Recent News

King and Queen Courthouse Tavern Museum Hosts Holiday Open House Sunday, December 6th. (December 2009)

The King and Queen Courthouse Tavern Museum will hold its third annual Holiday Open House on Sunday, December 6th from 2:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. at the Museum at King and Queen Court House. Children’s choirs will be on hand to bring the spirit of the holidays to the neighborhood. Outside the Museum there will be demonstrations of donut making over an open fire and horse-drawn carriage rides. Inside the Museum there will be delicious Yuletide refreshments available for everyone to enjoy. The Museum’s annual Christmas Tree Balls will also be on sale. The Museum will be festively decorated both inside and out for the holiday season. Everyone is invited, so bring the whole family for a great community event!

King and Queen Dedicates Carriage House and Stevensville P.O. Restoration. (July 2009)

Recently the King and Queen Courthouse Tavern Museum dedicated its new Carriage House and Stevensville Post Office Restoration at a ceremony held at the Museum.

Museum Chair Jack Spain began by saying this was a ceremony to show how many hands and how much cooperation it takes to make a project, like the new Carriage House, come together for the benefit of the citizens of the County. He said it all started when E.B. “Brownie” Bevan offered to provide on long-term loan an immaculately restored buggy that had been used in King and Queen County for almost 100 years. Mr. Bevan also offered to help with the construction of a small building to house the buggy. Spain introduced Bevan who told how someone came to him some years ago, asking him how much an old buggy to be auctioned might be worth. He found that buggy to be in parts, but complete. Bevan ended up buying the buggy from his client and having it restored. The buggy had been made in Virginia at the Franklin Carriage Company, purchased by Tom Trice of King and Queen in the 1920s, and used by his nephew, Latane, going to school in Walkerton. After Bevan had used the buggy for several years he thought it would best be displayed at the Museum, since it was such a King and Queen item.

Spain then explained that the Museum had some years earlier received a gift of the interior façade of the old Stevensville Post Office. The Museum Council decided the time was right to build a new building to house both the buggy and the post office. Spain introduced Bill Brown of Stevensville who had generously given the Stevensville post office façade to the Museum. His mother had been the postmistress for a number of years. Spain then thanked Larry and Kay Grahl of Mattaponi who had stored the facade in their basement for at least five years. He also recognized Elizabeth Ramsey, a former Stevensville post mistress, for her donation to the Museum of the “casing table” used in the Stevensville post office. Mail was brought to the post office in a locked pouch, sorted in the casing table and then given to the carrier to distribute along the way to the next post office. He thanked Page McLemore of Walkerton for donating old King and Queen envelops post marked from the 1920s that are being displayed in the restored post office.

Mr. Spain then turned to the building itself. He noted that the building had been principally constructed by Rudy Yoder and three of his colleagues from the Amish community in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, all in one 24-hour day — starting at 7 am on April 16th and working until 1 am the next morning. Brownie Bevan and Bobby Barlow had driven their trucks and trailers to pick up Yoder and the lumber, leaving about 4 am on April 16th, so they could get back by 7 am. The Amish do not drive rubber-tired vehicles. Spain explained that Yoder and his colleagues were not present at the dedication because someone from King and Queen would have to go get them, but gave praise for their fine work!

Also thanked were Minor Trevilian for her donation of the windows and horse harness to go in the building, Bevan for the front door, Nancy Herman Thompson of Bury Partners for preparing the survey plats needed for the necessary approvals, and John Spain for preparing a drawing of the building for the approvals. Spain then recognized Betty Gwathmey and Ellen White for providing and serving food for the workers and supervisors during the long workday. Last, but not least, Spain recognized the help and cooperation of county officials. Although a relatively small building behind the existing Museum, it was built on County property, so it had to be approved by the Board of Supervisors, the County Planning Commission, the Board of Zoning Appeals, and inspected by the building department. He thanked all of the members of those boards and Tom Swartzwelder, County Administrator, and especially Donna Sprouse, Assistant Zoning administrator, and Lee Reamy, Building Official, both of who were present at the dedication, for their guidance and help.

