Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Family of Gustav Anton Gottlob Schmiedigen and Auguste Emilie Richter

Gustav and Auguste Schmiedigen were Paul’s second-great uncle and aunt, Gustav being the brother of his great-grandmother Antonie Marie Caroline Johanne (Schmiedigen) Liepe.  The photo below is from Paul’s grandmother’s album labeled “Onkel Schmiedgen + Frau.”


Both Gustav (1835-1904) and Auguste (1839-1925) were born in Schönewalde, a small German town about 45 miles south from the center of Berlin.  They married in Berlin in 1863 – the day before her twenty-fourth birthday and he age 28.  

While Gustav and Auguste had six children, only three are known to have lived to adulthood.  The oldest to survive was born on 24 May 1866, and was named for his father – Gustav Anton Gottlob Schmiedigen.  Second to survive was daughter Ida Anna Luise Emilie Schmiedigen, born 12 Mar 1871.  The youngest of their children, Theodor Richard Albert Schmiedigen, was born more than ten years after his sister on 16 December 1881.

Eldest son Gustav was both a soldier and a civil servant.  Early in life, Gustav volunteered for military service, intending to make it his career.  However, he was honorably discharged with the rank of Captain of the Reserve so that he could enter government service.  At that time, bürgermeisters or mayors were appointed positions, and Gustav was appointed to the German Empire’s city of Opelln, now Opole, Poland.

Gustav later moved closer to home, serving in Zossen, about 25 miles south of Berlin, from which he retired at a young age on a civil servant’s pension.  However, in 1902, he reentered service as head of the municipal council of Britz, a Berlin suburb.  He remained until Britz was incorporated into Berlin as a part of the borough of Neukölln, retiring again in April 1921.  During his tenure there, he remarked to his sister Ida (below) how relieved he was that Wilhelm Voight had chosen Köpenick instead of nearby Britz for his escapade (see box).

On October 16, 1906, an out-of-work German shoemaker named Wilhelm Voigt donned a second-hand military captain's uniform he had bought, walked out into the street, and assumed control of a company of soldiers marching past.  He led them to the town hall of Köpenick, a small suburb of Berlin, arrested the mayor and the treasurer on charges of embezzlement, and took possession of 4,000 marks from the town treasury.  He then disappeared with the money.  The incident became famous as a symbol of the blind obedience of German soldiers to authority – even fake authority.

The police tracked him down nine days later, and he was sentenced to four years in jail.  But he proved to be such a likable character (and popular hero) that the Kaiser pardoned Voigt after he had served less than two years.  Voigt subsequently pursued a career in show business, where he entertained audiences, including in the United States, by re-enacting his stunt on the stage.

His bronze statue on steps of Köpenick city hall is shown at right.

Gustav and his wife (name unknown) left Berlin during the second World War.  Due to the intense bombing by the allies, many either lost their homes or were forced by the government to move out of the city.   However, in a letter to his cousins in America (see letter), Gustav states he was driven out by the occupying Russians.  In that 1947 letter, this proud civil servant begged for care packages from those cousins.  Paul was told as a child that many were sent.

This letter must have been among his last acts, as he reportedly passed in 1947. There were no children as far as is known.

Gustav was so well regarded for his service in Britz that a brief biography was recorded as both a street and a path in Berlin were named for him.  First was Schmiedigenstrasse, formerly Chausseestrasse.  But the name only held for just over a year in 1950 and 1951, when the street was renamed Britzer Damm.  Second was  Schmiedigenpfad in June 1975.  This path, a public right-of-way, connects Lipschitzallee and Sollmannweg and provides access to several residential blocks (apartment buildings).  “Schmiedigen Path” remains in use today.

Comparatively little is known about Gustav’s sister Ida and baby brother Theodor.  Ida married the older Adam Friedrich Heim in Berlin on 16 Nov 1893.  There are no known children from this marriage, and the date of Ida’s passing is unknown.

As far as can be determined, Theodor Schmiedigen never married.  Berlin telephone directories list him as a fuhrunternehm, a hauler or trucker.  According to Gustav’s letter to America, Theodor was buried under the rubble of his destroyed house after a direct hit by Allied bombers.  He was rescued, but later died after prolonged suffering.  Though no specific date is mentioned, the most severe bombing of Berlin occurred between March 1943 and March 1944.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Millford Plantation

Millford, near Pinewood, South Carolina, is the second home that we have visited acquired and restored by Richard Jenrette and donated to the Classical American Homes Preservation Trust.  The first, in the spring of 2014, was Ayr Mount in Hillsborough, North Carolina.

Built around 1840, this Greek Revival mansion was built by the son of a South Carolina governor who later became governor himself.  While the exterior of the house is stunning, it is perhaps most famous for containing most of its original furnishings by Duncan Phyfe & Son. 

In addition to its furnishings, the double parlor was particularly interesting because it could be divided by closing a large set of mirrored folding doors.  In fact, there are many outstanding mirrors throughout the house.

At first, it struck me as odd that Millford had no connection to the nearby Santee River other than as a means to receive its furnishings from New York.   However, while labeled a plantation, Millford was actually a large country home rather than a working farm.  Water transportation was not needed to ship the produce from its fields.

This lack of water combined, my lack of interest in Phyfe, and its complete isolation left me thinking that I would not want to live at Millford – then or now.  Choosing between Mr. Jenrette’s properties we have visited, I much prefer Ayr Mount for its location and its more practical layout.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

June Meeting

Some who see into the great beyond say that the greatest pleasure its residents receive is to be remembered here on Earth.  If that is so, there were a great many smiling on Sunday, June 7, 2015.  But I get ahead of myself.

Before her family moved to Florida late in the 1950s, Marjory remembers going to the June Meeting.  But because she was a small child, those memories are indistinct – certainly not including the location or the way to get there.  It was not long after we married 46 years ago today that I began to hear about the June Meeting from Marjory’s family.  Uncle Arlie talked about the difficulty of walking to Wind Cave and of finding the cemetery.  Grandma, born Annis Isaacs in Wind Cave, spoke wistfully of her years in the mountains before much of the surrounding land became a national forest in 1937. 

With each passing – Marjory’s grandma in 1985, her father in 1990, and Uncle Arlie in 2011 – our desire to attend the June Meeting increased.  At the same time, our ability to learn more about the time and the place became less.  In 2013, in a conversation with Marjory’s Aunt Gerd, she said that her son, Danny Lee Gabbard, attends every year.  She said he was in Richmond, Indiana, and was listed in the phone book.  Not true.  And then Gerd had a small stroke, eliminating her as a source of information for some time.

