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October 21, 2021 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Notables: Ella Pauline Morriss

Ella Pauline Morriss. Courtesy Times-Dispatch.

In March of 1904, Richmond’s Times-Dispatch published a lovely portrait of Buckingham County belle Ella Pauline Morriss, accompanied by the following caption:

“Silver Seal” is the title of the delightful story of thrilling romance by Miss Virginia Bayard, of Roanoke. The authoress has dedicated it to one of Virginia’s fairest daughters, Miss Ella Pauline Morriss, of Buckingham, whose picture is given above. Miss Bayard’s story is laid in the Blue Ridge and is quaint, pathetic and fascinating from beginning to end. The story is now ready for the press. The authoress is a young lady of talent and bids fair to take her place in the brilliant galaxy of Virginia writers.

Ms. Morriss, to whom she dedicates the work, is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Garland Morris (sic), of Sutton, Va., also the granddaughter of the late Charles Y. Morriss, of Richmond, known as “the Shoestring Millionaire,” because of his eccentricity of wearing a shoestring for a watch chain when, his fortune was rated at a million.

It is understood also that Miss Morriss figures prominently as one of the characters in “Silver Seal.”

Born on Christmas Day, 1884, Ella Morriss was the daughter of Garland and Ella (Sutton) Morriss and lived in Buckingham County’s James River District. Public records reveal that her life was fraught with challenges. By 1900, three of her ten siblings had died. Married in 1909, she was widowed by the aged of thirty.  As an adult, she went by the name Pauline and, on November 30, 1916, her name was recorded as Pauline E. Sparks when she married Charles G. Human. They were divorced in Richmond, Virginia on December 23, 1922 on grounds of desertion.

To date, nothing more has been learned about the writing career of Virginia Bayard and no evidence has been found that “Silver Seal” was ultimately published.

Birth Certificate for Ella Pauline Morriss.

Divorce Record for Pauline E. Human.

October 14, 2021 / Joanne Yeck

Payne’s Landing, Part V

Payne’s Pond, 2010. Photo by Joanne Yeck.

In March of 1959, Buckingham County historian Lulie Patteson published an article in Charlottesville’s Daily Progress detailing the history of Payne’s Landing. Located on land owned by Nathan T. Payne, this spot in northern Buckingham on the James River once bustled with commerce.  

Click here to catch up: Payne’s Landing, Part I

Unfortunately, the two images taken by Patteson which accompany the article did not transfer well to microfilm. The captions, however, highlight more details about the Payne plantation. They read as follows:

PLANTATION RUINS — the ruins above are all that is left of the “old Pete Jefferson” house on the Payne plantation. The ruins were torn down recently because of the danger to cattle in falling into the basement of the old four-room brick building.

OLD MILL — a small mill which is still in operation as it was in the years before the Civil War, stands on little Georgia Creek north of Payne’s Mill Pond in Buckingham County. The mill is said to have once been located nearly a mile away on Big Georgia Creek. This is a remnant of the huge Payne plantation.


To learn more about Payne’s Mill, click here: Buckingham Mills: Payne’s Mill, Part I


Lulie Patteson’s mention of the ruins of old Pete Jefferson’s house is particularly intriguing. The 1900 census records an African-American named Peter Jefferson (b. 1857) living in Buckingham County’s James River District but no one by that name was enumerated in Slate River District.

Did this building date back to the mid-19th century? While it is doubtful that Peter Field Jefferson was ever known as “Pete” and he never lived on the Winfrey Tract which became Payne’s plantation, the old four-room brick building could have been built by Jefferson. It seems likely that Lulie Patteson’s informants no longer knew that Randolph Jefferson’s son had once owned this land. If they had been aware of the link to Thomas Jefferson’s nephew, surely they would have mentioned it!


For more about Peter Field Jefferson’s purchase of the Winfrey Tract, consult my book Peter Field Jefferson: Dark Prince of Scottsville and Lost Jeffersons.


For much more about Lulie Patteson’s life, search the archives at Slate River Ramblings and consult “Miss Lulie Patteson: Early Buckingham Historian” in my book “At a Place Called Buckingham.”

