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John Lederer, Adventurer

The Discoveries of John Lederer In 1669 and 1670, John Lederer was known to have made three journeys into the interior of Virginia. These journeys took him up the York and James Rivers and the third he describes as "from the Falls of the Rappahannock River to the top of the Apalataen Mountains." Although he obtained the consent of Sir William Berkeley before making his explorations, he seems to have incurred the ill-will of the Virginians themselves who were being attacked and thieved upon by local Indians. Governor Berkeley was well aware of the Indian difficulties, but refused to do anything about it. It was a climate of danger for European settlers and Lederer being friendly to the natives may have sparked off a flame, as he was afterwards forced to flee into Maryland. Lederer met Sir William Talbot in Maryland, who sympathized with and befriended him and translated the story of his travels from the latin. It was published in London in 1672 with a "foreword" by Talbot in defense of Lederer. The account of Lederer concerning the Indians then inhabiting the western parts of Carolina and Virginia, he said:

"The Indians now seated in these parts are none of those which the English removed from Virginia, but a people driven by the Enemy from the northwest, and invited to sit down here by an Oracle above four hundred years since, as they pretend for the ancient inhabitants of Virginia were far more rude and barbarous,[9] feeding only upon raw flesh and fish, until they taught them to plant corn, and shewed them the use of it." Lederer referred to the Piedmont region as "The Highlands" and wrote: "These parts were formerly possessed by the Tacci, alias Dogi, but they are extinct and the Indians now seated here, are distinguished into the several nations of Mahoc, Nuntaneuck, alias Nuntaly, Nahyssan, Sapon, Managog, Mangoack, Akernatatzy and Monakin &c. One language is common to them all, though they differ in dialects. The parts inhabited here are pleasant and fruitful because cleared of wood and laid open to the Sun." The Tacci, alias Dogi Indians described by Lederer are suggested by Mooney may have been those participating in the Bacon rebellion in 1676, probably a branch of the Nanticoke. Source: Legends of Loudoun by Harrison (1938); The Discoveries of John Lederer,

Carpenters in Rappahannock

carpenters Thomas Madison was the most prominent and prosperous of all the carpenters at Rappahannock. His name appears frequently in the records as a seller or purchaser of land. At the time of his death, he had to his credit in England 70 pds. sterling, which had been gained by shipments of tobacco to the mother country. Such details are never learned, unless the historian or genealogists takes the care to read the old will s, estates and deeds. Source: Records of Rappahannock County, 1668-1672, pp. 48, 59, 215; ibid. vol. 1664-1673, p. 78.

A Distillery
By Jeannette Holland Austin

"A distillery in Rappahannock County, Virginia has tempted twelve stands from the path of honey and wax and made confirmed inebriates of them. Before the distillery was started, their owner, a woman, found the bees very profitable, but their periodic visits to the still have made them comparatively worthless." Source: The Jones Headlight, Grays Station, Georgia, Saturday, January 7, 1888.

Rappahannock County Virginia Map


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Why the War of 1812 is Rarely Discussed

merchant mariner The War of 1812 was mostly a maritime battle fought in the North Atlantic. During the first several months after war was declared, battles were centered around the Middle States. In fact, on October 14th, 1812, the senior naval officer at Charleston, South Carolina, wrote: "Till today this coast has been clear of enemy cruisers; now Charleston is blockaded by three brigs, two very large, and they have captured nine sail within three miles of the bar." Two months he expressed surprise that the inland navigation behind the sea islands had not been destroyed by the enemy, due to its of its lack of defense. In January of 1813, the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay was guarded by a ship of the line, two frigates and a sloop. A commercial blockade had not been established, yet the hostile divisions remained outside and American vessels continued to go out and in around Charleston. A Letter-of-Marque and Reprisal was a government license authorizing a privateer to attack and capture enemy vessels and bring them before the admiralty courts for condemnation and sale. This method of cruising on the high seas for prizes with a Letter-of-Marque was considered an honorable calling because it combined patriotism and profit. Otherwise, captured vessels were done so by "piracy" which was punishable by law. The privateer employed a fast and weatherly fore-and-aft rigged vessel heavily armed and crewed, and its primary objection was for fighting. There existed a robust trade with France by Letters-of-Marque for commercial vessels which carried cargo and guns. By February 12th of 1813, conditions grow worse. The commercial blockade was proclaimed and blockaders entered the Chesapeake while vessels under neutral flags (Spanish and Swedish) were turned away. Two Letter-of-Marque schooners had been captured, one after a gallant struggle during which her captain was killed. Nautical misadventures of that kind became frequent. On April 3rd, three Letters-of-Marque and a privateer, which had entered the Rappahannock, were attacked at anchor. The Letters-of-Marque had smaller crews and thus offered little resistance to boarding, but the privateer, having near a hundred men, made a sharp resistance. The Americans lost six (killed) and ten were wounded, while Britain had two killed and eleven wounded. Source: Sea Power In Its Relations to the War of 1812 by Captain A. T. Mahan, D. C. L., LL. D., United State Navy. (London, 1899)

