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Friday, July 10, 2015

Confederate Flag Coming Down, Era of Hate Ends

COLUMBIA, SC - JULY 9: South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley receives applause after signing a bill to remove the Confederate battle flag from the state house grounds July 9, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina. Debate on the flag was reignited three weeks ago after the mass murder at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

The Confederate flag flying on South Carolina’s statehouse grounds is set to come down after the House voted 94-20 to remove it. The bill, passed early Thursday morning, now heads to Republican Gov. Nikki Haley’s desk and she is expected to sign it.

After more than 13 hours of debate — which became increasingly contentious as the night wore on — House Republicans and Democrats agreed not to amend the legislation with a proposal that threatened to make final passage more difficult.

The final vote was 93-27, which clearly represents a bi-partisan majority, but also represents the reality of South Carolina in that 27 members of the house, and likely their constituents, feel the Confederate flag should remain in front of the capitol. Earlier in the week, a state senate vote on the same matter was 36-3 in favor of its removal.

While it is easy for many to dismiss this step as merely symbolic and thus somehow unimportant, I beg to disagree. Removing the Confederate flag obviously doesn't end racism—no one step will do so—but when our government makes the insult of African Americans' public and acceptable, it is but one step in the justification of the mistreatment of an entire race. Piece by piece, we must dismantle, remove and make difficult, any symbols or policies or practices rooted in racism.

When Martin Luther King said that "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere," it was him making a point that injustice matters, no matter when it happens, however small the instance, because it erodes the very cause and principle of justice.   This was a hard fought battle and we should celebrate this victory.

Now, let's move on with the same vigor to the next fight for equal justice in America.

1:31 PM PT:   South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has signed the bill, and the flag is scheduled to come down Friday morning at 10 am.

One of the following three statements is true.     Give it your best guess.

1.  Donald Trump's campaign will be over as soon as those Tea Party people find out that thing on his head has been killing their chickens.

2.  I think the thing I admire most about Donald Trump is that he is a billionaire but doesn't own one suit that fits him properly.

3.  If Donald Trump gets elected there will never be another Bald Eagle 

Donald Trump, thank you for this wonderful, wonderful gift.  It was so thoughtful of you! And we didn't get you anything!   How rude of us.   Most importantly thank you for being a republican, you fit right in.

Thank you for announcing that you are running for President, because now the Internet has so much ammunition.   If mocking was a power source, your campaign announcement could power New York City for 250 years.

It's like Twitter was made just for this moment.   A moment where a celebrity(?) with a terrific haircut and a face the color of a ripe tangerine says that he thinks he's the best person to run the United States of America.   This is the same guy who with 100 percent certainty thought Barack Obama was not born in the U.S.   So yeah, Twitter is loving you right now.

A little relief please.

Muldoon lived alone in the Irish countryside with only a pet dog for company.

One day the dog died, and Muldoon went to the parish priest and asked, “Father, me dog is dead.  Could ya’ be saying’ a mass for the poor creature?”

Father Patrick replied, “I’m afraid not; we cannot have services for an animal in the church.   But there are some Baptists down the lane, an there’s no tellin’ what they believe.   Maybe they’ll do something for the creature.”

Muldoon said, “I’ll go right away Father. Do ya’ think $5,000 is enough to donate to them for the service?”

Father Patrick exclaimed, “Sweet Mary, Mother of Jesus!   Why didn’t ya tell me the dog was Catholic?

The Republican Party has a major demographic problem over the long term, according to a Politico magazine story. 

"The party’s core is dying off by the day," concludes writer Dan McGraw. 

Democrats, especially under President Barack Obama, have long been associated with younger voters and millennials. Much less attention has been paid, McGraw argues, to the other side of the equation:  older voters.

Though they are some of the most reliable voters when it comes to turnout, seniors are also more likely to exit the voter pool naturally, through death. 

McGraw's "back-of-the-napkin" numbers paint a particularly stark picture for the GOP:

By combining presidential election exit polls with mortality rates per age group from the U.S. Census Bureau, I calculated that, of the 61 million who voted for Mitt Romney in 2012, about 2.75 million will be dead by the 2016 election.   President Barack Obama’s voters, of course, will have died too—about 2.3 million of the 66 million who voted for the president won’t make it to 2016 either.  

 That leaves a big gap in between, a difference of roughly 453,000 in favor of the Democrats.

Here is the methodology, using one age group as an example:  According to exit polls, 5,488,091 voters aged 60 to 64 years old supported Romney in 2012. The mortality rate for that age group is 1,047.3 deaths per 100,000, which means that 57,475 of those voters died by the end of 2013.   Multiply that number by four, and you get 229,900 Romney voters aged 60-to-64 who will be deceased by Election Day 2016. 

However, there are a number of caveats that could lessen the impact of the dilemma for the Republican Party.   For one, McGraw's numbers are mere estimates.   Additionally, Republicans undoubtedly hope to make inroads with younger voters, who don't necessarily vote as often and can be concentrated in states like California and New York that aren't competitive on the national level. 

"Regardless, political demographers are seeing this election as a watershed. Millennials now have higher numbers than Baby Boomers, and the mortality rates will expand that difference in coming elections,"  McGraw added. "With each death, a little political power passes from one generation to the next."

