Angie Ingram, second from left, clerk of Mathews County Circuit Court, recently accepted the loan of a portrait, believed to be that of Captain Sally Tompkins’ mother, from the Mathews County Historical Society for display in the records room of the court. Installing the portrait were MCHS members, from left, Steve Whiteway, Reed Lawson and Graham Hood. Photo by Sherry Hamilton
A large, attractive portrait of a woman thought to be Sally Louisa Tompkins’s mother is now hanging in the records room of the Mathews County Circuit Court.
The Mathews County Historical Society owns the portrait, which is believed to be of Maria Booth Patterson Tompkins (1794-1854) of Poplar Grove. It is attributed to Richmond artist William Hubard (1807-1862).
According to information compiled by Graham Hood of the historical society and Becky Barnhardt of Mathews Memorial Library, Captain Sally Tompkins ran the Robertson Hospital for the wounded in Richmond, with great charity and personal sacrifice, for the duration of the Civil War.
Capt. Sally’s mother, Maria Tompkins, was the daughter of John Patterson, who owned Poplar Grove on the East River from about 1800 to 1824, according to Hood and Barnhardt’s research. Her mother was Elizabeth Smith Tabb. She became the second wife of Christopher Tompkins, who took over Poplar Grove after Patterson’s death.
Before he died in 1838, Tompkins was one of the richest men in Mathews, Hood said, deriving his wealth from his extensive local property. He was engaged in farming, boat-building and widespread mercantile interests.
The artist William Hubard was born in England in 1807, and came to this country at the age of 17, said Hood. As a juvenile, he was celebrated for his skill at creating portraits and scenes cut from black paper. He trained in Philadelphia with the well-known artist Thomas Sully, and after three years’ additional study in Italy, Hubard settled in Richmond about 1841, becoming one of the best artists in the region in the mid-century.