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Highlights, January 2022
  Stories from Scottsville: Tales of a Small Virginia Town  by Ruth Klippstein
Storiies from Scottsville: Tales of a Small Virginia Town
Scottsville Museum is happy to share the news that a new history book, Stories from Scottsville: Tales of a Small Virginia Town by Ruth W. Klippstein, has just been published.  Scottsville is a small town with a long history, from the Monacan nation that first settled nearby to the arrival of Europeans and the establishment of the town in the 18th century.  Scottsville based its economy on its strategic location at the Horseshoe Bend of the James River, where trade and transport, first by batteau or river boats and later by canal, flourished. The town is fortunate to have preserved buildings from each period of its existence.

The articles in this book were researched and written by Ruth W. Klippstein for the Scottsville Monthly between 2003 and 2017.  They are based on extensive interviews with local citizens as well as on-the-ground investigations of local sites.  Through Ruth's words, you will meet the local characters and great events which shaped Scottsville's history and reflect the larger history of America itself.

This fascinating history of Scottsville, Virginia, may be purchased online at  Enjoy!

Highlights, December 2021
  Salute to Arbutus May Thacker, 1926-2021  
Arbutus May (Deihl) Thacker, ca. 1950's

Arbutus May (Diehl) Thacker, devoted wife of A. Raymon Thacker and mother of Matthew Thacker, passed away on December 8, 2021, at Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, VA.  She was born on February 27, 1926, a daughter of the late John and Annie (Wheatley) Diehl.  For many years, Arbutus lived in Reedville, Richmond, and Scottsville, VA, and worked as a hairdresser.  Arbutus was a devoted wife of A. Raymon Thacker and mother of Matthew Thacker.

To learn more about Arbutus Thacker and her family, see: Arbutus May (Diehl)Thacker.

Salute to Lillian Ruth Schafft, 1922-2021
Lillian Ruth Schafft, 2015

Lillian Ruth Schafft, who died on December 13, 2021, at age 99, was an energetic member of the Scottsville Community.  As Literary Chair of the Scottsville Council of the Arts, Lillian solicited contributions for an anthology of local writers, Riverbanks to Mountaintops: Writings by Rural Virginians, (2013). She also ran a program for elementary school children, encouraging them to become writers and giving them an opportunity to read their works in public at the Scottsville Library.  Lillian was also a generous contributor to the Scottsville Museum.  After she retired to Our Lady of Peace in Charlottesville, Lillian continued to stay plugged in to local happenings.  As long as she was able, Lillian had a "Telephone Ministry," reaching out to people she knew, who were ailing or in trouble.  Lillian is survived by her daughters, Linda LaFontaine and Ruth Ann Rehm, and five grandchildren.  Her funeral service was on Saturday, December 18, 2021, at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Charlottesville, VA.

For more details on Lillian Ruth Schafft's life, see her obituary at the Thacker Brothers Funeral Homes website.  (

The above 2015 photo of Mrs. Schafft is courtesy of the American Bible Society, News, May 15, 2015.  (

Highlights, November 2021
  Jackie Jensen, Famous Baseball Player  by Evelyn Edson
Jackie Jensen, Boston Red Sox, 1959
A recent biography of Jackie Jensen, baseball star of the 1950's, is entitled The Golden Boy and authored by George Martin.  Not only was Jackie handsome and fair-haired, but he was a fantastic athlete, playing both football and baseball in high school and college, but eventually going to the major leagues with the NY Yankees.  There he was awed to be on a team with his idol, Joe Dimaggio.  Jackie was traded to the Senators, and Casey Stengel was to say later, "Trading Jackie Jensen was the biggest mistake of my life!"  Jackie eventually wound up with the Boston Red Sox and played for them as a right fielder for nine years, 1953-1961. 

To learn more about Jackie Jensen, his family and baseball career, and his retirement activities near Scottsville, see: Jackie Jensen, Famous Baseball Player.

