Tag Archives: Dr. Bruce Venter

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



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.

2014 Holiday Meeting

31 Dec

On Sunday, December 7, 2014, the Goochland County Historical Society held its annual Holiday meeting at historic Ben Dover in Manakin-Sabot.

Ben Dover

Ben Dover

The 1853 house was a big draw for the approximately 100 people who attended. Owner Louisa Preston gave us a quick history of the house and grounds and then the meeting moved on to Society business. President Wayne Dementi proposed the 2015 Board. Christina Dunn and Peter Gretz were then named and approved as the two newest Board members.

Delicious treats!

Delicious treats!

Lord Cornwallis (Bruce Venter) was our speaker for the day. His entertaining and informative performance kept everyone’s attention.

Lord Cornwallis (Bruce Venter)

Lord Cornwallis (Bruce Venter)

A big thank you goes out to the Preston family for making Ben Dover available for our meeting. Thanks very much to Louise Thompson for making sure the spread of treats was laid out for everyone to enjoy. Thank you to outgoing Board members Temple Bayliss, Bruce Venter, Sam Smith and Richard Carchman for your service to the Society. Also, thank you to our members for your support in 2014. Here’s to hoping that 2015 will be even better!

Christmas Meeting 2012

19 Dec

Goochland County Historical Society held its member Christmas Party this year at “British Camp”, the home of Clark and Harriet Meader.

British Camp

British Camp

Originally constructed in Chesterfield County, “British Camp” gets its name from the events attached to it during the Revolutionary War. In 1781, British Major-General William Phillips used the house as his office and bivouacked his men on the grounds before the Battle of Petersburg. Phillips was on his way to meet Benedict Arnold and Lord Cornwallis but died from fever 5 months before Yorktown. By 1965, the historic house had fallen into disrepair and was threatened with destruction. Ray Carter purchased the house, dismantled and later rebuilt it in Goochland County. In 1990, “British Camp” became the home of Ray Carter’s daughter Harriet and her husband Clark M. Meader.

The back stairway

The back stairway

The original L-shaped house has many original window panes and woodworkings. Two beautiful staircases lead to the second floor and there are nine working fireplaces in the house. Many of the fireplaces have original mantels from which Mr. Carter painstakingly removed decades of accumulated paint, down to the original wood.

Bruce Venter in full British uniform provided a historic spirit to the proceedings.

Bruce Venter in full British uniform provided a historic spirit to the proceedings.

The Christmas party began with Harriet Meader telling the history of the house and then moved onto the election of new officers. Outgoing President Peter Rippe presided over the election of a new President, Wayne Dementi, and new board members, Dr. L. Ray Drinkwater, Angela Pell and Sam A. Smith. After this, social time began around a gloriously decorated Christmas tree and a roaring fire in the fireplace. Wine and refreshments were served in the dining room and the owners encouraged the attendees to tour the house.

Ennion Williams, Ray Drinkwater, Mary Williams and Sam Smith.

Ennion Williams, Ray Drinkwater, Mary Williams and Sam Smith.

We would like to thank Clark and Harriet Meader for their generous hospitality. This was a wonderful party and great ending to 2012.


Board of Directors 2013

Wayne Dementi, President

Bruce Venter, 1st Vice President

Steve Fleming, 2nd Vice President

Louise Thompson, Secretary

Gerald Hagen, Treasurer

James Richmond, Archivist

J. Temple Bayliss

Jane Delores Bowles

L. Ray Drinkwater

Scott Johnson

Jess Lockhart

Jeff Mabry

Ginny Olsen

Angelene Pell

Sam A. Smith

Ennion Williams

John M. Williamson, Esq., Registered Agent

Dahlgren’s Raid & Civil War Letters

28 Sep

Goochland Branch-Pamunkey Regional Library

A standing room only crowd was on hand on Thursday, September 27, 2012 to hear a presentation on Dahlgren’s Raid and to hear a reading from the Civil War letters of William Callis Kean. The meeting room at the Goochland Branch of the Pamunkey Regional Library was filled to capacity for the first in a weekend long series of events surrounding the reenactment of Dahlgren’s Raid.

Dr. Bruce Venter of America’s History (americashistoryllc.com/) gave a wonderful presentation on the Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Raid that took place in 1864. In rapt attention, the audience listened as Dr. Venter, through the use of slides and props, set up the circumstances leading up to the Raid through the aftermath surrounding its eventual failure. His thorough knowledge of the event along with several amusing anectdotes educated and entertained all in attendance.

Bruce Venter

After a question and answer session, Scott Johnson took the floor to read a letter written by William Callis Kean after the Battle of Bull Run in 1861. Johnson eloquently gave voice to a man experiencing the horrors of war and deprivation of spirit that many went through during the American Civil War. Silence reigned as listeners imagined what life would have been like for these boys and young men living through the tragedy of war.

On display were several items of Dr. Venter’s including a Civil War rifle, a Harper’s Weekly magazine featuring news of the failed Raid and the death of Ulric Dahlgren and a carte de visite of Judson Kilpatrick. John T.B. Mudge (www.thefamilyletters.com), visiting from New Hampshire for the Raid reenactment, brought some of his family items including Annie Jenning Wise Hobson’s diary which details her involvement in the raid. Mrs. Hobson was living at Eastwood, one of the plantations visited by Dahlgren and his troops in 1864 and wrote a first hand account of that fateful day in her diary.

