May 25, 2016 at 5:43 am #863
Genealogical Society, Inc.
Quarterly Publication – April 2011 Volume 20, Issue 2
Have you talked to a relative about your family history? Do it today!
The Story of Joressia Dovie Reid Jamison
Joressia Dovie Reid (some listings show the first and middle names reversed), my great grandmother, was born March 28, 1866 in Rich Patch, Virginia, lived her life with her husband and family on their farm on Potts Creek in Alleghany County, Virginia, and died December 20, 1943. Her father, George Washington Reid and mother Virginia Crush, raised her in the Rich Patch region, the village of Paint Bank.
At 19, she married James Henry Jamison, a 26-year-old farmer and together they had nine children, including my grandmother, Lillie Mae Jamison Tingler, born on the farm in 1888. Lillie Mae was the first child to live beyond infancy. When her first child died at birth on April 2, 1887, the doctor told Dovie she would not be able to have any more children. Thankfully that judgment proved to be incorrect as she became the mother of eight more lives.
Dovie, as we we’re she told preferred to be called, was a great home maker and farm wife. She was a strong believer in Christ and with her husband James Henry, members and regular participants in the Old Order Dunkard Bretheren church. Her husband often sermonized at their local congregation in the absence of the circuit riding preacher that served it. The children they raised reported that they were loving but strict in their discipline and that they established high standards.
We know a lot about Dovie because of a pair of excellent articles published in the 1990s by Covington’s Virginian Review. The column titled, “Another View with Leonard Jamison,” gives a very comprehensive account of Dovie’s wedding, her life on the farm and her philosophies of life, as well as a wistful nostalgic view of her life and extended family. I will email copies of the two articles I have, dated November 12, 1990 and January 10, 1996, to anyone interested.
A brief extract of the 1990 article: “Grandma put in as many hours as Grandpa. In addition to the numerous chores, she did everything from making soap and crocheting bedspreads to organizing quilting bees. For relaxation, she sat at her little secretariat in the evening hummed church tunes and wrote letters….”
She participated in the farm work, planting a garden, raising chickens, gathering eggs produce for sale in nearby Covington, milking cows, canning and preserving fruits and vegetables, making whatever was needed around the house and farm. It seems she never learned to drive, though they had their first car, a Model T Ford, while she was young enough to do so.
Dovie is buried in a family cemetery across the road from the old family farm on Potts Creek Road, Route 18, south of Covington.
Mary S. Venable of Covington, Virginia provided a write-up of the Gilliland Tavern for the WPA Project on March 31, 1937. Ms. Venable noted that the Gilliland Tavern was located approximately “19 miles east of Covington, Virginia, going east on Route #60, Route 42, on left”. The relocation of the road (Rt. 42) occurred around 1930, and today this tavern site is located on Rt. 42 on the right hand side of the road about a mile past the entrance to “Griffith Campsites”.
The date of construction was noted as 1765 and at the formation of Alleghany County in 1825, the owner was shown on the tax records as James Gilliland. In 1854, the Alleghany County tax records show that the heirs of James Gilliland were owners of the property and tavern. Around 1874, Shepherd Gilliland Sr. sold Shepherd Young Gilliland the property with the reservation of he having life estate. In 1937, the widow of Shepherd Y Gilliland was owner. Maggie Gilliland held possession of this 285-acre tract until 1959 when it was sold to J C Hamilton and Homer M Pullen. The parcel has been divided several times and it is approximated that the residue of the parcel where the tavern once stood is in the possession of Gerald Crowder. The “tavern” continued to stand until about 1947, however, it has not been determined if the structure was torn down because of dilapidation or if it was destroyed by fire.
Ms. Venable described the seven-room inn as having three large and 4 small rooms with 9 foot ceilings. There was a cabin outside for the kitchen. The structure contained handmade weatherboarding and hew beams in a pioneer style. The two mantels in the tavern were described as being large and plain. There were two chimneys, one on the west side and one between two rooms. The large porch across the front was the hallway upstairs with each door to the rooms opening onto the porch. Ms. Venable described the stairway as “winds, on the left end of front porch, facing the inn, is partially closed at top”. There were 21 windows with batten type shutters. It was also noted in the 1937 write-up that the building was used as a camp in the summer.