Spain then recognized Brownie Bevan, Bobby Barlow, William Gwathmey, Larry Grahl, Sammy Prince, John Spain, Joe Morris, Howard Walker, David Drain, and David Litchfield for their help in moving and installing the Stevensville Post Office and completing the interior of the new building. Each of those present and recognized were presented with a specially embossed “first day envelop” that had been prepared in recognition of the opening of the carriage house and post office restoration.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, carriage rides and refreshments, as well as tours of the new building and the Museum were provided to all those who attended. Over sixty people attended the dedication.

King and Queen Courthouse Tavern Museum Opens Exhibit on West African Art and Artifacts. Kay and Larry Grahl to Speak on October 26th. (October 2008)

Art and Artifacts from the countries of Nigeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Liberia and Senegal in West Africa and its connection to King and Queen County will be the focus of the talk of Kay and Larry Grahl of Mattaponi on Sunday, October 26th, in connection with the opening on the same day of the King and Queen Courthouse Tavern Museum’s exhibition on the Art and Artifacts from West Africa.

Mr. and Mrs. Larry Grahl, long time residents of King and Queen County, served with the Peace Corp in the early 1960s and then as U.S. Department of State envoys to countries in West Africa, leaving there for the last time in 1978. During that time they collected Art and Artifacts from these countries. When they retired to King and Queen County in 1991 they learned through their participation with the King and Queen County Historical Society and its Museum of the interest in West Africa of the residents who are descendents of those who came to Virginia as slaves. Between 1690 and 1770, 100,000 Africans were imported as slaves to Virginia and Maryland. The majority came between 1700 and 1739. About half of the arrivals in this period at the port of what is now Yorktown, Virginia, were from Nigeria. Rev. Fred Holmes has traced his ancestors directly to Nigeria, one of the countries in West Africa whose art will be featured in the exhibit. The exhibition will include masks, money, pottery, divination and ritual ceremonial artifacts, personal use items, musical instruments, thorn carvings, textiles, and contemporary art. The talk will be held at the King and Queen Circuit Courthouse at 3 pm as part of the Historical Society’s regular quarterly meeting.

The exhibit is being designed by Studio Ammons of Petersburg, which has designed the Museum’s other award-winning exhibits. The Museum and the new exhibit will be open on Sunday from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm. A reception will follow the lecture in the Museum. The African Art and Artifacts Exhibit will continue throughout 2008 and part of 2009.

The Courthouse Tavern Museum at King and Queen Court House is open each Friday and Saturday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and on Sunday from 1:00 to 5:00 pm. Members and friends of the King and Queen Historical Society and the Museum and visitors are invited to attend.

King and Queen Historical Society Endowment Donors Retrace Dahlgren’s Civil War Raid on Richmond. (April 2008)

Donors to the King and Queen Historical Society Endowment Fund and their guests ventured on Saturday, April 19th, to retrace Union Col. Ulric Dahlgren’s 1864 raid on Richmond. The raid is significant to King and Queen County history because the raid failed and Dahlgren escaped to King and Queen County where he was killed near King and Queen Court House. Ten days later, in retaliation, Union forces burned all the buildings at King and Queen Court House, except the building that is now the Courthouse Tavern Museum. The Endowment Fund was established to support the operations of the Museum.

The group of 38 left the King and Queen Courthouse Tavern Museum promptly at 9 am, lead by Hobson Goddin of Richmond, a noted Dahlgren scholar, accomplished speaker, and member of the Civil War roundtable. The group headed across country, to Route 1 and then followed the tracks of the Virginia Central Railroad at Beaver Dam in western Hanover County, where Goddin began his lectures.

