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

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.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Remembering Eric Jarrell, Doctor and Soldier

Wilburn Eric Jarrell (1926-2010)

Dr. Jarrell passed away last night. He was good friends with my second father Theodore Guynn. I spent many hours listening to the two of them talk about their histories and the history of Ararat, Virginia, where they both grew up together.Here is a passage from my book Notes From The Free State Of Patrick about him.

Wilburn Eric Jarrell was born to Benjamin Alec and Mary Alma Hancock Jarrell in Floyd, Virginia, on March 14, 1926. Benjamin met Mary while they were both students at Central Academy in Patrick County. W. Eric Jarrell had eight siblings: Merlin Thomas, Mary Claudine, John Arnold, Joseph William, Franklin Delano, Charles Burgess, Dallas Gray and Lilly Aleene Jarrell.

Jarrell descended from Joseph William Jarrell and his father Albert Jarrell, who was among four brothers serving the South in the War Between the States. Albert lived on land once owned by J. E. B. Stuart’s father Archibald and often visited William Mitchell at the 1905 Mitchell-Dellenback house owned by the Stuart Birthplace.

W. Eric Jarrell attended J. E. B. Stuart School in the Rabbit Ridge Section of Ararat and later Blue Ridge High School. Jarrell wanted to fly planes off aircraft carriers during World War II, but entered the U. S. Navy on May 12, 1944, from Ararat and traveled to Williamsburg’s Camp Perry. He joined the Medical Corps attending three months of intense training at Bainbridge, Maryland, and then to Portsmouth Naval Hospital and to Hawaii. Jarrell served on the U. S. S. Cecil, an amphibious transport ship (APA) that carried 1500 men to Iwo Jima. They continued to the New Hebrides, Caroline, Cook, and Solomon Islands. For one week, Jarrell saw Kamikazes attack the navy at Okinawa and the flag raising on Mount Suribachi. He spent six months at Tientsin, China, taking care of the Marine Air Corps, and thought of becoming a dentist, but since he had already done everything eight years of college would teach in Dentistry, he turned to medicine instead. He left the navy as Pharmacist Mate Third Class on June 11, 1946.

From September 1946 until 1950, he attended the University of Virginia and then spent four years in medical school in Charlottesville. After one year interning, Dr. W. Eric Jarrell returned to Ararat working off his rural scholarship and beginning a forty-three year career in medicine. He worked to get a Medical Examiner system in Surry County. He took over Dr. Gates’ practice and later moved to Mount Airy with his office on North Main Street. He retired on November 9, 1998 and is the rare Ararat native named Distinguished Patrick Countian.

W. E. Jarrell married Jewel Beatrice Davis the daughter of Clyde Stephen and Edith Beatrice Earnhart Davis. Four children were born to the couple. W. E. Jarrell, Jr. born in 1954 died tragically in a car accident. David Hancock was born in 1961, Beverly Jewel in 1956 and Susan Beatrice in 1963. Beverly married Roger S. William and their oldest child Leslie Erica attended the University of Virginia and was a Presidential Scholar. They had two other children: Roger, Jr. and Logan Beatrice. Davis H. Jarrell married Teresa Ercoline and had two children Davis, Jr. and Anne Abram Jarrell.