Finally, in early 2015, I thought to ask Marjory’s Aunt Glory is she had a phone number for Danny Lee.  Turns out she did and dialed him right away.  It took a while to explain who I was, but the connection was made with a promise to talk again in late May or early June.  Our next contact resulted in a promise to talk on Saturday evening, June 6, but that didn’t happen because of the non-existent cell coverage in the area.  So on Sunday morning, we set out for Wind Cave on a prayer.

First we reached the City of McKee, county seat of Jackson County, with a population of about 900.  From there, we headed further up the mountain based solely on a location for the area called Wind Cave on Google Maps.  Uncle Arlie was right about it being difficult to find, but GPS has made life easier.  After about 20 minutes of twist and turns on single-lane asphalt, we were on Wind Cave Road – a one-lane affair that eventually became just crushed stone.  But there was a small sign for the Wind Cave Baptist Church that gave us confidence we were headed the right way. 

At the church, we found a grave yard with many of Granma’s kin.  Her parents are there, Godfrey and Matilda “Tildy” Isaacs (below), as are some of her brothers and sisters.  At 11:00, there was a small service (six people counting us) at the church. 



While we had found some of what we wanted to see, there had not found Danny Lee.  Fortunately, he found us.  (Marjory and Danny Lee below.)


Turns out, the larger meeting is at the Lakes Cemetery about two thirds of a mile further on.  While we had thought this was an Isaacs meeting, it was really a Lakes meeting.  Carter Lakes arrived in the area in the early 1800s and is the father of Wind Cave, both figuratively and genealogically.  Carter Lakes is Marjory’s fourth great-grandfather and, with eleven children, an ancestor of most everyone who lived nearby.

So, along with fifty or sixty others, we attended the June Meeting at the Lakes Cemetery in Wind Cave, Kentucky.  There were Lakes, Gabbards, Maupins, Isaacs, and many more.  Prayers were offered and songs were sung.  And we were all reminded of the importance of family and of honoring our ancestors.

From there, we adjourned to the site of the Gabbard homestead.  While there are no original family houses in the area, there was a new cabin being fitted out and a nice stretch of land to sit and talk.
Our trip to the June Meeting in Wind Cave was certainly a memorable one, and something we intend to repeat.  We’ll be better prepared next time with bug spray, toilet paper, folding chairs, and plenty to eat and drink.  And we invite any of the descendants of Carter lakes to travel with us.

I’ve prepared a map with points of interest for those who might like to make the trip themselves including the location of the sign pointing to the church and another local landmark.  It seems there is nearly always a dog sleeping in the road at the intersection of Lakes Creek Road, Foxtown Road, and Salt Rock Road.  See you there the first Sunday after the first Saturday of every June.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Temperance and Prohibition in Danville Virginia

It’s not a simple story.  Danville has gone from “wet” to “dry” and back many times.  Those who favored a dry town were often personally wet.  And at least one citizen died for the cause of Prohibition.

The battle over a wet or dry Danville began in earnest in 1886 when Virginia adopted legislation that made liquor sales a “local option.”  From that time, the citizens of counties, independent cities, and towns could vote to ban liquor sales within their borders.

One of the most outspoken proponents of a dry Danville and a dry Commonwealth was the Rev. John R. Moffett.  In addition to his duties as a pastor of a North Danville Baptist church, Moffett was editor and publisher of a weekly Prohibition newspaper called Anti-Liquor.


Despite the best efforts of Rev. Moffett and the Danville chapter of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, a July 1891 local option vote was 291-273 in favor of keeping Danville wet. 

In 1892, Moffett went so far as to challenge the polling practices in Danville, resulting in a battle of words with one J. T. Clarke, a member of the predominant Democratic party and ex-bartender.  The battle escalated when Moffett lost his self-control, struck Clarke, and informed him that he “only conversed with gentlemen.”  Later in the week, on a Friday evening on Main Street, Clarke shot Moffett four times.  Moffett expired early on Sunday, November 14, 1892.  The North Danville Baptist Church, then under construction, was renamed Moffett Memorial (shown below) soon thereafter.  Clarke was convicted only of manslaughter, and received the light sentence of just five years from a jury of whiskey sympathizers. 

Moffett Memorial Baptist Church prior to 1971 fire

It is difficult to track exactly when Danville went dry, but it is clear this was so by 1905 when the local option would again come to a vote.  The wets won this election, and by 1906, seventeen saloon licenses had been issued.  Later that year, a new city ordinance forbade screens or obstructions that would block the view of passersby into the saloons as well as amusements such as billiards.

During this time, Chief of Police R. E. Morris vigorously enforced the liquor laws, perhaps too much so, causing rebukes from Mayor Harry Wooding and Corporation Court Judge Archibald Aiken.  Later, in 1911, to Danville’s great embarrassment, Morris was identified as Thomas Edgar Stripling, wanted for murder in Georgia.

Perhaps to the relief of local officials, the entire Commonwealth went dry on November 1, 1916 – three years before national prohibition began.  In 1918, Virginia was the second state to ratify the 18th Amendment.  The entire country went dry on January 17, 1920.

As in many other locations, Danville found enforcement of Prohibition difficult.  Mayor Wooding was accused by the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union of being too lenient as judge of the Police Court while wets thought Judge Aiken was thought too harsh in the Corporation Court.  The police were anxious to shut down the “blind tigers” on Craghead Street.  (A blind tiger was a place where liquor could be purchased without the buyer and the seller seeing one another, making one unable to testify against the other.)  At the same time, individuals such as Mike H. Hatcher of Grove Street were also prosecuted.  Hatcher was convicted of possession of at least a gallon of liquor no less than four times by 1927.

While Prohibition was modestly successful in reducing the amount of liquor consumed and initially reduced the crime rate, it ultimately created a new breed of criminals and failed to reduce crime overall.  Chicago’s Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929 was pivotal in changing public opinion on Prohibition.

On March 22, 1933, President Roosevelt signed a law legalizing beer and wine with low alcohol content – 3.2% by weight.  Virginia followed suit on August 17, legalizing 3.2% beer and making arrangements for a referendum on Prohibition.  On October 3, in a special election, Virginia voters agreed to end statewide Prohibition when and if the 21st Amendment repealing national Prohibition was ratified.  Virginia was the 32nd state to approve the amendment on October 25.  National Prohibition ended on December 5, 1933.

On March 7, 1934, the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) was established to control the sale of alcohol.  The ABC has an absolute monopoly on the sale of hard liquor by the bottle in Virginia.  There are about 350 ABC stores, now located mostly in strip malls.  With a high markup on wholesale prices, these stores generated $140 million in profit for the state during 2014 in addition to the 20% excise tax and 5% sales tax.


However, some Virginia counties remain dry under the “local option” including Bland, Buchanan, Charlotte, Craig, Floyd, Grayson, Highland, Lee, Patrick, and Russell.

