HENRY WATKINS ALLEN: Brigadier-General, Confederate States Army, and Ex-Governor of Louisiana.

Henry Watkins Allen was born in the county of Prince Edward, near Farmville on the 29th day of April, 1820.

His father, Dr. Thomas Allen, a graduate of Hampden- Sidney College, was of Scotch extraction. His mother, Ann Watkins, was descended from a Welsh family.

The first mention of a "Watkins" in the history of Virginia, was of one "James Watkins," a companion of "Captain John Smith," in his expeditions of 1607-8. The Watkins are related to many of the best Virginia families; the Finchards, Carringtons, Venables, etc. In the Revolutionary War a troop of horse, known as "Watkins Troop," raised in Prince Edward county, fought with conspicuous bravery; their leader, Thomas Watkins, grandson of Thomas Watkins of Chickahominy, at the battle of Guilford Court House, March, 1781, was distinguished for his gallantry; winning laurels in single combat.

Henry W., the subject of this sketch, was the fourth son of Dr. Allen. A biographer describes him as "rash, but true; quick, but not malignant; flashing with sudden ire, but sweet and sound in temper; with nothing hidden, nothing mean, heartfelt warmth, earnest affection, constancy, generosity, no revenge, with a softness and tenderness of soul almost feminine."

In 1833, Mrs. Allen having previously died, Dr. Allen with his motherless children, moved into Kay county, Missouri, leaving the remains of the gentle wife and mother to rest beneath the green sod of "Old Virginia."

With the subsequent history of Allen we may not deal in detail in so short a sketch, same to note the fact that in 1861 he re-visited Virginia, and spent a short time with his relatives in Prince Edward county. Whilst there he went to the family cemetery to see his mother's grave. "Never," says his cousin, the late Honorable Francis N. Watkins, father of Judge Asa D. Watkins, present Commonwealth's Attorney, a sketch of who life appears elsewhere in this work, "did I witness such uncontrollable emotion as seized him as he approached that hallowed spot."

Henry Watkins Allen died in exile, in the city of Mexico, on Sunday, April 22nd, 1866, at 11 o'clock in the morning.

From "History of Prince Edward County, Virginia, From its Formation in 1753 to the Present" by Charles Edward Burrell Published in 1922 by The Williams Printing Co. in Richmond, Va.

DR. J.L.M. CURRY. Born in Georgia, 1825. Died in Asheville, N.C., February 12, 1903.

His father was a prominent landholder and slaveowner of Georgia, but the subject of this sketch spent his early life on a plantation in Alabama. He graduated from the University of Georgia at the early age of eighteen, then studied law at Harvard University, graduating when twenty years of age. At the age of twenty-one he became a member of the United States Congress from 1857 to 1861, when his fine gifts of oratory attracted much favorable attention.

In 1866-67 Dr. Curry served as President of Howard College, Alabama. For thirteen years he was Professor in Richmond College and also President of the Board of Trustees of that institution. He often occupied the pulpit as preacher, although he had no regular charge. He was at one time President of the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
For twenty-two years as agent of the Peabody Fund, and for twelve years of the Slater Fund (which was used exclusively for the education of the negro) he had more to do with the organization of the common school system of the south than any other man. While agent for these two funds, Dr. Curry was twice sent to represent his country at a foreign court; first as Minister Plenipotentiary to Spain by appointment of President Cleveland, and afterwards as representative at the Coronation of the Spanish king.

It was under Dr. Curry's leadership that the establishment of State Normal Schools was inaugurated in the South. It was he who originally drafted the bill for the Virginia School at Farmville. He was elected the first President of its Board of Trustees.

Before coming to his work in Farmville, he was already distinguished as a statesman, diplomat, educator, and author.

He died at seventy-eight years of age, at Asheville, N.C., on February 12, 1903.

From "History of Prince Edward County, Virginia, From its Formation in 1753 to the Present" by Charles Edward Burrell Published in 1922 by The Williams Printing Co. in Richmond, Va.

DR. JOHN ATKINSON CUNNINGHAM. Born, June 24, 1846. Died, October 9, 1898.

The subject of this sketch, the second President of the State Female Normal School of Farmville, Va., was born in Richmond, Virginia, June 24, 1846. His paternal grandfather, Edward Cunningham, came from Ireland, to Virginia in 1770, and made a large fortune through establishing iron works that were situated near the present site of the Tredegar mills in Richmond, and, through a chain of country stores which extended form Virginia nearly to Ohio. The father of the subject of this sketch, bearing the same name, received his schooling at William and Mary, at Harvard, and at the University of Pennsylvania, from which latter institution he graduated in medicine in 1825. He married Miss Mary Johnston, a granddaughter of Peter Johnston of Longwood, near Farmville, and donor of the land on which now stands Hampden- Sidney College.

