Goochland County

A Community History



As each achievement can he measured truly only by its relation to past, present and future events, it is necessary to know something of Goochland’s past in order to snake a proper appraisal of her World War record.

In September, 1606, Christopher Newport. with several adventurous companions. sailed up the James River hoping to find an inland sea lined with gold. Tales of this Eldorado had reached them through the Indians who doubtless referred to the deposits of pyrites. Reaching the falls, now the site of Richmond, they found it impossible to proceed further with so large a craft.

Still undaunted, Newport went back to England where he had a light boat made, and, shortly after his return to Jamestown, again sailed up the James. Lifting his new craft over the falls, he paddled upstream for a few miles until hailed by a band of Monacan (Manakin) Indians. Such is the record of the first white man’s foot upon Goochland soil. Captain Newport was permitted to return unmolested, though disillusioned, leaving the vast wilderness to the Red Men.

A century later brought a band of Huguenots from France to find peace and religious freedom after long persecution. Lands were patented along the James River for twenty miles, chiefly on the south side, and the rich low grounds put under cultivation. Gradually, scions of the early Jamestown settlers moved higher tip the river and established large plantations.

To meet the needs of these people, Goochland, named for the Colonial Governor, Gooch, was made a county in 1728, though the area included Amherst, a part of Nelson, Albemarle, Buckingham, Cumberland, Powhatan and Fluvanna Counties.

The westward march of the early colonists continued, necessitating a closer touch with the courthouse, therefore, new boundary lines were drawn. and the seven above-named counties were taken from Goochland, leaving her the narrow strip she is today-ford- miles long and about ten miles wide, with a population of ten thousand, of which fifty-two per cent is colored.

It is interesting to note that the first coal ever mined in Virginia was from the old Dover mines near Manakin Town, and the first school for deaf mutes in America was established at Bolling Island, the seat of the Bolling family.

The doors of Tuckahoe, Dungeness, Rock Castle, Elk Hill and many other hospitable homes opened to the great and the lowly in the days of the packet boat on the old James River and Kanawha Canal. Rhythmic voices of the negroes in the low grounds blended with the boat’s whistle by day, and sounds of the banjo and fiddle were wafted from the “quarters” long after nightfall. The Civil War, however, marked the end of this ideal life, as many a pine forest, shading forgotten corn furrows, now attests.

Goochland furnished two companies of Confederate troops under the command of Colonel John Guy, and has the distinction of having given James A. Seddon, as Secretary of War, to the Confederate Cabinet, and Edward Bates, as Attorney General, to President Lincoln’s Cabinet. Mr. Bates was a presidential nominee in 1860.

The succeeding years left few homes in the possession of their original owners. Small farms replaced the early plantations; bad roads handicapped the marketing of produce; isolation sapped much of joy out of young and old, making them skeptical of new ways and new people.

The shock that staggered civilization in 1914 was discussed on the court green and in the cross-roads’ store, but its full significance was never felt until the khaki-clad youth left his home for the courthouse to join his comrades in arms destined for Camp Lee or Camp McClellan.


As soon as the United States declared war some of Goochland’s sons volunteered for active service. Later a larger contingent was drafted, and inane who were not influenced by the excitement in the air responded to the call of duty and patriotism.

On the official list in the clerk’s office are the names of one hundred and eighty-five men, volunteers and drafted. Of these, ninety-one are white and ninety-four colored men. There were some native sons of Goochland residing elsewhere who volunteered or were drafted from their places of residence at that time, thus adding to this official list. Of the registered men, seventy-seven served overseas: others never within the sound of the enemy’s t-‘s guns did their duty faithfully in camp or training school, while earnestly hoping that their turn would come to go “over there.” Some of these came home as physically unfit as those who had been gassed or wounded.

James Walker Seay, of Elk Kill, and Bernard Isbell, of Brooking, died at Camp Lee; James Samuel Carter met death in the Argonne, while George Abert Cary, aviator, was killed by the fall of his airplane on Kelly Field.

