- It’s A Virginia Thing: Helping One Native Colleague at a Time

Back in 2010 when I was processing the Nelson County chancery suits, I found a remarkable genealogical chart of the prominent Carter family. From that discovery, I wrote my first Out of the Box blog—A Tree Grows In…Chancery! Now, I am here to testify that not only does lightning strike twice, but in the same place as well. Mary Dean Carter, an archival assistant at the Library of Virginia since 2007, was thrilled about my first revelation related to her father’s lineage.

While helping process the Halifax County chancery in 2014, it was my second discovery though that really hit home for Mary Dean. In the beginning of the project Mary Dean had a simple request, let me know if you come across any suits with these last names: Long, Woodall, Land, Burton, Hudson, or VanHook. These surnames belong to her known relatives residing in Halifax County. In a rather lengthy chancery suit from 1869, Heirs of Jesse (Jessee) Ballow v. Exr of Jesse (Jessee) Ballow, etc., 1869-021, I uncovered relatives on her mother’s side of the family.

With the discovery of another well-preserved genealogical chart, Mary Dean determined that her third great grandfather, Hyram Hudson, was a direct descendant of Jesse Ballow’s sister, Anne. A color coded key is provided for reading the chart. Jesse Ballow died in Cumberland County and … read more »

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- Man at the Top: The Kaine Administration Cabinet Week Reports Collection


Kaine Cabinet Weekly Reports, 2009-07-31, Secretary of Natural Resources (2009-07-30), page one, Timothy M. Kaine Administration (2006-2010) Cabinet Weekly Reports Digital Collection, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Va.

The Library of Virginia is pleased to announce a new digital collection:  the Kaine Administration Cabinet Weekly Reports Collection (2006-2009). Accessible through Digitool (and linked to from the “Related Content” section of the Kaine Email Project @ LVA page), this collection consists of weekly reports submitted to Governor Tim Kaine by the governor’s cabinet members, advisors, policy, press, and constituent services offices, and the Virginia Liaison Office. Reports were submitted each Thursday and placed in a binder for the governor that he took with him at the end of the day on Friday. While the level of detail varies, each report contains information on legislation, Governor’s initiatives and special projects, agency matters and operations, events and agency visits, audits or investigations, stakeholder issues, and pending decisions. This collection, which is full-text searchable, provides a weekly account of the issues and policy decisions of the Kaine Administration.

The weekly reports address a wide variety of issues and topics including:  avian flu, state budgets, the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC), renovations of the Capitol, creation of a Civil Rights Memorial, early childhood education, planning for the 2008 presidential election and the January 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama, land conservation, minority procurement, transportation, federal recognition of Virginia’s Native American tribes, IT issues, and workforce development.


Kaine Cabinet Weekly Reports, 2009-08-07, Secretary of Natural Resources (2009-08-06), page one, Timothy M. Kaine Administration (2006-2010) Cabinet Weekly Reports Digital Collection, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Va.

Governor Kaine often … read more »

- Bring On Your Wrecking Ball: The Battle of Hampton Roads

The Battle of Hampton Roads was one of the most important naval battles in the American Civil War. It was fought over two days, 8-9 March 1862, in Hampton Roads, Virginia. During the CW150 Legacy Project we uncovered a letter from a Union soldier who was at the battle and wrote home about what he had witnessed. The letter was written on 15 March 1862 by John “Johnnie” Torrance while he served with the 2nd New York Infantry Regiment, Company H and was stationed at Camp Butler, Newport News, Virginia.

In the letter written to “Libbie,” Torrance describes the naval battle he witnessed stating “I suppose you have heard of [it] before this time. I though[t] you would have saw something about it in the paper.” Torrance mostly describes the first day of the battle – detailing the attack by the CSS Virginia and CSS Patrick Henry and CSS Jamestown on the USS Cumberland and USS Congress. The Virginia rammed the Cumberland causing it to sink and taking nearly 150 lives. The captain of the Congress ran his ship aground in shallow waters and after some combat the ship surrendered. While the crew was being ferried off the ship a Union battery on the north shore opened fire on the Virginia. In response the Virginia fired with hot shot (cannonballs heated red-hot) … read more »

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- W.C. and Earl and the Popular Girl: The Virginia Yearbook Project


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In the summer of 2012, the Library Development and Networking Division started a project that included loaning scanners and computers to Virginia libraries in the hope of bringing to light hidden local history collections housed in public libraries. These collections hold items of local interest and historical value, and many of these items are unique to their region or locality. This project was started and continues to be funded with grants provided by the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), whose mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people with ideas, administers LSTA funds.