Highlights, October 2021
  Jefferson's Cave Revisited  by Evelyn Edson
Snowden Cave, 2014; Photo by David Spears
The 'cave' at Snowden was dug out of phyllite rock, likely by someone searching for mineralized calcium carbonate (lime).  Faint traces of calcite (lime) can be seen on the rock surface.  David Spears, VA State Geologist, believes the hole in the rock face was probably made in a desperate attempt by a farmer to scrape out a little lime for fertilizer out of a lime-poor rock.  Photo by David Spears

Last week I repeated an antique local legend that Thomas Jefferson hid out in a riverside cave near Scottsville to escape advancing British troops in 1781. I heard immediately from two of my esteemed colleagues.

First, Joanne Yeck, author of (among other good books) The Jefferson Brothers.  During her work on the book, she painstakingly researched the story.  Jefferson reported on his escape with his family---no stage of his journey involved a cave.  You can read it in more detail in her article in the October 2014 Scottsville Monthly, see: Thomas Jefferson Did Not Sleep Here: The Cave at Snowden.

Second, Richard L. Nicholas, author of Sheridan's James River Campaign, wrote, "The Buckingham cave and Jefferson is all a myth!  As a geologist, I have walked the bluff along the James River in that area, and there is no cave.  David Spears, the State Geologist, has also explored the area and found only one very small area where someone apparently made a minor dig in search of a calcitic vein."  (For lime, used as fertilizer.)

So where do these stories come from?  This one was certainly repeated at length by Virginia More.  Joanne Yeck notes that this tale was cherished by descendants of Randolph Jefferson and appeared in a printed work about 1900.  So it's been with us for a while.  Everybody loves a good story (see: Moon Ghost), and the idea of the fastidious Thomas Jefferson crawling in a cave to escape the British is definitely appealing.  And, of course, we all love the connection to Scottsville.

Another point is that myths, what people believe, are a part of history, too.  Perhaps I was unduly influenced as I have been reading the Histories of the Greek historian, Herodotus, for a class at the Senior Center.  Says Herodotus, "This is what people say.  I do not necessarily believe it."

Highlights, September 2021
  Memories of the Dew Drop Inn
The Dew Drop Inn in Scottsville, ca. 2009
The Dew Drop Inn in Scottsville, ca. 2009

The Dew Drop Inn at 440 Valley Street was a Scottsville landmark for many years. Long time residents of Scottsville remember it was a high school hangout in the 1950's with plenty of loud rock n' roll blaring from the jukeboxes.  On the TV show, The Waltons, one character worked as a musician at the Dew Drop Inn in Scottsville.  The Dew Drop Inn closed in 2009, and today the building is the Beijing Kitchen.

To learn more about happy times at the Dew Drop Inn, see: The Dew Drop Inn.

Charles Thomas Moon's Grocery Store in Scottsville
Charles Thomas Moon grocery store
The Charles Thomas Moon Grocery Store, ca. 1910

The Charles Thomas Moon grocery store sat between the Masonic Lodge and the very edge of Mink Creek on Scottsville's Main Street.  On its first floor was the small store called Charles T. Moon Grocery, which was owned by Mr. Moon, and this building's second floor hosted a small apartment.

To learn more about Charles Moon and his grocery store, see: Charles Thomas Moon's Grocery Store in Scottsville.

Highlights, August 2021
  Pitts Market on Main Street, 1937-1962
Former Pitts Market Building in 2021
Shown above is building which hosted Pitts Market on Scottsville's Main Street from 1937-1962.

In the 1950's, Scottsville had four grocery stores.  One of these grocery stores, Pitts' Market, opened in 1937 across Main Street from the Methodist Church and just next door and to the east of the Masonic Lodge and Post Office building.  Pitts Market was run by William Robert Pitts and Ruth (Kent) Pitts.  The previous owners of the store were Edward and Betty Kent, Ruth's parents.  To learn more about Pitt's Market, see: Pitts Market on Main Street.

