County Compass Magazine - Fall/Winter 2020

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FREE to wander.

Your Complete Community Resource Guide and Lifestyle Magazine Pointing You in the Direction of All the Best of the Upper Northern Neck and Beyond





Harry W. Nice Memorial / Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton Bridge Photo Credit: Justin Zimmerman


Anniversary King George!

Northumberland Scenic Drive Virginia State Rt. 3’s Northern Neck Growing Legacy Message in a Bottle FALL/WINTER 2020


Christina, I was pleasantly surprised to see the magazine. I live in Charles County, MD, and am really interested in all that is going on in the Northern Neck region. William Donley, Reader

Hello! I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed the articles in the County Compass Magazine. Will there be more? Is there a digital version I could get by email? Thanks! Meg Pultz, Reader

Hey Christina, You have a contagious passion for your community, and I’m looking forward to sharing the stories in and around KG with County Compass readers. I appreciate the assignment you chose for me. I love a good challenge and I like stretching myself as a writer and covering topics I’ve never touched. I’m eager. Looking forward! Chris Jones, Writer “Newest Team Member”

I’m so glad you’re enjoying the magazine! We are pleased to say we will continue publishing the magazine regularly. Please check out digital copies at Best regards, Christina, Editor 4 | FALL/WINTER 2020



Writer on the Rappahannock

wonder how many bottles have been set out into the great blue with messages inside them addressed, “To the Person Reading this Message.” I wonder how that number compares to the number that have been addressed to a specific person. As people who are living, learning, and growing, I’m sure that it doesn’t really matter if the message is addressed specifically because it really comes down to connecting, to reaching out to someone and feeling heard, whether you know the person on the other end or not. I wrote my message and I’m sending it out today addressed, “Dear Compass,” because I’m not sure which direction it will travel, but no matter whether you’re North, East, South, or West, I’m sure you can relate. Prior to the formal compass, years ago, navigators relied on celestial bodies, the stars, to find their way. That makes me think of the heavens. Perhaps my intended recipient has no need at all for a compass and has already found their way, and I’m just left seeking direction. Perhaps I’m writing this message to my younger self in hopes that the reader who finds it will feel encouraged and inspired to weather the same type of storm I’ve already navigated through. For that same reason, it doesn’t really matter that I sign the message. I could be any one of us letting my thoughts, feelings, and dreams go in hopes that by doing so, they will somehow come to pass or bring me the direction I so desperately long for. Dear Compass, It’s been thirteen years since we last spoke, and I can only imagine what you might say if given the opportunity. I did what you said about using my brain so I wouldn’t have to use my back. I stayed away from drugs, and I stood for something because you always said I would fall for anything if I didn’t. Ice cream is still my favorite, and I tell my children about you when I need an example of the right thing to do. You always seemed to know the answers. I miss the strength I got from being near you, but after all these years I’ve finally learned the greatest lesson you taught me; the strength is within me! If I set my mind to it, I can achieve it. Do you remember the hat you lost the day you let me drive the boat? I turned around to get it, but it was lost in the wake. I wonder if this message will find its way to that hat and in some way, we will be together again. I miss you every day, and I remember every word you said, even when you thought I wasn’t listening. Sincerely,

Writer on the Rappahannock (age 38) Is there a message on your mind? Have you weathered a storm someone else could benefit from encouragement to navigate through? We’d love to hear from you! Messages in a bottle may be published in future issues of County Compass Magazine. To be more environmentally friendly, please email or mail your Message in a Bottle, rather than pollute our beautiful waterways. Email: Subject Line: Message in a Bottle -ORMail: S assafras Creations, LLC Attn: Message in a Bottle P.O. Box 578, King George, VA 22485

Christina Burroughs

Please note - content will be edited if necessary, to keep content appropriate for all readers. All editorial is at the discretion of the publisher. Messages must be legible, preferably typed and no longer than twelve sentences. Letters received not meeting these criteria may not be published. County Compass | 5


Mary’s Porch

Publisher and Editor Christina Burroughs, MA Art Director SJ Graphx, LLC Advertising Representatives Krystle Miller Leigh-Erin Jett Cover & Contents Photo Credit Justin Zimmerman

21 Sassafras Creations, LLC P.O. Box 578, King George, VA 22485 Office: 540-775-3159

Š Copyright 2020 Sassafras Creations, LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction of material, both editorial and advertising, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher. As of 2020, County Compass Magazine is published biannually by Sassafras Creations, LLC and distributed by direct mail free of charge, as well as distribution sites located throughout the upper Northern Neck region and beyond. Articles, editorials, letters, and advertisements do not reflect the opinions of the editor, publisher, or residents. The publisher reserves the right to edit and reject any and all editorial and advertising submitted for publication in County Compass Magazine. Every effort has been made to prevent typographical errors, however, Sassafras Creations, LLC cannot be held responsible for any typographical or grammatical errors as all printed editorials are submitted to Sassafras Creations, LLC and not written by Sassafras Creations, LLC or any employee of Sassafras Creations, LLC. 6 | FALL/WINTER 2020

Business Directory



LIVING: Northumberland Scenic Drive


LANDING: A Resource Guide


LEARNING: Virginia State Rt. 3’s Northern Neck growing Legacy


GROWING: How Does King George County Plan To Use Newly Acquired Land From Bridge Transaction