Liquor “by the drink” sales were not allowed by state law until 1968.  Before that time, private “brown bag” clubs were the only legal way to enjoy a drink with dinner out.  It remains unlawful to transport more than a gallon of liquor into Virginia from neighboring states.

For those who are so inclined, it’s interesting to compare the history of liquor sales and Prohibition with today’s efforts to legalize marijuana.  During national Prohibition, doctors could prescribe medicinal alcohol much as we now have medicinal cannabis.  I think Rev. Moffett would be opposed.

Sources:
  • Bailey, Fankie Y. and Alice P Green.  Wicked Danville: Liquor and Lawlessness in a Southside Virginia City, The History Press, Charleston, SC 2011.
  • O’Conner, Adrian.  River City: Stories of Danville, publisher not listed.
  • “Prohibition in Virginia,” http://www.rustycans.com/HISTORY/virginia.html, accessed May 17, 2015.
  • “The ‘ABC’ of Legal Liquor in Virginia,” http://www.virginiaplaces.org/alcohol/abc.html, accessed May 19, 2015.
  • Thompson, S.H.  The Life of John R. Moffett, Mrs. Bruce Pearl Moffett, Salem, Va. 1895.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Danville and the Steam Railroad

When most of us think about the steam railroad in Danville, we think of the arrival of the Confederate government in 1865 or the wreck of the Old 97 in 1903.  There is much more to the story.

The first line to reach Danville was the Richmond & Danville Railroad in 1856.  The R & D brought Jefferson Davis to Danville, but it was not the only railroad to serve the city; four more lines arrived by 1890.

Chartered in 1862, the Piedmont Railroad extended south from Danville to Greensboro, North Carolina.  This line was built at the insistence of the Confederate government as a military necessity over the “states rights” objection of North Carolina.   Eastern North Carolinians wanted their state’s goods to ship through their own port of Wilmington.  Once chartered, the R & D owned 99 percent of the stock, and built and operated the railroad.  Service began in late 1863 but, as a concession to North Carolina, at a peculiar gauge.  This caused all freight to be transferred at Danville, thus making the port of Wilmington more attractive.  Because of war time shortages, this road was also poorly built, further discouraging its use.  However, it proved its value after the Petersburg Railroad to Richmond was cut by Grant’s army in 1864, leaving only the Piedmont Railroad and the Richmond and Danville to bring supplies to Lee’s army defending the Confederate capital.  It is said that the existence of the Piedmont Railroad extended the life of the Confederacy by many months.

On the close of the war, the Federal government seized and operated the Piedmont on the theory that it was the property of the Confederacy.  It was not returned to control of the R & D until December 1865.  At about the same time, the North Carolina legislature authorized conversion of the line to standard gauge.  The first through train from Richmond to Greensboro rolled on February 14, 1866.  The profit from this property to the R & D was minimal until the R & D leased and converted to standard gauge lines further to the south.

The third line was the Virginia Midland Railway.  Technically, this road had its terminus in North Danville, a separate city at the time.  Began in 1880 and extending south from Washington, D.C., service to Danville through Alexandria, Charlottesville, and Lynchburg began in 1882 or earlier.  The Virginia Midland also offered connections through other lines to many of Virginia's mountain resorts. 

The fourth line to serve Danville was the narrow gauge Danville and New River Railroad (D & N R R).  While chartered in 1873, construction actually began in 1880.  By late 1882, the 43 mile run to Martinsville was carrying passengers.  The D & N R R never had the resources to extend much farther, and was sold to the Richmond & Danville in 1891.  It was then reorganized as the Danville & Western Railway.  Known locally as the “Dick & Willie,” a third rail was added for standard gauge traffic reaching Martinsville in 1902.  Its superintendent was George King Griggs who owned the home at 848 Green St. 

The Dick & Willie still exists today as a branch line of the Norfolk Southern Railway extending from the Stokesland area of Danville to the Leaksville Junction.  (Leaksville is known today as Eden, North Carolina.)  A part of the rail bed abandoned in 2009 is now the Dick & Willie Passage Rail Trail through Martinsville.

The fifth line, the Atlantic & Danville Railway, extending 270 miles from Norfolk and Portsmouth, Virginia, arrived in 1890.  Its purpose was to move Danville products, primarily tobacco, for shipping at the Hampton Roads.  The A & D ran south of the Dan River passing through Denniston (near Alton) and crossing the Roanoke River (with the contributing Dan River) at Clarksville, Virginia.  The railroad bridge there is still in use today, and can easily be seen from U.S. 58.

With later mergers, the western section of the A & D became redundant and was abandoned.  Parts of the roadbed are now used as the Tobacco Heritage Trail.

Back to the original Richmond & Danville, control of the Piedmont Railroad and acquisition of the Danville & New River Railroad were only the first of its many acquisitions.  By 1890, the R & D had grown to over 3,300 miles of track extending north through Charlottesville to Washington with connections to New York City, and south to Columbia, South Carolina, and Augusta and Atlanta, Georgia, with connections to New Orleans and Jacksonville.  The extent of the R &D with its connections is shown on the map below.



As early as the winter season of 1874-75, private railcars were making their way to Florida through Danville, even though a gauge adjustment was required at Greensboro.  By the winter of 1881-82, many railroads were advertising their Florida passenger routes, claiming superior accommodations to the prevailing steamships.  Jacksonville could be reached from New York in only 36 hours.  An 1885 northbound schedule including both the coastal and Danville routes is shown below.



With the advent of the luxury hotels and Florida East Coast Railroad built by Henry Flagler, the rich and famous often traveled to Florida through Danville.  In 1890, President and Mrs. William Henry Harrison along with Vice President Levi P. Morton visited Winter Park onboard Mr. Flagler’s private car.

Just think, if the Interstate Highway System had followed the most popular rail route to Florida, I-95 would pass through Danville.

The great expansion of the 1880s placed the Richmond and Danville Railroad on shaky financial footing.  In 1894, it emerged from reorganization as the Southern Railway Company along with the Virginia Midland.  It was “The Southern” that constructed Danville’s ornate passenger depot in 1899, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Meant more to be seen than used by through passengers, the one-story cream-colored brick building was somewhat plain inside.


It was also “The Southern” that operated the Old 97, the Fast Mail that derailed at Danville’s Stillhouse Trestle on September 27, 1903.  Nine people were killed including the locomotive crew and a number of clerks in the mail car.  The wreck served as the inspiration for a ballad first recorded in 1924.  Since then, “Wreck of the Old 97” has been covered by numerous Country artists including The Statler Brothers with Johnny Cash.  The wreck also inspired a mural in downtown Danville, shown below.

