President's report for the December 13, 1999 meeting, 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 Surry County, Virginia, Historical Society and Museums, Inc.
President's report for the December 13, 1999 meeting.

Welcome to our December meeting.

We are pleased to report that we now are keeping our office open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 PM to 5 PM. This is a beginning, but we need more volunteers, both to make available to our members and guests to Surry County, and to properly file, the information we have. Call Margaret Sue Berryman, if you can help.

We have mountains of old newspaper clippings on genealogy. We are receiving more and more information from members and researchers on their family roots. Some are handwritten notes, some are notebooks, others are bound volumes of a lifetime of work. We welcome them all. The key is to identify, cross reference, log and file them so the information is easily available.

We have an increasing amount of Indian information. Dennis Hudgins has brought quite a bit, and we have some from the work of Col. Howard McCord, who was state archeologist for many years. We have languages, places, and information on the many different tribes that moved through Surry County over thousands of years before the English Settlers came. As a footnote, there is a great deal of activity and controversy concerning early Indians in our area. The Cactus Hill Site in Sussex County (previously Surry County) has been dated as early as 17,000 years old and it predates western U. S. Clovis sites of approximately 12,000 years old. It seriously questions whether the first settlers came from Siberia or Europe. If this proves correct, history will be rewritten.

We have a growing collection of quarterlies and periodicals from many sources. Included are:

  • The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography by The Virginia Historical Society.
  • Magazine of Virginia Genealogy by The Virginia Genealogical Society.
  • The Southside Virginian.
  • Tidewater Families.

None of these sets are complete. We also need William & Mary Quarterlies and any others that give information on Surry County and the settlers who came here. While we have much information on the Jamestown Settlement, we welcome all that we can get.

Works by Surry settlers are especially welcome. Anything written by George Sandys the Treasurer, Edmond Ruffin, William Short, the Allens, Dr. John J. Smallwood and all others who wrote while in Surry, or about Surry. There are theses written about our county at colleges; we want them all.

Space is soon going to be a problem. We need quarters that will have more than one room, separating study and work areas from Archival storage areas. It needs to have room for computers, Copy machine and filmstrip readers. It should be as fireproof as possible, and we will need a fireproof safe and filing cabinet as a minimum. Originals of Surry History must be protected.

Rogers' Store: I am happy to announce that on December 1, 1999, the Commonwealth of Virginia, Department of Historic Resources State Review Board approved our application, which makes Rogers' Store eligible for inclusion in the National Register and The Virginia Landmarks Register.

I was very pleased to learn at the meeting that of seven applications brought before the board, Rogers' Store had the highest score on their rating system by a significant margin. This validates our project as one which is worthy of preservation. It allows us to request matching funds from the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and federal funds. We are now working on an application to the Commonwealth of Virginia to be considered when they meet in January 2000.

The Board of Supervisors of Surry County has also adopted a resolution approving of and supporting the development of Rogers' Store Museum.

Your Board of Directors plans to study the actual inclusion into these registers very carefully before making application. We must be sure inclusion does not create any restrictions which could cause problems later on.

Help is badly needed to organize, clean up, and sort the contents of Rogers' Store. I had hoped that we would have been further along on this than we are. We badly need someone to spearhead this work. Please let me know if you can help. E-mail to Jim Atkins.

There are some things we must do or improve upon. We need to put in place a system whereby all letters or requests are answered promptly. I feel we have missed some. Staffing our office will help.

We must have membership cards which show when dues are payable. This has been handled rather loosely. This needs to be keyed into our records. A reminder system needs to be developed. With approximately 366 members, this is a must.

Soon we need to establish a minimal cost for copies of the information we have in our office. We want it to be low enough to not be a burden on members and friends, but enough to help defray the paper and copier expense. I estimate the cost of paper and copier at a minimum of $400.00 per year or more to the Society.

Most Societies also charge for research they conduct for members on genealogy or records search. For some well developed Societies, this is a major source of income. It becomes a question of service vs. cost. We expect to look into this as we keep our office open more and more.

Some historical sites in Surry County are in abysmal shape. The site of the First Christian Church on Route 10 and the Graveyard at Old Cypress Church near Dendron are examples. We need to form a committee or committees of some of our younger and more energetic members to become shepherds of these and others in the county. Their condition gives a very poor image of Surry County. If there are those who would help organize this group of Shepherds, please let me know. E-mail to Jim Atkins.

I want to thank all of you for your support of the Society. We have come a long way in a short time. The end of the road, however, still is not in sight. We may never see it. We can only try.

Thank you,

James E. Atkins

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