Category Archive 'Virginia'
04 Feb 2017

Best Political Speech in Years

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Classic Virginia. Delegate Matt C. Farris (R-Campbell) debates HB 1900, an anti-hunting bill which would impose a $100 fine per dog in cases in which hunting dogs stray onto a property where they are unwelcome. A Virginia fox hunt might go out with several dozen hounds, so you can imagine what a case of accidental trespass by a pack might cost.

No embed, FB link.

20 Apr 2015

Keswick Hunt, 2014-1015 Season

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Keswick hunts a gorgeous territory divided between woods and farmland in the foothills of the Blue Ridge at the southern end of Northern Virgina’s Hunt Country. Its territory includes Civil War battlefields, the birthplace of Zachary Taylor, James Madison’s Montpelier, and the point from which the Knights of the Golden Horseshoe set out to explore the wilderness in 1716. Karen and I were out with them once on a joint meet just a few years ago.

5:21 video

KeswickVideo

29 Mar 2015

The Ballad of Holland Island House

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HollandIslandHouse

Wikipedia:

Holland Island was originally settled in the 1600s, taking its name from early colonist Daniel Holland, the original purchaser of the property from the Dorchester County Sheriff. By 1850, the first community of fishing and farming families developed on the island. By 1910, the island had about 360 residents, making it one of the largest inhabited islands in the Chesapeake Bay. The island community had 70 homes, stores and other buildings. It had its own post office, two-room school with two teachers, a church, baseball team, community center, and a doctor. The islanders supported themselves mainly by dredging for oysters, fishing for shad and crabbing. Their fleet of workboats included 41 skipjacks, 10 schooners and 36 bugeyes, some of which were built on the island.

The wind and tide began to seriously erode the west side of the island, where most of the houses were located, in 1914. This forced the inhabitants to move to the mainland. Many disassembled their houses and other structures and took them to the mainland, predominantly Crisfield. Attempts to protect the island by building stone walls were unsuccessful. The last family left the island in 1918, when a tropical storm damaged the island’s church. A few of the former residents continued living on the island during the fishing season until 1922, when the church was moved to Fairmount, Maryland. …

In October 2010, the last remaining house on Holland Island, built in 1888, collapsed.

The land of the island has been subsiding as a result of post-glacial rebound, the return to normal of bulges created by the weight of glaciers elsewhere during the last ice age. This process has caused a major loss of land on the island. Like other Chesapeake Bay islands, Holland Island is primarily made up of clay and silt, not rock. The western ridge of the island is very exposed to waves in the bay, making it prone to erosion as well. The island’s size has been reduced by half, from 160 acres (0.65 km2) in 1915 to 80 acres (0.32 km2) in 2005.

Most of the remaining land on the island is now marsh,[3] and at high tide the island is underwater.

03 Mar 2015

Sweet Briar To Close Next August

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Sweet Briar students traditionally liked to sit outside by the Bell Tower.

Sweet Briar College is a 114-year-old liberal arts woman’s college located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge a little north of Lynchburg, Virginia.

Although Sweet Briar was always a small school, it was, back during my pre-coeducation freshman year, socially well-connected enough to participate in mixers with elite New England schools like Yale. My memory is that Sweet Briar’s echt-Southern girls dressed better, had livelier personalities, and were typically more friendly and conversable than the representatives of Vassar, Smith, and Holyoke whom we previously had entertained, and we were decidedly impressed that Sweet Briar girls managed to be so soigné on their arrival in New Haven after a God-only-knows-how-many-hours-long bus ride from deep in nethermost Virginia.

Sweet Briar girls seemed to us representatives of Yankeedom like exotic specimens imported from a distant, more tropical habitat. But, though they were obviously the offspring of wealthier and more socially prominent families than most of ours, they were also clearly the products of a rural culture, and were more interested in talking about their horses and sport than in calculatingly sizing you up, in the manner of Vassar, as a potential husband and breadwinner. I remember having more fun at the Sweet Briar mixer than at any of the others I attended that year.

Sweet Briar takes its name from a 3250-acre plantation, left along with an endowment to create a woman’s college by one Indiana Fletcher in 1901.

One reads today in the Washington Post the sad news that the Sweet Briar board has voted to close the school down next August, being apparently unable in a time of declining enrollment when fewer women desire single-sex education to make end’s meet. I think that is a shame. There ought to be a place like Sweet Briar where young ladies can major in horsemanship along with the liberal arts in preparation for an adult life spent hunting three days a week somewhere in Virginia.

