Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Little Civil War Melodrama

One thing is clear from the deed history that Philip the Historian recently gave me. From the time that Peter Palsel first sold our town to Abraham Savage in 1791, the property lot has changed hands a lot. Twenty-five times actually. Though, considering that we are looking at a period of 220 years, it's really not that much. The property lot itself has been divided, put back together, and united with the property lot behind it on numerous occasions. But don't worry. I'm not going to go through every single deed exchange... That's just boring... However, I would like to share a little history & Civil War melodrama with you.

Are you ready for what I call the 'Era of Henkels'? Here goes!

Abraham Savage sold the property to Reverend Paul Henkel on December 29, 1791. He built his first house on the property, but later moved his house to another part of town.

In 1810, Reverend Paul Henkel sold the northern half of the lot to his second son Reverend Philip Henkel in North Carolina. In 1818, Paul Henkel sold the southern half to his third son Ambrose Henkel.

Ambrose then purchased the northern half from Philip Henkel, thereby coming into possession of the complete lot.

In 1841, Ambrose Henkel sold the lot to the Reverend Solomon D. Henkel.

Rev. Solomon D. Henkel

Solomon died in 1847 and in his will, he left the whole lot to his grandson, Solomon Peter Rupert.

That's a lot of Henkels and I'm in the process of researching the family's history. To sum up, we've gone from Paul to Philip to Ambrose to Solomon D to Solomon P. I think I'll name my next two children Ambrose & Solomon. Such excellent names, don't you think?

Now we get to the melodrama part...

Solomon P Rupert married a woman named Jessie, who was the principal of a local Female Seminary. During the Civil War, Jessie was a strong Union sympathizer in an area where most everyone supported the Confederacy. I mean, come on, Shenandoah Valley, Virginia? So. Not. Pro-Union.

Let's just say that Jessie was not at all liked by the townspeople. She was forced to leave the Seminary when the War ended in the Union's favor. In 1884, her husband committed suicide, presumably as a result of having become a social pariah, and a lengthy court battle ensued over the property.

His wife, Jessie Rupert, was able to purchase the southern half of the lot in public auction.  She then immediately sold the property to Lewis P. Henkel, who then immediately sold it to James Cox in December of 1884. And James Cox is definitely a person of great interest to me.

My house was built between 1876 and 1885. That means that it was either built by Solomon P. or by James Cox. Personally, I'm hoping that the house was built by James Cox because otherwise some dude named Solomon committed suicide in my home.  And I find that a little disturbing. Fortunately, I don't get a haunted vibe from the walls of my home, so I'm leaning towards James Cox as the builder.

But James Cox & his skating rink of 1885 are a story for another day...


  1. ha i'm also hoping there are no ghosts!!

    oh, drama. :)

    i love this history!


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