A Guide to the Papers of the McChesney Family of Augusta County, Virginia 1835-1920 McChesney Family of Augusta County, Virginia 1835-1920 Papers. 11330

A Guide to the Papers of the McChesney Family 1835-1920

A Collection in
The Special Collections Department
Accession number 11330


Special Collections Department, University of Virginia Library

Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library
University of Virginia
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Funding: Web version of the finding aid funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Processed by: Special Collections Department

Special Collections, University of Virginia Library
Collection number
Papers of the McChesney Family 1835-1920
Physical Characteristics
104 items
This collection of 104 items, 1835-1920, pertains chiefly to the McChesney family of Augusta County, Virginia. There are personal correspondence, business and legal correspondence, and business papers of Zachariah J. McChesney and his sons Adam McChesney and William J. B. McChesney. Business papers of Mrs. Ann M. Cochran are also included.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

The collection is without restrictions.

Use Restrictions

See the University of Virginia Library’s use policy.

Preferred Citation

McChesney family papers, 1835-1920, Accession # 11330, Special Collections Department, Charlottesville, Va.

Acquisition Information

This collection was purchased by the Library from L. & T. Respess Books, Charlottesville, Virginia, on September 23, 1997. There are no restrictions.

Scope and Content Information

This collection of 104 items, 1835-1920, pertains chiefly to the McChesney family of Augusta County, Virginia. There are personal correspondence, business and legal correspondence, and business papers of Zachariah J. McChesney and his sons Adam McChesney and William J. B. McChesney. Business papers of Mrs. Ann M. Cochran are also included. Zachariah J. McChesney married Nancy Bell on April 23, 1822. The McChesney residence was "Spring Hill," Augusta County.

Personal correspondence, 1853-1884, relates personal and family news. On December 21, 1853, William J. B. McChesney, Springfield, writes to his father, Zachariah J. McChesney, Brownsburg, Rockbridge County, concerning the boys Harvey and Henry having left home without any just provocation and his being disheartened at his latest defeats. In his March 19, 1855 letter, Harvey W. Lincoln, Wethersfield, Illinois, writes about family and friends in Sheldon and discusses the concerns associated with his father having to fence his land which is about a mile and a half from the Kewanee railroad station. On February 1, 1856, Zachariah J. McChesney, Staunton, writes to his son, William J. B. McChesney, Barter Brooks, mentioning the death of "Amory," a servant, questioning whether his son may not be safe, and agreeing to Hanger driving their stock. Ann E. Starke in Georgia writes to Mrs. [Ann M.] Cochran in Richmond on December 3, 1857, expressing "how dear the very soil of Virginia was to my heart, apart from friends and kindred..." and reminiscing about Virginia friends. A letter of February 2, 1860 describes a trip to and arrival in Mt. Sidney, Augusta County. A biography of Zachariah J. McChesney and a sketch of the residence of Adam McChesney is mentioned in a letter of August 9, 1884 from Waterman, Watkins and Company to be included in their publication [Historical Atlas of Augusta County, Virginia]. Included in the book is the sketch of the residence of Adam McChesney in South River District, Augusta County. [Other information on "Spring Hill" is located in accession #38-166]. There is an incomplete letter, ca. 1885, from S. L. McKellar, discussing cloths and accessories for dressmaking, mentioning attending a Union Camp Meeting in Anderson, [California] and a fair, commenting on [George] Hearst (1820-1891) being a candidate for the Senate and on his wife, [Phoebe Apperson Hearst], being a proud woman. An undated letter from S. L. Highland to Adam McChesney concerns a financial matter involving his cousin, Zack McChesney and the sale of the Hunter and Rockbridge farms.

Among the personal correspondence is an interesting letter, December 19, 1878, from L[eander] J. McCormick (1819-1900) of Chicago, Illinois, to Zachariah J. McChesney of Staunton, Virginia. He first expresses sympathy in a kind and empathetic manner for the death of McChesney's wife, [Nancy (Bell) McChesney]. McCormick discusses at length his father, Robert McCormick (1780-1846), who devoted his energies and inventive mind to an enterprise in which his name is scarcely known. He refers to his father's inventions, including the McCormick wheat reaper, hemp break with horse power, threshing machine, smith's bellows, hillside plow, water down, and clover sheller.

Business and legal correspondence, 1843-1884, are chiefly concerned with the financial and legal matters of Zachariah J. McChesney and his sons, Adam and William J. B. There are several business letters pertaining to the sale of cattle. On February 14, 1857, Jacob M. Ruff, President of the North River N[avigation] Company, Lexington, requests that Zachariah McChesney make an investment in the company's coupon bonds and relates the current situation of the company and its financial problems. In a February 14, 1876 letter, Joseph G. Steele writes Zachariah J. McChesney concerning the settlement of the guardian accounts of Mrs. F[rances] McChesney as guardian of her children. There are also two letters from Staunton attorney and judge George M[offett] Harrison (1847-1923) to Zachariah J. McChesney. A November 23, 1876 letter concerns judgments on McChesney's claims which should be sent to the bank for collection. On August 20, 1877, Harrison writes a lengthy letter providing the requested opinions on several matters, including the United State Revenue laws and a landowner's responsibility for a distillery erected on his premises, the Old Central Bank and a suit involving its shareholders, and the claim against William A. Mann, Col. Massie's estate, and others in Rockbridge County.

Business papers, 1855-1858, of Mrs. Ann M. Cochran, are mainly accounts for cloth and sewing accessories and clothing. There is also a bill for carpeting and one for an iron rail, ornamental gate and stone curb.

Business papers, 1835-1920, of the McChesney family pertain to various aspects of the mercantile business. There is a receipt, January 26, 1847, from George W. McChesney to Zachariah J. McChesney for the purchase of the plantation on which the former now lives. There are accounts for smith work (March 22, 1850), saddlery (February 14, 1870 and May 19, 1873), and cattle sales (October 31, 1876). There is a large account, July 9, 1858, with A. M. Canon for foodstuffs and various supplies, including educational books such as McGuffey Reader, a spelling book, and a dictionary. There is a guardian account, 1865, to Zachariah J. McChesney as guardian of Zach: McChesney from J. M. Watson for medicine and supplies. A letter, December 17, 1883, from Killian and Henkel of Waynesboro, requests that Zachariah J. McChesney settle his son's account with bonds on himself and encloses the said large account of Adam McChesney. There is a letter and statement, May 12, 1920, from Black Rock Radium Springs Hotel to H. R. Clemm of Staunton, concerning the purchase of their radium water. There are also several accounts, 1866-1876, with T. H. Antrim and Company of Waynesboro for various staple and dry goods.

Legal papers, 1839-1875, include documents relating to the McChesney family. There is an indenture, February 16, 1844, between Isaac and Nancy M. Hall and Zachariah J. McChesney concerning a certain tract of land in Augusta County to be held in trust for Frances A. McChesney. A memorandum of agreement, dated August 1, 1855, between William J. B. McChesney and John T. Huff, is for the purpose of carrying on the mercantile business at Barter Brooks in Augusta County under the firm of John T. Huff and Company. There is also an undated survey of "Spring Hill," Augusta County.