Lonas family tales

This is a work in progress.

In 1901, William Wesley Craig, Warren Tucker Craig, Solon Linthicum, John Rielly Linthicum, and George Robert Linthicum were convicted of murdering Bruce Lonas and burning down Samuel Lonas’ mill on December 18, 1900 in Shenandoah County, Virginia. 

What was planned as a robbery went horribly wrong when Bruce Lonas surprised the robbers. A fight ensued, Bruce was killed, and the robbers set fire to the mill to cover their crime. The fire completely destroyed the mill.

This was not the first misfortune to strike Sam Lonas’ mill. In 1893 the mill’s boiler exploded and killed three of his children. Several years later a flood washed most of the mill away.

It is remarkable that all of the robbers were uncles and cousins of the family they attacked. With the exception of the elder John Linthicum, they are all descended from George Lonas and Catherine Barb. George, also known as George John Lonas and George Henry Lonas, was the first settler with that name in Shenandoah County in the early 1800s.

There was ill will between the families concerning the disposition of their grandfather’s estate, which in part motivated the crime and tragic results.

People involved:

  • John Benjamin Craig (1853–1914): suspected of involvement in the murder of Bruce Lonas, but apparently was not convicted. Son of John Benjamin Craig and Leah Anna Lonas.
  • Mary E Craig (1841–): daughter of John Benjamin Craig and Leah Anna Lonas. Married John R. Linthicum.
  • William Wesley Craig (1852–): sentenced to seven years for the murder of Bruce Lonas; request for clemency denied by Governor William Hodges Mann on 29 July 1910. Son of John Benjamin Craig and Leah Anna Lonas. Married Mary Ellen Fry.
  • Warren Tucker Craig (1873–): sentenced to sixteen years for the murder of Bruce Lonas; request for clemency denied by Governor William Hodges Mann on 29 July 1910; paroled on April 1, 1915. Son of William Wesley Craig and Mary Ellen Fry.
  • George Craig: indicted by the grand jury in the Lonas matter but not charged.
  • Mary Dellinger (1827–1920): daughter of Benjamin Dellinger and Judith Inda Stickley. Married Jacob Lonas.
  • Jacob Fry (1829–1858): son of Absalom Fry and Christina Fry. Married Christina Lonas.
  • Mary Ellen Fry (1856–): daughter of Jacob Fry and Christina Lonas. Married William Wesley Craig.
  • John Rielly Linthicum (1834–): sentenced to five years for the murder of Bruce Lonas; pardoned on May 15, 1902. Son of William Linthicum and Hannah from Hardy County. Married Mary E. Craig.
  • Solon Washington Linthicum (1869–): sentenced to eleven years for the murder of Bruce Lonas. Son of John R Linthicum and Mary E. Craig.
  • George Robert Linthicum (1879–1967): sentenced to two years for the murder of Bruce Lonas. Son of Son of John R Linthicum and Mary E. Craig.
  • Bruce T Lonas: (1883–1900): Son of Samuel Henry Lonas and Annie Stickley.
  • Christina Lonas (1829–): daughter of George Lonas and Catherine Barb. Married Jacob Fry.
  • Jacob Lonas (1814–1900): son of George Lonas and Catherine Barb. Married Mary Dellinger.
  • Joseph Charles Lonas (1863–1948): Son of Jacob Lonas and Mary Dellinger.
  • Leah Anna Lonas (1820–1906): daughter of George Lonas and Catherine Barb.
  • Samuel Henry Lonas (1848–1938): son of Jacob Lonas and Mary Dellinger.
  • Annie Stickley (1842–1911): daughter of Tobias Stickley Jr. and Rosanna Rinker. Married Samuel Henry Lonas.

Solon Linthicum gets 11 years in the penitentiary

Shenandoah Herald, Volume 84, Number 46, 15 November 1901.

