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October 30, 2017 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Literary Academy: Part I

Photo by Lulie Patteson. Courtesy Daily Progress and University of Virginia

Stories about Arvonia and the Welsh settlement in Buckingham County are always popular at Slate River Ramblings. In 1960, Buckingham County historian Lulie Patteson shared some of that history with Charlottesville’s Daily Progress in an article entitled “Welshman Organized First Buckingham Cultural Group.” Miss Patteson opened in her typical evocative style:

Those who remember Richard Llewellyn’s book, “How Green Was My Valley,” will recall the passionate devotion of the Welsh people to singing and reciting poems.

Buckingham County has benefited from these gracious Welsh assets.

The first benefit was from the Buckingham Literary Academy, the first of the cultural organizations in the county, which was conceived and set in motion at Merioneth by William Evans, a Welshman.

Miss Patteson went on to explain that William Evans’ father settled in Pennsylvania before the Revolutionary War. William moved southward, lived in Augusta County, Virginia and, for his service during the war, received several thousand acres of land in Ohio and the land grant in Buckingham County at the southern end of Willis Mountain. There he built his home, which he called Merioneth, remembering his ancestral home in Wales. Patteson continued:

William Evans was a great reader. He constantly had the newest and best books sent to him from England. This passion for cultural reading was the genesis of the first self-improvement organization in Buckingham.

This club, or Academy as they designated it, seems to have had a small membership, if we are to depend on the scraps of minutes from their meetings.

Coming next: Buckingham Literary Academy: Part II

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