Heart of a Southern Woman

A snapshot of life one blog post at a time.

Honoring the School Principals in our Family–Past and Present

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Leadership larrypage-quote

I love the saying above! Larry Page may have been talking about Google employees when he said this, but if you change the word “company” to “school”, I believe this is a perfect saying for educators!  They all want to have an impact for the good of society!  Their principal can help them get there if she/he is a good leader! I only know of  one actual sitting Principal in our family at this moment in time, but we have had many over the years. I want to highlight a few of these special people  for you today!  

Richard TurnerOur currently active high school principal is Dr. Richard Turner, EdD, principal of  William Byrd High School in Roanoke County, Virginia.  He is our cousin through the Langhorne, Spangler, Omohundro, Stovall, and Turner lines of our family tree.  Richard served as the Assistant Principal at William Byrd High School from 1992-1999, and has been the Principal there since 1999, for sixteen years now! You have to be amazed at his meteoric rise in educational leadership when you realize that he graduated with a BS from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) in 1982 and started teaching Marketing Education  at William Fleming High School that very year! In 1987, Richard earned his MS at Virginia Tech, and from 1988- 1992 he served as the Program Coordinator (Supervisor) for the Marketing and Adult Education Programs for the entire Roanoke County Public School System. He went on to earn his Doctorate in Education in 1994 at Nova-Southeasern University. 

While that is a good overview of his education and main career focus in the last 33 years, it nowhere near paints a complete portrait of this dynamic man who shares our genes and makes us proud to be related!  Was he only teaching and leading? Not by a long shot!  He is married to the talented Tina Turner who is also an educator! She is the Assistant Principal at Hidden Valley High School, also part of the Roanoke County Public School System in Virginia. Richard has two young adult children from his first marriage and two stepchildren, also young adults. That’s four children whose lives he’s been a major part of during his life, as well as the thousands of student lives he’s touched.  

Along with his demanding main career and family responsibilities,  Richard has made his life bloom with other interests and responsibilities as well.  He served as an assistant basketball coach and a head soccer coach along the way.  He taught and coordinated adult continuing education classes as well.  However, his leadership abilities were well-recognized as he served his community in these many different  capacities.He was the chairman of the Blue Ridge District with the Virginia High School League (VHSL) and chaired the VHSL Region 3! He is a past-state President of the Virginia Association of Secondary School Principals (VASSP), and currently sits on the Board of Directors for Region 6.  He rises to super stardom when you realize that he is a current member of the Parent’s Council at James Madison University  where his daughter is a senior, and has served as the past chairman.  He is also on the Board of Directors for the Vinton, Virginia Chamber of Commerce, and serves as the co-chair for the Leadership Council for the Roanoke Valley chapter of the American Cancer Society! 

You’d think that would be all any one person could manage, until you discuss hobbies with him!  Richard admits that he loves anything and everything related to Virginia Tech!  Since Virginia Tech is all about the burnt orange and Chicago Maroon, I am trying to honor his enthusiasm  with this post! I can’t imagine where he gets the time, but he likes to golf, is a ham radio operator, , and loves working with old cars and hot rods!  He even has a collection of cars! He raced  alcohol powered karts for many years with the World Karting Association (WKA) and won several track titles!  Can you believe he finds time to serve even now as a part-time crewman for BK Racing on the Sprint Cup Series! For those n the know–his team has 3 cars that compete, #23-Jeb Burton, #26- J.J. Yeley, and #83- Matt Dibennetto! 

Can you say Wow! Awesome! Inimitable! Superlative!  Excellent! Yes, Dr. Richard Turner is all of these things! He is also our cousin. Our dna crosses over. He represents us more than well, and like all of our educators, we are so blessed to have him in our family! Thank you Dr. Richard Turner, for who you are, for your accomplishments, and for your gifts to our civilization and society!  We applaud you and are happy to call you family! 

DNA has become important in my genealogical research, and as I have written about these educators in our family, I have become even more convinced of its influence on our lives.  Dr. Richard Turner would not, I believe,  deny that dna might have had an influence on some of his talents and abilities as his own father was a stellar educator as well.   I had the opportunity to read an incredible interview of Juel McKay Turner, Turner, JuelRichard’s father, recently, and I believe you might enjoy reading it as well.  Juel was our sixth cousin, and Richard is our sixth cousin once removed, at least for those in my line and my generation.   Juel lived from 1926 to 2011. He taught and served as the Principal of different levels of schools in Virginia for thirty-five years! He served as a Principal when he had to teach as well, had no assistants, no custodian, and had to fill pot-bellied stoves with coal for heat everyday!  In this interview, Juel tells details from his salary, and his duties, to working with staff .  He tells us that right out of college in 1951 he was hired to teach sixth grade and to be the Principal as well, at Patrick Springs Elementary School in Patrick County, Virginia.  For his work, he was paid $2000.00 a year, taking home about  $170 a month, $100.00 of which went for his car!  It is an extremely interesting interview of one of our educator cousins. If you want to read it, and I think you’d love it, you can find it here: http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/faculty_archives/principalship/t/276turner.html

I have three more Principals to  present to you for  our honoring of educators in the family!  They will be included in the next post. I hope you are enjoying learning about the amazing educators in our family as much as I am!  What a talented group of people!  