Dr. Wilburn Eric Jarrell, 83, of 700 Country Club Road, Mount Airy, passed away Tuesday, March 9, 2010, at his home. He was born March 14, 1926, in Floyd County, VA, son of the late Benjamin A. and Mary Hancock Jarrell. Dr. Jarrell was a family physician, retiring in 1998 after 43 years of doing what he loved best, improving patients’ health. He was proud of his military service, having served as a pharmacist mate 3rd class at Iwo Jima and Okinawa during World War II, where he witnessed the raising of the flag in Iwo Jima. He also served with the First Marine Air Wing, Headquarters Squadron, in Tientsin, China. Upon completion of duties, he entered the University of Virginia for undergraduate studies and in 1954 received his medical degree from the University of Virginia Medical School. Dr. Jarrell was a past member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, a lifetime member of the North Carolina Medical Society, the American Medical Association, and the Surry-Yadkin Medical Society. When serving as a member of the staff at Northern Hospital of Surry County, he helped design the hospital’s first Coronary Care Unit, initiated the establishment of the Medical Examiner’s system in Surry County, and served the county as its first Medical Examiner. Upon certification, he became a member of the American Association of Medical Review Officers. He was an original member of Surry Medical Ministries and upon retirement assumed the position of Interim Director of the Surry County Health Department. Dr. Jarrell also held the position as adjunct professor at East Carolina Medical School. In 2004, he was proud to be inducted into the Thomas Jefferson Society at the University of Virginia. In the community, Dr. Jarrell was a past member of the Mount Airy Community Foundation Board, Board of Directors of First Citizens Bank, The Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce, Camp Physician at Raven Knob and recipient of the Old Hickory Council’s “Order of the Arrow” award. He was the first recipient of the “Patrick Countian of the Year” award. He also was a member of Central United Methodist Church. Dr. Jarrell is survived by his wife of 56 years, Jewel Davis Jarrell; a daughter and son-in-law, Beverly and Roger Williams of Charleston, SC; a son and daughter-in-law, Davis and Teresa Jarrell of Bluefield, WV; a daughter, Susan Jarrell of Bluefield, VA; and five grandchildren, Leslie Williams, Roger Williams, Jr., and Logan Williams, Davis Jarrell, Jr., and Anne Jarrell. He is also survived by two sisters and a brother-in-law, Alene and Richard Ward of Mount Airy and Claudine Eaton of Crystal River, FL; and four brothers and three sisters-in-law, Joe Jarrell and Charles Jarrell, both of Mount Airy, Frank and Elizabeth Jarrell of Kernersville, Dallas and Diane Jarrell of Roanoke, VA, and Donnis Jarrell of Shelby. He was preceded in death by his son, Wilburn Eric Jarrell, Jr.; his parents; and two brothers, Tommy Jarrell and Arnold Jarrell. The funeral service will be held at 2:00 PM Friday, March 12, 2010, at Central United Methodist Church, with the Rev. John Ferree officiating. Burial will follow in the Oakdale Cemetery. The family will receive friends Thursday night from 6:30 to 8:30 at Moody Funeral Home in Mount Airy. Memorials may be made to the Dr. W. Eric and Jewel D. Jarrell Scholarship Fund, c/o Surry Community College Foundation, 630 South Main Street, Dobson, NC 27017, or to Central United Methodist Church, 1909 North Main Street, Mount Airy, NC 27030.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Bassett Historical Symposium Saturday

Bassett Historical Center Symposium Set For March 6

The Bassett Historical Center is pleased to announce a symposium on regional history to be held March 6, 2010, from 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. at the Historic J. D. Bassett High School auditorium, now owned by EMI Imaging, Inc., who is donating the use of the school auditorium, in Bassett, Virginia.

Proceeds from this event will go to the Bassett Historical Center Building Fund. The speakers are donating their time in support of this project to expand the library. Advance tickets are $25 and $30 at the door. Students and Senior Citizens are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Please include e-mail address for ticket confirmation only. E-mail addresses will not be sold or given to others.

Visit the webpage of the Bassett Historical Center http://www.bassetthistoricalcenter.com or call 276-629-9191 or email baslib@hotmail.com for more information. Advance payment can be sent to Bassett Historical Center at 3964 Fairystone Park Highway, Bassett, VA 24055.