Special thanks to Phil James for sharing Lulie Patteson’s work published in The Daily Progress.

October 7, 2021 / Joanne Yeck

Payne’s Landing, Part IV

Courtesy Find A Grave, Photos by Brian Gallagher.

In March of 1959, Buckingham County historian Lulie Patteson published an article in Charlottesville’s Daily Progress detailing the history of Payne’s Landing.  At that time hardly a trace was left of a once busy community.

Click here to catch up: Payne’s Landing, Part I


Lulie Patteson concludes her article, writing:

Only a chimney of brick remains of the first home. From the debris left at the site the home seems to have had four rooms. It was a two-story dwelling. A two-room frame house still stands nearby. Later the new house (the one now dilapidated) was built. It led to the small, gray house which was used as a kitchen.

Family history reveals that a runway from the house to the kitchen shed was built so Mrs. Payne, who lost a leg in middle life, could scoot her wheelchair to the kitchen.

One barn now stands where there used to be many barns and stables for the working animals.

A large family of children were reared here and their descendants are widely scattered over Virginia and elsewhere. N. T. Payne was attacked by pneumonia on a timber trip to Sussex or Southampton counties (the exact place is uncertain). He died away from home. Mrs. Payne lived to an old age and was cared for by a devoted daughter after the other children had left home.

On a lovely slope above the home location is one of the most attractive private cemeteries ever seen in a rural section. Here great maple trees guard the graves of Mr. and Mrs. N. T. Payne, their children and their grandchildren.

Courtesy Find A Grave, Photos by Brian Gallagher

Explore the Payne family cemetery at Find A Grave: Payne Cemetery

Coming Next: Payne’s Landing, Part V

September 30, 2021 / Joanne Yeck

Payne’s Landing, Part III

Buckingham County Postal Routes, 1896

In March of 1959, Buckingham County historian Lulie Patteson published an article in Charlottesville’s Daily Progress detailing the history of Payne’s Landing. Located on land owned by Nathan T. Payne, this spot in northern Buckingham on the James River was once home to thriving businesses and an industrial complex.  

Click here to catch up: Payne’s Landing, Part I

Lulie Patteson continues, conjuring a vivid picture of life at Payne’s Landing:

Besides the landing there was a post office, a store and freight depot. Elsewhere on Georgia Creek, a tributary, there were mills. A grist mill ground flour and meal and a sawmill provided lumber.

Payne was said to have been exempted from military service in the Civil War because he supplied lumber to the Confederacy. About the Payne home located a blacksmith’s shop, a cooper’s shop, a bone mill and a foundry. The farm and sawmill required the use of 50 to 60 mules and horses.

The foundry manufactured skillets, lids and plowpoints. The name of the blacksmith, Aaron Scott, has come down through the years because of his work in handling the numerous jobs of shoeing the many horses and mules. An aged Negro man who worked at the Payne home recalls how he used to tremble in terror when the 50 or 60 work animals were turned loose snorting and kicking down the lane heading toward the creek for water.

The same man’s mother was a washer woman for the Paynes. He said after the war the Yankees came and cut “hoops and staves.” He also recalled how Patrick Jones, head teamster for F. M. Maxey of Well Water, brought a wagon load of bark and “hoops” with a double yoke of oxen to Payne’s Landing.

Since the lumbering and sawmilling were large operations and many employees were needed, the Payne plantation provided everything that was needed. No one had to go to Scottsville for anything . . . except perhaps whiskey.

Of all the projects around the Payne place, the one least needed would seem to be the bone grinding mill. But with the lack of fertilizer in those post-war days, and a starvation diet for cattle, most farms felt it necessary to utilize everything possible.


Patteson’s prose depicts a busy and vital 19th century service center typical of the era. Today, various sources help document her history.

In 1880, Nathan T. Payne’s grist mill, long active in Buckingham County’s Slate River District, was included in the county’s industrial census.