The trial of Solon Linthicum charged with the murder of Bruce Lonas on the 18th of December 1900, when Lonas’ mill was burned, began on last Tuesday morning. The prosecution was represented by W. W. Logan, Esq. Commonwealth’s Attorney and Hon. M. L. Walton, and the defense by Messrs. Meredith Stickley of this place and Rust, Williams of New Market. Below will be found an abstract of the evidence.

The following is the jury: H. H. Wisman, Foreman; Dan’l Lichliter, Milton Ridenour, A. B. Lichliter, J. W. Fisher, H. E. Bailey, L. J. Funkhouser, P. S. Rhodes, J. Z. Fravel, S. J. E. Golladay, J. W. Sweney and D. E. Copp.

The first witness for the Commonwealth was Sam’l H. Lonas, father of Bruce T. Lonas, who testified that when he was first notified that his mill was on fire by his brother J. C. Lonas about 11 o’clock on the night of Dec. 18, 1900 that the mill was a roaring mass of flames. It was a one and a half story mill, 32×32 feet and made everything in the milling line but flour but kept flour constantly on hand to exchange for wheat. His son, Bruce, 20 years old, slept in a room in the mill where there was $40 or $50 in cash some of which was silver, after the fire there was a search made for the money in the ruins but no trace of it could be found, when he left home about 8 or 9 o’clock he told his mother that he was going to the mill.

On cross examination Mr. Lonas stated that the engine in the mill had been run all the day of the fire but was shut down before dark and that his son slept 10 feet from the engine.

J. C. Lonas, postmaster at Belgrade was the next witness. He stated that Bruce Lonas was his nephew and that he was with him at the store at Belgrade on the night of Dec. 18, Bruce left the store at about 8 o’clock and went towards his home. My mother woke me that night at 15 minutes of 12 o’clock and told me the mill was on fire. The north end of the mill where the remains of Bruce were found was almost burnt out. I helped gather the bones of Bruce the next morning and recognized them by his lower jaw by a tooth that he had pulled out a few weeks before.

J. W. Wilkerson was next called to the stand. He stated that he lived about 1 mile from the mill and that he had helped to take the remains of Bruce from the ruins the next morning. Wilkerson stated that he was making fence with Solon Linthicum last April when West Craig passed them and he asked Solon how these people made their living (meaning the Craigs) and Solon said, “They steal it.” I told him that “I believed the Craigs were in Sam Lonas’ mill.” He said “your children went to school with a man’s children that carries a scar from Bruce today.”

Thos. Silvious was next and was a bery important witness for the Commonwealth. Mr. Silvious lived about 3 miles north of S. H. Lonas’ mill, and was at the mill about 8 o’clock the day after the burning. Mr. Silvious stated that he knew Solon Linthicum, the prisoner, and had a conversation with him last January, about Lonas’ mill, when Solon told him that he could tell him how it was done. He said that Bruce came in the mill by the engine and came in contact with several of the men, that he pushed on into the mill when he met West Craig who struck him with a small bar of iron and knocked him down, when Bruce was down he began to beg for his life and West Craig said “No! G– D– you, you have done the cutting and you must die.” He said that Tucker Craig was cut on the head and that John Bent Craig was cut on the arm.

On cross examination, Mr. Silvious said that Solon told him that he was not in the mill but was out on watch, at the blacksmith’s shop.

Detective Spandauer, stated that he was present when Jacob Hepner had a conversation with Solon Linthicum in the jail.

Mr. Hepner asked Solon to repeat what he had told him sometime ago, and Solon told Mr. Hepner to make the statement that he had told him and he would correct him if he made any mistakes.

Mr. Hepner said, “Solon, did you not tell me that “on the night of the fire that you were at home and about 7 o’clock you were called out by West Craig, Jno. Bent Craig, Geo. Craig, Tucker Craig, John R. Linthicum and Robt. Linthicum, who wanted you to go and help them rob Lonas’ mill, you told them you did not want to go and they said they would kill you if you did not go and that Robt. Linthicum was placed in the field near the mill as a watch, and that five of them went into the mill and that Bruce walked in on them and had three of them down, he cut one of them over the right arm, and another on the head, and then he was killed, after he was dead they went out and got some oak lumber and piled it on the body and set fire to it and the mill was burnt down. Solon’s reply was “that was right.”