Can Any Republican Win 270 Electoral Votes in 2016 (Or Ever Again)?
The Math is Inconvenient

NO but Hillary Can

During this past week I had a chance to reflect on the 5th annual Red State Gathering which I attended, that was held this year in New Orleans.

The event was extremely well run and attracted close to 400 loyal Red Staters who either write for or read the site.   

We all gathered to hear from numerous conservative leaders, including U.S. Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Tim Scott (R-SC), currently the only African-
American senator, who was appointed recently after Senator Jim DeMint stepped down to run the Heritage Foundation.

Three “red state” Governors also addressed the crowd:  Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal (who rumor(He's Running) has it is planning to run for president in 2016), South Carolina’s Nikki Haley and finally the biggest, baddest, and longest serving governor in Texas history, Rick Perry.

As a long time Red State supporter, Governor Perry announced his disastrous 2012 presidential bid at the 2011 Red State Gathering and now 
teased the crowd that he would announce his 2016 presidential decision next summer and maybe even at the 2014 Red State gathering.

Whether Perry runs in 2016 or not (Rick decided to RUN), the Texas economy is flourishing and leads the nation in growth.   Perry is a total rock star in my opinion and a shining example of conservative leadership principles in action.

At Saturday’s lunch before Perry spoke, I was sitting next to a man in his mid-thirties when the table conversation turned to the 2016 presidential race.  I asked him who he was supporting and told me Senator Rand Paul (R-KY).

Then I proceeded to ask the question I ask every Republican after they tell me who they are supporting in 2016, “Do you think Rand Paul can win 270 electoral votes?”   He immediately replied, “I never thought about that question or Rand Paul from that perspective.”

For the record, I anonymously submitted that same question to Rand Paul himself at a Washington luncheon this past May.  It was selected as the last question by the moderator, and Paul’s lip service answer about needing to attract voter groups who now vote Democrat provided as much clarity as my Red State lunch companion.

Saturday’s “by chance” lunch conversation and subsequent non-answer, along with Senator Paul’s answer to the same question, illustrate 
why the next Republican presidential nominee is going to have such a difficult, if not impossible task winning of 270 electoral votes.

The young man at lunch was not alone in his support for Rand Paul and, from my observations over the entire weekend, it appears that Senator Paul is the leading presidential candidate for 2016 among those attending the Red State Gathering.

For example, while I was enjoying myself at Governor Jindal’s Friday night reception, a woman who saw my name tag realized she had read a piece I had written and posted on Red State warning Republicans about Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the title, “Madame President” in 2016.  Then, in a rather stern tone, she declared, “Rand Paul is my candidate and I am fed up with nominating moderates who only lose. 

So this time we must nominate a true conservative who can win.”

This sentiment was one I heard often at the Red State Gathering and hear even more frequently whenever two or more conservatives are gathered together in HIS name (Ronald Reagan that is).

Let me state emphatically, that the concept of nominating someone more conservative than ever in 2016 is a foregone conclusion among the Republican base.

Thus, I would be totally shocked if New Jersey Governor Chris Christie could ever win the Republican nomination because he is perceived as a moderate in the losing mold of Dole ‘96, McCain ‘08 and Romney ’12.

Furthermore, as a direct result of those past losses, the primary voting base has “been there – done that”, so there will be no compromising in the selection of the 2016 nominee or you could expect a third party to emerge with disastrous electoral consequences.

My question about “how your potential candidate for the Republican presidential nomination can win 270 electoral votes” is one to which I am always seeking answers.   Therefore, I have made it my personal mantra to ask this question of every Republican I meet and have raised it numerous times in my writings.

However, with much sadness I predict the following three obstacles will preclude the next Republican presidential nominee from winning 
270 electoral votes.

1. Awareness of the problem

My Red State lunch partner who had not even thought about the 270 question is typical of most conservative activists and primary voters.   They are dreamers divorced from reality.

Therefore, raising the 270 question early and often should be an integral part of the 2016 GOP presidential primary dynamic.  How can a problem find a solution when only a few Republicans are even willing to acknowledge that there is a problem?

2. No compromising on core principles  

Conservative Republicans uphold their conservative principals as a shiny badge of honor never to be tarnished. 

Republican, however I think the same way as Ronald Reagan who, when trying to get legislation passed in 1983, said the following:

 I have always figured that a half a loaf is better than none, and I know that in the democratic process you’re not going to always get everything you want.

Sadly, I agree with former Senator and 1996 GOP Presidential Nominee Bob Dole, who appeared this past May on Fox News Sunday to discuss the growing conservative tilt among Republican primary and base voters when he stated that,  “Reagan wouldn’t have made it” in today’s Republican Party.

And that might actually be true, for at the Red State Gathering as I listened to speeches from a parade of Congress men, Senators and Governors, only one mentioned the C word, “compromise.”

That honor belonged to Congressman Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) in the context of mentioning his membership in No Labels, a growing, bipartisan group that is trying to forge compromise in order to pass legislation on economic issues and is not looked upon kindly by Red Staters.

But instead of the word “compromise,” all I kept hearing was “we must fight hard to uphold the principles of conservatism.”