The Bassett Historical Center has been called 'the best little library in Virginia'. The Center has grown considerably since we merged with Blue Ridge Regional Library in 1992. From that time through 2004, our patron count increased 1359% over a period of 13 years. Since 1998 we have had an increase of 125% per year. People from all 50 states and 9 foreign countries have visited the Center. Our family files now number 9496, local history files number 2818, and our books number over 12,000. It is time for expansion of our facility. We need to double our present size so that we will be able to accept new collections that otherwise may be sent to another facility outside of our immediate area. In an attempt to add 4195 square feet to our existing facility, an estimate of $800,000 has been given.

We would like to thank everyone who has contributed to our effort as well as, those who have supported our events. We have been successful in reaching our “Challenge Grant” of $205,000 with the Harvest Foundation. We are thankful and very fortunate to have their support. Though we have reached our Challenge Grant, there are still financial challenges ahead. As mentioned above, the Historical Symposium is March 6 and your ticket purchase will assist us in our fundraising efforts. So please come and enjoy a day with four talented writers and speakers and some very interesting historical facts. Your personal or corporate tax-deductible donation can be used for memorials or honorariums. You can consider donating or buying shelving, furniture, display units or sponsor 1 to 3 of the proposed large rooms.

Our day begins with Alan Pell Crawford and his discussion of his book “Twilight at Monticello, the Final Years of Thomas Jefferson”. Based on new research and documents culled from the Library of Congress and from other special collections which include previously unexamined letters from family, friends, & Monticello neighbors, Alan touches on Jefferson dealing with illness, the indignities of early nineteenth century medicine. Alan shows Jefferson coping with massive debt, family disputes, receiving dignitaries, corresponding with close friends, and all the while still influencing America’s political landscape.

Joe Tennis will share his book “Beaches to Bluegrass: Places to Brake on Virginia’s Longest Road”. He will explore the stops and stories he discovered along Highway 58. They are from areas such as Martinsville, Danville, Mount Rodgers, Grayson Highlands State Park, Whitetop Mountain, and the Barter Theatre. Stories about ghosts, the Civil War, music legends, a UFO landing, a witch, a waterfall, and the place where Johnny Cash played his final concerts.

After a Lunch break, Tom Perry will give an informative discussion on “Frank Stringfellow: Martinsville Minister/Confederate Spy”. Frank Stringfellow served as a spy/scout for J.E.B. Stuart during the War Between the States and in the 1890’s was the Rector at Christ Episcopal Church in Martinsville. Tom, who grew up near Laurel Hill in Patrick County, has helped the Historical Center raise over $50,000 through the sale of his books.

Our last speaker of the day will be Craig Rockwell. He will be speaking on and portraying Brigadier General William Clark. After his expeditions with Meriwether Lewis, Captain Clark became a Brigadier General of the Louisiana Territory Militia, Indian Agent, Governor of the Missouri Territory, Surveyor General of Wisconsin, and Superintendent of Indian Affairs.

We look forward to seeing you for an informative and fun day of History.

Speakers joining me are the following. Alan Crawford- An accomplished author and speaker when he was still in his 20s, Alan Pell Crawford “was either endowed with a special gift of prescience or generously favored by the political gods,” according to the late James Wechsler, writing in the New York Post. Mr. Crawford is a former U.S. Senate speechwriter, congressional press secretary, and magazine editor. He has published essays on politics and history in The New York Post, The Independent of London, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Vogue, The Nation, National Review, and The Weekly Standard. He has reviewed books on U.S. history for The Wall Street Journal since 1994. Alan will discuss his book, “Twilight at Monticello: the Final Years of Thomas Jefferson”. Based on new research and documents culled from the Library of Congress and from other special collections which include previously unexamined letters from family, friends, and Monticello neighbors, Alan touches on Jefferson dealing with illness and the indignities of early nineteenth century medicine. Mr. Crawford shows Jefferson coping with massive debt, family disputes, receiving dignitaries, corresponding with close friends, and all the while still influencing America’s political landscape. Alan Pell Crawford has also written, “Thunder on the Right: The ‘New Right’ and the Politics of Resentment”, described by Godfrey Hodson in The new Republic as “a notable work of intellectual and political history”, and “Unwise Passions: A True Story of Remarkable Woman and the First Great Scandal of the Eighteenth-Century America”, “Imagine Gone With the Wind if Eugene O’Neill had written it, add a spoonful to Alexis de Tocqueville, a suspicion of incest and murder, many great names and reversals of fortune, and you have this love-hate-mystery tale of political history.”, Weekly Standard. A former resident of Washington, D.C., Alan and his wife, Sally and their two sons, Ned and Tim now reside in Richmond, Va.

