Please note that the meeting will be Monday, September 12, 2005, at 7:00 P. M. at the Surry County, Va. Recreation Center.
Office open Tues. and Thurs. 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM, except holidays.
Our Speaker will be Robert Woollard. He was a crew member of Godspeed's voyage from London, England, in 1985. This was the second replica of the Godspeed built here. It was 67 feet long at the waterline. The hull was built at Jamestown and outfitted at the Newport News Shipyard. It was shipped to London, England, and after grand ceremonies including those with Prince Philip, began a long and perilous trip across the Atlantic Ocean on approximately April 30, 1985.
Don't miss these great and appropriate first-hand recollections, leading into our 2007 celebration of the settling of Jamestown. Robert Woollard is a citizen of Surry County.
I have previously written about some experiences I had as a boy spending the summers at Pleasant Point, and later, at our cottage overlooking Crouches Creek. These were fun times for a boy who loved to explore the shoreline and woods.
Not all of my childhood memories concerned home. I looked forward to going to Surry to the general stores or going to the courthouse to visit my grandfather, A. W. Bohannan. I remember the courthouse being cool even in extreme summer heat. Going into the courthouse was awesome. The inside of the building had a feeling of grandeur to me. It had its own smell of old papers and documents along with tobacco smoke. I do not remember my grandfather smoking, but most adults would light up a Camel, Lucky Strike, or Chesterfield back then. The demeanor of those working at the courthouse during the late 1940s demanded quiet and respect when I visited.
Most of the other people in Surry I remember now were merchants. To a ten-year-old boy, Roy Edwards' General Store was heaven. Mother would take my sister Suzanne and me at least weekly. The smell in this store was of leather. Mr. Edwards would sell leather boots to the local citizens. Mr. Edwards was a serious merchant. He did not cater to small children. However, working for him, was one of my favorite adults in the town of Surry, Mr. Joe Seward. He was younger and very friendly. At times, he would sneak a piece of penny candy out of a jar for Suzanne and me. I remember not only candy in large jars, but also sugar cookies and ginger snaps. Each cookie had at least a three-inch diameter.
I also remember going to the drug store with my father. He was a good friend of the jolly druggist, Dr. Percy King. While they were talking to each other, I was enjoying a chocolate milk-shake made by one of the Youngblood sisters. The drugstore had the absolute best milk shakes that I have ever had.
Next to the bank building across from the courthouse was Captain Land's dilapidated store. It was an unpainted two-story wooden building suffering from posture problems. Going inside the store felt like going back to the turn of the century. I vaguely remember the bearded octogenarian sitting on the bench napping or talking to citizens who were passing on the sidewalk. When Captain Land died, his son Edwin took over. Because of the condition of the store, Mother did not allow Suzanne or me to go into the store because we may have fallen through the floor. Such an edict encouraged Suzanne and me to go into the store when Mother was in the drugstore or at Roy Edwards' store. I don't remember either of us ever having a mishap there.
The pace of shopping in those days was simple and free of stress. Going to Food Lion, Farm Fresh, Ukrop's, etc. in today's world is fast-paced and stressful. Waiting in a grocery store line today is not fun.
I will share more memories of other merchants in Surry at a later date.
Main route from Florida to Maine. Did you know that the main route from Florida to Maine goes through Surry County, Va. It goes through Carsley on route 615. It is a fact! I have seen the current map showing the route.
At our open house for Rogers' Store on May 21, 2005, we had a visitor, Phil Potter, from Daytona Beach, Florida. He stopped and toured the store. He was quite interested and took several pictures. He was a bicyclist from Florida, heading north.
He was a member of the Adventure Cycling Association. They print a total of seven maps showing the best route from Florida to Maine. They seek a route that bypasses all interstates, four-lane roads, mountains and large cities. It clearly shows Carsley and route 615 as the recommended route.
He was equipped with everything he needed, a small tent, stove, food and clothes. His bicycle was obviously designed and equipped for his journey. We wish him well. We have noticed that quite a few bicyclists come through Carsley. Now we know why. JEA
2007 is coming up fast. The Surry County Board of Supervisors had a special meeting on August 18, 2005, concerning facilities and activities. A number of Society members were in attendance. Many alternatives and facilities were discussed. No decisions were made.
The Society has made a written application to the county for use of the Academy building, Ca 1845, as a Tourist Center/Museum. We also have requested that the "Old Jail", our office, be moved as early as possible to ensure it can be used during the festivities. This is necessary to accommodate planned additions to the Courthouse. Rest rooms are badly needed.
Decisions are necessary very quickly if we will be ready for 2007. We will be ready. We just do not exactly know how. JFA
New Book: "Surry County, Virginia 350th Anniversary Book".
This is a very special book, compiled by Janet L. Appell and Pernell Watson Jr., Co-Chairs of our
350th Anniversary Celebration, and published by Surry County, Virginia. It is beautifully done, in
color, with many pictures. The County is mailing a copy to every family living in Surry County. It
highlights many of our historical assets and presents Surry County in a most positive way. Every
lover of Surry County should have a copy. It is a job well done. The Society has been given copies
to sell. The money received will be used to pay for additional books to be published or republished
by the Society. See our order information at the end of this newsletter.
