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CONVENTION OF 1788, AND ITS LAST SURVIVOR. The records of history must be made by patient gathering of facts from various sources, and each gleaner gives from his best knowledge at the time, and desires accuracy before all things. It is with full recognition of this spirit in the authors of two valuable papers, that two corrections are suggested.

Mr. R. S. Thomas, in this Magazine, Vol. III, No. 2, page 198, mentions James Johnson, captain in the Revolution, who died August 16, 1845, as the last survivor of the Virginia Convention to ratify the Constitution, 1788.

Colonel Archibald Woods, a member of that body, lived a year and a half longer, until October 26, 1846, and it is stated by his grandson, the Rev. Edgar Woods, of Charlottesville, Va., that he always believed himself to be the youngest member.

A monograph upon Judge Archibald Stuart, of Staunton, in the University of Virginia Alumni Bulletin, mentions that Judge Stuart was the youngest member. But he was born in 1757, and Colonel Woods not until November 14, 1764; the latter was therefore seven years younger, and not yet twenty-four when he took his seat.

Archibald Woods was born in Albemarle county, Va., and his parents moved to Botetourt in 1766. Andrew Woods, his father, had been educated for the ministry, but ill-health prevented his preaching.

He was an elder in the Presbyterian church, and on the formation of Botetourt county, was, with certain kinsmen, made one of the first Gentlemen Justices of the King's Peace(Hening, George III), his older brother, Colonel Richard Woods, ing igh Sheriff. He married Martha Poage (Poague), daughter of Robert Poage, one of the first “Gentlemen Justices of the King's Peace" (George II), when Augusta county was formed, 1738. Martha Woods was a woman of great ability, noble piety and unusual culture for a woman of her day. Many of her letters, in clear, legible writing and actually good spelling (!), have been preserved.

Andrew Woods was the son of Michael Woods and Mary Campbell, his wife, who first crossed the Blue Ridge in 1734, and settled near Woods' Gap, named for him, where he soon after owned 2,000 acres. With their children they founded the first Presbyterian church in that region, and one of the first in Virginia, ten years before the Presbytery of Hanover began. They were exiles “for faith and freedom,” first from Scotland and then from Ulster.

Archibald was only eleven years old when the war began, and his

brave Scottish blood was impatient to go, as scores of his kinsmen volunteered-Woods’, Poages, McDowells, Lapsleys, Shepherds, Lamberts, Reids, Wallaces. But his good mother refused till January, 1781, when he was sixteen at last. Then in that terrible winter, when Washington declared that if all else should fail, his last hope lay in the staunch and strenuous race to which Archie Woods belonged, his mother commended her youngest born son to the God of his fathers, and let him go. He was made sergeant in the company of Captain John Cartwell, to his great delight.

They marched away, their horses floundering through snow and mire, to North Carolina, where, under Colonel Otho H. Williams, they were matched against the trained troops of Tarleton and Cornwallis, and saw hard service. Then, transferred to General Wayne's command in Virginia, under Lafayette, they were present at the curious engagement at Jamestown in July. Later they were under General William Campbell.

The same fatal illness, bred of miasma, which took away General Campbell, nearly cut off the young sergeant. Nearly dead, he was carried home to his mother, who “long despaired of his life.” In this way, though suffering for his country, he missed the surrender at Yorktown, a life-long regret.

After a journey on horseback to Kentucky for his health, he removed to Ohio county, Va., and in 1787, when only twenty-two, was sent to the House of Delegates. The next year he was the youngest of the great Convention.

A magistrate from 1782, for long years he was the presiding justice of the court, until his death in 1846. December 5, 1809, he received commission as colonel of the 4th Virginia Regiment, joth Brigade, zd Division. In 1815 he led his regiment under orders to report at Norfolk, but after reaching Cheat River, received tidings that the danger was past, and they were discharged.

His activity in all public affairs was great. One of the founders of the Northwestern Bank of Virginia, famous in the panic of 1837 as one of the few banks in the country which did not suspend specie payment, "saved by his ability and care; "' he was its President until his death.