Joe Tennis is an award winning feature writer for the Bristol Herald Courier in Bristol, Va., and the author of the critically acclaimed “Beach to Bluegrass: Places to Brake on Virginia’s Longest Road”. Joe Tennis will be discussing “Beach to Bluegrass”, Tennis’s collection of 58 tales along Highway 58, that stretches from Hampton Roads to Virginia Beach to the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Cumberland Gap. Along the way, the author discovers ghost tales, Civil War stories, music legends, a UFO landing, a witch, a waterfall, and the place where Johnny Cash played his final concerts. Stops and stories explore Martinsville, Danville, Mount Rodgers, Grayson Highlands State Park, Whitetop Mountain, and the Barter Theatre. The book features more than 100 original photos. Mr. Tennis’s first book, “Southwest Virginia Crossroads: An Almanac of Place Names and Places to See”, features 21 chapters and tells how more than 750 places took their names. This illustrated history and guide was written, as the author says, to prove “the state does not stop at Roanoke.” Mr. Tennis is also the author of “The Marble and Other Ghost Tales of Tennessee and Virginia” and “Sullivan County: Images of America”. His forthcoming book, “Finding Franklin: Mystery of the Lost State Capital”, is a children’s adventure book exploring the history and mystery of the Lost State of Franklin, including connections to Arthur Campbell of Marion. Mr. Tennis writes a weekly column (“Tennis Anyone?”) for the Bristol Herald Courier. He has also written for Appalachian Voice, Virginia Living, and Blue Ridge Country. He has won more than 25 awards from the Virginia Press Association, Tennessee Press Association, Society of Professional Journalists, and the Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association. Joe and his wife Mary, have two children, Abigail and John.

Craig Rockwell, who is the Operations Project Manager at Philpott Lake, recently moved to Bassett, Virginia, with his wife Carolyn Rockwell. They have been front-and-center in the Lewis and Clark world for 10 years. Craig is a historical impersonator of William Clarke, of Lewis & Clarke fame. Mr. Rockwell portrays him later in his life when he was a Brigadier General. The importance of the Lewis and Clark Expedition to our nation’s history has been a driving force behind Craig’s involvement in the story. During the bicentennial, Craig portrayed Captain William Clark to a wide variety of audiences, and now continues telling the story of William Clark beyond the Lewis and Clark Expedition. As Brigadier General of the Louisiana Territory Militia, Indian Agent, Governor of the Missouri Territory, Surveyor General of the Wisconsin, and Superintendent of Indian Affairs, William Clark had tremendous influence on all of western history. This has given Craig the opportunity to expand his teaching to cover the building of our nation from before it even started, until late in the 1830’s. Craig has performed for a wide range of events and organizations across the country. This includes: Lewis and Clark Bicentennial events, school assemblies, college symposia, a variety of civic organizations and historical societies, the US Congress in our nation’s Capitol Building, in several Lewis and Clark documentary films, and even on the theme float for President Bush’s second inaugural parade.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Talking at the Mount Airy Museum

I spoke at the Mount Airy Museum yesterday about African-American history and the civil war. Here is an article about it from the Mount Airy News. Thanks to Jon Peters for covering the event. This event raised money for the museum. Next Saturday is the symposium to raise money for the Bassett Historical Center.

Many discussions regarding the Civil War focus on the politics of the era, or the military campaigns of the conflict.

