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April 23, 2014 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham County: A History


The long awaited reprint of Eugene A. Maloney’s A History of Buckingham County is now available. Originally published in conjunction with the US Bicentennial in 1976, the book has been out of print for many years.

The price is $20.00.  Copies are for sale at Buckingham’s Historic Village, Housewright House Museum, and Nancy’s Gift Shop in Buckingham Court House.

Copies will also be available at the Spring Membership Meeting of Historic Buckingham which will be held on April 27, 2014.

Location: Brown’s Chapel, Gravel Hill Road.

Time: 2:30 PM.

To purchase the book by mail, send $25.00 to:

Historic Buckingham, Inc., P.O. Box 152, Buckingham, VA 23921

April 21, 2014 / Joanne Yeck

New Canton and Manufacturing


Ruins of Virginia Mills, photo by Joanne Yeck


From The Gazetteer of Virginia (c. 1834)

New Canton is four miles east of Virginia Mills, by which large quantities of flour are manufactured, they are situated on Slate River, on which several valuable slate quarries are opened.  An Iron foundry has lately been opened at New Canton, by which is manufactures all qualities of iron.   

Virginia Mills was owned and operated by the Nicholas family.  In addition to the mills, there was a post office and a general store.  Surviving accounts from the store include the familiar surnames of families whose farms lay along the banks of James River, Slate River, and Hunts Creek — Allen, Bagby, Bolling, Brown, Chambers, Guerrant, Harris, etc.

Edward W. Sims was one of individuals behind the development of the foundry, Buckingham Iron Company.  In 1840, the operation employed white men, 3 free blacks, and 32 male slaves between the ages of 24-36.  The labor was divided between mining (12 men) and manufacturing (38 men).  Buckingham Iron Company was a significant, though comparatively short-lived, endeavor.  By 1844, the furnace was being offered for sale.

April 19, 2014 / Joanne Yeck

New Canton, Buckingham County


James River at New Canton, photo by Joanne Yeck

My ancestor, Charles S. Saunders worked as a tailor in New Canton, Buckingham County.  He married a planter’s daughter, Elizabeth Holman Chambers, and, eventually, took over a large portion of her father’s farm at Chambers’ Mills.

Here is a brief description of New Canton, as Charles Saunders knew it when he set up shop:

From The Gazetteer of Virginia (c. 1834)

New Canton, Post Village, in the northern part of the county, 63 miles west of Richmond and 138 from Washington, D.C., situated at the mouth of Slate Creek, on an elevated bank about a fourth of a mile from James River, commanding a beautiful perspective view down the river.  It was once a place of considerable trade, but has been for sometime rapidly declining.  It contains thirty-six dwelling houses, three mercantile stores, one tavern, one flour manufacturing mill, one tan yard, and one saddler.  A Free House of worship is situated a mile from New Canton. . . .

New Canton has one attorney and one physician.  Population 50.

By 1843, the town will also boast a tailor, Charles S. Saunders.

To be continued….

April 17, 2014 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Notables: Miss Lulie Patteson


Courtesy Gordon G. Ragland, Jr., Maxey/Patteson Family Collection

Mary Louise “Lulie” Patteson is best remembered for her dedication to preserving the history of Buckingham County.  Her long memory of people and places helped inform the Virginia Historical Inventory surveys recorded in the 1930s by Garnett Williams and Elizabeth McCraw.  Her contributions to regional newspapers, particularly Charlottesville’s The Daily Progress and The Farmville Herald, were enjoyed and clipped by many devoted readers.

Miss Lulie was also a school teacher.  In about 1897, after completing her education at Well Water School, she took the state board examinations for teachers. Her high scores earned her a “first grade” certification; however, this classification was reserved for teachers over twenty years of age, with a minimum of ten consecutive school months’ experience. Lulie was initially given a “second grade” certification instead, intended for competent, but inexperienced, teachers. With her “second grade” certification, Lulie could teach only in Buckingham County and work was scarce.

“On my 18th birthday,” she remembered, “I applied for a teaching position and was finally given a two months job at a school they were planning to close. My pay was $40 for the two months. I gave mother $35 and kept $5 for myself. It was difficult to obtain any teaching positions, I did not teach again until I was 21. At that time, I became assistant principal and teacher at Well Water School.”

For more about the life of Lulie Patteson, consult “Miss Lulie Patteson: Early Buckingham Historian,” in “At a Place Called Buckingham.”

April 15, 2014 / Joanne Yeck

Hocker’s Mill Accounts


Courtesy Jeremy Winfrey and Virginia Historical Society


Buckingham history is scattered everywhere!

An account between William Hill Winfrey and George Hocker of Hocker’s mill has survived and is contained in the Allen Papers, housed at the Virginia Historical Society.

Dated 1840-1843, it shows that “Winfree” purchased bran, flour, wool, and wood at Hocker’s Mill.   Hocker also backed Winfree’s note to John Jenkins, due June 13, 1842, for $15.91.



April 13, 2014 / Joanne Yeck

Hocker’s Mill, a.k.a. Slate River Mills


 Slate River Mills, rebuilt after 1905

Courtesy of Historic Buckingham

Hocker’s Mill, also known as Slate River Mills, was the subject of a very brief Virginia Historical Survey written by Garnett Williams.  She located the mills at 1.9 miles south of Dillwyn; however, sometimes Mrs. Williams confused her directions.  The mills are actually north of Dillwyn.

The original mill, owned over the years by the Hocker, Dowdy, Anderson, and LeSueur families, burned in 1905. One of the first water-turned mills in Buckingham County, Garnett wrote that it had been a very large, well-constructed building.  The mill that replaced it burned in the 1940s.

In 1860, George Hocker reported proceeds for his grist mill, where he processed 15,000 bushels of wheat (worth $18,000) and 10,000 bushels of corn (worth $10,000).  He employed three men at the mill.  In 1870, Hocker reported earnings from both a grist mill and a saw mill. He worked at the saw mill and had four additional men in his employment.

April 11, 2014 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham County 1856: Maysville


 Maysville Presbyterian Church, Courtesy Historic Buckingham

In 1856, when William H. Wilson advertised his intended sale of Oakley, he emphasized the farm’s proximity to Maysville and Buckingham Courthouse.  This made the plantation an excellent choice for a professional working in the village or for a farmer desiring a ready market for his produce.

. . . The propinquity of the flourishing and delightful village of Maysville, affords a regular and sure market for milk, butter, poultry, and indeed, everything that can be furnished from the garden, dairy or stock, as well as a regular demand for from fifty to one hundred cords of fire wood.

                The facilities of getting the crops to market are very great.  Slate River is only one mile from the Farmville Plank Road, approaches within six miles of the place, and Hocker’s large manufacturing mills are only six miles distant, and the estate is most convenient to church, mill, and to the blacksmith’s shop.

One of the convenient churches was Maysville Presbyterian.

Coming Next: Hocker’s Mill


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