Spring 2008 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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The Surrey Side News
The Quarterly Newsletter of
The Surry County Historical Society and Museums, Inc.
Editor: Gordon Bohannan                     Associate Editor: Barbara Hopper

Volume 8 - Number 1                     Spring 2008

new home


President's Report

Step by step, board by board and brick by brick, we are moving toward occupying the Society's new home located at 181 Bank Street in the town of Surry. Earlier we asked that you reserve Sunday, 30 March 2008, for a dedication ceremony of the building; however, a formal dedication ceremony will not be scheduled until the fall of 2008. Keep the 30 March date on your calendar, as we will host an "Open House" event beginning at 1:00 p.m. This event will give you an opportunity to visit and inspect the new building and home for Surry's historical records prior to the formal dedication.

Fundraising efforts continue as we are determined to reach our original goal of $400,000. We are approximately $35,000 away from that goal. We applaud the members of the fundraising committee for their work and diligence during the past year. They have approached our membership and the local community to include businesses giving each an opportunity to support this worthwhile project. Members of the committee are Kent Harrell, chairman; Phyllis Wacker, Jim and Peggy Atkins, Barbour Seward, and Bo Bohannan. THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!!

The building committee including Claude Reeson, Chairperson; Kenneth Holmes, Bess Richardson, and Franck Judkins are owed many thanks for planning and providing construction management services in addition to keeping the Board of Directors and the Society's membership informed of building progress. The construction concerns remaining include inspections, adding railings to steps at each entrance, installing sidewalks, and landscaping. Final paint application is in progress. A clean-up day was scheduled for Saturday, 23 February 2008.

These two activities have dominated time and energy of Board Members, leaving little time for historical research and programming. Soon we will be back to regular hours of operation and business as usual. On 28 January 2008, the members of the Board of Directors met in a dinner meeting with Mr. William B. Obrochta, Director of Education with the Virginia Historical Society, at the Colonial Farm House restaurant in Surry. This meeting was arranged by our president and facilitated by Mr. Obrochta to begin planning for how the new building will function and space will be utilized consistent with the goals and mission of the Society. He did an excellent job helping us tothink through some of the pressing issues.

We spoke of our relationship to local government and Mr. Obrochta shared how he had witnessed these relationships around the Commonwealth. He also spoke of and emphasized the importance of an ongoing relationship with the Virginia Historical Society as well as the Library of Virginia. He applauded our recent successes with fund-raising and encouraged our incorporation of recent successes with future activities as a means of influencing future direction. Our final moments with Mr. Obrochta were spent speaking of sustainable methods of documenting the activities of the Society, how to preserve historical documents, and how to account for gifts, loans and giving.

Thank you again for your generous support and time spent creating the space to collect and preserve the County's history.

James Harrison, President



On January 8, 2008, the Executive Board appointed me editor of the Surry County Historical Society Newsletter. Barbara Hopper will assist me in the writing of articles as well as using her computer skills to layout the quarterly newsletter.

Jim Atkins, the Society's co-founder, has been the editor since the first newsletter in 2000. Barbara and I will have to work hard to fill the shoes of Jim. Jim decided to give up editorship to give him more time to write. He will be a regular contributor to the newsletter. What Jim Atkins means to the Surry County Historical Society cannot be overstated. From 2000-2006, he came from his Richmond home to the Society's office at the old jail in Surry at least twice a week. His Richmond home is around sixty miles from Surry Courthouse. Much blood, sweat, tears and gasoline were expended by Mr. Atkins.

There will be some changes in the format of the newsletter. The leading piece of the newsletter will be the President's Report. It will be followed by editorial comments from Barbara and/or me. I would also like to hear comments from our members. This can be your remembrances of Surry County or some aspect of the history of the county that would be in interest to our readers.

Included also in the newsletter will be old photographs, old advertisements of Surry businesses, and town gossip from newspapers of yesteryear. We will also inform you of new publications concerning Surry County.

Bo Bohannan, editor

As of mid-February, the Surry County Historical Society has raised about $365,000 for our new home. As James Harrison wrote in the President's Report, we still need about $35,000. This money will go for such things as parking areas, landscaping, showcases, and computers.

Included in this newsletter there is a gift response form. We would appreciate your examining it and if possible, send a donation. We are so close to meeting our goal. Any further help will be greatly appreciated.

Surry is a rural, sparsely populated county that has a history that few, if any, localities in Virginia have. The "Surry-Side" (thus the name of this newsletter) was part of the original Jamestown Colony. The colonists considered their new land as another London. The Thames River in London runs through that city like the James River does Jamestown. Surrey, England, is on the opposite shore of Jamestown. This is how we received the "Surrey". The "e" was soon dropped.