Sunday, local historian and author Tom Perry gave a different look at that era, talking a little about what life might have been like for African-Americans in local communities during the time period, and highlighting the words of significant figures in the fight for civil rights in America.

His comments came during a presentation at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History Sunday afternoon.

Perry, who is well-known in the area as an historian, writer, and the man behind the preservation and establishment of JEB Stuart’s birthplace in Laurel Hill, Va., said he has spent much time studying local history during the Civil War era.

“There’s no way you can study Civil War history, and be honest about it, without looking at African-American history,” he told nearly two dozen people gathered for his talk Sunday.

He began his discussion with a quick look at several people he believes have been instrumental in African-American history and the march toward equality in American. Among those were Booker T. Washington, Frederick Douglas, John Hope Franklin, and Martin Luther King Jr. ’s

He particularly singled out King for his courage in leading non-violent protests in support of civil rights.

“It takes courage to keep doing what you’re doing, knowing people are trying to kill you,” he said of King, who was assassinated on April 4, 1968.

Perry said had things been a little different in 1865, King might not have needed to fear for his life.

“If the Civil War had ended like it was supposed to, if the U.S. government had done what it was supposed to do with the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments (to the U.S. Constitution), would Martin Luther King have needed courage? I don’t think so. Civil rights would have been more than just words. Martin Luther King would not have been killed.”

His words referenced the fact that those amendments guaranteed the full rights of citizenship, including freedom and the right to due process, to black people and all other people after the Civil War, but those rights were often withheld from African-Americans — sometimes violently so — until after the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

Perry’s presentation also took a look at what life was like for African-Americans who were free prior to the end of the Civil War. Much of his research comes from Patrick County, Va., where original courthouse records dating back to 1791 are still intact, but he said “I don’t think Patrick County was really exceptional. I think Surry County was very similar.”

He said free black people had to be registered as such, and carry documentation which showed they had been granted free status. Perry said such people also were required to renew those papers, and pay a fee, every three years and to appear in the court which granted their emancipation papers every three years.

“Imagine what life would have been like. Everything you did, as a free black person, would have been under suspicion ...If you lost those papers, you could become a slave again.”

During the Civil War, he said slaves and free blacks were often pressed into service for the Confederacy. Not as soldiers, but as wagon drivers, ditch and latrine diggers, and any number of other support roles behind the front lines.

And, with a majority of white men off fighting, communities such as Patrick County, and presumably Surry County, often found themselves with more slaves within its borders than white people. White men who were left behind were sometimes put in patrols with broad policing powers.

“I don’t want to say this was a precursor to the (Ku Klux) Klan, but they were to patrol the county,” he said, to keep the black population under control.

Of course, Perry said no Civil War discussion could be complete without looking at President Abraham Lincoln, who presided over the war from the White House.

Perry said Lincoln deeply believed America could not survive with some states allowing slavery and other states disallowing the slave trade, and with his own personal distaste for the practice, he naturally pursued a nation with no slaves.

Perry called Lincoln a masterful politician. He said the president managed to get South Carolina troops to fire on federal troops at Fort Sumter, thus they could be branded rebels before the war began. And Lincoln issued the emancipation proclamation, which Perry said freed no one. That document called for the freeing of all slaves in Confederate held territory, which at that time was not under United States jurisdiction and thus the proclamation had no authority there. It did not, notably, free slaves in states still aligned with the United States.

What that proclamation did, Perry said, was make the war, at least in public opinion, about freeing slaves, thus making it politically difficult for European nations to aid the Confederacy.

While African-Americans in the South were pressed into support roles, some in the North were allowed to join Union ranks as soldiers, at great risk to themselves. Perry said Confederate commanders would often execute black Union troops who were captured, as well as their white officers.

In the end, though, he said the conflict did bring about change.

“What comes out of the Civil War? The 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments ... it took another hundred years, and some would way we’re still not there yet, before black people were given (equality),” he said