?xml version="1.0" encoding="iso-8859-1"?> Henrico County (Virginia) Historical Society - News 2008 - First Quarter

Henrico County Historical Society
PO Box 90775   Henrico, VA 23273   (804)501-5682   hchsinfo@yahoo.com
Open by appointment only

Henrico County Historical Society's motto, which is Preserving the Past in the Present for the FutureSkipwith Academy in Three Chopt District, Henrico County, Virginia.Log Cabin in Tuckahoe District, Henrico County, Virginia.Mankin Mansion in Fairfield District, Henrico County, Virginia.Dorey Barn in Varina District, Henrico County, Virginia.Bethlehem Church in Brookland District, Henrico County, Virginia.

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News 2008, First Quarter

HCHS President's Message

HCHS has started the year 2008 with a big bang! In case you haven't noticed, we have a new newsletter editor, Joey Boehling. What a top notch job he has done! We have received many compliments on the new format he has implemented.

We also have a new website. It is designed by our webmaster Terri Trembeth, who works behind the scenes and sometimes into the night for the benefit of HCHS. Check it out - another job well done.

In addition to the above, we also have a new membership brochure, designed with input from the HCHS Executive Board.

In December, we issued a calendar for 2008 presenting historic farms in Henrico County with research assistance provided by Vicki Stephens.

It is impressive to think of the work that has gone into these projects, and the most amazing part is that all of those who participated are volunteers.

Volunteers also represent HCHS at a number of civic events held throughout the year in addition to services performed as part of the positions held.

HCHS would not exist without the dedication of these helping hands.

We thank you!

Congratulations are in order for HCHS member Trevor Dickerson (son of 1st Vice President, Linda Dickerson) for having received the 2008 APVA Preservation Virginia Award for Young Preservationist of the Year. Further information can be found below on this web page.

Congratulations also to Allan Wagner, Director of the Brookland District, and his wife Lurline in making recent history receiving recognition by the Metropolitan Business League. Further information can be found below on this web page.

Sarah Pace

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Update about HCHS Quarterly Meeting From December, 2007

HCHS members exiting the building after touring the Museum of the Confederacy.

The December 2 HCHS meeting at the Museum of the Confederacy was a real experience, espeically if you were in the tour group hosted by Mr. Abdul Haymes, a descendant of Jefferson Davis's blacksmith. Not only did Mr. Haymes regale the group with insightful explanation of the house, its history, its architecture and its furnishing, he also brought a bit of personal history to the tour.

Mr. Haymes, a retired military man, told of his childhood visits to the museum and of his memories of General Robert E. Lee's granddaughter. He met her on a visit to the house when he was ten, and she took an interest in him, eventually even attending his college graduation.

Events at the Museum of the Confederacy can be found on our General Events page.

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Our Own Trevor Dickerson Awarded Young Preservationist of the Year by APVA!

Below is from Jan 21 2008 www.richmond.com article titled "State Group Honors Teen for Historic Preservation" and written by Bill Lohmann, Times-Dispatch Staff Writer. Photo by Lindy Keast Rodman/Times-Dispatch.

Trevor Dickerson.

As a cold rain fell outside, Trevor Dickerson sat in the back pew of the old, unheated church and savored the warmth of success.

"I don't particularly want to take credit for myself," Dickerson said of his role in the relocation of the church, Springfield Baptist, that saved it from demolition. "I'm just happy it's still around for others to see and enjoy and see what Short Pump used to be like back in the day."

That Dickerson helped spearhead a movement to save the 19th-century church is not surprising. He's been working in historic preservation for almost half of his life, which is astounding not so much for his years of service but because of when he started.

He was 11.

His efforts caught the attention of the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (also known as APVA Preservation Virginia) which today will present Dickerson, 19, with the organization's first Young Preservationist of the Year Award as part of its annual statewide awards ceremony at the National Theater in Richmond.

