The Resource George Chahoon papers

George Chahoon papers

George Chahoon papers, 1870-1934
George Chahoon papers
Inclusive dates
Papers, 1870-1934, relating to George Chahoon (1840-1934) of Richmond, Virginia, and Clinton County, New York, regarding his term as the military-appointed mayor of Richmond and its ending in confrontation with Henry Keeling Ellyson (1823-1890), the popularly elected mayor and in the collapse of the court room gallery in the state capitol building. Papers include an oath, 8 February 1870, signed by Chahoon; an account of the conflict between Chahoon and his police force with Ellyson and his police force and the collapse of the gallery; and an obituary, 30 July 1934, of Chahoon recounting his time as Richmond mayor and the collapse
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Biographical or historical data
George Chahoon was born 2 February 1840 in Chenango County, New York, to John Chahoon (1808-1881) and Temperance Jaemson Chahoon. Shortly after his birth, the family moved to Botetourt County, Virginia. He probably attended private schools. Chahoon studied law and when the Civil War began, he moved to Washington D.C. and became a Treasury Department clerk. Returning to Virginia, first to Norfolk, then Elizabeth City County, and finally Richmond, Chahoon held a variety of federal and state offices. Chahoon was appointed mayor of Richmond by the military government in 1868 and he began removing Confederate sympathizers from office and he replaced white police officers with African Americans. When Reconstruction ended in Virginia in 1870, Governor Gilbert Walker declared all municipal offices empty and elections were held. Henry Keeling Ellyson was elected mayor, but Chahoon refused to surrender the office. Conflict between Chahoon and his police force and Ellyson and his eventually found its way to the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. When the court heard the case, the room was so packed that the gallery collapsed, killing about 60 people. The court later found in favor of Ellyson and Chahoon was removed from office and later convicted of forgery. Pardoned by Governor Walker, reportedly on condition that Chahoon leave the state, he moved to New York. There he ran a foundry and a pulp and paper mill owned by his wife's family. Chahoon served in the New York state senate from 1895 to 1900. After 1890 he never held public office, but remained active in local and state politics. Chahoon married Mary Jane Rogers (1840-1887) 24 September 1867, and they had three children. He married Christiana (1852-1903) Van Allen in 1898. Chahoon died 29 July 1934 in Clinton County and was buried in Fairview Cemetery in that county.
Cataloging source
George Chahoon papers
  • The Library of Virginia
Governing access note
There are no access restrictions
Immediate source of acquisition
Wickham, Sommer
Type of unit

Library Locations

    • Library of VirginiaBorrow it
      800 East Broad Street, Richmond, VA, 23219, US
      37.5415632 -77.4360805
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