(Thoughts on a Family History
by James Batson Hearn, Jr.)
On one chilly day (the 28th of January, to be exact) in 18411 , a small bundle of joy was born into the Hearn household. He was the fourth child born to Kendal Batson and Elizabeth Hearn of Little Creek Hundred, Sussex County, Delaware2. The three earlier children (and those two who were yet to come), were born in Delaware; but Samuel Batson Hearn was born in Maryland3, just over the Mason-Dixon Line. The old survey “Line” runs through the present village of Delmar, though at the time of Sam’s birth, it was little more than a gathering of a few homes and a business or two! But a town nevertheless was in the making and would be established in 1859 as the railroad stretched itself toward the southern portions of Delaware. The village of Delmar would have the distinction of being half in Delaware and half in Maryland as the Main Street straddled that tell tale Line!
It was possible, I suppose, that Samuel’s mother (whose maiden name incidentally, was also Hearn)4 was visiting some relatives on the Maryland side of the “Line” when the moment of arrival drew near. At any rate, Sam never forgot that he was born in Maryland5 and that he carried the proud name of Samuel! His father had named him after his grandfather, Samuel Hearn(e), the surveyor; and his middle name Batson… well, Kendal couldn’t refrain from lending part of his own name to that of their new born son. Kendal and Elizabeth were married on the 18th day of May in the year of our Lord 18366. Regarding Elizabeth’s parents, they were Samuel Hearne of Jonathan and his wife, Frances Elliss of Sussex County. However, according to the oral history from one of Sam’s children, Kendal had married his cousin!7 This was in all probability a second, third, or even fourth cousin, if this should ever prove so.
We know that the farm on which they lived was situated very near to property owned by Elizabeth’s brother, who was a William Hearn of Samuel.
The number of Hearn(e)s who were living on the Eastern Shore of Maryland had swiftly multiplied from the London Merchant who originally settled on her shores in 1688. He had come from London, England a merchant's apprentice seeking a better and safer life. William Hearne had come from England around 1679 as an apprentice for London Merchant, William Freeman and worked his apprenticeship in St. Christopher's in the West Indies. From there he and his wife came to Somerset, Maryland to raise a family and continue a London trade in tobacco. His untimely death at barely 32 years of age left his young family devastated. They plowed through as settlers do and in America found a life where they could make the choices their hearts dictated.8
However, now with the coming of the new rail system in the mid 1800’s and the westward expansion of the new nation, the Hearne offspring were soon to be scattered to the winds as seed thrown from the hands of a liberal sower.
According to “Brief History & Genealogy of the Hearne Family” by William T. Hearne, Samuel Hearne was the son of William & Elizabeth Hearne and grandson of William Hearne, the London Merchant (1627-1691). Samuel, states this family genealogy, died June of 1803 as his will “was probated July 8, 1803… as the custom still stands in the East to probate most all wills within twenty days after death.” One older member of the family, Clement Hearne (1763-1851), always said that this Samuel Hearn was “the first in his day to leave the final (e) off the family name.” To the writer’s “recollections that would have been in the 1770’s when Samuel was approximately forty years old. This would have placed the date of Samuel’s birth around 1730!” 9 (This is verified by the strict Census & Tax records held yearly by the Maryland Colonial Proregative Court by by Royal Engish decree!) Samuel “was a surveyor by profession as well as farmer, and a man of considerable influence in the community with a strong force of character. He accumulated a fine property which was estimated at $40,000 dollars at the time of his death.” Quite an accomplishment for a person in those days! “His children’s names were: Jonathan, Thomas, Benjamin, Nancy (who married an Ellis), Hannah (who married a Hastings), Polly (who married a Melson), Betsy (who married a Parsons), and William…”
“Samuel was married twice,” the author remarked. “His first wife was named Rhoda Parker, daughter of Jacob and Mary Parker. She was the mother of his children. His second wife, who survived him, was named Elizabeth and is mentioned in his will.”10
Kendal had been the third child born of seven in the influential and rather “financially stable” family of Thomas Hearn.11 Thomas was called Tom, Jr. by many of his friends in the community.12 [Incidentally, Thomas wasn’t named after his father who was Samuel Hearn(e)… and a Sam, Sr. at that!13 Thus confusing matters further, for none of Samuel Hearne’s children carried the name of Samuel. We therefore have a Sr. Hearn and a Jr. Hearn!)
His mother was Sarah Coffin14 of the distinctive Coffin family on the Delmarva Peninsula. Kendal was born in 1808 or 180915 and was named by his father after a friend, as no one of the family previously bore that name. (Batson was one of the old names of the region and very few can be found on the “Shore” that bear it today.)
Later, during the War of 1812, we find a certain Thomas Hearn who fought along side Kendal Batson of Lewes and Rehoboth Hundred.16 It would only be conjecture for us to imagine what transpired previous to the War or even during that war time. Whatever may have happened, Thomas Hearn thought enough of this gentleman to name his son in honor of him. After the war, Kendal Batson (son of Thos. Batson) carried quite an influence in the political arena of Sussex County, Delaware.
