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W. Jasper Blackburn

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

William Jasper Blackburn
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Louisiana's 5th district
In office
July 18, 1868 – March 3, 1869
Preceded byFirst in new district
Succeeded byFrank Morey
Louisiana State Senator for Claiborne Parish
In office
Mayor of Minden, Louisiana
In office
May 1855 – May 1856
Succeeded byA. B. George
Personal details
Born(1820-07-24)July 24, 1820
Randolph County, Arkansas, USA
DiedNovember 10, 1899(1899-11-10) (aged 79)
Little Rock, Pulaski County, Arkansas
Resting placeMount Holly Cemetery in Little Rock
Political partyDemocratic-turned-Republican
OccupationNewspaper publisher and printer
(1) Publisher Blackburn switched his party affiliation to Republican because he opposed slavery and the secession of the Confederate States of America.

(2) Blackburn was spared conviction — and automatic execution — by a one-vote margin of charges that he printed counterfeit Confederate currency.

(3) After the return of Democratic Redeemer government in Louisiana in 1878, Blackburn soon returned to his native Arkansas, where he published the short-lived Arkansas Republican newspaper.

(4) Blackburn served in the United States House of Representatives and the Louisiana State Senate as a Republican; earlier he was a Democratic mayor of Minden, Louisiana, from 1855 to 1856.

(5) Blackburn launched the first paper to bear the name Minden Herald.

William Jasper Blackburn (July 24, 1820 – November 10, 1899) was an American printer, publisher and politician who served in the United States House of Representatives from northwestern Louisiana from July 18, 1868, to March 3, 1869. A Republican during Reconstruction, he was elected to the Louisiana State Senate, serving from 1874 to 1878.[1]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ Jasper Thompson's Destiny Day by Jim Surkamp with Monique Crippen-Hopkins


