As the warm weather finally arrives, our thoughts turn to gardening, spring cleaning (and the resulting yard sales!), lawn parties, bar-b-q gatherings, ball games, proms, graduations, pool openings, the Fulks Run Ruritan Yard Sale, and all things warm weather brings. We have had our share of rain showers, false springs, frosts, temps nearing 100 degrees,( then down to the low 70s the next day), and delayed gardens.
One thing the spring always brings, is Brocks Gap Heritage Day. I missed it when it wasn’t held, due to covid. But it finally returned this year!
It always amazes me the amount of work that goes into setting up the one day affair. Thanks mostly, to the research and organization of Pat Turner Ritchie, her mom Lena, and other family members. A lot of helpful hands made putting the displays up go smoothly – despite the threat of rain that day.
Over the years, Pat’s interest in family histories, keeping careful records, and her untold hours of research have culminated in the annual Heritage Day event.
I love looking through the local family histories, in small communities. Growing up in the suburbs, there was rarely this kind of connection. There were family histories, of course, but nothing like Heritage Day, that I can recall.
This year, I had a chance to add to my already toppling pile of reading material. I stopped by the table manned by the Rocktown History. I have always had an interest in the history of this area, and any area we have lived.
Native American history has always been of interest, and finding artifacts and arrowheads on my property has always been exciting. Growing up on LI, Civil War history was touched upon, but living in this area brings that history to life.
The ladies manning the Rocktown History booth at Heritage Day were very helpful and informative. There were also free books with purchase! Score!! Margaret Hotchner is an administrator/researcher for Rocktown History.
The first book I chose was Lucy Frances Simms, From Slavery to Revered Public Service, by Singers Glen author/historian Dale E. MacAllister. Simms, as many may already know, was a teacher of African American children in Rockingham County for almost 60 years.
Millard Miller’s recounting of his grandfather’s Civil War experiences was a good read – My Grandpap Rode with Jeb Stuart. His grandfather was James Knox Polk Ritchie.
I was excited to find charts for genealogy research there. I bought a 15 Generation Pedigree Chart, to hopefully organize my own folders, holding notes and scraps of papers of family research and history. I have ancestors who also fought in the Civil War, and definitely need to do more research in that area.
Other books I would recommend getting from Rocktown History are First People -The Early Indians of Virginia by Keith Egloff and Deborah Woodward, They Came to Rockingham by Elisabeth Wilson Hodges, and These Came to Augusta and Rockbridge, by Elizabeth Hodges and Emma Jordan. There are so many more to choose from!
History is all around us, we learn from it. We are lucky to live in an area with such a colorful one, with people who keep the past alive.
I would encourage everyone, if you haven’t already, whether your family has been here for generations, or you are new to the area, to check out Rocktown History in Dayton. www.rocktownhistory.org
In the meantime, enjoy the fact that summer is here, we are done with frost alerts, and we can get our hands in the soil to plant those gardens, when we are not reading a good book, of course!
All is well at Mountain Meadows Farm, as July is upon us……..