Historian and Author Tom Perry's thoughts on history and anything that comes to mind.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Patricia Ross Dedication To History

At the Bassett Heritage Festival in September 2009, I found myself sitting beside Anne Marie Ross Freeman and Fran Ross Snead selling our books. On the other side of the two ladies mentioned was their mother with the tables for the Bassett Historical Center. A lady unknown to me approached us all and spoke loud enough for all four of us to hear inquiring if these three young people were Pat’s children. Without a blink of an eye, I rose and answered affirmative to the question, much to the chagrin of the real daughters of Patricia Ross, and the laughter of their mother and later their father and fellow raconteur, Paul Ross. People leave their mark on the word in many ways. Patricia Clay Ross has left a mark on my life by her support of my multiple book projects giving me a research home that I drive over one hundred miles round trip to use the facilities of the Bassett Historical Center that she is Director. She is the mother of two teachers/authors mentioned above and one grandson at this writing. When she retires, she will have led the effort to expand what I call “The Best Little Library in Virginia,” the Bassett Historical Center. For all these reason and many more, the Henry County Heritage Book is dedicated to Patricia Clay Ross. (Photo courtesy of Steve Shepherd.) – Tom Perry, Chairman, Henry County Heritage Book Committee.

Henry County Heritage Book Release December 21

With stories from as far away as Paris, France, and Hawaii, the Martinsville and Henry County Heritage Book is here. Usually, these books take years to complete, but this book came in under one calendar year due to the work of the Henry County Heritage Book Committee and the ability to do the book digitally.

The Henry County Heritage Book will be at the Bassett Historical Center. Those who pre-ordered the book may pick up their copies beginning December 21 at noon. Please bring the receipt you received from the committee when picking up your book to make the process go quicker. Mail order copies were sent from the printer.

Those interested in purchasing a copy of the book may buy it in person at the Bassett Historical Center. Post-publication cost is $75 with all profits going to the library. Credit card orders are available at www.freestateofpatrick.com/hchb. There are limited number of post-publication copies available.

The 400 page 9x12 hardcover book is the first Heritage Book completed on Henry County and Martinsville. All profits from this book go to the building fund of the Bassett Historical Center.

This book is the result of a year of work by the committee and those who submitted stories. The book was available for review for over six months at the library. There will be no second printing of the book. It was the responsibility of the submitter to make sure their stories are in the book and correct. These books usually take years to complete, but this committee finished the book in under a year. Perry would particularly like to note the efforts of Anne Copeland, who scanned and formatted all of the stories and photographs so that this book could be submitted to the publisher in digital format, which drastically reduced the time of publication.

Members of the Henry County Heritage Book Committee worked for free and are as follows: Chairman, Tom Perry; Secretary, Elva Adams; Treasurer, Betty Scott; Daphne Stone, Debbie Hall, Cindy Bingman, Joel Cannaday, Teddy Compton, Janet Fentress, Joan Frith, Mary McGee, Jean Matthews, Peter Ramsey, Avis Turner, Laura Young and Beverly Lipford-Yeager. At the Bassett Historical Center members are Patricia Ross, Anne Copeland, Sam Eanes, and Cindy Headen.

If your family or organization is not mentioned in this book, don’t complain, sit down, and write the story (500 words and one photo or 1000 words and two photos if your family was in Henry County before 1800.) Send it to Tom Perry at freestateofpatrick@yahoo.com in MSWord format with photo scanned at 300 dpi. Contact Perry about requirements. There will be no reprint of Volume One.

The Library will be closed December 24 and 25 for the holidays. The Bassett Historical Center is a branch of the Blue Ridge Regional Library and is located at 3964 Fairystone Park Highway, Bassett Virginia 24055. Contact them at 276-629-9191 or baslib@hotmail.com .

Credit card orders are available at www.freestateofpatrick.com/hchb

Bassett Historical Center 3964 Fairystone Park Highway Bassett, VA 24055

Contact Tom Perry, Chairman of the Henry County Heritage Book Committee at the following for more information: freestateofpatrick@yahoo.com.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Letter To Tom Joyce

Earlier this fall Tom Joyce of the Mount Airy News wrote a letter full of vitriol aimed at the Virginia Tech Football team after Joyce’s alma mater James Madison defeated the Hokies, who were playing on five days rest after losing a close game to Boise State. Since that time the team from Virginia Tech has one eleven games in a row that included defeating every team in North Carolina (UNC, NC State, Wake Forest, Duke, and East Carolina) and winning the third ACC Championship in four years and four out of six since joining the league.

Tyrod Taylor, who has won more games than any quarterback in Virginia Tech history, was the ACC Most Valuable Player, Dudley Award Winner for being the best college football player in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Taylor holds almost every passing, rushing, and offensive record for quarterback in the nearly 120-year history of Virginia Tech football. More importantly, he is a model citizen, who spends his time in the community doing service not because of a criminal record (He has never been arrested.), but because that is the person he is. He is just like another ACC Most Valuable Player from Virginia Tech, Brian Randall, who led the Hokies at quarterback to their first ACC Championship. The son of a preacher, Randall was a class act, who never got in trouble and worked in the community. What Joyce and all those jealous of the success in Blacksburg, who talk about thugs and bullies and think Virginia Tech football is only about Vicks is that there is a Brian Randall and Tyrod Taylor for every Vick. There are always two sides to every story.

Frank Beamer, born in Mount Airy, North Carolina, has led the Hokies to eighteen straight bowl games and is the second among active coaches in wins behind only Joe Paterno at Penn State. He has led the Hokies to seven ten win seasons in a row and twelve ten win season since 1995. Frank Beamer also started a literacy program in his mother’s name, which takes money from a “White Out Game” every year that puts books in school libraries throughout Virginia. Beamer’s football team generates millions of dollars in economic benefit and even some for Mount Airy I bet for those who travel on I-77 going back and forth to Blacksburg for home football games. It is hard to imagine that some of those people do not stop in Mount Airy to enjoy the Mayberry effect.

It is human nature and especially for newspapers to focus on the negative of Mike Vick’s problems with the law, but even that has changed this year as Vick has tried to put his life back on track on and off the field with the Philadelphia Eagles. While Vick might be a better player than Taylor or Randall, but he is not a better person, but even that story may have a good ending. Often in lifestyle wins out over substance. Some people believe that playing dress up is a better way to teach history, but they like newspaper reporters, can be wrong.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Night The Music Died

It was thirty years ago today that any hope that Sgt. Peppers band would play again ended with the murder of John Winston Ono Lennon outside his home at the Dakota Building just off Central Park in New York City. He left England in 1971 and never went back again, never went back again due to his immigrant status and the attempts by the U. S. Government to deport him mainly by the paranoid Nixon Administration, who gave him way more credit than he deserved.

I missed hearing about Lennon’s death by minutes that night of December 8, 1980, as I went to bed just before Howard Cossell announced it on Monday Night Football. The next morning I stopped at Theodore Guynn’s on my way to Surry Community College and Theodore told me John Lennon was dead.

I first met John Lennon in Augusta, Georgia, when my cousin Ann Green, a Beatlemaniac, exposed me to the music of the Beatles in the 1960s. She loved John the best and I spent many happy times with her listening to Lennon’s nasally voice. I remember particularly liked Hard Days Night. Today, she if fighting cancer and loathes any talk of her misspent youth with the Fab Four, but then she did. She later bought me a Lennon-McCartney Songbook when I started playing the guitar at age thirteen that I still have sitting on the piano right now. Every once in a while I will open it and sing to myself horribly off key some tunes such Nowhere Man by Lennon or another his tunes such as Day Tripper.

While Paul McCartney is my favorite Beatle, I listened to Lennon and his solo work. I particularly liked Mind Games and Walls and Bridges. Imagine is a great album and Double Fantasy, his last album, yes I had the vinyl, and to paraphrase Lennon I was it spinning “round and round” many times before I heard of his death that bleak December day.

I had just turned twenty only a month before and was into my second year at Surry Community College, where I had my eye on a Yadkin County gal that I would soon start dating and fall head over heels in love with. I made her “Love Tapes” that had John Lennon songs on them. Out the Blue from Mind Games comes to mind along with Woman and Starting Over from Double Fantasy.

Many programs and movies are out about his life and earlier this year I watched two films about the Cretan who killed him. Everyone from PBS to Fox News has aired documentaries and even a few dramas since what would have been Lennon’s seventieth birthday. Hard to believe he would have been that old, but Julian, his oldest son by his first wife Cynthia is my age and Sean his son with Yoko Ono is 35.
John’s politics were I think a bit naïve and he seldom really knew what he was talking about like many celebrities. Paul continues to stick his foot in his mouth as he did insulting George W. Bush’s lack of reading when the former President’s wife and mother were involved in literacy programs and I don’t think you get out of Yale and Harvard Business School without reading, but that is another blog.