It was from his father, Thomas, that Kendal (who was often called Batson)17 learned how to carry on the farming tradition.18 It took him and his four brothers (James R., Burton R., Marseilles, and Sperry) and two sisters (Frenetta and Eleanor)19 every bit of energy to help maintain the family plantation. Their father owned a goodly amount of acreage on which the “mansion style” farm house was located and many fields which were devoted to growing corn and other crops as well as potatoes; both sweet and the Irish varieties.20
The farm had several cows21 which gave rich milk to the family and twenty or more sheep22, the wool of which Sarah would use for spinning; not to mention the herd of hogs23 for bacon. Many times, numbers of Thomas’ hogs escaped to the woods on the farm and had to be searched out!24 This was not a favorite pastime amongst the boys.
Tom, Jr. was also a slave owner; having three in number. There was one young woman, a fine house-keeper to assist his wife, Sarah; plus two boys, one of which was indispensable on the farm! The second was still a bit too young to load down with many chores.25 The two would help in gathering those lost hogs and chase them out of the wood!
It was the horses however, that were given special care as they were used both as beasts of burden and for transportation.26 They took the family into the nearby village of Laurel for weekly shopping. Then on Sundays, the horses would carry the family to church, as well as over the Maryland border and into Salisbury for that occasional special trip. Of course, there were those other occasional times, unbeknownst to Thomas, that his sons used them to race!
Lastly, the chores on the old farm involved the feeding of the family’s geese and turkeys. No small task, especially for the two younger boys Marseilles and Sperry, seeing there were over sixty turkeys!27
As time passed, we find too that Thomas Hearn’s passing came suddenly. Perhaps he never considered making out a will28, presuming, as many do, that he had yet many years left before that day. Yet on September 24, 1832, Thomas Hearn — a fourth generation American, passed on to his heavenly reward.29 All of this had a part in molding Kendal Batson into the man that he had become. It was somewhere along life’s path that Kendal fell in love with Elizabeth Hearn, a lady five years his younger.30 It was thus they were married and also, like his father before him, took up farming and house-keeping of their own.
Elizabeth truly was a good house-keeper. She was familiar with using both cotton and wool, as well as linen. The spinning wheel and weaver’s loom were no stranger to her. She would use them to make bed-quilts and clothing that her young family would need.31 It was no time at all until they began to add new members to the family.
The eldest child born to Kendal and Elizabeth was William S. Hearn in 1834. William was soon followed in 1836 by James Thomas and then Sallie Ann Hearn in 1838. It was three years later that Samuel Batson was born, followed by John Houston in October of 1849 and Mary Elizabeth in May of 1853.32 This would complete their family circle.
The Hearn homestead was located not far from where his father’s lands had been.33 Kendal’s home and properties were situated just below the area known as “Bacon’s Switch”34 on the old maps. The farm was nestled along the old road that led from Delmar to Laurel. It is of little doubt that the family was well familiar with the old country roads leading up to Laurel and Seaford and down into Delmar and Salisbury, Maryland.
It was indeed strange to note that there was another Kendal B. Hearn living in the same area, the village of Delmar, at the time of our Kendal! He built and ran the first hotel in Delmar and was married to a Rachael Beach. No relation to our immediate family however. He died fifteen year prior to our Kendal, in 1859.
Early on many Sunday mornings Kendal, with the help of one or more of the boys, would harness up the bay mare or one of the other family horses to the buggy and wagon to begin the Sabbath trip to church in Broad Creek Hundred, just on the far side of Laurel. The family was raised as good Christians after the Protestant Episcopal tradition and attended Christ Church in Broad Creek at Chapman’s Pond.35 The Reverend Cadle had come from the church to their home during the winter of 1853 to baptize John & Mary. Samuel had witnessed his younger brother and sister’s baptism, though a little young to understand the full meaning of the event!36
Christ Church has recently taken on great historical significance in Sussex County. The old church was founded at a time when the present borders of Maryland and Delaware were not so well defined. It was located in Somerset County, Maryland before the present border was established in 1775. One of the oldest buildings on the Eastern Shore, the church is situated in a picturesque wooded area just on the shore of a small lake.
The trip to church on Sundays was a long one! The horses would have to carry the family just over five and a half miles; but they faithfully set out for that time of worship and celebration with friends and relatives. Undoubtedly many of the ancestors of both Kendal and Elizabeth had also attended that same house of prayer in their day.
Old Christ Church was known as a "Chapel of Ease" because it was one of the sister churches of the 'mother' Church Green Hill Episcopal in Quantico, also known as Stepney Parish. However, the trip to Green Hill was a good twenty miles for Kendal & Elizabeth, so they rarely made it there unless the bishop was visiting. Therefore a trip of that kind was undertaken maybe once or twice a year! Their local assembly, Christ Church was much closer to attend; therefore became a 'Chapel of Ease' to them and many others in their local.
