Tag Archives: American County Histories
Story of Inyo 1

A Look Inside: The Story of Inyo

The Story of Inyo can be found in the California section of our American County Histories: The West. This book was compiled by Willie Arthur Chalfant (1868-1943) and dedicated to Pleasant Arthur Chalfant.

Story of Inyo Dedication

Story of Inyo Dedication

From the Foreword to the First Edition

California has furnished probably more themes for books than has any other American State. The easy-going romantic years of Mexican rule, the padres, the Argonauts, the golden era, the wonders of this Empire of the West, have had generous attention from both masters and amateurs in prose and poetry, fact and fiction. The flood of writing hardly diminishes, for magazine literature and still more books add to it month by month.

This book’s purpose is to preserve, particularly, the record of Inyo County earlier than 1870, when a printed record began. Gathering data for some such purpose began more than twenty years ago, while many of the pioneers still lived. It was the author’s good fortune to know personally every early-day Inyoite then in the county. All narratives were checked and rechecked with each other and with other sources of information.

One of the most valuable sources of information was an extensive manuscript collection in the private library of Henry G. Hanks, in San Francisco. Mr. Hanks was an assayer in San Carlos and Chrysopolis mining camps, Owens Valley, in 1863. In later years he became State Mineralogist of California. He was a man of education, and when age caused his retirement from active labors his library received his whole attention. His interest in Owens Valley continuing, he kept and arranged many letters, diaries and other writings relating to this county’s history.

Everyone who took any prominent part in the Indian war has passed on. The Hanks library was burned in the fire of 1906. As those sources of information are thus forever lost, there is some justification in believing that a service was done in getting what they had to impart; and also, that these chronicles, having that advantage, give the only fairly complete record of the county’s beginnings that can be compiled.

Story of Inyo - Settlement Map

Story of Inyo – Settlement Map



The Instruction of Slaves in Alabama

This brief overview of literacy among slaves of Alabama appears in the chapter titled History of Public Education in Alabama in the volume History of Clarke County by John Simpson Graham in our American County Histories: Southeastern States.

The Instruction of Slaves

Historical writers have given little or no concern to negro education in slave times. Presumably this want of concern has been due to the assumption that there was no such thing as the instruction of slaves, but as a matter of fact there was (see See C. G. Woodson, The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861).

No inconsiderable number of negroes in Alabama came out of slavery with the ability to read and write. At least three causes operated to give to a small proportion of the slave population a modicum of text-book instruction.  These were:

(1) the clandestine efforts of anti-slavery enthusiasts;
(2) the profits accruing to some masters by reason of the ability of their slaves to read, write, and otherwise transact business; and
(3) the kindness of young masters and mistresses in instructing their servants.

There was, moreover, a more or less general feeling that negroes might be permitted to learn to read their Bibles, and what is known as “vocational training” was widespread. But the fear of insurrectionary influence and the spread of abolitionist propaganda led to the legal regulation of slave assemblies and to the creation of the patrol system; and, as the abolitionists became more insistent, the education of slaves, in the case of individuals as well as in assemblies, was prohibited by law.

In making this prohibition, Alabama was neither first nor last among the slave states, but occupied a middle ground; its law was enacted in 1832. These laws generally had the effect of preventing organized effort to instruct the slaves, so that such literacy as negroes possessed when emancipated was of the sort that young masters and mistresses had chosen to give, in disregard of the law, to their favorite servants.

The full-text search capability of the American County Histories database permits the student/researcher to explore all the publications of a particular county by using a single query. In addition, those wishing to read or browse the text on a page by page basis may do so in the original format merely by scrolling down the screen and then continuing to the next chapter.

Bandera County

Meet Mrs. Mary Jane Walker

This short memoir appears in Pioneer History of Bandera County (Texas) by J. Marvin Hunter. Bandera County, formed in 1856 from Bexar and Uvalde counties, is a located on Texas’s Edwards Plateau. This volume is in our American County Histories:  The Southwest collection.

The full-text search capability of the American County Histories database permits the student/researcher to explore all the publications of a particular county by using a single query. In addition, those wishing to read or browse the text on a page by page basis may do so in the original format merely by scrolling down the screen and then continuing to the next chapter.

From the Forward

Bandera county has a wonderful history. During the seventy-five years that have passed since white people settled this region, history has been in the making. Many tragedies have been enacted, many privations endured, many dangers experienced during this long span of years—three-quarters of a century. We have yet living with us some of the hardy pioneers that came with the first settlers, men and women who are today nearing the century mark, but still active and full of life.

The rising generation ought to know something of the cost of the blessings we today enjoy, and it is the purpose of this volume to place on record a correct history of these pioneers, and tell of the sacrifices they made in order to redeem this great land from the hands of the roving bands of Indians who had always claimed it.

