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AMHERST PARISH, NELSON COUNTY.
We have seen that this was separated from Lexington in 1778. It is not known how many churches there were in it at that time, but certainly one at Rockfish Gap, near the mountain, and one near James River, in the neighbourhood of the Cabells. The Rev. Robert Rose, in his journal ending in the year 1751, often speaks of being at the houses of the Cabells and preaching in that neighbourhood, and doubtless a church must have been built there soon after, called Key's Church. About the year 1780, it is believed a Mr. Buchan was minister of that parish,-probably the same who was afterward in Stafford. In the year 1790 the Rev. Isaac Darneile appears on the journal of the Convention as minister of this parish. Of him I have spoken on a former occasion, as one who was always in pecuniary difficulties, who exchanged the pulpit for the bar, and, failing in that also, left his family behind, and, going to the South, spent some years there. In 1795 the Rev. William Crawford, brother or near relative of Mr. Charles Crawford, succeeded Mr. Darneile, preaching at Rockfish Key's, the old court-house, and Hat Creek. Mr. Crawford was, I believe, the last regular minister of this parish, until the Rev. Charles Page undertook the charge of it, in connection with that of Lexington, some years after the revival of the Church commenced. The Rev. Mr. King and Dr. Stephens, of Staunton, had performed some duties at Rockfish Gap Church before Mr. Page's more regular assumption of the charge of the parish. The Rev. Frederick Goodwin succeeded Mr. Page in this parish, and has continued to be its minister until the last year. The Rev. Mr. Martin is its present minister.*
As to the churches in the parish of Amherst and county of Nelson of more recent erection, there was, until a few years since, one called Calloway's Church, of whose date, however, I am unable to speak positively, but think it must have been at a much later date than the old ones which have long since passed away. This has been deserted of late years for two new brick houses, the one called Trinity, near the residence (Oak Ridge) of old Mr. Rives, and built chiefly, if not entirely, by him, and the other at New Market, on the James River Canal, at the mouth of Tye River. The old church at Rockfish has also been removed to a more convenient place, not far off, and entirely renovated.
The Rev. Cleland Nelson preceded Mr. Goodwin in this parish.
Amidst no little opposition, Captain John B. Coles and Mr. Martin, two fast friends of the Church, determined upon the effort for its removal and renewal, and invited all the neighbours—even the poorest to meet at certain appointed days for its prostration, its removal and re-erection, and completely triumphed over all opposition and falsified all unfavourable prophecies. In another place I have stated that it has been for many years supplied with occasional services by ministers from Albemarle county.
THE FAMILY OF CABELLS.
Among the numerous families of Amherst and Nelson who were the active supporters of the Episcopal Church, the Roses and Cabells were most conspicuous. Of the Roses, the descendants of the Rev. Robert Rose, who died in 1751, leaving large estates to his four sons, we have already written in our sketches of the father in a previous article. Of the Cabells we will now make some mention, abridging our notice from the various accounts we have of them.
