A Price Paid with Punch

22 Dec

In 1736, Peter Jefferson acquired 200 acres of land from William Randolph in what was then the western part of Goochland County. The land was named Shadwell, in honor of the parish in which Peter Jefferson’s wife Jane had been christened. Future President Thomas Jefferson was born at Shadwell in 1743; one year before Goochland was divided placing Shadwell in current day Albemarle County. Perhaps the most interesting part of the land transaction was the price to be paid, “Henry Weatherburns biggest bowl of Arrack Punch.”

Henry Wetherburn operated a tavern in Williamsburg (still standing) and his punch must have been wonderful. In Colonial era taverns, punches were the go to drink of their day due to “exotic” imported ingredients such as Batavia Arrack and the citrus fruits used for flavoring. Batavia Arrack was the most commonly used spirit for punches in Colonial times. It is a molasses and rice based distillate that originated on the island of Java. It is also one of the oldest known distilled spirits, older than rum which would replace it in popularity. Arrack was the ingredient of choice for punches in 18th and 19th centuries.

We do not have Henry Wetherburn’s recipe for punch but the following may give the reader an idea of what went into Arrack Punch. This recipe was published in “The Williamsburg Art of Cookery: or, Accomplish’d Gentlewoman’s Companion”, a collection of recipes from the Colonial era compiled by Helen Bullock.

Recipe for Arrack Punch

Melt one half Pound Sugar in enough hot Water to dissolve it well, pour it over the grated Rind, of two Lemons. Add the Juice of four Lemons; one Pineapple peeled, sliced and pounded, six Cloves, twenty Coriander-seeds, one small Stick of Cinnamon, one Pint of Brandy, one Pint Jamaica Rum, one Cup Arrack, one Cup strong green Tea, one Quart boiling Water. Strain well into a clean Bottle, cork well and steep it over-night. Add one Quart of hot milk and Juice of two more Lemons. When cool, ice and serve.

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Goochland: Home to the Monacan Indian Nation

1 Dec
Arrowheads from the GCHS collection (AX-185)

At the time of the settlement at Jamestown in 1607, many Native American tribes lived in what is now Virginia. They belonged to three linguistic groups: Algonquian, Iroquoian, and Siouan. The Monacan Indian Nation lived in what is now Goochland County, but actually inhabited a larger area along the James River from the fall line, west to the Blue Ridge. It is believed that they had occupied this area for more than 10,000 years. The Monacans were Siouan-speaking—their language was related to other Eastern Siouan tribes like the Tutelo in today’s Nelson County, the Occaneechi who lived around what is now Clarksville in Mecklenburg County, and the Saponi people in today’s Albemarle County. They also were affiliated with the Mannahoac who occupied the northern Piedmont in Virginia, with its main area of concentration being the upper waters of the Rappahannock River.  

There were five villages connected with the Monacans, the largest and chief village is believed to have been Rassawek, based on reports written by Captain John Smith. It was located near the confluence of the James and Rivanna rivers, near Columbia in today’s Fluvanna County. The population is estimated to have been around 1,500.  Compared with the Powhatan confederacy in Tidewater which is estimated to have numbered about 9,000, the Siouan tribes were quite small, with none having a population above 1,500. In fact, the total Native American population of Virginia at the time of the Jamestown settlement was believed to have been about 18,000.

A Wedding Coat Preserved

20 Oct

     It is not uncommon for bridal gowns, veils, and even gloves and shoes to be saved by a family. It is more unusual for the groom’s clothing to be kept. However, the morning coat of James Boswell Ferguson, V, has not only survived, it is in relatively good condition, considering its age. According to the label inside the coat pocket, it was made for Mr. Ferguson by Clarence Mayer & Co. in Cincinnati, Ohio. He wore the coat when he married Ida Louise Dunn in 1910. The wedding was held at the bride’s family home Rose Hill in western Goochland. The couple lived at La Vallee, the ancestral home of the Ferguson family, also in western Goochland. Later they moved to the Blue Goose near Crozier where they ran a supper club. The still stylish morning coat is now displayed, until the end of the year, as part of the Society’s “Saved from the Ashes: Thorncliff in the Gilded Age” exhibit.