Mrs. Mary Jane Walker

Born in Claiborne Parish, La., November 18, 1834, and now in the 88th year of her age, Mrs. Mary Jane Walker, nee Moore, looks serenely back upon the great span of years that intervene between her childhood days and the glorious present, and rejoices that she has lived to see the wonderful changes that have taken place. Grandma Walker makes her home with her son, John Travis Walker, and family on Chalk Creek, Bandera county. She came to Texas with her parents in 1853, and located near Austin. On June 22, 1857, she was married to William Andrew Walker, in Blanco county. After living in Blanco and Llano county for awhile she and her husband came to Bandera county that same year, 1857, remaining here awhile, then went back to Llano county. They returned to Bandera in 1866 and located on Laxson’s Creek, afterwards buying the Joe W. Minear place there. Nine children were born to them, four of whom are still living, Mrs. Cynthia Artie Reed of Lima, John Travis Walker of Bluff, Joseph Daniel Walker of Seymour, Mrs. Selina Argie Ferguson of Pear Valley.



Crimes and Punishments in 18th Century Virginia

In A History of Orange County Virginia, Chapter XV: Crimes and Punishments, you can find a compilation of highlights from various criminal prosecutions.

This volume can be found in American County Histories » Virginia County Histories.

Crimes and Punishments

There are some notable instances of crimes, and particularly of punishments, in the earlier records; punishments that in these days would be called barbarous, but which were the identical punishments for the particular crimes prescribed by the laws of England, then the laws of the colony. A crime by a servant against his master, by a wife against her husband, if sufficiently grave, was “petty treason,” as in the cases of Peter and Eve hereafter narrated.

Hog stealing seems to have been so persisted in that special penalties were denounced upon it, until finally a second conviction was punishable by death; and hogs, then as now, had a special fascination for the negroes.

It is to be observed, too, that (rape) the “unspeakable crime,” though of rarer occurrence in those days than now, was by no means unheard of as has been asserted.

The tradition that Negro Run, formerly Negro-head Run, was so called because the head of a negro who had been drawn and quartered for crime had been set up near it, is not sustained by the records of Orange; if true, the incident must have occurred before the County was formed, but there really seems no substantial basis for it.

The cases that follow are taken from the order books where they still may be read at large by the curious. It must be borne in mind that in those days the County Courts were often constituted “Courts of Oyer and Terminer,” that is, to hear and make final determination.



Plug Uglies: The Boys of Carrollton

This story appears in Carroll County and her People by Private Joe Cobb:

Plug Uglies, was a name assumed by an informal and disorganized organization of school boys at Carrollton in 1866, between the ages of fifteen and twenty years, for fun.

In 1857, when John and Chas. Rodahan built the first brick court house–for ten thousand dollars–the old wooden court house, two stories high, was rolled off the square to the south-east corner, where Mr. Wyley Stewart’s store now stands. The old house was usually occupied by Dr. Tanner’s and “Uncle” Tom Chandler’s goats in the day time, and by the Plug Uglies at night. Lee was the regular elected captain, being the tallest and best one to plan “ways and means” for fun for the boys. The object was for nothing but innocent fun. Some of the older men and politicians were hard to convince that it was not for political purposes.

Being just after the Civil War, when government was in a state of chaos and the “Ku Klux Klan” was on the rampage in Georgia and the south. The Plug Uglies may have had some influence in deterring evil doers and suppressing crime, though that was not its object, but was for fun for the boys. They would fish, hunt and bathe together. Often at night, between the hours of 9 and 11 o’clock they would meet, make speeches, go serenading with old tin pans for tambourines, kettle drums or anything with which to make a noise. There was a quartet of excellent singers, led by Cliff, who as everyone knows is an expert vocalist. They would always be treated by the good matrons to cakes, pies and other good eatables at once, so as to get rid of the boys.

Carrollton’s witty poet, George, expressed of the Plugs the day after Christmas, in the first verse of a poem which was published thus:

“’Twas Christmas night–the solem clock
Had tolled the hour of one,
When Olifton, with a dozen more,
Resolved to have some fun.”

The poem gave an account of what was done by the Plugs that night; unhung gates, removed buggy wheels, rang the school and church bells, serenaded, and engaged in other “innocent” amusements. When the bells were ringing some believed it was a fire alarm and that jovial, good natured gentleman who had a store up town, Col. John B. Beall, drew a picture of himself that night as he ran to what he thought was a fire, with his hat flying behind him, as he hopped, jumped and ran with his stiff leg greatly in evidence. No real injury was done, no property damaged and everybody laughed and took it as a joke.

All of those boys are now old men; some dead, others married and have nice families and are amongst the best citizens of the county and state.

There is an organization now called Plug Uglies in Boston, Mass.–the object of which we are not informed, but no doubt took the name from the original Plug Uglies at Carrollton, for it was the only one ever heard of since 1866.

The full-text search capability of the American County Histories database permits the student/researcher to explore all the publications of a particular county by using a single query. In addition, those wishing to read or browse the text on a page by page basis may do so in the original format merely by scrolling down the screen and then continuing to the next chapter.