Valley of the Shadow
The Eve of War
Fall 1859–Spring 1861

Letters & Diaries


Joseph Waddell (1855-1861)

The Waddell family lived in Staunton in Augusta County, Virginia. Joseph Waddell, along with his uncle Lytletton Waddell and later his brother Legh, purchased the Staunton Spectator in 1848, but Joseph sold his interest in 1860. Joseph married Virginia McClung in 1853 and soon after set up their household on the farm of the widower William M. Tate. Tate’s children, Jimmy, Nanny, and Mattie, became the Waddell’s adopted children and moved with them to town when the Waddells purchased a house in 1857 with Joseph’s sister Kate. The Waddell family owned a few slaves, including their cook Selena, her husband Philip, and her daughter Jenny. Though several members of the Waddell family saw battle in the Confederate military during the Civil War, Joseph remained in Staunton, performing work for the Quartermaster Department. After the war, Joseph Waddell became active in local politics, opposing black suffrage and “negro domination.” Selena and Philip Brown remained in the Waddell household as domestic servants and Kate Waddell left to marry William M. Tate.

The following links provide access to the most likely matches in the Valley of the Shadow databases:

Waddell Household

Before the war, Waddell owned and edited a newspaper in Augusta County, Virginia, the Staunton Spectator. In the prewar entries of his diary, Joseph A. Waddell describes everyday happenings of family and community life as well as extraordinary events like feared slave uprisings.