1852: Col. George Blow to George Blow, Jr.

Col. George Blow

Col. George Blow

This letter was written by Col. George Blow (1787-1870) to his son, George Blow, Jr. (1813-1893). A biography (by Gary Williams) claimed that Col. Blow was a frequent toastmaster at political functions” but because he was “blunt-spoken and often egotistical, he was no popularity seeker…Blow could foresee the ‘necessary evil’ leading to a civil war” and the “economic decline in Virginia concerned him.” At his 2,000 acre plantation — named Tower Hill — on the Nottoway River, Blow “employed the scientific doctrines advanced by his friend and distant cousin, Edmund Ruffin.” Col. Blow’s father, Richard Blow, was a well-to-do shipowner and merchant who had established over a half-dozen stores across southeastern Virginia and North Carolina. Richard also owned wharf property in Norfolk and Portsmouth that he willed to his son.

The colonel wrote the letter to his son, George Blow Jr. (1813-1893), who was born in Sussex County at his father’s plantation. At the age of seven he was sent to his Grandparents, Richard and Fannie (Wright) Blow in Portsmouth for education (and possibly because of an illness that prevailed in Sussex at the time). He attended Hampden-Sydney College 1828-292; In 1829 at the age of 16 he entered William and Mary College and was granted a B.A. in 1831. From there he went to the University of Virginia where he took the law courses. He briefly returned to Portsmouth because of the illness and death of his Grandfather Richard Blow, but returned to the University and graduated in 1835. He was admitted to the bar in the same year.

He practiced law in Norfolk until 1839 when he emigrated to Texas. In 1839 he was serving as Prosecuting Attorney for the Republic of Texas, Fourth Judicial District. He later served as a member of the House of Representatives from Bexar County. Captured (as District Attorney) with the members of the District Court of San Antonio, Texas, by Mexican General Adrian Woll March 1842.

In 1842 he returned to Virginia, probably because of the death of his mother Eliza Waller, and resumed his law practice, serving also as Commonwealth Attorney for Norfolk Circuit Court from 1856 to 1860. In 1846 he married Elizabeth Taylor Allmand who bore him ten children before her death in 1868 at the age of only 44. During the same period he was a member of the Virginia Militia rising to the rank of Brigadier General. In 1861 he resigned his commission and was appointed Lt. Colonel in the 14th Virginia Regiment of Infantry. “Captured with Norfolk in 1862“, we believe he was exchanged for a Union Officer and – although forced to give his home to a Union Officer – remained in Norfolk for the duration.

He was a member of the Virginia Secession Convention in 1860, first voting “nay” but later “yea” to secession. According to the published lists of visitors in the 1984 edition of the Register of Former Cadets, Judge Blow was a member of the VMI board in 1851-1852, 1857-1860, and 1861-1862. Following the war he resumed his legal practice until he was elected Judge of the Norfolk Circuit Court in 1870.

1852 Letter

1852 Letter

Addressed to George Blow, Jr., Esqr., Norfolk [Virginia]

10th April 1852

Dear George,

I prefer sending the money by Henry to trusting it by Booth with such an enclosure and in addition to the $250 in the other letter I now put $50 more in this to be converted into change — that is to say — let this $50 be changed into one dollar or $1 — $2 — & $3 notes — and sent up to me by Henry. And the off $50 in the other enclosure of $250 — let it be exchanged into silver — all below $1 if practicable — and also sent by Henry. I sent down yesterday by Augusta a barrel fresh meat & some meal to Emma. See if it has got to hand.

Send Henry back in next Friday’s boat — or at most in Saturday’s boat. Tell him he must not stay longer. I think Friday’s boat will be long enough this pushing time when I can so badly spare even one hand and 7 of my hired hands have gone to Sussex.

The vessel reached Yorktown from Baltimore on Thursday & goes up the river in search of freight. THe wheat sold at 99¢. Have you received the account sales — if so — give me particulars.

Night before last had a lighter load wood swept out & floated off, but it landed safely on my shore & yesterday I secured it. Bad weather indeed for that work.

Saturday morning —

After finishing the preceding, Owen made his appearance and gives me the following log, “Started from Grice’s Saturday 20th March, grounded in getting out of North Channel, weighed anchor on Sunday morning 21st. Came too between Hampton and Old Point that evening to adjust Rigging. Started Wednesday morning 14th up the Bay, arrived in Baltimore Friday morning 26th, detained waiting for my turn to unload until the ensuing Friday morning of the 2d April, unloaded that day. Looked out for freight back all Saturday. Sunday morning left and arrived on York River on Thursday morning left and arrived on York River on Thursday morning 8th April.” bringing $5..75 worth of freight.

Capt. Owen came to inform me of an offer — it is to run oysters from the Rappahannock River to York River — a regular business — 15,000 bushels being wanted — it is 50 miles — not detention — 5 cents per hamper of the 1¼ bushel each. He can carry 1000 bushels which is $50 per trip wheich he thinks he can make once a week. I have authorized him to try it with the reservation to hold himself at all times ready to carry Dr. Warren’s & Col. McCandliss’s corn whenever they are ready to ship and he will sail this evening to the Rappahannock on his 1st voyage. What do you think of it? It is a regular & continuous job. That was my motive for acceptance if it gives $50 per week. It will prove a good job.

Affectionately, — G. B.

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