Danville was important to the steam railroads, and the railroads were important to Danville for the many jobs they provided.  Green Street was home to many of the railroaders, including Montilla “Monk” Clark who served as an engineer for the Southern Railroad, often piloting the Old 97 both before and after the great wreck.  Monk’s neighbor Samuel Rickman was an oiler and his friends and neighbors Walter Millicer and Albert Griggs worked there as clerks.  Spotswood Pace was baggage master at the Danville station, a position later assumed by his son Spots Pace, Jr.

In 1939, the Southern Railway began using diesel locomotives, with the last fire “knocked out” in 1953.  Change came again in 1982 when “The Southern” merged with the Norfolk and Western Railroad creating today’s Norfolk Southern Railway.  In addition to freight, the Norfolk Southern tracks through Danville are also used by Amtrak’s Crescent, the sleeper train between New York and New Orleans.  Its progenitor, the Southern Crescent was mentioned in R.E.M.’s song “Driver 8.”  (R.E.M. was one of the world’s best-selling rock bands from 1980 to 1996.)

Today, using the Crescent, you can spend the work week in Washington, DC, and the weekends in Danville, returning to your Capitol office by 10:00 a.m. Monday.  All aboard!

Sources:
  • “Atlantic and Danville Railway,” Wikipedia.org, 7 Feb 2015.
  • Brown, C.K.  “A History of the Piedmont Railroad Company,” The North Carolina Historical Review 3.2 (April 1926), pp. 198-222, via JStor accessed 7 Feb 2015.
  •  “Dick & Willie Passage Trail,” TrailLink.com, 7 Feb 2015.
  •  “Driver 8,” Wikipedia.org, 7 Feb 2015.
  • "Excursion Guide of the Virginia Midland Railway" published by the company.
  • “It took 123 years to put out this fire”, Southern Railfan, Southen.Railfan.net, 7 Feb 2015
  •  “Richmond & Danville Railroad,” RailGa.com, 7 Feb 2015.
  • “Richmond and Danville Railroad,” Wikipedia.org, 7 Feb 2015.
  • Rinhart, Floyd and Marion.  Victorian Florida, America’s Last Frontier, Atlanta: Peachtree Publishers Limited, 1986, book.
  • The Bee, Danville, VA, various dates, Newspapers.com, 6 Feb 1015
  •  “The Norfolk, Franklin & Danville Railway,” AmericanRails.com, 7 Feb 2015.
  •  “Tobacco Heritage Trail,” TrailLink.com, 7 Feb 2015.
  • U.S. Census, 1910 - 1940
  • “Wreck of the Old 97,” Wikipedia.org, 7 Feb 2015.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

More of Deland

After our visit to the Stetson Mansion in Deland, Florida, we adjourned for lunch at the Brickhouse Grill in the downtown shopping area.  Don't bother.  But on our drive away from the Brickhouse, we stumbled upon the Athens Theatre.  I couldn't resist taking a photo of this 1922 beauty which began its life showing silent films and hosting vaudeville acts.  It was restored in 1994.



But on to our next destination, the Deland House Museum.  Note that this is not the home of Mr. Deland, but rather a house museum in the city that bears his name.  While this house is of the same vintage as the Stetson Mansion, 1886, the two houses are of different worlds. 


Operated by the West Volusia Historical Society and staffed by volunteer docents, this house illustrated the life of the middle class in turn-of-the-century Florida with period-appropriate furnishings and artifacts.  Perhaps its best feature are the numerous photographs of the city as it developed. 

The historical society has a very nice library in an adjoining building called the Conrad Education and Resource Center.  It also operates the old Deland hospital, which we hope to visit in the future.
  

Stetson Mansion

Marjory and I toured the Stetson Mansion in Deland, Florida, on March 3, 2015.  This may have been our most delightful tour ever.  We particularly enjoyed comparing the features of this home with its near contemporary, our W. F. Patton house in Danville, Virginia.

A winter home for famous hat maker John B. Stetson, this 1886 home is a private residence rather than a public house museum.  The owners live there every day, maintaining the property and conducting tours with the assistance of only two docents.  Our docent, Debbie Pixley, obviously loved what she was doing, blending Stetson history with the amazing story of the home's renovation.

Stetson Mansion, west and south fronts
While it is not the largest or the most ideally situated, the Stetson is the oldest gilded-age mansion in Florida.  While only 2.3 acres now, it was at one time situated on 300 acres of orange groves, pineapple fields, and sugar cane.

Perhaps the most outstanding feature of the home is its floors.  While many Victorian houses have floors with ornate borders, this house has nothing but borders.  Note the fine tessellation on the floor of the music room below.

Front / entry porch, parlor, and music room
Without a doubt, a visit to the Stetson is well worth the time and expense.  Reservations are required, which can only be made at their web site online.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Interview With My Father - Part 4

INTERVIEW OF CARL AND DOROTHY LIEPE
BY JOHN AND HELEN BRANIFF
JULY 5, 1980


(Tell me, did you have a harness maker in town?)
We had a wagon maker. He also worked on harnesses.  Otto.

Interview With My Father - Part 3

INTERVIEW OF CARL AND DOROTHY LIEPE
BY JOHN AND HELEN BRANIFF
JULY 5, 1980


(I mean the small bushes, do they spray them or what?)
Yes, you would have to have a duster or sprayer you know.

Interview With My Father - Part 2

INTERVIEW OF CARL AND DOROTHY LIEPE
BY JOHN AND HELEN BRANIFF
JULY 5, 1980

(That is probably when they were talking about really before the Second World War.  That’s when I think it was really cheap. I saw it advertised in New York in Strouds agency had the catalogue and my gosh you could buy a hundred acre farm down here for $5000 you know it was unbelievable?)
It’s going to go back to that because the Pineland Commissions are just making our land valueless.

Interview With My Father - Part 1

INTERVIEW OF CARL AND DOROTHY LIEPE
BY JOHN AND HELEN BRANIFF
JULY 5, 1980

(Carl, tell me what year were you born and where?)
Well, I was born in 1911, in the old house up the street.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Old West End Beauty

In March 1933, Miss Evangeline Burton Glidewell was chosen the most beautiful from a group of Danville girls in at a beauty contest sponsored by the Junior Wednesday Club.  The contest was held at the Capitol Theater.  Miss Glidewell was present with a silver loving cup and the opportunity to enter the state beauty contest. 

“Van” Glidewell was the daughter of Edmund T. and Arlin Burton Glidewell of 912 Green Street, just turned 18 and a senior at George Washington High School, then on Holbrook Avenue.  In addition to her beauty, she was also known as a talented singer, singing regularly on Danville’s WBTM when it began operation.

Evangeline did enter the state-wide contest and was crowned Miss Virginia by Lieutenant Governor James H. Price on August 31, 1933 at the Byrd Theater in Richmond.  On September 2, “The Bee” reported she was awaiting instructions to travel to Atlantic City to vie for the title of Miss America.  With her mother in attendance, our Danville Miss Virginia was declared third runner-up.

