John Letcher | Virginia Museum of History & Culture A Guide to the John Letcher (1813-1884) Papers, 1770-1970
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John Letcher

A Guide to the John Letcher (1813-1884) Papers, 1770-1970
Call Number Mss1 L5684 a FA2


Main Entry: Letcher, John, 1813-1884.
Title: Papers, 1770-1970.
Size: 8 boxes (ca. 16,785 items).
Biographical Note: John Letcher is best known as Virginia’s Civil War-era governor, serving from 1860 through 1863. He was also a prominent attorney in Lexington, Va., a newspaper editor, Democratic party leader in western Virginia, and member of congress in the 1850s. After the Civil War, he resumed his law practice and spent one session in the Virginia House of Delegates, 1875-1877. Thereafter, his health began to fail and he died in Lexington early in 1884.

The collection literally covers portions of all aspects of John Letcher’s career, including the establishment of his extensive prewar law practice in Lexington, Va., in 1839; his stint as editor of the Valley Star of Lexington, and his early political activities as an organizer and stump speaker; his election to and service in the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1850-1851; his subsequent campaign for and election to congress; the hard-fought campaign for governor in 1859 and his four-year term, 1860-1863, including much on Virginia’s role in the Confederacy and his own attempts to guide the Old Dominion through that perilous period; his capture and brief incarceration at the close of the war, and his attempts thereafter to clarify his wartime actions and policies; the resumption of his law practice and his brief service in the Virginia House of Delegates, 1875-1877; and his death and the settlement of his estate.

The collection also includes a few records of Letcher’s uncle, James Letcher, father, William Houston Letcher of Lexington, and brother Samuel Houston Letcher. More substantial files concern his son and postwar law partner, Samuel Houston Letcher, and another son, Greenlee Davidson Letcher, both of whom collected information on their father’s lengthy career. A few pieces near the end of the collection concern Letcher’s grandson, U.S. Marine General John Seymour Letcher.

Provenance: Gift of the heirs of General John S. Letcher (i.e., Peter M. Letcher, John Seymour Letcher, Jr., Elizabeth Letcher Greenlee, and Katherine Letcher Lyle) through their agent, George J. Tomkins, Glasgow, Va., in 1999. Accessioned 13 February 2003.
Restrictions: None.

Biographical Essay

John Letcher, best known as Virginia’s Civil War governor from 1860 through 1863, was born in Lexington, Va., on 29 March 1813 to middle-class merchant and businessman William Houston Letcher and his wife, Elizabeth Davidson. The Davidsons were a prominent Shenandoah Valley family, whose connections benefitted Letcher throughout his life. Educated locally, John Letcher dropped out of Washington College, spent time as a carpenter’s apprentice, and then studied law with William Taylor, a local attorney and Democratic party leader. Following his father, a strong supporter of Andrew Jackson, into the Democratic party, Letcher became a protégé of James McDowell, a future governor of the commonwealth.

Almost at the same time that he entered the legal profession, in 1839, Letcher also took the reins as editor of the Valley Star, a Democratic newspaper in Lexington. This visibility propelled him into prominence in the state party, and brought him into contact with national leaders as well. Although he gave up the editorship after a few years to concentrate on his steadily growing law practice, Letcher’s initial foray into politics set a course for his life and career.

In 1850, John Letcher stood for his first election, gaining a seat as one of Rockbridge County’s regional delegates to the 1850 state constitutional convention in Richmond. There, he quietly but effectively championed the reform agenda of the western Virginia counties. As a result, when he sought higher office in 1851, his Valley constituents rewarded him with a seat in congress, to which he was re-elected three additional times. Never a powerhouse in that national body, Letcher did work hard as a member of the Ways and Means Committee and took particular interest in economy in government and in the national treasury. Entering congress as a moderate southern Democrat, he turned more conservative over his years in Washington, pushing compromise and rejecting talk of secession.

In 1859, Letcher won the Democratic nomination for governor of Virginia and narrowly defeated his Whig opponent, William L. Goggin. Taking office in January 1860, he immediately sided with Unionists and hoped the efforts of the Peace Conference of 1861 would resolve the boiling sectional issues of the day. It was too little, too late, however, and when the federal government requested troops and the Virginia convention voted to take the commonwealth out of the Union, Letcher transformed into a vigorous wartime governor. He mobilized the state well, with particular attention to the disaffection in the northwestern counties, but through his tenure he began to be criticized for being too willing to put the Confederacy first before the rights and concerns of Virginia. He handled many wartime difficulties with dexterity, although he often focused on the minutiae. At the end of 1863 he turned the reins of Virginia’s government over to his successor, William “Extra Billy” Smith.

Retiring to Lexington, he was forced from his home in 1864 when federal troops raided the Valley and burned the Virginia Military Institute and his own house in Lexington. After the war, he re-inaugurated his law practice successfully, and spent much time corresponding with contemporaries about the details of his gubernatorial term. In 1875 he gained election to the Virginia state legislature, but spent only one term in the House of Delegates after suffering a stroke. From that point on he suffered poor health, leaving his son Samuel Houston Letcher to operate their law firm, and eventually dying quietly in Lexington on 26 January 1884.

John Letcher married Mary Susan Holt in 1843 after “an erratic courtship,” but the two lived happily together throughout the rest of his life, and produced eleven children, seven of whom reached maturity.

John Letcher’s oldest surviving son, Samuel Houston Letcher (1848-1914), was a V.M.I. cadet during the Civil War, and after the war joined his father in law practice in Lexington. The younger Letcher focused primarily on the law, but also spent much time collecting information about his father’s lengthy and important career. This included corresponding with numerous of his father’s contemporaries and gathering copies of speeches, letters, and other documents for an intended biography, which he did not live to complete. His youngest brother, Greenlee Davidson Letcher (1867-1954), who was born after the Civil War and was only a teenager when his father died, picked up the task of gathering data about their father in the twentieth century. An attorney in his own right, G. D. Letcher also became widely involved in his local community and region, particularly in regard to the construction and maintenance of roads in the Valley, and took a great interest in state and national politics as well.

G. D. Letcher’s son, John Seymour Letcher, the last member of the family represented in this collection, gained some national fame as a brigadier general in the United States Marine Corps just before and during World War II. He, too, took great interest in the career of his grandfather, corresponding with historians and protecting the surviving family archive until his death in 1994.

For more information about Governor John Letcher of Virginia, see F. Nash Boney, John Letcher of Virginia: The Story of Virginia’s Civil War Governor (1966), in the preparation of which many of the papers in this collection were consulted.

Collection Description

In the 1970s, General John S. Letcher deposited the large collection of his grandfather’s surviving personal papers in the library of the George C. Marshall Foundation in Lexington, Va., for safekeeping. There, the papers were preserved and cataloged in a preliminary fashion. Following the general’s death in 1994, some of the letters and documents written by prominent Virginia and national figures were removed and sold at auction by Sotheby. The rest of the collection, a significant and substantial group of papers, remained intact and were given to the Virginia Historical Society in 1999 by the general’s heirs. This collection retains many letters and documents of prominent individuals, and includes highly important and historically valuable documentation on literally all aspects of John Letcher’s impressive career. Likewise, it contains specific materials relating to his father, brother, two sons, and a grandson, as mentioned above, along with scattered documentation on many more extended family members. The collection offers marvelous resources for the study of so many aspects of Virginia’s–and the nation’s–history during the period of Letcher’s life.

The collection is divided up to reflect components of John Letcher’s life and professional career. These categories involve his personal life, law practice, and political career, and are organized as series 1-9. Series 10-11 involve other family members, including his father, uncle, one brother, two of his sons, and one grandson.

The collection is arranged as follows:

Series 1: Personal papers
Series 2: Antebellum law practice
Series 3: Antebellum political career, 1834-1849
Series 4: Virginia Constitutional Convention, 1850-1851
Series 5: Congressional Career, 1851-1859
Series 6: Governor of Virginia, 1860-1864
Series 7: Postwar life and politics
Series 8: Postwar law practice
Series 9: Estate and biographical materials
Series 10: Letcher family papers (uncle, father, brother)
Series 11: John Letcher’s children and grandchildren

Series Descriptions and Guide

Series 1: Personal Papers (ca. 1,775 items)

The first series of John Letcher’s papers concerns his personal and family life in Lexington, Va. This grouping includes a small amount of family and personal correspondence, including letters written from various Virginia springs, and letters traded with Letcher family members in St. Louis, Mo., and in California during the Gold Rush (folder 1).

The largest portion of this series is made up of financial records, primarily loose accounts and receipts covering personal and household purchases, the care and education of his children, investments in turnpike and other companies, the payment of local taxes, costs of medical care, and expenses for his daughters prior to their marriages.

A number of bank books cover Letcher’s accounts in various financial institutions, including the Lexington Savings Institute (of which he served as a director), the Bank of Lexington, the Bank of Rockbridge, and the Farmers Bank of Virginia. One particular Farmers Bank book, 1861-1862 (folder 55), includes records of a factory fire on 1 July 1861, presumably in Richmond, Va.

Miscellaneous personal files of note include records concerning Letcher’s residences in Lexington, including the repair, refurbishment, and eventual sale of his house and lot on Main Street (folders 60-61, 63 include contracts, accounts with builders [including James Harper, a free black], correspondence, and an insurance policy). Folder 62 concerns the construction and improvement of Letcher’s postwar home near Washington College, while folder 64 contains materials concerning the purchase and improvement of other lots in Lexington before the war, one of which features a house plan. Folders 66 and 67 feature materials relating to Letcher’s battle for title to Square 678 in Washington, D.C., which had been purchased by a consortium of buyers before the Civil War and was requisitioned by the Post Office Department during 1861-1865. Lastly, folder 71 contains information on the hiring of slaves and the purchase of a slave woman by Letcher.

Folder 1 Personal correspondence, 1840-1882
2 Personal accounts, 1841-1845
3 Personal accounts, 1846
4 Personal accounts, 1847
5 Personal accounts, 1848
6 Personal accounts, 1849
7 Personal accounts, 1850
8 Personal accounts, 1851
9 Personal accounts, 1852
10 Personal accounts, 1853
11 Personal accounts, 1854
12 Personal accounts, 1855
13 Personal accounts, 1856
14 Personal accounts, 1857
15 Personal accounts, 1858
16 Personal accounts, 1859
17 Personal accounts, 1860
18 Canceled checks, 1860
19 Personal accounts, 1861
20 Personal accounts, 1862
21 Personal accounts, 1863
22 Personal accounts, 1864
23 Personal accounts, 1865
24 Personal accounts, 1866
25 Personal accounts, 1867
26 Personal accounts, 1868
27 Personal accounts, 1869
28 Personal accounts, 1870
29 Personal accounts, 1871
30 Canceled checks, 1871 (part I)
31 Canceled checks, 1871 (part II)
32 Personal accounts, 1872
33 Canceled checks, 1872 (part I)
34 Canceled checks, 1872 (part II)
35 Personal accounts, 1873
36 Accounts, 1873 (concerning Margaret K. Letcher)
37 Canceled checks, 1873
38 Personal accounts, 1874
39 Accounts, 1874 (concerning Margaret K. Letcher)
40 Canceled checks, 1874
41 Personal accounts, 1875
42 Canceled checks, 1875
43 Personal accounts, 1876
44 Personal accounts, 1877
45 Personal accounts, 1878
46 Personal accounts, 1879
47 Personal accounts, 1880
48 Personal accounts, 1881
49 Personal accounts, 1882-1884
50 Account book, 1866-1869
51 Bank book, 1851-1855 (Lexington Savings Institution)
52 Bank book, 1860-1862 (Farmers Bank of Virginia)
53 Bank book, 1860, 1864 (Bank of the Commonwealth)
54 Bank book, 1861 (Farmers Bank of Virginia)
55 Bank book, 1861-1862 (Farmers Bank of Virginia)
56 Bank book, 1868-1869 (Bank of Rockbridge)
57 Bank book, 1868-1871 (Bank of Lexington)
58 Bank book, 1872-1874 (Bank of Lexington)
59 Check stub book, 1873-1874
60 House and lot, repair and refurbishment, Main Street, Lexington, 1845-1856
61 Addition to residence, Lexington, 1847-1852
62 House construction and lot improvement, Lexington, 1870-1872
63 Sale of Main Street lot, Lexington, 1871
64 Purchase and sale of lots, Lexington, 1848-1855
65 Plat of land in Rockbridge County, 1857
66 Square 678, Washington, D.C., 1868, 1871-1873
67 Square 678, Washington, D.C., 1877
68 Lewis County, Missouri, land acquisition, 1875-1881
69 Power of attorney, 1882 (Samuel Houston Letcher, Missouri lands)
70 Agreement, 1851, of David P. Curry and A. McMananny concerning Rock Castle farm
71 Slave hiring and purchase records, 1848-1860 (include letter of John Echols)
72 Notes concerning personal property

Series 2: Antebellum Law Practice (ca. 10,090 items)

This is the largest series of John Letcher’s personal papers and concerns his extensive antebellum legal practice. Letcher joined the bar in 1839 and established his practice in Lexington the same year. Like most young attorneys of the day, Letcher took on a wide variety of cases, most notably the collection of outstanding debts, or defense of clients against debt recovery, and his legal files reflect that. Toward mid-century, his client base expanded significantly to include business firms, many from outside of Virginia. Many files also involve other intriguing aspects of his work as an attorney, including contract cases, the purchase of, sale of, or claim to land, the settlement of estates, and guardianships. A number of cases concern slaves in the Valley of Virginia, as well as the economic status of women in nineteenth-century Virginia.

