Old Cemeteries

20 Dec
Abbott, Mrs

Mrs. Jno. Abbott – Alvis-Richmond Cemetery – Crozier

Old cemeteries are truly outdoor museums. They are full of history and monuments to people from another time. Each cemetery, large or small, has a story to tell. The markers themselves are works of art, whether just a rock or carved stone, from obelisks to statues of angels, they take on many shapes. Some cemetery markers in Goochland date back to the eighteenth century. They should be treated with care and respect as should be the ground they stand on.

Leake Obelisk adj

Leake Obelisk – Rocky Spring-Leake Cemetery – Across from Leake’s Mill Park

In some cases, they are the only physical reminder of a person and therefore are extremely important link to a family. To genealogists, they are a connections to the past that may exist nowhere else. Small family cemeteries have a troubling habit of disappearing as land becomes more valuable. The Goochland County Historical Society is trying to document as many of these as we can and we need your help. If you have a cemetery on your land, please let us know about it so that we can photograph and document everyone in it. Call us (804-556-3966) or email us (Goochlandhistory@comcast.net) and we can check our large database to ensure that those who are gone will never be forgotten.


Cider Week 2018

9 Nov

November 9-18, 2018


From colonial times until the early 20th century it was common for almost every homestead to have an orchard, with apples as the primary crop. While owners may have munched them, their essential purpose was for cider. The popularity of cider is not a new trend; its roots go deeper than almost any other alcoholic drink. In the 1600s, Virginia’s early settlers brought their cider-making traditions with them from England. Cider met their immediate needs. It was cheap and easy to produce; once established, apple trees were fairly easy to grow; and it was much safer than drinking water from rivers, streams, or shallow wells.

Although the cider during the 1700s contained about 6 percent alcohol, it would not have been unusual for the founding fathers to have downed a tankard for breakfast. When William Henry Harrison ran for president in 1840, cider had so many pleasant associations with people’s lives that he made it part of his campaign, passing it out at his political rallies. When yesteryear’s youth began abandoning farm life in the late 1800s, cider’s popularity also waned, until by the 1920s, helped along by the Temperance movement and Prohibition, it had all but disappeared. While cider is seeing a revival today, the amount produced does not come close to the amount produced in the late 1800s before it began its decline.

Virginia is the sixth-largest apple producing state by acreage in the United States and cider is a rich part of the Commonwealth’s heritage, so it seems only natural that cider would make a comeback. Today’s cider producers—there are more than 20 cideries across the Commonwealth–make a variety of different styles, ranging from dry to sweet, still to sparkling, simple to complex. Goochland’s own Courthouse Creek Cider (1581 Maidens Road, http://www.courthousecreek.com) grows heirloom American, English, and French cider apple trees and with minimum intervention, produces a variety of ciders, ranging from Rustico and Black Twig to Blackberry Lavender and Honest Farmer. You might want to celebrate Virginia Cider Week with a visit to Courthouse Creek Cider and lift your glass to celebrate cider’s rich history and our cider-drinking forefathers.

The Celebrated Horse: Sir Archie

25 Oct

Deep Run Sir Archie POSTER blog

On Sunday, October 14, 2018, Goochland County Historical Society and Deep Run Hunt Club came together to remember Goochland’s native son, the race horse, Sir Archie. With more than 60 in attendance at Deep Run Hunt Club, guest speaker James Payne Beckwith, Jr. delighted everyone with his talk “All in the Family: Diomed, Sir Archie, and Henry from the 1780 Epsom Derby to the Great Match of 1823.”


James Payne Beckwith, Jr.

Famed racehorse Sir Archie is considered to be one of the greatest foundation sires in America. Foaled in 1805 at Ben Lomond farm in an area known as Rock Castle, the great horse went on to great racing success in his day. His career ended when no opponents could be found to race against him for fear of losing. He spent his last 17 years at stud at Mowfield plantation in North Carolina.


