Quill Temple & Lem Stout
I would like to share a photograph that was published in The History of Doddridge County West Virginia book in 1979. It gives us a brief glimpse into the lives of two African-American families that lived in Doddridge County, one family living here as slaves before the Civil War and the other having migrated to Doddridge County at the close of the Civil War.
This photograph was loaned to Alton Childers, president of the Doddridge County Historical Society, by Moses Smith in 1979. Mr. Childers learned from long-time locals Brady Sutton, Adolphus Sutton and Mose Smith that two of the men appearing in this photo were Quill Temple and Lem Stout. Mose Smith, who was born in 1886, said, “...Quill Temple with the turkey and the rabbit hanging from the gun. Lem Stout is the man cleaning the turkey. They
worked for the Maxwells. Their house was at the mouth of Brushy Fork. Quill Temple was a great banjo picker and guitar player. I remember hearing him play the guitar and singing many a time when I was a boy…” Brady Sutton, born in 1878, added, “We used to have a fairground up above the Varnum Lowther place on Tom’s Fork. Stokes Hurst owns that land now. It had a mile long race track and a dance hall. I suppose for 20 years it was used as a race track and for fairs. At the fair Quill Temple played the banjo and sang. Mr. Maxwell always came to the fair. He enjoyed the music and the singing. Every so often he would slip Quill a quarter to keep him playing.” The aforementioned “Mr. Maxwell” was Lewis M. Maxwell, son of Franklin Maxwell and great-nephew of Congressman Lewis Maxwell, prominent Doddridge County land speculator and lawyer.
Quill Temple’s real name was Philip Sirer Temple. He was born in 1857 in Highland County, Virginia to Silas and Judah Temple. They were not enumerated in any census prior to 1870, so they were more than likely slaves of one of the several Temple slave owners in Virginia. In 1870 Philip was living in Upshur County, West Virginia with his mother, who was a servant in a hotel. In 1880 we found him living in Lewis County as a common laborer. Then on April 13, 1882 he married Julia Ann Union in West Union, Doddridge County.
Julia was the daughter of Jeremiah and Matilda Union. After his wife Matilda died, Jeremiah married Emma Jane Stout. Emma was the sister of the second person in the picture, Lem, whose real name was Leonard Stout.
Lem Stout was the son of Peter and Matilda Stout. He was born September 7, 1842 in Doddridge County, where his father was the slave of John Mackie, a prominent farmer and miller. Peter was the sole slave of the Mackie family since as early as 1830. According to the wishes of John Mackie, Peter was freed in 1854 after the death of Mary Mackie, John’s wife. The following statement is taken from the will of John Mackie, dated Feb 21 1851:
"I will and bequeath to the aforesaid Mary Mackie my slave Peter Stout to live only as a slave the natural lifetime of his mistress, Mary Mackie; and after her, Mary Mackie’s, death, I will and bequeath said slave, Peter Stout, free for life."
I found an interesting document in the Doddridge County court house that demonstrates the process that Peter Stout, a slave, had to go through in order to stay in (West) Virginia after he was emancipated. In 1806 efforts to rid the state of a population of free negroes led the Virginia General Assembly to pass a law stating that any emancipated slave freed after May 1, 1806, who remained in the Commonwealth more than a year, would forfeit their right to freedom and be sold by the Overseers of the Poor for the benefit of the poor. Any emancipated slave wishing to stay in Virginia had to file a legislative petition asking for permission to stay in the state.. Very few slaves were granted permission to do so. Beginning in 1837, freed slaves could petition the local courts of (West) Virginia for permission to remain within the confines of that county. Peter Stout therefore had to apply to the county court to stay in Doddridge County. The following entry is found in Minute Book No. 2 of Doddridge County Court, pages 367-368, dated Dec 25 1854:
"Peter Stout a free person of color this day applied to the Court for permission to remain in this state within the County of Doddridge and the Justice of the county having been previously summoned for that purpose and a majority of them being present and voting on the question Whereupon it being proved to the satisfaction of the Court that Notice of application was posted at the Court House door of this county for two months immediately preceding this date and the attorney for the Commonwealth being present and defending interest of the State and it being proven to the satisfaction of the Court that the said Peter Stout is a man of good character sober peaceable orderly and industrious It is thereupon considered by the Court that the said Peter Stout be permitted to remain in this State and reside within the County of Doddridge."
Peter Stout and his wife left Doddridge County before 1880, but their son, Lem, stayed here until 1893 when the cabin on Brushy Fork burned down. Lem and his wife, Celia, had at least 11 children and lived out their last days in Grafton. Quill Temple and his wife, Julia, divorced in 1894. Julia and their four children moved to Fairmont, where Julia died in 1924 from overexposure to the sun. Quill stayed in West Union until about 1913. He then moved to Columbus, Ohio with his new wife, Emma. I have not been able to locate a record of Quill’s death.
It's easy for us today not to appreciate the role that African-Americans played in our history. But it is clear that they were an important part of the life and culture of early Doddridge County, as exemplified by the lives of Quill Temple, Lem Stout and Lem's father Peter. We are grateful for the surviving evidence of the contributions that they made to our local history. The exact location of the 'negro cabin,' as referred to in court documents, is not known. According to an unrelated deposition, George J. Cottrill said that it was located on the Maloney property on Brushy Fork. We can only imagine what life was like living is that tiny cabin, but thanks to Moses Smith and Alton Childers, we have a snapshot of a single moment in their lives.
(NOTE: This article, written by Heritage Guild member Jennifer Wilt, originally appeared in The Doddridge Independent as part of her weekly column “Our Heritage: The REAL History of Doddridge County.”)