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Snowflake Sale 2016

8 Dec


Join us this coming Saturday for your holiday shopping! See the holiday gift giving catalog below. We have ornaments, calendars, books (some signed by local authors), beautiful throws, t-shirts and more. Come early and stay late!



The Old Stone Jail Restoration Celebration, September 11, 2016!

8 Sep

The Old Stone Jail (1825)

The Goochland County Historical Society will host a ribbon cutting ceremony for the restored Old Stone Jail at the Goochland Courthouse Public Square at 3 p.m. on Sunday, September 11, 2016. This celebration represents the culmination of research, construction and fundraising activity that began two years ago.

The Old Stone Jail has been restored to depict three eras of prison life over its nearly two centuries of existence.


Architectural historian Gibson Worsham, left, and restoration contractor Jim Haskell, right.

This project has been led by the work of architectural historian Gibson Worsham, with the construction phase managed by Goochland contractor Jim Haskell of Sermat Construction Services.

In addition to the ribbon-cutting activity, the Historical Society will unveil the inaugural phase of the Courtyard Green Commemorative Bricks installation.

The public is invited to attend, and tours of the newly restored Old Stone Jail will take place immediately after the ribbon-cutting.

Sabot Hill Meeting

22 May

Our first membership meeting of the year was held on May 15, 2016 in Manakin-Sabot. More than 60 people attended on what turned out to be a beautiful spring afternoon. A part of the reason for the excellent turn out would be the location, Sabot Hill. John and Sarah Van Der Hyde were gracious enough to open their home and the beautifully landscaped gardens to our members and guests.


Sabot Hill c. 1937

Sabot Hill, a Georgian-style mansion, was completed in 1937 by William T. Reed, Jr. The Baskerville and Son’s designed home has many handsome features such as the paneled entry and stairway and the 1719 woodwork and paneling in the library. The formal gardens are more than 100 years old and feature boxwood, roses, foxglove and a dahlia cutting garden. The current Sabot Hill occupies the same site as the 1850’s mansion of the same name that was built by James A. Seddon. Seddon’s mansion burned in the 1920’s.


Historical Society President Scott Johnson and Director Phyllis Silber present a thank you gift to hosts John and Sarah Van Der Hyde.

Lynn Price, our speaker for the day, discussed   “The Lady of His Excellency’: Martha Washington during the American Revolution.” Price is Assistant Editor at the Washington papers and gave an in depth account of some of the surviving correspondence between Martha and George Washington and what became of the bulk of their letters. The lecture was followed by a lively question and answer segment that kept everyone’s attention.

speaker and others

L to R: President Scott Johnson, speaker Lynn Price and Vice-President Bruce Venter.

Afterwards, John Van Der Hyde presented the listeners with a brief history of Sabot Hill and then encouraged the attendees to stroll the gardens.


Fountain in the garden at Sabot Hill

This was a not-to-be-missed occasion! We would like to thank John and Sarah Van Der Hyde for opening their home and gardens for the day. Thank you as well to Lynn Price for giving us such a wonderful presentation. We would also like to than Louise Thompson and Virginia Olson for getting the refreshments on the table in time and for cleaning everything up afterwards. This was a meeting that will not be soon forgotten.


Host Sarah Van Der Hyde with Penny

Contributed by James Richmond of the Goochland County Historical Society

For more information on Sabot Hill read Volume 10.2 of The Goochland County Historical Society’s magazine.

Book Launch – “Kill Jeff Davis”

15 Mar

On March 6, 2016, the Goochland County Historical Society held its first event of the year at Hebron Church. The Society proudly sponsored the launch of “Kill Jeff Davis, The Union Raid on Richmond, 1864” the newest book by Bruce M. Venter.

kill Jeff Davis Jacket Cover

The book tells about the Kilpatrick-Dahlgren raid carried out in 1864 to free Union prisoners held captive in the Confederate capital. The raid ultimately failed but became a lasting note in history when orders were found on the body of slain raid leader Colonel Ulric Dahlgren. The orders contained a plot to Kill Confederate president Jefferson Davis and burn Richmond to the ground.

In an informative lecture followed by a lively discussion, Mr. Venter outlined the events leading up to the raid through to the outcome. He also disclosed some new facts that he discovered while doing research for his book. The raid is truly interesting and the excitement that Mr. Venter shows to the subject is contagious. If you missed this event, it is highly recommended that you attend one of his other book talks coming up around the Richmond metropolitan area in the next few weeks.


Bruce M. Venter

Dr. Bruce M. Venter is CEO of America’s History, LLC, Goochland County Historical Society Vice-President, an experienced tour leader, author of “The Battle of Hubbardton: The Rear Guard Action that Saved America” as well as articles which have appeared in numerous national periodicals. “Kill Jeff Davis, The Union Raid on Richmond, 1864” can be obtained from the Historical Society office, most bookstores and through online dealers.

Thank you to Hebron Church for providing us a place to hold the lecture. Thank you also to Louise Thompson for setting up and taking down the refreshments. This was an excellent beginning for our year!


Hebron Church

To learn more about Goochland’s part in the raid, read these posts: Dahlgren’s Raid – Part I: The Raid BeginsDahgren’s Raid – Part II: The Raid on Dover Mills, Dahlgren’s Raid – Part III: Death and Destruction at Dover Mills,  and Dahlgren’s Raid – Part IV: End of the Raid and Aftermath.

Lecture Series – Christy S. Coleman

28 Sep

On Sunday, September 27, the Historical Society was the host for an amazing lecture delivered by Christy S. Coleman, Co-CEO of the American Civil War Museum. A large number of Goochland citizens turned out to hear Ms. Coleman speak on “Women’s Roles During the Civil War”, a lecture that will not soon be forgotten.

