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October 22, 2020 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham County’s Norvell House Revisited, Part II

Norvell House, 2020. Courtesy Jeremy Winfrey.

Need to catch up? Click here: Buckingham County’s Norvell House Revisited, Part I


Seven years after I first inquired about this house, its history has significantly expanded. In June of 2020, Slate River Ramblings follower Jeremy Winfrey contacted me, writing:

I have been steadily working on the Norvell family properties of the 19th century and have stumbled upon an undeniable fact…. This house was NOT built by the Norvell family and I am presently working on a report which entails the ownership of the property over the years, going back to 1800.

It seems to me, the brick portion of the home was probably built by John Wilmerton Chambers around 1838, when he purchased the property from the affluent land owner Hardin Lewis.

The present owner believes the brick section of the home was built about this time. John W. Chambers probably lived here for about eight years and then, in 1845, moved to Tennessee immediately following his marriage to Mariah Ayres.

I was particularly excited to learn this new information about the probable original builder. John W. Chambers (1815-1877) was the brother of my ancestor, Elizabeth Holman (Chambers) Saunders. Once in Tennessee, he and Mariah (a.k.a. Maria Ann) reared at least ten children.

Coming Next: Buckingham County’s Norvell House Revisited, Part III

October 15, 2020 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham County’s Norvell House Revisited, Part I

Norvell House, c. 2012. Photo by Joanne Yeck.

It all started in January of 2013. . . .

I posted the following, hoping to identify a house I’d seen while driving in Buckingham County, Virginia:

Anyone who has conducted research in Buckingham County knows all about “brick walls” and apparently unsolvable mysteries. From time to time, I will post a photo of a house or an individual or a family in the hopes that someone can make a positive identification of the image. Here’s my first mystery image.

Driving in the general vicinity of Sharps Creek or Diana Mills (I don’t know precisely where I was), I saw this substantial dwelling, complete with requisite Buckingham slate roof. This is my Harris family’s old stomping ground.

Can anyone identify it? If you can identify a family who owned the house at one time (or now), please let me know approximately the decade and century as well as the family surname. Thanks!

This post was followed by two more, relating that the home once belonged to the Norvell family.

To learn more details, click on these two links. Be sure to read the comments.

Buckingham Mystery: The Norvell House

Buckingham Mystery: The Norvell House, Part II


Recently, Slate River Ramblings follower Jeremy Winfrey contacted me with new information about what was once the Norvell home. Take some time to catch up and prepare to read more!

Coming next: Buckingham County’s Norvell House Revisited, Part II


October 8, 2020 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute 1857, Part V

 Caroline’s Journal, 1855-1858. Courtesy Bibb Edwards.

Need to catch up?  Click here: Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute 1857, Part I

On July 14, Caroline Littlepage was finally back home at Woodbury in King William County, writing:

Wednesday, 15th July, 1857

We certainly have had more wet weather this summer than ever was known before. – – I find upon investigation that Liv had been a fine housekeeper everything is in complete order. A nice parcel of butter made, & every thing else well attended to. – – He & Hardie find in returning from the oat field this evening that two of the mules are drowned. . . . The mules we judge must have been drowned last Saturday evening after the rain, which came in torrents & swept every thing before it. Carried away whole lines of fence not leaving a rail behind.

Liv is Caroline’s son, Lewis Livingston Littlepage.

On July 16, 1857, Caroline wrote in her journal that the trip to Buckingham County had taken a toll on her: “I don’t think I shall get over my trip for a fortnight. I never suffered so from fatigue of travelling.”


Today, Caroline Littlepage’s 1857 visit to Buckingham County and the Female Institute would take only a few hours by car. She reminds us of the effort that went to such a trip, not to mention the excitement a jar of pickles could generate!


Click here to learn more about what took place during commencement exercises at the Institute: Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute, 1854

Also, consult “A Noble Idea: Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute,” my book, “At a Place Called Buckingham.”


Many thanks go to Bibb Edwards for creating the wonderful Caroline’s Journal. It continues to be a unique and fascinating resource for those interested in everyday life in 19th-century Virginia!

October 1, 2020 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute 1857, Part IV

James River at New Canton, Buckingham County. Photo by Joanne Yeck.


Need to catch up?  Click here: Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute 1857, Part I

Soon, Caroline and Hardie began the long trip home to Woodbury in King William County, Virginia.

Thursday, 9th July, 1857

The day is very pleasant. We took the stage at eight o’clk for New Canton. Arrived there at eleven & became so tired waiting for the packet that we crossed the river & procured some fishing poles & amused ourselves fishing in the canal. Hardie is quite a nice little escort. We have Miss Gildermeister, one of the teachers, & Miss Carson along with us. The boat arrived at three.

Caroline continued the next day:

Friday, 10th July, 1857

We arrived in Richmond at six o ‘clk took a hack to Mrs. Terry’s, got our breakfasts & shoped (sic) till ten, then took a hack to Mr. Hanes; found all very well & much pleased to see us. Engaged the hackman to come for us on Monday.