Now, I too believe in fighting for the following conservative principals: less government; less regulation; balanced budgets; lower taxes; more personal responsibility; traditional family values; 
 a strong national defense; and a favorable business climate that encourages entrepreneurs and investment.

However, because conservatives are an ever shrinking minority within the electorate, it is imperative that they nominate a presidential candidate (and other leaders) who can attract moderate voters by stating that he or she, like Reagan, are willing to accept a “half loaf instead of a whole” in order to solve the difficult issues facing our nation.

Otherwise, we will remain where we are now, locked out of the White House and stuck in neutral with a gridlocked government. There is danger ahead when our core conservative principles  become roadblocks to any progress.

3.  GOP’s biggest problem is Democrats start with 246 electoral votes

As Republicans gear up to “take back the White House” we all need to be aware that in 2012 if Romney had won the three swing states of Ohio, Florida and Virginia, he still would have lost the election to President Obama.

If you want to explore this new reality, check out   Here you can play around with each state’s electoral votes and plot your favorite candidate’s path to 270 in 2016.

For instance, let’s look at Wisconsin with its 10 electoral votes.   Every four years the Republican mind-set says Wisconsin will be a swing state.  Then, within a few months into the campaign the state loses it’s coveted  “battleground” status as polls begin to show “blue” reality.   And the truth is that not since 1984, when Reagan won in a landslide against Walter Mondale, has Wisconsin seen red.

Or take Pennsylvania with 20 electoral votes and New York with 29 — both have been blue since Bill Clinton won them in 1992 and blue they will remain.

Then we have the mega-rich electoral state of California with its 55 votes that turned red for the last time in 1988 when George H.W. Bush won that “California guy,” Reagan’s “third term.”

After totaling the electoral votes in all the solid blue states, it becomes apparent that even a below average Democrat presidential candidate could begin the race with a whopping 246 advantage.

Let me repeat, if only for the shock value – 246 votes out of 270 is 91 percent.  That means the Democrat candidate needs to win only 24 more votes out of the remaining 292.  (There are a total of 538 electoral votes.)

No wonder President Obama was so confident of victory in 2012 for he knew the game was practically over before it began.

In case you need reminding, the final Electoral College score was a lopsided 332 – 206.

Here are the 20 solid blue states and their 246 electoral votes for a clearer understanding of just how skewed the Electoral College is against Republicans.

CA (55), NY (29), PA (20), IL (20), MI (16), NJ (14), WA (12), MA (11), MN (10), WI (10), MD (10), CT (7), OR (7), HI (4), ME (4), NH (4), RT (4), VT (3), DE (3), DC (3).

The Republican Party leadership, well aware of this depressing math, is now making an attempt to change the rules of the game by supporting an effort whereby states would proportionally award their electoral votes to the popular vote winner in each congressional district.

It is obvious that discarding the current “winner take all” system would vastly improve the prospects of electing a Republican president. 

But first, this initiative must pass state legislatures before reaching a governor’s desk where it may or may not be signed into law.

There is some precedent here, for the states of Nebraska and Maine are already using this method.  However, it is unlikely that more states will follow Nebraska and Maine because this drastic change is politically “too hot to handle” for most governors, even Republican ones.

My suggestion would be to dump the entire Electoral College system and elect the president through direct “popular” vote.  That, by the way, is the method favored by 63 percent of Americans.

This method would have produced a President Al Gore and the embarrisment of GW Bush would have never happened.

To change from the Electoral College to direct voting would require a constitutional amendment.  But it is highly doubtful that such an  amendment would gain any traction in Congress since Democrat leaders love the Electoral College and have no incentive to make such a change.   (Yes, they remember Al Gore in 2000, but that was ancient electoral math.)

Therefore, no changes in the Electoral College means that I will continue asking my question, “Name a Republican who can win 270 electoral votes in 2016?”  And please be ready with a candidate you can defend using “real” electoral math because, “I have not given that question any thought” is not an acceptable answer and could result in a potential landslide for the Democrats in 2016.


Friday, June 19, 2015

2015 James River Bateau Festival

The evening before, all is quiet and serene on the James.

This is Philip deVos, he got me interested in doing this story.   Philip is a Board Member of Virginia Canals and Navigations Society.   They offer a varied selection of information about the bateau and it can be purchased by the general public.   Sign up as a supporter, $25 single - $35 family and get discounts on everything plus the fun of getting together with other like minded History and Nature lovers. 

Click to  Visit

The flag has dropped and the bateau's are off and there is a cannon firing loudly on the river and the sounds of cheers and applause.

Until Philip filled me in I had no idea the bateau was created right here in Amherst County by the Rucker brothers and granted patent status shortly after the elder Ruckers passing or that famous Virginian Thomas Jefferson plays a part in the story.  

Normally Treasurer Deanna Sweeney is on the river in a bateau enjoying the trip to Richmond but for this occasion she was working at the information table which was constantly filled with visitors who like me knew little about this fascinating slice of local history but were really enjoying learning.