During those years, there was not an elaborate amount of pastime as there seems to be today. Newsprint was a weekly occurrence and many time scarce. However, one of the “old man’s” pleasures was to engage himself in keeping honey bees and reading about their care in his book on Bee-Keeping.37 There is no doubt in my mind that Kendal had a fond taste for honey, as well as enjoying the turning of a profit for the amount of honey he received from those hives. He kept no less than eight hives going at one time with boxes and trays for another one or two if necessary! I am sure the local Mercantile held a stock of honey from Hearn’s farm on the shelves for those whose fondness for it ran only slightly less than that of Kendal! Family tradition says that Kendal also bred “race horses”38 and though no evidence has been found to prove such a tale, I am sure that Samuel and his brothers enjoyed running the animals, especially when their father was resting and not about! This, of course, must have been sparked by his older brothers William and James, not by dear Samuel! Kendal was very serious about his horses. His reading material included two books in his possession on caring and raising the animals.39 The family owned two yearlings, one horse and a bay mare at the time of his passing in June of 1874.40 Susie Hearn Christie, one of Sam’s daughters, related the old stories to those of us who fondly recall her tales: how her father loved to ride Kendal’s horses!
It was late 1859 and the early 1860’s that Samuel’s sentiments led him to take up arms during the War between the States.41 His feelings toward the strong rights of the individual states greatly influenced his actions,42 as did the call coming from across the “Line“ — the place of his birth.
The Mason-Dixon Line had always represented much more than the simple separation of Delaware from neighboring Maryland. There was something much deeper. It has been said that Samuel fought against his brethren,43 however we have not found that his natural brothers, William and James, ever fought in the War. (My thought would be his brothers… in the broad sense of the word: cousins and relatives.) So in August of 1862 he left his family and home and stood with those that held similar convictions. Crossing the Chesapeake Bay, he and a companion joined the Confederate forces then in Richmond, Virginia and were quickly sent into training camp in Charlottesville.44 Those were days that men’s heart were joined together not only in political beliefs, but in grand and strong friendships which would last a lifetime! There was many a story told ’round the campfires those years that would stir the devotion of even the coldest heart.
Samuel had always been raised in the Episcopal church in Broad Creek Hundred. Yet it would appear that following his introduction to Southern hospitality and manners, he was “touched” by one of the many Christian revival meetings which transpired within the ranks of the Confederate army during those times. Numerous itinerate Baptist and Methodist preachers would pour their own souls out to those men the night before they marched forward onto the battle field. Many a man was converted to Christ as the Word of God was spoken with great boldness! In those days the Bible was most precious. As Aunt Sue would relate, “My father was a ‘hard-shell’ Baptist! In fact, if one of his children in later life dared to return home to visit during a weekend, they were required to attend the Baptist church. Otherwise, they simply were not welcome to remain in the house!”
Concerning Samuel’s first engagement in battle Sue Christie enthusiastically related: Samuel has shot his first Union soldier. However, not wishing to see him die, he rushed to the now wounded man to give him assistance. In gratitude for this help, the soldier gave to Sam his pocket watch! The watch was a great treasure to Samuel during the years that followed and it was passed to his daughter, Susie. The grand trophy now is held by, Aunt Sue’s grandson, Paul Christie.
One of the first marches Sam found himself on led them through Maryland and into Pennsylvania that following June. It was during those dawning days of July 1863 that he followed Captain Emack of the First Maryland Cavalry into battle in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania led by General Robert E. Lee. He was there that fateful day on the 4th of July to charge forward in the battle and his life was miraculously spared. Forward those survivors marched and again raised their rifles at the battles of North Mountain, Brandy Station and Second Manassas.45
Without a doubt Sam’s mother & father, as well as his younger brother and sister (John and Mary, both of whom were still living at home), took time to write him during his absence from them. Now whether or not he always received the correspondence is yet another matter!
One item owned by Kendal & Elizabeth was a “traveling desk,” also referred to as a lap desk. In all probability the desk was carried back and forth to church with them, as well as on overnight trips to visit more distant relatives. I am sure a great many words were penned back and forth during that year and a half of Sam’s absence on the old traveling desk. Presently the old desk is held by myself and I cannot help but contemplate the many heart-felt expressions of love and concern that it’s top must bare from the years of use.
It wasn’t until February of 1864 that Samuel was again to see his family. Being granted permission, he again crossed the Chesapeake with his companion, Braxton Lyons, and visited for ten days.
“Kendal was not at all pleased with his son’s stance for the Southern cause. In fact, he had considered the possibility over and over in his mind of turning his son into the Federal authorities. He had assumed with seeming certainty that the authorities would simply restrain him from returning to his companions in Virginia,” however this was not to be.
“It was Samuel’s mother, Elizabeth, who hid him from his father in one of the family’s old blanket chests when he first appeared,” related Aunt Sue. They possessed two or three in the house.46 Elizabeth above everyone realized how upset her husband had become with Sam, aligning himself as he had done with the Confederates. It was at some point soon after his arrival that he made himself known to his father and all things seemingly went along cordially. It wasn’t until he left the home that trouble followed hard on his heels! As he and Mr. Lyons were returning to rejoin the forces in Virginia, they were captured in the mouth of Hollin’s Straits by Federal Gunboats and taken to Baltimore, Maryland and confined at Fort McHenry. It was only then, days later, that Kendal discovered that Samuel, along with three others who also were captured, had been tried, convicted and sentenced to be hanged as spies!47
It had never crossed the “old man’s” thoughts that such a thing could have happened! He had merely assumed they would hold his son for the remained of that war. However, certain actions carry with them certain consequences for both men. Samuel was now paying the price for his determination to stand firm on the ground he chose.
