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Notes for A Brief History of Staunton, Virginia


1. The excerpt, from Samuel Kercheval's 1833 History of the Valley of Virginia, actually refers to Staunton as the ideal location to which to move the state capital. It is interesting to compare this contemporary view of the town with one written over half a century later by historian Joseph A. Waddell in his Annals of Augusta County. He begins his lengthy description as follows: "Whatever the people of Staunton may think of it at this time, in 1833 the town was very shabby and unattractive, in respect to its streets and buildings, . . ." Words such as "bare and bleak," "unsightly," "deserted and desolate," and "a singular disregard for neatness and comfort" give the reader a picture that is entirely different from Kercheval's glowing report.

2. Other roads influencing the area's growth and the years they were chartered include Parkersburg Turnpike (1838) from Staunton through Buffalo Gap to Parkersburg, now in West Virginia; Junction Valley Turnpike (1849) from Buchanan through Lexington to Staunton; and Middlebrook and Brownsburg Turnpike (1851), which was roughly similar to today's Route 252.

3. Andrew Jackson was the first true commoner to gain the presidency, and as such he typified the egalitarianism of America's growing middle class. While the Scotch-Irish had always treasured democratic values, Staunton was Henry Clay country, and Andrew Jackson was widely disliked in the area.

4. Mary Watters, The History of Mary Baldwin College, 1842 - 1942, (Staunton: Mary Baldwin College, 1942), p. 10.

5. The name Kalorama means "beautiful view" in Greek. The house appears to have been named by the Sheffeys. Prior to their ownership, it was known as Beverley's Manor, as it was owned and evidently built by the family of the town's founder, William Beverley.

6. Some sources say the original acreage was fifteen.

7. Joseph A. Waddell, Annals of Augusta County, Virginia, (Harrisonburg, Virginia: L.J. Carrier Company, 1979), pp. 534-5.


1.Virginius Dabney, "George Washington's Railroad," in Virginia Cavalcade, vol. X, no. 1, Summer 1960, p. 15.

2 At first the railroad came over the mountains, but in 1858 the Blue Ridge tunnel, engineered by Claudius Crozet, was completed eliminating much of the slow and dangerous climb up Afton Mountain. Colonel Crozet was a French engineer who had been instrumental in directing the building of four tunnels, models of their kind for that time, between Mechum's River and Waynesboro. The town of Crozet is named in his honor.

3 The news item continued, describing the cottages that the owners proposed building on the bluff across the tracks from the hotel. The newspaper's editor expected these cottages (which would be connected to the hotel by a suspension bridge) to be very popular with guests and travelers during the summer. There is no evidence that the cottages ever got past the planning stage.

4 The second Augusta Parish Church had been built in the 1830s, at which time the name was changed to Trinity Church.

5 The Institution Waddell referred to was the school for the deaf and blind which had been hastily occupied as a military hospital. The Virginia Female Institute had been closed to accommodate the displaced deaf and blind students.

6 Archie P. McDonald, ed., Make Me a Map of the Valley, (Dallas: SMU Press, 1973), p. xv. One reason for Hotchkiss's invaluableness to Jackson was that the General was very nearsighted and somewhat deaf. Jed Hotchkiss was truly able to act as his "eyes and ears."

7. 'Two future U.S. presidents fought at the Battle of Piedmont under Hunter- William McKinley and Rutherford B. Hayes. From Marshall Moore Brice, Conquest of a Valley, (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1965), p. 107.

8. Quoted by Brice in Conquest of a Valley, p. 131.