It is a strange tale indeed that so many writers about the ante-bellum years leading to the disastrous Civil War that killed over 600,000 African-American, Native American and White American young men:  still seem unable to understand: how goodness comes into existence beginning with conception and birth.  We dare not forget Nancy's son Thomas Findley Lee, born 1859, possibly in the Arlington White House slave quarters on  day John Brown was hanged: albeit census records indicating mother and children born in Chesterfield County.  Nancy was perhaps the first of my ancestral Lee family, before me, to read the daily newspapers, page to page as I knew my grandfather and father to do. The Lee love of reading began long before I was born and my Aunt Nancy Lee assured me that family reading even during the Civil War was always a search for knowledge.

                                                Old News - Richmond

Richmond Whig5/14/1864; description of the funeral of Gen. J. E. B. Stuart and interment in Hollywood Cemetery; gives list of pall-bearers, including Pres. Davis, many generals, and members of Congress

It matters as to who determines what sources of information to believe about Nancy and her children and the lives they lived seeing and hearing the events occurring among and around them.  They were not ignorant beings/creatures as many writers consistently conjecture about ante-bellum lives based on tales of the deep south by writers like Margaret Mitchell, and imitators often graduates of the best American schools of English literature. 

TV and movie screen writers have followed suit with characterizations of men like "Charlotte O'Hara's" beloved "Ashley" as kind and gentlemen heroic in the cause of goodness only coincidental in the death of 600,000 American young men. The denigrating portrayal of young Black men as attackers of White women rescued by men like Ashley was an amazing distortion of realties wherein there is no evidence the Union Army troops in the south ever allowed such to occur.   Again, Hollywood extracted that theme from the movie "Birth of A Nation" filmed in year 1915.

Walking each day to and from her residence in Manchester to the Robert E. Lee residence in Richmond, Nancy was able to witness the many "Gone With The Wind" "Ashley types" of family loving gentlemen who daily auctioned and sold away the husbands and children of moaning and crying slave mothers.  Richmond, for many decades was the hub of ante-bellum beliefs that fostered not only domestic slave breeding and trading but also the Civil War that would eventually end it. 

She lived inside the world of make-believers who dared to imagine slavery and selling children was somehow good, godly in theory, because devoutly religious Judeo-Christian leaders like Jefferson Davis, Judah P. Benjamin and Robert E. Lee reasoned and articulated, even debated, such to be true. She saw the first-hand hypocrisy of such men who allowed an African Church to be created in 1846 for worship but legally not allowed to have a non-White pastor until two years after the Civil War ended.  With the 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, it became legal in Virginia for White residents to teach Black preachers and others to read and write. Newspapers like the Richmond Times found great humor for their subscribers about uneducated slaves pretending to be knowledgeable preachers.     

Nancy Lee's story has never been researched or written about by mass media artists because most writers cannot conceive that ante-bellum lifestyles were as they were, including the Robert Lumpkin's Jail and Slave Trade Center in Richmond (the infamous Half-Acre of Hell).  It would not be kindly accepted  that fondly remembered Robert E. Lee sent at least two slaves from the Custis Estate in Arlington because they challenged him about their promised freedom in the Custiss will. 

Few writers dare imagine and portray Robert E. Lee as able and willing to send enslaved men to their likely torture and even death:  albeit as a soldier he did even more, fighting wars, betraying his oath of service to the U.S. Government and continuing to fight for two long years after he knew the confederate cause was lost after the battle of Gettysburg.  Nancy Lee was a bright woman and certainly must have observed this stub-born pride and character fault that existed among Virginia's best and brightest, long before the evacuation and fall of Richmond.  R.E. Lee was her employer, not her hero. 

   RICHMOND is Fallen                                                                                                                               

Nancy most likely had left the household employment by the Robert E. Lee family as the Confederate forces evacuated Richmond and the household of Robert E. Lee who by beginning of 1865 was aware the war was lost, and the family certainly had no useable money to pay Nancy for her housekeeping services. 

We believe that Nancy's brother James Lee Bannister, born abt 1824  who was a Union soldier mustered out around May 1866 was the likely source of her acquiring money to obtain or build a suitable family residence in Hallsboro area of Midlothian (about 5 miles outside Richmond) after the hostilities ended. 

They both also had Lee relatives George Lee, born abt.1805 apparently living and working as a coal miner in Midlothian. He and his family would certainly have been available to aid Nancy in her relocation from the Manchester area of Richmond.

After the Civil War, coal production in Chesterfield fell off sharply and the Midlothian coal mines never again became a truly successful business enterprise. In 1882, when an explosion at Grove Shaft led to the loss of 32 lives (a tragedy that was followed by an embezzlement scandal involving the company’s superintendent), the last large scale mining operation in Midlothian was shut down. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, efforts were made to revive Chesterfield’s mining industry, but they never attained success. During the 1880’s the population of Midlothian declined significantly. A map of Chesterfield County that was produced by J. E. LaPrade (1888) reveals that a sizeable number of structures were then present on the Mid-Lothian Coal Mining Company’s property.