Monday, March 24, 2008

A Letter from Thomas Buck V

A letter from Thomas Buck V to his nephew, Thomas Buck son of Charles Buck II. (Notice that the nephew is called “Junior” and “cousin” in contrast to current naming and relationship conventions.) This is the same Thomas Buck who was the recipient of a letter, previously posted, from his father. The letter below was delivered by a Mr. English.

Mr. Thomas Buck, Jun.,
Rocking County
Belle Air
Jan 16th, 1812

My dear cousin & full namesake:

Having so good an opportunity, I cannot forbear sending you this small token of my regard, though I don’t expect I can be lengthy, as we had a little meeting here tonight its very late, my pen bad, and I can’t see to mend it, and am very clumsy at best. However I want to tell you, I was exceedingly glad to hear from you, and that you were all well, and that Amelia was well satisfied, and expecially that you are not backward in speaking occasionally in behalf of your Master’s cause, for so shall your light shine before men and they wil thereby be made to glorify your father which is in Heaven. I have wished frequently since I parted with you to have an opportunity to enlarge on the hint I then gave you, i.e. that peradventure providence had some wise end in sending you into that place, it may the Lord has much people there, and you may be the instrument designed for calling them into the fold. I must tell you my dear cousin that it was with pleasure, I observed your growth in devine knowledge, since your public profession, and your usefulness in the church became more and more conspicuous, which gave not only myself, but others great hopes concerning you, and I felt very unwilling to part with you on that, as well as other accounts, but when the thought was suggested that peradventure the Lord had wise ends in removing you I submitted cheerfully. I can assure you that these observations are not intended to raise vanity, but to impress on your mind, a sense of duty. That you have talents is evident, and if improved I have no doubt will become useful, and if neglected, or buried in the rubbish of this world, as your poor old useless uncles have been, you will probably repent as he has done when it is too late. But least Satan should seek advantage of you, attempt to make proud, let me remind you, that these talents are not your own, but your Lord’s; and that he will certainly call you to account for them. And now as I am old and you are young, and have never experienced the conflicts, I have, take piece of fatherly advice, after asking you a few questions. 1st – When the plan of salvation through Christ was first revealed to you and indeed at all subsequent times, when faith has been in lively exercise, did not you think it was so plain that you could convince the whole world? And did not your bowels yearn after your fellow creatures? 2ndly – Has not the worth of souls, at times lay heavy on you? And have you not felt as if the Lord would require them at your hands if you did not warn them of their danger? 3rd – Have you not felt convicted for neglecting to reprove sin? 4thly – Does not the loose and untender walk of prossprous grieve you? And do you not wish to see all that name the name of God depart from iniquity? I could ask many more questions, but I find short as I intended to be at first, I shall not have room, I must therefore desist and proceed to the advice I promised and 1st. If you can answer the foregoing introgatories in the affirmative; quench not the spirit, but indulge, and cherish its motions, and follow its dictates, praying to God for assistance and relying on him for support. The enemy of souls will not doubt magnify the office of an ambassador for God and tell you it is too great for you, but tell him hes’ a liar, for if he could qualify a Matthew the publican, a Simon Peter the fisherman etc., etc. in so eminent a manner and could qualify a Fristoe & Mason and the plowmen & a Henderson the tanner in these latter times and can raise up children to Abraham out of stones, he is able to qualify the meanest of his people for any office he is pleased to call them to. But perhaps he’ll try the same temptations he did with Christ, then repulse him in the same manner. If he should persuade you that are qualified for some dignified station in the world tell him your master is King of Kings and Lord of Lords and one the greatest Kings that ever filled a temporal throne, chose rather to be a door keeper to his house than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.

But I must desist, my paper, fire and time forbids enlarging. I could now fill another sheet, but perhaps this may suffice at present. Theres no room nor time for news. This leaves in common health, except colds, of which myself and your aunt shares largely. Harry is also sick, Marcus was poorly last letter. Tell cousin Amelia her father was here last Sunday, his wife poorly & the news of Mrs. Wilsons being burnt in theatre afflicts her very much, which you have no doubt heard. The children are also poorly with the hooping cough. Old Mrs. King is here and begs to be remembered to you all. My family are all in bed or I expect they would all send their loves to you. I have turned the back of my pen and must say farewell.
Tho. Buck

The known characters are:

Thomas Buck -- born 1777, the first born son of Charles Buck II. He was called “Junior” to differentiate him from his uncle Thomas Buck V but will be assigned “VI” to differentiate from all the other Thomas Bucks. He is often referred to as the “Rev. Thomas Buck”.