CONNECTING: Message in a Bottle

Honoring Dahlgren’s Jim Colvard


Local Cuisine County Compass | 7


Northumberland Scenic Drive

Written by & photos credit to Northern Neck Tourism Commission



his scenic and historic route travels through unspoiled farmlands and country crossroads, passes by modest farmsteads and imposing homes, crosses the Little Wicomico River on the Sunnybank Ferry and provides glimpses of farmers and watermen pursuing their traditional way of life. Over three hundred and fifty years of Northumberland County’s heritage are encompassed in this 30 mile route. Begin on Route 360 in Heathsville, the county seat of Northumberland County since colonial times. Northumberland County is often referred to as the “Mother County of the Northern Neck.” From its boundaries were born Lancaster County to the south in 1652 and Westmoreland County to the west in 1653. Settled by the English in 1640, Northumberland County was officially established by an act of the Burgesses in Jamestown in 1648. Rice’s Hotel/Hughlett’s Tavern is located on Route 360 in the heart of the Historic Town Square. The Tavern sits directly behind the Old Court House and is one of the oldest surviving wood structures in Virginia’s Northern Neck. The original three-room tavern was built by John Hughlett about 250 years ago, and is on both the Virginia and National Registers of Historic Places. The Tavern is home to heritage guilds, including spinning & weaving, woodworking, blacksmithing, and quilting. The Tavern Café is open for lunch Thursday through Saturday with homemade soups, sandwiches, and baked goods. The Heritage Arts Center is a site on the Northern Neck Artisan Trail with a wide variety of hand-crafted items for sale, ranging from stained glass to woven items to furnishings and decorations. The Ball Memorial Museum and Library is also located near the Courthouse and houses the Northumberland County Historical Society. From Heathsville, follow U.S. Route 360 east for 5.7 miles to the Northern Neck Farm Museum on the left with 8 | FALL/WINTER 2020

a large “LOVE” sculpture in the front. In the Fall, the Farm Museum hosts a corn maze and is open for Threshing Day, Farm to Fork dinners, and Harvest Festival. The Museum is open Saturdays 10AM to 2PM & Sundays 1PM to 4PM, May through October. Turning left/east onto Route 360 from the Northern Neck Farm Museum, take the first left onto Hull Neck Road to right onto Folly Road. Take a left onto Hack’s Neck Road named for the Hack family who settled here in 1688. The road follows the high ground between the headwaters of the Little Wicomico River and the Potomac River. Follow Hack’s Neck for 1.4 miles, turn LEFT onto VirMar Beach Road for .7 miles to Vir Mar Beach on the Potomac River. At this public access site, visitors can picnic or just sit on the beach and enjoy the view. Watch for the fishermen tending their fish traps just downriver (that’s what those stakes are in the water). Return to Route 644, turn LEFT and follow it for another 1.4 miles to Afton United Methodist Church. There has been a Methodist church on this site since the 1850s. Local legend has it that the first church was a mud-plastered log cabin. The present church was built in 1937 after a fire destroyed the 1902 building. Continue along Route 644 to the crossroads village of Ophelia. The village was named for its first postmistress when the post office was established in the late 1800s. Send a postcard from the Ophelia post office still in existence. Turn LEFT onto S.R. 649 and follow it about 2 miles to where the road makes a 90 degree bend. By looking downriver (to your right) from this vantage point you can see the Smith Point Light at the mouth of the Potomac River where it enters the Chesapeake Bay. In 1802 the first lighthouse was erected on land near the present Smith Point with the first keeper being appointed by Thomas Jefferson. But because of continuous erosion along the shoreline this first and then subsequent lighthouses had to be moved and rebuilt. The

present lighthouse you see, known as a screw pile lighthouse, was built offshore in 1897. It was manned until 1971 when the automatic light was installed. Return to Ophelia on Route 649 and resume your trip along Route 644/Ferry Road for 1.6 miles to the Sunnybank Ferry landing. Just before arriving at the ferry landing, you will see a charming building once a country store and the former Kayan post office. One of two remaining free ferries in Virginia, the Sunnybank Ferry was established in 1906 by Northumberland County. By the early 1900s the menhaden fishing industry was flourishing in Reedville (see below) and the new ferry reduced the trip from 15 miles to 5 miles allowing the residents of Hack’s Neck to work in the new fisheries. The first ferry boat was pulled by hand on a cable stretching across the river. Over the succeeding years, first a motorboat was employed to push the ferry then the motorized ferry was instituted. The current cable ferry is operates, weather-dependent, during the following hours: Monday - Friday: 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.; Saturday: 8 a.m. – noon; and is closed Sunday. While crossing the Little Wicomico River you might catch a glimpse of a Great Blue Heron or of one of the ospreys that nest on the channel markers up and down the rivers. The many colored floats you see in the water in the summertime mark the locations of crabpots. Local watermen in their traditional “deadrise” workboats are often seen “fishing their pots”. On the Sunnybank side of the river, after 1.5 miles, turn LEFT onto Gaskins Beach Road and right onto Blackberry Road to left onto Fleeton Road. Follow Fleeton Road for 3 miles out to Fleeton Point where Cockrell’s Creek and the Great Wicomico River flow into Chesapeake Bay. Fleeton is one of the most picturesque villages on the Northern Neck. In the early 1900s Fleeton was a bustling little town and a stop on the Baltimore to Norfolk steamboat line. There was a hotel, stores, fish canning factories, and a bottling works! The Great Depression, fire, and shoreline erosion have taken their toll and all that remains now is a beautiful unspoiled village. As you drive around the loop you will be rewarded with panoramic waterviews and a feel of bygone times as you pass by the imposing Victorian homes and the modest bungalows built in Fleeton’s heyday.

