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March 21, 2013 / Joanne Yeck

Amusement in Buckingham: 1861-1865

The Virginia Reel The Virginia Reel by Maude A. Cowles

Among the Buckingham County-related manuscripts held at the Library of Virginia is a speech given in 1937 entitled “The Contribution of Buckingham [County] to the Confederacy.”  Delivered before the United Daughters of the Confederacy, the manuscript is unsigned and attributed to William Shepard.

In his speech, Shepard described good times Buckingham-style.  These types of country entertainment lasted through the 19th century and well into the 20th century.

Dancing, card playing, foxhunting and horse racing, as elsewhere in Virginia, were the principal diversions of the young people.  In addition to dances held in private homes, Buckingham possessed several summer resorts.  Among there were: Buckingham Sulphur Springs and Physick [a.k.a. Physic] Springs, where the sick and afflicted gathered in substantial hotels – entire family frequently occupied cottages.  At Spreading Oak dancing was held in the open under a large tree.

An irritated Methodist clergyman of this period wrote that “If as much energy were used in Buckingham in prayer as in dancing, it would be a citadel of the saints.  Wherever I went there were fiddles going and houses rocking, and on the tables lay dusty Bibles.”

Coming soon: More about Buckingham Springs


Leave a Comment
  1. Linda / Mar 23 2013 9:37 am

    My Buckingham County (New Canton) family played a card game in the 30’s and 40’s called “Racehorse”. It is a variation of Canasta. There is an extra stack of cards for each player that are set aside at the beginning of the game and can be picked up to add to your hand after you have made two canastas. We still play this game once in awhile when we get together. Has anyone ever heard of this version?

    • Joanne Yeck / Mar 23 2013 9:46 am

      Linda, Racehorse is new to me. Canasta was very popular as was Cribbage. Canasta is a relatively new card game (introduced c. 1940), probably a variation of 500 Rummy (also very popular at one time).

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