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Sun, 05.10.1750

The Boyd Carter Cemetery, a story

*The Boyd Carter Cemetery is affirmed On this date in 1750.  This cemetery (Boyd-Carter) of West Virginia is a burial site for persons enslaved who died working for the Dandridge family the largest white, slave-holding family in the county 1850-1860.   They maintained a farm all around the burying ground and the house they built still stands and is inhabited the dozens of what could be, from using ground-penetrating radar, gravesites (pre-American Civil War slave sites had wood markers that deteriorated).  

From its beginning in 1763, Adam Stephen, a major general in the Revolutionary War, purchased 1100 acres that encompass the cemetery site. Stephen owned about 2,000 acres in today’s Jefferson county. (Adam Stephen had purchased the Bower property on May 10, 1750, and lived at his “Bower Lodge” from 1753 until 1772, when he moved into his larger home in Martinsburg, the town he had founded).  When Adam Stephen died in 1791, The Bower hunting lodge property (different from the 1100-acre parcel) passed to his only grandchild, Adam Stephen Dandridge I, who had been born December 5, 1782.

Adam Stephen Dandridge, I married Sarah Pendleton on January 21, 1805.  The Census of 1810 shows the Dandridge’s had 64 enslaved persons, more than any other household in the County.  The couple had three sons, Adam Stephen, Philip Pendleton, and Alexander Spotswood, and three daughters, Sarah Stephens, Ann Spotswood, and Mary Evelina Dandridge.  The Dandridges had 43 people, thirty-four of whom were enslaved Africans and mostly men (County Census).  One can only conjecture to what extent these workers mainly stayed at the Bower or did work and farmed, either “leased-out” to others or at other family-related farms such as Hazelfield and the rest of the 1100-acre site where the cemetery is located.  Adam Stephen Dandridge died on Nov. 20, 1821, at The Bower. Many of the enslaved were put up for sale in 1824 by the executors of the estate.  

Widow Sarah P. Dandridge, in 1830 and living at the Bower, was listed as the owner of fifty-one persons.  The division of estates of The Bower among the six children of the late Adam Stephen Dandridge was recorded on February 18, 1834. It gave the largest tracts to the three family members who planned to live and commit their lives to the property and lesser portions to siblings who would be moving away. Adam Stephen Dandridge II got The Bower’s manse and 318 acres (Lot 1); Sarah Stephens Dandridge Kennedy, who already married author John Pendleton Kennedy’s brother, Anthony, Oct. 11, 1832, received 318 acres, an adjacent farm to the south called “Elmwood on the Opequon” (Lot 2);  Philip Pendleton Dandridge received 318 acres (Lot 3); THIS 318-acre farm is the parcel that we conjecture brought about a pre-Civil War burial location for its enslaved persons who died at the farm, which evolved to include in the 1880s the environs of the Boyd Carter Cemetery.

African American residents active in farming around that property in the late 19th century, most notably the very successful farmer and community leader, John Fox was born at the Bower property of the Dandridge’s before the war before resettling in Kearneysville and starting their community Harts-town, a church, and school.  Ann Dandridge Buchanan, who already married Thomas Buchanan, received part of “Quarter Farm” totaling 234 acres, 2 rods (Lot 4); Mary Evelina Dandridge received another part of “Quarter Farm” totaling 199 acres, 3 rods, ten perches (She would marry Robert Mercer Taliaferro Hunter in 1836, move away and live in Essex County for the rest of her life. Her Lot lands would be sold to a farmer named Meredith Helm. (Lot 5); and Alexander Spotswood Dandridge received 190 acres and 12 perches. (Lot 6). – (County Deed Book 20, p. 605).  The 1840 Census shows three “Dandridge” households: The Bower, owned by Adam Stephen Dandridge II and his wife Serena and their numerous children, helped and provided for by thirty-four enslaved persons. 