This was a wonderful event and a wonderful start to an exciting weekend. We hope everyone has a chance to take in one of the planned events as the Yankees come riding through Goochland once again!

Colonel Ulric Dahlgren Rides Again

11 Sep

The Goochland County Historical Society (GCHS) is sponsoring a “Dahlgren’s Raid” event through Goochland County on September 28-30, 2012 as a Civil War Sesquicentennial educational event.  The three-day event will cross Goochland from Oilville to Tuckahoe Plantation along River Road following Colonel Ulric Dahlgren’s original route.  On Sunday, September 30, the event will conclude with a reenactment of Dahlgren’s mounted attack on Richmond’s Local Defense Troops, which is planned to occur at Tuckahoe Plantation.

For over a year, the GCHS has been working in cooperation with Goochland County’s Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee, 2nd US Cavalry, Company D, a mounted reenactment/living history group and Goochland County officials to arrange this exciting event.  It would not be possible without the efforts of the GCHS director, Phyllis Silber, who has organized logistical support, fundraising and volunteers, and Deep Run Hunt Club member, Ginny Perrin, who helped secure landowner permissions for the cavalrymen to follow Dahlgren’s original route.  Throughout the weekend, Rick Smith, who represents the 2nd US Cavalry, will be portraying Col. Dahlgren while GCHS Vice-President, Bruce Venter, will be riding with the troopers.

Rick Smith, 2nd US Cavalry, Company D

September 27

Dahlgren’s Raid & Civil War Letters

Pamunkey Regional Library – Goochland Branch – 6:30 p.m.

A story of military intrigue sets the stage for the recreation of Dahlgren’s Raid, accompanied by a reading of local wartime letters. Presented by Bruce Venter, America’s History (americashistoryllc.com/).

September 28

The Raid begins.  There will be a demonstration for Goochland County school children during the day and a reception at Sabot Hill at night. 

Sabot Hill Reception.  The GCHS is pleased to announce that Sabot Hill, the home of Mr. And Mrs. John Van der Hyde, will be the location for a reception to be held during the reenactment.  Space is very limited, if you would like to attend this event, tickets are $60.00 per person.  Please contact the GCHS for more information at 556-3966.

September 29

Brookview Farm.  The Raiders will pass the James Pleasants marker, Hebron Church, Dover Steam Mill Ruins and enter Brookview Farm.  There will be a Pass in Review of the troops and time for pictures with the reenactors.  Parking for the event will be on the grounds of Brookview Farm and will be $5.00 per vehicle.  Car-pooling is suggested, as parking will be limited to the first 50 cars.  Please be on the grounds and parked by 2:30, once the Raiders cross onto the property, no more cars will be allowed access.

Former slave cabin on the grounds of Brookview Farm

September 30

The Raid concludes at Tuckahoe Plantation with a reenactment of the mounted attack on Richmond’s defenses.

Don’t miss this opportunity to witness a spectacular sight!  For more information and details about the Dahlgren’s Raid event, please contact the Goochland County Historical Society at 556-3966

History in 3-D: The Fall Meeting

26 Aug

Time for 3-D!

On August 26, 2012, the Goochland County Historical Society held its annual Fall Meeting. The meeting was held in the Community Room on the Goochland Campus of J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College.

Goochland Historical Society Vice-President Dr. Bruce Venter introduced the speaker for the afternoon, Michael Gorman. Mr. Gorman, a historian with the National Park Service, is generally regarded to be an expert on Civil War photography. He presented an excellent presentation of Civil War photographs in 3-D. He explained to the attendees that an estimated 70% of photographs from the Civil War era were made to be presented on stereographic cards, an early form of 3-D.

Michael Gorman

At the time of their creation, stereoscope devices were the rage and people clamored for the cards to view in them. These were costly investments and the war pictures were not popular due to a war-weary public. As a result, some of the photographers sold their collections to the government which has enabled us to have such unprecedented access to these images.

3-D viewers: View-masters (top) and Stereoscope (bottom)

The show “Civil War Richmond in 3-D” presented images that have been seen for years in their “flattened” versions now returned to their stereographic form. These pictures were highly planned and composed by the photographers to make them works of art. This is the way these pictures were meant to be seen and appreciated. In their original form, these images transport you back 150 years and can be both amazing and moving to behold. This show should not be missed.

A stereographic card of Castle Thunder, one of Richmond’s notorious Civil War prisons

After the show, the Hospitality Committee, headed by Louise Thompson and Carolyn Comerford, provided fresh fruit, cheese, muffins, cookies and punch for the attendees. It was also an opportunity to view the photographic installation that the historical society had placed in the public rooms of the Community College. If you have time, please stop and see these photographs of Goochland’s history.

The afternoon was a great success and everyone in attendance seemed to have enjoyed themselves immensely. We would like to thank Michael Gorman and the Park Service for such an incredible presentation. Remember, next month will be a busy one with the events surrounding the Dahlgren’s Raid reenactment. We hope to see you there!

J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College – Goochland Campus

For more on the Civil War in Richmond, please visit Michael Gorman’s site, www.mdgorman.com or The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar in downtown Richmond.