Box 10, Folder 9

J. F. Caldwell to Governor Arthur I. Boreman, June 11, 1866

Lewisburg, W. Va. June 11th, 1866

Governor Boreman:

Dear Sir:

I write to inform you of the election in this county. The cast about 680 votes, very near one half, for the amendment to the constitution, not-withstanding the Rebels made desperate efforts to prevent it. Your commission to me as Commissioner of R. gave too little time for us to properly perform our duties. Henry Lewis & A. Williams attended but indifferently to their duties as Commissioners. Several of the Registrars had to be changed. Mr. Hull of Anthony's Creek Township - was too ill to act and Wm. Wagoner, a very proper person, had such a very short time to register the voters of that township: and registered some as late as the 17th ult. only a few days prior to the election on the 24th. I hope you will not take exception to this as the object was to respect more the spirit; than the letter of the law.

You are aware that I am so blind that I can neither read or write - Some one whom I requested to read me the law instructing the commissioners of R. and the Registrars, read it in such a way as to make the impression upon my mind: that the law directed that persons who had arrived at twenty one years of age since the Rebellion, should be registered without having the test oath exacted of them. This influenced me to register the names of six young men without exacting of them the test oath: and a few other persons came and took the test oath and were registered, whom I soon after learned "had sought and accepted office under the Rebels and given them aid and comfort" and took their oath of office. I drew the attention of Messers Lewis and Williams, the other commissioners, to those persons who had been improperly registered, but we met together only a few days before the election; when Messers Snyder and Dennis, lawyers and rabid Rebels, came and intruded themselves upon us, and with arguments and long speeches, succeeded in convincing us, that we had not given the legal length of notice to proceed to bring evidence to rebut the charges preferred against them, consequently we decided to allow the proper length of time to lapse before we should strike these names off. So this allowed them to vote on the 24th. None of them made any attempt to rebut the charges preferred against them; when I struck their names from the Register as it was my understanding with the other members of the Board that it was to be done if they did not come forward with evidence to rebut the charges, which they did not do. The Rebels made tools of these men who had been improperly registered and to defeat me as Magistrate and Supervisor, arranged and held a caucus for this purpose. In consequence Mr. Thomas Henning was elected Supervisor and John Lepps, Justice. (An) office who Judge Harrison appointed me to fill in place of my son who had removed from the Township.

This John Lepps, when called on by Judge Harrison for the purpose of making him a Grand Juror and asked the question, "Have you acted with the Rebels or gave them aid," replied, "I have not borne arms, but I have done every thing else I could to aid them." He sought, and accepted the office of justice under the Rebel Government, and took their oath of office.

Judge Harrison gave me to understand that my appointment as Justice was to stand until June 1867 but the lawyer here says they do not so understand the law and that it must depend upon some act passed in 1866, which please send me by mail and inform me of your opinion of the matter.

The act of Registration has excluded from voting all the leading Rebels and about three fourths of the citizens of the County. The great fight between the late Rebels and those loyal to the Union was fought in Lewisburg. I am satisfied that many Rebels have been registered. And I would advise the propriety of your writing to the Commissioners advising them to exclude such from the lists of Registration.

Please answer this and advise me how to proceed in future.

Yours respectfully,

J. F. Caldwell


West Virginia Archives and History