John Atkinson Cunningham, Junior, was the only child of this union. He was very delicate in health and received most of his early education from a French governess. Afterwards he attended private schools, but immediately before the breaking out of the War between the States, he was a pupil at New London Academy, Bedford County.

At the age of seventeen he entered the Confederate Army and served as a private to the end of that struggle. After the war he pursued his studies at the University of Virginia, where he graduated in chemistry, Latin, moral philosophy, natural philosophy, pure mathematics, and French. He afterwards received his Master's degree from the University of Nashville, and in 1896 Hampden- Sidney College gave him the honorary degree of LL.D.

In 1874 Mr. Cunningham married Miss Florence Boyd of Nashville, Tenn., who lived for not more than a year afterwards. In 1887 he married Miss Martha Eggleston, daughter of Mr. Stephen Eggleston, of Cumberland county, Virginia.

For a short time after leaving Nashville, Tennessee, where he had taught in the University of Nashville, Mr. Cunningham was in business as a druggist in Richmond, Virginia. In 1877 he was made Principal of Madison School in that city, where he taught with great success until he came to Farmville.
The ten years of Dr. Cunningham's Presidency of the Normal School at Farmville, were years of steady and substantial growth. In his first year ninety-three students were enrolled in the Normal School department; in his last there were two hundred and fifty.

He died, October 9, 1898, at Farmville, Va., aged 52 years.

From "History of Prince Edward County, Virginia, From its Formation in 1753 to the Present" by Charles Edward Burrell Published in 1922 by The Williams Printing Co. in Richmond, Va.

JUDGE ASA D. DICKINSON. Born, 1817. Died, 1884.

Asa D. Dickinson was born in Nottoway County, Va., in 1817, the son of Robert Dickinson and Mary Purnal Dupuy. His father was a prominent farmer and citizen of Nottoway County, while his mother sprang from the Hugenot family of that name. Two brothers of his mother, Colonels Asa and Joseph Dupuy, were for many years representatives of Prince Edward County in the Virginia Legislature. Judge Dickinson's mother was a niece of General William Purnal.

The subject of this sketch received his collegiate education at Hampden-Sidney College, from which institution he graduated with high honors, in 1836. He afterwards studied law at William and Mary College, and commenced the practice of his profession in 1840.

He was twice married. His first wife was a Miss Michaux of Prince Edward county. His second wife was a Miss Irvine of Campbell county. His family consisted of five sons; two, R.M., and Purnal, by the first marriage; and four daughters.

In 1857, Judge Dickinson was elected to represent the county of Prince Edward in the State Legislature and again in 1859. He subsequently served two terms in the State Senate. He was also a member of the Confederate Congress from the district composed in part of the county of Prince Edward. He was disfranchised by reason of this connection with the Confederacy, but his disability was removed by the Congress of 1870, at which time he was elected Judge of the Third Judicial Circuit, in which position he continued for fourteen years; until his death, which occurred, July 22, 1884, as a result of an apoplectice seizure which attacked him while bath in the Rapidan River.

During the strenuous days of the War between the States, Judge Dickinson won, and retained, the favor and the confidence of President Jefferson Davis.

For thirty-seven years, Judge Dickinson was a member and a ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church. He was also a Trustee of Hampden-Sidney College. He lived most of his long life near Worsham, where he commenced the practice of law.

He was buried in the College Church Cemetary at Hampden-Sidney, the burial service being conducted by his pastor, the Rev. Charles White, D.D.

Mr. Blair M. Dickinson, a grandson of Judge Dickinson, is the honored Principal of the Farmville Public School. Another grandson is a Mr. A.B. Dickinson, a prominent lawyer of the City of Richmond, Va.

From "History of Prince Edward County, Virginia, From its Formation in 1753 to the Present" by Charles Edward Burrell Published in 1922 by The Williams Printing Co. in Richmond, Va.

WALTER GRAY DUNNINGTON Born, Farmville, February 12, 1849; Died, Farmville, August 2, 1922.

Walter Gray Dunnington was, for many years, one of the most prominent tobacco merchants of the entire South.

He was born in Farmville, February 12, 1859, and died in the county in which he was born, August 2, 1922. He was the son of James W. Dunnington and Sallie Madison. He was, on his mother's side, the grand-son of Col. James Madison. The Dunningtons were originally Maryland people. On both sides of the house, Mr. Dunnington came of English ancestry. The habitat of which was the county of Berkshire, in England.

