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 2015, First Quarter

President's Message

The Henrico County Historical Society has achieved another milestone this year...Our 40th anniversary. The Society was found in 1975 as part of Henrico's bicentennial commemoration of the American Revolution with assistance from the Varina Woman's club. We are especially excited about the programs throughout this year.

The first quarterly meeting on March 1 will present another bicentennial commemoration - that of the War of 1812, "America's Second War of Independence." The Henrico County Historical Society will host a dedication ceremony for a state highway marker designating Richmond's War of 1812 defensive camps in Henrico County. Antioch Baptist Church (where the dedication ceremony will be held) has its own War of 1812 history in the Varina District. The eventual location of the highway marker will be on Route 5, west of the Turner Road intersection, after completion of the Capital to Capital Bike Trail now under construction.

In addition to remarks by renowned historians, a patriotic concert will be performed by the Henrico Concert Band, conducted by Randy Abernathy.

We are most honored to host the dedication ceremony. This marker is included in the Virginia War of 1812 Heritage Trail. The trail markers designate "historical sites and places associated with the War of 1812 in Virginia and significant individuals who provided leadership for the nation before and during the war."

In honror of those individual and all others who have served our country, I offer a poem, which I find appropriate for the occasion:

A Patriot's Prayer

Like all Americans, O Lord,
I breathe in freedom's air.
The awesome wonder of its gift
Inspires my grateful prayer.
I'm thankful for resources
You abundantly provide,
So dreams can be encouraged
And needs can be supplied.
I'm thankful for the blessing
Of a peaceful neighborhood,
For leaders, teachers, workers
Who promote the common good;
For law and education,
and the opportunity
To seek success and happiness
from sea to shining sea.
Author Unknown

Please join us for the first meeting of our anniversary and bring a friend. Visitors are always welcome.

Sarah Pace,

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A Blue-Ribbon Blanket & a Raffle Helped HCHS Get Started 40 Years Ago

Varina Woman's Club create award-winning quilt.

2015 marks the fortieth anniversary of the founding of the Henrico County Historical Society by the Varina Woman's Club. It got its start when the club started planning for a project to hold a crafts fair to celebrate the nation's upcoming Bicentennial. Realizing that there was no historical society in the county and feeling the need to establish one, the club used a quilt show held at Laurel Hill Methodist Church to raise money for the project and to spur interest in history and in quilts. Here, some of the members teamed up to create the quilt.

Pattern for creation of quilting sections of the quilt.

The women designed a red, white, and blue quilt in a pattern they named the Varina Cross. The team of quilters went to work and produced a quilt for a double bed. Pictured is the pattern for cration of quilting sections of the quilt.

A raffle ticket for offering the quilt to the winner.

When finished, they offered it as a prize for a raffle, using the funds raised to help establish the society. Pictured is one of the raffle tickets.

The 1975 State Fair display with the Varina Cross quilt.

They not only created a handsome quilt, put on an exhibition of ninety-seven quilts and helped establish the Henrico County Historical Society, but they also earned a blue ribbon at the Virginia State Fair.

If you know where the quilt is today, please email jboehling@verizon.net.

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Dedication Ceremony

At the March 1, 2015 general meeting of the Henrico County Historical Society, a ceremony and reception for the dedication of a state highway marker to be placed in Henrico County and designated as part of the War of 1812 Heritage Trail will be held. The Virginia Department of Historic Resources and the Virginia Bicentennial of the American War of 1812 Commission partnered to sponsor a series of historic markers throughout the state in recognition of the bicentennial commemoration of the War of 1812.

The ceremony/reception, hosted by the Henrico County Historical Society, will be at the location of Antioch Baptist Church at 2:00 p.m.

Dr. Louis Manarin will be the main speaker at the ceremony with remarks made by Stuart Butler who has written extensively about the War of 1812 in Virginia and Lt. Col. Myron (Mike) Lyman, past president of the Society of the War of 1812 in Virginia. Additional remarks will be made by Tyrone Nelson, Henrico County supervisor of the Varina District.

There will also be a performance by the Henrico Concert Band.

The marker will be unveiled at the ceremony. The location where the marker will be placed is under construction as part of the development of the Capital to Capital Trail.

The final location of the State Highway marker will be on Route 5, 1/4 mile west of the Turner Road intersection.

Antioch Church is on Antioch Church Road. Take Route 60 approximately 4.5 miles and Antioch Church Road will be on the left.

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Henrico's Old Courthouse

When Henrico County moved its courts from downtown Richmond in 1974 to its new complex on Parham Road, it left a building that had housed the court since 1896. It was an architecturally significant structure designed by Carl Ruerhmund, an architect who, according to Robert B. Winthrop "may well be Richmond's most important little known architect" (Architects of Richmond, Carl Ruehrmund," www.ArchitectureRichmond.com.

The Ruehrmund Family:  Carl Ruehrmund poses with his wife Rosa and three of their children.

