Henrico County Historical Society
PO Box 90775   Henrico, VA 23273   (804)501-5682   hchsinfo@yahoo.com
Open by appointment only

Henrico County Historical Society's motto, which is Preserving the Past in the Present for the FutureSkipwith Academy in Three Chopt District, Henrico County, Virginia.Log Cabin in Tuckahoe District, Henrico County, Virginia.Mankin Mansion in Fairfield District, Henrico County, Virginia.Dorey Barn in Varina District, Henrico County, Virginia.Bethlehem Church in Brookland District, Henrico County, Virginia.

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2009 News
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News 2009, Third Quarter

HCHS President's Message

As mentioned at the last meeting, HCHS will change membership renewal from June to January. We feel this will be advantageous for members as well as for bookkeeping purposes. With renewals due mid-year the membership extends through two calendar years and is difficult at times to monitor. The advantage of the January due date is that renewals will run concurrent with each calendar year.

This change, which is outlined later in this issue, will require an adjustment in the bylaws, and we will be voting on that at the September 13th quarterly meeting.

Your membership is very important to us. As you know, the Society is an all-volunteer organization and receives no other monetary support from any other source except through membership dues and items we sell relating to the history of Henrico County.

Membership dues and donations are tax deductible as allowed by state and federal law regarding 501-C non-profit organizations.

Another by-law change relates to the Executive Board meetings. It was designated previously that the Executive JJeafcTmeet the month prior to quarterly meetings. The Board now meets prior to each quarterly meeting.

The Society will offer for sale a 2010 calendar, a second edition featuring churches in Henrico County. The 2009 calendar featured churches that traced their origin to the 19th century.

As the County expanded during the 20th century to what it is today, there was a need for churches to serve the communities created as a result of that development. The 2010 calendar will feature some of those churches. The proceeds from the sale of the calendars will go towards a scholarship program for a high school student interested in the study of history. Please support this program by purchasing a calendar.

HCHS has assisted in saving another piece of Henrico history. In the last newsletter I briefly mentioned efforts to save the Blackburn House on Three Chopt Road from demolition. Mr. Hilton Rubin, a local builder, purchased the property with the intent to tear down the old house to build two new houses in its place. The Blackburn House is listed in Inventory of Early Architecture, but from observation the building at first does not seem noteworthy. Its significance lies in the fact that there few examples of this architecture from the period it was built left in existence. When made aware of this significance ,Mr. Rubin appealed to the County for a zoning variance to allow for the restoration of the house in addition to the building of one adjacent new house. Without this variance the future existence of the Blackburn House was in jeopardy. On behalf of HCHS and the Association for the Preservation of Henrico Antiquities, letters were sent to the Board of Zoning appeals in support of the variance. Hallelujah, the variance was granted! What a wonderful feeling it is to have assisted in saving a part of history!

The Henrico County Board of Supervisors has appointed an advisory commission to plan the 400 year commemoration of the founding of Henrico in 2011. Mrs. Patricia O'Bannon, Supervisor of the Tuckahoe District is the Chairperson of this Commission, and I represent HCHS. The Commission meets once a month; and several times a month, sub-committees and staff of Henrico County meet for the planning of a number of varied projects. One of the projects will encourage citizens to present items that may be of historic significance, to find their approximate value and to photograph or record those items. Items may include textiles, correspondences, books, records, etc., relating to the history of Henrico. For an example, I have a dress worn by my grandfather as a baby. It dates to the early 1900s. I also have a stamp album that was issued to students in the 1950's at Maude Trevett Elementary School. Students could buy stamps for 25 cents every week or perhaps once a month, and by the time the album was filled, a savings bond was purchased. For some reason my book was never filled, but it contains a number of stamps. Items that may seem very insignificant become very important over time because they represent a particular era.

So check out your attics to see what treasures of Henrico history you might have. Contact Kim Sicola, Henrico County Assistant Supervisor Historic Preservation and Museum Services at (804)652-3410.

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Announcement - Bylaws Change

Two changes to the Henrico County Historical Society Bylaws have been proposed and will be voted on at the September meeting. Please review Article III and Article VI and the proposed changes in order to cast an informed vote at the quarterly meeting.