A brief history of the Gilliland Family was provided in the write-up. Ms. Venable noted “James Gilliland came from Lancaster, York County, Pennsylvania and in 1805 bought on Potts Creek from John and Katherine Wright, a land grant of 189 acres. In 1829, they sold to David Bowyer”. James Gilliland also served in the Revolutionary War and filed a declaration for Revolutionary service. He stated in his declaration that he was a resident of Virginia before the Revolution.
Ms. Venable notes in her write-up that by the year 1854 “four of the Gilliland heirs of Shepherd, son of James
Gilliland, were in Keokuk, Iowa, from whence they sell to Sampson Karnes a tract of 24 acres, joining John Allen and Michael and William Karnes.” The elder Shepherd Gilliland conveys this property to his children Mary S Shanklin and Shepherd Young Gilliland, on condition that they pay his debts. Ms. Venable notes that it appears from the deeds that both of the children regret their bargain and “in 1874 Mary Shanklin finding the debt greater than she had supposed and not being willing to pay one-half of said Shepherd Gilliland’s debts was determined to re-convey all the lands conveyed to her and do hereby relinquish and quit-claim” to Shepherd Gilliland, her father. The son, Shepherd Young Gilliland also re-conveys his half back to his father. Very shortly there after in the deed books the father deeds it all to the son, Shepherd Young Gilliland (Alleghany County Deed Book 7, page 107) “all that land on both sides of the Cowpasture, commencing at a cliff . . to the mouth of Jerry’s Run”. In 1937, Shepherd Young Gilliland’s widow owned the property. This 1926 deed states “to my wife, Maggie, all my property, real, personal, and mixed . . 2/3 of all monies due me to the following sons and daughters: P T Gilliland, G Y Gilliland, E V Gilliland and Carrie Lee Curtis”.
The 1825 Map of Alleghany County, Virginia prepared by H Boye, shows the homes of William Griffin Sr and Landy Griffin in this area, as well as a mill. It has been told that across the Cowpasture River from the Crowder property you can see remains of the old mill in the water.. Frank Deeds, now deceased, was noted as saying that the mill was destroyed in the 1913 flood. It is concluded that the Griffin family operated the mill. The date the Gilliland’s first acquired the land or if there is a family connection between the Griffin’s and Gilliland’s, has not been determined.
Ms. Venable used the following sources for her write-up: Mrs. Maggie Gilliland, Clifton Forge, VA; Mr. Brown Surber, Covington, Va; and Mr. Gilliland, Cleveland, Ohio; Court Records in Alleghany and Augusta Counties.
Sources of information for this articles included: Marion Nicely, Clifton Forge, VA; Cletus Nicely, Clifton Forge, VA; Greg Vess, Clifton Forge, VA; Gerald Crowder, Clifton Forge, VA; WPA files at the Library of Virginia; and Land Records in the Alleghany County Commissioner of the Revenues Office..
To read the complete write-up from the WPA on the Gilliland Tavern and other places in Alleghany County, you can visit the Library of Virginia’s web page at http://www.lva.lib.va.us. Also, the Charles P Jones Library in Covington and the Alleghany Highlands Genealogical Society has information available on the WPA’s for Alleghany County.
The History of Bennett Town
Jacob Bennett, who settled in Rich Patch a century ago or earlier, is thought to have come from Rockingham. His wife was Mary. He raised a family of 7 children. Sampson Bennett was one of the children.
Sampson’s first wife was Phoebe Fridley. They had one boy and four girls. Caleb Bennett was one of Sampson Bennett’s children by his first wife.
Sampson Bennett’s second wife was Mary E. Armentrout and had one child, Jacob M. Bennett. Caleb and was Jacob M. Bennett’s half brother.
Jacob M..Bennett, Jr. married Rebecca “Becky” Wolfe. Jacob was 20 and Rebecca was 21 when they married. They had one child, William Skeen. Caleb Bennett was Jacob’s half brother.