Highlights, July 2021
  Independence Day Celebration in Scottsville, 03 July 2021
Independence Day Parade in Scottsville, 2008
Independence Day Parade in Scottsville, July 2008 (Photo by Connie Geary)

On 03 July 2021, Scottsville will be hosting an Independence Day parade on Valley Street between 9:00 am - 11:30 am.  Plan to arrive early to park and set-up your chairs along Valley Street where you can enjoy this traditional small-town festivity.  Traditional Fourth of July fare will be available including barbecue, hot dogs, hamburgers, corn-on-the-cob, popcorn, plus James River Brewery beers.  Other activities on 3 July include:

--Scottsville Museum will be open on 03 July from 10 am - 5:00 pm.  Admission is free.

--Scottsville Farmer's Market will be open from 9 am - 1:00 pm at the Scottsville Market Pavilion on Fleet Street. This event is sponsored by the Scottsville Farmers Market Vendors.  Local produce, baked goods, beverages, and crafts will be available for purchase.

--Scottsville Classic Car Cruise-in on 03 July from 10 am - 2:00 pm   This event is co-sponsored by All Star Barbers, George A. Dansey Plumbing, Town of Scottsville, and the Rivertown Antiques at the Uptown Shopping Center.  This is an open invitation for ALL cars to "cruise-in" and share your classic car passion with the Southern Albemarle community.  The Uptown Shopping Center is located on James River Road and Route 6 (Irish Road) in Scottsville.  Guest parking is available at the shopping center.  Admission is free.

--Independence Day Outdoor Concert by Mojo Pie on 03 July from 5:30pm-6:30pm at Dorrier Park (250 Page Street) in Scottsville.  Mojo Pie is Susan Munson and Frank Bechter on acoustic guitar and bass, playing their fun-filled originals and eclectric covers.  Event sponsored by the Town of Scottsville.  Parking available throughtout the historic downtown and at the "old" tire factory lot on Bird Street.  Admission is free.  Bring a blanket and picnic; food and beverages also available at local restaurants for take-out.

--Independence Day Outdoor Concert by Will Overman on 03 July from 7:00pm - 9:00pm at Dorrier Park (250 Page Street) in Scottsville.  Overman is a Charlottesville-based singer-songwriter whose songs evoke the wisdom of an old soul with youthful optimism as he blends music genres of Folk, Pop, Country, and Rock n' Roll among his music.  Event sponsored by the Town of Scottsville.  Parking available throughtout the historic down town and at the "old" tire factory lot on Bird Street.  Admission is free.  Bring a blanket and picnic; food and beverages also available at local restaurants for take-out.

Highlights, June 2021
  James River Batteau Festival in Scottsville, 23 June 2021
Batteau on James River
A batteau participating in the James River Batteau Festival (Photo by Holt Messerly)

On 23 June 2021, Scottsville will be the halfway point for the 36th Annual Batteau Festival crews journeying on the James River from Lynchburg to Richmond.  Batteaux will begin arriving at the James River Reeling and Rafting campground (265 Ferry Street in Scottsville) about 3 pm, and the festival celebrations will continue until 7pm.  Join Scottsville on the James River Horseshoe Bend for a mid-week afternoon and evening of learning the history of the James River.  Food, music, and river stories are guaranteed.  At 5pm, music will be provided by the Charlottesville Band Ensembles: Brass Quintet, Clarinet Ensemble, and Sax Quartet.

The batteau was originally used as a cargo vessel, hauling tobacco leaves packed in giant barrels called "hogsheads", down the James River to Richmond where the cargo was transferred to sailing ships bound for Europe.  These batteaux plied the James from the 1700s until the coming of the railroad, which made most commercial river travel obsolete.  Though no original batteaux exist today, the remains of several were discovered by construction workers on a project in Richmond in 1983.

The batteaux that participate in the Batteau Festival are replicas based on the original designs and the surviving fragments of the boats found in Richmond.  They are designed to withstand the rocks and shallow water that are a feature of the summertime James and are built of white oak, with no keel.  Largely propelled by the current and kept off of rocks by long wooden poles, there is a 'sweep' at each end to steer.

During the Batteau Festival, these boats float a section of the James River each day, with the crews tying up and camping at predetermined sites at night.

The Scottsville Museum will be open during the Festival on Saturday from 1 pm - 5 pm.  Admission is free; donations are welcome.  See you there!