Section 3. Annual dues shall become payable in advance on the first day of June in each year and shall be payable during that month. Notice that dues are due and payable shall be sent to all members by the Treasurer 'prior to May first. Dues not paid by July 1 shall be considered in arrears, and if not paid within six months from notification, the Executive Board, after written notice requesting the payment of dues may. at its discretion, drop from membership any member whose dues are in arrears. Annual dues in arrears for twelve months shall automatically terminate membership. Reinstatement shall be treated as a new membership and admission shall be made in accordance with these bylaws.


Section 3. Annual dues shall become payable in advance on the first day of January in each year and shall be payable during that month. Notice that dues are due and payable shall be sent to all members by the Treasurer prior to December first. Dues not paid by February 1 shall be considered in arrears, and if not paid within six months from notification, the Executive Board, after written notice requesting the payment of dues may, at its discretion, drop from membership any member whose dues are in arrears.


Section 3. Regular meetings of the Executive Board shall be held four times annually, in the month preceding the month in which the Society meets, and at such other times as the President or three members of the Board shall designate.


Section 3. Regular meetings of the Executive Board shall be held four times annually, at some time prior to the Society quarterly meetings, and at such other times as the President or three members of the Board shall designate.

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Genealogy Corner

Of Note:

Bedford Genealogical Society would like to welcome its neighboring county, Rockbridge county, to the fifth annual Genealogy/Family History Fair. Sponsored by the Bedford Genealogical Society, it will be held September 12, 2009, at the Bedford Campus of Central Virginia Community College, 1633 Venture Blvd. The fair will open at 9:00 a.m. and close at 4:00 p.m.

Participants may rent tables ($10 each) to display their family histories, lineage charts, photographs, and other genealogy-related material. The number of tables available is limited. Contact Larry Lynch, president of BGS, at Ilynch2627@aol.com

This is a free-to-the-public event with a primary focus on the sharing of family information. However, vendors are expected to sell their wares, and free lectures on genealogical topics will occur each hour.

In the past, several hundred visitors from throughout VA and nearby states have attended, in addition to some from as far away as TX. It is an extended family event. For instance, one Virginia resident met for the first time a distant cousin whose umbilical cord had been cut by her grandmother some 70 or 80 years ago.

Larry Lynch, President, Bedford Genealogical Society P.O. Box 1439 Bedford, VA 24523 Ilynch2627@aol.com

The Genealogical Research Institute of Virginia announces its bus trip to Washington D.C. on September 17, 2009, to visit the DAR Library, National Archives, and Library of Congress.

The bus leaves from Ukrop's at Stony Point at 6:45 a.m. and from the LDS Church, 5600 Monument Avenue, at 7:00.

It costs $27 for GRIVA members and $35 for non-members. Photo identification is needed for admission to these facilities. There is a $6 admittance fee at the DAR for non members. The return trip pick ups at 3:45, 4:00, and 4:15.

A form to reserve your spot is available at
http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~vagriv/dc_res.html or, mail your check, payable to GRIVA, to PO Box 29178, Richmond, VA 23242. Please indicate which repository you plan to visit. You may call 804-550-3039 with any questions.


You never know where you'll get a genealogical connection. Marie W. Jennings wrote to tell us that she especially enjoyed the article "Playing the Ponies" as she believes Abram Childers is one of her ancestors.


John David Walker requested information on any descendants of William Walker (died 1723 in Henrico Co.) and his wife Elizabeth (died 1727 in Henrico Co.).

Arline Lorente-Dowdy has sent along a wealth of information that we are presently scanning and will be sending to Mr. Walker. Thanks, Arline.

You can email your requests or comments to us at jboehling@verizon.net. We'd love to hear from you.

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William Kennedy - A Glimpse of an Uncommon Common Man Through His Papers

Source: William Kennedy Papers: 1853-1870. Virginia Historical Society. Mss|K3884a

Walt Whitman wrote, "The genius of the United States is not best or most in its executives or legislatures, nor in its ambassadors or authors or colleges, or churches, or parlors, nor even in its newspapers or inventors, but always most in the common people." With the term genius, he was referring to the character or spirit of the nation, and he could well have been referring to William Kennedy, an obscure free black living in Henrico County in the middle of the nineteenth century. You won't find Mr. Kennedy in the history books; in fact, the only record of his that seems to remain is a folder of papers in the files of the Virginia Historical Society. However, a perusal of those papers makes one wish to know much more, for he obviously made an impression on those around him, had a humanitarian vision for the society he lived in and provides an interesting look into the role of African Americans in Reconstruction Henrico County.