As fate, or Divine providence, would have it… and the persuasiveness of a certain Baltimore family named Gittings who interceded for the men before the President, the sentence of death upon those four was commuted by Abraham Lincoln the very day the executions were set to begin.48 Sam was sent to the Penitentiary in Albany, New York and confined to hard labor for the remainder of the War. It was amazing that within five short months, the Confederate authorities learned of their whereabouts and secured a prisoner transfer. We stand further amazed that Samuel set his face toward Richmond again and once more sought to join his comrades in arms! However, upon learning of General Lee’s surrender, he marched onward into North Carolina desirous to join with General Johnstone and his men. Yet this was not to be. Before they could be reached, Samuel and those with him discovered that he too had surrendered, thus they turned back to Richmond and were discharged.49 Upon returning to the Eastern Shore I am certain that both Elizabeth and Kendal were delighted to see their son again. Many events had transpired since they had last been together. It must have been a joyous reunion with many a tear shed!
The South held an unrelenting magnetism for Samuel. During those preceding years he had lived among the southern folk and unbeknownst to him, a great appreciation had come into his heart for their ways and customs. Therefore in the weeks following that great reunion, he yielded to the tug in his heart and returned to Virginia’s soil to make his home.50
It was in Caroline County that he met his bride, Miss Mary Virginia Gibbs, daughter of Charles E. and Elizabeth Gibbs. They were both united in Port Royal on the 21st of December 1869.51 Samuel worked as a share-cropper at a farm those first years in Virginia. The location was just across the Rappahannock River from the village of Port Royal, in King George county. He continued to work there until he could afford to purchase a farm and homestead of his own.52
During those early days of married life, Samuel’s older brother, James Thomas, came from Delaware and lived with them.53 He knew how to farm as well as Sam did and the South, like-wise, was pulling at him!
By this time both Kendal and Elizabeth had grown much older and only John and Mary remained at home. Perhaps it was the need for additional farm hands that caused Kendal to open his home to two young men: John Adkins, who was sixteen years old and Greensley Culver, who was 18. They stayed with the family for a time, helping with the various chores to be attended to on a farm.54
During one Spring day in early June, or it could have been the closing days of May 1874, the word came to Samuel that his father had passed on to a place where there was no more work to be done and no more toil to go through.55 In Kendal’s will, he named both his eldest sons: William S. Hearn (who had always remained at his side in Delaware) and James Thomas Hearn as the executors of his estate.56 It was James who now had to return to Delmar. (He may have previously returned for a season due to his father’s illness, who can tell!) He was to assisted his brother William with their father’s goods and comforted his mother. It took a year, but by the following July all was settled with their father’s estate. Kendal Batson Hearn was laid to rest on his home farm in Little Creek Hundred, as was his father (Thomas), and his father before him. Time marched slowly before the dawn of the 20th century on the Eastern Shore.
Samuel’s inheritance from his father greatly helped him in the purchase of his home farm, which he named “Hickory Grove.” The farm was located between the village of Port Royal and Bowling Green, Virginia. Amongst other things of importance, the “traveling desk” was passed from his parents down to him. Later it came into the hands of his daughter, Nellie Hearn Blackley.
Sue Christie recalled her brothers and sisters talking about the visit of her grandmother, Elizabeth, sometime after the death of Kendal. “The children,” she said, “were not too fond of her.” Perhaps the years had left her with a stern look! Maybe the young children unnerved her for she had not been used to having young ones around for so long a time… Whatever it was, they did not recalled her with the fond memories that many a grandchild holds of a grandmother!
There were also tales concerning the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln that were related to Aunt Sue and her brothers and sisters while growing up. “Both my parents and grandparents saw John Wilkes Booth; and against strict orders from grandpa, grandma gave Booth a glass of water!”
“One thing that isn’t recorded in any historical is that my family gave John Wilkes Booth a pitcher of water. Grandfather Gibbs had a tavern in town — it was simply called The Inn — where Booth stopped after getting off the ferry. He wanted something to eat, but grandfather had closed the Inn since he heard that Booth was headed this way and he didn’t want anything to do with him.
“My grandmother Elizabeth Gibbs said she never believed in letting people suffer for want of a drink of water — she knew who he was — so she told the colored woman to give him a pitcher. My grandfather returned in a rage and said they had been picking up people all along the way! ‘Do you want to get hung?’ he yelled. Grandmother said, “If they want to hang me for helping a crippled man, then they can!’ Those old Southern women were tired of seeing so many hurt people.” That’s part of what happened on the morning of April 24th, related Sue.
