Sunday, July 5, 2015

Sunday Search: Our Towns

With the reunion having concluded yesterday, we filled Sunday with a variety of stops and places that I wanted to see during our extended vacation in Virginia. We filled much of our morning with a few trips to some local cemeteries but that is a post for another day. This post is about where our family lived both in the early part of the 20th and latter part of the 19th century.

Before moving up to Pennsylvania, my grandfather was born and raised in Eagle Rock, Virginia. This is where all of my great aunts and uncles were born as well. I guess you could say that it all started at the Eagle Rock Baptist Church where my great grandparents, Harry Teaford and Nettie Love, were married in 1917. For the first time, I was able to see the church thanks to my great uncle serving as our tour guide for the morning.

Of course, before we received this guidance, we were left on our own to explore the small town. While it is clear that it was once a nice little mountain community, the town seems to have never recovered from the depression that drove my family north.

While the train station still looks like it is in good working order…

…the car dealership has obviously be lacking that new leather smell for some time.

This is obviously not a touristy type stop but it where we come from and it is the first time that I have been able to walk the streets and probably the first time that my father had been there in about 50 years. While pictures and documents make up much of work in genealogy, places are also an important part of the process. Walking the same streets and seeing the surrounding mountains gave me a much better understanding of the generations of my family that called this small town home.

Later in the day we met up with a cousin in Fincastle (as well as my aunt and uncle who also joined us for the afternoon). Surprisingly, we were the only ones that took her up on her offer yesterday for a tour of the capital of Botetourt County. Many of our family documents can be found in this building so I was looking forward to finding out a little more about the town itself. We all convened at the local museum and proceeded to walk the town as the humidity continued to rise.

Just in front of the museum was the county courthouse…

…which served as the gateway to the west when this now modest county extended far beyond its current boundaries and deep into the Midwest. It is because of this distinction that the courthouse is recognized for its place in the Lewis & Clark Expedition.

From the courthouse we walked up and down the main and back streets of Fincastle…

…passing numerous historic sites and old houses…

…and quite a few churches including the one below which dates back to before the Revolutionary War.

The town tour ended where it began and our generous host concluded the afternoon with a walk through the museum. Of course, the path around the building lead us directly to the research room where we couldn’t help but pour through a few of the volumes stacked on the shelves. While we didn’t uncover much, it was nice to be back in the stacks sifting through all of the names. And, obviously, it was once again nice to have my feet on the same soil and stones that were once walked by many in my family decades ago.