Dr. William Cabell, a surgeon of the British navy, emigrated to Virginia about the year 1720 or 1725, according to different accounts. It is said he owned twenty-five thousand acres of land on either side of Upper James River, in the counties of Nelson, Amherst, and Buckingham. He was one of the earliest vestrymen and wardens in the Church, as established in that part of Virginia, and was the intimate friend of the Rev. Robert Rose. Between the years 1740 and 1750 he appears as chiefly concerned in the contracts for the building of churches, &c. He had four sons,-William, Joseph, John, and Nicholas. William, the eldest, was the owner of the estate called Union Hill, in Nelson county, on James River. Mr. Grigsby has given a very glowing account of this mansion and the hospitality of its owner, and his great business-talents as a farmer, and in other respects comparing his house to Mount Vernon, except that it was larger, and himself to Washington, as to the management of his estate, and methodical accounts kept by him. He speaks of his association with Washington in all the great political bodies in Virginia previous to 1776, as well as in that year, and of his political career afterward, terminating in the adjournment of the Federal Convention. It remains for me to add, that before and after the death of his father, Dr. Cabell, he was also the active vestryman and churchwarden in the parish, the intimate friend of the Rev. Mr. Rose, who was often at his house. I have before me subscription-papers and contracts in which he is leader in all Church
matters in the parish, especially after the Establishment was put down and it became necessary to raise a salary for the minister by private contributions. His son also, Mr. William Cabell, who was a representative in Congress from this district before his father's death, and in connection with his father, took part in the vestryproceedings. Of his other sons I have no account. Of his daugh
ters, one married Mr. Rives, the father of W. C. Rives and of a number of other sons and daughters; another married Judge Cabell; another the Rev. Mr. Legrand. The present Mayo Cabell, of Nelson, and Mrs. Bruce, of Richmond, are also descendants of Colonel Wm. Cabell. The second son of Dr. Cabell, father of the family, was Joseph, of whom all the information I have is, that he was also at various times in the House of Burgesses, and took part in the Revolution, and was the ancestor of General Cabell, of Danville, and of the Breckenridges of Virginia and Kentucky. Of the third son, John, I learn that he was in the Convention of 1775 and 1776, and was the father of the late Dr. George Cabell, of Lynchburg. Of the fourth son, Nicholas Cabell, of Liberty Hall, I find that he was both in the field and the Legislature, and was the father of the late Judge W. H. Cabell and Joseph C. Cabell. I have also papers showing that he was a vestryman of the church in this parish, and took a lively interest in its affairs. He was the collector of the subscriptions made to the ministers after the Revolution to him Mr. Darneile applied in his difficulties, for relief, and both himself and his brother, Colonel Wm. Cabell, acted as friends to Mr. Darneile by advancing moneys for him. On a slip of paper before me I find that he also collected what was given to the Rev. Mr. Clay, while minister in Albemarle, for services rendered at Key's Church, in Nelson, but which Mr. Clay requested him to give to the poor of the parish.*
The following additions to my account of the Cabells have been sent me by one of the family, and will, I am sure, prove interesting, not only to all of that widespread connection, but to many others.
"Dr. William Cabell came to Virginia either in 1723 or 1724. Cabell, Sen. it was who once held twenty-five thousand acres of land in this region. His father may at one period have owned half so much. His object seemed to be rather to acquire that of the best and most durable quality for the use of his posterity, than to embrace a surface which could not be brought into use for a generation to come. He accordingly secured all the alluvial land in the Valley of James River, for more than twenty miles continuously, above this place, where he resided. Was not he also the Wm. Cabell whom Mr. Rose visited? I have some doubts whether Colonel Wm. Cabell (who was born in March, 1730) was settled at Union Hill
I have also a manuscript sermon preached by the Rev. Charles O'Neale, then probably a minister of some neighbouring parish,
(or Colleton, as it was then called) before Mr. Rose's death. Two of the contracts for building churches in Albemarle, which I sent you, were those spoken of by Mr. Rose near the close of his diary, and probably left with Dr. Cabell for safekeeping.
"1. Of the sons of Dr. Cabel!, the first and third-William and John-married respectively Margaret and Paulina, daughters of Colonel Samuel Jordan, who lived on James River, in Buckingham, and near the Seven Islands. The former was accounted an able man and true patriot in his day, and was much respected in all the relations of life. He had four sons, of whom three were somewhat distinguished in the family. Samuel Jordan, the eldest,-who married Sarah, daughter of Colonel John Syme, of Hanover,―was the member of Congress from this district from 1795 to 1803. He had risen to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the Southern War, and afterward served in the Legislature of the State, and in the Convention of 1789. William, generally known as Colonel Wm. Cabell, Jr., also served in the latter scenes of the war in this State, and was occasionally in the Legislature afterward. He married Anne, daughter of Judge Paul Carrington, and was the father of Colonel Edward A. Cabell, sometime of Amherst, now of Washington, D.C., of Mayo Cabell, and of Mrs. Bruce, and others. Landon,-the third son,-a man of distinguished talents and acquirements, but never in public life, married a daughter of Colonel Hugh Rose, and was the father of Dr. R. Henry Cabell, now of Richmond. Colonel Cabell's daughter Paulina had married Major Edmund Read, of Charlotte, (son of Colonel Clement Read,) before she was married to Rev. Mr. Legrand.
