A story about John M. Keyser
In a letter to the newspaper (Page News & Courier, Luray, Virginia) in April 1927, local citizen Jacob H. Coffman wrote about the treatment of one local Unionist during the war.
For those Unionists who were unable to keep their sentiments to themselves, the consequence was most certainly intimidation from heavy-handed secessionists. John M. Keyser was one such man “who made no effort to conceal his sympathy for the North.” One evening, “three men called on him, took him to the top of the Blue Ridge at Milam Gap, stood him on a barrel with a rope around his neck and eased him down,” but supposedly “did not intend to kill him,” but rather to “scare him.” As the scribe of the story remembered, the “torture was enough to render him unable to read for three months. How he made his way home, I never heard, but I surely believe he never identified his captors.”
Keyser is listed in the 1860 Page County census as a fifty-three year old cabinet maker with no real estate. He remained in Page County in the years to come and became Justice of the Peace of the Marksville district and, as Coffman noted, “had his captors come before him they might have met with justice that might have seemed injustice to them. And so we have another case of the bottom rail on top.”