Population censuses confirm Aaron Scott’s role as the neighborhood blacksmith. In 1870, an African-American blacksmith named Aaron Scott (age 50) was enumerated with his family in the James River District of Buckingham County. By 1880, Scott had relocated to Slate River District, living just a few households from Nathan Payne, supporting the story that he worked at the Payne’s Landing complex.

In 1880, Nathan Payne’s son John clerked in a store, perhaps the one Lulie Patteson mentioned.

According to national postal records, the post office at Payne’s Landing was established when mail delivery to Bolling’s Landing was discontinued on February 4, 1880.  Bolling’s Landing was on Robert M. Bolling’s land, adjacent Payne’s. Samuel L.  Burks, who married Alice Virginia Payne, served as postmaster at Payne’s Landing from its inception until January of 1883.  Click here for more about Burks: Postmaster Samuel L. Burks, Jr.

Patteson also mentions F. N. Maxey who founded Well Water after the Civil War. For more about his important contribution to Buckingham County history, search the archives at Slate River Ramblings and consult “F.N. Maxey and His Community at Well Water” in my book “At a Place Called Buckingham.”

Currently, others who owned businesses in the complex at Payne’s Landing are unknown.  If a Slate River Ramblings reader knows more, please comment!

Coming Next: Payne’s Landing, Part IV

September 23, 2021 / Joanne Yeck

Payne’s Landing, Part II

In March of 1959, Buckingham County historian Lulie Patteson published an article in Charlottesville’s Daily Progress detailing the history of Payne’s Landing, located 23 miles north of Buckingham County’s courthouse. In 1874, the tract was bounded by the lands of Robert Bolling, Putney, James F. Hamner, Dr. Gantt, John L. Harris’ Estate (Snowden), and W.H. and L. Nicholas.

Click here to catch up: Payne’s Landing, Part I

Relying on memories passed down in the Payne family, Lulie Patteson makes several puzzling statements, including this one:  “. . . [F]amily history states that the great tract of land was purchased from a man named Sam Allen and that Allen’s slaves remained on the plantation when the Payne family took possession.”

Since Nathan T. Payne did not acquire Winfrey’s Tract until after 1871 (and may not have taken possession of it until 1874), any African Americans working or living on the farm had long been emancipated.  It is possible, though, that former slaves remained where they had previously lived, working for Payne or others in the neighborhood.

Miss Patteson’s next detail, while charming, is equally confusing: “. . . Payne’s Landing was doing a bang up business in shipping before the Civil War. N. T. Payne had two canal freight boats of his own (one descendant in or near his 90s says the names of these two boats were ‘Maude’ and ‘Johnson’).”

Today, documents which were not easily accessible to Lulie Patteson help establish a different chronology of Nathan Payne’s residences and businesses. With the passage of time, I suspect two locations (possibly even two spots called “Payne’s Landing”) became conflated. Indeed, Payne may have operated freight boats prior to the Civil War though likely not from what was once Winfrey’s Tract.

In 1870, Nathan T. Payne, a 45-year-old lumber dealer, was enumerated in Buckingham County’s James River District, indicating that he was not yet occupying Winfrey’s Tract, which lay in Buckingham’s Slate River District. Payne’s status as a “dealer” easily could have included shipping. Additionally, the 1870 Industrial Census for Buckingham County lists N. T. Payne as the operator of a grist mill and a steam saw mill, both in James River District. By 1880, he was enumerated in Slate River District, indicating his move to Winfrey’s Tract — the place that Lulie Patteson would know as Payne’s Landing.

Coming Next: Payne’s Landing, Part III

September 21, 2021 / Joanne Yeck

Available Now: “Buckingham Burials, Vol 5”

Courtesy Historic Buckingham

I’m delighted to announce that a fifth volume of Buckingham Burials is now available from Historic Buckingham.

If you live near Buckingham, copies are for sale at the Adams Museum.

You can also purchase the book by mail from Historic Buckingham. 

Members: $10.00, plus $5.00 postage

Non-members: $15.00, plus $5.00 postage

Send your check to: Historic Buckingham Inc., P. O. Box 152, Buckingham, VA 23921.

