May 2001 Newsletter, Surry County, Virginia, Historical Society and Museums, Inc. Surry County Virginia Historical Society and Museums, Inc.
Surry County, Virginia, Historical Society and Museums, Inc.
P. O. Box 262, Surry, VA 23883   Phone (757) 294-0404
E-mail address: [email protected].
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May 2001 Newsletter
Monday May 14,2001, AT 7:00 P. M. at the SURRY COUNTY VA. RECREATIONAL CENTER.

Dear Historical Society Member,

Take note that on Monday May 14, 2001 there will be the Annual Meeting of the Surry County, Virginia Historical Society and Museums, Inc. at the Surry County Recreational Center at 7:00 PM. In accordance with Article VII of the Bylaws, the Nominating Committee has presented the following slate of candidates for election to three positions on the Board of Directors for a three year term to end at the Annual Meeting in 2004.

  • Margaret S. Berryman, Surry, Virginia
  • Lilly Fields, Waverly, Virginia
  • W. E. Richardson Jr., Dendron, Virginia

This slate is submitted for election at the May l4, 2001 annual meeting. Under Article VII of the bylaws, additional names of candidates for the three directorship positions may be nominated from the floor of the Annual Meeting.

By all accounts, our March meeting was a great success. Attendance was over 60. David Hart presented a program on his grandfather, Cornealous C. Hart, a Surry County mulatto, freed by his father's will and then a lawsuit, who served in the Union Navy throughout most of the Civil War. He kept a diary of his service, one of two known, and passed it and many newspaper clippings and mementos through his family, now in possession of David Hart. David, his wife and daughter from Detroit, Michigan, along with another daughter and her husband, an Officer from Langley Air Force Base, and grandchildren, attended.

Many lingered after the meeting ended and talked with the Harts for nearly an hour. Often at our meetings, the best part is after the official meeting is over. People talk, look at displays and bring out our previously unknown and unshared history.

Our Speaker for the May meeting is Catherine Correll -Wall. Catherine grew up at Spring Grove, Surry County, Va. She graduated from William and Mary in History, and has worked as Curator of Collections at Chippokes Plantation. Since 1998 she has worked as Research/office manager with Dr. William Kelso, director of Archaeology at the APVA Jamestown Rediscovery Archaeological Project.

This project is ground zero, the most important archaeological dig in America. Add to that the unfolding plans for our 400 year anniversary celebration of the English settlement of America in 2007, and the visibility of our area will go off the scale.

Catherine will bring us up to date on the activities across the James River, and the opportunities for Surry County as the clock ticks down to 2007.

Surry, Va., To Surrey, England, Update!

This is an update on the proposed trip next year to Surry, England, in conjunction with the celebration of the 350th anniversary of the founding of Surry County. It will be sponsored by the 350th celebration group, with help of the Society. This is a tentative proposal, in consultation with Alice Elmore, tour director, who is consulting with a tour group in England and the officials of Surrey County, UK. Please recognize that it is impossible to get firm prices and schedules this far ahead.

Preliminary dates are Oct. 9th through Oct. 16, 2002. We plan to stay in one hotel in Guilford, Surrey County, for the entire trip. This means you unpack your suitcases only once and makes it a much easier trip. Plans are to include air transportation from some airport within driving distance. We may arrange a bus to get those from the Surry, Va., area to and from the airport.

While in England we will have an experienced local tour director who will make the arrangements and accompany the group. Transportation, rooms, fees and many, though not all, meals will be part of the package.

A highlight of the tour is a visit to the Surrey County History Center in Woking, UK. This is a new large facility with the latest technology to preserve, store and make available their long history. They have suggested a reception at their seat of government, County Hall, hosted by the Chairman of the Surrey County Council.

We will visit and tour many interesting and historic attractions in Surrey and nearby areas. Sites being considered are Runnymede, where the first freedoms were won by Englishmen; Windsor Castle, home to kings; prehistoric Stonehenge; The Roman baths at Bath; Canterbury Cathedral and, of course, London. There will be some free time, and of course, by staying at one place, you can always take a day off for rest or just poking around Guilford. Passenger trains run to downtown London from Guilford.

