Tag Archives: James Richmond

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.

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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

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Amazing things are happening in Goochland!

13 Aug
D. Brad Hatch and Jennifer McDonough

D. Brad Hatch and Jennifer McDonough

200-year-old bricks found at the center of the Courthouse columns! Footing for a 20-30 foot high brick wall that surrounded the stone jail was uncovered! Recently, archaeologists D. Brad Hatch and Jennifer McDonough from Dovetail Cultural Resource Group came to the Courthouse Green at the behest of the Historical Society to search for the footings of the wall long thought to have existed around the jail.

Various items found during excavation

Various items found during excavation

The first hole tried showed evidence of the long missing wall and immediately, the archaeologists started bringing things up that had been covered for a century or more. Nail, bits of pottery and ceramic, pieces of glass, chunks of brick and a 1905 Indian head penny.

1905 Indian head penny

1905 Indian head penny

The dig continued as the searchers tried spot after spot searching for more evidence of footings. Starting from the first hole, the pair moved outward, away from the jail and then across the jail yard looking for more evidence. Finally, with a little help from some ground penetrating radar equipment, the remains of the former wall were found in a large enough quantity to establish the size and length. Goochland’s nineteenth century jail wall had been proved to have existed!

The proof of the former wall.

The proof of the former wall.

Most of what is left in the ground is the rubble that was left when the wall was pushed down a century ago. Pieces of brick and cement remain as a testament to the walls that once surrounded jails in Virginia in the 1800’s. Once these structures were deemed no longer of use, most were taken down. The bricks were often used in other structures and what was left was pushed down and covered over as is the case in Goochland. This is just the first step in the upcoming restoration of the Old Stone Jail.

Courthouse column

Courthouse column

A few days after the excavation, workmen came to patch and paint the columns on the front of the historic Courthouse. During the patching, the bricks that make up the interior of the columns were briefly exposed. The is possibly the first time these bricks have seen the light of day in almost 200 years! What will turn up next?

Contributed by James Richmond of the Goochland County Historical Society

Y History Walk – “The State Farm”

15 Jul

On Sunday, July 12, the Historical Society in cooperation with the Goochland YMCA held a history walk at the site of the old James River Correctional Center, known to long time Goochlanders as the “State Farm”. Thirty walkers showed up in what turned out to be wonderful weather to tour some of the oldest buildings on the prison grounds and as a bonus, we got to take a trip to the old brick foundry.

The group in front of the brick foundry

The group in front of the brick foundry

After a welcome and introduction by Society President, Wayne Dementi, Warden Jeff Dillman and Assistant Warden Nikki Linamen took over the group. They told about the founding of the prison in Goochland and gave details about the different Wardens, Surgeons and activities from the earliest period through to the closure as a State Penitentiary.

Our tour leaders: Warden Jeff Dillman and Assistant Warden Nikki Linamen

Our tour leaders: Warden Jeff Dillman and Assistant Warden Nikki Linamen

Next, the group was led into the Chapel which was completed in 1914. The cruciform building is now a shell, but the slag glass windows and one stained glass window remain. This building and several others on the prison grounds are now used by the movie industry as sets standing in for various prisons around the country.

The cell block from inside the exercise yard

The cell block from inside the exercise yard

We were then led into the old cell block. This beautiful building with a clock tower conceals rows of bunk beds that were used into this century to house prisoners. Today, some of the beds are still in place for use by the movie industry while other portions have been cleaned out.

One of the cells in the segregation building

One of the cells in the segregation building

We also got a look at the former exercise yard which still has weight benches set up seemingly waiting to be used again by incarcerated persons. We also got a look at an older building just off the yard which is also still set up as a movie set.

Abandoned equipment still on the exercise yard

Abandoned equipment still on the exercise yard

As a special treat, the Warden and Assistant Warden led us down the hill to the site of the brick foundry. This site dates back to the founding of the prison and produced brick until the 1950’s. Some of the bricks produced went to the sidewalks and reconstruction at Colonial Williamsburg among other places. Three large kilns still stand with their arched roofs intact. It was quite a site and several in the crowd of walkers couldn’t resist going inside the large buildings where they were treated to the oculus in the top of the dome.

Inside of one of the brick kilns

Inside of one of the brick kilns

This was a wonderful adventure for all that attended. The Society would like to thank Warden Jeffrey Dillman and Assistant Warden Nikki Linamen for their research on the site and presentation to the attendees. They were excellent tour guides around a beautiful place with it’s interesting history.

Everyone enjoyed the old brick foundry

Everyone enjoyed the old brick foundry

Contributed by James Richmond of the Goochland County Historical Society

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

Lost Goochland – Ben Lomond

25 Jan
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Ben Lomond in 1976 during the fateful restoration.

Goochland’s Ben Lomond is named after a mountain on the banks of Loch Lomond in Scotland. The name Ben Lomond comes from the Scottish Gaelic Beinn Laomainn which translates to Beacon Mountain. In 1736, Isham Randolph, Sr. of Turkey Island in Henrico County, was granted a Royal Patent for 3,000 acres in Goochland County. It was on a part of this land that he built his mansion, Dungeness. Isham’s grandson, Archibald Cary Randolph bought the property that comprises Ben Lomond from the Dungeness estate in the late 1700’s and built his own house. An 1801 insurance policy shows that the original house was roughly the size of the central portion of the house as shown in the picture above. One of Randolph’s passions was horses and it was on this farm that famed racehorse Sir Archie was foaled in 1805.