Return on Route 657 to Reedville and turn LEFT onto Route 360 - Reedville’s Main Street. About .5 miles down, you will reach the Reedville Historic District, a Victorian treasure. Founded in 1874 by Elijah Reed, the father of the menhaden fishing industry in Virginia, Reedville prospered and during its “golden age” laid claim to having the highest per capita income in the country! As their wealth grew, the ship captains, fish factory owners and wealthy merchants built imposing mansions which line Main Street. At the foot of Main Street note The Gables, a 3 1/2 story brick mansion built by Captain Fisher (1909) and the Morris House, a Queen Anne Victorian built by his business partner, Capt. Morris (1900), and the Bailey-Cockrell House (1884). Next to The Gables is the George Reed home (c. 1897), built by the son of Reedville’s founder. Returning back up Main Street past the monument to Elijah Reed is the oldest building in Reedville, the Walker House built in 1875, which is now part of the Reedville Fishermen’s Museum & Visitors Center. Here, learn about Reedville and the menhaden fishing industry which fueled its earlier prosperity. Learn too how many of the residents in the Northern Neck still rely on the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries for their livelihoods. If you’d like to stay near Reedville to catch the ferry to Tangier Island from late April through October (tangiercruise. com), make reservations at Ma Margaret’s House Bed & Breakfast ( n

County Compass | 9

LEARNING By Leonard M. Banks

Virginia State Rt. 3’s Northern Neck growing

Robert “King” Carter His Northern Neck legacy lives on in the form of Rt. 3, Kings Highway. The major thoroughfare’s path from dirt roads to its present-day modern glory and its impact on the start of America’s early development would never be the same if it wasn’t for the vision of Robert “King” Carter (1662-1723). Although he took full advantage of the silver spoon support derived from his family, his foresight to build and develop the Northern Neck into an agricultural force in the history of America has inspired generations of builders, artisans, politicians, and craftsmen. Not without its growing pains, the Northern Neck settlers withstood their share of social drama. From slave insurrections to Indian battles, life seemed to be a never-ending battle, as settlers fought to keep their land and stay alive. Every day living was never taken for granted. Robert “King” Carter carved his niche in history with the success of bringing lasting growth to the Northern Neck and a solid foundation for Rt. 3 to expand upon.

Geographical history of Rt. 3 State Rt. 3 is a primary Virginia state highway in America that extends from Culpeper County south to Gloucester east in Virginia’s east middle peninsula area. The major intersections that connect Rt.3 encompass 12 counties: Gloucester (Gloucester Court House), Mathews (Dixie, Soles, Fort Nonsense), Middlesex (Harmony Village, Hartfield), Lancaster (Lively, Kilmarnock, White Stone), Richmond (Lively, Kilmarnock, White Stone), Richmond (Lyells, Warsaw), Westmoreland (Oak Grove, Wakefield Corner, Flat Iron, Templeman), King George (Arnolds Corner, Purkins Corner, Office Hall), Stafford, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania (Wilderness Corner), Orange (Wilderness), Culpeper. 10 | FALL/WINTER 2020


Throughout Carter’s professional life, as a planter, builder, and politician, he always found a way to inspire everyone around him. The Lancaster native was a builder at heart. He had a large brick kiln at his birthplace Corotoman (plantation), which furnished the bricks for some of his homes and the local church. There was never a shortage of work-related activities at Corotoman for the young Carter. Business at Corotoman was conducted at the sloop landing, near the mouth of Carter’s Creek. Ships came directly from international ports with cargoes of clothing, furniture, household articles, and shoes. These vessels left with a hefty cargo loaded with tobacco and grain. As time went on, thousands of settlers from around the state of Virginia, and Maryland gravitated to King’s land holdings in the Northern Neck. The Corotoman Plantation, Lancaster born native established the Virginia peninsula known as the Northern Neck. Because of Carter’s aristocratic values, he was referred by historians by his nick name, King.

Captain John Smith Prior to the Carter family’s residency in Lancaster County, English explorer John Smith nearly lost his head as he etched out his name in the history of the Northern Neck. Although he was a prisoner of the Powhatan chief Opechacanough in the winter of 1607, Smith tasked himself to secretly map out the coastal regions, including a stop with the Nominies on the Potomac. Smith’s quest indirectly made him the first person to map out the Northern Neck. Smith later traveled up the Potomac River, hoping to discover a pathway to China. His journey led him to freedom due to an intervention with Pocahontas, and another exploration up the Rappahannock.

Born into wealth Inspired by his father’s (John) accomplishments, Robert was born into the Tidewater gentry of a growing colony. He gained the respect of politicians as he easily rose through the ranks of power and prestige. In fact, at a young age, he took the public stage by storm as a member of the Governor’s Council, a vestryman in Christ Church, a Justice of the Peace, and acting governor of Virginia (1726-1727), until the arrival of William Gooch. In addition, he was a rector of the College of William

The future of King George onRt. 3

Originally built in 1670, Christ Church (Episcopal), located in Lancaster County, Virginia was a wooden structure. Although John Carter funded the renovation, he died before the church could be built. Carter’s son, Robert “King” Carter coordinated the construction of a brick building on the same foundation of the previous wooden church.

