Dabney Minor II (1779–1822)

Little record remains of Dabney’s youngest son, Dabney Minor II, born July 22, 1779, at Woodlawn. He was a lawyer who handled land cases and executed wills,[1] though his tiny, cramped, nearly illegible handwriting better befits a doctor.[2]

He married Lucy Herndon on January 30, 1800.[3] They had nine children, of whom Francis was the second youngest. They lived on a “tract of land purchased from Joseph Alcock’s estate”[4] in Orange County, Virginia.[5] The census of 1810 shows Dabney owning ten slaves and five horses,[6] a modest holding for the time neither indicative of poverty nor great wealth, which is in keeping with the fortunes of younger sons of the wealthy. An April 1798 appraisal of his estate valued it at $3,498,[7] or about $102,500 in today’s currency.[8]

Francis was only two when his father died after a long, painful illness[9] on March 8, 1822,[10] at the age of forty-two. In an obituary, Dabney was described as “a man of great worth,”[11] which was likely more in reference to his character than his fortune.

His death threw the Minor family into chaos, which will be explored in greater detail in chapter three, which covers Francis’ youth. For now, it is sufficient to note that his funeral likely would have been similar to his grandson’s, which opened this chapter, and that Dabney provided well for his family. He gave two-thirds of the land on which they lived to his wife, Lucy, and the other third to his daughter, Salley, plus a third of his land in Hanover County to little Francis. This was either split with Christopher Hudson of Albemarle County, and Launcelot Minor of Louisa County, or held in their ownership until Francis came of age; the will is unclear.[12]

In his will, Dabney also indicated that his estate should be sold, if needed, to fund his children’s education and upbringing. “I earnestly desire no expense to be spared to give my children the best education which my estate can afford,” he wrote.[13] In an age when most men were concerned with jealously preserving, if not enhancing, their wealth, it is an indication of Dabney’s character, both as a man and as a father, that he was willing to do whatever necessary for his children to succeed, even if the family name was slightly diminished in the process.

The Minor Family Bible records stop with his generation. Francis and his siblings are not included.

[1] See, for example, “Land for Sale in Albemarle.”

[2] Various letters, University of Virginia.

[3] Minor Family Bible.

[4] Minor, Dabney.

[5] Barron.

[6] Schreiner-Yantis, O-3.

[7] Minor II, Dabney, 55.

[8] CPI Inflation Calculator.

[9] “Died.” Enquirer. The nature of his death has not been uncovered.

[10] Minor Family Bible.

[11] “Died.” Enquirer.

[12] Minor II, Dabney, 52.

[13] Minor II, Dabney, 52.