Jasper’s father - Solomon Thompson - and I actually have a picture of Solomon. The handed-down family’s records of Monique Crippen-Hopkins state: “The Thompsons were all slaves of the Washingtons down to Jasper Thompson.” Most of the time they worked at enhancing the lands and homes of the Washington family members at their homes in Jefferson County. Many of The Thompsons worked for the last three Washingtons who owned Mt. Vernon, who also had “a personal home” in Jefferson County. Many of the Thompsons worked in the beginning on the Jefferson County lands of just one of three brothers of Corbin and Hannah Lee Washington - Richard Henry Lee Washington. The will of John Augustine, their grandfather, set out that his 2720 acre property in today’s Jefferson County would be divided among his three grandsons incrementally as each one turned twenty-one. They were born a year apart. Richard Henry Lee Washington, whose then deceased mother was the daughter of Richard Henry Lee, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, turned twenty-one in 1809, triggering the division of his estate the following year by John Washington’s surviving widow Hannah Bushrod Washington. Richard Henry Lee Washington’s 885 acres was taken from the main property and carried the name - with a modest two-story abode - of the original property - Prospect Hill. Because his two brothers - John Augustine and Bushrod Corbin would become eligible to receive their 892 and 942 acres respectively in the very next two years, Richard was given other things. Above all he was given the skills and work ethic of a considerable family, albeit enslaved by law: the Thompsons. Jasper’s father, Solomon was but an infant in 1810. But there was also Fortune, Jasper’s grandfather, who was the gardener on the farm. There was Haney Richardson who with Fortune had and raised eight children along with Solomon. Prospect Hill also benefitted from the contributions of Haney Richardson-Thompson’s parents at that same time - Boson (or “Boatswain”) and Hannah Richardson. And Haney Richardson—Thompson’s grandparents - Furrow Sr. and Penny Richardson - were there at Prospect Hill too in 1810. The Thompson family was mostly at Prospect Hill in 1810 but for Jasper Thompson’s great grandfather, father of Fortune and grandfather of Solomon - who lived at another nearby Washington home, bought and developed by George Washington since the early 1750s. His name was Jasper Thompson too. He was working for John and Elizabeth Ariss, he a famed architect, who rented since 1786 from George Washington his Bullskin plantation, where they built a fine home, and also with the help of Jasper farmed another 700 acre parcel also rented from George. The mystery remains though - why is it that the Ariss’ legally emancipated Jasper Thompson - by name May 24, 1813 - “and all his increase,” but descendants Fortune and Solomon and the family were enslaved again. Tradition followed in Virginia at that time that the increase would assume the status of the mother, not the father. The wife of this earlier Jasper Thompsons is not known to Monique Crippen-Hopkins or the family, and this woman could have remained enslaved. John Augustine Washington wrote: The oldest son, Richard Henry Lee Washington, occupied the old, small two-story house called Prospect Hill on his 885-acre portion but he died as a young bachelor and his property was divided among his sister and two brothers. We don’t know much about Richard Henry Lee Washington, but we do have a little, printed invitation to one of the Fairfaxes to come to a party at Prospect Hill. It was a dancing party and it was called for twelve noon and since the house was diminutive, they must have danced outdoors on the lawn. Blakeley. Family records indicate that Solomon Thompson, Jasper Thompson’s father, was born at Blakeley Farm. The same farmhands - though technically owned by each of three brothers owning adjacent lands - were to work cooperatively on the three farms - and they did. When Richard died unmarried in 1817, his acres went one-third to Blakeley (the home of the second John A.Washington), one third to Claymont (Bushrod Corbin Washington’s) and one-third to his sister, Mary Lee Washington, who was the wife of a lawyer named Noblet Herbert. Perhaps with this transfer of 274 acres of Richard Washington’s going to Blakeley, some of the Thompsons of Prospect Hill also went over to help at this newly-minted farm site of the future inheritors of Mt Vernon, John Augustine Washington II and his remarkable wife, Jane Charlotte Blackburn Washington. Buildings needed building and the womb of Mrs. Washington was a busy place. Jasper's dad , Solomon, went to Blakeley where for the next forty years, he helped the homesteads prosper at Blakeley. Prospect Hill and Claymont. Claymont, the massive home, built by the brother of John Augustine, Bushrod Corbin Washington faced Blakeley a short distance from across the Bullskin Run. Bushrod conveniently had married his beloved Anna Maria Tomasina Blackburn Washington, Jane Charlotte’s sister. Two of Solomon’s siblings, Matilda and Richard, kept up residence at Prospect Hill until they died many years later, sharing the residence and work load from before, during and after the Civil War with the final Washington family owner Bushrod Washington Herbert, a peaceable insurance man who left the smallish main house, barn, a small graveyard and outbuildings of Prospect Hill to Matilda Thompson, provided she didn’t marry. In 1829, John Augustine and Jane Charlotte inherited Mt. Vernon upon the death of their childless uncle Justice Bushrod Washington. In just three years, John Augustine succumbed to a common fate of many Washington family members - tuberculosis, making Jane Charlotte the owner and maintainer of the most popular and revered home in America, at a time when the slavery issue threatened and George Washington’s memory was one of the few ties that could still bind all Americans, north and south. Today’s John Augustine Washington, the family historian, once said: One of the most conspicuous people in the history of the Washington family always seemed to me to be “Grandmother Jane." Her take on the obligation of Mount Vernon was put down in a letter to George C. Washington in 1840: I never would have submitted to the endless intrusions and sacrifices of everything like private right and domestic privacy to which we are liable here but that I believe it arises frequently from a sincere though thoughtless desire of honoring the memory of Genl Washington. 'Tis a feeling calculated to inspire and strengthen virtuous and patriotic principles and cement more firmly the ties that bind us together as a Nation. We have done and shall continue to do all we can to keep the place from entire decay. It is yearly becoming more expensive and difficult to do so, the buildings all ought to be thoroughly repaired or they must in a few years go down. The Enslaved person’s byword: You COULD escape north and NEVER wanted to be sold south. Escaping from the enslavers was quite doable in Jefferson County before the Civil War. You just had to get across at night the Shenandoah River with the help of Goins, a free African-American ferry boat man taking people over to the famed Shannondale Springs resort, known as a hotbed of abolitionist leanings. You started near to the resort at the freed African-American community called Bushy Ridge, then on to Chambersburg Pa. or on to Chatham Ontario - ding by day and traveling especially on the moonless nights. In fact, in the months after the John Brown Raid in October, 1859, over six hundred enslaved persons DID escape from mostly the southeastern part of the County, according to the United StatesCensus Slave Schedules reported the following August in 1860. No other County in the area reported any such escapes in that year’s Census form. Even two of John Brown's raiders, one Osborn Anderson wrote about the journey, successfully took this route. The raid, one could surmise, panicked the enslavers here and many began hiring off their human property south or selling them South. Breaking up a family at auction, was an intense fear - something Jane Charlotte Washington would not do. While these Mount Vernon Washingtons never repudiated slavery outright, much to the imagined dismay of their great and far-sighted ancestor, Jane Charlotte Washington and her two sisters regularly freed some people, tried to educate as many as possible and used all their influence and considerable resources to protect and keep families in tact. But others in Jefferson County like the enslaved George Johnson saw the darker side of slavery and records show that in the darker recesses of Jefferson County cruetlies were quietly administered - Col Robert Lucas having a horse stampeded, thereby dragging a returned runaway to his death whose foot was tied to the horse. Or the old man at the poor farm on Lepton Road in the 1930s with but one hand, the other cut off by a half-mad overseer who thought it worthy punishment for - “lying.” Or Bertha Fox Jones’ recorded account of her ancestor, Mary Fox at the Bower being trundled away on the back of a wagon for refusing to be a brood women, then, Bertha presumed, killed. George Johnson who was raised in Harpers Ferry and later escaped and established a home in Chatham, Ontario, wrote: I was raised near Harper's Ferry. I was used as well as the people about there are used. My master used to pray in his family with the house servants, morning and evening. I attended these services until I was eighteen, when I was put out on the farm, and lived in a cabin. We were well supplied with food. We went to work at sunrise, and quit work between sundown and dark. Some were sold from my master's farm, and many from the neighborhood. If a man did any thing out of the way, he was in more danger of being sold than of being whipped. The slaves were always afraid of being sold South. The Southern masters were believed to be much worse than those about us. I had a great wish for liberty when I was a boy. I always had it in my head to clear. He went on: Whipping and slashing are bad enough, but selling children from their mothers and husbands from their wives is worse. At one time I wanted to marry a young woman, not on the same farm. I was then sent to Alabama, to one of my masters's sons for two years. When the girl died, I was sent for to come back. I liked the work, the tending of cotton, better than the work on the farm in Virginia, --but there was so much whipping in Alabama, that I was glad to get back. Thank you for your interest in the fascinating truly unique history of Jefferson County, West Virginia. You have seen Jefferson County’s history as it involves the Washington family descended from John Augustine Washington, those who would own and preserve Mount Vernon, but who also lived in their home - Blakeley - in Jefferson County. We have also experienced and learned about enslavement