Charles A. Roane Journal (1856-1869) with Names of Enslaved People (King & Queen County, Virginia)

Transcriber: Warren P. Lively (1980)

With thanks to: Ralph Sutton and Megan Chandler for this invaluable resource.


Travel from Plain View on King and Queen County Road # 605 one quarter of a mile south.  Then turn with the road south easterly #648 and go a half mile further…From this location look south and you will see, sitting uphill and well back from the road, a large frame three story home with a brick basement.  It is called Spring Hill and was completed and occupied by Charles Alexander Roane and his family on November 23, 1860.  The farmland appertaining comprised 636 acres.  This home had been planned for some time as the owner’s old six room home on land adjoining on the west had become inadequate for his growing family and their frequent guests, many who often spent the night.

By 1860 his family consisted of his second wife, Matilda Frances Mitchell, whom he married on 15 February 1854, and their children, Alton Lee, Hamilton Mitchell and Elva Coles; also four children by his deceased first wife, Sarah Rebecca Roane, his first cousin, whom he married December 6, 1838.  Their names were Luther Major, Richard Alexander, Maria Louisa and Charles Edward.

Charles Alexander Roane was born August 7, 1817, most likely in Gloucester County, the son of Charles Roane and Frances Guthrie Roane, and grandson of Alexander Roane and Elizabeth Pollard, his wife. 

In 1856 he began keeping a diary, which shows that he was then basically a farmer.  This diary itself is interesting.  A leather-bound leger approximately 7 ½” X 12 ¾, evidently used as a leger first and afterwards having had many sheets sewn into the center for the diary part thereby taking advantage of the leather cover.

His diary describes the events leading up to and during the construction of Spring Hill.  It also gives an excellent insight into farm and family life before, during and after the Civil War.  It portrays the diarist as a concerned family man of many talents, involved in numerous community and social activities.  While his spelling and grammar often leave much to be desired, his vocabulary was far from limited, and his records contain much information.  Selections from it follow.

The Enslaved:

Charles Roane called “servants” and “hands”. They were:

  • George (mentioned at least 39 times)
  • Seller (34 times)
  • Henry (25 times)
  • Williams (25 times)
  • Ben (24 times)
  • Phil (17 times)
  • Tabby (15 times)
  • Fanny (9 times)
  • Augustin/Augustine (7 times)
  • Catherine (6 times)
  • Dabny (6 times)
  • Kitty (5 times)
  • John (4 times)
  • Sukey (3 times)

Note: The original spelling was fairly horrific. many of the words were spelled phonetically. The text has been cleaned up where possible to improve its readability.

Charles Alexander Roane Diary

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