John Lennon had a gift when it came to writing a song and he went from the amazing studio effects of I Am The Walrus to the stripped down sound of Watching The Wheels. It is fun to IMAGINE what might have been. No doubt many of us would have seen a Lennon-McCartney World Tour before THE END came. Paul McCartney, who I have seen numerous times in concert over the last ten years always sings a song he wrote about Lennon after his death called Here Today and I have seen him get choked up doing it. He also sings songs such as Help, but not as the Beatles did it, but as John first played it for him a slow piano ballad. He will end these songs with Give Peace A Chance even if John was naïve; it is not such a bad idea to hope for.

When a man who sang about peace lost his life due to violence when he was the happiest he had been in years it is a lesson from Lennon we should all learn. “Some are dead and some are living. In my life I’ve loved them all.”

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

First Saturday Civil War Programs For 2011

The J. E. B. Stuart Regional Civil War Commission is pleased to announce programs for the upcoming year. The commission formed by Historian Thomas D. “Tom” Perry started programs in 2010 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War in Patrick and Henry Counties in Virginia and Stokes and Surry Counties in North Carolina forming partnerships with groups that are involved in serious study of history and the War Between The States that began in April 1861. These programs will center at the Bassett Historical Center over the course of the four year commemoration of the war that was fought from 1861-65.

The J. E. B. Stuart Regional Civil War Commission will host First Saturday Programs at the Bassett Historical Center beginning on February 5, 2011. These programs will be on the first Saturday of each month going from February through May to start. All programs are from at 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. Library is open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

February 5, J. E. B. Stuart and His Brothers Go To War.

March 5, Civil War Genealogy Workshop

April 2, Stoneman’s Raid with Tom Perry and Chris Hartley

May 7, Patrick County Virginia in the Civil War

Tom Perry, a leading authority on J. E. B. Stuart and the Civil War will lead all programs Perry is the author of over a dozen books on regional history and J. E. B. Stuart. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in History from Virginia Tech, where he studied under noted historian James I. Robertson, Jr.

The first program will concern Confederate Major General J. E. B. Stuart and his brothers William Alexander and John Dabney Stuart, who all served in the war effort in different ways. William ran the saltworks in Saltville Virginia during the war, one of the few sources for the vital element of salt for the Confederacy. John served as a physician in the 54th Virginia Infantry mainly in the Army of Tennessee.

The second program will be the annual Civil War Genealogy Workshop conducted by Perry every year at the Bassett Historical Center concentrating on how to find an ancestor in the war using Perry’s research on Patrick County Virginia as an example.

The third program will concentrate on George Stoneman’s 1865 Raid, which came through all four counties covered by the regional commission in April 1861. Author Christopher James Hartley will join Perry to discuss his new book Stoneman’s Raid 1865 published in 2010 by John Blair Publishing of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Hartley, a graduate of the UNC-Chapel Hill is the author of Stuart’s Tarheels: James B. Gordon and the First North Carolina Cavalry and works in marketing for Blue Rhino Natural Gas.

The fourth program will cover Patrick County Virginia throughout the war concentrating on the home front, the various regiments from the county that served and J. E. B. Stuart, the most famous person from the county in the war. Perry presents this program each year to the 11th graders at Patrick County High School.

The J. E. B. Stuart Regional Civil War Commission will began scanning material from the Civil War such as letters and photos from the four counties. This material will be placed at the Bassett Historical Center. Anyone with materials they wish to share should contact Tom Perry to set an appointment at freestateofpatrick@yahoo.com.

The J. E. B. Stuart Regional Civil War Commission is not associated with any other Civil War Commission. The sole purpose of the group is to promote serious history of the time period by giving educational programs and preserving the material from the war in the regional history library, the Bassett Historical Center in Bassett, Virginia, a branch of the Blue Ridge Regional Library.

Visit www.freestateofpatrick.com or www.bassetthistoricalcenter.com for more information.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Gee Whiz Pal Fellows

Fred Smith passed this week and I wonder if Ararat, Virginia, will ever be the same or if the people in Ararat really know who they lost this week. I am sure there are many stories shared this week about Fred Smith. I will tell two that show that his community was never far from his mind.

When I was a teenager there was a basketball goal at the Ararat Ruritan Club and it was the only paved surface to shoot hoops on. We played many games on the dirt behind Zeb Scales’ house, but for many years we played at the Ararat Ruritan Club. The goal came down due some others drinking, breaking glass and cursing loudly. I went to Fred and told him that it was not us doing it and that the basketball goal gave us a place to have some fun. The goal was back up within a week. That was the kind of man Fred Smith was. He listened and he got things done.

Twenty years ago when I started raising money to save the J. E. B. Stuart’s Birthplace, many people in Ararat scoffed at the idea of trying to preserve the site, but not Fred Smith. He put his money where his mouth was giving as much as any one individual donor except maybe for Lucy Pannill Sale or her brother William Letcher Pannill, but in Ararat no one gave more to save the site than Fred Smith. He did not stop there. I went around to most of the Ruritan Clubs in Patrick County getting $1,000 from each except for Patrick Springs that never invited me and never gave a dime to preserve the site. Ararat was the last to give, which should not surprise anyone (Luke 4:24) and there were members who did not want to give to the effort. I am told that Fred Smith got up at a meeting and lectured them about community service and supporting what I was trying to do. Fred never told me he did that, but many others did and I never forgot it.

Fred was the son of Davis Reid Smith and brother of Davis Reid Smith, Jr. along with the sister of Jean Smith Cooke, all great characters in their own right. A lifelong Democrat, who took up golf in his later years. I would say after he retired, but Fred Smith never retired. Fred was a great putter of the golf ball and he could talk trash as good as anyone. I know this. I don’t think I heard Fred ever swear, but he would say “Gee Whiz Pal Fellows” and for many of us that is what when we thought of Fred Smith. I know I smiled everytime I said it.

I have never known anyone in Ararat, Virginia, where I grew up, who did more for his community or thought more about his community than Fred Smith. I do not think any of us realize who we have lost or what that loss will mean for the future of the community.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Images of Mount Airy North Carolina

With the 125th anniversary of the founding of the city and the 50th anniversary of the Andy Griffith Show, Historian Thomas D. “Tom” Perry is pleased to announce release of his book Images of Mount Airy North Carolina. This 220-page book contains black and white photos celebrating the history and the memories of the “Granite City,” where the author was born after his family came from Tennessee in the 1940s. In fourteen chapters and over 200 photos, Perry gives a snapshot of the town his father, Erie Meredith Perry came of age in with a chapter on his family along with covering many aspects of the history of the town so associated today with the mythical town of Mayberry from the Andy Griffith Show.

Using personal relationships and his knowledge of the regional history Perry developed the book over the last few years not necessarily to be the definitive history of Mount Airy, but to give residents and visitors a good read with interesting images from the past and present. Perry received help from Emmett Forrest supplying images of Andy Griffith while he lived in Mount Airy. Donna Fargo personally worked with Perry for a chapter on her life. The Surry County Historical Society and Mount Airy Museum of Regional History both worked with the author on this book. Other organizations that supplied images were Mount Airy High School and the Gilmer-Smith Foundation along with many private individuals especially Burke Robertson and Steve Talley.

Mount Airy Mayor Deborah Cochran penned the Foreword in the book titled “What Mount Airy Means To Me” where she tells, poignantly and honestly, about her life in the city she now leads and how during tough times the people of Mount Airy rose up to help her family. She speaks about her dreams and how the place she called home made her dreams come true.

The cover image is the James Hadley House on Pine Street, one of the oldest and best examples of granite and Victorian architecture in Mount Airy. In Chapter Thirteen, Perry tells his personal reasons for placing the home on the cover as his grandparents lived directly across from the home and he would as a youth often sit in the window and read and look at the giant house. The Mount Airy Public Library was just a few feet up Pine Street, so it was this area that the author read books.

Chapters in Images of Mount Airy North Carolina with index and selected bibliography include Andy Griffith, Donna Fargo, the Dinky Railroad, Granite Quarry, Folks from Mount Airy, White Sulphur Springs, Main Street, Ararat River, Schools, Downtown area, Granite structures, Civil War, Reasons to Visit, and a chapter on the author’s family.

Images of Mount Airy North Carolina $19.99

ISBN 1449971733

ISBN-13 9781449971731

Available for order here Images of Mount Airy North Carolina

Visit Tom Perry's Amazon Page

Monday, August 23, 2010

New Book Folklore of the Blue Ridge Foothills

See all titles available from Laurel Hill Publishing

Laurel Hill Publishing is pleased to announce the release of Folklore of the Blue Ridge Foothills edited by Doug Belcher. The book will be available at the Bassett Heritage Festival on September 11, 2010, and at the Bassett Historical Center until then. ALL PROFIT from this book will go to the Building Fund of the Bassett Public Library Association. This is the first book published by Laurel Hill Publishing not written by Tom Perry and begins a new series of books called the Bassett Historical Center Series, which will benefit the library from the sale of this series.