These files are divided into a number of categories. Where five or more items have been located relating to a specific case or client, they have been grouped together in folders and labeled accordingly. Those folders are arranged roughly in chronological order (by the year of Letcher’s practice), but in instances where substantial numbers of materials survive over a series of years, those folders are filed sequentially for ease of access. In each year of Letcher’s practice, folders labeled as “miscellaneous correspondence” or “miscellaneous legal papers” include materials that do not appear to fall into a set of matching documents, although often cases and client work range over a series of years, and some specific persons and subjects can be located in multiple general files.

Most of Letcher’s legal work focused on Lexington and Rockbridge County, but his client base ranged through the Shenandoah Valley and even beyond the borders of Virginia. He most frequently appeared in the county and circuit superior courts of Rockbridge and Augusta counties, and the United States District Court held in Staunton. The files relating to this practice are largely made up of correspondence with clients, witnesses, and fellow attorneys, but also include writs, summonses, petitions, briefs, deeds, contracts, agreements, numerous accounts, and Letcher’s extensive notes. Throughout these files may be found letters from a host of Letcher’s legal contemporaries of note, including John White Brockenbrough, John Echols, James D. Davidson, William Green (1847), John D. Imboden (1850), Hugh White Sheffey, Alexander H. H. Stuart, and others. About 1848, Letcher formed a legal partnership with David P. Curry, and they remained partners well into the 1850s while Letcher was away in Washington serving in Congress. Many files from that period include letters and other legal papers generated by Curry during their association together. Toward the end of the 1850s, Letcher concentrated more on his political career than his law practice, especially when he successfully ran for the office of governor of Virginia at the close of the decade. Consequently, his legal files are measurably reduced in quantity during that time.

The earliest files in this series (folders 73-78) include Letcher’s certificate from the Rockbridge County Court and his license to practice (signed by Judges Lucas P. Thompson, John J. Allen, and William Daniel); assessments for license taxes, 1852-1859; and his accounts and correspondence concerning the operation of his law office, 1847-1859 (correspondence most frequently with Charles F. Fisher of Richmond concerning the purchase of law books). Some of the early legal records compiled by Letcher date back as far as 1770 and appear to relate to cases he handled much later, or clients for whom he gathered background materials, especially in regard to land cases. Cumulatively, the files in this series contain an abundance of documentation not only on the legal environment of the antebellum Valley of Virginia, but also on social life, the economy, and the role of women. Numerous letters contain at least some passing reference to the politics of the day, although letters that are largely political in nature have been placed in a later series in this collection.

A number of files deserve special mention: a large number concern Letcher’s representation of Colonel John Jordan ([folders 81-82] a key player in the iron industry in the Shenandoah Valley, some of which also concern work on a canal on the north fork of the James River); settlement of the estate of Joseph Hoffman ([folders 83-101], a shoemaker, tanner, and leather worker who died in Lexington in 1842); and administration of the estate of Samuel Pettigrew (folders 102-105] a Lexington hatter who also died in 1842). Other prominent clients represented by Letcher early in his career include Samuel M. Dold ([folders 109-111, 271], a Lexington merchant who played an important role in the Lexington Presbyterian Church), and William Weaver ([folders 116-116a] owner of the Buffalo Forge).

An important set of letters written to Letcher between 1839 and 1846 by Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri and his wife, Elizabeth (McDowell) Benton, concern ownership of the McDowell family estate of “Cherry Grove” and sale of the “Walker’s Creek Tract,” presumably in Rockbridge County (folders 120-123). These letters also contain some detailed political discussion.

John Letcher served as guardian for his wife’s sister, Margaret C. Holt, throughout his life. She attended Ann Smith Academy and then appears to have lived with or near the Letchers for the rest of her life (folders 160-166). He also corresponded extensively with Thomas J. Crawford of Mount Prairie, Mo., regarding a land claim in Rockbridge (folder 185).

A number of case files concern African Americans. S. Sherrerd v. R. Tuck (folder 189) concerns arbitration over the hiring of slaves at the Bath Iron Works; Nelson Hicks v. George W. Taylor (folder 194) relates to the hiring of the slave Julia; William B. Roach’s trust file (folder 196) concerns the sale of slaves in 1848; the John McFee file (folder 220) involves a case of slave stealing; and Letcher’s agency file for John Warren Grigsby (folder 244) concerns the care and sale of slave children.

Folder 73 Certificate and law license, 1839
74 Accounts and correspondence, 1846-1859 (purchase of law books)
75 Business cards, 1847
76 Membership in American Legal Association, 1851
77 Assessments for license tax, 1852-1859
78 Contract with William Jordan and Henry Crawford for construction of law offices, 1853
79 Law Practice, undated materials
80 Early land records, 1770-1795 (see oversize)
81 John Jordan (d. 1854), client file, 1795-1832
82 John Jordan (d. 1854), client file, 1835-1858
83 Joseph Hoffman (d. 1842), file, 1816-1827
84 Joseph Hoffman (d. 1842), file, 1831-1837
85 Joseph Hoffman (d. 1842), file, 1838-1841
86 Joseph Hoffman (d. 1842), estate file, 1841-1854 (Guardian of Charlton Hoffman)
87 Joseph Hoffman (d. 1842), estate file, 1842 (Accounts)
88 Joseph Hoffman (d. 1842), estate file, 1842 (Agreement with William A. Evans)
89 Joseph Hoffman (d. 1842), estate file, 1842 (Bonds)
90 Joseph Hoffman (d. 1842), estate file, 1842 (Correspondence)
91 Joseph Hoffman (d. 1842), estate file, 1842-1852 (Mrs. Elizabeth Hoffman)
92 Joseph Hoffman (d. 1842), estate file, 1842 (Sale of personal property)
93 Joseph Hoffman (d. 1842), estate file, 1843
94 Joseph Hoffman (d. 1842), estate file, 1843 (Commissioner’s report)
95 Joseph Hoffman (d. 1842), estate file, 1844
96 Joseph Hoffman (d. 1842), estate file, 1844-1850, 1853 (Guardian of Carrington Hoffman)
97 Joseph Hoffman (d. 1842), estate file, 1844-1854 (Guardian of Estelline Hoffman)
98 Joseph Hoffman (d. 1842), estate file, 1845
99 Joseph Hoffman (d. 1842), estate file, 1846-1850
100 Joseph Hoffman (d. 1842), estate file, 1853-1854
101 Joseph Hoffman (d. 1842), estate file, 1871
102 Administration of the estate of Samuel Pettigrew (d. 1842), 1817-1842
103 Administration of the estate of Samuel Pettigrew (d. 1842), 1843
104 Administration of the estate of Samuel Pettigrew (d. 1842), 1844
105 Administration of the estate of Samuel Pettigrew (d. 1842), 1845-1847
106 Law Practice: miscellaneous papers, 1820-1826
107 Thomas Johnston papers, 1820-1847
108 John Alexander accounts and account books, 1827 (sale of beef)
109 Samuel M. Dold papers, 1818-1837
110 Lexington Presbyterian Church account book, 1823-1831 (Samuel M. Dold)
111 Samuel M. Dold account book, 1828-1832
112 Andrew Wallace papers, 1827-1848
113 Law Practice: Miscellaneous papers, 1828-1837
114 Matthew C. Cahoon estate, 1831-1847 (insanity)
115 David W. Thompson papers, 1834-1841 (miller in Rockbridge County, Va.)
115a Estate of Simon Holmes (d. 1834), Rockbridge County, Va., 1834-1849
116 William Weaver, client file, 1835-1849
116a William Weaver v. Jordan, Davis & Co., 1830-1847
117 Law Practice: Miscellaneous papers, 1838
118 Isabella Dale, client file, 1838-1858
119 Law Practice: general correspondence, 1839
120 Thomas Hart Benton/Elizabeth M. Benton letters, 1839
121 Thomas Hart Benton letters, 1840-1842
122 Thomas Hart Benton/Elizabeth M. Benton letters, 1843-1844
123 Thomas Hart Benton letters, 1846
124 Thomas Dunlap (d. 1843), estate papers, 1839-1843
125 Charles Kirkpatrick papers, 1839-1842
126 Miscellaneous papers, 1840
127 William Stevens, client file, 1840-1843, 1847-1848
128 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1841 Jan.-April
129 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1841 May-July
130 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1841 Aug.-Dec.
131 Miscellaneous papers, 1841
132 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1842 Jan.-April
133 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1842 May-Sept.
134 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1842 Oct.-Dec.
135 Miscellaneous papers, 1842
136 John Alexander (insolvent), 1842
137 Thomas H. Gibbons-Benjamin F. Porter controversy, 1842-1843
138 Doctor Archibald Graham, client file, 1842-1851
139 Joseph W. Moore papers, 1842-1846
140 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1843 Jan.-Feb.
141 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1843 March-June
142 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1843 Aug.-Dec.
143 Miscellaneous papers, 1843
144 James and Robert Alexander, claims against, 1843
145 Robert S. Campbell and William Gibson, claims against, 1843
146 Charles Dunkum letters, 1843-1844, 1846-1847
147 Samuel F. Jordan, client file, 1843-1851
148 Samuel F. Jordan, accounts, 1848-1849
149 Samuel F. Jordan, client file, 1862-1864
150 Samuel F. Jordan & Co., client file, 1847-1851
151 Samuel Kirkpatrick, client file, 1843
152 Samuel Kirkpatrick’s administrator, 1850-1854
153 John Randolph, client file, 1843
154 Peachy H. Sheltman, claims against, 1843
155 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1844 Jan.-April
156 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1844 June-Dec.
157 Miscellaneous papers, 1844
158 Erasmus A. Cease, client file, 1844-1848
159 Letitia Gibson’s executor, client file, 1844-1848
160 Guardian of Margaret C. Holt, 1844-1846
161 Guardian of Margaret C. Holt, 1847
162 Guardian of Margaret C. Holt, 1848-1850
163 Guardian of Margaret C. Holt, 1851-1852
164 Guardian of Margaret C. Holt, 1853-1855
165 Guardian of Margaret C. Holt, 1856-1858
166 Guardian of Margaret C. Holt, 1859-1861
167 Royall Parrish, claims against Charles P. Campbell, 1844-1847
167a Abraham T. Perry v. Lewis Alpin (accounts), 1844-1848
168 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1845 Jan.-April
169 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1845 May-Oct.
170 Miscellaneous papers, 1845
171 John Paul, land disputes, 1845-1853
172 J. M. Wilson & Co., Lexington, dispute with Oliver M. Brown, 1845-1846
173 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1846 Jan.-May
174 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1846 June-July
175 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1846 Aug.-Dec.
176 Miscellaneous papers, 1846
177 Mrs. Elizabeth Alexander accounts, 1846-1847
178 Mrs. Elizabeth Alexander estate v. James Taylor, 1853
179 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1847 Jan.-Feb.
180 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1847 March-June
181 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1847 July-Aug.
182 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1847 Sept.-Oct.
183 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1847 Nov.-Dec.
184 Miscellaneous legal papers, 1847
185 Thomas J. Crawford (Mount Prairie, Mo.), letters, 1847-1850
186 Andrew Dixon land purchase, 1847
187 Samuel Harnsberger v. [?] Logan, 1847
188 William McCamey, claims against, 1847
189 S. Sherrerd v. R. Turk (arbitration file regarding hiring of slaves at Bath Iron Works), 1847-1848
190 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1848 Jan.-Dec.
191 Miscellaneous legal papers (accounts, inventories, notices, etc.), 1848
192 Miscellaneous legal papers (deeds, agreements, proceedings), 1848
193 David P. Curry, trustee for John P. Weaver and Lucy Weaver, 1848-1852
194 Nelson Hicks v. George W. Taylor (hire of slave Julia), 1848-1855
195 Thomas Mayberry estate, 1848-1849
196 John Letcher, trustee for William B. Roach (sale of slaves), 1848
197 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1849 Jan.-April
198 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1849 May-Aug.
199 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1849 Sept.-Dec.
200 Miscellaneous legal papers (accounts, notes, writs, etc.), 1849
201 Miscellaneous legal papers (agreements, deeds, wills), 1849
202 Thomas S. Green file (heirs of Harvey Reed), 1849-1850
203 R. C. Mauck v. John S. Waskey (patent case), 1849-1851
204 McClung et al. v. McClung, Patton & Wright (water rights), 1849
205 James M. Williams claims file, 1849-1850
206 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1850 (no month)
207 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1850 Jan.-Feb.
208 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1850 March-April
209 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1850 May-June
210 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1850 July-Aug.
211 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1850 Sept.
212 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1850 Oct.
213 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1850 Nov.-Dec.
214 Miscellaneous legal papers (receipts, accounts, promissory notes), 1850
215 Miscellaneous legal papers (agreements and deeds), 1850
216 Miscellaneous legal papers (proceedings, inventories, notes, etc.), 1850
217 Henry Firebaugh estate file, 1850
218 M. A. Humphries/Jaquelin A. Grigsby (turnpike dispute), 1850
219 Samuel H. Jordan guardian file, 1850-1851
220 John McFee case (slave stealing), 1850
221 G. W. Trueheart correspondence file, 1850
222 John Letcher, trustee for Elizabeth Yount, 1850-1858, 1874-1876
223 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1851 Jan.-Feb.
224 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1851 March-April
225 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1851 May-June
226 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1851 July-Aug.
227 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1851 Sept.-Oct.
228 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1851 Nov.-Dec.
229 Miscellaneous legal papers, 1851
230 Agreements file, 1851
231 Archibald D. Beard file, 1851-1852
232 Canfield Bro. & Co. (Balt., Md.) v. James R. Wright, 1851-1853
233 John W. Jordan, client file, 1851-1852
234 Samuel L. McClung cases, 1851
235 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1852
236 Miscellaneous legal papers, 1852
237 Polly & William Bailey v. William Luckess & J. D. Davidson, 1852-1853
238 Halback & Sipes, accounts file, 1852-1856
239 William G. Paine/John A. Cummings claim file, 1852
240 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1853
241 Miscellaneous legal papers, 1853
242 Agreements file, 1853
243 Mrs. Anna S. Farley, client file, 1853-1854
244 Agent for John Warren Grigsby (care and sale of slave children), 1853-1858
245 John A. Kinnear, trustee for Joseph Esque, 1853
246 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1854
247 Miscellaneous legal papers, 1854
248 Agreements, 1854
249 William Davidson, account file, 1854
250 Albert G. Updike v. John Crawford et al., 1854
251 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1855 February-June
252 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1855 August-December
253 Miscellaneous legal papers, 1855
254 Agreements and deeds, 1855
255 Samuel H. Alexander, land patents file, 1855
256 Amanda Jane v. Elizabeth McGahey (pauper suit), 1855
257 Madison G. Davidson v. Lackey’s heirs, 1855-1858
258 Estate of Robert Hamilton (d. 1859), 1855-1861
259 Preston T. Link, contract with J. F. Clarke (hay shipments), 1855
260 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1856 January-April
261 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1856 May-September
262 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1856 October-December
263 Miscellaneous legal papers, 1856
264 Agreements, deeds, and surveys, 1856
265 E. Arbogast, land warrant sale, 1856
266 John LaRew, claim file, 1856-1857
267 William G. Stevens and Mrs. Elizabeth Stevens, claims file, 1856-1862 (1873)
268 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1857 January-April
269 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1857 May-November
270 Miscellaneous legal papers, 1857
271 Samuel M. Dodd, client file, 1857
272 Dr. D. Jayne & Son, Philadelphia, Pa., client file, 1857
273 D. W. Moore & Co. v. James R. Saunders, 1857
274 Albert G. Updike v. C. C. Baldwin, 1857
275 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1858 January-June
276 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1858 July-December
277 Miscellaneous legal papers, 1858
278 Agreements and deeds, 1858
279 Samuel L. McClung v. E. J. H. McCampbell et al., 1858
280 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1859
281 Miscellaneous legal papers, 1859
282 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1860
283 Miscellaneous legal papers, 1860
284 Miscellaneous legal papers, 1861
285 Miscellaneous legal papers, 1862
286 Miscellaneous legal papers, 1863
287 James T. Lockridge v. Campbell & Co., 1863-1865 (road repair)
288 Miscellaneous legal papers, 1864
289 Miscellaneous legal papers, 1865