Mr. Beckwith brought his personal collection of etchings and paintings of Diomed, Sir Archie and others to display and the Society also put on an exhibit on the life of Sir Archie that will move to other exhibit spaces in the coming months. A wonderful spread of ham biscuits, cookies, pastries and punch followed as everyone talked about Sir Archie.


The Society would like to thank Deep Run Hunt Club for partnering with us for a wonderful event. We would also like to thank James Payne Beckwith, Jr. for a wonderful and informative afternoon. Thank you also to thank our Board of Directors for helping with the set-up and take-down of the chairs, tables and sales table. Thank you also to our Hospitality chair, Ginny Olson for a wonderful array of food.

Second Union Rosenwald School Anniversary

11 Oct

Second Union SchoolOn Sunday, October 7, 2018, with more than 100 in attendance at the Central High School Cultural & Educational Complex, the Second Union Rosenwald School Museum celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Second Union Rosenwald School building. Keynote speaker for the dinner event, was Kenneth B. Morris, Jr., founder and president of the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives in Orange County, California. Mr. Morris, a descendant of both Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington, recounted the lives of both men, with an emphasis on their important contributions to education.

Rosenwald schools, recognized as the most important initiative to advance black education in the early 20th century, were built across the South to educate African-American children. They were the result of a collaboration between Booker T. Washington of the Tuskegee Institute and Julius Rosenwald, philanthropist and president of Sears, Roebuck and Company. According to the Second Union Rosenwald School Museum, more than 360 such schools were built in Virginia, with 10 in Goochland.

Second Union Rosenwald School, established in 1918 on land once owned by S.B. Massie and his brother Mathew Massie, was built with contributions from the local community and the Julius Rosenwald Fund. Total cost was $2,000 for the two-room, two-teacher school which after educating numerous African-American children in the county’s Byrd District in grades one through seven, closed in 1959. In 2005, alumni of Second Union School and members of Second Union Baptist Church teamed with the Goochland County Historical Society to secure a Lowe’s grant to renovate the exterior of the building, install an HVAC system, and undertake electrical work. Also, in 2005, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

World War I Soldiers Remembered: Ashby Porcher Wickham

21 Sep

Ashby Wickham galleryAshby Porcher Wickham was born on December 5, 1899. His father was Thomas Ashby Wickham and his mother was Julia Wickham Porcher. He was a 17 year old farmer when he enlisted on May 19, 1917. According to his Registration Card, we know he was of medium build with brown eyes and brown hair.

He was assigned to the Training Camp in Newport, Rhode Island first but soon transferred to City Park Barracks in Brooklyn, New York, The U.S.S. Kanawha and then to St. Helena Training Station in Norfolk, Virginia. In September of 1917, he embarked for Europe. He served in the Navy and was witness to several events, most notably the sinking of the Tuscania. In his Military Service Record, he says that his ship was beside the Tuscania when it was torpedoed on February 5, 1918. The Tuscania had been a luxury liner that was converted to a troop ship. It was carrying U.S. troops to war, 210 of which were lost in the sinking.

He mustered out of service in Norfolk on April 6, 1919 and returned to farming. He wrote on his Record that he was “studying at present at a business college in Richmond. He eventually traveled to Ireland where he married Edith Catherine Orr and in 1936 they returned to America. He passed away on September 8, 1980 in Kilmarnock and was buried at sea.

If you have any photographs of World War I service men and women from Goochland, please contact the Goochland County Historical Society. We would love to scan your photographs and add them to the World War I Commemorative Collection. Contact us at 804-556-3966 or at goochlandhistory@comcast.net.

Goochland Goes to War: September 19, 1918

19 Sep


soldiersThe following is part of the Society’s collection of manuscripts and photographs that were gathered together by the Virginia War History Commission, set up to document World War I. It is titled “Incident Concerning Drafting and Entering of Goochland Soldiers with the World War.” The author is unknown.