Caleb Bennett was one of Sampson Bennett’s children by his first wife. He had 4 girls and one boy:
Harriett married William T. Switzer, the son of Cary Acton and Jane Switzer. Margaret married Isaac Dameron. Margaret was 18 and Isaac was 39 when they married. One daughter married a Bess, and another married a Harmon.
Mary A. married William “Bill” Armstrong. He was killed on Snake Run during the Civil War. They lived at the Smith Place. They had one child, Sarah, who was born Oct. 28, 1859. Bill was killed by a guard by the name of Hepler. They came and got his body in the afternoon and buried him in an unknown place without a casket.
Sarah Elizabeth married Douglas Hepler. He was about 20 years older than Sarah. He had been married before and had one boy and one girl.
Sarah’s children are: Will, Dauff, Russell, Henry Maidson, Mary Jane who married Henry Bess, Abbey married George Bowyer, Annie married Neal Hitt, Leila married Henry Reynolds, Samathia married Pat Caldwell, Ida married Manuel Terry.
Sarah died June 21, 1926 and buried in Lone Star Cemetery.
Mary A. Bennett Hepler, 2nd husband was John Hamilton Stone. She is buried in the Jacob Stone Cemetery along with an infant, Charlie.
Mary A. and John Stone had the following children, John, Billy, Jacob R. and Elizabeth. John Stone settled on Snake Run. Billy was an engineer on the C&O in Covington and then went to Richmond. Jacob R. settled in the home place.
Elizabeth married a Carter. She had one child Eula May. She died at child birth when Eula Mae was born. Eula May married a Wickline and they settled in Huntington, W. Va.
Caleb Bennett married Sarah Carson. They had two children: George M. who married Ada Carter and Fannie married Edward Armstorng.
George and Ada had Nora Bennett and Harry Bennett. Nora had one child by Otto Myers – James O. Myers who they called Jim Jack. He married and lives in Richmond. Nora then married Gouff Hepler. Their children are: Tommy, Daniel, Wilbur, Albert, Elmer R. and one girl, Dorothy.
George and Ada are buried in the Caleb Bennett Cemetery. Harry is buried in the Carson Cemetery on Snake Run. Nora and Gouff Hepler are buried in the Lone Star Cemetery.
George Bowyer married Abby Helper. They had one son E.C. (Shott), Burg Bowyer was George Bowyer’s foster father.
Edward G. and Fannie Bennett Reynolds had 10 children: Lloyd married Elizabeth Stone; Annie married Amos Wade and Roy Meadows; Rose married George Persinger; Bertie married Will Arritt, Elza Baker and Walter Richmond; Charlie married Susie Cockron who died at childbirth. They married Lucy Garnett. Mary married Harve Hepler; McKinley married Vida Arrington then married Mary Craft Humphreys; Thermon married Roberta Weaver and then Ruth McDaniel Phillips; Boyd married Loula Tucker; Florence married Joseph Dempsey.
Edward G. and Fannie Bennett Reynolds were married by Johnnie B. David. They are both buried in the Cedar Hill Cemetery.
William T. Switzer and Harriet Bennett Switzer had three boys and one girl. The boys were Marion, Caleb, Will and Jacob. The girl’s name is believed to be Mary and might have been born on September 13, 1870. She married Douglas Persinger. They lived on Craig Creek. They had two children – Ernest and Harve. It is said that after she became twenty-one, she ran off with a man named Nace and lived in Huntington, West Virginia.
Jake went to Ohio.
Will Switzer married May Redman. They had Cecil, Paul, Montigue “Mont”, Charles Elbert “Ebb”, and Marion Lee Switzer.
Marion Caleb Switzer was born 10/04/1877 and died 11/07/1946. He had three children in his first marriage (Wife unknown). The children were Lizzy, Roy and Lillian. He then was married to Della Snow Kelley. Della was born 01/08/1892 and died 11/26/ 1974. Caleb and Della had six children, Orin, Gertrude, Willard, Juanita Gussie, Christine, Raymond and Stella.
John Stone No. 1 came from Ireland alone. He homesteaded land on the upper end of Castel Run. His wife and son came later and he met them in New York. His son later died. John No. 2 was born there.
