Henrico County Historical Society
PO Box 90775   Henrico, VA 23273   (804)501-5682   hchsinfo@yahoo.com
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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 2019, Second Quarter

President's Message

William (Bill) Martin, Director of the Valentine Museum, recently spoke at the Richmond Times-Dispatch's Annual Correspondents of the Day celebration. He discussed the centrol role that newspapers and museums play in sustaining a civil society. To quote Mr. Martin's article in the Commentary & Business section of the Times-Dispatch, May 5th issue, "We hope the Valentine, through its timely exhibitions, special programming, and innovative tours, can create experiences that challenge us to dig deeper into our communicty's past. We aim to use our collection, educators, tour guides, staff, and indeed, the city itself to provoke active dialogue about the enduring legacy of our past and the opportunities it creates for the future." There is rarely an event in the Richmond region where Bill is not in attendance, and he is always attuned to keeping the Valentine relevant. Key words in Bill's message are community, past, and legacy.

There is no disconnect between the past and the future. How did we get to the present if not for the past? What is the legacy we leave and in reference to another key word in Bill's message, what are the opportunities we provide to the future of Henrico County? Very thought provoking!

It may be of interest that in the process of reducing the history / future museum collection of Henrico County, the original Krispy Kreme sign was recently gifted to the Henrico County Division of Recreation Parks / History Museum Services to the Valentine Museum. We may rest assured that a small part of Henrico history in in good hands. And maybe one day we may presenet Henrico history in our own museum./p>

June 2nd will be the 44th annual meeting of the Henrico County Historical Society. As mentioned previously, our meetings this year will feature each of Henrico's 5 magisterial districts. HCHS Director Cathy Boehling will feature the Three Chopt District at this meeting. Our speaker, Matthew (Matt) Webster, is the Director of the Grainger Department of Architectural Preservation and Research for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. In this role he oversees the preservation of 603 structures in the National Landmark historic area, the 15,000 piece architectural fragment collection, architectural research, and historic interiors. He has taught at the University of Virginia and University of Mary Washington and lectures frequently on preservation, architecture, and history topics. He also served as Director of Restoration for George Washington's Fredericksburg Foundation, where he oversaw the restoration of Kenmore. He sits on the advisory boards of Stratford Hall, Menokin and Rosewell in Virginia. He has consulted on projects throughout the eastern United States.

I met Matt while attending a workshop in Northumberland County. You will most certainly enjoy seeing his very informative presentation and the amazing work that he does./p>

Sara Pace, President


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June Quarterly Meeting

Matt Wheeler.

Our next meeting is scheduled for Sunday, June 2, 2019, starting at 2:30 p.m. Our board meeting will be at 1:30 p.m. The meeting will be at the Walkerton Tavern, which is located at 2892 Mountain Road in Glen Allen, VA 23060.

Join us to hear Matt Webster, Director of the Grainger Department of Architectural Preservation and Research for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

Important Note: We will be voting on HCHS Officers.

See You There!


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Inventive Henricoans

Henricoan inventor John Cussons. Forest Lodge.

This newsletter includes a travel back in time to a Henrico resort. So for our inventive Henricoan of the past, we have John Cussons. He is quite appropriate because he held patents on several different types of calendars, one shown here, and because he was the owner and operator of the Glen Allen resort known as Forest Lodge, which stood on Mountain adjacent to the railroad tracks.

Patent for Dial Calendar. Diagram of Dial Calendar.


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On the Dolly Varden to Henrico's Riverside Park Richmonders Enjoyed Taking the Ten-cent Tour

Let's spend a day in the park - Byrd Park. We'll relax in the sun, feed the ducks then drive down Pump House Drive and park in sight of the iconic 1882 Gothic Revival "new" pump house constructed of local granite. We'll take the path down to the building on the edge of the Three Mile Locks of the James River and Kanawha Canal. As we look across the canal at Three Mile Lock Park, we let the clock run backward and imagine the changes the area has gone through.

Gradually, the stately homes up above on Pump House Drive disappear along with the Carillon. The city limits move eastward, and we are in Henrico County. The pump house, host of dances as well as supplier of the city with water, vanishes, as do the city reservoir and Byrd Park (originally called New Reservoir Park) behind us. Across the canal, the railroad tracks are replaced by the towpath trod by mules pulling canal boats, and five acres of the overgrown land between the canal and the James River is transformed into a park - Riverside Park, a destination for Richmonders in the 1870s.

Canal boat.

Richmond physician Dr. O. A. Crenshaw owned the 23 1/2 acre tract between the canal and the James. He had been a surgeon in the Civil War and in 1877, served as the President of the Richmond Academy of Medicine. In the early 1870s, he established the Riverside Park Company, and a group of journalists set up the Dolly Varden Line of canal boats with the express purpose of bringing Richmonders to Riverside Park.