Several of our brave young soldiers will never be really well again, but they have taken up their tasks with the same undaunted spirit that sent them forth to battle for their country’s honor.



Great credit is due Mr. T. D. Stokes, the chairman for the Liberty Loan drives, who gave generously of his time and means. The Third, Fourth and Victory Loans exceeded the county’s quota. Goochland had no organization for the Second Loan drive.

Mrs. L. R. Barras was made chairman of the Woman’s Committee. The canvassing was done from house to house, the workers reporting that “the people responded gladly and liberally, in some cases borrowing from banks at a higher rate of interest in order to do their part. Many who were unable to give money, freely gave their time.”

The War Savings Stamp campaign was not so successful, although many stamps were sold. Unfortunately the records of this drive were burned and no details can be obtained.


“On June 22, 1918, on the same day that a handsome shaft erected by the Daughters of the Confederacy in memory of the heroes of 1861-1865 was unveiled, a large service flag was unfurled. This was presented to the county by the Goochland Chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy, and four children of the members unfurled it: Anne Holman, dressed as a Red Cross nurse; Nancy Parrish, as America; James Rutherford, as a U. S. soldier, and Robert Massie, as a U. S. sailor.

“Thrift stamps were sold at a booth erected for the purpose; there was an executive meeting of the Red Cross Chapter: a band played, and a striking feature of the day was that for the first time in the history of the county the white and colored races met together to celebrate with the same feeling of patriotism the honor done to their soldier boys. All were so united, so peaceful, it was difficult to realize that a terrible war was being waged overseas and that there were few persons present who were not anxious, even sick at heart, over the fate of their absent ones.

“The orator of the day was Robert E. Lee, grandson of General Robert E. Lee, commander–in– chief of the Confederacy, and the Confederate monument was unveiled by the great-granddaughter of Colonel David B. Harris, Beauregard’s chief of staff, a gallant officer of Goochland, and by the grandson of Colonel John H. Guy. This date was a record day in the annals of the county.”


Rev. R. V. Lancaster, assisted by Dr. McCoy, organized a troop of Boy Scouts. These boys worked on farms and in the gardens, and secured one hundred and thirty walnut trees. Liberty Bonds and War Savings Stamps were sold by this splendid little troop of nine boys, subscriptions made to the Red Cross and the United War Work campaign, and many pieces of literature distributed.


Perhaps the most difficult tasks of war expediency fell to the Food Administrator, James T. Rutherford, and to the director of home economics for the county, Mrs. Horace G. Buchanan, the former dealing direct with the producing farmer, who often felt his rights were being infringed upon. Millers and storekeepers were also kept posted as to government regulations. Forty-six retail stores and thirteen mills were given the varying scales of prices. Customers complained to their merchants over the small allotment of sugar, and the merchant in turn told his grievance to the administrator. Farmers could have only enough wheat ground for their own consumption, the surplus being offered to the government at its own price. In a short time, however, every one acknowledged the necessities arising from war, and submitted peacefully if not cheerfully.

The home economics director borrowed a lantern, and slides were sent from the department in Washington, which she showed personally at six different centers, demonstrating the necessity for wheat and sugar substitutes as well as the substitutes themselves. These shows were much discussed among the busy housewives who ridiculed them at first, but finally adopted them in good spirit. In fact, at a county rally on the court green in June, pies and cakes of all kinds were proudly passed around labelled “Made by Uncle Sam’s recipe.”


In private homes everywhere the restrictions as to cereals were observed, often at great inconvenience and greater expense, as flour and meal were plentiful and substitutes had to be bought.