Follow this link for more books available from Historic Buckingham: Our Store

If you aren’t already a member, consider joining: Membership Information

Lastly, a hardy thank you from Slate River Ramblings to all who contributed to this series over many, many years.

September 16, 2021 / Joanne Yeck

Payne’s Landing, Part I

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

In March of 1959, Buckingham County historian Lulie Patteson published an article in Charlottesville’s Daily Progress entitled, “Payne’s Landing Disappeared from the Contemporary Scene.” As always Miss Patteson’s description of this once bustling community in northern Buckingham County is colorful and engaging. The article begins:

Payne’s Landing on the James River in Buckingham County was once a canal boat dock and a busy outlet of a huge plantation. Not a vestige of its business activities of 100 years ago remains. It is identified by a railroad siding built at a later date and now discontinued.

Large plantations along the James and its tributaries shipped and received much freight at various landings in canal boat days. It eventually led to almost every farm having its private Landing — such as Bolling Landing, Brown’s Landing, etc.

Crowning a stately hill rising from the south bank of the James is a dilapidated residence which belonged to those whose lives were spent there and who gave Payne’s Landing its name.

Just when this plantation (said to have been one of the largest in Virginia) came into possession of N. T. Payne is not clear. The records of Buckingham County were destroyed in a fire just after the surrender of the South in the Civil War. All deeds vanished.

However, family history states that the great tract of land was purchased from a man named Sam Allen.


As is often the case, oral history is less than accurate but can be peppered with clues to follow.  Clearly, Lulie Patteson understood that Nathan T. Payne had acquired this property before 1869 when Buckingham County’s courthouse burned. However, research concerning Peter Field Jefferson and my kinsman James Harris reveals another story.

Samuel Allen, remembered by the Payne family, was the son-in-law of James Harris, who owned considerable land in this section of Buckingham. At the time of Allen’s death on November 15, 1871, he was likely managing what was then known as “Winfrey’s Tract” and later became known as “Payne’s.”

James Harris had purchased this 2,285 acre plantation from Peter Field Jefferson in October of 1858. While large by Buckingham County standards, it was far from “one of the largest in Virginia.” On November 22, 1871, Harris sold the farm to Nathan T. Payne for $13,000, however, in a complicated settlement, the deed was not transferred until 1874, two years after James Harris’ death.


For more about Peter Field Jefferson’s purchase of the Winfrey Tract, consult my book Peter Field Jefferson: Dark Prince of Scottsville and Lost Jeffersons.

Coming Next: Payne’s Landing, Part II

September 9, 2021 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham County, 1913, Part IV

The bridge at Scottsville, Virginia.  Courtesy Raymon Thacker.

Need to catch up? Click here: Buckingham County, 1913, Part I

The lengthy article published in the September 8, 1913 issue of Richmond’s Times-Dispatch concluded with miscellaneous news from Buckingham County.

Real estate dealers are anticipating quite a demand on the part of Westerners for farms in this county this fall and winter, and are pressing to advertise especially for this class of settlers. The long, hot summer in the West, with a long drought, has served to bring forth many inquiries from farmers in the West as to the prices of lands in Virginia, where the temperatures this summer were comparatively low and seasons excellent.

Circuit Court convenes at Buckingham next week, with Judge Hundley probably back in his old place, he having largely recovered from his recent indisposition. A number of criminal cases, involving colored people, will come up either for trial or for some kind of disposition. There is the usual amount of chancery and other litigation to be disposed of.

People in this section are much interested in the proposition to bridge James River at Columbia. It is thought the scheme will be carried out without trouble, as to bridges within recent years have been built from Buckingham soil to the north side of the river, the bridges at Scottsville and Howardsville, both tremendously advantageous to both Buckingham and Albemarle Counties. These two bridges, together with the railroad bridge at Bremo Bluff, upon which all kinds of traffic is allowed, and the county bridge at Winginia, make an almost perfect connection of Buckingham County with the railroad on the northern side of the river.

