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Benjamin Hiter James, Plantation Overseer 1860s/1870s

Benjamin Hiter James, Plantation Overseer 1860s/1870s

Great Grandfather of Robert M.

Robert B. Miller’s great grandfather Benjamin Hiter James was the overseer of Horace Lacy’s Ellwood Plantation following the end of the Civil War in the late 1860s until Betty and Horace returned to Ellwood in 1872.

Columbia James Miller (1855-1947), “Hiter” James’ daughter and Robert B. Miller’s grandmother wrote the following in her memoirs describing the house and grounds where they lived while James managed Ellwood and two other nearby plantations.

“This section was called “the Wilderness.” It was a pretty place and on the farm were all necessary out buildings usually found on a large farm. The house was spacious and beautiful. It had been used for a hospital during the war.

Here Father employed a governess as we were all of school age but Sister Fanny. This lady was a Miss Chancellor. Her father owned a beautiful home on or near the public highway in this section, and it was on his home grounds that the battle of Chancellorsville was fought. Here General Jackson fell mortally wounded.

The old colored woman who worked for us told us children that when General Jackson was wounded his arm was amputated and buried in the cemetery on this place where we lived. She said that he died of pneumonia following the amputation.

In the early seventies the government sent men to remove the bodies of all those slain in battle. They were buried all about on the place, and beside the walk leading from the house to the barn. These bodies had only been wrapped in blankets for burial, and as we children saw them take them up they were nothing but a mass of human bones. Each body was put in a small wooden box. It was said they were paid seventy-five cents for each body. It was also said that some days before this someone came to the cemetery and took General Jackson’s arm. We saw him at the cemetery, but did not ask any questions thinking it was some of his family perhaps.”

Benjamin Hiter James was born in Fauquier County in 1829 and inherited the family farm, “Milburn.” He found it more profitable to manage farms for others while renting out his own property.

In 1852, he married Nancy Payne of Fauquier Co. and together they raised eight children; the youngest, Fanny, is believed to have been born at Ellwood.

Private James served late in the Civil War with the 30th VA Infantry, Co K.

“Hiter” James died in 1898 in Fauquier County and is buried in the family burial ground in the same county.

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