and Mary, and according to many historians he was the richest and most powerful man in his day. Long before the Carter family resided in the Northern Neck, the Native American Indians occupied the territory for ten thousand years. However, in the 1640s and 1650s life in Virginia took on a dramatic change. White settlers acquired river land from the Indians by deed or though purchase, forcing the Indians inland into cleared forest. According to some accounts, they were starved into submission, when access to resources associated with water was taken from them. Soon, they were forced inland, and gradually pushed out of the area. After his father’s death, Robert’s financial prospects were average at best. He had inherited one third of his father’s personal estate, which was valued at 1,000 English pounds that consisted of a few slaves, library of Latin literature, and other personal items. However, through a long sequence of family deaths, Carter soon became his family’s sole benefactor, inheriting substantial wealth. His riches took on national prominence as he represented Lord Fairfax’s Northern Neck Proprietary. Carter acquired large tracts of land, now known as the Northern Neck, and the start of Rt. 3 indirectly through inheritance. The real estate world of Carter quickly grew into an empire that dotted the Northern Neck landscape. Legend exist that Carter rode his gilded carriage up and down Rt. 3, overseeing his property, and tending to his proprietary, thus the nickname King’s Hwy. Not to be confused with the Rt. 3 highway that is a part of the Northern Neck, but the second Rt. 3 runs from Charleston to Boston and appears locally to run up Rt. 17 to Rt. 2, to Rt. 1. It is also the oldest road in America. At the time of his death in 1732, he left an estate of 333,000 acres, over 1,000 slaves, and 10,000 English pounds— considered to be a tremendous fortune at the time. He was laid to rest at Christ Church.

County growth and improving the quality of life are on the top of the list for King George County Administrator Neiman C. Young, PhD. “The County is trying to get ahead of the curve and trying to identify the next location for development—so that doesn’t continue to pile on in Dahlgren,” Young said. “The County has identified Rt. 3-Rt. 301 intersection as the next area for growth. The board is so invested in that idea that they pursued a $1.2 million dollar water sewer project, where they extended the public water-sewer line to the Rt. 3-Rt. 301 intersection to help encourage commercial growth.” Thanks to the new hardware store, the corner of Rt. 3 and Rt. 301 has slowly exploded with commercial growth. “Because of that investment it provides hope and serves as an anchor for more commercial development in that corridor,” Young said. According to Young there is currently a tourism plan about to take place before the end of the year. “Tourism is a big goal here in King George,” Young said. “In fact, the board of supervisors has tasked our tourism advisory committee with coming up with a tourism strategic plan.” n

County Compass | 11


How Does King George County Plan To Use Newly Acquired Land From Bridge Transaction


ver a period of two and a half years, King George County engaged in discussions with the National Park Service (NPS), the General Service Administration (GSA), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA), the Virginia Tourism Commission (VTC), and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). These discussions revolved around the loss of County parkland that would result from the Harry Nice Bridge replacement project. According to MDTA’s plans, King George County stood to lose 2.86 acres of Wayside Park and approximately 1.071 acres of Barnesfield Park. Both parks were donated to the County through an agreement with NPS and have covenant restrictions that require the land be used for recreational activities into perpetuity. Since the lost acreage was going to be acquired for public right of way, VDOT (on behalf of the MDTA) was required to replace the acreage with “like land” of equal or greater value. The King George County Board of Supervisors (Board) and VDOT agreed to define “like land” as property that would deliver the general public the same access to water and water-related activities as Wayside Park offered. In addition to securing like land, the Board established a requirement that VDOT procure market-available property (as the Board did not support the use of eminent domain). Therefore, the County selected twelve properties for VDOT to evaluate and consider for procurement and then transfer to King George County. Over the course of eighteen months, VDOT reviewed these properties with comprehensive evaluation criteria including land value, price points, traffic counts, and the potential number of citizens that would have to be relocated (if necessary). One of the properties VDOT evaluated was the Machodoc Marina, prior to its purchase by a private party. The County felt this would be a great opportunity to revive one of only 14 | FALL/WINTER 2020

three marinas in the community. In addition, it would have been a great revenue generator for the Economic Development Authority. Unfortunately, VDOT declined the property because of its potential to generate commercial activity. The Fairview Beach Trailer Park was another property the County asked VDOT to consider. However, VDOT balked at this site. We learned that the agency would have to pay to relocate any residents that were displaced by the property acquisition. This relocation service would come at a cost of approximately $75,000 per resident, thus making the project financially unviable. A third option was to subdivide a portion of Mount Bethel. Mount Bethel is a 100-year-old historic site that was purposed with providing African Americans a place to recreate and gather. The site is in need of funding to maintain and restore some infrastructure on the property. This swap would have provided the operators of the site an opportunity to gain that funding. However, VDOT’s traffic counts determined that Mathias Point Road, the thoroughfare that accommodates Mount Bethel, would deteriorate to a point that it could not accommodate the park traffic and the residential traffic in the corridor. Therefore, VDOT concluded by offering the County two properties. The first was The Point of Barnesfield Park, which is a 166-acre site that abuts the northern boundary of the current Barnesfield Park footprint. The second is the Roseland Property, located at 3321 Roseland Drive. This is a 2-acre residential site that is occupied by a two-story home with a waterfront view and associated amenities. These two properties met the Board’s vision to expand the County’s public waterfront access (as detailed in the King George County Economic Development Strategic Plan). In addition, this transaction increased the County’s parkland inventory by slightly over 164 acres.

