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July 13, 2017 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Notables: Josie Sire Rose

From time to time, stories concerning former slaves and the children of former slaves found their way into local newspapers. In 1958, at the age of eighty-three, the life of Josie Sire Rose of Buckingham County was celebrated in Charlottesville’s The Daily Progress. She was a native of Louisa County but had lived most of her adult life in Buckingham, where she was known as “Aunt” Josie.

Born on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1875, her father was Joe Sire who had married in Halifax County and returned to Louisa after the Civil War. The article, entitled “‘Aunt’ Josie Looks Ahead,” was sent to the newspaper from Glenmore and is unsigned, though possibly was written by Mrs. E. W. Snoddy, a correspondent to The Daily Progress. It reads in part:

When Josie was 14 years old, she went to work for a “rich widow lady” by the name of Mrs. Anna Reynolds in Allegheny County. While there she married John Rose of Buckingham County in 1896 moved to the home where she still lives. That was in 1901. She was pleased to recall that she had a church wedding. She had four sons, all of which died at birth. Her husband died in 1950, four years after they had celebrated their golden wedding anniversary.

She has worked for a large number of white people in Buckingham and still bakes cakes and makes jelly and jam for them. Josie is a member of the Salem Baptist Church, which is located about a quarter-mile from her home.

Many of the people of Buckingham County remember “Aunt” Josie as a big entertainer. She has numerous visitors and cooks large meals for them.

Among the white folks who come to visit her are Dr. and Mrs. Hugh McCollough, Miss. Sallie Brady, Mrs. Kate Bruns and Mr. and Mrs. Charles Irving of Boyd Tavern, Fluvanna County.

Besides a love for people— young and old alike— “Aunt” Josie is also fond of her two pets— a dog and cat.

She has a clear mind and vividly remembers many dates in her life. As for making a living, she seems to get along fine selling eggs and selling the quilts she makes. She looks forward to another busy summer like last one when she works occasionally for the white folks who become her friends.

While a biography of Josie Sire Rose would be written differently today, this article is unusual for its biographical detail and its genuine affection for the gregarious local woman. In 1940, she was enumerated as Josephine Rose, living with her husband, John W. Rose, in the Slate River District of Buckingham County. The census enumerator noted that she had a third grade education.

If a Slate River Ramblings reader remembers Josie, please comment.

Many thanks to Phil James, author of Secrets of the Blue Ridge, for finding Josie’s story.



Leave a Comment
  1. Sarah Donnelly / Jul 17 2017 2:03 pm

    I never knew Aunt Josie/ Jo Rose. Katy Logan Bruns (note correct spelling of last name) was my great aunt. Katy’s grandson, Alan Bruns, (note correct spelling of last name) interviewed Pauline Word. They had both worked for the Charlottesville Daily Progress. Pauline had lots to say. Josie’s brother was a policeman in Philadelphia. Josie stayed with him while studying nursing there. When she returned, she “took care of sick people” under the direction of Dr. McCullough, Dr. Margaret Nolting, and later, Dr. Charles Irving, of Boyd Tavern.

    • Joanne Yeck / Jul 17 2017 2:59 pm

      Sarah, Thanks for catching Bruns. It is corrected in the post. Many thanks for the additional information about Josie and her brother. Now we see the connection to Drs. McCullough and Irving. Joanne

      • sarahsfd4f / Jul 20 2017 9:18 am

        Thank you, Joanne

  2. Lynda Anderson / Jul 17 2017 8:39 am

    The correct spelling is SNODDY for Minnie’s name.

    • Joanne Yeck / Jul 17 2017 9:49 am

      Of course. Thanks for catching and reporting the typo. Joanne

  3. Joanne Yeck / Jul 15 2017 3:21 pm

    Nancy, Agreed! Joanne

  4. Nancy Baldwin / Jul 15 2017 1:31 pm

    Aunt Josie made a difference in so many people’s lives. She’s no relation to me, but I sure would be proud if she was.

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