Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Gabriel Jones and Bogota

Gabriel Jones of Bogota
On October 9, the second program of the Deyerle Series features Rachel Lilly, the current owner of Bogota, discussing the architecture of the Bogota house built by Jacob Strayer in the1850s.  Few local residents realize an earlier Bogota existed on the current property.  It was built by Gabriel Jones about 1756.  Gabriel Jones, nicknamed the “Valley Lawyer” was energetic, rascally, well-connected, and well-known in early Virginia. 
Bogota in the 18th Century
  On August 8, 1751 Gabriel Jones purchased from Christopher Francisco of Pennsylvania [i]  This parcel was originally part of the 5,000 acres patented to Jacob Stover.  On the same day in 1751, Thomas Lewis, son of John Lewis, purchased 530 acres from Francisco that was across the River opposite Jones.[ii]  The Lewis property, once known as Lewiston, is now known as Lynnwood.[iii]  Jones had married on October 8, 1749 Margaret Strother of King George County.[iv]   Thomas Lewis married Margaret’s sister.  Also near to Bogota and Lynnwood was Madison Hall in the “v” between the North River and the South River at Port Republic.  Madison Hall was the home of John Madison who married another sister of Margaret Strother.[v]  John Madison was a cousin of President Madison.  Madison Hall was the birthplace of another James Madison, the first Episcopal Bishop of Virginia, and served as Stonewall Jackson’s headquarters during the Civil War battle at Port Republic. 
244 acres on the north side of the Shenandoah River opposite the lower end of “Great Island” in the River.
The name “Bogota” is at least as old as the Jones’ ownership of the property.  Bogota derives from the South American Indian word “Bacata,” which means planted fields.  Jones lived here from about 1756 until his death in October1806.  His widow, Margaret, outlived her husband and her children, and remained at Bogota until her death at age 97 in 1822.  The house stayed in the family until it was sold to Jacob Strayer. [vi]
The first Bogota house was a wooden, one and a half story structure with dormer windows.  A not very sharp image of this house is in Isaac Terrell’s Old Houses of Rockingham County. The survey of the property for the National Register of Historic Places suggests that archaeological artifacts found near the intersection of Lawyer Road and Lynnwood Road are consistent with a house and habitation of this period being located at the site.  It is also believed that Gabriel Jones (and perhaps other members of his family) are buried nearby. [vii]   When the Strayers bought the property in 1830 from the Jones family they lived in the Jones house until the present Bogota was completed.  Wainscoting from the Jones house was used in what is now the sitting room on the left side of the front entrance. The current owners of the property do not know when the original house was destroyed. 

Gabriel Jones – Early Life
            Gabriel Jones was born on 14 May 1724 in York County near Williamsburg.  His parents, John (b. 1668) and Elizabeth Bates Jones (b. 1688), were from Montgomeryshire in northern Wales.[viii]  When the parents came to Virginia is not known.  Gabriel Jones claimed he was his parent’s fourth son and fifth child, but only mentioned two living siblings: an older sister, Elizabeth (b. 1721) and a younger brother, John (b.1725).  The father, a weaver of noble descent, did not do well in the colony.  He died before 1727.  A baptismal record from early 1727 showed the mother and children were in England.            In April 1732, at the age of seven, Jones was sent to the “Blue Coat School, Christ Church Hospital London, where he studied for seven years.  He was removed from the school in 1739 to start a six year apprenticeship under John Houghton, Solicitor, in the High Court of Chancery.  About the time Jones was admitted to the bar in 1745, his mother died.  The family was “of gentle blood,” but in “reduced circumstances.”[ix]  A descendent of Gabriel Jones preserved an old coin in wrapping paper on which Jones had written: “This is the patrimony I received from my mother.  From my father I received nothing.”[x]  As early as 1750 Jones used the same crest and coat of arms as the recently deceased mathematician William Jones indicating a relationship with that man.[xi]
            Free of his indenture, admitted to the bar, and reaching his majority, Jones returned to America about a year after his mother’s death.  Probably Thomas, Lord Fairfax, owner of the Northern Neck Proprietary, or, a friend, Hugh Mercer, influenced his decision to return.[xii]  The close relationship between Fairfax and Jones is evidenced by Fairfax’s appointment of Jones to legislative and judicial positions relating to the proprietorship and Fairfax’s appointment of Jones as an executor of his will.  Fairfax died in 1781.
Public Servant
Gabriel Jones truly served the Valley.  To help to fully understand the geographical extent of his service, the reader should recall the territorial vastness of the early Virginia counties.  In 1743 Frederick County was carved from Orange County, the mother of western Virginia Counties.  Frederick included Shenandoah, Clarke, and Warren Counties in Virginia, and, in present day West Virginia, Hardy, Berkeley, Jefferson, Morgan and Hampshire Counties.  Hampshire County was created from Frederick County in 1754.  Also, from Orange County, Augusta County was created in 1738, which had infinite western territory.  In October 1777, Rockingham County was carved from the northeast portion of Augusta County.
