I mentioned the other day that I’m starting to work on a project that has a historical flavor and wow did I learn some things yesterday.

My first stop was out at Ferrum College, to stop in at the Blue Ridge Institute and Museum.

The museum featured a beautiful photographic exhibit about shared work: how people in rural areas came to work together on a range of tasks out of necessity and/or for social connection, and thereby passed down skills from generation to generation. The photos were the work of Earl Palmer who, I learned from the Special Collections of Virginia Tech, was a well-known chronicler of life in the Southern Appalachians from the 1940s through the 1980s.

A little home-brewing

Because the Rocky Mount, Virginia (not to be confused with Rocky Mount, North Carolina!) area is the easternmost point on Virginia’s Crooked Road, the museum also featured a wealth of information about the music of the region. The Crooked Road celebrates the musical styles – bluegrass, gospel, blues, and string-bands – that have thrived in the region from the time of its earliest settlers. I am looking forward to delving deeper into this facet of our new home’s culture, but I have found that the husband is a little less enthusiastic about this escapade so I’m going to have to find some other partners in crime.

Road trip, anyone?

After checking out the replica of a 1930s-era farm (closed for the season, because it’s COLD out there, people!), I sped back to the Rocky Mount Public Library to see if I could find some information about my project.

Rocky Mount has a bustling, beautiful library where I was able to find a number of good leads, but on my way out I learned that it was a good thing that I hadn’t put my trip off until Friday.

Lee-Jackson Day is a holiday that is peculiar to Virginia, recognizing two Confederate generals, Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, who were born in Virginia (okay, Jackson was born in Clarksburg, West Virginia, but you history buffs know that West Virginia didn’t split off from Virginia until 1863). At any rate, growing up in Alexandria, I remember Lee-Jackson Day becoming a “thing” once Martin Luther King, Jr. Day came into being in the 1980s. Until 2000, Virginia observed Lee-Jackson-King Day, but then L-J Day started taking place the Friday that preceded the King Day Monday holiday.

Not every locality in Virginia makes Lee-Jackson Day a public holiday. I had, truthfully, not realized that it was still celebrated. Learning that it is served as a reminder that we’re living in a very different place now.

2 thoughts on “Ferreting Out Franklin

  1. That reference to living in a “very different place” masks a lot of things that might bring chills to some. One must consider this oddity: keeping a holiday celebrating generals in war for, in its best light, regional autonomy rooted in an economic system dependant on the enslavement of humans right next to a holiday celebrating a minister known for peacefully fighting for equality.


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