Carl Ruehrmund was born 22 September 1855 in Berlin and was educated at the Royal Academy of Architecture. He settled in Richmond in 1882 after his emigration to Philadelphia in 1881.

In Richmond, he worked with German-born architect Albert Lybrock on additions to the city's Customs House. Lybrock was a well-known architect in Richmond and had earlier designed the cast iron enclosure for President James Monroe's grave in Hollywood Cemetery.

After adopting Ruehrmund's plans for the courthouse at 22nd and Main Streets, the city specified a $20,000 limit on the cost of the buolding. William Trexler and Richard Elmore's bid of $14,900 was accepted, but other expenses pushed the final cost up to the specified limit.

Henrico County Courthouse.

The courthouse, still standing at that location, is a brick structure done in the Richardson Romanesque style and features stone dressings. Named after Henry Hobson Richardson, the eclectic Richardson Romanesque architecture stressed intricacy, unusual and sculpted shapes, and individuality. This style of building was always build of stone, often mixed with brick. The Ruehrmund building uses more brick than many, but its three stories rest on a stone base.

Other Richardson Romanesque features of the courthouse include the wide-rounded entry arch in a true semi-circle and the pyramidal tower roof.

Aside from the courthouse, Ruehrmund designed a number of buildings, including houses, commercial structures, churches, and public buildings throughout Richmond and Virginia. Some examples an be found in the article titled "Carl Ruehrmund's Work", appearing later on this web page.

Ruehrmund's influence on Richmond architecture actually extended through another generation. His son, Max Ernst, joined his father in 1917, and the company changed its name to Ruehrmund & Son. By the 1920s, Max listed himself as the designer, builder, and developer for most of the company buildings.

Carl Ruehrmund passed away on October 25, 19727, and is buried in Hollywood Cemetery.

Joey Boehling

Other sources include:

Mararin, Louis H. and Clifford Dowdy. The History of Henrico County.

"Historic Styles/Richardsonian Romanesque 1880-1900." http://www.wentworthstudio.com/historic-styles/richardsonian-romanesque/.

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Carl Ruehrmund's Work

Richmond Examples

Shenandoah Apartments.

The Shenandoah Apartments on Lee Circle, a Chicago style high rise with multiple bay windows overlooking the street. The Hotel Stumpf at 8th and Main, high rise building in te Romanesque style. Mitchell's Mechanics' and Savings Bank at 3rd and Clay, later doubled in size. The Stokes house on Franklin Street in proto-modern style, featuring some characteristics of progressive German architecture at the time, including a front of nearly all windows and decorations limited to molded brick.

Stokes House. Mechanics' and Savings Bank. Stumpf Hotel.

The Earlier Henrico County Courthouse at 22nd and Main

Henrico County Courthouse illustration.

Built in 1825, the Henrico County Courthouse seen in an illustration from the Virginia Mutual Assurance Company sat in the middle of 22nd Street, as seen in Young's 1835 map of Richmond. The image is the 1853 Smith Map of Henrico after the courthouse had been moved to the western side of the street in the 1840s to open the street to traffic.

Location of courthouse in Young's 1835 map of Richmond. 1853 Smith Map of Henrico.

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Treating Hydrophobia: "Throwing Stones" at a Deadly Condition

A madstone.  From the National Museum of Health and Medicine, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology; Washington, D.C.

The phrase "Dog Bites Man" has often been used to indicate the mundanity of a story. However, in an earlier day, and actually not so very long ago, it identified a potentially dire situation - one that could easily have lead to hydrophobia, or rabies. According to the Mao Clinic, "Once a person begins showing signs and symptoms of rabies, the disease is nearly always fatal. For this reason, anyone who may have a risk of contracting rabies should receive rabies vaccines for protection." (www.mayocliinic.org).

Treatment today involves the Pasteur regimen of shots over a series of days, first used in 1885. But prior to Pasteur, and even for years after his innovation, many sought a different preventative - the madstone. Pictured is a madstone - from the National Museum of Health and Medicine, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology; Washington, D.C.

A madstone was actually a stony concretion (hairball) from the stomach of an animal, often a deer (albino deer were supposedly the most powerful). And the stone could supposedly counteract the effect of a mad animal's bite.

The treatment:  A photograph from the 14 July 1912 Richmond Times Dispatch depicts the placement of a madstone on a wound.  The photo was used to illustrate The Madstone Fallacy, a section of a full-page article on rabies.

The stone was placed on the open wound, and it was supposed to adhere until it drew out all the virus, after which it fell off. Before being used again, it was boiled in milk to "purify" it. Pictured: The treatment: A photograph from the 14 July 1912 Richmond Times Dispatch depicts the placement of a madstone on a wound. The photo was used to illustrate "The Madstone Fallacy," a section of a full-page article on rabies.

