From the Salt Lake Herald (Salt Lake City, Utah), 5/21/1882, p. 13, c. 4
MISS VAN LEW’S SLIP.
Romance and Scandal in the Capital of the Old Dominion.
Richmond, Va., April 25. – One of the most interesting cases of romance and scandal that has agitated Richmond for a long time has taken place here recently. In that part of Richmond known as Church Hill stands a huge pile of buildings, occupying an entire square on Grace street. It is a high eminence, and the rear portion of the large grounds is terraced and thickly studded with rare shade and fruit trees, and ornamented with rustic seats. The property is known as the Van Lew estate, and is owned by Miss Elizabeth Van Lew, and unmarried lady, who has a national reputation. During the late war she was a determined unionist. When a union officer with the rank of colonel tunneled the Libby prison and escaped, together with others, Miss Van Lew concealed them in her grand old castle, which, from the isolated position and topographical location, was admirably adapted for the purposes of the fugitives. It is also said that Miss Van Lew was in daily communication with the union forces, and there are those living who say that she has frequently shown them cipher letters which she received, and the alphabet which she used in transmitting information concerning the movements of confederate troops, and other important facts when General Grant was besieging Richmond and Petersburg. Miss Van Lew used her cipher to a good purpose, and when the general became the president of the United States he rewarded the services of the old lady by giving her the charge of the Richmond post-office; but when Hayes was elected she was displaced. About a year ago a topographical engineer named Rasloff came to Richmond and secured employment in the Richmond and Alleghany railroad company’s service. He had the best kind of letters of introduction from foreign ministers and other men of prominence. He secured rooms at Miss Van Lew’s romantic residence. Miss Van Lew has a niece who has long resided with her, and to whom she had willed all her property. The niece is named Eliza Van Lew and is the daughter of John N. Van Lew, Miss Lizzie’s brother. Rasloff had a library, which he offered to share with the pretty niece, and the books he left out for her to read treated of free love in the strongest terms. The aunt became enraged when this was discovered, and ordered Rasloff from the house. The father of the niece then obtained a warrant, in which he charged his daughter with lunacy. A commission consisting of W. E. Granger, J. D. Whitehead and R. M. Taylor, heard the case and dismissed the warrant. Rasloff then swore out a similar warrant against the aunt, and another commission, consisting of Justices W. J. Holmes, R. M. Taylor and W. H. Shields, after examining the witnesses, dismissed this also. The niece has left the city and the aunt has destroyed the will in which she bequeathed the niece all her property. Public indignation runs high against Rasloff whose doctrines are held in strong contempt here.