Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Old Troutman Place in Rich Valley, Many Returns

On a visit to the Troutman home place in the early 1950s, this is my father Verne Troutman and three of his children, Vance, Verna, and Regina. The man on the far left was the home owner at the time. This probably was taken by my mother, and I was likely hiding behind her skirts.

My dad, Verne Clinton Troutman, gets the credit for piquing my interest in family history. He loved to visit places historic to our family. One of those places was the home where his father, Clint Troutman, grew up, the home pictured in a previous post. When we made our annual trek from Nebraska to Virginia every summer to visit my mother’s parents in Saltville, Dad visited many of his relatives, as well. He also liked to take us to his father's childhood home in Rich Valley. One of the earliest pictures I have of Dad at the Troutman place was taken in about 1950.

Other memorable trips to the cabin included one in the 1970s with my cousin Judy and one a few years later in 1980 with cousin Ruth Ann, her husband Larry and daughters Laura, Melissa, and Michelle, and my husband Myron and children, Jay and Sarah. I wish I had photos of all those visits, non-blurry ones, anyway.

A few years after dad died in 1991, I began to wonder about the old place. Would I be able to find I find it without him? Years had passed since I had been there, by then at least 20. My mother was losing her eyesight and couldn't remember how to find it exactly, but one day, we set out to try. I remembered that Dad had driven east on the Valley Road past the Rich Valley Presbyterian Church. I remembered that the road we wanted was dirt or gravel, on the right, and dropped off the main road down a steep embankment, so I looked for that configuration. I remembered passing a spring and a big stately house with wrap around porch along the way. I remembered huge oak tree a stone fence.

View from the house of the big oak tree, 1980. I've been told there was at least one wedding beneath those branches.

 My mother and I soon spotted a familiar looking turn with a sharp drop. A sign said Crewey Rd. I turned. Everything looked right. We drove past a spring where water spread a wide circle over the ground and creasy greens grew fresh and abundant. We passed the big stately-looking house across a creek. Then I knew my mother and I were on the right road. 

We continued until we came to another house, a smaller one, which I thought at first was the Troutman home. Comparing it to my photos of the old house, I realized I was wrong. At this house, the road dead-ended at a gate. "No Hunting," a sign read. It didn't say no trespassing.

We were in the right place, but we would have to climb the gate and hike, we didn't know how far. Not wanting to leave my eighty-year-old mother alone in the car, however, I decided to come back later with my husband. At least, I knew how to find the place.

Later, my husband and I climbed over the gate and walked up the hill on a dirt path that used to be a road. Soon I saw the big oak and the tell-tale stone fence. We had found it! Now I would be able take cousins there, too.

The opportunity came in 2004. On their way from points west to the 100th reunion of the Troutman clan in Troutman, North Carolina, several cousins stopped in Saltville for a guided tour of Valley and the Troutman house. I was happy to oblige. We stopped at the Rich Valley Presbyterian Church cemetery to visit the graves of our great-grandparents and then drove on to the house. A steady, warm rain dampened our bodies that day but not our spirits. Dad would have loved it!
A little wet from the rain, Brent Troutman, great-great-grandson of D. A. and America Troutman stands on the crumbling porch of their home.

The old Troutman home place in 2004.

The stone fence.
 And and few years later, on a dry day,  I took my nephew. 
David C. Troutman, great-great-grandson of D. A. and America (Pratt) Troutman, about 2008.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

An Exciting Discovery: Andy and Martha Hays' Tombstone

Oh, what you can do with a little help from your friends!
Originally, I intended to write only one blog post about Andy Hays (or Hayes), but more information keeps popping up. The folks who contact me offering additional information on my subjects are part of the fun of blogging. My Find A Grave friend, Barry, searcher of nooks and crannies that don’t occur to me, alerted me to the gravesite of Andrew and Martha Hayes recently posted on Find A Grave. How cool is that?! I'm saving the best for last.
 On my own, I uncovered some long forgotten notes I took years ago, bits of information I had collected about Andy and Martha Hayes from various people, including my father, his sister Neville, and Rich Valley residents, Garland Lamie, and Ben Clark.
Lamie and Clark said that Andy delivered flour on his horse to a little country store in Rich Valley. According to Clark, Andy was "liked and respected by all. They [Andy and Martha] were plain people, good to everyone, never had a bad word to say about anyone."
Martha’s cooking was famous in the valley. She prepared the wedding supper for Clark's parents, he recalled. Aunt Neville remembered her father, Clint Troutman, telling about Martha giving him a delicious hot, buttered biscuit when he went to her house one day. His mouth was still watering at the thought of that biscuit.
Clark said that Andy and Martha attended the Presbyterian Church in Rich Valley, where, as was customary in those days, they sat in “a special pew” in the back. Indeed, I found an entry in the Rich Valley Presbyterian Church session minutes of 12 December 1897: “A. J. Hayes (col.) appeared before the Session, and was examined as to his experimental acquaintance with religion, which examination proved satisfactory, and he having made a profession of his faith in Christ, was admitted into the church.”[1]
Andy had a reputation for being a fine Christian man, my dad said. Jacob Myers, a magistrate in the area and my mother’s maternal grandfather, told Dad that he believed in Andy's word as truth in any situation.
Finally, Barry alerted me to recent Find A Grave memorial to Andy and Martha Hayes with a picture of their gravestone.[2] This is a treasure I thought I would never find.
Marker for the grave of Martha and Andrew Hayes, Shannon Cemetery, Adwolfe, Virginia. It reads, "At Rest: Hayes, Martha, 1860-1927; Andrew, 1858-[?]."
The photo taken by Find A Grave volunteer, Shannon Rogers Simpson, was posted on February 5. The cemetery where she found the stone is located near Adwolfe, Virginia. She notes that she is going to keep searching for the broken piece that contains Andrew’s death date.
That’s about it, for now, but you never know what might surface next.

[1] Minutes of the Session of the Presbyterian Church of Rich Valley, Virginia, Vol. 3, 13 June 1836-31 March 1918, p. 94: 1897, Dec. 12; Rich Valley Presbyterian Church, Saltville.
[2] Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 11 February 2015), photograph, memorial page for Andrew Hayes (1858-????), Find A Grave memorial no. # 142226635, citing Shannon Cemetery, Adwolfe, Virginia; photographs contributed by Shannon Simpson.