The Prices of Commodities Jumped During the War of 1812

General Armstrong In war, as in other troublesome times, prices are subject to fluctuate in price. Two great staples were flour and sugar, mostly lacking due to impeded water transport. From a table of prices current, of August, 1813, it appears that at Baltimore, in the centre of the wheat export, flour was $6.00 per barrel; in Philadelphia, $7.50; in New York, $8.50; in Boston, $11.87. At Richmond, owing to inferior communications, the price was $4.00. Flour at Charleston was reported at $8.00, while at Wilmington, North Carolina, it was $10.25. At Boston, sugar which was not blockaded, was quoted at $18.75 the hundredweight, itself not a low rate; while at New York the blockaded rate was $21.50; at Philadelphia, with a longer journey, $22.50; at Baltimore, $26.50. At Savannah sugar was $20, because considering its nearness to the Florida line and inland navigation, smuggling was a successful and safe venture. New Orleans was a sugar-producing district, and the cost was $9.00, however, on February 1, 1813, flour in that city cost $25 a barrel. The British vessels forcibly harassed trade up and down the east coast, especially between Boston and New York. Although the South was more remotely situated, it had better internal water communications. Also, the local product, rice, went far to supply deficiencies in other grains. In the matter of manufactured goods, however, the disadvantage of the South was greater. These had to find their way there from the farther extreme of the land; for the development of manufactures had been much the most marked in the east. It has before been quoted that some wagons loaded with dry goods were forty-six days in accomplishing the journey from Philadelphia to Georgetown, South Carolina, in May of this year. Some relief in these articles reached the South by smuggling across the Florida line, and the Spanish waters opposite St. Marys were at this time thronged with merchant shipping to an unprecedented extent; for although smuggling was continual, in peace as in war, across a river frontier of a hundred miles, the stringent demand consequent upon the interruption of coastwise traffic provoked an increased supply. "The trade to Amelia," the northernmost of the Spanish sea-islands, was reported by the United States naval officer at St. Marys towards the end of the war, "is immense. Upwards of fifty square-rigged vessels are now in that port under Swedish, Russian, and Spanish colors, two thirds of which are considered British property." Letters from the naval captains commanding the stations at Charleston, Savannah, and Portsmouth, New Hampshire reflect news of the molesting by the British of trade. Captain Hull who commanded the Portsmouth Yard, wore on June 14, 1813, that light cruisers like the "Siren", lately arrived at Boston, and the "Enterprise," could be very useful in driving away the small vessels of the enemy as well as privateers. He purposes to order them eastward, along the Maine coast, to collect coasters in convoy and protect their long-shore voyages, after the British fashion on the high seas. "The coasting trade here," he adds, "is immense. Not less than fifty sail last night anchored in this harbor, bound to Boston and other points south.": And, the "Nautilus" (a captured United States brig) has been seen from this harbor every week for some time past, and several other vessels (of the enemy) are on the coast every few days." An American privateer has just come in, bringing with her as a prize one of her own class, called the "Liverpool Packet," which "within six months has taken from us property to an immense amount." On one occasion the crew of the ship of an American privateer, which had been destroyed after a desperate and celebrated resistance to attack by British armed boats, arrived at St. Marys. Of one hundred and nineteen American seamen, only four could be prevailed upon to enter the district naval force. This was partly due to the embarrassment of the national finances. "The want of funds to pay off discharged men," wrote the naval captain at Charleston, "has given such a character to the navy as to stop recruiting." "Men could be had," reported his colleague at St. Marys, now transferred to Savannah, "were it not for the Treasury notes, which cannot be passed at less than five per cent discount. Men will not ship without cash. There are upwards of a hundred seamen in port, but they refuse to enter, even though we offer to ship for a month only." It should be noted, however, that those who enlisted during the War of 1812 were promised bounty lands, should they serve five years. Those sailors stationed at St. Marys, Georgia, received land grants in Camden County of 487-1/2 acres. This is an interesting facet to research because where one sees this sort of acreage listed in the deed records or on tax digests, they should investigate the 1812 service records on the site of the National Archives. This will help zero in on more clues and historical data. In these operations the ships of war were seconded by privateers from the West Indies, which hovered round this coast, as the Halifax vessels did round that of New England, seeking such scraps of prize money as might be left over from the ruin of American commerce and the immunities of the licensed traders. The United States officers at Charleston and Savannah were at their wits ends to provide security with their scanty means, more scanty even in men than in vessels; and when there came upon them the additional duty of enforcing the embargo of December, 1813, in the many quarters, and against the various subterfuges, by which evasion would be attempted, the task was manifestly impossible. "This is the most convenient part of the world for illicit trade that I have ever seen," wrote Campbell. A somewhat singular incidental circumstance is found in the spasmodic elevation of the North Carolina coast into momentary commercial consequence as a place of entry and deposit; not indeed to a very great extent, but ameliorating to a slight degree the deprivation of the regions lying north and south, the neighborhood of Charleston on the one hand, of Richmond and Baltimore on the other. "The waters of North Carolina, from Wilmington to Ocracoke, though not favorable to commerce in time of peace, by reason of their shallowness and the danger of the coast, became important and useful in time of war, and a very considerable trade was prosecuted from and into those waters during the late war, and a coasting trade as far as Charleston, attended with less risk than many would imagine. A vessel may prosecute a voyage from Elizabeth City (near the Virginia line) to Charleston without being at sea more than a few hours at any one time." During July of 1813, Admiral Cockburn anchored with a division off Ocracoke bar, and captured a privateer and Letter-of-Marque which had there sought a refuge denied to them by the blockade elsewhere. The towns of Beaufort and Portsmouth were occupied for some hours. The United States naval officer at Charleston found it necessary also to extend the alongshore cruises of his schooners as far as Cape Fear, for the protection. Source: Sea Power In Its Relations to the War of 1812 by Captain A. T. Mahan, D. C. L., LL. D., United State Navy. (London, 1899)