The Story behind the Raid
Gen. Judson Kilpatrick and Col. Ulrich Dahlgren were camped in the Culpeper, Virginia, area during the winter of 1863–64. There had been a recent escape from Libby Prison in Richmond of Union officers, and they had described bad conditions there. Enlisted Union captives were held at Belle Isle in the James at Richmond. Kilpatrick and Dahlgren devised a plan, evidently approved by President Lincoln, to attempt a raid on Richmond early in the spring of 1864. The plan called for Kilpatrick, with the main force of approximately 3,500 men to make a frontal assault from the north on Richmond, while Dahlgren, with about 450 men, would come in from the West, cross the James River, and attack Richmond from the south. The stated objectives were to distribute leaflets on amnesty, destroy Confederate lines of communication, and free prisoners held in Libby Prison and on Belle Isle. According to documents found on Dahlgren, they also planned to attack and kill leaders of the Confederate government and burn Richmond. They left Culpeper on February 28, 1864.

Beaver Dam and Frederick’s Hall
After capturing Confederate pickets at Ely’s Ford, they moved to SpotsylvaniaCourthouse, where Kilpatrick headed east toward the Virginia Central’s rail yard at Beaver Dam Station, arriving on the afternoon of February 29th, while Dahlgren headed toward the Virginia Central’s depot at Frederick’s Hall. Kilpatrick destroyed railroad yards, tracks, and telegraph lines in the vicinity of Beaver Dam, but ran into a terrible winter rain storm. Kilpatrick was to follow the Virginia Central to the Brook turnpike and then approach Richmond directly from the north.

Dahlgren also reached Frederick’s Hall in Louisa County on February 29th. A train with Robert E. Lee aboard had passed that station several hours before. Nearby Dahlgren found a Confederate court-martial in progress and captured some 30 men. From Beaver Dam station, the King and Queen group followed Dahlgren’s route toward the James River. In Dahlgren’s time the roads were often little more than farm paths. The King and Queen group got the full experience because the roads, although paved, were narrow and winding and sometimes still difficult to follow!

Goochland
Goddin explained that the plan called for a joint attack on Richmond by Kilpatrick and Dahlgren on March 1, but Dahlgren arrived near Goochland Courthouse, west of Richmond and north of the River, around 10 am on that day. Dahlgren sent Capt. Mitchell and about 100 men toward Richmond, north of the River, destroying property while Dahlgren planned to cross the James and meet Mitchell in Richmond when Dahlgren came up from the South. Mitchell was successful, but Dahlgren’s local black guide, whom Dahlgren had employed to guide him, could not find a usable ford across the James because of the storm, and Dahlgren hanged him.

The King and Queen group’s first stop in Goochland was the home and store where James Pleasants lived. A stone marker has been placed there in Pleasants’ memory. Nineteen-year-old James Pleasants was home on furlough when he captured some 13 of Dahlgren’s troops single-handedly near Hebron Church.

Dover, Eastwood, and Sabot Hill
While his troops foraged in Goochland, Dahlgren went to Dover Plantation, owned by James Morson, and to Eastwood, owned by Plumber Hobson, son-in-law of Confederate Gen. Henry Wise, burning outbuildings at both, but not the houses. Neither of the original houses, however, remain. The group then stopped at the brick ruins of Mr. Morson’s steam mill that was burned by Dahlgen and never replaced. Dahlgren then went to Sabot Hill, home of Confederate Secretary of War James Seddon. Goddin recounted the Goochland legend that tells the story of Dahlgren coming to the home and meeting Seddon’s wife, Sallie, who claimed Dahlgren’s father as an old beau. She served him blackberry wine, which delayed his attack on Richmond even more.

Tuckahoe Plantation
As Dahlgren proceeded toward Richmond, he may have stopped at Tuckahoe Plantation. The King and Queen group did stop, had a delightful box lunch catered by Scott’s Store in Walkerton on the lawn at Tuckahoe overlooking the James, and then enjoyed a guided tour of the Tuckahoe mansion.