"2. Colonel Joseph Cabell-who married a Miss Hopkins, of Amherst, (now Nelson,) had but one son and several daughters. The son, who bore his own name, married Pocahontas, daughter of Colonel Robert Bolling, of Chellowe, Buchanan, and their descendants (of whom you have mentioned General Cabell) are numerous. Colonel Joseph Cabell was the ancestor of the Breckenridges of Kentucky, and not of Virginia. Thus, his daughter Mary married John Breckenridge, (elder son of General James Breckenridge.) This gentleman, after a successful career at the bar here, (he lived in Albemarle,) removed with George Nicholas to Kentucky, of which territory they immediately became the leading citizens. When it was erected into a State Mr. Breckenridge was sent to the Senate of the United States, and at his death was Mr. Jefferson's Attorney-General. The eldest son of Mr. Breckenridge (Joseph Cabell Breckenridge) was a rising statesman of Kentucky at the time of his death. He married a daughter* of President Smith, of Princeton, and their son is now Vice-President of the United States. The three younger sons of Mr. Breckenridge-John, Robert, and William-became distinguished Presbyterian clergymen. His daughter (Letitia) married first a son of Mr. Senator Grayson, and second, General P. B. Porter, of New York, Mr. Adams's Secretary of War. To return: Colonel Joseph Cabell had other daughters, of whom Anne married Robert Caiter, son of Carter Harrison, of Clifton, in Cumberland; and Elizabeth married Colonel William J. Lewis, of Campbell, sometime member of Congress from that district. The major part of Colonel J. Cabell's descend. ants are now to be found in the West,-particularly in Kentucky and Missouri.
"3. Colonel John Cabell had several sons,-of whom Dr. George Cabell, of Lynch
* Miss Caroline Smith, who, when the author of this work was at Princeton College, was a favourite with the students by reason of her many interesting qualities.
afterward in Prince William, in the year 1794, on the occasion of the death of two of Mr. Nicholas Cabell's daughters, Hannah and Henningham, who died on the 7th and 8th of September of that year, aged the one eight and the other six years. In this sermon. also we see the deficiency of the pulpit in that day. Once only is there allusion to Christ, when he says that "to those who lead a virtuous life, and die in the faith of Christ, the whole aspect of death is changed," while in the sermon, which is on resignation and preparation for death, he speaks of certain duties "to be performed in order to make us acceptable to God," and at the close of it says that "the best preparation for death is a virtuous temper and a good life. When once you are furnished with these qualifications, you may view it approaching toward you with a calm and constant mind, free from any timorous and unmanly solicitude." Nothing is said in the sermon about a new birth of the Spirit as a necessary qualification for heaven, of faith in Christ and repentance toward God as being the constant exercises of the true Christian, and from which any good works can flow. There are many very good things said about the vanity of earthly things and the duty of considering our latter end, but they are such things as are common to the Christian preacher and the pagan philosopher.
I might also speak of the Sheltons, Taliaferos, Thompsons, Ellises, Davises, Tinsleys, Garlands, and others, as having been fast friends of the Church in Amherst and Nelson, but refer to the list of vestrymen for the purpose of showing who were her persevering advocates.
There is one name on which I must dwell for a moment. Mr William Waller, lately deceased, was perhaps inferior to none of the laity of Virginia in personal piety and hearty zeal for the
burg, was the eldest. His brother John, of the same place, was also a learned and successful physician.
“A third son—Frederick-succeeded to the family mansion on James River, opposite New Market, and his eldest son, of the same name, was several times a delegate from this county under the second Constitution, and the first Senator from this district under the present régime. A fourth son of Colonel John removed to Kentucky. One of his daughters married first her cousin Hector, and afterward Judge Daniel. 4. Colonel Nicholas Cabell embarked in the Revolutionary service so early as 1775, and several years afterward the Legislature appointed him to the command of one of the State Regiments; but it so happened, and much to his mortification, that he was never called into action. He served in the Senate for more than sixteen years from 1785. Of his four sons we have mentioned the first and third. The second was the father of Professor Cabell, of the University; the fourth of Francis Cabell, of Warminster."