Series 3: Antebellum political career, 1834-1849 (ca. 160 items)

This series of papers covers John Letcher’s early political career, prior to his election to any office. Like many attorneys of the day, Letcher became interested in politics early on in his career, and like a few of his contemporaries who rose to prominence in Virginia’s antebellum political scene, he first made his mark as a newspaper editor. In 1839, Letcher took on the leading role in producing the Valley Star in Lexington. A strongly Democratic organ, the Star became Letcher’s vehicle for challenging the Whig party, which was then in ascendency in Virginia.

While little in these files relates specifically to the Valley Star, the correspondence received between 1839 and 1850 largely derived from Letcher’s visibility as the paper’s editor. He took an extremely active part as a speaker in the Valley of Virginia during the 1840 presidential campaign, accepting invitations to numerous local Democratic party committee meetings, and then reprised that role four years later. He particularly targeted William Cabell Rives for his move to the Whig Party. Although he gave up the editorship of the Star in 1842, Letcher continued to be a dominant force in regional Democratic politics. His correspondents wrote him lengthy missives about both national and state politics, and their candid observations provide enormously valuable insight into the political life of the period.

Among the more notable correspondents in this series are: James McDowell (1838-1840, in part, concerning the Valley Star); Congressman Robert Craig (in 1836 concerning Martin Van Buren, in 1839 concerning the organization of the 26th Congress, and 1840); Peter Vivian Daniel ([signature missing] in 1836 concerning Martin Van Buren); William Cabell Rives ([signature missing] in 1834 concerning the right of legislative instructions); newspaper editor Thomas Ritchie (1839-1840); Aaron Vanderpoel (1840); Congressman William Henry Roane of Virginia (1840); Thomas Hart Benton (1840); Amos Kendall (May 1840); George Washington Hopkins (1840, 1842); Governor William Smith of Virginia (1840-1843, 1845); George C. Drumgoole (1840); Judge Green Berry Samuels (1840); Levi Woodbury (to Robert Craig, 1840); William Taylor (1845); and John Echols (1847).

A particularly interesting set of papers (folders 304-306) contain letters from John Warren Grigsby over the period of 1841 to 1849. Grigsby was then serving at the United States Consulate in Bordeaux, France, while Letcher served as his agent back in Virginia. Grigsby’s letters discuss Virginia and U.S. politics in general, with particular focus on foreign public opinion of U.S. policies and the U.S. government.

Folder 290 Political correspondence, 1834-1838
291 Political correspondence, 1839 May-October
292 Political correspondence, 1839 December
293 Political correspondence, 1840 January-February
294 Political correspondence, 1840 March
295 Political correspondence, 1840 April
296 Political correspondence, 1840 May
297 Political correspondence, 1840 June
298 Political correspondence, 1840 July
299 Political correspondence, 1840 August
300 Political correspondence, 1840 September
301 Political correspondence, 1840 October-December
302 Broadside (incomplete), “To the Freemen of Rockbridge County,” 1840 (oversize)
303 Broadside, Population and vote by political party in the 1840 presidential election, by county in Virginia
304 John Warren Grigsby letters, 1841
305 John Warren Grigsby letters, 1842
306 John Warren Grigsby letters, 1844-1849
307 Political correspondence, 1841-1842
308 Valley Star, 1842
309 Political correspondence, 1843-1844
310 Political correspondence, 1845-1846
311 Political correspondence, 1847-1849

Series 4: Virginia Constitutional Convention, 1850-1851 (ca. 95 items)

In 1850, John Letcher ran his first political campaign, securing a seat in Virginia’s constitutional convention as a delegate from the Augusta/Rockbridge/Highland district. In the convention, Letcher quietly championed the western reform agenda, including popular election of many state officials, universal white manhood suffrage, and gradual reapportioning of the state legislature. His surviving files in this section include correspondence regarding the movement for a reform convention, materials on his election campaign, letters from constituents and interested parties outside of Virginia sharing their views on a host of pertinent issues, and records of his activities in Richmond during the sessions of the convention. While the convention was in session, Letcher wrote frequently to his law partner, David P. Curry–who remained in Lexington managing their legal business–and provided in his letters his own personal take on the activities of that body (a January 1851 letter includes a prospectus for the “Republican Advocate,” a “white basis” newspaper [folder 321]).

Among the prominent correspondents featured in this series are John D. Imboden (March-July 1850), Alexander H. H. Stuart (June 1850), David Fultz of Staunton (April, Aug., Sept., Dec. 1850), James McDowell (Sept.-Dec. 1850), and George Wythe Munford (Sept. 1850). Additional materials include a list of members identified by party affiliation or issue stance (folder 318); a pamphlet issued by the American Colonization Society concerning a March 1850 act of the Virginia General Assembly “making appropriations for the removal of free persons of color, and for other purposes” (folder 319); and printed memorials of the convention and the Virginia state legislature to the U.S. Congress concerning the establishment of a mail steamer line between the U.S. and the western coast of Africa to encourage emigration to Liberia (folder 322).

Folder 312 Correspondence, 1850 January-May
313 Correspondence, 1850 June
314 Correspondence, 1850 July
315 Correspondence, 1850 August
316 Correspondence, 1850 September-October
317 Correspondence, 1850 December
318 Correspondence, 1851 January-February
319 Correspondence, 1851 March-July
320 Folder not used 
321 American Colonization Society pamphlet, 1850
322 Memorials (printed) to U.S. Congress, 1851 February
323 Accounts, 1850-1851

Series 5: Congressional career, 1851-1859 (ca. 355 items)

White serving in the 1850-51 Virginia Constitutional Convention, Letcher was encouraged to stand for congress from Virginia’s eleventh district. His surviving files trace the election campaign he conducted and the career he then pursued in Washington beginning in March 1851. Never a dominating figure in the legislative halls, Letcher did work effectively behind the scenes, especially as a member of the power House Ways and Means Committee. As a moderate Southern Democrat, he pushed for economy in government and the protection of state’s rights.

Letcher’s congressional files are largely made up of correspondence, some of which was partially burned in a nineteenth-century fire and is thus very fragile. A number of letters written by Letcher to his law partner, David P. Curry, and to other family members provide his reporting on congressional activities, but most are letters from constituents and fellow Democratic party members. Letcher served in congress until 3 March 1859.

Notable correspondents in this series include Robert M. T. Hunter (July 1852), R. P. Letcher, governor of Kentucky (March 1855), Howell Cobb (Sept. 1857, June-July 1858), John Buchanan Floyd (Sept. 1858), James McDowell (July and Oct. 1858), Charles James Faulkner (June 1858), and Judge Green Berry Samuels of Virginia (Jan. 1857).