"That's how he got on our radar screen," APVA Executive Director Elizabeth Kostelny said of Dickerson's work with Springfield Baptist Church. "But the reason the award panel decided to recognize him in this way was really the body of work. That sounds sort of funny when you're talking about a 19-year-old, but he developed this passion at such an early age.

"I think we see a growing number of young folks involved in preservation, but I think Trevor hit the high note."

Dickerson, a freshman at Virginia Commonwealth University and a graduate of Deep Run High School, has been actively involved in historical preservation since his family moved to the Wyndham area of Henrico County. He was 11 when he noticed old homes disappearing along Nuckols Road to make way for new developments and thought he should do something about it.

He started making photographs and videos and interviewing longtime residents about their way of life that was going away. He built a Web site (09/23/15 - no longer maintained by new owners) for his growing collection of pictures and oral history. And he started showing up at county planning and Board of Supervisors meetings to speak on behalf of saving old structures from demolition, keep alive pieces of the county's past and generally be an irritant to developers.

"It's always been in my blood," Dickerson said of his interest in preservation. His mother, Linda, is a vice president of the Henrico County Historical Society. His grandfather, Wallace Allen, was a history buff, and his grandmother, Jean Allen, used to take him to Short Pump Grocery every week as a young boy for a candy bar and soda. When West Broad Street was widened and the grocery was relocated to a site in Goochland County, Dickerson remembers thinking, "That's pretty interesting."

The grocery is on the grounds of Field Day of the Past, on Highway 623, between West Broad and Interstate 64, along with other relocated Short Pump buildings, including Springfield Baptist Church. The church was moved there in July from its original location that had become squeezed in by stores and shopping malls. Once a church deep in the country, its more recent neighbors were Best Buy and Kohl's.

Asked if he ever took any ribbing from his peers for his grown-up hobby, Dickerson said: "I used to. I didn't really let many people know about it back when I was in middle school. Those are the years when everybody makes fun of you. People think it's really cool now."

Dickerson hopes to major in either graphic design or film production with a minor in history. Whatever his major, he plans to use it for historic preservation. He also has ideas about making a documentary on the history of Short Pump, which, as Dickerson put it, "has changed from a real outpost to a real hot spot."

"You've got to preserve the past and present for the future," he said. "I'm just doing that any way I can."

Contact Bill Lohmann at (804) 649-6639 or wlohmann@timesdispatch.com.

Other 2008 APVA award winners:

Outstanding Public Sector Preservation Project Award: The Virginia Capitol Restoration and Extension
Outstanding Commercial Project Award: Commonwealth Architects for 1840 W. Broad St.
Outstanding Service in Community Preservation Award: Loudoun County for The Loudoun County Historic District Interactive Web site (www.loudoun.gov/historic) and Mary Jordan and the Spencer-Penn School Preservation Organization for The Spencer-Penn Centre, Spencer
Outstanding Domestic Project Award: Aaron Wunsch and Preservation Piedmont for the James D. Nimmo House, Charlottesville
Outstanding Adaptive Use Award: Warm Springs Investment Company for Old Dairy Community Center, Warm Springs
Outstanding Historic Preservation Research Award: Thomas Finderson, Carrollton

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Association for Preservation of Virginia Antiquities' The Young Preservationist of the Year Award

Below is APVA's award presented to Trevor Dickerson for his dedication, effort, and interest in preserving the history of Short Pump in Henrico County.

APVA's "The Young Preservationist of the Year Award"

Presented to a person or youth group who have made a notable contribution to preservation in Virginia. This award not only recognizes excellence, but also the profound need to attract young people into Virginia's preservation movement -- if it is to continue to thrive.

Short Pump, Virginia

Trevor Dickerson has been actively and passionately involved in historic preservation particularly in the Short Pump area of Henrico County since age eleven. Trevor's most notable recent contribution to historic preservation has been his efforts to save the 19th century Springfield Baptist Church from demolition. Trevor researched the history of the church, spoke with long-time church members, photo-documented it prior to relocation and gave a photo presentation to the Henrico County Historical Society of which he is an active member.

Trevor Dickerson.