John No. 2 married Mary A. Bennett Armstrong, widow of Bill Armstrong. They had Billy, Johnny and Jacob. Johnny married a Carter and had one girl, Elizabeth. Billy married a Harmon. Jacob married Ada Helmintoller. She was the daughter of George A. Helmintoller. They had the following children: Alonza, Stewart, Bertha, Reva, Carlos, Dayton, Kinton, Ruth, Dorothy “Dot”, Agness, Wilma, Johnny, Medford “Med” and Helen.
Joe Stone married Catherine Susan Switzer, sister to Bill Switzer. Catherine Susan had one son before she was married. Her son’s name was George Switzer. George went to West Virginia, he worked for the railroad and married Ollie Dudley Sloan. Joe was brother to John Stone No. 2. Joe and Elizabeth had Ida and Neff. Joe is buried on Snake Run in the Stone Cemetery and Elizabeth is in the Bennett Cemetery.
John Sampson Armentrout married a daughter of William Helmintoller. They lived in Pinkey’s Branch connected to Bennett Town with just a hill between. John Sampson was a young man during the Civil War. His father, John Armentrout, and Caleb Bennett did not want to serve in the Civil War. They started to Ohio and got as far as Charleston when John got sick and died. Caleb went on to Ohio and returned when the war was over.
John Sampson Armentrout, son of John Armentrout J. married a sister to George A. Helmintoller. They had 3 sons and 1 girl. George Willie, Robert Lee and John Daniel. Rebecca married Gordon Fodrey (Faudree). They had a boy, Leslie who became a doctor in World War No. 2; Ruby became a nurse. Rebecca’s mother died at child birth.
John Daniel Armentrout married Dessie Fridley. They had Kathleen, Marie and ell VasDias.
Robert Armentrout, son of John Sampson Armentrout married Rebecca Helmintoler, his 1st cousin and they had a large family.
Sampson Bennett divided his Estate as follows”: He gave his daughters money, Caleb 100 acres. Caleb gave George 5 acres. Caleb and George gave a Deed of Trust on the 90 A and lost it because of non payment. Edward and Fannie Reynolds built a log house on their 5 acres and traded it to Harve Helmintoller for a cow and the cow died.
The Fulton Family operated a crock factory near Lone Star Church. Several of the crocks are owned by families in Alleghany County.
George, Willie, Robert, John Daniel Armentrout; George and Fannie Bennett; Jacob R. Stone went down Wolf Hollow to the Miller Ford and Potts Creek, crossed a foot log and went to then Blue Hill School. Each parent had to pay $.5 per child per month. The teacher would stay one night with one family and the next night with another. The Blue Hill School was on Mill Ridge, Route 1.
The first school in Bennett Town was on Sampson Bennett’s place in an old log house. The old Harmon house in 1897. John Sampson Armentrout gave land for the school with the understanding that it was to b open for religious services. When no longer used, the school house was put up for auction and John Fridley was the highest bidder. He tore it down. The land was converted back to the Armentrout Estate. This was in 1927.
The following families went to the Bennett school: Jake and Ada Stone, Edward and Fannie Reynolds; John Daniel and Dessie Armentrout; Bruce and Tessie Armentrout; Henry Fridley and wife; Jake Wolfe and wife; Abe and Alice Wolfe; Hezekiah and Betty Wolfe; Kellis Wolfe and wife; The Arritt family; John Bowen and wife; George and Ada Bennett and Hez Robinson.
Teachers that taught at the school: Frank M. Miller, Lee Allen Myers, Bertha Rowan, Lelia Surface, Mary Glover, Lelia Mills, Anna May Arritt, Jackson Hepler, May Samples; Ellie Thomas, Edward Hepler, Robert L. Persinger, Pearl Simmons, Ruth Brown, Bertha Raeburn Carter, Pearl Craft, Josephine Carter, Mina Martin, Stephen Rose, a Miss Hall, Madeline Carter, and Effie Bradley.
Ministers that held services
Rev. John B. Davis preached there once a month. He married most of the couples in the community. He would accept one dollar from the groom and give it back to the bride. He was a Baptist..
