Delia Adalaide churchill bucktrout



    Delia Adalaide Churchill Bucktrout, born May 5, 1847, was the only surviving child of Richard Manning Bucktrout and Adelia Adalaide Churchill.  She was to live a long life, beginning in troubled times with the question of slavery becoming a source of trouble between the states, and was a very spoiled child.

    Delia and her friend Marian Bowden were both sent to the Young Ladies Academy in Williamsburg.  Marian was an avid student but Delia only thought of playing hooky with her little maid, Susanna.

    Young Delia was only 10 when her father Richard Manning Bucktrout remarried to Celestia Lindsay.  Two children were born the Celestia: Mary Elizabeth and Horatio Nelson.  Life was dull and boring for Delia and her half sister and brother during the years of civil strife as questions of slavery continued to cause unrest.

    War broke out in 1861, and in 1862 the war moved from the south to the east coast.  One of four armies was to head up the peninsula from Norfolk, now in Federal hands, and Williamsburg was right in their path.  Confederates were unable to stop them in the pouring rain in the Battle of Williamsburg on May 5 (Delia’s birthday).  As the smoke, the roar, and the smell of gunpowder faded, the federals marched through town to establish a line west of the college.  Shopkeepers and residents watched from their locked houses.  Delia is said to have spit at them from the Bucktrout porch on Duke of Gloucester St.

    1865 saw all Federal forces concentrated for a final attack on Richmond.  As the Federals moved up toward heavily guarded Richmond, the Bucktrouts worried about their many relatives in the area.  Somehow Delia, perhaps in carrying food packets, was soon involved in carrying secret messages and mail sewn into her petticoats to be smuggled through the blockade to Confederate authorities in Richmond.

The full story has not been cleared up but the following is Evidence:


Williamsburg, VA Aug. 19, 1912

This is to certify that I drove the team of horses conveying Miss Delia Bucktrout, now Mrs. Henry Braithwaite, when she ran the blockade from Williamsburg to Richmond.  She carried mail and two trunks belonging to Confederate soldiers.  At this time the Yankees were in Williamsburg and it was hard to get the mail through their lines.  On this her last trip she stayed in the Confederate lines until the close of the war.  On one occasion, she was arrested at the home of Miss Betsy Kirby by cavalry that had captured the mail conveyed by her to Indian Fields, on the York River.  She was taken to Yorktown and tried by Col. Keys and was to have been tried again when she ran the blockade just mentioned above.  Mrs. Blans, the wife of the Rev. Jno. Blans and other ladies used to collect the mail and bring it to her father Mr. Richard M. Bucktrout.

                                                          A.D. West

State of Virginia

        County of York to Wit:

I, Geo. E. Bryan, a Justice of the Peace for the County of York in the State of Virginia, do certify A.D. West whose name is signed to the foregoing writing bearing the date on the 19th day of Aug. 1912 has acknowledged the same before me in my County aforesaid.

Given under my hand this 4th day of Sept. 1912

                                                        Geo. E. Bryan

    It has been suggested that Delia may have met William Henry Braithwaite, a Confederate officer and her future husband, at this time.  Richmond was captured and Lee surrendered on April 9, 1865.  Delia was in Richmond with her friend Marian Bowden and is said to have danced in the square with joyous crowds, all glad that the war had ended.

    December 27, 1865, Delia and her Confederate sweetheart, William Henry Briathwaite, were married at the Bucktrout’s and her father gave them two of his lots on Francis Street east of the Chiswell place that his father had bought around 1771.  This was across from the Nelson-Galt House.  William Henry was thought to have built their home, a large Greek Revival building to be affectionately named “The Homeplace” later by their grandchildren.  All of their children were born here as well as some of their grandchildren.  Pastures and woods extended behind the Homeplace to graveyard hill and a ravine.  Horses were kept in these pastures for Bucktrout’s funeral carriages.

    Delia and William Henry had their first son, William Henry Braithwaite Jr., in 1867.  The year of our Alaska purchase.  Their second son, Richard Manning Braithwaite, in 1868 who later died in 1869.  Another Braithwaite son, Thomas Nelson, was born in 1871 to die the same year.  Four girls were born next at two year intervals. Minnie Galt 1874, Virginia Bruce 1876, Rachel Maud 1878, and Louise Corcoran 1880.  More children were born at the Braithwaite home between 1882 and 1886.  Richard Manning and Benjamin Earnshaw, twins in 1882.  Of the two, only Richard Manning survived.  Ruth May was born in 1884; Frances Burch in 1886 and died the same year; Bertha Adelia, the youngest, was born in 1888.  Twelve children in all, eight survived.

    Delia at 46 took over management of their store and undertaking business next door.  She wanted to hang onto this family business until her half brother Horation, 22, and her son, Richard Manning Braithwaite, could manage it.

    She resented the fact that most of her children were girls and told them so.  “Why weren’t you boys!” she would complain.  “Men can amount to something.”  She would often add: “I would be so happy if I had six sons to carry my coffin to my grave.”  Her cousin Staunton Moore, now a Richmond merchant, had six sons!

   Delia died on December 12, 1918 in Williamsburg, James City County.