On the heels of the Springfield Baptist Church move, Trevor photo-documented the home of Raymond Haithcock just prior to its demolition. This home was regarded as the last of the old Short Pump residences. On the morning of demolition, Trevor used two video cameras to capture various angles of the demolition.

Also, Trevor has documented in photographs and videotape the demolition of the Liesfeld farmhouse and outbuildings as well as the dismantling of the Kirby Nuckols home thought to be the oldest remaining log structure in Henrico County and the Thomas Nuckols home. This has all been done in an effort to preserve a record of properties that have had to bow to development.

Trevor keeps a close eye on rezoning cases and frequently attends Henrico County Planning Commission and zoning meetings. Several years ago, Trevor made a presentation to the Henrico County Board of Supervisors that included an alternate plan of development for the Liesfeld farm which is currently under development as West Broad Village. That plan was submitted to the Board for inclusion in its minutes.

Approximately six years ago, Trevor created a web site to share and showcase the history and development of the Short Pump area. Trevor has also written for and had articles written about him in several local publications, among them the Henrico Citizen and Short Pump Life.

Trevor Dickerson has demonstrated a deep and abiding love of the history of Short Pump and continues to work toward preservation of the dwindling historic resources that remain. He has worked to save what can be saved and does his best to document what cannot be saved, all in an effort to preserve the history of the Short Pump area for those who knew the area before development and especially for those who never knew it before the current level of development.

Below are pictures of the APVA Preservation Awards Ceremony. Thanks to the Dickerson family for supplying the images.

Trevor Dickerson and other preservation award honorees standing with Virginia Governor Tim Kaine and other prominent leaders attending the ceremony.

Virginia Governor Tim Kaine and other prominent leaders attended the APVA Preservation Awards Ceremony and posed with the award honorees after the ceremony. A collage outlining accomplishments for each award recipient, including Trevor, was on display. Trevor's family is proud of his accomplishments and efforts.

Trevor Dickerson with his APVA Young Preservationist of the Year Award standing in front of a collage depicting some of his preservation accomplishments and interests. Trevor Dickerson with his APVA Young Preservationist of the Year Award surrounded by his proud family.

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Congratulations to Allan and Lurline Wagner, HCHS Members Awarded Promising Start-Up Award by Metropolitan Business League!

Allan and Lurline Wagner are owners of Cuppa Tea Co. The Wagners were the first annual recipients of the new Promising Start-Up Award presented by the Metropolitan Business League. The couple are members of Henrico County Historical Society, and Allan is also HCHS' Director of Brookland Magisterial District.

As reported in the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Feb 03 2008 www.richmond.com article titled "Business League Bestows Awards" written by Linda Dunham, Times-Dispatch Staff Writer), the Wagners were presented with this award at a black-tie awards dinner attended by 700 people at the Richmond Marriott. "The awards dinner closed two days of networking, seminars and workshops for small and mintority businesses".

Congratulations to the Wagners, and best wishes for a successful 2008 business year!

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A Henrico Veteran of the Great War - Alonzo Hyatt Kelly - 1889-1977
by Beverly A. Williams

Alonzo Hyatt Kelly in his WWI army uniform.

I remember these stories as they were often told around my grandmother's dining room table during the many visits we paid them during my childhood. The stories are still told now by his youngest daughter, my mother, Ann Kelly Moore.

Lon, as his friends called him, was a young man when he was shipped off to fight in Europe during World War I in 1917. He left behind his young bride, who was expecting their first child. In the time he was there, he surely must have witnessed the many horrors of war, but we, his family never heard about those times. This kind man of Irish immigrant decent had a ready smile, an easy laugh, and endless humorous stories about his times growing up, and yes, even his times fighting the first major world war.