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Honoring the School Principals in our Family–Past and Present, Part 2 of 2

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Leadership Quote by John-Quincy-Adams on inspiring

Youngblood, Kay in front of bookshelvesToday I want to introduce you to  a true leader and another school Principal in  our family tree!  Kay Youngblood Fuller is my 2nd cousin on my father’s side of the family. We knew each other as children in Richmond,Virginia,  then lost touch until we ended up at the same small Methodist College, Greensboro College in Greensboro, North Carolina. This allowed us to renew our friendship which has lasted uninterrupted since then in 1968! Being friends with this dynamic leader and ball of fire is amazing all by itself!  She is fun to observe and fun to be with–she’s like the driving force or the wind beneath a lot of people’s wings! Kay has been married for 45 years, and has three children and three grandchildren. Like many educational leaders, she has done it all!

After college, Kay went on to earn not one, but several Master’s degrees! She earned a Masters in Curriculum at Elon College, in Elon, NC. She also earned a Master’s in Educational Administration at University of North Carolina at Pembroke, UNCP. As if that wasn’t enough, she completed all but her dissertation in Educational Leadership from UNCP/East Carolina University! What’s amazing is that Kay did all this while parenting three small children! When Kay walks into a room, people notice the energy she exudes!

Giving you the briefest synopsis of Kay’s career is still amazing in my opinion!  I neglected to tell you that Kay is also a talented musician, playing several instruments and singing beautifully! Think God gave her enough talents? The wonderful thing is that she uses them! She served as a Director of Music at Harrells Christian Academy in Harrells, North Carolina, then held the same position at  Heritage Academy in Newman, Georgia.  When her family relocated to Greensboro, NC, Kay started teaching eighth grade Math, first at Mendenhall Middle School, then at Kiser Middle School for the Guilford County Public School System. I personally was thrilled when her husband’s job brought them to Raleigh, NC where I was living.  The Wake County Public Schools System was very happy to have this experienced educator to teach 8th grade Math and English at Ligon Gifted and Talented Magnet Middle School, where both of my children attended!  Never a family to let grass grow under their feet, Kay soon found herself teaching in Laurinburg, NC where she not only taught 8th grade Math, but became the AIG-Academically/Intellectually Gifted Program Facilitator at Spring Hill Middle School! Her leadership skills firmly recognized and tested, she was chosen the Assistant Principal of I.E. Johnson Elementary School, then the Principal of Scotland High School of Leadership and Public Service in Scotland County, North Carolina!  After serving Scotland County Schools as the Director of Secondary Education, at only age 63, Kay retired with 37 years in education!

What did this amazing woman do upon retirement?  She was asked, and agreed to teach Algebra II for one year at Hickory Grove Christian School in Charlotte, NC!  This year she is administering an NC Quest Grant for Richmond County Schools!  Whew! Wow! Awesome! I can hardly catch my breath just thinking of this whirlwind flying through life!  I’d certainly have to compare her to a soaring Eagle when I think of this quote which I believe describes her very well:

Leadership eagle

Bill Williamson was married to my first cousin Claudia.  We already had the chance to meet his dynamic Williamson, Bill, Principaldaughters, teachers Becky W. Stodola and Stephanie W. Nicklin. He has a very entrepreneurial son, Bill Jr, a good businessman as well! Bill Sr. was a popular Science teacher at Matoaka High School in Chesterfield County, Virginia,  where he was also a football coach. He was later tapped to be the Principal there where he was so well-known. I wonder if that made his job harder or easier?  He served as Principal at two other schools as well, Kanawha Elementary in Cumberland County, Virginia, and  Mechanicsvile Junior High School in Mechanicsville, Virginia.  Bill also earned three Master’s degrees– one from the University of Virginia and two from Virginia Commonwealth University!  We do have an educated family–one who lives by their strong beliefs in the importance of education!  Tragically, Bill was killed in an automobile accident when he was only fifty years old. He would have been so proud to see how well his children have done professionally and personally–how they have followed in his footsteps in education. How they’ve become good people who care about others. His grandchildren as well, four of them, all growing into smart, exciting young men and women. We are blessed by this family in ours and in our world!