This book originally published in 1969 from stories submitted by students at Samuel H. Hairston School in Henry County, Virginia, takes tales, superstitions, and traditions to weave a story about the folklore of the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in piedmont Virginia. See a list of student contributors below.

Edited by the student’s teacher from 1969, Douglas G. Belcher, who holds degrees from Appalachian State University and UNC-Chapel Hill. He edited these stories from his students in 1969. Proceeds from this book will go to the Building Fund of the Bassett Historical Center. Mr. Belcher, a very private man will not do book signings or public relations for this book, but he is donating ALL profit to the Bassett Historical Center from the sale of this book.

Chapters in Folklore of the Blue Ridge Foothills are about Weather Signs, Household Superstitions, Animal Superstitions, and Country Medicine. The book includes student illustrations from 1969 and his indexed. At sixty pages, this book is a labor of love from a teacher wanting to remember his students and help our regional history library at the same time.

Student Contributors were Wayne Ashley, Jill Baily, Jerry Belcher, Debra Boardwifle, Ronnie Bryant, Doug Campbell, Debbie Cassell, Perry Cassell, Terilda Clark, Ann Clement, Danny Cline, Kathy Coleman, Debra Craig, Kirk Craig, Mary Craig, Roger Craig, Sandra Craig, Herbert Dellinger, Deborah Dillon, Lisa Draper, Richard Fitzgerald, Sharon Foley, Delairie Fretwell, Wanda George, Robin Gilley, Karen Gray, Ann Grogan, Harriet Grogan, Mickey Grogan, Joe Hairstoll, Paulette Hairston, William Hairston, Wanda Harbour, Jimmy Hearl, James Hendricks, Darryl Holland, Patricia Hughes, Tony Hutchens, Patricia Hylton, Sandra Hylton, Paul Johnson, Deborah Jordan, Michael Joyce, Charlotte Kellam, Steve Kendrick, Ray Lawrence, Judy Marshall, Jerry Martin, Sammy Martin, Debbie McAlexander, Marsh Merriman, Susan Milton, Susan Morris, Debbie Mullins, Ronnie Mullins, Darlene Murphy, Leon Nelson, Donna Nester, Owen Overby, Doretha Penn, Doris Penn, Richard Penn, Willie Penn, Tim Philpott, Dianne Rakes, Dean Randall, Vanessa Redd, Valerie Reed, Charlene Reid, Elbert Robertson, Michael Scales, Linda Shively, Paula Shough, Lee Smith, Linda Smith, Brenda Spencer, Jacob Spencer, Pamela Spencer, Pansy Spencer, Roger Spencer, Cindy Stone, Debris Stone, Philip Stone, Sandy Stone, Susan Stone, Cheryl Strader, Gail Taylor, Renniette Thomas, Velma Thomas, Janice Thompson, Vickie Tolbert, Linda Townsend, Telisa Triplett, Alonzb Turner, Edward Turner, David Vaughn, Dennis Via, Charlotte Ward, Carolyn Watkins, Howard Wigington, Wanda Wood, and Barbara Yates.

ISBN 1452871299 EAN-13 9781452871295 60 pages $9.99

Available from Laurel Hill Publishing at https://www.createspace.com/3454350

Available from Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/Folklore-Ridge-Foothills-Douglas-Belcher/dp/1452871299/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1282163730&sr=8-1

Visit www.freestateofpatrick.com to learn more about Tom Perry and Laurel Hill Publishing.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Ringo Rocks Durham

Ringo Rocks Durham With A Little Help From His Friends. On Sunday, July 11, 2010, I found myself alone in the company of several thousand fans in the company of Mr. Richard Starkey, the former drummer of Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. You might know him as Ringo Starr, the drummer of The Beatles. The new Durham Performing Arts Center beside the new Durham Bulls Baseball Stadium was the site of the concert. This time last year I found myself in the baseball stadium listening to Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, and Bob Dylan outdoors. I call this my annual July visit with 1960s icons tour. Ringo and his All Star Band have been touring in eleven different versions since 1989. The 2010 group includes Ringo Starr, Rick Derringer, Richard Page of Mr. Mister, Edgar Winter, Gary Wright, Wally Palmar of The Romantics and on drums Gregg Bissonette.

Set List From July 11, 2010
It Don't Come Easy (Ringo Starr)
Honey Don't (Ringo Starr)
Choose Love (Ringo Starr)
Hang On Sloopy (Rick Derringer)
Free Ride (Edgar Winter)
Talking In Your Sleep (Wally Palmar)
I Wanna Be Your Man (Ringo Starr)
Dream Weaver (Gary Wright)
Kyrie (Richard Page)
The Other Side of Liverpool (Starr)
Yellow Submarine (Ringo Starr)
Frankenstein [Edgar Winter]
Peace Dream (Ringo Starr)
Back Off Boogaloo (Ringo Starr)
What I Like About You ( Wally Palmar)
Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo/Eruption (Derringer)
Boys (Ringo Starr)
Love Is Alive (Gary Wright)
Broken Wings (Richard Page)
Photograph (Ringo Starr)
Act Naturally (Ringo Starr)
With a Little Help From My Friends/Give Peace a Chance (Ringo Starr)

What surprised me about this show that I went too almost as a lark as how tight a band these guys were and how they played as a team showing the same enthusiasm for the other guys music as they did for their own. The energy level was high considering the age of the musicians. Ringo just turned 70 and was/is the oldest Beatle, then John, Paul, and George in age. During the show the crowd spontaneously sang Happy Birthday to Ringo, who quipped he was still looking for the present. He interacted with the crowd often making jokes about few CDs his new Y-Not album had sold doing a head count of the audience with copies.

I learned that Hang On Sloopy was the state Rock and Roll Song for the state of Ohio, but I did not realize that Rick Derringer sang it. He was a great guitar player including an almost perfect rendition of Van Halen’s Eruption at the end of his own Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo. Edgar Winter, who I listened to as a teenager, was also an amazing musician going from sax, to drums, to keyboards and that was just on Frankenstein. His song Autumn was one of my favorite ballads from the 1970s. Palmar had high energy and probably the weakest musician in this band playing rhythm guitar, but he kept everyone out of their seats singing two of The Romantics big hits with the audience yelling “Hey” on almost every line of What I Like About You. Richard Page held down bass duties and delivered two strong vocals on Mr. Mister songs Kyrie and Broken Wings that were hits in the mid-1980s.

Gary Wright sang a remarkable version of Dream Weaver that allowed most to sit down along with his Love Is Alive, but that was not because he was not good, just perfect timing in a show that most people stood for two hours. Wright’s voice was strong and he told the story that he played on George Harrison’s first solo album All Things Must Pass along with Ringo and that he went with George to India. Harrison gave Wright a copy of a book about Indian Philosophy and that there was a passage about weaving of dreams that led to Wright’s most popular song.

Ringo joked that, “George Harrison never gave me a damn book.” Implying his song writing might have been stronger. The fact is that two of Starr’s most popular songs Photograph and It Don’t Come Easy were co-written with Harrison. It makes one wonder that if this song writing duo had worked together more what might have happened. While they would never be Lennon-McCartney, they did make some beautiful music together.

Of course, the reason for the show sold out show was Ringo. He did Boys, which he noted he did with Rory Storm and the Hurricanes before joining that other band. He never once mentioned Beatles in the show or Paul McCartney. His later solo work mostly about Peace and Love, where repeats of the 1960s mantra of All You Need Is Love and even mentioned John Lennon in a song about Imagining a Peace Dream. While the naïve worldview is a bit outdated in the cynical times we live, there is no doubt that Ringo still believes it.

There were songs that you might have wanted from Ringo especially more from his wildly popular 1973 Ringo Album or Octopus’s Garden. When I was learning to play the guitar about 1973 after spending all summer in Theodore Guynn’s tobacco field making enough money to buy an FG-75 Yamaha acoustic, my teacher Sam Dobyns and I learned most of the songs from Ringo as they were not very difficult to follow the chords and gave us common ground to play together.

