From the Saline County Journal (Salina, Kan.), 5/25/1871, p. 1, c. 5
Virginia – Some of its Former Great Men.
George Alfred Townsend has been collecting some facts about the disfranchised rebels of the South, and of Virginia in particular, which he prints in the Chicago Tribune. He estimates the whole number of the disfranchised now at 160,000, some 15,000 having been exempted by act of Congress, and 10,000 by act of God – that is by death. Virginia and North Carolina are each reckoned as having 20,000, Georgia 18,000, Alabama 15,000, Tennessee 14,000, South Carolina, Mississippi and Texas each 12,000, Louisiana 10,000, Arkansas and Missouri each 8,000, and so on. He has much to say of the poverty of the once wealthy class of slave-holders, and believes that, as things now are, Georgia is the richest of the reconstructed States. He thinks that but for the accident of a few pushing men being from Georgia with capital, Virginia would still be the controlling State of the South. The only towns in the South which have developed since the war have been Atlanta and Richmond, the latter contriving to rebuild all its burnt district better than before; while Atlanta, chiefly through railroad projects has risen from a third rate southern town to one of the second rate cities. In Richmond live three of the four richest men of Virginia, under the new order of things; for it seems, there are but four men in the whole State who have the reputation of owning more than $250,000 in money, lands, or any other property. These men are William T. Southerlin of Danville, James Thomas of Richmond, Joseph Anderson of Richmond, and Franklin Stearns of Richmond. Southerlin owns a number of first-class tobacco plantations, and is a tobacco manufacturer. He lives in one of the residences of the South, completed during the war, and is supplied with gas made upon his own premises. Thomas is worth about $150,000, rather less than the Danville man. Anderson is worth half a million of dollars, and he made most of it during the war casting cannon. Frank Stearns is a native of New England, and went to Richmond early in life as a canal digger, was loyal through the war, and would never keep in his possession any rebel money, but took all the scrip he could get and planted it in the southern lands, so that when the war closed, and scrip was a little worse than brown paper, he possessed all the land of the rebels within fifteen or twenty miles of Richmond.
In contrast with these men, we are told of the old senators, R. M. T. Hunter and James M. Mason, who are in poverty. Hunter, who is now sixty-two, is living where he was born, on his estate in Essex county, on the west side of the Rappahannock river, fifty miles from any town worthy the name, possessed of from two thousand to three thousand acres of land, and yet overwhelmed with debt. Mason, who is a dozen years older, lives now three miles west of Alexandria, upon a farm of 200 acres, demented in mind and perishing in body. He spends his time sitting in a large arm-chair, watching his chickens and pigs, and dictating letters to his eldest daughter who acts as his amanuensis. Mason has just enough to relieve his closing years from wants. He is too old and too infirm to have anything further to say about public affairs, in which, of course, he still takes and interest.* James A. Sedden [Seddon], rebel secretary of war, lives in Goochland county, midway between Charlottesville and Richmond. He has been quiet since the war, and practiced law in Richmond and the surrounding region. Thomas S. Bocock, now 59 years of age, lives in Lynchburg, and suffers somewhat from his extravagant habits of life, in which he is said to be exceptional, as the mass of leading Virginia politicians were temperate men in eating and drinking, including even Henry A. Wise, who abides now in a semi-lunatic state at Richmond, but is still a frugal liver. A more important person than any of these is that brave fighter and capable officer, Gen. Mahone, who is at the head of the Virginia and Southern rail road system, a small, attenuated man, with the heart of a lion, who is looked upon as one of the most powerful men of the South. He figured in one of the most terrible panics of the war, as for example at the blowing up of the fort below Petersburg, where he led the way into the hollow created to redeem the rebel line, but never carried a sword or pistol during the whole war and went at the head of his troops with nothing in his pockets and nothing in his hands. His only weapon was his indomitable nature and determination to be a leader. He was too weak to wield a sword had he possessed one, and he always forgot the pistol. Mahone is said to have been, until very recently, more of a republican than a democrat, but the continuation of partisan government and federal interference over the South has made him more bitter than he was five years ago. In this respect he is like a great many of his brethren among the Southern rebels, we suspect.
*Mr. Mason died almost three weeks ago.