The first four months of 2022 have been busy. We’ve got a lot to share in this update, highlighting everything from an old newspaper to an 1860s blood feud. But first, let’s start things off with a meeting.
Dixon Speaks At Quarterly Meeting
Elsabe Dixon, Director of the Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History, discussed local artist Carson Davenport at the Quarterly Meeting of the Pittsylvania Historical Society on April 23.
A Danville native, Davenport’s works have been shown across the country. That includes several in the White House Collection, the Virginia Museum and the Valentine Museum in Richmond.
Born on February 14, 1908, his work during the Depression caught the attention of Eleanor Roosevelt. She put his painting “Pioneer Women” in the White House, the first of several major commissions.
In 1936, the U.S. Treasury Department commissioned Davenport to illustrate Virginia’s industries. The U.S. Postal Service followed soon after, paying him to paint murals in Chatham, Virginia and Greensboro, Georgia. One year later, Davenport became the director of the WPA Art School and Gallery in Big Stone Gap, Virginia.
Five Carson Davenport prints hang in the Historical Society’s collection. One of his murals for the Postal Service still can be seen in the Chatham Post Office.
Guerrant Featured on PBS In early April, a member of the Historical Society made an appearance on the local PBS affiliate. Blue Ridge PBS’s Write Around the Corner program included an interview with Historical Society President Bill Guerrant. This series, hosted by Rose Martin, features writers who are from Virginia or who write about Virginia. Recorded on location, each half hour interview delves into the stories behind the stories. This interview focused on Bill’s first novel, Jim Wrenn. The book was inspired by a true story. On the fourth day of January 1918, on the front page of the Danville newspaper, there was an ad that asked “who wants a seven-year-old boy or a four-year-old girl?”
The Story of the Southern Workman Did you know that the Library of Virginia has an extensive archive of digitized newspapers from around the Commonwealth? They do, and they have just added 67 years worth of the Southern Workman to the collection. These are wonderful resources for anyone interested in Virginia history. Along with a list of many new newspapers, a nearly complete run of the Southern Workman, a monthly published from 1872–1939 by the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, has been digitized and is now available on Virginia Chronicle, the Library of Virginia’s digital newspaper database. With the motto “Devoted to the Industrial Classes of the South,” the sixty-seven-year span of the Southern Workman offers a rich and detailed account of life and learning at the Hampton Institute, now Hampton University, a trade and normal school established for freed people in 1868. You can sort through the Workman’s issues, along with many other newspapers, by clicking on this link.
A Virginia Blood Feud Spotlighted And finally today, we’ve got a story that dates back to 1860. On February 25 of that year, Victoria Smith Clement was giving a deposition as part of the process of filing for divorce from James R. Clement. By the end of that day, her husband would be dead in a shootout and members of her family would be wanted for murder. That started a decades long feud, one that’s being chronicled in the new season of Tenfold More Wicked. The true crime podcast covers the Clement/Witcher feud over the course of six episodes and is a great way to learn about this tragic episode in Pittsylvania County history. The podcast is available on Apple Podcasts and iTunes.