Skip to main content

Black, Harvey, 1827-1888



  • Existence: 1827 - 1888

Biographical Note

Harvey Black (1827-1888) was a native of Blacksburg and a grandson of town founder John Black. (Harvey Black did not use the e in his given name, but as an adult he regularly signed his name as H. Black and he was almost always identified publicly as Harvey Black.) After attending local schools, he began studying medicine under two local doctors. In 1847, he volunteered to serve in the Mexican War in the 1st Regiment Virginia Volunteers; three months later, he was made a hospital steward. He entered medical school at the University of Virginia in 1848 and graduated in June 1849. That fall, he took a four-month journey, on horseback, from western Virginia through the upper Mid-West as far west as Iowa. He decided to settle in Blacksburg and opened a medical practice there in 1852. The same year, he married Mary Kent of Blacksburg.

On August 2, 1861, Harvey Black was appointed regimental surgeon in the 4th Virginia, 1st Brigade, known as the Stonewall Brigade. John Apperson, who had enlisted with the Smyth Blues of Smyth County, Virginia, in April 1861, was appointed hospital steward under the command of Harvey Black in March 1862. Black and Apperson served together with the 4th regiment until late 1862. They provided medical care to the wounded at first Manassas, second Manassas, and the Battle of Fredericksburg. In late 1862, Black was appointed surgeon of the field hospital of the Second Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, and brought Apperson with him. Both served in this hospital until the end of the war, taking care of recuperating soldiers who were wounded of the Second Corps' major engagements, including the Battle of Chancellorsville in 1863 and the Spotsylvania Campaign in 1864. Black assisted Hunter Holmes McGuire with the amputation of Stonewall Jackson's arm on May 3, 1863.

After the Civil War, Harvey Black resumed his medical practice in Blacksburg. He was elected president of the Medical Society of Virginia in 1872. He played an instrumental role in the founding of the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College in Blacksburg in 1872. He was the first rector of the Board of Visitors.

From 1786 to 1882, Harvey Black was Superintendent of the Eastern Lunatic Asylum in Williamsburg. In 1884, he was appointed to the board of a proposed state mental hospital for southwestern Virginia. In 1885, he was elected to represent Montgomery County in the House of Delegates and served two sessions. In the House, he influenced the decision to locate the new hospital in Marion. In 1887, Black became the first superintendent of the new Southwestern State Lunatic Asylum in Marion. He appointed John S. Apperson assistant physician there. Harvey Black died in Richmond in October 1888 and was buried in Westview Cemetery in Blacksburg.

Found in 5 Collections and/or Records:

Medical Bill Signed by Dr. Harvey Black

Identifier: Ms-2009-084

The collection contains a bill detailing medical service provided to the family of Rev. William A. Wade by Dr. Harvey Black. The bill includes the cost of services, as well as a note from Black forgiving payment.

Dates: 1865-1867, 1879

Black, Kent, and Apperson Family Papers

Identifier: Ms-1974-003

This collection contains the papers and artifacts of an interrelated family prominent in Blacksburg's history. It includes the Civil War letters of Confederate surgeon Dr. Harvey Black, the Civil War diary of hospital steward John S. Apperson, cotton books and correspondence of Germanicus Kent, nineteenth-century account books of a Blacksburg general store, 1912 European travel diary, and the political scrapbooks of State Senator and Attorney General Harvey B. Apperson.

Dates: 1779 - 1984

Caperton Family Papers

Identifier: Ms-1991-034
Abstract Photocopied, typed transcripts of letters written by Mary Eliza Henderson Caperton to her husband George Henry, then serving in the Confederate Army, most written from Whitethorne, in Montgomery County, Virginia, between May and October, 1861, and concentrating on news of the Preston family, relatives, and mutual acquaintainces; fears of a slave rebellion; a fire at Whitethorne; and the deaths of Ann Barraud Taylor Preston and Col. James Francis Preston. Also includes typescript extracts...
Dates: 1861-1862, n.d.