On his return from England to the Virginia colony, Jones first stopped in Fredericksburg, but soon relocated to Frederick County.  In March 1747 he purchased 172 acres along the Opequon Creek near the present day Kernstown and not far from the Joist Hite properties.   Here Jones served as a private secretary to Lord Fairfax.  In April 1746, at the age of 22 years, Jones was appointed the King’s Attorney for Augusta County, but he continued to reside in Frederick County from where he represented the County in the House of Burgesses.
Colonial Period: Legislative Representative in the House of Burgesses and Continental Congress
            As a representative from Frederick County he was elected to the Burgesses in 1748, 1749, and 1752.  He resigned from the House in 1753 to serve as the Frederick County Coroner.  When Hampshire County was created in 1754, Jones was its representative to the House of Burgesses in 1754 and 1755.  About 1756, Jones moved to Bogota, from where he served as an Augusta County Burgess in 1757, 1758, and 1771.  In 1774, at the age of fifty, Jones was elected to the Continental Congress but did not attend.   Jones carried out assignments for the Congress to ascertain conditions and defenses in the western areas around Fort Pitt.

Virginia Ratifying Convention 
            In June 1788, Gabriel Jones was elected to the Virginia Convention in Richmond to deliberate the ratification of the Federal Constitution.  He represented Rockingham County along with his brother-in-law, Thomas Lewis.  Both were “zealous” advocates for the Constitution.  Among their colleagues at the Convention, Rockingham County representatives’ reputations were described as follows: “Lewis was a popular man, while Mr. Jones was not. …[Jones] in a public speech before the election, declined the support of “the rascals” who, he understood, proposed to vote for him because of his association with Lewis.”[xiii]  Hugh B. Grigsby, in his history of the Convention,[xiv] described Jones as “an able lawyer; but his shrewdness in business; his vast wealth, made up of lands and cash; his hatred of paper money, and the eccentric cast of his character, would insensibly lead him to approve an energetic and hard-money government.”
The Lawyer
            During the Colonial period, it would seem that Gabriel Jones held appointments in several large jurisdictions and was “lawyer-ing” over all of the Valley.  At that time the Valley’s population was sparse by today’s standards and the people were more concerned about establishing themselves and defeating the Indians than about legal mischief - other than land disputes.  Further, in each of the areas where Jones was the King’s Representative, Deputy Clerks of the Courts carried-out the day-to-today legal tasks. Jones would ride from place-to-place to sign court proceedings prepared by the deputies.[xv]   
            Jones may not have been the first lawyer in the Valley, but he was the first one who lived there.[xvi]  In 1746, at the age of 22, Jones was appointed prosecuting attorney for Augusta County, although he was living in Frederick County serving as Fairfax’s private secretary.  Under the British system of justice, serving in one jurisdiction while living in another was not unusual. 
            In 1754 Jones was appointed by Thomas Lord Fairfax as a trustee for the towns of Winchester and Stephensburg.  The trustees were responsible for laying-out the towns and establishing regulations for construction of town residences.[xvii]   In 1757, Fairfax appointed Jones to Clerk of the Court for Hampshire County. He held this position until he retired in 1782.  Jones was also the Clerk in other areas owned by Fairfax.   In performing his duties, Jones was described as “well organized” and had the best penmanship ... in spite of being totally blind in his right eye.[xviii]  These clerkships came to an end with the death of Thomas Fairfax in 1781 and the conclusion of the Revolutionary War.
            When Rockingham County was carved from Augusta County in 1777, Jones was appointed its prosecuting attorney at the County’s second Court on 25 May 1778, at a salary of 40 pounds per year.  Until his resignation in 1795, Jones’ service can be documented in Rockingham County court records. During his tenure, one oft repeated anecdote about Jones’ prosecuting style before the Justices of Rockingham County happened in a trial when Hugh Holmes was Jones’ adversary.  Holmes, described as mischievous and witty, baited Jones causing him to be “angry and profane.”  The presiding Judge halted the trial and after consideration announced that “Holmes would be sent to jail if he did not quit making Jones swear so.”[xix]
            Between present day Harrisonburg and Elkton intersecting south of Route 33 is Lawyer Road.  It is so named for the route that Gabriel Jones took between Bogota and the Rockingham County Courthouse.