Rev. George Chapman preached occasionally. He was pastor of Pinnell Chapel, Methodist. He kept busy ministering there.
Rev. John Tucker, Baptist, preached occasionally – substituting for other ministers.
Rev. Archilles C. Wolf, Baptist, also preached there.
Rev. Davis always dismissed his congregation by saying, “If providence doesn’t hinder, there will be services on the fourth Sunday.”
In the backwoods not connected to Bennett Town where the Wolf’s lived, was the Whipwill School. John Sampson Armentrout went to school there.
John Stone No. 1 died in 1862 on the upper end of Castel Run and was buried there in the woods along with his wife and son.
Sampson Bennett raised tobacco, hauled it to Lynchburg and sold the tobacco at the warehouse there.
Shelt Harmon made a pair of wings out of yellow locust. They were thrashing on the Stone’s mountain farm. At noon he climbed a chestnut tree and jumped out. His wings failed to flop, and he was seriously injured.
CONTENTS OF ARCHIVAL MAP CABINETS AT Alleghany County Courthouse
Framed blueprint of Covington Improvement company property in Covington (1891) Original color copy of this map is on display in this office
Map and text of Boundary Adjustment for Bath and Pendleton Counties (1796) exhibits from file 244 (4 maps)
McAllister Addition Map (1900)
Maps of Clifton Forge (1890) color (2 copies) Exhibits from C.P. Harmon v. W.S. Thomas
Geological section across Rich Patch Mountain chain, Merry Hill, Iron Gate Gorge; oversized exhibit from chancery case: Clifton Forge Mining and Development Company v. Alleghany Iron Company (1880).
Covington Map of Lexington, Marion, Craig, Alleghany, Monroe, Highland, etc. Streets (1890, color)
Courthouse blue prints and specifications (12)
Courthouse proposed metal fixtures plans.
Drawing of Covington area.
Map of Poor Farm (January 15, 1930)
Annual Reports of the Superintendent of the Poor Farm (1871-1916)
Judgment Entry Book (1841-1870)
County Court Book and Original Covers (V-14) (1840-1885)
Covington Improvement Company (record of lots sold)
Memorandum Book (v-254) (1822)
Registers of Births (1853-1870)
Registers of Death (1853-1870)
Miscellaneous sketches by surveyors
1840 Census of the United States
1850 Census including free and slave, agriculture, etc.
Siding on the C&O Railway’s Alleghany District (1911)
Copies of Insurance Maps for the Town of Covington in 1926. Very interesting and beneficial in that they show detailed outlines of buildings in existence at that time.
List of Craig County Tax Tickets, February 17, 1880 (John Jones, Treasurer) placed in the hands of William Paxton for collection.
Roster for Confederate Pensioners, Confederate Applications, Law Books and other miscellaneous items.
Conditional Pardons (c. 1902)
World War II Memorial Book
Claims for Damages in Raids by General Averill’s Troops (1863) and by stray Livestock (1830-1903)
1924 Contract between Low Moor Iron Company and Standard Slag Co. Bonds for Chapman Cola, Iron and Coke Company (Early 1900s)
Register of Births and Deaths (1854-1863) loose pages
Stoughton’s Blueprints of Town of Covington. January 22, 1930. Docket (1822) and Rules and Form Book (1822)
Gray’s Map of Covington (Framed) undated, c. 1890 or earlier.
Map and Street index, city of Covington (1964)
Relocation Plat for Route 18 (1942)
Vowles Addition, I-64 Modifications (1964)
Many Plats/Drawings (1900-1920 mostly) of C&O Right of Way and State Highway Projects (Low Moor, Griffith, Dunlap Creek, Hays Gap, Mud Tunnel, Jackson River)
Plat of Cliftondale Park (undated)’
12 Steel Highway Bridges Plans and Specifications (1910)
Maps of County Road near Low Moor (1882)
Pre-Prohibition County Liquor Documents (1877-1881)
Assorted State Highway Maps
Map of County Road at Johnson’s Creek
Map of Clearwater Park (1928) Similar to PB 1, P. 63
Map of Intervale Subdivision (1948 Similar to PB 1, P. 82
Map of Covington (1891) Similar to PB 4, P. 15 Vacations.
