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January 10, 2013 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute

Buckingham_Female Collegiate Institute

In 1833, in the north woods of Ohio, Oberlin Collegiate Institute opened its doors not just to men, but to women, as well. Founded by a Presbyterian minister and a missionary, Oberlin’s goal to train Christian leaders for the Western frontier was equalitarian across both economic and gender lines. Students labored in exchange for learning, opening the horizons of higher education beyond the limits of the upper class.

Following this isolated and rather shocking co-educational experiment, the Virginia General Assembly officially incorporated the Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute on January 13, 1837, making it the acknowledged first chartered college for women in Virginia, perhaps in the nation.

Between $27,000 – $36,000 has been estimated for the cost of the school’s construction, and it showed. Sitting on 120 acres of level meadow, the main, three-story building contained fifty-two rooms, including classrooms, music rooms, and an auditorium or chapel. The interiors were top quality, the main Hall paneled in walnut with carved cornices. Most, but not all, of the students boarded at school, and their rooms were appointed with walnut bedsteads and washstands.

This was Buckingham County at the top of its game. Cutting edge. Bold. Groundbreaking.   These planters wanted their daughters educated . . . and in style.

Buckingham historian, Lulie Patteson brings the collegiate scene to life, in her typical romantic fashion: “Looking at a picture of the Institute and grounds of that day, one can easily call up a vision of the treasured young daughters of that period, strolling [with] graceful dignity along the walks or beneath the flower-twined archways in their leisure hours; clad in costumes that not only had cost many hours of dress-making skill, but many yards of material as well.”

In the coming months, we’ll continue to look at the men who conceived The Institute, the enriching impact it had on Buckingham’s culture, and the lives of some of the women who attended it.


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  1. Joanne Yeck / Dec 4 2019 8:22 am


    Many thanks for sharing your collection of Brown family stories.


  2. Joanne Yeck / Jan 1 2019 1:23 pm

    Bill has a good point. (See below in this crazy stack of comments.) DNA is rewriting history (family history, at least). The Browns have long been a Buckingham/Albemarle puzzle. I’m glad to learn that there is an active Brown DNA project!


  3. Paul R. White / Sep 25 2013 7:25 pm

    My great-great-grandfather, John Chapman Blackwell was the last President of the B.F. C. I. I have an 1860 catalog, which may be the last one printed. I am also connected, one way or another (mostly by descent) with the Ayres, Garland, Brown, Hanes, Bransford, Davidson, Agee, Eldridge, and Ford families of Buckingham County. A number of years ago, I published a book on these families called Taproots – A Virginia Carolina Legacy. There are copies in the Virginia State Library and the Historical Society collection at Buckingham Courthouse. I show that Martha Robertson Bransford married John B. Agee 5 September 1807 (“Vital Statistics Found in Guthrie’s Grammar,” The Register of the Kentucky State Historical Society, Vol. 30, p.100), presumably in Buckingham County. Sue Roberson West of Gravel Hill, Virginia wrote a history entitled “Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute” (Charlotte, N. C.: Delmar Printing, 1990) before she died 12 October 1992. She married John Francis West. She lived at the old “Tavern House” in Gravel Hill just across the road from the Institute site. She and her husband are buried at Brown’s Chapel Church, the old church of the Institute. Her husband was a distant cousin, and I was a guest in her home several times. We collaborated on our historical and genealogical interests for a number of years. I have wondered if her book is still somehow available. When she died, I was advised by the trust officer at the Richmond bank handling her estate, but I neglected to inquire about any remaining inventory of her books. I seem to remember her saying she had sold them all. It was a very limited publication, but a very fine book. It reproduced a watercolor of the main bldg. at the B. F. C. I. on a piece of sheet music by Andre Preot, a music instructor there. I am not aware of a photograph, but I have photos of the President’s House, now demolished, and my family archives helped produce the data necessary to date the house and get it on the Virginia Register of Historic Places. I am writing this on vacation and had my book with me to enter this annotation, I do not have a photographic memory, so that may not be the exact name of the Register; however, there were other published accounts of the B. F. C. I.: Loulie Patteson, “Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute,” The Farmville Herald, Farmville, Virginia, January 13, 1933; Loulie Patteson, “Buckingham Female Institute,” Richmond Christian Advocate, Richmond, Virginia: Virginia Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, 1933, Vol. LXI, No. 13, March 30, 1933, pp.1-4; William M. Rachel, Virginia’s First College for Women – The Female Collegiate Institute in Buckingham County,” Virginia Cavalcade, Richmond, Virginia: The State Library Board, 1952, Summer 1952, pp. 44-47. This last one, I believe, is the publication that reproduced the copy of the Preot sheet music rendering of the building. I will try to remember when I get home to post the information on the historic register of the President’s House for any who might be interested. I would welcome an exchange of information with anyone connected to the families in Buckingham mentioned above, or to the Institute. I am an attorney in Nashville, TN.

