Highlighting Historic Properties – Reed Marsh

1 Mar

For the web 2Reed Marsh was purchased by William Miller in 1817, and remains one of the best examples of classic central-passage-plan dwellings from the nineteenth century. William Miller was the first of five members of the Miller family who served as county clerks in Goochland for a period of 152 years. William Miller was clerk from 1791 until his death in 1846, he was succeeded by his son Narcissus Miller who is credited with saving Goochland County’s records during the Civil War when many other county’s public records were destroyed. Narcissus Miller’ son, William Miller Jr., served from 1868 to 1900; his son, Peter Guerrant Miller, from 1912 to 1942, and his daughter Margaret Miller, from 1942 to 1955. They all lived at Reed Marsh. The house and the Miller family service led the property to be considered by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources as a potential candidate for inclusion on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places.

In 1933, forty-two acres of land from the Reed Marsh property was sold for the first consolidated secondary school in Goochland County, Goochland High School. The original school’s structure was quite elaborate for its day. It still remains standing to date and serves as the county administrative offices. Land from Reed Marsh was also sold for the location of the Goochland Branch of the Pamunkey Regional Library.


Henry Wood’s Tomb

21 Feb

SONY DSCSometimes, the best things are found in the oddest places. Recently, the Goochland County Historical Society began a search for the tomb of the Goochland’s first Clerk of the Court, Henry Wood (1696-1757). There were many old pictures in the Society files showing that the tomb once existed. However, we began to worry that the tomb might have disappeared, being the victim of progress in a county changing from rural to residential. A Facebook campaign sought help from as many people as possible and the power of the people proved successful. A landowner in East Leake saw the post and responded: the tomb was indeed still standing on her property.



Now came the part that all historians love, we made arrangements to go to the site and see for ourselves, photographing the tomb for posterity. On a cold blustery, but sunny, day, we made the trip to East Leake, the location of the grave. A long driveway through the woods led us to a beautiful old farmhouse on a ridge of rolling hills. We boarded an ATV and off we went into a cow pasture in search of history. Quite some distance from the farmhouse we came upon the tomb on another ridge. It was completely surrounded by grazing cattle that didn’t seem to mind sharing their field with what could be Goochland’s oldest dated gravestone.

Wood tomb 3

Considering that we were in a cow pasture, we gingerly approached the tomb. It is in amazingly good condition for a 262 year old marker. The table top stone is about the size of the average dining table, sitting on beautifully carved pedestals in a style that was popular during the colonial era. The top stone had cracked years ago, but the landowners had successfully had it repaired. After a quick dusting, we got a look at the fully carved epitaph which reads exactly as follows:

Henry Wood son of

Valentine & Rachel

Wood Born in London

July the 8th 1696 and

Departed this life

May the 2nd 1757

Fuimus quoque Nos

A search for the meaning of the Latin phrase has proved elusive. Possibly some future Latin scholar may clear this up, but for now it remains an interesting footnote to the story.

Wood tomb 1

We took many pictures of the tomb from many angles: high, low and from a distance. At one point, Catherine Southworth, Goochland County Historical Society staff, lost a shoe to the mud, but she persevered! Near the stone is a higher flat ridge, which would have made a wonderful site for a house. Possibly Henry Wood lived on this site and not at the house known as Woodville which is more than a mile from the location of the grave. Graves were not usually so far from the house. Henry Wood is the only known grave at this location. There are no depressions or other markers in the vicinity of the tomb. There may have been others, but time has erased them. We came, we saw, we photographed the tomb. May you rest in peace Henry Wood.

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.