A chance to rediscover local heritage

Published 6:41 pm Friday, August 26, 2022

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A journey into the past via the 28th annual Heritage Day will be held Saturday, Sept. 10, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., sponsored by the Southampton County Historical Society and the Southampton Heritage Village/Agriculture & Forestry Museum.

A news release noted that the village and museum will host the event at 26315 Heritage Lane in Courtland. There will be separate admission fees at the museum for adults and for school-age children, but preschoolers get in for free.

“This 28th Heritage Day event promises to provide a wholesome and fun outing for the whole family,” organizer Lynda Updike said. “Visitors will see how the older generations lived, how hard they worked to make a living. For the older generation, it’s a stroll down memory lane. Come and learn how they made the items in their homes and on the farm. Farming activities, by the way, included the whole family. We offer something for all ages to enjoy.”

The sawmill, planer mill and grist mill will run intermittently during the day. Crafts people will demonstrate old crafts, with craft items for sale. Watch and learn how to weave rugs on a loom.

Lunch will be for sale on the grounds, and offerings will include Steve Ivey’s famous BBQ, Brunswick stew, hot dogs, snacks, apple and sweet potato jacks, water and soft drinks.

The Museum of Southampton History, adjacent at 22541 Linden St., opens at 10 a.m. and will feature to-scale models of local homes and historic buildings built by E.B. Gayle and photographs of many more of the area’s old homes. A restored 1824-34 pistol, found by a diver at Monroe Bridge in the Nottoway River, will be on exhibit. The Prehistory Exhibit displays prehistoric shells, sharks’ teeth and whale vertebrae from when Southampton County was part of the ocean floor. The very popular Military Room highlights the service of local soldiers in all wars through uniforms, photos, memorabilia and weaponry. Entry here is free, but donations are greatly appreciated.

Twelve layouts with more than 20 trains will be running throughout the day inside the main building at the Ag Museum. Check out the newest layout — a “replica” of Ocean View Amusement Park. This attraction is fun for all kids and provides memories for many adults.

Participate in an updated scavenger hunt to find designated items throughout the museum complex. Kids completing the hunt get a free bag of popcorn.

The Rebecca Vaughan House will be open from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., with Dr. Will Dunstan, history professor and family descendant, answering questions about Nat Turner and the 1831 Southampton Slave Insurrection. Mahone’s Tavern, on Main Street, will be open from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. with many Confederate exhibits.

Always a popular attraction, the museum’s grist mill will be grinding fine cornmeal, which will be available for a small donation. Samples of hot cornbread, made from that meal, will be given away throughout the day. Volunteers will demonstrate the old technique of typesetting on the museum’s printing presses, including an 1885 Chandler & Price treadle-operated, hand-fed press. Visitors can print a free bookmark bearing the museum’s logo.

Old cars, tractors and gas engines will be on display. The blacksmith shop will be open, with blacksmiths at work.

Among the crafts being demonstrated and for sale, visitors will find painted gourds, baskets, handmade jewelry, sewn and quilted items, brooms, goat milk soap, knitting, crocheting, as well as other types of needlework and woodwork. Artisans from the Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia will blend contemporary and traditional art through beadwork and pottery making. Some of the old crafts to see are butter churning, hominy, washboard washing of clothes, lye soap making, and flint knapping. See a beekeeper with local honey for sale. Gourds, pumpkins, produce, pickles, jams, jellies and baked goods will also be for sale.

Shiloh Grass, a local bluegrass band, will entertain during the day under the Howell pavilion, dedicated to founding members William and Helen Howell. The little country church is always an attraction and will feature an old-fashioned hymn sing. And perhaps there will be a little bit of boogie-woogie piano. Look for storytelling in the one-room schoolhouse and corn-cob pipe making near the corn crib.

Children of all ages will have a ball at a petting zoo, featuring gentle pet farm animals. Have you ever seen baby chicks pip their way out of eggs? They will be hatching on Sept. 10. There will be hay rides and face painting. Also, young folks can learn the art of milking a cow by practicing on “Mattie,” our replica cow.

In addition to all the special activities, visitors are welcome to tour the Agriculture & Forestry Museum and all of its outbuildings and Heritage Village, which includes a country store, one-room school, country dwelling, doctor’s office, smoke house, old post office and two outhouses, among other buildings.

For more information, feel free to contact Lynda Updike by phone at 757-654-6785, by email at updikes@earthlink.net or by letter at 33335 Statesville Road, Newsoms, VA 23874.