    • Joanne Yeck / Sep 25 2013 8:55 pm

      Dear Paul,

      I am familiar with Taproots and am delighted to take this opportunity to thank you for your important work about Buckingham County families and for this helpful bibliography for Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute. The chapter I wrote in “At a Place Called Buckingham” concerning the Institute relied on some of these sources. Sue West’s work does include many wonderful photos, as you mentioned, and your ancestor, Dr. John C. Blackwell, was indeed an important and respected figure in Buckingham County. Interestingly, my ancestor, John T.L. Woodson, contributed to one of Dr. Blackwell’s obituaries.

      Currently, the Preot sheet music is available from more than one source. I used the color image on the Slate River Press Face book page.


      • Vickie Burns / Dec 5 2018 1:34 pm

        Does anyone know if there are school records from Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute? My 3rd great grandmother Mary Win(g)field Jones obit says that she went there in the 1830’s. She would marry Rev. John R. Bennett in 1839.

      • Joanne Yeck / Dec 5 2018 5:03 pm


        The records for Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute are very hit or miss. I devoted a chapter to the school in my book, “At a Place Called Buckingham.” The notes contain references to various sources which name a few Institute students. Here is the link to the book’s table of contents:

        If you have more questions, feel free to contact me.

        Thanks for joining us at Slate River Ramblings.


    • Keith Brown / Nov 7 2016 6:02 pm

      Paul, here is a little material I have on some of my ancestors who resided in Buckingham Co.

      Asa B. Brown Trustee of Female Collegiate Institute in Buckingham Co Va
      On January 28, 1837 the Richmond Enquirer ran an announcement that read, FEMALE COLLEGAITE INSTITUTE, Buckingham – By an act of the General Assembly of Virginia passed January 12th, 1837. William A. Smith, Samuel Jones, John Early, James Garland, Lewis Skidmore, Theoderick C. Gannaway, Harold B. Scott, Edward F. Redd, Richard G. Morriss, John A. Scott, Wm. Woodson, Beverly A. Brown (Col. Beverly A. Brown), John Thompson, Leroy M. Lee, Wm. J. Waller, Alexander Rives, Archibald A. Campbell, Asa B. Brown (Asa Brightberry Brown), Jacob Agee, Jr. and Henry Branch, are constituted a body politic and corporate, by the name and style of the trustees of the Female Collegiate Institute. This act authorizes the undersigned to “appoint” the first meeting of the board. We accordingly announce to the trustees of the Female Collegiate Institute, that the first meeting of the board will commence at the Institute, on Wednesday, the 1st day of next month, at 10 o’clock, A. M. and continue in session until the business is completed, and we would particularly remark, that eight members of the board will unavoidably be absent from the first meeting, and that unless the residue are strictly punctual, no business can be transacted; for the charter requires a majority of the members to form a quorum.
      A. J. HUESTIS, RO. G. LOVING, WM. A. SMITH, LEROY M. LEE, WM. J. WALLER Richmond, Jan. 17, 1837

      Col. Beverly A. Brown mentioned above was the son of Benajah and Mary Frances (JARMAN) Brown, he was the brother of Garland Brown, he married Sarah Brown the daughter of Bernard and Elizabeth (DABNEY) Brown) and grandson of Benjamin and Sarah (THOMPSON) Brown.

      Asa B. Brown mentioned above was the son of Bernard and Elizabeth (DABNEY) Brown, he was the cousin of and brother in law of Beverly A. Brown, he married Judith Mariah (BROWN) who was the sister of John Garland Brown, Mariah Brown was the daughter of Garland Brown the son of Benajah Brown and Martha “Patsy” (BRANSFORD) Brown and was the grandson of Benjamin and Sarah (THOMPSON) Brown of Albemarle, Louisa, Hanover and New Kent counties.

