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May 2, 2013 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Notables: Slate River Academy Alumnus

James Nimmo Ellis

James Nimmo Ellis

James Nimmo Ellis (1863-1931) was born in Buckingham County on March 6, 1863.  His parents were Richard Skelton Ellis of Richmond and Anne Fearn Perkins of “Solitude,” Buckingham County.  His great-grandfather was Dr. William Perkins.

Ellis grew up at “Afton” and attended Slate River Academy, eventually leaving Buckingham to attend the University of Nashville and receive his M.D. from the Medical College of Virginia in 1889. From 1889-1896, he practiced medicine in Richmond, Virginia, at the Medical College of Virginia and the University College of Medicine. He studied in Vienna, Berlin, London, and Paris. In 1889, Ellis was elected a fellow of the Medical Society of Virginia and, eventually, married Miss Leila Venable of Atlanta, Georgia.

From Slate River Academy to studying in European capitals is quite a narrative arc! Today, his personal papers are collected at Emory University in Atlanta.

Ellis’ presence at Slate River Academy c. 1875 indicates it survived the Civil War and was still operating well into the 1870s. Currently, it is unknown when Slate River Academy closed; however, the rise of public education in Virginia during the 1870s decreased the need for so many regional, private schools.

If you know of other graduates of Slate River Academy and/or have knowledge about the final days of the school, please write to me here or at


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  1. Harry Stuart Holman / Jul 18 2013 8:02 pm

    Dear Ms. Trumbull,

    Please accept my apology for this tardy response which is the result of having just found your inquiry concerning the Sheperds. I am very impressed to find a descendant of James Galt of Point of Fork. His home was outstandingly beautiful. His niece was very highly regarded by my father who affectionately called her “Cousin Anna.” She was a true Southern lady of gentility and refinement–a true Christian.

    I regret I know nothing about the Sheperds of Fluvanna. They don’t seem to connect to my folks. My father’s first “boss” was a Mr. Sheperd of “Mt. View,” Palmyra. I remember his home very distinctly , and I recall my father speaking of him with much reverence.

    Harry Stuart Holman

    • Mary Trumbull / Jul 19 2013 12:30 pm

      Thank you for your response. In genealogy, you just keep asking and sometimes you find someone who knows what you are looking for. I wish you luck in your endeavors. If you are interested in the Galts, I will be glad to share

      Mary Trumbull

  2. Harry Stuart Holman / May 6 2013 7:46 pm

    Dear Ms. Trumbull,

    My Holmans became situated until recently at their country home, “Greenwood,” one mile east of Cartersville, in Cumberland County. Their kinsman Ambrose Ford owned the property along James River, and their property bordered his on the side away from the River.

    Their connection with Fluvanna was the Holman family at Bremo, who moved there about 1800. Capt. George Holman married Polly Jordan Cocke of “Spring Garden.” The family has been in close connection over the years. These Holmans in Fluvanna include Dr. George Payne Holman of Bremo, who graduated from Yale early in the nineteenth century. His son was Judge William Henry Holman of “Edgewood,” Bremo Bluff, Virginia, who married Anna Harrison Galt of “Glen Arvon.,” a collateral descendant of Pres. William Henry Harrison. They had a couple of daughters and one son living in Fluvanna until the mid-1950’s.

    Harry Stuart Holman

    • Mary Fleming Trumbull / May 6 2013 8:22 pm

      Mr. Holman

      Actually, Judge William Henry Holman married 2 of my cousins on my father’s line. He first married Lucy Mumford Galt in 1864. She died in 1873. He then married her sister Anna Harrison Galt in 1874 and they had 10 children. Lucy and Anna were daughters of William Galt. William was the brother of my GG Grandfather James of Point of Fork.

      But… the connection that I am looking for is to my mothers line… the Shepherds. I have gotten back to Holman R. Shepherd 1813-1883 in Fluvanna County. I found one mention that his parents were William and Mary M. Shepherd. I can not figure out who this William is and thought I might find out more by looking at the Holman line… (maybe Mary M. was a Holman). Any help will be most appreciated.