For first time foreign travelers, this trip should be a great way to start. The language is English; the food is similar to ours; you will be surrounded by friends and we will have a great support staff to help us.

The estimate of the cost of the trip is approximately $2,500.00 per person. Extras would include transportation to and from the airport in the US, trip insurance (if desired) to protect yourself from health problems that could arise, some meals, and, of course, whatever you buy.

While we are not in a position to make a firm offering this early, we do need some indication of the support for this trip. It will take a minimum of 20+ participants to make the trip possible, and the cost per traveler will reduce as the number increases.

To get some idea of participation, we ask that you contact the Historical Society. Please use the form at the end of this newsletter to give us some indication, and to insure that you receive all information on the trip. Final plans will be made available as soon as possible. Firm commitments and a deposit will be necessary by sometime in January, 2002.

History of the village of Surry Courthouse at the "Cross-Roads"

by Dennis Ray Hudgins

This is the first of a series of articles about the village at the "Cross-Roads" which is now the Surry Courthouse. Two key documents in the Surry records are included in this article and reveal the early inhabitants and their buildings. If you follow the points in the written survey of the prison bounds which correspond to the points on the included plat map, you can locate these items in 1809: Richard Mason's Ice House, Richard Mason's kitchen at "the Bower," the road that leads from Surry Courthouse to Smithfield, Josiah Savedge's garden & dwelling house, Mason's lot & garden, Cobham road, Reuben Butler's lumber house, Surry Jail [within the prison bounds], the road to Pylandsborough [Pylands borough was 4 acres, later the property of Samuel Ellis], James Mahone's dwelling house, & two stables. The prison bounds apparently included the 2 acres for the Courthouse which were in earlier deeds from Robert McIntosh. Those earlier deeds for the Courthouse will be a part of the next articles which will provide us with the location of a Granary on the west side of the road and the Salt house on the east side of the road, both apparently within the boundaries of the prison bounds in 1809.

Surry Deed Book 3 (1804-1811) pp. 227-229

Articles of agreement made and entered into the 15th of December 1800 between ROBERT McINTOSH and JOSIAH SAVEDGE, both of Surry county

Article 1st Whereas the said JOSIAH SAVEDGE has in pursuance of a verbal contract heretofore made between him and the said ROBERT McINTOSH, built three houses to wit, dwelling house, Kitchen and Smoke house, at his own expence, on the lands of the said ROBERT McINTOSH at the place called and known by the name of the "Cross Roads" alias "Surry Court house" in consideration of the said SAVEDGE's building the afore mentioned houses, the said McINTOSH doth hereby agree, and doth bind himself, his heirs, executors, and administrators, that the said JOSIAH SAVEDGE, his heirs and assigns shall have hold, occupy possess and enjoy the free use of the said Houses together with two acres of ground which is laid off and designated by the following boundaries, to wit,
A) beginning at a Persimmon tree standing near the Public Road that leads from the Court house down through the lower part of the county, thence from said tree nearly a west course up the said road 105 yards
B) thence nearly a north course 92 yards to
C) a white oak post, from thence nearly an east course 105 yards to
D) another white oak post from thence nearly a south course 92 yards to the beginning (on which said two acres of land the aforementioned houses are situated) for and during the full term of twenty years to be computed from the first day of January in the year 1798 (at which time the said JOSIAH SAVEDGE commenced living in the said premises (with the restrictions only, that the said JOSIAH SAVEDGE his heirs executors administrators assigns shall not directly or indirectly, sell, or offer for sale on the said premises during the said term of years, any article of Merchandize whatsoever, neither shall he keep or suffer to be kept on the said premises a Tavern during the said time