One of his stories that is best remembered recalled a time he was with his fellow troops being transported across France on railroad flatbed cars. The soldiers were out in the open, unprotected from the elements and enemy bullets. It wasn't long before German aircraft approached and began to strafe the railroad cars with their guns. Undoubtedly many men, with no cover to speak of, were shot on that fateful train ride. Lon thought that this too had been his fate when he felt a wetness begin to trickle down his body. Surely he had been shot. However, when he looked up, he discovered that a tank of water he had been sitting against had taken a hit and was slowly trickling harmless water over him. The relief he must have felt at cheating death yet another time during this terrible war may have been why he could relay this tale to his children and grandchildren with a smile on his face.

There was another time when his troops thought the Germans were getting too close. They didn't want the Germans to get their supply of coffee. So they dumped all they had into a big barrel and made a huge batch of very strong coffee. The troops then drank as much of it as they could stand. Dandy always said of that coffee and any strong coffee since that "it'd make you fight your granny." This he always said with a wide grin and a soft laugh.

Another time he recalled was when he and his fellow troops were resting - likely awaiting the next battle. As he dozed, the drizzling rain on his metal helmet made a ringing sound he dreamt was the bells of his church in Lee County calling its parishioners to pray. I wonder if that was a comfort to him as he slept, or if it saddened him to face the reality of war once again upon waking. Maybe it was both.

I remember finding Dandy's helmet once up in my grandmother's attic. It was large and very heavy. In the crown it bore a large dent, perhaps caused by flying shrapnel. I often wonder if that dent was evidence of my grandfather's life being spared when others weren't so lucky. I can only imagine what it must have been like for Dandy as he fought through Europe during that war. He never told us the sad or scary stories that I'm sure he must have experienced. He only told us the ones that made him laugh.

Post Script:

Alonzo Kelly and his wife Amanda Torbert Kelly settled in Richlands, Virginia after the war and raised a family of five children. Their daughter, Ann Kelly Moore is a long time resident of Henrico County. Granddaughter, Beverly A. William, also is a resident of Henrico County and is a speech pathologist for the County of Henrico school system.

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Landscape by Gillette, a Master
Some information in the article below came from Richmond Magazine, November, 1999

Phillip Morris's corporate offices, the landscaping of which was designed by landscape architect Charles Gillette.

Longtime Henrico residents know the locations on West Broad Street as Reynolds Metals. now it is Phillip Morris's corporate offices, presently the site of extensive development. It is also home to a landscaping gem designed by renowned landscape architect Charles Gillette.

Born in 1886 in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, Gillette apprenticed in landscape designer Warren H. Manning's Boston office. For his first assignment, Manning sent him to Richmond as an on-site supervisor at Richmond College.

His landscape designs, featuring his understated classicism and attention to detail, stand as monuments throughout the South. In Virginia, his designs grace the campuses of James Madison University, Radford University, Virginia State University, Mary Washington College and the College of William and Mary.

His romantic vision of European cottages and his fascination for lights and pools and reflections can be seen in his work at Agecroft Hall, Virginia House, and his own residences, Crestmere and Fox Farm in the Fan District.

During the 1950s, Gillette redesigned the gardens of Virginia's Executive Mansion at the request of Governor Thomas B. Stanley. It was only in his last years that he bagan to experience real financial success when he designed the grounds for Reynolds Metals and Ethyl Corporation.

Gillette's wife died in 1967, and he passed away a year and a half later. Both their ashes lie in the family plot in Connecticut.

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Haunted in Henrico?
Information in this article originally appeared in "The Treasure of Whicello, Paradise, and Oak Grove," published in the 1987 issue of The Henrico County Historical Society Magazine. The article was written and researched by students in the Program for the Talented and Gifted at Tuckahoe Middle School under the direction of Cathy G. Boehling, their teacher.

Legends abound in our society, and few legends hold the degree of interest that ghosts and haunted houses do. Henrico can boast of a few supposedly ahunted houses of its own, and we've included two of them here - Oak Grove and Whichello, both in the West End. Take a brief tour of two of our own "haunted houses".

Oak Grove
6321 Monument Avenue

Oak Grove in Three Chopt District, Henrico County, Virginia.