Readers will recall that, due to illness, Judge Hundley was not involved in the case concerning the murder of Meade Hanes. Click here to learn more about his life and work: EXTRA: Judge George Jefferson Hundley

Click here to learn more about bridges connecting Buckingham and Albemarle counties: Buckingham County to Scottsville: A Bridge to Scottsville

September 2, 2021 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham County, 1913, Part III

Dillwyn Station.  Photo by Joanne Yeck.

Need to catch up? Click here: Buckingham County, 1913, Part I

In addition to the report concerning the opening of Buckingham County schools, the September 8, 1913 issue of Richmond’s Times-Dispatch covered farming news and, of particular interest, the establishment of a county fair in Dillwyn.

Farmers and others throughout this section are showing much interest in the first county fair, which will be held in Dillwyn next month. A meeting of the fair association was held at the Odd Fellows’ Hall, in Dillwyn, on Saturday afternoon, and much business was transacted. It is generally believed that the fair will be the most important and interesting gathering ever held in Buckingham County. Already there is promise of a fine exhibit of every kind of live stock and country produce, and the cities and manufacturers promise to exhibit much in the way of machinery and manufactured products of all kinds.

This week will be known as tobacco harvest week throughout this section. Already tremendous crops of the weed have been harvested in the southern end of the county and in Appomattox and Prince Edward Counties. In the northern end of Buckingham the crop this year is exceptional in most respects, both in size and quality. A record crop in every respect will be harvested.

Corn is still maintaining its uniform condition of excellence. Farmers are saying the crop is by far the best ever known in this county. Some of the older people are comparing this year with the year of the surrender, 1865, when, apparently providentially, the crops were better than had ever been known.

While the apple and peach crops suffered an “off year,” there is enough fruit in the section for ordinary purposes and uses. Such apples as the trees bear are excellent in most respects.

Young apple orchards which have recently been planted in the section are flourishing. One orchard of a thousand trees, which was planted last fall by the dynamite process, shows a death rate of less than 1 per cent, not as many as a dozen trees of the thousand have died.

While this report from Arvonia contains many superlatives, the tidbit about the harvest of 1865 is particularly interesting, especially the fact that, in 1913, the oldest residents of the county still remembered the bounty after the surrender.

Coming next: Buckingham County, 1913, Part IV

August 26, 2021 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham County, 1913, Part II

Hanes Chapel. Courtesy Historic Buckingham.

Need to catch up? Click here: Buckingham County, 1913, Part I

The September, 1913 article sent from Arvonia and published in Richmond’s Times-Dispatch continued its update on education in the county:

Prof. Harry T. Turner will be principal of the St. Andrews School, with Miss Mabel Swoope as assistant. In Marshall District, Miss Sallie Hanes will teach the Hanes Chapel School; Miss Minna Ehrhardt, of Powhatan County, the Alpha School, and Miss Bessie Virginia Mason, of Sussex County, the Penlan School. Misses Sallie and Cora Wood will again assume charge of the Texas Graded School, in James River District.

The Dillwyn High School will not open till September 22, with Professor James Alexander Hanna, a graduate of Washington and Lee University, as principal. The Buckingham High School will open on September 15, with Professor Warwick as principal, and three assistants, as usual, Miss Lily Alleen Shepard, of Cumberland County, will teach the River School.

Miss Marguerite Dunnavant of Enonville will teach the New Canton School, and Miss Ethel Tatum, the school at Snotty’s Gate. In Francisco District, Miss May Woody will teach the Andersonville School, and Miss Graham Trent, the Hooper School.

… Mrs. Robert FuQua (sic), of New Canton, will teach music in the Arvonia High School the coming session. She has already enrolled a considerable number of pupils in her classes. A room in the new building has been set apart for the special use of piano music.

In addition to having this useful list of teachers and principals, the newspaper article provides us with a list of schools operating in the county in 1913.

It is interesting to note that many teachers were hired from outside Buckingham County. Sallie B. Hanes is likely the aunt of Meade Hanes. You can read more about the family here:

Buckingham County Crimes: The Murder of Meade Hanes, Part III

Coming next: Buckingham County, 1913, Part III