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The Fox Family, The Dandridge Family and The Bower Part 2 & 3 (with bibliography)
Made possible with the generous, community-minded support of American Public University System (apus.edu). This video and all videos in this channel as well as the million words of posts at the corresponding source, civilwarscholars.com – are intended to encourage fact-based discussion to heighten better understanding of the foundational events of our country. Sentiments included in these productions, even if commendable, do not in any way reflect the 21st century policies of the University.
This is the second and third of about four videos. The third is the most vital.s
I am working with Charles Fox, whose family descended from the remarkable John H. Fox, the owner/operator of three different farms and community leader, revered upon his death and who was born enslaved at the Bower.
I was absorbed in the question of how could and why did those enslaved sang,laughed and danced and even stayed up without sleeping and still working long days in the fields. And yes it is true as a consistent fact of life in Virginia in the early 19th century. I found the same observations in five different diaries in this immediate region. And I came to realize a great truth in this fact which will be explored in the third video. We have been served terribly with descriptions of enslaved persons as being “child-like and pathetic” ignoring the obvious reality that they received their almost superhuman strength coming from their faith and African musical tradition. That African Americans routinely become the best in any athletic field they enter and the worldwide influence of their musical talents – gospel blues swing jazz motown etc. just underscore these earlier daily practices so long ago.
Glamorous and famous for its visitors (Washington Irving, Robert E. Lee, Jeb Stuart’s entire staff lived there for a month), the pre-Civil War owners practiced people-owning on a large scale – usually about sixty enslaved persons who kept up production there from day to day. A close reading of daily accounts reveals just how much the deepest, knowledge of hunting, cooking, horses etc resided in the most experienced persons of color.
It became famous as the place John Pendleton Kennedy, a relative from Baltimore who also supported Edgar Allan Poe, based his widely read book: “Swallow Barn: A Sojourn in the Old Dominion,” that was published in 1832 and 1850.
It was a divided family, with regard to the Civil War, with author Kennedy opposing secession, the Dandridges at the Bower strongly supporting, or as Philip Kennedy put it – Adam Dandridge ate a strong “allowance of the insane root” to quote from Macbeth.
It might include a tragic love story. When John Fox was born in 1845 Adam Stephen Dandridge II was the only adult white male at The Bower.
It circles around Adam Dandridge II and Charles Fox’s great great grandmother “Mary” who was killed at the Bower.
It also follows the incredibly impressive John Fox, one of Mary’s five surviving children and culminates with Charles Fox’s powerfully impressive, of-the-earth, wisdom-dispensing grandfather, Charles Washington Fox.
We’ll leave it at that.
Care is taken to stay consistent with all information in official records (death certificates, Census, marriage records, deeds, and wills) in addition to the Fox family oral tradition, first transmitted by John Fox, with his eye-witness knowledge