Framed copy of Plat of Iron Gate (August 1889)
Three copies of 1889 Iron Gate Plat (See Drawer 13 Contents) and Blueprints of framed Iron Gate Plat from 1939
Photos (c. 1910-1920) of B.B. Rose, Supervisor, J.D. Mustoe, Judge Charles Forrest Moore, E.M. Nettleton, Sheriff E.B. Bitler and Clerk of Circuit Court, J.J. Hobbs
Gathright Lake Cemetery Relocation Final Report (1976)
Alleghany Highlands Chamber of Commerce Booklet (2000)
City of Covington Promotional Brochure (1960)
Oil Portrait of Robert L. Parrish (1840-1904)
Savings Ledger for the Peoples Bank (in receivership) from R.L. Persinger & Co.
Low Moor Plat (1891)
McAllister Addition Plat (1900)
Clifton Forge Plat (July 1888) (Similar to PB 4, P.72)
Mao of Shannahan Addition (1899) (Similar to PB 4, P 73)
Large Map of Clifton Forge (1890)
Color copies, apparently calendar-type art from 1930s and 1940s and the 1935 Celebration of the 350th Anniversary of George Washington’s Railroad and a September 1912 Calendar with Advertisement
Photographs of South Carpenter Drive area near Cedar Hill (1958)
Witness Book (1823-1831)
Witness Book (1844-1852)
Chancery Order Book (1831-1852)
Chancery Minute Book (1821-1849)
Chancery Docket (August 1825)
Early Chancery Cases (1822)
Land Applications Book (1908-1914)
Mechanics & Contractors Lien Book (1889-1906)
Corporation Officers Book (1898-1963)
Common Law Minute Book (1908-1914)
Circuit Court Memo Book (1856-1882)
Law Process Book (1901-1956)
Account Book of Heirs of George Carson (1871-1884)
Sheriff’s Returns (1832-1956)
Flood Maps (1986) partial
McAllister Addition (1900) Framed
Gathright Dam and Lake MooMaw (1970s) 10 Pages
Copies 1825 Boye Map of Alleghany County
James Thomas Indenture of February 1818
Cress-Rhodes & Associates alterations to Courthouse (1987)
Echols-Sparger Architects addition to Courthouse (1959)
State Highway Map of Alleghany County Highways (1945. 1954, 1955)
Plat (framed) West Iron Gate (1890)
Dunlap Creek Property of Thayer, Trustee (1919) Blueprint
Remarkable and probably unique lithograph of Ritches and Dunnavant of Richmond, VA used as bookplate in one of the County’s Earliest Ledgers, c. 1850
Covington Dispatch Newspaper of April 28, 1911
Clifton Forge Review News Paper of September 23, 1902, Contains Historical Sketch of Hugh McAllister
Covington Dispatch Newspaper of November 4, 1910; Unique copy , unique condition.
Covington Virginian of July 24, 1940 (War Issue)
Staunton Daily Leader of July 14, 1912
Covington Sentinel Issue of May 9, 1913. Fragile condition
Covington Sentinel Issue of September 30, 1910. Fragile condition
Covington Sentinel issue of August 13, 1915.
James Edward Douglas
Complied by Jean Revercomb Miller who owns the Douglas home place located on the Cow Pasture River in Millboro, Virginia
James Edward Douglas, always called Ed was the only son of Mary and James Douglas. He was born September 20, 1888. He grew up in the house that we call Wiggum. He had slightly crossed eyes and was a spoiled child who played the fiddle, according to neighbor Janice LaRue.
He married Georgia Wood in 1909. After the death of Mary Tiller Douglas, his mother in 1912, Ed and Georgia moved into the big house. They had two daughters, Hortence and Reba. They had a son who was still born and Dr. W.M. Revercomb (my grandfather) attended the birth. Things seemed to go badly for Ed and Georgia after that. Jim Douglas married again and moved back into the big house. He build a house for Ed and Georgia “according to their specifications,” Madge testified in a lawsuit after Jim’s death. However, Ed seems not to have known now to work or how to manage money.