Mr. Spandauer, “I examined John Bent Craig and found a scar on his right arm about two inches long, and found a scar on back of Warren Craig’s head about 1 1/2 inches long.

J. W. Wilkerson was recalled and testified that he also saw the knife and it was open and it was considerably burnt. He saw little Jake Hepner pick the knife up.

W. T. Drummond testified that at his house on the 20th of last June Solon Linthicum told him he was hunting this thing up; that he was afraid he would be prosecuted if he did not hunt it up. He also said “I could tell who done it,” or “I could guess who done it.”

For the defendant, the first witness was Cora A. Linthicum, wife of Solon Linthicum the prisoner, who testified that her husband was at home all of the day of Dec. 18th and that he did not leave the house that night. She said that she was sick and unable to do her housework and he was assisting her. She stated that Jacob Hepner said to her that he would give Solon $5 to tell him what he knew about this Lonas affair, and he wanted his mind satisfied.

Dr. Schmucker testified that Tucker Craig applied to him last winter for something for boils and carbuncles but did not examine as to any scars on his head.

Dr. D. D. Carter testified that he had examined John Bent Craig’s right arm Tuesday and could not find any scars that were made by a knife and that he could not find any trace of a scar on Tucker Craig’s head.

Dr. H. H. Irwin stated that he made an examination of John and Tucker Craig and that he had found on John’s right arm a scar about the size of the end of a lead pencil, but could find no scars on Tucker’s head.

The court ordered John Bent and Tucker Craig brought into court and an examination was made by Dr. Irwin before the jury, with about the same results as stated above. On this evidence the defendants rested their case.

Jury brought in a verdict at 2:40 p.m. Thursday and fixed the punishment of Solon Linthicum, the prisoner at eleven years in the penitentiary.

The court is trying W. West Craig for arson.

Trial of W. Wesley Craig

From the Shenandoah Herald, Volume 84, Number 47, 22 November 1901, via Virginia Chronicle and transcribed from their scans.

Trial of W. Wesley Craig

Verdict of guilty and given seven years in the penitentiary

The trial of W. Wesley Craig indicted for burning the mill of S. H. Lonas occupied the County Court last Thursday, Friday and Saturday. His Honor Judge Tavenner, presiding.

The Commonwealth was represented by W. W. Logan and Hon. M. L. Walton. On account of sickness Mr. Logan did not argue the case.

The defense was represented by Messrs. M. E. Stickley and Rush H. Williamson.

The jury was composed of the following gentlemen: R. C. Baker, Jno. W. Copp, Silas M. Funk, Jno. W. Hockman, P. N. Jarrett, Jos. R. Keller, Jno. H. Funkhouser, B. W. Hottel, Frank Rosenberger, Barnett Copp, Jos. O. Sager, and Reuben Hollar.

Below is given a very full abstract of the testimony. No important point that would have any bearing upon either side of the case has been omitted.

S. H. Lonas testified that he was the owner of the mill. It was a chopping mill and to it was a saw and lathe mill and cross cut saw mill. He ran it with a steam engine. He ran a flour exchange. He exchanged flour for wheat. His son Bruce T. Lonas ran it principally with his help. The building he supposed cost $300. The engine was partly destroyed, cost $850, he sold the irons afterward for $200. The engine was worth $500, saw mill about $100, he had several bushels of grain burnt up. Can’t tell exactly how much buckwheat flour. It is 150 yards from house to mill. Engine worth $450 to $500. Had several sides of leather, cost about $10, different kinds of tools worth $10, belt $27 or $28. The actual value destroyed, he estimated at $300. He kept money in the mill. He kept feed and flour — did not sell on credit. He inferred that from $30 to $50 was kept in a cigar box, in a large box. Box in room in which son slept. He slept in the mill 40 out of 41 nights for last year and a half, could see money box from door. He saw no trace of money after the fire. He was waked by his brother about 11 o’clock, not certain as to time. Went to mill as soon as possible. Everything in blaze. More heat in west corner of mill. Oak ashes found in that corner. Had no oak timber in that building except perhaps a few rafters. Had 15 four horse loads of oak wood 1 1/2 loads under shed, 25 feet from pile of ashes.