It is not every day you get to spend time with a living Beatle and these guys were very good and very professional, who enjoyed each other’s company and the energy from the crowd. It is not every show that you hear a former Beatle sing Carl Perkin’s Honey Don’t, which The Beatles covered or Buck Owens’s Act Naturally. Starr loved the former Hee Haw star and all musicians of Ringo’s age loved Carl Perkins. Starr brought the house down when he sang Yellow Submarine and I Wanna Be Your Man, but a more fitting finale for the show could not have been that With A Little Help From My Friends, the Lennon-McCartney song penned for Starr’s baritone from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Raleigh News and Observer Story

Photos from the concert

Durham Herald Sun Story

Paul McCartney showed up for Ringo’s Birthday Concert at Radio City in New York

Monday, July 5, 2010

Jeb Visits GrahamFest

Christmas in July came to me this past weekend at GrahamFest 2010 in Major David Graham’s home in Wythe County, Virginia. For the second year in a row I took my J. E. B. Stuart photo exhibit to the mansion once visited by James Ewell Brown Stuart and set up in the Christmas Room. J. E. B. Stuart visited the home just before his fourteenth birthday walking through snow up to his knees. This year performers included Jeanette and Buddy Williams among others. I was happy to see Tracey Puckett Stump and her historically named sons along with Denise Coalson, who told me that she and her sister Deb Goodrich found the Graham Mansion over two decades ago. Denise wanted me to make sure we called Deb in Kansas to tell her we were there. I visited the house searching for everywhere Stuart visited over two decades ago myself. In this year, I celebrate the twentieth anniversary of raising money to save Stuart’s Birthplace. Thanks to Josiah Weaver and Mary Lin Brewer for having me again. This is a truly an interesting home with the history and a ghost investigation by the Virginia Paranormal Society.

To Alexander Stuart Brown

Draper’s Valley, Virginia
January 17, 1847

It is now dear cousin almost a month since I wrote to you last and I resume my seat hoping that you will—

View this not with a scornful eye
But pass its imperfections by

Although I have but little new to write yet I hope that I will have something that will interest you.

I was disappointed in getting a horse here. So I set out on foot on Tuesday morning for Uncle Brown’s I crossed the mountain and went up the back road by Graham’s, where I dined upon quite a fine dinner, and then set out on my journey the snow being about half leg deep and I tell you that I had a tough time of it, for I had to break the road nearly all the way.

I got to Cobbler Springs about sundown where I found Cousins T. and F., also Miss Mary McKee and Miss Maria S. Crockett who was as fat and pretty as ever. I had the pleasure of riding home with her next morning and in the conversation I brought up your name, and I talked about a good many different things concerning you and found them to be o. k. but away with this trash.

When I got there I found that I could not get a horse (I mean at Uncle Brown’s) until he arrived home which he did not until Thursday night following. I thought it was not worth my while to go to Patrick County until Spring at which time I intend to go or burst a gut.

I stayed there enjoying myself most remarkably well, until Tuesday making a stay of just two weeks when accompanied with Miss Maria Young I came down to the Valley where I have been ever since jogging away at old Caesar

I suppose you’ve heard of the wedding etc. The Colonel has gone with a carriage to Roanoke after his children. Things are going on about as usual. I received a letter from Sister Columbia the other day. They were all well and she requested me to send her love to you when I wrote to you. My school will be out the last of March. I want to go home then and stay until May and then go to Mr. Buckingham.

J. E. B. Stuart

J. E. B. Stuart Papers, Virginia Historical Society.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

My Mother Raised A Christian

Two times in the last two years I have heard my mother’s voice crack and seen tears in her eyes relating to her flowers destroyed and her years of work disrespected at the J. E. B. Stuart Birthplace by the board of directors charged with preserving the site. Last time was in 2009 when azaleas she planted at the entrance were dug up and thrown away after she asked them to be brought to her as she caught members of the organization doing just that. These flowers were very personal to her because she brought them from her father’s garden in Augusta, Georgia, and planted them at the entrance to Stuart’s Birthplace. In fact, she tended the entrance for TWO DECADES. She and my father spent THOUSANDS of dollars at the site and this is how they are treated.

My mother raised me as a Christian. Something many people in Patrick County should be thankful for this week especially two specific boards of directors. On Tuesday, June 1, 2010, the forsythia planted by mother at the entrance to the J. E. B. Stuart Birthplace was dug up and destroyed.

My mother’s reaction this time was similar as her voice cracked and tears welled up in her eyes, she said, “They are just flowers and they are not worth the trouble. Just let it be.” Now some people talk about being Christians and some people are. My mother is the latter. My mother planted yellow forsythia “Yellow for the cavalry” she said to honor J. E. B. Stuart and his men. It was the first cover of my book on Stuart’s Birthplace and the way I ended my talks for nearly two decades promoting the site and Patrick County.

While this may seem like a small "Petty” thing, but it is the motivation that I question. This is the second time this occurred. Both times when I was leveling criticism at members of the Stuart clique. These people will not come at me, but instead go after a nearly 80-year-old woman to get back at me. I guess they did not like me bringing a better J. E. B. Stuart living historian than they ever have to Ararat in recent weeks.

Over the last year, the tailgate of my truck was keyed (a long scratch down the entire width) during the Free State Of Patrick Festival in April at the Ruritan building in Ararat as many people with Highland Game T-shirts wandered around. Someone vandalized my booth at the Just Plain Country Store (not while the present owners have been there, but when the “Dix” owned the place and he did NOTHING about it). I had multiple business relationships sabotaged where people worked with me, then suddenly stopped, only to become a chamber member or show up at another festival in Ararat. I received harassing phone calls in 2009 from a number (276-930-4359) in Woolwine that originated from the textile plant where at least one employee was a board member of the J. E. B. Stuart Birthplace. Recently, I received a threatening phone call from 276-694-6012, not hard to figure out where that number comes from.

I have seen with my own eyes a person parked behind my truck at the Stuart Wal-Mart, who is married to a member of the J. E. B. Stuart Birthplace Board of Directors. They parked not in a parking stop, but blocked the lane for several minutes. I hoped he would get out of the truck because I had my cell phone set to 911 and I was getting ready to have him arrested. I caught this same person peaking around a tent taking a photo of me at the Ararat Festival a couple of weeks ago for what possible reason I cannot imagine. I do not believe any of this is a coincidence.

As you can see there are things at the Laurel Hill Farm that need attention such as replacing the Virginia Civil War Trail Marker shown here that is water damaged. Instead making a 78 year old woman cry is a priority. Here is the reason I believe this happened. Just three weeks ago at the Ararat Festival a representative of the Patrick County Chamber of Commerce told a business associate of mine that in order to work with the chamber the business associate would have to “Distance himself from Tom Perry” in order to work with them. When I complained, I received harassing calls that I asked stopped and one threatening voice mail message and my mother’s forsythia disappeared. Coincidence? I do not think so.

This should be a lesson to the sellouts from Ararat as to what their fates will be if they do not follow the line set by the clique in Stuart. I am from Ararat and not a member of the Stuart clique or a sell out like some of my parent’s neighbors. When you stand up for what it is right, there is a cost, but I would rather pay it than be a hypocrite. What does it gain a person to gain the world and lose his immortal soul.

Last year J. E. B. Stuart IV (shown here with me in 1991 when I raised the money to save his ancestral home) wrote a letter supporting these people and I assume their actions in an obvious dig at me for criticizing the organization I started, but more importantly disrespected my family. I think everyone involved or who support the Patrick County Chamber and the J. E. B. Stuart Birthplace need to take a long hard look in the mirror and think about their behavior. I am use to the pettiness and jealousy aimed at me, but when you go after someone’s mother, who has done more than all those mentioned combined to preserve Patrick County’s and J. E. B. Stuart’s history there is something very “rotten in the Free State Of Patrick” to paraphrase Shakespeare.

Every time someone comes at me I think about the roof going on the Bassett Historical Center, something I am very proud of or the person who stopped me in Pandowdy’s Restaurant two days ago and congratulated me for what a great job I did at Stuart’s Birthplace. You can dig up all the flowers you want and bad mouth me all you want, but I know what I did and I don’t need the clique in Stuart to get my satisfaction. I get it every time I ride by Stuart’s Birthplace. I will follow my mother’s sage advice and “Let It Be.” My mother raised me as a Christian. It is a shame that the mothers of those in question did not do the same.

Why, what should be the fear?
I do not set my life at a pin's fee;
And for my soul, what can it do to that,
Being a thing immortal as itself?
It waves me forth again. I'll follow it.

Monday, May 31, 2010

First and Last From Patrick County On Memorial Day

On Memorial Day, May 31, 2010, I visited Ararat, Virginia, and my parents early in the morning. I took the opportunity to visit the graves of several men from the community who served this country in the United States Armed Forces. Just a mile from my parent’s home down the Homeplace Road is the grave of Command Sergeant Major Zeb Stuart Scales, who was my neighbor and whom I spoke about this weekend at the Memorial Day Ceremony at Rocky Mount, Virginia. While Zeb did lose his life in service, he is I think one of the most decorated soldiers from The Free State Of Patrick.

