Varner Family Papers

SC# 3035

Carrier Library, James Madison University
Harrisonburg, VA 22807

Compiled by Jere Suter, March 1991

Edited July, 2008


Scope & Content
This collection consists of one legal sized Hollinger box containing a variety of documents pertaining to the Varner family in Page County, Virginia, 1807-1933.

The Varner papers include personal letters, legal documents and a small collection of documents relating to the family distillery business. The Varner family is of German descent, and their name appears as early as 1801 on records of the Antioch Christian Church near Stony Man Creek, Virginia.

Series 1, Letters, contains documents from relatives of the Varners in the Midwest and from other family members within Virginia. Most of these documents date from the latter half of the 19th century. In general these letters discuss health, the weather and farming; however, there are several accounts relating to the Civil War and its devastating effects on the family.

Series 2, Legal Documents, contains a thorough collection of tax receipts dating from 1803-1930; several papers pertaining to John Varner's duties as an executor; a folder of receipts for various financial transactions; and, among other papers in the miscellaneous folder, a Confederate States of America Bond. Despite wide-spread anti-liquor sentiment in the Shenandoah Valley in the 19th century, the Varners operated a distillery. Documentary evidence of the business begins in 1869 and includes state permits to distill, Internal Revenue "Distillery Gauger" forms and several orders for brandy.

Strickler, Harry M. A Short History of Page County Virginia. Richmond, VA: Dietz Press, Inc., 1952, p.260.
Lambert, Darwin S. The Undying Past of Shenandoah National Park. Boulder, CO: Roberts Rinehart, Inc. Publishers in cooperation with the Shenandoah Natural History Association, 1989, p.132-133.

This collection is on deposit from the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society.


Series 1: Letters 1816-1910
Folder 1 Letters from Virginia, 1816-1865, 45 items
Folder 2 Letters from Virginia, 1866-1933, and undated, 56 items
Folder 3 Letters from the Midwest, 1840-1869, 54 items
Folder 4 Letters from the Midwest, 1870-1910, and undated, 43 items

Series 2: Legal Documents 1804-1931
Folder 5 Tax Receipts, 1804-1930
Folder 6 Executor Documents, 1822-1836
Folder 7 Financial Documents, 1807-1931, and undated.
Folder 8 Miscellaneous Documents, 1823-1910, including a daybook of Emanuel Varner, 1857-1865 and a Merchant & Trader's Daily Companion from 1774, with pages glued in and notes in the margins.

Series 3: Distillery Papers 1869-1893
Folder 9 Distillery Papers, 1869-1893