Hogg, Calvin, principal and Dory grandfatherAn ancestor Principal, Calvin Hogg, was born 10 Mar 1883 in Slippery Rock Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania, and died 15 May 1962 in Cherry Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania.  He is related to  our family on both my father’s side through his Hogues and Watts, and on my mother’s side of the family through the Hoges and the Spanglers! Isn’t that amazing! I did  not know this until I started working on genealogy and met his granddaughter, my cousin, Dorothy Voorus Hogg Moore, called Dory. The Spanglers are related to Dory through her Voorus/Voorhees line of ancestors!  Amazing.  Calvin and his whole family were educators. We already met and heard about his wife Dorothy and her sisters, Bessie, and Lena. His son, Dory’s father,  Robert Arthur Hogg, taught Science and later became a Guidance Counselor.  We will hear about another of Dorothy’s brothers when we meet our college educators.

Calvin was an interesting person. He served in the Armed Services in World War I. When he returned, he earned his BA from Grove City College and his MA from the University of Pittsburgh. He then taught at Karns City Elementary. Later he served as the Principal at both Harrisville and at Evans City School. He moved on to be a District Supervisor and the Assistant Superintendent of Butler County Schools until he retired in 1953. What a career he had!  How much would I have liked to have had the opportunity to talk with him about all of his experiences over the years.  He attended schools before the turn of the 20th century, then taught and lead them for another half century, can you imagine what he could tell us?  He was retiring about the time  Juel Turner from our last post was beginning his educational career. We know Juel filled his own pot-bellied stoves for warmth in his classroom and taught and served as Principal at the same time–can you imagine what the classroom was like for Calvin Hogg?  I would have loved to hear his stories! 

Five School Principals profiled, five in one family system! I think  that is pretty amazing, and I am sure there are more of whom I am not aware.  These five however, bring us great honor as a family, and so we honor them back! Thank you for all of your hard work, for the huge gift you have given our society and our family as you have chosen to lead the call for the importance of education!  

Our last educator posts will focus on our college professors and instructors.  We have quite a few of these talented individuals who represent our family well. Please share your thoughts with us, tell us about your favorite educator, tell us about  some of these if you knew them. Until we meet again, keep on learning! 

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“V” — Virginia is for Lovers–Lovers of Mountains, Beaches, History, Gardens, and Family!

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I was born and reared in Richmond, Virginia. My Mom’s family lived in Virginia since the beginning of our country, literally, in Jamestown! I think I’ve identified at least twenty ancestors who were present in Jamestown. Through my genealogical work, I even discovered that one of my great-great grandfathers designed and helped build the Capital building of Colonial Williamsburg, and the Governors’s Palace! Fast forward to the 1950’s and ’60’s in Richmond, with my Mom working in downtown Richmond, I was often left at the capital building of Virginia to tour and wait for her to finish work. Sometimes I was left at the State library, or one of the many museums! Mom was sneaky that way…absorb a little history and education while you cool your heels! LOL One thing I absorbed, was the beauty of downtown Richmond–the old churches and all the public buildings, it is just lovely. When we went up this week to see some of the Historic Garden Week homes and gardens, seeing the city through the eyes of my friend, brought the pride back of growing up in Richmond, with its Monument Avenue, fan district, Museum of Fine Arts, and the Capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Everywhere I looked there were stories, family stories, historic stories, and personal stories. Parades, celebrations, the department stores with their grand windows, all that came flooding back!

My Dad’s family was from Petersburg, where we toured the gardens, some of which I showed you in my T for Tour of Two Gardens post. There’s more I want to share, but today, I think I’ll concentrate on Richmond. I just want to share some of my favorite pictures, and show off some of my favorite sites in my home town.

We drove in from Midlothian and over the Huguenot Bridge into the city, just as my family did many, many days from our home on the South side of the bridge, to visit my Mom at her office on Cary Street when we were young, later downtown at 10th Street and Main Street, in the financial district.  Crossing the James River on the Huguenot Bridge brings you right up the hill past the lovely Country Club of Virginia where my sister had her wedding reception, and across from the stately old homes .

On the way to the lovely Virginia Museum of Art in downtown Richmond, we toured our friend from North Carolina around town. First step a drive down Monument Avenue with the accompanying stories of the statues facing north and south and their meaning. We had to drive her through Capital Square to show off our beautiful State Capital building designed by Thomas Jefferson. Then of course, the Jefferson Hotel itself with its grand staircase! We passed through the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University and the Medical College of Virginia, admired the architecture of small and large city houses, and admired the numerous old churches of all faiths.

