Wednesday, May 26, 2021



Wilcher Cardwell Hamilton, my paternal Great-Grandfather, was born March 1, 1846 in Oakdale (North Buffalo area), Rockbridge Country, Virginia. He died at his home, in Clifton Forge, Va, on July 22, 1922. He was 76 years of age.

*****Before continuing my genealogy blogs, be reminded that:  The (#number) listed in the blog title, corresponds with the # in the chart below. (I am #1. #2 is my Dad. #3 is my Mom. #4 is my Paternal Grandfather. #5 is my Paternal Grandmother. #6 is my Maternal Grandfather. #7 is my Maternal Grandmother. WILCHER CARDWELL HAMILTON is #8. Not shown in this chart below are the names and numbers #16-----#31) This chart is a continual work-in-progress, with lots of corrections and additions.***** 

Wilcher's mother was Lucy Jane Grimes. (Lucy's maternal grandmother was Lucy CARDWELL, thus Wilcher's middle name. My Dad's sister also included the family name: Lela CARDWELL Hamilton Mitchell.) Lucy was born in Prince Edward County and died in Clifton Forge, Va in 1908. 

Wilcher's father was John Frances Hamilton. He was born about 1818 in Prince Edward Co, Va, and died in 1848 in Rockbridge, Co. Virginia.. 

Wilcher had one younger brother, John Lucian Hamilton. He was born February 29, 1848, and died May 24, 1926 in Chatham, Va. 

Sadly, Wilcher's father died the same year that his younger brother, J.Lucian was born. Their father was only 30 yrs old. (He and their Mother, had been married for a brief 5 years. Imagine living in a very rural area, losing your husband and raising an infant and a 2 yr old boy!) 

Wilcher's father, John, was a farmer in the North Buffalo area of Rockbridge County, Va. Fortunately, Lucy Jane was able to remain in their home and care for her 2 children after his death. There were other Hamilton families living in the Buffalo Creek area who shared the load of raising the 2 boys. I suspect that Wilcher assumed as many of the farming responsibilities as he aged. Wilcher, however, was not content with just the farming aspect. He became a self taught business man, land owner, 'entrepreneur extraordinaire'. 

At age 23 (August 31, 1869), Wilcher married 18 yr old Sarah(Sallie) Missouri T Shafer. They were married at the residence of her parents' home, John M, and Sarah G. Shafer, Rockbridge County, Va.

This marriage license was a successful 'find' after visiting the Rockbridge Circuit Court in Lexington, Va.! We located years of recorded deeds, birth records, marriage licenses, etc. πŸ‘† andπŸ‘‡

What a fascinating wealth of information stored in this room! ☝

The following June, 1870, my Paternal Grandfather, Walter Henry Hamilton, was born. The 1880 census indicated that the family of 3 continued to live in the North Buffalo area until Walter was at least 10 years old.(Not listed in this census was Wilcher's widowed mother, Lucy. I'll bet, however, that she lived with them!)

I found a map(thanks again to my Uncle Craig who left a rather extensive paper trail). It shows the area in and around Oakdale, which includes both the North and South Buffalo. πŸ‘‡

Not only was 'farming' the most prevalent occupation in this area, the land was plentiful, spacious, and available. Wilcher took advantage of the opportunities to acquire land, and eventually became heavily involved in real estate. One might say that he strived to become a SELF-MADE MAN.

Wilcher's younger brother, J.Lucian, pursued the educational arena, and became one of the Rockbridge School Superintendents. Read last paragraph hereπŸ‘‰: Rockbridge School System . 

****At this point in my genealogy search, the relationship between the Robert Hamilton and John Frances Hamilton(Wilcher's Father) has not been confirmed. An educated guess, however, leads me to believe that they were brothers or cousins, as they both were born in Prince Edward County, Va. and moved to the Buffalo area of Rockbridge Co. This is where the Hamilton School House(now on the National Register of Historic Places) 'comes into play'. Here is a version of THE SAGA OF HAMILTON'S SCHOOL HOUSE, written by George West Diehl. For now, I am content to have the 46 page book to read and ponder!

The photo below is a Hamilton Family Portrait taken in 1888. Standing from left to right: Wilcher Cardwell Hamilton, Walter Henry Hamilton(my Grandfather), and Wilcher's younger brother, John Lucian Hamilton. Seated from left to right: Sarah(Wilcher's wife), Gerda Gore Hamilton, Lucy Jane Grimes Hamilton, Nell Hamilton, and Malona Hamilton.(Lucian was married to Malona. Their 2 children were Gerda Gore and Nell).  

Below is a photo at a much later date of Gerda Gore. She sent this original card to her 'Uncle Wilcher and Aunt Sallie.(I can see the resemblance between above and below photos of the facial features!)

  By 1892, Wilcher, Sarah, and Walter moved to Clifton Forge, Va. I suspect Wilcher's widowed Mom, Lucy, moved with them as well. Wilcher was able to either build or secure this house, which was built in 1897.  The town of Clifton Forge has a rich railroad heritage. the first passenger train arrived in Clifton Forge in 1857! Here is a great read about the history of the Alleghany Highlands, which includes the Town of Clifton Forge: Clifton Forge, Virginia

The house still stands today. It is located at the corner of McCormick Blvd, and Tremont Street, Clifton Forge, Va. I'd love to knock on the door one day, and see the inside! 932 Tremont Street, Clifton Forge, Va.
The house was large enough to accommodate several families.........and indeed it did! 