Soon after growing up Mr. Dunnington went West, and for some time lived in the vicinity of Kansas City, Mo. After about two years he returned to his old home in Farmville and went into the tobacco business, in which business his father also had been engaged.

His operations in tobacco were of such magnitude that they extended into Norway, Sweden, Germany, France, England and Holland. While he conducted his business chiefly from Farmville, he had very large interests in Louisville, Ky., and spent a considerable part of his time there. He also conducted many of his business operations in New York City. In his own line of business, he was one of the "big men" of the State, and, for that matter, of the nation as well. He was the means of making Farmville one of the leading export tobacco markets of the State.

Mr. Dunnington never held political position of any kind, having no inclination in that direction. At one period, however, he had been a member of the Town Council of Farmville. For many years he served as a member of the board of trustees of Hampden-Sidney College, at which institution his three sons were educated. He was a man of simple tastes, modest and unassuming, yet, at the same time, aggressive and full of energy, alert in speech and bearing, and possessed of remarkable business acumen.

Mr. Dunnington was married, October 12, 1876, to India W. Knight, daughter of Capt. John H. Knight, a gallant soldier of the Confederate Army, who survives him. Their family consisted of six children, five of whom survive him. They are Walter Gray Dunnington, Jr., a prominent lawyer of New York City; Dr. J.H. Dunnington, an eye specialist of New York City; Mrs. A.G. Clapham, of Washington D.C.; Mrs. E. Southall Shields, of Farmville, Va.; and J.W. Dunningon of Farmville, for many years associated with his father in the tobacco business in that place. His youngest child, named for his Norwegian friend, Conrad Langaard died in infancy.

Mr. Dunnington was devoted to his family. He was a most loyal friend and, while he consistently shrank from publicity, his deeds of kindness to those in distress were multitudinous. His death brought a remarkable career to a close. His remains were laid to rest in the cemetary at Farmville.

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From "History of Prince Edward County, Virginia, From its Formation in 1753 to the Present" by Charles Edward Burrell Published in 1922 by The Williams Printing Co. in Richmond, Va.

DR. ROBERT FRAZERRobert Frazer was the third President of the State Female Normal School at Farmville. He became President in February, 1898. He was intended by his father for law. His academic course at the University of Virginia was interrupted by the War between the States. Disabled from wounds, he returned to the University in the fall of 1863, and took up the study of law with Professor Minor. He was never satisfied with that step, preferring the profession of teaching to that of the law. Later he took up teaching and the law was abandoned.

In 1871 he bought the Fauquier Institute, a good boarding school for girls, at Warrenton. Here he remained until 1882, when, under the urging of Dr. J.L.M. Curry, he accepted the Presidency of Judson Institute, at Marion, where he remained five years, and had a phenomenal success. Overwork at Marion, broke his health, so that he had to devote three years thereafter to recuperation.

In 1891 he was called to the Industrial Institute and College of Mississippi, at Columbus, to serve as its President. Here he remained for seven sessions, and made the school the pride of the State.

He came to Farmville with a mind richly stored with knowledge, a broad vision of life, and a varied and extensive experience in schools of many types. His four years' work in Farmville was characterized by the same zeal and earnestness that he had displayed in other places. He was extremely conscientious in his convictions of duty.

When Dr. Frzer resigned Presidency of the State Normal School in 1902 in order to enter upon the duties of Feld Agent of the Southern Educational Board, he left behind him many grateful memories of a courteous, cultured, sympathetic, Christian gentleman of earnest purpose and unbending principle, staunchly loyal to his lofty ideals of duty.

From "History of Prince Edward County, Virginia, From its Formation in 1753 to the Present" by Charles Edward Burrell Published in 1922 by The Williams Printing Co. in Richmond, Va.


After his final incumbency of the Governorship of the State (1784), the celebrated Patrick Henry made his residence for a time in Prince Edward County, dwelling upon the banks of the Appomattox from the latter part of 1786, until 1794.

Entries in the Registry Office at Farmville on page 187, book 9, under date of, October 13, 1792, show that he, on that day, conveyed to Augustus Watson of Nottoway, and holding of 936 acres, on the Appomattox River, for 936 pounds "current money of Virginia." The property was described as follows: "Beginning at Tarlton Woodson's line on the Sandy Ford road, thence along his line, north seven and one-half degrees west two hundred and twenty poles to pointers. Thence north, eighty-one degrees east twenty poles on Venable's line, to a branch. Thence down the said branch as it meanders to Appomattox river. Thence down the said river one hundred and fourteen poles, to a corner on the banks of the said river. Thence south five degrees, west one hundred and fifty poles to pointers. Thence south twenty-four degrees east eighteen poles, to a poplar fell down. Thence south sixty-four and a half degrees east three hundred and fifty poles to pointers. Thence south sixty-three degrees west one hundred and twenty-four poles, to a white oak. Thence thirty-three degrees west to the road. Thence up the said road as it meanders, to the beginning, with all houses, woods and under woods, ways, waterance, water courses, etc."