Historical information from richmondthenand now.com

Regarding the Virginia State Capital building: ”

Thomas Jefferson sent from France a plaster model he had prepared in collaboration with the French architect, Charles Louis Clarisseau, as a modified design of the Maison Carre, late Roman temple at Nimes. The capitol antedated by more than 20 years the Madeleine in Paris, first example in Europe of similar quasi-literal temple architecture.

The cornerstone was laid in 1785 but the capitol was not completed in time to house the ratification convention in June, 1788, although the general assembly met in the unfinished building in October. The original portion was finished in 1792 under the supervision of Samuel Dobie and the brick was covered with stucco in 1798.

The wings and the long flight of steps were built in 1904-05.Virginia State Capitol. “

” Washington Monument, Capitol Square, St. Pauls Episcopal Church in the background – Photo 1865. “

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“T” = Tale of Two Garden Tours

President's Home, Richard Bland College, Petersburg, Virginia, April 21, 2015.Photo by Helen y. Holshouser

President’s Home, Richard Bland College, Petersburg, Virginia, April 21, 2015. Photo by Helen y. Holshouser

Tuesday, April 21, 2015, I had the opportunity and supreme pleasure of touring in Petersburg, Virginia during their Historic Garden Week in Virginia.  Can you imagine–all over the whole state of Virginia–my home state–during April, there is an open house allowing us to see inside  over 250 of the most beautiful gardens, homes,and historic landmarks in the whole state!  You can read about it in detail here:  http://www.vagardenweek.org/   You can download a pdf of the  Garden Club of Virginia’s Historic Garden Week ‘s guidebook with information, pictures, and directions to all of the sites at http://www.vagardenweek.org/assets/documents/hgw15-guidebook-complete.pdf  It is full of amazing information and would be helpful in your planning for the tour the next two days, and next year! The fact that this is a volunteer effort is incredibly awesome to me! Hours and hours of hundreds of volunteers have gone in to this effort! We actually toured five sites plus a historic church yesterday, and everywhere we were warmly greeted by Master Gardeners, homeowners, historians and other volunteers!  Today I am only writing this post about two of the gardens. I will blog about all the sites in time! My friend Sharon, a neighbor and cousin, took me and my wheelchair and we met my sister Anne and two of her friends, Gail and Sandra, from Richmond. The day was 77 degrees and sunny, glorious! We had a wonderful tour, and were all majorly inspired! 

One of the beautiful gardens we toured, surrounded a pond in front of the President’s home on the campus of Richard Bland College in Petersburg.  While the home site is gorgeous, look at some of the pictures I took around the small pond just in front of this house! It is called an “Asian Water Feature” in the guidebook, I call it a secret garden, secret from the rest of the world!  It looks like it’s modeled upon Monet’s painting of the Japanese Bridge and garden, just that beautiful!  I felt a peace settle over me and an inspiration that was just wonderful! 

There were Master Gardeners everywhere, and they identified every single plant I asked about, but I could only do my best in trying to remember all the names! 

The second exquisite garden we toured was owned by Dr. and Mrs. Henry Tomlin–by God’s good fortune, we had the opportunity to be escorted and guided through the garden by Dr.Tomlin himself!  You could never ask for a more gracious, knowledgeable guide! Afterall, he was the owner and landscaper himself!  I suspect we had such good fortune because he wanted to save the rest of his garden from the accident prone, handicapped but enthusiastic garden tourist that was me! We entered on the path through a beautiful gateway and followed the path to the garden. Quickly we came to a grassy park area, surrounded by objets d’art in the lovely gardens which included dogwood trees in the distance and made you go “aaaaahhhh!” It looked like we could walk around the little grassy island, but soon after I ventured out in my power wheelchair, I realized it was wet–very wet!  I sunk through the grass and couldn’t move backwards or forwards! My spinning wheels were making tracks, ruts and digging holes in his pristine grassy park!  Ooooooh! I felt terrible!  We had not met him yet, but my friend helped me out of the chair, and started trying to push the 500 lb. power chair out of the mud/grass! A very kind man came along to help, and it turned out to be Dr.Tomlin,MD,  a retired obstetrician, owner, and landscape designer of these beautiful gardens! I offered to pay to have the area I had messed up fixed, and he put me at ease, not even sounding like he’d like to conk me over the head when I’d made such a mess on such an important day! He did say as well, to be gracious, and I imagine to protect his gardens, to let him guide us through the gardens because he knew where it was dry! As it turns out, they own five acres, and have landscaped three of them! We had an amazing tour. I wish I would have had a tape recorder, because perhaps my pictures can, but my memory won’t do him or his garden justice. He told us that when Hurricane Isabelle came through that area in 2003, they lost 120 trees! Getting them all removed was the beginning of this fabulous garden! Just look at this beauty, and I hope you enjoy it half as much as I did! 