A number of other materials are worthy of notice. The accounts files (folders 350) contain information on Letcher’s residence at Brown’s Hotel, and his purchase of copies of congressional speeches and newspaper subscriptions. A scrapbook contains newspaper clippings regarding the presidential campaign of Franklin Pierce in 1852 (folder 353); printed directories for the 32nd and 33rd congresses are included (folders 351-352); and the series contains a number of speeches (some printed, some handwritten notes) made by Letcher (on the Brooks attack on Sumner, 1856 [folder 354], the territorial policy of the U.S. government, 1855 [folder 356], the Treasury Note Bill, 1857 [folder 357], and Washington College, undated [folder 358]).

Folder 324 Campaign materials, 1851 August-September
325 Campaign materials, 1851 October-November
326 Correspondence, 1851 December-1852 April
327 Correspondence, 1852 May-August
328 Correspondence, 1853 January-July
329 Correspondence, 1853 August-December
330 Correspondence, 1854
331 Correspondence, 1855
332 Correspondence, 1856 January-May
333 Correspondence, 1856 July-November
334 Correspondence, 1856 December
335 Correspondence, 1857 January-May
336 Correspondence, 1857 July-October
337 Correspondence, 1857 November-December
338 Correspondence, 1858 January-June
339 Correspondence, 1858 July
340 Correspondence, 1858 August
341 Correspondence, 1858 September-1859 February
342 Accounts, 1851
343 Accounts, 1852
344 Accounts, 1853
345 Accounts, 1854
346 Accounts, 1855
347 Accounts, 1856
348 Accounts, 1857
349 Accounts, 1858
350 Accounts, 1859
351 Congressional directory, 1st Session, 32nd Congress, 1852
352 Congressional directory, 1st Session, 33rd Congress, 1854
353 Scrapbook concerning the presidential campaign of Franklin Pierce, 1852
354 Speech (copy) on Brooks attack on Sumner, 1856
355 Speeches (printed) on slavery, 1856
356 Speech (copy) on territorial policy of the U.S. government, 1855
357 Speech (printed) on the Treasury Note bill, 1857
358 Notes for speech on Washington College, undated
359 American Party electoral tickets, Virginia, 1855
360 Notes for speech encouraging election of members of the American Party, undated
361 Calling cards presented to John and Mary Susan Holt Letcher, ca. 1852-1858
362 Calling cards of Congressman John Letcher of Virginia
363 The History of Democracy in the United States (John Letcher copy)

Series 6: Governor of Virginia, 1860-1864 (ca. 385 items)

John Letcher did not stand for re-election to congress near the conclusion of his third term, but instead launched a campaign for the office of governor of Virginia. Ultimately, he won election, but by a very narrow margin provided by his western constituents. Never a secessionist, he allied himself with Unionists until it became clear that Virginia would leave the United States. At that point, Letcher plunged into the task of leading the wartime administration of the Old Dominion and became a strong and loyal supporter of the Confederacy and of Jefferson Davis.

The files in this series begin with folders relating to the gubernatorial campaign in 1858-1859, leading up to the election in May, and the preparations for taking office on 1 January 1860. These include the announcement of his candidacy, preparations for the Democratic party convention in Petersburg in December 1858 (although not on the convention itself), and the so-called Ruffner pamphlet controversy, referring to Letcher’s brief interest in the emancipation of Virginia slaves a decade earlier. These files include letters from a variety of prominent Virginia politicians, including Alexander H. H. Stuart (July 1858), Sherrard Clemens of Wheeling (July-Aug. 1858), John Echols (July-Aug., Oct. 1858), Robert M. T. Hunter (Aug. 1858), Judge Green Berry Samuels (Aug. 1858), newspaper editor James E. Stewart (Aug.-Oct. 1858, May 1859), Samuel Houston Letcher, the governor’s brother (Aug. 1858), Roger A. Pryor (July 1859), and Francis Henney Smith of the Virginia Military Institute (Aug. 1858).

Immediately after taking office, Letcher’s 1860 correspondence largely concerns secession and threats to the Union, Virginia politics, and the 1860 presidential election, in which he supported Stephen A. Douglas. Some items do reflect on Letcher’s more routine duties as governor. Among his correspondents are W. J. Hardee, concerning his possible assignment to a military post in the Virginia government (Oct.-Nov. 1860, July 1861); Edmund Ruffin (Jan. 1860 presenting the governor with a pike carried by one of John Brown’s Harpers Ferry raiders); Roger A. Pryor (Jan. 1860); William Harvie Richardson (Jan. 1860 concerning a legislative bill for the armory and arms and referring to Capt. Charles H. Dimmock); and C. G. Memminger (Feb. 1860). Additional 1860 materials include a memorandum of Dimmock concerning duties of the public guard relating to the Capitol Square in Richmond (folder 378); notes for a speech on secession (folder 380); and resolutions of a mass meeting in Harrison County (folder 381).

Letcher’s 1861 files start off with a host of anonymous letters from writers both north and south of the Mason-Dixon line taking opposing sides to the impending civil crisis. These reach a crescendo in April 1861, after which the materials turn more clearly to the administrative duties of the governor, with particular concern over keeping the northwestern counties of Virginia loyal. Among Letcher’s correspondents are John J. Moorman (Jan-Feb. 1861); Congressman Paulus Powell (March 1861); Henry Hill (March 1861); John S. Gallaher (April 1861); John McCausland (May 1861, particularly concerning the activation of militia in Putnam and surrounding counties); W. M. Cooke, governor of Missouri (May 1861); Francis Henney Smith; Williams Carter Wickham (June 1861); John Brown Baldwin (June-July, and Dec. 1861); William Harvie Richardson (Nov. 1861); and John Echols (Dec. 1861). Additional files include a printed broadside of proceedings of a state’s rights meeting in Harrison County in April (folder 395), resolutions from the Convention of Friends of Southern Rights and the Convention of the People of Virginia in Richmond, April 1861 (folders 390-391); a memorandum of Cassius M. Clay of Kentucky concerning Abraham Lincoln and the maintenance of peace, also in April (folder 394); an order of the Virginia Council concerning militia units in Bath and surrounding counties (folder 400); and copies of the governor’s proclamation to the people of northwestern Virginia (folder 401).

Two years into Letcher’s term, his correspondence focused even more solidly on the security of the western counties and the Valley of Virginia, supplying troops in the field, applications for civilian jobs and military posts, the manufacture and supply of salt, and alleged atrocities against citizens by southern soldiers. Correspondents include Francis Henney Smith of the Virginia Military Institute (Feb. and Sept. 1862, Jan. 1863); James Erskine Stewart (Jan. 1862); Stephen R. Mallory (to Samuel Bassett French, July 1862); J. R. Anderson & Co. of Richmond (Aug. 1862, concerning the hiring of African American inmates at the state penitentiary to work at Tredegar Iron Works and at blast furnaces in Botetourt and Alleghany counties); newspaperman J. B. Sener (Sept.-Oct. 1862, Jan. 1863); A Sinclair (Sept. 1862, of the Confederate Navy’s Bureau of Orders and Detail); John Buchanan Floyd (Sept. 1862); Charles James Faulkner (Oct. 1862); Howell Cobb (Oct. 1862); Let Page of Gloucester County, Va. (Nov. 1862, concerning a colony of fugitive slaves threatening the local community); Virginia J. Mosby of “Edgewood,” Nelson County (Nov. 1862, concerning speculators preying upon the Virginia homefront); William Mahone (Sept. 1862, concerning the second battle of Manassas); Charles Blue (Jan. 1863, concerning the use of inmates from the state penitentiary to work on the public square in Richmond); Dr. Francis T. Stribling of the Central Lunatic Asylum of Virginia (Jan. 1863, enclosing correspondence with E. W. Johns of the C.S.A. Medical Purveyor’s Office); Roger A. Pryor (Jan. & March 1863); Charles Dimmock (Feb. 1863, of the Ordnance Department of Virginia, Lynchburg); Alexander H. H. Stuart (Feb. 1863); James Alexander Seddon (April 1863); John Brown Baldwin (April 1863); Gen. John R. Jones (March-April 1863, regarding charges against him for conduct at the Battle of Malvern Hill); William Harvie Richardson (Dec. 1863); and John J. Moorman (Dec. 1863).

Letcher left office in January 1864. Most of his correspondence from that year relates to the destruction of the Letcher home during a raid on Lexington, Va., by Union forces under General David Hunter. Previous to that, Letcher ran unsuccessfully for election to the Confederate Congress. A few items relate to that election campaign (folder 418). The folder in the series (431) contains letters written to Mary Susan (Holt) Letcher during the war years, including one from Stapleton Crutchfield in 1861.

Folder 364 Gubernatorial campaign, correspondence, 1858 June
365 Gubernatorial campaign, correspondence, 1858 July
366 Gubernatorial campaign, correspondence, 1858 August
367 Gubernatorial campaign, correspondence, 1858 September-October
368 Gubernatorial campaign, newspaper clipping, 1858 September 14
369 Gubernatorial campaign, correspondence, 1858 November-December
370 Gubernatorial campaign, correspondence, 1859 May
371 Gubernatorial campaign, correspondence, 1859 June-August
372 Governor’s correspondence, 1860 January-February
373 Governor’s correspondence, 1860 May-August
374 Governor’s correspondence, 1860 October
375 Governor’s correspondence, 1860 November-December
376 Introduction to published letters of General Winfield Scott, 1860 November
377 Notes concerning the Brisbane/Letcher correspondence, 1860 November, and the Peace Convention, 1861 February
378 Memorandum of Capt. Dimmock concerning the Public Guard and Capitol Square, Richmond, ca. 1860
379 Newspaper clippings, ca. 1860
380 Notes for a speech on secession, ca. 1860
381 Resolutions of a mass meeting in Harrison County, Va., ca. 1860
382 Democratic Party national presidential election ticket, John C. Breckinridge, 1860
383 Governor’s correspondence, 1861 January
384 Governor’s correspondence, 1861 February-March
385 Governor’s correspondence, 1861 April
386 Governor’s correspondence, 1861 May
387 Governor’s correspondence, 1861 June-July
388 Governor’s correspondence, 1861 September-December
389 Governor’s message and documents, 1861 January 7 (printed)
390 Copy of articles of peace agreed to by Peace Convention, 1861 February 8
391 Resolutions of the Convention of Friends of Southern Rights, 1861 April 17
392 Resolutions of the Convention of the People of Virginia, 1861 April 18: List of Convention members
393 Order of William Harvie Richardson to Col. T. P. Moore, 1861 April 18
394 Memorandum of Senator Cassius M. Clay concerning Lincoln and the maintenance of peace, 1861 April 20
395 Proceedings of a states-rights meeting in Harrison County, Va., 1861 April 26 (broadside)
396 Commonwealth of Virginia, accounts, 1861
397 Newspaper clippings, ca. 1861
398 Notes concerning the opening months of the Civil War in Virginia
399 Letter of H. T. Martin to Col. F. M. Boykin, Jr., 1861 May 1
400 Order of the Virginia Council concerning militia in Bath and adjoining counties, 1861 June 1
401 Governor’s proclamation (copies) to the people of northwestern Virginia, 1861 June 17
402 Governor’s correspondence, 1862 January-March
403 Governor’s correspondence, 1862 July-August
404 Governor’s correspondence, 1862 September
405 Governor’s correspondence, 1862 October
406 Governor’s correspondence, 1862 November-December
407 Speech (copy) to the Virginia General Assembly, 1862 January 9
408 Newspaper clipping, ca. 1862
409 Notes on the Smyth and Washington County salines, by Thomas L. Preston, ca. 1862
410 Governor’s correspondence, 1863 January
411 Governor’s correspondence, 1863 February
412 Governor’s correspondence, 1863 March
413 Governor’s correspondence, 1863 April-May
414 Governor’s correspondence, 1863 June-October
415 Governor’s correspondence, 1863 December
416 Petition of George Washington Bassett, 1863 January 7
417 J. M. Bennett to Mrs. Jackson, 1863 May 11
418 Congressional campaign receipts, 1863
419 Resolutions (typescript copies) of Richmond City Council, 1863-1864
420 Correspondence, 1864
421 Letter to the editor (draft), 1864
422 J. J. Moorman to John D. Davidson, 1864 July 1
423 Railroad passes, 1864
424 Miscellaneous notes concerning the governorship of John Letcher
425 Correspondence, 1865
426 Accounts concerning the Executive Mansion, 1860
427 Accounts concerning the Executive Mansion, 1861
428 Accounts concerning the Executive Mansion, 1862
429 Accounts concerning the Executive Mansion, 1863
430 Calling cards received, ca. 1860-1863
431 Letters written to Mary Susan (Holt) Letcher

Series 7: Postwar life and politics (ca. 135 items)

At the close of the Civil War, John Letcher was taken into custody and briefly imprisoned by Union forces. Materials relating to that incarceration and parole during May-July 1865 appear in folder 432. Papers relating to Letcher’s request for a pardon from President Andrew Johnson (folder 433) include a letter from an old political rival, John Minor Botts. Statements of Richard S. McCulloch (folder 437), a prisoner of U.S. military authorities in 1866, concern his prewar service in the U.S. Treasury Department and his wartime service in the Bureau of Mines of the C.S.A. War Dept.