Amelia – Thomas’ wife, Amelia Dawson Buck, born 1783.

Amelia’s father - Rev. James Dawson.

Marcus – probably Marcus Calmes Buck, son of Thomas Buck V

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Bel Air: Home of Thomas Buck V

In the late 1790’s, Thomas Buck V moved from his father's estate to Front Royal, Warren County, Virginia, where he built his home, "Bel Air", on 100 acres of tillable land he purchased from Alan Wiley in 1798. Thomas Buck also owned 1,500 acres of woodland adjacent to Happy Creek. Bel Air still exists today although greatly revised and no longer owned by the Buck family. In fact, Bel Air is now owned by Larry LeHew whose ancestor, Peter LeHew, had sold the land to Alan Wiley.

In 1930, William R. Buck, great-grandson of Thomas Buck V, wrote that the name “Bel Air” was the name of a town near Baltimore, Maryland. The family of Anne Richardson, Thomas Buck’s first wife, lived nearby. According to W. R. Buck, the brick portions of Bel Air were built about 1795 whereas the wings had been built previously of hewn logs. Thomas Buck lived in the wings while the main portion was being built. He noted that an attic room wall and sloped ceiling was a sort of “guest register” that contained many signatures.

A letter written on January 27, 1918 by Williarm R. Buck’s sister, Lucy Rebecca Buck, notes that, "... The two wings were erected several years before the main brick one was made and I have heard our old aunt Calmes, who died in her ninety‑second year, say that as a little girl she had played in the space between the wings. The brass knocker on the front door, one of my earliest recollections of the house,bears the inscription, "Thomas Buck, 1800". Her brother, Irving Ashby Buck, was forced to sell Bel Air. The new owner completely remodeled it and Lucy had some rather uncomplimentary things about the remodelled house and its owner. Lucy was born in Bel Air and some say her ghost now haunts it.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Thomas Buck in Front Royal

Sometimes it seems that Thomas Buck V was a “city feller” – especially as compared to his brothers John and Charles. He was one of the original trustees of the town of Front Royal as it was laid out in 1788 and one of its leading citizens for many years. He donated land in Front Royal for a church. His home, Bel Air, still exists in Front Royal (more on Bel Air later).

Thomas Buck V was High Sheriff of Frederick County three times and was a special delegate to the Legislature.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Thomas Buck V and the Baptist Movement

Thomas Buck V was very active in the Baptist movement in early Virginia. Like others in his family, he too, had been strongly influenced by the Rev. James Ireland. Thomas wrote, “I used to go to church with my father and mother, but never understood the sermon. My father was a great sportsman, and used to carry me off to horse races, etc., of which I became very fond, and in all probability would have followed his example had not the Lord arrested both him and myself in our mad career.”

Thomas was baptised in the waters of the Shenandoah River and into the South River Church about 1770 by Samuel Harris. At various times in his life, Thomas was a member of the South River Church, the Waterlick Church and the Happy Creek Church. Thomas and his older brother Charles II were messengers from the Water Lick Church to the Ketoctin Association in 1795.

Thomas Buck V donated land in Front Royal for the Happy Creek Church on December 4, 1835 and was named lifetime trustee for it. In donating the land, Thomas Buck wrote that it was to be used by the “Regular Baptist and for the religious association now called the Happy Creek Church”. At the same time, he noted that “at other times the property is for the use of other Baptists”. Thomas Buck probably specified these terms because, at the time, there was a great disagreement among the Baptists with respect to doctrine. Some of Thomas’ friends and family members belonged to the “Old School” or “Primitive Baptist” group but others belonged to the “New School” or “Missionary Baptist” group. Thomas was more associated with the Missionary Baptists and the tension between the two groups undoubtedly caused him grief. When Thomas felt that the terms of his donation were not being followed, he changed the locks on the church door. On April 28, 1835, Thomas and his (second) wife Ruhama were excommunicated from Old School Happy Creek Church. Eventually the two congregations compromised with the Happy Creek Church and the Front Royal Church alternating their use of the facilities.