Article 2dIt is agreed between the parties that in case the said JOSIAH SAVEDGE, or other persons lawfully claiming under him, in case of his death, should at any time during the term of years aforesaid remove himself and family from off the said premises with intent to rent or lease the same out, that he shall give the refusal thereof to the said ROBERT McINTOSH, if he the said McINTOSH shall at such time occupy the Tavern at the Cross-Roads, if he shall not, then to the person that may, for the remainder of the time that the said SAVEDGE may be entitled to hold the same, at the prices following, that is to say, if the said SAVEDGE shall give possession to said McINTOSH or his successors (as the case may be) on the 1st day of January 1801, he the said SAVEDGE shall be allowed and paid on the same day the sum of £123.514.8d (this sum is intended as full payment to the said SAVEDGE for all his interest and claim in the said two acres of land and houses) if on the 1st day of January 1802 £120.S3.8d if on the 1st day of January 1803, £115.S7.10d, if on the 1st day of January 1804 £110.S5.l0d, if on the 1st day of January 1805 £ 104.S 17.2d, if on the 1 st day of January 1806 £99.S 1.9d, of on the 1 st day of January 1807 £93.7d, if on the 1 st day of January 1808 £86.S 11.9d, of on the 1 st day of January 1809 £79.S 15, if on the 1 st day of January 1810 £72.S 10, if on the 1 st day of January 1811 £64. S 17, if on the 1 st day of January 1812 £56.S 14. 10d, of the 1 st day of January 1813 £48.53, if on the 1 st day of January 1814 £37.S1.9d, if on the 1st day of January 1815 £29.S9.6d, if on the 1st day of January 1816 £19.S4.9d, if on the 1 st day of January 1817, £8.S7.9d, but in case the said MCINTOSH or the persons who may occupy the said Tavern shall not choose to take the said Houses or shall fail to pay to the said SAVEDGE or his heirs the sum of money expressed above to be paid on the 1st day of January in the year the said SAVIDGE may remove himself, then and in that case the said SAVEDGE shall be at full liberty to rent the same to any person whatsoever under the same restrictions nevertheless as the said SAVIDGE is himself bound in the latter part of the first article of this agreement.

Article 3d It is agreed and perfectly understood between the parties that the said JOSIAH SAVEDGE, his heirs, executors, administrators or assigns shall not any at time here after be answerable to the said ROBERT McINTOSH his heirs, executors, administrators or assigns for the natural decay or for any acidental injury which the said houses or either of them may by any means sustain during the time, for which the said JOSIAH SAVEDGE is entitled to enjoy them, and it is agreed and understood that the said McINTOSH shall not be bound to keep in repair the said Houses, or to rebuild any house in case it should be destroyed by fire or otherwise during the time aforesaid, but in case he the said McINTOSH his heirs or assigns shall at any time think proper to make any repair on the said houses or either of them he is hereby priviledged to make the same at his own expence - In witness whereof the said ROBERT McINTOSH and JOSIAH SAVEDGE have hereunto set their hands and seals the day and date first within written
Signed, sealed & acknowledged in presence of ISAAC SEVER, ROBERT McINTOSH JR., WILLIAM JONES
[acknowledged at Surry Court 28 April 1807]
teste, JOHN FAULCON c,s,c.
Examined & delivered JOS. SAVEDGE. teste, J. FAULCON

Surry Prison Bounds
Surry Deed Book 3 (1804-1811) pp. 507-508

In conformity to an order of Surry county court to us and others directed we the Subscribers there of the persons named in the said order, have attended by the deputy surveyor of said county, laid off the Prison bounds of said county as follows, to wit,

A) beginning at a small sassafras near the Ice house of RICHARD MASON
thence N24°E one chain to
B) a stob thence N3°W 3 chain and 50 links to
C) a stob near the kitchen of RICHARD MASON at a place known by the name of the Bower, thence N60° W 1 chain to
D) a stob in a branch S59°W 2 chain and 35 links to
E) a stob, on the road that leads from Surry Courthouse to Smithfield, N71°W 7 Chain and 67 links to
F) a persimmon, N70°W 3 chain and 90 links to
G) a stob at the corner of JOSIAH SAVEDGEs garden N11°E 1 chain and 17 links to
H) the North East corner of the said SAVEDGEs Dwelling house N71°W 71 links to
I) a stob in the said MASONS lot, N18°E 1 ch. 37 links to
J) a stob N74°W 3 chain 53 links to
K) a stob on the East side of the said MASONS garden N11°E 1 chain 73 links to
L) a stob at the North east corner of said garden, N76°W 2 chain 19 links to
M) a stob on Cobham road S58°W 2 chain 75 links to
N) a stob near REUBEN BUTLERs lumber house, S11°W 7 chain 28 links to
O) the south west corner of Surry Jail, S75°E 1 chain 30 links to
P) a stob on the road that leads to Pylandsborough S2°W 11 chain to
Q) a stob on the West side of said road S72°E 1 chain to
R) a stob on East side of said road N15 1/2°E 10 chain 85 links to