Here is another photo of  Wilcher (age 44), and brother Lucian. (Lucian appears to have a long beard, but it is a torn spot in the photo.)  Seated are their wives Sarah Shafer Hamilton, and Malona Wilkerson Hamilton. The photo was taken in 1901 at the S.S. Griffith & Co. Photographers in Clifton Forge, Va.

The year 1906, Wilcher and Sarah's only child, Walter Henry Hamilton,  married Laura Effle Trenor. Wilcher was 60 years old, and Sarah(Sallie) was 54. ***(Walter was 36 years old when he married Laura. I do not know for sure, but I suspect he lived with his parents until he got married...and continued living with them for 2 years after he married.)  The following year, 1907, Sarah died at the young age of 55.  That same year, Walter and Laura's first child, Bessie Madeline, died. The following year, 1908, Wilcher and Lucian's mother, Lucy Jane Grimes Hamilton, died. It was a tragic and sad time. Wilcher lost his wife of 38 years, his mother, and his first grandchild within a year. All 3 are buried in Crown Hill Cemetery, Clifton Forge, Va.

That same year, July 6, 1908, another child was born to Walter and Laura(Lela Cardwell Hamilton (Mitchell). The house was once again filled with joy. Wilcher beamed at the sounds and commotion of the newborn. 

Wilcher married wife #2 in 1910. He was 64 years old. His bride, Bessie Lillian Graves was 27 years old! (She was the same age as Wilcher's daughter-in-law, Laura! Bessie was born in January, and Miss Laura was born in October, THE SAME YEAR, 1883!***I'll bet that took quite an adjustment on both Laura and Walter's part. Walter had been an only child for 36 years. I also speculate that this was a major reason why Laura, Walter, and Baby Lela moved out of the big white house on Tremont, to Nace Va, to live with Laura's parents. If you know anything about queen bees, you know that there can only be one queen bee living in a hive, and now Bessie Lillian was the new Queen!) Here is the only photo that I have of Bessie Lillian Graves Hamilton.πŸ‘‡ Bessie was born in Orange Co. Virginia, to Rufus Eugene Graves and Sarah F. Estes.(I have no clue how she ended up in Clifton Forge, Virginia, .... a mere 140 miles away!

If you are sitting down while reading this, hang on to your seat! From the time they were married in 1910, until Wilcher died on July 22, 1922, they had 5 children! FIVE! They continued to live in the big white house on Tremont! In fact, Bessie's mother lived with them as well! 

First child born was Carle Graves Hamilton, Oct 3, 1912. He died Jan 26, 2941 and was buried in the same section of Crown Hill Cemetery as other members of the Hamilton clan. 

Second child was John Grimes Hamilton, Sept 22, 1913. He died Feb 19, 1968. 

Third and fourth children were  Arlene, and Edna (Birthdates not available, but born before 1918). Edna pictured below. 

  The fifth child was Warren Cabot Hamilton, born around 1920-1921. 
*****I do not know how often Wilcher visited his son(my Grandfather) after he married his second wife, Bessie. No doubt it was difficult to stay closely connected due to the distance. Walter and his family settled in Roanoke. Wilcher and his young family remained in Clifton Forge. Trains were the mode of transportation. World War I had ended in 1918. The saw mills(lumber mills) in Clifton Forge were big business, as well as the railroad. Wilcher was buying and selling real-estate. 
*****From a well preserved letter that Wilcher wrote to his wife Bessie in 1919, THIS MUCH I KNOW:  Wilcher was in Roanoke, visiting with Walter and his family. I suspect he was there for at least 10 days to 2 weeks, because several letters were written and received between he and his wife . His wife, Bessie, was left in Clifton Forge to care for her 4 small children... and she was sick.  Wilcher was looking for a place to relocate his Clifton Forge family, and wanted to be united with his son in Roanoke. He was 73 years old at the time he wrote this letter, and his youngest son, Warren Cabot, had not been born😲. His other children are mentioned in the letter...(Alene, Edna, Graves and Grimes). Wilcher was not only physically sick, he was suffering from depression. I do not know if  he was aware that he had severe diabetic disease, its prognosis or progression. The stationery logo, on which he scripted his letter, was REAMS, JONES & BLANKENSHIP. My Grandfather had secured paper, from his place of employment as an accountant, for his father to write to Wilcher's wife. I have transcribed the letter to the best of my ability! πŸ‘‡πŸ‘‡πŸ‘‡ 
Wilcher Cardwell Hamilton lived to be 76 years old. He died of diabetes. His youngest child was 2 years old.

To say that Wilcher  lived life to it's fullest would be an understatement. My Great-Grandfather, Wilcher, had 5 children  AFTER my Grandfather and Grandmother had birthed their 4 children!!! Imagine that! I can only ponder the family dynamics! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜πŸ˜€. His second wife, Bessie, died January 15, 1940 age 57. 

Both she and Wilcher are buried SOMEWHERE in Crown Hill Cemetery, yet to be found! Wilcher Cardwell Hamilton used his time and resources wisely. He also left a keepsake. "The most precious resource we all have is time!" 

What a life!