Finding Aid to Letter from N. Horsley to Leyburn Wilkes, May 6, 1852


2311 Memorial Avenue
Lynchburg, Virginia 24501
(434) 846-0501
Nicholas Cabell Horsley writes from Sacramento City, California, to his future
brother-in-law, Leyburn Wilkes, of Bedford County, Virginia, describing life in
Sacramento and his efforts in business in California. Also mentioned in the letter is “B.
CRENSHAW” (probably John Balda CRENSHAW) of Lynchburg, who “will soon be on
his return t the old state…and will take with him a large amount of the ‘oro’ [i.e. gold]…


2311 Memorial Avenue
Lynchburg, Virginia 24501
(434) 846-0501

Nicholas Cabell Horsley, born in 1826, was the son of John & Mary Mildred
Cabell Horsley and the grandson of William Horsley, Jr., of Nelson County, VA. After
returning from a trip to the California gold fields, he married first in 1853, Elizabeth
Wilkes, daughter of Benjamin and Matilda Duffel Wilkes, Sr., of Bedford. Secondly, he
married Nannie Deane, of North Carolina.
He purchased the Peaks of Otter Hotel from his brother-in-law, Leyburn Wilkes,
and ran it until it burned. He then operated a hotel out of his home, known as Horsley
Inn. Between 1888 and 1889, he moved to Lynchburg and ran the Horsley House at 210
Eleventh Street until his death August 1891.
[Peaks of Otter Chapter, DAR, Bedford Villages—Lost and Found, Volume 1 (Bedford, VA: B & B Printing-Adv.,
Inc., 1997); Brown, Alexander. The Cabells and Their Kin. (Franklin, NC: Genealogy Publishing Service;, 1994;
Obituary, Lynchburg Virginian, 12 August 1891, page 4, column 1; Ackerly & Parker, Our Kin. (Harrisonburg, VA:
C.J. Carrier Co., 1976.]

LEYBURN WILKES (1831-1891)
Leyburn Wilkes, the son of Benjamin & Matilda Duffel Wilkes, Sr., was born in
Virginia circa 1830. He married Elizabeth J. Owen, of Botetourt County, Virginia on 17
June 1852. Benjamin Wilkes, Sr. acquired thousands of acres of land in the area of Goode
and the Peaks of Otter during the 1850’s, and with his son, Leyburn, operated the
ordinary at the Peaks of Otter until 1857, after which Leyburn ran it alone and built the
Otter Peaks Hotel. Additions were made to the hotel, and it became known as Peaks of
Otter House and, later, Peaks of Otter Hotel. Nicholas Cabell Horsley, Benjamin’s sonin-law, bought out Leyburn’s interest in the hotel. Leyburn Wilkes was the first
postmaster of the Peaks of Otter Post Office from 25 July 1857, until it was discontinued
17 December 1860.
The 1860 US Census for Campbell County, VA, lists Leyburn as a hotelkeeper in
Lynchburg. Asbury Christian reports in Lynchburg and Its People that Leyburn Wilkes
refitted the Piedmont House in 1860. In 1870, he was a hotelkeeper in the Liberty
District of Bedford Co., and in 1880, the Forest District of Bedford Co., as a farmer.


Wilkes died on 7 April 1891 in Lynchburg, Virginia, and was buried in Presbyterian
[Peaks of Otter Chapter, DAR, Bedford Villages—Lost and Found, Volumes 1 & 2. (Bedford, VA: B & B PrintingAdv., Inc., 1997-1998); obituary, Leyburn Wilkes, Lynchburg Daily Virginian, 8 April 1891, p. 1, c. 7; 1860 US
Census, Campbell Co., VA, NAM M653, Roll # 1338; 1870 US Census, Bedford Co., VA, NAM M593, Roll #1635;
1880 US Census, Bedford Co., VA, NAM T-9, Roll #1355; Vogt & Kethley. Botetourt County Marriages, 1770-1853,
Vol. 1 (Athens, GA: Iberian Pub. Co., 1987.]

John Balda Crenshaw, the son of John & Lucy McDaniel Crenshaw, was born
c.1830. He married Mary Bell Jeter, daughter of Jesse Jeter on 18 Sept. 1861 in Bedford
County, Virginia.
Balda Crenshaw, a native of Bedford County, served there for a time as
commissioner of revenue. At the end of the Civil War in 1865 he moved to Lynchburg
and engaged in the tobacco business. He was also widely known as a tobacco auctioneer
and was a partner in Crenshaw and Company along with A.J. Camp and Thomas H.
Love. This became Crenshaw and Withers in 1868. Mr. Crenshaw was a justice of the
peace in Lynchburg for nearly 15 years and became presiding justice and was serving as
police justice at the time of his death on 22 November 1894. He was buried at
Presbyterian Cemetery, Lynchburg, VA.
[Obituary, The News (Lynchburg, VA), 23 Nov. 1894, pag]e 6, col. 3; Bureau of Vital Statistics, Marriage Records,
Bedford Co., VA, 1853-1908, Reel 6; Presbyterian Cemetery, Lynchburg, VA, Burial Records (electronic database),
Jones Memorial Library, Lynchburg, VA; Rhodes, Phillip Wayne. “Descendants of Thomas H. Love.” The Virginia
Genealogist, Vol. 35, No. 4 (Oct-Dec. 1991).]


Dublin Core


Finding Aid to Letter from N. Horsley to Leyburn Wilkes, May 6, 1852


Manuscript finding aid


Manuscript guide to a letter from Nicholas Cabell Horsley to Leyburn Wilkes during the California Gold Rush.


George M. Jones Memorial Library


George M. Jones Memorial Library




George M. Jones Memorial Library


Portable document file (pdf)






George M. Jones Memorial Library, “Finding Aid to Letter from N. Horsley to Leyburn Wilkes, May 6, 1852,” Digital Collections, accessed May 24, 2024,