Nobody was at the fire when he got there. J. C. Lonas and he went there, ran mull until good dusk, could have heard it, if it had been running. It was not operated after this hour. Bruce Lonas had charge of the mill. He was very cautious, always at his post. His habit was to clean the fire-box. Fire could not get out. We kept fire by the month. He (S. H. Lonas) was always cautious about fire. The whole building was ablaze, more heat from the Northwest side of the mill.

He had known prisoner for years. He lives about 2 miles from him. Didn’t think his feelings towards him was good on account of matters in grand father’s will. Those fellows worked for him and he paid them. Mr. Craig and others came to mill last Spring a year ago and hadn’t been on his place since.

On rebuttal said property as a whole was worth more than if put up for auction.

J. C. Lonas testified that he was a brother of S. H. Lonas, lived 1/4 mile from mill, the whole mill was burning he started from home at 11:45 p.m. Shingles were burnt off. Could see lathes. North corner of mill was severely burnt out. Mill built of pine chiefly. Mill was a total wreck. The engine was injured. He thought that he was there the day before the mill burned. There was buckwheat, corn, and rye, and most of his corn crop and buckwheat. Mill was worth $300. Everything was burnt up, found no money. Found a barlow knife open, burnt suspender buckles. As I drove past West Craig in Fall of 1900, heard him say “the damn Lonases.”

Homer Ryman testified that he knew West Craig for about 18 years. In Oct. 1900, was working on road when J. C. Lonas passed, West Craig said there goes the d–d s–n of b– Lonas that tried to cheat us out of our legacy.

Tucker Craig said “they may not have so much by Spring. They have a mill now but may not have it in the Spring.”

West Craig said the Lonases tried to cheat them out of their legacy money and he was going to put it in court.

Thos. Drummond testified that West Craig came to his house and said: “I want to know what you know about us burning Lonas’ mill and killing Bruce Lonas.”

Thomes Runion testified that he was at West Craig’s in January. He told me he had worked harder last summer than usual, peeling bark and cutting wood, and had about 3 barrels of flour. He has some land. Didn’t have any wheat out that he knew of. Didn’t think he was complaining of his back.

H. H. Hamman testified that he was present at time of called trial at Sager’s store. Heard West Craig say to Solon Linthicum “For God’s sake, Soly, stick to me, don’t go back on me.” All were under arrest at the time. Soly’s trial was first. This was after the hearing. Don’t know what induced him to make that statement. He was close to him, there was no mistake about that. All I heard.

J. E. Dellinger testified that he was at the called trial and heard West Craig say to Soly Linthicum, “I didn’t think you was going to give me away. Soly, you always talk too much.”

Henry Sager testified that he was at the trial and heard West Craig say to Soly Linthicum, “For God’s sake, don’t tell.”

Jno. W. Wilkerson testified that he reached the fire between 12 and 1 o’clock. He was looking for remains. He found an open knife just outside the entrance to mill. Handle was burnt and blade twisted found no locks or boxes.

I had a little conversation about West Craig about the burning. Knew him about 30 years.

S. H. Lonas testified that there was no insurance on the property.

J. C. Lonas testified to the place where human bones were found.

John Crider testified that West Craig asked him the question: “Do you think a man that has been a murderer can enter the kingdom of heaven?”

This closed the Commonwealth’s case.

Defendant’s witnesses.