      Keith Brown

  4. Ed Miller / Feb 8 2013 7:07 pm

    The building was dismantled after the Civil War and the local residents got part of the building materials. I have several dozen of the triangular brick from the building. I own the property across the side road from the old Institute. The house was built for Susan Cobb, an instructor at the Institute and it is one of the buildings that is part of the area designated as a Virginia Historic Landmark. I have an original tin plate picture taken of the Institute Store that was operated by Oscar West and my great grandfather William Isaiah England. I have other very old pictures of the area if anyone is interested.

    • Joanne Yeck / Feb 8 2013 8:07 pm

      I would be very interested in seeing any and all old pictures of the Institute and surrounding buildings. I’m also intrigued that the main building was dismantled. I can certainly understand need for materials after the war. Did the remains burn? Or is that not accurate? Many thanks, Ed, for your comments. If you’d like to discuss this further off the blog, please email me at

    • Keith Brown / Dec 31 2018 11:20 am

      Hi Ed, I have a GG grandfather named Asa (Brightberry) Brown who is pictured along with several other men in taken on the porch of the Institute Store. This is the only know picture of my grandfather known to exist. I would be very interested in obtaining a copy of that picture or other pictures in Buckingham Co. Benajah Brown, Garland Brown and Asa Brown all grandfathers lived in Buckingham Co after leaving Albemarle Co Virginia

      • Joanne Yeck / Dec 31 2018 12:44 pm

        Keith, Thanks for stopping in at Slate River Ramblings and for your comment about the photo of the Institute Store. While I can’t help with any photos of the Brown family, there is lots to explore here in the archive. Happy History Hunting ~ Joanne

      • Vickie Burns / Dec 31 2018 3:23 pm

        Thanks Joanne for the information. Another question I had was about Samuel Jones, listed as one of the founders of the College. I believe it to be my Mary Win(g)field Jones grandfather. I have no information other than his name. Thanks for your help.

      • Joanne Yeck / Jan 1 2019 9:01 am

        Vickie, I’ve made a note about Samuel Jones and his connection to the Institute. Keep hunting! Joanne

      • Bill Davidson / Jan 1 2019 12:09 pm

        It appears to me that the Benjamin Brown family that included Brightberry Brown of Albemarle/Buckingham Co., VA is represented by DNA “Group 8” at the Brown DNA Project (through Family Tree DNA). Any living male Brown who believes that he is out of that overall Brown family could take the Y DNA test to see if his Y DNA matches “Group 8.” By the way, Happy New Year to all!

      • Paul White / Jan 2 2019 10:59 am

        Dear Joanne: I just re-read your reply to my post in 2013. I had overlooked that your ancestor had contributed to one of John Chapman Blackwell’s obituaries. I have a couple of the newspaper clippings of these, but they did not clip the reference to the publication. Which one did he do, and do you have a copy?

      • Joanne Yeck / Jan 2 2019 11:32 am

        Thanks for stopping in. I will have to dig a little but believe I may have a publication citation for you. I’ll send what find by email. More soon,

      • Joanne Yeck / Jan 4 2019 12:35 pm

        I have two clippings of obituaries for John Chapman Blackwell, one was co-written by my ancestor John T. L. Woodson. The other authors were W. B. Loving and John R. Agee. All were Freemasons in the Taylor Lodge, Buckingham County. I found these at the Virginia Historical Society, many years ago. They may have been in a vertical file for Dr. Blackwell. Looking at my photocopy, they were either pasted in a scrape book or, perhaps, a Bible. The publication sources are not identified.
        Good luck! Joanne

  5. Clai Bachmann / Jan 23 2013 4:29 pm

    My Great Grandmother, Eliza Francis Claiborne Otley, and her sister, Laura Virginia Claiborne Reed, attended the Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute. Their father, John – sometime between the mid to late 1840’s and early 1850’s taught there and also held some administrative position. Thereafter he started and ran his own school for boys until 1859 when the family, including his wife Sara Ann Bransford and five daughters left for Nashville, TN.

    I suspect that he attended the Physic Spring Academy (?) run by Garland Brown as that gentleman was married to Martha Bransford a sister of Robert Bransford who was the father of Sara Ann Bransford. Following Robert’s divorce from Jane Hill and death (he had moved to Alabama) Sara Ann was taken in by the Garland Browns. I suspect that is where Sara Ann could have met John T. Claiborne.