The phenominal growth of the national Red Cross caused it to take first place in the public mind as a medium for war relief work, so it was unanimously decided by Goochland and Powhatan to separately petition for a charter to become a branch of the Richmond Chapter Red Cross, thus merging the two organizations. This was granted September 6, 1917, and a meeting was held at Goochland courthouse September 19, which formally initiated the Red Cross in the county. Mr. Thomas D. Stokes, of Elk Hill, was made chairman; Mrs. H. T. Parrish, vicechairman; Dr. W. M. Holman, treasurer; Mrs. H. G. Buchanan, secretary. The men of the county who had directed their efforts in other war measures now threw themselves whole heartedly into the service of the Red Cross.

During the six months that Goochland remained a branch of the Richmond Chapter, 234 hospital shirts, 639 towels, 125 pairs pajamas, 26 bath robes, 164 pairs socks, 104 sweaters, 75 pairs wristlets and 13 mufflers were sent to headquarters.

The work in the county having grown so rapidly the Potomac Division deemed it advisable to make Goochland an independent chapter. Mrs. M. V. Woodley was sent from Washington to reorganize the Red Cross work at a meeting held at the State Farm April 10, 1918. The former officers were unanimously re-elected with Mrs. W. M. Holman, chairman of woman’s work; Mrs. James T. Rutherfoord, home service; Mrs. W. B. Fraser, finance; J. Cannon Hobson, division and extension, and an active executive committee appointed.

Speakers from Richmond Chapter’s bureau gave great impetus to the work. Public meetings were held in every community, and lantern slides demonstrating the many phases of Red Cross activity were shown. The headlights of Ford cars served as footlights at many novel out-of-door entertainments. At Montrose, the home of H. G. Buchanan, the arrival of three army airplanes with their quota of young lieutenants for the weekend, was a novel sight in Goochland at that time, and was made the occasion for raising funds from the three hundred or more guests who came to witness the maneuvers, the proceeds being given to the War Relief Association of Virginia and the Red Cross Canteen Girls of Richmond.

At the same home, two months later, Mr. John D. Lee, of Lynchburg, thrilled a large gathering in a masterful speech in behalf of the great American Red Cross.

The machinery set in motion for patriotic service was now running full speed, and co-operative effort made such service a real pleasure.

The home service committee sent eighty letters to soldiers which were delivered to them as they were leaving the courthouse. Information and help were given to one hundred and fifty families, including many letters written for same. Three hundred dollars was advanced to ten families. A band of Red Cross workers served coffee and sandwiches to the drafted men, and bade them Godspeed with cheers and waving flags.

Too much cannot be said of the ten junior auxiliaries under the leadership of Mrs. James Bowles. Several Richmond merchants furnished the materials which they made into four hundred and seventy garments of several sizes for refugee children. Scrap-books, games, “housewives” and other articles were sent overseas for Christmas presents to the soldiers. The entire output was so creditably done it was taken to the Virginia State Fair to be exhibited, but, unfortunately, the influenza epidemic had reached such alarming proportions in Richmond at that time the mayor ordered the fair closed to safeguard the public health. A fine assortment of canned and conserved fruits and vegetables was also sent by Goochland women for the same exhibit, and this was taken to the army hospital at Westhampton.

Meetings were held at eight colored churches where Red Cross auxiliaries were formed which did splendid work, cooperating with the chapter in every way possible. Thrift Stamps and several Liberty Bonds were sold by them.

During this period of anxious waiting and physical stress, no woman appeared at meetings, railway stations or even at the table without a bag of knitting at her side, and scores in the thinly settled districts who could not come to meetings put every possible moment into some article to warm the body and cheer the heart of some brave boy.

Goochland Chapter shipped to Washington at this time 1.120 made articles, including sweaters, socks and refugee garments; 1,060 pounds of clothing were sent to the Belgian Relief. There was never a call made, an allotment requested, which the chapter did not respond to and exceed in volume.

The treasurer, Miss Lucy Green, of Elk Hill, reported $6,100.46 raised through subscriptions, entertainments and donations.

All work was voluntary. No headquarters was maintained, as the work was done in private homes.