Click Here and Visit Website

The James River Bateau was a shallow draft river craft used during the period from 1775 to 1840 to transport tobacco and other cargo on the James River and its tributaries in the state of Virginia. It was flat bottomed and pointed at both ends. The length of the bateau varied greatly, 58 feet (17.5 m) being a common length. The bateau was propelled by bateaumen pushing with long sturdy poles. Alternate spellings of bateau include batteau, batoe and the plurals bateaux, batoes, and batteaux. Bateau is the French word for boat. In the colonial days, bateaus were used extensively in rivers throughout the eastern part of the United States.

Anthony Rucker the Elder was the original inventor and constructor of the James River Bateau in 1775. It was a boat essentially different from any before that time used on the rivers of Virginia. Rucker’s design was successfully patented many years after its development.   (Lynchburg Virginian, August 17, 1821.)  Jones Memorial Library, Lynchburg, Virginia. The earliest known reference to the bateau comes from Thomas Jefferson’s account book, dated April 19, 1775.   Jefferson had been present at the first launching, and forty-six years later he was witness to the successful patenting of the bateau by heirs of Rucker. 

Unfortunately, none of the original bateaus exist.   Some remains were uncovered by construction workers at the site of the James River and Kanawha Canal Basin.

Even though the working bateau is no longer used, historians and river enthusiasts still keep the memory alive.   Replicas of the bateaus have been built around the country and bateau river cruises are available in a number of states.   Since 1985, the James River Batteau Festival has promoted a bateau run from Lynch's Landing in Lynchburg to Maiden's Landing in Powhatan, a distance of about 120 river miles (200 km). 

Seventeen batteaux crews and many canoeists participated in the 2005 festival. The number of Batteau's on the river during the festival has increased to 25 in 2009.   Just counting the bateaus on the James friday evening the 2015 Festival will blow the earlier ones away.

The James River bateau was designed for freight and for ease of navigation in the shallow rocky waters of the Upper James. Thomas Jefferson, in 1775, recorded the purchase of a bateau in his account book, stating, “Apr. 29. Rucker’s battoe (sic) is 50. f. long. 4.f. wide in the bottom & 6.f. at top. she carries 11. hhds & draws 13½ I. water.”   Typical bateaus were thought to be about 58 feet (17.5 m) long, some shorter, some longer. They had no keel to interfere with navigating river rapids and were well adapted to shallow water, having a draft of about 12–18 inches (30–45 cm) when loaded. They measured 6–8 feet (1.8–2.4 m) at the beam. The sides varied from 18–24 inches (45–60 cm) in height.   Very long planks, fastened to ribs, formed the sides and bottom.   The nose cones were built and attached separately to facilitate maintenance since the ends of the bateau received abuse from the river rocks.   The bateau had no rudder and was guided by long sweeps that engaged notches formed in the tip of the nose cones.   The cargo versions had no seats.  Passenger versions had a canopy and some had oar locks.


A Study of the James River Batteau

By Thomas D. Mackie

Director, Amherst County Historical Museum

In the late 18th and early 19th Centuries, the inland rivers of Virginia and surrounding states teemed with graceful river boats known as Batteaux.   Flat-bottomed and pointed at each end, these craft were the invention of two brothers from Amherst County, Virginia.   Although nearly forgotten for over a century, the Bateau has been the object of revived interest in the 1980's.

The two Amherst Brothers credited with inventing the Bateau, Anthony and Benjamin Rucker, were part of a large, influential family in Amherst and Nelson Counties.  Five Rucker brothers who settled in Amherst in the mid-18th Century became very active in the public life of the community.  Benjamin Rucker was a lawyer, justice of the peace, trustee of Warminster Academy, a member of the Amherst County Committee of Safety, and a captain in the Revolutionary War.

Anthony Rucker, the youngest brother, was also a Revolutionary War captain, as well as 
Amherst's Commissioner of Provision Law in 1781 and Tobacco Inspector in 1792. (1)

The first Bateau was launched in April, 1775. The primary purpose of this craft was to move tobacco, packed in hogsheads, down the James River and its tributaries to Richmond.   The earliest known reference to the Bateau comes from Thomas Jefferson's account book, dated April 19, 1775. 

Jefferson had been at that first launching and forty-six years later was to witness the successful patenting of the Bateau by heirs of the Ruckers.

The patent, issued on April 3, 1821, was disputed by the Lynchburg Virginian newspaper.   It was thought that the Bateau was too common a craft to have been developed from a single source.   By August of that same year, however, the editors of the Virginian retracted their attacks and 
stated their belief in the Ruckers' patent claim:

When we first heard that such a patent had been obtained, we were also inclined to the belief that it had been granted improvidently either from inattention on the part of the keeper, or some defect in the laws on the subject of Patent rights Nevertheless, when we came to inquire 
more particularly into the circumstances under which the Messrs. Ruckers, claim the privilege of Patentees . . . (t)here can be no doubt, that Anthony Rucker the Elder, was the original inventor and constructor of the James River Batteaux, and that it was a species of boat essentially different from any before that time used on the waters of America. (2)

The article goes on to state that Thomas Jefferson, who had been in attendance at the original launching, would be willing to testify to the Ruckers' claims.   Anthony Rucker is named and is given sole credit for the Bateau, but in Deed Book "P" at the Amherst County Courthouse, dated 
November 23, 1821, is a document according equal credit to Benjamin and Anthony Rucker. (3)

While the primary historical sources clearly reveal the identity and importance of the inventors of the Bateau, only scant detail is given regarding the design of the craft.