Tney were highly valued, and tradition had it that a madstone could not be sold; therefore, they were often handed down in families. However, not everyone held to that belief as evidenced by the classified ad on page 8 of the 6 July 1906 Richmond Times-Dispatch. The unidentified seller named a price of $3,000 and added, "Name and address given for 5cl stamps. J 479 care this office." Clearly, the owner thought the stone quite valuable.

Local newspapers from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries often carried accounts of people in many different locations who sought treatment with madstones, who travelled to be treated by one or who lauded the efficacy of the treatment./p>

In one such story, the Richmond Dispatch of 17 February 1855 told of Mr. H. H. Corrihar and his seven-year-old son who had travelled from North Carolina to Richmond "for the purpose of seeking the benefits of a madstone, possessed by a lady in this city. About six days ago a rabid dog bit both Mr. Corrihar and his son, and as soon as they could, they came here for relief."

Other stories had even stronger local connections. The Richmond Dispatch of 18 October 1901 recounted the experience of Mr. John Warriner, a member of the Varina School Board. He had been bitten twice by a dog twice on the previous Sunday. The article goes on to say "On Monday the dog died of hydrophobia. Mr. Warriner came to the city immediately upon learning of the dog's death and went to Harrison's Drugstore where a "mad stone" was applied. The stone applied and Mr. Warriner returned home very much relieved.

The Richmond Planet even seemed to one particular need for a madstone as part of a larger design in its 29 June 1895 stony headlined "Melton Released." It stated, "Mosby Melton, (white) who feloniously kicked Ms. Hannah Green (colored) killing her unborn child, was released from the Henrico County jail, Monday June 24th." He had earlier been convicted of simple assault and fined $5.00 in what the paper called "one of the most outrageous miscarriages of justice ever chronicled in the history of the state." The story goes on to say that his wife met him at the jail door, and she had been bitten the day before by a rabid dog and was searching for a madstone, concluding that "It looked like retribution."

A year later on 29 August 1896, the same newspaper proclaimed, "There is a mad-stone in Richmond and it is claimed that it will prevent hydrophobia." Henry Hammel, a Henrico county resident, had been bitten by a mad dog and he was treated with a stone owned by Mr. John Fogarty of Oregon Hill. Its existence was apparently an attraction to many, for the article ended by saying, "It may be seen at the office of the Board of Health, Clerk Arthur May having charge of it.

From our perspective today, it is easy to sneer at such behavior and belief. However, those bitten by seemingly mad animals had little recourse. They were confronted with the possibility of contracting an untreatable disease which could lead to hallucinations and partial paralysis before inevitable death - a powerful motivation to try the exotic, the near unbelievable.

Joey Boehling

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How to Bake a Shad


Two years ago, we ran a brief article giving Mary Randolphs's recipe for roasting shad. Well, it's March and the shad are again running up the James River to spawn. Here is another of Ms. Randolph's recipes for shad taken from The Virginia Housewife.

The shad is a very indifferent fish unless it be large and fat; when you get a good one, prepare it nicely, put some forcemeat inside, and lay it at full length in a pan with a pint of water, a gill of red wine, one of mushroom catsup, a little pepper, vinegar, salt, a few cloves of garlic, and six cloves: heat it gently till the gravy is sufficiently reduced; there should always be a fish-slice with holes to lay the fish on for the convenience of dishing without breaking it; when the fish is taken up, slip it carefully onto the dish; thicken the gravy with butter and brown flour, and pour over it.

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Now You Know: A Shocking Revelation

Shock binder without cord.

Looks like we stumped everyone again with the last object for consideration because we got no identifications - not even any wild guesses. It goes by several names, including fodder binder, shock tier, shock binder, and shock compressor. It was used to compress stalks of grain into shocks until they could be tied.

Most shock tiers consisted of a pointed wooden stick a couple of feet long, and a length of cord. Our example obviously lacked the cord, but the second example features the rope for compressing. That commercially made binder was actually patented by Alta Smith of Richmond in 1907.

Shock binder with cord.

To use the binder, corn stalks were gathered and stood on the cut ends to form the shock. They might be as large as two to three feet in diameter. The pointed end of the stick was pushed horizontally into the stalk at the height where it would be tied. The rope was attached to the knob in our example, and the loose end of the rope was then taken around the shock, pulled up snug and attached to the other side of the device. Turning the crank handle then tightened the rope around the stalks, compressing the bundle so it could be tied with twine. On some, a ratchet or hook was used to hold the tension while the twine was tied tightly and cut off. The tension was released from the shock and a new one started.

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What Do You Know?

What Do You Know Object.

The hand-made wooden item pictured is 32 inches long from end to end. The long part is approximately 1 1/2" in diameter. The inset detail shows part of an eight-inch 1" x 1" piece extending through the implement holding a piece of metal with serrated teeth on each end.

Email your answers to jboehling@verizon.net.

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News 2015: First Quarter
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