in Jefferson County. Now we turn to the two main actors of this story in the theater of real life - Dolly Thompson and Jasper Thompson and Jasper’s Destiny Day, September 6, 1906 In January, 1844 Jasper Thompson was born to Solomon Thompson and Eliza Gray Thompson. The family’s written records show Eliza was the daughter of Harry Gray and Fanny Mitchell. Jasper was born at a location that Jasper himself simply called, in his official enlistment form for the United States Colored Troops later on - as “Harper’s Ferry.”Researching the lives of the enslaved is hard - because only first names are in most records and no courthouse death records in Jefferson County existed there for before 1853. But Jasper Thompsons may have well been the (quote) negro boy named Jasper (end quote) that Jane Charlotte Washington, then the owner of Mount Vernon, cited in her will and gave, in the parlance of the time, to the son of her prematurely deceased eldest daughter, Anna Maria Tomasina Alexander. Anna Maria had married Doctor William F. Alexander and they began making house and making farm. The couple began making house, renting a small structure from John Humphreys just east of Charles Town off the Harpers Ferry Road, called Walnut Hill. After their first children were born (ticker) and with $10,000 afforded by Jane Charlotte they bought Walnut Hill in 1839, replaced part and enlarged it to make room for their growing family and farming operation. Jasper, age six in 1850, grew and was promoted to bigger jobs on the Walnut Hill Farm; tuberculosis continued to comb relentlessly through the ranks of the blood- related Washingtons and Alexanders: Louise Fontaine Alexander (1837 - 1839) - Wilson Cary Selden Alexander (1836 - 1859) - and Jasper’s assignment John Augustine Alexander died in 1854, when he was just fifteen. And Jasper’s assignment - John Augustine Alexander - died in 1854 when he was about fifteen. Not very far away in December, 1859 Jasper’s future wife and life partner - Dolly - about a mile from the Walnut Hill farm on Samuel Street in Charlestown, witnessed the history-sundering hanging of the warrior against slavery - John Brown. My first person I’ll probably go My first person I’ll probably go to is Dolly because my grandmother - that’s first-hand knowledge - my grandmother, Marie, actually lived with her grandmother Dolly Irvin Thompson. Dolly Thompson - this story was passed down orally - was actually at the hanging of John Brown and my grandmother would tell this story time and time again. And whenever she told this story it was like this glazed look on her face - like she could actually relive whatever her grandmother told her. Now it is interesting to me, (but) when I was younger, I really wish I’d paid attention. So Dolly was married to Jasper Thompson. Dolly’s an Irvin (pause) really, her last name was Barr she would say, but she had to take her mom’s name Irvin. where things fall apart - and, Sumter. More than one historian has called the conclusion of the Virginia Secession Convention on April 17th, 1861 as the most fateful moment in American history. Minute-by-minute, the silent ones even, will say they are sad. Proud men bared their souls and emptied their hearts - shedding tears - because their world was ending - the United States. Existential sorrows hollowed solemn voices. That day Confederate firing on Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor prompted President Lincoln to call up 75,000 volunteers - including Virginia. With all delegates sworn to secrecy, the closed session Convention voted 88 to 55 to secede, pending affirmation by the populace in a May 23rd referendum. Jefferson County’s delegate, Logan Osburn, voted “Nay.” Alfred Barbour was absent and was hurrying back to Harpers Ferry, knowing a plan was afoot to capture the arsenal regardless of any future referendum. The ink had barely dried on the voted decision of Virginia to secede from the Union, when on the night of April 18th 1861 Virginia militiamen under James W. Allen of Middleway and Turner Ashby came from all directions assembling at Halltown - very near to Walnut Hill. As they moved in the direction of Harpers Ferry to capture the United States arsenal there and its muskets and equipment, they heard a roar and saw a huge glow from the little town in the ravine. The arsenal was preemptively blown up. Wrote eyewitness David Hunter Strother assessing the Harper’s Ferry the next morning and what it meant: The great experiment which the pure and wise of all nations are watching with trembling solicitude and imperishable hope. It was something to belong to such a nationality. This was yesterday. To-day, what am I? A citizen of Virginia. Virginia, a petty commonwealth with scarcely a million of white inhabitants. What could she ever hope to be, but a worthless fragment of the broken vase? A fallen and splintered column of the once glorious temple. But I will not dwell longer on the humiliating contrast. Come harness up the buggy and let us get out of this or I shall suffocate. At least 414 white males in local militias enlisted that very night, including the 39-year old, crack-shot son of Jane Washington - Richard Blackburn Washington - who lived at Blakeley with Christian, his wife, and their five children; and thirty-year-old Bushrod Corbin Washington, the owner of Claymont. This exodus of able bodied men into the Confederate Army, along with African-Americans from their farms who worked as teamsters, like John Fox, or as cooks like Steven Goens, and Wesley Seibert - all these departures left fewer still on the farms to grow and harvest the fields of wheat and corn. Moreover, individual men in the local 12th Virginia cavalry often followed the custom of having an African-American groom to mind their horses.Some eight thousand Confederate enlistees would flock to Bolivar Heights by May 23rd from as far away as Mississippi, joined soon by a mercurial West Point-graduated professor from Virginia Military Institute named Thomas Jonathan Jackson. The first week of July, the first day of harvest was when the first sounds of battle were heard here from Falling Waters. The wheat was standing tall and fine that year, a heavy crop. Perhaps Solomon Thompson was swinging the first cradle, and the cradlers were strung out in a long line beside him, including perhaps his seventeen-year-old son, Jasper. A description fitting Jasper appears in the Alexander’s 1860 Census for Walnut Hill along with a listing that matches the description and age of Jasper’s father, Solomon. In August, 1861 - Charles Armistead Alexander curtailed his studies in medicine at the University of Virginia and joined the 12th Virginia Cavalry in Harrisonburg. He was just eight months older than Jasper. Where was Jasper Thompson in August, 1861? - one can surmise either in the fields at Walnut Hill or with Charles Alexander as a horse groom. Right when it hurt the most, the Confederacy called for 400,000 more “volunteers” on August 3rd - threatening agriculture in the Shenandoah Valley where many had already left the fields behind to fight. Feeding Confederate Col. Jackson’s men from May through to their departure in July to Bull Run and the army of Union General Robert Patterson picked the area clean of food and of the best horses. If you have horses and mules, they have to be fed. A horse needed 14 pounds of hay and 12 pounds of grain a day; a soldier only needed three. J. R. Tucker, a Valley farmer, wrote to the Confederacy’s Secretary of War in Richmond: I am requested by some of the citizens of the valley counties to make a representation to you of the facts bearing upon the call of the militia in that region. It is the most fertile part of Virginia for wheat and corn growing. It has no other staple of consequence. The call of the militia was at a time when the harvest was scarcely over, and the farmer left his crop standing in the field unhoused. No plow had been put into the ground for the fall seeding of wheat. See, then, the sacrifice which our people in that region are called on to make to imperil the crop of the past year and to prevent the raising a crop for the coming year. As it was shaping up tha August, there were many young mouths to feed at Claymont, Blakeley and Walnut Hill farms with the male haead of both Claymont and Blakeley going off into the army. Richard’s brother John Augustine Washington, who had sold Mount Vernon for $200,000 period dollars to the Mount Vernon Ladies Association three years prior, was in September freezing in constant mountain rainstorms deep in today’s West Virginia in the Elk Water Valley, trying his hand at being aide-de-camp for the emerging Confederate leader, Robert E. Lee, who himself always carried a deep fascination with the George Washington story. John Augustine wrote his brother-in-law Dr. William Alexander: I have literally had my feet wet for a week at a time and though on top of a high mountain am really in all the mud and mire of an alluvial bottom, such is the soil on these mountains, . . . My health has been perfect thus far, lost thirty lbs of flesh – “superfluous beef.” a If I have any wheat in Jefferson to sell and there is sale for it, sell it if you can. Please also sell any corn or other grain that may be due me. . . Charly I hear is in the Army & believe me, my dear Doctor, Most affectionately yours John A. Washington Then three quickly-fired bullets ripped into the body of Washington when he strayed a bit too far into the woods —— on a reconnaissance. Wrote one: Colonel Washington, on the 13th, in endeavoring to get on our right came into Elk Water Valley via Brady’s Gate, and descended it with Major Lee’s cavalry as escort. Washington was too eager to give time for such disposition to be carried out; he soon galloped around a curve and came upon our pickets, with Major Lee accompanying him. Three balls passed through Washington’s body near together, coming out from his breast. Colonel Washington was struggling to rise on his elbow, though gasping and dying, he muttered, “Water,” but when it was brought to his lips from the nearby stream, he was dead. Jasper was a Civil War soldier - 23rd regiment. He was a private and went to corporal, and ended up becoming first sergeant. His tombstone says “First Sergeant”, which is great. I didn’t know anything about Civil War history, Civil War anything. So I learned about my family history and that started coming alive to me. Jasper made Civil War history come alive to me, because I was not interested at all. But now it’s like - wow! - I can’t even believe it. The sun sleeping before arising on that day July 30th, 1864, Petersburg, Virginia - could have shone upon a brand new day in American military history - two fold in that it would, in the first instance, have debuted a radical achievement in civil engineering and quite possibly could have ended the Civil War eight months sooner. The engineering achievement was the inspiration of one man - a 510 foot long, hand-dug tunnel to underneath the Confederate line containing four tons of gun powder in magazines under that line - erupting with a strange muffled “thud”, in the bosum of the quiet cricketing night, leaving a crater 150 feet long, sixty feet wide, and thirty feet deep and sending tons of earth men, horses 150 feet into the air - and coming back down on more victims, some buried almost alive - or just buried. Jasper Thompson was one of these warriors, one of the survivors in the regiment with the most casualties of any regiment, counting 36 white regiments, who for the most part shamefully hid inside the new crater with its twelve-foot high lip of loose earth and of the nine eager regiments in Gen. Ferrero’s African-American 4th division. For them however, it would become teeth-clenched, eyes-wide fighting: personal anger versus hatred, bayonet-to-bayonet and a swung gun stock against another. No mercy on all sides that officers just couldn’t stop. Called “the saddest affair I had witnessed in war,” Union General Ulysses Grant blamed the flub-a-dub division- and Corps-level upper Federal ranks for squandering and quarreling away a great potential triumph awaiting them that would have captured Petersburg for the Federals that summer and with Richmond, the seat of the Confederacy, not to far beyond that. Ledlie’s 1st Division advanced on the crater first with little enemy fire, and unled. Becoming jammed in the breach of the crater they took cover in the crater, while their commander Gen. Ledlie was taking rounds of inebriating stimulants in the surgeons’ hospital for an unconfirmed ailment - and remained there for most of the day - basically hiding. Moreover, Ledlie had been chosen by his wishy-washy Corp commander Gen. Burnside just the evening before to lead his division by a process of picking names out of a hat. Listening to the rhythm of the rails, Jasper Thompson was between the world the Washington family farms where he grew up and Washington, D.C. - one behind and a dreamed-of world ahead on a troop train en route to Washington, D.C. - very likely given the circumstances - and he would enlist at Camp Casey and formally become the property of another overlord, the United States Army. But that offered him a freedom - of sorts. April 5, 1864 – From a diary of a Shepherdstown resident, who lived there at the time: Something new! Three hundred black soldiers came to town and some are quartered in the Jim Lane Towner storeroom and they are in the command of Colonel Perkins. "These negroes were hailed with much joy by some of our loyal citizens and some five or six negro soldiers were invited to breakfast by Mrs. “C__”. April 9, 1864 – The diarist continues: Twenty-six negro soldiers and a white officer came to town and quartered in Mohler’s (Moulder’s) store. Then twenty-year-old Netta Lee was living at Bedford outside Shepherdstown at that time with her mother Henrietta, her younger brother, Harry, and enslaved African-Americans: a worker named Nace; father and daughter, Tom and Keziah Beall; Peggy Washington and her three grand-sons – Thompson, William and George, and her grand-daughter Virginia,who they also called “Jinny.” Edmund Lee, Sr., Netta’s father, was away; brother Edwin Grey was in the Confederate army and Edmund, another brother, had enlisted the year before. The United States Colored Troops organization was created by presidential order in May, 1863. In letters of Henrietta Lee and Tippie Boteler, they write that most able-bodied, enslaved African Americans left the County for good as of May, 1863, posing challenges in household upkeep and crop production for them. Netta Lee wrote: The months sped by. All of our men, including Edmund, the next to the youngest brother had gone to join the army, leaving Harry, a boy of about thirteen, as our protector, and seized every opportunity to come home, or as near home as possible when our troops were in the Valley. Mother and I were seated on the portico one bright morning, playing a game of chess. So intent were we upon our play that not one word had been spoken, save an occasional monosyllable: “Check!” when Harry came running up the gravel walk toward us. The boy’s eyes seemed black with indignation, his face flushed with anger.“What is it, Harry?” we both exclaimed in a breath. “What has happened – another battle? Tell us quickly!” “ The white yankees, who were quartered here at the river to picket the town have been removed, and Heaven knows they were bad enough, but now a negro regiment has replaced them and will be here tonight!” Our Mother’s face grew pale. She arose and placed her hands on Harry’s and my shoulders as we stood beside her, saying: “Through Captain Cole’s reign, our Father in Heaven has guarded us, my children: I do not believe the negroes can be worse than Captain Cole’s men were. . .” “A regiment of them, did you say, Harry?” I asked. “Yes, And we hear they are going to draft all the able-bodied men under forty-five years.” “Have they white or negro officers?” “Oh, white officers, all of them. And what is worse, I hear they are going to camp out of town in this lot of ours next to the meadow.”“Oh, that is too outrageous,” exclaimed Mother. Just at this moment was seen approaching from one of the servant’s cottages, a stately elderly negro woman with a tall turban on her gray head and a red kerchief crossed over her chest. She was walking briskly and talking to herself. “There comes Aunt Peggy,” I said. “Mother, she must have heard the bad news.” “Yes,” continued Harry, ”for George was in town with me.” Then Peggy Washington said: “Miss Netta, is that so about the soldiers coming to this town and drafting everybody they can?” Netta: “Yes, Peggy. Harry says they really are to be here tonight. I was just going to send for you and tell you to fix up something up to eat for the boys, Bill, Thompson and George, and send them out to the farm before sun up tomorrow morning. They must stay there all day tomorrow. Be sure they start very early.” Peggy said: “Yes, that’s so. I’ll get them off in time. The nasty trash. They aren’t going to get my grandsons, all the children I’ve got left, and make them fight against the ones they they played with all their lives.” “Well, you see, Peggy, we don’t know what these new men will do; but the boys will be safe at Oak Hill.” “Yes, that’s so. I’ll get them off in time.” “They must hide during the day and return home at night for food; and none of them must go to town tonight,” said Mother. “No m’am! They won’t want to go to town tonight!” Sure enough, it was well. Peggy got her boys off early to Oak Hill for the report was true and next day negro troops encamped in our fields; and Harry called to me: “Just come and see how they are shooting down all the hogs in sight.” And Mother added: “I’m glad I made the boys lock up all the sheep, which are quieter animals than these hogs, though, no doubt they will soon follow, except (they will) love hog meat better than anything unless it is chickens.” “What are they doing now, Harry?” “A squad of them seems to be coming this way.” Mother hastily turned to the door, saying: “Come, let us go in. I don’t want them to see us looking at them.” We went into the library, where I busied myself buckling the belt of my little six-shooter around my waist, taking care that its bright silver mounting could be seen. On a table near her was Mother’s larger one, similarly mounted. She was just about to lay her hands upon it when Jinny, her old Granny’s favorite, came bursting into the room . Oh Mistiss, Granny says come down in the kitchen quick, please ma’am. These soldiers are down there.” Hastily Mother placed her pistol in her pocket, keeping her hand upon it. Then all of us started to the kitchen. There we found a party of six or seven stalwart negro soldiers insolent and swaggering. None however were actually inside the door; but two were on the threshold and swearing at Peggy, who had thus far kept them at bay with a large butcher knife and her tongue – the latter weapon being the sharper of the two. She was arguing manfully with them, saying: “I’m not afraid of yankees!” “What does all this mean?” asked Mother, who met the two as they succeeded in pushing past Peggy, starting to come up the basement stairs. “What are you here for; who sent you?” asked Mother. “We were sent here for your three young colored men,” the man replied. “We’re gathering up recruits.” Peggy broke in with: “I told them, Miss Netta, that there weren’t any men here. Then they told me they were going to search my room and the house and see if I hadn’t hid them.” “Well,” said mother, “and tell your officers there are only young boys. Go now, and don’t dare to come to this house and try to steal our young servants.” “We’re only doing what we’ve been sent and ordered to do. We have to obey orders or get shot,” “Well, now you obey my orders and go to your officers and tell them what I have told you: “There are no men here; and also tell them that Southern women know how to shoot as well as their men do. Go!” I was not slow to let them see the hilt of my pistol, and Mother kept her hand on hers. Harry, too kept around, with his military belt and in that belt was a sharp, two-edged dagger. Only for a short time were the negro soldiers encamped near Bedford; they seemed to have been sent here to gather up negro recruits, and having accomplished their purpose, were soon replaced by a company of white men under the command of Captain Teeters. 20-year-old Charles Armistead Alexander - a Washington family member Jasper probably knew quite well - had died two days before on March 27th at Blakeley and had been buried in the churchyard of Zion Church. Captured the previous July while on a cavalry reconnaissance very near where both Charles and Jasper grew up at Walnut Hill Farm. Charles was shuttled among three Federal hospitals as the family’s age-old nemesis - tuberculosis - overtook his weakened frame. The family obtained his release just in time for the Christmas sojourn at Blakeley in 1863. Carpenter recalled: The 25th of April, Burnside’s command marched through Washington, on the way from Annapolis, to reinforce the army of the Potomac. The President reviewed the troops from the top of the eastern portico at Willard’s Hotel, standing with uncovered head while the entire thirty thousand men filed through Fourteenth Street. Of course the passage of so large a body of troops through the city — presaging as it did the opening of the campaign — drew out a numerous concourse of spectators, and the coming movement was everywhere the absorbing topic of conversation. The last to march by Willard’s Hotel were the black troops, the first that Lincoln had ever formally reviewed. Charles Coffin, a reporter for the Boston Journal, described the moment as one of “sublime spectacle.