Three Chopt Road to Cary Street Road
From Goochland the King and Queen group followed Dahlgren as he proceeded along Three Chopt Road to join Kilpatrick. He got as far as the Westham Plank Road, now Cary Street Road, where he met an assembled group of local militia and young boys. They repelled Dahlgren’s men and by 8 pm the battle was over. Some of the Union soldiers were kept in a temporary hospital at the brick house at Green farm, which the King and Queen group could see from Three Copt Road. Dahlgren headed back to join Mitchell and Kilpatrick.

Kilpatrick at the Gates of Richmond
Dahlgren and Mitchell attempt to rejoin Kilpatrick The King and Queen group generally followed the path of Dahlgren’s retreat as Dahlgren tried to catch up to Kilpatrick. Kilpatrick arrived at the outer forts of Richmond at what is now Brook Road and Laburnam Avenue on the morning of March 1 and was prepared to attack. Goddin discussed these movements and the monument established near that intersection commemorating Kilpatrick’s advance. Kilpatrick met stiff resistance. In the afternoon, not hearing from Dahlgren, Kilpatrick decided to withdraw. He later planned to attack Richmond from the area of the Mechanicsville turnpike, but the arrival of Confederate General Wade Hampton and his troops surprised Kilpatrick, and Kilpatrick withdrew toward New Kent County. Mitchell’s group, part of Dahlgren’s forces, became separated from Dahlgren in the dark and eventually linked back up with Kilpatrick while Kilpatrick retreated. However, Dahlgren with some 150 men did not find Kilpatrick and headed to the Pamunkey River, which he reached about 8 am on March 2. His group rigged a tow-rope and crossed the Pamunkey and headed to the Mattaponi.

Aylett
Dahlgren’s men reached the Mattaponi at Aylett. They were headed to Union lines in Gloucester County. When they attempted to cross the Mattaponi into King and Queen County, they were met with fire from the local guard. A cavalry unit formed by Lt. James Pollard, home to refit his unit’s horses, along with local guards and a Confederate unit that had been pursuing Dahlgren, harassed Dahlgren’s troops, so they turned to the River Road rather than going straight to Stevensville. The Confederate troops took a shorter route through Stevensville to attack Dahlgren’s men as they marched along the River Road.

Dahlgren’s Corner
About midnight on March 2, as Dahlgren approached the intersection of River and Stevensville Roads (with two of the Confederate officers captured at Frederick Hall still with him). Dahlgren troops were ambushed by Pollard’s men and Dahlgren was killed. Some of the Union troops surrendered. Others ran, but most were captured the next day. A state highway sign marks the spot.

The Aftermath
Back at the Museum Goddin explained that the death of Dahlgren was not the end of the Dahlgren story. Three significant things happened.

Papers on Dahlgren’s body showed his intent to capture and kill Confederate leaders in Richmond as part of his raid, which at the time was outside the bounds of war.

Dahlgren’s body was taken to Richmond and reburied. His body was later stolen from the Richmond grave and carried back to Union lines. His wooden leg, which he had as a result of a battle wound the year before, was taken to Richmond, displayed in a store window, then taken to Charlottesville for study, and ended up being used by one of the men in Mosby’s Confederate Corp.

In retaliation for the killing of Dahlgren, his father, an admiral in the Union Navy, encouraged an attack on the King and Queen Courthouse by Gen. Kilpatrick by land and boats up the Mattaponi. On March 10, 1864, all of the buildings, except the building that is now the Courthouse Tavern Museum, were burned.

At the conclusion of the Goddin talk, the assembled group made a toast with blackberry wine to Mrs. Seddon, Mr. Goddin and to Mr. and Mrs. Temple Ryland who celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary on that day.

Expert on Virginia Quilts to Speak at K&Q Museum on March 9. (March 2008)

Paula Golden, noted expert on Virginia quilts, and co-author of the handsomely illustrated Quilts of Virginia, 1607–1899, will give a lecture and slide show on Virginia quilts at the King and Queen County Courthouse Tavern Museum on March 9th at 3 pm. The public is invited and there is no charge. After the lecture, Mrs. Golden will sign her book, which will available for purchase at the Museum. Mrs. Golden has been selected as a Teacher of the Year by The Professional Quilter Magazine.