Salute to Ruth Lucilla Gardner Brooks, 05 June 2021
Ruth Brooks at Scottsville Museum, 2020
Ruth Brooks, a faithful Museum docent, puts the U.S. flag in place as she opened the Museum
to our visitors one Saturday in 2020.

Ruth Lucilla Gardner Brooks, a long-time volunteer at the Scottsville Museum, died on
June 5, 2021, at the age of 92.  Born in Esmont, Va., on November 9, 1928, Ruth was the daughter of William Kenton and Hattie Nelson Gardner.  She was the youngest of eight siblings, all of whom pre-deceased her.  Ruth received a cosmetology degree from St. Paul's College in Lawrenceville, VA, and ran a beauty salon out of her home for over 50 years.

Ruth was a talented pianist, playing for area churches, and community events.  We remember especially an evening when she coaxed some rollicking tunes out of the antique pump organ in the Museum.

She served as a docent in the Museum and assisted with several exhibits.  Ruth was particularly helpful with "Schools of Southern Albemarle," an exhibit with photographs of Black and White schools and showcasing their variant treatments of history.

Ruth was married to Edward Thomas Brooks, and they had one son, Edward Rydell Brooks.  Edward Rydell Brooks, his wife Traci, and their three children (Kenton, Charles and Carla) remain to cherish Ruth's memory.

Highlights, May 2021
  Memorial Day at Scottsville Museum, 31 May 2021
Scottsville Museum
The Museum will be open on Memorial Day from 10 am - 5 pm.  Admission is free; donations are welcome.  See you there!

Sunday Drives, 10 May 2021 by Evelyn Edson:
Have you been getting out and about these pandemic days in the safest possible way?  Bring back the Sunday drive!  There are numerous possibilities in our scenic and historic area.  Consider "The Constitution Route," a designation for good old Route 20.  This route goes from Dillwyn to Orange, passing by "homes and birthplaces of four presidents, eleven governors, three treasure-filled museums, and more from the past," according to the Constitution Route publicity flyer.

Constitution Route Through Scottsville
The Constitution map from the Travel the Constitution Route.
Courtesy of Constitution Highway Association, Orange, Virginia

James Madison, Father of the Constitution and Fourth President of the United States, lived at Montpelier, near Orange, anchoring one end of the route.  Thomas Jefferson lived near Charlottesville, of course, though he was in Paris during the Constitutional Convention.  James Monroe, also lived near Charlottesville, was not at the convention and opposed the Constitution, as the original version did not include a Bill of Rights.  I was puzzled to find a fourth president, but the tour brochure offers up James Taylor's home, Bloomsbury, south of Orange.  He is identified as "the progenitor (great-grandfather) of both James Madison and Zachary Taylor."

There is lots of good history here, and the Scottsville Museum gets a boost.  Dillwyn makes the map as the home of Peter Francisco, Revolutionary War hero; Philip McKinney, one-time Governor of Virginia; and Carter G. Woodson, scholar of African-American history.  A brief detour to Buckingham Court House will find you looking at the courthouse itself, built according to a design by Thomas Jefferson.  Though burnt in 1869 and rebuilt, it has recently been restored to its original design.
Buckingham Court House, 2008
Buckingham County Courthouse, 2008;  Photographer:  Taber Andrew Bain

In his relentless push for the promotion of Scottsville, the late Raymon G. Thacker was particularly proud of our town's inclusion on the Constitution Route.  He presented the Museum with a very large framed copy of the map.

Highlights, April 2021
  President Evelyn Edson prepares our Museum's 'OPEN' signage! Scottsville Museum To Reopen on Sunday, 11 April, at 1PM:
Scottsville Museum is delighted to announce that the Museum will reopen on Sunday,
11 April 2021, at 1PM and close for the day at 5PM.  Beginning the following weekend (April 17-18), the Museum will be open on each Saturday from 10AM-5PM and on Sunday from 1-5PM through October 2021.  As shown in this photo at left of our President Evelyn Edson as she readies our signage, we are all excited to see you!