            Not all of Jones’s energies were spent on legal affairs.  In 1792, he was one of the first trustees of the Staunton Academy.  Others report that Jones took pleasure trips to Richmond and Baltimore.  One story told of a trip to Richmond where Jones took pleasure in gaming a whole night and lost all his money.  The only thing left to bet were the gold buttons on his coat. He proceeded to lose them and exclaimed as the last one was anted-up, “Here goes the last button on Gabe’s coat.”   This has become a Hampshire County proverb and, when used, means a person had come to the last of his resources.[xx]
            The Jones family is an illustration of the interconnection of families in colonial Virginia.  Noted above are the three Strother sisters who married Gabriel Jones, Thomas Lewis, and John Madison; all of whom lived their married life within a few miles of each other.  Purportedly, recorded by Gabriel Jones [xxi] is the birth of his children.   The first child Margaret Morton was born 24 September 1751 in Frederick County.  At her baptism the following July, her godfathers were Col. James Wood and Col. John Hite.  Margaret Morton married Col. John Harvie of Belvidere in Richmond. He served in the American Revolution, was a member of the House of Burgess, a Member of Congress, and the Mayor of Richmond in 1785.  The daughter, Margaret, died in December 1800 at the age of forty-nine.
            A second daughter, Elizabeth Bates was born on 20 October 1753 in Augusta County.  When she was baptized the following September, Rev. John Jones (GJ’s Brother?) presided.  One of her Godfathers was John Madison.  She married John Lewis (son of Fielding Lewis and Catharine Washington) of Gloucester County whose godmothers were his aunts Mary Washington and Mrs. Lee.  John and Elizabeth had three children: Warner and Fielding who died young and Gabriel Jones.  Gabriel and Warner are mentioned in Jones’s will.
            William Strother, often referred to as “Strother,” was the third child born in March 1756 and the only son of Gabriel and Margaret.  He was baptized at the home of Rev. John Jones; his godfathers were the Reverend and John Madison.  In 1785, Strother’s father conveyed to him 775 acres of land between Stephen’s City and Middletown on which he built Vancluse.  Strother was educated at William and Mary, served as a Colonel in the Virginia Militia, a Captain in the Revolutionary Army, and served as a Frederick County Justice.  He died in 1788.  Strother was described as an accomplished gentleman who inherited his father’s temper.  His only living child, also Strother, inherited Vancluse but was found to be in disfavor in his grandfather’s revised 1804 will.  In a previous will Gabriel Jones left the bulk of his estate to the grandson. In the 1804 will, Jones wrote: “dire necessity compelled me to make the alteration I have and best I can say of him is, [(]& God knows it is bad enough) that he is an idle dissipated young man and is now left to live upon the wreck of a miserable fortune left by his father, which I had given him, now almost spent by his extravagance….”  Jones’s statement raises some questions about his facts or his memory.   Later records indicate that Strother II was or became respectable enough to marry, first, a niece of Chief Justice John Marshall and later into the Randolph family of Tuckahoe.
            The fourth child, Ann Gabriel, was born in September 1759 and died of whooping cough about six months later.  The fifth and last child was Anne Gabriel, who may have been called Hannah.  She was born in September 1761 in Frederick County.  Anne Gabriel was baptized by Rev. Davy Calmes.  Her godparents were Uncle John and Aunt Elizabeth Madison.   She married John Hawkins of Scott County, Kentucky.  Her son, Wood, named in the Jones will, was to inherit all Gabriel Jones law books “in the belief he intended to study law.”[xxii]
            When Bogota was transferred from the Jones family (Jaquelin Harvie – a grandson) to Jacob Strayer in 1831, the approximately 1129 acres was purchased for $17,000.[xxiii]  Jones initially acquired 244 acres in 1751.  Rockingham County records of Jones’s additional acquisitions were destroyed during the Civil War.  A map in Wayland’s Historic Homes of Northern Virginia suggested that the Bogota Plantation hugged the south fork of the Shenandoah River from near Lethe (the residence of the Gilmer family) on the north to pass the 54 acre “Great Island” in the middle of the river to the south that was owned by Gabriel Jones. [xxiv]
            In addition to this Rockingham County property, Jones’s 1804 will noted land and mortgages held in Fredericksburg, in Bath County, and in the City of Spotsylvania.  During his life, there is mention of tracts of land owned in Frederick County and on the north side of the James River in Botecourt County.
Physical Appearance
            From various sources, Gabriel Jones seemed to be vividly remembered.  One would expect Jones to be of a large stature.  One author noted his surprise when he learned that Jones was of small stature.[xxv]  An older Jones portrait by contemporary artist John Drinker showed him as a well-to-do, be-wigged gentleman. In his will, Jones made reference to the fact that he wore glasses.  Contemporaries of Jones described him, like many in his class of the day, as having powdered hair and dressed in a blue coat, white vest, a cravat, silk stockings, and silver knee and shoe buckles. 