So lasting has been the work of Goochland Red Cross, even though its membership showed a decline as did other chapters after the war, it still sponsors and directs a broad program of community activities. In conjunction with the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia under the leadership of Rev. W. W. Brander who, for nineteen years, served as chaplain in the United States army, it finances the social welfare work of the county, directs clinics, and is the organization ever ready for cooperative effort.


Barring the United Daughters of the Confederacy and local church groups, Goochland was without an organization and without a county newspaper before the World War. This condition greatly increased the task of making any concerted effort. A few patriotic women had aided in war relief work in Richmond, and it was through them that a meeting was called at the State Farm, April 10, 1917, to organize the counties of Powhatan and Goochland jointly under the National League for Woman’s Service. Mrs. Horace Buchanan, of Goochland, was elected chairman; Mrs. R. B. Tucker, of Powhatan, Secretary; Mrs. James T. Rutherfoord, of Goochland, treasurer.

“The broad scope of this organization’s activities soon enlisted practically all of the representative women of the two counties, who threw themselves eagerly into the tasks assigned them. The difficulty encountered in holding joint meetings, however, because of the James River dividing the two counties, compelled them to act independently of each other, each sending generous contributions in garments through the Richmond Red Cross, and preserves and vegetables to nearby camps.”


Under the direction and guidance of the Service League, the Goochland Girls’ Sponsor League for the French War Orphans was formed, and, with the local chapter United Daughters of the Confederacy, undertook the task of supporting six children. Letters were exchanged with their little wards, and great pleasure as well as benefit derived therefrom.

The Goochland League for Woman’s Service at once became the nucleus from which other organizations sprang. The county branch of the State Council of Safety was formed, and the National Council of Defense-these two looking to greater production along agricultural lines.


There was no work done by the churches individually during the war period, as all members of the various congregations were interested in the organized county work.

There was so Salvation Army- unit, Jewish Welfare League, nor was there even a Y.M.C.A. or Y.W.C.A. group in Goochland to put on the United War Work drive, therefore Mrs. Horace Buchanan was designated chairman for the county.

As the Red Cross had enlisted all available workers, it was an easy task for the chairman to appoint sub-chairmen in each district with local committees to canvass their respective communities. Representative speakers came out from Richmond, who spoke in several churches and the most populous centers. A spirit of enthusiasm pervaded every one and carried the War Work campaign well “over the top.” Goochland was assessed $2,350 and raised $2,840.30.


When the campaign for the American War Library was put on in Goochland, the chairman, Mrs. Bradley S. Johnson, with only ten days’ notice, was able to raise $115. Many boxes of books were sent to Camp Lee and to Dr. McIlwaine, State Librarian; also a large box of books and magazines to the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Club in Richmond. Contributions of books were sent to the Chaplain at Paris Island, S. C., for the sick men in the hospital and for the prisoners in the military prison there. Mrs. T. Ashby Wickham made a liberal donation of choice fiction to several hospitals in France through the War Relief Association.


On June 3 1920, medals of honor were presented to the soldiers of the World War from the citizens of Goochland. General W. W. Sale, the Adjutant General of Virginia, made the address of the occasion. It was stressed that if the exservice man did not make out his war questionnaire his record would be lost, and that it would be a keen regret to him and his descendants if there was no proof of his service.

Mrs. W. W. Sale, Mrs. Bradley Johnson and Mrs. Horace Buchanan presented the war medals and endeavored to get as many papers as possible made out. There are yet twenty white soldiers not recorded and fifty colored who have not made out their records.

Shortly after the return of the major part of the colored troops to Goochland, their churches and social organizations planned a celebration to welcome them home. A band played throughout the day at Manakin, patriotic songs were sung, speeches were made by leading men of their race, and a baseball game completed the memorable day.

To Mrs. Bradley S. Johnson, the chairman of the War History committee for Goochland, and her associates, is due the grateful acknowledgment of a county justly proud of its record for patriotic service. The fruits of their tireless efforts are carefully filed in the clerk’s office at the courthouse where generations yet unborn may read them with a righteous pride.