S) the south east corner of JAMES MAHONE's dwelling house, N19°E 4 chain to
T) a stob near a stable S67°E 2 chain 24 links to
U) another stable, opposite to said SAVEDGEs, N25°E 16 links to
V) a stob S71 1/2°E 11 chain to
W) a stob S48°E 4 chain 85 links to the beginning
Given under our hands this 26th day of September Domini 1809.
At a court held for Surry county September the 26th 1809.
The within written report of the prison bounds of this county being returned by persons specially appointed by the court for that purpose, was received by the court and ordered to be recorded.
Examined Teste, JOHN FAULCON C,SC


by James E. Atkins

Peanuts have been a staple and money crop for the farmers of Surry County for most of the years since the Civil War. There have been many changes in raising peanuts with the coming of tractors, combines, dryers and other equipment and chemicals. It has progressed to industrial agriculture in our lifetime.

My father, E. M. Atkins, was born in 1902, and he remembered how peanuts were grown before any modern equipment became available. His father, Charles David Atkins, was overseer on Shingleton Plantation, owned by Mr. P. Fleetwood and Mr. Battams in nearby Sussex County. At a very young age he became involved with raising peanuts. I hope I have recalled our conversations properly.

First, the land was plowed with a two- mule or horse drawn plow. Sometimes they then used a drag or rake, horse or mule drawn, to level the land. With another plow or cultivator they would create a small hilled row in which to plant the peanuts.

The peanuts had to be shelled by hand before planting. Next came the job of planting the peanuts. They used a wooden wheel around three feet high, with a handle to push it. Outside the rim were wooden pegs about an inch in diameter, and about three inches long. The pegs were arranged to punch a hole in the dirt every 2-3 feet. Dad's job as a youth was to push this along each row. Another man would come behind him and drop a peanut or two in each hole, and stomp it with his foot to cover it with dirt. Soon the Ayers peanut planter took over this job. Local farmers learned that adding ground marl clay from the banks of the James River made the soil sweeter, which increased yield.

As the peanuts grew, they were plowed by a cultivator or cotton plow behind a mule or horse. Some farms had a two mule or horse riding cultivator. If you kept the cotton plow deep in the ground, it was hard work for one mule or horse. I have one my father used, and it will eventually be part of Rogers Store Museum. Of course, peanuts were chopped several times. When you find a hoe that is worn down to nearly nothing, likely chopping peanuts wore it out. There were no chemicals available for weed control.

When it was time to dig the peanuts, a moldboard plow behind two mules or horses turned the earth and the peanuts over. Next, men with pitchforks picked up and shook the dirt out of the peanuts. Care had to be taken to keep from shaking the peanuts off the vines, particularly when it was wet. Two or three rows were placed together in piles about a foot high. I remember the day that Simon Savedge, who worked with my dad, picked up a copperhead snake in a pile of peanuts, scaring him nearly out of his wits. Looking for its mate, holding the pitchfork as far away as he could, he accomplished little for the rest of the day.

Next, peanut sticks had to be set to stack the peanuts on. These were poles about six feet high and two inches in diameter and pointed on both ends, hand made, of course. On some a small crosspiece kept the peanuts at the bottom from being solidly on the ground. One man with an iron punch, often made from an old car drive shaft by a blacksmith, would make a hole, put the stick in it and tamp it until it was sound. One row of peanut sticks would take peanuts from around ten to twelve rows of peanuts. The distance apart depended on the amount of vines and peanuts you had.

Next, piles of peanuts from several rows were picked up with pitchforks and placed over the stick. This was hard work, and the taller person had a big advantage. No one could keep up with Simon Savedge. Once stacked, the peanuts air dried.