    I’d appreciate any information on who Jane Hill’s parents were.

    • Joanne Yeck / Jan 23 2013 5:36 pm

      Thank you very much for this comment.

      I have just begun to research John T. Claiborne’s Academy and am planning a post or perhaps an article about schools and academies in Buckingham. I have the WPA survey for the Claiborne Academy and found it in operation on the 1850 census. So, John had left the Institute and gone on his own by 1850.

      Do you know the years the Claiborne sisters attended the Institute?

      I’m not familiar with Jane Hill; however, I descend from Martha Robertson Bransford who married John B. Agee in 1811. So, we are Bransford cousins.

  6. Bill Davidson / Jan 11 2013 12:03 pm

    The 1850 Buckingham Co., VA census showed that one of the residents of this school was Mary Davidson, age 14, born in Virginia. There is a reasonable chance that she was a member of my overall Davidson family (some “branches” of which had been in Buckingham since its creation from Albemarle Co., VA in 1761).

    • Joanne Yeck / Jan 11 2013 12:11 pm

      Bill, Thanks for pointing out that the girls at The Institute are enumerated on the 1850 census. In upcoming posts, I’ll be discussing some of the girls and their lives before and after their collegiate education. These students were not only from Buckingham County, but also from all over Virginia.

      • Keith Brown / Dec 3 2019 5:05 pm

        These are some stories I have collected over the years which pertains to people related to our Brown family and those who moved into Buckingham County.

        Civil War at “Headquarters” — Brown’s Gap

        The Daily Progress, Charlottesville Virginia
        Thursday afternoon, Oct. 14, 1954

        Looking Back
        by Vera V. Via

        Eighty nine years have passed since the close of the Civil War, but it is still not forgotten here in the South. Even two world wars, when Southern boys fought side-by-side with “Yankees,” have not wiped out the psychological effects of the War left on the people of the South. It must have been bewildering to the North to see a defeated people cling to the memories of hardship, as the South has, for the South produced just as many memoirs of the war as the North did. In fact, it may have produced more.
        These make interesting reading, and information on local history can be gleaned from many of them. We are in debt to John R. Brown, who owned a copy of the memoirs of Lucy Blanch Brown McCrum, for the following Civil War anecdotes. When Lucy Blanch Brown, who later married a McCrum, was eight years old, her father Bernard L. Brown, and his family were living at Beverly, which is now in West Virginia. The War broke out, and like many other people he felt the struggle would not last long, and differing from his neighbors on the question of slavery, he felt it best to bring his family back to Albemarle to “Headquarters,” then the home of Thomas H. Brown, his uncle.
        West Virginia did not go with the rest of Virginia, so many who did not agree with the position of the Western Counties left. Bernard L. Brown left early in the War.
        But the journey to Albemarle was a long one by buggy, and they were some days on the way. They stopped at friends’ homes along the away, one of these being a Mr. Moses Hutton, with whom they took dinner. While there they met a young ministerial student who was boarding in the neighborhood, by the name of Blake. Among the group of servants they brought to Albemarle was a colored man, and it was noted that he and Blake had a long talk before the group again started on their way. After they were some distance on their way, Blake rode pass them and when he came to the colored man, who rode behind the buggy in which her mother and Father rode, he said to the darkie, “Are you ready? Then give me your hand on it.” He then went to the head of the horses and took hold of the bridle. All the children began to scream, but the oldest girl, Addie, rose up and pointed a loaded cane at him, and told him to stop or she would shoot. Blake had seen them load the cane, and had tried unsuccessfully to get his hands on it while still at the Hutton home.