While her success in Atlantic City brought many offers including a screen test at RKO Studios, Evangeline Glidewell turned them all down.  She returned to Danville with her mother and finished her year at G.W.  She continued to compete in local beauty contests, and retained her title of Miss Danville in 1934.

In May 1936, Evangeline married James Hurdle Newman at her parents' home.  By 1938, she was working for the local department store, L. Herman (later Thalhimers) as a beauty consultant.  The Newmans later took up residence at 432 Chestnut Street where their only child, Evangeline “Little Van” Newman, was born.  

In a 1954 interview, Evangeline recalled her days in Atlantic City packed with dinners, the theater, photography, and balls.  But she also expressed her happiness in returning to Danville and being a mother and career woman saying, “I might have made more money but I couldn’t have been any happier.”

Evangeline passed in 1997 and rests with her husband and his family in the city’s Mountain View cemetery.

We all know that Danville has the most beautiful women, but somehow the ladies from nearby Martinsville have become Miss Virginia more often than from any place else – in 1956, 1958, 1981 and 2003.  In 2003, Martinsville’s Nancy Redd placed in the top ten at the Miss America Pageant and graduating from Harvard the same year.

The State of Virginia has been very successful in the Miss America pageant with its participants becoming finalists in a dozen years.  Miss Virginia has won the Miss America crown three times – Kylene Barker in 1978, Nicole Johnson in 1999, and Caressa Cameron in 2010.  But none as dear to our hearts as our own Van Glidewell.

Sources:
MissAmerica1933.com accessed 19 Feb 2015
Wikipedia.org, “Miss Virginia” accessed and updated 19 Feb 2015
The Bee, various dates, via Newspapers.com accessed 19 Feb 2015

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Russian Aristocracy in the Old West End

In 1925 and 1926, Danville was abuzz with the news of visiting nobility.  “The Bee” ran no less than six notices about these visits shown below:
24 Jan 1925:  Princess Serge Gagarine late of Paris, but who came with her husband and children to this country in September is expected in Danville this afternoon for a week’s visit to Miss Harriet James on Green Street [939].  Miss James met the visitor in Paris last year.  She and her household left Russia with General Wrangell at the time of the establishment of Communism and they have been living since that time in Paris.  Prince Serge is a nephew of Prince Troubezkoi who married Miss Amelia Reeves.
27 Jan 1925:  Mrs. R. R. King entertained at a tea yesterday afternoon at her home in Greensboro complimentary to Princess Gagarine.  Mrs. John James [939 Green Street], Princess Gagarine, Mrs. Randolph Meade [1050 Main Street] and Miss Harriet James motored to Greensboro for the occasion, returning to Danville last night.
27 Jan 1925:  Princess Serge Gagarine, of New York, who has been the guest of Miss Harriet James for a few days, left for Richmond this morning accompanied by Miss James, Mrs. Randolph Meade and Mrs. S. R. Dula [936 Main Street].  The party made the trip in Mrs. Dula’s car and they will remain in Richmond with friends until Thursday, when Princess Gagarine will return to New York and Mrs. Dula, Mrs. Meade, and Miss James will return to Danville.
10 Jul 1926:  Princess Gagarine of New York is the guest of Miss Harriet James.
18 Aug 1926:  Prince Gagarine, who has been spending the past moth as the guest of Miss Harriet James and Randolph Meade, Jr., left last night for his home in New York.
3 Oct 1928:  Miss Harriet James who has been the guest of Miss Eleanor Gamble in Haverford, Pa., and Mrs. Serge Gagarine, in New York, has returned home.
It would seem quite an honor to have such important visitors in Danville – pending the realization that Russian princes are a dime a dozen.  Russian titles can be inherited, and a prince's passes the title to all his children.  The great Russian writer Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837) offered the following observation:
European people believe in the aristocracy, some to scorn it, others to have something to hate. … In Russia none of this exists.  Here one simply does not believe in it.
Princess Gagarin (the correct spelling) was born Catherine Shukova in 1887 in Pskow, Russia.  She married Prince Serge Andrew Gagarin in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1914.  Together with their two oldest children, Andrew and Serge, they fled to Paris in 1920.  Their third son Peter was born there in 1924.  Members of the Gagarin family came to the United States at various times between 1923 and 1928.  They became naturalized citizens in 1930.

In the 1930 census, Serge, the Prince Gagarin, is shown working as an accountant for a steamship company while his wife Catherine, the Princess Gagarin, was a dressmaker.  However, they traveled extensively and their children were educated at the best boarding schools and universities.  Many of their descendants today hold important positions at major corporations.
 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Danville Library

The history of the Danville Library is an interesting one.  There have been several distinct phases in Danville’s library efforts since the turn of the 20th century, beginning in the downtown business district and ending with today’s modern facility on nearby Patton Street. 

No later than 1900, there was a small private library known as Miss Carrie’s Library with a few hundred books.  It was located in a nook of what is now the Leland Hotel on Main Street.  This library was popular with female shoppers who could stop there to rest and borrow a book.  It operated solely on the honor system, and reportedly traded as much in gossip as in books.  Miss Carrie, Virginia Caroline Pace, resided at 861 Green Street

In 1907, under the direction of Mrs. S. Rutherford (Gabriella) Dula of 936 Main Street, the Wednesday Afternoon Club commissioned a feasibility study for a true city library.  As a result, the Danville Library Association was formed with wealthy tobacconist Mr. John Edward Perkinson of 828 Main Street providing funding.  A committee compiled a list of needed books, and acquisitions were begun the next year.  An unused room in the Rison Park Grade School on Holbrook Avenue (across from the terminus of Green Street) became the first Danville library in 1909.  (The Rison Park School was later expended to become the first location of the George Washington High School until the present high school was built in 1956, and then the Robert E. Lee Jr. High School until it was demolished.)

In 1913, the city added the west wing to the Confederate Memorial Mansion.  The library was moved into the downstairs rooms of this extension.  It was open three afternoons a week and, because it was still semi-public, tea was served.  In 1914, Mrs. Dula gave the Danville Library Association the princely sum of $1,000.  The city remodeled the east wing of the Mansion where book stacks began to appear.  The Wednesday Club again provided assistance to the library movement with the donation of $50 per month to fund a library assistant.

In early 1923, Miss Bland Schoolfield, daughter of the founder of Dan River Mills, offered to build a $25,000 library for the city adjacent and to the east of the Confederate Memorial Mansion.  The Danville Library Association was to donate its 5,000 books and equipment while Mr. Perkinson agreed to equip and furnish the new building in the amount of $10,000.  City Council at first agreed to this plan and to provide $7,500 per year for operation.  However, just as construction was about to begin, a number of organizations protested the location, believing the nothing further should be place on the Memorial’s grounds.  While alternate locations were suggested, Miss Schoolfield withdrew her offer.

In 1927, city health officer Dr. Richard W. Garbett and newspaperman William Shands pressed the city to have a free public library.  By 1928, the City Council recognized that a free public library was a municipal necessity and agreed to provide sustaining funds, while the Danville Library Association turned over its assets, then valued at $15,000, to the city.

Recognizing the need for a library accessible to its colored citizens, the city opened the William F. Grasty Branch Public Library in September 1930 in the Westmoreland High School building (for colored) at the corner of Holbrook and Gay Streets.  This building is now the Westmoreland School Senior Apartments.  The Grasty Branch moved in August 1935 with the completion of the first J. M. Langston High School on Gay Street.

By 1931, the main library had 10,984 books while a branch at the Grasty Branch had 932.  With the construction of the new federal building at Main and Ridge Streets in 1933, a failed effort was made to secure the old post office at 530 Main Street for the main library.  That location is now home to the First Citizens Bank.

On April 11, 1936, the Works Project Administration, announced an allocation of $7,144 for expansion of the public library, $4,144 from the WPA and $3,000 from the city including certain skilled labor.  While a smaller addition was originally planned, the expansion ultimately included two floors for reading rooms and a basement storage area for the library’s 16,000 volumes.  While the addition protrudes from the main building, it was made to match exactly, keeping the fine appearance of the Confederate Memorial Mansion. 

The entire project was expected to take 90 days, and construction began quickly on April 16.  However, there were delays in the bidding for bricks and the delivery of the structural steel.  The addition was formally opened to the public on Monday, November 30, 1936.

In another WPA project, sidewalks were added around the building on Main Street, Sutherlin Avenue, and Holbrook Avenue.

By 1947, the Danville Public Library had more than 30,000 volumes.  Mrs. John L. (Janie) Hagan, the librarian since 1910, retired at the end of that year.  In December 1949, the Grasty Branch Library for Negroes was moved to 324 Holbrook Street at the terminus of Roberts Street to reduce overcrowding and provide longer hours.  The branch continued to have about one tenth the number of books as the main library – separate but not equal. 

Danville was the first Virginia city to offer bookmobile service beginning in late 1949 or early 1950.  The vehicle had a capacity 0f 2,400 to 2,600 books, and had seven routes with 43 stop covered twice per month.

In 1956, the old R. L. Dibrell and J. I. Pritchett homes, across Main Street at 990 and 992, were eyed as a possible site for a new library.  A capacity crowd attended the city council meeting on April 11 to call attention to the overcrowding at the library and request erection of a new building.  No action was taken.  (The old Dibrell home was later demolished to make way for the present Doctors Building while the Pritchett home was removed to straighten the intersection of Holbrook Avenue and Holbrook Street with Main Street.)

The refusal to serve 16 students from the segregated John M. Langston High School at the main library on April 2, 1960, caused a lawsuit by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).  The result was a federal injunction requiring open library access effective Saturday, May 21, 1960.

On the preceding Thursday, the Danville City Council took unanimous action to close the library at the conclusion of business on Friday.  The closing of public facilities to forestall integration was common throughout the South in those days.  Thus, 66,000 books were padlocked not far from where the flag of the Confederacy still floats each day.  The creation of a private library was explored during the closure.

Danville citizens backed the action of their Council two to one in a June 14 referendum.  However, only 20 percent of citizens voted, many of the poorer classes being excluded because of poll taxes.  An editorial in The Bee the next day seemingly lambasted everyone – the NAACP as provocateurs who had disturbed the harmonious dual racial coexistence, the acid-tongued neo-liberals in coalition with the Negro voters, and the unreconstructed rebels who saw the federal injunction as an invasion of states rights.

City Council voted 5-4 on Monday, September 12 to reopen the libraries on a check-out only basis for a 90 day trial period.  Tables and chairs were removed and no reading was allowed.  The libraries reopened at 2 p.m. on Wednesday with a full day of operation on Thursday.  The Bee reported 55 patrons, none colored, appeared at the main library and that 25 to 30 used the Grasty branch.

At the same time, it was announced that all patrons would need to acquire new library cards by October 1, 1960, at a cost of $2.50 to use the libraries themselves or 50 cents for use of the bookmobile only.  While seemingly an effort to exclude the poorer classes from the libraries, City Manager T. E. Temple explained that the new cards would provide the library staff with information they have needed for a long time.

The original bookmobile was replaced in 1965 and continued until about 1981 when budget cuts and the need for a new vehicle halted service.

With an integrated main library only a few blocks away, the Grasty Branch closed in July 1969.  The building was demolished for a planned extension of Roberts Street that was never constructed.

In January 1972, the city announced plans for a new $800,000 library at the corner of Patton and Ridge Streets with shelf space for 116,000 volumes.  The design also called for an upper-level children’s library, genealogy section, and meeting room, with an intermediate level to accommodate growth in the collection and a basement storage area.  Groundbreaking occurred on April 20.

The Danville Public Library at the Sutherlin Mansion (the term Confederate Memorial Mansion was no longer used) closed for the second time on August 2, 1973, for the move to its new facilities.  The new library opened informally on September 4 with a formal opening including tours and dedication on September 7.  The grounds were landscaped by the Gabriella Garden Club soon thereafter. 


Meanwhile, plans and fundraising were well underway for conversion of the Sutherlin Mansion to a museum.  The mansion was to be leased to the Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History by the city.  The museum’s first art exhibit occurred on September 13, 1974.  Its newly completed auditorium was first used three days later.

The Danville Public Library created its Westover Branch as a result of annexation of that area of the city.  The branch opened on July 1, 1988, with a formal opening on July 18.

The main library was expanded beginning in 1996 with completion in 1997.  At that time, the basement level was renovated for a law library while the main and upper levels were expanded to create a larger reading area and more space for the genealogy and children’s departments.

The Danville Public Library now has over 140,000 volumes, 8,000 audio materials, and 6,000 video materials in addition to wireless Internet access and computers for public use.  There is also an extensive online eLibrary including books, magazines, audio, and language learning.

Sources:
The Bee, various dates, Newspapers.com, 9 Feb. 2015
The Register, various dates, Danville Library Reference Desk
Danville Public Library web site, ReadDanvilleVa.org, 9 Feb 2015
Lou Hendricks, Reference Information Specialist, Danville Public Library
D. A. Terrell. History of the Grasty Branch Public Library, Jan. 4, 1947
 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Mayor Wooding Recalls

From The Bee, Saturday, June 16, 1923:
Mayor Wooding Recalls Some Early Chapters Of City History In Address

At the last meeting of the Rotary club Mayor Harry Wooding was called on to relate some of his reminiscences about the city of Danville of which he has been the executive head for so long.  Being previously notified, Captain Wooding who is absent from the city just now on a fishing trip, prepared a paper on the subject which read to the Rotarians and which was considered by all who heard it as a valuable contribution to the city’s historical records.  Mayor Wooding’s paper is produced hereunder:

I was born, I don’t say when [1844 ed.], just beyond Green Hill cemetery in a small house then called Kerrs Cottage, but now owned by Mrs. Morris Flinn, and have lived my entire life, except for the four years I served in the Confederate army, either in or in sight of Danville.