When James Monroe Douglas (Jim), his father died suddenly on April 10, 1924, Ed and Georgia made a desperate attempt to claim part of his estate. On May 31, 1924, a deed was recorded showing the purchase the part Jilson Douglas’ estate deeded to John Luther Douglas, the uncle who was unstable. This was his only claim to the property, for James Douglas left everything to his second wife, Made Athey Brooks Douglas. It was a moot point as the estate of Jim Douglas was in so much debt that virtually everything except what was set aside as Madge’s dower, had to be sold. A copy of the flyer for the sale still exists.
Much of the land that sold to settle outstanding debts were bought by Oliver Harvey, a lawyer and business man whom Lived in Clifton Forge.
While Mr. Harvey was glad to own land on the Cow Pasture River, he still wanted to have the big house, owned by Madge Douglas.
Whether the shame of bankruptcy or a failed marriage or a combination of both is to blame, Ed became a vagrant wandering for the rest of his life. We know that he returned to the Cow Pasture valley from time to time, visiting family and neighbors. He became very unkempt belying the “dandy” young man who often put a handkerchief on a chair before being seated. Janice Matheny LaRue writes that her mother and grandmother were always glad to see him and cooked a “company” dinner.
A letter written in 1934 to Frank Douglas, his father’s half-brother seems to describe his despair.
“I would like so much to see you all. I am afraid I will never again on this earth as I am in bad shape going to have another operation if I can get to Richmond.”
The letter goes on to ask for money to be sent of General Delivery in Columbia, South Carolina.
He must have recovered for he lived another 3 years. He was killed by a hit-and-run driver in Ohio, October 18, 1937. It is comforting to know that his wife, who was then living in Staunton, claimed the body and that he was buried in the family cemetery on the Douglas property, owned by the McCoy brothers.
The Gladys Inn: A Railroad Hotel
By Elaine Finestone
This paper was written for an Art History course in the Hollins College Master’s Degree program.
The C&O passenger who got off at Clifton Forge anytime after 1896 found himself at a large outdoor passenger station, completely integrated with a railroad owned hotel. This was the era when the railroad station and its railroad hotels “reflected the impact of the technology and mobility of the masses . . . Now these are dingy and out of date, so that it is hard for us to imagine their quondam appeal, but central location was in their favor, particularly before the days of sleeping cars, and the premises were well kept up. The dirt and noise which so distress us were minor factors then, since there were fewer trains and engines rarely stood long in the shed. Trains themselves still seemed partly miraculous and wholly delighted, like new toys. . .”
The railroad hotel at Clifton Forge was the Gladys Inn, owned by the
C&O and named for the daughter of its president, M.E. Ingalls. The plans read: “Hotel and Station for the C&O Ry. Co. at Clifton Forge, Va., prepared by Elnzer and Anderson, Architects, Cincinnati, Ohio.”
The architects called for a stale-roofed “Covered Way” supported on tapered columns with a Doric capital, to lead to the downstairs of the Inn. Twin walkways flanked a pool with a working fountain. The front of the Gladys Inn faces south, right on the track. What the arriving passenger saw as a long building whose rounded ends enclosed a portico two stories high, supported by eight huge columns, each one topped with capitals of “Erechtheon Ionic with corner volutes.” The building was 155 ft. wide, painted a bright “Chessie yellow.” Her porch afforded a view of the entire rail yards, and a long look through Rainbow Gorge.
The Gladys Inn distinctly reflects the stylistic outlook and construction methods of her time. Gowens calls it “Late Victorian.” The outside of the building was entirely of wood; the weather boards are all horizontal, forming no pattern, but the large surface is broken in several ways: there is a belt course, porches under the roof at the front corners, six balconies, and three different size Palladian windows. No two doorways are alike. Combining styles was a characteristic of the period, and “irregularity” was highly recommended by the architects of the time. “A long unbroken mass of building without light and shade is monotonous and unsightly.” Meeks uses the phrase “synthetic eclecticism:” it would apply to the Gladys Inn: “elements from several styles were combined in a single building.” “The last few decades of the 19th century in American architecture may be characterized as years of uncertainty and doubt . The reaction was in favor of simple, large, clear-cut forms and an overall
quiet . . .