Our exhibit, "Where the River Bends: Scottsville on the James," displays the role the river has played in our history, from the Monacan people to the present day.  In the back corner of the Museum, we also have a small re-creation of the living quarters of the freight boat at Canal Basin Square, installed by long-time supporters, John and Callie Bowers.

The Museum will again follow Virginia guiidelines for Covid safety in the Museum.  It will be cleaned and disnfected before the opening and each weekend thereafter.  We will require all visitors and docents to wear masks and to observe social distancing.  Disposable masks will be available as well as hand- sanitizer and disinfecting wipes for docents to wipe down the docent desk area before and after their shift.

We look forward to seeing you at Scottsville Museum - stay safe and wear a mask to do your part to stop the spread of COVID-19, too.

Highlights, March 2021
  Regina Rush, 2015 The Rush Family of Chestnut Grove 
                by Evelyn Edson
  Photo by Molly Schwartzburg, 2015
As the Reference Coordinator at the University of Virginia's Special Collections Library, Regina Rush (shown at left) has helped many people trace their family histories through the library's rich resources.  This got her to wondering: what about my own family's history?  She knew that the Rush family had been living for generations in the Chestnut Grove area in southern Albemarle County, but what was their story?

As anyone who works in African-American genealogy knows, the quest can be frustrating.  Black people who were slaves are just numbers before the Civil War.  Their names appear for the first time in the 1870 Census.  Regina asked, "Where were my ancestors enslaved?"  In a chance conversation her cousin Gloria told her, "Honey, our people were owned by the Rives family."  Here a light bulb went on.  The Rives family was one of the richest families in antebellum Virginia with eight plantations in Nelson and Albemarle Counties.  Nicey and Isham Rush, Regina's great-great grandparents were probably born at Oak Ridge Plantation and moved to South Warren in 1845.  When the property was inventoried in that year, Isham was valued at $500 and Nicey, along with her two children, Betsy and Sam, was valued at $600.

Looking through the plantation ledgers, Regina found that Nicey ran away in 1851, the same year that she gave birth to her daughter, Ella, Regina's great grandmother.  An entry in the book notes that Mr. Rives paid Mr. H. D. Robertson $7.25 for apprehending Nicey.  The standard rate for a slave-catcher was $5.00 plus mileage.

Ella was fourteen years old when the Civil War ended and the slaves were freed.  At the first census we learn that she was 20 years old with an infant daughter, Sophronia, and was illiterate.  Her occupation was listed as "Housekeeper."  But Ella moved on.  In 1896 she bought five acres of land in Chestnut Grove, land her family still owns today, and in the 1900 census she is described as a "Farmer" and can now read and write.  She died in 1914 and is buried at the cemetery of Chestnut Grove Baptist Church in Esmont.

Regina writes:  "Through my genealogical journey of more than fifteen years, I have been blessed to learn about some of the interesting people in my family whose shoulders I stand on.  Great-Great Grandma Nicey, who did not let the restrictive confines of slavery diminish her vision of freedom or the fear of capture stand in the way of her attempting to obtain it.  Nor did the obstacles of illiteracy, poverty, and raising a family on the wages of a domestic stand in the way of Great Grandma Ella's vision of becoming a landowner."

Ms. Rush first presented her research as part of a symposium organized by the Scottsville Museum in 2015.  She was recently recognized by the Magazine of Albemarle County History with the 1857 Memorial Essay Award for her essay, "Over the Brick Wall: A Genealogical Journey to Discover My Family's Roots."  Some of her research was conducted at the Scottsville Museum, and the first version of her essay was published in the 2015 Scottsville Museum Newsletter; see: The Rushes of Chestnut Grove: One Man's Journey from Slavery to Freedom

Highlights, February 2021
  Marguerite Ross Barnett Salute to Marguerite Ross Barnett 
by Evelyn Edson
A tombstone in the Union Baptist Church cemetery east of Scottsville marks the grave of Marguerite Ross Barnett (1942-1992).  Put up by her husband, Walter King, and her mother, Mary Eubanks, the stone also bears a quotation:  "We can either be bystanders to a passing twenty-first century historical drama of heroic proportions, or we can be leaders."