“ Captain James H. Rickard of the 19th US Colored Troops later wrote - From Annapolis we marched to Washington. When we arrived at the outskirts of the city we halted, and after an hour of busy work, had removed most of the mud. Brasses were polished and shoes blacked, so that notwithstanding it had rained hard most of the way from Annapolis, we made quite a presentable appearance. We now passed through the city in column, and were reviewed by President Lincoln and General Burnside. Charles Coffin reported: Upon seeing Lincoln their Emancipator gazing down upon them, the Colored soldiers lapsed - “swinging their caps, clapping their hands and shout their joy - long loud and jubilant are the rejoicing of these redeemed sons of Africa.” Later that evening at the White House, Francis Carpenter recalled Lincoln’s reflections on the day. He wrote: Subsequently two gentlemen proposed to visit my room, and Mr. Lincoln accompanied them to see the painting I was working on. Sitting down under the chandelier on the edge of the long table, which ran the whole length of the apartment, swinging back and forth his long legs, passing his hand occasionally over his brow and through his rough hair (his appearance and manner come back to me most vividly, as I write), he listened abstractedly to my brief explanation of the design of the picture. When I ceased, he took up the record in his own way, referring to one of the gentlemen: “You see, Curtin,” said he, “I was brought to the conclusion that there was no dodging this negro question any longer. We had reached the point where it seemed that we must avail ourselves of this element, or in all probability go under." The 9th Corps under Gen. Burnside made camp near Manassas Junction, setting up dog tents, eating soon-to-be-if-not-already, weevil-ridden hardtack, boiled up blocks of dried vegetables and coffee and otherwise - drilling inces-sant-ly. Men with whom Jasper and the others would entrust their lives were arriving: John A. Bross, Delavan Bates, Robert Beecham, Zelotis Fessenden, and above all Joshua Sigfried of the First Brigade, and Henry G. Thomas, Jasper's commander, heading the 2nd Brigade. In fair weather times an army saw battle once every thirty days - so the men eased the empty hours of waiting with cards or pranks. Those in Jasper’s Brigade and Colored units - studied, to use their word for it, and sang. Men in the streets of tents of Jasper’s 23rd regiment were experiencing their new found freedom and pondering with grim resolve the approaching challenge of fighting for it - even unto death. Quiet and patient was their manner, but thoughts would return to the fact that less than a month before on April 12th at Fort Pillow, Mississippi, dozens of captured colored soldiers were bayoneted and killed in a massacre. “No quarter” was going to be the rule on their own battlefields - both ways, many of these in the Manassas camp assumed. James Douglas, Foster, Kellum, Simms, Barney, Taylor, Perry, Smith, Smith, Chandler, Liscomb, Yates, Bowman, Briscoe, Churchwell, Stewart, Thomas, Tucker, Summer, Tyler, Saunders, & Savoy - all in Jasper’s 23rd U.S. Colored Troops regiment. Strolling often around the camp their commander Henry G. Thomas observed later: Any striking event or piece of news was usually eagerly discussed by the white troops, and in the ranks military critics were as plenty and perhaps more voluble than among the officers. Not so with the blacks; important news was usually followed by long silence. They sat about in groups, "studying," as they called it. They waited, like the Quakers, for the spirit to move; when the spirit moved, one of their singers would uplift a mighty voice, like a bard of old, in a wild sort of chant. If he did not strike a sympathetic chord in his hearers, if they did not find in his utterance the exponent of their idea, he would sing it again and again, altering sometimes the words, more often the music. If his changes met general acceptance, one voice after another would chime in; a rough harmony of three parts would add itself; other groups would join his, and the song would become the song of the command. The joyous negro guffaw always breaking out about the camp-fire ceased. They would form circles in their company streets and were sitting on the ground intently and solemnly "studying." And, as usual, as it would happen at last a heavy voice began to sing. Over and over again he sang it, making slight changes in the melody. The rest listened to him intently; no sign of approval or disapproval escaped their lips or appeared on their faces. All at once, when his refrain had struck the right response in their hearts, his group took it up, and shortly half a thousand voices were upraised extemporizing a half dissonant middle part and bass. It was a picturesque scene these dark men, with their white eyes and teeth and full red lips, crouching over a smoldering camp-fire, in dusky shadow, with only the feeble rays of the lanterns of the first sergeants and the lights of the candles dimly showing through the tents. The sound was as weird as the scene, when all the voices struck the low E (last note but one), held it, and then rose to A with a portamento as sonorous as it was clumsy. Until we fought the battle of the crater they sang this every night to the exclusion of all other songs. That cloudy, soggy Sunday morning of May 15, 1864, Theodore Lyman’s doubts of colored men fighting were scotched. Pvt. Luman Tenney and others in the 2nd Ohio Cavalry lazed about after breakfast disassembling and cleaning and drying out their guns in camp near Piney Branch Baptist Church and after several days of drenching rain. Shortly after twelve noon, Confederate Brigade Cavalry commander Thomas Rosser, whose men were doing other business and easing north on Catharpin Road, saw them and pounced, sending the Ohio horseman jumping on their horses and the chase up Catharpin road began. One of the Ohioans went northwest instead to get word to and help from Union General Edward Ferrero’s colored infantry troops who were guarding supply wagons kept at the ruins of the old Chancellor house. Ferrero made Jasper’s 23rd infantry regiment a historical footnote by sending them marching the two miles at the double quick down Old Plank Road to their place in history, as one historian has termed it the first African-American Union unit to have “ordered, directed combat” with Gen. Robert. E. Lee’s redoubtable Army of Northern Virginia - and more. They prevailed. After two miles of chasing the Ohioans and as the 23rd was on its way from the northwest, Rosser’s cavalry pressed down hard on the panicked fleeing Ohioans. Edward Allen Hitchcock McDonald, who would later live out his days at Media Farm (not far from the Washingtons and the Thompsons) had been commanding the 11th Virginia Cavalry regiment in Rosser’s brigade and was at this encounter. Rosser pressed the fleeing Ohio Cavalry across the Old Plank Road and into the woods approaching Ely’s Ford, when as Rosser’s horsemen were reaching Old Plank Road were astonished to find themselves hit on their left by the 23rd with bayonets displayed. Rosser’s men, in an instant, went from the fighting router of an enemy to the retreating routed. Ohioan Pvt. Luman Tenney drolly wrote in his diary” Rebs fell back as soon as the “dark cloud’ made its appearance.” In an account recently uncovered by historian Gordon C. Rhea, one of the Ohio cavalrymen wrote, “It did us good to see the long line of glittering bayonets approach. Those who bore them were blacks, and as they came nearer they were greeted by loud cheers.” Jasper’s Division Commander Ferrero wrote in his report: I immediately ordered the Fourth Division in readiness, and marched the Twenty-third U. S. Colored Troops to support the cavalry. On arriving at Alrichs, on the Plank Road, I found the Second Ohio driven across the road, and the enemy occupying the cross-roads. I ordered the colored regiment to advance on the enemy in line of battle, which they did, and drove the enemy in perfect rout. Not being able to pursue with infantry, the Second Ohio formed and gave chase to Piney Branch Church, which they (the Second Ohio) now occupy. Recovering, the Ohioans joined the pursuit on horseback of Rosser back down Catharpin road where they regained their old position near the Piney Church by 4:30 that day. Both sides had a handful of wounded and each lost between 10-20 horses. Rosser, perhaps flummoxed at facing determined black men in bluecoats, barely reported the event in his official report, and not mentioning anything about a soldier’s ethnicity. Robert K. Beecham a white Wisconsin-born officer for the 23rd wrote they had recruited some “pretty hard cases” in Baltimore and Washington, but: As a rule the men were sober, honest, patriotic and willing to learn and fulfill the duties of soldiers. . . The 2nd Wisconsin was not as sober and temperate as the 23rd U.S. Colored Troops, (in fact) there was never an organization of 1,000 men in all this broad, free America where a woman was held in greater esteem or her honor more sacred.” Beecham added the men “were not filthy, rather the opposite and “for that reason if for no other, I would prefer to command a company of regiment of black, rather than white soldiers.” The 23rd resumed escorting the infinite train of wagons to the front and returning with wounded to the ships at Belle Plain, facing ambushes en route. There were not ambulances enough for the emergency, and the baggage wagons had to be used. The roads were very rough; it was a most pitiful situation, the shrieks and groans of the men, as the wheels would strike stumps or sink suddenly into holes in the deep ruts which had been formed. It was necessary to have a strong guard all the way with the teams, to prevent surprise and capture of the trains. Capt. James H. Rickard of the 19th regiment wrote on the volume of provisions needed: I shall never forget a sight I beheld that morning. The cattle for the Ninth Corps were herded in a valley a mile or two in diameter, and they completely filled it, and at sunrise it was a magnificent sight as I beheld them from an eminence near by. Before crossing the James they were all eaten. This gives something of an idea what it took to supply provisions for such an army. The first sight for central Virginians of black men in blue coats with muskets and bayonets drew violence, consternation, fear or sublime joy for those enslaved. Their Redeemer had arrived. Sergeant John C. Brock wrote: The slaves come flocking to us from every part of the country. You see them coming in every direction, some in carts, some on their master’s horses, and great numbers on foot, carrying their bundles on their heads. They manifest their love for liberty by every possible emotion. As several of them remarked to me, it seemed to them like heaven, so greatly did they realize the difference between slavery and freedom. They were all sent to White House Landing in wagons. From hence they are to be taken to Washington in transports. So, we have been instrumental in liberating some five hundred of our brothers and sisters and brethren from the accursed yoke of human bondage. Between June 15-18, 1864 – the 23rd participated in the battles of outside of Petersburg. Rebels under P.G.T. Beauregard held on to the city, however, and a siege begins. Gen. Burnside’s proposed mine attack against the Confederate lines along the Jerusalem Plank Road was underway. “Towards the end of the digging, members of the 23rd United States Colored Troops were employed to carry dirt from the mine in sacks. They also hauled timber to the gallery [of the mine] for framing its sides.” The black men in blue were in high spirits on the eve of the battle outside Petersburg. But when Gen. Thomas told them higher-ups took away their planned position as the leading attack division - the African-American division - of the four - they stopped singing that song. Until we fought the battle of the crater they sang this song every night to the exclusion of all other songs. After that defeat they sang it no more. About 3 AM, the morning of the battle we were up after a short sleep under arms. Then came the soldiers' hasty breakfast.