The following day, Booth was shot be Federal soldiers in the Tobacco Barn on Garrett farm. He was dragged out and carried by the soldiers to the veranda of the Garrett’s home. “Miss Luncinda Holloway, the Garrett-girl’s governess, sat on the porch. Booth’s head lay on a pillow in her lap. His body was paralyzed. He looked at his hands and asked that they be raised. He said, ’Useless, useless…,’ and died.
“Miss Lucinda, a great person for sewing had on her sewing apron. She reached into her pocket and took out the scissors and snipped off a curl of his hair. She had it in a locket and I saw it many times, though I never recall her wearing it.”
Over the years the Garrett family have been besieged by relic hunters. Many were chased away, even in the act of pulling up the porch floor which had been blood stained! So much so that the floor was removed and stored in the Garrett attic.
Susie remembered, “We’d be playing in the attic and one of the boys would come waving a board and scare us girls!” 56b
Following the death of Kendal Batson Hearn and possibly after Elizabeth Hearn’s passing, we find that James Thomas Hearn cut his final ties with Delaware and moved to Lexington, Kentucky. There too, he was to began a family after his marriage to Miss Susie Ferris.57 Susie was many years his younger and bore him four children.
Likewise their youngest brother, John Houston came to live in Virginia. It was in Matthews County that John married Susan Mason.58 There he took up the trade of working in a sawmill.
Sam’s oldest brother, William, never drifted far from the old homesteads of his early ancestors. He was the first of Kendal’s children to marry and leave the home (about 1861 or 62), yet he always remained near his parents. His wife was named Julia A. Hearn LeCates, the wife of the late Thomas C. LeCates of Little Creek. William had learned the trade of carpentry and worked with hand tools well. They had one daughter, Rosa L. Hearn, who was born in 1863 and was married to Hermus Lowe of Delmar.
In Virginia, during those early years of farming, it has been said that Sam and Mary had a visitor “come calling.” His name was William T. Hearne of Independence, Missouri. Mr. Hearne was writing a book on the history of the Hearne family and desired to include all the family spread throughout the country. He also wanted donations which would be used, among other things, to erect a large stone marker at the original Hearne property and burial ground outside Delmar, Maryland and enclose the cemetery in an iron fence.
Samuel’s reply was a simple one: “I am concerned with the future and education of my children, not the past!” To this, we were told, his guest replied, “Well then, I’ll have to leave your family’s pages out of my book.”59 We have always thought that this is as clear a picture as any as to why the branch of Kendal Batson Hearn, his brothers and parents were not included in the book: “Brief History and Genealogy of the Hearne Family,” printed in 1907 or the Addendum that followed in 1912!
One of Samuel’s daughters, Sallie Pinkstan writes: “There were eleven children in our family and ours was a wonderful home. We had everything except money. There was room and to spare and a spirit of hospitality little known today. We lived on a farm of many hundreds of acres which my father tilled with great perfection. In time of emergency or unusual need, we were all called out to give a hand in getting the work done.
“There was a good public school nearby where we were not only encouraged to go, but our parents saw to it that we never missed a day during any term unless we were ill. Come rain or snow, come cold or heat, we were off to the log school house. All the cracks between the logs were chinked with a certain kind of mud. There was an old pot bellied stove that sat in the center of a box of sand to prevent fire and around which we warmed our feet and dried out our shoes when the rains came or we waded through the snow banks. We were comfortably happy and blessed most of the time with excellent teachers.
“This being the deep South, many of these teachers were from aristocratic background (educated under the finest available ‘tutors’ in private schools) and so possessed the best education of that era.
“Finding themselves in financial straights after the Civil War, these folk turned their abilities to a double advantage, that of helping themselves financially, and giving the benefit of their superior knowledge to the youth of that day.” As Aunt Sallie has stated, there were eleven children in the Hearn family. The eldest was Imogene Brooke who was born in 1871, followed by Mary Elizabeth and William Samuel; then in 1878, Charles Kendal was born. The others in order were: Frances Brynham, Sallie Pinkstan, Nellie Cleveland, Marion Welch, John Thomas born in 1890 and Susie Lee born in 1893. The eleventh child, Elizabeth L. Hearn, had died young in life.
“Every child in our family,” relates Aunt Sallie, “was compelled to go through all the educational material available. Memory work of poems and the classics held an important place in the caricullum. We were well grounded in such fundamentals as reading, arithmetic, writing, geography, history, spelling, physiology and hygene. Composition and letter writing was practiced as a special art. We missed nothing in all of the program of the school. ’You must take advantage of all available resources in public education,’ said my father. ’For it is impossible for me to send any of you to college, as I am unable to send all of you and do not intend to give any one of you an advantage over the other.’
“Whatever there was in me that determined me to go to college, I do not know. But early in life, I made a pledge to myself that I would go at any cost. The plan lived with me night and day as I grew up.
“It may be interesting to some to know where I got the money for this venture. For the first year plan, I asked my father to give me the use of a piece of land on which I could raise a crop of tobacco, the one crop where I lived, that brought in real money. Telling my father what I wanted to do, made him smile, but he agreed to let me try out my plan, and offered to let one of the hired men on the farm do the plowing necessary for the preparation of the ground. “You would have to raise a crop of tobacco to have any idea of the back-breaking hours it required and the self-discipline necessary to have it ready at the right time and in the condition that assured the best price when the market was open.
