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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Visit to Fluvanna

14 Jul

On June 23, 2015, Goochland Historical Society members Catherine Southworth, Christina Dunn, Ginny Olsen, and James Richmond made the trip west to visit one of our neighboring historical societies. The Fluvanna County Historical Society is located in Palmyra, Virginia and is housed in a wonderful old home named Maggie’s Place, next to the courthouse square.

Christina Dunn, Ginny Olsen, James Richmond, Catherine Southworth in front of the historic Fluvanna County Courthouse

Christina Dunn, Ginny Olsen, James Richmond, Catherine Southworth in front of the historic Fluvanna County Courthouse

Fluvanna Executive Director Tricha Johnson and past Director and current Board Member Judith Mickelson greeted the group and introductions were made. The group was then shown around the society headquarters and information was shared about membership and upcoming/past events and their successes. High on the list of things to see is the Jail museum and the group was not disappointed.

Fluvanna's Old Stone Jail Museum

Fluvanna’s Old Stone Jail Museum

Judith Mickelson treated the group to a tour Fluvanna’s historic Old Stone Jail Museum and gave background stories on several of the exhibits. She showed a wealth of knowledge that can only come from years of experience in her job as caretaker of Fluvanna’s rich history. Next she walked everyone around the Courthouse Square and into the historic Courthouse itself which has been beautifully restored.

Judith Mickelson, Ginny Olsen, Christina Dunn and Tricha Johnson relax in Maggie's Place after the tour.

Judith Mickelson, Ginny Olsen, Christina Dunn and Tricha Johnson relax in Maggie’s Place after the tour.

After the tour, the group headed back to Maggie’s Place where Director Tricha Johnson graciously donated several books on Fluvanna history to the Goochland Historical Society library. The group could not have been treated in more warm and welcoming manner by the hosts. The Goochland County Historical Society would like to thank The Fluvanna County Historical Society for their time and knowledge in what we hope will be an ongoing partnership between our two organizations. This was planned to be the first of many trips to neighboring historical societies surrounding Goochland. The hoped for outcome of these visits will be the sharing of information as we are all try to do our part in preserving the rich history of this part of Virginia.

Contributed by James Richmond of the Goochland County Historical Society