Fluvanna myths: Fact or fiction?

By Madeline Otten

How much do you know about Fluvanna County? Did you hear about the bulldozer at the bottom of the lake, or about the ghost that terrorized the Moon family back in the 1800s? While Fluvanna County may be small, it has its history, and with history comes myths, legends, facts and all sorts of rumors.

The Moon Ghost haunted a Fluvanna house: Fiction

John Schulyer Moon reported nights of fright in his estate house, Church Hill, back in 1866. According to Virginia Creeper, a self-described online Appalachian history and folklore magazine, the Moon Ghost started its haunt first by taking articles of clothing. It then escalated from to noises in the house to igniting objects on fire. Moon called in community members and students from the University of Virginia to help the family solve the case. Supposedly over 40 people saw the physical form of the ghost and six successfully shot the phantom, though the bullets did no damage. It was not until two years later in 1868 when the disturbances ceased and sources reported the ghost left a goodbye note signed “Jack Ghost.” So what makes the Fluvanna Review so sure this story is fiction? Church Hill was in Albemarle County.

Lake Monticello was filled overnight: Fiction

Fifty years ago in 1969, Hurricane Camille trekked through Fluvanna County. It dumped an enormous quantity of water into the lake at Lake Monticello, which led to the belief that the lake filled overnight. Actually, however, the lake had 35 or 40 feet of water inside before the storm. Not only did the hurricane add to the lake’s water level, but contents of another nearby lake (which one?)did as well when its dam gave way during the storm.

Fluvanna had its very own cowboy: Fact

That is right, Fluvanna County had a cowboy. Richard Omohundro was the first of his family recorded in Fluvanna around 1775. Fast forward to 1846, John Baker Omohundro, also known as “Texas Jack,” was born at Pleasure Hill, the family plantation. At age 14 he left for Texas to learn the art of herding cattle, and after the Civil War he met up with another legend, William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody. While he did not spend most of his life in Fluvanna, he is recognized by the county and the Texas Jack Association. A marker on Route 15 memorializes the famous cowboy. In 2004 the Fluvanna County Historical Society hosted the Texas Jack Association for a ceremony at Pleasant Hill cemetery.

There is a bulldozer at the bottom of the lake: Fiction

There is not a bulldozer at the bottom of the lake. However, the rumor may have started because, according to the Lake Monticello Owners’ Association (LMOA) history webpage, there was in fact a flooded bulldozer on the dam. It was salvaged and subsequently used to cut a gap in the dam to reduce the water pressure from Hurricane Camille.

Chris Daughtry is from Fluvanna: Somewhat true

The fourth place finisher from season five of American Idol did graduate from Fluvanna County High School in 1998; however, he was born in North Carolina and only spent about six years in Central Virginia after his family relocated in 1994. Daughtry told C-VILLE Weeklyin an interview that he has “great memories of [Central Virginia]; that’s when I got into music. That’s where I kind of developed who I am.” He is one of the top selling American Idol contestants with over 7.35 million albums sold in the U.S. His band, Daughtry, has five albums with their first and self-titled album certified as four times platinum in April 2008.

Fluvanna County sits on a geological fault: Fact

On Aug. 18, 1984, an earthquake measuring 3.8 on the Richter scale struck, and its epicenter was apparently beneath the lake in Lake Monticello. According to the LMOA history page, Lake resident Jean Burns said it sounded like an explosion and the water appeared to flow from two different directions at once. More recently, on Aug. 23, 2011, the county shook from a magnitude 5.8 earthquake with an epicenter in nearby Mineral. While not much significant damage occurred, the gym floor of the old Fluvanna County high School – now Fluvanna Middle School – was torn up in a corner.

Fluvanna’s general helped establish U.Va.: Fact

Upon his father’s death, General John Hartwell Cocke inherited land which included 3,184 acres in Fluvanna County, also known as the Bremo Plantation. Construction for the plantation, located on the northern bank of the James River, began in 1808 and ended in 1819 due to war responsibilities. Cocke was an officer in the Fluvanna County Virginia Militia and rose to the rank of brigadier general in the War of 1812. Cocke and his neighbor, Thomas Jefferson, sparked a friendship and ended up working together later in life. Both he and Jefferson served on the first Board of Visitors for the University of Virginia (U.Va.). Historian Phillip Alexander Bruce believes that Cocke’s diligent work on the committee of superintendence gave him a place in the university’s early history. Another author of Cocke’s history, M. Boyd Coyner, called Cocke “one of the three fathers of the University of Virginia.” Cocke also designed the jail in Palmyra in 1828 as well as the old county courthouse in the 1830s.


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