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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Sperryville in Rappahannock County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Sister Caroline

From Slavery to Freedom

 
 
Sister Caroline Marker image. Click for full size.
January 16, 2010
1. Sister Caroline Marker
Inscription.  
Caroline Terry, known locally as “Sis-tah Cah-line” (1833-1941) was born a slave, perhaps in Southampton County, but spent most of her life in Rappahannock County. She later took the surname Terry. By 1846, Francis Millan of Culpeper had purchased Caroline, her mother Alcey, and her brother, Billy. Millan constructed the Virginia Hotel on Main Street there, then sold it in 1856 and moved to Woodville, about 5 miles south of here. In 1861, he bought the Sperryville Hotel (now Hopkins Ordinary), which still stands nearby on Main Street, and Terry likely worked there as a cook. Several Confederate officers, including Jedediah Hotchkiss, Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s cartographer, stayed there. Millan’s sons John and Henry Millan served in Co. B, 6th Virginia Cavalry, a local regiment.

During the war, Terry acquired several military relics, including an 1851 Navy Colt revolver and binoculars she took from
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the body of a soldier while she assisted with a burial. The Union Army of Virginia occupied Rappahannock County in the summer of 1862, including Sperryville and Woodville, and camped in the fields just behind you while Federal officers occupied the buildings in town. In June and July 1863, about half of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia camped here before and after the Gettysburg campaign. These occupations gave Terry several opportunities to acquire relics.

After the war, she bought a small house near the first Hopewell Baptist Church, which she helped found. Many visitors sat on her porch to listen to her stories. She is buried in the “black cemetery” on Oven Top Road a mile west of here.

Oral History: Linking Past And Present
The stories that Caroline Terry told on her porch included her sale to Francis Millan, her reputation as a good cook, and a visit of Union soldiers to her “plantation” home during the war. She also revealed one of the bleak realities of slavery: that her unusually comfortable cabin was called the “honeymoon house” for a reason. Three of her six children were
Sister Caroline Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones (CC0), April 17, 2021
2. Sister Caroline Marker
The marker has significantly weathered.
what the slaves termed “gifts of the big house,” probably fathered by Millan and one of his sons. One pregnancy occurred in 1863, when she said she took a revolver and binoculars from a dead soldier’s body and hid them under her maternity dress. Her descendants still own the relics.

 
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansWar, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails series list. A significant historical month for this entry is July 1863.
 
Location. 38° 39.486′ N, 78° 13.564′ W. Marker is in Sperryville, Virginia, in Rappahannock County. Marker can be reached from the intersection of Lee Highway (U.S. 211) and Sperryville Pike (U.S. 522). Marker is located next to a pedestrian footbridge near Main Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 12018 Lee Highway, Sperryville VA 22740, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A Hint of Total War (a few steps from this marker); Sigels' Corps (a few steps from this marker); Sperryville (within
Sister Caroline Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. J. Prats, September 25, 2010
3. Sister Caroline Marker
Marker is next to the walkway to town, which is just out of frame on the left.
shouting distance of this marker); Hopkins Ordinary (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); 48 Main Street (about 400 feet away); Medical Miracle (about 500 feet away); 33 Main Street (about 600 feet away); 31 Main Street (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Sperryville.
 
More about this marker. The upper center of the marker features two portraits captioned Caroline Terry as a young woman and Caroline Terry in old age. On the upper right of the marker is a map of Sperryville with historic sites and a portrait of Francis Millan. The sidebar inset contains photos of Caroline Terry's Colt Revolver and binoculars.
 
Also see . . .  The Journey Through Hallowed Ground. Sperryville Historic District - African American Presence (Submitted on January 16, 2010.) 
 
Union Army of Virginia Campsite image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. J. Prats, September 25, 2010
4. Union Army of Virginia Campsite
This view is north.
Sister Caroline Marker image. Click for full size.
January 16, 2010
5. Sister Caroline Marker
Looking southwest to Sperryville and Blue Ridge Mountains. Marker is to the right of the large tree.
Sperryville Hotel (Hopkins Ordinary) image. Click for full size.
January 16, 2010
6. Sperryville Hotel (Hopkins Ordinary)
Grave of Sister Caroline image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Linda Lavender, February 15, 2012
7. Grave of Sister Caroline
Sister Caroline's grave in the black cemetery on Oventop Road.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on April 19, 2021. It was originally submitted on January 16, 2010. This page has been viewed 2,285 times since then and 169 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on January 16, 2010.   2. submitted on April 19, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.   3, 4. submitted on September 30, 2010, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.   5, 6. submitted on January 16, 2010.   7. submitted on February 16, 2012, by Linda Lavender of Stafford, Virginia. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.

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Jul. 17, 2024