Wm. Garber testified that he hauled in July or August to West Craig one barrel of flour and the rest in sacks. That he bought a calf of West Craig’s and paid him the money. Craig’s wife had brought berries to him and he had given her an order for a small quantity of flour.

Frank Tusing testified that he hauled one barrel of flour in July or August 1900 from Lonas’ mill at Mt. Jackson to West Craig.

Mrs. Craig, wife of the prisoner testified that her husband was at home sick in bed the day preceding the fire. that Bob Linthicum had come over and stayed there that night. Did not hear of the burning till children came from school. First barrel of flour from S. P. Lonas early in the Spring, next from Mt. Clifton 2d week in July, another barrel bought by M. J. Tusing, 100 lbs. from Mumaw, and flour from 2 bushels of wheat and some for which berries were traded.

On cross examination testified that she had not told Mrs. Baker that she was glad the mill was burned. Did not tell S. H. Lonas that she could not pity him, &c.

Robt. Linthicum testified that he was at West Craig’s the night of the fire, had gone there to cure West’s back. West Craig was in in bed all the time I was there. He was there from sundown to 11:30. His son was reading Johnstown history. He slept upstairs.

On cross examination said that he did not tell Mrs. Webb that Elsie Craig said “that he was down below the mill and was too far off to see West Craig kill Bruce Lonas, if he killed him.”


Mrs. Sarah Webb testified that she overheard a conversation between her brother and Robt. Linthicum and that Robt. Linthicum told her brother that he was at home the night of the burning with a sick wife and child. Was standing some distance away. That was all the conversation that I heard. She had met Robt. Linthicum in the road.

He said to her that Elsie Craig had said that he was down below the mill and was too far off to see West kill Bruce.

Mrs. Baker testified that Mrs. Craig told her the Monday after the burning that she was glad the mill was burned.

S. H. Lonas said that Mrs. Craig told him between Mt. Jackson and Mt. Clifton that she could not pity him for the loss of the mill, but if Bruce was burned up, she did pity Bruce. He further testified that he did not remember saying to Mrs. Craig that Bruce sold all the flour and grain and he (S. H. L.) had nothing to show for it but Bruce said that he (Bruce) had the money.

The jury was out but a short time, when they returned a verdict of guilty and fixed the penalty at seven years confinement in the Virginia penitentiary.

Counsel for the defendant moved to set aside the verdict as contrary to the law and the evidence.

The court admitting that the evidence was not strong against the prisoner, did not feel justified in setting the verdict aside, as the jury was the party to judge of the weight of the evidence.

A touching scene.

On last Saturday afternoon, there was in our Court House, one of the saddest scenes that court officers have ever been called to witness. It was not arranged by counsel for spectacular effect, but it was a most touching spontaneous exhibition of a wife and the love of children for a husband and father. It was not intended to influence the jury; for they were not present when the distressed family joined the prisoner.

William Wesley Craig had been indicted upon the charge of burning a mill, in which perished a young man about twenty years of age. The evidence had all been given by the counsel for the prosecution and for the defense had made their arguments; the court had delivered its intentions and the jury had returned to their room to deliberate and prepare a verdict.

The prisoner was waiting — waiting for the verdict that was to restore him to his family, or confine him to a cheerless cell in the Virginia penitentiary. On his left sat his wife, almost heartbroken and yet endeavoring to administer some words of comfort; behind him stood his oldest daughter, just blooming into womanhood, the tears silently streaming down her face; on his right were two younger daughters with bowed heads and on his knee sat a bright faced little boy, about four years old, who gave evidence of great delight at being permitted to caress and fondle his papa. His childish prattle showed that he did not recognize the shadow of the angry cloud that was even then threatening to burst with fury upon them.

The jury with solemn faces filed into their places; they looked upon the prisoner, the prisoner looked upon them, and the word “guilty” was pronounced.

The prisoner was hastily separated from his family and had taken but a step or two, when the little boy pulled his coat. He quickly turned around, kissed the upturned face of his frightened child, and was then led to his prison cell.

