(Photo By The Enterprise)
Stuart Rotarians Stanley Fain, Denny Alley, Al Brammer, Patty Hazelwood, Janice Wilkinson, and charter member Curtis Carter show off the new sign showing visitors and newcomers the way to Rotary Field.I'm not from Stuart, I live in Collinsville which is 26 miles away, near Martinsville. However, my Dad was born and lived his early childhood in nearby Buffalo Ridge. (Between Stuart and Woolwine.) I moved back to Henry County in February of this year and started work in Stuart in March. Sometimes I believe destiny just happens.
Although I miss working in the coalfields of Buchanan, Dickenson, Tazewell, Lee, and Wise Counties, Virginia, and Letcher, Pike, Bell, Martin, and Magoffin Counties KY, and Mingo, Wyoming, Logan, Mercer, and McDowell Counties, WV. I truly love working in Patrick County. I have now come full circle in my life.
My maternal Grandfather was a miner, working in Lee County, Virginia. None of his sons worked underground. But his second grandson has. While I seldom had to go underground in my job, sometimes it was necessary. I still have my miner's cap to go along with his that is hanging on my wall. I continue to wear mine whenever a hard hat is required on my job, and it will eventually be placed on the wall beside his. (I do get a lot of questions, like "what are all those stickers for?" and "what kind of hard hat is that?" and "What is that loop on the back for?" You guys in the southwest will know, to the others it's a southwestern thing, you wouldn't understand.
My mother was born in Bonny Blue, a coal camp just a couple of hollows up from St. Charles, Virginia. She was raised in Ben Hur and graduated from Jonesville High School. The current Lee County Vocational School sits on my maternal Grandfathers old property.
My paternal Grandfather was from Buffalo Ridge, off State Rt. 8. He was a logger, sawmiller, carpenter, and finally a cabinetmaker, occasionally producing market samples for Bassett and Stanley Furniture. He once told me of buying a mountain in North Carolina for the timber, then reselling it because he could see no future in owning Beech Mountain, NC. That's right, folks, my grandfather cleared the land for the ski resorts. He was a great man, but not extremely visionary, I suppose.
Now I find myself in sort of a limbo between the two. I have worked in the coalfields, underground like my Grandfather. I am now in the wood products industry, like my other Grandfather. Ain't life wonderfully strange sometimes?
Stuart is the County seat of Patrick County. In 1752, Halifax County contained the lands of Patrick today. Pittsylvania County came in 1767 named for William Pitt, the Earl of Chatham. In 1776, Henry County was formed which contained the current Patrick County area. In 1791, Virginia formed Patrick County naming it also after founding father Patrick Henry who once lived within the present Henry County area in Leatherwood. Patrick Henry is the only person having two Virginia Counties named for him.
The town of Stuart was originally known as Taylorsville, renamed Stuart to honor J.E.B. Stuart who was born nearby in Ararat, of parents who moved here from the Hairston Plantation in what is now Collinsville, VA. (Cue the Twilight Zone theme music.... da-da-da-daah, )
The Richmond Dispatch on November 10,1892, wrote that Patrick County "until very recently was cut off from the world". Patrick is more southwest than the piedmont in mind set. (This attitude is exhibited in most of Henry County as well, west and north of Martinsville.) I take great pride working in Patrick County and knowing that it is the land of my Grandfather's birth, in Buffalo Ridge.