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April 7, 2022 / Joanne Yeck

Dillwyn, Buckingham County: A Short History, Part II

Dillwyn Station. Photo by Joanne Yeck.

Need to catch up? Click here: Dillwyn, Buckingham County: A Short History, Part I

In 1960, Charlottesville’s Daily Progress printed “Dillwyn Grew Up as Lumber Town,” a short history of the place written by Buckingham County historian Lulie Patteson. She begins by reminding her readers that lumber town founder H. M. White originally planned to expand the town at Rosney (aka Rosny). Anticipating growth with the coming of the Buckingham Branch of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad, White imagined new commerce for Buckingham County. Lulie’s article continues:

Soon it was apparent though that White Hall was growing far faster than Rosney. So White Hall became the main town. Men may have had such rosy dreams that day in 1892 since the coming of the railroad was an established fact at that time. This would mean better pay for labor, a market for their wood and contact with the outside world. That is, until the wood was used up.

Randolph Griffin, a Negro man who sold White the 200 acre tract of land, never would have accepted to a $1.50 an acre if his commercial spirit had been sharper.

The first train chugged over the branch railroad either May 31 or about June 1, 1892. Timber owners were eager to sell and laborers were anxious for the employment. Timber buyers longed for the commodity. Many never had [access to] a train.

One person we are sure road the first train. He was Capt. John Doswell who, for all those early days of the town’s history, was the conductor on the Buckingham branch road. No one who ever rode with Capt. Doswell could easily forget him. He was the self-appointed host to all his passengers and literally took a personal interest in them.

Two elderly sisters, busy housewives who hadn’t been on a train for many years, once bought tickets from Dillwyn to Richmond. They were going to visit their brother. At Bremo, Capt. Dosell, with his usual courteous attention, saw them safely off his train to wait for the eastbound James River train.

Shortly afterwards, along came the westbound train from Richmond to Lynchburg. The sisters hasten to board it. Then Capt. Doswell dashed up and stopped one of the sisters telling her it was the wrong train. “But my sister is on there,” the woman said. “I’ll get her off,” the captain promised. And sure enough, just as the wheel started to turn slowly, Doswell appeared with the wandering sister, holding her firmly by the arm.

Capt. Doswell didn’t relax his vigilance until the sisters were on the right train.


For more about the early days of Dillwyn, put White Hall in the search box at Slate River Ramblings and enjoy the results!

Don’t know where to start? Begin here: Buckingham News: White Hall, 1899

Coming next: Dillwyn, Buckingham County: A Short History, Part III

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