Blog Post

Common Place: The Lemmon Slave Case

Originally published Fall 2013.

By Marie Tyler-McGraw and Dwight T. Pitcaithley >> In May of 1837, William “Billy” Douglas, a prosperous farmer and landholder in Bath County, at the southern end of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, died. A man of large appetites and little schooling, he was well-adapted to Virginia’s mountain frontier in the early nineteenth century and he acquired property and children with equal energy. His will, which he signed with an X, described his extensive acreage along the Cowpasture River in Bath County that included at least two farms, and 30 slaves, all of which he distributed among the thirteen children he had locally with three women, for none of whom is there any record of a marriage.

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