During the Civil War, John and Benjamin Cooley – two brothers – owned Belle Grove Plantation, which they had bought on November 15, 1860. Looking at Benjamin Cooley’s 1860 census record, there was a man named Lewis Robinson, farm laborer, who we know was also a well-reputed carter in the Shenandoah Valley. And now we know that he was also Lucy’s father.
Lewis was married to an enslaved woman, with whom he had four young boys, all of whom were enslaved as well. In the 1860 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules, you can see Lewis’s wife, age 32, and their four young sons, ages 5, 4, 2, and 9 months.
Mr. Cooley owned a woman and some chil’en, but I was bound. I never was a slave. One week I’d be cookin’ at the big house, and the next week I’d be a field han’. The slave woman and I took turn about, you know. I used to drop the corn when the men were planting, and I’d help cuttin’ up com, and when they had the horse-power th’ashing I’d take the sacks off and I’d put back the chaff. I would always help in harvestin’ and such as that, and when they were extry busy at the big house I’d put in mo’ time there makin’ butter, perhaps, and washin’ and doin’ other work that needed doin’.Lucy Walker (Johnson, 1915, p. 392)
The “slave woman” to whom Lucy refers is Lewis’s wife, who was deceased by the Battle of Cedar Creek, so it’s likely that Lucy arrived on the property some time in 1861 because she wasn’t listed in any of the Cooley’s 1860 census records.
Johnson, Clifton. (1915). Battleground Adventures, the Stories of Dwellers on the Scenes of Conflict in Some of the Most Notable Battles of the Civil War. Houghton Mifflin Company.
The National Archives in Washington DC; Washington DC, USA; Eighth Census of the United States 1860; Series Number: M653; Record Group: Records of the Bureau of the Census; Record Group Number: 29
Year: 1860; Census Place: District 8, Frederick, Virginia; Roll: M653_1347; Page: 683; Family History Library Film: 805347