You can read those remarks at www.freestateofpatrick.com/memorialday.pdf.

I drove up to the Blue Ridge Elementary School and turned on to Raven Rock Road, up past the Dan River Park as a fog hung low over the Blue Ridge Mountains. Down the hill I went to the intersection to the River Road and the Raven Rock Road just up the hill from the Ararat River. I took a moment to visit the grave of Levi Barnard, who lost his life just over a year ago in Iraq. I did not know him personally, but I had known of him since his birth. Here is his myspace page http://www.myspace.com/43293558. Levi was the last person from Patrick County serving from our area to lose his life. I hope he is the last, but for today anyway he holds that distinction.

Nearby his grave was another grave that of Charles Barnard of Company I, 24th Virginia Infantry. Charles died on June 30, 1862, in a Danville hospital per the Patrick County Death Register in the courthouse in the town formerly known as Taylorsville. I have several letters from him that I will write about another day that are in my book The Free State Of Patrick: Patrick County in the Civil War.

Downstream along the Ararat River several miles is the grave of the first man from Patrick County to lose his life in service to this country. He was a Corporal in Daniel Carlin’s Henry County Militia Company. During the American Revolution, Patrick County did not exist and was part of Henry County.
In the summer of 1780, Lord Charles Cornwallis was coming through the Carolinas heading for a date with Nathaniel Greene at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse in March 1781 and a date with George Washington at Yorktown, where he surrendered and practically ending the American Revolution. The pro-British Loyalists or Tories became embolden by the presence of a large British force close by and looked for targets on the Patriot side. Living on the banks of the Ararat River was William Letcher, his wife Elizabeth Perkins Letcher and their daughter Bethenia recently born. The Letchers married in 1778 and he was a strong Patriot. One summer day in August 1780, a stranger came to the Letcher’s cabin door and inquired about William. Elizabeth as the story goes invited him to wait. When William arrived the stranger, tradition holds as a Tory named Nichols shot Letcher in the presence of his wife and left him to die in his wife’s arms. Tradition holds that George Hairston and the Henry County Militia came over captured the Tories led by a William Hall, who lived just across the state line in Surry County, North Carolina. They held a “Drumhead” trial, convicted, and hung the murderous gang. Other stories have Hall coming to his end at the hands of Native people further west and Nichols finding the end of a rope later. Either way William Letcher died just about a year before Cornwallis surrendered to Washington, making him the first man from what is today Patrick County to lose his life during a war in service to this nation.

Just over fifty years after Letcher’s death, his great-grandson was born on the same land along the Ararat River. He, like Letcher, lost his life around the age of thirty, fighting in what he no doubt considered his own “Rev War.” Most everyone has heard of him as he was James Ewell Brown “Jeb” Stuart and William Letcher was his material great-grandfather. The Ararat River begins just behind Bell’s Spur Church along the Blue Ridge Parkway near the Squirrel Spur Road. The river meanders down the mountain past the Raven Rock and across the bottom where Charles and Levi Barnard rest today. Further downstream a great-grandfather rests along the same stream that his famous descendant was born. This small mountain stream’s history now includes the first and the last man from Patrick County to lose their lives in service of this country. I thought on Memorial Day that they both deserved a visit.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day Remarks At Rocky Mount VA

Here are my remarks from the Memorial Day Ceremony at Rocky Mount Virginia yesterday, May 29, 2010.

"In stories about the war I try to show all the different sides of it, taking it slowly and honestly and examining it from many ways. So never think one story represents my viewpoint because it is much too complicated for that."
Ernest Hemingway wrote these words and today I want to use his words and my experiences over the last twenty years researching the many aspects of war to tell you about some men, all dead now who deserve to be remembered on Memorial Day. Most gave their lives. All gave their service.
Today, I would like to share the stories of some of the people, who over the last twenty years I have studied who gave what Abraham Lincoln said was the “last full measure of devotion.” These are men who it was my great honor to cross paths in researching history. Ernest Hemingway once wrote, "The world is a fine place and worth fighting for."

Read the entire speech here

Read more about the men from Patrick County who gave all.


World War Two and Bull Mountain Plane Crash

Civil War

American Revolution and before

Wall of Honor in Administration Building

Schedule Updated Through November


Come check out these events and buy a book.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Notes From The Free State Of Patrick May 2010

Read about the Ararat Virginia Festival May 22 in this month's Notes From The Free State Of Patrick.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Everett M. Bennett

Imagine your life boiled down to the contents of a cardboard box, but that is how I started a new journey with Everett Marshall Bennett. In early 2010, as we were finishing the Henry County Heritage Book at the Bassett Historical Center, David Minter brought a box of material to me at the “Best Little Library in Virginia” with the idea it would make a good book. In fact, David brought enough material for several books that we hope to work on over the next few years. I found an FM17-12, a War Department Field Manual dated July 10, 1944 about “Tank Gunnery.” The box had War Ration Book #4 including stamps for coffee and other materials rationed during World War Two. There was a photo album with many images of occupied Berlin and even postcards from Germany. There were a few photos from Korea during Bennett’s service there and a ration card he used during his time in Asia. There were letters from people who wrote to a young man from Henry County about a magazine cover. It was that image that jumped out to me as the young man was on the cover of Life Magazine, Everett M. Bennett from February 10, 1947. Mr. Bennett served in occupied Berlin in the U. S. Army serving the 28th Constabulary, returned home to Henry County, went back into the U. S. Army in Korea serving in the 1092nd Engineering Regiment, and came home again to Martinsville, married and worked for decades at the Rives Road Grocery beside the Martinsville Novelty. On January 1, 1947 Life photographer Walter Sanders took Bennett’s photo and over 20 million people saw this young twenty year old, who grew up at Penn’s Store and went to Spencer-Penn High School. Stayed tune loyal readers for more…

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Patrick Henry Trail Leaves Out Patrick and Henry Counties

Anyone reading a map of Virginia cannot help but notice the name Patrick Henry along the southern border of the Commonwealth of Virginia as two counties have the name of Virginia's first governor. Yet the people in Richmond, who apparently think Virginia ends somewhere just west of Charlottesville and south of Richmond do not seem to know that Patrick Henry lived in Henry County, which included Patrick County at that time during the latter stages of the American Revolution. All they have to do is read the Virginia Historical Highway Marker book to see there is indeed a marker along Highway 58 about Patrick Henry and there is a large stone marker on the land he once owned along Leatherwood Creek. I would like to know why counties that share his name are not included along the new trail about his life. I am sure those in Richmond will say this trail is for “Interpreted Sites,” but there are many Civil War Trail sites that have trail signs that are not interpreted. Here is a great opportunity for Patrick and Henry Counties to promote themselves using “Heritage Tourism” to bring people to the area. Having worked on the Virginia Civil War Trails sign at J. E. B. Stuart including writing the text and supplying the photos, I know something about this. I know there are efforts underway to bring one of these signs to Henry County and here is another opportunity to bring history tourism to the area through the man whose name is on both our local counties.

Stone marker near the site of Patrick Henry's Leatherwood home. My friend Elva Adams also commented about this on her blog www.myhenrycounty.com

Here is the Richmond Times Dispatch Article announcing the new Patrick Henry Trail

Information about Patrick Henry

After turning over the responsibilities as governor to Thomas Jefferson in 1779, Henry moved west to "Leatherwood" in Henry County, which had been created out of Pittsylvania County in 1776. By selling Scotchtown and some western lands (in Botetourt County and Kentucky), he had bought himself a fresh start on the frontier again... though this time he was no longer a failed storekeeper or a newly-famous young lawyer. Henry held on to his Bedford County land, hoping to find gold.
Cornwallis came near Leatherwood during his chase of the Continentals under Nathaniel Greene through the Carolinas. Greene retreated across the Dan River, then moved south again and defeated Cornwallis at Guilford Court House - 40 miles from Partrick Henry's new home. Henry came closer to the war when he attended the General Asembly in May, 1781. He went to Charlottesville rather than Richmond to attend the session, since it had been moved inland to avoid the marauding English. Banastre Tarleton's raid on Charlottesville chased the legislature further west to Staunton. [Reportedly on the flight four famous Virginia leaders had requested supper at a rural cabin. The woman of the cabin had rejected three requests for assistance, until she heard Patrick Henry was in the party - at which she decided it was appropriate to assist the travellers, rather than reject them as cowards...]
Henry was at Leatherwood when Cornwallis was cornered at Yorktown and surrendered on October 19, 1783.

Road To Revolution Heritage Trail http://www.roadtorevolution.com/
Red Hill Patrick Henry’s Home and Final Resting Place http://www.redhill.org/
Patrick Henry’s Virginia http://www.redhill.org/virginia.html

Virginia Historical Highway Marker along Highway 58 in Henry County. Below are the members of the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate to contact about putting Patrick and Henry Counties on the Patrick Henry Trail.