Of my school mates, only three now live in our city, and of my Confederate comrades, although Danville sent to the defense of states rights and the independence of the south, the Danville Blues, commanded by Capt. W. P. Graves; the Danville Grays, commanded by Capt. Thomas D. Claiborne; the Danville artillery, commanded by Capt. L. M. Shumaker, and the Danville cavalry, commanded by Capt. W. K. Mebane, only two of the of the six or seven hundred men and boys who enlisted in these companies are now living in Danville – Dr. C. E. Dougherty and myself.

My first recollection of Danville was a scattering village of perhaps 2,500 or 3,000 inhabitants, one half, or at least one third, were colored people.

Only one bridge spanned Dan river, it was located where stands our iron bridge.  It was an open wooden structure, the pillars were wooden pens, filled with rocks, and the road bed was too narrow for vehicles to pass each other, and if going in opposite directions one would have to wait at the mouth of the bridge until the way was clear in order to pass over it.  I was standing on an end of this bridge watching the fast rising water, saw the bridge break near the center and float down the river, and for months crossing the river was done in ferryboats, canoes, or by fording.  This was a toll bridge and citizens from the village and the vicinity paid yearly rent for their families, servants, and vehicles to pass to and out of the village.  Of course, transients paid toll at the time of crossing.  Only one house, McCoys mill, was on the north bank of the river and the present stone bridge.

There were only three dwelling houses of any size in what are known as the 5th and 6th wards, or North Danville.  One belonged to Col. Leonard Claiborne, a brick colonial residence, where the Bellevue public school is now located, and his farm included almost all of the 5th and 6th wards.  Another dwelling, owned by Mr. Matthew Hodnett, stood where Dr. Lawless’ Cancer hospital is now located.  The third house, situated at the corner of Henry and Keen streets, was owned by Mr. George Price.  Main, Wilson, Craghead, Patton, Lynn, Bridge, and Union streets, or roads, were all the highways then in the village of Danville, nor was there a rock in the street or road, or a brick on sidewalk, that was not put there by nature or some property owner, in front of his house for personal comfort or convenience.

There were only two private male schools (we had no public schools then), one was taught by an old gentleman by the name of Robert White.  He taught spelling, reading, writing, and arithmetic, and said he would have taught geography and grammar but the truth was he had never studied either.  This school was situated at the corner of Union and Spring streets, where now the Planters warehouse is located.  A slanting plank extending the whole length of the small school room was the writing desk for all the scholars.  A tall bench on each side and the length of the room served as seats, and the boy who got the seat where the rough wooden pegs protruded through the slab five or six inches was most uncomfortably seated.  Mr. White’s school rules were like the laws of the Medes and Persians, unchangeable, and the little boy or big boy who violated a rule was invariably (as the old man called it) flogged; and a boy who was flogged at school was afraid to tell at home for fear of another flogging from his father.

The other male school stood about fifty yards in from of the gate of our Holbrook cemetery.  It was a two-story brick building, about 20 feet square, one room downstairs and one room upstairs, and was named the Danville academy, and had an extensive reputation, for boys and young men came from many miles distant, boarded in private families and attended this academy.  This academy was taught by Mr. Levi Holbrook, a northern gentleman, who at the expense of $1,000.00, presented to the Presbyterian church the first organ ever seen in this part of the world.  He was a great friend of Major W. T. Sutherlin, and no doubt took part if the selection of the beautiful grounds where now stands the Confederate Memorial Mansion, and overlooked the building of the mansion, which without addition or alteration, looks as well today as it did when it was erected more than a half century ago.

There were only two private female schools, a brick house on Wilson street, opposite Tazwell Alley, taught by a northern lady, Miss Ann Benedict.  Dr. George W. Dame’s academy, corner of Jefferson and Loyal streets, which has been enlarged and is now known as the General hospital.  This academy was presided over by the sainted Dr. Dame, who for 50 years was the rector of the Episcopal church in Danville, and whose influence on the morals and spirituality of our citizens, has borne fruit a hundred fold to his honor and glory and the uplift of many of our citizens.

There were four churches in Danville – the Methodist, Rev. Nelson, head pastor, corner of Wilson and Lynn streets; the Presbyterian (Rev. Mr. Fitzpatrick, pastor) where the Christian church on Jefferson street now stands; the Episcopal church, Dr. G. W. Dame, rector, corner of Main and Jefferson streets, where the Episcopal church now stands; and the Baptist church, Rev. C. C. Chaplin, pastor, the only brick church, and the largest church at that time, and the only church that has retained any part of its originality, and this church situated near the corner of Patton and Ridge streets, and has been converted into an apartment house.  All of these churches had two doors; one for the males to enter and the other for the females to enter, the girls going in and sitting with their mothers, or older female relatives, and the boys going in with their fathers or older male relatives; for in those days men and women did not occupy the same side of the church, but separated when going into the church and coming together when the service was over.

We had but one policeman at that time, few laws and fewer ordinances, and many of the misdemeanors then committed for which persons are now hailed to court, were overlooked or unnoticed and soon forgotten,  The jail stood at the corner of Craghead an Patton streets, but the mayor had few cases to deal with.  We had no game laws then, and no one objected to their neighbors hunting or fishing on their lands or ponds.  Dan river was well stocked with Red Horse, King Williams, suckers, Red Eye, Perch, Jack Fish, Cats, and Eels, and fishing was great sport, as the fish bit freely.  Our forests and fields were well stocked with o’possums, foxes, squirrels, wild turkeys, partridges, wild pigeons and other game.  Long Shoals, six or seven miles above Danville, was a roosting place for wild geese, and wild ducks were plentiful on the river, so hunting was always fine sport in those days.

We had one weekly newspaper, four pages, size about 12 by 15 inches.  We got news from other states one to two weeks old, and news from foreign counties five to six months old.

I well remember when the first railroad train whistle reverberated through our forests, and we were connected by rail with Richmond. Up to that time the stage coach had brought all travelers and mail into and through our village.  The stage came from Richmond, Lynchburg and Greensboro.  I do not suppose there were more than 15 or 20 letters came to Danville in a week, and when we heard the horn announcing the approach of the stage coach, many assembled at the post office and it was not an infrequent remark to hear someone say that “Mr. A or Mr. B got a letter today, but we have not heard who it was from.”

