About: Kelley

Kelley is a Senior Cataloger for the Virginia Newspaper Project at the Library of Virginia. She holds a Masters degree in American History from Virginia Commonwealth University.

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The Big Stone Post

Big Stone Gap Post Dec. 15, 1892

The setting for John Fox Jr.’s 1908 novel Trail of the Lonesome Pine, Big Stone Gap in Wise County is situated along the Powell River in a remote and rugged valley of the far southwestern region of Virginia. In the 1880s, the town (once known as Mineral City) had three farms, two small country stores, and a handful of mills. But the laying of several railroad lines into the Gap in the early 1890s–for the transport of coal and timber between Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee–transformed the isolated hamlet into a bustling gateway of industrial activity. As the region grew, eastern speculators promoted movement to and investment in the area.

In 1890, Colonel Charles E. Sears, first president of the Improvement Company, took over the Commercial Club and shortly thereafter established The Big Stone Post, a weekly newspaper. Colonel Sears unabashedly pitched the considerable advantages of Big Stone Gap, sending out prospectuses and placing advertisements in metropolitan newspapers throughout the East. One such prospectus, appearing in 1890 in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper in New York City, described the Gap as a “wild and picturesque defile in Big Stone Mountain, an elongated spur forming a part of the Cumberland range of mountains just to the eastward of the Kentucky State Line.” The article also boasted of the town’s electric light plant, street railway, and waterworks.

In the first issue of The Big Stone Post, published on August 15, 1890, Sears explained that his purpose was “to advertise the material resources of the Appalachian district; [and] to show to the rest of the country that Big Stone Gap possesses paramount advantage over all other locations as a manufacturing and distributing point.” The same issue reported on railroads, coke plants, and other internal improvements … read more »

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How much was that? continued…

Advertisements from the Blue Ridge Herald (Purcellville, Virginia), Jan. 6, 1955

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How much was that?

What was the cost of tuna, sugar or rice in 1955?

How about a man’s coat?

A commode?A pair of pumps?

Advertisements are from the Blue Ridge Herald (Purcellville, Virginia) of January 6, 1955. Tune in tomorrow for more…….… read more »

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Using Chronicling America

Check out this series of video podcasts to learn how to use Chronicling America. Big thanks to the Ohio Historical Society for creating these helpful podcasts.

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Episode Title Host URL (YouTube)
NDNP Podcast 1 About the “Using Chronicling America” Podcast Series Jenni Salamon & 

Kaylie Vermillion

http://youtu.be/6NKMwneZF20
NDNP Podcast 2 What Is Chronicling America? Jenni Salamon http://youtu.be/Bvg73KAyTDA
NDNP Podcast 3 How Do I Browse? Kaylie Vermillion http://youtu.be/a9mD5A-c5jg
NDNP Podcast 4 How Do I Perform A Basic Search? Jenni Salamon http://youtu.be/cIB_Eso44B0
NDNP Podcast 5 What Will My Search Results Look Like? Jenni Salamon http://youtu.be/lzKLUwgzTuA
NDNP Podcast 6 How Do I Perform An Advanced Search? Kaylie Vermillion http://youtu.be/rEs4YgtpqB8
NDNP Podcast 7 How Do I Use The Image-Viewing Screen? Jenni Salamon http://youtu.be/iHvdqCOd4hw
NDNP Podcast 8 How Do I Zoom On An Image? Jenni Salamon http://youtu.be/Au-XwW50hJw
NDNP Podcast 9 How Do I Print An Image? Jenni Salamon http://youtu.be/NlguUm8agBE
NDNP Podcast 10 Overcoming Historical Language Barriers & Learning Alternatives To Controlled Vocabulary Jenni Salamon http://youtu.be/L_SBG7RLQIs
NDNP Podcast 11 Understanding Keyword Searching Kaylie Vermillion http://youtu.be/Dhf8Sx0ap-Q
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Donated to LVA-The Star-A High School Paper That Gets High Marks

While the Library of Virginia’s historical newspaper collection is extensive and varied, it has a genre of newspaper that may be surprising to some: twentieth century high school newspapers. Thanks to a generous donation, the Library of Virginia recently added another high school newspaper to its collection, the Star, of South Boston.  Edited and published by the students of Halifax County High School, it featured stories on student life with a graphic sophistication that encouraged comparisons to the look of a professional daily. That’s certainly one reason the Star attracted a diverse advertising base from a student hang-out such as Johnny’s Place (“Eat a Snack and You’ll Be Back”) to Wilborn’s Toytown and the Main Street department store G. J. Hunt & Son.

