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Submitted by: Judywendt@aol.com

 

Quill Pen, Genealogical Periodical from VA, #16, February, 1986, pp. 3-6

"Miss Effie" is Fondly Remembered by Robert C. Vaden Jr. 1974

More than 100 years before the community that is now Museville became a post office, the land in the immediate vicinity had been settled by members of the Kirby family, 1746-48.

John, Francis and William Kirby held separate grants totaling some 1,000 acres near the junction of Snow Creek and Pigg River. The original inhabitants, of course, were Indians, and legend has it that a Kirby girl was scalped at the footbridge over Snow Creek. The original Kirby homestead, on a high bluff nearby, overlooked the site of tragedy.

Guided by the owner of this property, Mr. Algie Davis, I stood on the picturesque site of this early settlement. Nothing of it remains but a level expanse of ground, and back of it a cemetery of some 50 graves marked only by field stones.

When Moses Kirby built what is now the oldest standing residence in the community, about 1817, he is said to have removed portions of the original dwelling to the present site on the banks of Snow Creek below.

This house has been meticulously restored by Mr. Davis, who inherited the property from his father Lee (Babe) Davis who, in turn, had bought if from a member of the Oakes family in 1905.

Elizabeth Hudson Kirby (1805-74) was a sister of the builder, Moses Kirby, and it was her dower when she married Joab Oakes (1801-65), thereby uniting these two founding families.

The Kirby house is most interesting, one-and-a-half stories in three sections. The center section is a bit higher than the other two, giving a simple and appealing balance to the exterior view. The lofty paneled mantel in the central room, the wainscoting, the original H&L hinges on doors, the narrow but high windows speak of years gone by.

Mr. Davis said the house was built in the cove rather than on the hill because the lower location afforded easier access to the wagon loads of tobacco being brought in to nearby barns. Thus the empty wagons were went back up the hill.

This early tobacco was cured with charcoal, and the sites of these charcoal pits still may be seen where the chestnut wood was turned.

This and other neighborhood settlements witnessed some of the industries connected with the culture of tobacco. Such a one, at Woodpecker Level in Franklin County, was the beginning of the Brown and Williamson Tobacco Company.

Museville was the location of a tannery, where cowhides were processed for the manufacture of shoes. A by-product of this operation, cow hair, also was used in making plaster.

The tobacco factory for making plug tobacco, owned an operation by Christopher Lawson Carter (1834-1901), was the principal industry of the community. Mr. Davis recalled that there had been a racetrack "beyond Piney Mountain" owned by Owen Adkins before the Civil War. He said that plug tobacco was hauled to Pennsylvania from this area, and the wagons returned loaded with salt. The Davis family has been located here since 1790, and Col. Christopher Davis, great-uncle of Mr. Davis, was in the Civil War.

Museville was a post office from 1857 onward (Va. Magazine of History & Biography). Before the name of Museville was used, the post office was called Oak Shop (1851-57). This name may have originated from the prominent Oakes family.

The name Museville obviously was adapted from the Muse family name.

Guides for this tour, Miss Carter and Mrs. Minter, pointed out the old sites during a drive through the village of Museville. Here was the old field school taught by Miss Effie Carter, who later moved to Gretna with her sisters Miss Ida and Mrs. J.S> Adams.

"Miss Effie" left an indelible and endearing memory with many hundreds there and in Gretna, where she taught many years. And there was the site of the tobacco plug factory of Christopher Lawson Carter, their father, and grandfather.

Carter owned much property here and in the Penhook area. It was said that when almost any parcel of land in the area was mentioned "he owned it, had owned it or would own it." He was a successful merchant, manufacturer and real estate operator. A son of Jesse Carter of "Oakland" near Chatham, he was a cousin of the Carters of "Shirley" on the James and of Gen. Robert E. Lee. He married Dorothy Starn Muse in 1862.

Museville is a picturesque location indeed. Located on a plateau, it affords an unimpeded view of Turkey Cock Mountain and other foothills of the Blue Ridge. Especially impressive as one drives across Pigg River are the giant rock foundations of the now-vanished covered bridge.

At the village crossroads are two vacant old store buildings, the Smith and the Davis stores. Also within view are two historical residences known as the Joab Oakes (now the Clark Hodges) houses, and the John Smith house. Also in the area is the Museville Christian Church with its historic cemetery.

Joab Oakes’ seven sons fought with the Confederate Army. Mrs. Doris Oakes Minter, who furnished the information on the Oakes family, is a descendant of Joab and Elizabeth Kirby Oakes. The many descendants of this pioneer couple erected handsome monuments to them in the Museville churchyard.

Mrs. Clark A. Hodges Sr., present owner of the Joab Oakes house, showed the charming interior of this impressive L-shaped two-story house. It is an interesting showplace of early nineteenth century Americana with its marbleized mantels and woodwork and staircase.

The kitchen, in particular, takes one back many years with its spaciousness and old fashioned accessories. This home has been the lifelong home of three families -- the Oakes who built it, the Washington Hedrick family which came here from Pennsylvania and bought it, and the Hodges family which acquired it through Mrs. Hodges, who was Louise Hedrick, daughter of the pioneer from the Keystone State.

Mrs. Hodges recalled that the Hedricks had first settled in Pennsylvania from Germany and the name had been originally Von Hedric. The old Hedrick Bible now is in a historical museum in that state, having been brought over by the family from the church in Germany.

Washington Hedrick donated the land for the local church, which originally was shared by both the Episcopal and Disciples of Christ denominations.

Mrs. Hodges pointed out the office at her residence where the late Dr. O.L. Ramsey (1874-1953), beloved physician of Gretna, began the practice of his profession. The Ramsey family was settled near Museville prior to the Revolutionary War (memoir of A.F. Ramsey), the original settler being Thomas F. Ramsey, who came here from Pennsylvania.

Dr. Ramsey’s father was Col. William Ramsey of the C.S.A. Dr. R. T. Ramsey, another Gretna physician, also was a descendant of Thomas Ramsey, as was Rev. A.F. Ramsey. The old Ramsey home is a few miles from Museville on Tomahawk Creek.

Connected with the Ramsey and Mahan families are the many descendants of Harmon Cook. He was a colonizer who settled thousands of acres on Tomahawk Creek and Pigg River toward the end of the 19th century. The settlers which followed him used the well-traveled route from Pennsylvania down the Shenandoah Valley.

One of the settlers brought in with Harmon Cook was Capt. Abram Rorer, ancestor of many area residents, including the Rorer James family of newspaper publishers in Danville.

The John Smith house at Museville, now unoccupied but owned by Mrs. Rob Reynolds, who was Smith’s daughter, is quite impressive from the outside. It is a lofty two stories with old looking windows. Smith, a prominent merchant, bought the house in the 1890’s.

In years past Museville was a center of many activities. there were bicycle races, bowling matches, country dances, a saloon, horse races and, of course, a magistrate holding court. One such busy magistrate was "Squire" Davis.

(Museville is located in NW Pittsylvania County a scant two miles from the Franklin County Line. It is south of Route 40 some four miles, and south of Pigg River.)  

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