Chapter of tragedy

From the Richmond Dispatch, Volume 1902, Number 15888, 16 March 1902 via Virginia Chronicle and transcribed from their scans.

A remarkable series of catastrophes to one family.

Lonas family’s misfortunes.

Pathetic plea for the pardon of the two Craigs recalls a remarkable succession of disasters and tragedies in connection with the mill of S. H. Lonas, in Shenandoah County — a strange story.

There was a pathetic scene in the anteroom of the Governor’s office yesterday, when the wife and five children of W. W. Craig, of Shenandoah county, now serving a term in the penitentiary, called to plead for his pardon and that of his son, W. T. Craig, who was sentenced along with him for the same crime.

The two Craigs — father and son — were sentenced a few months ago by the County Court of Shenandoah for the murder of Bruce Lonas, near Woodstock, Shenandoah county.

The wife and mother, with face showing clearly the marks of suffering and sorrow and with an eager, anxious look, accompanied by her five little children, had journeyed all the way from the Middle Valley for the purpose of pleading with the Governor for clemency for the husband and father, the son and brother, the natural protectors of this unhappy family.

Bitter disappointment.

After all that journey they did not see the Governor, but were informed by his secretary that they would have to secure the endorsement of the Commonwealth’s Attorney, jury, and Judge of the trial before their petition could be considered by the Governor. This information was a bitter blow to the mother and her little ones, but when they turned away it was not with utter despair, but with a determination to leave no effort unused that might secure the pardon of those dear to them.

“Unmerciful disaster.”

The case of the two Craigs is a memorable one in the annals of Shenandoah county. Nearly two years ago the mill of S. H. Lonas was burned, and his young son, Bruce Lonas, who was asleep in the mill, was burned to death. The tragedy and catastrophe came as the climax to a remarkable succession of tragedies and misfortunes. Some years ago the boiler in the mill exploded, killing two of Lonas’s children and partially wrecking the mill. In the year of the Johnstown flood, Lonas’s mill was washed away, entailing a serious loss on the owner. Then came the burning of the mill and the murder of young Lonas, who was asleep therein.

“Murder most foul.”

The mill was burned nearly two years ago, and for more than a year there was no serious thought of foul play. Finally, in some way, the suspicion became current that the fire was not accidental, but that it was incendiary, and that robbery was the motive. An investigation ensued, the result of which was that the two Craigs and several others were arrested on suspicion of having burned the mill, and with ti the sleeping man, presumably in execution of a plan to burglarize the mill. The men were convicted and sentenced to fourteen years each in the State penitentiary. The trial was concluded only a few months ago, and the men have recently been brought to the prison.

Hardship and shame.

The two Craigs are two of the men sentenced for that shocking crime. However guilty they may be, the spectacle of the woman with her family of small, dependent children thus left to battle for bread with the handicap of of the shame of the husband and son to add to their burden of sorrow, is one that must appeal to all. It is a most pitiable and deplorable affair.

History of Emmanuel Lutheran Church, New Market, Va.

The following is excerpted from Our Church Paper, New Market, Virginia, Volume 32, Number 30, 26 July 1904.

History of Emmanuel Lutheran Church, New Market, Va.

by Rev. E. L. Wessinger.

The writer acknowledges his indebtedness to Dr. C. O. Miller who has in his possession the records of the facts presented in connection with the early history of the Lutheran church in New Market.

The history of Emmanuel congregation is closely connected and interwoven with that of the Davidsburg church from which it grew. Emmanuel is one of the two branches which grew from the original tree planted by Rev. Paul Henkel in 1790, and which was known as the Davidsburg church. On the 30th of March in that year Rev. Paul Henkel with his family located at New Market, Va., where at that time there was no organized Lutheran congregation. There were in the vicinity a few German settlers who were said still to have held to the regular church (ordentliche kirche.) These the Rev. Paul Henkel gathered together and organized into a congregation. In the beginning of the year 1791 a location for the church was selected on the lands of Lewis Zirkle and a half acre of ground was purchased. The deed for the church lot is dated Sept. 9, 1794, and was recorded, and was given for a consideration of ten pounds by Lewis Sircle (Zirkle) to George Adam Sircle, John Bare, and Andrew Bird for the use of the Presbytertan (Calvinist) and Lutheran congregation of New Market. The records show that by the term Presbyterian (Calvinist) was meant what we now know as the Reformed church.

