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April 13, 2023 / Joanne Yeck

Happy Birthday Thomas Jefferson!

Born on April 13, 1743, at Shadwell in Albemarle County, Virginia, Thomas Jefferson’s contributions to American politics and culture continue to stimulate all manner of conversation and study.

While researching the life of his younger brother, Randolph, I was delighted to learn more about the private Thomas Jefferson—the surrogate father, the big brother, the uncle. In the end, Thomas was such an important part of Randolph Jefferson’s story that he shaped the title of my book: The Jefferson Brothers.

You can purchase The Jefferson Brothers online at Braughler Books, where you will find a PDF of the first chapter to whet your appetite for more!

November 26, 2022 / Joanne Yeck

Holiday Gift Ideas

Slate River Press

Need a gift idea this holiday season? Give the gift of local history!

All Slate River Press titles are available online, at Braughler Books.

My newest book about Buckingham County, Peter Jefferson’s Snowdon: A History of Settlement at the Horseshoe Bend, as well as “At a Place Called Buckingham” and Peter Field Jefferson and Lost Jeffersons are available at Amazon.

Here’s where you can purchase my books (and many others) about Virginia history.

In Virginia

Amherst: Baine’s Books & Coffee (190 2nd Street)

Appomattox: Baine’s Books and Coffee (205 Main Street)

Buckingham: Adams Museum (13016 W. James Anderson Hwy)

Buckingham: Housewright Museum (U.S. Route 60, in the village of Buckingham)

Monticello: Monticello’s Gift Shop

Richmond: The Library of Virginia: The Virginia Shop (800 East Broad Street)

Scottsville: Baine’s Books and Coffee (485 Valley Street)

Shop online

Braughler Books

Read a preview of The Jefferson Brothers at Braughler Books: The Jefferson Brothers: Chapter One

Historic Buckingham Inc.
To order books from Historic Buckingham contact: 434-969-3292 or Margaret Thomas at

Library of Virginia: The Virginia Shop

August 11, 2022 / Joanne Yeck

Slate River Ramblings Hiatus

Rambling through Buckingham County, 2004.

Photo by Joanne Yeck.

The time has come to take a hiatus from regular, weekly posts at Slate River Ramblings.

When I began the blog in December, 2012, I had no idea how far and wide I would ramble through Buckingham County’s fascinating history.

Some of you have been with me from the beginning and I deeply appreciate your loyal readership. Some of you are relative newcomers and I hope you will continue to explore the archives, reading about your favorite people and places in Buckingham County.

Please continue to follow Slate River Ramblings. The blog will remain active for the foreseeable future. Feel free to comment on old posts. You might connect with a fellow Buckingham County researcher and exchange valuable information. I will continue to respond to comments and you can always reach me privately through the contact box.

Importantly, don’t be surprised, if from time to time you receive an email from Slate River Ramblings containing a new nugget of Buckingham County gold. When a particularly interesting tidbit of Buckingham’s history crosses my desk, I will share it.  Occasionally, I’ll also post news about my ongoing research and publications.

Over the years, Slate River Ramblings evolved far beyond a collection of facts and stories about Buckingham County, Virginia. It became a virtual community. Exchanging ideas, history, and family stories with many of you has been a privilege and a pleasure. Once again, thank you all for rambling with me.

August 4, 2022 / Joanne Yeck

The Buckingham News

Courtesy Library of Virginia

There is good news for all of us who enjoy reading old newspapers, especially if they concern Buckingham County, Virginia.
Now available at the Library of Virginia’s Virginia Chronicle – The Buckingham News (1931-1934), 148 issues.
Published in Dillwyn, in 1931 a year’s subscription cost $1.00. L. H. Shrader was Publisher and Editor. Julien Dwight Martin served as Editor and Business Manager. Emma J. Ragland contributed as Local Editor and Solicitor. News items covered Cumberland County as well as Buckingham. Advertisers represented businesses as far away as Amherst County and Lynchburg, including the Paramount Theater advertised as “The Show Place of Virginia.”

Follow this link to browse the issues: The Buckingham News.

To enjoy reading even more about life in Buckingham County, follow this link to the Appomattox and Buckingham Times, 20 January 1892 – 15 September 1909, 754 issues.

Many thanks go to Errol Somay for heading newspaper project at the ever-expanding collection contained in Virginia Chronicle which provides free access to over 2.5 million newspaper pages from Virginia newspapers. The collection currently contains 341,772 issues comprising 3,000,593 pages!

July 28, 2022 / Joanne Yeck

The Maxey Family of Buckingham County, Part VII: Tragic Buckingham County Fire, 1907

Appomattox and Buckingham Times. Courtesy Virginia Chronicle.

