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Surry County, Virginia, Historical Society and Museums, Inc.
P. O. Box 262, Surry, VA 23883   Phone (757) 294-0404
E-mail address: surryhistoricalsociety@gmail.com.
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The Surry County, Virginia, Historical Society and Museums, Inc.
President's report for the May 14, 2001 meeting.

Welcome to our annual meeting! It is hard to believe it has been slightly more than three years since we organized the Society. Progress has been fast, we now have approximately 475 members, and the problems associated with growth have also grown.

Our space problem has been solved for the time being. We moved to our new office last Saturday, now comes the monumental job of properly indexing and filing of our information. We have the space, and enough filing cabinets and bookcases to put some order in our reams of information. We must thank Polly Seward for new carpet for our office. It makes a tremendous difference in the appearance, and the smell.

We must give tremendous thanks to Member Ed Little, and the Church of Latter Day Saints. Last Saturday Ed brought over four young, strong and willing men to help with our move. Their help provided us with the energy, muscle and drive to complete the move in around three hours. Without this help, those of us, the over the hill gang, could not have completed the job. Again, many thanks.

Our new home is likely not to be a long term arrangement. When and if the Courthouse is expanded it is likely the old jail will be a casualty. Hopefully, this will be three or more years in the future.

For identification of our new home, we will put up a large banner that can be seen from Rt. 10 - 31.

Several members have told us they have tales from the earlier use of the building as a jail. The Society would appreciate any information, tales and lore from the previous life of the building. That it was used as a jail is unquestioned. Inside of the brick exterior walls, the inside walls are made of welded up steel plates. Originally the windows were only the small arched area at the top of the present windows. The steel grating inside of the upper windows remains today.

The entire Surry Courthouse complex was registered by the Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission in 1985. Included was this building, built ca. 1907. It thus is earlier than our Courthouse which was built in 1923.

The Society continues to seek funds to match the $110,500.00 grant from the state for Rogers Store. We have an application in to The Agnes Taylor and Garland Gray Foundation, and are cautiously optimistic. We will reapply to the Camp Foundation. I expect to meet with the Department of Historic Resources soon to get some of the money released.

I am pleased to announce that the Audit Committee has met and reviewed our financial books, and as expected, found them to be in order and balanced. Martha Rollings, we thank you for a job well done.

Research continues to go forward. Dennis Hudgins is busy working on many projects. He is presently searching the land records of the Courthouse area, along with Smiths Fort. These searches are among the oldest land records in our country. Our land records start before Plymouth Rock was ever seen by Englishmen. It is not easy, but he is making tremendous progress.

He is making tremendous progress in identifying the earliest free blacks in Surry County. In some cases he can tell when they came to Virginia, and follow them through their life here.

Margaret Sue Berryman has taken on the job of studying and organizing the records of shipments by steamboats from Cobhams' Wharf. We have the register of these shipments for 1910, and they show what was shipped, by whom, and to whom it was consigned. It is going to add a lot of information as to the transportation system that was the mainstay of river traffic in that era.

Member Catherine Schlessinger has agreed to identify and organize the slides of Lorena Leath. She is uniquely qualified for this project. Having worked with Colonial Williamsburg, and being familiar with Surry County, she can insure that this collection is properly identified, filed and preserved. This will be a long term project, as there are thousands of slides to review. We also have to insure safe storage of this collection. One hundred years from now they will be even more important. I will try to get a grant to help with the identification and storage of these slides.

We talk a lot about synergy, how when one part of our history is brought out, it triggers other members to bring forward other parts of our history. As an example, the article "Strange things in the Woods" prompted member Mr. Marion S. Baird Jr. to write me about the Grist Mills of Surry County. His information shows that the trades of millwrights and millers were carried through many generations of Surry families. I have to get with him, and insure that this part of our history is permanently recorded and made available. This is synergy.

We had hoped to show a videotape tonight of David Hart's records of Cornealous Hart's service in the Union Navy. Unfortunately, the airing of this on ABC has been delayed. They sent a film crew to Jamestown and Surry County for local footage, and called me to let me know the showing will be delayed. We expect to get a copy for our use.

We already have received a number of responses on the proposed trip to Surrey, England, next year. It looks like it will fly, to make a pun.

I want to thank Jeannie Seward Faubion and her boys for her great help in getting out our newsletters.

Again, I welcome you to our May 2001 annual meeting.


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