      Mary Trumbull

  3. Mary Fleming Trumbull / May 3 2013 6:28 pm

    Thank you soooo much for this post. I have been working on my family history for many years and now that I am retired, I spend most of my time “searching” for more… It is quite addictive. You gave me quite a few additions to my records. Thank You!!!!

    • Joanne Yeck / May 3 2013 8:10 pm

      Great news! Good hunting!

  4. Harry Stuart Holman / May 3 2013 12:29 am

    Dear Reader,

    This is a most interesting account concerning one of our noble Buckingham sons. His father appears to be Richard Shelton Ellis who married the daughter of William H. Perkins. Through research amongst nearly forgotten private papers by Dr. J. L. Yeck, we learn that Dr. Ellis’ Grandfather Perkins was a Justice in Buckingham before his early death. He served along with my great-great grandfather William Holman of “Humanity Hall” when they were working together to build the county’s Poor House. The contractor was George Chambers–ancestor of Dr. Yeck.

    It is also interesting to note that William H. Perkins was the brother of Sallie Perkins who married Arthur Moseley of “Wheatland,” Buckingham County. This is the family that produced Nancy Moseley who married Capt. Seymour Wright Holman, Esq.–great-greandfather of the now famous Joanne Herring, who was so aptly portrayed in the recent film “Charlie Wilson’s War” by the lovely Julia Roberts.

    Harry Stuart Holman

    • Joanne Yeck / May 3 2013 7:37 am

      Thank you, Harry. You can’t turn around in Buckingham County without bumping into a cousin!

    • Mary Fleming Trumbull / May 3 2013 6:32 pm

      Mr. Holman,
      Do you have any connection to a Holman R. Shepherd (1813-1883) in Fluvanna, son of William and Mary Shepherd who married 1st Jane R. Smith and 2nd Mary Louise Webb. I cannot seem to get past this generation.

    • Kathie / May 14 2013 6:42 pm

      I have been asked as a volunteer of “FindAGrave” to photograph the Wheatland family cemetery of the Moseley’s. Could any of you give me directions to this cemetery? I found a transcription from 1938 describing the cemetery on USGENWeb but have not had much success with some of the old directions as new roads have changed so many places since the 1930’s.

      • Joanne Yeck / May 14 2013 9:33 pm

        Kathie, later this week, I can look up the Wheatland cemetery in Buckingham Burials. I see that some of the graves are already available at “FindAGrave” and they reference Hwy. 647. See

      • Kathie / May 15 2013 12:39 pm

        Joanne, yes, there are several already in FindAGrave. I have been asked to PHOTO any grave markers for those already there. Do you know where this cemetery is located? The last information I could find was from 1938 and I cannot locate the cemetery to take the photos.

      • Joanne Yeck / May 15 2013 7:18 pm

        I don’t know, but I will check some sources and get back to you soon.

      • Joanne Yeck / May 17 2013 12:31 pm

        Kathie, The graves at Wheatland are on private property and I now have information about how to find the cemetery and who to contact about the possibility of photographing the stones. Please write me at for the details.

  5. claibachmann41 / May 2 2013 2:19 pm

    One other notable who you may have already recognized is Dr. Frederick Boatwright. Dr. Boatwright owned the home that had blonged to “Jack”, John Tanner Claiborne in 1840. Dr. Boatwright became the Preident of the University of Richmond. His grand daughter is a close friend of mine. Between ownership of JOhn Claiborne and Frederick Boarwright owners were “Parson” Tom Hall and William C. Hall. The house is located 5.1 miles south of Arvonia, VA on Route #15, thence .2 mil on private road to the house. One record states that John Claiborne held his academy here.

    • Joanne Yeck / May 2 2013 2:26 pm

      Dr. Boatwright and John T. Claiborne, both Buckingham Notables, will have their own posts soon. Thanks!

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