In Dad's early years, the peanuts, when dry but still on the vines, were loaded on a wagon and put in a barn. Having no mechanical peanut picker early in the last century, separating the peanuts from the vines by hand became the job of nearly everyone on the farm. Any time not necessary for other chores, and rainy days, were used to separate the peanuts from the vines. They were put in burlap bags, and sewn up with twine, weighing around 100 pounds a bag. Sometimes it took months to complete the job. Some of the best peanuts were saved for seed next year. Vines were used to feed livestock.

Hand powered peanut pickers were invented by 1868. One was patented by James C. Underwood of Surry County in that year. It was described as an improvement of earlier machines. It was hand operated by two men. Amazingly, its theory is very similar to the tractor powered peanut pickers used in my youth. Again, Surry County was at the forefront. Whether it worked well, or was widely used is unknown. Shingleton Plantation, a good sized farm, did not have one in the early 1900s.


Thanks to the Chippokes Farm and Forestry Museum, a copy of James C. Underwood's patent No. 81,562 is included in this newsletter. Does anyone have one of these machines in their barn?


Soon, mechanical peanut pickers became popular. The earliest were usually powered by one cylinder hit or miss engines. Mounted on small wagons, they could be moved from field to field, and from farm to farm. The attached picture was taken on the Wheeler farm, close to Shingleton Plantation in nearby Sussex County in the early 1900s. A neighbor who has extensive experience in rebuilding old one lunger gas engines dates this one as likely very early 1920s. He believes it was approximately eight horsepower. Many were sold mounted on a wagon. The peanut picker appears similar to the machines used through the middle of the 1900s. The Society welcomes any information readers may have on these early machines.


Even though these peanut pickers introduced the mechanical age to local farmers, much labor was still required. The engines were fussy and required much tinkering to keep running. Both engine and peanut picker had babbitt bearings which required constant lubrication, and still wore out often. Every job except the threshing still had to be done by hand.

Smaller farms often could not afford a peanut picker and engine. To take advantage of the new machines, their owners provided labor, and often a team and wagon, to help those who had a picker harvest their peanuts. When finished, the peanut picker and engine were moved to their farms to pick their peanuts. Often, the owner of the farm where they were working provided lunch when picking peanuts.

Next came the marketing. Country and small town stores, including Rogers Store at Carsley, bought the peanuts and sold them to wholesalers and packers around the country. They were shipped by rail or schooner. Watt Rogers at Carsley bought so many he insured them while they were in his warehouse, barn, and other buildings. The Society has Rogers original policy on his peanuts. Finally, what did the farmer get for all of his work? It varied according to the market. They did bring in cash. Dad told me that during the great depression peanuts sold for as little as fifty cents a bag, and buyers did not even bother to weigh them.

So! The next time you feel down and out, think about how our agricultural ancestors had to earn a living, then be grateful for the many opportunities we have today. These are the good old days. JEA


Check our web page to see some of Lorena Leath's pictures. From time to time the pictures on display will be changed. We have 30+ ready to show on our web page.

Moving time: HELP, HELP. We ask those member who can help with our move to 16 Academy Street on Saturday, May 12, 2001, starting around 10 AM, to contact The Society's office We need a pickup truck or two, and some strong young members. Bring some boxes if you can. We hope to complete the move in one day.

ALSO, on May 12, 2001, Harold Brown of Carsley is heading a group of members and friends who are going to trim the bushes and trees at Rogers Store at Carsley at around 10:00 AM.

Many members living afar from Surry County have shared their information on Surry County with the Society. We have found that often their information had not been previously available in Surry County. All information, pictures, etc. are greatly appreciated, and add to our collection of our rich history. Thank you.

Soon after the move to 16 Academy Street, we expect to set up for E-Mail. Our web page will continue at the present address.

As you see, we have changed our newsletter to a bifold letter. This saves the time in folding, stuffing, stamping, sealing and putting our return address on the letter. The format has not changed.

New Members are Welcomed! Please JOIN US!

Surry to Surrey, Lets Go!

Please fill out the following blank that best describes your interest.
Please return it to the Society.

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  2. I will likely go.______________________________________________________________

  3. I am interested. I may go._____________________________________________________

  4. I am curious, please send me all the information.______________________________
  • Name ____________________________________________________________________________

  • Address _________________________________________________________________________

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Return to Surrey, England, trip information.

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