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Hooke family letters

Identifier: SC 0341

  • Staff Only

Scope and Content

The Hooke Family Letters, 1845-1849, comprise five letters between the Hooke family of Port Republic in Rockingham County, Virginia, and their family members in Montgomery County, Ohio. The letters, with varying legibility due to discoloration and page loss, discuss the farming conditions in Ohio as well as family updates including marriage, death, and illness. The letters were primarily penned by Archabald Hooke and occasionally on behalf of both him and his sister Sarah.

In the October 21, 1848 letter, Archabald mentions his aunt Ann Hook Thompson (1784-1870) and her move to Dayton, Ohio. In multiple letters, Archabald discussed living with an Adam Mason, the poor farming season, and the price of crops and supplies. A couple of the letters mention the illnesses of the family members in Montgomery County, Ohio, and specifically discuss James Hooke Jr.’s illness and eventual passing in 1848. There is a passing mention of Zachary Taylor’s presidential win in the November 1848 letter.


  • 1845 - 1849


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 not been transferred to the James Madison University Special Collections Library. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk (

Biographical/Historical Note

Robert “Robin” Hooke Sr. (1780-1858) was born in Cross Keys, Virginia to James (1747-1815) and Mary Houston Hook (1749-1844). Robert and his wife, Elizabeth Fisher Hooke (1801-1882), owned and lived on the Hooke property in Port Republic. Portions of the Hooke land was sold and repurchased throughout the 1800s, but the acreage on the Shenandoah River, called “Mill Creek '' remained in the family’s possession from 1741to 1904. During a partial sale of land in 1816, a quarter of an acre of land was reserved to be used as a graveyard. This cemetery plot remains on the Hooke land, now owned by James Madison University, and is where a portion of the family is buried, including Robert Hooke Sr. and Elizabeth Hooke.

Robert Hooke Sr.’s siblings, Mary Washington Hook (1778-1867) and James Hook Jr. (1785-1848) moved to Montgomery County, Ohio in 1831 after selling their share of the Virginia Hooke land. Mary and James Jr. took Robert Sr.’s young children, Archabald Hooke (1823-1877) and Sarah Hooke (1822-1872), with them on their move to Ohio. Robert Hooke Sr. remained behind in Rockingham County, Virginia to run the Hooke land. The Hooke family settled in Montgomery County, Ohio with Sarah Hooke marrying David Trissel (1826-1903) and the Hooke family descendants splitting off with some settling in Xenia, Ohio on the “Oakwood” estate.

The remaining Hooke land, including “Mill Creek”, was sold on August 15, 1929, to the State Teachers College (now James Madison University). The land was renamed College Camp during the 1929 purchase but was eventually changed to University Farm in 1977 when Madison College was renamed James Madison University. Used as a campsite for students between the 1930s to 1980s, the farmhouse itself was eventually closed for use in 1976. Now restored, the Hooke House is available for academic retreats and environmental learning opportunities for student classes and programs.

Researchers should note that the Hooke family name is variously spelled as Hooke and Hook. Seemingly changed in the latter portion of the 1800s, the spelling “Hooke” is more consistent with records surrounding the family estate. Additionally, within the archival record, Archabald Hooke is variously spelled as Archibald and Archable.


0.19 cubic feet (1 folder)

Language of Materials



The Hooke Family Letters, 1845-1849, comprise five letters between the Hooke family of Rockingham County, Virginia, and their family in Montgomery County, Ohio.


The letters are housed in one oversize folder.


Letters were found in the eaves of the Hooke house during renovations to the James Madison University farm. Dr. Carole Nash, who also serves as the chair of the JMU Farm Committee, transferred the letters to Special Collections in March 2019.

Acquisition Information

Dr. Carole Nash, associate professor of integrated science and technology at James Madison University, transferred these letters to Special Collections on March 4, 2019.

Other Formats Available

Partial transcriptions are available upon request.


  • Crowley, L. Sean. James Madison University, 1908-1909 to 1958-1959: an annotated, historical timeline. 2006.
  • “Environmental Stewardship Tour: JMU Farm - JMU.” James Madison University.
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( accessed 31 May 2022), memorial page for James Hooke Sr. (1747–1815), Find a Grave Memorial ID 121234579, citing Augusta Stone Presbyterian Church Cemetery, Fort Defiance, Augusta County, Virginia, USA; Maintained by Ken Writtenhouse (contributor 47972260).
  • “JMU Centennial Celebration - JMU University Farm.” James Madison University.
  • University Farm. Vertical File. Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA.
  • Wayland, John W. Virginia Valley records: genealogical and historical materials of Rockingham County, Virginia, and related regions (with map). Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company. 1996.

Processing Information

Letters were received in a brittle and dirty condition. They were subsequently humidified, flattened, and placed in mylar sleeves.



A Guide to the Hooke Family Letters, 1845-1849
Grace Thomsen
June 2022
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

880 Madison Drive
MSC 1704
Harrisonburg Virginia 22807
(540) 568-3612