World War I Soldiers Remembered: Frederick Douglas Ball

8 Feb
FrederickDouglasBall post

Frederick Douglas Ball, October 15, 1918, in camp

Frederick Douglas Ball was born April 24, 1897 in Albert Lea, Minnesota. Frederick was a 21 year old Elk Hill farmer when he was drafted on September 5, 1918 and sent to Camp Lee. According to his Registration Card, we know he was single, tall and had blue eyes and dark brown hair. Frederick’s father was Frank D. Ball and his mother was Florence Yates from England.

He was inducted into service on September 5, 2018 and sent to Camp Lee, Virginia, assigned to Co. A, 4th Battalion. He left Norfolk, Virginia on October 27, 1918. Frederick boarded the USS Koningin der Nederlander, a Danish ship that had been seized by the U.S. Government for service after entry into World War I. He arrived at Brest France on November 9, 1918. Shortly after he arrived in France, he was transferred to Machine Gun Co. 161 where he served for the duration of the war.

Ball arrived back at Newport News aboard the Battleship Georgia on February 22, 1919 and was officially discharged on March 5 of the same year. About his service, he wrote “am in every way satisfied with the military service and am highly pleased with my military training and proud of few experiences in the A.E.F.”

Frederick stayed in Goochland a few years after the war and then moved to Williamsburg. He passed away on August 17, 1960 and is buried in the James River Baptist Church cemetery in Williamsburg, Virginia.

FrederickDouglasBall post 2

Taken May 28, 1918

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


World War I Soldiers Remembered: Henry Alvis

1 Feb

We are bringing our readers a new series of posts to commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War I. Each post will feature a photograph and known service record/biography of Goochlanders who served during the Great War. We would love to feature more of our service men and women and are always looking for more photographs and details.

Henry Alvis post

Henry Benjamin Alvis

Henry Benjamin Alvis

Henry Alvis was born March 17, 1896 in Sabot, Virginia. Henry was a 21 year old farmer when he was drafted in September of 1918 and sent to Camp Lee. According to his Registration Card, we know he was single, tall and had brown eyes and black hair. Unfortunately, we don’t have much in the way of a service record for Henry because like a lot of the men and women, he did not fill out a questionnaire after the war.

Henry moved to Richmond after he returned from Europe and worked for a dairy. He married twice and lived to be 90. He passed away on September 22, 1986 and is buried in Riverview Cemetery in Richmond.

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

Hebron School c. 1906-1910

11 Jan

Hebron School

This photograph is a picture of the student of Hebron School taken in about 1906-1910. The school stood across the road from Hebron Presbyterian Church in Manakin-Sabot, Virginia. The photograph was donated to the society by Eva Briesmaster Henley who identified 5 of the people in the picture.

  1. Daisey Goodman
  2. Willis Goodman
  3. Miss Mollie Blue Johnson, teacher
  4. Willie Briesmaster
  5. Harry Briesmaster

We would love to put names to the other children in the photograph. It is always distressing to think that their shining faces will remain nameless. These are someones relatives: parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts or uncles. They need names to make sure they will never be forgotten. This is one of the jobs of that a Historical Society takes most seriously. No one should ever be forgotten.

If anyone out there can help us put names to faces, please send us a note. As they come in, we will update this picture to reflect what we have learned. Put on your thinking caps and begin sleuthing, we need lots of help on this one!

Mount Bernard

1 Dec


Mount Bernard is a brick residence that was built circa 1850. The house is believed to have been built on the foundation of an 18th century dwelling. The home has been altered and enlarged several times. Most notably, in the 1920’s the façade of the home was changed to Classical Revival which was then in vogue. More additions were done in the 1940’s to the sides and rear of the home which turned the original T-shaped plan into a rectangle. Behind the home the terraced lawn descends towards the river.


The first known owner of the tract was Phillip Lightfoot. He acquired the land before Goochland became a county and in the beginning the property was known as Lightfoot’s Beaverdam Plantation. In 1782, Lightfoot’s heirs sold the 700 acre property to Dr. William Pasteur. In 1805, the property was sold again, this time to Granville Smith under its new name, Kameschatka. The property then changed hands again, this time to Edward Garland. While Garland was owner, the original house burned, it is this foundation that is believed to be under the present day structure. In 1848, the home was once again sold, this time to Mathew M. Payne. In 1858, the home changed hands again, this time under the name of Mount Bernard, to Richard G Morriss.

Mount Bernard drawing

Drawing of Mount Bernard by a daughter of Major William N. Barret. Courtesy of Virginia State Library.

More owners would call Mount Bernard their home until 1925 when it became the property of Piedmont Securities and was by that time 1,559 acres. R.W. Woodruff, the owner of Coca-Cola, was on the board of Piedmont Securities and it is in this way that he took control of Mount Bernard. During his time there, he enlarged the house, changed the façade to Classical Revival, added barns and landscaped the house to fit his style of living.


In 1948, Mount Bernard changed hands again, this time to another businessman, T. Brady Saunders. Saunders at the time was running Miller Manufacturing and Liphart Steel Company. He owned Mount Bernard for 20 years during which he began to break up the acreage. In 1963, Saunders gave 200 acres to the Boy Scouts for what became known as Camp T. Brady Saunders. In 1978, the house and a portion of the acreage was sold to Carmody Associates and finally in 1985, Dr. Donald P and Maria Becker purchased the home.


