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June 9, 2013 / Joanne Yeck

Virginia Currents: The Boatwright House

Virginia Currents_Boatwright House

Courtesy Virginia Currents

In June of 2009, an episode of the Virginia Public Television newsmagazine, Virginia Currents, featured a segment about the dismantling of Buckingham County’s Boatwright House.  In the 1850s, this was the home of John T. Claiborne, founder of Oak Grove Academy and, later, was the property of Dr. Frederic William Boatwright.

Dr. Boatwright (born in White Sulphur Springs, WV, 28 January 1868) was the oldest child of Rev. Reuben Baker Boatwright and Maria Elizabeth (Woodruff) Boatwright and was elected President of Richmond College on December 11, 1894, serving until June of 1946.



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  1. Sheila Boatright-Kelley / Nov 18 2016 11:03 pm

    I am a Boatright and I’m sure that I am kin but just not sure how.

    • Joanne Yeck / Nov 19 2016 7:05 am

      Thanks for visiting Slate River Ramblings. The Boatwright family contributed much to the history of Buckingham County.

  2. ray monroe sr. / Sep 20 2016 1:27 am

    My family came off the boatwright plantation.I want to know about it.If it true or not My gx6 or so.Change his last name to wright.He said he didn’t like the last name boatwright.Because he was a slave.Back then you took the last name of the plantation It was the old apple orahard in dillwyn.

    • Joanne Yeck / Sep 20 2016 8:00 am

      Ray, Many thanks for your comment. It is true that many newly emancipated slaves took the name of their most recent owner. Many others, however, picked a surname that was meaningful to them. As more research is done on plantation life, we are learning that many slaves used surnames for decades before emancipation and these were not the name of their owner in 1865. Joanne

  3. Diane Apperson / Jun 16 2013 1:31 pm

    To all interested in the Boatwright family I highly recommend going to the Housewright House museum at Buckingham and reading “The Ancestry of the Cole and Boatwright Families” compiled by Marvin F. Cole in 2004. He donated a copy to the museum. This is filled with information and pictures of the Cole & Boatwright families including the families they married into: Andersons, Putneys, Hudgins, etc. It also includes alot of information about Mt. Zion Baptist Church in New Canton. Many Boatwrights and their descendents are buried in the church cemetery. Nearby is Social Hall, formerly a Boatwright home, there’s a family cemetery there.

    Reuben Boatwright, Sr (b. 3/21/1762 in Prince Edward County) married Lucy Pennick ( b. 4/2/1767 ) of Prince Edward County in July of 1785. Marvin Cole states in his family history that Reuben Boatwright, Sr. served as a soldier in the Revolution under General Washington. He was wounded at Yorktown and was present when Cornwallis surrendered. A few years after Yorktown, Reuben and his wife moved to Buckingham. They accumulated a large tract of land, built Social Hall and raised their family there. This is near Mt. Zion Baptist Church in the northeast corner of Buckingham, not too far from the James river and the Cumberland county line. Reuben and Lucy had 12 children, 6 boys & 6 girls.

    The book is very interesting and filled with family connections, dates and pictures. Hope this helps any that have a Boatwright connection.

    • Joanne Yeck / Jun 16 2013 1:34 pm

      Diane, Many thanks for taking the time to post this about the Boatwright family, Social Hall, and Marvin Cole’s family history. Soon, I’ll post more about Social Hall.

  4. Steven G. Meeks / Jun 9 2013 9:31 pm

    What happened to the house after it was dismantled?

    • Joanne Yeck / Jun 10 2013 8:21 am

      All I know is what was expressed in the “Virginia Currents” segment. As I recall, that was the intent to rebuild it somewhere in Albemarle County.

  5. Mary Carolyn Steger Mitton / Jun 9 2013 12:55 pm

    Carolyn E. Boatwright (John Baker, Reuben Baker, Reuben, …), born 1917, was one of my mother’s closest friends. I proudly carry “Carolyn” as my middle name, in honor of her. I spent an all too short visit with her, when she resided in a Dillwyn nursing home.

    • Joanne Yeck / Jun 9 2013 1:37 pm

      How delightful to learn that your Carolyn namesake was a Boatwright!

  6. Bill Davidson / Jun 9 2013 12:07 pm

    While I certainly have no proof, I would not be surprised if the wife of my gggg-grandfather Philemon Davidson (Philemon died in Cumberland Co., VA around 1810) named Mrs. Mary “Molly” Davidson (she died in the mid-1820s in Cumberland) was a Miss Boatwright from that same family. There was a land deed for 100 acres in the late-1700s between my Davidson family and Daniel Boatwright, and the two families were neighbors in Cumberland Co. VA. My ggg-grandfather was named Reuben F. Davidson, and he had siblings that included Joseph Davidson and Judith Davidson. The given names of “Reuben,” “Joseph” and “Judith” were also used in the Boatwright family (and there is no apparent earlier use of any of those three given names in any branch of my overall Davidson family). Maybe someday I can prove or refute the above “Davidson/Boatwright connection.”

    Reuben F. Davidson’s son named Joseph Cornelius Davidson (my gg-grandfather) left Cumberland and moved to Buckingham Co., VA around 1859, and he became an overseer for one of the Moseley plantations there.

    • Joanne Yeck / Jun 9 2013 12:42 pm

      Thanks, Bill. The Davidsons and the Boatwrights certainly lived in the same area of Buckingham County and, like so many of our families living along Hwy 15, flowed across the county line to and from Cumberland County.

  7. Calvin Eaton, (descendant of John T. L. Woodson and distant relative of Betty Hamner) / Jun 9 2013 10:08 am

    John-Boy Walton went to fictional “Boatwright College”, named in Dr Boatwright’s honor by Richmond College alumnus Earl Hamner.

    • Joanne Yeck / Jun 9 2013 10:10 am

      I did not know that! Thanks. Now we all know the connection.

      • Steven G. Meeks / Jun 9 2013 9:30 pm

        Are you too young to remember the Walton’s?

      • Joanne Yeck / Jun 10 2013 8:22 am

        What a nice comment. I am not too young to remember the Waltons. You can look forward to a Waltons post coming soon . . .

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