From the Collection: the cabinet card of Rev. Sam P. Jones

13 Jul

Occasionally we find something in the collection that doesn’t seem to belong. A case in point is the cabinet card of the Rev. Sam P. Jones which was found in a collection of unidentified photographs. A cabinet card is the main form of photograph reproduction used from the 1870s through 1900. Luckily for the Society, the card has a printed name on the front. This led to a search and the mystery deepened.

The Rev. Sam P. Jones was born October 16, 1847, in Oak Bowery, Alabama. He later moved to Georgia where he studied law and was admitted to the Georgia bar in 1868. It was during this time he developed a drinking problem which ruined his practice and threatened to ruin his family life as well. When his father died in 1872, Jones made a deathbed promise he would stop drinking. This led to a religious experience that ended up leading him to the ministry.

Jones was accepted into the Methodist Episcopal Church and by the late 1870s he was traveling amongst the churches of his district, spreading the gospel. In 1885, he entered the national spotlight for his oratorical skills during a three-week series of meetings that attracted thousands. One of these converts to the Church was Tom Ryman who helped construct a Church in Nashville for Jones, the Ryman’s Union Gospel Tabernacle. This building would later become the home of the Grand Ole Opry. In the late 1880s, Jones was estimated to have preached across the region to more than three million people. By then, he had moved on to touring the country to carry his sermons to as many as he could reach, from Virginia to California.

From the December 9, 1894 The Daily Times (Richmond, Virginia)

According to the New Georgia Encyclopedia, he was described as “humorous and crude, high-strung and theatrical – not at all what many people expected from a preacher. ‘Just plain Sam Jones’, as he liked to be known, was unpretentious, aiming at (or often below) his audiences’ educational and social level.” He once stated “We have been clamoring for fifty years for an educated ministry and we have got it today, and the church is deader than it ever has been in its history. Half of the literary preachers in this town are A.B’s, Ph.D.’s, D.D.’s, LL.D.’s, and A.S.S.’s.” As could be expected, a lot of the ministry did not like his message, but the people did and showed up in the thousands.

This country-wide schedule of appearances might explain the reason his cabinet card came into the Society’s collection. Jones was known to send out advance agents to drum up interest in his sermons. Part of this was the sale of souvenirs such as cabinet cards. He appeared all over Virginia and came to Richmond quite often. In 1890, he stayed at Ford’s Hotel in Richmond and made a surprise appearance at the Broad Street Methodist Church. Thousands showed for his meetings that followed. In December of 1894, Jones appeared at the Mozart Academy of Music in Richmond for two nights of sermons. At either of these events, the cabinet card could have been purchased to take home as a souvenir of someone touched by his message. Perhaps a long ago Goochlander was taken up with religious fervor and decided to not only see the lecture but take home a treasured memento of the night, a photograph of “Just plain Sam Jones.”

Remembering Hurricane Agnes

23 Jun

Fifty years ago, June 23, 1972, Hurricane Agnes arrived in Goochland. Bridges washed out, roads became impassable, businesses were destroyed, and power outages followed. It was time that the residents of Goochland would never forget

It had been just shy of three years since Goochland felt the devastation of another Hurricane, Camille, when on June 22, 1972, the rain began. Rain poured for 5 days, between 6 and 7 inches in total. Agnes, downgraded from hurricane status, re-strengthened over North Carolina and barreled into Virginia. The result would be far more devastation that anyone thought possible.

As the storm moved in, the James River began to rise and rise. The 1886 Cartersville Bridge was completely destroyed. A.G. Smith’s General Store and the train station at Maidens were flooded. Parts of Route 6 through Goochland were impassable as flood waters turned Sabot and the State Farm into large lakes. Boscobel Quarry filled with water from the overflowing James River halting operation for months. Power and telephone outages were widespread as the flood waters took out cables and power stations. Luckily, even with all of the flooding, no lives were lost in Goochland. Property damage in the area was considered to be in the millions of dollars.

The flooding from Hurricane Agnes is still considered to be the worst to hit the region since records of flood levels have been kept. In Richmond the river reached 28 feet or 17 feet above flood stage. Topping the level of every other flood with the possible exception of the 1771 flood that experts think was about 40 feet. Nothing since has topped it and let’s hope nothing ever does.