Remembering American Slaves by Name, Part II

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slave names

–www.slideshare.net

slave names engraved on hand

–www.pinterest.com, search for image

The Slave Name Roll Project, started by Schalene Jennings Dagutis, strives to create a searchable resource for genealogical research of ancestors who were slaves in the United States. By asking descendants of slaves and slave-owners,  to collect and submit  names of slaves of their ancestors to this project, the hope is to collect as many names as possible, making them all more searchable and accessible to descendants.  There are only a few main resources to find the names of slaves. The slave schedules only had numbers of slaves. But some courts required the listing of slaves by name for property tax purposes. The other main place to find the names of slaves, is in wills.  People actually willed their slaves to their children!  Everytime I realize this, it makes me sick at heart. I will never understand how one of my relatives truly thought it was not only all right, but a good thing, to own slaves –to enslave another human being and  rationalize it in your mind! But it happened on a large-scale in the United States, until we fought a war over it and the slaves were freed. It took at least another one hundred years for African-Americans to begin to gain their civil rights.

Virginia showing Warwick County on map

Warwick County, Virginia, source: familysearch.org

 

My eighth great- grandfather, John Langhorne arrived in the Virginia Colony sometime after the mid 1600’s.  He and his wife Rebecca Carter married in England in 1665. John established a family home in Warwick County, Virginia, which served five generations.  In his book, The Virginia Langhornes, Appendix V, page 309,  James C. Langhorne gives a list of 36 slaves, first names only, who belonged to the Langhorne family, and were enumerated on the Warwick County tax lists between 1783-1785. By 1783, three generations of Langhornes who had lived in the home at Warwick County were gone. John’s great-grandson,William Langhorne  1721-1797, my 5th great-grandfather, would have been the head of the household  at that time. That means we’ve not yet found a lot of names. I will continue my research and see what I can find. I wanted to go ahead and get these names submitted so that they would be available for family to find.

Cumberland_County,_Virginia

Cumberland County, Virginia, source familysearch.org

 

In this same appendix, James C. Langhorne lists 80 more slaves who belonged to the Langhorne family who lived on a plantation in Cumberland County, Virginia.  These names were collected from Cumberland County tax records and estate records between 1784-1797. James C. Langhorne makes a note of telling us that names appearing more than once are not duplicated.  We know that  Maurice Langhorne, 1721-1791 was the first of the family to  relocate to Cumberland County in the piedmont of Virginia, away from the coast. He was my fifth great-grandfather, and  according to  tax records he bought thousands of acres of land in Cumberland, establishing himself as a successful plantation owner. The only way he believed he could be a successful planter in the late 1700’s, was to use slave labor to work the agricultural endeavors.  Among those slaves, are these now identified by James C. Langhorne if only by first names. I take my hat off to James, not many authors of genealogy books include the family slaves! It is a commendable thing that he does.

 

I found the illustration of Isaiah 49:15 very fitting for this situation. Men in  17th and 18th century America might have neglected the names of their slaves, but it seems God did not. As we find more and more names to place in the Slave Name Project, it seems God is giving the names to us, as He was holding them in the palm of His hand all the time, as promised.

slavery quote by Abraham Lincoln

From The Virginia Langhornes by James C. Langhorne we find this list of names of slaves owned by the Langhorne family, from Warwick County, Virginia, 1783-1785:

Adam,  Ann,  Bedford,  Ben,  Bob,  Cloe,  Cuddy,  Cupid,

Dinah,  Eliza,  Fanny,  Flora,  Frank,  Freeborn,  Grace,  Jack

James, James Read,  Jerry,  Judith,  Lawrence,  Lucinda,  Lucy,

Nanny,  Paul,  Peter,  Phillis,  Rachel,  Roger,  Sary,  Sylvia,  Sue  

Tom,  Venus ,  Will    

Also from The Virginia Langhornes comes this list of 80 more slaves belonging to the Langhorne family  in Cumberland County, Virginia between 1784-1797, gathered from estate records and County records:

 