On July 11, Caroline was enjoying the company of daughter Mary’s “two sweet interesting children.” Mary was the wife of Garland Hanes, Jr. According to Bibb Edwards, “Her husband’s father was a prosperous farmer, successful Whig politician, and Richmond public official. Garland, Sr. lived at Edgewood, situated just north of Richmond on a road between Brook Turnpike and Meadowbridge Road, today’s Ladies Mile Road.”

Coming Next: Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute 1857, Part V

September 24, 2020 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute 1857, Part III

Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute. Buckingham County, Virginia.


Need to catch up?  Click here: Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute 1857, Part I

The voyage on the packet boat from Richmond to New Canton, Buckingham County was apparently uneventful since Caroline wrote little of it. The next entry in her journal reads:

Tuesday, 7th July, 1857

The weather is quite pleasant, arrived at New Canton about nine o’clk. Had to wait there some time for the stage; arrived at the Institute at 1 o’clk. Bake was delighted to see us, carried her a jar of new pickles, which she was equally pleased with. Found her in excellent health & spirits & eagerly watching the arrival of every vehicle & at last the old stage came jagging along & she ran out to meet us.

The following day, Caroline wrote this comment — too brief for those of us hungry for details about life at Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute!

Wednesday, 8th of July, 1857

Another pleasant day. The performers commenced at ten o’clk & acted their parts admirably well. – – The essays were very beautiful. Adjourned little after one o’clk till 8 in the afternoon.


Click here for a biography of Caroline Baker “Bake” Littlepage: Caroline B. (Bake) Littlepage


To learn more about life at Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute, search the archives at Slate River Ramblings and enjoy the results!

Don’t know where to start? Begin here: Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute: A Reminiscence

Coming Next: Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute 1857, Part IV

September 17, 2020 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute 1857, Part II

Caroline Baker (Ellett) Littlepage with Lucy Littlepage, by John Toole (1815-1860).

Courtesy Louise Eichhorn Schroede and Virginia Historical Society.


Need to catch up?  Click here: Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute 1857, Part I

On July 5, 1857, Caroline Littlepage continued preparations to depart for Buckingham County and the Female Institute. Daughters Pigeo & Nannie were sent to stay with their Aunt Rose while Caroline was away from Woodbury. Still torn about leaving, Caroline wrote, “I feel quite sad at parting with them.”

The following day, she finally left for Buckingham County, writing:

Monday, 6th July, 1857

We have an early breakfast & the Maj. [Caroline’s husband] accompanies Hardie & myself to the C.H. to take the Stage to Richmond. Mary, Hardie & myself left about eight o’clk, had quite a nice time going over the day being so pleasant. Arrived in Richmond about five or four o’clk. Saw Mr. Wilson & ordered some groceries, then purchased a hat for Baker & took the packet boat, little before five, boat very much crowded. Mrs. Dick refused to give me that back seat in the Stage, very much to the chagrin of Mr. Northern.

Caroline’s traveling companions were her son, Hardin Beverly Littlepage, and her eldest daughter, Mary, who does not continue with them to Buckingham County.

Bibb Edwards wrote this about “Hardie”:

Lewis and Caroline called him Hardie. Probably named for his deceased paternal grandfather, Hardin Beverly Littlepage was born 8 March 1841. The seventh of their children and the fifth son, Lewis and Caroline probably chose his nickname to distinguish him from the other nearby Hardin Littlepages. Captain Hardin Littlepage (1810-1879), Lewis’ brother, lived next door at Aspen Grove. Hardin Benskin Littlepage (1827-1860), son of Lewis’ brother Edmund, was raised at adjacent Retreat, but would move to Montgomery, Alabama in the late 1850s. . . .

[In the mid-1850s, Hardie] goes to school, attends church, runs errands, has a pet squirrel, helps his father, visits with friends and family. At twelve Hardie’s family had no way of predicting his exceptional future.

Click here for a full biography of Hardin Beverly Littlepage.

Learn about other members of the Littlepage family here: 1855 Lewis Littlepages

Coming next: Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute 1857, Part III

September 10, 2020 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute 1857, Part I

Caroline’s Journal, 1855-1858. Courtesy Bibb Edwards.

In September 2019, Slate River Ramblings ran a series about Caroline Littlepage’s 1856 visit to Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute where her daughter, “Bake,” was a student.

To read about that trip to Buckingham, click here: Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute 1856, Part I

For those of you not familiar with Caroline’s Journal, since 2014, Bibb Edwards has been posting Caroline’s almost daily journal entries from the mid-19th century. The first post was written on June 11, 1864, 150 years earlier to the day. After concluding her Civil War-era journals, Bibb began posting what survives from Caroline’s journals from 1855, 1856 and, currently, 1857.

Click here to learn more about Caroline Baker (Ellett) Littlepage of Woodbury in King William County, Virginia: Caroline’s Journal


In 1857, Baker “Bake” Littlepage returned to Buckingham County to study at Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute. On July 1, her mother, Caroline, began preparing for a trip to Buckingham to attend the commencement exercises and wrote the following in her journal:

I feel so sad at the idea of leaving [daughters] Nannie & [Pigeo] that it is almost with reluctance that I am trying to make preparation for my departure. Tho’ I am so anxious to make the trip to see the other children, & Bake will be so much delighted to see me I know.

