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MUSEUM THE ESTHER THOM AS ATK INSON OF HA MPDEN-SYDNEY COLLEGE M AY 2011 A Venable Ghost Story Dr. Ray A. Gaskins Professor Emeritus of Mathematics & Computer Science, H-SC On Friday morning, November 10, 1775, young Civil War but burned in 1877, five years after the Further research revealed that Sweet Springs is Samuel Woodson Venable was up at the crack courthouse moved to Farmville. Judge Asa Dupuy about 160 miles from Hampden-Sydney. In 1821 of dawn. This was the day of the official open- Dickinson (1816-1884; H-SC 1836) and his wife, embalming was still forty years in the future, and ing of Hampden-Sydney College and he wanted Sallie C. Irvine (1825-1899), were living there the only way to move a corpse was in a sealed to be the first student there. He was already the when it burned. coffin. If the Colonel died at Sweet Springs, it is first student to register for classes and he wanted Within a fortnight of his first wedding anniver- probable that he was buried there. A search of the to keep the string going. He grabbed something sary, Samuel was named to the Board of Trustees Sweet Springs cemetery led to the discovery of the to eat, dashed out to the barn, saddled his horse, of the College. This appointment gave him the Colonel’s grave and the grave of his favorite son-in- and was off at a gallop. He took the shortest route lasting distinction of being the first alumnus to law, Lt. Isaac Read, Jr. (1777-1823). from Slate Hill to the College, which took him become a Trustee. He would serve until right past the future site of Mercy Seat Church his death on September 7, 1821. (1870). At their meeting on September 26, Samuel Woodson Venable (1756-1821) was the 1821, the Trustees took the unprec- The gravestone of first child born to Nathaniel Venable (1733-1804) edented action of passing the following Samuel Woodson and Elizabeth Michaux Woodson (1740-1791) of resolution and having it published in Venable in Sweet Springs, Virginia, Slate Hill. He was also the first Venable born in the October 9th Richmond Enquirer: identical to that of the fledgling county of Prince Edward (chartered “Whereas it has pleased the Almighty his wife Mary at in 1754). Samuel was coming of college age when Ruler of the Universe in His wise provi- Hampden-Sydney, starting a college became a topic of conversation dence to take unto Himself our worthy below center. at Slate Hill, so it was fitting that he should be its and much lamented friend, Col. Samuel first student. W. Venable, by which dispensation In 1778, when Hampden-Sydney’s founding Hampden Sidney College has lost one of president, Samuel Stanhope Smith, returned to the her firmest supporters and her board of College of New Jersey (now Princeton), Samuel Trustees one of its most efficient members, went with him and graduated from there in 1780, be it therefore Resolved unanimously that the first in his class. Although Samuel did not gradu- remaining members will wear crepe around the ate from Hampden-Sydney, he is considered an left arm for the space of thirty days as a token of alumnus (HSC 1777). respect and veneration for our departed friend.” In spite of British raids into Virginia during the In compiling the book Cemeteries of Prince summer of 1781, Samuel, who had participated Edward and Surrounding Counties, I discovered in the fighting, married Mary Scott Carrington that Col. Samuel Woodson Venable was not (1758-1837), daughter of Judge Paul Carrington buried at College Church or any other cemetery in (1733-1818) and Margaret Read (1734-1766) of Prince Edward, including those at Springfield and Mulberry Hill in Charlotte County. They were Slate Hill. His wife, Mary, and his son, Samuel W. married on August 15—two months before Lord Venable, Jr. (1797-1855; HSC 1819), are both at The Colonel’s tomb at Sweet Springs and Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, effectively College Church, but the Colonel was nowhere to Mary’s tomb at College Church are identical. ending the war. That both his father and father-in- be found. Both are above-ground three-foot-by-six-foot law were Trustees of the College would bode well After months of searching I found that in his brick enclosures with marble tops. From his for Samuel’s future. old age Col. Venable used to visit the Spa at Sweet death in 1821 to her death in 1837, his grave was Nathaniel Venable cut a chunk out of Slate Springs in Monroe County, Virginia. He had unmarked, perhaps because she intended at some Hill and built the newlyweds a home less than learned about the healing springs there from his point to bring him home. A marker for his grave a mile from Prince Edward Court House (now mentor, Samuel Stanhope Smith. A check revealed was provided in her will (written February 18, Worsham). Samuel and Mary named their that the Spa at Sweet Springs had its own ceme- 1837). Without a marker, his grave would never plantation Springfield. Their home survived the tery because guests occasionally died there. CONTINUED ON PAGE 2 IN THIS ISSUE A Venable Ghost Story Honor Roll of Donors, 2009-2010 How husband and wife, separated in death, visit Friends who contributed to the operation of the each other occasionally . . . page 1 Museum or to the new construction. . . page 2 Slate Hill exhibit a success Coming Exhibits Archaeology, artifacts, and narrative came From art to soldiers, something for everyone together for an exhibit that attracted large to see. . . page 4 numbers of visitors. . . page 2 T HE E ST HER T HOM A S AT K INSON MUSEUM OF H A MPDEN-SY DNEY COLLEGE A VENABLE GHOST STORY, CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 have been found. The same craftsman who built Mary’s tomb at College Church traveled to Sweet Springs and built Samuel’s. Slate Hill Unearthed Angie Way For twenty-five years all was quiet at both cemeteries. In 1862, when Monroe and forty- A staple of May Term at Hampden-Sydney is Slate Hill Plantation was a typical Virginia nine other western counties voted to secede from the Beneath This Hill Historical Archaeology working tobacco plantation. A cluster of buildings Virginia and form the state of West Virginia, all Class, in which Doctor Charles Pearson leads around the Venable home served the economic was still quiet. But in 1863, when West Virginia his Hampden-Sydney students to the place of and household needs of the plantation: a detached was officially accepted into the Union, rumblings the founding of Hampden-Sydney College, the kitchen, blacksmith shop, ice house, pigeon began to be heard in the Sweet Springs cemetery. site of Slate Hill Plantation. Students in the May house, privies, stables, carriage house, and barns The Colonel was now resting in enemy territory, Term class have been working to reconstruct and storage buildings. and he was not happy about it. the 18th- and 19th-century landscapes at At the site, Dr. Pearson and his students work The Colonel’s spirit had been watching over Slate Hill Plantation. This work has included on excavating, measuring, photographing, and his descendants, so he was aware that two of his identifying the locations and types of buildings piecing together what remains of everyday life on grandsons were staff officers in the Confederate that once existed on the property. This effort the plantation. According to Dr. Pearson, Army of Northern Virginia. Major Andrew Reid is made difficult because no early maps of the “The May Term class in Historical Venable (HSC 1852) was on Gen. Stuart’s staff, plantation exist—the earliest dates to 1911. All Archaeology is structured to take students and Lt. Col. Charles Scott Venable (HSC 1842) the buildings at Slate Hill were removed many along the path typically followed in historical was on Gen. Lee’s. The Colonel’s spirit must have years ago, and all that is visible today are a few archaeology research. Students examine and been, in short, fit to be tied. foundations. Students rely on primary documents discuss historical documents relating to Slate In an effort to calm things down, Mary such as original deeds, wills, probate inventories, Hill Plantation; they learn the importance of oral Carrington Venable’s spirit started coming out and photographs, as well as oral histories and histories, conducting interviews with individuals on nights with a full moon. She would sit on her archaeology. familiar with the plantation; they apply basic tomb, look at the moon, and try to get through to the Colonel. In time, the Colonel got the message, calmed down, and started doing the same. Since 1863, there have been sightings, both here and in West Virginia, of one or the other of them— always during a full moon. The sightings here have always been described in the same way—a woman in a flowing white dress sitting on her tomb and looking at the moon. Now that we know where he is, will the Colonel ever be brought back home? With all of his firsts, if anyone deserves to be buried at the College, it’s the Colonel. According to a local funeral director, moving the Colonel here would cost about $4,000, “just a matter of paperwork and money.” There is a vacant space beside Mary that has been waiting for Samuel for a very long time. Twin brick tombs, side-by-side at College Church, would be unique in all of Prince Edward County and would be a must-see on anyone’s cemetery tour. The Slate Hill exhibit included narrative panels, artifacts, and a model of the house. Thank you to our donors in Fiscal Year July 1, 2009-June 30, 2010 Atkinson Leadership Miss Elizabeth LeSueur 1775 Club Mrs. Shirley V. Blackwell Dr. Winfield Massie Mr. William E. Atkinson Dr. & Mrs. Richard C. McClintock Mr. J. P. McGuire Boyd Mr. Sam Blackwood Mr. William M. McIlwaine The Lula P. & S. Mason Cole Trust Mr. Read F. McGehee Mr. James N. Boyd Dr. Frank M. Booth III The Reverend Joseph H. Metzger Mr. Robert G. Harper III Dr. John A. Owen, Jr. Mr. William Alexander Carrington Mr. Scott Boze III Helen S. & Charles G. Patterson, Jr. Mr. Henry C. Spalding, Jr. Mr. W. Robert Eason Sr. Mr. Maynard L. Brandt Dr. Maurice Nottingham Charitable Foundation Trust Dr. C. Wayne Tucker Dr. Keith William Fitch Mrs. Eunice Ward Carwile Mr. & Mrs. John Gurganey Mr. Donald P. Whitley Dr. William S. Foreman, Jr. Central Virginia Arts Overstreet Bowman Heritage Dr. Lawrence E. Hightower Mr. Robert M. Chilton Dr. & Mrs. Harry G. Plunkett, Mr. Gregory B. Henderson Preservation Circle Mr. John D. Hughes Mr. J. Gordon Coleman Jr. Spencer Patron Mr. J. Robert Bray The Rev. Dr. John Montgomery Mr. David L. Costenbader Mr. Thomas N. Pratt Mr. Brian M. Cann Professor John L. Brinkley Irvine IV Mr. Frank T. Crowder Mr. Sumner R. Pugh, Jr. Mr. Rives S. Hardy Mr. John R. Clark III Mr. Albert S. Kemper III Dr. William F. Egelhoff, Jr. Mr. John N. Ralsten Mr. S. Bruce Spencer Mr. John C. Ellis Jr Mr. D. Roger Mower, Jr. Mr. Frank W. Friedman Mr. & Mrs. Fred Rosen Angela J. Way, Farrand Foundation Mr. Benjamin J. Ogburn Garden Study Club Mr. C. Edward Russell Director-Curator, Curator Circle Mr. William H. Flannagan, Jr. Mr. Warren M. Pace, Jr. Mr. C. Hobson Goddin Dr. William Albert Shear Atkinson Museum Mr. Thomas N. Allen Mr. Alton Larue Gwaltney III Mr. & Mrs. Edward L. Potter Mr. John R. Graham Mr. Arthur H. Sperry of Hampden-Sydney Mr. & Mrs. Frank B. Atkinson Dr. Joseph C. Hillier Mr. James A. Rosenstock, Jr. Mr. Andrew Edward Gross Mr. Shing Yue Tang Dr. Paul Baker Mr. & Mrs. Robert T. Jerome Dr. Samuel B. Ryburn Mr. J. Scott Harris Mr. David A. Thompson College The Rev. Dr. Robert Bluford, Jr. Mr. M. Keith Leach Mr. Gordon D. Schreck The Rev. Dr. Collier S. Harvey, Jr. Wachovia Bank Mr. Raymond B. Bottom, Jr. Mr. John G. Macfarlane III Mr. Everette Meade Seay IV Mr. Daniel M. Hawks Mr. Leigh C. Whaley Mr. Fred Lee Brown, Jr. Mrs. Elna Ann Mayo Mr. William D. Selden V Mr. and Mrs. David A. Henley Mr. Raymond B. Wallace Mr. George B. Cartledge, Jr. Mr. Henry H. McVey III Mr. James Christian Thompson, Jr. Mr. Lawrence H. Hoover, Jr. Mr. John Hardy Waters III Community Foundation Mr. William R. Middelthon, Jr. The Rev. Dr. William E. Mr. Charles E. Hubbard Mr. Gary E. Wright Mr. Hugh G. Edmunds, Jr. Mr. Derrik R. G. Morris Thompson Mr. Travis H. Irvin Ms. Anita Holmes Garland Mr. J. Christopher Naftzger Dr. E. Randolph Trice Dr. Edgar F. Jessee Bricks Mr. William C. Gay Mr. C. Edward Richardson III Mr. C Norman Krueger Mr. James Christian Thompson Dr. Robert Townsend Herdegen III Mr. & Mrs. Brent W. Taylor Contributor Mr. J. Stanley Livesay, Jr. Mr. Edward R. Witt Dr. William Russell Jones, Jr. Mr. William F. Watkins, Jr. Mr. John I. Armstrong Mr. William G. Lockwood III Mr. & Mrs. Paul T. Atkinson III Mr. Robert C. Long 3 archæological field work in sessions at the debris from excavation sites around the plantation plantation site. Since the first class in the grounds, but also that of their slaves. “Nathaniel summer of 2006, students have examined Venable, Sr., writes Dr. Pearson, “was a slave owner, and collected a considerable amount of as were all of his descendants who owned Slate Hill information on the history and archaeology through the Civil War. Slaves were used to work of Slate Hill Plantation that has expanded tobacco, the principal crop on the plantation. our understanding of the lives of plantation In fact, slaves normally composed the largest residents.” population living at Slate Hill for the first Dr. Pearson further writes, “Since 2007, 125 years of its existence… Tax records in the May Term classes have been excavating the Prince Edward County Courthouse reveal that buried foundations of the detached kitchen Nathaniel Venable owned forty-three slaves in building located a short distance away from 1783, making him the third largest slave holder in the Slate Hill house. They have exposed the county. “ portions of the kitchen foundation and Today, Hampden-Sydney College owns the land recovered a variety of artifacts related to its use. where Nathaniel Venable built his home in 1756, as The discovery of the kitchen was guided by well as that of the 1730s house of Joseph Morton, early 19th-century Mutual Assurance Company Jr., the original settler of the property. Further ties fire insurance policies that include sketch maps to the College exist through the descendants of showing the location of the kitchen, as well as its Richard Venable. dimensions. Richard N. Venable, son of Nathaniel Venable The Slate Hill kitchen was separated from China fragments from the Slate Hill trash deposit. attended Hampden-Sydney before going to the main residence, a common practice on Princeton, where he graduated in 1782. Richard N. southern plantations. Kitchens contained open 1756, the year Nathaniel Venable built his home. Venable was a committed supporter of the College; fireplaces and hearths, so a separate kitchen It was standing in 1803, when it was depicted he served on the Board of Trustees for more than building decreased the danger of fire in the main on the earliest fire insurance policy for Slate Hill forty years and, along with his father and brothers, residence—as well as separating slaves, who did Plantation. The kitchen was still standing in the provided much financial support to the College most of the cooking and kitchen work, from the 1930s, according to Mrs. Annie Harkleroad, who during its early years. residents in the main house, reinforcing the social remembered it from when she was a young girl.” mores of the times. The students found surprising treasures at The information in this article comes from the labels Early 19th-century insurance policies show the site, especially in the circa-1790 trash pit. Dr. and panel text of an exhibit that recently closed at that the Slate Hill kitchen was forty feet long and Pearson notes that “at the time it was common to the Atkinson Museum, Beneath This Hill: Historical sixteen feet wide—exactly the dimensions of the simply throw food waste and broken items to the Archaeology at Slate Hill Plantation, Birthplace of brick foundation discovered in the archæological rear or sides of buildings.” What was trash to the Hampden-Sydney College. field work. Larger than most Virginia plantation residents over two hundred years ago is now part The exhibit continues to circulate to area schools kitchens, the building may also have contained of the historical record of their lives at Slate Hill and at the time of printing was on display at Fuqua storerooms, quarters for household slaves, and Plantation as the varied items recovered from the School. With the help of Dr. Richard McClintock, possibly other facilities, such as a laundry. trash pit include pieces of plates, cups, saucers, Dr. Pearson created the panels and labels that No evidence of the kitchen hearth has been chamber pots and other ceramic items, buttons, accompanied materials excavated by his students. found at the ends of the building; a fire insurance pipes and pipe stems, pieces of glass bottles, glass The work at Slate Hill Plantation continues. For policy issued to Nathaniel Venable in 1803 beads, thimbles, straight pins, and very large more information concerning the May Term course contains a sketch of the kitchen with the chimney numbers of nails and animal bones—debris in historical archaeology, please see the Hampden- near the middle of the building. typically associated with kitchen activities, such as Sydney College May Term Web Page at www.hsc.edu/ It is unknown when the Slate Hill kitchen was food preparation, cooking, and butchering. Academics/May-Term-2011.html built. It may have been constructed as early as Not only is Venable family life recorded in the MUSEUM ADVISORY BOARD Supporting the Museum The MISSION of the Personalized Bricks Esther Thomas Atkinson A Lasting Tribute Mr. Frank B. Atkinson, Ashland, VA Museum is to promote an Mr. S. Edward Ayres ’66, Yorktown, VA The Museum’s operating budget comes awareness and under- Dr. Caroline Emmons, Richmond, VA principally from gifts from its friends, standing of the history of Mr. J. Sheppard Haw III ’78, Richmond, VA REMEMBER! You can purchase inscribed Hampden-Sydney College augmented by income from its small Mr. Daniel M. Hawks ’61, Williamsburg, VA memorial bricks to be placed in the Mu- as it relates to its role in endowment. the history of Virginia Ms. Elizabeth LeSueur, Richmond, VA seum’s front walk. They are an ideal way to Mrs. Elna Ann Mayo, Hampden-Sydney, VA As a result, individual gifts of annual and the United States, recognize graduates, loved ones, while serving to support Dr. C. Wayne Tucker, Petersburg, VA support are extremely important to the beloved teachers, or class- and enhance the College’s continued health and progress of the mission to form good Ex officio mates—even (as one of our Museum, both as a guardian of men and good citizens Dr. Paul S. Baker, Hampden-Sydney, VA students did) to propose. Hampden-Sydney’s heritage and as in an atmosphere Ms. Anita H. Garland, Hampden-Sydney, VA To request a brick order of sound learning. a memorial to Mrs. P. T. Atkinson, Mr. W. Glenn Culley, Farmville, VA form, call the Museum at (434) Dr. Richard C. McClintock, Hampden-Sydney, VA who founded it. 223-6134, or download one from Ms. Angela J. Way, Farmville, VA Gifts may be mailed in the www.hsc.edu/Museum/Personalized-Brick.html enclosed envelope or submitted online at Emeritus www.hsc.edu/development/give.html. You Professor John Brinkley ’59 may specify that your gift be used by the Mr. W. Robert Eason ’40 Museum. All gifts to the College are tax- Mr. Raymond B. Wallace, Jr. ’60 deductible. A RT IFAC SPOT IGHT MUSEU MTSPOT L L IGHT New entry welcomes visitors, protects exhibits Richard McClintock If you haven’t heard about our new front A columned porch, matching those on other in the new walk. HOW TO HELP? entrance, here is brief overview of the project College buildings, provides shelter for entering The new lobby now serves as an introductory At this point, and of the reasons for undertaking it. visitors, who used to have to stand uncovered area. The visitor is greeted by the large busts of $130,000 has been The front door of the Atkinson Museum— before the door. An additional benefit of the Patrick Henry and James Madison, early trust- raised toward the unchanged since the building’s former use as a project is the replacement and upgrading of the ees of the College, set off by banners containing $170,00 project cost. post office—opened directly from the outdoors obsolete heating, cooling, and ventilation system quotations by them. The Museum collage is also If you would like to help into the exhibit space, allowing outdoor tem- for the front half of the Museum, fulfilling hung there, to alert visitors to the breadth of with this worthwhile perature and humidity to invade the building another facilities survey recommendation. displays within. project, please make with every visitor. It has long been a goal of the In addition, the sidewalk has been raised We have had overwhelmingly positive your check payable to curators to find a way to minimize the effect of level with the street to provide unhindered response, especially about the graciousness of the “Hampden-Sydney outside climate on the air inside the Museum; access to the Museum without a ramp. The me- space and the increased visibility of the Museum College” and attach a that goal was reinforced as a high priority in the morial bricks have been reset into a grid pattern from College Road. note stating that your recent facilities survey by the American Associa- contribution is for the The new front addition to the Museum provides both an airlock and a welcoming space for visitors. Museum entry addition. tion of Museums. Thanks to a recent challenge gift to the Send your contribution to Museum, this long-awaited improvement has the Atkinson Museum, Post become a reality, and matching funds are being Office Box 745, Hampden- raised, so that almost three quarters of the Sydney, VA 23943, or funds needed—$130,000 out of $170,000— hand it to the Curator are in hand. In order to make deadlines for when you visit. All gifts to completion at the start of the fall semester, the Hampden-Sydney College College allowed the Atkinson Museum to begin are tax-deductible to the construction while continuing our fund-raising. extent allowed by law. (If you would like more information on giving to the project and a copy of the explanatory brochure, we will be happy to help you.) The addition in effect extends the old façade forward about ten feet, providing not only an airlock but also an entry vestibule for visitor reception and even introductory material. ON E X HIBIT efforts to preserve and protect valuable natural areas. important role that art and artists have played in our nation’s Virginia artist Beverly Rhoads, helping viewers recognize the exhibition of plein air paintings of Acadia National Park by “Following Seas: From Pretty Marsh to Great Head,” an The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, the back gallery held of higher learning. Hampden-Sydney men in leading and establishing institutions Higher Learning. The thirty-foot linear display traces the role of gallery with a special exhibition, Hampden-Sydney’s Leaders in the visit of inauguration speaker Ken Burns. Sydney, and in the back gallery an exhibition complemented The front gallery display emphasized the history of Hampden- inauguration of the College’s president, Christopher Howard. Two new exhibits this fall meshed with the themes of the A bit more history and a lot more art NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION PERMIT NO. 1929 RICHMOND, VA U. S. POSTAGE PAID Complementing Ken Burns’ spectacular documentary, Iconic artifacts and images continue on display in the front and fine arts major thesis projects Featuring work by photography and portraiture classes Student Fine Arts Show Opening Reception: Thursday, April 28, 4:30 Pm April 28 - May 8, 2011 Age of Jim Crow Take Our Stand: the African American Military Experience in the February 8 through March 26 Beneath This Hill: Archæology at Slate Hill November 18 to February 6 Following Seas: From Pretty Marsh to Great Head October 7 through November 13 Hampden-Sydney College’s Leaders in Higher Education September 2 through December 10 2010-2011 Exhibits Saturday, 10 am–2 pm. Closed during College holidays. Other times by appointment, (434) 223-6134. Summer: Wednesday and Friday, 12:30–4:30. Academic year: Tuesday–Friday, 12:30–5 pm, H A MPDEN-SYDNEY COLLEGE H A MPDEN-SYDNEY, VA 23943 MUSEUM www.hsc.edu/museum.html OF HAMPDEN-SYDNEY COLLEGE THE ESTHER THOM AS ATKINSON
"A Venable Ghost Story"