“Many a time while other young people of my crowd were frolicking, I was bent over for hours in the hot sunshine, doing the things required each day to care for the plants properly.
“Father left me almost entirely on my own resources, unless it was some task beyond my strength, and then gave as little help as possible, being of the opinion that beginning such a task, I should be left to complete it, thus develop a strong character and prove to myself and others the worthiness of my endeavor.
“The school I desired to attend opened early, so I sold my crop in the field for a price beyond my fondest hopes and set out to secure my college education.”60
Each of Samuel and Mary Virginia’s children set out upon their own courses in life guided by the principles that had been taught them by their parents.
John Thomas, as a young man, had been thrilled as a lad growing up by the stories his father told of their gallant charges made during the Civil War. Thus when the first World War began, Tom quickly enlisted in the Navy. The fighting carried him several times into Britain and France where he too, fought valiantly for his country. He was trained as a Machinist’s Mate onboard ship and learned all he could about it’s engines. He was also in charge of keeping the ship’s logbooks. One of which is still held by the family! He was stationed on a destroyer during the war’s duration and advanced to Chief Petty Officer before leaving the service.
Following the War, he returned to Virginia and moved into Fredericksburg. It was there that he met and married Nellie Edythe Armstrong, daughter of James Edward Armstrong and Eliza Gordon Rose of Fredericksburg. Nellie was born on August 12, 1899 in Stafford County, Virginia into a family of seven children; Nellie being the youngest61. (However, in the years following, Nellie always told friends and family that she was born in 1903 — a mere child at the time of her engagement to Tom!) A house was acquired at 820 Mercer Street by Tom and Nellie was given the adjoining lot by her father, located in the Fairview subdivision.
Following Tom Hearn’s Navy career he obtained the local Buick franchise and opened the Buick Sales and Parts, known as the Service Motor Company in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Close to the same time he also acquired a Maytag franchise and opened the Hearn Appliance Company store on Main Street. Both of these business were doing well until the time of his death.
Tom’s love for the water continued both in boating and fishing and was his greatest pastime. In fact, his luxury boat, the Virginia G. which Tom had built for him, he named after his first child; Virginia Gordon. (My father recall him working on it several times when it was tied up at the old Steamboat wharf in Fredericksburg. As A boy, dad made several trips on it and loved to explore the forward bilges.) The old boat was between forty and fifty feet long and contained two diesel engines. Nellie used to say, “Sweetheart (as she affectionately referred to him) would think nothing of spending large sums of money if it had to do with the boat!” During trips down the river in those days, there was an old steamboat wharf located in Port Royal, Virginia. The water was shallow on that particular area and the wharf extended several hundred feet out into the river’s channel. This was where the boat was tied and would pick-up and discharge kinfolk. In later years the wharf was destroyed by erosion and decay and one had to jump from the drawbridge as the boat passed through to gain access to the boat at Port Royal!
Tom and Nellie had five children. Their names were: Virginia Gordon, John Thomas Jr., James Batson, Charles Mason and Katherine Cole Hearn.
However, in the prime of the young family, sadness struck with the death of their father, John Thomas Hearn. At forty-nine years of age Tom was diagnosed with cancer of the colon and passed away on the 18th of January 1939 leaving a widow and five small children. After his passing, Nellie sold the appliance business and hired someone to run the Buick company. In 1941 she again married John Francis Gouldman. It was then they disposed of the Buick Service Motor Company and purchased “Little Whim,” located three miles out of town in the area known as White Oak in Stafford County. They resided there for about three years until they were separated. Nellie and the children again moved back to 820 Mercer Street in Fredericksburg and her divorce became final some years later. Nellie herself, wrote a small sketch concerning her life.
Being born in Tackett’s Mill, Stafford County, Virginia, August 12th or 13th, 1903, does not necessarily make me a native of Stafford County, as my parents, James Edward Armstrong and Eliza Gordon Rose Armstrong moved to Fredericksburg when I was but a tiny tot in the crawling stage of life.
“I was one of ten children, so I have been told by my parents and the very last one at that… being born when my mother was going “through the change” at around 50 years of age. I was a tiny blue eyed, curly haired infant, a replica of my mother. Before me were William Thomas Armstrong, the eldest son and child, Charles Ashton came next in line, followed by a sister Lola Mason, Edward Gordon, Marion (sometimes called Myron) - another brother, Mirna and last Nellie Edythe. One girl baby died before William Thomas was born. Another several years later, under a years age and an infant between Mirna and me. Incidently, it is believed, so I have been told, that the infant who died before me has the same name as myself.
“My father was constable of Stafford County in the early days before I arrived and was a lumber expert and had numerous sawmills throughout the county. In these years that was a high rated business and only folks with good financial standing were able to carry on at a profitable yearly income.
