Before the year 1800, Staunton was thronged every summer and fall with people going to and returning from “The Springs.” The Warm and Sweet Springs were then much frequented by invalids and pleasure seekers.
Dr. William Boys, long a prominent physician in Staunton, and the first physician of the Western Lunatic Asylum, came here from Philadelphia about the beginning of the last century, having received his professional education in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was a cousin of John Boys, heretofore mentioned and their wives were sisters, daughters of Alexander St. Clair.*
From the books of the commissioners of the revenue for the year 1800, we obtain some interesting facts. The number of tithables in the county, including Staunton, was 3,236. The number of horses was 6,088. The cattle were not listed. Four-wheeled riding carriages were taxed, but gigs were not; and the number of the former in the county was exactly two, viz: Thomas Martin’s “stage”, and Archibald Stuart’s “chariot.” The total tax was $1,557.78.
Twenty-five merchants doing business in the county, paid license tax the same year, and among them appear the still familiar names of John McDowell, Jacob Swoope, Andrew Barry, John Wayt, Joseph Cowan, Alexander St. Clair, Peter Hanger and others.
Joseph Cowan was a conspicuous citizen of the county for many years, although he never held any public office, except that of treasurer of the Western Lunatic Asylum. He was a native of the north of Ireland, and possessed all the characteristics of his race in a prominent degree. There was no bank in Staunton during his time, and he acted as banker for many citizens of the county. His store was a
*Another daughter of Alexander St. Clair was the wife of Captain Robert Williamson, a sea captain in the mercantile service, and by birth a Scotchman. Captain Williamson spent most of his life on the ocean, voyaging to and from China, Archangel, and other foreign countries. His family resided in Philadelphia till the war of 1812 banished trading vessels from the sea. He then removed to Staunton and engaged in merchandising, in partnership, at different times, with Mr. Cowan and Captain John C. Sowers. He is described as a man of vigorous mind, exemplary character, and ardently religious. His death occurred in 1823.
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Edited Annals of Augusta County,Virginia, from 1726 to 1871 copyright © 2006-2017 by EagleRidge Technologies, Inc..