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Sweet Briar was renowned for its opportunities for equestrian instruction and activities.

14 Sep 2014

Melvin Poe, 24 August 1920 — 13 September 2014

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Melvin Poe hunting his Bath County Hounds in Hume, Virginia in 2009. (photograph: Karen L. Myers)

The sad news arrived yesterday morning, via friends on Facebook, that Northern Virginia Horse Country’s most-admired huntsman, Melvin Poe, had passed away at his home in Hume at the age of 94. I suppose we were all expecting it. Last year, when the anniversary of his birth arrived in late August, there were gleeful reports about Melvin celebrating his birthday, on horseback as usual. When there was no such story this year, we began to worry.

Melvin’s longevity, and extraordinary ability to ride and even to jump a horse at such an advanced age, had been noteworthy objects of envy and admiration throughout hunting circles for years. Melvin would occasionally ride with us, car following the Old Dominion Hounds, and when we’d leave the car to take up an observation position, I’d often find myself left behind, despite being almost 30 years younger, walking carefully and favoring a bad knee afflicted with damp weather arthritis, while Melvin could scramble up a hill as nimbly as a goat.

I grew up in the mountains of Eastern Pennsylvania, where hunting and fishing were treated by many like religion, and though Melvin’s native Virginia milieu had a different sporting emphasis, on hounds and fox hunting rather than trout and deer, nonetheless, I recognized Melvin at once, on making his acquaintance, as a kindred sporting fanatic.

We tended to hang out together at hunt meets, banquets, and hound shows. I last saw Melvin on Election Day of 2012, at the Episcopal Church Hall in Delaplane. We had both turned out to try to vote down Caliban, and we stood around together talking hunting for a long time. I remember that along came a lady member of a couple of local hunts from down the road in Markham who asked our advice about dealing with a skunk which had intruded into her horse barn. (Melvin and I recommended shooting the trespasser carefully in the head, from a safe distance.)

Melvin had been working as professional huntsman for Old Dominion back when I was attending grade school. He left Old Dominion in 1962. I think he hunted hunted briefly for Piedmont and/or Middleburg, but before very long took to carrying the horn for Orange County (possibly the toniest Northern Virginia hunt). He was Orange County huntsman for decades, and his tenure there gained him national renown. Peter Winants published a Derrydale Press book on Foxhunting with Melvin Poe. A documentary film, produced in 1979, called Thoughts on Foxhunting, starred Melvin and preserves a living record of his remarkable dialogue in the field with hounds.

Melvin retired from Orange County in 1991, but continued to hunt the neighborhood around his farm in Hume, and occasionally the vast Ohrstrom domain in Bath County in the Western mountains with a private pack made up of ill-favored, misshapen, or misbehaving hounds culled by local packs. Their quality didn’t matter in the least because Melvin could get any hound to cooperate and hunt well.

We had the opportunity to go out with Melvin and his Bath County Hounds back in 2009. More frequently, we car-followed the Old Dominion Hounds with Melvin. I remember in particular one day when, I can’t remember why, Melvin and I were separated from Karen and we’d gotten in a spot well ahead of the pack when one fox after another began popping out of cover and dashing off to our left. Melvin let go with the most extreme example of the Rebel Yell (preferred by true Virginia aborigines to a mere “Tally Ho!”) I’ve ever heard. Melvin gave me a fishy look for standing there silently, so when the second fox appeared, there I was, imitating Melvin and Rebel Yelling away with him. What a memory!

We will miss him.

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Fauquier Times obituary

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Norman Fine’s Obituary

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Chronicle of the Horse: “No One Else Can Hunt Like Melvin Poe.”

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Melvin out car following Old Dominion with us back in 2010.

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Let’s have John Tabachka blow “Going Home” for Melvin.

14 Jul 2014

Virginia Father Claims Bit of Africa as Kingdom For His Daughter

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Jeremiah Heaton and Princess Emily display the flag of the Kingdom of North Sudan.

The Telegraph reports that the Age of European Reconnaissance is not yet over.

A father from Virginia has gone to extreme lengths for his daughter, flying to Africa and claiming a “kingdom” between Egypt and Sudan so that she can be an actual princess.

Jeremiah Heaton began his unusual quest for the unclaimed piece of land sandwiched between the two countries after making a promise to seven-year-old daughter Emily that she would one day be royalty.