“I know little of my grandparents—maternal or paternal—as they had their exit from the mundane stage before I was born, or possibly soon thereafter. They were of English descent with a touch of Irish on both sides, which predominated in my fathers’ character. He was a dream of a person—full of life and energy, always saying nice things about people, doing many, many kind acts for those less fortunate and especially fond of children. My mother was a quiet, demure of person, kind, understanding and always ready to help when in need of advice. In those days the man was the head of the house—the wife a background drop. She catered to his every whim with not a word of redress. My father was not thrifty—mother was that.
“As said before, my parents came to Fredericksburg in the mid 1900’s possibly around 1904 or 1905, the town had a population of approximately 3,000—no suburbs—only Main and Commerce Street—where most of the wealthy and prominent folks lived above the stores and shops, while others had townhouses. There were other streets too but it seems they were not heavily populated. My father owned a hotel the town’s first.
“I have had many and varied experiences during my lifetime but I shall tell you of one that is most vivid in my memory.
“My responsibilities and my learning about life began right after my husband’s death. He had been ill approximately a year—in and out of hospitals with several operations, before that fatal day in February 1939. “I was in my early thirties with five children (ranging in age from 3 to thirteen years of age) to raise and educate. Not only did I have to think of our children and home, but to enter into business in the outside world frightened me nearly to death! He had left three large businesses for me to supervise of which I knew practically nothing and a cabin cruiser on the river a hundred miles from home. What on earth was I to do? How should I begin? That was easy in a way. The lawyers told me what and how to do about certain things, but not how to operate an automobile, electric appliance and an oil distributing business. That was not their business—nor did I believe it could have been mine!
“My husband had always looked after things outside the house and certain things pertaining to the house. He paid all the bills, saw to it that the roof was in good repair and the house needed or didn’t need a paint job.
“My duties were just being a good wife, mother and sweetheart to the one and only man in my life. My first duty after my husband’s death was to become acquainted with the motor company of which I knew little or nothing about automobiles or gadgets.
“There was approximately 30 employees. Some were salesmen, mechanics, supply room help and a bookkeeper. Checks had to be signed and employees paid off weekly. It was my responsibility to learn how to appraise a used car for trade-ins!
“My next responsibility was to check on our electric Appliance business located on Main Street. We had a manager but I had to know something about the operation of this business too! There were the salesmen, manager, bookkeeper and mechanics. I must know something about refrigerators, stoves, and all other electric appliances. That was our bread and butter now, and I must learn fast or be left at the bar. There was also a City Service Oil Distributing Company. Yes, we had a manager, but I was the “in name only” secretary and treasure. “The five children and my home presented somewhat of a problem with all of these other activities or business to look after. The days and nights were not long enough. With much prayer and determination I went about this with great enthusiasm much to the surprise of friends and family. It presented a challenge to me!
“My husband had left no will. Either he failed to write one or misplaced it or we never found one. That presented a big problem. Consequently, I had to obtain advice from my attorneys, at the mention of the word attorney I shuttered!!! A visit to the courthouse to be appointed Executrix of the estate. There were papers to be filled in, filed, and numerous other business transactions and documents to be taken care of. There appeared to be no end to it all.
“My youngsters are now grown men and women and have homes and children of their own. All are college or university graduates and are able to stand on their own feet. One son is a medical doctor, a graduate from the University of Virginia, another son is a banker, another an electronic Technician. One daughter attended Mary Washington College and is married to a fine surgeon.
“As I look back over the past thirty years of my life, I wonder in amazement how I ever lived through it all and how I divided my life at home and in so many business operations. I am alone now, but have my real estate business to keep me occupied and when that is slow, I do secretarial work for a local attorney and on the weekends my grandchildren come to spend a few hours with me. So you see one never knows what one can do until they are put to the task! With God’s help anything is possible!62”
All signatures included are copied from official documents.
1 — Samuel B. Hearn family Bible;
Tombstone, Greenlawn Cemetery, Bowling Green, VA.
Newspaper Obituary, Local paper.
2 — Census 1850, Sussex Co., DE.;
11th Subdivision, Page 515, Dwelling 873, Family 878.
Census 1860, Sussex Co., DE.;
Little Creek Hundred, Page 111, Dwelling 811, Family 801.
3 —Census 1860, Sussex Co., DE.
Census 1910, Caroline Co., VA.;
Port Royal District (Part of), ED# 21, Sheet 10 A & B, Line 94.
4 — Hall of Records/Archives; Dover, DE.; Sussex Co. Marriage Records,
Volume 56, Page 320.
Susie Lee Hearn Christie; Conversation in 1973—74,
Sam’l B. Hearn’s daughter—
(Granddaughter of Kendal and Elizabeth Hearn.).
5 — ibid # 3
6 — ibid # 4 (Hall of Records/Archives; Dover DE.; Sussex Co. Marriage Records).
7 –- ibid # 4 (Susie Lee Hearn Christie in 1973— 4).
8 — “Brief History & Genealogy of the Hearne Family,” Wm. T. Hearne;
Examiner Printing Co., Independence, MO., 1907.
Old Hearne Ledger & Daybook, Copy in possession of J.B. Hearn, Sr.,
Colonial Beach VA. & Hearn, Jr., Avoca, NY.
