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Richard A. Roane in 1850
by L. Roane Hunt


Richard A. Roane was born in Plain View, King and Queen County just north of the Poropotank River on September 18, 1842, and was eight years old when the 1850 King and Queen County census was taken.

He was listed at #404 with his father, Charles A. Roane (Location A on map.)  His mother, Sarah Rebecca Roane, died on Oct 28, 1849, two months after the birth of her fourth child, Charles E. Roane.  Richard also had an older brother, Luther, and a younger sister, Maria.  Their parents, Charles and Sarah, were first cousins, the children of Charles S. Roane and Major Benjamin Roane, respectively.  Their grandfather, Charles S. Roane (D), owned the Mount Prodigal Farm in Gloucester County.

The Charles A. Roane farm (A) in Plain View was 220 acres in 1850.  In 1848 he added 35 acres to the land he received when he married Sarah.  She had inherited the 52-acres home place "Eleven Oaks" of her father, Major Benjamin Roane, who purchased it from John Spencer, the pastor of Poroporone Baptist Church (F).  Another 135 acres piece came to Sarah from her mother's family, the Shackelfords.  Sarah received the family inheritance because she was the only child of the five children of Major and Rebecca Roane that survived to adulthood.  Rebecca died in 1827, and Major married his second wife, Matilda Taliaferro, in 1828.  Matilda was a member of the Taliaferro family that had previously owned a major portion of land in that community.  They had four children before Major died in 1837.  The 1850 Census of Gloucester County showed that Matilda was keeping Maria Roane, her step-granddaughter, at #929. 

Sarah Roane died at the age of 38 and left a baby boy and three older children for their father to raise.  Later in his life, Richard remembered his mother fondly by comparing her to the biblical Sarah who was loved so deeply by Abraham, her husband. (1)  Like Abraham, Sarah's name was changed when her relationship with God changed.  Richard said that his mother's name was also changed from "Sarai" to Sarah like the biblical Sarah.  He probably meant that she had received a spiritual change with God, not an actual name change.  In 1854, Charles married Matilda Mitchell to be the mother of his children as well as his wife.

The Roane family were members of the Methodist Church, and those living at Plain View attended Shackelfords Chapel (E).  The Anglican Parish churches of the colonies on both sides of the Poropotank River had closed and failed to revive following the Revolution.  The Baptist had formed churches that used the old Petsworth parish church in Gloucester County and the lower Stratton Major parish church in King and Queen County.  John Spencer's Poroporone Baptist Church (F) used the Stratton Major building located one mile south of Cologne until about 1881 when they moved four miles north to their present location at Shackelfords.  The Petsworth Baptist Church (G) used the Petsworth parish building located south of Woods Cross Roads.  Around 1850 the original Petsworth Baptist Church was dissolved and combined with the Ebenezer Baptist Church.  In retrospect, it is plain to see that in 1850 the Methodist carried the Christian banner on both sides of the Poropotank River.  Most of the Roanes married other members of Shackelford Chapel.  Many married their own Roane cousins, and others married members of the neighborhood such as Bland, Shackelford, Anderson, Guthrie, Adams, and Corr.

The 1850 Census listed the Charles A. Roane (A) family at #404 in Plain View.  The same census showed two of Charles' brothers living nearby.  Allen Roane (C) was listed as an oysterman at #409 and Curtis Roane (B) was listed as a farmer at #405.  Allen was probably living on the 172.5 acres located east of Plain View on the York River; his father owned it but Allen became trustee to this land in 1851.  Curtis owned the 103.5 acres that he received when he married his second wife, Mary Frances Adams in 1841.  Many cousins that would share in their future lives surrounded the children of Charles Roane.  In 1850 Allen Roane was listed with his second wife Nancy Pollard and their children: Lucy Ann Roane who would marry Thomas Pollard Fary and Elmon "Buck" Roane who would marry Lucy Frances Bland.  Allen Roane, Jr., Allen's first son by his first wife, also lived at home and would marry Virginia F. Anderson, listed at #408.  Curtis Roane married Elizabeth Sarah Roane and they had one son, Lemuel Thomas Roane, who would marry Ellen Jane Bland first and then Ella Bascom Anderson.  Curtis married Mary Frances Adams second and by 1850 they had a daughter, Rebecca Frances Roane, who would marry William Thomas Fary.  Benjamin Curtis Roane, Jr., was born in 1852 and would marry Mary Heflyn Anderson.  These children of this generation and in this rural community would soon experience war and religious experiences that would affect them and their descendants of the next generations.

