“The Rebellion is now over…” Watson’s Mill Day Book


Moses Pascal Watson ran a grist mill a few miles from the town of Purcellville, near the village of Lincoln. Here is a map showing Watson’s Mill location. Moses was not a Quaker, yet many of his customers were from the Quaker community.  Like all mill owners, Watson had a “Day Book” ledger in which he kept a running account of his customers’ mill expenses. The Watson Mill day book was special: Moses occasionally wrote personal anecdotal information down in the book, including insights about his Quaker neighbors. Great-grandsons of Moses Watson recognized the historic value of the book and donated it to Purcellville Library, from where it was passed on to the Loudoun Museum, Leesburg, VA: 

donation page for Moses Pascal Watson material
Donation page from Great-grandsons James and Edmund Watson of the Watson Mill Day Book, in which Quaker history is recorded, courtesy Loudoun Museum

The April 9th, 1865 signing of the surrender by Confederate General Robert E. Lee to Union General Ulysses Grant, effectively ended the Civil War. The signing occurred in the parlor of a home in Appomattox Court House. That surrender was followed by a formal “stacking of arms” which disbanded the Army of Northern Virginia on April 12th. Moses Pascal Watson wrote about the war’s end in his Day Book, giving insight into how the normally reserved Quakers reacted to the news. Spelling is kept as written. A transcription of the page is below the image:

Best copy of April 13, 1865 entry (1)
Moses Pascal Watson mill ledger/”Day Book” courtesy of Loudoun Museum, Leesburg VA

“Thursday April 13th 1865:   There is great rejoicing with the Union People in regard to the fall of Richmond and the surrender of General Lee.
It is said Samuel M. Janney had the old Gobbler killed and invited many of his Union friends to eat and be merry.   William Tate shut himself up in a room and Laughed his fill. Joseph Nichols has been riding[,] hunting[,] hands to go to his house and drink cider get drunk and be merry.
Bill Lemon and Lot Tavenner is gone fishing today, they say the work is done. Thornton Whitacre says the backbone of the Confederacy is broken and the war is about over, it is the prevailing opinion that the South can fight no longer. Buck Bolen has a heap of fun about my Negroes. He asks me if I did not think them very valuable. If I would like to sell them and what I asked for Negroes now. Henry S. Taylor says the Secesh ought never to be allowed to vote again and ought to be made to eat with an iron spoon the balance of their life and not to be alowed to hold any office of any kind.
Eliza Marlow says Benj[amin] Birdsall[,] George Strother and others talk of going to Upperville to haul away their corn that Mosby’s men impressed.

Apr 15th [1865]   Asa M. Janney says he intended to rebuild his mill as soon as he heard of the fall of Richmond. He told Saml [Samuel] Purcell yesterday that he was going to work on it right away and would have the sawmill running in about two weeks the Rebellion is now over and the Negroes is all free. Purcel[l] asked him what would be done with them, and he said that they would be left with us, the women and children that could not support themselves would have to stay with their owners until they were able to support themselves, the owner being compelled to maintain them.”

A couple of months later, Moses Watson was again writing of Quaker activity, this time more significant: a school for African-American children had opened in the village (transcript below):

negro school reference on mill book page (1)
Moses Pascal Watson Day Book page mentioning “the first Negro School I have heard of being in Virginia.” Shown courtesy of Loudoun Museum, Leesburg, VA

“1865 Sunday June 25. The Contraband or Negro School Commenced at Goose Creek [Lincoln] this day Eliza Janney Samuel M. Janney Asa M. Janney and [Rodney] Davis is Teachers. This is the first Negro School I have heard of being in Virginia.”

Samuel’s wife Elizabeth Janney and daughter Cornelia Janney had taught freed black children as early as the 1850’s, but this reference to a school specifically set up after the war’s end is different. Eliza Janney, mentioned by Moses Watson in the above entry refers to Samuel and Elizabeth Janney’s daughter-in-law. Asa M. Janney was Samuel’s brother and father to Lydia Janney Brown, who has a page on Nest of Abolitionists. The school mentioned by Moses Watson in this entry eventually became known as ‘Colored School B.’  According to Betty Morefield, in her research of Loudoun County’s Freedmen’s Bureau, “The Freedmen’s Bureau in Loudoun County, Virginia: Getting Started, June 1865 – March 1866” it wasn’t until late 1866 that the Loudoun County ‘colored’ schools received any help, regulation, protection or financing through the Freedmen’s Bureau. Quakers and freed blacks had to supply resources, teachers and courage to start ‘Colored School B,’ at a time when it was dangerous and controversial to help recently freed blacks. The Lincoln ‘colored school B’ building is still standing, now a private residence in Lincoln. Photographs of ‘Colored School B’ are on the Lincoln Preservation Foundation website.

Samuel Janney 1857 mill page
Watson’s Mill Ledger year 1857, showing Samuel M. Janney expenses

By the year 1857 Samuel M. and Elizabeth Janney had moved to a house located right in the village of Lincoln, having sold their home and school ‘Springdale.’ The Janneys now ran a store in Lincoln, ‘Janney & Son’ store, and lived right next door. Tragically, son John Janney, husband of Eliza Coffin Janney, died on March 3, 1857. Eliza, though she had a young son and was now a widow, took over much of the day to day running of the store.

William Tate 1855 Watsons mill bill for plaster
Watson’s Mill ledger year 1855 for William Tate

William Tate bought a considerable amount of plaster in 1855, possibly for construction or renovation of a home.

Thomas Nichols 1855 mill page
Watson’s Mill ledger book 1855 showing expenses for Thomas Nichols
Watson's mill book doctor nathan janney died nov 30, 1857
Brief mention of area deaths in Moses Watson’s mill ledger, all pages shown courtesy of Loudoun Museum, Leesburg, VA

This short list shows deaths, written by Moses Watson on an otherwise empty page of his Mill book: “Doctor Nathan H. Janney died Nov 30th 1857” “Joseph P Megrath died July 31st 1858 at 6 o’clock pm” “Mrs Anna Beans died Sunday Nov 3rd 1867” “Mrs. Abie Craven died Thursday Nov 7th 1867”

Moses Pascal Watson himself died in 1870. He is buried in the cemetery at North Fork Baptist Church, four miles from the village of Lincoln.