Lorena Wilcox Leath and her Slides
Most of you have seen the display here tonight of some of Lorena's pictures and awards. What you cannot see is the magnitude of this gift. There are not enough tables here to show all of her awards and slides.
First, some background on Lorena. Lorena's great-grandfather, John Nicholas Ramey, joined the Confederate army on May 2,1862. He was in Company G, 13th. Virginia Calvary until November 1, 1865. He fought in the battles of Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Wilderness, Petersburg and Richmond. Because of the late date when he was released, it is likely he was a prisoner. He brought home a wounded young private named Magnus S. Wilcox, who also likely was a prisoner.
Soon after the war John N. Ramey bought the farm now known as Bowling Green. An industrious man, we know he was operating a store by 1868, evidenced by a ledger book which I have. Later, he operated a store at Carsley. The building, moved across the road, is now the Fellowship Hall at Carsley Methodist Church.
Soon Magnus Wilcox married John N. Ramey's daughter, Sarah Cornelia. They had two sons, John E. and Edward Lester Wilcox. Magnus died about forty years of age, and Sarah Cornelia then married Waverly Pierce Cooper. They had a daughter, Susie Cooper, who married Kelly Bishop.
John N. Ramey helped his grandson, John E., buy what is now known as the Atkins Farm at Carsley. Edward Lester received the home farm, Bowling Green, near New bridges and Spring Hill Mill Pond. Sarah Cornelia and Waverly P. Cooper got what is known as the Bishop f arm at Carsley.
Eddie Lester Wilcox married Edmonia Bell Emory on May 2, 1894. She was the daughter of Pleasant Emory from Carsley. They had one Daughter, Lorena Wilcox. Lorena lived her entire life, 1902 -1991, on their farm, Bowling Green.
Her parents worked to insure that Lorena received a proper education. The boom town of Dendron had a high school, but no transportation was available. Her parents would take Lorena to school on Monday, and she would stay in Dendron with her Uncle, Jefferson Davis Emory, and his wife Louise, often until Friday. Later, a farm wagon was converted to a bus, with seats, sides and a top, to pick up and deliver the children in this area to the Dendron School. Somewhere, I have a picture of the bus in their farmyard.
At some unknown time as a youth, Lorena discovered photography. Her first work was with a pinhole camera, little different from those used in the Civil War.
After high school, Lorena attended and graduated from what is now Longwood College. It was at Longwood that she studied photography, and discovered that she had a wonderful gift. She could see beauty and capture it with a camera. Her photography continued into her seventies.
This is the background of the wonderful gift that has been given to the Surry Historical Society. The magnitude of this gift is still to be discovered. There are thousands of slides, likely over a hundred awards.
What we are going to see tonight is a smorgasbord of just a few of Lorena's pictures. Her husband, helper and oft'time subject, Jimmy Leath was an integral part of her work. Some are copies of slides she let me copy years ago. Most were prize winners. Others are just a random selection taken from her files. It will take many months, if not years, to discover the true depth of this gift.
The opportunities this gift allows us are still to unfold. I can imagine calendars with her wonderful art. I can imagine a collection of prints being sold for the 2007 Jamestown Celebration. I can imagine displays at The Virginia Historical Society in Richmond. With proper stewardship, they can become a major part of our history, not for generations, but centuries.
Again, we must thank Floyd and Virginia Carr for the opportunity to be stewards of Lorena's wonderful works of history and art.
Lets look at some slides! JEA Lorena Leath Photographs.
More about the Leath photographs in December 2000 Newsletter.