-This morning our breakfast was much like that on other mornings when we could not make fires: two pieces of hard-tack with a slice of raw, fat salt pork between, not a dainty meal, but solid provender to fight on. And black coffee. When all preparations were made, we lay down for a little sleep, and were awakened shortly after daylight by the explosion and the terrible discharge of cannon, that made the ground tremble as by an earthquake. At 4:45 came a dull, heavy thud, not at all startling; it was a heavy, smothered sound, (but) here was a mine blown up, making a crater from 150 to 200 feet long, 60 feet wide, and 30 feet deep. The First Division only went as far as the crater and stopped, and it was nearly an hour before the colored troops were ordered in. The First Division of white soldiers advanced with little opposition but jammed in the narrow, six-foot passageway beside the crater, unable to advance. The 2nd Division, now under fire became stuck similarly and were being fired upon from along the breastworks and artillery in front, driving them for the safety inside the crater. The same occurred with the 3rd Division of white soldiers. Their orders did not anticipate the jam in the passageways and close range gunfire and their commander Gen. Ledlie who commanded the lead division was not there. “It seemed [to take] forever [to move forward]. The whole [division] filed through a single parallel; we were hindered by officers and orderlies coming to the rear, the parallel being only six feet wide.” The crater was already too full; that I could easily see. My brigade moved gallantly on right over the bomb-proofs and over the men of the First Division & as we mounted the pits, a deadly enfilade from eight guns on our right and a murderous cross-fire of musketry met us. Among the officers, the first to fall was the gallant Fessenden of the 23d Regiment. Liscomb of the 23d then fell to rise no more; and then Hackhiser of the 28th and Flint and Aiken of the 29th. Major Rockwood of the 19th then mounted the crest and fell back dead, with a cheer on his lips. Nor were these all; for at that time hundreds of heroes “carved in ebony" fell. These black men commanded the admiration and respect of everyone who beheld. About eight hundred feet from the crater, having been reached, we leaped from the works and endeavored to make a rush for the crest. Lieutenant Christopher Pennell, hastened down the line outside the pits. With his sword uplifted in his right hand and the banner in his left, he sought to call out the men along the whole line of the parapet. In a moment, a musketry fire was focused upon him, whirling him round and round several times before he fell, (and he probably sleeps among the unknown whom we buried (unrecognized) in the long deep trench we dug). After being driven back into the crater, Thomas reorganized his men and followed orders to charge and capture the Confederates at the crest. then directed the commanders of the 23d, 28th, and 20th regiments to get their commands together. As I gave the order, Lieutenant-Colonel John A. Bross, taking the flag into his own hands, was the first man to leap from the works into the valley of death below. He had attired himself in full uniform, evidently with the intent of inspiring his men. He had hardly reached the ground outside the works before he fell to rise no more. He was conspicuous and magnificent in his gallantry. The black men followed into the jaws of death, and advanced until met by a charge in force from the Confederate lines. The 23rd charged forward but could not get past the crater itself. Lt. Beecham remembered of the crater – “The black boys formed up promptly. There was no flinching on their part. They came to the shoulder like true soldiers, as ready to face the enemy and meet death on the field as the bravest and best soldiers that ever lived.” Beecham and the rest of the 23rd held a portion of the crater until around 2 p.m. when the Confederates counterattacked and swept over them, killing many men who were attempting to surrender. The 23rd sustained the heaviest losses of the entire Fourth Division. Of this last scene in the battle the Confederate General Bushrod R. Johnson says in his official report: I proceeded to concert a combined movement on both flanks of the crater. A third charge a little before 2 PM gave us entire possession of the crater and adjacent lines. These movements were all conducted by General Mahone, while I took the 22d and 23d South Carolina into the crater and captured three colors and 130 prisoners. One little band, after my second charge was repulsed, defended the entrenchments we had won from the enemy, exhibiting fighting qualities that I never saw surpassed in the war. This handful stood there without the slightest organization of company or regiment, each man for himself, until the enemy's banners waved in their very faces. Then they made a dash for our own lines, and that at my order. It was now too late, as their second line of works was full of men, brought up from each flank, and our men were not only exposed to the terrible musketry fire in front, but to an enfilading fire of shell, grape and canister that no troops could withstand, and the charge was made through a line of white troops going to the rear. The slaughter was terrible. "I lost in all thirty-six officers and eight hundred seventy-seven men; total, nine hundred and thirteen. The Twenty-third Regiment entered at the charge with eighteen officers, it came out with seven. The Twenty-eighth entered with eleven officers, it came out with four. The Thirty-first had but two officers for duty that night. Had the colored troops led the assault, their subsequent attack proved they would have led the way clear through the enemy’s entire line, on to Cemetery Hill, and the other troops would have followed, and the awful slaughter by an enfilading fire at the crater been prevented. Hereafter let no man say that black troops, led by graduates of Harvard and Yale, and the sons of the first families of the North, will not fight. The dirt and blood went on till next spring. Vast dead on the open fields no longer caused tears or sighs, but to think of one person - Dolly - lit Jasper’s sustaining dream of that day he would walk through the door in Jefferson County a free man, hoping to become a husband, a father, and a pillar in his church. Claymont was quiet. The fences gone ever since Gen. Sheridan took them and the Washington cattle sent south with the Union army - their walking food supply: Washington beef cooked over the fire made of Washington fence rails. The Washingtons were allowed just one “milch cow.” That was punishment by Sheridan for taking in two of their visiting close kin — soldiers James C. Washington and Herbert Lee Alexander. Sheridan forbid their release because he firmly believed with little evidence that they fought with Mosby’s partisans. They both died before 1867 because prison hardships quickened their frailties. That summer of 1865, John Trowbridge wrote that Charles Town seethed in resentment. ‘The war feeling here is like a burning bush with a wet blanket wrapped around it. Looked at it from the outside, the fire seems quenched. But just peep under the blanket and there it is, all alive and eating, eating in. The wet blanket is the present government policy; and every act of conciliation shown the Rebels is just letting in so much air to feed the fire.’ The townspeople passed on the sidewalk, ‘daughters and sons of beauty,’ for they were mostly a fine-looking, spirited class; one of whom, at a question which I put to him, stopped quite willingly and talked with us. I have seldom seen a handsome young face, a steadier eye, or more decided pose and aplomb, neither have I ever seen the outward garment of courtesy so plumply filled out with the spirit of arrogance. His brief replies spoken with a pleasant countenance, yet with short, sharp downward inflections, were like pistol shots. And no wonder. His coat had an empty sleeve. The arm which should have been there had been lost fighting against his country. His almost savage answers did not move me; but all the while I looked with compassion at his fine young face, and that pendant idle sleeve. His beautiful South was devastated, and her soil drenched with the best blood of her young men. Walking through town we came to other barren and open fields on the further side. Here we engaged a bright young colored girl to guide us to the spot where John Brown's gallows stood. She led us into the wilderness of weeds waist-high to her as she tramped on, parting them before her with her hands. A few scattering groves skirted them; and here and there a fenceless road drew its winding, dusty line away over the arid hills. ‘This is about where it was, ’ said the girl, after searching some time among the tall weeds. Bushrod Corbin Washington returned from years of fighting adjusting to the departure of his widowed mother to become a missionary in Asia. He faced almost insurmountable financial odds that would eventually force him to sell Claymont out of the family and start over in Washington State. Richard Blackburn Washington's family felt the loss of what Gen. Sheridan's men took the previous November when they also captured and took away the two young Washingtons. Both Richard and Bushrod had wartime losses but their alliances with the Confederacy during the war, either fighting or providing supplies, disqualified both from any claim for compensation for their material losses, and those that November were substantial: 500 bushels of potatoes, four horseloads of straw, 3000 pounds of bacon, 200 cords of firewood, 30,000 rails for fire wood, four horse wagonloads of stacked wheat, 200 bushels of housed corn, 40 tons of timothy hay, 150 head of