There is scant census data for William Kennedy. The 1850 Census lists him as a carpenter at age 28 living with a Scottish farmer John Stewart and his family on a farm in the Western District of Henrico whose real estate value was $25,000. He appears in the 1870 Census in the Brookland Township of Henrico with a wife named Elizabeth and $15,000 worth of real estate. While the age given in this census does not exactly match his, and his race is given this time as mulatto, he is listed as a carpenter. It seems apparent that this is the same William Kennedy, however, since we know from the Virginia Historical Society's files that he was the church clerk at Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Brookland Township.

It is between those years of 1850 and 1870 that the sketchy story told by the William Kennedy papers is set. He was a tax-paying citizen evidenced by receipts for taxes paid to the Henrico County Sheriff for 1853 and 1863, both of which have the word white crossed out. And this tax-payer apparently had political influence. A letter from William Fanning Wickham, who lived at Hickory Hill in Hanover County, seeks Kennedy's help in a political campaign. On September 5, 1867, Wickham writes:

Dear Sir,

I enclose you ten copies of my address to the colored voters of Hanover, which you will oblige me by circulating where you think they will do good. You will perceive that I have expressed the idea that you expressed to me in our conversation at the Court House, "That it is important at this time that we should be represented by the most intelligent & honest men we can find." I will add, for the reasons I give in my address, that the representative ought to be one who will faithfully protect the rights & interests of the colored population & I will do that if I am elected with as much zeal as any one of themselves could do. This pledge I give & I wish it to be remembered, for I shall adhere to it.

If anything brings you this way, I shall be pleased to see you at my house.

Should you wish any more copies of my address I can leave them with Mr. Humphreys.

Kennedy, it appears, would be sort of a liaison between Fanning and the black community since he was active in the Republican Party. His political activity is referred a year later, when on November 28, 1868, eleven men sign a petition of sorts and agree to contribute to the replacement of tools he had lost. The document states:

While Wm. Kennedy was canvassing for the Republican party his chest of tools valued at $50 was broken open and tools stolen. As the tools were the means of his livelihood & his dependence he trusts that his liberal friends will assist him in starting again & enable him to purchase a set of tools.

Among the signers was J.M. Humphreys, the Mr. Humphreys of Wickham's letter and a name that appears often in connection with William Kennedy. In fact, Humphreys, the earlier mentioned John Stewart and four others provide Kennedy with a letter of recommendation, endorsing his carpentry skills and character. On November 18, 186[9?], they write:

We the undersigned Citizens of the County aforesaid Certify that William Kennedy a colored person is well known to us as a peaceable and well behaved Citizen industrious and enterprising. As a Mechanic he is a good Carpenter having erected for us four houses in a workmanlike Manner. We cheerfully recommend him to the favourable Consideration of those who desire to employ such a person.

Only two months later, we find Humphreys again recommending Kennedy, this time for an appointment as a magistrate for the 3rd Magisterial District. The recommendation is made to Major General E.R.S. Canby, who was commanding the 1st Military District during Reconstruction. In his recommendation, Humphreys describes Kennedy as "a steady reliable man of good character and old citizen, one however who early enlisted in the Federal Army and has his honorable discharge." The Office Secretary of Civil Affairs approved and recommended the appointment but apparently did not check the entire record, for there seems to be a discrepancy. In the Kennedy papers there is a hand-written pass from "Camp Near Richmond" dated August 2, 1862. It is a pass for William to go to Richmond and is signed by Sergeant George E. Saville of Parkers Light Artillery Company. Parker's Artillery Battery, also known as Parker's Boys Battery because it recruited young men from Richmond, was a Confederate group organized in early 1862, so Kennedy's role in the Civil War is, at best, unclear.

The 1870 Virginia gubernatorial election marks the end of the political record for William Kennedy, when he is listed as a candidate for House of Delegates on an electoral ticket for the Republican Party. It was not a popular ticket in Reconstruction Richmond, since it featured H. H. Wells for governor, a man who had called for the disenfranchisement of former Confederate soldiers, and J.D. Harris, an African American for lieutenant governor.

Kennedy's last efforts in the public arena are witnessed by his drafts of a constitution for an organization called The Sons of Jacob, whose "object shall be to attend to each other in time of sickness and distress and see each other decently buried after death." An early draft of the document calls for the formation of a club that will "secure the unconditional preservation of the union[,] the perpetuity of a Republican Form of Government[,] the equal rights of all loyal American citizens before the law without regard to race or color[,] the universal freedom of all men[,] the establishment of systems of general education throughout the length and breadth of our country of all classes irrespective of race or color." He apparently had the final document printed, for there is a receipt from the Evening State Journal made out to him for 50 constitutions at a cost of $1.50.