After reaching the desert region of Bir Tawil in June, the father-of-three planted a flag his children had designed, and made the first steps towards claiming the land.

On his return Mr Heaton and wife made a crown for their daughter and asked friends and family to refer to her as Princess Emily.

Her kingdom covers about 800 square miles of desert that has never been claimed by Sudan or Egypt.

Mr Heaton found Bir Tawil, one of the last unclaimed pieces of land on the planet, after searching for how he could fulfill his promise to Emily.

Several attempts to claim ownership of the region have been made online, but Mr Heaton believes that by actually traveling to the site and planting the flag gave his claim an edge.

Read the whole thing.

11 Jun 2014

Crossover-Voting Democrats, Not the Tea Party, Beat Eric Cantor

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EricCantor

How did Cantor actually lose?

Andrew Sullivan’s gloating readers are this morning offering some clues.

Reader 1:

I live in the 7th District in Virginia, and I am a Democrat who voted for David Brat in the open primary. There has been a whisper campaign going on among the Democrats in the district for the last few weeks and it resulted in many Democrats coming out to vote for Brat. We felt especially encouraged after the 7th District committee nominated Jack Trammell to be the Democratic candidate for the seat last Sunday. We now feel we at least have a fair chance at winning it. (By the way, Jack Trammell is a professor at the same small college as Brat, Randolph-Macon.)

Reader 2:

Here’s a theory to support your reader who, though a Democrat, voted for Brat: in 2012, roughly 47,000 people voted in the 7th District Republican primary. This time, roughly 65,000. Now let’s assume that of those 18,000 new voters, 16,000 were Democrats voting to axe Cantor, then rework the numbers if they hadn’t voted: Cantor would then have had around 29,000+ votes, and Brat would have had around 20,000+. Which would have worked out to approximately 59% for Cantor, which is where he was at in 2012 and much closer to his internal polling showing him with a lead of 34% among likely REPUBLICAN voters.

I’m thinking time will show that Democrats in his district were fed up with him, and decided to do something about it.

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Cantor should just run, and win, as an independent in November, rather than giving up. What would a left-wing democrat (sandbagged in a primary by the opposition party) do?

And Virginia should get rid on non-party-registration and open primaries.

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CORRECTION: Damn! Cantor actually cannot run as an independent. Commenter JKB points out that Virginia not only has open primaries, it has a “sore-loser” law preventing candidates defeated in a primary from entering the race as independents.

WSLS10:

According to the Code of Virginia’s section on candidates and elections (24.2-520), candidates filing for a primary must sign a statement agreeing that if they lose, their names cannot be printed on ballots for the general election. Meaning, if a candidate in the Republican primary for the 5th District loses on June 8, he or she cannot run as a third-party candidate in November.

The deadline for filing as an independent, however, is June 8 at 7 p.m. – the same time the primary polls close.

22 Dec 2013

“A Rebel’s Recollections, Part 1”

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Seven articles by George Cary Eggleston published in the Atlantic, June-December, 1874.

Part 1, The Mustering:

With all its horrors and in spite of the wretchedness it has wrought, this war of ours, in some of its aspects at least, begins to look like a very ridiculous affair, now that we are getting too far away from it to hear the rattle of the musketry; and I have a mind, in this chapter, to review one of its most ridiculous phases, to wit, its beginning. We all remember Mr. Webster’s pithy putting of the case with regard to our forefathers of a hundred years ago: “They went to war against a preamble. They fought seven years against a declaration. They poured out their treasures and their blood like water, in a contest in opposition to an assertion.” Now it seems to me that something very much like this might be said of the Southerners, and particularly of the Virginians, without whose pluck and pith there could have been no war at all worth writing or talking about. They made war upon a catch-word, and fought until they were hopelessly ruined for the sake of an abstraction. And certainly history will not find it to the discredit of those people that they freely offered themselves upon the altar of an abstract principle of right, in a war which they knew must work hopeless ruin to themselves, whatever its other results might be. Virginia did not want to secede, and her decision to this effect was given in the election of a convention composed for the most part of men strongly opposed to secession. …

Why, then, the reader doubtless asks, if this was the temper of the Virginians, did Virginia secede after all? I answer, because circumstances ultimately so placed the Virginians that they could not, without cowardice and dishonor, do otherwise; and the Virginians are brave men and honorable ones. They believed, as I have said, in the abstract right of any State to secede at will. Indeed, this right was to them as wholly unquestioned and unquestionable as is the right of the States to establish free schools, or to do any other thing pertaining to local self-government. The question of the correctness or incorrectness of the doctrine is not now to the purpose. The Virginians, almost without an exception, believed and had always believed it absolutely, and believing it, they held of necessity that the general government had no right, legal or moral, to coerce a seceding State; and so, when the President called upon Virginia for her quota of troops with which to compel the return of the seceding States, she could not possibly obey without doing that which her people believed to be an outrage upon the rights of sister commonwealths, for which, as they held, there was no warrant in law or equity.