Harry W. Nice Memorial / Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton Bridge Photo Credit: Justin Zimmerman

By Neiman C. Young, PhD, King George County Administrator

To accept the two properties the Board had to take three actions: 1. Sign a Memorandum of Agreement: This is an agreement that listed the responsibilities of both VDOT and the County. These included a study period and the consent to address any environmental mitigation requirements. 2. Adopt a Resolution: This document further detailed the County’s understanding with VDOT regarding the transfer of property. Included in the resolution was the consent to assume the same NPS covenants on the newly acquired land as are currently enforced on the lost acreage. 3. Program of Utilization: This document laid out a tentative plan for the intended use of the newly acquired properties. Please note that the Program of Utilization is not binding. Future improvements to each property must be addressed by the Capital Budget. Therefore, the Board’s vision for and investment in the properties will not be executed without future Capital Improvement Plan budget cycles and public meetings.

County’s intent to use the Roseland Property as a facility to accommodate recreational and water-related activities. In addition, The Point of Barnesfield Park was pegged to serve as an expansion of Barnesfield Park for additional ball fields and walking trails. But what is the comprehensive plan for the development and use of these properties? Frankly, I don’t know. That answer will have to be developed first by our citizens, not the government. The community’s residents will be asked to actively engage in the future town halls and planning meetings dedicated to this initiative. In addition, the policymakers are relying heavily on the research and recommendations of the King George County Recreational Advisory Committee. This group of dedicated volunteer citizens is especially equipped with an understanding of the community’s recreational needs and how these newly acquired properties can be employed to address them. Though the future of these new properties is not yet written, I stand confident in my belief that they will afford our residents more robust services than those traditionally afforded them by the old Wayside Park. n

However, the NPS needed a draft plan to ensure that the County is committed to using the acquired properties for recreational use. Therefore, the administration crafted a “back of the napkin” narrative that demonstrated the County Compass | 15



By Emma Parker

s technology continues to advance throughout the 21st century, humankind finds less and less need for the rudimentary forms of communication. Since the first recorded handwritten letter in 500BC, to the use of papyrus scrolls in 3000BC, paper with lead pencils in the 14th century, and finally in the 19th century when the United States Postal Service was developed, different communities of people have found ways to communicate with one another. But as younger generations continue to be introduced to email, instant messaging, and texts, the written word has become significantly more digitized. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with this shift in society’s approach to communication; in the same way that most civilizations no longer rely on pigeons or horseback to carry messages from town to town, we continue to find quicker and more reliable ways to connect with friends and family. In the 21st century, news travels more efficiently than ever before. Needless to say, a message in a bottle is certainly one of the less reliable forms of communication, as it’s almost impossible to ensure that the sender’s specified recipient actually receives the message, much less gets it in a timely manner. However, there is still something undeniably exhilarating about the discovery of something that should be almost impossible to find; of all the debris in every sea in the world, what are the odds the bottle you pick up contains a message from a complete stranger inside? The situation is so out of the ordinary that it’s instantly exciting; it’s like something out of a storybook come to life right before your eyes. The idea of a message in a bottle often brings to mind imagery of stranded shipmates pleading for help with their only means possible, or maybe two disconnected lovers sending messages in hopes that the ocean will bring them back together. And while both of these cases have indeed occurred, the first known message in a bottle to ever be sent was not done for actual communicative purposes, but rather to test a scientific theory. In 310 B.C., the Greek philosopher Theophrastus decided to test the theory that the Atlantic Ocean flowed into the Mediterranean Sea by placing a message in a bottle into the water and seeing where the currents took it.1 Though this may seem a little impractical today, this method has actually been used several times since to test the exact same thing, and is even used today with more advanced materials. In 1846, the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey tossed bottles overboard into the Gulf Stream off the East Coast of

the United States to test the speed and direction of the ocean current.2 The bottles appeared over the course of the following few years, and where they ended up- alongside how quickly they were found- provided valuable knowledge to the Coast and Geodetic Survey at the time. Today, scientists use items called “drifters” that communicate with satellites while they drift across the ocean, allowing them to continuously track ocean currents during different seasons, different months, and even during storms and hurricanes without having to wait for a bottle to return safely to shore. Aside from serving scientific purposes, messages in bottles have also served as means of communication for many. One of the more famous messages ever sent in a bottle was written hastily from a passenger on the RMS Titanic, moments before the ship fully sank to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. The note, written on April 15, 1912, washed up on the shores of Dunkettle, Ireland the next summer. Jeremiah Burke, a nineteen year old from Glanmire, Ireland, had scribbled, “13/4/1912. From Titanic. Goodbye all. Burke of Glanmire, Cork.” and sealed the message inside of a bottle of holy water his mother had given him before his journey.3 Similarly, three years after the Titanic had made its final voyage, a note was found from yet another sunken ship, the RMS Lusitania. The Lusitania was a British owned passenger ship that was struck and sunk by a German torpedo in 1915, one of the factors leading to U.S. involvement in the first World War. Though the ship sank in only eighteen minutes, one passenger had time to write, “Still on deck with a few people. The last boats have left. We are sinking fast. Some men near me are praying with a priest. The end is near. Maybe this note will...” There’s much to speculate4 about this mystery passenger and his or her unfinished note, and it’s impossible to know if it was the only one sent from the sinking Lusitania. But the fact that it was found at all seems like yet another impossible feat made possible.


e g ses a tle

t o MIn A B

Fleming, Hannah. “Message in a Bottle.” Museum Blog, September 10, 2018. US Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “Bottle Cast from Ship in 1959 Discovered on Martha’s Vineyard Shore.” NOAA’s National Ocean Service, March 31, 2014. 3 “Cork Family Parts with Titanic Victim’s Message in a Bottle.” BBC News. BBC, October 26, 2011. 4 “The Sinking of the Lusitania & The Message in a Bottle.” Paul Luvera Journal. Accessed August 2, 2020. 1 2


