Scott County Historical Society
Scott County, Virginia

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Uncle Charlie: His Life And Work

By TOMMY BLEDSOE

     This region is blessed with great riches. Our natural environment affords us the opportunity to live and prosper; to grow strong in mind, body and spirit; and to look toward a future for us and our people. Sometimes it takes a lifetime to understand our relationship to this place we call home, to understand the people who make up our community, to understand our purpose here, and to understand the work we must do toward making the world a better place. Sometimes we leave this world without ever knowing that work. There are people who have a very clear idea of what that work is, and who can inspire us by their dedication and energy.

     Charles Nelson Osborne, known to many as "Uncle Charlie," was one of those people. He was born on December 26, 1890, in Russell County and for over 101 years he worked to make this a better place.

     With his wife, Clara, he raised eight children. They farmed and lived on nature's abundance, the family together, neighbor helping neighbor.

     When the work was done, Uncle Charlie took up the other true love of his life, his music.

     With his fiddle and his voice, he did perhaps his most important work. What he did with music was to help understand, shape and define his world and his place in it. He allowed others to see themselves more clearly through it.

     His songs and tunes told everything he knew, his history, his humor, his sorrow and trouble, his joy and hope. He played and sang in homes, churches, schools, at funerals, weddings,' festivals and rallies throughout the region. Whether he was alone at home, or before thousands of his fans, he was the same. He was the music, and the music was him. They sustained and nourished each other.

     Uncle Charlie Osborne died on Saturday, May 30, quietly at his home. Close by were members of his family, and his beloved fiddle.

Farewell, Uncle Charlie. You did your work well.

Uncle Charlie Osborne

 

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