Issues of the Star span from 1955-1960, and offer a fascinating depiction of the teenage experience from a small city in Virginia’s southern Piedmont.

Other high school newspapers in the Library’s collection include, the Monocle (Richmond), the Highland Fling (Highland Springs), the Shooting Star (Middleburg) and Tattle Tale (Harrisonburg) among many others.

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New Newspapers at LVA

How much was a bottle of bourbon in 1941? How about a “beautifully rebuilt” Electrolux vacuum? The prices of these and other items can be found on the back page of an issue of the Washington Daily News that was recently given to the Library of Virginia. While the nation was preoccupied with impending war, evidenced by the issue’s bold headline, “IT’S WAR, SAYS JAPAN AFTER ATTACK ON US,” the everyday life of people is revealed in the ads, classifieds, movie announcements and local news found in the Daily News.

The gift given to LVA also includes several issues of the Evening Star, a daily published in Washington DC from 1854-1972. Among them is a January 20, 1941 Inaugural Issue of Franklin D. Roosevelt with three sections devoted to full page photo layouts of the people, places and events on the political scene as Roosevelt entered his second term. There are also issues of the Star from December 1941 announcing the US’s declaration of war with Japan and Germany.

A supplement of the Richmond Times Dispatch celebrating the 350th anniversary of Jamestown, a Bicentennial Edition of the Progress-Index (Hopewell) and a Richmond News Leader announcing the death of King George are part of the gift as well.

Come take a look at history as it was written in the newspapers. To search titles held by the Library of Virginia, visit the Virginia Newspaper Project’s Newspapers in Virginia Bibliography on the Library’s web site.… read more »

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The Free Lance

Located in Spotsylvania County, 61 miles north of Richmond and 60 miles south of Washington, D.C., between the Tidewater and Piedmont regions of Virginia, Fredericksburg was a major port on the Rappahannock River, a significant crossroads during the late 18th and early 19th centuries and an important center of trade and commerce. The town was also the scene of fierce fighting and considerable destruction during the Civil War.

In an attempt to offer an alternative voice in postwar Virginia and to help boost the slowly recovering regional economy, the Free Lance was established in Fredericksburg in 1885 under the leadership of William E. Bradley and John W. Woltz, a former chairman of Virginia’s Republican delegation. Thirty-four stockholders also contributed to the operations of the paper as investors in the Free Lance Newspaper and Job Printing Company. It was apparent from the earliest issues of the Free Lance that the war was deeply imprinted on people’s minds and that political divisions in the South were still bitterly contentious. The Free Lance characterized itself as an “Independent” paper “devoted to Agricultural, Commercial and Manufacturing Interests of Fredericksburg and its Vicinity.” Its chief competitors, the Fredericksburg Star and the News, were decidedly Democratic. The Star immediately questioned the political leanings of Woltz and the paper’s stockholders, prompting the Free Lance in its second issue to reply: “We repeat, we see enough already to convince us that the Star is disposed ‘to pick a quarrel’ with the Lance, which we shall be slow to enter, and which we now proclaim will be unprofitable, unwise and which, we shall avoid if possible and permitted.”

In fact, the Free Lance defended its mission–and its stockholders–with vigor. “Republicans, (even though they be unnatural human beings from the standpoint of the Star), don’t feel like … read more »

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Mythology of the Allen Clan

Photo of Claude Allen from the Times-Dispatch Dec. 12, 1912

As the date of execution of Floyd and Claude Allen approached, public support for the doomed men grew. Many people believed Floyd and Claude were no guiltier than the other Allens involved in the courthouse shooting and thought execution an unfair punishment.  It was also brought to light that other people in the courtroom, like Dexter Goad, were probably just as responsible for the five deaths as any of the Allen men. Petitions pleading for executive clemency were submitted to the governor with tens of thousands of signatures. Richard Byrd, Reverend George W. McDaniel and US Senator Claude A. Swanson joined the fight to stop the executions, but Governor Mann, a steadfast supporter of capital punishment, was unsympathetic to the condemned men.

