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December 15, 2018 / Joanne Yeck

Holiday Sale: The Jefferson Brothers

Give the Gift of Local History

More than a biography of Randolph Jefferson, The Jefferson Brothers is a history of Peter Jefferson’s plantation, Snowden, inherited by his younger son, Randolph, and located at the Horseshoe Bend of the James River.

Learn details about everyday life in Buckingham County in the 18th and early 19th century.  Meet Snowden’s neighbors and the slaves who worked the fields.  Get to know the Jefferson family, including Uncle Thomas, who lived at Monticello.

For the entire month of December 2018, Braughler Books is offering $10.00 off The Jefferson Brothers.


Please share the holiday discount code with your friends, family, and anyone interested in learning more about Buckingham County, as well as life among the planters in Central Virginia.

December 13, 2018 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham County Murder: Manteo Killing, Part I

Courtesy Staunton Spectator and Vindicator

In 2015, Slate River Ramblings reported on the 1911 shocking murder of a man named Curtis Branch, as reported in Richmond’s The Times-Dispatch. Click on the links below to read but we knew at that time:

Curtis Nunley Branch, C.S.A.

Buckingham County Murder

Since then, a lengthy report printed in the Staunton Spectator and Vindicator has been found. Its distressing headline, “ANOTHER CRIME ADDED TO BUCKINGHAM’S LIST,” indicates ongoing unrest in Buckingham County. The subheading, “SECTION HAS WITNESSED MANY BRUTAL MURDERS,” referring to the gruesome murder of the Stewart brothers, confirmed it. Click to read the series about the Stewarts:

The 1909 Buckingham Murders: Part I


With the dateline of Manteo, Buckingham County, Va., Nov. 29, 1911, the article called the killing of the aged Curtis Branch a “foul assassination.” Struck down by an unknown murderer, Branch was slain in his sleep. This accounting offers more details (and speculations) then the news report previously found. The Staunton Spectator article continued, in melodramatic prose:

It is believed that he was murdered because his slayer, who was at that time either engaged in, or bent on the robbery of the store of George W. Patteson, which building also housed the postoffice of Manteo, feared that he would thwart him in his plans. The robber probably reckoned that Branch, who was engaged by Patteson to guard the store and postoffice at night, would awaken and detect [him] in the act of burglarizing the place and give the alarm or perhaps take the initiative and shoot him down….

It is argued by some, but those who take this view are in the minority, that Branch heard the thief or thieves at work and being hardy and something of a daredevil, boldly went forth to put a stop to their depredations.

Those who incline to this view would believe that the old man threw up the sash of the window by which he slept, thereby warning the nocturnal marauders of his presence. For this imprudence, it is argued, he forfeited his life.

Coming next, Buckingham County Murder: Manteo Killing, Part II


December 12, 2018 / Joanne Yeck

Happy Anniversary Slate River Ramblings


Deed Room Treasures.  Buckingham County Courthouse.

Today, Slate River Ramblings, along with its nearly 700 enthusiastic followers, celebrates its sixth anniversary.

Thanks to each and every one of you for your dedication to the people and places of Buckingham County, Virginia.

The Slate River Ramblings archive is loaded with nuggets of Buckingham gold. As of December, 2018, there are over 850 posts and more than 2,600 comments by thoughtful readers. Try searching the archives for your favorite topic or surnames.

Please invite your family and friends to join us as we continue to ramble through Buckingham County’s history. There is much more in store for 2019!

December 10, 2018 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Notables: John Tanner Claiborne

Edward Bushrod Stahlman (1843-1930), Publisher of the Nashville Banner.

Courtesy Wikipedia.

Recently, I heard from a Slate River Ramblings reader who expanded on posts about Oak Grove Academy and its founder John Tanner Claiborne (1801–1864).

In 1850, John T. Claiborne headed Oak Grove Academy. Ten male pupils lived with his family in Buckingham County. By 1860, Claiborne and his family had removed to Nashville, Tennessee, where they purchased a boardinghouse. There he continued to teach English Grammar, supporting his wife Sarah Anne (Bransford) and five daughters.