He had a voluminous correspondence with the chief men of the day, and left hundreds of letters from them, and careful copies of his own answers; now a valuable store. By patent and purchase he acquired a large landed estate, and is said to have owned 60,000 acres. A group of gentlemen on the street in Wheeling one day were discussing the moon and whether it was inhabited. One was very positive. “I am sure it is not, or Colonel Archie here would have a quarter section!”

Like the men of his race, he was very tall and of a spare, commanding figure. One who knew him said: His face was strong and calm, his eyes dark and bright; his hair brown, worn in quaint fashion, brushed straight back from his face, and tied with a ribbon behind. His portrait,


painted for the bank, never did him justice; the one at Woodsland, his own home, is better."

Resigning his colonelcy in 1816, he says that for nearly forty years he had been in “actual military service for his country.” He married his first cousin, Anne Poage, a great beauty (described as still beautiful in extreme old age), daughter of Thomas, son of Robert before mentioned, and of Agnes McClanahan, his wife. She was daughter to Robert McClanahan, High Sheriff of Augusta till 1759 and Court Commissioner; and to Sarah Breckinridge, his wife, daughter to Alexander Brackenridge, who came over" in 1728, and to Virginia in 1738.

Colonel Woods' grandson, the Hon. Joseph J. Woods, of Wheeling, has been Speaker of the House of Delegates and State Senator, and he had the distinction of being the only Democrat elected from his district since the civil war. Another grandson, Judge James Paull, was on the Supreme Bench of the State until his death. Several descendants are in the ministry, and three are missionaries in China.

A. E. S. Pantops, Va., February 17, 1897.


In a recent number (October, 1896) we published a long entry from the Accomac Records, giving an account of a coroner's inquest held in that county in 1680, in a case of infanticide, in which the “ordeal of touch," or bier test, was tried. The following notes on the general history of the “ordeal of touch are from the pen of Mr. Barton H. Wise:

One of the most celebrated trials, at which the “ordeal of touch” was gone through with, was that of Philip Standsfield, at Edinburgh, in the year 1688, for the murder of his father, Sir Philip Standsfield. The prosecution was conducted by Sir George Mackenzie, the King's advocate, who was a celebrated prosecutor during the period of the covenanting prosecutions, and who was known as the “Bloody Mackenzie.” In the course of his speech at the Standsfield trial Mackenzie thus alluded to the ordeal, to which the prisoner was subjected:

“God Almighty himself was pleased to bear a share in the testimonies which we produce. That Divine Power which makes the blood circulate during life has ofttimes, in all nations, opened a passage to it after death upon such occasions, but most in this case; for after all the wounds had been sewed up, and the body designedly shaken up and down, and, which is most wonderful, after the body had been buried for several days, which naturally occasions the blood to congeal, upon Philip's touching it the blood darted and sprung out, to the great astonishment of the chirurgeons themselves, who were desired to watch the event; whereupon Philip, astonished more than they, threw down the body, crying, O God! O God! and, cleansing his hand, grew so faint that they were forced to give him a cordial.”'





The Encyclopædia Britiannica, Vol. XVII, under the heading of "Ordeal,” states that the bier test, which widely prevailed during the Middle Ages, appears to be founded on the “imagination that a sympathetic action of the blood causes it to flow at the touch or neighborhood of the murderer." Apparently the liquefaction of the blood, which in certain cases takes place after death, may have furnished the ground for this belief. On Teutonic ground, this ordeal appears in the Nibelungenlied, where the murdered Seigfried is laid on his bier, and Hagen is called on to prove his innocence by going to the corpse, but at his approach the dead chief's wounds bleed afresh. The typical instance in English history is the passage of Matthew Paris, that after Henry Il's death at Chinon his son, Richard came to view the body: ' Quo superveniente, confestim erupit sanguis ex naribus regis mortui; ac si indignaretur spiritus in adventu ejus, qui efusdem mortis causa esse credebatur, ut videretur sanguis Clamare ad Deum.”