We don't know what finally became of William Kennedy or the Sons of Jacob, but we at the Henrico County Historical Society would appreciate any further information that could be provided. G. Trevelyan wrote that "A little man often casts a long shadow." We wish that the shadow of William Kennedy cast had not become so faint.

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The Randolphs - One of Virginia's First Families of Food

When one thinks of FFV's, or First Families of Virginia, one naturally thinks of the Randolphs. But for the Randolphs, FFV could and should also stand for Fine Foods of Virginia.

Jane (Bolling) Randolph, wife of Richard Radndolph of Curles Plantation and author of Jane Randolph her Cookery, 1743, a bound holographic collection of recipes, a photocopy of which is in the manuscript collection of the Virginia Historical Society.

Food historians are quite familiar with Mary Randolph, great-great granddaughter of William Randolph and author of The Virginia Housewife (1824). Mary Randolph, reputed to be the best cook in Richmond, compiled this book, which is widely regarded as the first truly Southern cookbook. It went through at least nineteen editions prior to the start of the Civil War.

While Mary was born at Ampthill in Chesterfield, lived in Richmond and later in Washington, D.C., where she brought out the cookbook, her roots were in Henrico, and she apparently came by the interest in things gastronomical naturally. An earlier Randolph, Jane (Boiling) Randolph of Curies plantation, and an anonymous female with some connection to the family also feature prominently in the culinary history of America and Henrico County. Neither of these two women published, but photocopies of Jane's manuscript and that of the anonymous cook are in the Manuscript Collection of the Virginia Historical Society.

Jane Randolph her Cookery Book 1743 is a hand-written compendium of recipes compiled by Jane (Boiling) Randolph, wife of Richard Randolph. Predating this book by some forty-three years, according to analysis by the Virginia Historical Society, is a collection of recipes by an anonymous cook from around 1700, a very early date for an American cookbook.

According to Katharine E. Harbury, author of Colonial Virginia's Cooking Dynasty, the anonymous author was apparently "a well-educated woman of respectable standing who interacted with various members of the Randolph family, among others. She may have been a Randolph or connected to them by marriage of social network."

No matter who the anonymous author might be, her contributions and those of her fellow Henricoan, Jane Randolph, are important to the development of American cuisine. As Harbury notes, "their culinary creations served as an influential background and foundation for Mary Randolph and consequently her published classic, The Virginia Housewife."

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Getting into the Spirits - An Early Recipe for Methgelin

Not only did the early colonists enjoy good food, but good drink was also important. This recipe from the anonymous cookbook of 1700 of Henrico County is for a "spiced or medicated" alcoholic beverage that the OED says was peculiar to Wales. While it is honey based, it is not to be confused with mead.

Put to 3 Gall:s waiter 1 Gall: of huney: Stir it well together & boyle it one hour & Scum it well & cule it quick & set it to working in a tub with good Ale Yeast as they do & when you have it in ye Casque intended & its don working Then put in ye bung of ye Cask in a thing bag these following Spices: To ye quantity of a Barrl 4 Ibs Gin¬ger 1 1/2 o- Cloves & I 1/2 oz Cinnamond let the bag down with a string halfway into ye Barral being made in ye fall it may Stand till ye Spring then after working bottle it.

We'd love for somebody to modernize this and let us know what it's like.

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In Victorian Times, a Lock of a Loved One's Hair Became the Basis for Woven Memories

(1) Haug, Joanne. "Victorian Hair Work." http://www.victorianamagazine.com/jewelry/hairjewelry.htm (09/23/15 - link no longer active
(2) Pictures courtesy of Martha B. Patterson, Antiques Boutique, 1310 East Cary Street.

Many of us no doubt have a small lock of baby hair carefully wrapped in tissue and tucked away in a jewelry box or a delicate curl safely contained in a locket worn on special occasions. We keep them to remind us of our children's early years, of young love or of a lost loved one.

Elaborate framed Victorian wreath of woven hair (approximately 30

But during Victorian times these treasured tresses became part of small works of art (and sometimes not so small) produced by women in a sort of cottage industry of jewelry production. Hair taken from the heads of loved ones got woven into patterns and set into brooches, rings and earrings. Braided hair formed watch chains, necklaces, bracelets and almost any other type of jewelry or woven object imaginable.