A team of Library of Virginia staff traveled to public libraries to deliver the scanners and peripheral equipment, providing training on using the equipment, guidance on organizing materials to be digitized as well as file-naming conventions, and conducting an assessment of items to determine their value for scanning.

In August 2012, the LVA team visited the Halifax County South Boston Public Library. As part of the discovery process, the team was told about a safe located in the local history room of the library. While library staff believed that this safe might contain some important documents that should be scanned, no one had been able to open the safe even with instructions provided. Luckily, LVA’s former Local Records Director (and … read more »

- Every Dog Will Have His Day

Editor’s note: This piece was originally published as an artifact spotlight for Discover Richmond, a magazine published by the Richmond-Times Dispatch. It is posted here with additional images of the Fredericksburg Dog Mart, which are part of the Virginia State Chamber of Commerce Photograph Collection.

These photographs from the Fredericksburg Dog Mart capture the heyday of an event that traces its roots to 1698.

At that time, one day a year was set aside by law to accommodate trade between the Manahoac Tribe (and later, the Pamunkey and Mattaponi) and English settlers in the area that later became Fredericksburg. The Native Americans would provide furs and produce in exchange for English hunting dogs. This practice occurred annually until the start of the Revolutionary War.

An annual dog mart resumed in 1927, known then as the Dog Curb Market, and coincided with the start of hunting season — the event gave hunters an opportunity to purchase hunting dogs. The dog mart also drew wider attention: it was featured in a Pathé Newsreel in 1928, and Time magazine wrote an article about it in 1937. By the following year, the dog mart drew a crowd of 7,000 people and 641 dogs.

The event was suspended during World War II but was restored in 1948 by the Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce. In 1949, the dog mart … read more »

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- The Return of Virginia’s Lost History


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If you live in the Richmond area or are connected to the Library of Virginia through social media, you may have seen the recent announcement of the return of the Charles City County Record Book, 1694-1700. This volume, taken from the Charles City courthouse in 1862 during the Peninsula Campaign of the Civil War, was returned by a Pennsylvania family who had cared for it for over three decades. In anticipation of the record book’s return, I had occasion to review other replevined records from Charles City County—a saga with its own century-long history.

First, a bit about replevin. No, it doesn’t mean to plevin again. Officially, it’s a common law action that allows a person or entity to recover wrongly or unlawfully taken personal property. In the archives and records profession, it refers more specifically to the recovery of public records (with or without legal action) by an agency or organization. The Virginia Public Records Act (§ 42.1-89) vests the power to petition a local circuit court for the return of public records held by an unauthorized custodian in the Librarian of Virginia or designee. Public records never cease being public records; so, unless lawfully and properly destroyed, they should remain with the appropriate custodian.

Thankfully, in the case of the Charles City County records and most other examples, legal action was … read more »

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- Never Built Winchester


Albert Olszewski, C.E. Map of Winchester Virginia Addition Made by the Equity Improvement Company. Washington D.C.:  A.B. Graham Photo. Lith., 1890.  Map Accession 5912, Library of Virginia.

The Library of Virginia’s collections include maps of developments that were never constructed, many of which were conceived prior to the Panic of 1893. In 1890, Pennsylvania Judge John Handley founded The Equity Improvement Company to purchase lands in suburban Winchester for the purpose of bringing in eleven enterprises. Map of Winchester Virginia Addition Made by the Equity Improvement Company was created in 1890 to complement the company’s pamphlet, Prospectus, which was published to attract business and capital to the city. Only one building had been completed and opened for business when the company folded in 1895; and that was the Hotel Winchester.

The map and Prospectus survive as testimony to the plans of Judge Handley and company share holders. As noted on the map, prospective manufacturing sites were set aside and identified by the color orange. An index to public and private buildings in Winchester is printed below the title. The Hotel Winchester was located on Penn Avenue and the Equity Improvement Company offices were located off of Market Street near Piccadilly.