“Abba,  Abraham,  Absolam,  Agga,  Alice,  Amy,  Ann,  Anthony, Archer,  Belley,  Betty,  Bob,  Caroline,  Cate,  Charles B. Smith,  Cland,  Damond,  Daniel,  Daphne,  Davy,  Dick,  Edmond,  Emy, Fanny,  Flora,  Frank,  George,  Hannah,  Hannibal,  Harry,  Isaac, Jack,  Jackson,  Jacob,  James,  Jane,  Jenny,  Jesse,  Jim,  Jimmy,  Jocie,  Joe,  John,  Johny,  Joicey,  Jubar,  Judy,  Juliana,  Julius,  Let,  Lewis,  Lucy,  Margery,  Misse,  Molly,  Moses,  Nancy,  Natt,  Ned,  Patty,  Peter,  Phillis,  Polly,  Rachel,  Reid,  Rhoda,  Robin Byrd,   Roger,  Rose,  Sally,  Sam,  Sarah,  Shepherd,  Sue,  Sukey,  Tom,  Violet,  Will,  Wiltshire,  Yorick “

What a blessing to be free, I wish you and your loved ones that blessing always!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Meadows of Dan Baptist Church Burns Down!

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Meadows of Dan is a small town on top of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Patrick County, Virginia. It sits at the mouth of the Dan River which runs down through North Carolina. My great, great-grandfather, James Steptoe Langhorne (called Steptoe) is credited with naming this town when he took up residence there about 1840. He and his wife, my Great-Great-Grandmother, Elizabeth Rachel Omohundro inherited a 13,000 acre plantation! They had slaves to help them run the house and the agricultural part of the plantation. They built a grist mill, started a school, and taught Sunday school from their own home. I descend from their daughter Evelyn, one of Steptoe’s eight children. Unfortunately, Steptoe was blind, inflicted with retinitis pigmentosa, the hereditary disease that stole the sight of his mother, several of his siblings, children, grandchildren, and continues in the family today.

Steptoe’s daughter Frances, called Fannie married Wallace Wolford Spangler and they raised their six children right there in the Meadows of Dan while most of the other grandchildren went elsewhere. When we had a Langhorne family reunion last year, it was the Spanglers who gave the tours and led the singing since they were the accomplished musicians from years gone by ! (If you check the right column of categories, you can find many stories and music videos about the Langhornes and the Spanglers.) While all of the grandchildren are gone, many of Steptoe’s Great-Grandchildren, Great-Greats and more still live in the area. 

During the Langhorne reunion last year, several of the family attended church services at the Meadows of Dan Baptist Church. We all went to the church cemetery where Steptoe and Elizabeth are buried, as well as Evelyn, Fannie and some others, including Evelyn’s child Virginia. This beautiful church and cemetery rests on land that once belonged to the Langhorne’s, Steptoe and his brother William who donated the land for the church, and even built the first log church there. When you walk in the cemetery and into the church, you can feel a sense of roots–this is  where our family lived, this is where they walked, 175 years ago! 

Also in this same church cemetery, are the graves of the Langhorne slaves. Yes, they are segregated, but they are present in the same church cemetery which lends credence to the stories of the Langhornes being kind to their slaves and treating them humanely. I am working on another post about the slaves, gathering their names for the National Slave Name Roll Project which was recently started by Schalene Jennings Dagutis. Over the years, there have been some controversies surrounding the “slave meadow” as their area has come to be called, started by an article of that name that can by found in the online mountain journal by Bob Heafner entitled The Mountain Laurel. I discuss this in more detail in the next post. 

Over 100 years ago, the members of the Meadows of Dan Baptist Church built a new church–the lovely white one seen in the pictures above. Last night that church burned down!  Thank heavens, no one was hurt.  Apparently the fire was caused by the furnace malfunctioning. Already the minister of the church is reminding the public that the church is the community, not the building. They will rebuild and be stronger than ever. 

When I learned that the church was on fire– I was shocked, even moved to tears! Then I was surprised that I had such strong feelings for a church just barely known to me really, as family history. However, I realized that I had gotten to know many people, many cousins,  in that community in the last couple years–I knew it would be painful to them, and part of what I was feeling was sympathy, empathy, the desire to go and be with them, to comfort them. I have to admit, being steeped just now in slave research, I wondered if there was malice involved, or anything to do with the controversies of the slave meadow. As it turns out that was all fantasy on my part, it reflects what I was studying in another era, arson is NOT suspected in this situation, but a wiring or other electrical problem unfortunately. The blessing comes in that no one was hurt by such a huge fire!  If you look at the very last photograph above (click to enlarge), you will see that three crosses appeared in the fire. A citizen of the community took this picture, Angela Grubb. What does it mean? Was it real?  What do you think, I’d really like to know. 

What a heart breaking event for many, many people, members of the church, and others with ties to the community.   I am praying that from the ashes something better will arise, with God’s help. Amen. 