Of particular interest among these postwar files is a printed speech of Letcher’s given to the freedmen of Rockbridge County in 1869, on the occasion of the anniversary of the birth of George Washington (folder 439). General correspondence for the period 1866-1869 (folder 435) largely concerns postwar politics and economic conditions in Virginia and the South in general, and those letters, along with Letcher’s exchange of correspondence with Schuyler Colfax in 1869 also address the qualifications for president and political views of U.S. Grant (folder 438). A substantial set of documents from 1870 focus on General George H. Thomas and whether he offered his services to Virginia before taking a Union command (folder 441; these include letters of Fitzhugh Lee and notes of Francis Henney Smith of the Virginia Military Institute, where Thomas applied for a post in 1860).

Letcher’s general correspondence from 1870 to 1874 (folder 440) includes letters from former Virginia Governor Wyndham Robertson, former Confederate States Vice President Alexander Hamilton Stephens, and George Wythe Munford (concerning the evacuation of Richmond in April 1865 and Munford’s loss of his own wartime papers). A set of correspondence with sculptor Frederick Volck in 1870 (folder 442) concerns an equestrian statue of Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson and includes a letter of Samuel Bassett French.

John Letcher gained election to the Virginia legislature in 1875 and served a two-year term through April 1877. Materials from that period of his career (folders 444-450) include a certificate of election and commissions of appointment to the board of visitors of Virginia Military Institute and as Virginia representative to the National Pacific Railroad Convention, correspondence concerning the funding of Virginia’s outstanding public debt and the election of Rutherford B. Hayes as president of the United States, and materials concerning failed legislation dealing with taxation on dogs and the protection of sheep. A scrapbook contains materials relating to the funding controversy and to Letcher’s unsuccessful bid for re-election to the House of Delegates in 1877.

Remaining files in this series include additional postwar correspondence, 1877-1880 (includes four letters from Virginia Governor Frederick W. M. Holliday and one from Robert M. T. Hunter [folder 449]); materials concerning the unveiling of the recumbent figure of Robert E. Lee at the Washington and Lee University Chapel in June 1883 (including a program, letter of Mary Susan (Holt) Letcher to Flora (Cooke) Stuart, and typescript reminiscences [folder 453]); letters to Letcher concerning the Richmond Bread Riot in 1863 (folder 452); and an interesting set of materials, 1877-1878, concerning a claim by the editor of the Wheeling, W.Va., Daily Register that William H. Terrill drafted state papers of the Letcher gubernatorial administration (includes letters of George Wythe Munford and Samuel Bassett French, and a pencil sketch of Terrill in later life [folder 451]).

Folder 432 Imprisonment and parole, 1865 May-July
433 Pardon file, 1865-1867
434 Letters to Governor Zebulon B. Vance, 1865-1866 (typescript copies)
435 Postwar correspondence, 1866-1869
436 Speech at the Virginia Military Institute, 1866
437 Statements of Richard S. McCulloh, 1866
438 Exchange with Schuyler Colfax regarding U.S. Grant, 1869 January
439 Speech to the Freedmen of Rockbridge County, 1869 February 22
440 Postwar correspondence, 1870-1874
441 Materials concerning General George H. Thomas, 1870 (1882)
442 Frederick Volck correspondence, 1870-1873
443 Autobiographical sketch, 1872
444 Certificate of election and commissions, 1875-1877
445 General legislative correspondence, 1875-1876
446 Legislative correspondence regarding dog and sheep law, 1875-1877
447 Biographical information and recollections, ca. 1876-1878
448 General legislative correspondence, 1877
449 Postwar correspondence, 1877-1880
450 Scrapbook, 1877
451 State papers controversy (William H. Terrill), 1877-1878
452 Letters to John Letcher regarding the Richmond Bread Riot (1863), 1878
453 Lee Memorial Association, 1883
454 Miscellaneous postwar newspaper clippings
455 Railroad passes, 1865, 1884

Series 8: Postwar law practice (ca. 2,340 items)

Another major series of records concerning John Letcher’s law practice focuses on his postwar career. The former governor endeavored to rejuvenate his practice in Lexington as soon as possible after being released from federal custody in 1865. He rapidly regained his client base, and began to practice with his son Samuel Houston Letcher, and beginning in 1869 with Richard L. Maury as Letcher, Maury & Letcher. By the middle years of the 1870s, Sam Letcher began to take on more and more of the responsibilities of the law office, especially after the departure of Maury in 1873. By 1875, when John Letcher entered the Virginia legislature, his son was handling the bulk of the Letcher & Letcher business, and the former governor, for a variety of reasons, never again played a major role in the business.

The firm’s practice centered in the courts of Rockbridge and Bath counties and some surrounding localities, and focused primarily on the collection of claims and on real estate law. Many of these cases for debt settlement arose from wartime transactions. Among the firm’s numerous clients were a number of women, whose concerns ran the gamut from debt collection and estate settlements to divorce (in the latter instance, see for example Adam E. Jones v. Madasa Jones for adultery, 1871 [folder 570]). A number of case and client files are worthy of note: files maintained for client G. A. White concern the Lucy Selina Iron Furnace, 1865-1867 (folder 476) and the Lexington Hotel, 1867 (folder 489); an 1866 file on the James River & Kanawha Canal Company in part concerns activities of James M. Harris as canal superintendent during the Civil War (folder 484); another file concerns postwar claims against the U.S. government arising from the war (folder 487). Among the Letchers’ more high profile clients was Matthew Fontaine Maury (v. Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad Company, including letters of John Brown Baldwin as the railroad’s counsel and Thomas J. Evans [folder 573]) and the Virginia Military Institute (including letters of superintendent Francis Henney Smith [folder 593]). Letters from William Henry Ruffner appear in the January-February 1872 miscellaneous correspondence file (folder 577).

Folder 456 Rockbridge County, Va., license assessments, 1865-1875
457 Town of Lexington, Va., license assessments, 1866, 1872-1875
458 U.S. Internal Revenue Service license assessments, 1865-1869
459 Railroad passes, 1866
460 Co-partnership agreement with R. L. Maury, 1869; business card
461 Law office accounts, 1868-1875
462 Purchase of law books and journals, 1866-1877
463 Purchase of office safe, 1876
464 Fee book, 1867-1868
465 Statement of receipts, Letcher, Maury & Letcher, 1873
466 Statements of receipts, Letcher & Letcher, 1874-1875
467 Miscellaneous legal papers, undated
468 Miscellaneous legal papers, 1865 July-September
469 Miscellaneous legal papers, 1865 October
470 Miscellaneous legal papers, 1865 November-December
471 William B. Black, estate, 1865
472 Campbell & Burgess, file (Lexington Gazette), 1865
473 Rowland Cromelin claims, 1865-1871
474 James Holly, client file (Lexington house and lot), 1865
475 David J. Whipple, file (flour business), 1865
476 G. A. White, file (Lucy Selina Furnace), 1865-1867
477 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1866 January-July
478 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1866 August-November
479 Miscellaneous legal papers, 1866
480 Churchwell’s administrator v. Loehr, 1866
481 Wm. Devries & Co., Baltimore v. Wilson & Fenton, Cedar Grove, Va., 1866
482 Martha Goyne client file, 1866-1869
483 Rueben Holt, estate, 1866-1869
484 James River & Kanawha Canal Company, client file, 1866
485 John H. Laird, client file, 1866-1867
486 A. A. Pittman & Co., Natural Bridge v. Samuel L. Murrell, 1866-1868
487 Claims v. United States government, 1866
488 E. S. White & Co., Lexington, Va., file, 1866
489 G. A. White, file (land and Lexington Hotel), 1866-1869
490 Yuille v. Burks’ administrator, 1866
491 Rockbridge County, Va., circuit court dockets, 1867 (April & September)
492 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1867 January-April
493 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1867 May-July
494 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1867 September-December
495 Miscellaneous legal papers, 1867
496 Sue A. Bratton, client file (Eusebious N. Strain estate), 1867
497 Fitzhugh, Wither & Co., New York City v. B. J. Jordan & Co., Richmond (Echol Iron Property), 1867-1868
498 I. T. Graves & Mayo, claims file, 1867-1868
499 Kohn & Wise v. Switzer & Heilbroner, 1867
500 William S. McClanahan, file, 1867
501 William T. McCormick, client file, 1867-1868
502 James Matheny, sale of lot in Lexington, Va., 1867-1869
503 Mrs. Ann Maria Paxton, client file, 1867-1868
504 D. M. Reilly, file, 1867
505 Robertson v. Wilson, 1867
506 Mrs. M. E. Smith, client file, 1867-1868
507 Rockbridge County, Va., circuit court, dockets, 1868 February and November
508 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1868 January-February
509 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1868 March-April
510 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1868 May-December
511 Miscellaneous legal papers (writs, receipts, accounts), 1868
512 Miscellaneous legal papers (notices, evidence, agreements, deeds), 1868
513 John W. Barclay, file, 1868-1871
514 Camp, Staples & Co., Lynchburg v. Samuel P. Campbell, 1868-1869
515 Mrs. Catherine Rader, client file, 1868-1871
516 R. M. Smith, client file (Richmond Enquirer), 1868
517 Preston Trotter, estate, 1868-1870
518 James G. Updike v. Henry Redcross (freedman), 1868-1869
519 White & Rosenburg, Baltimore v. G. A. Baker, 1868
520 Rockbridge County, Va., court, trial dockets, 1869
521 Canceled checks, 1869
522 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1869 February-June
523 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1868 July-December
524 Miscellaneous legal papers, 1869
525 Anderson v. MacCorkle, 1869-1870
526 Louisa Baxter v. G. W. Shields (debt case), 1869
527 W. T. Chapin, client file, 1869
528 Ellett & Drewry, Richmond, v. James R. Saunders et al. (debt)
529 R. H. Figgat, client file, 1869
530 Samuel Johnson, client file, 1869
531 Mrs. Elizabeth H. Paxton v. R. J. Echols et al., 1869
532 Peyton & Bro. v. G. A. Zimmerman (debt), 1869
533 Purcell & Ladd, Richmond v. Lafayette H. Fitzhugh (debt), 1869
534 Reid & Sons, Baltimore v. S. L. McDowell (debt), 1869
535 Betty F. Stiff (estate of Dr. William H. Stiff) v. Wm. W. Templeton (debt), 1869
536 Spiller & Massie, Baltimore, James A. Lankford, debt file, 1869-1871
537 James G. Updike v. Lafayette H. Fitzhugh (Point Cabell property), 1869
538 Waggoner & Hardy, Richmond, v. R. G. Mayo (debt), 1869
539 G. A. White v. Benjamin J. Harman’s Administrator (debt), 1869
540 M. B. White v. Cameron & Cameron (debt), 1869
541 Hugh J. Wilson v. Pole & Shields (debt), 1869
542 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1870 January-February
543 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1870 March-May
544 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1870 June
545 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1870 July-August
546 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1870 September-October
547 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1870 November-December
548 Miscellaneous legal papers, 1870
549 Canceled checks, 1870
550 Receipts file, S. M. Connevey, Rockbridge County clerk, 1870
551 Edmund Coffin, Jr.–R. L. Maury, file, 1870
552 Hobson Johns, estate, 1870-1871
553 Jonathan Shafer, client file, 1870-1879
554 T. Benton Taylor, collections file, 1870-1874
555 Eli S. Tutwiler, client file, 1870-1871
556 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1871 January-February
557 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1871 March-April
558 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1871 May-June
559 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1871 July-August
560 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1871 September-October
561 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1871 November-December
562 Miscellaneous legal papers, 1871
563 General writs of execution, Rockbridge County justices, 1871
564 General writs of execution, Rockbridge County justices, 1871 (part II)
565 Samuel Bevan & Co., Baltimore, client file, 1871-1872
566 Receipts file, S. M. Connevey, Rockbridge County clerk, 1871
567 Receipts file, S. M. Connevey, Rockbridge County clerk, 1871 (part II)
568 Echols, Bell & Catlett, Staunton, land claim, 1871
569 J. W. Houghawont, Rockbridge County surveyor of roads, execution writs, 1871
570 Adam E. Jones v. Madasa Evans Jones, divorce case (adultery), 1871
571 R. D. Kirkpatrick, client file, 1871-1872
572 Lexington Town Council, petition to widen causeway, 1871
573 Matthew F. Maury v. Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad Company, 1871-1872
574 John A. Middleton, Middleton estate claim, 1871-1872
575 Hugh White Sheffey–G. A. White, claim file, 1871
576 Jacob S. Shriver, client file, 1871
577 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1872 January-February
578 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1872 March-April
579 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1872 May-June
580 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1872 July-August
581 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1872 September-October
582 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1872 November-December
583 Miscellaneous legal papers, 1872
584 Canceled checks, 1872
585 W. G. Bansemer & Co., Baltimore, client file, 1872
586 Clarke & Waddy, Richmond v. M. Steele, 1872
587 R. D. Lilly–Donnan claim, 1872
588 William McLaughlin, client file, 1872
589 W. A. Mann, client file, 1872
590 Richmond Whig, collections file, 1872-1876
591 W. T. Staples v. Joseph Gilmour’s estate, 1872
592 John Stewart, client file, 1872
593 Virginia Military Institute cases, 1872-1873
594 Miscellaneous legal papers, 1873
595 Switzer & Heilbroner, Lexington, client file, 1873
596 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1874
597 Miscellaneous legal papers, 1874
598 I. S. Johnson & Co., Bangor, Maine, collections file, 1874-1877
599 McNutt & McCorkle, client file, 1874-1877
600 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1875
601 Miscellaneous legal papers, 1875
602 D. M. Reilly, client file, 1875
603 Miscellaneous legal papers, 1876
604 Miscellaneous legal papers, 1877
605 Miscellaneous legal papers, 1878
606 John Letcher v. Thomas Holt’s administrator, 1878-1884
607 Miscellaneous legal papers, 1879
608 Miscellaneous legal papers, 1880
609 Miscellaneous legal papers, 1881
610 Miscellaneous legal papers, 1882
611 Miscellaneous legal papers, 1883
612 Miscellaneous legal papers, 1884

