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September 19, 2013 / Joanne Yeck

Remembering Summers in Buckingham County

wpa_fruitstore

Recently, Thomas Archer Saunders, Jr. commented at Slate River Ramblings, remembering his summer experiences in Buckingham County.  Tom’s mother, Lucille Davidson Saunders, is the daughter of Benjamin “Ovid” Davidson, of Davidson’s Orchard. During World War II, Ovid hired German POWs and owned two paintings made by a prisoner who signed his work Pet. Schmitz.  One was a painting of Mount Vernon; the other was of Monticello.

For those of you who wanted more details about the peaches grown in the county, here is what Tom had to say:

Regarding Davidson’s Orchard, I worked there each summer during the peach harvest in the mid 60′s, probably from 1963-1966. I would spend most of the month of August there “helping out,” but sometimes just getting in the way.

Someone asked about the varieties of peaches that were raised. They included Georgia Belles (a free stone white meat peach that bruised easily, but were highly prized by many for their flavor), Elbertas (a yellow free stone peach – they had more of these trees than any other variety), Redskin (a few of these – they got ripe earlier than the Georgia Belles or Elbertas) and a Jones peach that was a new variety (the Jones peach was a free stone yellow meat peach that grew larger than the Elbertas and had less fuzz, making it much more attractive to the eye).

When I helped out there I had very little appreciation for the hard work it took to make a living raising peaches and apples. I look back on my experiences there with much pleasure. I have talked with my cousin, Ellett Snead (also Benjamin Ovid Davidson’s grandson) about writing down our memories of the orchard. A lot of good men worked there and there are a lot of good stories we remember. Ellett lived in Fluvanna and grew up at the orchard. I did not grow up in Buckingham, but visited often.

As you know, the orchard cold storage building, equipment sheds, grading shed etc. were located on US 15 between Avon and Dillwyn. The time I spent there was before the days of the interstate highway system. Davidson’s Orchard was a popular stopping place of many out of state travelers heading south to Florida or into the northeast. It also drew customers from all over central VA.

The Davidson brothers advertised on WRVA radio in Richmond. It was always a big deal when the radio station came to visit. Local folks bought peaches and apples by the bushel. Many of them canned the peaches. A bushel of Jones peaches went for $5.00, the Georgia Belles $4.00 and the Elbertas $3.50. A large portion of the harvest was sold to the public from the cold storage location on US 15, but part of the crop was also sold by the tractor trailer load to ice cream companies, baby food companies and grocery stores. Less desirable peaches or those that had gotten too ripe were trucked to a company in Petersburg that used them to make peach wine.

9 Comments

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  1. Freida Kay Newton LeSueur Hensley / May 3 2014 2:25 pm

    My father, John Elijah Newton, ran the store at Davidson’s Orchard for 28 years. I have fond memories of the Davidson’s. They were like my extended family–“Mr. Day”(as I called William),
    “Aunt Ruth”(Mrs. Davidson), “Grandma Day”(Susie), Scott and JoAnn. They were wonderful
    friends to my family and I stayed over at their house more than mine. The orchard had a booming business during peach and apple season. I was very fortunate to spend my childhood there.

    • Joanne Yeck / May 3 2014 4:55 pm

      Thanks for adding your memories to the conversation! Joanne

  2. Bill Davidson / Sep 21 2013 11:51 am

    By the way, I show the apparent lineage of Mrs. Lucille (Davidson) Sauders as:

    1 David Davidson, Senior (died 1687 in James City Co., VA) + Sarah Unknown

    Note: David “Senior” was born in Holland, per his surviving naturalization document dated 1686, and he owned land in JCCo by at least 1682 (per a deed where his son David “Junior” obtained his deceased father’s land). This/my Davidson family has the DNA haplogroup of “I1,” which some show as being representative of a “Viking heritage.”

    2 David Davidson, Junior (died about 1756 in Charles City Co., VA) + Unknown wife

    3 Hezekiah Davidson (died about 1793 in Cumberland Co., VA) + Tabitha Childers

    4 Philemon Davidson (died about 1810 in Cumberland Co., VA) + Mary “Mollie” Unknown (but perhaps Mary Boatwright, per some clues)

    5 Reuben F. Davidson (died 1846 in Cumberland Co., VA) + Lucy Peaseley

    6 Joseph Cornelius Davidson (died 1891 in Manchester City….the Chesterfield County/Richmond, VA area) + Vitula Monroe Sandidge (whose apparent younger brother was named Thomas OVID Sandridge)

    Note: Joseph Cornelius Davidson moved from Cumberland Co., VA to Buckingham Co., VA around 1859 to be an overseer for the Moseley family. Y chromosome DNA testing has shown that the Edward, David and William Davidson who were in Buckingham back when it was created from a portion of Albemarle Co., VA in 1761 (they were on the 1764 Buckingham tithe list) were also part of this/my overall Davidson family out of James City Co., VA.

    7 Eli Banton Davidson (died 1930 in Buckingham Co., VA) + Lucy Alice Nuckols (Eli’s second wife was Maria Louise Norvell).

    Note: My great-grandfather Thomas Archer Davidson “I” was Eli’s younger brother.

    8 Clarence Ovid Davidson (died 1941 in Buckingham Co., VA) + Susie Henrietta Nuckols

    9 Benjamin Ovid Davidson (died 1978 in Buckingham Co., VA) + Mildred Ellen Jones

    10 Lucille Beckwith Davidson + Dr. Thomas Archer Sanders

    • Joanne Yeck / Sep 21 2013 11:57 am

      Thanks, Bill. This may be of great help to a Davidson descendant.

  3. Bill Davidson / Sep 19 2013 12:16 pm

    My nephew now owns the large “Davidson brick house”…as well as the separate brick “orchard store” that is next-door (that would make a real nice large garage and/or workshop, in my opinion)….that are on what was once the Davidson Orchard property on Rt. 15. He would like to sell the home and store as a “package deal” (and I believe that a realtor has the property listed on behalf of my nephew). Those structures are now on two separate side-by-side plots of land, which total only about 3 acres (all of the other original Davidson Orchard property is in other hands now). My nephew rented the house to others for a while, but some of the tenants were less than “honorable” (failed to make rent payments, damaged the property, etc.). The “store” had also been rented to others (used as their residence) for quite some time. So….if anyone wants to own “a piece of Buckingham history,” the referenced property is available (last that I heard, anyway).

    • Joanne Yeck / Sep 19 2013 12:21 pm

      Thanks, Bill. A Slate River Ramblings reader just might want to own a piece of Buckingham history!

  4. Faye Shumaker / Sep 19 2013 11:43 am

    the peaches at Davidson’s Orchard remain the best I have ever eaten. It was a real treat for my family to make a tripto the Orchard and my grandmother always canned those wonderful peaches and also made peach ice cream. We lived in Manteo – about 30 miles away and it was a real outing to visit with the great folks that ran the Orchard. It was very sad when all the trees were taken down and pines planted. Passing through there today, you would never know what a wonderful orchard grew along Rt 15.

    • Joanne Yeck / Sep 19 2013 12:00 pm

      Faye, Thanks for your memories of the Davidson Orchard peaches.

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