Rolling the clock back just a little further

Posted on July 12, 2013 by


Alright, let’s depart the Sesqui train just for a bit. Forget “150 years ago” for the moment.

Let’s think something more along the lines of… 212 years. Let’s even be specific… November 10, 1801.

So far, this year (1801), John Marshall was appointed US chief justice; the electoral tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr is resolved; Jefferson is the first US president inagurated in the capital city; Tripoli declares war on the US for refusing tribute; James Monroe is into the second to last year of his first term as Virginia’s governor…

JeffersonsRockOh, speaking of Jefferson, it’s been eighteen years since he visited Mr. Harper’s Ferry, en route to Philadelphia, stepped-up on what we now know as Jefferson’s Rock, and proclaimed it to be “perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in nature.”

With bypass canals on his mind, George Washington visited the ferry two years later, in 1785.

A year later, George’s younger brother, Charles, having been in the area for five years by that time, laid out the streets, nearby, of what would become Charles Town, on 80 acres of his adjoining land.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly, That eight acres of land, the property of Charles Washington, lying in the County of Berkeley, be laid out in such manner as he may judge best, into lots of half an acre each, with convenient streets, which shall be, and is hereby, established a town, by the name of Charles Town. That John Augustine Washington, Robert Rutherford, William Darke, James Crane, Cato Moore, Benjamin Rankin, Magnus Tate, Thornton Washington, William Little, Alexander White, and Richard Ranson, gentlemen, are hereby appointed trustees of said town…


George Washington also kept the area in mind, and in 1794 designated Harper’s Ferry as the site for a new United States armory and arsenal. Construction began in 1799.

So, you get the idea. You get a little bit of the big picture before I narrowed things down to a more specific place… at a specific time.

Back to the modern… to today, at around 4 p.m. There I was, in the old Jefferson County Court House, looking in the old records.

Book 1, page 1…


That might be a little difficult to read, unless you click on the image. Allow me to transcribe the first couple of sentences…

James Monroe

James Monroe

Know all men by these presents that we William Little, Joseph W. Davis, Nathaniel Craghill, John Grove, John Morrow, Cyrus Saunders, and Joseph Crane of the county of Jefferson and state of Virginia, are held and firmly bound unto James Monroe and his successors Governor of the aforesaid state in the sum of thirty thousand dollars lawful money of the state aforesaid to be paid to the James Monroe and his successors Governor as aforesaid for the true payment whereof we bind ourselves our and each or our heirs, executors and administrators…

What we see in this is the first page of the first book… of all of the official records for Jefferson County, (West) Virginia, and… in that second line… that name… Cyrus Saunders… that’s my fifth great grandfather. He was one of the county’s first deputies, under Sheriff William Little.

If you follow this blog, that name (Cyrus Saunders) might sound familiar. It is… as it was a name given to my third great grandfather (Cyrus Saunders/Sanders Moore), about whom I’ve written several times (here, in this post, for example). Likewise, that name that is in bold, up in the names of the trustees of Charles Town… James Crane… he was, I am almost certain, my sixth great grandfather… Cyrus Saunders’ father-in-law (and father to the Joseph Crane who is listed right after Cyrus’ in the document).

I’ve known for sometime that Cyrus Saunders was a deputy in Jefferson County, but it all didn’t come together for me until the past few days… as did the connection to James Crane. I’ll have to write more about this, laced in between my normal Civil War programming. I’m finding some correspondence between Crane and George Washington, for example.

As if I wasn’t already a huge fan of Harpers Ferry, Charles Town, and Jefferson County. Well, it just got more so…

Yup… I’m pretty excited.

Bottom of the appointing document, listing all those who were to serve as deputies with Sheriff William Little.

Bottom of the appointing document, listing all those who were to serve as deputies with Sheriff William Little.