        This stopped him for the moment, and the children screams brought some soldiers camped nearby. On seeing them Blake fled. The soldiers promised to catch him if they could, but the Brown’s family saw no more of him.
        She also related that while crossing the Allegheny Mountain, Scott’s Regiment overtook them on the retreat from the battle of Rich Mountain. The Browns had a very spirited horse hitched with their old family horse, and as the marching soldiers passed they were forced very near the edge of the cliff along which the road ran. The glitter of the army equipment frightened the spirited horse, which threatened to spill them over the edge of the cliff.
        The commanding officer advised them to get out until the danger was passed, and all obeyed except the mother, who insisted on staying with her husband, who was driving, and she held her youngest child, Clarence, in her arms.
        Then a soldier stepped from the ranks and said to her that if she would insist on being killed, to let him hold the child. She’d allowed this, and the soldier marched along beside the carriage carrying the baby until the danger was past.
        Later, while visiting a relative in Buckingham County with her mother and father, she dined at the home of Walter Ayers Ford, and during the meal one of Col. Ford’s sons, William by name, mentioned that while retreating from the battle of Rich Mountain, he had carried a baby in his arms.
        Mrs. Brown spoke up and said, “this is the child, and I am the mother.”
        By slow traveled they at last reached “Headquarters” and Albemarle, and she described the fine water there which was piped in from the mountain. She also describes some of the hardships Albemarle people suffered during the war. She says, “While in Albemarle and during the War my clothing for the most part was home spun. I had a black and blue dress for Sunday, I had one other best one, which I wore only on very special occasions. Once when we thought the “Yankees” were coming, it was donned, not to meet the Yankees but for fear something might happen to it. In the excitement I fell over a fence into a briar patch, and when extricated myself, the dress was ruined.”
        This coming of the “Yankees” was evidently when Stonewall Jackson crossed over the Brown’s Gap Turnpike. In the excitement, the troops were first mistaken for Yankees. Ruining a dress in such a manner would be tragic for small girl at any time but at that time it was a disaster, as a dress could not be replaced. Home spun was the only available cloth, at least for country people, and by the end of the War, even that was not available.
        This family was one of the many that drifted almost homeless during the war from one place to another visiting relatives and friends, and moving on as the army swept over them, until near the end there was no place to go. Some were set adrift by having their homes burned, and others like this Brown’s family returned to their native County, because of their beliefs.
        This section of Albemarle to which they came suffered from the lack of food and clothing, for it was one route to the Valley and soldiers passed through. The homes of that section never turned them away, and several homes in Brown’s Cove were used as hospitals for wounded men. Jackson’s men were fed in many of them.
        When the war was over, there was little food, and little seed to plant. Added to other troubles, Western Albemarle suffered much from the raids of deserters, who ranged the mountains. These were an ever present danger throughout the War and for awhile after it.
        But when it was over, and the long ordeal of Reconstruction had run its course, instead of forgetting, “Lost Cause” has never completely faded, or been brought all the way down to lie and the dust.

