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P. H. Woodward Letter

Identifier: SC 0257
  • Not requestable

  • Staff Only

Scope and Content

In this letter, written by P.H. Woodward to Mr. Lary on Exchange Hotel of Harrisonburg stationery, Woodward apologizes for the fact that he is unable to pick Lary up in Staunton. Woodward writes that he has been “as busy as a bee the last 25 days and nights,” “confined to the house day and night,” and “run all most [sic] to death.”

The letter contains an advertisement for the newly opened Exchange Hotel, describing a table, “provided with every comfort and delicacy that can be procured” a bar with “superior liquors and segars [sic]” and stables for horses. The advertisement is dated December 21, 1860.


  • circa 1860


Access Restrictions

Collection open to research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the James Madison University Special Collections Library to use this collection.

Use Restrictions

The copyright interests in this collection have been transferred to the James Madison University Special Collections Library. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk (

Bio/Historical Note

Superintendent of the hotel, P.H. (Peter Hanger) Woodward was born in 1823 near Willow Spout, and spent most of his life in Augusta County, Virginia. During his employment at the hotel, he also served as a Captain and Quartermaster for the Confederate cause, eventually rising to the rank of Major. On December 6, 1861 the Rockingham Register refers to complaints made by area farmers of the Woodward’s demands for teams of horses to carry supplies to the armies in the mountains in the northwestern Virginia: “We assure our readers that we have taken some pains to enquire into the subject, and are satisfied that Cap. Woodward is only doing what the most urgent necessities of the case require.”

The Exchange Hotel was found on “Bank Row” in Harrisonburg, and a Medical Notice in the Rockingham Register states it was located “immediately on the right [of the Exchange Bank], in the house recently occupied by B.F. Marz, dec’d.” It is inferred by this document that it opened some time in 1860.

The proprietor of the Exchange Hotel, Dr. William Williams (1820-1888), maintained a general practice at the rooms in the hotel. According to several Medical Notices in the Rockingham Register and Advertiser, Dr. Williams practiced with Dr. Gordon, and P.H. Woodward, in that in addition to his hotel duties, Woodward took messages for their office.

According to the Rockingham Register, on April 19, 1861, a large secession flag was raised “by an enthusiastic crowd” at the Exchange Hotel in honor of the surrender of Fort Sumpter. Valley Guards were on parade and “fired 100 guns.” Later that year, on December 6, 1861, Brig. General Arnold Elzey put a notice in the Rockingham Register, ordering absentees from the 10th Regiment, Va. Volunteers to report to their regiment at the Exchange Hotel, on penalty of arrest and charge of treason. That same day, the Rockingham Register stated that the Exchange Hotel “table supplied, even in these times of scarcity and dearness of provisions, with a superabundance of the very best living the country can afford.”


0.06 cubic feet (1 folder)

Language of Materials



Letter from P.H. Woodward, superintendent of the Exchange Hotel in Harrisonburg, Virginia, to Mr. Lary, written on Exchange Hotel stationery, with advertisements.


One document housed in a folder.


Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University


According to the record of sale, the letter was formerly the property of a private collector from Augusta County, Virginia.

Acquisition Information

Item was purchased at auction on November 10, 2017, from Jeffrey S. Evans and Associates (Lot #250). The seller’s description reads: “Advertisement, printed and ink manuscript, folded stationary with a full-page ad for the Exchange Hotel on verso, dated December 21, 1860, letter is signed by P.H. Woodward, Superintendent of the hotel. 1860. 7 ¾” x 9 ¼” Several small holes and two small stains.”


  • Rockingham Register and Advertiser. April 19, 1981. Accessed December 19, 2017.
  • “Medical Notice.” Rockingham Register and Advertiser. June 7, 1861. Accessed December 19, 2017.
  • “Impressment of Teams.” Rockingham Register and Virginia Advertiser. December 6, 1861. Accessed December 19, 2017.
  • “Military Notice.” Rockingham Register and Advertiser. December 6, 1861. Accessed December 19, 2017.
  • Find A Grave. “Dr. William Williams (1820-1888)”. Find a Grave Memorial no. 126382396. Accessed December 19, 2017.
  • Find A Grave. “Peter Hanger Woodward (1823-1902)” Find a Grave Memorial no. 38048682 Accessed December 19, 2017.



A Guide to the P.H. Woodward Letter, circa 1860
Sarah Roth-Mullet
December 2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the James Madison University Libraries Special Collections Repository

820 Madison Drive
MSC 1706
Harrisonburg Virginia 22807
(540) 568-3612