The lecture will keynote the Museum’s new exhibit on Quilts and Spreads of King and Queen County before 1930. Two King and Queen quilts, one owned by Caroline Jones and the other by Carolyn Lowry, are pictured in the book and will be part of the Museum’s exhibit. The Museum’s exhibit, which will be open to the public until June 1, has been put together by a committee headed by Beth Hayes of Bruington, a member of the Virginia Consortium of Quilters that published the book.

Mrs. Jones’ quilt, made shortly before 1820 by Catherine Tompkins, was left along with the bed for which it was made to her niece, Sarah Tompkins Browne. The quilt and bed have remained at Mrs. Jones’ home, Canterbury, since Miss Browne married Robert Temple Gwathmey in 1829. Mrs. Lowry’s quilt was made by friends of a Confederate soldier Atwood Cluverious Walker about 1865, and has remained in the family of Mrs. Lowry of Walkerton ever since.

King and Queen Courthouse Tavern Museum Hosts Christmas Open House December 9th. (December 2007)

The King and Queen Courthouse Tavern Museum will hold its first Christmas Open House on Sunday, December 9th, from 2:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. at the Museum at King and Queen Court House. Children’s choirs from Bruington Church and Aylett Country Day School will be on hand to bring the spirit of Christmas to the neighborhood. There will be demonstrations of donut making over an open fire and other delicious Yuletide refreshments available for everyone to enjoy inside the Museum. The Museum will be festively decorated both inside and out for the holiday season. Everyone is invited, so bring the whole family for a great community event!

King and Queen Historical Society completes Index for Bulletin (September 2007)

The King and Queen Historical Society has announced the completion of its Index for issues 51–100 of its well-regarded Bulletin of articles about King and Queen County History. The Bulletins have been issued twice each year, so the index for Issues 51–100 covers Bulletins for the years 1981–2006. The index was prepared through a generous gift of Charles H. Ryland of Warsaw, Virginia. The price is $10 plus postage of $2 (plus sales tax of 50 cents for delivery or pick-up in Virginia). It may be purchased by mailing a check to the Society at P.O. Box 129, King and Queen C.H., VA, 23085-0129, or on line at the Society’s website. The index for Issues 1–50 is also available for the $10 plus postage and applicable sales tax at the same locations.

King and Queen Historical Society produces Schools Coverlet (September 2007)

The King and Queen Historical Society is selling a King and Queen Schools Coverlet that features sketches of thirteen early King and Queen County public schools and the Courthouse Tavern Museum superimposed over an outline of the County, framed by the names of many other county schools. The thirteen schools that are sketched are Newtown, Green Briar, King and Queen Training, Walkerton, Marriott, Church Hill, Stevensville, Court House, Centerville, Buena Vista, Pleasant Hill, Plain View Prospect, and Eastern View Log Schoolhouse.

Commissioned by the Historical Society and created by Mill Street Design, the coverlet comes in two color schemes: green and natural and black and natural. It is 100 percent cotton, two-layer Jacquard woven, pre-shrunk, color fast, machine washable and made in the U.S.A. It is a perfect gift for family members and friends — an interesting conversation piece that makes an instant keepsake. The cost is $45, plus postage of $7 (plus sales tax of $2.25 for delivery or pick-up in Virginia). It may be purchased by mailing a check to the Society at P.O. Box 129, King and Queen C.H., VA, 23085-0129, or on line at the Society’s website.

King and Queen Courthouse Tavern Museum Opens Exhibit on John Smith’s Travels in Middle Peninsula on April 21st

John Smith’s Shallop, Explorer, also to be on hand for festivities that carry over to April 22nd (April 2007)

“Did you know that John Smith came to what is now King and Queen County in 1607?” “It is true, however, John Smith did not come of his own free will!”

