Raphael M. Conn's Grave

Raphael M. Conn (1805–1887)

Raphael M. Conn voted twice for secession at the Convention of 1861. Conn lived near the town of Mount Jackson in Shenandoah County and held a series of local offices, including militia officer, justice of the peace, and sheriff. He represented the county in the House of Delegates from 1838 to 1841. A secessionist, Conn was elected by a large majority as one of his county's representatives to the convention called to consider Virginia's course of action during the secession crisis. He was one of only fifteen delegates representing constituencies west of the Blue Ridge Mountains who voted in favor of secession when the first vote failed on April 4. He voted for session again on April 17, when the measure passed the convention. Conn commanded the 43rd Virginia, a regiment of volunteers, early in the American Civil War (1861–1865) and served as the county clerk from 1863 to 1865. He died in Warren County in 1887. MORE...

 

Conn was born on November 13, 1805, in Jefferson County and was the son of Richard Isaacs Wilkes Conn and Priscilla Morgan Conn. Little is known of his early life and education, except that his father died when he was six years old. Conn executed a marriage bond in Page County on February 23, 1835, and on that date or soon thereafter married Ann Eliza Almond, who died on October 30, 1836. They had one daughter. On June 24, 1841, Conn married Sibelia A. J. Ladd, of Henrico County. Of their four sons and two daughters, only two sons and one daughter survived childhood. Sibelia Conn died of bronchial consumption, probably tuberculosis, on December 31, 1853, and on December 8, 1859, Conn married Mary E. Russell, of Frederick County. They had one son before she died on July 6, 1871.

Conn lived near Mount Jackson, in Shenandoah County, and in 1831 inherited two tracts of land in Page County from the paternal uncle for whom he had been named. Conn's long public career began with an appointment as deputy sheriff of Shenandoah County on March 12, 1832. The following year he was both deputy sheriff and deputy coroner. Conn served as an officer in the 13th Regiment of the Virginia militia, by September 1832 until August 1833 as major, from August 12, 1833, to April 11, 1835, as lieutenant colonel, and after that date as colonel. Offended by the General Assembly's promotion of the regiment's much-younger and less-experienced lieutenant colonel to command of the brigade, Conn resigned his commission on January 21, 1854.

Between 1838 and 1841 Conn represented Shenandoah County for four consecutive one-year terms in the House of Delegates, where he sat at various times on the committees on Agriculture and Manufactures, on Militia Laws, on Trade and Mechanic Arts, to Examine the Enrolled Bills, and to Examine the Public Armory. He became a Shenandoah County justice of the peace on January 13, 1842, and served consecutive two-year terms as sheriff beginning in June 1852. Conn was a founding director and superintendent of the Mount Jackson Manufacturing Company, a woolen manufactory incorporated in 1848 and also authorized to cast farming tools, ironware, machinery, and stoves. He paid taxes on four slaves in 1850 and a decade later owned one, a sixteen-year-old male slave whom he probably hired out.

Campaigning as a secessionist who believed prompt action was required to protect Virginia's rights, Conn won election by a large majority on February 4, 1861, as one of two delegates representing Shenandoah County in the state convention called to debate the issue of secession. He spoke only once on the convention floor, to seek clarification of a procedural question. Conn voted for secession on April 4, and again on April 17, signed the Ordinance of Secession, and returned to Richmond for the second and third sessions in June and November 1861. He delivered a compelling speech at Columbia Furnace, near Woodstock, in May 1861 while trying to raise a volunteer company for Confederate service. On June 11 he received a gubernatorial appointment as colonel in the Provisional Army of Virginia. Conn's command, the 43rd Virginia Volunteers, was stationed at Winchester on September 30 of that year, but none of its muster rolls or other records survive. He had begun serving as Shenandoah County clerk by October 1863 and the following year was elected to fill the post for a term ending on July 1, 1870, but he stepped down in 1865.

After the Civil War, Conn farmed approximately 310 acres in Shenandoah County and served as trustee of the Green Hill Academy. The absence of his name from local records after 1880 suggests he may have left the county to live with one or more of his children. Conn died at the Warren County residence of his daughter on March 31, 1887. He was buried in Green Hill Cemetery, in Luray, Page County.