The second was that of Anthony and Sarah Dandridge Kennedy, who appear to have cared for the two elder ladies of the clan at nearby Elmwood on the Opequon: Anthony Kennedy’s 64-year-old mother Nancy, and Sarah’s 55-year old mother, the widowed Sarah Pendleton Dandridge. Fifteen enslaved persons were helping them at that time in 1840. – (County Census, p. 35).  

The third focus of this article is the 318-acre farm managed by Philip Pendleton Dandridge, where the cemetery is located. The 1840 Census shows that he and his wife lived there with help from a dozen enslaved persons.  In approximately 1845, Phillip Dandridge completed a home in the northern portion of this parcel that stands today described by him as made of brick with a description that closely matches the description given in the current property description in the County Assessor’s records.  Phillip Dandridge’s wife died. He struggled as a farmer.  “In 1849, Adam Stephen Dandridge II lived at The Bower and ran the plantation. His brother Philip lived nearby. When Philip needed to secure his loans, he put up part of his inheritance, which consisted of part of the Bower lands and his African slaves.  

In 1853, the following were slaves/property of the said Philip P. Dandridge, in his possession in Jefferson County, or in the custody of Dr. Gellot Hollingsworth and Samuel Hollingsworth, in the State of Louisiana, together with the increase (children) of said slaves – vis; Cato, Henny, George, Robert, John, Daniel, James, Simon, Peter, Tina, Caroline, Leah, Mary Ann and her children, Rachael, Ann, Louisa & children, Frances, Margaret, Patty, including all of the slaves of the said Philip P. Dandridge, whether named or not. . . to secure a debt of said P. P. Dandridge’ – (Myers, P. 99). NOTE: “Rachael” mentioned in the above note could be “Rachael,” owned by Adam S. Dandridge, who died July 2, 1853, of cancer, aged 80. – (Jefferson County Register of Deaths, 1853, P. 1, Line 44).  Philip Dandridge had been advertising for months already to unload his 318-acre farm.  There totaled 250 cleared acres, 70 acres of enclosed pasture, sheep, ponds, a nine-room brick house, and “all his farming implements household and kitchen furniture on his farm.” A public sale occurred on December 21st, 1847 – (“The Martinsburg Gazette,” Vol. 48 March 4, 1847, P. 3; March 11, 1847, P. 3; December 9, 1847, P. 3).  

In 1850 when Census-taker J. J. Miller asked 33-year-old Philip Dandridge what his occupation was, the answer was: “None.” Dandridge gave his worth like $4500. He lived there with his wife, thirty-year-old Carolina, and their five children. Also living at the 318-acre “cemetery” farm were six enslaved persons over fifty years of age, four men and two women, three children, and a woman aged twenty in 1850.  Sarah Dandridge died March 13, 1855, leaving all her enslaved to her struggling son Philip.  Three years earlier, she drew up a will. His financial straits point to a sale. They were appraised: Armstead 26 $1125; Alfred 24 $1150; Henry 10 $800; Peter 7 $700; “Woman” 30, child $1000; Jesse 4 $275; Judy 7 $375; Ann (no sound) 23 $450; York (encumbrance) 60 $100. – (County Will Book 2, P. 520). Phillip’s use of the assets from his will promptly put him in yet more legal and debt problems, and his holdings became the property of his mother, whose name appears on the 1852 Howell Brown map showing the county and its owners.

Adam Stephen Dandridge, who had a vast operation based at The Bower with forty-five enslaved persons, stepped in and agreed to buy out the lands of three of his siblings, including Philip’s, who in 1858 moved to Winchester with his second wife, and he would die in 1881.  That Adam Stephen Dandridge reported 82 enslaved persons working for him on all his farms suggests that he absorbed those enslaved that worked for Philip Pendleton and continued to maintain the Farm where the cemetery site is located.  Adam Stephan Dandridge continued to run that “cemetery” Farm until after the Civil War. But as he aged and began going blind, litigation with William T. Steward led to the farm passing out of Dandridge's hands for the first time ever in the 1880s.  Author Walter Dean Myers, born in Martinsburg, descended from the Dennis family who worked at The Bower and has become a respected historian wrote this in his book, “Now Is Your Time”.  

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