Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), and several Kindle ebooks.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Little House at the Reunion


Sunday I went to the Holland family reunion at Bethel Church off Rt. 834. I am one of the multitude of Franklin County residents who can trace my routes back to a Michael Holland, who was born in Middlewich (or Middlewith) in Lancaster County in England, in the 1660s.

The first Holland in America, at least in our line, was Peter Holland (1683-86?-1749-52?), an indentured servant of Wm. Neilson of Edinburg. He was indentured to work in Maryland or VA and came to Essex County, Virginia, in 1699; he was in Caroline County in 1714. He married Susannah, a widow. There our line begins.

I’m a Holland on the Smith side. My great-great grandmother, Malinda Laetitia Holland (1818? to 14 Feb 1886)—the daughter of Peter Diggins Holland and Frances Hancock—married Samuel Wood Smith (5 Aug. 1813 to Dec. 1877). They were the parents of Henry Silas Smith, who married Mariah Lousia Martin, the daughter of Elder John Reid Martin.

It was nice to meet people I’d never met before but was kin to several different ways. (Hollands often married Smiths and Browns, I learned.) I was invited to this reunion because I wrote a book, Patches on the Same Quilt, that was set in the area. In fact, a couple of scenes take place at Bethel Church where my great-great grandfather, Elder John Reid Martin, used to preach. I’d even used him as a minor character. The church was used in parts of a couple of chapters.

This is the inside of the church, modernized a bit from when John Martin preached.


His portrait hangs on the wall above the pulpit. He’s second from the left. My grandparents would have sat in this church. They would have come from their Union Hall farm in their buggy on the road they called the racetrack, or old race path, so named because boys used to race their horses and buggies there. Part of the racetrack is now under the lake. I remember when it was a red clay road. I used the racetrack in part of my book, too.

Several years ago, I’d talked about Patches to a creative writing class at CATCE (now the Gereau Center). Alise Fralin—who worked there and who read my book at the recommendation of the creative writing teacher—called me and asked me to come to this year’s reunion. Alise is a Holland.

One of those attending Sunday's reunion, Larry Wayne Jones, built a replica of one of the Holland homes, the house he was born in and which burned in the 1978. The original house was just down from Dudley School, on Rt. 665, not far from where we were gathered, and was built to replace a log cabin.

Wayne Jones with his model. The smokehouse is to the left.
Bethel Church is in the background behind the vehicles.
The church cemetery is under the trees.


The original frame house was built in 1913. Of Wayne’s family of nine kids, four—including Wayne—were born in the house. He built the model in the winter of 2000 when there was a lot of snow. He included models of the outbuildings, like this woodshed. An outhouse (its roof is barely visible on the right) is behind the woodshed.


Franklin County is rich in history. Most of the locals hand the history down from generation to generation, and every family who’s been in the area for a while has good stories to tell.

Thanks to computers, many of us are writing down family stories and sharing them. The Internet has helped tremendously in sharing genealogy and historical information. For example, when I wrote about doing a reading at Avenel in Bedford last year, I heard from Farrar Richardson in Bordeaux, France, and learned quite a bit about his ancestor and a Civil War incident in Bedford County. I’m still working on a story about that. From time to time, I’ll post bits of local or family history on this blog.

If you’re not familiar with Franklin County history (and want to be), let me recommend a few resources. For an overview of county history, Salmon and Church’s Franklin County Virginia, 1786-1986 is a good beginning, although the book is our of print and hard to find. Keister Greer’s The Great Moonshine Conspiracy Trial of 1935 and his Genesis of a Virginia Frontier are still available though. The Franklin County Historical Society in downtown Rocky Mount has a lot of resources and some interesting exhibits. The Blue Ridge Institute and the Booker T. Washington National Monument have exhibits that show what farm life was like in the 1800s.

The Holland reunion is held at Bethel Church every fourth Sunday of September. Odds are good I'll be there next year.

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6 Comments:

Blogger Ibby Greer said...

Thi was terrific. That model of the house is delightful, and I like how you have woven the stories and history together with the reunioin and the families involved. Your novel, "Patches on the Same Quilt," is informative and charming and pays proper tribute to the local history. You are so good at putting photos and images into your blog.

1:32 PM  
Blogger Amy Hanek said...

Great history lesson Becky! I am going to Avenel in early October to ghost hunt. They are closing the house down for just us to tour. I will give the juicy details of any ghostly findings later that week!

I do own one of Keister's books and plan to buy the next one sooner or later!

6:23 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Oh how wonderful Becky! I love the picture of the old church. I would love to hear more about the people you met and their stories. Why don't you put together a book of local families?

7:27 PM  
Blogger Becky Mushko said...

Why don't I put together a book of local families?

That would be a huge undertaking! There are so many pioneer families whose descendants still live in the county today. Plus many books have already done that (Wingfield's local histories, for instance).

The Franklin County Historical Society has loads of self-pubbed books and other resources about various family histories.

9:13 AM  
Blogger Terri Long said...

I need to get in contact with the author. My family lines are from William Holland and Martha Gardner. They had sons Thomas B., John Maston, William Francis, Alfred Asa, James Silas, Green Losson, Anderson Leander, Wylie Bowen and daughters Tennessee, Evaline Alice and Malissa Ann. My line comes from Wylie Bowen and his second marriage.

11:23 PM  
Blogger Becky Mushko said...

Terri, my contact info is on my website, www.beckymushko.com

7:31 AM  

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