Commonwealth’s Attorney Peter Luke recently happened upon a cache of Confederate money and a note with an intriguing message.
He was seeking real estate records to document property acquired by Rappahannock County for a report he’s compiling when he discovered $150 in Confederate notes in $5 to $50 denominations. They were in a safe-deposit box of Union First Market Bank, the former Rappahannock National Bank. Now on U.S. 211 just outside Washington, the bank was originally located in town, across from the courthouse on Gay Street. Luke said the bills may have originally been in a safe of the clerk of the circuit court’s office and were moved sometime later to the bank.
He said notepaper wrapped around the money said, “May 18, 1866 handed me by Major Turner $100 in Confederate. But which has grown by contributions from benevolent persons to $150.”
The currency had a notation that they could be redeemed “two years after a peace treaty” was concluded between the Union and the Confederacy, Luke said.
In a separate cache, Luke said, were $400 in Confederate bills that apparently came from R.M. Heterick, who was both clerk of the circuit court and clerk of the board of supervisors during that period.
The sum was the amount he was paid during the war, Luke said. For some reason, he decided to return a year’s worth of pay to the county’s coffers. The note accompanying the bills that mentions “for a year’s allowance to him as clerk during the war” is dated Dec. 5, 1870.
“What’s the story behind that? I couldn’t find any reference in the board of supervisors records,” Luke said.
The notes are hand-signed, and appear to be in fairly good condition.
Luke said he will look into the value of the Confederate currency by having an appraiser examine the find. It will be up to the board of supervisors to decide what to do with it.
Luke also found $1,180 in Confederate currency that was deposited with the clerk of courts as a result of the case of Hamilton Fletcher v. Robert Whitescarver and Lafayette Browning. Fletcher won the case and a note dated 1875 says the money awarded in the judgment was passed to an M.J. Lillard, as best as Luke said he could make out from the handwriting.
The money was never collected.
“Documents are missing and some of the documents are faded and the handwriting is not very good,” Luke said.
Any heirs of Lillard would be entitled to the money but “a lot of legal work would be ahead” before it could be claimed, Luke said.