John S. Apperson was born in Orange County, VA, the son of Alfred Apperson (1806-1880), who owned a small farm, and his wife, Malinda Jones (1813-1872). John grew up helping his father on the farm, and attended a “field school” until the age of twelve. At the age of seventeen, he was employed as a clerk in a store; however, he was dissatisfied with this work and moved to Smythe County. In his new home, he met a Dr. Faris who encouraged him to study medicine, and so he apprenticed in medicine in 1859 and 1860.
When the Civil War broke out, Apperson enlisted in Company D of the 4th Virginia Infantry, CSA. Because his family did not own slaves, it is sometimes noted that Apperson supported the Confederate cause simply for the love of his home state, Virginia. After some time in the infantry, Apperson was assigned as a hospital steward in the field infirmary for the 2nd Corps (the “Stonewall Brigade”), Army of Northern Virginia, under the supervision of Dr. Harvey Black, where he served for the rest of the war. During the war, Apperson kept a diary which has been published as Repairing the “March of Mars”. He was present at Appomattox and came home with one mule, which he sold to fund his practice of medicine. He attended the University of Virginia in session 43 (1866-1867) and graduated with a Doctor of Medicine degree. He settled in Chilhowie, Smythe County, VA, where he practiced for twenty years. In the late 1880s, Apperson was a member of the building committee of the Eastern Asylum for the Insane located in Marion, VA, where he settled while on the staff of the Asylum. In 1890 he founded the Staley’s Creek Manganese and Iron Company, in 1892 was the business executive commissioner of Virginia to the World’s Fair, and from 1894-1904 was the vice president, secretary, and treasurer of the Marion and Rye Valley Railway.
Apperson married, first, on 20 Feb. 1868, Ellen Victoria Hull (1840-1887), and the couple had children: Alfred Hull, Ellen Victoria, Mary Pauline, Sallie Denton, Georgia Malinda, John Samuel Jr., and Nancy Preston Apperson. In 1889, he married, second, the daughter of his Civil War commander, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Arabella Black (1855-1942), and with her, had the following children: Harvey Black, Kent, Mary Elizabeth, and Alexander Apperson. John Samuel Apperson, his first wife, Ellen, and several of his children, are buried in Round Hill Cemetery, Marion, VA. His second wife, Lizzie, and several of her children, are buried at Westview Cemetery, Blacksburg, VA.
- Apperson, John Samuel, Repairing the “March of Mars”; the Civil War diaries of John Samuel Apperson, hospital steward in the Stonewall Brigade, 1861-1865. Macon, GA, 2001.
- “Apperson Family Tree.” http://trees.ancestry.com/tree/9619551/person/-710592141?ssrc= (Accessed 8/19/2011).
- “John Samuel Apperson.” In Tyler, Leon G., Men of mark in Virginia. Washington, D.C., 1907. V. 3, p. 6-9. Via Internet Archive http://www.archive.org/details/menofmarkinvirgi03tyle (Accessed 8/19/2011).
- Tombstones of the Apperson family. Findagrave.com (accessed 8/19/2011).