She heartily condemned the secession of South Carolina and the rest as unnecessary, ill-advised, and dangerous; but their secession did not concern her except as a looker-on, and she had not only refused to be a partaker in it, but had also felt a good deal of indignation against the men who were thus endangering the peace of the land. When she was called upon to assist in reducing these States to submission, however, she could no longer remain a spectator. She must furnish the troops, and so assist in doing that which she believed to be utterly wrong, or she must herself withdraw from the Union. The question was thus narrowed down to this: Should Virginia seek safety in dishonor, or should she meet destruction in doing that which she believed to be right? Such a question was not long to be debated. Two days after the proclamation was published Virginia seceded, not because she wanted to secede, – not because she believed it wise, – but because, as she understood the matter, the only other course open to her would have been cowardly and dishonorable.

Read the whole thing.

14 Nov 2013

Wolver Beagles Celebrate Centennial

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The Wolver Beagles competing in the Beagle Pack Trials at the Institute Farm in Aldie, Virginia, November, 2010. (Photo: Karen L. Myers)

The Wolver Beagles celebrated their hundred anniversary of operation as an organized hunting pack this fall. By my count, Wolver is the fifth oldest beagle pack in the United States, preceded only by the Waldingfield Beagles (founded 1885), the Somerset Beagles (founded 1888, disbanded 1922), the Sir Sister Beagles (founded 1897), and Richard Gambrill’s Vernon Somerset Beagles (founded 1912, disbanded 1953). Only two older beagle packs still survive, and Wolver can additionally boast a more continuous operation under fewer masters than any other beagle pack in America.

Wolver’s colors, displayed on the collar, are buff with light blue piping. Wolver is a private pack, operating out of Middleburg, Virginia and hunting only bitch hounds. Wolver is recognized everywhere as a crack pack, performing typically at a superior level and winning far more than its share of competitions.

Barbara Riggs produced an article on Wolver’s history appearing this week in the Chronicle of the Horse.

26 Aug 2013

Melvin’s 93rd Birthday

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photo: Julie Martin Matheson.

Famed retired Orange County huntsman, who still hunts hounds as Master of his own Bath County pack, Melvin Poe celebrated his 93rd birthday with a pre-season trail ride near his home in Hume, Virginia.

22 Jul 2013

D. Harcourt Lees, Jr., M.F.H.

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D. Harcourt Lees Jr.

The Fauquier newspaper provided an enviable obituary.

D. Harcourt Lees Jr. of Warrenton, known to many as the quintessential Virginia gentleman, died at home Sunday, July 21, after a brief illness.

Mr. Lees, 91, for decades owned and operated an insurance and real estate firm. He was a past president of the Fauquier County Chamber of Commerce and the Fauquier Club and a former director of The Fauquier Bank. He was a longtime member of Warrenton Rotary Club.

He had a lifelong passion for horse sports. Mr. Lees served as the Warrenton Hunt Master of Foxhounds from 1968 to 1981. He continued to ride to the hounds until 2001.

A Warrenton native, he loved practical jokes and parties.

Mr. Lees and the late Billy Wilbur made their legendary “Midnight Ride” after a hunt ball in the 1950s. On horseback and still in tuxedos, they visited a half-dozen farms, procuring cocktails along the way.

A 1997 profile in The Fauquier Citizen, described Mr. Lees’ impeccable manners. Always well dressed — or “turned out” — he bowed and tipped his hat when meeting friends and strangers on the street.

“His manners are flawless,” the late Byrd Greene told Don Del Rosso, who wrote the newspaper profile. “But they’re manners from the heart; he’s a gentleman because it’s inside of him.”

Molliter ossa cubent.

06 May 2013

Stonewall Jackson’s Arm

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Ellwood Manor

Randon Billings Noble (Now, that is a Southern name!) commemorates the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Chancellorsville and Stonewall Jackson’s accidental wounding and death by searching for the internment site of General Jackson’s amputated arm.