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Marie Botto Kerse Maher- the Magnificent Musician–52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, #39

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Ali and Annie Colage of Marie B. Kerse Maher's studio and Ali and Annie for boog post

First photo is from the Richmond Times Dispatch showing Marie Kerse’s music studio in the year 1909, second shows sisters left to right, Ali Holshouser Orcutt and Annie Holshouser in 2014, talented musicians themselves who might have inherited their talents from their great-great Aunt Marie! Ali and Annie play piano, percussion, violin, saxophone, bells, and they both sing beautifully.

Marie Botto Kerse Maher was a twin and my great-aunt. I wrote about her twin sister Kate who died at age 17 week before last and you can find that story at this link to the post titled Kate Kerse, Twin and Young Artist Dies at 17 –52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #37. What a duo they must have been growing up! Think of all the passion and joy such talented artists would bring to the family. They must have been recognized in their church and community as well, as the stained glass window depicting sisters was dedicated at their church when Kate died. Apparently Marie played the organ there at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church on a regular basis. Now, a hundred years later, I  am thinking about them and trying to preserve their stories for our family.

Marie, 1878-1961, was the daughter of James Kerse, a Sergeant on the Richmond City Police force and his wife Mary Catherine Botto. I have written of these families before and you can find links to them and others about the family below. This post is about Marie, one of four children, whose baby brother Andrew Leo Kerse died  at age one when she was 9, and whose twin sister died when they were 17. She was no stranger to death when her mother died and Marie was only 28 years old. She married Joseph Franklin Maher in 1913, when she was 35, had one child, Joseph Jr. at 36.  Both of her parents were gone by her age 43. That is a lot of loss in a lifetime. I wonder if her music sustained her, or just kept her so busy, that she didn’t have time to think! 

I know her music kept her busy, because I have found a treasure trove of information about her on genealogybank.com from the Richmond Times Dispatch newspaper in Richmond, Virginia. The picture of her studio in 1909 shown above was one of the treasures found there!  I never met this great Aunt of mine and it was so much fun to get a glimpse inside her home and studio! 

Marie Kerse Maher ad for music lessons

I found an interesting pattern when searching for articles about Aunt Marie. From 1903, when she was 25, until her death in 1961, she operated a music studio out of her home!. Granted, she had a nice home in downtown Richmond, but it is reported that she had over 100 students some years! Every Fall you could find an article about her school starting and the need to register. Every June, you can find an article in the Richmond Times Dispatch about her recitals! She awarded medals and recognized her students liberally. Many were recognized for their talents in the newspaper. As I perused the articles, I was interested to see  pupils from some families I recognized. In 1903, she was teaching two of her own Botto nieces, Kate and Marguerite. There is also a Josie Clements in this article. One of my  genealogy researching cousins is Elizabeth Clements Mims, I suspect this student was in her family. Another family connection is the Bickerstaffs, and there in the review for 1912, you find students named James and Anne Bickerstaff! There are Spindle and Hancock students as well, all names I recognize. How much fun is that! There are other names I took note of. One name that was very interesting to see, was in 1905, Joseph Maher was Marie Kerse’s student–ten years later he became her husband! Took him long enough!

The recitals were obviously elaborate.They were held at venues like the Thomas Jefferson Hotel in downtown Richmond, and other Halls around town.  There were all kinds of performances as you can read in the articles below, it was amazing. My sister Anne remembers attending one of the recitals when she was a young child of six, shortly before I was born. She remembers that it was held at the luxurious Women’s Club in Richmond, and that our Aunt Gwendolyn Youngblood Tucker took her to the recital, my father’s sister! (the other side of the family, seems curious?). She also remembers something I find amazing, that our mother made her a coat and bonnet out of a wine red velvet! Anne still remembers Mother talking about what an important event the concert was. Anne was the first of four children born to our Mom who worked full-time–I don’t remember her ever sewing! Anne remembers Aunt Marie fairly well, and says Marie was always good and kind to her. I found this picture of a coat and hat very similar to that which Mom made for Anne in 1947. 

velvet coat, marron

I never met our Great Aunt Marie, and was surprised when my research showed that I was 12 years old when she died! She was well known in my home town, why had I never met her? In fact, my sister and I both took piano lessons, but not from her. My older brother and sister sang beautifully! Musical talent apparently runs in the family. It didn’t take much asking around until I began to hear that of course, once again there had been a split in the family! I am genuinely surprised, because I had always thought it was only my father’s family that did that, not my Mom’s. It seems they were just quieter about their estrangements! I learned there were several “incidents” that played into the split relations. I found one in the newspaper archives!In 1915, Marie apparently sued her brother Thomas P. Kerse, my grandfather (my mother’s father) and the courts made him sell some land I assume they had inherited from their mother Mary Catherine Botto who died in 1906. She had inherited the property from her mother, Marie and Thomas’ Grandmother, Catherine Botto Raffo who died shortly before her in 1903– she was a business woman who owned several properties around Richmond. Earlier I had learned that Mary Catherine’s brothers, Marie and Thomas’ Uncles, had sued each other over the property they had inherited,  forcing the sale of  five prime properties in Richmond.      