Previously, Mr. Claiborne had taught at Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute, which his two eldest daughters, Eliza Frances “Fannie” and Laura Virginia Claiborne, attended. As was the case with many young ladies educated there, their experience set them apart from the other girls of the day. Fannie married John Wilson Otley and their daughter, Louise, attended Longwood College, becoming a schoolteacher in Augusta County, Virginia, continuing the Claiborne family value of higher education for women.

The Claibornes’ youngest daughter, Mary Tanner called “Molly” (b. November 5, 1848/49 in Buckingham County), married Edward Bushrod Stahlman, a German immigrant, self-made man, and publisher of the Nashville Banner for forty-four years.

December 6, 2018 / Joanne Yeck

Buck and Game Road

 “Melrose,” 12016 Old Buckingham Road

Traube’s Tavern, 11940 Old Buckingham Road

Courtesy Huguenot Houses in Powhatan and Chesterfield Counties.

In 1912, an odd editorial ran in Richmond’s The Times-Dispatch entitled “An Episode of ‘The Buck and Game Road’.” Sent to the editor by Charles Macon Wesson of Fine Creek Mills, Powhatan County, it read, in part, as follows:

Sir. —The Buck and Game Road is incorrectly but almost universally called the Buckingham, for it does not even run to or extend into the county of that name, now made famous by its fine slate quarries. The aforesaid road is simply a broad, old-fashioned country highway, starting in Chesterfield, going through Powhatan and Cumberland, up to Prince Edward, I think, not extending beyond the thrifty town of Farmville.

The cognomen of Buck and Game Road was arrived at on account of the great perfusion of game, inclusive of deer, squirrels, old hares and “possums,” wild geese, duck and partridge. Said denizens held high carnival in “ye olden” stage days, when the cumbersome things rolled along in high state of the old Buck and Game Road, before the rampant locomotives, with their rumble and hysterical shrieks, drove the timid deer from there quiet, leafy coverts on the arrowy Appomattox or more classic James, when far-famed and justly celebrated Virginia hospitality was “in flower”: when mother, wife and maid were the real goddesses of the homes and firesides, yea, when butter was not oleo-margarine and the various as well as multitudinous adulterations of today were not known, if so, not practiced.

The author of the editorial then goes on a lengthy rant about Virginia’s halcyon days, when its citizens were God-fearing and the God-loving people and politicians less divisive. The author longed for the day when the maiden was “shy and coy” and her gallant cavalier was “brave, tender and true.” The episode, referred to in the title, concerns a certain church and its preacher, located somewhere on the “Buck and Game Road.”

Did the so-called “Buckingham Road” never really run into Buckingham County? What were the stage roads or old-fashioned country highways in the county called?

If a Slate River Rambling’s reader knows more, please, comment.

Old Buckingham Road Today

December 3, 2018 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham County Agricultural News: 1911


In 1911, several farmers in the northeastern section of Buckingham County joined “alfalfa clubs,” created by the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway. Club members worked an area of ground in an experimental way, planting this “new hay crop.” A report was sent to Richmond’s The Times-Dispatch that the crops were looking good and showed every indication of success in Buckingham County soil.

The Arvonia club attracted between fifteen and eighteen members, all of whom had gone to considerable trouble and expense for this experiment. The article noted that there had been former experiments with alfalfa in the county, some more successful than others, however none had been made with such thorough and scientific preparation as the one conducted in 1911. The article concluded, “a full report from each member of the club will be made early in the spring and given to the public.”

A good reminder that something more than slate quarrying was going on in Arvonia!

December 1, 2018 / Joanne Yeck

Holiday Sale: The Jefferson Brothers

Give the Gift of Local History

The Jefferson Brothers is more than a biography of Randolph Jefferson, it’s a new look at President Thomas Jefferson, who could be a somewhat daunting big brother!

For the entire month of December 2018, Braughler Books is offering $10.00 off The Jefferson BrothersUse Code: JEFFERSON10

Please share the holiday discount code with your friends, family, and anyone interested in learning more about Buckingham County during 18th-19th centuries, as well as life among the planters in Central Virginia.