Ward Armstrong DelWArmstrong@house.virginia.gov
Roscoe Reynolds district20@senate.virginia.gov
Danny Marshall DelDMarshall@house.virginia.gov
Christopher Peace DelCPeace@house.virginia.gov (Delegate From Hanover County)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ararat Virginia Festival May 22

The Ararat Virginia Heritage and Music Jamboree will be May 22, 2010, from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. at the Dan River Park (www.danriverpark.com). The event begins at 9 a.m. with a parade through the community beginning at the Ararat Ruritan Club and ending at the site of the event at the Dan River Park. The park is located at 419 Raven Rock Road, Ararat, Virginia 24053

Events will include multiple bluegrass bands, antique tractors and cars cruising, T-ball, and Cow Patty Bingo. Vendors will have food, produce, and crafts on hand. The event will end with fireworks around 8 p.m. Vendor spaces are available by contacting Janet Epperson at redapplelane@yahoo.com or 276-251-1182. www.freestateofpatrick.com/araratfestival has downloadable forms and other information about the festival.

The Ararat Virginia Heritage and Music Jamboree has merged with Tom Perry’s Free State Of Patrick Festival held last year at the Ararat Ruritan Club to promote Ararat, Virginia, and western Patrick County in the Dan River District. This event raised money for the Dan River Park and the Ararat Ruritan Club Scholarship.

This year Perry will again raise money for the scholarship named in honor of his parent’s Erie and Betty H. Perry by giving proceeds from his book sales. The Erie Meredith and Betty Jane Hobbs Perry Scholarship will help deserving students in the Dan River District of Patrick County, Virginia. They are the parents of Historian and author Thomas D. “Tom” Perry.

Erie M. Perry, born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, spent his formative years in High Point and Mount Airy, North Carolina. He attended Lees McCrae and Appalachian State University and received a Master’s Degree from Radford University. He taught in the Patrick County Virginia School System for nearly thirty years at Blue Ridge High School, Red Bank Elementary School, and Blue Ridge Elementary School.

Betty Jane Hobbs Perry, born outside Augusta, Georgia, met her husband while he was stationed in U. S. Army at Fort Gordon. Like several ladies from Georgia she came to Ararat, Virginia, in the late 1950s. She worked for nearly forty years at Quality Mills/Cross Creek Apparel in Mount Airy, North Carolina.

Vendor Forms Available at www.freestateofpatrick.com/araratfestival

Follow the event on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/event.php?eid=374708220387

J. E. B. Stuart (Wayne Jones of Aiken, South Carolina), the best Stuart interpreter in the nation will be on hand in character as a personal guest of Tom Perry. http://thegeneralandhislady.com


Tom Perry will have photographic displays on the Mount Airy and Eastern Railroad “The Dinky,” J. E. B. Stuart and Patrick County in the Vietnam Conflict. Read more about these topics at the following websites.

Tom Perry will have his new book Ararat Virginia: A Guide From Willis Gap To Kibler Valley to promote the western end of Patrick County with businesses, history, and reasons to come visit Ararat, Virginia.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Notes From The Free State Of Patrick Newsletter

This month's newsletter has an article on the Shootout on Fayette Street in Martinsville, an article about going back to high school and new book released J. E. B. Stuart's Birthplace: History, Genealogy and Guide available everywhere along with events I will be attending in May 2010.

Read it here

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Longaberger Bingo For Janet Pack Sumner

I received the following email recently from Shelby Farris Willis about our mutual friend Janet Pack Sumner. I gave Shelby one copy of all my books specially signed to commemorate the effort to help Janet. Please come by and play some Bingo if you get a chance.

Hello all,

We are having a Longaberger Bingo fundraiser for Janet on Friday, April 30 at the Central United Methodist Church on North Main Street . See attached flyer and raffle tickets. Please forward this to everybody you can think of and post this for me.

Also, we are in the process of collecting door prizes for this fundraiser. We need at least 25. If anyone can help with door prizes or the food for this, it would be greatly appreciated. Some people have asked about sponsoring baskets. The baskets are between $25.00 and $50.00, if you know someone who wants to sponsor a basket.

We all know what a hard time Janet has had battling malignant melanoma since 2002. She’s taking 3 shots a week (interferon) now for a year for her cancer. She has been very sick and so weak from this. She’s always had tough times in her life since she was a little girl. I have made a DVD of Janet talking about her life and sent it to ABC Extreme Makeover Home Edition, hoping they would come in and help finish her house. They can’t seem to finish it because of all the medical bills. I have more copies that I would like others to see. It’s really touching and I don’t think people realize what Janet has been through…Please let me know if you are interested in seeing it.

Thank you all so much!



Proceeds to help support Janet Sumner’s Medical Bills

WHEN: Friday April 30, 2010

WHERE: Central United Methodist Church,
1909 North Main Street
Mount Airy, NC 27030

TIME: Doors will open @ 6:00pm
Bingo will begin around 7:00pm

COST: $20.00 for 60 cards
Play 3 cards per game

Hot dogs, chips, drinks, & desserts will be available for purchase.

20 games will be played for beautiful Longaberger products!

Valued at $300.00
Cover All Cards are $3.00 each or 2 for $5.00

Raffle tickets may be purchased for $1.00 each for a chance to win a Coastal Tote Set. The drawing will be held April 30, 2010.
You do not have to be present to win.

Contact Gina Gough @ 336-710-3141 or Shelby Willis @ 276-251-5775 if you have any questions!

This event is in no way connected with or sponsored by the Longaberger Company.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Back To High School

This week I returned to Patrick County High School to speak to the students of the eleventh grade U. S. history classes of Glenn Burnette and Shannon Brown. After several years of not talking, I returned when I found out that no one was talking to the classes. I brought my memory stick with a PowerPoint presentation on Patrick County in the Civil War back to the place I graduated thirty-one years ago. I always hear people complaining about how the kids are not taught this or that in school anymore, but none of these complainers ever volunteer to go to school and talk to the kids. So off I went back to school.

This program is about two individual soldiers William Dennis Via and Rufus James Woolwine, who served in the 51st Virginia Infantry, were messmates, and who rest today in adjoining plots in the old Stuart Cemetery. The talk contained information about the county before war and the election of 1860. Discussion included the homefront during the war, Stoneman’s Raid at the end of the war and a year by year account of the war on the battle lines and at home. There was information on life for African-American slaves and free people in Patrick County. Two brothers discussed were R. J. and Abram D. Reynolds and their exploits during the war.

Of course, there was biographical information on J. E. B. Stuart from birth to death and his importance in the history of the company. Many of the students asked very good questions and the dialogue was impressive. While none of the ladies thought J. E. B. Stuart was attractive enough to carry to the prom, as I showed them a photo him beardless at age 17, I did feel like they got something out of the presentation.

This was an exhausting and enormously fulfilling experience that I hope to repeat again the future. For this I received lunch, where I got to break bread with Principal Bradshaw and Resource Officer Roger Wilson, who I graduated with in 1979. I found too that a t-shirt from the Lady Cougar basketball coach and a PC hat came my way from Coach Burnette. I sponsored the webcast of the playoff games for the Lady Cougars as they made the regional finals last year and beyond this year traveling to Richmond to compete in the final four of their level.

Teaching and coaching are thankless jobs in this day and time, but being the child of a teacher and principal in Patrick County I know what it is like. It is easy to criticize teachers and school administrators, but those people should ask themselves what they have done to improve education in Patrick County.

Friday, March 26, 2010

A Big Man

Daniel Boone was a man. Yes a big man. With an eye like an eagle and as tall as a mountain was he. Daniel Boone was a man. Yes a big man. He was brave, he was fearless and as tough as a mighty oak tree. From the coonskin cap on the top of ol Dan to the heel of his rawhide shoe The rippin'est roarin'est fightin'est man the frontier ever knew. Daniel Boone was a man. Yes a big man.
And he fought for America to make all Americans free. What a Boone. What a wonder. What a dream comer truer was he.

Recently, due to the wondrous thing that is Netflix, I have been editing the Henry County Heritage Book while a song from my youth comes from the television. I finished watching season one, just as news came recently of the death of the man, who for me and many of the “Baby Boomers” knew as Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett. Fess Parker passed away at his winery in California. I admit it. I had a coonskin cap and I loved watching Fess Parker as Boone and Crockett. No doubt that I loved history and I remember often watching The Wonderful World of Disney on Sundays at 7 p.m. I believe, although my romantic image of my childhood maybe obscured with time.