This one-and-a-half story house built on a low basement has also been known by other names. The Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission lists it as Oak Grove and Waverley. Other references refer to it as Twin Oaks, Monumental Farm and Wiltshire. Probably built between 1770 and 1800, the Flemish Bond chimneys contain bricks inscribed with the numbers 1813. In the mid-1800s, Oak Grove became a possible site for buried treasure. Benjamin Green, a bank clerk, was accused in 1841 of stealing $500,000 from his employer. A search turned up no money, but legend held that he either hid the loot somewhere within Oak Grove or buried in on the grounds before leaving town. His fate was unknown, but the late Donald B. Wiltshire, Sr., who bought Oak Grove in 1948 and lived there for more than twenty years, claimed to have encountered Green's ghost one night on the stairs as he was going up to bed. He described the ghost as that of a litle old man with a chin beard.

There are also tales of nineteen bodies buried on the site, which may have served as a hospital for wounded soldiers during the Civil War. There is speculation that the bodies are buried somewhere in the yard in unmarked graves. Others have suggested that the bodies lie beneath Oak Grove's basement floor.

9602 River Road

Whichello in Tuckahoe District, Henrico County, Virginia.

Whichello is a five-bay, two-story structure with clapboard hung on brick and plaster rising above an English basement. While some sources indicate that it was a tavern when Richard Whichello purchased it in 1838, others credit him with converting it into a tavern bearing his own name.

Legend has it that one night in 1850, a cattle drover came to Whichello with the profits made from selling his herd in Richmond and lost the money in a poker game with Whichello. Sometime before morning, Richard Whichello was brutally murdered with an ax. Whichello, known as a mean and miserly man who mistreated his slaves and accumulated his wealth from illegal gambling activities, was not greatly mourned, nor was any of his reported wealth ever found.

However, he did have a few friends who refused to have his body buried in a cemetery, fearing that he is angry slaves would disinter and mutilate his remains. Therefore, they buried his body secretly under the chimney on the east side of the tavern, where he still lies below the living room fireplace.

Mrs. Joseph Crenshaw operated a teashop in the house during the 1930s and claimed to have seen the ghost of Whichello many times. She was interested in the paranormal and allowed seances. During one, a letter in spirit writing supposedly materialized. Signed "WRW," it said that Whichello's treasure was buried in the back yard. Some say that Whichello's ghost, dressed in hunting clothes, haunts the property to protect his money.

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Revolutionary War Sites in Henrico County
Some information in the article below came from http://henrico.us/about-henrico/history/government/names-places-in-henrico/

Horsepen Branch.

Horsepen Road & Horsepen Branch: During the Revolutionary War, horses were purchased for use in the army. All of these horses were kept in a large pen. The road leading to the pen came to be known as the Horsepen Road. At right is a view of Horsepen Branch, looking west as taken from Devers Road. The stream provided water for the horses.

Mountain Road: Long ago, Mountain Road was an Indiant trail. During the Revolutionary War, Lafayette passed over this road on his way to Yorktown. It was also used in the Civil War. In the official records of "The War of Rebellion", it states that General Sheridan proceeded down Mountain Road to allen's Crossing where they tore up the tracks of the R.F.&P Roalroad.

Malvern Hill: This farm was the colonial dwelling of the Cocke family and with its long history has been involved in three of this country's wars. Lafayette camped on the hill in 1781 during the Revolutionary War, the Virginia militia camped here during the War of 1812, and one of the bloodiest battles of the War Between the States was fought on this land.

Deep Run Baptist Church: Founded in 1742, Deep Run Baptist Church was established as an Episcopal chapel. Modeled after St. John's church in Richmond, it was constructed in 1749 with wooden pegs and beams that remain part of the present structure. During the Revolutionary War, the church served as a hospital for wounded soldiers, and the Marquis de Lafayette reportedly used it as a gathering place.

White Oak Swamp: Cornwallis bivouacked at White Oak Swamp on May 27, 1781, before continuing the pursuit of Lafayette. In mid June, Cornwallis joined Lt. Gen. Banastre Tarleton near Richmond, where they occupied the city by June 16, 1781.

