Saturday, June 17, 2023

Susan Sheppard Allen's Civil War

Hexagons smaller than a penny

Pictured in Quilts of Virginia 1607-1899
"Made by the daughters of John Mosby Shepherd....25,389 hexagons"

John Mosby Sheppard (1775-1831) had at least two daughters: Elizabeth Mosby and Susan Ann with his wife Mary Glenn Crenshaw Austin Sheppard (1786-1851.)

Elizabeth and Susan were born in the farmhouse constructed by
their father in the early 19th century at Meadow Farm with the 
Greek Revival porch and its columns an 1840s addition.
 The Sheppard-Crump house is preserved in a Henrico County park.

John Mosby Sheppard died in 1831 leaving son John Mosby II and daughters Elizabeth 16 and Susan  6 years old. Elizabeth Sheppard (1815-1855) married Dr. Benjamin Duval in the house in 1832. Her younger sister Susan (1825-1895) married another Benjamin, Benjamin Bunbury Allen here in 1845.

Perhaps the bedcover was begun in anticipation of Elizabeth's marriage in 1832. The style of cotton hexagons pieced over paper was fashionable in the 1830s. With the stitches basting the cotton to the paper templates still in place, we might consider this an unfinished project. Mother Mary's death in 1851 at 65 and Elizabeth's death at 40 in 1855 may have caused the long term project to be set aside.

The top, bordered with two chintz stripes,
seems to be in the collection of the Patrick Henry home
Scotchtown but is loaned to other museums on occasion.

Virginia Anne Young Sheppard (1824-1889) & Susan's brother
Dr. John Mosby Sheppard (1817-1877)

When the Civil War began Susan's brother John II was living at Meadow Farm with wife Virginia Anne Young Sheppard (1824-1889.) Susan and Benjamin were childless but John and Virginia's 12 children provided an abundance of nieces and nephews. Susan and Benjamin lived in a home on Mountain Road they named Glen Allen for mother Mary's name Glenn and Benjamin's family name. Benjamin at 44 caught diphtheria in the summer of 1862 and died in August.

Glen Allen today

The country north of Richmond, the Confederate capitol, was a continual battle ground throughout the war. Union troops under Phillip Sheridan recorded an encounter at Glen Allen in May, 1864. 

Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart was mortally wounded during
the nearby battle of Yellow Tavern in May, 1864

Susan's home near the railroad route known as Allen's Crossing was said to have served as a hospital. Among the many Confederate soldiers who passed through the area was John Cussons of the Fourth Alabama. After his capture at Gettysburg and imprisonment he returned to Allen's Crossing and married Susan in May, 1864. Cussons was 26, Susan 39.

John Cussons (1838-1912) from
Men of Mark in Virginia 
in which his land-owning wife called 
Sue Annie Allen is almost a footnote. 

Cussons was a flamboyant version of the classic post-war Southern veteran. Reported to have served in the Great Plains before the war, he claimed to be a friend of Buffalo Bill Cody's. Cussons borrowed the showman's style.

The 1870 census shows John and Susan and their Black neighbors,
people who may have once been enslaved by the Sheppards & Allens
 listed with 17 slaves in the 1860 census..

Cussons made a good deal of money off his printing innovations
including the "Cussons Calendar Pad," for advertising.

Cussons's label factory was a large Henrico County employer in the late 19th-century.

He spent years building an expansive frame building he hoped
would be a popular resort but the economic realities of the 1890s 
worked against him. It is no surprise to find he became more eccentric
as the years went on, alienating the neighbors.

Cussons-style real estate ads in 1909

Susan's relationship with him before her death in the fall of 1896???

Read more about hexagon & sexagon quilts here:

Thanks to Vicki Welch & Neva Hart for taking such good detail photos.

Further Reading

Cary Holladay,"John Cussons (1838–1912)," Dictionary of Virginia Biography, Library of Virginia (1998– ), published 2006

1 comment:

Helenchaffin said...

I absolutely luv your post there's nothing like a good cup of coffee & a History lesson😁 can you imagine making hexagons that tiny🙆