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James William McBroom
March 15, 2016 - 5:12:25 a.m.

born 10 Apr 1835 Virginia, died 12 Jan 1916 Virginia, married 12 Apr 1865 Henrietta JACKSON (from Sussex County Virginia, d/o Henry Jackson & Rebecca UNKNOWN). He was raised in Prince George County Virginia, but after Civil War left his farm in ruins he took job Teaching in Russell County Virginia.

Earned Law Degree from Cumberland Law School in Tennessee in 1859 and eventually started practicing law & became a Judge.

He was a CSA, Captain of Scouts (kept Gen Robert E Lee posted on every move the enemy made) & postmaster Abington Virginia.

His brother John also fought in Civil War.

He had 7 children.

The year 1880

This is Dickenson County's Jubilee Year - Dickenson is the youngest County in the

State - 50 Years Old on February 27,1880

This is Dickenson's jubilee year, and some sort of celebration is due. A red-headed congressman may be just the thing. It was 50 years old on the 27th of February. It is the youngest county in Virginia and the only one that was created by a Re-adjuster legislature. It was formed in 1880 from parts of Russell, Wise and Buchanan and named for William J. Dickenson, a Re-adjuster, who was then representing Russell County in the legislature. Its first court was held on McClure Creek, about 20 miles from the present courthouse in Clintwood and was held in the open air with a space roped off under the trees for the bar.

One of the lawyers in attendance on that court was Judge James W. McBroom. Judge McBroom had graduated in law from Cumberland University in 1859 but after serving though the Civil War found himself with a wife and child on his ancestral plantation near Petersburg, where Grant's army had camped and left nothing but sand, clay ashes and broom straw. He left that to its fate and moved to Pulaski County to teach school for two years and then to Russell where he practiced law until shortly before his death in 1916. His daughter, after reading something in this column about the old itinerant lawyers of Southwest Virginia, wrote a most interesting letter from which I quote:

" My father obtained the federal appointment of commonwealth attorney for Russell and Buchanan counties (there was no Dickenson then) and moved over into what was then the backwoods. He had a regular itinerary - Russell one week, Buchanan one, Wise one, 40 miles each way over almost road-less mountains and altogether bridge-less streams that had to be swum or forded. For four years the appointment lasted, then he was elected for four more years to the same office and was judge of the county court for forty years, practicing in all more than 40 years in the section you wrote of. So, you can readily see how your article on the lawyers of the Southwest touched me as I grew up among them. How anxious we used to be when heavy rains came for fear the streams would rise before he could get home! I remember once when he was late and it was very cold holding the light while mother knocked the frozen mud and ice off his stirrups before he could dismount. How we children watched the far-away place in the road where we could first see "Nellie Gray", the white horse that carried him through the war and helped to make a living for his family afterwards. I remember also that the visiting lawyers were always entertained for dinner and supper. My father signed the decree for the first wagon road ever to be made in Buchanan County and was at the first court ever held in Dickenson County. He once made a trip through "The Breaks" and his description of it was fascinating. Near "The Breaks" lived an old man named Daniel Matney, a pioneer hunter, whom we used to love to see coming for the wonderful tales he told us and for the maple sugar and dried deer hams that he would ride three days every year to bring Father because of a small favour done him one time in a bounty suit over his land."

Both lawyer Park and Norman, who had been the only two resident lawyers left living in the county, had moved away from the county when Judge Kilgore convened the first term of his court for Wise County, and there was no lawyer residing in the county that Judge Kilgore could appoint as commonwealth attorney, as provided by the new constitution. So, the county again had to go outside of its territory to find a commonwealth attorney. James W. McBroom of Lebanon, Russell County, was in attendance upon the court that Judge Kilgore had convened for Wise County, and had qualified to practice law in his court. Judge Kilgore selected Mr. McBroom as a man suitable to fill the position of commonwealth attorney of the county and appointed him as such, to serve until the next election to elect a commonwealth attorney, and he so qualified.

An election was held in November, 1870 (of the same year), and James W. McBroom was a candidate to succeed himself as commonwealth attorney for Wise and Buchanan counties, and was elected and duly qualified. After his election and qualification it was discovered that the laws existing at the time of his election provided that an official must reside in the county for which he was elected.

Mr. McBroom at the time of his election resided in Russell County. A special act of legislature was passed on January 25, 1871, validating the election of Mr. McBroom as commonwealth attorney and allowing him to serve his term of office as such.

Judge James W. McBroom, a soldier, lawyer and jurist and fourth commonwealth attorney for Wise County in order of service, was a democrat and was born April 10, 1835 in Prince George County, Virginia and died in Abingdon, Virginia, January 12, 1916. His grandfather, James McBroom, came direct to America from Scotland, about the year 1760 and settled in Dinwiddie County, Virginia. He married Sarah Draper, daughter of David Draper, who came from Scotland at the same time that the McBrooms came. Judge McBroom's father was John McBroom, of Prince George County, Virginia. His mother was Sarah Daniel of Prince George County, whose father, William Daniel, was killed in the War of 1812. Judge McBroom came of pure Scotch blood on the paternal side and of English descent on the maternal side. He attended the University of Virginia and afterwards graduated from the law school at Cumberland University, Lebanon, Tennessee in 1858.

On the 6th day of May, 1861 he volunteered his services to the State and was commissioned first lieutenant of a company known as the "Prince George Rifles". This commission was issued by Governor Letcher. The Company afterwards became Company e of the 6th Virginia Battalion *, CSA, with which command he served until January 1862, when he was elected captain of a battery of artillery and assigned to duty and stationed at Stone House Wharf on James River, where he and his command were engaged in planting torpedoes in the river to prevent enemy gunboats from reaching the city of Richmond. He served in this branch of the army until 1864, when the Federals had crossed to the south- side of the James River and laid siege to the city of Petersburg. Being thoroughly acquainted with that part of the country, he was appointed Captain of Scouts by General Henry A. Wise, in which capacity he served until the surrender at Appomattox, April 9, 1865.

In this service he had many hair-breadth escapes from capture and death. For his able service in this capacity he was highly honoured and commended by his superior officers, including Robert E. Lee. His subordinates were devoted to him as a leader and took great pleasure in carrying out his daring schemes. He was a soldier of fine courage and a man of cool and deliberate judgement, which traits enabled him to extricate himself from the many perilous places in which he was placed in performing the duties assigned him. He spent many days and nights in rear of the Federal Army, wading through swamps and almost impenetrable thickets of grape vines, bamboo briers and brush, gathering information as to the movements, strength and design of the Federals. By his untiring devotion to his duty, his aptitude to gather every bit of information in the country and give it proper weight in the development of the enemy's plans of attack and defence, General Lee was kept fully informed of every move of his antagonist.

Thomas W. Colley, one of Judge McBroom's fellow comrades and a member of "Wm. E. Jones Camp No. 709", in speaking of Judge McBroom's narrow escapes while in the line of duty, refers to one instance which was not only daring but one among the most romantic incidents of the Civil War.

"On one of his scouting expeditions, with only a handful of men, he approached a farm house where he hoped to gain information. Just as he reached the yard on one side of the building, a young lady stepped to the veranda and told him the other side of the yard was filled with Yankee soldiers. Just at this moment the federal soldiers appeared and were met with a volley from the Judge and his men and some interesting moments were spent in the contest for supremacy. This young woman stood on the veranda and witnessed the contest, which soon resulted in the retreat of the Federal soldiers and the triumph of the cause that was dear to every southern woman. There was but a moment between the warning given by this true daughter of the South and the sharp crack of pistols and guns, the rattle of sabres and the clatter of the retreating cavalry. But in this brief moment the soldier's heart was touched by a subtle power for the records show that on the 12th day of April, 1865, Miss Henrietta Jackson, a native of Sussex County, Virginia became the bride of James William McBroom, the confederate scout; and through all the trying years of reconstruction  and the trials that have intervened since the downfall of the Confederacy, she was a true and loyal wife, and in every contest she was a wise and careful advisor and an inspiration to press on in the struggle of noble ambitions".

The close of the war found Judge McBroom with but little of this world's goods, and he taught school for a few years and then came to Southwest Virginia and settled in Russell County. Here he commenced the practice of law and attended the courts of surrounding counties. His sterling qualities attracted the attention of a high class of litigants and he obtained a liberal patronage.

When he was commonwealth attorney of Wise County, he demonstrated his ability as an attorney by making the law a terror to its violators and a protection to those who obeyed it. In recognition of his capabilities and fairness, he was made a judge of the County of Russell and served as such with great ability for a number of years. Here his executive qualities showed to excellent advantage and he dispatched business in a most commendable manner. While acting in this capacity, he was called to hold several terms of the Washington County Court and was commended for his capacity, firmness and fairness. Soon after this, in 1893, he removed to Washington County and purchased the farm of the late George W. Hopkins, where he engaged in farming and milling. He continued the practice of his profession for a number of years and was often called upon by his old clients to represent their interests in the counties where he had formerly practiced. He was looked upon as one of the most successful attorneys that practiced in the federal courts at this place.

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