The date of execution was set for March 28, 1913; however on March 27, 1913 a strange turn of events occurred that almost prevented it. While Governor Mann was traveling to New Jersey, the Allen defense team asked Lieutenant Governor J. Ellyson to act as chief executive in Mann’s absence to commute the sentences. Ellyson conferred with Attorney General Samuel Williams and postponed the execution in order to settle the question on the constitutionality of commutation in Mann’s absence. When Mann heard the news of what was going on back in Virginia, he headed back on the first train and ordered the execution be carried out that afternoon. On March 28, 1913 at around 1:30 p.m. Floyd was executed in Virginia’s electric chair. According to the Rice Belt Journal, Floyd Allen “still limping from the wounds he received in the Hillsville court house battle, said the last tearful farewell to his boy and went with the prison guards to the death chamber. A groan escaped him while … read more »

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“Hillsville Massacre” in the News

The New York World March 14, 1912

The dramatic courtroom incident, coined variously the “Hillsville Massacre” and the “Courthouse Tragedy,” immediately became a huge news story and newspapers nationwide covered it in colorful, and often inaccurate, detail. For several weeks after the courthouse shooting, front pages in Virginia dailies like the Times Dispatch and the Rockingham Daily Record obsessively covered events surrounding the Allen clan with large photos and in depth articles on their front pages.

Allen Gang photo from the Day Book April 29, 1912

A story like the “Hillsville Massacre” was perfect fodder for contemporary newspapers, as the early twentieth century papers were undergoing a dramatic transformation from their staid precursors. As the nineteenth century came to a close, advanced industrialization and better public education created an exponentially growing audience of newspaper readers. Publishers realized newspapers could be a lucrative medium not only to inform, but also to entertain. At this time two important newspaper men, Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst, catered to this ever growing audience through new journalistic techniques still used in newspapers today. The fierce competition between Pulitzer’s World and Hearst‘s New York Journal led to innovations to attract readers such as the heavy use of photographs and illustrations, bold headlines and dramatic coverage of often gruesome and spectacular events. In many cases, facts were altered to make stories more sensational.

The Floyd Allen story was perfectly suited for the newspapers of 1912, both for how it read and for its abundant visual offerings so it is no surprise that the court room shoot out was heavily publicized in newspapers across the nation.  The nature of the crime, the story’s setting, its aftermath and the men involved offered a tantalizing ongoing saga to curious newspaper readers.  Undeniably, it was attention-grabbing that such a … read more »

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Jezebel Goad: Heroine of Hillsville

Illustration of Jezebel Goad used in many newspapers after the courtroom shooting

While the events of March 14, 1912 produced many villains, a notable heroine stands out. Jezebel Goad, the daughter of Deputy Dexter Goad, was in her father’s office the day of the Allen hearing. When she heard gunshots, she ran to the courtroom to see what was going on. Without a thought, she fought her way through the gunfire to help her father and aid the wounded.

Goad’s heroics were covered extensively in newspapers. The Lexington Gazette‘s account of August 7, 1912 read:

Photograph of Jezebel Goad from the Washington Times Aug. 9, 1912

“Instead of fainting or leaving the scene when the firing began, Miss Goad sought to enter the courtroom to go to her father. To gain entrance she was obliged to pull from the doorway a man who barred the way. Then she reached her father, and seeing that he was not badly hurt, she helped the wounded and dying.”

According to Jerry Leonard’s Travesty of Justice, the Mount Airy News ran the following account of Jezebel Goad: “Of all the heroes you have read about in story and song none will measure up with Miss Jezebel Goad, the beautiful daughter who stood bravely by her father last Thursday. Talk about your women melting up pewter plates and carrying water from springs, when the men dared not go, all such stories took little by the side of what the Hillsville beauty did last Thursday when she saw her father in danger. She was in the clerk’s office when the fight started and she rushed into the bullet ridden room as if she had not one thought for her own safety. . .of all the heroes who were that day brought to light none … read more »

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