They were often mourning pieces since wearing a bracelet or locket of hair was considered a fitting token of grief. It was said that Queen Victoria wore a piece of jewelry with Prince Albert's hair every day after his death, influencing the spread of the custom in the nineteenth century.

Objects made from the hair from a living relation were also seen as suitable sentimental gifts for family or friends, perhaps given as a memento when the person would be gone for an extended period, as in wartime.

Lady's gold earring with open weaving of hair enclosed.

Perhaps most impressive of all the hair pieces were the elaborate shadow-box-framed floral wreathes woven with the hair that might have come from an entire family, church congregation or like group. The hair was stitched with fine wire over a rod to form a series of loops. These were then bent into floral shapes and combined to form wreathes. These wreathes were always kept open at the top to indicate a movement toward heaven, and they were sometimes works in progress, as in the case of memorial wreathes. Hair from a newly deceased family member might be woven into a flower and placed in the center of the wreath and moved to the larger wreath when it was later replaced by the hair of another loved on who had passed.

The intricate weavings were a tribute to the skill and patience of the artisans who produced them, for even a casual glance at the pieces will indicate how painstaking a process it must have been. Ladies' magazines of the era often provided directions and pattern designs for creating these keepsakes. Godey's Lady's Book, a publication of the 1850s, offered such instructions. Here is how the authors of the book suggested the hair be prepared for weaving:

Bracelet of woven hair with gold clasp.

Sort the tress, which is about to be used, into lengths, tie the ends firmly and quite straight with pack thread, put the hair into a small saucepan with about a pint and a half of water, and a piece of soda of the size of a nut, and boil it for a quarter of an hour or twenty minutes; take it out, shake off the superfluous moisture, and hang it up to dry, but not near afire.

Watch chain with two different braiding patterns.

When it has become perfectly dry, divide it into strands containing from twenty to thirty hairs each, according to the fineness of the hair or the directions given for the pattern about to be worked. It must be observed that every hair in the strand should be of the same length, and the strands should be all of an equal length.

Knot each end of each strand, then take the requisite number of leaden weights, weighing about three quarters or half an ounce each, and affix about a quarter of a yard of pack thread to each of them; lay them down side by side on the table, and to the other ends of the pack thread affix the strands of hair already prepared, knotting them on with a weaver's or sailor's knot; care must be taken all this time to prevent any entanglement or derangement of the hair.

Gold brooch with hair plaited in a crossing pattern.

The other ends of the strands must now be gathered together, firmly tied with pack thread, and then gummed with a cement composed of equal parts of yellow wax and shellac melted together and well amalgamated, and then rolled into sticks for use. We now come to the table and the arrangement of the strands on it.

The table mentioned above was reminiscent of a top hat in size and shape, and it was absolutely smooth to prevent the snagging and breaking of the strands of hair. The weighted strands hung of the sides of the table and were woven according to the patterns provided.

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Now You Know...

Four tatting shuttles depicted the last issue's What Do You Know section.

Gary Holladay correctly identified the items pictured in the last "What Do You Know?" as tatting shuttles. You might want to check out her book because it is of local interest.

Here's what she had to say:

The household implements pictured in the June newsletter are tatting shuttles, used to make lace.

As a child, and again as an adult, I tried to learn tatting. I got an instruction booklet and tried to follow the directions. It was really hard to do, and I ended up with a string of knots that looked nothing like lace. But our ancestors used these shuttles and successfully produced beautiful lace. You can still buy the shuttles at craft stores.

I really enjoy the newsletter and this feature in particular. Occasionally I know what the item in question is, but usually I don't, and it's fun to puzzle over the picture and to learn new things.

I used to live in Glen Alien, and I have written stories about that area, including a book called The Quick-Change Artist (Swallow Press I Ohio University Press, 2006). Many of the stories in the book take place at the now-vanished Forest Lodge.

All best,
Gary Holladay
Associate Professor
Department of English
First Tennessee Professor
University of Memphis
Memphis, TN 38152

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What Do You Know?

Pictured is an iron article about 18 inches long. It stands on three legs.

Do you know what it was used for?

Email your answers to: jboehling@verizon.net. All correct respondents will be recognized and congratulated. Suggestions for future "What do you know?" topics will be gladly accepted at the same email address.

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News 2009: Third Quarter
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