Series 9: Estate and biographical materials (ca. 225 items)

The last series of records in this collection directly relating to John Letcher concern his death, the settlement of his estate, and the compilation of materials for a potential biography gathered first by his son Samuel Houston Letcher, and later by Samuel’s brother, Greenlee Davidson Letcher. Along with obituary notices and letters of condolence addressed to Samuel Letcher and his mother, Mary Susan (Holt) Letcher, are files containing resolutions from a variety of sources on the death of Letcher and a scrapbook kept by Letcher’s daughter Virginia relating to her father. A number of persons who knew or worked with Letcher, particularly during the period of his governorship, submitted reminiscences to S. H. Letcher, among them Samuel Bassett French (letters, 1891-1893, in folder 624), Thomas T. Munford (folder 627), George Graham Vest (folder 628), and Robert Enoch Withers (folder 632). This portion of the collection also includes a carte-de-visite of Letcher, presumably from the immediate postwar period (folder 621).

Several folders (650-653) concern Mary Susan (Holt) Letcher, including a small number of letters written to her, an obituary, and some estate papers. This is followed by a series of files compiled by Greenlee Letcher concerning his father, who died when the younger man was still a child. In part, these concern Letcher’s controversial, if brief, interest in slave emancipation early in his political career (the so-called Ruffner pamphlet controversy [folder 656]); General David Hunter’s Raid on Lexington in 1864 and the burning of the Letcher residence (folder 657); and John Letcher’s watch at the Lee Museum in Lexington (folder 658). The very last folder in this series consists of General John S. Letcher’s correspondence concerning his grandfather gathered in 1961-1970 (folder 660).

Folder 613 Obituaries of John Letcher, 1884
614 Letters of condolence to Mary Susan (Holt) Letcher, 1884
615 Letters of condolence to S. H. Letcher, 1884
616 Resolutions regarding the death of John Letcher, 1884
617 Actions of the Virginia Military Institute regarding the death of John Letcher, 1884
618 Scrapbook, ca. 1884-1897, kept by Virginia Letcher
619 Autographs and calling cards
620 Letter of Samuel S. Cox, 1885
621 Carte de visite of John Letcher
621a Photograph of image of a wartime council meeting including John Letcher
622 Letters to S. H. Letcher concerning a bust of John Letcher, 1894
623 Reminiscence of H. C. Allen, 1884
624 Correspondence of S. H. Letcher with Samuel Bassett French, 1891-1893
625 Reminiscences of J. N. Liggett, 1905
626 Letter of J. Marshall McCue, 1881
627 Reminiscences of Thomas T. Munford, 1901
628 Reminiscences of G. G. Vest, 1903
629 Reminiscences of Joseph A. Waddell, 1905
630 Reminiscences of A. W. Wallace, ca. 1900
631 Reminiscence of Benjamin B. Weisiger, 1892
632 Memoir of John Letcher by Robert E. Withers, ca. 1900
633 Reminiscences of Louis Zimmer, 1900
634 Biographical sketches of John Letcher (typescript copies)
635 Published biographical sketch
636 Newspaper clippings - Biographical sketches
637 Newspaper clippings - Episodes from political career and Reconstruction
638 Newspaper clippings - Episodes as governor of Virginia
639 Newspaper clippings - Posthumous assessments
639a Article relating to John Letcher as an attorney (Iron Worker, 1957)
639b Articles regarding John Letcher in Confederate War Journal, 1893
640 Miscellaneous biographical notes - Character
641 Miscellaneous biographical notes - Congressional service
642 Miscellaneous biographical notes - Governor of Virginia
643 Miscellaneous biographical notes - Postwar life and political career
644 Letters, speeches, messages, anecdotes of John Letcher (typescript copies)
645 Extracts from letters of northern authors, 1861 (typescript copies)
646 Southern Historical Society meeting, remarks of Jefferson Davis (typescript copy), 1873
647 John Letcher estate, bonds and debts due, 1876-1887
648 John Letcher estate, stocks and bonds of M. C. Holt, ca. 1887-1890
649 John Letcher estate, sale of house to Washington and Lee University, 1891
650 Correspondence of Mary Susan (Holt) Letcher, 1886-1891
651 Mary Susan (Holt) Letcher, stocks and bonds, ca. 1890
652 Obituary of Mary Susan (Holt) Letcher, 1899
653 Mary Susan (Holt) Letcher, estate papers, 1900-1924
654 Miscellaneous correspondence of Greenlee D. Letcher concerning John Letcher, 1926-1942
655 Greenlee D. Letcher correspondence concerning John Letcher congressional career, 1926-1928
656 Greenlee D. Letcher correspondence concerning the Ruffner pamphlet, 1928
657 G. D. Letcher/Hunter McDonald correspondence concerning Hunter’s raid on Lexington (1864), 1928-1933
658 G. D. Letcher correspondence concerning John Letcher’s watch at the Lee Museum, Lexington, Va., 1934
659 Biographical notes compiled for Greenlee D. Letcher
660 John S. Letcher correspondence concerning John Letcher, 1961-1970

Series 10: Letcher family papers (father, uncle and sibling) (ca. 95 items)

This brief series of papers contains materials of Governor John Letcher’s uncle James (personal and estate accounts [folder 661]); his father, William Houston Letcher (personal and business accounts, other financial and legal records, and estate papers [folders 662-666]); and his brother Samuel Houston Letcher (correspondence and accounts, militia records [he commanded the 16th Infantry Regiment before the Civil War], and estate papers).

Folder 661 James Letcher personal and estate accounts, 1847-1853
662 William Houston Letcher personal and business accounts, 1824-1839
663 William Houston Letcher personal and business accounts, 1840-1849
664 William Houston Letcher personal and business accounts, 1850-1863
665 William Houston Letcher miscellaneous bonds, agreements, and legal records
666 William Houston Letcher estate materials, 1865-1874
667 Samuel Houston Letcher correspondence and accounts, 1853-1868
668 Samuel Houston Letcher record book of the 16th Virginia Militia Regiment, etc. (undated)
668a Notes and clippings concerning the services of Samuel Houston Letcher in the Confederate States Army
669 Samuel Houston Letcher estate materials, 1869-1874

Series 11: John Letcher’s children and grandchildren (ca. 1,130 items)

The last series in this collection largely concerns Samuel Houston Letcher, Greenlee Davidson Letcher, and General John Seymour Letcher. In the case of the first-named, the files are made up largely of personal accounts and account books, and materials related to his law practice. Samuel Letcher’s legal career can also be traced in the records located in series 8 of this collection, particularly for the period before 1880. Samuel Letcher’s practice, like his father’s, largely focused on debt cases, but included some other noteworthy legal issues. He acted in the Rockbridge area on behalf a number of national debt collection agencies. He also handled real estate transactions and lawsuits.

Among Samuel Letcher’s personal papers are files on his residences in Lexington (folders 736-738); materials regarding his relationship with the Virginia Military Institute (he served on the board of visitors for some time [folder 740]); and his estate papers (folder 743).

Samuel’s brother, Greenlee Davidson Letcher, joined him in the family law practice after the death of their father, and some of his legal papers are mixed in with the firm’s records earlier in this series (papers of S. H. Letcher) and in series 8. A particularly interesting case, considering his participation in Virginia road commissions and organizations, was State Highway Commission of Virginia v. W. M. and Lemma Miller, 1932-1933, a condemnation case (folder 745). A large set of newspaper clippings trace Greenlee Letcher’s career and political and community interests (folders 750-753).

The last files of particular notice in this series include correspondence of Greenlee Letcher’s son Marine General John Seymour Letcher, including letters written by the general (as a younger officer) and by his wife, Betty, from 1928 to 1940 while he was stationed in the United States and in Peking, China (folders 762-763), along with some miscellaneous pieces on his military service (folder 764).