Decades before dating apps popped into existence, something so simple as a handwritten note washing up along the shore has the power to connect complete strangers from across oceans. Though it’s certainly not as simple, fast, or curated as dating apps, this unlikely method is exactly what brought together Swedish sailor Ake Viking and a young Sicilian girl named Paolina in the 1950s. In hopes that his message would find its way into the hands of a potential companion, the sailor threw a message in a bottle overboard that read simply, “To Someone Beautiful and Far Away,” and to, “Write to me, whoever you are.”5 Two years later, in 1958, a seventeen year old Paolina pulled the bottle from the sea, and responded to the sailor with a letter sent through the postal service that said, “I am not beautiful, but it seems miraculous that this little bottle should have traveled so far and long to reach me that I must send you an answer!” Though their story seems almost too good to be true, the two corresponded for months before finally meeting, and were later married. Ake and Paolina’s story shows exactly how impactful one small choice can be down the line; two total strangers from completely different countries were united because of one simple action on the sailor’s part- and Paolina’s choice to respond. Taking a chance on something with no foreseeable outcome and remaining hopeful throughout may seem juvenile, but there’s always a possibility that something remarkable can come from it. As if Paolina’s tale wasn’t already hard enough to believe, a young girl in New York had an even more touching story. On a sunny day in the summer of 2000, ten year old Sidonie Fery sealed a note inside of an empty ginger ale bottle and tossed it into the ocean from the shore of Patchogue Long Island. Unlike Ake, Fery wasn’t expectant of a reply to her note. Yet twelve years later during a clean up of Hurricane Sandy’s wreckage, rescue workers recovered that same ginger ale bottle from the debris along Long Island’s shore. Inside was a note that said, “Be excellent to yourself, dude,”6 and a phone number to call if found. Fery, who had died just two years prior at age eighteen, could never have predicted that that same bottle would return to the same shores where it had begun its journey; while the Category 5 hurricane had brought despair to many, it brought a much needed comfort to Fery’s grieving mother, who was sure it was a sign from her daughter.7 The fact that something so insignificant as a decade old ginger ale bottle could hold such a significant message and bring so much peace to one person is inspiring. It puts into perspective how sometimes it really is the small things that can bring one another hope;

perhaps Sidonie’s message to her mother was carried less by the ocean’s currents and carried more on the back of fate. In Fery’s case, as well as many others, the release of a message in a bottle can serve as one’s message to the universe with no specific recipient in mind. The human desire to be remembered and have one’s existence preserved in some shape or form even after we have passed on is not an uncommon one. There are countless tales of messages in bottles serving as a person’s final message to the world, and while in most instances these bottles turn up in the ocean, that’s not the case for everyone. On September 9, 1944, within the gates of the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp in Southern Poland, seven prisoners wrote their names, camp numbers, and hometowns onto a ripped piece of cement bag to be sealed inside of a bottle.8 When workers near the camp discovered the bottle in 2009, 65 years after the glass bottle was hidden inside a concrete wall, it was a jarring reminder of the horrors that had occurred in that spot as well as the lengths the prisoners had gone through just to preserve their sense of self. For centuries, humans have steadily improved upon the ways that we connect with each other. While some methods may fall out of fashion as new ones emerge, what remains unchanged is the desire to communicate with others. Though a message in a bottle is a fairly dated method of communication, there’s an undeniable allure that surrounds the concept and encourages people of all ages to continue its use today. Finding these messages washed up on shore, entangled in fishing nets, or glinting in the sunlight among the ocean’s waves is a miraculous combination of being in the right place at the right time. That the currents somehow find a way to deliver these messages, however unimportant they may seem, sounds almost impossible. Yet it has happened countless times before and continues to happen now as more bottles from the past are discovered and shared. In moments where all hope seems lost, the story of a message in a bottle can always spark that flame back to life. There will always be unread messages drifting aimlessly across the ocean, on a journey that very well may never be completed; there will always be messages sunk to the bottom of the sea, completely unaware of the impact they might have had if delivered. Perhaps these notes and letters that have yet to wash ashore hold otherwise untold stories, or possibly nothing more than a “return to sender.” While it’s impossible to know the contents, it’s necessary to remain hopeful that one day your message will be delivered, even if it has to cross oceans to do so. n

To find out more information on messages in bottles, visit: Clarke, Kristyn. “A Love Story Too Good To Be True Or Is It?,” November 17, 2017. 7 Marcius, Chelsia Rose, and Barry Paddock. “Tragic Sidonie Fery’s 10-Year-Old Message in a Bottle Floats Home to Her Mom.” New York Daily News, January 10, 2019. 8 “Builders Find Auschwitz Message.” BBC News. BBC, April 27, 2009. 5 6

County Compass | 17

Two Words..