Time Line

  • November 13, 1805 - Raphael M. Conn is born in Jefferson County. He is the son of Richard Isaacs Wilkes Conn and Priscilla Morgan Conn.
  • 1831 - Raphael M. Conn inherits two tracts of land in Page County from the paternal uncle for whom he was named.
  • March 12, 1832 - Raphael M. Conn is appointed deputy sheriff of Shenandoah County. Within a year he is also deputy coroner.
  • September 1832 - By this date, Raphael M. Conn is serving as a major in the 13th Regiment of the Virginia militia.
  • August 12, 1833 - Raphael M. Conn is promoted to lieutenant colonel in the 13th Regiment of the Virginia militia.
  • February 23, 1835 - Raphael M. Conn executes a marriage bond in Page County. On this day or soon after he marries Ann Eliza Almond. They will have one daughter.
  • April 11, 1835 - Raphael M. Conn is promoted to colonel in the 13th Regiment of the Virginia militia.
  • October 30, 1836 - Ann Eliza Almond Conn, the wife of Raphael M. Conn, dies.
  • 1838–1841 - Raphael M. Conn, a Democrat, serves four consecutive one-year terms in the House of Delegates, representing Shenandoah County.
  • June 24, 1841 - Raphael M. Conn and Sibelia A. J. Ladd, of Henrico County, marry. They will have four sons and two daughters, of whom three children will survive to adulthood.
  • January 13, 1842 - Raphael M. Conn becomes a Shenandoah County justice of the peace.
  • April 1, 1848 - The General Assembly incorporates the Mount Jackson Manufacturing Company, a woolen manufactory in Shenandoah County. The three named founders are Joseph S. Pennybacker, William Sigler, and Raphael M. Conn.
  • June 1852 - Raphael M. Conn becomes sheriff of Shenandoah County, serving two consecutive two-year terms.
  • December 31, 1853 - Sibelia A. J. Ladd Conn, the second wife of Raphael M. Conn, dies of bronchial consumption.
  • January 21, 1854 - Raphael M. Conn resigns his commission in the 13th Regiment of the Virginia militia when he is passed over for promotion.
  • December 8, 1859 - Raphael M. Conn marries his third wife, Mary E. Russell, of Frederick County. They will have one son.
  • February 4, 1861 - Raphael M. Conn, of Shenandoah County, wins election as a pro-secession delegate to the Convention of 1861.
  • April 17, 1861 - Raphael M. Conn, of Shenandoah County, votes with the majority for secession at the Convention of 1861.
  • May 1861 - Raphael M. Conn delivers a compelling speech at Columbia Furnace, near Woodstock, while trying to raise a volunteer company for Confederate service.
  • June 11, 1861 - Governor John Letcher appoints Raphael M. Conn a colonel in the Provisional Army of Virginia.
  • September 30, 1861 - The 43rd Virginia Volunteers, under the command of Colonel Raphael M. Conn, is stationed at Winchester.
  • October 1863 - By this date, Raphael M. Conn has begun serving as Shenandoah County clerk.
  • 1864 - Raphael M. Conn is elected clerk of Shenandoah County for the term ending on July 1, 1875. He steps down in 1865, however.
  • July 6, 1871 - Mary E. Russell Conn, the third wife of Raphael M. Conn, dies.
  • March 31, 1887 - Raphael M. Conn dies at the Warren County resident of his daughter. He is buried in Green Hill Cemetery, in Luray, Page County.

References

Further Reading
Crofts, Daniel W. Reluctant Confederates: Upper South Unionists in the Secession Crisis. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989.
Dew, Charles B. Apostles of Disunion: Southern Secession Commissioners and the Causes of the Civil War. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2001.
Lankford, Nelson D. Cry Havoc! The Crooked Road to Civil War, 1861. New York: Viking, 2007.
Link, William A. Roots of Secession: Slavery and Politics in Antebellum Virginia. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003.
Moore, Craig S. "Conn, Raphael M." In the Dictionary of Virginia Biography, Vol. 3, edited by Sara B. Bearss, et al., 400–401. Richmond: Library of Virginia, 2006.
Cite This Entry
  • APA Citation:

    Moore, C., & the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. Raphael M. Conn (1805–1887). (2014, August 21). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Conn_Raphael_M_1805-1887.

  • MLA Citation:

    Moore, Craig and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. "Raphael M. Conn (1805–1887)." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 21 Aug. 2014. Web. READ_DATE.

First published: April 14, 2014 | Last modified: August 21, 2014