sheep, 100 head of hogs, 30 head of fat beef cattle, four mules and three horses. This setback left them little monies with which to hire from the much-in-demand pool of young, strong, and skilled freed African-American laborers working across the County, for those who could pay them. Though they lived next door, neither Solomon nor Jasper's names appear among those hired in Bushrod Corbin's farm and payment records after the war. Resentment by the Washington at their lot could easily have translated into not seeking the services from a former veteran of the U.S. Colored Troops. Solomon and his family appeared to have found living arrangements at Bushrod Washington Herbert's Prospect Hill that had been expanded over time to include the house, other buildings, a barn and even a graveyard. They would have fit in, joining Solomon's sister, Matilda, and brother Richard. Solomon and son Jasper would likely be hired at Henry B. Davenport's farm, Altona, immediately north and adjacent to the Washington farms, who in some twenty years would transfer his deed to the land for the homestead of Solomon and then Jasper's family. As one who had seen hell and survived, Jasper plunged into his new life. Of those years, Doug Taylor of Charles Town relates from his family's history that African American communities were starting all across Jefferson County, vivified by the new freedom, owning one's own land, having a church and a school. Jasper and Dolly joyously married with Beverly Kirk, presiding. On Thursday, October 21st, less than a month later, Jasper took a lead in organizing an impressive big event in Charlestown for the new organization: the Order of Industry, a celebration that included a procession to Bushrod Washington Herbert’s “woods” with a band playing followed by speechifying. The editor of the Spirit of Jefferson in Charlestown, Benjamin F. Beall, lavished praise on the event: Last Thursday was a gala day with our (African) American citizens, and they enjoyed it hugely; but in a manner creditable to them, and in a style which would have reflected no discredit upon any community.It seems that there exists in our midst a society of the colored people known as the "Order of Industry," and it was the members of this society, arrayed in appropriate regalia, and the two Sabbath Schools of the town, that made up the procession. -- To the first, there was a banner presented by the colored ladies" of the town, in front of the old Court-House. Upon this banner was the significant motto, "By industry we thrive." The presentation was by Miss Houk, and the reception by Jasper Thompson, both of whom acquitted themselves very well. After these exercises, the procession moved to Herbert's Woods, headed by Moxley's Band from Hagerstown. Dolly and Jasper began their own in-house community when Solomon H. Thompson was born August, 1870 - the first of fifteen children. The first, Solomon; the fifth, named Jasper R.; and the thirteenth child, Frances - would keep the family memory fires aburnin'. Jasper and Dolly's first born Solomon H. - would carry the family's ways forward and far away, preserving its legacy with a powerful mind and dedication. He was certainly among the young scholars who attended Littleton Page's school for African-American children, located conveniently right next door to the Second Baptist Church. Littleton Page would very likely have taught all the subsequent Thompson children, because they lived a short walk from it. David Hunter Strother, who was a famous writer/illustrator for Harper's New Monthly Magazine and who grew up in the eastern Panhandle, dropped in on such a school nearby and very much in the same spirit of the Page's Charlestown classrooms in 1874. In winter (it) is always full to overflowing. In summer the attendance is reduced one-half owing to the necessity of the older pupils going out to service, or engaging in remunerative labor of some sort. The children were of both sexes, ranging from three to twenty years of age, neatly and comfortably clad, well fed, healthy, and cheerful, with an uncommon array of agreeable and intelligent countenances peering over the tops of the desks. They were also remarkably docile, orderly, and well mannered, without a trace of the rudeness among those who don’t go to school. Every thing moves by the silvery tinkling of a small table-bell. While the majority of the pupils have come into existence since the Emancipation Proclamation, there is still a number older than that event, and some whose recollections antedate the great war. Yet in their career of schooling they have all started even, and it is rather curious and amusing to remark the utter absence of anything like gradation in size or equality in years. It may also be observed that the great scholars are usually outstripped by the little ones, which only goes to confirm the generally received opinion that young plants are more easily transplanted and trained than older ones. Now, Solomon H. Thompsons - was one such young plant that grew and grew, majestically fed by his inner drive. Wrote one newspaper editor: He attended his home school until he finished and entered Storer College at the age of 13 years and in 1886 he graduated, but claimed that his education was not completed. Not having satisfied his craving for knowledge and ambition to fully prepare himself for life’s battle, he immediately entered Fordham University and at the expiration of a three year course, the last year of which was spent in the office of a physician, he began the study of medicine earnestly until the year of 1889. He determined to leave for Washington, D.C. where he matriculated at Howard University. Two months after his admission to said university he was successful and given the appointment of resident student to the hospital a place that is highly prized by all medical students. He retained that position until he graduated in April, 1892. His brother, Jasper or “Jack” Thompson was moving towards medicine also. Both brothers would wind up in Kansas City, Kansas for the balance of their lives and remarkable contributions. All this time the conscientious Solomon H. was collecting information from his graying forebears while it was still to be had all about his family, down the back road of time. The Thompsons, Nelsons and Saunders - families that worked for the Blakeley/Claymont Washingtons for many years, still lived near one another and the old farms. They gravitated to the services of the white-led First Baptist Church in Charlestown as they were beginning to raise families. The church congregation supported them and paid for Jesse Saunders to study at the Richmond Theological School. Charlestown businessman William Hill, a white Baptist, provided much of the funds for the new Rev. Saunders for him to have his own Church congregation, which was built at its present location, (but an earlier structure than today's), on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue at the intersection of Summit Point Road and Middleway (Rte. 51) Pike. It was called - the "Second Baptist Church." On August 6, 1881 their church was completed to receive the Holy Spirit. Its first board of trustees, were William Braxton, Ben Nelson - and Jasper Thompson. On June 12, 1903, The Martinsburg Statesman reported that two hundred African Americans left Kabletown and Rippon to coal tons in Pennsylvania and southwest, West Virginia. Late summer in Jefferson County stands out on the calendar for the heaviest rain storms in decades - a month of rains . hundreds of bullets and materiel on the Antietam Battlefield came to the earth's surface. The American story for a weekend that August touched on Harper's Ferry - for good luck. W.E.B. DuBois, the leader of the event, stood there before both men and women for the first time in public and on American soil. He stated the principles of a soon to-be formed organization, to become known as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People: A local church group sang from Charles Town with one Richard Thompson listed among the chorale. On the last day - a Sunday - the attendees in their Sunday finest - picked their way over soggy lands - their fine shoes in hand - to see the building that was the lightning rod of conflict for the struggle. Standing in a characterless open field stood the real "John Brown Fort," in 1859 once the Armory engine house. Today, the brick crucible for freedom. Life went on. Skies cleared August 31st - a Friday - in time for the eagerly anticipated Morgans Grove County Fair. Dry ground meant visitors could set up their family sized tents and stay all through the Fair. That began Tuesday September 4th. In two more days, something terrible happened. The Shepherdstown Register, September 13, 1906 A Tragedy on Charlestown District Sarmarion’s word was all they had. The next March, Circuit Judge Faulkner gave Samarion two years in Moundsville penitentiary. So it goes. So one day, I was just doing my research on the Thompson family like I ordinarily do - and Shelley Murphy said to me: “There’s somebody I think you need to meet.” I said: “OK.” So she put me in touch with Joyceann Gray. Me and Joyceann realized that we were related through marriage. Her Cross family had married my Thompson family - three different times. So I told Joyceann that I had a lot of information and we started sharing information. I said: “I have a quote from the Thompson family and our family has some history out at the University of Kansas because two of the Thompson sons moved out there.” She wanted to see it. She said: ”Can you send me that quote?” (I said “yeh.” I didn’t think about it. (delete) (After Monique sent the quote) - She wrote back to me and said: “I sent (the quote) off. Is that OK?” and I was excited, actually ordered it.” Well that quote came back less than a week later and my entire family history was on this page. Slave names and everything. Unbelievable, So surreal. I get chills just thinking about them. My entire family history. So that led me back two more generations to the original Jasper Thompson who was enslaved by John and Elizabeth Ariss, and his kids - Fortune - was of the Blakeley plantation; and then Fortune’s kids ended up somehow on the Claymont plantation. I’m not exactly sure where that transfer came from. I don’t know how they went back and forth from Claymont to Blakeley. That’s where most of my research comes in. There’s plenty of documentation. Even after finding this family history page, Sarah Brown led me to a website that was put up by Scott Casper. He had tables of slaves listed and who owned them from the Washington family. I found my family. Just as they are listed on my family Bible page, they were listed on these tables that Scott had posted up, which led me to even more research. The whole research on the Thompson family has been one of the most amazing journies in my research. So that’s pretty much my story about the Thompson family history.