Need to catch up? Click here: The Maxey Family of Buckingham County, Part I

In 1937, Elizabeth McCraw reported in her survey of “Aspen Grove” that the original Royal Land Grant to the Maxey homeplace was lost in a fire. The informants recalled was that it was destroyed some years earlier when a family house near Aspen Grove burned.

This was likely the home of Robert M. Agee who married Nannie Lee Maxey. The story of the tragic fire was printed on April 9, 1907 in Richmond’s Times Dispatch and Evening Journal, where it was front page news.  On April 10, 1907, the Appomattox and Buckingham Times printed the following account:

“Buckingham Horror: Daughter Burned with Residence and Contents”

News has just reached here of the horrible tragedy which occurred near here, early Sunday morning, when the home of Mr. Robert M. Agee was totally destroyed by fire and his young daughter, a handsome girl sixteen years of age, was burned completely to ashes. The rest of the family barely escaped with their lives.

The home of Mr. Agee is situated near Well Water, not far from Sharon Church about seven or eight miles from this place. Saturday night up to a late hour there was company at the house. After the company left the family retired as usual, and at about two o’clock in the morning Mr. Agee awoke and found the house in flames, the fire having reached his room. He quickly awoke his wife and took her out and then rushed into an adjoining room and aroused his two grown sons, who rushed out of the house after having all the hair singed from their head.

Mr. Agee then rushed upstairs where his daughter, Miss Georgia, was sleeping, as were also three smaller children. He grasped two of the children, one under his arm, awoke Miss Georgia and told her to bring the other child. The young lady followed her father to the head of the steps, pushing the child in front of her and then was met by a sheet of flame.

She called to her father that she could not come and fell to the floor. The child escaped after having been singed. Dennis Agee, one of the boys who had first rushed out of the house, attempted to climb in the window but was prevented by his father. Just then the roof fell in and the body of the girl went down in the flames . . . .

Mr. and Mrs. Agee and six of the seven children were at this time out in the snow and sleet which was nearly two inches deep upon the ground with nothing upon them except their night garments, watching the fire destroy their home and consume the body of their young daughter.

Mrs. Agee, almost beside herself, again entered the dwelling, but was again dragged out by her husband.

They went to the home of Mr. Thos. Maxey, a good half-mile away, and were nearly frozen before reaching there. . . . Mr. Agee lost everything, and there was not a cent of insurance upon the building.

Following this tragic event, the Agee family reestablished themselves. The children married and had families of their own. Robert M. Agee died in Richmond, Virginia in 1937 and his wife, Nannie Lee, survived him, dying in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1942.

Nannie Lee (Maxey) Agee
July 21, 2022 / Joanne Yeck

The Maxey Family of Buckingham County, Part VI

Courtesy Library of Virginia

Need to catch up? Click here: The Maxey Family of Buckingham County, Part I

Today, there is an extensive collection of early Virginia land grants available online at the Library of Virginia. A search resulted in several for Edward Maxey, grantee. Keep in mind that since 1725, new counties have been cut from older ones. In some cases, several times. The grants are as follows:

24 March 1725: Edward Maxey, grantee. Location: Henrico County.

Description: 400 acres on the South side of James river, on Mathews branch

7 August 1725. Edward Maxey, grantee. Location: Henrico County.

Description: 400 acres on the South side of James river, adjoining John Radfords Land, on Jones’ Creek.

17 August 1725: Edward Maxey, Jr., grantee. Location: Henrico County.

Description: 400 acres adjoining. John Radfords land, on Jones’ Creek.

27 August 1770. Edward Maxey, grantee. Location: Buckingham County.

Description: 400 acres on the north side of Slate river and adjoining the same below the mouth of Slate river.


While it is unclear from these records whether or not the Edward Maxey who was granted land in 1725 in Henrico County is the same Edward Maxey who was granted 400 acres on the north side of the Slate River in Buckingham County, a man named Edward Maxey had possession of that land by the summer of 1770.

Did he wait 20 years to improve this land with the dwelling house? Or did a younger Edward Maxey build the house called Aspen Grove that survived well into the 20th century?

Coming Next: The Maxey Family of Buckingham County, Part VII: Tragic Buckingham County Fire, 1907

July 14, 2022 / Joanne Yeck

The Maxey Family of Buckingham County, Part V

Need to catch up? Click here: The Maxey Family of Buckingham County, Part I

In 1958, Charlottesville’s Daily Progress printed an article entitled “Buckingham Has Pioneer Dwelling That Maxey Built,” written by Buckingham County historian Lulie Patteson. In it, she described the Maxey homestead on Muddy Creek, by then owned by O. B. Maxey. Like Elizabeth McCraw before her, Miss Lulie marveled at the ancient dwelling and offered an alternate version of the loss of the original Royal Land Grant.