Thomas Jefferson made notes in his account book describing this new river boat in 1775: "Rucker's battoe is 50 f. long 4 f. wide in the bottom & 6 f. wide at the top.   She carries ll.hhds. & draws 13 ½ water."(4)    

Twenty years later, Isaac Wald described these boats as "from forty-eight to fifty-four feet long, but very narrow in proportion to their length. (5)

Another major source of contemporary references to the Bateau is the Calendar of Virginia State Papers, a collection of military and civilian correspondence dating from the 17th to early 19th Centuries.   Although there is no direct description of a Bateau in these papers, they do give a fairly clear picture of the boat's uses.   One 1780 letter records, The commandant at Pittsburg has..... informed me that there was about 50 Light Batteaux at Fort Pitt, which might be had by an order from the War Board I think it (Bateau) is much better calculated for these rivers than barges, as they run over shoals where a keeled vessel must be carried. (6)

According to this letter, five years after the Ruckers' launching, boats called Batteaux were used in numbers on shallow rivers in the North. 

They were not a keeled vessel but flat, to enable them to "run over shoals".

Several references in the Calendar of Virginia State Papers highlight the construction and use of Batteaux by the Continental Army.   Batteaux were used to move troops, munitions and supplies on the shallow inland rivers during the Revolutionary War.  They were carefully built craft as they were often mentioned as being built by a boat builder or "ship's carpenter." (7)   This evidence infers that the crafts known as "James River Batteaux" were strong, shallow-drafted vessels.  They were a valuable military asset and were considered a major loss if captured by the 
enemy. (8)

Another military communication mentions that two Batteaux left Kaskaskia on November 15, 1779.  They carried twelve men and "three or four" families west toward the Ohio Falls.   From this we observe that both cargo and significant numbers of passengers were sometimes transported 
long distances on the inland river system by means of Batteaux.    Unfortunately for settlers, the boats apparently appealed to Indians as well, for this particular group suffered an attack along their voyage.   One of the Batteaux was seized and its crew killed. (9)

During more peaceful periods the Bateau was described by travelers and scholars along the James River.   The earliest illustration of a boat believed to be a Bateau is in a book about the tobacco trade, written by William Tathams in 1800.   The boat is labeled with the vague term "upland boat." Tathams states that "there are a number of boats (similar to those upon the Grand Trunk Canal) which carry on this business professionally." (10)

A first-hand description of a Bateau and Bateau life is given by Porte Crayon (David Strother) in Virginia Illustrated.   While visiting Lynchburg in the 1850's Crayon reminisced about his Bateau journey twenty years earlier.   During the narration of his adventures he described the Bateau as gliding down the current controlled by three men who "poled their batteau through the shallows, or bent to the sweeps on the 
long stretches of still water." (11)   His sketches show the Batteaux with rounded bows coming to a peak and tall arched awnings covering the center of the boats. The oars in the sketch on page 231 indicate that the bateau was at times rowed.

Another noted traveler, Mrs. Ann Royal, was impressed by the freight boats (Batteaux) at Lynchburg, and their ability to carry heavy hogsheads on shallow waters.   After some questioning Mrs. Royal was told that each hogshead weighed 1500 pounds and that a Bateau could transport 9000 pounds of cargo or more, depending on river conditions. (12) During this time (1820-1840), there were at least 500 Batteaux and more than 1500 
Bateaumen operating between Lynchburg and Richmond alone. (13)

The primary sources describing the Batteaux decline sharply after the 1840's, when the James & Kanawha River Canal reached Lynchburg.   When David Strother was in Lynchburg in the 1850's he bemoaned the loss of the "picturesque".   "There are no boats on the river now… This cursed 
canal has monopolized all that trade, I suppose." (14)    Apparently with the coming of the packet boat and rail the Batteaux were relegated to the backwaters and continued to fade from use.   Eventually even the appearance of the Bateau, once commonplace, was forgotten.

The reproduction Batteaux of the 1980's have begun to illustrate one aspect of Virginia's heritage and to stimulate a popular interest in its River culture.   Though the era of the famed James River Bateau is past, it is once more being remembered and celebrated.


Jean Brydon Robinson, The Rucker Family and the Tobacco Bateau (unpublished family history, April 27, 1985, Amherst County Historical Museum 

Archives), p. 4.
Lynchburg Virginian
, August 17, 1821. Jones Memorial Library, Lynchburg, Virginia.

Deed Entry to Nelson C. Dawson and Ambrose Rucker, Nov. 23, 1821. Amherst County, VA, Circuit Court Archives, Deed Book P, p. 6.

"Thomas Jefferson's Account Entry", April 29, 1775, University of Virginia Library, Manuscripts Department, Thomas Jefferson's Account Books.

A.J. Morrison, "Travels in Virginia in Revolutionary Times." Isaac Wald, 1796 (Lynchburg, VA: J. P. Bell Co., 1922), p. 105.

