The Chancellors of Chancellorsville

From: Harrison

Over at Spotsylvania Memory: The Row Family of Virginia, our friend Pat Sullivan has started a nice series of posts on the Chancellors of battlefield fame. We also encourage you to browse his blog’s earlier posts, always related in a friendly and accessible style, for little-known, detailed accounts of various families whose homes were in the Fredericksburg-area combat zones and whose lives intersected those of his well-archived ancestors.

6 thoughts on “The Chancellors of Chancellorsville

  1. Rev. Melzi Chancellor lived at “Dowdell’s” – as in Dowdell’s Tavern – during the Battle of Chancellorsville. But is there any evidence that the founder of Dowdell’s Tavern had any relationship to the Thomas Dowdell, who first purchased Lot 18 in Fredericksburg in 1738? Thomas Dowdell was listed as an “ordinary keeper.” Ordinary . . . tavern . . . Dowdell family . . . one has to wonder. I’ve done a bit of research on the question but been unable to find such evidence to date.

    • Scott – Perhaps a relationship, but doubtful that Thomas Dowdell had any interest in the property. There was apparently an earlier tavern operating on the site, as early as 1792, known as “Gatewood’s Tavern.” P. Bower Dowdall purchased the property in 1849 and likely updated the tavern. Melzi Chancellor acquired the property in 1857. All of this can be found in Noel Harrison’s _Chancellorsville Battlefield Sites_ (1990).

      – Eric Mink

      • Thanks on 2 counts, Eric! 1) I have Noel’s F’burg volumes, but wasn’t aware of, and obviously need to get, his Chancellorsville work. 2) Now I just need to dig into P. Bower Dowdall. I knew if there was any link it would be via a descendant of Thomas Dowdell. I’m aware that Dowdell and Dowdall can be alternate spellings of the same family (like Sailor’s Creek/Saylor’s Creek). Thanks again and give my best to Noel.

    • Hi, Scott. Copies of that book are likely at CRRL library, as well as Amazon used. My research into the tavern’s pre-1848 history focused on the Gatewood connections, so your dig may be the pioneering foray into the Dowdalls/Dowdells in town. Also, the wonderful lot- and address-based files at HFFI may have a lead on their connections lot 18, uncovered by some previous researcher. Noel

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