Signed, Patrick Henry
Dorothea Henry, (his wife)

And witnessed by: Tarlton Woodson,
                                John Miller,
                                Woodson Allen,
                                John Watson.

A second deed to the same property, by the same persons, is recorded in book 9, on page 327, as being given shortly after the first one.

In connection with the same transaction, a commission to privately examine Dorothea Patrick, who was then at Charlotte Court House, was appointed, as recorded in book 10, on page 442, in the same registry office.

A further instrument, constituting "James Fountain, of Kentucky" his attorney, to close a certain estate, is recorded in the same registry office, in book 8, page 212, in 1790.

The exact location of the house in which Henry lived in Prince Edward county has been a matter of considerable dispute, but, after exhaustive research, Mr. Roy Mathewson, realtor, of Farmville, writes as follows: "Mr. Henry's first purchased of land in Prince Edward was twenty acres, conveyed to him by his friend Venable, who was known as Abraham Venable, T., and T distinguishing him from several others of the same name. ******** The recorded deed does not so state, but, by a comparison of the metes and bounds of the 20 acres first conveyed, with other descriptions, it is probable that the house in which Patrick Henry lived was built by the father of Abraham Venable T, who was also Abraham Venable, but known as Abraham of Prince Edward. ******** The house in which Mr. Henry lived was burned in the seventies. There are a few people living today who have seen it. Their descriptions agree that it was a large two story frame dwelling with a high brick basement. A two story portico running along half of the front, was supported by high columns. There was a double row of large locust trees from the house to the road, a distance of several hundred feet, and the usual office building at the road end of the row of locusts. ******** It's location is near the Farmville-Lynchburg Highway, about five miles west of Farmville and about half a mile north of Appomattox Church. It is also about four miles from Hampden-Sidney.

The farm was known as "Cliffside," but that name seems to have gone out of use about fifty years ago and does not serve to identify the property now.

The above description means that the place was about one mile N.W. from the present Tuggles station on the Norfolk and Western R.R. The present owner is L.H. Williamson.

Patrick Henry was, soon after taking up his residence in the county, elected as one of its delegates in the Assembly, where he reassumed his old position as leader. He continued to serve in every session of the Assembly until the end of 1790, at which time, because of increasing physical disability, he finally withdrew from all further official connection with public life. He however, continued to practice law within the county.

Writing concerning him in connection with this law work, Dr. Archibald Alexander, then of Hampden-Sidney College, says:

"In executing a mission from the Synod of Virginia, in the year 1794, I had to pass through the County of Prince Edward, where Mr. Henry then resided. Understanding that he was to appear before the Circuit Court, which met in that county, in defense of three men charged with murder, I determined to seize the opportunity of observing for myself the eloquence of this extraordinary orator. It was with some difficulty that I obtained a seat in front of the bar, where I could have a full view of the speaker, as well as hear him distinctly. But I had to submit to a severe penance in gratifying my curiosity; for the whole day was occupied with the examination of witnesses, in which Mr. Henry was aided by two other lawyers. In person, Mr. Henry was lean rather than fleshy. He was rather above than below the common height, but had a stoop to his shoulders which prevented him from appearing as tall as he really was. In moments of animation, he had the habit of straightening his frame, and adding to his apparent stature. He wore a brown wig, which exhibited no indication of any great care in the dressing. Over his shoulders he wore a brown camlet cloak. Under this his clothing was black, something the worse for wear. The expression of his countenance was that of solemnity and deep earnestness. His mind appeared to be always absorbed in what, for that time, occupied his attention. His forehead was high and spacious, and the skin of his face more than usually wrinkled for a man of fifty. His eyes were small and deeply set in his head, but were of a bright blue color, and twinkled much in their sockets. In short, Mr. Henry's appearance was nothing very remarkable, as he sat at rest. You might readily have taken him for a common planter, who cared very little for his personal appearance. In his manners, he was uniformly respectful and courteous. Candles were brought into the Court House, when the examination of the witnesses closed; and the Judges put it to the option of the bar whether they would go on with the argument that night or adjourn until the next day. Paul Carrington, Junior, the attorney for the State, a man of large size, and uncommon dignity of person and manner, and also an accomplished lawyer, professed his willingness to proceed immediately, while the testimony was fresh in the minds of all. Now for the first time I heard Mr. Henry make anything of a speech; and though, it was short, it satisfied me of one thing, which I had particularly desired to have decided: namely, whether like a player he merely assumed the appearance of feeling. His manner of addressing the Court was profoundly respectful. He would be willing to proceed with the trial, "but," said he, "my heart is so oppressed with the weight of responsibility which rests upon me, having the lives of three fellow-citizens depending, probably, on the exertions which I may be able to make in their behalf (here he turned to prisoners behind him), that I do not feel able to proceed tonight. I hope the Court will indulge me, and postpone the trial till the morning." The impression made by these few words was such as I assure myself no one can ever conceive by seeing them in print. In the countenance, action, and intonation of the speaker, there was expressed such an intensity of feeling, that all my doubts were dispelled; never again did I question whether Henry felt, or only acted, a feeling. Indeed I experienced an instantaneous sympathy with him in the emotions which he expressed; and I have no doubt that the same sympathy was felt by every hearer. As a matter of course, the proceedings were deferred till the next morning. I was early at my post; the Judges were soon on the bench, and the prisoners at the bar. Mr. Carrington opened with a clear and dignified speech, and presented the evidence to the jury. Everything seemed perfectly plain. Two brothers and a brother-in-law met two other persons in pursuit of a slave, supposed to be harbored by the brothers. After some altercation and mutual abuse, one of the brothers, whose name was John Ford, raised a loaded gun which he was carrying, and presented it at the breast of one of the other pair, shot him dead, in open day. There was no doubt about the fact. Indeed, it was not denied. There had been no other provocation that opprobrious words. It is presumed that the opinion of every juror was made up from merely hearing the testimony, as Tom Harvey, the principal witness, who was acting as constable on the occasion, appeared to be a reasonable man.

"For a clearer understanding of what follows, it must be observed that the said constable, in order to distinguish him from another of the same name, was commonly called Butterwood Harvey, as he lived on Butterwood Creek. Mr. Henry, it is believed, understanding that the people were on their guard against his faculty of moving the passions and through them influencing the judgement, did not resort to the pathetic as much as was his practice in criminal cases. His main object appeared to be, throughout, to cast discredit on the testimony of Tom Harvey. This he attempted by causing the law respecting riots to be read by one of his assistants. It appeared in evidence that Tom Harvey had taken upon him to act as constable, without being in commission; and that, with a posse of men, he had entered the house of one of the Ford's in search of the negro, and had put Mrs. Ford, in her husband's absence, into a great terror, while she was in a very delicate condition, near the time of her confinement. As he descanted on the evidence, he would often turn to Tom Harvey - a large, bold-looking man - and with the most sarcastic lok, would call him by some name of contempt; "this Butterwood Tom Harvey," "this would-be constable," etc. By such expressions, his contempt for the man was communicated to the hearers. I own I felt it gaining on me, in spite of my better judgement; so that before he was done, the impression was strong on my mind that Butterwood Harvey was undeserving of the smallest credit. This impression, however, I found I could counteract the moment I had time for reflection. The only part of the speech i which he manifested his power of touching the feelings strongly, was where he dwelt on the eruption of the company into Ford's house, in circumstances so perilous to the solitary wife. This appeal to the sensibility of husbands - and he knew all the jury stood in this relation - was overwhelming. If the verdict could have been rendered immediately after this burst of the pathetic, every man, at least every husband, in the house, would have been for rejecting Harvey's testimony, if not for hanging him forthwith." - J.W. Alexander, "Life of Archibald Alexander," 183-187.

In the year 1794, being then fifty-eight years of age, and possessing a reasonable competence, Patrick Henry decided to withdraw from his profession and resolved to spend his remaining days in retirement. He therefore, removed from Prince Edward county, to Long Island in Campbell county, and there, in 1795, he finally established himself on an estate in the County of Charlotte, called Red Hill, where he continued to reside for the rest of his life; which gave him his burial place; and which remains in the possession of his descendants. This considerable description of his residence within the county of Prince Edward is given because the people of the county are naturally proud of the fact that they were honored by the residence amongst them of so great and so good a man. He was born at Studley, in the county of Hanover on May 29, 1736, and died at Red Hill in the county of Charlotte on June 6, 1799.

From "History of Prince Edward County, Virginia, From its Formation in 1753 to the Present" by Charles Edward Burrell Published in 1922 by The Williams Printing Co. in Richmond, Va.

Deb Murray