African-American Heritage Society
The Surry community has formed a society interested in promoting African-American culture awareness through a variety of educational activities and publications. The following projects are underway for the 2007 celebration and beyond.
The Society meets on the third Monday of each month at the Surry Community Center, at 7
o'clock p.m. Mr. Purcell Bailey is the chairman of the society. Please come and join; we need the
support of the entire community. Membership fee is $15 a year per person. If you are interested, please
send your name, address and telephone number to:
New Reprint: "Lawne's Creek Church"
In 1979 Ethel R. Rowell published a history of Lawnes Creek Church. It is the definitive history of the earliest churches in Surry County. It was written with extensive research of records and archeological research on the earliest site  near Hog Island. The latest church, built in l754, burned in 1865. Its ruins are seen at Bacon's Castle on Rt. 10.
This book has been out of print for decades. The daughters of Ethel R. Rowell have given the Society permission to reprint the book.
Purchase of this book will serve several purposes. It is the best work available on the early
churches. Funds from the sale of the book will help the society publish additional books in the future.
Also, a portion of its cost will be donated to The Bacon's Castle Memorial Association maintenance
project. which maintains the site, graveyard and ruins. Hurricane Isabel further devastated the ruins.
An immense amount of work is needed. We highly recommend that you purchase this book. You will be
pleased with its content.
Melvin Patrick Ely was our speaker at our May 2005 meeting, and was roundly applauded for his great presentation, largely taken from his new book, Israel on the Appomattox. It is a gem. It gives in great detail, from extensive research, the relationships between whites, slaves, mulattoes and free blacks in Prince Edward County, Virginia, starting in the late 1700s, going forward until the Civil War. His book was reviewed on the front page of The New York Times book section on Sunday, August 7, 2005.
Its begins with Richard Randolph freeing some of his slaves at his death in 1796 and leaving them jointly 350 acres of land, called Israel Hill. It details the business, personal, legal, and religious interplay of the people of Prince Edward County through several generations. It goes through the laws, how they worked, did not work, and how they were sometimes ignored. It tells how justice worked and sometimes did not work.
This was not Surry County, yet there are many parallels. Surry County actually had a much higher percentage of free blacks than Prince Edward County, over one third in 1860. Land ownership was common among free blacks in Surry County, largely bought and paid for by the freedmen. Prince Edward County had the bateau on the Appomattox River. Surry County had the fishermen on the James River and the many boats going up and down the river, delivering goods.
There was much enterprise by free blacks evident in both counties. Was it a fair society? No, free blacks could not testify in court against whites. However, they could get whites to testify on their behalf. Many cases were tried and handled in this manner.
Dr. Ely's book is available in bookstores and on the internet at www.walmart.com and
www.amazon.com. A paperback version will be available after September 6. I highly recommend
The Supreme Court recently sent a shock wave across America with its decision that government can take private property [real estate] for purposes never before considered.
The rights of Eminent Domain have been previously recognized to allow public facilities to be built even if the owner of the land would not agree to sell. Common reasons were to build a school, court house or roads. These are publicly built and owned, and necessary for a civil society. The government would appraise the property, and offer to buy it. If not acceptable to the land owner, counter offers could be made. In some cases it ended up in court. Valuation has often been the problem. Should farm land be valued as a farm, or as a development site for a school? Should a home be valued as a home or a site for a courthouse?
Naturally the government wants to buy property at the lowest cost. Naturally the owner, who may not want to sell anyway, wants highest value based on what the government wants to use the land for. If a properly zoned school site would normally sell for $100,000.00 per acre, why should the farmer accept $10,000.00 per acre? Often the hang-up is what the sale does to the value of adjoining property not taken by Eminent Domain. If little or no road frontage remains, the value of remaining property could be adversely affected.
In recent years slum removal has been touted as a reason. "Lets clean up this decrepit area, get rid of the slums and build a big complex of apartments or condos." There is some public benefit here, less crime, nicer places to live and, oh yes, an increase in taxes.
Now the U. S. Supreme Court has basically agreed that property can be taken by Eminent Domain solely for the purpose of raising more tax money for the City, County or State. Take the nice row of beach cottages so a developer can build a large condo that will pay many times more property taxes. Take several small businesses so Wal Mart can build a super store. Wipe out a farming area so Toyota can build a plant. Where will it end?
Private usage for public benefit has been recognized for centuries. A good example took place in Surry County in 1797. Our farm in Surry backs up on Johnshehawkin Swamp. Miles Burgess owned our side, which meant he owned the swamp to the center of the stream. The adjoining owner wanted to build a mill pond and grist mill. He petitioned the county court for permission to build the pond and mill.
Three Surry County citizens were appointed to:
A grist mill was a public necessity in the early days. Mills were generally paid a percentage of the grain brought in to be ground. The miller made money by selling the flour and corn meal to those who had no grain. To ensure there was no price gouging, Virginia law determined the maximum percentage they could take for grinding grain.
So private usage for public benefit has been recognized for centuries, but not as a money
making scheme for government. Could the party in power take property owned by those in the
other party? This could get scary. Lets hope the State of Virginia acts promptly to outlaw the
extended use of Eminent Domain in our state. JEA.
Keep your Dues up to date. If your newsletter name label shows a date earlier than 9/05, it is time to renew your dues. Support Your Society!