Those words of Dr. Barnett (shown at left) illuminate a brilliant academic career beginning with her education at Antioch College and the University of Chicago.  She trained as a political scientist, writing a book on The Politic of Cultural Nationalism in South India, and as a teacher, first in Chicago, then moving on to Princeton, Howard, and Columbia University.  In 1983, she found her vocation in higher education to everyone, including women and minorities.  She felt that large metropolitan universities should have a mission to reach out to surrounding communities and help to solve social problems.

As chancellor at the University of Missouri in St. Louis, Dr. Barnett was determined to raise the academic standards and accessibility of this satellite in the Missouri system.  When she went to the state, asking for money to expand the library, the Governor, John Ashcroft, said that if she could raise $1.2 million, he would give her the remaining $4.2 million needed.  She knew he was joking, but she was not.  She tackled the community and handily raised the $1.2 million.  She is still fondly remembered in St. Louis, where the University has dedicated a plaza in her honor.

In 1990 Dr. Barnett went on to the University of Houston, becoming the first Black female president of a university in the country.  Even in her short time there, she made her mark, expanding the recruitment of minority faculty and developing a program to reach out to disadvantaged young people in the community.  Unfortunately cancer led to her early death in 1992.

Dr. Barnett is survived by her daughter, Amy duBois Barnett, a writer and magazine editor, whose career includes a stint as editor-in-chief of Ebony magazine.  It is not surprising that her middle name comes from the great Black American, W.E.B. duBois.  Among three people she most admires?  Her mother, Marguerite Ross Barnett.

The Great Virginia Flood of 1870, by Paula F. Green
The Great Virginia Flood of 1870 by Paula F. Green Scottsville Museum is happy to share the news that a fascinating new history book, The Great Virginia Flood of 1870 by Paula F. Green, has just been published.  In the fall of 1870, a massive flood engulfed parts of Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland.  What began near Charlottesville as welcome rain at the end of a drought-plagued summer quickly turned into a downpour as it moved west and then north through the Shenandoah Valley.  The James, Shenandoah, and Potomac Rivers rose, and flooding washed out fields, farms, and entire towns.  The impact was immense in terms of destruction, casualties, and depth of water.  The only warning that Richmond, downriver from the worst of the storm, had of the wall of water bearing down on it was a telegram.  With the flooding of the James River, Scottsville suffered greatly in the loss of at least 20 buildings and extensive consumable goods.  In this account, public historian Paula Green details not only the flood but also the process of recovery in an era before modern relief programs. 

To learn more, The Great Virginia Flood of 1870 is available for purchase at and at

New Educational Activities For Kids:
Scottsville Museum is proud to announce we have added new educational activities to our web site for children in Grades 3 and 4.  These activities are based on six selected themes in Scottsville's history from 1732 to present: The Monacans; A Community Begins (1744-1762); Batteau Era; Canal Era (1830-1881); Civil War (1861-1865); and Floods.  These activities were created by Rachel Gottlieb, a former Institute For Public History intern at the Museum, who earned a Masters of Teaching from the University of Virginia.  Rachel's online educational materials include a teacher's guide, historical fact sheets for each theme, and activities that may include role playing, critical thinking, comparing and contrasting exercises, and matching games.   Rachel geared these activities to Virginia's Standards of Learning (SOL) for Grades 3 and 4.  These activities will be available online for parents and teachers seeking supplemental educational materials to teach local Virginia history, geography, government, and critical thinking.  Thank you, Rachel, for sharing your superb teaching skills with students of Albemarle County history!

To explore these new educational activities for kids, please visit: 
More Activities.

Museum's 2022 Membership Drive:
Our Museum has become an example of what a small town museum can accomplish.  In order to continue the preservation and promotion of our local history, we need your help.  Please renew your membership today for the next year.  Even a $25 donation will help, but $50 will help twice as much.  Thank you again for your continuing, generous support.  You are our strength.  For additional membership information, please visit
Online Donations:  If you would like to donate to Scottsville Museum online, using Paypal or a credit card, please click on the 'Donate' button below:

Events Calendar
  To view calendar events for the 2021 season, visit Calendar

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