One of them is “Pumpkin” Written by Chef Chaz Kilby and photos of food-credit to Chaz Kilby

Photos of Chef Chaz himself- credit to Angela West


wo food words that always seem to get people’s attention: Bacon and Pumpkin. To prove my point, I am pretty sure I now have your attention. While bacon is always a topic of year-round discussion, when fall comes around, pumpkin becomes the talk of the town. Pumpkin is practically the ambassador of Autumn. We find ourselves using pumpkins in a variety of ways: carving, decorating our porches and holiday tables, and even attend festivals dedicated just to pumpkins. When the leaves start to turn from green to shades of amber and yellow in the fall, suddenly all food seems to have pumpkin spice. Somewhere in the mid 1990’s the “pumpkin spice craze” took off with flavoring for coffee. Soon after this craze began, you would be hard pressed to find a product without pumpkin spice flavor – for example, breakfast cereals, oatmeal, yogurts, and even cream cheese, just to name a few. In a proverbial chicken and egg scenario, it was the “pumpkin spice craze” that came before the recent popularity of actual pumpkin itself. For the record: the pumpkin was here long before the Venti Pumpkin Spiced Latte. Sorry Mr. MoonDollars, you came late to the party. 18 | FALL/WINTER 2020

So, what is our fascination with pumpkin? The short answer is: it is just plain old good! It has the unique ability to pair well with sweet flavors like pie and muffins. Pumpkin also works well with savory combinations such as an addition to Italian sausage or spicy turkey chili. As an ingredient, pumpkin is a chef’s dream. It is versatile, affordable, and nutritious. Pumpkin is relatively low in calories, packed with vitamins, specifically A and C. BACON! Not one of the words focused on for fall, but just wanted to make sure you are with me. Pumpkin, as well as a number of other gourds are grown in throughout the nation. In Virginia alone, over 2000 acres a year are dedicated solely to pumpkins. Planting happens in June or July depending on the conditions of the season. Harvest is at its peak from September through early November. Although, people primarily gravitate to utilizing the flesh, the entire pumpkin is edible, from the seeds, which can be roasted and salted, to the waxy flesh that can be boiled to soften, and then baked to a crisp, and eaten like chips. To harvest and process your own pumpkin is a valiant effort and very rewarding. I will warn you: it is time consuming!

Lucky for you, our farmers and wholesale processors are at the top of their game. Canned, pureed, and frozen cubed pumpkin is about as convenient and affordable as it can get. A side note to consumers: when shopping for canned pumpkin, there is a distinction between Pumpkin Puree and Pumpkin Pie Filling with spices added. Read your labels carefully to purchase the correct product for your recipe. I will admit, as a foodie and a Chef, I get just as caught up in the pumpkin craze during Fall as much as anyone. It is unavoidable! I utilize it for sweet in Pumpkin Spice Muffin Squares, feature it in Pumpkin Sausage Sage Pasta, and savor it as many times as I can in the season in my Pumpkin Mushroom Soup, garnished with bacon. What? You thought I was going to leave out the bacon? I will leave you with my soup recipe and two more important words for this and all seasons: Share and Enjoy!

Pumpkin Mushroom Soup Serves 4 Ingredients 1 pound fresh mushroom, sliced thin 1 large white onion, diced small salt and pepper, to taste 2 tablespoons butter 2 tablespoons flour 1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder 3 cups chicken stock

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin 2 1/2 tablespoons honey dash of fresh nutmeg 1 cup heavy cream Sour cream and chives for garnish 4 strips bacon, cooked, crumbled (optional)

Instruction In deep heavy bottom pan (Dutch oven) over medium-high heat sauté mushrooms&onions, seasoned w/ salt&pepper in butter til slightly soft. 3 mins. Add flour&curry powder, stir, cook 1-2 mins. Gradually pour in stock; scrape any bits from bottom of pan; stir til well incorporated. Bring to simmer. Stir in pumpkin, honey,& nutmeg. Season w/ salt&pepper. Continue to cook; stir until mixture is well incorporated, warmed through and slightly thickened. Approx. 5 mins. Heat off, add heavy cream, stir to incorporate. Return to low heat to warm through, up to a low simmer, do not bring to boil. County Compass | 19

Honoring Dahlgren’s

J i m C o lva r d


here was a time when the idea of Jim Colvard working at the Navy base in Dahlgren was farfetched, to say the least. When the man who would become one of the most innovative and iconic leaders in Dahlgren history was first invited to come to the King George County base in the 1960s, he was unimpressed. As a senior administrator at the Navy’s laboratory in China Lake, California, Colvard had had contacts with Dahlgren that led him to conclude that the base was “a stick-in-the-mud outfit.” As he told then Dahlgren Technical Director Barney Smith, “Why in the hell should I leave the best laboratory in the Navy to come to a backwater outfit like Dahlgren?” Yet come he did, after discovering that Smith was leading a revolution on the base. The play-it-safe complacency of the past had been replaced with a “fighter pilot” spirit -- an unleashing of creativity and innovation that was making the base a crown jewel of Navy research and development. As Smith’s successor as technical director in the 1970s, Colvard would extend and deepen that revolution. He gave his department managers not only the opportunity but the responsibility to run their own shops in finding solutions to the problems identified by senior leadership. Talent, internal competition and guts were in demand; business-as-usual and organizational charts were not. The result was a vibrant work culture that evolved to meet the Navy’s ever-changing needs. Workforce development was a top priority. Colvard would meet with new employees and eventually taught leadership classes. Alan Dean, who retired recently after a long career at the base and who lectures frequently on Dahlgren history, says the impact of Colvard’s emphasis on staff development was “a generation of people whose leadership and technical excellence was the foundation of Dahlgren’s expansive growth during the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s.” Colvard, who died in March at his longtime King George County home just days before his 88th birthday, was far more than a gifted administrator. He was a mentor and teacher; a husband, brother, father, grandfather and great-grandfather; and an inspiring presence in so many lives. I got to know Jim over the past few years through our work together at the Dahlgren Heritage Museum. No one was more supportive of our mission to “tell the Dahlgren story.” The stellar career Jim had at Dahlgren, and with later positions as a senior leader for the Navy in Washington, was 20 | FALL/WINTER 2020