Caroline was particularly concerned about Pigeo’s health and, on July 3, wrote:

Commenced packing my trunk this evening but feel so melancholly (sic) at the idea of the dear little children, that I hardly knew what I am about. I almost wish I had never thought of going.

There were many schools located closer to Woodbury available to the Littlepage family. Sending Bake all the way to Buckingham County is a testament to the quality and reputation of Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute.

Coming next: Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute 1857, Part II

September 3, 2020 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham County Mystery: Buckingham Literary Society

Monticello’s Book Room. Courtesy Jefferson Library and Monticello.

Recently, Slate River Ramblings reader Jeremy Winfrey discovered the following Buckingham County tidbit. . . .

Beginning in 1871, three acres of land in Buckingham County, were owned by the Buckingham Literary Society and taxed to the trustees which included my cousin, Thomas Meredith Agee.  G. W. Baber & others are also listed as trustees of the Society. By 1900, the land was listed in the tax books as “T M Agee (L. society)”.

The small tract was located near “Sharon” – probably Sharon Baptist Church.  Jeremy believes the three acres were located in the vicinity of routes 671, 622, and 651.


Does a Slate River Ramblings reader recognize the Buckingham Literary Society?

Was it connected to Buckingham Literary Academy?  Click here to learn more about it:

Buckingham Literary Academy, Part I

August 27, 2020 / Joanne Yeck

 Buckingham County: Fight Against Smallpox


Early in the 19th century, hopes ran high that a successful inoculation for smallpox had been developed.

During 1801 and 1802, President Thomas Jefferson took a keen interest in the “vaccine.” During this period, Jefferson treated the community at Monticello and, in 1801, he inoculated his niece, Nancy, Randolph Jefferson’s daughter. If you’d like to learn more, consult the article, “Inoculation,” Monticello’s Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia.

Recently, Slate River Ramblings reader Roger Ward sent information about smallpox inoculations in Buckingham County. In the front of the Surveyor’s Plat Book, 1783-1799, which survived the courthouse fire in 1869, there is a note, dated June 5, 1802, written by surveyor John Patteson which indicates that he “treated” the following members of his family: Polley, Judith, David, Nelson, Jack, and Thomas N. [?] Patteson.  He also inoculated his “Negroes”: Olive, Billy, Big Dick, little Dick, Dirender [?], Dice [?], Sillar [?], Rose, Agge, Cabe, Peter, little Frank, Simon, Ester, little Polley, and David.

To learn more about 19th-century medical advances in Buckingham County, click here:

Buckingham County: Cow-Pox

Buckingham Notables: Dr. James Walker

August 20, 2020 / Joanne Yeck

The Foland Family of Scottsville: Part VI

Methodist Episcopal Church. Bluefield, West Virginia.


Need to catch up? Click here: The Foland Family of Scottsville: Part I

The life story of Clarke Valentine Foland, written by James Morton Callahan, concludes:

Soon after he came to Bluefield Mr. Foland was a clerk in the post office in 1901, under Dr. J. B. Martin, then Postmaster, and again in 1904 he served for a time in the local office. Mr. Foland has a gift of music, has developed much skill with the violin, and for several years was choir director of the Grace Methodist Episcopal Church, South. The church organist at that time was Miss Ethel Irene Stovall. This common interest in music culminated in their marriage on December 4, 1912. Mrs. Foland is a daughter of William A. and Hattie Stovall. Her father was formally a schoolteacher, was a conductor on the Norfolk & Western Railroad, and still later in business in Bluefield. Mrs. Foland is a graduate of the Concorde State Normal of Athens, West Virginia, graduated in music at Centenary College in Cleveland, Tennessee, and finished her musical studies in the school of music and arts in New York City. Her special field of proficiency is the piano, and since her marriage she has also continued teaching and musical interests in general. They are now members of the Bland St., Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and Mr. Foland is a steward in the church and a member of the choir. Fraternally he is a senior counselor of the United Commercial Travelers of America, is a past sachem of the Improved Order of Red Men, is a Royal Arch and Knight Templar Mason, being generalissimo of the latter, and is a member of the Shrine at Charleston. He belongs to the Bluefield Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club.

Clarke Valentine Foland was certainly a joiner! His gift of music and his marriage to the very accomplished Ethel Irene Stovall is a revelation. Musical talent ran in the Foland family. His ancestor, Randolph Jefferson, played the violin, as did Randolph’s brother, Thomas.

Learn more about the Foland family in my book, Peter Field Jefferson: Dark Prince of Scottsville & Lost Jeffersons.


Many thanks to Bill Kelcey for sharing information about the Foland family of Scottsville. His ancestors include: Randolph Jefferson, Peter Field Jefferson, and Peter Valentine Foland’s son, James Gates Foland. Mr. Kelcey also shared that James Gates Foland’s son, Calvin Foland, was particularly interested in the family history and, over the years, made visits home to Mount Walla.