Historical Society Celebrates a Successful Year

By Madeline Otten

The rain did not stop the Fluvanna Historical Society from gathering and hosting their annual fall membership meeting held Sunday (Oct. 20) at the historic Melrose house in Palmyra. 

President Marvin Moss welcomed members and visitors before recapping recent elections and updating everyone on the society’s work in the community. The meeting also went into detail about current projects and hosted speaker, Andy Sorrell, who shared the history of the Seven Islands and the Shores Family. 

Moss started out by saying that, “the Fluvanna Historical Society is one of the largest historical societies in a rural county.”

The first project that Moss went over was the memorial that was dedicated in recognizing the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and end of the Civil War. In an interview with CBS 19 News, director of the Fluvanna County Historical Society, Tricia Johnson, said “that 5,000 people were freed in Fluvanna County by the Emancipation Proclamation.”

The next project that Moss praised was the opening of the new Farm Heritage Museum at Pleasant Grove. On May 4, 2019, the museum was opened to the public to showcase farm equipment dating back to the Civil War and up to the 19060s. The Fluvanna Historical Society raised over $287,000 for this project and worked alongside the county to bring the museum to life. Along with the museum, the restroom facilities were also opened.  

The Haden family cemetery, also located at Pleasant Grove, just completed fencing around it. Wired fences used to surround the graves, but the Fluvanna Historical Society helped raised $15,600 with the remaining from the Haden family, for a new fence to surround the cemetery. 

Moss then told the audience about a plaque for the last operating blacksmith shop in Fluvanna County. The shop is located on Rt. 53. 

As for current projects, Johnson explained a joint project with One Shared Story on digital historical mapping. These digital maps will show mills, infrastructure, and bridges throughout the county. Johnson also made sure to tell guests that the Fluvanna Historical Society will be the first ever in the entire country to do this. Volunteers are still needed and can help with the mapping process and finding locations throughout the county. 

After going over projects, Sorrell took over. He became a resident of Fluvanna County in 2004 thanks to his father who acquired land near the James River and was bitten ever since. Sorrell talked about the history of the Seven Islands/Isles, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1991. The Seven Islands stretch over four miles of river and the seven comes from a biblical reference to “many.”

“The land is privately owned and was very good for farming and hunting,” said Sorrell. “It was rich in plant life, with trees such as oak, chestnut, maple and much more, as well as animals like bears, mountain lions, elk, deer, and turkeys.”

The land had been owned by Fluvanna ancestors from families that include: Buggs, Miles, Seay, Shores, Thomas, Tutwiler, and Ware. Sorrell also explained that the Monacan Tribe might have been there for a little bit since it was right on the James River. Today, the land is not suitable for building houses due to flooding, although, there is a tree house. 

He then went into the history of the Abraham Childers, who was the first person to live near the Seven Isles, as well as how it connected to the Shores and Tutwiler family and how they connected to the Melrose house. At the end of the meeting, after Sorrell answered questions from the audience, guests enjoyed refreshments and food and were also encouraged to tour the Melrose house. Jefferson (Jeff) Strider moved into the home in July of this year. 

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