When Peruvian guano was first brought to this section, it was regarded as a dangerous article, our farmers and gardeners preferring to continue the use of lot and stable manure rather than expose their farms and gardens to such a radical innovation, and many waited to see someone else demonstrate its value before using.

When kerosene oil first came to Danville, it was handled with more care and solicitude than dynamite now is, many of our people holding tenaciously to tallow and adamantine candles rather than risk an explosion.

In my early days matches were very scarce and most stintingly used, may preferring to go to a neighbor’s house some distance away and beg a chunk of fire, rather than to use a highly prized match.

In those days, envelopes had not made their appearance here, and steel pens were almost as scarce as hen’s teeth, and quill pens were almost altogether use; an black sand, taken from the river bank and put in boxes with holes in the top like pepper boxes, was used to dry up ink, for blotting paper had not been seen or even heard of here.  Letters were sealed with sealing wax and folded in such a way as to leave a blank space for directions.

There were a few dry goods stores and grocery stores, all on Main street between the Masonic Temple and Bridge street.  No drummers [traveling salesmen] came to Danville nor were any orders given or received between seasons.  The merchants went to market twice a year and when their stock was low or sold out, they waited for the next season to buy again.  Most of the tobacco was bought at the barn and delivered to the factories; but such as was sold at auction, was sold on Main street, about in front of L. C. Clarke and Company.  When tobacco was manufactured, it was put in wagons and carried to the Southern or other states and sold, or delivered, if previously ordered.

There is a legend that one, Bill Reagon, was employed by one of our tobacco manufacturers to take a load of manufactured tobacco south and sell it.  Of course, he was furnished with a wagon and a negro driver.  When they reached Georgia, Reagon sold the tobacco and the negro driver too, and then wrote back to the owner that the negro had died an wanted to know whether he must bring his body home or bury him in Georgia, and the owner promptly decided to leave the body in Georgia.  I cannot vouch for this legend, but I heard Reagon chided about it and he did not look pleased.

When I was a small boy I do not believe there were more than five or six pianos in Danville and the vicinity, and only one organ.  No brass bands ever came our way.  Fiddles and banjos were by no means numerous.  Music boxes, phonographs or other musical instruments had not made their appearance here.  No sewing machines, copying machine, adding machines, telegraph, telephone or wireless telegraphy had been dreamed of by the people.

There were only two benevolent societies – the Masons and the Odd Fellows, and the members of these societies were looked upon as men of mystery who knew enough to revolutionize society.  There were no Rotarians, Kiwanians, Lions, Elks, Pythians, Red Men or other kindred organizations.

In former days, whiskey, brandy and wine were sold in stores like molasses or vinegar.  There were no prohibition laws then and no United States tax was collected, and good pure whiskey and brandy could be bought for fifty cents a gallon.  Almost as a rule, gentlemen kept a decanter of whiskey and brandy in their sideboard and visitors were invited to have a julip or toddy, but gentlemen seldom took more than one drink a day and many did not take a drink in a week or month, and I can recall only two habitual drunkards I knew in my early boyhood days and, of course, these two were not welcome in good society.

There is not a residence or business house on Main street between the Iron Bridge and Jackson’s Branch on the Yanceyville road that now stands in its original state, and only two could be recognized.  These two are the present residence of Mr. W. W. Williamson and Mr. John N. Wylie.  At that time, Wilson street was the principle residence street.  All west of Main, all south of Wilson and Five Forks, all southwest of the Memorial Mansion, except the residence of Judge Price Withers, all of the 5th and 6th wards, except the houses mentioned, have been laid out, on both sides of the river, in my remembrance. 

The merchants I first remember were – Patton and Doe, W. S. Patton was the grandfather of Mr. Albert Patton.  He afterwards went into the banking business, and during his long life he commanded the esteem and admiration of all our citizens.  Other dry goods and general stock merchants were:

Simon Simon, George Price, Greenwald Brothers, A. G. Taylor and Oberchain.

Druggists – Dr. High Holcomb, Mr. Archer.

Dentists – Dr. Lapham, Dr. O. N. Allen.

Tavern Keepers – Capt. J. M. Williams, where Lee-Lewis is now located, William Simmons, Tunstal house, where now Acree’s Warehouse is located.

Doctors – George Craghead, William Craghead, F. D. Stokes, Nathaniel Green, Sr., Nathaniel Green, Jr.

Bankers – George W. Welsh, George W. Johnston, Charles Taliaferro, W. S. Patton.

Tobacconists – C. G. Holland, John W. Holland, Smith Holland, William Ayres, J. H. Pemberton, W. T. Sutherlin, Charles Cosby.

In later years Mr. C. G. Holland and Mr. W. T. Sutherlin took a very active part in the advancement of Danville.  Other prominent citizens of my early days were:

Dr. T. H. C. Grasty, Mayor; Dr. Thomas P. Adkinson, Mr. W. E. Shepherd, Col. Wylie, W. H. Wooding, W. M. Mosely, Capt. James Lanier, P. Watkins, Porter Flagg, Pink Bethel, Reuben Hopkins, William Rison, James Garland, W. C. Grasty, William Robinson, W. W. Worsham, and others whom I cannot at present recall.

There was not a preacher, teacher, doctor, lawyer, banker, merchant, druggist, hotel keeper, dentist or other person I have mentioned except Dr. C. E. Daugherty, that are now living.  All are sleeping in the Holbrook, Green Hill, Leemont Cemeteries or elsewhere, and when I go to Leemont and Green Hill Cemeteries, where I hunted in childhood, I recognize more names than in any other places.

Prior to the rumbling of discontent and threatened controversy which resulted in the war between the states, the citizens of Danville were a happy people, as near contented as people ever get.  They had in profusion everything good to eat, and clothes of good quality, if there were mostly cut and made at home.  They had fine horses, and some had buggies, (and a few had carriages) and satisfied with a fortune of ten or fifteen thousand dollars, taking things easy, no rushing, no hurrying, they were as near satisfied as people ever get to be,

But the Civil War left the people of Danville desolate and, like the whole South, they were destitute of every essential to advance the prosperity of Danville, no stocks of goods, no money to buy stocks, no credit, no seeds or farming implements, no currency that was worth the paper it was printed on.  I have often wondered how our people lived under such oppressive and depressing conditions.

My friends, if your predecessors, under such conditions, laid the foundation for the present influence and commercial importance of our beloved city of Danville, I feel sure the patriotism, the business tact, good fellowship and sociability of you native-born and adopted citizens, with the advantages you now have, will carry Danville forward in population, in commercial and social influence, in educational and spiritual advancement, until she reaches that high imminence, both local, state and national, which the efforts of her past, present and future business men and good citizens so richly deserve.