9— “Brief History & Genealogy of the Hearne Family,” pages 54 & 55.
10— ibid # 8a.
11 — Hall of Records/Archives; Dover, DE.; Sussex Co. Wills & Probate Records;
Adm. Acc’t. of Thomas Hearn; 1832;
Microfilm RG 4545.009, Roll 106 ( A75 Pg 188-190).
Census 1830, Sussex Co., DE.;
Little Creek Hundred; Page 129, Line 10.
12 — Isaac Sullivan Memorandum Book, Sussex Co., DE. 1818-1844;
(Edited & compiled by Raymond B. Clarke, Jr.)
Hall of Records/Archives; Dover, DE.; Book: Levi (Isaac) Sullivan Diary
13— Hall of Records/Archives; Dover, DE.; Sussex Co. Willis & Probate Records;
Will of Samuel Hearn, Sr.; 1803;
Microfilm RG 4545.009 Roll 106 (A75 Pages 178-9).
14 — “Biographical Encyclopedia of the State of Delaware,” by Runk;
15 — ibid # 2 (Census 1850 & 1860, Sussex Co. DE.)
Census 1870, Sussex Co. DE.;
Little Creek Hundred, Subdivision 22;
Page 42, Dwelling 281, Family 290.
16 –American Genealogical-Biographical Index (AGBI); War of 1812;
Roll Box 12, Roll-exct. 602.
AGBI; War of 1812; Roll box 49.
17 — Anna Bell Culver Hearn, Conversations in 1974-76 in Delmar, Md.;
(Granddaughter of Letitia Ross Hearn & Nehemiah B. LeCates)
18 — ibid #2 (Census 1850 & 1860, Sussex Co., DE.)
19 — ibid # 9 (Hall of Records, Dover, DE.; Sussex Co., Wills & Probate Records)
ibid # 12 (Runk’s “Biographical Encyclopedia”).
20 — ibid # 9 (Hall of Records, Dover, DE., Sussex Co., Wills & Probate Records)
21 — ibid # 9.
22 — ibid # 9.
23 — ibid # 9.
24 — ibid # 9.
25 — ibid # 9.
26 — ibid # 9.
27 — ibid # 9.
28 — ibid # 9.
29 — ibid # 10 (Isaac Sullivan Diary).
30 — ibid # 2.
31 — Hall of Records/Archives, Dover, DE., Sussex Co. Will & Probate Records;
Will & Inventory of Estate of Kendal B. Hearn;
Microfilm 4545.009, Roll 107.
32 — Hall of Records/Archives, Dover, DE., Sussex Co. Baptismal Records;
Christ P.E. Church, Broad Creek Hundred; Record 1518 & 1519.
33 — Sussex Co. Court House, Orphans Court Records;
Libro Q— 1833; Petition for Division of Lands; Page 270, 402;
Libro R— 1837; Petition to Accept; Page 308.
34 — “Atlas of the State of Delaware” by Beers; Little Creek Hundred.
35 — ibid # 30.
36 — ibid # 30.
37 — ibid # 29.
38 — ibid # 29.
39 — ibid # 29.
40 — ibid # 29.
41 — “Memoirs of Our Father,” by Samuel B. Hearn, Lent Post Office, VA.
“The Maryland Line in the Confederate Army,” by W. W. Goldsborough;
“First and Second Maryland Cavalry, C.S.A.,” by Robert J. Driver, Jr.;
42 — Susie Lee Hearn Christie, Conversation in 1973-74.
43 — ibid # 40.
44 — ibid # 39.
45 — ibid # 39.
46 — ibid # 29.
47 — ibid # 39;
Sun Newspaper of Baltimore; 8/18/1864, 8/24/1864, 8/27/1864.
48 –- ibid # 45 (Sun Newspapers);
Confederate Veteran Vol. XIX, Page 382,
“Why President Lincoln Spared Three Lives,” by Isaac Markers.
49 — ibid # 39.
50 — ibid # 39.
51 — Marriage Records; Samuel B. Hearn marriage certificate.
52 — ibid # 40 (Susie Lee Hearn Christie).
53 — Census 1870, Caroline Co., Port Royal Township;
Page 12, Dwelling 114, Family 124.
54 — ibid # 13 (Census 1870, Sussex Co. DE.).
55 — ibid # 29;
ibid # 40.
56 — ibid # 29.
56b—Letter from Susie Hearn Christie to Clarence M. Norman;
Richmond Times-Dispatch, Sun., April 17,1977.
57 — Census 1910, Fayette Co., Lexington City (Part of);
ED 28, Sheet 318, Line # 29, Dwelling 371, Family 375.
58 — Census 1910, Matthews Co., Westville Mag. Dist.;
ED 66, Sheet 14A, Line 13, Dwelling 282, Family 283.
59 — ibid # 40.
60 — Article written by Sallie Pinkstan Hearn Norman, now in the possession of her granddaughter, Carol Szarowicz.
61 — Census 1900, Stafford Co., Rockhill Township;
Page 11, Dwelling 196, Family 196.
62 — Excerpt from the writings of Nellie Hearn-Gouldman.