Moonshine and Old Age

2 Feb

Mary Manley’s grave marker

Recently while looking for unrecorded cemeteries in the county, we came across on the grave of what appears to be one of the longest lived Goochland County residents. That person is Mary Lou Napier Manley. Her grave has just a funeral home marker, which is barely legible in early 2017, some 35 years after her death. She was buried in the Beasley Cemetery near Columbia.


Martha Napier and Mary Manley c. 1930

Mary Lou was born on September 12, 1870 and died March 1, 1982, making her 111 years old at death. We found her death certificate on the internet. Local legend has it that Mary Lou operated a moonshine still in the Goochland County woods just outside of Columbia. The archives of the Goochland County Historical Society contain a photograph of Mary and her mother, Mary Napier in jail after being convicted on December 8, 1930 for operating a still in Goochland. She died in Charlottesville in a nursing home. If she made moonshine, she must have drunk it as well which leads us to the conclusion of this short tale – Drinking moonshine must not be very hazardous to one’s longevity.

Contributed by Richard Toler of the Goochland County Historical Society.

To read more about The Moonshine Ladies pictured above, check out our post from August 31, 2014 here.


2017: A Year of Changes

31 Jan

Greetings and Happy New Year!

First, I want to recognize those who are leaving their positions with the Society. After 16 years as Executive Director, Phyllis Silber retired at the end of December. I wish to extend thanks and recognition to her for all her many accomplishments and years of dedicated service. She led the Society to unprecedented growth in both membership and scope of activities. In 2016 alone, the Old Stone Jail restoration was completed, with the ribbon cutting in the fall. However, the Courthouse Green Project continues with work on the Old Clerk’s Office. Also, 2016 saw the publication of Phyllis’s book UNDER


Phyllis Silber and Rossie Fisher

EVERY TREE: A Guide to Finding Your Roots in Virginia which has been well received by the genealogy community. While we will certainly miss Phyllis, we wish her the very best in her retirement.

Bonnie Stamm left her part-time position as Office Manager in November for a full-time position at another non-profit in the Richmond area. While we will miss Bonnie’s friendly attitude and excellent technology skills, we wish her the greatest success in her new employment.

A search for a new Executive Director and Office Manager will get underway shortly. In the meantime, Christina Dunn has agreed to serve as Interim Executive Director and Ginny Olsen as Office Manager; both are members of the Board and current volunteers. With extra hours of assistance by our dedicated volunteers, the Society’s office hours will remain the same and all services, publications, and member activities and events will continue as usual.

We welcome the two newest members of the Board of Directors: Alan Crouch, Assistant Dean of the School of Business at Reynold’s Community College and William Quarles, former Chairman of the Goochland County Board of Supervisors. Thank you to those who have agreed to continue to serve on the Board of Directors, on our various committees, and as volunteers.

As an organization, we have been highly dependent on member support for our successes over the years. As a result we have had an impressive record of accomplishing ambitious projects and doing so in a timely and professional manner. The Courthouse Green Project is the latest of these. Plans for 2017 include turning the Old Clerk’s Office into a small museum and visitor center; and installing another section of the commemorative pavers on the central walk, as well as interpretive signs in strategic locations on the Green. Bruce Venter, First Vice President, is arranging for speakers of the highest quality for our membership meetings, lectures and book signings; the Publications Committee is already working on the 2017 magazine and the 2018 calendar; and I am working with the YMCA to plan new History Walks.

These accomplishments are made possible through the collective efforts of the Society’s officers, Board of Directors, committee members, volunteers, and staff, but, most importantly, it is you, the members, who are the heart of the organization. I strongly encourage you to continue your interest, keep informed of and participate in the Society’s activities, and make your recommendations and suggestions known to the officers, Board, and staff. We want to hear from you and we need to hear from you. While we have a strong organization, there is always room for improvement and new direction. We believe 2017 will be an exciting year for the Society.

