The Barger House

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1290 Richmond Ave.
Staunton, VA 24401
Region Shenandoah Valley
Locality Staunton City

Inscription reads: "Relocated from its original site approximately fifty miles to the south on Little Patterson's Creek in Botetourt County, Virginia, the Barger home, immediately in front of you, is an operational pre-Civil War farmstead from the Valley of Virginia. It is representative of the average agricultural livelihoods of common soldiers and noncombatant farmers in this region." Because of his age, John Barger did not serve in the war, but two of his sons and a brother did fight for the Confederacy. His sons and brother survived the hostilities. The true test of the war, however, for the Barger family, fell in the area of finance. Prior to the war, Barger borrowed money from his family and the Bank of Fincastle to purchase land and finance his farm. When the prices of agricultural goods plummeted in the wake of war, he was unable to pay his debts, and on May 7, 1869, filed for bankruptcy. Two and a half years later, the District Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Virginia foreclosed on the property, a fate shared by many others in postwar Virginia. It is not clear how Barger fared financially after the event. However, by the 1880's, a niece and her husband purchased the farmstead and heirs continued to reside on the property well into the latter part of the 20th century. According to the 1860 census, on the eve of the Civil War, the population of the ten county area from Harper's Ferry to Rockbridge County consisted of 26,410 slaves or 18 percent of the total population of the Shenandoah Valley. Fewer than 4,040 or 4 percent of the Valley�s population of 121,194 whites and free blacks were slaveholders. Additionally, more than 4,593 free blacks made up 3 percent of the population of the area and were involved in critical trade throughout the Valley. Although no slaves worked on the Barger farmstead prior to the war, two blacks, "Law & wife Mell," were listed as residents with the Barger family in the 1860 census. Little is known of their relations with the Barger family or what happened to them afterward.

Last Updated: 7/20/2011 2:22 PM
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