Christy S. Coleman

Christy S. Coleman

The focus of the lecture was on Harriet Tubman, Mary Ryan, Mary Edwards Walker and the women’s groups that served during the War such as the Colored Ladies Beneficial Society and the Hollywood Memorial Ladies Society. Ms. Coleman captured the listeners attention as she wove together the stories of these women and groups. She spoke on what was known and on what was not commonly known about the famous and the forgotten women during this historically important period.


Ms. Coleman demonstrated a knowledge and attention to detail that enabled the listener to get a clearer understanding of the time period and the women who lived through the horror that was the American Civil War. After the lecture, she opened the floor to questions and told the audience to ask anything. In the end, everyone came away with information that was previously unknown to most.


This was the first event of a new lecture series that the Historical Society is bringing to the citizens of Goochland County. We were immensely pleased at the reception to this first lecture and look forward to seeing everyone at our next event.

About Christy S. Coleman:
Christy S. Coleman began her career as a living history interpreter at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Over the course of a ten year career, she had increasing levels of responsibility finally serving as Director of Historic Programs. In 1999, she was named President and CEO of the nation’s largest African American museum, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan.

In 2008, Ms. Coleman was named President and CEO of the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar. Today, she serves as Co-CEO of the American Civil War Museum-a new museum that combined the Center at Tredegar with the Museum of the Confederacy.

She has lectured extensively and consulted with some of the country’s leading museums, written a number of scholarly and public history articles as well as being an award winning screenwriter for educational television. Her work “Freedom Bound” won an Emmy in 2009 for Outstanding Educational Programming for the Colonial Williamsburg Productions.

Y History Walk – “The State Farm”

15 Jul

On Sunday, July 12, the Historical Society in cooperation with the Goochland YMCA held a history walk at the site of the old James River Correctional Center, known to long time Goochlanders as the “State Farm”. Thirty walkers showed up in what turned out to be wonderful weather to tour some of the oldest buildings on the prison grounds and as a bonus, we got to take a trip to the old brick foundry.

The group in front of the brick foundry

The group in front of the brick foundry

After a welcome and introduction by Society President, Wayne Dementi, Warden Jeff Dillman and Assistant Warden Nikki Linamen took over the group. They told about the founding of the prison in Goochland and gave details about the different Wardens, Surgeons and activities from the earliest period through to the closure as a State Penitentiary.

Our tour leaders: Warden Jeff Dillman and Assistant Warden Nikki Linamen

Our tour leaders: Warden Jeff Dillman and Assistant Warden Nikki Linamen

Next, the group was led into the Chapel which was completed in 1914. The cruciform building is now a shell, but the slag glass windows and one stained glass window remain. This building and several others on the prison grounds are now used by the movie industry as sets standing in for various prisons around the country.

The cell block from inside the exercise yard

The cell block from inside the exercise yard

We were then led into the old cell block. This beautiful building with a clock tower conceals rows of bunk beds that were used into this century to house prisoners. Today, some of the beds are still in place for use by the movie industry while other portions have been cleaned out.

One of the cells in the segregation building

One of the cells in the segregation building

We also got a look at the former exercise yard which still has weight benches set up seemingly waiting to be used again by incarcerated persons. We also got a look at an older building just off the yard which is also still set up as a movie set.

Abandoned equipment still on the exercise yard

Abandoned equipment still on the exercise yard

As a special treat, the Warden and Assistant Warden led us down the hill to the site of the brick foundry. This site dates back to the founding of the prison and produced brick until the 1950’s. Some of the bricks produced went to the sidewalks and reconstruction at Colonial Williamsburg among other places. Three large kilns still stand with their arched roofs intact. It was quite a site and several in the crowd of walkers couldn’t resist going inside the large buildings where they were treated to the oculus in the top of the dome.

Inside of one of the brick kilns

Inside of one of the brick kilns

This was a wonderful adventure for all that attended. The Society would like to thank Warden Jeffrey Dillman and Assistant Warden Nikki Linamen for their research on the site and presentation to the attendees. They were excellent tour guides around a beautiful place with it’s interesting history.

Everyone enjoyed the old brick foundry

Everyone enjoyed the old brick foundry

Contributed by James Richmond of the Goochland County Historical Society

Rassawek Spring Jubilee 2015

12 Jun

Each year the Spring Jubilee at Rassawek seems to get bigger and better and 2015 was no exception.


The weather cooperated to make for a wonderful weekend. The sun was shining brightly in the sky and there was just enough of a breeze to make it pleasant enough to walk around the acres that make up Rassawek. Due to the excellent weather, attendance was up and good will was flowing.


Live music, wineries, classic cars, historic buildings, crafters, and artisans of all types were on hand to keep the multitudes entertained. An attendee could learn to make a violin or purchase a piece of art at several stops.


This year they added a new feature as hunting dogs swam the lake after a raccoon or so they believed. The dogs were eager to catch the bait and seemed to really be enjoying the chase!


People were moved about in many ways including horse drawn carriages and a steam engine. The best way, however, to see everything was simply to walk.


The Historical Society manned the Saylor Cabin again this year. It seemed that we welcomed almost all attendees through the cabin. The fireplace and the upper floors were the biggest hits. It was a wonderful kick-off to summer for all who attended.


Thank you to Cheryl Childress, Phyllis Silber and James Richmond for giving time to welcome visitors. The sights, sounds, smells, and goodwill make it all worth while.