Celebrating Women’s History Month 2022: Pearl Randolph, Local Hero

25 Mar
Pearl Randolph holding the plaque she received after winner the school bus contest. (Goochland Gazette)

Pearl Randolph, a School Board member and the mother of 11 children, will always be remembered as the woman who won a new school bus for Goochland County. In 1972, the Wayne Corporation, a major supplier of school buses, held a nationwide contest seeking suggestions to improve the safety of its buses. Ms. Randolph entered the contest, submitting a suggestion to incorporate noise reduction into the buses. From among 5,000 entries, hers was selected as the winner. As a result, Goochland County received a new, free school bus. She and her husband, Elwood, were flown to Richmond, Indiana, headquarters of the Wayne Corporation, where they were treated to an awards dinner and a tour of the bus-building plant. Shortly afterwards, a shiny 66-passenger Lifeguard bus arrived in the county where it served for many years.

At the time of the award, Mrs. Randolph had been a School Board member for only two years. In addition, she was a member of the Board of Directors for Citizen Development, Goochland Board of Community Action; and was actively involved in the Parent-Teacher Association and the Goochland Assembly and Recreation Center. While she contributed in many ways to improving life in Goochland County, she will always be remembered for her innovative suggestion that won the county a school bus.

Mrs. Randolph lived in Goochland until her death at age 86.

Celebrating Women’s History Month 2022: Mary Soule’ Bowles Served Her Country in World War II and After

16 Mar
Mary Soule’ Bowles, Technician 5th (T/5) [c. 1943] 
The round blue patch with the seven-pointed stars indicates the 7th division
The two stripes with the “T” indicate Technician 5th Grade (T/5)
Above her blouse pocket, is the gold and green Women’s Army Corps Service Military Ribbon and the red with white striped, Army Good Conduct Military Ribbon

Mary Soule’ Bowles, born October 1, 1921 in the Cardwell area of Goochland County to Malcolm Everitt Bowles and Edna Soule’ Watkins Bowles, served her country in World War II and after. Mary graduated from Goochland High School in 1939; by 1941, she had moved to Prince George’s County, Maryland to live with her mother’s sister. It was while living and working there that she enlisted in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC).

The WAAC was authorized by Congress on May 14, 1942, as a voluntary enrollment program for up to 150,000 women to join the U.S. Army in a noncombat capacity. The program allowed women to serve their country in a variety of jobs, including those of medial care professional, welfare worker, clerical worker, cook, messenger, military postal employee, chauffeur, and telephone and telegraph operator. Mary signed up for the WAAC not long after its creation, enlisting December 11, 1942, in Washington, DC and entering with the rank of Aviation Cadet. According to her enlistment record, she was single at the time and worked as a file clerk. It is unknown where she completed her basic training, but she ultimately served as a medical technician at the Yakima (Washington) Training Center.

Mary left the Army in 1946 to return to Virginia where she enrolled in the Medical College of Virginia (now Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine). She graduated in 1950 as a registered nurse and re-enlisted in the United States Army, entering as a First Lieutenant. Mary served as a nurse with the 12th Army Battalion Medical Unit in Bad Kreuznach, Germany. There she met Paul O. Barrick, Private Second Class, whom she married in November 1952. After marriage, she resigned her commission and moved to Newville, Pennsylvania with her husband. However in 1958, Mary, Paul, and their three children moved back to Goochland County where she lived until her death in December 2005.

Celebrating Women’s History Month 2022: Lelia Lesett Williams Bankett, the Right Hand of Maggie L. Walker

11 Mar
Lelia W. Bankett (left) and Maggie L. Walker (Right). (Courtesy National Park Service, Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site)

Born in Goochland’s Dover District in 1885, Lelia Lesett Williams moved first to Lynchburg and then to Richmond to complete her education. There she married John E. Bankett and took a job with a prominent woman of historical importance Maggie L. Walker, the leader of the Independent Order of St. Luke. At the time Mrs. Walker was building it into a large and powerful organization. Lelia assisted in this effort and deserves some credit for both Mrs. Walker’s success and the success of the Order.