Probably the first thing noticed about Jones was the patch over his right eye.  What happened and when is not known.  In Hampshire County where Jones served from 1757 to 1782 his blindness in one eye was reported.  In his will, Jones writes of an “operation performed on my eye and sickness near Richmond” and he bequeathed to Mrs. Jane Douthatt, “who in her mother’s house [Jones lived] during his sickness and operation on my eye.”  In a letter written in 1782 by Jones to his son Strother he  mentioned he had been sick and very low.[xxvi]
A Visit by George Washington to Bogota
            It is not surprising that George Washington and Gabriel Jones corresponded and had a social and a business relationship.  Given Jones familiarity with the Fredericksburg area and his friendship with the Lewises, it would have been odd if Washington and Jones did not know each other.  Correspondence between the two in 1771 exists.  Also, a business relationship is evident from an advertisement in the Virginia Gazette, February 21, 1771.  The advertisement was a lottery solicitation to help build a road near Warm Springs in Bath County.  The sponsors were Archibald Cary, George Washington, Fielding Lewis (GW’s brother-in-law) and Gabriel Jones.  The lottery failed because the King banned lotteries in the County.[xxvii] 
            This brings us to George Washington’s diary entries for September 30-October 2, 1784.  Washington reported, on his return from the Pittsburgh region, he dined and stayed at Bogota and Lynnwood.[xxviii]  Don’t you wish you were listening in on the political discussions over an after dinner glass of port!
            Gabriel Jones was a significant public figure in the Colonial and early Federal history of Rockingham County.  The only memorial or acknowledgement of Jones and his wife’s is a memorial stained-glass window installed in 1887 in the new Grace Memorial Episcopal Church in Port Republic.  The window is the first one on the left hand side from the entrance.  Some parishioners claim that some of the woodwork in the undercroft is from Jones’s Bogota.[xxix]

[i] Joseph A. Waddell.  Annals of Augusta County, Virginia.  2nd ed. 1902.  Reprinted 1986.  C.J.Carrier Company, Harrisonburg, VA. 
[ii] Thomas Lewis was the first surveyor of Augusta County and who, in 1746, helped to set the line of Lord Fairfax’s proprietorship..
[iii] Waddell.
[iv] The Strothers were neighbors of the Washington’s at Ferry Farm.
[v] John Madison was a cousin of Pres. James Madison and the father of another James Madison (born at Madison Hall) who was the first Episcopal Bishop of Virginia.  Madison Hall was also the headquarters of Stonewall Jackson during the engagements near Port Republic during the Civil War.
[vi] Rootsweb. VA-Northern Neck-L Archives.  GenForum.
[vii] Another two-story log house with two one-story wings also on Lynnwood Road, next to the Strayer Cemetery, was built in the mid-18th century and is used as an office by the present owners.  Also, on this property along the Shenandoah River, the survey for the National Register of Historic Places found evidence pre-colonial settlement.  It is believed a substantial Indian settlement once inhabited the area near Port Republic along the Shenandoah River.
[viii] Waddell
[ix] Waddell
[x] Rootsweb.  William Jones (1675-1749) was a noted mathematician and teacher from Anglesey Wales.  His son Sir William Jones (1746-1794) was a famous philogist and scholar of ancient India.
[xi] Waddell
[xii] Hugh Mercer, a Scotsman, who was two years younger than Jones trained as a doctor, fled England in 1747 to Pennsylvania after Bonnie Prince Charles army was defeated.  About 1760 after serving with George Washington during the French and Indian Wars he went to Fredericksburg where he owned an apothecary frequented by Mary Washington.  He had a distinguish career during the American Revolution losing his life en route to the Battle of Princeton January 3, 1777.  Wikipedia.
[xiii]  Waddell
[xiv] Hugh Blair Grigsby.  The History of the Virginia Federal Convention in 1788.  Published by the VHS.
[xv] Hu Maxwell and H.L. Swisher.  History of Hampshire County West Virginia.  A. Brown Boughner, Morgantown, W. VA.1897.  Reprinted McClain Printing Company.  Parsons. W. Va  1972.
[xvi] Waddell.
[xvii] Wikipedia
[xviii] Maxwell and Swisher.  And Roberta Munske and Wilmer Kerns.  The Hampshire County 250th Anniversary Committee.  Hampshire County, West Virginia 1754-2004.
[xix] Waddell
[xx] Maxwell and Swisher.
[xxi] GenForm: Gabiel Jones – Margaret Strother
[xxii] The interesting will of Gabriel Jones written in 1802 provides some information on his family.  The will is reproduced in several sources including Wayland, Historic Houses of Northern Virginia and some of the genealogy websites.  The will also provides some information on his land holdings and wealth.
[xxiii] Deed Book 16-127.
[xxiv] DB 26-420.
[xxv] Waddell.
[xxvi] Waddell.
[xxvii]  Note:  GJ notes in his will property owned in Bath County.  Perhaps, GJ also invested in land and in the lottery.
[xxviii] Wayland.
[xxix] Conversation with Rev. Stuart C. Wood, of Grace Memorial Church, August 28, 2014.

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