The ruins of Ben Lomond

The ruins of Ben Lomond

In 1806, Archibald Cary Randolph was forced to sell Ben Lomond and his horses to pay debts. Archibald was also known to be particularly bad with money.  In a case heard before the Supreme Court, Archibald along with his two brothers, were said to be “notoriously insolvent” and had wasted their father’s estate. Archibald sent Sir Archie went to his partner William Tayloe and Ben Lomond was sold to Benjamin Watkins. The property passed down through the Watkins family for several generations and then went through a succession of owners: Van Mater, Schuett, Hazelwood, Rutherfoord, Bremner, Lewis, Hicks, Woodruff and Liebert to name a few.

The house has been described as a two-story, central passage plan house that was popular in the eighteenth century. Houses built in a similar style in Goochland include Tuckahoe, Rock Castle. In the 1970’s, Ben Lomond was undergoing an extensive restoration and renovation  project when it caught fire. Neighbors could only stand in awe as the historic structure succumbed to the intense heat before the fire department could arrive. All that remains today is the western chimney, brick foundation and the steps. Strewn amongst the ground cover are fallen bricks from the massive eastern chimney, broken glass and pieces of metal. Two beautiful magnolia trees and scattered boxwoods give evidence of the park-like grounds that must have once existed. A few crumbling outbuildings stand as reminders of the once magnificent farm are slowly following the manor house into oblivion.

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Past the decimated structure and just beyond the edge of the wood line is a square stone wall, the age of which is unknown. Inside this enclosure is speculated to be the grave of Sir Archie (1803-1833). He was the greatest racehorse of his day and sired many champions in his years at stud. His line went on to produce Man O’War, Seabiscuit and Secretariat to name just a few. Part of the mystery surrounding Sir Archie is his burial place. Sir Archie spent his last 17 years at stud at Mowfield Plantation, just west of Jackson, North Carolina which also lays claim as his place of burial. For decades, this has been a heated debate.

Burial place of Sir Archie?

Burial place of Sir Archie?

The loss of Ben Lomond was another devastating blow to that part of Goochland. By the time of the fire, the historic area of Rock Castle had already lost Dungeness and Mannsville, both with Randolph connections, and Bolling’s Orapax. Today Ben Lomond survives as a haunting ruin that can only hint at its former glory.

Contributed by James Richmond of the Goochland County Historical Society

To learn more about Ben Lomond: read Volume 3-1 of the Goochland County Historical Society’s magazine.

Byrd Presbyterian Church

23 Apr

Byrd Presbyterian Church is located four miles west of Goochland County’s Courthouse. The rectangular brick structure is considered to be an outstanding example of the simple brick churches built in Virginia during the 19th century.

Byrd Presbyterian Church

Byrd Presbyterian Church

Begun in 1837 and finished in 1838, the church was constructed using Flemish bond on the front and common bond on the 3 surrounding sides. Originally there were two front doors. One door served the main floor while the other provided access to the balcony. There is also evidence that originally a front portico was planned, but never built. The building has managed to retain many of its original features including a slate roof, interior fittings, and twelve original windows with their rare 19th century venetian blinds. During renovations in the 1880’s, the two doors were changed to one central door and modernizations such as a metal pressed ceiling, tongue-and-groove wainscoting and moveable pews were added. Behind the church is a large, for its congregation, cemetery with headstones dating back to the 1850’s. Many Goochland notables are buried there including the Purchasing agent for the Confederacy in London and several descendants of Patrick Henry.

Samuel Davies

Samuel Davies

Byrd’s congregation is a direct descendant of a group organized in 1748 by the Reverend Samuel Davies, a leader in the fight for religious freedom in Colonial Virginia. The group began meeting in Tucker Woodson’s barn on land near the Goochland Courthouse. In 1759, land was acquired near Byrd Creek for the purpose of erecting a new place of worship. This building remained in use until deterioration forced the congregation to share nearby Lickinghole Church. In 1837, Samuel and Mary Finch conveyed 1 acre of land in the Belham community to the Presbyterian elders. On this land, the current church was built and dedicated as Union Church. It would remain “Union” or “Brick Union Church” until 1883. At that time, the congregation decided to change the name back to the earlier “Byrd Church”.

The outline of the original door can be seen to the right of the current door.

The outline of the original door can be seen to the right of the current door.

In the fall of 2000, Byrd Presbyterian Church was added to the National Register of Historic Places. It is notable for its architectural significance, location, cemetery and its connection to Samuel Davies. The beautiful landscape surrounding Byrd Church as well as its history makes it a wonderful stop on any tour of historic Goochland places.

Contributed by James Richmond of the Goochland County Historical Society

To learn more about Byrd Church: read Volume 20 of the Goochland County Historical Society’s magazine.