By Ed Jones President, Dahlgren Heritage Foundation

earned every step of the way by the man who grew up dirt poor in the mountains of North Carolina. He went to college, not at MIT or Harvard, but at Berea College in Kentucky, a small liberal-arts school with a reputation for punching above its weight. As an administrator, he was renowned for being frank, irreverent and outspoken. But he also was known as a boss who had your back. Rob Gates of Dahlgren, who served as a senior leader at Dahlgren and as technical director at NSWC Indian Head, praised Colvard’s vision, as well as his “knowledge and experience and willingness to go fight for things we needed.” When Colvard was leaving the base in the early 1980s, Alan Dean recalls that he was asked if an award for base employees could be named after him. His response was: “Wait twenty years and if my impact is still being felt then, you can name an award after me.” In the late 1990s, Dahlgren established the “James Colvard Award for Technical Excellence.” Some descriptions and quotations in this article come from the “The Sound of Freedom: Naval Weapons Technology at Dahlgren, Virginia, 1918-2006.” Photo credit: U.S. Navy


Upper Northern Neck and Beyond

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ATTRACTIONS King George Farmer’s Market....................................8246 Dahlgren Road, King George, VA 22485.................................................. 19 Virginia’s Northern Neck............................................P.O. Box 1707, Warsaw, VA 22572.....................................804-333-1919...... 9 AUTOMOTIVE SERVICES OCD Offroad...........................................................2080 Jefferson Davis Highway, Stafford, VA 22554..............540-623-3411...... 22 BEAUTY, HEALTH, & WELLNESS Richard Cottrell, DDS & Associates............................367 Northumberland Highway, Callao, VA 22435..................804-529-7339...... 4 Richard Cottrell, DDS & Associates............................11060 Smile Way, King George, VA 22485..........................540-775-7671...... 4 CHURCHES & CHRISTIAN SERVICES Thrive Christian Fellowship.........................................10381 Ridge Road, King George, VA 22485.................................................... 3 COMMUNITY SERVICES Rappahannock Area Community Services Board.........600 Jackson Street, Fredericksburg, VA 22401....................540-373-3223...... 20 FINANCIAL SERVICE InFirst Federal Credit Union........................................4483 James Madison Parkway, King George, VA 22485.......540-644-9515...... 12-13 PROFESSIONAL SERVICES A&S Environmental Inc.............................................451 Central Road, Fredericksburg, VA 22401......................540-371-6630...... 2 Blue Heron Flooring.................................................8200 Crain Highway, La Plata, MD 20646...........................301-659-2998...... 4 County Compass Magazine.......................................P.O. Box 578, King George, VA 22485................................540-775-3159...... 23 Four Elements Electric..............................................King George, VA................................................................540-623-7599...... 22 Rectors Repair........................................................92 Le Way, Fredericksburg, VA 22406.................................540-809-5683...... 22 R.K. Payne HVAC, Inc...............................................3456 Kings Highway, King George, VA 22485......................540-775-2501...... Cover Stafford Printing.......................................................2707 Jefferson Davis Highway, Stafford, VA 22554..............540-659-4554...... 23 REAL ESTATE Christina Burroughs-EXIT Realty Group.......................608 William Street, Fredericksburg, VA 22401......................540-479-3226...... 15 Dixie Lee Washington-ReMax Supercenter..................7185 Kings Highway, King George, VA 22485......................540-498-6262...... 11 J.T. Title & Escrow....................................................2215 Jefferson Davis Highway, Fredrericksburg, VA 22401....540-368-5741...... 22 J.T. Title & Escrow....................................................7851 Dolley’s Court King George, VA 22485........................540-625-2121...... 22 New Oak Realty.......................................................King George, VA................................................................540-848-3276...... 22 Steve Merian-EXIT Realty Expertise............................9441 Kings Highway, King George, VA 22485......................540-424-2000...... 22

Mary’s Porch

Do you find yourself looking around your home realizing you have too much stuff? Do you dream of a life without clutter? Do you have a kind heart and would like to donate your wares to a local family in need? Located within our community, is a 30 plus years resident, whose front porch has literally transformed lives! Her small porch has evolved from a simple place to sit to a comforting place to pick up groceries, clothing, and furniture for families in need. Throughout her time within our community, she would donate her family’s clothing, gently used books and toys, as well as an occasional box of groceries to local families in need. This lady is me, Mary Melber. As the years progressed, times have become difficult for many local families, and a story has progressed, as well. The need for support is overwhelmingly real and current with today’s financial environment. Too many

By Mary Melber

families fall between the cracks of society’s formula for success. Too many families truly try so hard to succeed, but sadly, their efforts are often overshadowed by bills they cannot afford, medical issues, young pregnancies, which make it impossible to stretch their monies throughout a month...without an outside help source. As I shared their stories with my immediate family, we believed in our hearts we had to find a positive, no finger-pointing, no questions asked, no negativity, only kindness shown to someone when they are suffering. “Mary’s Porch” evolved! Families come to my front porch daily to pick up clothing, furniture, groceries, and more. If you are ready to declutter, or just want to drop a bag of groceries at “Mary’s Porch,” you are more than welcome to become part of my village of amazing givers whose huge acts of kindness have restored hope, health, and peace of mind for our local families in need! 6128 Winston Place. God bless! County Compass | 21

LANDING The County Compass LANDING is a resource guide to the Upper Northern Neck region and beyond. Are you looking for a professional electrical contractor, title company, or investor to purchase your unwanted home? Browse the LANDING section to help you find the specific business you’re looking for. Advertise your business in the LANDING. Contact Advertising Representative Krystle Miller by email at or by phone at 540-446-6303.

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