CVHR Meeting (Oct. 6): Charlottesville’s Rose Hill: A Discussion of Recent Research

September 30th, 2016

Steve Thompson will present a very informal overview of his research concerning the transformation of Rose Hill from an antebellum plantation to one of Charlottesville’s first subdivisions, work that was prompted, in part, by the landscape paintings of Dick Crozier (

Time and Location: Thursday, October 6, 4-6 PM, Jefferson School African American Heritage Center (JSAAHC), 233 Fourth St. NW, Charlottesville, VA.  There is plenty of parking.  The JSAAHC is on the second floor at the south end of the building.

CVHR Meeting (Sep. 1): What’s Going On Out There?

August 28th, 2016

A lively and well-attended meeting at which we heard about three local projects involving local history.

Paul Cantrell told us about the Blue Ridge Heritage Project, a grassroots effort to honor the families displaced for the creation of Shenandoah National Park (SNP); Paul chairs the Albemarle chapter.  On November 5, a chimney rebuilt with stones from Blackwell’s Hollow and bearing a plaque with names of the displaced families will be dedicated at Byrom Park, which is adjacent to the SNP.  Phil James, author of Secrets of the Blue Ridge, is leading the search to identify the family names.  If you know of any families, particularly non-landowners, who were relocated during the creation of the SNP, do let Paul know (  See also and search “Blue Ridge Heritage Project” on Facebook.

Edwina St. Rose and Bernadette Whitsett-Hammond spoke about the work of the Preservers of the Daughters of Zion Cemetery and showed us some of the biographical information they have been posting on their Facebook page (in the search box just start writing “preservers” and it will come right up).  Established in 1873, the cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010 and lately received funding from the city of Charlottesville for repairs and improvements.  You can help to identify some of the approximately 300 people buried there.  For a list of known names write

Jeff Werner from the Piedmont Environmental Council told us of his hope that some forgotten history will be included in the county’s plans for the area around the new grade-separated intersection at Rio Road and Route 29.  We can help by providing information to stimulate recognition and interpretation of local history and preservation of significant sites.  Jeff mentioned the late 19th and early 20th century Woodburn Road/Cartersburg community as of particular interest.  Jeff’s email is


CVHR Meeting (August): No August meeting

August 28th, 2016

CVHR Meeting (July 7): Summer Insights

August 28th, 2016

This meeting was lightly attended, but we had a good discussion, mostly about the CVHR web presence and how to improve it.  We need a “vision” for the website (and thus an estimate of cost) before we can seek funding sources.  In the meantime, some of us are working on ways to bring the website up to date in the short term.  All ideas are welcome. 

CVHR Meeting (June 2): Discoveries in the Chancery Cases Preservation Project

May 23rd, 2016

Sam Towler revealed just a portion of what he is finding in his volunteer Chancery Cases Preservation Project at the Albemarle County clerk’s office.   He has been putting unfolded case papers into acid-free folders, photographing some of the contents, and doing further research on some of the African American families involved.  Even though the cases date after 1900 (the older chancery cases were transferred to the Library of Virginia in the 1970s), many contain documents relating to earlier times: slave lists, personal letters, land sale broadsides and so forth.  You can see some of the fascinating material Sam has assembled on his Facebook page for the project (search “Albemarle County Chancery”).


CVHR Meeting (May 5): Looking at the Trees, to Understand the Forest

April 28th, 2016

Robin Patton and Elaine Taylor of the Louisa County Historical Society demonstrated an exciting new project for putting historical information into a spatial context.  With a focus on the Green Springs area of Louisa County, they are using ArcGIS as a container for both individual and scholarly research about slavery to better understand antebellum communities. This project has great potential to be of benefit to other historical societies and non-profit organizations.  See what they are doing and explore the results at



CVHR Meeting (April 7): Updates

March 19th, 2016

This was a quadruple header.  Alice Cannon reported on new discoveries about the Terrell connections of the Woodfolk family that reached as far as the mining communities of Iowa.  Gayle Jessup White told us of making new family connections in the Robinson family through DNA testing, which shed light on her ancestor Eva Robinson Taylor.  Anne Chesnut displayed her design for the web version of the Starr Hill-Union Ridge brochure-map; the completion of the website is now in the hands of UVA’s Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (IATH).  And Andi Cumbo-Floyd showed her brand-new website Our Folks’ Tales, dedicated to telling the stories of enslaved people, free people of color, and their descendants:



CVHR Meeting (March 3): The Rushes of Chestnut Grove: One Family’s Journey from Slavery to Freedom

March 19th, 2016

Starting with fragments of information she heard from family members, Regina Rush set off on a quest to trace her ancestors and found a rich source of information at the Small Special Collections Library at UVA, where she is Reference Specialist. She told us about what she has learned about Nicey and Isham Rush, enslaved at the Rives plantation Oak Ridge in Nelson County (including Nicey’s runaway attempt), and the path of their descendants to landownership in southern Albemarle County. Since some mysteries remain, CVHR members were eager to suggest further avenues to follow. For more information, see Regina’s blog post from 2014 ( Also, her story was featured in last month’s UVA Today (

CVHR Meeting (Feb. 4): More Rivers and River Men

February 4th, 2016

Philip Cobbs drew us into the world of watermen, with a presentation that looked at different perspectives on the men—mostly African American—who “ran” the rivers in batteaux in the 19th century.  These views ranged from the romantic (accounts by writers like George Bagby and David Hunter Strother) to the choleric (Thomas Jefferson enraged when his trunk of Indian vocabularies was stolen by a waterman) to the realistic (evidence about actual conditions of upstream and downstream travel).  Philip ended his talk with an evocative photographic journey on the Rivanna River.

CVHR Meeting (Jan. 7): Rivers, Rivercraft, and River Men

January 7th, 2016

Brian Coffield of the Virginia Canals and Navigations Society gave a presentation on the history of river and canal navigation—from dug-out canoes to batteaux to river boats to railroads.  His presentation covered the flexibility of these various modes of transport and also touched on the way that enslaved people were employed both on the boats and in the construction of these means of transport.