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February 9, 2015 / Joanne Yeck

Arvonia: Old Castle

Slate River Ramblings_Old-Castle

Old Castle, Arvonia, 1936

The 1936 story in the Richmond Times-Dispatch continued, describing “The Old Castle,” home to many Welsh immigrants.

“Old Castle” Stands Alone in Barren Quarry

In the midst of the quarries today stands a lonely, shabby old building that through all the years has been “The Old Castle.” There M. E. Jones lived. Here 40 Welsh quarrymen were boarded for a long time.
Here was held the first Sunday School, the first prayer meeting service for the Welsh people are devoted to their religion. They are fond of singing hymns, and reciting poetry, and have meetings called “Eisteddfods,” where they enjoy competing in these two activities.
When the services grew too large for the Old Castle to hold the attendance, loyal hearts solicited funds to build the first church, a little chapel that held 300 persons, strangely, yet appropriately called “Bethel.”
As the years passed, old age came on the most robust, as well as the frailer flesh, and so they began to lay these “strangers within a strange land” within the shadow of the little chapel. There must have been many a pang of longing for the hills of the Landberis (sic), Wales, from which many had come as these sojourners felt the end drawing near.
Walking in the silent rooms of the “Old Castle,” one thinks of the many reunions that took place there, as kindred and friends came over to join their loved ones. What eager inquiries, what tender reminiscence, what sacred confidences exchanged. But its walls are as quiet as the grave, so far as any revelation of those days long past are concerned.

Recognize “Old Castle”?  If so, please comment.

Note: The article is unsigned; however, it is reminiscent of the prose of Buckingham County historian Lulie Patteson.

8 Comments

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  1. nancy baldwin / Feb 21 2015 10:29 pm

    This is such a touching post for me, I guess because some of those people were more than likely some of my people. How courageous they were.

    • Joanne Yeck / Feb 22 2015 3:32 am

      Nancy, Thanks for your thoughtful comment. Men and women from Wales added much to Buckingham County’s history. Joanne

  2. Vikki Milam / Feb 18 2015 11:08 am

    My mother and her 8 bother and sisters were raised in that house for a time.

    • Joanne Yeck / Feb 18 2015 12:18 pm

      Vikki, Can you locate the house for us and give us approximate dates that your mother and her siblings lived there? Were they born in Virginia? Or did they come from Wales? Many thanks for your comment. Joanne

      • Vikki Milam / Mar 27 2016 6:14 pm

        Joanne, I am so sorry I do not have much information for you. I asked my mother what year that they lived there at the Old Castle, but she was young and she could not remember the dates. But my Grandfather (her father) worked in the slate quarry with the Welsh men. My mother and her brother & sisters were all born in Buckingham County, Va. They were from German descendants.

  3. Joanne Yeck / Feb 9 2015 11:15 am

    Thanks, Lynn. It is a very interesting cemetery. Worth visiting!

  4. Lynne Henshaw / Feb 9 2015 10:50 am

    There is a cemetery next to a church in Arvonia (Arvonia Memorial) where these folks were laid to rest. There is much good information about them on the tombstones. Included on many is the birth place in Wales of the interred. They died in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

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