William P. Palmer, ed. "Letter from W. Harrison to Gov. Jefferson", Calendar of Virginia State Papers, Vol. 1, 1652-1781, (Richmond, VA: James F. Goode, Printer, 1881), p. 493.

Palmer, "Military Letter May 8, 1781". Calendar, Vol. 2, (Richmond, VA James F. Goode, Printer, 1881), p. 90.

Palmer, "Letter of the Loss of Nachez, Aug. 10, 1781". Calendar, Vol. 2, (Richmond, VA James F. Goode, Printer, 1881), p. 315.
Ibid., p. 358.

Melvin G. Herndon, William Tatham and the Culture of Tobacco (Coral Gables, FL: University of Miami Press, 1969), p. 65.

Porte Crayon (David Strother), Virginia Illustrated. (New York: Harper Bros., 1857), p. 232.

Ann Royal, Mrs. Royalls Southern Tour (Washington D.C.: By the Author, 1830 p. 112.  Ibid.   Crayon, Virginia, p. 231.


Primarv Sources

Amherst County Circuit Court Archives, Deed Book "P"
Crayon, Porte. (David Strother) Virginia Illustrated New York: Harpers Bros., 1875.
Henning, William, Henning's Statutes at Lar_ge Vol. 2, 1785-1788. Richmond, VA: 1823.

Herndon, Melvin G., William Tatham and the Culture of Tobacco "Including a facsimile reprint of An Historical and Pract-cal Essay on the Culture and Commerce of Tobacco by William Tatham", Coral Gables, FL: University of Miami Press, 1969.
Lynchburg Virginian.

, August 17, 1821, Jones Memorial Library.
Morrison, A.J., Ed. Travels in Virginia in Revolutionarv Times, Lynchburg, VA: J.P. Bell Co., 1922.

Palmer, William, Ed., Calendar of Virginia State Papers Vol.1, Richmond, VA: James F. Goode, Printer, 1861.

Palmer, William, Ed., Calendar of Virginia State Papers Vol. 2, Richmond, VA: James F. Goode, Printer, 1861.

Palmer, William, Ed., Calendar of Virginia State Papers Vol. 4, Richmond, VA: James F. Goode, Printer, 1861.

Royal, Ann, Mrs. Royalls Southern Tour, Washington, D.C.: (by the author), 1830.

Secondary Sources

Christian, W. Asbury, Lynchburg and Its People, Lynchburg, VA: J.P. Bell Co., 1900.
Dunn, William, Gibson Hobbs, Jr., Ed. , Historical Sketches From the Iron Worker, Lynchburg, VA: Lynchburg Historical Foundation, Inc., 1984.

Amherst  Democratic News


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Candidate Night, Meet The Candidates for Office

The three candidates for Sheriff  are  retired Police Officer Jeff Rowe,  Lt. Stevie Angus and Investigator E W Viar Jr. .

E W Viar Jr.

                               Jeff Rowe                                   


Thursday June 18 at 6 PM 

Madison Heights Library Community Room


Come and meet the candidates:

For Supervisor District 1 -Kenneth Campbell,

For Amherst Circuit Court Clerk -Deborah Coffey Mozingo

Debora Mozingo is FULLY Qualified and has a plan for Amherst Counties future that protects our rich past and fragile documents.   Amherst Democratic News is proud to endorse Debora Coffey Mozingo.   Deborah started at the bottom in the clerks office and has 32 years of experience in every facet of the job.   Amherst Democratic News recommends a vote for Debora Coffey Mozingo.




My name is Deborah Coffey Mozingo and I am running for the Clerk of the Court in Amherst County, a job that requires a great deal of hard work, responsibilities, dedication and time.   I am a life long resident of Amherst County and for the last 32 years have been a Deputy Clerk of the Amherst County Circuit Court Clerk's Office.  I have made my career energetically serving the citizens of Amherst County and am both excited and enthusiastic about the potentials of the office.

For several years I have held the position of Chief Deputy Clerk.  I started out at the entry level position, working up thru the system to my current position.  I have trained and worked under two different Clerks during my career, gaining the experience that has allowed me to work in all phases of the job requirements of the County Clerk.   The Clerk has numerous responsibilities that include Financial Management, Case Management, Civil and Criminal, all types of Accounting duties, budgeting, payroll and many other duties such as issuing marriage licenses to probating wills.

My goal as Clerk is to assist the public in a friendly and helpful manner.   I plan to continue working on bringing our Clerk's Office up to standard with other Clerk's Offices this size, continue working on upgrading the Supreme Court Case Management System that will allow the scanning and electronic filing of documents with other state agencies.  As funds allow, either through the Budget or the use of Grants, I would like to expand the website to the public, pursue paperless filing of both Criminal and Civil cases, set-up e-filing for Attorneys and obtain Grants to preserve the old records and purge the old Deed Books all of which will make the system more user friendly.

I have known both the new Commonwealth Attorney and new Judge for many years, both socially and professionally and look forward to working with them in their new roles.

I am most grateful for the support I have received from citizens of this county over the years.   I now ask for your vote and support of my candidacy for the position of County Clerk and with your help, I look forward to continuing my service to the County as County Clerk. 

Roy C. Mayo, 111 also Endorses Debora Coffey Mozingo.

