had died, his son sold the land back to the Scott family.

During the visit to Lynchburg, my parents and I visited Locust Thicket, now an historic landmark. Even though it’s up for sale, people also still live there (I somehow assumed it was uninhabited). We basically wandered around like no one lived there until it became obvious that someone did. Because that someone came out to say hello. She was very gracious and taught us some facts about the property while I smacked away bugs for ten minutes. (I’m pretty sure that’s where I picked up the tick that went undiscovered on my back until I was back home in MA four days later).

In 1864 during the Civil War, long after Samuel had sold Locust Thicket (and been put underground in the backyard plot 42 years prior), 4,000 Union Cavalry drew up a line of battle on the property for the attack on Lynchburg.

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