One of the early homes of the Maxey family is the home of O. B. Maxey in Buckingham. Another is in Powhatan County.

The O. B. Maxey home stands on the slope of the north side of Muddy Creek, near where the creek empties into the Slate River. The family says the home is 200 years old or more. The original grant was in the family for many years but probably was misplaced in the upheaval when the home was remodeled some years ago.

This house has four rooms — two large ones downstairs into low-pitched ones upstairs. There is also a kitchen and a dining room, which were later built onto the original house.

The main house has great sills put together with eight-inch shop-made spikes. The sleepers are all of heroic proportion compared to buildings today.

Two hundred years is probably a conservative estimate of the age for the house since there were many pioneer homes scattered through forests and beside streams long before Buckingham was cut off from Albemarle in 1761.

There is proof that the Maxey home in Buckingham was built in a forest. When it was remodeled, it was necessary to go under the house. There workers found stumps of trees, firm and sound as they were when cut down. No doubt the great rock hearth in one of the downstairs rooms sent out enough heat to dry the air beneath the house and thus keep the stumps from rotting.

The staunch, dependable character of so many of our forefathers and their families so often is reflected in the homes they built and left for their children to inherit.

Coming Next: Maxey Family of Buckingham County, Part VI

July 7, 2022 / Joanne Yeck

The Maxey Family of Buckingham County, Part IV

Courtesy Daily Progress

Need to catch up? Click here: The Maxey Family of Buckingham County, Part I

In August 1958, Buckingham County historian Lulie Patteson wrote an article for Charlottesville’s Daily Progress entitled “Buckingham Has Pioneer Dwelling That Maxey Built.” Her story begins as follows:

From far and near the Maxey clans gathered at Lakeside Park, Roanoke, Sunday for their annual reunion and picnic.

The Buckingham County clan also claims a part of the long history of Maxeys in this country.

Records left by Walter Maxey, who lived in Bedford County when George III was king of England, verify that the Maxey clan had belonged to the country’s pioneer bands. Walter Maxey is said to have more than 600 descendants. In North Carolina, there are living some of the sixth generation of Edward Maxey, who was also one of the early settlers.

Several hundred of these descendants attended Sunday’s reunion. Others sent messages. There were representatives from Texas, California and Washington State in the west; from southern and central states; New York and the Atlantic coastline, and from Japan, where one of their number serves as a missionary.

Coming Next: Maxey Family of Buckingham County, Part V

July 4, 2022 / Joanne Yeck

Book News: Celebrate Independence Day With The Jefferson Brothers

Happy Independence Day 2022!

Why not celebrate July 4th by learning more about Thomas Jefferson and his lesser known brother, Randolph, squire of Snowden and life-long resident of Buckingham County?

My book, The Jefferson Brothers, a biography of Randolph Jefferson, is currently discounted at Braughler Books

Interested in reading a preview of the book? Click here to download a PDF of Chapter One.

June 30, 2022 / Joanne Yeck

The Maxey Family of Buckingham County, Part III

Courtesy Library of Virginia.

Need to catch up? Click here: The Maxey Family of Buckingham County, Part I

In 1937, Elizabeth McCraw surveyed “Aspen Grove” for the Virginia Historical Inventory, the Maxey-built house which dated back to the 18th century.  She described the structure’s historical significance as follows:

The first owner of this property was Edward Maxey and it is believed by his descendants that he had this house built about 1790.

There was in the family a Royal Land Grant, but this was destroyed when a family house near was burned some years ago. The present owner of “Aspen Grove”, a maiden lady of 82 years says she remember seeing the old document often, it was written on blue paper and had seven seals.

The place has always been in the Maxey family. John A. Maxey was the last of the male line to own the place. He was a soldier in the Confederate Army. As he was a splendid nurse he was assigned hospital duty. He handed down the story to his children, that he had only two kinds of medicine to give. That he would ask soldiers if they would take “these pills or those pills”.

John A. Maxey came in the possession of the place when he married in 1853 and lived here until his death in 1918. The place is now owned by his two daughters, Misses Lois and Mollie V. Maxey. The latter is 82 years old and has been totally blind for forty years.

The family graveyard is near but there are no tombstones.

I believe that the fire mentioned by Mrs. McCraw was the burning of Robert M. Agee’s house in 1907. His wife was Nannie Lee Maxey (1860-1942), who may have had the land grant in her possession. More to come about this tragic fire at the end of this series.

Coming next: The Maxey Family of Buckingham County, Part IV