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August 5, 2013 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham County Migrations: Aunt Jane


The Capitol, Richmond, VA

The following story appeared in the Alexandria Gazette on July 11, 1899. Today, while the terms “Aunt” and “colored” are anachronisms, in 1899, they were terms of respect.  This warm, human interest story about Jane’s experience in Richmond is testament to that.   It also reminds us that as little as forty yards can separate worlds of experience.

AUNT JANE’S FIRST VISIT. – Aunt Jane is the cook at the Governor’s mansion, in Richmond, a position she has filled for three Governors in succession.  Yet never until yesterday has Aunt Jane been inside the Capitol, not forty yards from the door of the mansion.  Aunt Jane was on the point of making her annual pilgrimage to her old home in Buckingham county, but before starting was induced by old Walker Howard, the colored janitor at the capitol, to allow him to show her through the building.  Walker took her to the top of the building and pointed out places of interest “Aunt Jane” had never before heard of.  She freely confessed that the janitor of “Revolutionary fame” was the smartest man she ever met.  This old cook has served under the administrations of Governors McKinney, O’Ferrall and Tyler.

Governor McKinney, of course, was also Buckingham born.  Did the McKinney family bring Jane to Richmond when he became Governor in 1890?  Can anyone identify Jane’s surname or her family connections in Buckingham County?

The Virginia Governors served by Jane:

Governor McKinney:  1890-1894

Governor O’Ferrall:  1894-1898

Governor Tyler:  1898-1902

Click here for more about Phillip Watkins McKinney.

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