The second quota of drafted men from Goochland County – twenty-three in number – left the Court House for Camp Lee on September 19, 1918. The day dawned clear and warm and it seemed as if nature would play its part on this memorable occasion. The trees had taken on their prettiest autumn tints while a September sun shone softly over all as if it, too, would add its benediction on the scene soon to be enacted.

From every part of the County people came, until by noon, the place was alive with humanity. Desirous of showing honor to the men the good mothers, wives, sisters, sweethearts and friends decided to serve lunch for them on the “Court Green” the day of their departure. This arrangement becoming known, the result was a bountiful spread, people from every district responding generously.

After grouping the men in a reserved space on the “Green,” willing hands served of the tasty viands until all appetites were satisfied. Promptly at one o’clock by a given signal from the sheriff, all eyes were turned towards the Court House. Instantly a hush fell over the throng and silence reigned. As the name of each man was called, he responded by saying “here” and stepped in line on the Court House steps, where they were addressed by an officer in a few well-chosen words of encouragement and advice.

Immediately following this address, accompanied by relatives and friends the men marched out of the Court Green and again answering to their names were assigned to waiting automobiles, furnished by patriotic citizens, for the trip to Camp Lee.

The crucial moment had now arrived, each one present feeling that what had been a matter of conjecture for a long time was now a grim reality and Goochland, too, must do her part and surrender the best of her sons to take part and if necessary, make the supreme sacrifice in this great struggle for humanity and justice. Hearts that had remained staid and brave no longer attempted to conceal their feelings, the long pent-up emotions gave way and with tears streaming and husky voices wishing them “God Speed,” the trip to Camp Lee was begun. The men were accompanied on this trip by members of the County Draft Board, many relatives and friends there being in line, seventeen cars each bearing flags and a “Goochland” pennant. The first stop en route was made at State Farm for tire trouble, the next at Sabot for refreshments and again at Manakin to exchange a car for some in the party. All along the route crowds had assembled and cheered as they passed. Arriving at Richmond, the drafted men were photographed at Boice’s Studio. After this delay, the trip was resumed and continued unintercepted until Camp Lee was reached which was just at dusk. Bright lights shone everywhere, the whole place was in a state of great activity and we could not fail to be impressed with its city-like appearance. The officers in charge were very courteous to the visitors and after the usual procedure in receiving the men, they were conducted to their barracks.

Returning, the party stopped in Petersburg for a short while and again in Richmond for supper. From this point the last link of the journey was begun, those returning reaching home about midnight much fatigued, but with a greater conception and appreciation of what it meant to be involved in such a horrible war as this was forming to be.

World War I Soldiers Remembered: Richard Newton Thomas

14 Sep

RichardNewtonThomas gallery

Richard Newton Thomas was born December 8, 1893 in Goochland to Joseph Thomas and Mary Waddy. He was a 25 year old farmer when he was drafted. According to his Registration Card, we know he was single, of medium height and had brown eyes.

He was inducted into service on November 1, 1917 and sent to Camp Lee, Virginia, assigned to Veterinary Hospital #3. He left Newport News, Virginia on May 14, 1918 aboard the “Old Dominion” and arrived at Brest, France on June 2, 1918. He moved quickly around France, transferred from Brest to Vallahosu , Tours and Verdon. According to his war record, we know he was not engaged in battle during his time in Europe. He did list that he contracted influenza while in France and was sick for two weeks.

He arrived back at Newport News in June of 1919 and was officially discharged. About his service, he wrote “Have been enlightened in many ways.”

After the war, he returned to farming in Hylas and then disappears from the record. Repeated attempts to find some records have led to nothing. If you can provide any information on Richard Newton Thomas, please contact the Goochland Historical Society.

If you have any photographs of World War I service men and women from Goochland, please contact the Goochland County Historical Society. We would love to scan your photographs and add them to the World War I Commemorative Collection. Contact us at 804-556-3966 or at goochlandhistory@comcast.net.