Fess Parker, who passed away on March 18, was 85 years old and he too was a big man, standing six foot six inches. He was the voice of the driver in Harvey, along with being in movies such as Them, The Great Locomotive Chase, and Old Yeller. He was Boone from 1964-70 on TV and Crockett a decade earlier in made for TV movies. It was not accurate history as I am listening to Boone by Richard Morgan, but when you are ten years old history is playing dress up. Luckily, I grew up unlike others I know, but man I remember watching Parker on Disney. For some reason, I remember the color versions better and watching it on the Guynn’s TV, as I think trucking mogul Teddy Guynn had a coonskin cap too. There has got to be a photo of that somewhere.

Anyway, thanks to Netflix for letting me relive some good memories of my childhood and the man who brought history to life every Sunday evening on Disney. Parker like Boone was a big man in life and in my memory. God’s Speed, Daniel, Davy, and Fess.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Superintendent/Reenactor Fires Gun In Class

From Eric Wittenberg's Civil War Cavalry Blog www.civilwarcavalry.com

Superintendent accidentally discharges muzzleloader in class

ROB ROGERS Of The Gazette Staff | Posted: Monday, March 8, 2010 10:19 pm | (60) Comments

Dwain Haggard’s high school history lesson on Friday backfired.

Haggard, who used to be a Civil War reenactor, was showing the five students in Reed Point High’s American history class his replica antique black powder muzzleloader when the gun fired and lodged a ball in the front wall of the classroom.

“I can’t explain how it was loaded,” Haggard said.

Haggard has been district superintendent since 2007, and each year he’s visited the high school’s American history class to show off his Civil War-era equipment. When he shows the muzzleloader, he finishes the demonstration by firing a cap, which makes a small “pop” when he pulls the trigger, he said.

But this time, “when I dropped the hammer on it, to all of our surprise, it went off,” he said.

Jake Bare, a junior at Reed Point High, was in the class when the gun fired. He said it caught everybody off guard.

When Haggard pulled the trigger, there was a loud bang,and the room filled with smoke, Bare said.

“Holy criminy, you just shot the map,” he said.

Indeed, the ball shot through the “o” in the word “North” at the top of the map and lodged in the wall, Haggard said.

The gun was never pointed at the students once Haggard inserted the cap. He was facing away from the students, pointing the gun toward the ceiling when he pulled the trigger.

The students were “never really in danger,” he said.

After settling down the students and dismissing class, Haggard said, he called the school board to explain what happened and then called the parents of the five students.

“None of them were upset with me,” he said.

One father, he said, laughed until he cried.

The board and his staff have been supportive, he said.

He described the incident as “bitter irony.” As superintendent, Haggard has worked with the school to increase safety at the school, updating its drills and the training staff receives.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Shootout on Fayette Street

Gunfire erupted on May 17, 1886, in Martinsville, Virginia, in one of the largest gunfights ever recorded on the east coast. This shootout ended with nine shot and eventually three dead including an African-American bystander. It was just five years after Wyatt Earp and the Gunfight at the OK Corral, but that was thousands of miles away in frontier west town of Tombstone, Arizona. The shooting in Martinsville happened within sight of the Henry County Court House in the middle of a quiet southern town.

Aiken Summit along the Danville and Western Railroad was home to the Terrys. Their home, Marr’s Hill, and Terry’s Mountain were marks they left on the landscape of Henry County, Virginia, but in the late 1880s, tradition says their prospects were on the way down. The children of Parker and Mary King Terry lived on land literally granted them from colonial times. The Spencers were a family on the rise in the summer of 1886. Their home was Grassdale. These two families met as their lines of rise and descent crossed on the streets of Martinsville.

D. H. Spencer and Sons moved their tobacco operation to Fayette Street within site of the Henry County Court House. Their brands included Calhoun and Old Crow. The company was one of the first to make their own boxes for shipment. Peter Spencer was on the Martinsville Town Council. On May 8, 1886, the council heard complaints from two fertilizers agents, A. W. Hill and B. F. Barrow, who thought their annual license tax discriminated against their product. They did not get the two-thirds vote needed to change their bill with Mayor C. B. Bryant and “Colonel Peter” Spencer voting against them.

The Editor of the Henry News, J. T. Darlington, published an anonymous article that was an obvious satire of the meeting. The article written by local attorney William King Terry, who may have represented the fertilizer agents, made fun of Bryant and Spencer. On Saturday, May 15, Terry distributed a printed circular that was more critical of the two men. One author speculates that it looks like an “over reaction” or an “emotional” response by Terry that may indicate some existing bad blood between the Spencers and Terrys.

The following day, the story goes, May 16, a Sunday, Peter Spencer printed up his own poster comparing Terry to a jackass. John Hardin Pedigo, who apparently wrote for both sides, “ghost wrote” the poster. Attempts to destroy the posters were not completely successful as William Terry found one. “Finding himself effectively called an SOB, Will Terry was enraged.” This was a time of honor and reputation in the two decades since the end of the Civil War and with the recent death of his father, Terry could not ignore the slander. He lived in a local hotel in Martinsville and the small world the town would have been at that time made conflict and stirring the pot of controversy was good sport for some in those days as cable television sensationalizes today’s rumors and innuendo.

Terry distributed another circular. The printer, probably Darlington at the Henry News, certainly was busy. It read, “I have been attacked by some low contemptable scoundrel and midnight assassin, by the publication of an anonymous card. If however he will present himself he shall receive the chasetisement he so richly merits.”

On Monday, May 17, Terry learned that the Henry News printed Peter Spencer’s circular. He sent word to his brothers, Jake and Ben Terry, who soon arrived on the railroad in Martinsville. Noting the heightened tension, more “peace officers” than usual were present including the Sheriff, several deputies, two constables, and a town sergeant.

At 7 p.m., employees streamed out of the Spencer Tobacco plant on Fayette Street, where they worked sunrise to sunset. When Peter and John Spencer came out, William Terry called and asked Peter directly if he wrote the “horse card.” Peter answered that he did. Terry grabbed his pistol, but W. H. Werth grabbed Terry. John Spencer suggested that there were “other means for handling the dispute.” J. T. Darlington pointed out that the Spencers outnumbered the Terrys, as the Spencers had five gunmen present due to “prior arrangements.” Seeing the situation William Terry stepped away with Darlington.

As with all such situations it only takes one person to create a catastrophe and that person was Tarleton Brown. Smoke filled the air for about twenty-five feet around the entrance to the Spencer Tobacco Company. The Richmond Dispatch noted, “at least a dozen revolvers flashed in the air. The death dealing missiles flew thick and fast, rarely missing their prey. Every man stood his ground with nerve and grit.” Gilmore Dickinson shot Will Terry in the back “fifteen inches away.” Ben Terry shot Tarleton Brown after the latter fired at Jake Terry.

The shootout wounded nine people. All three Terry brothers were down. Jake died immediately, Will died after lingering several weeks and Ben, hit twice, once in the neck, recovered. Peter Spencer, shot in the ribs, survived for five years. Bystanders J. R. Gregory and an African-American Sandy Martin lost their lives.

Shot were “Peace Officers” Hugh N. Dyer and B. L. Jones. Hugh Nelson Dyer went on to become Roanoke Chief of Police and wrote a memoir of the event. Born on November 28, 1860, in Henry County, the son of W. C. Dyer, Hugh served as a Police Chief and Sergeant for five years in Martinsville. He went to Roanoke in 1889 and on December 20, 1893, became the Chief of Police. That same year he married Emma Hutchinson. He died on August 5, 1936, in Staunton and rests today in Roanoke’s Fairview Cemetery.

The Halifax Advertiser reported three days after the gunfight that, “Jake Terry was shot in the side and killed. Colonel P. D. Spencer was wounded in the right side, T. F. Brown shot painfully in the thigh, W. K. Terry shot in the left shoulder near the spinal column, Ben Terry shot in the bowels and neck, B. L. Jones painfully wounded in the thigh, Hugh Dyer shot in the thigh, two men by the name of Gregory were shot in the back accidentally, and a colored man by the name of Martin was shot in the thigh.”

The Henry News of June 24 reported testimony of Darlington this way. “J. T. Darlington: - There was a difficulty on Fayette Street on May 17, 1886. After the difficulty had progressed a very few seconds, shots being fired by other parties, I saw G. G. Dickinson, who was then standing about three feet in the rear of W. K. Terry. While in that position a pistol in Dickinson’s hand was fired, and W. K. Terry fell. This is about all I know.

Cross-examined by G. L. Richardson for Commonwealth: I afterward saw W. K. Terry; did not then examine his wound, but have done so since. I think the muzzle of the pistol was not more than fifteen feet… (I’m not sure whether the following is referring to W. K. Terry, but it seems appropriate) lower limbs are paralyzed. I think his condition critical. He has completely lost the use of his legs. The last time I saw him I could see no real improvement, but a perceptible loss of strength.”