Warm regards,

C. Scott Johnson, President

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!


Lost Goochland – The Crawford Place

6 Oct

Crawford home0001 webIn the archives of the Goochland County Historical Society, there are many photographs of homes, some still standing and some that are not. The Crawford home falls into the latter category. The photo is from a yellowed news article that was published in the Goochland Gazette.

This ancient house is said to have been built by a member of the Crawford family, some of whom came from Scotland after the unsuccessful rising of the Clans against the House of Hanover in 1745. The date on the chimney is 1774.

We do know that the house was located near Broad Street Road (Rt. 250) in Centerville and was last owned by Mr. Crawford Davis. The home fell victim to fire sometime in the mid 1900’s. If you have any information on this house or have photographs of other long forgotten homes, please share them with the society so that we may add them to the story of Goochland for future generations. You can stop in anytime during business hours so that we may scan your photographs for preservation in our collection. We will only keep the original if you would like us to, otherwise, it is your to keep. Don’t let Goochland’s past be forgotten.

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.

Y History Walk – Back to the Prison

13 Aug

James River Correctional Center

On Sunday, June 26, 2016, more than 50 people gathered on the lawn in front of the clock tower at the James River Correctional Center property. They were there to take part in the second Y History Walk tour of the old prison property. Assistant Warden Nikki Linamen greeted all and gave a brief history of the property. The walking tour then began.


Anxiously awaiting the tour

A tour of the old chapel which was followed by an in depth look at the deserted cell block housed in the clock tower building. This was followed by a tour of the segregation building where prisoners who didn’t follow the rules were taken to seperate them from the general population. Following the prison buildings was a walk out to the historic brick kilns that once produced bricks that were used all over the state.


Inside of one of the cell blocks

Thank you to the Virginia Department of Corrections for making the property available to us for the afternoon and thank you to Assistant Warden Nikki Linamen for taking time out of her day to escort us around the property and answer the myriad of questions that were thrown her way. It was a wonderful afternoon and a fun and informative tour.


Bricks were produced here that were used all over the state.

Graduation Day

5 Jun

This weekend marks the end of the school year for Goochland students and the end of High School for the Class of 2016. This weekend also marked the occasion of at least one class reunion. At the class reunion for the Goochland High School Class of 1950, the following piece of history was shared. It is a small booklet that must have been handed out for an end of the year gathering and according to the names listed, it is from about 1905 or 1906. Following the picture is a poem by an unknown author, that was printed in the booklet.


The Close of School.


My pupils, ‘tis the end of school.

The term has reached its close;

We’ll say our farewells, go our ways,

And get an earned repose.

The bell no more will ring for you.

Until we meet again,

And sweet may your enjoyment be

Between this time and then.


Our separation’s long or short,

There’s only One can tell,

But what He does is always best,

As you all know full well.

,But oft I’ll think as days go by

Of all my pupils dear;

My thoughts will wander back to you

Thro’ all the coming year.


My wishes best go with you all,

My aid’s at your command

To fit you for life’s battles fierce,

To lend a helping hand.

Our meeting here from day to day.

Has knit us in a tie

Of friendship kindness and good will,

Which time will sanctify.


I’ve labored hard to teach you well,

True knowledge to impart,

To train the mind in wisdom’s ways,

And educate the heart.

And well I know our coming here

For months, from day to day,

Has done you good and fitted you

To find life’s better way.


You’ve laid foundations sure and strong,

On which to build a life,

That in the future time will shine

And triumph over strife.

But oft your thoughts will backward turn

To school of youthful days,

Where oft as boys and girls you met

When life was all ablaze


The time to say last words has come,

But ere we hence depart,

My thanks to you for kindness shown

I give with all my heart.

And now farewell! The day declines,

The sun is on the wane,

The shadows fall, the curtain drops

We break our school days chain.

One of the names listed is that of Blanche Layne. Read more about her school life in this earlier post, Memories of Cardwell High School.