Charles A. Roane kept a diary that began in the early 1850s and continued beyond the Civil War years.  This diary is often referenced to describe life during these years and Rev. Herbert Snips Turner gives some excerpts from the diary. (2) 

"On March 19, 1856, Charles Alexander Roane began a diary which is completed through January 1872. . . A number of his slaves are mentioned by name. . . The Negro men did the heavier work on the farm, and there are a number of references to their being hired out for work on neighboring farms.  There are a number of references to 'women scattering litter,' 'women scattering lime,' 'women scattering manure,' 'women grubbing,' 'women burning brush,' 'women putting up fence,' 'women spinning.'  When the land was ready for planting corn in the spring, women dug the holes in which the corn was dropped.  Ploughing and hoeing corn and harvesting wheat occupied the spring and early summer months.  Phil, George, John, and Henry are mentioned as the cradlers who cut the wheat.  They also hired out, when they were not needed at home, to cut wheat." 

Turner included some references to Charles' children,

"The two oldest boys, Luther and Richard lived a care free life, hunting and fishing, and sometimes their father went with them.  The slaves also went oystering in the creek and in the York River."

Two years before his death, Richard A. Roane wrote a spiritual last will and testament to his young children. (3)  He wrote,

"Your Earthly Farther Who was once in the Flesh But Now in the Spirit of Truth.  I Was Converted Near the age of 12 or 13 Twelve or thirteen Called while Fishing in a Boat in the Month of September if I Mistake not Was Converted in June whil trying to wead corn with a Hoe in my hand and Lived that Life for many years." 

These brief lines show how Richard connected special spiritual events of his life with simple farm chores.

The Charles A. Roane family Bible, in the care of Mrs. Nancy Bouvier of Maryland, contains interesting records of the family and of the "coloured family."  A parallel record was recorded for the white and coloured families in terms of births and deaths. 

Births, White Family: Charles Alexander Roane was borne August 7, 1817, Sarah Rebecca Roane was borne February 25, 1821, Luther Major Roane was borne November 28, 1839, Richard Alexander Roane was borne September 18, 1842, Maria Louisa Roane was borne May 22, 1845, Charles Edward Roane was borne August 27, 1849, Matilda Frances Mitchell was borne February 23, 1835, Alton Lee Roane was borne January 26, 1855, Hamilton Mitchell Roane was borne November 2, 1857, Elva Coles Roane was borne January 21, 1860, Floyd Roane was borne December 28, 1861, Carroll Aubrey Roane was borne March 19, 1867, Linwood Roane was borne January 13, 1870.

Births, Coloured Family: George Henry was borne April 1, 1806, John Taliferro was borne December 26, 1819, Sampson Johnson was borne March 17, 1822, Tabby Braxton was borne June 1826, Sarah West was borne February 28, 1827, Henry Braxton was born September 1828, William Field was borne March 1, 1832, Benjamin Thomas Braxton was borne October 6, 1846, Augustin West was borne April 8, 1847, Catherine Cook was borne January 15, 1843, Joseph West was borne December 2, 1849, Johnson Braxton was borne May 15, 1850, Fanny James was borne June 9, 1822, July Georgeany was borne February 2, 1846, William Stephen was borne August 18, 1861, and Jackson was borne October 1861. 

Deaths White Family: Sarah Rebecca Roane died October 28, 1949, Charles A. Roane died May 26, 1876.

Deaths Coloured Family: Samson Johnson died March 1, 1848 (age 25), Sarah West died December 19, 1849 (age 22), Joseph West died September 21, 1855 (age 5), and William Stephen died October 7, 1863 (age 2). 

These are many of the same names mentioned in Charles' diary. 

Charles A. Roane described in his diary some events that would follow: the purchase of additional land and the building of a new home that was completed in the spring of 1861.  He also mentioned Civil War experiences of his oldest sons.  His sons, Luther and Richard, moved south into Gloucester County after the war, and they established general merchandise stores and post offices at Roanes and Seldens, along with Roanes Wharf on the Ware River.

End Notes:
1. L. Roane Hunt, The Writings of Richard A. Roane. Jan., 1995, p. 25.
2. Jefferson Sinclair Selden, Jr., Charles Roane the Immigrant and His Wife Frances Roane. 1982, pp. 858-859.
3. L. Roane Hunt, The Writings of Richard A. Roane. Jan., 1995, pp. 41-42.


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