The court fined Ben Terry $20 and costs for carrying a concealed weapon. A judge dismissed all other charges. The Terry daughters moved on top of Terry Mountain due to the shame of the shootout. None of the ten Terry children reportedly ever married.

This was the time of the Hatfields and McCoys in neighboring West Virginia, who had been feuding for three years when the gunfire erupted in Henry County. It was over a decade before the Allens shot up the Carroll County Court House in Hillsville. The story of the gunfight even reached the New York Times, which at least three separate stories about it including the gunfight, subsequent trial and an August 31, 1886 reporting the death of W. K. Terry, who lingered from May until his death the day before the article.

Lost in the story is the murder of a “young farmer,” R. H. Bowsman of “Horse Pasture,” in September that resulted in an indictment of J. V. Darlington, who apparently was still instigating in the matter, and a trial in November with the jury finding the latter not guilty. The newspaper reported that Darlington’s son and Bausman where “in difficulty.”

Another story reported on September 11, that a “large number of citizens of the county met and organized for the purpose of lynching Spencer, Brown, Dickerson and Darlington…The plan failed through one of the members of the band, who betrayed the whole thing. People of the town and county are considerably worked up over the affair. Nearly every man in the Martinsville has been sworn as a special officer. It is whispered around that the failure of the lynching plan is for a short time; the enraged citizens will eventually carry out their intentions.”

This a story that would not die even many locals wish it would. Years later a magazine writer, Hiram Herbert, wrote a story for Saga Magazine: Adventure Stories For Men. When no locals would talk with him other than Gus Dyer, the son of Hugh, Herbert resorted to sensationalizing the story by interjecting a romance between May Belle Spencer or Belle Spencer and Will Terry. There was no romance nor was there a Belle Spencer.

Born in on September 16, 1861, Tarleton F. Brown died on May 8, 1895, nearly a decade after the shootout on Fayette Street. After his death in 1895, and his wife Annie Eliza Brown (1862-1901) six years later, Henry Clay Lester and his wife Lucy “Big Lucy” Brown Lester, sister of Tarleton, raised her brother’s children Rives S. Brown, Lucy Brown “Little Lucy,” and Mattie T. Brown. The latter married George M. Andes and was the father the recently deceased Tarleton River Andes. When “Big Lucy” died she left the Lanier Farm to Rives Brown, Sr., and his sister, “Little Lucy.”

Rives Spotswood Brown, Sr. (1894-1957), a graduate of Randolph-Macon, became a prominent man of Martinsville. When Henry Clay Lester died in 1913, Brown took over management of the Lester’s business interest. On May 20, 1916, Brown married Cornelia Frances Gregory and they had a son Rives S. Brown, Jr. on August 30, 1919.

Lucy Gaines Brown “Little Lucy” (1888-1926) married Dr. Morton Elbridge Hundley. After Lucy’s death, Dr. Hundley married Mary Kate Black (1896-1944) in November 1927 at the age of 49. Hundley died on his honeymoon of pneumonia in Switzerland, but that is another story.

Rives S. Brown, Sr. began his first development on Mulberry Road in 1925. In 1930, Rives S. Brown, Sr. built the Chief Tassell Building and five years later the Rives Theatre, Kroger’s Grocery, and the Greyhound Bus Station. Three years later in 1938, he came up with a plan for Forest Park.

Among other holdings inherited from Henry Clay Lester, “the wealthiest man in Henry County at the time,” was the Lanier Farm that Brown farmed until 1922. The Marshall Hairston Lanier Farm had a storied history, which was once the property of Patrick Henry, who sold the property to David Lanier, until today where the 2,000 acres is the site of the Druid Hills and Forest Park residential areas.

The legacy of the “Shootout on Fayette Street” continues with the Spencers, Terrys, Lesters, and Browns as they continue to make a mark on the landscape of Martinsville and Henry County Virginia. As with all things related to Henry County and Martinsville’s history you need to travel to the Bassett Historical Center, where you will find files and even a privately published book about the “Shootout on Fayette Street.”

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

NEW Patrick County Postcard Book Available

Images of Patrick County: Postcards is Tom Perry’s fourth images book focusing on photos from his collection of over 10,000 images soon to be housed at the Special Collections Department of the Carol M. Newman Library at Virginia Tech, Perry’s alma mater in Blacksburg, Virginia. This book of 71 pages concentrates on the many postcards from the past with a connection to Patrick County including chapters on the Mountain Top area including the Circle M Zoo, Dan River Queen, and Cochram’s Mill in the Vesta and Meadows of Dan areas. A chapter includes the area East of Stuart that concentrates of Patrick Springs and Critz including the Reynolds Homestead and many orchards that led to the Peach Festival. A chapter on Woolwine concentrates on the covered bridges of Patrick County that are 2 of the surviving nine in Virginia. A chapter on Stuart, Virginia, includes images from the county seat of The Free State Of Patrick. A chapter on Fairy Stone Park has images from the county’s only state park. A chapter from the images of the Blue Ridge Parkway that makes up the northern border of the county. Last, there is a chapter of postcards that claim they are Patrick County, but they are not PC. The book begins with a summary of the history of postcards in America.

The book retails for $9.99 and is available throughout the region and in Patrick County. This is the first of Perry’s images books that is available though major book distributors such as Ingram. This book sells for $9.99 and is available from Perry’s website www.freestateofpatrick.com and is available at online booksellers such as www.amazon.com or www.barnesandnoble.com

Perry will be signing his books in Stuart, Virginia, on March 27 at the Just Plain Country Store from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. and at the Patrick County Music Association from 4 until 8 p.m.

Perry will be releasing a new or revised book every month in 2010. Next up is the revised history of the J. E. B. Stuart Birthplace, Ararat, Virginia: A Guide From Willis Gap to Kibler Valley, and Images of Martinsville, Virginia in May 2010.

Contact Information

Tom Perry



Laurel Hill Publishing, P. O. Box 11, Ararat, VA 24053


Henry County Heritage Book Available For Review

The draft of the Henry County Heritage Book will be available for review by the public starting Monday, March 22 at 10 a.m. for at least two weeks. The purpose this is to give those who participated an opportunity to review their stories, make sure the photos submitted match the stories, and see the editing the committee did on the stories.

The Henry County Heritage Book Committee is an ALL VOLUNTEER group with no paid staff. All profit from the book goes to the expansion of the Bassett Historical Center. At this point over 600 copies of the book have sold for $55. This hard cover publication is still availalbe for purchase at the Bassett Historical Center. The committee hopes the book will be back for Christmas 2010, but only a 100 copies will be available for $75 at that time. You must purchase a copy before publication to be assured of getting a copy.

Tom Perry, Chairman of the Henry County Heritage Book Committee

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Ghost Towns? Mount Airy and Martinsville

Two stories this week in the national media caught my attention about Mount Airy, North Carolina, and Martinsville, Virginia, that are similar in tone and bias making both local communities seem doomed to economic collapse. On Wednesday, the USA Today published a story on the front page about Mount Airy titled “When the textile mill goes away, so does a way of life.”


There are the usual Mayberry related photos, but the comments section is revealing. http://content.usatoday.com/community/comments.aspx?id=37795242.story&p=2

One that caught my eye was “This didn’t happen overnight.” The usual story is that when a small group of people control business and keep new business out to keep wages low and unions out, the world falls apart when those same business leaders decide to move to other places where the wages are lower. It is almost a feudal system with masters and slaves.

In Patrick County as everyone argues over rail trails and tourism as their world crumbles around them the thought of Nero fiddling on the Crooked Road as Rome burns around him or the idea that ignorance is bliss come to mind. When no new ideas are welcome, the children leave and no matter how many trails you build or brochures you hand out, they and the new jobs that keep them home find their ways to other more farsighted communities, where freedom of speech is welcome and people have thicker skins that don’t mind a little criticism.

This month the very elitist New Yorker Magazine published an article titled “Obama’s Lost Year — The President’s failure to connect with ordinary Americans” that includes http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/03/15/100315fa_fact_packer

Here is a link to the a story about the New Yorker article in the Martinsville Bulletin that ignores the negative image it portrays Martinsville focusing on new energy and their favorite soon to be one terms Congressman "Pinkiello."


There is a slide show of photos from downtown Martinsville that goes with the article online titled “George Packer on how the Great Recession is still shaking Martinsville, Virginia.”

Here are some comments from the New Yorker article.

My grandfather came to Mount Airy in the 1940s for a job in a textile mill. My mother worked thirty-eight years in a textile mill. My father and I both worked in several different textile mills before, during and after we went to college. I think both of these stories are about the same thing and that is when a small clique with no vision control everything, you should not be surprised when the world they control falls apart around them and all of us.