Share your concerns, and learn how they plan to help the citizens of Amherst County.   We will talk about the real issues that affect our lives.

Refreshments will be available.

Ned Kable, Chair: Amherst County Democratic Committee

                  Happy  Birthday
Happy  Birthday

Sheriff L.J. “Jimmy” Ayers III -  Retiring at years end.

After spending the last 30 years serving Amherst County, Sheriff L.J.   “Jimmy” Ayers III said it’s the people he will miss the most when he retires at the end of this year.   Jimmy attends many of the local events and he can rest assured the people will miss him also.   There is no reason the 
former Sheriff can't continue to make the local events and that's what we hope he will do.

A day after announcing his planned departure Jimmy revealed,  “Since yesterday, the phone calls, text messages and emails … you know, it’s somewhat 

overwhelming, but people have been my life … but if anything that I will miss, it would be the people.”

Ayers surprised many last Thursday when he announced his plans to not seek another term as sheriff.  But he paved his departure with gratitude and the endorsement of Investigator E.W. Viar Jr., who now is one of three candidates who have filed to seek the office as of Monday.

December will mark the end of Ayers’ fifth term and will count as 30 years and two months with the sheriff’s office.

“On November 7, 1995, I was humbled when the citizens of this county elected me as their sheriff,”  Ayers said in his Thursday press release. “…I was tossed into another world that I would not have been able to survive without the help and support of my staff and the citizens of this county.”

Ayers, who first joined the office as a corrections officer in 1985 at age 22, announced the decision first to his staff in a Thursday morning meeting.  He said as he leaves, he has no regrets and will be leaving the office with a “fine team of men and women dedicated and committed to serve this county.”

“Thirty years in a law enforcement profession … it’s a long time,” Ayers said. “Especially for the last 20 years as sheriff, it’s your life.”

His 30 years of service have gone by in a flash, said Ayers, a native of Amherst, but he feels he has fulfilled his obligation to residents and attributed his successes to his fellow staff, past and present.

During Thursday’s announcement, Ayers told his co-workers that the reason he is retiring can be attributed to politics.

“The political end of it I despise, I hate it,” Ayers said.   “I’ve thought about it the last week and a half, two weeks, opposition came up, and that is it.  Looking at everything… I just didn’t want to deal with the political end of an election again.”

Until someone goes through an election, he said, they just do not know how much of an extra job and additional stress it is.

In 2008, Ayers underwent a quadruple-bypass heart surgery two days after feeling a sharp pain in his shoulder and discovering he had four major blockages in his heart.

“The heart surgeon, he talked to me about stress, you know, every aspect of every part of that,” Ayers said.   “And I’ve never been a drinker, I’ve never been a smoker, if I had an addiction it was probably somewhat to eating and to work, because I work constantly.”

And as far as future plans are concerned, once retirement kicks in, Ayers said that he has none, though he has been asked by quite a few people.

“Everybody thinks that I’ve got a cat in the bag,” Ayers said.   “No, I will fulfill my obligation here through the end of the year and in January, if the good Lord has a plan for me, I hope he will have me on the path at that time.   If not, I’ll take it a day at a time.”

As Ayers’ final term winds down, three candidates already said they will seek the position in the November election — Viar, retired Amherst Police Officer Jeff Rowe and Lt. Stevie Angus of the Amherst County Sheriff’s Office.

In a news release, Viar said he decided to run in this year’s election after conferring with Ayers.

“I had always promised Sheriff Ayers I would not run against him in an election,”  Viar said in the release.  “After he approached me with the news of his December retirement, and with his support, I plan to seek to replace him as Amherst County’s Sheriff.”

Viar, like Turner, said he also was shocked when he heard that Ayers planned to retire.

“I understand it, I know he’s worked hard,”  Viar said.   “This man has given it 24/7 as sheriff, 20 years — I know.”

Viar recounted one night when he was out on call until after 4 a.m. and Ayers called to check in and see how things were going.

“I said, ‘Man, do you ever sleep?’” Viar recalled.   “And I know, as a deputy that works here, and we all do, that he didn’t.  He listened to the radio, he listened to everything all the time.   I’ll miss that.

“The man’s been a good all-around person, I mean, the man really cares about his community and where he lives and is very outspoken about his community.   He has deep ties to his community.”

If elected, Viar said he would like to continue working toward getting the force accredited, both on a state and national level.   Viar said that this is something that Ayers initiated and that he would like to continue.

As he prepares to leave, Ayers voiced support for Viar, while also calling Rowe’s platform “20 years of animosity and a vindictive desire fueled by disgruntled individuals.”

Rowe’s response to that statement was simply,  “It’s not true.

“I’m not a vengeful person and I never will be; I was not brought up that way,”  Rowe said.  “Why he would say that?  I don’t know, except it’s an election.”

In a later interview, Ayers said he wishes Rowe well and the utmost success in his campaign, just as he does for Viar.

“I wish neither of the candidates any ill will at all,”  Ayers said.   At that time, Angus had not yet filed to run.  “At the end of the day, may the best man win.”

Ayers said that what he wanted to convey was that, no matter who the candidate is, always check their platform and what they stand for.