Although he never resided in the city, Judge Handley took great interest in Winchester’s future. Upon his death in 1895, the city was gifted with funds to build Handley Library and a schoolhouse to educate the poor.

-Cassandra B. Farrell, Senior Map Archivist, Collections Access and Management Services

 … read more »

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- “A Nest of Bad Men”: Locating the Lunenburg County Courthouse


Detail, Lunenburg County (Va.) Courthouse architectural drawing and bond, 1782. Barcode number 1175884. Local government records collection, The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.

Processing county deeds is usually not the springboard to finding something that is, well, blog-worthy. Deeds are already recorded in county deed books that have been scoured by generations of genealogists, researchers, and historians; it’s unlikely that anything new or odd will come to light. But something new did come to light from those dusty bundles of tri-folded Lunenburg County deeds, and it illuminates a small part of Virginia’s architectural history.

The county court was held in a variety of locations during Lunenburg County’s first twenty years. This practice was common and practical since the county’s boundaries shifted frequently as the General Assembly carved eleven new counties from Lunenburg’s western borders. In 1765, Robert Estes agreed to build a courthouse for the county on his property near what is today Chase City in Mecklenburg County. Its design was based on the courthouse in Dinwiddie County. Joseph Smith, a tavern keeper, took over the property when Estes died in 1775.

The people of Lunenburg County faced an ironic problem in the 1780s; the area surrounding the county courthouse had become a hotbed of lawlessness and disorder. The courthouse grounds apparently became infested “with persons violently suspected of Horse-stealing and sundry other crimes,” not least among them Smith himself, according to a legislative petition signed by more than a hundred residents in 1782.

The petition asked that … read more »

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- All I’m Thinkin’ About….Tim Kaine Records at the Library of Virginia


Tim Kaine takes the oath of office from Virginia Supreme Court Justice Leroy R. Hassell, Jr., Williamsburg, 14 January 2006, Office of the Governor.

Long time readers of Out of the Box are already familiar with the Kaine Email Project @ LVA. Hillary Clinton’s selection of Virginia Senator Tim Kaine as her running mate has brought national attention to our little project. Recent stories in Politico, Washington Post and the New York Times have all made use of the Kaine email collection. With this new interest in Kaine, we thought it would be a good time to spotlight the Library’s collection about Kaine and how to access them.

Kaine Email Project @ LVA – Digital

The Kaine Email Project provides online access to the email records from the administration of Governor Timothy M. Kaine, Virginia’s 70th governor (2006-2010). We are processing and releasing these records in batches.  To date, we have released over 145,000 emails from 66 Kaine staff members. The “By the Numbers” document shows what we are currently working on. New releases will be announced on this blog and via the Library’s Twitter and Facebook pages. Before jumping in to the collection, we strongly suggest you read the collection finding aid and the tip sheets we created to help users search the collection.



Governor Tim Kaine standing in front of the Shenandoah River, Shenandoah Valley Cabinet Community Day, 17 October 2006, Office of the Governor.

Governor Timothy M. Kaine Web Archive Collection, 2006-2010 – Digital

The web archive of the Administration of Governor Tim Kaine (2006-2010) contains archived versions of Web sites for the Governor’s Office, … read more »

- Miami Beach Florida is Calling You

In November 1924, Governor E. Lee Trinkle traveled to Florida to attend the annual Governors’ Conference. The Governors’ Conference was held in Jacksonville, Florida, on 17-18 November 1924, after which Conference members traveled to other cities including Orlando, Tampa, St. Petersburg, West Palm Beach, Cocoa, and Miami. Governor Trinkle must have obtained this travel brochure while in Miami, and it was kept with his notes and travel expense records for the Governors’ Conference. The travel brochure has some beautiful brightly colored images of the wonders of Miami—from its beaches and polo matches, to swimming and golf. There is also a page with suggestions on how to get to Miami, advertising its accessibility by rail, boat, and auto. The travel brochure contains such beautiful imagery that we thought it would be fun to share this iconic 1920s artwork with you. To read more about travel brochures in the LVA’s collections, check out the latest edition of the Broadside or the recently posted digital collection.

-Renee Savits, State Records Archivist… read more »

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