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December Gathering – Vallambrosa

18 Dec

IMG_6754 adjOn December 1, 2019, the Society gathered at historic Vallambrosa for our annual holiday meeting. R. Strother and Evie Scott, our hosts, welcomed us to their home for an afternoon of fellowship and food with a little society news thrown into the mix.

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Homeowner Evie Scott (left) and Society President Christina Dunn (right) led the news portion of gathering

Vallambrosa was built in the early 1870’s by Dr. Charles Guerrant Massie and named for an ancestral Guerrant home in Italy. It was constructed of heart pine cut from the surrounding woods and has a foundation of brick which were manufactured on the site. Dr. Massie built the house after serving as a surgeon in the Civil War, when he returned to Goochland to practice medicine. He married Mildred Heath Guerrant, daughter of Colonel Charles Guerrant and his wife, Sarah Thompson Guerrant, of “Balquither” in Goochland County. Born in Goochland County on March 31, 1836, Dr. Massie was of Huguenot descent, a great grandson of John Guerrant, Jr. who was born in 1760 at nearby “Ceres” located close to the old Three Chopt Road. John Guerrant, Jr. was a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1788; was commissioned Brigadier General of Virginia forces in 1793; and became President of the State Council and Lieutenant Governor of Virginia in 1805.

According to family records, the original house was comprised of four rooms, two upstairs and two downstairs, with a central hall running from front to back. An outside kitchen, smoke house, ice house, and servants’ house existed along with a barn which was already on the place when the land was purchased from Alexander Shelton in 1870. The house and dependencies were built by local workmen, without benefit of architect or contractor.

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The former Perkinsville post office was relocated to the grounds of Vallambrosa and re-purposed as a tack room.

The lane to Vallambrosa passes through the entrance posts which were built from bricks of the foundation walls of Balquither. The wall around the family graveyard, within sight of the house, was built with rocks from the foundation of the old barn at Ceres.

This family home serving four generations, stands simply and serenely, cherished by the family and from its very beginning, known by relatives and friends for the warm hospitality they enjoyed there.

The property is still owned by members of the Massie family.

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We thank the Scott family for hosting us for the afternoon and our members who brought a delicious array of hors d’oeuvres for tasting.

To read more about Vallambrosa, read Goochland County Historical Society Magazine Vol. 5, No. 2 “Vallambrosa” by Charlotte Taylor Massie.  Available for purchase at the Historical Center and online: Vol 5, No. 2.

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.

50 years ago this week!

22 Mar

In March of 1968, Elie Weeks and Circuit Court Deputy Clerk Margaret V. Henley met to discuss the upcoming meeting to establish the Goochland County Historical Society. The following article is the call to action that was published by the Goochland Gazette on March 21, 1968.

Elie Weeks and Margaret Henley

Elie Weeks and Margaret V. Henley

Historical Society

By Ellie Weeks

There will be a meeting of all persons interested in establishing a Goochland County Historical Society on Monday night, March 25th, 8 pm, in the County Courtroom of the new annex to the Courthouse at Goochland.

Mrs. Margaret Henley, deputy clerk has arranged for Mr. Porter Wright, Secretary of the Louisa County Historical Society, to be present for the purpose of advising us on the problems a new Society faces and to explain the projects that the Louisa Society is sponsoring.

The State of Virginia has established a Historical Landmarks Commission which is making an inventory of all landmarks on a statewide basis. Copies, with photographs and descriptions, of each landmark will be filed with the Federal Landmarks Commission in Washington, DC. It is hoped that this will tend to delay or prevent the destruction of irreplaceable landmarks.

It is hoped that the members of the Goochland County Historical Society can assist in locating, identifying and making an inventory of our landmarks. The Society should maintain a master file of landmarks and provide the basic data of the State Commission.

Another worthwhile project might be the preparation of a booklet listing some of our more outstanding landmarks and attractions. There is also a possibility of establishing museum in the Old Stone Jail at the Courthouse. In it memorabilia, photographs, maps, papers, and artifacts could be deposited, either on loan or as gifts. There they could be adequately preserved in a relatively fireproof building, in rooms next to the Sheriff’s office where pilferage would be less likely. These rooms have recently be restored by our Board of Supervisors. Adequate light, heat, air conditioning and toilet facilities have been installed.