Kerse lawsuit bet. Marie and Thomas

Apparently there was another reason for the falling out, so much so that Thomas forbid his children to have anything to do with their Aunt Marie or their cousin, her son Joe, how very sad! Or maybe Marie is the one who did the forbidding, I really don’t know, all I know is that we didn’t know each other. Anne says she does not remember seeing Aunt Marie after she was about 7 years old. The other story that I have been told by several family members, is that when James H. Kerse, my great-grandfather,  father of Marie and Thomas, died in October, 1921, even though Thomas, his wife Kate and their six  little children  had taken care of him for many years, Marie inherited the house.  James probably thought Thomas and Kate would be fine on their own and thought he should take care of his daughter. According to the story, Marie  demanded that they move out  even though they were living there one year after James’s death when their own 8 year-old son Thomas Jr. drowned in October, 1922.  Kate was pregnant with their seventh  child by January 1923, when Marie made them move. So much stress, it had to have compounded the emotions.

Regardless of the cause of the split in the family, Marie was obviously a very talented musician. Perhaps she was temperamental and high-strung like many artists are. She was also a very busy business woman when few women were professionals! She was an entrepreneur who ran a music studio out of her home, and had over 100 students enrolled year after year! I find it very interesting that we come from a long line of professional women. In this line especially, Catherine Botto Raffo, born 1825 in Italy,was a professional businesswoman, owning property and collecting rents. Her daughter Mary Catherine Botto Kerse, b. 1858, took over for her. Mary Catherine’s daughter Marie,b.1878,  is the talented musician and business owner herself! Kate, b. 1883, Mary Catherine’s daughter-in-law, Thomas’s wife, was a professional nurse, and before 1915 had a business where she and her partner sold jewelry and did watch repairs. All six of her daughters were educated and worked as realtors, teachers, and social workers! Our generation of women has continued this professional  identity as teachers, financial advisors, psychologists, nurses, etc. We have been told women didn’t work until after WWII and the 1950’s. Well, in our family, we come from a long line of women intrinsically motivated towards professions which makes me proud. 

Besides having her elaborate recitals covered in the newspaper,  Marie placed regular  memorials to some of her loved ones in the newspaper on the anniversary of their deaths. She wrote them poems as you can see in my post about her grandmother, Catherine Revaro Botto Raffo. She posted for her mother as well. But one amazing thing I found, was a memorial she published for her twin sister. It was amazing because the name we had from the records at St. Patrick’s Church were different from the name published in the newspaper, given by Maire.  The church said her sister Kate was named Kathleen Kerse. the memorial left by Marie for her sister, named her as Katherine Vernoica Kerse! I wonder if the middle name was a typo on the part of the newspaper. But my sister nor myself ever heard the name Veronica or even Victoria being in our Kerse  family, much less Vernoica!  Katherine however, is a popular name in our family, every generation has one or more, and I’ve never known anything but good things about any and all of our Katherines, Kathryns, Catherines, Kates and Katys! I’m going to have to do some more research for Kate.

Marie Kerse remembers twin sister

 

I am including articles from the Richmond Times Dispatch archives from Genealogybank.com, although I know they are hard to read.  I believe some family and friends will be interested enough to be thrilled to find these clippings here. They are much easier to read on genealogybank by the way, the problem is in my photography of the articles! Thank you for joining me in my family reminiscing, please share yours with me. 

 

 

 

Former blog posts about the Kerse and allied families:

1. Kate Kerse, Twin and Young Artist Dies at 17 –52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #37

2. Catharina Revaro Botto Raffo–My Italian 2nd Great-Grandmother–52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, #36 

 3. Kerse (Kearse, Kierce, Kearsey) James H. — Irish Cop, Yachtsman, Animal Lover– 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge

 4. Thomas Philip Kerse– Irish Cop like his Dad–52 ancestors in 52 weeks!

5.    Thomas Philip Kerse Captains the Lady Jane! 52 ancestors in 52 weeks

6.    Five Generations of Women, Daughters, Mothers, and Grandmothers   (About Katherine Steptoe Kerse, Thoma’s wife)

7.   Eight-Year-Old Drowns! 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks #4

8.   Margaret Steptoe Kerse Youngblood, My Mother, 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, #33

9.    Janey Bell Kerse Sommers, 1923-2002, Brillance and Joyfulness Dimmed by Altzheimers-52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #23

 

 

This gallery contains 19 photos