Rappahannock County Genealogy, Wills, Estates, Marriages, Indexes to Probate Records


Rappahannock County Court House
Rappahannock County was first founded in 1656 from part of Lancaster County. Many of the first colonists resided in the area and records exist back to the sixteen hundredths. This old county became extinct in 1692 when it was separated to form Essex and Richmnd Counties. In 1833, the Virginia General Assembly created the currently existing Rappahannock County, taking land from Culpeper County. It was named after the old Rappahannock River which separates it from Fauquier County. The county seat is Washington, Virginia.

Historical Tidbits: In 1669 Thomas Butler of Rappahannock County bound himself to deliver to George Brown, the captain of the Elizabeth of London, three hogsheads of sweet-scented tobacco belonging to the choicest portion of his crop. Brown was to carry this tobacco to England and there to dispose of it for money sterling. After having laid aside twenty-two pounds for his own use, the amount of a claim which he held against Butler for goods previously sold to him, Brown was to employ whatever remained in buying linen and woollen cloths, shoes and stockings to be conveyed to Butler in Virginia.

Sources: Records of Rappahannock County, original vol. 1668-1672, p. 291. Want to receive more historical tidbits on Virginians? Join our free blog

Rappahannock County Wills, Estates, Marriages available (wills, estates, etc.) to members of Virginia Pioneers

(Old, Former County) Rappahannock County Records:
  • Marriages to 1699
Miscellaneous Wills
  • Butler, John Kenny, William
  • Musgrave, Michael, LWT transcript
  • Rowzie, Edward
  • Toone, James (1677), LWT, transcript
Indexes to Old Rappahannock County Probate Records
  • Deeds, Wills, Settlements 1656-1664; 1662 to 1672; 1662 to 1668; 1663 to 1682
Rappahannock County Records

Indexes to Rappahannock Wills and Estates
  • Index to Rappahannock County Wills and Estates, Book A, 1833-1842
  • Index to Rappahannock County Wills and Estates, Book B, 1842-1849
  • Index to Rappahannock County Wills and Estates, Book C, 1849-1855
  • Index to Rappahannock County Wills and Estates, Book D, 1855-1866
Digital Images of (current) Rappahannock County Wills and Estates
    Wills and Estates, Book A, 1833-1842