        by Vera V. Via

        Tobacco was the king, not only in Virginia, but also here in Albemarle, during colonial times. We recently came across some striking examples of this in papers from the Brown family, who gave their name to the Brown’s Cove section of Albemarle.
        These papers covering in part, the period from around 1745 to well past the Civil War and Reconstruction days. Even a cursory glance over ones from the earlier period gives some idea of the part tobacco played in the lives and fortunes of the Browns.
        The head of this clan was Benjamin Brown, who came from Hanover County. Wood’s History of Albemarle states that he and his sons obtained grants of land in Louisa County before Albemarle was formed. There was no reason why the Browns should have obtained their grants in the mountained other than the fact they preferred it. At that time, by no means all the lands in the lower parts of the county were taken up.
        Their history proves the Browns chose wisely when they discovered the cove in its virgin state and made it their own. They not only carved out homes for themselves, but also built an economic dynasty that is one of the highlights of Albemarle history. The Brown holdings once, extended from the top of the Blue Ridge all the way to “White Hall.” Not all of Benjamin Brown’s eleven children settled in the cove, but Bezaleel, Brightberry, Bernis and Bernard did settle either in the cove or down near White Hall.
        Several other members of the family moved to other sections, one going to Buckingham, and the one with the odd name of Barzillai went to Kentucky. The third generation produced sons that also made Brown’s Cove History.
        Having discovered and moved into the cove, the Browns evidently began growing tobacco almost at once. In fact, judging from the old accounts among the family papers, tobacco was the chief crop, or at least the chief money crop. The cove, of course, produced much of its own food from the first. As with other sheltered coves and valley on the east side of the Blue Ridge, fruit grew in abundance, and from several references to cider among the papers, apples grew there almost naturally. Possible some cotton and flax were also produced, certain enough for home use.
        But it was tobacco which was the basic crop. There were no banks in central Virginia before the Revolution and most business was done through commission merchants, or business houses. The Browns seem to have patronized several such merchants, some in Richmond and others locally. An idea of how business was carried on can be gleaned from these old accounts. Henry Martin Company did business with several of the Browns, and Hudson Martin also served the Browns as a commission merchant.
        From these old accounts, it can be judged that the Browns were prosperous men for their day. One old bill or account of Bernard Brown dated 1786 lists some of the things he bought. The whole thing came to nine pounds, sixteen shilling and three pence. To pay for the order one hogshead of tobacco was delivered, containing 1430 pounds, four shillings and five pence in value. So Mr. Brown had seven pounds, ten shillings and two pence change coming. It is to be doubted he got all of it in cash, but rather it was credited to his account, and at the end of the year there was an accounting and settlement.
        While old accounts of this type may make dull reading to most people, they do give an insight into how people lived, that is much more accurate than any that is handed down by word of mouth from one generated to the next. It would appear from the old accounts of which there were a number covering the period from just after the Revolution to well past the Civil War, that the Browns lived well. Not everybody in Albemarle, and particularly that soon after the Revolution, could have ordered some of the items they did. Their wives and daughters did not have to depend on homespun alone for their clothes. Oznaburg that was listed was doubtless for the slaves. It was a cheap material, and judging from other old accounts we have seen, a great deal of it was used in Albemarle.
        It is a part of Virginia history that tobacco was at one time in the Colonial period, the medium of exchange. A lady who went shopping had the plantation wagon follow her, loaded with tobacco. By the time of the Revolution, of course, English currency was the medium of exchange with some Colonial money, such as personal bills, in wide circulation. After the Revolution, one of the first things the new nation had to do was establish a medium of exchange. There is strong evidence that in Virginia tobacco more or less bridged the gap during this period of readjustment. The English system of pounds, shillings, and pence was still used for some years, but the American dollar currency gradually replaced it. People who were raised and educated on the English system, never entirely adopted the new one. It took a new generation to complete the change over.
        Tobacco continued to be important in Brown’s Cove long after the dollar system was established. A commission merchant in Richmond handled the tobacco for several of the Browns and made regular reports some of which are among the Browns papers. On one occasion the agent was able to pay only $50 on the account of his client, as the tobacco had fallen to an all time low. After the Charlottesville merchants brought in more merchandise, the Browns doubtless did some of their buying there. Living on one of the famous old roads of early Albemarle, they doubtless had the opportunity of viewing the wares of every merchant who passed through.
        Possibly a little tobacco is still grown in the cove for home use, but the great hogshead that were either hauled out by wagon or roded on wooden hops, no longer make their way down the cove to the outside world.