Series 11.1. Samuel Houston Letcher personal papers

Folder 670 Personal correspondence, 1871-1883
671 Personal correspondence, 1886-1897
672 Personal account book, 1871-1873
673 Personal accounts, 1868-1870
674 Personal accounts, 1871
675 Personal accounts, 1872
676 Personal accounts, 1873
677 Personal accounts, 1874
678 Personal accounts, 1875
679 Personal accounts, 1876
680 Personal accounts, 1877
681 Personal accounts, 1878
682 Personal accounts, 1879
683 Personal accounts, 1880
684 Personal accounts, 1881
685 Personal accounts, 1882
686 Personal accounts, 1883
687 Personal accounts, 1884
688 Personal accounts, 1885
689 Personal accounts, 1886
690 Personal accounts, 1887
691 Personal accounts, 1888
692 Personal accounts, 1889
693 Personal accounts, 1890
694 Bonds, etc., 1878-1891
695 Law licenses and license taxes, 1871-1887
696 Notary public materials, 1870-1877
697 Law practice: office correspondence and accounts, 1877-1893
698 Law practice: professional cards, Letcher & Letcher, ca. 1887
699 Law practice: Virginia Law List (3 copies)
700 Law practice: Legal Directory, Reporting, & Collection Agency, 1881-1882
701 Law practice: Patent information, 1882
702 Law practice: Virginia Law Journal, November 1890
703 Law practice: Catalog of the American Law Association, 1898
704 Law practice: Mutual Reserve Fund Life Association file
705 Law practice: Mutual Accident Association file, 1884
706 Law practice: general file, undated
707 Law practice: general file, 1872
708 Law practice: general file, 1873
709 Law practice: general file, 1874
710 Law practice: general file, 1875
711 Law practice: general file, 1876-1877
712 Law practice: general file, 1878
713 Law practice: general file, 1879
714 Law practice: general file, 1880
715 Law practice: Special receiver, Mayse’s executor v. Francisco et al. (Warm Springs Case), 1880
716 Law practice: general file, 1881
717 Law practice: general file, 1882
718 Law practice: general file, 1883
719 Law practice: general file, 1884
720 Law practice: general file, 1885
721 Law practice: general file, 1886
722 Law practice: general file, 1887
723 Law practice: general file, 1888
724 Law practice: general file, 1889
725 Law practice: John E. Laird land file (Loch Laird Case), 1889
726 Law practice: general file, 1890
727 Law practice: J. Wise Norton client file, 1890
728 Law practice: general file, 1891
729 Law practice: general file, 1892
730 Law practice: general file, 1893
731 Law practice: general file, 1894
732 Law practice: general file, 1895
733 Law practice: Shenandoah County Building & Loan Association, Woodstock, 1895
734 Law practice: general file, 1897
735 [not used]
736 House construction and maintenance, 1879-1884, Lexington, Va.
737 Residence on Letcher Ave., Lexington, Va., 1891-1897
738 Tenement on Main Street, Lexington, Va., 1878-1887
739 General land acquisitions, 1881-1890
740 Virginia Military Institute materials, 1870-1895
741 Political file
742 Miscellaneous materials
743 Estate file

Series 11.2. Greenlee Davidson Letcher personal papers

Folder 744 Miscellaneous correspondence, 1891-1923
745 State Highway Commission of Virginia v. W. M. and Lemma Miller, 1932-1933
745a Miscellaneous legal papers
746 Enlistment papers, etc., First Virginia Field Artillery, 1917
747 Rockbridge Artillery materials
748 Executor of John D. Letcher, 1943 (Odd Fellows Home of Virginia, Lynchburg)
749 Miscellaneous advertising materials
750 Newspaper clippings: concerning Greenlee D. Letcher
751 Newspaper clippings: concerning Lexington and Rockbridge County
752 Newspaper clippings: concerning prominent Virginians
753 Newspaper clippings: concerning miscellaneous subjects, including WWII
754 Lexington, Va., photographs, ca. 1900-1917
755 Christmas cards
756 Greeting cards
757 Stamps, Christmas seals, etc.
758 Miscellaneous personal materials
759 Miscellaneous Letcher family correspondence, 1891-1910
760 Letcher family genealogical chart, 1934 (see oversize)
761 Obituary notices of Margaret Letcher Showell, 1936

Series 11.3. John Seymour Letcher personal papers

Folder 762 Family letters, 1928-1940
763 Letters of Mrs. Betty Letcher, 1940
764 United States Marine Corps materials

Oversize materials (filed separately)

The following are items too large to be located in standard folders, and thus removed to oversize file cabinets in Manuscripts Storage. In each case, the folder from which the item was removed, or in which it would normally appear in the arrangement of the collection is noted.
Folder 1 Land records, 1770-1795 (from Series 2, folder 80)
2 Broadsides, 1840 (from Series 3, folders 302-303)
3 Letter, 1873, of S. B. French to John Letcher (from Series 7, folder 442)
4 Map of Kanawha & Old Dominion Company lands, n.d. (from Series 8, folder 442)
5 Westerfield land deeds, 1882 (from Series 11, folder 717)
6 Sale of Real Estate for Delinquent Taxes, Webster County, W.Va. (clipping), 1885 (from Series 11, folder 720)
7 Map showing surveys in Harrison County, Va. [W.Va.], in 1786 (from Series 11, folder 727)
8 Letcher family genealogical chart (2 copies), 1934 (from Series 11, folder 760)
9 Miscellaneous land plats, unidentified (late 19th century?)


Numbers refer to Series Descriptions within this finding aid. Note that subjects referenced by index terms may appear multiple times within the same series. Not all index terms used here appear in the collection- or series-level online catalog records.

A. A. Pitman & Co., Natural Bridge, Va., 8
Account books, 1, 11
Accounts, 1, 5, 8, 11
Adultery, 8
African American iron workers, 6
African American prisoners, 6
African Americans, 2, 8
Alexander, Elizabeth, 2
Alexander, John, 2
Alexander, James, 2
Alexander, Robert, 2
Alexander, Samuel H., 2
Allen, H. C., 9
Alpin, Lewis, 2
Amanda Jane, 2
American Colonization Society, 4
American Legal Association, 2
American Law Association, 11
American party, 5
Amnesty, 7
Ann Smith Academy, Rockbridge County, Va., 2
Arbitration, 2
Arbogast, E., 2
Architecture, Domestic, 1
Atrocities, 6

B. J. Jordan & Co., Richmond, Va., 8
Bailey, Polly, 2
Bailey, William, 2
Baker, G. A., 8
Baldwin, C. C., 2
Baldwin, John Brown, 6, 8
Bank books, 1
Bank of Lexington, 1
Bank of Rockbridge, 1
Bank of the Commonwealth, 1
Banks and banking, 1
Bansemer & Co., Baltimore, 8
Barclay, John W., 8
Bassett, George Washington, 6
Bath County, Va., 6
Bath Iron Works, 2
Baxter, Louisa, 8
Beard, Archibald D., 2
Bennett, J. M., 6
Benton, Elizabeth McDowell, 2
Benton, Thomas Hart, 2, 3
Black, William B., estate, 8
Blast furnaces, 6
Blue, Charles, 6
Botts, John Minor, 7
Boykin, F. M., Jr., 6
Bratton, Sue A., 8
Breckinridge, John C., 6
Broadsides, 3, 6
Brockenbrough, John W., 2
Brooks, Preston, 5
Brown, John, Raid on Harpers Ferry, 6
Brown, Oliver M., 2
Brown’s Hotel, Washington, D.C., 5
Buffalo Forge, Rockbridge County, Va., 2
Bull Run, 2nd Battle of, 6

Cahoon, Matthew C., 2
California–Gold discoveries, 1
Cameron & Cameron, 8
Camp, Staples & Co., Lynchburg, Va., 8
Campbell & Burgess, 8
Campbell & Co., 2
Campbell, Charles P., 2
Campbell, Robert S., 2
Campbell, Samuel P., 8
Canals, 2, 8
Canfield Bro. & Co., Baltimore, 2
Capitol Square, Richmond, Va., 6
Cease, Erasmus A., 2
Central State Hospital, 6
Chapin, W. T., 8
Cherry Grove, Rockbridge County, Va., 2
Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad, 8
Clarke & Waddy, Richmond, Va., 8
Clarke, J. F., 2
Clay, Cassius M., 6
Clemens, Sherrard, 6
Clocks and watches, 9
Cobb, Howell, 5, 6
Coffin, Edward, Jr., 8
Colfax, Schuyler, 7
Colonization, 4
Confederate States. Congress, 6
      Confederate States Navy. Bureau of Orders and Detail, 6
Confederate States. War Dept. Bureau of Mines, 7
      Confederate States Army of Northern Virginia. Medical Purveyor’s Office, 6
Connevey, S. M., 8
Constitutional history–Virginia, 4
Contract law–Cases, 2
Contractors, 1, 2
Convention of Friends of Southern Rights, 6
Cooke, W. M., 6
Cox, Samuel S., 9
Craig, Robert, 3
Crawford, Henry, 2
Crawford, John, 2
Crawford, Thomas J., 2
Cromelin, Rowland, 8
Crutchfield, Stapleton, 6
Cummings, John A., 2
Curry, David P., 1-2, 4-5

D. W. Moore & Co., 2
Daily Register (Wheeling, W.Va.), 7
Dale, Isabella, 2
Daniel, Peter V., 3
Davidson, James D., 2, 6
Davidson, Madison G., 2
Davidson, William, 2
Davis, Jefferson, 9
Debtor and creditor, 2, 8, 11
Debts, Public, 7
Democratic party, 3, 5-6
Dimmock, Charles H., 6
Divorce, 8
Dixon, Andrew, 2
Dodd, Samuel Miller, 2
Dogs–Taxation of, 7
Douglas, Stephen A., 6
Dr. D. Jayne & Son, Philadephia, 2
Drumgoole, George C., 3
Dunkum, Charles, 2
Dunlap, Thomas, estate, 2

E. S. White & Co., Lexington, Va., 8
Echol Iron Property, 8
Echols, John, 1-3, 6
Echols, R. J., 8
Echols, Bell & Catlett, Staunton, Va., 8
Education, 1
Ellett & Drewry, Richmond, Va., 8
Emancipation, 6, 9
Eminent domain, 11
Enquirer (Richmond, Va.), 8
Esque, John, 2
Evans, Thomas J., 8
Executive Mansion, Richmond, Va., 6

Factories, 1
Farley, Anna S., 2
Farmers Bank of Virginia, 1
Faulkner, Charles James, 5-6
Figgat, R. H., 8
Firebaugh, Henry, 2
Fisher, Charles F., 2
Fitzhugh, Lafayette H., 8
Fitzhugh, Wither & Co., New York City, 8
Flour business, 8
Floyd, John Buchanan, 5-6
Free African Americans, 1, 4
Freedmen, 7-8
French, Samuel Bassett, 6-7, 9
Fugitive slaves, 6
Fultz, David, 4

Gallaher, John S., 6
Gibbons, Thomas H., 2
Gibson, Letitia, 2
Gilmour, Joseph, estate, 8
Gloucester County, Va., 6
Governors–Virginia, 6
Goyne, Martha, 8
Graham, Dr. Archibald, 2
Grant, Ulysses S., 7
Green, Thomas S., 2
Green, William, 2
Grigsby, Jaquelin, 2
Grigsby, John Warren, 2-3
Guardian and ward, 2

Halback & Sipes, 2
Hamilton, Robert, estate, 2
Hardee, William J., 6
Harman, Benjamin J., estate, 8
Harper, James, 1
Harpers Ferry, W.Va., Brown’s Raid on, 6
Harris, James M., 8
Harrison County, W.Va., 6
Hatters, 2
Hay, 2
Hayes, Rutherford B., 7
Health resorts, Va., 1
Hicks, Nelson, 2
Hill, Henry, 6
Hoffman, Joseph, estate, 2
Holliday, Frederick W. M., 7
Holly, James, 8
Holmes, Simon, estate, 2
Holt, Margaret Catherine, 2, 9
Holt, Rueben, estate, 8
Holt, Thomas, estate, 8
Hopkins, George Washington, 3
Houghawont, J. W., 8
Humphries, M. A., 2
Hunter, David, 6, 9
Hunter, R. M. T., 5-7

I. S. Johnson & Co., Bangor, Maine, 8
I. T. Graves & Mayo, 8
Imboden, John D., 2, 4
Insurance, Fire–Policies, 1
Iron industry and trade, 2, 6

J. M. Wilson & Co., Lexington, 2
J. R. Anderson & Co., Richmond, 6
Jackson, Stonewall–Statue, 7
Jackson, Letitia Christian, 6
James River, Va., 2
James River & Kanawha Canal, 8
Johns, Edward W., 6
Johns, Hobson, estate, 8
Johnson, Andrew, 7
Johnson, Samuel, 8
Johnston, Thomas, 2
Jones, Adam E., 8
Jones, John R., 6
Jones, Madasa, 8
Jordan, Davis, & Co., 2
Jordan, John, 2
Jordan, John W., 2
Jordan, Samuel F., 2
Jordan, Samuel H., 2
Jordan, William, 2
Julia (Slave), 2
Justices of the peace, 8

Kendall, Amos, 3
Kinnear, John A., 2
Kirkpatrick, Charles, 2
Kirkpatrick, R. D., 8
Kirkpatrick, Samuel, 2
Kohn & Wise, 8