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Lady Wonder: 1924-1957
Some information in the article below came from http://henrico.us/about-henrico/history/government/names-places-in-henrico/

The gravesite pictured is in a small pet cemetery in Henrico's West End, located at the end of Terrell Drive, a cul de sac off Michael's Road.

Lady Wonder.

Lady Wonder was a horse that belonged to Mrs. C. D. Fonda and was said to possess psychic abilities. At the price of three questions for a dollar, over 150 thousand people are said to have visited the horse out on Petersburg Pike.

Dr. J. B. Rhine investigated the horse and concluded that there was strong evidence for telepathy between human and horse. Several legends circulated about the horse. For instance, Lady Wonder is said to have helped the Massachusetts police to find the body of a missing girl, to have predicted that Jack Dempsey would defeat Jack Sharkey in 1927, and to have helped discover oil.

On February 24, 1946, Norfolk's Virginia Pilot ran the following article:

"Lady Wonder, the Petersburg Pike mind-reading horse, yesterday was called a "genuine phenomenon" by a visiting psychologist, Dr. Thomas L. Garrett.

Dr. Garrett, a native Richmonder, who is living in New York, is editor-in-chief of a monthly psychology digest, "Your Mind", which is to be published here. With him was Lesley Kuhn, managing editor of the magazine."

The two men, who said they had exposed many mind-reading and fortune-telling acts in the country, were obviously impressed by the 21-year-old horse who spells out the answers to questions.

What sold Dr. Garrett on teh horse was her explanation of a phone call he had received from New York. The long distance operator told him only that a man named "Murphy" was trying to get him.

The horse said Murphy's first name was "Pat" and that he wanted to see Dr. Garrett about his wife, Diane Ross, an actress. Upon checking with a New York theatrical agent, Dr. Garrett found that there is a Diane Ross who is married to a Pat Murphy.

"I find Lady Wonder perfectly amazing." Dr Garrett said after admitting he had visited the horse several times. "There is unquestionably a genuine phenomena on the part of the horse. No tickery is involved."

Dr. Garrett is publishing a book which deals with exposes of various so-called supernatural manifestations. He attended McGuire University School for Boys here. He also holds a Ph. D. from a university in Paris. He has lived in New York since 1930. Recently Dr. Garrett has been doing rehabilitation work with the American Flying Services Foundation.

The magazine whic Dr. Garrett edits plans to bring to Richmond a number of well-known speakers, with particular emphasis on rehabilitation.

Dr. Garrett frequently uses hypnosis as a means of solving mental and nervous disorders of patients and will shortly publish a book on the subject."

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HCHS Events - First Quarter
Sunday, March 2nd, 2:30PM

Why don't you make plans to meet us for a matinee?

Meeting: 1:00 p.m.
Movie Time: 2:00 p.m.
Easter Parade
Admission: $1.00

RSVP by February 27
Linda Dickerson
364-3492 (H) or 225-4338 (W)
email at ldickerson@oag.state.va.us

The renovated and restored Henrico Theatre.

We are pleased to hold our March meeting at the newly reopened Henrico Theatre. This great old art deco movie house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005 and was reopened in October 2007 after a $5.8 million renovation and restoration by Henrico County.

The Henrico Theatre first opened on April 25, 1938, with the Performance of Thin Ice starring Sonja Henie. According to the Theatre Historical Society of America, the admission was 25 cents for adults and 10 cents for children 12 and under. Those were the days!

The theater was closed for several years before the county purchased it in 1999. The renovation and restoration expanded the theatre from 11,000 to 17,800 square feet to accommodate a stage, orchestra pit, backstage dressing rooms and an elevator. Modern theater projection, sound and lighting systems and new electical and mechanical systems were also installed.

As usual, we will begin with a short business meeting. Following that, we will be treated to a talk on the history and renovation of the theater. Popcorn, soft drinks and other goodies will be provided for your enjoyment.

Make plans to stay after the meeting for the two o'clock screening of Easter Parade. Admission is only a dollar.

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