In June of 1791 the first timber for the church building was cut on the lands of Lewis Zirkle by those, some German and some English, who were interested in the building of a church. In the beginning of February, 1792, the logs were taken to the site selected, and during the spring of that year the first church building, a log house, was erected, and was known as the Davidsburg church. The lay promoters and builders of the church were: George Adam Zirkle, Lewis Zirkle, John Rausch, Michael Rader, Abraham Peter, Andrew Bord (Bird), Jacob Kipps, Jacob Olinger, John Bar (Bare), and David O’Roark. Of these George Adam Zirkle, Lewis Zirkle, and John Bar were selected as the deacons or council (vorsteher), the two former representing the Lutherans and the latter the Reforms. The first service in the church building was held in the latter part of April, 1792, by Rev. Paul Henkel who became the first pastor and preached in both German and English, holding services about once in every four weeks until 1794 when he and his family moved to Staunton, Va.

Zirkel family crest

zirkel family crest

The record indicates that a Konrad Zirkel in Bavaria had the coat of arms in 1603. In 1955, the late Wilhelm Zirkel (see Wilhelm’s booklets) of Ravensburg, Germany sent historian and author, Gordon Zirkle, Roanoke, Va., a copy and description of the coat of arms. The inscription over the crest is in German, “Wapper Der Familie,” translated in English, “Coat of Arms of the Family.” The spelling of the name under the crest is “ZIRKEL”, thus we maintain this spelling when using the coat of arms.

The description: “A vertically divided shield, split into black-gold, on which a man with a bandana (the ends of which are flying sideways) is standing on a mountain in changed over colour (immediately changed over), who is holding a golden compass (golden Zirkel) downward in his right hand, the compass enclosing a golden star. On top of the shield is resting a steel coloured tournament or piercing helmet; as helmet decoration is the grown man holding a compass and star in his raised right hand. The helmet covers are black-gold on both sides.

Meaning of Symbols in Coats of Arms: “The divided shield shows that a division (branching out of the blood line) had already taken place m early times, however, the carriers of this coat of arms remained aware of their former union in their family tree. The mountain is a sign of freedom and steadfastness, possibly pointing out the ‘mountainous home’ of their forefathers. The man is the symbol of energy and willpower. In this case the compass is to be considered a hint as to the name. As a symbol the compass stands for art appreciation and a reminder of clever calculation of the hours, while time itself is a circle, and the circles of the compass are getting lost within themselves. “The star stands for good fortune and brightly shining fame. The tournament helmet means good and honest parentage, as well as bravery in wartimes. The growing man is symbolic of courageous ambition for higher goals, and for upholding of the honest name. Black is the colour of humbleness and devotion, comparable to the diamond, which shines the brighter the blacker it is.”

(This information from Zane Zirkle’s genealogy page, 2008.)

A letter from the Civil War camps

jacob-willHere is a transcription of a letter written from Jacob Will (pictured at right) to his father while Jacob serving in the Confederacy during the Civil War. This comes to us courtesy of Martha Lytton Van Trees.

12th July 1861

Dear Father

Having promised to write to you I now comply by imparting a few lines to you to inform you that I am well at present.  We are now encamped on the fair-ground about nine miles below Winchester called Camp Carson.  I can’t tell exactly how many soldiers are here.  The reports vary from 25 to 50 thousand including Militias and all.  All seem to be lively, faring well, and well satisfied.  We have plenty to eat here though it is a little rough.  The retreat of Col. Jackson’s Brigade from Bunker Hill, created considerable excitement.  It presented a very sublime scene, and was performed with great military skill.