Laird, John E., 11
Laird, John H., 8
Land titles–Washington, D.C., 1
Lankford, James A., 8
LaRew, John, 2
Law books, 2, 8
Law licenses, 8, 11
Lawyers, 2, 8, 11
Lee, Fitzhugh, 7
Lee, Robert E.–Monuments, 7
Lee Memorial Association, 7
Legal Directory, Reporting & Collection Agency, 11
Legal documents, 2
Letcher, Elizabeth Worthington Marston, 11
Letcher, Greenlee Davidson, 9, 11
Letcher, James, 10
Letcher, John
      Autobiography, 7
      Biography, 9
      Busts, 9
      Death and burial, 9
      Estate, 9
      Law license, 2
      Law office, 2
      Law practice, 2, 8
      Obituaries, 9
      Personal finances, 1
      Political career, 3-7, 9
      Portraits, 9
      Watch, 9
Letcher, John D., 11
Letcher, John S., 9, 11
Letcher, Margaret K., 1
Letcher, Mary Susan Holt, 6-7, 9
Letcher, Mary Susan Holt, estate, 9
Letcher, Robert P., 5
Letcher, Samuel Houston (1828-1868), 6, 10
Letcher, Samuel Houston (1828-1868), estate, 10
Letcher, Samuel Houston (1848-1914), 8-9
      Estate, 11
      Law practice, 11
      Personal finances, 11
Letcher, William Houston, 10
Letcher, Maury, & Letcher, 8
Letcher & Letcher, Lexington, Va., 8, 11
Letcher family, 1, 11
Letcher family–Genealogy, 11
Letcher House, Lexington, Va., 1, 9
Lewis County, Mo.–Land purchase, 1
Lexington Gazette (Lexington, Va.), 8
Lexington Hotel, Lexington, Va., 8
Lexington Presbyterian Church, 2
Lexington Savings Institution, 1
Lexington, Va.
      Economic conditions, 1, 8
      Hunter’s Raid, 1864, 6, 9
      Scenes, 11
Lexington, Va. Town Council, 8
Liberia, 4
Liggett, J. N., 9
Lilly, R. D., 8
Lincoln, Abraham, 6
Link, Preston T., 2
Loch Laird case, 11
Lockridge, James T., 2
Luckess, William, 2
Lucy Selina Furnace, 8

Mahone, William, 6
Main Street, Lexington, Va., 1, 11
Mallory, Stephen R., 6
Malvern Hill, Battle of, 6
Mann, W. A., 8
Martin, H. T., 6
Matheny, James, 8
Mauck, R. C., 2
Maury, Matthew Fontaine, 8
Maury, Richard L., 8
Mayberry, Thomas, estate, 2
Mayo, R. G., 8
McCampbell, E. J. H., 2
McCausland, John, 6
McClanahan, William S., 8
McClung, Samuel L., 2
McColloh, Richard S., 7
McCormick, William T., 8
McCue, J. Marshall, 9
McDonald, Hunter, 9
McDowell, James, 3-4
McDowell, Dr. James, 5
McDowell, S. L., 8
McFee, John, 2
McGahey, Elizabeth, 2
McLaughlin, William, 8
McMananny, A., 1
McNutt & McCorkle, 8
Medical Care, Cost of, 1
Memminger, Christopher G., 6
Middleton, John A., 8
Miller, Lemma, 11
Miller, W. M., 11
Moore, T. P., 6
Moore, Joseph W., 2
Moorman, John J., 6
Mosby, Virginia J., 6
Mount Prairie, Mo., 2
Munford, George Wythe, 4, 7
Munford, Thomas T., 9
Murrell, Samuel L., 8
Mutual Accident Association, 11
Mutual Reserve Fund Life Association, 11

National Pacific Railroad Convention, 7
Nelson County, Va., 6
Newspaper editors, 3
Norton, J. Wise, 11

Old Fellows Home, Lynchburg, Va., 11

Page, Mrs. Let, 6
Paine, William G., 2
Pardons, 7
Parrish, Royall, 2
Patents, 2, 11
Paul, John, 2
Pauper suits, 2
Paxton, Ann Maria, 8
Paxton, Elizabeth H., 8
Peace Convention, 6
Perry, Abraham T., 2
Petitions, 8
Pettigrew, Samuel, estate, 2
Peyton & Bro., 8
Pierce, Franklin, 5
Point Cabell property, 8
Pole & Shields, 8
Political campaigns, 4-7
Porter, Benjamin F., 2
Powell, Paulus, 6
Practice of law, 2, 8, 11
Presbyterians, 2
      Election, 1840, 3
      Election, 1844, 3
      Election, 1852, 5
      Election, 1860, 6
      Election, 1876, 7
Preston, Thomas L., 6
Proclamations, 6
Pryor, Roger A., 6
Purcell & Ladd, Richmond, Va., 8
Putnam County, W.Va., 6

Rader, Catherine, 8
Railroad passes, 7
Railroads, 7
Randolph, John, 2
Real property–Cases, 2, 8, 11
Redcross, Henry, 8
Reed, Harvey, 2
Reid & Sons, Baltimore, 8
Reilly, D. M., 8
Republican Advocate (Richmond), 4
Richardson, William Harvie, 6
Richmond, Va.
      Evacuation fire, 7
      Fire, 1861, 1
Richmond, Va. City Council, 6
Richmond Bread Riot, 1862, 7
Ritchie, Thomas, 3
Rives, William Cabell, 3
Roach, William B., 2
Roads, 8, 11
      Repair, 2
Roane, William Henry, 3
Robertson, Wyndham, 7
Rock Castle Farm, 1
Rockbridge Artillery, 11
Rockbridge County, Va.–Land plats, 1
Rockbridge County, Va. Clerk, 8
Rockbridge County, Va. Justice of the peace, 8
Rockbridge County, Va. Surveyor of the roads, 8
Ruffin, Edmund, 6
Ruffner, William Henry, 8
Ruffner pamphlet, 6, 9

Salt manufacture, 6
Samuel Bevan & Co., Baltimore, 8
Samuel F. Jordan & Co., 2
Samuels, Green Berry, 3, 5-6
Saunders, James R., 2, 8
Scott, Winfield, 6
Scrapbooks, 5, 7, 9
Sculptors, 7
Secession, 6
Seddon, James A., 6
Sener, James B., 6
Shafer, Jonathan, 8
Sheep, Protection of, 7
Sheffey, Hugh White, 2
Sheltman, Peachy H., 2
Shenandoah County Building & Loan Association, 11
Shenandoah Valley, 2
Sherrard, S., 2
Shields, G. W., 8
Shoemakers, 2
Showell, Margaret Letcher, 11
Shriver, Jacob S., 8
Sinclair, A., 6
Slave children, 2
Slave hiring, 1-2
Slave stealing, 2
Slavery–Controversial literature, 6
Slaves, 2
      Employment, 1-2
      Legal status, laws, etc., 2
      Purchase and sale of, 1-2
Smith, Francis Henney, 6-8
Smith, Mrs. M. E., 8
Smith, R. M., 8
Smith, William “Extra Billy,” 3
Smyth County, Va., 6
Southern States–Economic conditions, 7
Southern Historical Society, 9
Speeches, addresses, etc., 5-7
Spiller & Massie, Baltimore, 8
Staples, W. T., 8
Steamboat lines, 4
Steele, M., 8
Stephens, Alexander H., 7
Stevens, Elizabeth, 2
Stevens, Virginia Lee Letcher, 9
Stevens, William, 2
Stevens, William G., 2
Stewart, James E., 6
Stiff, Betty F., 8
Stiff, Dr. William H., estate, 8
Strain, Eusebious N., 8
Stribling Francis T., 6
Stuart, Alexander H. H., 2, 4, 6
Stuart, Flora Cooke, 7
Sumner, Charles, 5
Switzer & Heilbroner, 8

Tanners, 2
Taxation, Local, 1
Taylor, George W., 2
Taylor, James, 2
Taylor, T. Benton, 8
Taylor, William, 3
Templeton, William W., 8
Terrill, William H., 7
Thomas, George H., 7
Thompson, David W., 2
Toll roads
      Cases, 2
      Finance, 1
Tredegar Iron Works, 6
Trotter, Preston, 8
Trueheart, G. W., 2
Trusts and trustees, 2
Tuck, R., 2
Turnpike case, 2
Tutwiler, Eli S., 8

United States
      Civil War history–Atrocities, 6
      Civil War history–Claims, 8
      Diplomatic and consular service, 3
      Foreign public opinion, 3
      Politics and government, 2-3, 6
      Territories and possessions, 5
United States.
      Congress, 4
           Members, 5
      Congress, 26th, 3
      Congress, 32nd, 5
      Congress, 33rd, 5
      Consulate (Bordeaux, France), 3
      District Court (Western Virginia), 2
      Marine Corps, 11
      Post Office Dept., 1
      Treasury Dept., 5, 7
United States Army. First Virginia Field Artillery, 11
Updike, Albert G., 2
Updike, James G., 8

Valley Star (Lexington), 3
Van Buren, Martin, 3
Vance, Zebulon B., 7
Vanderpoel, Aaron, 3
Vest, George Graham, 9
      Politics and government, 2-4, 6-7
      Armory, 6
      Circuit Court (Bath), 8
      Circuit Court (Rockbridge), 8
      Circuit Superior Court (Augusta), 2
      Circuit Superior Court (Rockbridge), 2
      Convention of 1861, 6
      Constitutional Convention, 1850-51, 4
      County Court (Augusta), 2
      County Court (Bath), 8
      County Court (Rockbridge), 2, 8
      Council, 6
      General Assembly, 3-4
      House of Delegates–Members, 7
      Governor, 6
           Records and correspondence, 7
      Militia, 6
           Infantry Regiment, 16th, 10
      Notary public, 11
      Public guard, 6
      State Highway Commission, 11
Virginia Law Journal, 11
Virginia Law List, 11
Virginia Military Institute, 6-9, 11
Virginia Penitentiary, 6
Virginians–California, 1
Virginians–Missouri, 1
Volck, Frederick, 7

Waddell, Joseph A., 9
Waggoner & Hardy, Richmond, Va., 8
Walker’s Creek Track, 2
Wallace, A. W., 9
Wallace, Andrew, 2
Warm Springs case, 11
Washington, D.C. Square 678, 1
Washington & Lee University, 9
      Lee Chapel, 7, 9
Washington College, Lexington, Va., 5
Washington County, Va., 6
Waskey, John S., 2
Water rights, 2
Weaver, Lucy, 2
Weaver, John P., 2
Weaver, William, 2
Weisiger, Benjamin B., 9
West Virginia–Civil War history, 6
Whig (Richmond, Va.), 8
Whig party, 3
Whipple, David J., 8
White & Rosenburg, Baltimore, 8
White, G. A., 8
White, M. B., 8
Wickham, Williams Carter, 6
Williams, James M., 2
Wilson & Fenton, Cedar Grove, Va., 8
Wilson, Hugh J., 8
Withers, Robert Enoch, 9
Wm. Devries & Co., Baltimore, 8
      Economic condition, 2, 8
      Legal status, laws, etc., 2, 8
      Social conditions, 2, 8
Women slaves, 1
Woodbury, Levi, 3
World War, 1939-1945, 11
Wright, James R., 2

Yount, Elizabeth, 2

Zimmer, Louis, 9
Zimmerman, G. A., 8

Container List

Box 1:
    Series 1: Personal Papers Folders 1-49
Box 2:
    Series 1: Personal Papers, Cont. Folders 50-72
    Series 2: Antebellum Law Practice, 1839-1842 Folders 73-139
Box 3:
    Series 2: Antebellum Law Practice, 1843-1850 Folders 140-222
Box 4:
    Series 2: Antebellum Law Practice, 1851-1865 Folders 223-289
    Series 3: Antebellum Political Career, 1834-1849 Folders 290-311
    Series 4: Virginia Constitutional Convention, 1850-1851 Folders 312-323
Box 5:
    Series 5: Congressional Career, 1851-1859 Folders 324-363
    Series 6: Governor of Virginia, 1860-1864 Folders 364-431
    Series 7: Postwar Life and Politics, 1865-1884 Folders 432-455
Box 6:
    Series 8: Postwar Law Practice (1865-1871) Folders 456-566
Box 7:
    Series 8: Postwar Law Practice, Cont. (1871-1884) Folders 567-612
    Series 9: Estate and Biographical Materials Folders 613-660
    Series 10: Letcher Family Papers (Father, Uncle, Siblings) Folders 661-669
Box 8:
    Series 11: Letcher Family Papers (Children and Grandchildren) Folders 670-764
    Miscellaneous items pulled from Series 2, 3, 7, 8, and 11 Folders 1-9

Last updated: May 6, 2003