Skip to content
April 28, 2016 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham County in the News


Turn-of-the-century Richmond, Virginia

After reading “The Buckingham Outlaws,” which ran during 2015-2016, several Slate River Ramblings readers wondered . . .

“Can we really believe what was printed in the newspapers?”

“Did the reporters sensationalize the conditions in Arvonia?”

“Were some of the ‘facts’ really fiction?”

Good questions. Whether today or 1900, it is best to read news reports with a critical eye. Sometimes, outrageously false stories are printed. This was once the case with my Buckingham-born ancestor, John T. L. Woodson, who moved to Richmond, Virginia, in 1894.


In the summer of 1905, John T. L. Woodson was one of a reported 7,000 people attending a performance of The Great Payne. On July 22, 1905, Richmond’s The Times-Dispatch ran a story about the evening. The reporter claimed that John had a “miraculous” cure when Payne applied his remedy. The report got Woodson’s name wrong, but his address was correct. The article read, in part:

When Mr. T. L. Woodson, a machinist, of No. 112 Randolph Street, displayed a stiff hand, maimed by machinery, Payne announced his doubt of giving relief, but volunteered to make an application. In two minutes Mr. Woodson was able to use the hand, and shouted his appreciation to the audience, with prolonged applause.

John T. L. Woodson was moved to correct this report and his letter to the editor was printed on July 27, 1905. It read as follows:

Was Not Cured By Payne.

Editor of The Times-Dispatch:

Sir. – Please correct the statement which appeared in Saturday’s Times-Dispatch, under the head of “Great Applause Accorded Payne.” In that article it is stated that Payne, with his marvelous remedy, perfected such a miraculous cure upon me, and that I had acknowledged my appreciation to the audience, all of which is entirely erroneous. As a matter of fact, I did subject my hand to his treatment (one application), but he did not benefit me in the least. From what Payne announced to his audience and from said article it would be construed that my whole hand was disabled, which is not true.

Several years ago I had an attack of inflammatory rheumatism, which affected my whole hand, but it only permanently disabled my index finger. To do justice to your own paper, which you claim to be fair to all – to the medical profession (especially Drs. Carrington and Nelson), who undoubtedly saved my hand – and to the people of Richmond, I request that you give this communication the same prominence which was given Payne in your edition of 22d instant. I am no machinist, nor was my hand injured by machinery, as stated in said article.

Very respectfully


112 Randolph Street

Richmond, Va., July 24th


Next Monday, Slate River Ramblings will begin a new true-crime serial. Get ready for a lengthy and intricate visit to Buckingham County, 1904-1905. “The Famous Forbes Case” will run for over fifty posts.

As with previous serials, reports from several different newspapers will be interwoven. As before, I will occasionally comment on or call into question the “facts” as reported.

Over the coming months, as you read about the Forbes case, with all of its twists and turns, keep in mind John T. L. Woodson’s letter to the editor of The Times-Dispatch and, don’t forget, you can’t believe everything you read in the newspaper!

Missed “The Buckingham Outlaws?” Click here for: The Buckingham Outlaws: Part I


Leave a Comment
  1. Nancy Baldwin / Apr 28 2016 10:59 am

    We are all blessed by your writings!!! For sure!! Looking forward to whatever you share.
    I hope one day you will create a book with all your stories in it, just so we can pass it on. I say “we” hoping that your readers have someone to pass it on to!

    • Joanne Yeck / Apr 28 2016 12:13 pm

      Thank you, Nancy. I hope you will enjoy “The Famous Forbes Case” — starting next Monday. A book focusing on true crimes in Buckingham County would make a fun book. I’m considering it. Joanne

  2. wfcoleman / Apr 28 2016 9:51 am

    Joanne Great story as always.  Just curious what is at 112 Randolph St. Today?  Nice postcard of the area  Thank youBill PS  we are still working on the stories of E.D. and Laura Gregory.  We have not found her grave yet in Southampton but we are getting close.  The research methods I have learned with finding info about the Gregory family is monumental.   Plus I now work with a genealogist that is related to the Gregory family.  So we may write a book someday who knows but that family is very fascinating.

    Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone

    • Joanne Yeck / Apr 28 2016 10:23 am

      Bill, thanks for your kind words. 112 Randolph St. was demolished years ago for the Downtown Expressway. Similar homes on Randolph are still standing. They were new when the Woodsons moved there in the 1890s. Keep working on the Gregory family. Their story is a fascinating one! Joanne

  3. Judy Kiilehua / Apr 28 2016 9:29 am

    Great entry! And good reminder of the foibles of news reporting, then and now. Thanks!

    • Joanne Yeck / Apr 28 2016 10:06 am

      Thanks, Judy! It was so much fun to find my g.g. grandfather correcting the obviously sensational article about “The Great Payne”. And, in an effort to be fair, the newspaper printed his letter to the editor. Joanne

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: