Farmville the Magazine - September 2018

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September 2018 Vol. 3, No. 5 FREE

Summer Garden Opera Takes root in Farmville


Keeping it sweet in the Heart of Virginia

our campus is

our campus


that enrich the lives of adults and children. PLEASE JOIN US!


through NOV. 4

All events at the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts, 129 N. Main Street in Farmville





through NOV. 25

SEPT. 20

ART AFTER DARK: Sacred Circle Dance Workshop with Joan Tipton and Tammy Tipton-Nay, 6 p.m.

O C T.


EXHIBITION: LeUyen Pham: There’s No Such Thing as Little. Reception with the artist, 5:30-8 p.m., Oct. 19.

S E P T.

EXHIBITION: A Shared Legacy: Folk Art in America. Gallery talk: 6 p.m., Oct. 10.

Hearing Loss Support Group:


For those with hearing loss and their families

CONCERT: Longwood Wind Symphony. 7:30 p.m., Jarman Auditorium. P: 434.395.2504

12:30-2 p.m. Longwood Speech, Hearing and Learning Services, 315 W. Third Street in Farmville Also Oct. 26 and Nov. 16 P: 434.395.2972


Knowledge—and connecting with a community that understands their challenges—can make all the difference for someone struggling to cope with hearing loss.”

SPORTS All games at the athletics complex on Johnson Drive

—Dr. Mani Aguilar, audiologist

SEPT. 29


SEPT. 29

MEN’S SOCCER vs. Radford, 6 p.m.

OCT. 23

Liz Chassey, director of Madeline’s House. Madeline’s House provides services for individuals and families experiencing domestic and sexual abuse. 4 p.m., Hiner Hall 207. P: 434.395.2509


17-19 VIRGINIA CHILDREN’S BOOK FESTIVAL: Featuring awarding-winning authors and illustrators in a series of workshops and presentations. Times and locations:

ALL EVENTS ARE FREE unless otherwise indicated and are

open to the public. Times and locations are subject to cancellation/ change. Check for updates and a campus map.

Blooming flowers and a welcoming bench invite the passersby to take a moment, sit back and relax in downtown Farmville. Photo by Teddy Hodges.





Farmville the Magazine

Feature Where can you go to see Puccini’s “La Boheme” or Rossini’s “Barber of Seville”? In Farmville the answer is Harlan Horton’s back yard. Farmville’s Summer Garden Opera (SGO), now in its ninth season, has been called a homegrown effort, but it’s continued to produce first-class entertainment year after year. Vocalists from across the United States are recruited each year for the annual midJune performance. SGO, the brainchild of Horton and Chris Swanson, also believes in community outreach; two extra concerts were held at the caboose on High Bridge Plaza and at PACE (Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly). “We believe in bringing opera to our community,” Horton says. On the cover: Summer Garden Opera co-founders Chris Swanson and Harlan Horton.

Publisher — Betty Ramsey Designer — Troy Cooper

EDITORIAL Marge Swayne


Emily Hollingsworth Titus Mohler

ADVERTISING Director — Jackie Newman Debbie Evans Kyla “Miss Kiki” Silver Ms.Kiki@Farmvillethe

CONTRIBUTORS: Cynthia Wood, Dr. Ray A. Gaskins, Troy Austin, Rachel Talent Ivers Cover photo by Marge Swayne On the web: To subscribe, contact Farmville the Magazine P.O. Box 307 Farmville, VA 23901 (434) 392-4151 Farmville the Magazine is published eight times annually by Farmville Newsmedia LLC. Copies are available free at businesses throughout the Heart of Virginia. For convenient mail delivery of each issue, cost is $30 per year.



Venable Ghost Story


Also... Publisher’s Notebook Events Serving it Up From the Ground Up Where Am I?

5 6 8 10 13

Artist in Residence Party Pix Town and Gown Why I Love Farmville

14 32 49, 50 51

Farmville the Magazine

Publisher’s Notebook

The heat is on in Farmville W

hat do the opera, bee keeping and ghosts all have in common? They’re all featured in the September edition of Farmville the Magazine! Farmville’s Summer Garden Opera takes the stage at the home of Harlan Horton. In its ninth season the opera brings first class voices and entertainment — right here at home. On the cover Horton and Summer Garden Opera co-founder Chris Swanson strike a pose. Turn to Page 18 for more of the story. For some the buzzing sound of honey Betty Ramsey, bees busy gathering nectar and building a Publisher hive is music to the ear. Bees are essential for crop pollination and the Heart of Virginia Bee Keepers Club is happy to share their knowledge, time and expertise. On Page 26 meet bee charmers Harry Lowry, Danielle Chernault and Donnie Amos to name a few. You just might decide to pick up a few tips and start your own bee hives.

There are many more stories within these pages and we hope you will enjoy them. We welcome your ideas and invite you share with us what you would like to hear more about by sending us a note at P.O. Box 307, Farmville VA 23901, giving us a call at (434)392-4151 or sending me an email at We publish Farmville the Magazine March, April, May, summer, September, October, November and December. We invite you to pick up a copy the latest issue as there is sure to be someone you know, a neighbor, family member, a friend or perhaps even you! If you want Farmville the Magazine delivered to your home or office we offer subscriptions for $30 per year, just enough to cover the postage. To subscribe call us at (434) 392-4151. Thanks for reading and we look forward to seeing you next month. Betty Ramsey is publisher of Farmville the Magazine. Her email address is

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R. R. Moton Museum

Located at 900 Griffen Blvd., Farmville the former Robert Russa Moton High School is now a National Historical Landmark. The student birthplace of America’s Civil Rights Revolution, the museum is open for visitors from noon-4 p.m., Monday – Saturday, and by appointment. For more information about the museum visit Live at Riverside

A free concert series at Riverside Park in downtown Farmville is hosted by the Farmville Jaycees. With live music, games and entertainment for the whole family. The final two concerts of the series music line up is as follows: Sept. 7 – Soul Expressions Oct. 13 – Weekend Plans Habitat for Humanity Pig Roast

A night of fun, food and friends all for a good cause. Enjoy pork, fresh fried pork rinds, appetizers, drinks and homemade sides and desserts. Vegetarian dishes will be available. Craft beer provided by Third Street Brewing and live music from Stoney Ridge. Saturday, Sept. 22, from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at the Farmville Community Marketplace located at 213 North St, Farmville. For more information or to purchase tickets visit Five County Fair

Fun filled days of traditional county fair food, rides and more await you at the Five County Fair. Exhibits, food, beauty pageants, bingo, prowrestling, livestock shows, petting zoo and bluegrass music. Sept. 25-29 at the Farmville Fairgrounds, 209 Fairgrounds Road, Farmville. Visit their website at Virginia Children’s Book Festival

Save the date for the fifth annual Virginia Children’s Book Festival held at Longwood University. This free three-day event brings together authors and illustrators with the public to show appreciation for children’s literature. Oct. 17-19 For more information or to support this organization visit their website at

Farmville the Magazine


The Town of Farmville has recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages. Trails, parks and recreational facilities are easily accessible and within walking distance of most Town neighborhoods. Canoeing, fishing, hiking, boating, and sports – it’s all waiting for you right here in or near Farmville! • Wilck’s Lake Park • Sarah Terry Walking Trail • Wilck’s Lake Skateboard Park • Grove Street Park • Dogwood Trail • Prince Edward/Farmville Youth Association Field of Dreams

VIRGINIA STATE PARKS • High Bridge Trail State Park • Twin Lakes State Park • Bear Creek Lake State Park • Holiday Lake State Park • James River State Park

For further information about any Virginia State Park listed above, call 1-800-933-PARK (7275)•434-392-5686



Farmville the Magazine

Serving it Up

Independence explored in the kitchen Story and photos by Titus Mohler


ongwood University Associate Professor of English John Miller was a college student when he first seriously began to unleash the power of creation in the kitchen. “I don’t ever really remember cooking growing up as a kid, like at my parents’ house,” he said. “I came back from college one of the times I had my first apartment, and I remember I was pestering my mother to make a pecan pie.” He was having a hard time convincing her, and eventually she countered with an acknowledgement of her son’s new level of independence. “She’s like, ‘Uh, you live by yourself now,’” Miller recalled. “‘You have your own kitchen. You can make whatever you want to.’” Rather than complaining that he didn’t want to, this observation illuminated Miller to the possibilities he hadn’t ever been in the habit of considering. He remembered saying, “‘You’re right.’ And so she gave me a bunch of kind of like my favorite recipes.” They were written down in a binder. “So from kind of then on, I always sort of kind of started cooking for myself,” he said. At first, he had ideas like making a pecan pie every day of the week. “Then I kind of branched out and started getting responsible,” he said, but he still enjoys the ability to cater the menu to his own tastes. With a busy teaching schedule, Miller doesn’t lack for things to do, but he has a simple motivation he shares with most people that keeps him going back to the kitchen to create. “I like to eat — I ain’t going to lie,” he said. “So I got the time, which I try to make the time for it. I like to cook a bunch. That way you’ve got lunches, and you can kind of meal plan and

John Miller presents a plate of Crab Gumbo based on his grandmother’s recipe that he enjoyed as a child and has since gotten into the habit of making for himself. stuff like that.” A key dish that he likes to make that has significant history in his family is Crab Gumbo. “This is my grandmother’s recipe, and she loves seafood,” he said. “She’s from L.A. — lower Alabama — like kind of down near between Montgomery and Mobile, and she loves seafood.” The only tweaking Miller has done to the

recipe is to make the terminology and instructions more understandable to the average person. He noted that you can do almost anything with gumbo. “You can throw in shrimp, crawdads, chicken, andouille, or mix it up, like andouille and crab, shrimp and crab …” he said.

Farmville the Magazine



INGREDIENTS 1 pound of crab meat (If you don’t like or can’t get crab, an equivalent amount of chicken, peeled shrimp or crawfish or andouille sausage will do. Or, mix and match.) 5 tablespoons of bacon grease 5 tablespoons of flour 1 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes 1 large onion 1 large green pepper 4 stalks of celery 2 cups of okra 6 garlic cloves 1 can of beef bouillon (or two bouillon cubes) ½ cup ketchup 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 3 bay leaves 2 tablespoons salt ¼ tablespoon seafood seasoning (like Old Bay) INSTRUCTIONS Cook enough bacon in a big skillet to get five tablespoons of bacon grease. As the bacon is cooking, finely chop the tomatoes, garlic, onion, pepper and celery. Cut the okra into half-inch slices. Add the okra, pepper and celery, plus the salt, seasoning and bay leaves to one quart of water in a large pot and bring it to a boil. Once you have enough bacon grease, remove the bacon and add the flour.

Miller pours out the finished Crab Gumbo over a bed of rice, ready to serve.

Brown the flour over low-to-medium heat, stirring constantly. Once the flour reaches a medium-to-dark brown color, add the chopped onion and garlic. Cook for a few minutes until tender. Add the diced tomatoes to the skillet and cook for about five minutes. Transfer this mixture from the skillet to the boiling water and vegetables and add the remaining ingredients to the pot. Stir well.

Cook for one hour over low heat. Stir occasionally. Add more water in small amounts if needed. Add crab and let cook over low heat for another 20 minutes. You’ll need less time if you substitute shrimp or crawdads. Serve over rice. If your guests think the gumbo is too thin, they can add filé to it now to thicken it up. If it’s not spicy enough for them, they can add their favorite heat like hot sauce or curry.

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10 Farmville the Magazine

From the Ground Up

Farmville the Magazine

The sunflower’s time to shine Story and photos by Cynthia Wood


unflowers are having a moment. You can buy a single bloom at the supermarket for $7.99 per stem, or you can select a premade arrangement featuring several blooms and some filler. Visit your favorite upscale restaurant and you may find huge arrangements of sunflow-

ers at the entrance. Many gardeners routinely plant a row or two of sunflowers in their vegetable gardens. They add color and serve as a living fence. After the flowers have been enjoyed, the seeds can be saved for feeding the birds or for munching by humans. Enterprising types even create sunflower mazes for

their children and grandchildren to explore. Because the plants grow so rapidly and can become so tall, most kids are fascinated by them and thrilled by the possibility of becoming “lost� in a maze. Hunters also know about the value of sunflowers and plant them to attract birds. There are even pick-your-own-

A large field of sunflowers is an amazing sight and is good for photo shoots at peak bloom and for attracting doves later in the fall.



Farmville the Magazine

Cynthia Wood is a master gardener whose insights are fused with a great deal of experience.

Top left, sunflowers, pickled tomatoes and lobster: there’s going to be a party on the back porch. Bottom left, toasted sunflower seeds are tasty and nutritious. sunflower farms with acres of plants and peak bloom season forecasts publicized on Facebook. There are other fields planted just for photographic opportunities — family groups, proposals, even pets romping in rows of bright cheery blooms that seem to stretch forever. Most of us don’t have the space for such vast plantings, but we can grow enough to add extra cheer to our gardens next summer. Sunflowers are easy to grow, with few requirements other than, as might be expected, full sun. The hardest part of growing sunflowers may be choosing the perfect variety. There are very tall sunflowers and short ones too. Blooms can be plain or shaggy; yellow, mahogany or

even salmon colored. There are lots of choices. Some varieties to consider include “American Giant,” which at 16 feet is probably the tallest sunflower; “Elf,” which is less than 3 feet tall; “Baby Bear,” which has shaggy petals; and “Little Becka,” which has multicolored petals and is relatively short. After the danger of frost has passed, sow sunflower seeds 6 inches apart and 2 inches deep. Cover the seeds with soil, tamp it down and water lightly. Rows should be 2-3 feet apart. To create a simple maze or series of rooms, arrange the rows in blocks with paths 3-4 feet wide between the blocks. Expect sunflower seeds to sprout in 7-10

days and for plants to mature in 80-120 days. Sunflowers rarely require fertilizer; in fact, too much nitrogen can delay flowering. While they can withstand some drought, extra water will help ensure beautiful blooms. Sunflower seeds are ready to harvest when the blooms turn downward and the backs become yellowish brown. To harvest the seeds, cut the dried blooms, and hang them in a sunny, airy space to dry. To remove the seeds, rub two seed heads together, and then allow the seeds to dry for several days. After that, the seeds should be stored in the refrigerator. Sunflower seeds are especially tasty when toasted in a heavy skillet and sprinkled with sea salt.

Farmville the Magazine LAST ISSUE’S WINNER Jeffree Sue Hudson, of Farmville, was correctly able to identify the “Where Am I?” photo from the summer edition, which was the alley adjoining the Weyanoke expansion and the side of the old Farmville Printing Company.

Where Am I? The Heart of Virginia offers beautiful scenery and architecture throughout downtown Farmville. “Where Am I?” offers residents a chance to identify one of our hidden gems across town. If you think you know where this photo was taken, email your answer to WhereAmI@FarmvilletheMag. com. We’ll draw one lucky name from among the correct answers for an annual subscription to Farmville the Magazine.

While times have changed and the ways we serve our customers have evolved, our fundamental commitment to serving you and your family through quality, local banking services endures. Thank you for 100 years. We look forward to serving you today. And tomorrow.


14 Farmville the Magazine

Artist in Residence

‘More to be said in a different way’ story by Titus Mohler photos by Michael Mergen, Alexander Grabiec and Titus Mohler


ongwood University Associate Professor of Art Michael Mergen has learned from firsthand experience that work of one kind can open doors and facilitate work of another in a way that enriches both others and himself. Yes, he teaches photography, but the 39-year-old Mergen has time to pursue that art as a creator as well. “Teaching, I think, is part of my job,” Mergen said. “I think being a working artist is crucial to that, for me.” As he pushes and challenges his students, he is still actively pushing and challenging himself, and being a working artist enables him to approach concepts in the classroom from a relatable vantage point. It allows him to honestly use phrases like, “We do this as photographers,” or “We do this as artists.” Mergen noted that he is still engaged in the same kind of trial and error that artists go through. He is still doing research, going to portfolio reviews, getting rejected, trying to show his work to people, getting feedback from peers. “My background was as a photojournalist,” he said. “I worked as a photojournalist for about 10 years before going back to grad school, and then my (Master of Fine

Longwood University Associate Professor of Art Michael Mergen stands alongside some of his own photography, evidence that he is continuing to develop himself as a creator of art as well as teacher of it.

Farmville the Magazine

Above, this 2013 photo by Mergen depicts the Cpl. Joshua D. Harris Memorial Bridge in Kentucky. His series “Memorials to the War on Terror” documents the memorial landscape of highways, bridges and other aspects of the road ceremonially named for American soldiers killed in the various wars against global terrorism. At left, presented is an untitled 2017 Mergen photograph that is part of his series called “Epilogue to Mars.” The series is a return to places Mergen visited more than 20 years prior during a cross country road trip with his then-best friend Mars, who passed away a year later. The series presents archival photographs with contemporary landscapes, placing snapshots on the site where they were taken, emphasizing photography’s physicality and the dual nature of snapshots: physical containers of memory and windows to other places.



Farmville the Magazine

Mergen executes a piece from the “After Selma-toMontgomery” series. Photo by Alexander Grabiec

Arts) is in photography. So I come from a kind of a documentary, journalistic background, and then I’ve shifted gears a little bit to more of a fine art perspective. My work still, I would say, is kind of very much grounded in kind of a documentary approach.” In the past, Mergen has produced collections of photos that have a national focus, and he would take several weeks during the course of a summer, traveling to capture these pictures. “Longwood has been really supportive of making creative work, which has been really great,” he said. With the birth of his daughter four years ago, Mergen noted he does not want to be on the road as much, so he has continued his creative endeavors close to home. His teaching position at Longwood has been the steady, solid endeavor he began to desire about a decade ago, but the door for that opportunity was opened through his on-the-job experience that came prior. When you are a child, generally your main job is going to school and being a student. It was during Mergen’s time on that “job” that his relationship with photography began. “I took a photo class in third grade,” he said, attending a school that was about 20 minutes outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he

grew up. “My elementary school had a bunch of after-school programs and classes, and I took a black-and-white darkroom class. I kind of vaguely remember, it must have been like a janitor’s closet that got kind of retrofitted into a darkroom. I can remember making a print, seeing it kind of come up in the developer bath, and kind of seeing that kind of magical moment where this blank piece of paper turns into a photograph.” He said he took photography classes through high school. “I guess it was either junior or senior (year), I remember my dad asking me, ‘What do you want to do for college?’” Mergan recalled. “I said, ‘It would be nice to get paid to take pictures.’ And so that’s kind of how I ended up pursuing photography as an undergrad, and I’ve really been a photographer all of my adult life.” He was an undergraduate at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York, and earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in photojournalism there. “The photojournalism path spoke to me I think for a couple reasons but also I think because it would still allow me to kind of make my own work as well, but also it seemed like a way to potentially get a job doing this, which is tough to do as a photographer,” Mergen said.

After graduating in 2000, he started out as a full-time staff photographer for a group of weekly newspapers near Boston, Massachusetts. “And then I started freelancing for Bloomberg News, Associated Press and some other papers there and then eventually just pursued freelance full time and then worked in Boston and then kind of moved back home to Philadelphia and kept freelancing there and did that until I went back to grad school,” he said. The life of an established freelancer was exciting and offered him a wide variety of photographic opportunities. “That kind of work, one day you’re doing a Phillies game, the next day you’re doing a portrait of a chef, the next you’re doing a still life of medical equipment — every day was different,” Mergen said. He was a freelance photographer in Boston from 2000-02 and then in Philadelphia from 2002-09. But toward the end of that time, he developed a desire for a more settled working situation that also allowed expanded opportunity for creativity. With freelancing, “my wife could attest to this — there’d be these sort of boon weeks where you might get three or four jobs,” Mergen said. “I might be on a job for The New York Times, and schedule an assignment for the USA

Farmville the Magazine

Today the next day, and then return emails for an assignment for Bloomberg News for the following week. And then you might hit a week where — nothing, and you’re chasing down your own leads, you’re pitching your own stories. For a time, I think that’s kind of fun, kind of exciting. Long term, I was like, I think I wanted a little bit of stability. Also I think I felt like my own kind of personal work, I was losing kind of that voice. Doing assignments and working with photo editors, it’s great, but also you sacrifice a bit of creativity.” It was during his time as a working photojournalist that he began to open the door to a future that involved more of a fine arts approach to photography. In 2004-05, he started to pursue personal photography work a little more seriously. “There’s a great small arts organization in Philadelphia called the Center for Emerging Visual Artists, and they offer a two-year fellowship,” Mergen said. “In some ways it’s kind of like a poor man’s grad school, and so they have workshops and they have exhibitions, and you sort of have your work up on the wall and you start to kind of make some inroads within the

Philadelphia art community.” This gave Mergen an outlet for the personal work he was making just for himself and allowed him to sell a couple of prints and meet some people interested in his work. And then when on the job as a photojournalist, he said, “I would start to look at assignments and think, ‘OK, what else can I do with this?’” The first big assignment he translated into a fine arts project involved the Philadelphia Navy Yard. He noted that the Navy Yard had been closed for 10-12 years, and Urban Outfitters had bought several of the buildings. The photos he was taking there were for a short business story. “I was looking at these buildings, and I was like, ‘There’s something more here,’” he said. Mergan asked an official if there was any way he could come back and keep photographing it, and he was granted permission. “So I spent the next six or eight weeks just kind of documenting what remained of the Navy Yard and peeling paint and tattered American flags and kind of this graffitied white board messages from the last people that worked there 12, 15 years prior,” he said. “And that in some ways I think really was the first kind of project

I was like, ‘OK, here’s a body of work that is rooted in a documentary, journalistic approach but happened over six or eight weeks and didn’t happen over an hour, hour and a half, which is typically what you get for a newspaper assignment.’” That opportunity he helped make for himself sticks in his mind as an example of using journalism as a gateway, “being given an hour to make a couple photographs and seeing that there’s a lot more potential there,” he said. “There’s more to be said in a different way. The photographs were never going to be necessarily for an Associate Press widespread audience, but there was something else there that I think that kind of fine art perspective allowed me to see. But again, I think having the access as a photojournalist helped me get, literally, the foot in the door.” Earning his graduate degree in photography from the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island, then helped open the door in 2011 for Mergen to come work at Longwood. And there, as he continues to develop personal creative work, he regularly helps students open doors of their own.



Farmville the Magazine

It wouldn’t be summer in Farmville without the Summer Garden Opera performance in Harlan Horton’s back yard. Annually the event draws close to 250 guests who enjoy a cocktail supper and open bar along with first-class opera.

Farmville the Magazine

Staging SucceSS

bringing opera home Story and photos by Marge Swayne


he night is warm, and the mood’s festive. It’s opera night, and Harlan Horton is welcoming guests to his back yard. Greeting most by name — Farmville is a small town — he encourages friends and new acquaintances alike to mingle and enjoy a glass of wine before tonight’s performance of Rossini’s “Barber of Seville.” The show will begin, he explains, “when the sun goes down behind the big tree in Sherry Swinson’s back yard.” Don’t let the down-home setting fool you. Farmville’s Summer Garden Opera (SGO) offers first-rate opera featuring professional vocalists from all over the country. “Once the sun’s not in the singers’ eyes, that’s when we’ll start,” Horton says. Summer Garden Opera has taken root in Farmville, and it has continued to grow each year. The outdoor venue has been a good fit for Farmville audiences. This year marks the ninth season of the local opera that began with a conversation on a cold winter night.


20 Farmville the Magazine

Top, chorus members, from left, Don Blaheta and Sam Taylor share a musical conversation with Jason Buckwalter who plays Ambrogio/Fiorello/an officer. Middle, Bill McMurray as Figaro, and Kimberly Christie as Berta share an interesting moment. Bottom, Rosina (Megan Roth) holds a spirited exchange with Bartolo (Brandon Morales).

Horton, a Farmville attorney, and SGO co-founder Chris Swanson, professor of music at Longwood University and conductor of the Lynchburg Symphony, never tire of telling the story of the opera’s inception. “It was a Sunday night, and it was snowing,” Horton recalls. “Chris just lives down the street, so I invited him over for pizza.” Over pizza and several glasses of wine, the conversation turned to music. “Chris spends his summers in Italy where performing at individual homes is common,” Horton says. “So I asked — why couldn’t we do that in Farmville?” Before the night was over, the two friends decided to give “homegrown” opera a try. They sketched out a plan on a napkin and were ready to get the musical ball rolling. The first step was funding. “I called Kerry Mossler at Centra Southside to see if the hospital would be interested in the idea, Horton recalls. “Kerry called back a few hours later and said, ‘I’ve got $5,000 for you.’” Summer Garden Opera was in business. That year SGO presented Mozart’s “Cosi fan tutti.” The stage was set in Horton’s back yard. “It was 99 degrees at 9 p.m.,” Harlan recalls. “Close to 100 attended, and everybody seemed to enjoy themselves.” There is much to enjoy at Summer Garden Opera where a decidedly casual approach prevails. A cocktail supper precedes each performance, and an open bar offers wine and other libations during the evening. “You are not in a concert hall,” the program advises guests. “Feel free to get up and walk around during the show — watch and listen from different parts of the garden.” “Our opera is professional without overwhelming you with things you don’t like,” Horton adds. The SGO philosophy seems to work; in recent years attendance has topped 250, which makes for a cozy crowd in Horton’s back yard. “I tell people not to worry about coming to the opera alone,” Horton says. “It’s a small space — you’ll meet people!” The hum of conversation is music to Horton’s ears as guests mingle on his patio that will later serve as stage for the evening’s performance. “I’ve met so many interesting people tonight,” an older lady affirms. “I just moved here to be near my daughter’s family. I love Farmville already!”

Farmville the Magazine

Above, cars line Second Avenue as the community gathers for another night at the opera at Harlan Horton’s home. At left, a cocktail supper and conversation are highlights of the annual Summer Garden Opera.

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22 Farmville the Magazine Tables with crisp linen tablecloths sporting bouquets of fresh summer flowers encourage lively conversation during the cocktail supper catered by Aramark. “The food is always so good.” one guest advises. “I come here every year!” To manage the available space, an invitation list is kept from year to year. Tickets are $55. Sponsorships pay for the musicians, and ticket sales pay for the food and bar. “We have a very active and engaged board this year,” Horton notes. “Kevin Wetzel, who serves as artistic director, is new to the board. He lives in New York and has sung with SGO since the beginning.” Horton is president of the board, and Swanson serves as vice president and music director. Others on the board include Julie Ross, treasurer, Kerry Mossler, secretary, and Kirsten Huber, John Miller and Robert Wade. This year Swanson is conducting a nine-piece orchestra with Lisa Kinzer as pianist and, Pam

McDermott serves as chorus master for the nine-member all-male chorus. The cast of the opera has been rehearsing all week. Most singers arrive on Sunday; rehearsals on Monday morning. “It’s a week that feels like a month,” Swanson says. “The artists love it because it’s so intense. When there’s down time, we go to a party or have dinner together. It’s a great week.” This year two community events were added to the schedule — a noontime concert at the caboose on High Bridge Plaza and a mini-concert at Centra PACE (Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly). “The PACE concert is new this year,” Horton notes. “We thought it would be a nice outreach.” Tonight’s audience, now finding seats on the terrace overlooking the stage, includes a crosssection of age groups. Many are checking their phones or tablets for English subtitles available on WiFi — another recent SGO innovation. Local physician and lighting director Dr.

David Pruitt takes his place, and the stage lights come up. The show is about to begin. With the first notes of the familiar overture, older and younger listeners alike smile; many recall these tunes from Saturday morning cartoons (yes, Bugs Bunny borrowed heavily from Rossini’s melodies). Soon stars splash across the sky, but all eyes are on the stars onstage. There’s a sense of discovery and excitement rippling through the crowd as many experience for the first time Rossini’s masterful melodies and the ageless antics of Figuro and the Count. Opera has come to life on this warm summer night in Harlan Horton’s back yard. “When I look out from the stage I see my town all here together,” Swanson says. “There’s something really special about that.” “Art brings us all together,” Horton concludes. “When I listen to this music, I realize just how important it is for us to bring opera to our community.”

Chris Swanson conducts a chamber orchestra that includes violins, viola, cello, bass, flute/piccolo, oboe, clarinet and bassoon. Lisa Kinzer is pianist.

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Above, Bill McMurray entertains an audience at PACE. The mini-concert was a new SGO outreach this year. At right, Michael Kuhn as Count Almaviva looks longingly at the upstairs window where Rosina resides.


24 Farmville the Magazine




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"Fuqua School should be a place of opportunity for all those who want to work hard and learn." - J.B. Fuqua

With 300 students from 11 counties in grades PK3-12, Fuqua School has a reputation for academic excellence. An exceptional education may be more affordable than you think. Renewable need-based scholarships are available. Plan a visit by contacting Admissions at (434) 392-4131. Fuqua School is located at 605 Fuqua Drive, Farmville, VA. Fuqua School admits students of any race, color, religion, national or ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to the students at the school.


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26 Farmville the Magazine

Harry Lowry removes bee cappings with a hot knife. The cappings will be melted into wax, which will be sold to Miller’s Country Store to make homemade candles.

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in Action

BEEKEEPERS Story and photos by Emily Hollingsworth


anielle Chernault is relatively new to beekeeping. She started in July of last year after moving back to the Farmville area. The hundred of bees she keeps in compact boxes on her family’s farm in Prince Edward County also keep her busy, but she said it’s worth the work. It’s only a short distance. She gets to the bees she raises via a fourwheel utility vehicle onto a grassy field. The bees and their hives are enclosed in a farm gate, similar to one used for cattle. It’s sunny and a bit hot when Danielle puts on the bee suit, a white outfit with long sleeves, gloves and hat with netting covering the face and neck. She goes in like a pro, undeterred by the hundreds, potentially thousands of bees. Honey bees are typically not aggressive. However, it’s mid-August when there is less nectar to pull from their surroundings. She said bees can be more aggressive this time of year. Danielle comes prepared with a smoker, a contraption that looks like a mix between a tin can and a fireplace bellow. If one puts newspaper in the smoker and lights the match, the smoker creates enough smoke for the bees to retreat inside of the hives and protect their queen, creating fewer opportunities for bees to become aggressive and sting. Though Danielle said she expects to get stung at least once, she’s grown accustomed to the risk. The bees live in manmade hives, levels of boxes that contain the frames where the bees build their colonies, care for their young, and most importantly, make their honey. Jars of sugar water by the hives help provide bees with the nutrients needed for them to make honey. Danielle’s mentor, Donnie Amos, travels from nearby Meherrin to check up on the bees and make sure they are doing well and to provide guidance and advice should any issues crop up. Danielle and Donnie are both members of the Heart of Virginia Beekeepers, a club made up of several dozen people from around the region who meet regularly to discuss their beekeeping. Filling seats at the Prince Edward County Extension Office, the 40-50 club members discuss issues they face while beekeeping, ask questions and stay for presentations and activities that include


28 Farmville the Magazine

Above, pictured is the “honey house” where Harry Lowry extracts honey from the beehives he keeps. His honey house is only one of two in the region that is state certified to extract honey for distribution. Below, Harry Lowry pours fresh honey from a filtering tank into a jar. everything from how to make homemade lip balm from beeswax and how to handle an allergic reaction to a bee sting, to a honey tasting contest, where club members bring their tastiest crop of honey to compete for the best light, medium and dark honey varieties. Danielle maintains the club’s sleek website, which offers itinerary for the next meeting, where to buy Heart of Virginia Beekeepers T-Shirts and resources from local and state organizations. The Facebook page has compelling images and articles showcasing bees in the area, whether kept in hives or out in the open. Club president Tommy Nelson said the club was split from a club that existed in Lynchburg. Looking to form a club closer to home, some members chose to start a club right in the Town of Farmville. He said he first expressed interest in the club after wanting to find a way to continue the beekeeping legacy of his father and grandfather. The club, and a

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grant from the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, provided an opportunity for him to do so. Now, he helps mentor new beekeepers in the club. “It’s fun,” Nelson said about the set up of the club. “We incorporate what’s going on with the bees. We’re trying to keep everybody up to date.” This community of enthusiastic beekeepers, made up of all ages, are creating a critical legacy in the region and in the state as Virginia has

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seen a sharp decrease in the bee population. ‘IF THEY DON’T FEED, WE DON’T EAT’

The beekeepers’ work holds greater weight than other hobbies, especially when it comes to the critical importance of pollination from bees necessary for the food people eat. Findings from a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) study Aug. 1, 2017, found that during the quarter of October through December 2016, honey bee operations containing five or more colonies lost a totaled 502

thousand colonies, or 17 percent, the highest of any quarter in 2016. Recent declines of bee populations throughout the United States have been cited to have been caused by varroa mites, parasites that infect honey bees. Other stressors contributed. The USDA cited on its website that “one out of every three bites of food in the United States depends on honey bees and other pollinators.” Club member Dale Pruitt, who joined the Heart of Virginia Beekeepers earlier in the year


30 Farmville the Magazine and already has a few thriving hives, said he wanted to help the region in addition to the bees, as neighbors near and far would benefit from the pollination of crops bees provide. “We’re doing it for the hive bees,” Pruitt said. “If they don’t feed, we don’t eat.” Another threat facing regional bees and beekeepers is bears. Residents in the region have reported a rise in bear sightings in Prince Edward and surrounding counties. Some keep bears at bay by enclosing their bees in gates, or even electric fences. Coming back to Pruitt’s statement, one of the greatest potential threats facing bees is the loss of trees and flowers for bees to gather pollen. As commercial and residential development comes and trees are cut down, this can narrow the options for bees in which to live and gather pollen. Mary Jane and Bill Morgan, veteran beekeepers with more than 10 years of experience, have surrounded their home with trees and plants. Many of the trees have been planted with a purpose. Among the maple, oak and crepe myrtle trees on their property that serve as food for bees, there’s also the tulip poplar trees. Mary Jane said one might have to be flying over the tree in a plane in order to see the blooms, which grow near the tops of the trees. She said tulip poplars are considered the greatest source of pollen in Virginia for bees. Expressing concern about potential decline for viable pollen sources for honey bees, Mary Jane said, “Save the trees, and save the bees.” LIKE TO “BEE” A KEEPER?

Newcomers interested in getting a head start on their own beekeeping endeavors may get some help from a state organization. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) recently launched a program called the The Beehive Distribution Program, which provides beehive equipment directly to eligible beekeepers. The program was developed as Virginia lost a reported 59.9 percent of its hives in the winter of 2017. Residents of Virginia who are 18 years of age or older are eligible to receive up to three beehive units per year. A description of the VDACS program cited that people who receive a beehive unit will be registered as beekeepers with VDACS, allowing for periodic inspection of beehives by the agency.

Top, pictured are bee cappings removed from a bee frame. Harry Lowry uses an electric-powered heating knife to remove the cappings, also pictured. Above, fresh honey extracted by Harry Lowry is poured through a filter to remove any wax or other debris.

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However, the program has gotten very popular. VDACS announced that as of July 30, the program was suspended due to the overwhelming number of applications received, capped at more than 2,600. It’s worth looking out for if the program is revived for 2019. ‘HAS TO BECOME A PART OF YOU’

Danielle uses frames made with wax, preferring it to plastic frames. But some beekeepers she knows will opt to use plastic over wax. Beekeeping is an individualized process, she said. “It’s all in the preference of what they like to do,” she said. Pulling frames from the hives one by one, she shows how the bee colonies operate: Nurse bees are ones that tend to the larvae, feeding them honey and keeping eggs protected through caps, or protrusions made with beeswax. “It’s very pretty, it’s super pretty,” Danielle said about the frames. Worker bees, primarily female, gather pollen to bring back to the hive. Drone bees, known as male bees, help populate the hives by mating with female bees. The queen bee is typically the mother of all of the bees in the hive. The bees will feed and protect her. At night, when the weather cools, they will surround the queen bee to keep her warm. For Danielle and many in the club like her, it’s been a learning experience. There’s only a few remaining members of the club whose experience with honey bees spans more than five years. Two of these people are Bill and Mary Jane Morgan, whose experience with beekeeping spans more than 10 years. Their hives are nestled behind their log cabin home, located less than 10 miles from Hampden-Sydney College. Walking near the hives on a morning that’s uncharacteristically cool for summer, thanks to a thunderstorm the previous evening, they receive a surprise, but not unwelcome, visit from neighbor Harry Lowry. “We live a country life in the sense you don’t know when something’s about to happen,” Mary Jane said. Harry is another veteran of the beekeeping club. His experience with bees began in the 1940s, when after watching his father and grandfather raise bees, he began to rear some of his own. His bee farm and honey extraction

Harry Lowry removes bee cappings with a hot knife. Lowry continues the legacy of extracting honey he started with friend Quentin Wilhelmi, who died in 2015.

center is located a few miles from the Morgans’, on Darlington Heights Road. Harry, 90, cannot attend every meeting with the Heart of Virginia Beekeepers, but keeps busy, running errands nearly every day. His active nature must run in his family. His sister, Elizabeth, celebrated her 106th birthday in May. Harry brings a new nuc filled with bees. He and Bill hoist the nuc from Harry’s truck, placing it on a wagon to carry to the beehives. “They have a mind of their own,” Harry said about the bees before moving the nuc off of the truck. “They know how to use it.” Bill offers Harry his bee suit for when he enters the bee yard. Harry declines. They place the nuc inside of the fence and walk out relatively unscathed. It’s only a matter of time before their spoils come in the rich, dark honey the honey bees produce. Mary Jane said they keep the honey at home. They’ve thought about selling it, but have decided to give it away to family members and friends, particularly those who suffer from health issues. In addition to keeping beehives, the Morgans and Harry are also the only ones for miles around who have state certified honey houses, places where they extract honey from the bee frames and can sell it. Their bee houses are inspected periodically by state food inspectors. Extracting honey is an arduous process and isn’t for the faint of heart, Bill said. It requires deep cleaning of the entire facility and its machinery. That deep cleaning alone can take up to

four days. The extraction machine can hold up to 20 frames. With the push of the button, the extraction machine spins, expelling the honey from the frames. The honey drips to the bottom, where it’s collected by Bill in buckets. Bill said he can fill a bucket up to 60 pounds. He puts it in a tank to treat it, removing the top layer that is often covered with old wax. Once it’s filtered, Bill said he can put it into jars, or sometimes, sell the 60-pound buckets. He said people can buy the 60-pound honey for $275-$300. It seems like a great deal, especially as venues in Northern Virginia, he said, can charge $60 a quart. But he’s selective about who he extracts honey for, making sure it’s people who rear their own bees and won’t take the booty to Northern Virginia for a profit. Mary Jane and Bill have the experience and knowledge of beekeeping that produces a contemplative and almost parental attitude toward them. “Beekeeping is a hard thing to do,” Bill said at the beginning of the day, as he unlatches the gate behind their home that leads to their beehives. Beekeeping can be time consuming, and the equipment isn’t cheap, he said. Echoing Danielle’s attitude, it has to be a labor of love. “You can become a beekeeper, but it has to become a part of you. You have to love doing it and enjoy doing it more than you enjoy doing other things.”


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FUN A-BREWING AT LCVA EVENT Friends gathered at the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts (LCVA) July 27 for cold beverages and good conversation on Farmville’s Main Street. Singer Laura Bella Owens and Pianist Marcus Pendergrass serenaded the audience with lively jazz pieces, and participants enjoyed finger foods with a variety of wines and beers. The event was sponsored by Helton House, located in Rice, which provides services to adults with intellectual disabilities. PHOTOS BY EMILY HOLLINGSWORTH

Jes Simmons and Stephen Marion

Jennifer Sheeler, Melissa Pelletier and Tory Wade

Amy Helton, Edward Helton and Mike Helton

Edward Helton, Kris Drew and Mike Helton

Patrick Burke, Helen Warriner-Burke and Jill Manning

Martha and Bill Powers

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Rhonda and Jim Robichaud

Rob Wade and Fay Jean Royce

David and Patricia Crute

Jonathan Keohane, Abigail Horne, Kristin Fischer, Eric Fischer, Max Deifel and Nick Deifel

Carl Riden, Leigh Lunsford and Mary Jo Stockton

Regina Schwabe and Laura Bella Owens


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CELEBRATING 20 YEARS OF MAGIC Barnes & Noble at Longwood, located at 200 N. Main St. was transformed into a magical world July 29 to pay tribute to Harry Potter, a book and movie series that has become a worldwide phenomenon. Participants were able to be sorted into one of the wizarding school, Hogwarts, four houses: Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, Gryffindor and Slytherin through the Sorting

Kailynn Hamilton smiles after being sorted into Hufflepuff by Tracey Burnham

Hannah Swain and Aubrian Eppes

Barnes & Noble at Longwood employee Tracey Burnham

Ash Melinden, left, paints an owl on Markia Smith’s arm

Barnes & Noble at Longwood Store Manager Erin Cole helps Aubrian Eppes choose colors for a slime potion

Erin Cole shows participants how to make a slime potion as Hannah Swain, left, Tyson Bristol and Aubrian Eppes look on

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Hat. They also were able to get face and body paints, make slime, go on a scavenger hunt to find magical Horcruxes, and enjoy snacks such as chocolate frogs and Ollivander pretzel wands. PHOTOS BY EMILY HOLLINGSWORTH

Tracey Burnham and Erin Cole

Tyson Bristol later became sorted into Gryffindor

Thomas Hamilton and Tracey Burnham

Aubrian Eppes

Pictured are face paint of Harry Potter-related designs made by Ash Melinden.


36 Farmville the Magazine


A DRIVE FOR SUCCESS Members of Sharon Baptist Church and the community gathered at the Bright Hope Center at 3883 Cumberland Road Saturday to give school supplies to children in preschool through 12th grade. Barbara Marshall, the outreach coordinator for the church, said this is the congregation’s ninth year in giving school supplies to children in the area.

Pictured are, front row from left, Gary Faines, Donna McRaeJones, Barbara Marshall, Ernestine Monroe; back row, Mary Faines, Karen Chavis, Susie Carter, Lucy Frasier, Ann Baker, Dorothy Gilliam, Delsia Blanton and Minister Kern Gilliam

Ernestine Monroe paints a softball for Larry Samuels

Marquita Woodson, Shikia Woodson, Shakyla Brooks and Santell Baker

Mother and daughter Serenity and Alethia Kitt share smiles

Breanna Hartley, left, smiles with Breanna Thurston and Angela Burns

Pictured are, from left, Isaiah, Jaylen, Karen and Deondre Brown

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The event included a raffle, where winners received backpacks and other items, face painting and games such as Twister and a game where children used straws to blow a fuse ball into a plastic cup. PHOTOS BY




Alyssa Madden

Susie Carter, Karen Chavis and Mary Faines

Takeisha Carswell, Donte Ratcliff, Serenity Ratliff and Laijah Carswell

Shevon and Venice Boatwright

Pictured are, front row from left, Kaydence Mitchells, Carlee Mitchells and Ahliyah Jackson; back row, Aleecia Mitchells and Moriah Mitchells

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FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL AT PRINCE EDWARD ELEMENTARY A bright sunny morning greeted children, parents and teachers for the first day of school year 2018-2019 at Prince Edward Elementary School. Students with freshly scrubbed faces were all smiles as they entered the school doors to begin the new year. PHOTOS BY BETTY J. RAMSEY

Amit Kumar and daughter Honey Kumar

Front Noah Blakely, Mother Lyndsie, Father Josh and baby Jeremiah Blakely

Reagan Tibbs, 1st grade

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Shane Barnett, Bobby Buczek and Kasi Buczek

Burise Bittle, Easton Bittle and Erin Giles


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THE LAST BLAST! Campers, counselors and family celebrated at the Southside Virginia Family YMCA summer day camp “The Last Blast” party Friday, Aug. 3. The theme of this year’s summer day camp was aptly named “Blast of Summer Camp.” Area youth enjoyed a summer filled with activities both indoors and outdoors. From the first

Mackenzie Washington and Najah Zarif

Mady Thompson, Gary Ramsey and Malia Werndli

Micah Richard, Dominic Walker and Summer Boettcher

Nakisha Simmons and Ziyon Williams (daughter)

Virginia Allen (grandma) andJonathan Reed

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week of June through Aug. 3 day campers enjoyed themed weeks such as Kid Wonder, Around the World, Safari, Beach and more. Parents enjoyed knowing their children were well cared for in a safe and active environment. PHOTOS BY BETTY J. RAMSEY


Danielle Cheek (Childcare Director) and Jonathan Reed

Andre Ross, Kazu Dinmore and Dominic Blakeney

Ashlehy Duckworth and Joey Lee, camp counselors

Kamani Watkins and Layla Edmonds


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VARSITY FOOTBALL KICKS OFF IN THE HEART OF VIRGINIA Cumberland County High School hosted the lone home game in the Heart of Virginia during the first week of the 2018 season. A solid crowd turned out to see the Dukes kickoff their year by taking on the Franklin High School Broncos. PHOTOS BY TITUS MOHLER

Tyrone Mosby and Michael Dungee

Rylynn Morris and Taylor Shores

Haven Langhorne and Jasmine Cooper

Wyaneka Brown and Kylie Jennings

Brad Hobson and Kameryn Woodson

Taylor Eanes, Uniya Edmonds and Michelle Edmonds

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Jasiyah Kyle and Willie Kyle

Missy Shores and Gene Shores

Miranda Boyle, Kiana Brown, Taina Smith, Mishea Berry and Makiera Hubbard

Jack Williamson, Celeste Mitchell and Deandre Brown

Lorraine Foster and Olivia Sims

Brianna Barker and Nikki Barker


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CELEBRATING MILESTONES Members of the community and in the region celebrated several milestones by Farmville funeral operator Carl U. Eggleston, who reached 50 years in serving the funeral profession, 40 years since receiving his degree in mortuary science and 35 years since he opened his doors to Eggleston Funeral Establishment, located on South Main Street. Attending the events were representatives of the Virginia Morticians

Frances Arrington, Vincent Arrington, Vincent Marsh and Deborah Marsh

Janear Jefferson, Daniel Jefferson and Robert Akers

Bruce and Ida MiLey

Arthur and Brenda Foster

Mary Fields, President Chavela’ D. Painter, Brenda Robinson, Denita Dupee, Raven Givens, Katina Hamlar, Michael Hamlar, Wendal Givens, Barry Robinson, Carl Painter and Glenn Fields

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Association, the Prince Edward County Elks Lodge #269, the Farmville Alumni Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the Prince Edward County and Nottoway County NAACP and the Negro National Golf Association. During the ceremony, speakers honored Eggleston’s worked and burned the mortgage to his office. The last payment for the mortgage was made in July. PHOTOS BY EMILY HOLLINGSWORTH


Corey Person, Tiffany Jordan and Alberta Person

Joyce Glaise, Denise Dabney and Connie Jennings

James and Jeanette Ellis

Carl U. Eggleston and James Ghee

Barbara Eggleston, Carl U. Eggleston, Perry Carrington, Bertram Davis and the Rev. Calvin Gray


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A Look into the Past

A Venable Ghost Story

Left, Abraham Watkins Venable (1799-1876), youngest son of Col. S.W. Venable, served both as a U.S. Congesssman and as a CSA Congressman from NC. It is said that Abraham was the spitting image of his father as a young man. Center, Mary Scott Carrington Venable (1758-1837) of “Springfield;” Right, Col. Samuel Woodson Venable (1756-1821) of “Springfield.” Story by Dr. Ray A. Gaskins, Professor Emeritus, HSC


n Friday morning, November 10, 1775, young Samuel Woodson Venable was up at the crack of dawn. This was the day of the official opening of Hampden-Sydney College and he wanted to be the first student there. He was already the first student to register for classes and he wanted to keep the sting going. He grabbed something to eat, dashed out to the barn, saddled his horse and was off at a gallop. He took the shortest route from “Slate Hill” to the College, which took him right past the future site of Mercy Seat Church (1870). Samuel Woodson Venable (1756 -1821) was the first child born to Nathaniel Venable (1733 -1804) and Elizabeth Michaux Woodson (1740 -1791) of “Slate Hill.” He was also the first Venable born in the fledgling county of Prince Edward (1754). Samuel was coming of college age when starting a college became a topic of conversation at “Slate Hill,” so it was fitting that he be its first student. In 1778, when Hampden-Sydney’s first president, Samuel Stanhope Smith (1750 - 1819), returned to the College of New Jersey (now Princeton), Samuel went with him and graduated there in 1780, first in his class. Although Samuel did not graduate from Hampden-Sydney, he is considered an alumnus (HSC 1777).

In spite of British raids into Virginia during the summer of 1781, Samuel, who had participated in the fighting, married Mary Scott Carrington (1758 -1837), daughter of Judge Paul Carrington (1733 -1818) and Margaret Read (1734 -1766) of “Mulberry Hill” in Charlotte County. They were married on Aug. 15—two months before Lord Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, effectively ending the war. That both his father and father-in-law were Trustees of the College would bode well for Samuel’s future. How Samuel attained the rank of colonel is unclear, but 65 Hampden-Sydney students formed a company of militia in the spring of 1776, and Lt. Samuel Woodson Venable, its ranking student officer, led them in drills within three weeks of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Nathaniel Venable cut a chunk out of “Slate Hill” and built the newlyweds a home less than a mile from Prince Edward Court House (now Worsham). Samuel and Mary named their plantation “Springfield.” Their home survived the Civil War but burned in 1877, five years after the courthouse moved to Farmville. Judge Asa Dupuy Dickinson (1816 -1884) and his wife, Sallie C. Irvine (1825 -1899), were living there when it burned. In 1782, within a fortnight of his first wed-

ding anniversary, Samuel was named to the Board of Trustees of the College. This gave him the lasting distinction of being the first alumnus to become a Trustee. He would serve with distinction until his death on September 7, 1821. At its meeting on September 26, 1821, the Trustees took the unprecedented action of passing the following resolution and having it published in the Oct. 9 Richmond Enquirer. “Whereas it has pleased the Almighty Ruler of the Universe in His wise providence to take unto Himself our worthy and much lamented friend, Col. Samuel W. Venable, by which dispensation Hampden Sidney (sic) College has lost one of her firmest supporters and her board of Trustees one of its most efficient members, be it therefore Resolved unanimously that the remaining members will wear crepe around the left arm for the space of thirty days as a token of respect and veneration for our departed friend.” In compiling the book, “Cemeteries of Prince Edward and Surrounding Counties,” it was discovered that Col. Samuel Woodson Venable was not buried at College Church or any other cemetery in Prince Edward, including “Springfield” and “Slate Hill.” His wife, Mary, and his son, Samuel W. Venable, Jr. (17971855; HSC 1819), are both at College Church, but the Colonel was nowhere to be found.

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Brick tomb of Mary Scott Venable at the College Church Cemetery in Hampden-Sydney.

“In compiling the book, “Cemeteries of Prince Edward and Surrounding Counties,” it was discovered that Col. Samuel Woodson Venable was not buried at College Church or any other cemetery in Prince Edward, including “Springfield” and “Slate Hill.” His wife, Mary, and his son, Samuel W. Venable, Jr. (1797-1855; HSC 1819), are both at College Church, but the Colonel was nowhere to be found.” After months of searching it came to light that, in his old age, Col. Venable used to visit the Spa at Sweet Springs in Monroe County, Virginia. He had learned about the healing springs there from his mentor, Samuel Stanhope Smith. A check revealed that the Spa at Sweet Springs had its own cemetery, because guests occasionally died there. Further research revealed that Sweet Springs is about 160 miles from Hampden-Sydney. In 1821, embalming was still 40 years in the future and the only way to move a corpse that far was in a sealed coffin. If the Colonel died at Sweet Springs, it is probable that he was buried there. A search of the Sweet Springs cemetery led to the discovery of the Colonel’s grave and the grave of his favorite son-in-law, Lt. Isaac Read, Jr.

(1777 -1823). The Colonel’s tomb at Sweet Springs and Mary’s tomb at College Church are identical. Both are aboveground three-foot by six-foot brick enclosures with marble tops. From his death in 1821 to her death in 1837, his grave was unmarked, perhaps because she intended at some point to bring him home. A marker for his grave was provided for in her will (written February 18, 1837). Without a marker, his grave would never have been found. The same craftsman who built her tomb at College Church traveled to Sweet Springs and built his. For 25 years, all was quiet at both cemeteries. In 1862, when Monroe and 49 other western counties voted to secede from Virginia and form the state of West Virginia, all was still quiet. But, in 1863, when West Virginia was officially accepted into the Union, rumblings began to be heard in the Sweet Springs cemetery. The Colonel was now resting in enemy territory and he was not happy about it. The Colonel’s spirit had been watching over his descendants so he was aware that two of his grandsons were staff officers in the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. Major Andrew Reid Venable (HSC 1852) was on Gen. Stuart’s staff

and Lt. Col. Charles Scott Venable (HSC 1842) was on Gen. Lee’s. The Colonel’s spirit was, in short, fit to be tied. In an effort to calm things down, Mary Carrington Venable’s spirit started coming out on nights with a full moon. She would sit on her 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 will cost about $4,000. He says, “It’s just a matter of paperwork and money.” There is a vacant space beside Mary that has been waiting for him 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.


48 Farmville the Magazine

Brick tomb of Col. Samuel Woodson Venable at the Sweet Springs Spa in West Virginia.


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Town and Gown

Fostering what unites us S

ince my first visit to Farmville a little over four years ago, I have been impressed. The town’s people, history, sense of place, and cultural offerings were unexpected, and its potential for growth was exciting. I joined the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts (LCVA) as its executive director after becoming intrigued by the mission and vision of both the museum and Longwood University, which is rooted in volunteerism, citizen leadership, and striving to improve the quality of life in our region, which aligned with my own definition of meaningful work. The LCVA’s roots run deep, dating back to the late 1800s, when Longwood University first began accumulating its museum collections. Today we are best known for our educational outreach and ambitious program of temporary exhibitions in our downtown galleries, but we also have several permanent collection galleries on Longwood’s main campus. We like to say that we take the LCVA with us wherever we go. At our heart, we are collaborative and communitycentric – and what an amazingly collaborative community we call home. Our small staff could not have renewed and expanded our programs without the support of our board, dedicated volunteers, and community partners. Farmville is filled with inspiring and engaged people who dream big and work passionately on behalf of our community. Because of their belief in who we are and what we do, we have been able to expand our program capacity to match or exceed that of larger museums in more densely populated areas. The LCVA has become so much more than a museum that preserves the past - we are also a vibrant home to the conversations that shape the future. The recent growth in downtown Farmville has been thrilling to watch. Buildings in our immediate vicinity that were vacant just four years ago are now bustling with business – or will be soon. This fall, the LCVA builds on that energetic growth with our presentation of A Shared Legacy, a major traveling exhibition (drawn from the collection of Barbara L. Gordon) that tells the story of the extraordinary art that emerged in the years following the Nation’s founding, much of it created in rural areas like ours.

It showcases more than 60 works by some of the most admired 19th-century American artists, and includes a Peaceable Kingdom painting by Edward Hicks, as well as whimsical trade signs and figure and animal sculptures. Together, these works exemplify the breadth of American creative expression during a period of enormous political, RACHEL TALENT IVERS serves as the social, and cultural change in the United States. Executive Director for the Longwood The exhibition also lengthens a leap we made Center for the Visual Arts. last year to be an active participant in the conversations being held in our community and in others across America. Just as the LCVA is more than the sum of its building and collection, A Shared Legacy is far more than a gorgeous exhibition featuring the art that defined the visual language of our early nation. It is an opportunity to continue fostering dialogue about the longstanding issues present in our country, as well as the commonalities that unite us.

50 Farmville the Magazine

Town and Gown

Supporting team Farmville F

or most of my life, I was somewhat of an East Coast nomad. I grew up in New Jersey, went to college at Duke University in North Carolina and spent parts of my professional career in Richmond and Washington, D.C. However, at this point in my life, I have spent more than a quarter of my 40 years in Farmville, and it has long been the place I call home. I’m proud to say that I’ve grounded my roots even deeper recently by marrying my wife, Kim, and having our first child, Emery, who has even more claim to our wonderful town, having earned Farmville citizenship by birth. What I’ve learned about Farmville in my time here is that it is a community filled with diverse, welcoming people. If you live here, you quickly adopt a desire to claim this town as your own. That sentiment is without selfishness, as this is a place whose residents welcome newcomers with open arms. To use a sports analogy, there has always been plenty of room on the Farmville bandwagon. On that note, as I reflected on my experience in Farmville for this article, I realized that my experience here has been shaped significantly by my career in college athletics. Longwood University is what originally brought me here, and since 2006 I have served as athletics director for the university. In my experience, one of the most beneficial byproducts of sports, whether it’s at the youth level, in college or in the professional ranks, is their ability to bring together a diverse cross-section of people and unite them under a common goal. As Farmville is a mosaic of people itself, our local sports teams are instrumental in building and reinforcing our shared sense of community. As an athlete myself, I have shared locker rooms, dugouts and sidelines with people from drastically different backgrounds than my own. Through sports, I learned to value the perspectives and experiences of others and have gained a more well-rounded view of the world as a result. Now as an administrator at Longwood, I have consistently seen the nature in which sports bring together our town in a similar

manner. Longwood games are some of the few places where I can speak with students, local teachers, community bankers, bus drivers, young aspiring athletes, business owners and people from all walks of life within a radius as large as my back yard. The most striking example of this came just over TROY AUSTIN has served as the a year ago in the spring of 2017 when our beloved Director of Athletics at Longwood University since 2006. Longwood softball team hosted the Big South Softball Championship on campus, and, by the way, won the tournament for the fourth time. To witness the stands at Lancer Field jam-packed with Longwood fans was impressive, but to sit amongst people from across Farmville and unite in raucous support of our softball team was a unique and eye-opening experience that only an athletics event could foster. Perhaps I’m biased because of my lifelong exposure to sports, but I have yet to encounter an event that has produced a similar feeling of spontaneous camaraderie among such a large and diverse group of people. The wonderful thing about Farmville is that despite our differences, we are all united under a common flag. We can be Longwood Lancers, Hampden-Sydney Tigers, Prince Edward Eagles and Fuqua Falcons, but at the end of the day, we’re all proud members of Team Farmville.

Farmville the Magazine


Why I Love Farmville



A: Marketing is the perfect way to connect people to people, people to events and people to service. I love to make connections. I love for people to have, know and feel the remarkable opportunities that I have. Marketing allows me to share and encourage. Q. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE WAY TO SPEND A WEEKEND HERE IN TOWN?

A: Why would anyone ever leave Farmville? I love waking up on a Saturday and hitting the farmer’s market and then the coffee shop. Often there is a sporting event next with my family or a fun afternoon with friends at the Virginia Tasting Cellar or Campagna Wine Bar. I love cool crisp evenings at Third Street Brewing. I enjoy bringing the whole family and playing a board game together or just enjoying whatever food truck is in town. There are so many other things to do on the weekend – I could fill your whole magazines with weekend scenarios! Q. TELL US ABOUT YOUR FAVORITE FARMVILLE MEMORY.

A: The Debate (2016 Vice Presidential Debate at Longwood) for sure. It was so cool working for Letterpress and representing the Town of Farmville on the communications front. I thrive on being busy and large crowds so my adrenaline was pumping the whole week.


A: . This community is growing, thriving and vibrant. Small town with big things to do. Sure we can be a weekend getaway with Glamping, B&B’s, excellent hotels, but we can also be a place where you put down roots and build a life. Everyone works so hard to make Farmville not just the heart but the HEART BEAT of Virginia. Local music, a foodie heaven, festivals, movies, shopping … all you have to do is look. We make it so easy for you to get plugged in. Q. DESCRIBE THE FARMILLE COMMUNITY.

A: Our community is amazing. The people are caring, passionate and involved. One of my favorite events is the monthly Moton Community Prayer Breakfast. Having a room full of people from all denominations and backgrounds come together to pray for this community is something that energizes me to my core!






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