The antebellum home is surrounded by contributing buildings such as a secondary residence, ice house and cool chamber, main barn/stable, slave quarters/kitchen, corn crib, two stables, equipment shelter and a well house. This grouping of house and buildings was enough to earn the property inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.

Saunders Photo Collection Gifted To The Goochland Historical Society

25 Oct

Jane Quinn Saunders

The Goochland Historical Society is pleased to announce the gift of a large photo collection of a prominent mid-20th century local photographer, Jane Quinn Saunders, who passed away in 2005. The gift was made by her sister, Ann Lee Saunders Brown.



“We are thrilled to add the wonderful “Photograph Collection of Jane Saunders” to our archives” stated Scott Johnson, President. Scott added “The collection is large, and will become a treasured archive in interpreting and celebrating Goochland’s great history. We can’t wait to reveal and celebrate Ms. Saunders’ images with our community.”


Jane Quinn Saunders and Ann Lee Saunders Brown

Jane Quinn Saunders (1916-2005), moved from her home in the Ginter Park section of Richmond to Tuckahoe Point Farm in eastern Goochland in the mid-1930’s, where she remained until her death in 2005. Jane focused on photography as a hobby, and fortunately documented and preserved the collection. Her collection spans the 2nd half of the 20th century. Her devotion to Goochland County helped shape the subject matter of her photography. She was active in the Goochland Garden Club and St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, where she served as a Sunday school teacher during WWII. She loved farm life, and was active in the Virginia Cattlemen’s Association.

Upon her passing in 2005, Jane left her large photograph collection with her sister, Ann Lee Saunders Brown. Mrs. Brown donated this collection, on behalf of her sister, to the Goochland Historical Society. The collection of slides and prints was presented in 12 cases and contains over 5,000 images. A large number of images involve Virginia wild flowers, inspired by her involvement with the Garden Club of Virginia. Other significant topics of her collection include farm life, historic homes of Goochland and a mid-1950’s archive of the first major film screening conducted at Tuckahoe Plantation.

Aspenwall 4

Aspenwall – Photograph by Jane Quinn Saunders

For questions, please call the Goochland County Historical Society at 556-3966

Lost Goochland – The Barn Dinner Theater

28 Sep


The Barn Rainmaker May 27 1965The Barn Dinner Theater once stood alongside Patterson Avenue where Route 288 is today. The theater, which opened in 1963, was housed in a converted barn and featured a central stage that rose up and down to change scenes. Reservations for the evening would included dinner along with the show. Following the show, the actors would serve dessert to the patrons.


The theater featured mostly farce style plays, one particular show, “The Drunkard”, even asked the audience to boo and hiss at the villain and cheer on the hero!

The Drunkard Sept 2 1965

The theater changed owners in 1977 and became the West End Dinner Theater before finally closing in 1980, a victim of changing times. After closing as a theater, the barn became a shop for a period of time. The building was later demolished to make way for road construction. If anyone has memorabilia or photographs of this theater, please contact the society at 804-556-3966 or at We would love to be able to better document this long gone Goochland attraction!

The James River and Kanawha Canal

25 Aug

The James River and Kanawha Canal was to have been the key to Virginia becoming the economic center of the emerging United States in the late 1700’s. The project was envisioned by George Washington who surveyed and planned for the canal. In 1785, the James River Company was formed. A name change would create the James River and Kanawha Canal Company.


The purpose of the canal was to create a way to ship goods and people inland from Richmond. The hope was to connect the James River with the Kanawha River (in present day West Virginia) that would then connect to the Ohio River, the Mississippi River and finally to the Gulf of Mexico.

The problems began almost immediately. Floods and a shortage of funds hindered progress considerably. By 1790, a seven mile stretch from Richmond to Westham had opened. The War of 1812 caused it to slow as did the construction through the Piedmont’s rocky terrain. In 1820, the Commonwealth of Virginia took over the project and by 1825 the canal had reached Maidens Adventure in Goochland.  By 1851, the canal reached its furthest point, Buchanan, 196.5 miles west of Richmond.


The Lock-keepers House at Cedar Point

The canal met further delays during the Civil War when goods and people were not moving. Following the Civil War, the final blow to the canal came with the completion of railroad service to the Ohio River. In 1878, the James River and Kanawha Canal Company gave up and sold its towpaths to the Richmond and Allegheny Railroad Company. Turning basins, towpaths, and lock-keepers houses began to disappear with the rise of the locomotive.

Genito Culvert

Genito culvert

Beginning in the late 20th century there was a renewed interest in the old canal. In 1971, a 138 acre James River and Kanawha Canal Historic District was created. Richmond has a Canal Walk that stretches for 1.25 miles and Scottsville has a wonderful Canal exhibit. Goochland has the last remaining Lock-keepers house which was built in 1836 to serve Lock Number 7 at Cedar Point. There are also still a few culverts and aqueducts hidden in the woods along the old towpath which itself can still be seen in several places alongside of River Road West. Possibly one day Goochland itself will have a Canal Park to commemorate the part it once played in Washington’s great vision.