I was walking through a cornfield in search of a cemetery in the middle of Virginia. A fox trotted across the path in front of me and disappeared in the forest of stalks with barely a rustle. I was searching for Stonewall Jackson’s lost arm. …

In Chancellorsville, 150 years later, the story of this arm is surprisingly well documented. A large quartz boulder marks the place where Jackson fell and signs along Route 3 mark the “Wounding of Jackson” and “Jackson’s Amputation.” But the cemetery in which the arm was buried is not marked. I knew that an aide had taken the arm to his own family graveyard, and I learned from one of the markers that the cemetery was called Ellwood, but I didn’t know where it was—only that it was nearby.

I drove through Chancellorsville National Military Park with my eyes open for anything that looked like it might lead to a cemetery. Late in the day, in a gray misty rain, having already given up, I pulled into a driveway to turn around and stopped short at a rusty iron gate with soldered block letters, E L L W O O D.

I hesitated. It was clearly a locked gate, but a faint trail led around it and continued through dense woods. While I didn’t want to trespass, I didn’t want to retreat either. The mystery of the arm was too great; I left the car in the driveway.

Read the whole thing.

Hat tip to Fred Lapides.

25 Feb 2013

Alligators in Virginia

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Not to mention (any day now): Alligators in Virginny! (just ask Fred Lapides)

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Another one for Warmlist.

22 Feb 2013

George Washington’s Birthday

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Col. George Washington, Foxhunter (Ralph Boyer, aquatint, Fathers of American Sport, Derrydale Press, 1931)

David Hackett Fischer (who first traced the pre-Revolutionary influence of four different regions and cultures of Great Britain upon the United States in Albion’s Seed, 1989), in Bound Away: Virginia and the Westward Movement, written with James C. Kelly and published in 2000, identifies another major and distinctive pre-Revolutionary regional American cultural strain: a tradition of elite patriotism most prominently exemplified in George Washington, but originating from the influence of his friend and mentor, Lord Fairfax.

The Northern Neck [i.e. the region between the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers] rapidly developed into a distinctive region of Virginia with a character that was largely defined by Lord Fairfax himself and his friends and agents, who included the Washington, Lee, and Marshall families.

Fairfax liked the country so well that he returned as an immigrant in 1747 and made his permanent home in Virginia. He built himself a long, rambling hunting lodge called Greenway Court and a small stone land office high in the Shenandoah country at the western end of his domain. At the same time he became justice of the peace of all the counties in the Northern Neck, county lieutenant, and commandant of the militia. Lord Fairfax acquiesced in the American Revolution and was treated always with honor both by the people of the Northern Neck and the Virginia General Assembly. He died at Greenway Court in 1781 at the age of eighty-eight.

In the course of his long life, a circle formed around him. Lord Fairfax’s drawing room became a school of manners for young gentlemen of the Northern Neck —among them, many Washingtons, Lees, Marshalls, and others who shared a distinctive set of values and beliefs.


Lord Fairfax Fox Hunting with George Washington, engraving by Henry Bryan Hall, after Felix O. C. Darley, from Washington Irving, Life of George Washington, 1855-1859

The Northern Neck was very much a part of the culture of Virginia, but it gave that culture a special meaning. On this frontier there was little of democracy and nothing of equality, but a strong tradition of service, character, right conduct, and the rule of law.

We have been trained by the materialism of American social science to think of regional culture as a reflex of economic interests and environmental conditions. So it is sometimes, but the culture of the Northern Neck was shaped when it was a frontier, in large degree by the interplay of culture, environment, and the purposes of a single individual. A cultural tradition was planted by Lord Fairfax at Greenway Court. It took root in the fertile soil of the Northern Neck and flowered in the careers of George Washington in the Revolution, Robert E. Lee in the Civil War, and George C. Marshall in World War II.

The values of this tradition were in many ways different from the liberal ideas on which the American republic was founded. Yet this tradition supplied that nation with many leaders who served it in a distinctive way. The Northern Neck was the cradle of their culture, and Lord Fairfax was its founding father.

George Washington, born today in 1732, was obviously the greatest epigone of the Northern Virginia tradition of scrupulously dutiful aristocratic leadership. Without Washington, the thirteen colonies could not have won the War for American Independence. As president, Washington then proceeded to establish personally the examples of Republican modesty and executive forbearance which defined the fundamental character of American goverment.

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