    Testators: Adams, Easter; Amiss, Philip; Barnes, Leonard; Best, Enos; Bragg, Thomas; Broaddus, Mary; Burgess, Dawson; Butler, Charles; Butler, Elizabeth; Cannon, Reuben; Carders, George; Carn, John; Cheek, Mary; Cheek, Nancy; Conner, Margaret; Daniel, Nancy; Deatherage, George; Dodson, William; Duncan, Frederick; Duncan, George; Eastham, Bird; Farrow, William; Foley, Thomas; Fristoe, Catherine; Gan, William; Gibson, Mary; Gibson, Moses; Gray, Richard; Griffin, Thomas; Grigsby, S.; Hawkins, Nancy; Hawes, Aylette; Hayne, Sarah; Hughes, Thomas; Jeffries, John; Jeffries, Louiza; Jenkins, Elizabeth; Jenkins, Stephen; Jones, William F.; Jordan, Mary; Kemper, Edmund; Kennard, David; Kittle, Jacob; Lilliard, Clara; Lilliard, Elizabeth; Lunsford, William; Madden, Samuel; Mallard, Susanna; Menfee, James; Miller, Jacob; Miller, John; Miller, Lucy; Murdock, Godfrey; Norman, Aley; Parker, Benjamin; Payne, Frank; Poulter, Jane; Pullen, Ann; Pullen, Thomas; Randall, Francis; Robertson, Elijah; Robertson, Mitchell; Ross, Enos; Rudacilla, Philip; Sims, Reubin; Smith, Jeremiah; Smith, John; Snyder, Daniel; Tapp, Vincent; Thornton, Jane; Turner, Lewis G.; Ubz, Solomon; Waters, Landy; Willey, Edward; Willis, Charles; Withers, James Jr.; Withers, Susannah; Wood, James D.; Yates, Lucy

    Rappahannock Wills, Book B, 1842-1849

    Testators: Berkley, Elizabeth; Brandon, Ezekiel; Brown, George; Brown, William; Browning, John; Calvert, Sylvia; Cheek, George; Corder, John; Duncan, Susan; Fisher, Thomas H.; Green, George James; Green, James; Grigsby, Jane; Haddon, John R.; Hopper, Joshua; Hudson, Robert; Jenkins, Reuben; Jones, Robert; Maddon, Notley; Mason, Catherine; Menefee, Henry; Moore, Lewis Sr.; Mosingo, George; O'Bannon, Bryant; Ritenaur, David; Royston, John; Spiller, Elizabeth; Updike, Daniel; Walden, Lucy; Wood, Burwell K.; Wood, John H.

    Rappahannock County Wills, Book C, 1849-1855

    Testators: Brooke, Reuben; Brown, William P.; Browning, John; Burgess, Francis; Corley, Richard; Deal, Peter; Gibson, Betsy; Hitt, James; Holland, John; Jeffries, Moses; Jenkins, William; Jetts, Susannah; Jones, Henry; Jordan, Absalom; Lodowick, Zadock; Majors, Sarah; Morrison, John; O'Bannon, James; Paylon, John Sr.; Popham, John; Sims, Abner; Sloane, James; Smith, Caleb; Smith, William; Whitehead, Margaret; Woodard, William

    Rappahannock County Wills, Book D, 1855-1866

    Testators: Allen, Madison; Amiss, John; Amiss, Joseph; Blackwell, Sarah; Bolen, W. A.; Brady, John; Brown, Margaret; Browning, Cassandra; Cooksey, Elias; Corbin, Joseph; Corbin, William; Courgill, John; Daniel, Silas; Deal, Allen; Dearing, Alfred; Dearing, Thomas E.; Dearing, Thomas E.; Deatherage, Catharine; Deatherage, George; Dodson, Margaret; Fletcher, Peggy; Fletcher, William; Fristoe, Asenath; Hinson, James; Houghton, Benjamin; Hudson, Alexander; Huff, Isaac; Hughes, Benjamin; Jones, Moses R.; Jones, William; Kemper, Elizabeth; Lalouradair, William; Learen, Hugh; Maddox, Nolly; McQuinn, Strother; Menefee, William; Millan, Francis; Miller, Delila; Miller, Nancy; Moon, Mary; Moore, Mary; Newman, Mary; O'Bannon, Mary; Pullen, Jesse; Reid, Mark; Rollins, Thomas; Rominus, John; Silman, Landon; Sisk, Ellen; Slaughter, Reuben; Stringfellow, Benjamin; Tannehill, William; Wall, Thomas; Whitescarver, Francis; Yates, Paul

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