        “After the Battle of Phillippi my father left Beverly with his family and started on the journey to Albemarle County going by Mingo Flats and over the Mountain. We stopped for dinner at Mr. Moses Hutton. There was excitement about a report that the Northern Army was coming down by Elkwater to take Beverly. My father desired to push on so as to not contact the enemy with all of us children. Mr. Hutton sent a negro man with us by the name of Dan and his wagon and team to carry some of us children to the head of the Valley. Ex Governor Johnston was at Mr. Hutton’s while we were there, and a regiment of Virginia soldiers was encamped in the neighborhood. Also a young Ministerial student was at Mr. Hutton’s who was boarding in the neighborhood, by the name of Mr. Blake, who was a northern man. He had been seen talking to the negro man Dan before we started and as we left Mr. Hutton’s. As it was getting dark we passed the home of Mrs. Jane Crouch where the Virginia soldiers were encamped. Mr. Blake rode past our carriage in which both mother and father were riding. Blake remarked to Dan, “Dan, are you alright?” “Yes sah”, replied Dan. “Then give me your hand on it,” said Blake. Blake walked to the front of father’s horses as if to take hold of the bridle of the horses. We children began to scream.
        “Then my oldest sister Addie rose up and pointed a loaded cane at Blake and ordered him to stop right there.
        This loaded cane had belonged to my great uncle John Butcher which he had given to his father, Eli Butcher. John Butcher had brought the cane back from the Mexican War and the cane was being sent to a namesake of Eli Butcher in Virginia.
        Mr. Blake had seen the young people loading the cane while we were at Mr. Hutton’s for dinner, and knowing the cane was loaded Blake halted when he saw it pointed at him. Blake had tried to get the cane while we were at Mr. Hutton’s, but my sister Addie and the others would not let him put his hands on it.
        The screams of us children attracted the attention of the Virginia soldiers, causing aid to be sent to us. Blake, hearing the soldiers approaching, mounted his horse, leaped over a fence and disappeared into the darkness. When the soldiers learned the trouble, they threatened vengeance should they catch him, but we never heard of him again. We believe he was after the reward which had been offered for the apprehension of my father, who had changed his sympathies to the South after John Brown made his raid at Harper’s Ferry.
        We spent a few days at my Uncle Allen Brown at Bridgewater, Va. after a slow long trip from Beverly. Finally we reached Albemarle and Brown’s Cove, stopping near the birthplace of my father.”
        He was a very ingenous man, and being unable to purchase all the conveniences to which his family had been accustomed, with his hands contrived to invent and make for them many things of which they would otherwise have been deprived.
        While residing at “Headquarters” during the Civil War, Bernard L. Brown and his foster father, Thomas Harris Brown, now an elderly man, contrived to manufacture artificial limbs for the maimed Confederate Soldiers, making the wooden parts of such light and strong material that they rivaled those made by the Palmer Manufacturing Company.
        Thomas H. Brown is credited with making the springs and metal parts, while Thomas H. Brown is credited wooden parts. Thomas H. Brown was at this period considered a wealthy man, and he gave the maimed soldiers their board and lodging while they waited for these limbs to be fitted and made. It is stated that both Thomas H. and Bernard L. Brown were completely occupied by this work of mercy during these trying days for which they received little or no returns on their labors.
        Thomas Harris Brown offered for sale in 1820 a “Hillside” plow of his own design; and he gave his address as Brown’s Turnpike. This further supports the writer’s belief that Thomas H. Brown was a man of outstanding mechanical skill, which made the manufacture of artificial limbs within the scope of his ability.
        Woods in his History of Albemarle County states, “This family of Browns from their early settlement, their prominent part in Public affairs, the high character generally prevalent among them, and the lasting impression they have made on the natural scenery of the county is one of the most noted in its history.”
        Having quoted at length from the memoirs of Lucy Blanche Brown McCrum, I think it only proper to give in conclusion a very interesting story from her writings. (She was born at Beverly, West Va, August 10, 1853). “My father’s people in Albemarle were very dear and kind to me and I loved them all, but my life there was rather monotonous as I had no children of my age (about 8 years) with which to play. The young people would often gather together as was the custom and ride horseback for miles going from one place to another for amusement visiting friends and relatives according to the old time custom of Southern Hospitality, especially during the Holidays. My brother was always taken with them, and he was a most willing escort. This was much to his advantage as he was thus thrown in the most cultivated homes, and as long as he lived he reflected this in his manner. I was kept much to myself and became a quiet and thoughtful child with not much to break the monotony of life. I learned to sew and knit before I was ten, and much of my time was spent in plaiting straw to make my little brothers’ hats, as well as my own.
        My own clothing during the most part of the War was “Home Spun.” I had a black and blue dress for Sunday, or second best, and one for weekdays, I had one other best one, which I wore only on very special occasions. Once when we thought the Yankees were coming the best dress was donned, not to meet the Yankees, but for fear that something might happen to it. In the excitement I fell over a fence into a briar patch and ruined it. (The soldiers were coming and it was very possibly Stonewall Jackson’s crossing Brown’s Gap.) I still had my blue cotton after I went to Buckingham County to attend the Buckingham Institute and once I thought I would finish the old faithful blue cotton so I climbed into a tree, which was a plum tree and “accidentally” fastened my dress on a thorn and then fell out of the tree. To my chagrin when I looked at my dress, I had a hole in it only big enough to put my fingers into, and I still had the same faithful black and blue when Lee surrendered, and I continued until that time to be a martyr to “The Home Spun Dress.
        (Lucy Blanche Brown McCrum)

  7. Joanne Yeck / Jan 10 2013 9:14 pm

    All of these questions and more will be answered in future posts. The grand building burned, as did so many of Buckingham’s structures. There are some photographs but, to my knowledge, not of this building. More to come!

  8. Steven / Jan 10 2013 9:05 pm

    What happened to this grand building? How long did it operate? Why that site? Any photographs?

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