Above is an illustration from Harper's Weekly (October 13, 1865) showing two types of canal nineteenth century canal boats similar to what could have traveled on theJames River & Kanawha Canal.

Dolly Varden.

Those canal boats fit right into a craze of the time where countless items of fashion and much more were named for Dolly Varden, the gaily dressed coquette from Charles Dickens' Barnaby Rudge. In fact, a 12 August 1872 article from The Daily State Journal from Alexandria pointed out that "we may call almost anything after this pert young miss."

At right is an 1872 lithograph by Currier and Ives depicting Dolly Varden, the Charles Dickens character who gave the name to many items, including the line of Richmond canal boats.

That same article paints the Dolly Varden canal boats and the trip in the most glowing terms. It says, "We can hardly say too much in favor of the Dolly Varden canal boats, as they sail gracefully up the Kanawha, decorated with lanterns of Dolly's own colors, which are prismatic enough, and as she sends up rockets we watch their progress in the air, and when they break, lo! can it be? they all down in Dollies."

Whether the account was a matter of puffery, not-so-subtle advertising or truthful observation, it is somewhat hard to believe that in just a few short weeks the fleet had been assembled. An ad placed by the Riverside Park Company of 1201 Main Street in the 18 June 1872 Daily Dispatch solicited proposals for the "the building of EIGHT FIRST-CLASS EXCURSION BOATS, to run on the first level of the James River and Kanawha Canal and points beyond." It went on to specify that the boats must be "built with a view to speed as well as the comfortable accommodation of 150 passengers." It als required that the boats have awnings and "first-rate upholstery."

For a ten-cent fair each way, patrons were granted free admission to the park, while passengers on other boat lines were charged twenty-five cents. The reproduced clipping from the 12 June 1872 Daily Dispatch announces the formal opening of the park, and it seems that for their two bits, park-goers got quite an experience - swings, dancing, ice cream, croquet, all in view of the James River. An earlier canal boat experience recounted in the 8 June 1872 Daily Dispatch mentions another activity cruisers engaged in, one that was to be regularly re-enacted when the new castle-like pump house was built. Under the heading "Excursion to Riverside Park," the paper told that the passengers went as far as the three-mile locks. Arriving there before dark, the excursionists disembarked and indulged in a stroll over the beautiful to park . . . Returning to the pump-house, the floor was soon prepared for a dance, and a band being on the boat, music was not lacking. Dancing was continued and kept up until the timely hour of 10 o'clock." The pump house was the old pump house that was located closer to Richmond on the canal below Hollywood Cemtery (see page 6).

Myriad groups and organizations including the Undine Temple of Honor, the Conservative citizens of Henrico, the children of St. Joseph's female orphan asylum and the Pamunky Tribe, No. 43. I.O.R.M. scheduled picnics (or "pic-nics" in the papers of the time) at the park, transported by the Dolly Varden Line. Interestingly, the 5 June 1872 Daily State Journal identified the destination of the children of St. Joseph's as "Crenshaw's Park, near the three-mile locks."

Other excursions offered a number of interesting activities. For example, the 19 July 1872 Daily Dispatch announced a "Gentlemen's Bathing Party" and that the Dolly Varden would "leave Eighth stret at 9 P. M. to convey all who wish to go up the canal to take a bath." And the next day's Dispatch announced "The Ladies' Boat" where "The 'little' Dolly Varden leaves Eighth street . . . on an excursion . . . for the special accomodation of ladies adn their excorts and children.

Despite the apparent popularity of the park, its full development seemed a bit slow. The Daily State Journal of 30 July 1873 expressed disappointment when it said, "The prospect of having pavillion accommodations, as was in a measure half-way promised this summer, either at Riverside park or in the vicinity of the three-mile locks, seems rather slim just at present-0 if indeed it has not been given up altogether." And such improvements were a bit slow in coming; however, in the Daily Dispatch of 1 June 1875, O.A. Crenshaw announced that "Riverside Park, having been fitted up with Dancing-Hall, &c., is for rent to PicNic Parties."

The park, as it turned out, only had two years left. In November 1877, a severe flood hit the James River, doing serious damage to the canal. The Richmond and Alleghany Rialroad bought the right of way and laid tracks on the towpath. It merged with the C&O Railroad,, which became CSX, still the owner of the land between what was the park and the river.

By 1880, Dr. Crenshaw needed to settle deeds of trust and was ready to let the park and other real estate holdings go. The 10 May 1880 Daily Dispatch announced the following as seen below:

Daily Dispatch Auction Announcement.