Surry broke away from James City County in 1652 and became a county whose border ended at the border of the North Carolina Colony. The migrating colonists traveled through Surry on their Southward and Westward journeys. This is reflected in the original records that the county still has.

Our new building will give visitors a place to delve into their genealogical roots. We will notify our readership of the days and hours that we will be open as soon as our schedule is set.

hog scalderhog scraper
Hams and Hog Scalding
by Jim Atkins

My son just returned my hog scalding pot from Shady Grove Farm at Carsley, VA. This three foot diameter pot weighs around 300 pounds. He had kept it near Roanoke for some years. He got some friends to help load it on our trailer. They had questions.

"Why would you want to scald a hog?" He explained that it was necessary to loosen the hair on the hog before they scraped the hog. "What is a hog scraper? Why would you scrape a hog?" they asked. He explained that it was how we got the hair off. They said, "It must hurt the hog to scald it and scrape it." He explained that the hog was dead when all this happened.

Tom explained how this process worked to clean up the hog skin on hams, shoulders and other parts of a hog. While he had no first hand experience, he had heard me describe it many times.

They still could not understand why our ancestors would do this. They did not understand that there was little or no money, and this process provided much of our meat and protein throughout the year.

There was salt, pepper, salt-peter and smoke which cured the meat so it would last over a year in the smoke house. It had to be done when it was cold enough that the meat would not rot before it cured. Rarely, a late, long, warm spell would spoil the meat. We would have to throw it away and start over. This happened once when I was growing up.

When we had a hog killing, we also killed and cured hogs for our farm workers and the owner of our farm when we were sharecroppers. It was a long hard days work. There were hams, the best, shoulders, side meat and the bellies which provided fat for cooking.

Little or nothing was wasted. As hams and other parts were trimmed of excess fat and meat, it was put in a much smaller cast iron pot, boiled and strained. This provided lard throughout the year. Thus we did not have to buy shortening such as Crisco. As a byproduct the bits and pieces of red meat, boiled down and called crackling, were strained from the lard. Crackling bread was a delicacy which we had once a year at hog killing time. The lard and lye made lye soap, strong soap, with a reputation of taking the hide off your hands.

Thus, about the only thing not used was the squeal of the hog. I will not go into tripe, chitterlings, hogs' feet, souse, etc. etc. GOOD EATING!!


Meet your Executive Board

Executive Board
From left to right; Barbara Hopper, Secretary; Eliza Drew, Treasurer, Kathy Thompson, Claude Reeson, Phyllis Wacker, Bo Bohannan, Newsletter Editor; James Harrison, President; Eve Gregory, Webmaster. Not shown: Bess Richardson, Jim Atkins, Barbara Moore, Kenneth Holmes, Troilen Seward, Tarika Blizzard Green, Amy Harte, Kent Harrell

This picture was taken at our first board meeting in our new building!


In closing, we, the Society, want to express our remorse at the death of Dorothy Grubbs last fall. She spoke twice at our general meetings and treated us all to her experiences in the county during the past decades. Mrs. Grubbs also served on the nominating committee that nominated people to serve on the executive board or as an officer. She was a local favorite and will be missed.

On February 19th, we lost one of the most faithful members of our Society and Executive Board, Margaret Sue Berryman. Margaret Sue was a great historian, especially when it came to the Civil War. With her passing goes a wealth of Surry County history. She will be sorely missed by all.

Books2 We have many Surry BOOKS for sale. Most of them cannot be gotten anywhere else! We also have the beautiful Surry Courthouse medallian and the new 1607-2007 ship pin/pendant.
Take a look at them and order with the BOOKS!

Watch for new listings in our upcoming issues of The Surrey Side News.

Please share old photographs and/or stories about your ancestors or places in the county that are very memorable to you. We are always looking for new material for the newsletter.



Keep your Dues up to date. Check the renewal date on your Newsletter mailing label. Support your Society!

Membership information and Application Form

The next open meeting will be March 10, 2008. The spearker for the evening will be James B. Brown. He will speak about Goodman Brown, who was prominent during Reconstruction and instrumental in forming Virginia State College.

Cabin Point 1900s

By: Bo Bohannan

As many of you are aware, the federal government is looking for a jet landing field to be set up in a rural county of North Carolina or Virginia with Surry County being one considered. The Surry County Board of Supervisors has voiced objections to the plan. The site being considered in Surry County is near Cabin Point. The Society has received a letter from Mary Sue Dougherty, owner of Montpelier Farms. She says that such a landing strip will devalue the farm. Montpelier is on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmark Register. There are also other historical homes and churches in the vicinity. Surry County is full of historic homes and churches, and such a venture would upset our rural setting and history. One of the goals of the Surry County Historical Society is to support the county's history and preservation of its landmarks.

First Claremont School

Claremont Stores

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