Goochland County is far from being first in forming such a Society. In fact the Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission has an eight page list of Societies in Virginia which are concerned with preserving the records of our past as a means of guiding our footsteps while we move forward into the unknown future.

If you are interested in this project, please attend the meeting at 8 pm Monday, March 25th, at the Courthouse Annex. Your support and advice are needed at this organizational meeting.

Historical Dinners Coming to Tanglewood Ordinary Restaurant

7 Mar

“An Evening With…” to Feature Virginia History

Tanglewood Tavern


 Richmond Discoveries and historic Tanglewood Ordinary Restaurant are teaming up to bring monthly living history dinner events to Goochland County.  Each event will feature a prominent figure from history and will provide an entertaining, enlightening and engaging evening.  Tanglewood’s famous southern comfort food, served true FamilyStyle, and its historic setting, will complement each special event.

 “An Evening With…” will kick off on Thursday, March 15, and will feature James Madison, portrayed by Historical Interpreter Charles Wissinger.  The event will showcase Madison’s life and stories and weave a living image of the role Madison played in shaping our state, and our nation.  Mr. Madison was a native Virginian who was known as the father of the Constitution and the author of the Bill of Rights.  A few years later Madison married Dolley Payne Todd, the perfect wife for the introverted Madison.  Mr Wissinger will bring these and other stories to life.

On April 19th, Ken Chandler will illuminate the life of a Civil War officer and his men through stories and music.  Richmond Discoveries most popular program, Mr. Chandler will paint a colorful picture of this historic time through flags, artifacts and musical instruments.

Each event will benefit a local community organization.  The March event will be held in support of Goochland Pet Lovers, an innovative public/private partnership with Goochland County that is developing a new state-of-the art adoption, care and education center with a commitment to involving the community in saving the lives of companion animals.

In April, the Goochland Historical Society will be the beneficiary of the event.  Celebrating 50 years in 2018, the Goochland Historical Society is a non-profit, educational organization created and operated for the presentation, preservation and protection of Goochland County heritage and tradition.

Tickets for the first event are on sale now and will be limited to 100 seats.  Seating will be at community tables, which will be filled on a first come-first served basis.  Each evening’s historical figure will dine with the first table to be filled.  The cost is $50 per ticket.  A cash bar for beer and wine will be available.  A link with further details and for purchasing tickets is on line at

Founded in 1985, RICHMOND DISCOVERIES is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to preserving Richmond’s unique historical and cultural heritage through educational tours and programs.

On the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register, TANGLEWOOD ORDINARY has been the home of Fine FamilyStyle dining with Virginia Southern comfort food since 1986.  One of the largest commercially used log structures in the country, Tanglewood has since ca. 1928 served as a tavern, dance hall and community gathering place, and now houses the area’s only true FamilyStyle dining restaurant.  Tanglewood Ordinary is located at 2210 River Road West, Maidens (VA Rt 6/Patterson Av), Virginia 23102, in Goochland County.

For additional dates and historical figures to be featured go to, or their respective Facebook pages.

History Comes Alive event wows those at Writers Roundup

15 Feb

Seven Virginia authors tantalized the audience with excerpts from their books during the Second Annual Writers Roundup hosted by the Friends of the Goochland Branch Library on February 10, 2018.

The theme was “History Comes Alive,” and it did, with stories that have their roots in 16th century family history, scandalous local lore and dramatic first-person accounts. Author readings were followed by a question and answer panel discussion and book signings.

Writers post

Authors gave the audience an opportunity to connect one-to-one! (Seated from left to right: Julie Phend, Phyllis Brock Silber, Connie Lapallo; standing from left to right: Mary Lynn Bayliss, James Richmond, Emerson “Willie” Williams, Bruce Venter)

The next Friends event is the Annual Day on Sunday, March 25 at 3 p.m. at the library. The guest speaker will be Mary Lynn Bayliss, author of The Dooleys of Richmond: An Irish Immigrant Family in the Old and New South. Please join us and take the opportunity to socialize with other members!

Mary Turner-Day, Friends of the Goochland Branch Library


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.