* * At Hertford Assizes (4 Car., I) the deposition was taken as to certain suspected murderers being required to touch the corpse, when the murdered woman thrust out the ring finger three times and it dropped blood on the grass ( Brand, Vol. III, page 231 ).

Durham peasants, apparently remembering the old belief, still expect those who come to look at a corpse to touch it, in token that they fear no ill-will to the departed (W. Henderson, Folklore of Northern Countries, page 57).

My attention has been directed, by an address of R. T. Barton, Esq., of Winchester, Va., delivered before the Virginia State Bar Association, in 1893, on the Punishment of Crime,” to an interesting work entitled “Superstition and Force," by Henry Charles Lea, LL. D., of Philadelphia. In this book there is an instructive discussion of the subject, and the author states that the belief was by no means confined to Great Britain, but existed in Germany, France, Spain, Italy, and other countries during the Middle Ages. Several instances where the ordeal was applied in this country are given, the writer rema ng that probably the last under judicial proceedings was that of a man named Getter, who was hung in Pennsylvania for the murder of his wife in 1833.

It will doubtless, however, be a surprise to most of your readers to learn that this same author informs us that, “In 1868, at Verdiersville, Virginia, a suspected murderer was compelled to touch the body of a woman found murdered in a wood;” and another instance of a similar kind is stated to have occurred at Lebanon, Illinois, in 1869. These last though, according to Lea, were not in conformity to judicial proceedings, but undertaken by the bystanders, with the idea of discovering the guilty person. This is the only reference I have ever seen to the Verdiersville case, an account of which would be very interesting. This place is located in Orange county, Virginia, and is chiefly known as the spot where General J. E. B. Stuart came near being captured duriug the late war, his hat and cape having actually fallen into the hands of the enemy. It is highly probable that this old superstition still lingers among the country people in some localities in Virginia, and it is known to still exist among some of the negroes. The bier test, while generally treated as a mere superstition, seems to me to have contained, along with the former, a good admixture of common sense. The dread felt by the average murderer of the dead body of the victim is well known, and the Jeter Phillips case and Dean's case, in this State, furnish striking examples. The compelling of the murderer to come forward and touch the body was, doubtless, an ordeal under which he would betray evidences of his guilt, though it is needless to add that it is a most danger-. ous procedure, and one under which an innocent person might easily be held guilty. The two cases mentioned, as recorded in Accomac and Northampton, are the only ones I have ever heard of in Virginia where the test was regularly applied, though doubtless, the records of other old eastern Virginia counties contain similar instances. The ordeal suggests another which I have heard of as having been applied before the war in Virginia. Not long since, Judge Wm. J. Leake, of Richmond, gave me an account of an instance that occurred on his father's farm, in Goochland county, before the war. A theft had been committed by one of the slaves, and his father being anxious to discover the guilty ones, determined upon the following plan: A big iron pot was placed, with a live rooster underneath it, upside down, in a very dark

Each of the negroes was made to pass through the room, one at a time and touch the pot, having been previously informed that, upon the guilty one touching it, that the cock would crow. As they came out, one at a time, their hands were examined, to see whether they were smutted from contact with the vessel, which was the case with all of them, except the guilty party. I believe a somewhat similar story is related in the Decameron of Boccaccio.




Ambrose Madison of Orange, married Frances Taylor, daughter of Col. James Taylor and his wife Martha Thompson of Caroline, and afterwards of Orange county, Va.

The issue of this marriage, was Col. James Madison, Sr., father of the President, and Frances Madison, who married, ist, Tavener Beale, and 2nd, Jacob Hite, son of Joist Hite. Elizabeth Madison married, ist, John Willis, son of Col. Harry Willis, of Willis Hall, near Fredericksburg, and 2nd, Richard Beale, brother of Tavener Beale. Among the children of Frances Madison, was Col. Tavener Beale of the Revolution, who lived at Clifton Forge.

Before the Revolution, an Englishman named Pearis, bought ten thousand acres of land from the Cherokees, embracing the present site

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