This will be the focus of the new Exhibit opening on April 21st at the King and Queen Historical Society’s Courthouse Tavern Museum.

In December 1607 John Smith sailed his small shallop, the Explorer, up the Chickahominy River, seeking to trade with the Indians for food and explore the area. He was captured by the Indians near present day Bottom’s Bridge. For the next 30 days John Smith was led by the Indians, who were looking for their Chief Powhatan, through King William, King and Queen, Essex, Middlesex, New Kent and Gloucester Counties. Powhatan was located in Gloucester County, where the famous meeting with Pocahontas occurred, allowing John Smith to return to Jamestown.

A program marking the opening of the exhibit will take place at 11:00 am on April 21 at the Museum at King and Queen Court House. Speakers will discuss (1) the background of the Exhibit, which includes the story the “Capture Route,” as developed by Essex County historian Ed Haile, the history of the Indians in the area, and the story of John Smith; (2) John Smith’s small shallop, the Explorer and its construction; and (3) the “Driving Tour” of the Capture Route, also developed by Ed Haile. The exhibit is being designed by Studio Ammons of Petersburg, who has designed the Museum’s other award winning exhibits. The Museum and the new exhibit will be open on Saturday, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

An additional special treat on opening day at the Museum will be the visit of the replica of John Smith’s shallop, the Explorer. A shallop is a small open boat fitted with oars or sails or both and usually used in shallow water. The replica has been carefully reconstructed at the Deltaville Maritime Museum. Members of the crew will be at the Museum with the boat during the day to answer questions. As part of the 11:00 am program a speaker will discuss how the boat was carried from England and how it made it way up the Chickahominy before Smith was captured.

A third speaker at the 11:00 am program will discuss the new driving tour of the Capture Route. The driving tour map will available at the Museum. Its publication has been sponsored by Twin Rivers Realty, along with C&F Bank, New Kent County, West Point Economic Development Authority, Bank of Essex, EVB Bank, and the King and Queen County Courthouse Tavern Museum.

The festivities will continue on Sunday, April 22, when the new exhibit will be open from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm and the Explorer also will be on hand with members of the crew to answer questions and explain operations about the boat. Also on Sunday, the regular meeting of the King and Queen County Historical Society will take place at 3 pm in the Circuit Court Courthouse. The speaker will be Dr. Sharon Perry of Richmond, who will discuss the diary of King William schoolteacher Carolyn Kean Hill Davis, written beginning in 1861. The diary touches on activities during the war, including the attack at Walkerton on Union cavalry by the home guard, and references many King and Queen families, including the Gwathmey, Ryland, Turpin, Roane, and Bagby families. The weekend promises to be an exciting one and of great interest to many in the whole area.

The Courthouse Tavern Museum at King and Queen Court House is open each Friday and Saturday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and on Sunday from 1:00 to 5:00 pm. Members and friends of the King and Queen Historical Society and the Museum welcome you to attend any and all of these historical events. The John Smith Special Exhibit will continue throughout 2007 and 2008.

King and Queen Museum and Historical Society on the Internet. (June 2006)

The King and Queen Courthouse Tavern Museum and the King and Queen County Historical Society have established a website on the Internet. Its call letters are www.kingandqueenmuseum.com or www.kingqueenhistsoc.com The Website provides information on the Museum, its exhibits and activities, information on the activities of the Historical Society and applications for membership, as well as information and on the Courthouse Green Historic District located at King and Queen Courthouse. The website features an “online store” that offers for sale the books published by the Historical Society, which had previously only been available at the Museum and by mail. Researchers will find information on the history of King and Queen County, an index of King and Queen Historical Society’s semi-annual Bulletins, as well as a searchable index of the archives at the Museum. Maps on the website show the location of the Museum, its hours, and directions. The information and pictures on the website were prepared by the Museum and the site was designed by Page One History Publications of Richmond. The Museum is a joint enterprise of the Historical Society and King and Queen County.

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