Several years later the Daily Dispatch of 15 July 1883 printed an announcement that praised the park's reopening. It said, "The Richmond and Alleghany Railroad Company are actively at work improving Riverside Park . . . and will remove the undergrowth, lay out paths, put up benches, and rustic seats, connect some of the little islands with the shore by bridges, erect a dancing pavillion 40x60, a refreshment stand and a reception-room at the switch turnout." Plans also included a bowling alley, swings, and a music-all available three days a week. Then, it added, ironically we see, "Unlike many other pic-nic places, this is destined to permanency; for the pump-house grounds and new Reservoir Park will be beautified from year to year." Unfortunately, all was not so permanent.

Dr. Octavius Asbury Crenshaw practiced medicine in Richmond until his death in 1906. But he apparently maintained a strong affection for the James River. In 1894, he was granted "2 and 3/4 acres lying in Henrico County, being two islands in the James River near Cooper's Island" (Land Office Treasury Warrant No. 50963). That land is just below the James River Railroad Bridge, close to the site of his Riverside Park. And Dr. Crenshaw is still close to the river today; he and his wife are buried in Hollywood Cemetery, overlooking the James River, very close to where visitors to his park danced at the pump-house on their return trip on the Dolly Varden.

Our trip in time now returns to the present, and we find ourselves sort of mirror images of those nineteenth-century Richmonders who visited Henrico's Riverside Park. We are Henrico visitors enjoying a Richmond Park.

Joey Boehling

Cooper's Island.






Cooper's Island. The stand of trees in the center of the photograph marks the site of the tiny island granted to Dr. Crenshaw in 1894.


Riverside Park and environs today:

The 1882 Gothic Revival Byrd Park Pump House:

1882 Gothic Revival Byrd Park Pump House.


Locks 2 and 3, the first two of the pair of Three Mile Locks:

Lock 2. Lock 3.


A walking trail through Pump House Park, originally the area of Riverside Park:

Riverside Path.


Final resting place: Dr. Octavious Asbury Crenshaw's grave, as well as those of his wife and daughter are on a hillside in Hollywood cemetery overlooking the James River.

Grave of Dr OA Crenshaw.


An article about Riverside Park:

An Article about Riverside Park.


The Original Pump House

Richmond, from the hill above the Waterworks. The small white building in this 1834 engraving is the original pump house, and the view is from the hill that is now Hollywood Cemetery.

Canal view from hill.


The original pump house with additions. The original pump house comprised half of the building depicted above (from George H. Whitfield's Watering the City of Richmond, 1930).

Original Pump House.

Site of the original pump house today. The building whose roof is visible just beyond the trees sits on the site of the first pump house. Stone blocks from the original canal are visible in the triangular area of the photo at the bottom.

Site of original pump house today.


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Now You Know

Silver plated barber bottle was a cut above

Barber bottle.




Our mystery object (at the left) in the last issue was a barber bottle but it was an awfully fancy one. We congratulate Valerie Bell, who suggested that it could have been used to hold rosewater. Indeed, it could; and it might have held any number of liquids to be applied to the barber's customers' hair: hair tonic, hair oil, bay rum, shampoo, and rosewater. Used by barbers in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, most barber bottles were glass, often colored and decorated like those seen below. Our bottle, however, is silver plated - definitely "a cut above".

Barber bottles.


Shaving bowls

The barber held one of these rather obscure items under a customer's chin, and the cut out section of the rim allowed him to hold it against the neck, as seen below right. Early barbers were also surgeons, and the bowls could also be used for bleeding. The European example below left even features barber tools.

European bowl with barber tools. Two different kinds of bowls used by barbers.


Barbicide: Maurice King's helpful joke

Jar of Barbicide.

While you won't find a barber's bottle like those pictured right in a barber shop today, there is one bottle you might notice - the distinctive bright blue bottle of Barbicide.

Over seventy years ago, Maurice King, a chemical engineering graduate from the University of Minnesota who taught chemistry at Manhattan's Central Commercial High School in the late 1930s, developed the formula.

After World War II, he became an entrpreneur experimenting with detergents. He apparently developed Barbicide in his bathtub, thearafter lobbying different state capitals to require barber shops to use disinfectants.

He had suffered from sores in his scalp that barbers irritated with their combs when they cut his hair, and he was often upset with the careless cleaning of barbers' combs.

He developed an aversion to barbers; so when it came time to name his 1947 invention, he dubbed it "Barbicide" - killing the barber. Today the tall chrome capped bottles of that brilliant liquid, a blue somewhere between turquoise and cobalt, can be found in most all barber shops. It is so much a part of our culture that it can even be found in the Smithsonian.


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What Do You Know?

Wooden object 36 inches long.

Arched crosspiece 7 inches long.


The wooden object seen above is 36" long. The arched crosspiece top and left is 7" long.

Do you know what it is?
Email your answers to:
jboehling@verizon.net.

If you have an unusual object that you think we might be interested in for this quarterly feature, let us know. We'd love to hear from you.


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