However, there was a significant and pronounced attempt to create a domestic vernacular. This was the Stick style is, first and foremost, American in its quest for honesty in wooden construction.”
And so was the Gladys Inn. It is Stick construction, built of pine, centered around three rows of 2 foot square pillars, with twelve pillars in each row. There are some forward looking features: a shaft is planned for an elevator, and two large areas, the main dining room and the main parlor, are made possible with the use of steel I beams, hung from Van Dorn steel hangers, to take the place of load bearing walls. These are reinforced with steel rods that extend down from the roof trusses. The age of standardized parts is shown in the wood trim: the windows come in stock sizes labeled A,B,C,D, and the cornice and capitals are pressed wood mantel trim was drawn from the “catalogue of Chas. Emmet, 383 Albany St., Boston, Mass.”
To create what Meeks has referred to as a “fashionable, luxurious hotel”, the architects gave careful attention to interior details also. Buff colored Roman brick was specified for the fireplace facing, and details were drawn for the cabinet work in the lobby, including a wire mesh cage and Doric columns around the cashier’s section. The interior staircase ran all three stories with turned balusters and a first landing that was framed by a large Palladian window. The hallways and public rooms had decorative moldings on their walls.
The interior layout tells the building’s age. There is a separate colored waiting room, ladies’ waiting room, and general waiting room. The food has to be brought up stairs by numerous servants. Each bedroom was connected to at least one other bedroom, and only four rooms in the sixty-two room hotel have connecting baths.
In 1896 it was a grand hotel; there were huge French gilt mirrors in its public restrooms, cane chairs in its parlors, crystal chandeliers in the lobby and dining room. It housed 130 people a night and many came back for more. It was built so well and with some much architectural character that even in its neglected state, it makes a clear statement of the history of its time.
Clifton Forge was once a boom town. It was the C&O transfer point for all traffic going north and south, and claimed the largest switching yards in the east. The industrial boom of the 1890s lit the sky with smelting furnaces in the area, called by land promoters “the mineral center of the world.” Hotel registers show guests from packing firms in Chicago, reporters from Ohio, engineers from Richmond, and couples spending the night on the way to the numerous spas that flourished on the site of mineral springs in the area: the Homestead, the Greenbrier, the baths at Alum Springs.
For a railroad passenger in Virginia at the turn of the century the Gladys Inn was a logical place to stop and spend the night. It was a days trip from Richmond or Washington, and the six trains a day that ran through were scheduled most conveniently after a morning wedding in Tidwater or Charleston. Jack Callahan ran the Inn, and he and his wife built up a reputation for excellence – and eccentricity. It was he who put a baby alligator in the pool in front of the hotel; it spent the winter in the laundry, and grew to be a large size, until it was hit by a train. “The Gladys Inn was the very hub of Clifton Forge in those golden days. Birthday dinners took place in the dining room; the Lions met there for convivial luncheons; people came to watch the evening trains roll in and walked up stairs to see who was lounging in the lobby. At the front entrance of the Gladys Inn. Mrs. Callahan, “The Duchess” to all, “ran the dining facilities of the Inn as if she expected a visit at any moment from the Guide Michelin. Nowhere, hot even at the Homestead, were there such snowy table cloths, such shining crystal and certainly no place in Virginia served such food . . . She cracked the whip over the help and they feared her wrath while adoring her. And it was not long before the Inn’s hospitality and the Lucullan food that graced here tables became known. Tidewater people got off dusty trains, for what they supposed would be mediocre food and lumpy beds, to spend the night. Often they stayed for a week . . or returned to stay the summer.” Vanderbilts, Alma Gluck and Efram Zimbalist all stayed there. The Callahans ran the Inn until the end.
In 1930, the C&O turned the Gladys Inn over to the Y.M.C.A. organization. The main dining room became an auditorium, with a stage at one end and an entry from the main street at the other. New equipment was purchased by the railroad, and an entry of June 23, 1930, in the Y.M.C.A. record book reads: “Sale of old equipment – $300.”
That was the day that the grandeur and the grace of the Gladys Inn left her forever.
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.