They have about 75 Yankee prisoners in Winchester.  It was rumored here today that there will be 8000 volunteers in on tomorrow from Georgia.  This is just the report, we don’t know whether it is so or not.  I must close for the present, but will ever remain, your dutiful son,

Jacob Will

I will write soon.  Direct your letter to Care of Capt. Peters, 2nd Regiment, Virginia Militia

References and Notes

  1. Jacob Will was born in Shenandoah County, Virginia on March 16, 1820, the son of Jonathan (John) Will (1786-1864) and Hanna Byrd (1788-1864).  Jacob married Elizabeth Jones (1843-1890) about 1863. Jacob was 23 years older than Elizabeth.
  2. Jacob and Elizabeth were farmers and lived about two miles west of Moore’s Store, Shenandoah County, Virginia. (Harpine, p. 194).
  3. Jacob and Elizabeth are buried in Saint Lukes United Church of Christ (County Line) Cemetery, Moores Store, Shenandoah County, Virginia.
  4. In Klaus Wust’s Old Pine Church Baptisms, there is an entry for Jacob, son of Georg Will and Catharina, born March 14, 1820, and baptized April 8, 1820, by Rev. Paul Henkel. In Burruss’ The Rinkers of Virginia, it is noted that Jacob Will married Mary Rinker (born July 13, 1820), daughter of George Rinker (1792-1829) and Elizabeth Moore (born 1800), on November 19, 1841. This is another Jacob Will. He was the son of George Will (1781-1844) and Catherine Byrd (1783-1870) from Mount Clifton and was the first cousin of Jacob Will from Moore’s Store. The two Jacobs were born two days apart. Jacob, son of George, moved west; in 1850 he is living in Illinois and eventually settled in Texas. He served in the Union Army during the Civil War in Co. D, 16th Texas Infantry. In 1899, he was living in Waco, Texas, and he applied for a pension under the Confederate Pension Law.

The Zirkle Reunion

This is from the Harrisonburg Rockingham Register, Friday, August 18, 1893. 

The Shenendoah Valley says: “On Thursday, August 10, 1893, the Zirkles and their connections and friends, to whom a most cordial invitation had been extended, held a Family Reunion and General Picnic in Miss Nannie Quick’s woods, one mile west of Quicksburg, Va.

“Preparations were made on a grand scale, in anticipation of the coming together of a vast concourse of people, and in nowise was the committee disappointed.

“At an early hour people began to pour in from all directions, in carriages and wagons, horse and ‘foot-back,’ and free hacks ran back and forth from the railroad station to the grounds, conveying many from the trains.

“Brass bands from Hamburg and Cabin Hill, and a string band from New Market with an organ, furnished music, to add to the interest of the occasion, and all went ‘merry as a marriage bell.’

“There were over 2000 persons present, about one-half of whom were Zirkles, their relatives and connections.”

Speeches were made by Prof. J. Milton Zirkle, Dr. F. E. Rice, and Mr. Elon O. Henkel; and historical sketches of the different branches of the Zirkle family were read, together with several poems composed for the occasion.

Family records

The following is from Casper Branner and his descendants, by John Casper Branner. Privately printed, Stanford University, California, 1913.

Family records. The difficulties of gathering the data given so briefly in this book lead me to suggest and urge that efforts be made for the better preservation of family records in the future. Formerly our ancestors kept their family records religiously set down in their family bibles, while the churches kept records of births, baptisms, and marriages. The people were anchored to the soil and had a fixed abiding place. For this reason one formerly knew where to look for information of this character. But every passing year makes it more difficult to keep track of families. People have cut loose, as it were, from the soil, transportation facilities have made migration easier, and individuals are quickly lost in our denser and less stable population. This difficulty of keeping track of families and of individuals must therefore increase unless some sort of effort is made to prevent it.