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Archive for March, 2008

So Obscure A Person
I published “So Obscure A Person”, today 13 March 2007. It is a story of a man who wanted too much, and his Virginia descendants, who were the beneficiaries of his quests. He was ALEXANDER STINSON Senior of Williamsburg and Buckingham County, Virginia and his lifetime spanned almost the entire eighteenth century of Colonial Virginia.

He first appeared in the court records of Virginia as a bound servant boy, “a slave without shackles.” The title of this book comes from the reply of the Virginia Council at Williamsburg in May of 1741, when, as an overly ambitious young man, he made an official petition for land to fulfill his dream of becoming a Virginia planter. After years in bondage, his hopes must have seemed shattered when President JAMES BLAIR and the Council denied his plea, explaining that it was “too much land for so obscure a person.”

As his childhood had been passed being owned by tavern keepers along Williamsburg’s Duke of Gloucester Street, young SAWNEY seemed not easily discouraged. He allied himself with some of Virginia’s finest families, and went on to win his Virginia land and much, much more.

Eighteenth century Virginians muddled through life much as we do today. They lived each day, one at a time, the same as do we, but they did so much more during those one hundred years of history. Alexander STINSON moved upcountry from Tidewater Virginia to a place called Willis’s on the branches of Cattail, in what is now the center of Virginia, Buckingham County. He saw the land when it was a wilderness, and he settled it, and built a home for himself and his family. His dream of working the land he had won came true, as he became a Virginia planter. He cleared and built his own roadways, he taught his children, and he helped create a society where there had been no community at all. He and his children rebelled against a tyrannical government, fought a war, and created a brand new nation. While living through it all, he kept intact the faith of his fathers. After having accomplished all that he did, his children moved on to new places to pioneer as he had done.

Photograph from Flickr

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