Blackburn was born on the Fourche de Mau in Randolph County in northeastern Arkansas. He received his early education from his mother. In 1839, he moved to Batesville to learn his printing trade. He resided in Little Rock in 1845, in Fort Smith in western Arkansas in 1846, and moved to Minden, the seat of Webster Parish, in 1849. There he established the first of several subsequent newspapers to use the name Minden Herald,[1] eventually known as the Minden Press-Herald in the 20th century.

As a Democrat, Blackburn was elected mayor of Minden, then part of Claiborne Parish, and served a single twelve-month term from May 1855 to May 1856. Blackburn was opposed to slavery and supported the Union during the American Civil War. He left Minden in the late 1850s and settled in nearby Homer the seat of government of Claiborne Parish. There he published the Homer Iliad beginning in 1859. He rejected the growing strength of the Know Nothing Party in Louisiana and shifted to the regionally unpopular Republican Party during the war.[2]

Blackburn worked openly against the Confederate States of America. He was tried in Confederate District Court in Shreveport on charges of having produced counterfeit Confederate currency. He narrowly escaped conviction by the jury, in a reported vote of 11-1. Had the verdict been unanimous of his guilt, Blackburn would have been executed. According to the official Minden city historian, John Agan, a faculty member at Bossier Parish Community College in Bossier City, Blackburn had made anti-Semitic remarks in print about a Jewish district judge. Apparently, the judge worked frantically to have Blackburn hanged. Some of Blackburn’s friends, however, intervened. He was spared conviction by one vote and thereafter granted a pardon. On his return to Homer, Blackburn continued publishing the Homer Iliad and dabbled in politics.[2]

In 1867, Blackburn was elected as a member of the Louisiana Constitutional Convention. He was appointed as the administrative judge of Claiborne Parish, a position which no longer exists. On the readmission of Louisiana to the Union, Blackburn was elected as a Republican to the Fortieth Congress, served less than one calendar year, and did not seek renomination in 1868. Instead he ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor. He lost to the African American Oscar Dunn, who was elected to the second position on the Henry Clay Warmoth ticket.

After a four-year stint in the Louisiana Senate, Blackburn returned in 1880 to Little Rock, Arkansas, where he published the Arkansas Republican from 1881 to 1884 and The Free South from 1885 to 1892. He died in Little Rock and is interred there in Mount Holly Cemetery.[1]


  1. ^ a b c "Blackburn, William Jasper". Retrieved March 10, 2015.
  2. ^ a b John A. Agan, Minden Press-Herald, date missing, c. 2008
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
District created
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Louisiana's 5th congressional district

July 18, 1868 – March 3, 1869
Succeeded by
Frank Morey
This page was last edited on 22 May 2019, at 21:10
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