November 29, 2018 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Slate: Jones, Roberts, and Evans vs Pitts

Quarrymen at “The Big Quarry,” beside Hunts Creek and next to the old railroad station.
Courtesy Robert Jeffery.

In December 1911, Richmond’s Times-Dispatch reported the conclusion of a lawsuit concerning a property line running through slate quarries located in Arvonia, Buckingham County. The announcement read as follows:

The case of Jones, Roberts, Evans et als. against A. L. Pitts, which occupied a special session of Buckingham court all last week, was brought to a conclusion on Friday night, when the jury brought in a verdict in favor of the claims of A. L. Pitts. The suit was brought to determine a property line between the two parties, and settled a matter of long contention. The line in question passes through a very valuable Slate field, and in one case cuts off the end of an actively worked slate quarry, now in the hands of Buckingham Slate Company a Richmond Corporation, which has been doing business in this field for seven or eight years. The slate lands of A. L. Pitts formally belonged to Col. Fontaine, who owned large properties here. These properties cross the Buckingham slate vein between Arvonia and Bridgeport station, 2 miles on the north. Attorney Frank C. Moon represented Jones, Evans et als., and Attorneys A. L. Pitts, Jr. and Edmund W. Hubard represented A. L. Pitts.

For much more about Edmund W. Hubard enter his name in the search box at Slate River Ramblings and enjoy the results.

November 27, 2018 / Joanne Yeck

Holiday Gift Ideas

Slate River Press


In need of a gift idea this holiday season? Give the gift of local history!

Here’s where you can purchase these books (and many others) about Buckingham County and Virginia:

In Virginia

Buckingham: Housewright Museum (U.S. Route 60, in the village of Buckingham)

Buckingham: Nancy’s Gift Shop (U.S. Route 60, in the village of Buckingham)

Scottsville: Baine’s Books and Coffee (485 Valley Street)

Monticello: Monticello’s Gift Shop [The Jefferson Brothers]

Appomattox: Baine’s Books and Coffee (205 Main Street)

Richmond: The Library of Virginia: The Virginia Shop (800 East Broad Street)

Not in Virginia?  Shop online at:

Braughler Books

Historic Buckingham Inc.

Library of Virginia: The Virginia Shop

Monticello’s Book Shop

November 26, 2018 / Joanne Yeck

Buckingham Schools: Award-winning Teachers

Buckingham High School.  Courtesy Historic Buckingham.

Many years ago, the oldest records concerning Buckingham County schools were destroyed. Today, scattered records can be found in archives and, occasionally, we can learn something about schools and teachers in announcements printed in historic newspapers.

In December of 1911, Richmond’s The Times-Dispatch printed a congratulatory article, sent from Arvonia, listing prize-winning teachers and their schools—both white and African-American. The awards were given out on Patron’s Day, observed on October 27.

Here’s a list of the best of Buckingham’s educators in 1911 and their schools:

White teachers

First prize: Miss Agnes White, Gold Hill School, Marshall District. Miss White received a set of books.

Second prize: Miss Bessie Patteson, Cut Bank School, Maysville District. Miss Patterson won a set of books.

Third prize: Mrs. S. B. Bondurant, Buckingham High School, Maysville District. Mrs. Bondurant was given a book.

Colored teachers

First prize: Jennia A. Starr, Tongue Quarter School, Curdsville District. Miss Starr won “a handsome picture.”

Second prize: Mary Tharps, Cedar School, Curdsville District. Miss Tharps received a book.

Third prize: Annie Coleman, Red Bottom School, James River District. Miss Coleman also won a book.

Honorable mentions included: Miss May Woody (Andersonville), Miss Anita Hall (the Snoddy School), Miss Mollie Butcher (Mount Zion School), and Mamie Spencer (Well Water School, colored).

Patrons Day was enthusiastically celebrated, with about seventy schools involved. Roughly 700 patrons were present. Forty speeches were made by visitors and approximately $500 was collected for “general purposes”—presumably for supporting the Buckingham County school system. The article concluded, “The County school board appropriated a sum at its last meeting for the purpose of supplementing the sum given by the division superintendent for prizes to teachers.”

Do you have a Buckingham County school teacher in your family? Please comment below.

Click here for more about Buckingham High School.