Following the Civil War, insurance companies owned by whites denied the black community access to disability and life insurance. By 1895, and over the next 30 years, the Independent Order of St. Luke grew from what was primarily a burial society for the black community to a fraternal order and life insurance company, providing its members with a social outlet, as well as security, including the payment of death benefits.

By 1899, Mrs. Walker had taken complete charge of the Order. It was a time when the need for economic independence was critical to improving the lives of African Americans. Her ability to inspire and organize led to record accomplishments for the Order over the next few decades. Membership campaigns grew the treasury, allowed prompt payment of insurance claims, and led to lower premiums. Her vision focused on contributing to the development of modern, autonomous African American communities. Further, her vision offered African American women the opportunity to work as professionals. Lelia Williams Bankett was one of those women, having joined the Order in 1903. Due to her executive ability, she moved up in the organization, becoming Mrs. Walker’s private secretary, then traveling agent, and finally General Field Secretary.

Then as now, success of any fraternal society hinges on membership recruitment and payment of dues. While Lelia may have begun her career at the Order by working as a stenographer, her real contribution was in field work; she excelled in growing membership. It was her outstanding ability to bring in new members that made her invaluable to Mrs. Walker, eventually leading her to be named her assistant in 1921. In today’s world, Lelia’s job would probably be considered that of a community organizer. It required a combination of enthusiastic selling and sound management.

By 1924, the main office had 50 individuals serving 50,000 members in more than 1,500 chapters. A few years later, it was said to have a presence in 24 states with 80,000 adult members and 20,000 youth members. Maggie L. Walker died on December 15, 1934. Despite Lelia’s strong campaign at the Order’s 1935 convention, she was not elected Secretary. Although she never succeeded in obtaining its highest leadership position, she made a significant and lasting contribution to its success. Lelia served the organization until her death in 1939. She is buried in Goochland.

The above is based on the article “Lelia Williams Bankett: Building an Empire” by Eleanor Andrews, which appeared in Goochland County Historical Society Magazine, Vol. 50, 2019.

Home, Sweet Home

23 Feb

Alec and Rose Winston, with their son Davey, sit outside their home in western Goochland in 1918. Alec was born in 1876 and Rose about 10 years earlier. At the time the photo was taken, Davey was a teenager. For many years Alec worked on a nearby farm belonging to W.C. Duke. In the days before tractors, mules working as singles or in teams plowed the fields and hauled wagons when crops were harvested or wood or ice was cut and gathered. Alec was responsible for selecting and overseeing the mules. While he trained other farm workers in handling them, he often drove them himself. According to stories Mr. Duke liked to tell, once Alec had trained a mule, he or she could be directed solely by voice commands. While Mr. Duke was not in the mule trading business, occasionally he would sell one. Alec’s reputation for training mules was well known in western Goochland; as Mr. Duke liked to point out, mules trained by Alec Winston always brought the best price.

Celebrating Black History Month at the Goochland County Historical Society

10 Feb

Faces & Places in Goochland is a photographic exhibit that celebrates the county’s African American heritage; it will run through the month of February, celebrating Black History Month. The Jackson Blacksmith Shop, Second Union Rosenwald School, Emmaus Baptist Church, and First Baptist Church represent selected places, while nine portraits represent men and women from the 19th century to the present. They include Dr. Arthur Gilbert Blakey, Dr. James Harold Bowles, Lelia Lesett Williams Bankett, Josephine Turpin Washington, Henry Turpin, William P. Moseley, Sarah Ann Carroll, and World War II military Matt Archer Allen and William Edward Fleming.

The Jackson Blacksmith Shop, Lelia Lesett Williams Bankett, and Josephine Turpin Washington have all been subjects of articles in recent issues of the Goochland County Historical Society’s Magazine. (Jackson Blacksmith Shop, 2018 issue; Lelia Lesett Williams Bankett, 2019 issue; and Josephine Turpin Washington, 2020 issue.)

The Faces & Places in Goochland exhibit runs through the month of February at the Society’s headquarters, 2924 River Road West, next to the Goochland Courthouse Green. The Society is open to the public Wednesday through Friday, and every second Saturday, from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm.