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  • Writer's pictureBeth Stenstrom

James Horace Lacy, 19th Century Owner of Ellwood

James Horace Lacy, 19th Century Owner of Ellwood

Great Grandfather of Agnes J.



James Horace Lacy was born 10 June 1823 in St Charles County, Missouri. His parents descended from Welsh emigrants who family was present in Colonial Virginia by 1685 in the New Kent County region, later cut off into Hanover County. Horace’s father, Rev William Sterling Lacy, a Presbyterian minister, had migrated west to Missouri by the early 1800’s.


Horace returned to Virginia where he graduated in Law at Washington College in Lexington. For a short while, he tutored in the family home of the Bryans in Gloucester County, VA. He then returned to Lexington to work in his field. Later, while visiting the Bryans, Horace met and began courting Betty Jones. Betty was the daughter of the recently deceased William Jones of the Ellwood Manor and estate.


Horace and Betty were married 19 October 1848 at Ellwood. Thusly, Horace came into control of the extensive Ellwood properties. When Betty’s half-sister, Hannah Jones Coalter, owner of Chatham Manor in Fredericksburg, died in 1857, Horace and Betty purchased Chatham and made that their primary residence, using Ellwood as their summer home. Horace and Betty were parents to 8 children who were born in various locations in Virginia.

As the conflagration between the states arrived, Horace joined the Confederate Army in 1861.


In an effort to remain close to home, he volunteered as aide-de-camp to 3 different generals in succession, the final one being Major General Gustavus Smith in Richmond. In 1862, he was captured by Federal forces while visiting his properties for a celebration of his birthday. He was imprisoned at Fort Delaware for a period before being exchanged. Upon his return to Virginia he was assigned as a Quartermaster Officer in various departments of the CSA through the end of the war, most notably Field Inspector of Transportation.


Upon the cessation of the hostilities, Horace set about restoring Chatham and Ellwood. He also took up the crusade to recover the bodies of the Confederate soldiers from their wartime burials and to transfer them to appropriate cemeteries. He traveled throughout the South giving speeches in an impassioned manner, requesting financial assistance. Horace acquired the moniker “Lion of the Wilderness” as a consequence of these orations.


After the war, Horace and Betty lived at Ellwood until 1896 when they retired to a smaller home on Washington Avenue in Fredericksburg, VA. At least half of the Ellwood properties had been quartered among the four oldest of their children in 1870’s.


Agnes Reid Jones was born in 1923 in Roanoke, VA. Her line of descent passes back through he father, Alfred Power Jones, born in 1885 in Fredericksburg. Alfred was the son of Elizabeth Bryan Lacy, the 3rd child of James Horace Lacy. Elizabeth was born at Chatham in 1856.

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