Rowe said one aspect that drives his desire to run is the “need [for] a change here in Amherst County.”

One of his goals, should he win the sheriff’s seat, would be to increase patrol visibility in the county and ensure that U.S. 29 is not the only place being watched by Amherst’s officers, because “being seen deters crime.”

Another pursuit of Rowe’s would be a more watchful eye out for texting and driving.  He said that while a lot of kids hear about this problem, he would like to have law enforcement go into schools and teach students about it.

“It’s a pet peeve of mine,” Rowe said. “...You can’t take your eyes off the road.”

On a more personal level, Rowe said he wants to encourage the Sheriff’s Office to be like a big family — that all law enforcement agencies are part of a team effort, from the federal level down to the local level.

“If one person takes the credit, it’s not a team,” Rowe said. “It’s about team effort.”

The most recent candidate to put his name in the race is Angus, who said he has worked at the sheriff’s office for close to 26 years but never ran before this point out of respect for Ayers.

Before his time in Amherst, Angus served in the Army, National Guard and at a maximum-security prison.

“I’ve always served in some kind of way,” Angus said.  “Community … and country.  ”One of Angus’ interests if he wins the seat is creating a “Bill of Rights” for deputies, who he said “don’t have a lot of protections.”

Officers have no job security, Angus said, and their jobs are in jeopardy every four years.  When a new sheriff comes in, he has “the power to let you go,”  Angus said.

Angus also would like to see a new emphasis property crimes and crimes against people.


Thursday June 18 at 6 PM 

Madison Heights Library Community Room


Come and meet the candidates:

For Supervisor District 1 -Kenneth Campbell,

 For Amherst Circuit Court Clerk -Deborah Mozingo. 

For Amherst County Sheriff, -Jeff Rowe..

and others..

Share your concerns, and learn how they plan to help the citizens of Amherst County.   We will talk about the real issues that affect our lives.

Refreshments will be available.

Ned Kable, Chair: Amherst County Democratic Committee

Thank YOU JIMMY, Terrific Job, Well Done

Sheriff  L.J.Ayers III, better known to the citizens of Amherst County as "Jimmy", was sworn in as Sheriff on January 1st, 1996.  Sheriff Ayers has built his administration with a strong emphasis on integrity and community service.  He has shown over the past several years that he holds his deputies to the same standards he holds himself to.

Demonstrating his strong commitment to the citizens of Amherst County, Sheriff Ayers has implemented several programs to address community issues and concerns.  In 1999 using grant money he instituted the School Resource Officer (SRO) program in the High School.  Since then this program has grown to include an SRO in each of the two middle schools and the alternative school.  In 1997, by the creation of the Crime Prevention Unit, Sheriff Ayers has offered the citizens of Amherst tips on how not to become a victim and how to make their homes and businesses crime resistant.  In 2000, Sheriff Ayers saw a burgeoning need to supplement the volunteer rescue squad system and help in its preservation.   

A native of Amherst County, Sheriff Ayers has dedicated his life to making it a safer and better place for all to live.  Joining the Sheriff's Office in 1985 he started as a corrections officer in the "old jail"'.   Over the next ten years he worked his way up to Field Operations Sergeant, deciding in 1995 to run for Sheriff.

Sheriff Ayers' commitment to the community also extends to his personal life.  He is a member of the Madison Height Lions Club, Amherst/Monroe Ruritan Club, and AF & AM Clinton Lodge #73.  He and his family are members of Madison Heights Baptist Church.  Sheriff Ayers and his family have been known to attend many other churches and community events including homecomings, revivals, and funerals.

Since taking office Sheriff Ayers has striven to bring the Sheriff's Office into the 21st century by implementing programs and services that benefit every citizen.  Many of these programs where instituted and sustained utilizing both state and federal grants and local donations.  Some of these programs are:

K-9 Unit - Currently consisting of four dogs trained in narcotics detection, tracking, and patrol operations.

School Resource Officer (SRO) Program - Provides specially trained deputies in the high school, both middle schools, and the alternative school.

Tactical Unit - Provides specially trained deputies to serve search warrants and intervene in high risk situations.

Emergency Medical Services (EMS) - Provides specially trained deputies to 1st respond to medical emergencies, supplementing the counties paid and volunteer system.

DARE (Drug Abuse Response Education) - Provides the drug awareness program in each of the counties eight elementary schools.

Crime Prevention Unit

We Care- A program where the dispatchers contact at-risk senior citizens by phone daily.

Neighborhood Watch- Neighbors watching out for neighbors and reporting unusual behavior or incidents.

Triad- Police chiefs, Sheriffs and citizens working together towards the safety of senior citizens

Citizen and Youth Police Academy- An introduction to law enforcement offered in the summers.

Project Lifesaver- A program designed to assist in locating missing Alzheimer's patients and other at risk residents.
Explorer Post 930- In cooperation with the Boy Scouts of America open to all Amherst County high school age teens offering law enforcement training and out door excursions.

Narcotics Unit - A specialized unit that falls under the Investigations Division and enforces street level criminal interdiction that includes drug enforcement.

Computer Crimes Unit - A division of the investigation unit charged with the responsibility of investigating computer related crimes.

Amherst Democratic News


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