Pageviews past week

Monday, March 24, 2014

Mountain Breeze - Falling Spring School Newsletter

Mountain Breezes
While looking for stories for the newsletter I was searching old scrap books.  Ada Louise Keyser had donated one that I found simply fascinating.  The following are articles that were in the Falling Spring High School Newsletter in May of 1943. The War had started and the school programs were affected.  Even Superman was in doubt.


VOLUME I-Number 8
Falling Spring
Exam Schedule
The schedule for exams has been announced and is as follows:
Wednesday, 9:00-10:40:  English 9; Chemistry.
Thursday, 9:00-10:40: Government; Math 8.
Friday, 9:00-10:40: English 10-11; Biology.  1:00-2:40: History; General Science.
Monday, 9:00-10:40:  Geography; English 8.  1:00-2:40: Algebra; Civics 8.

Reports for the year will be given out on Tuesday, June 1.  If each one has done his part they will not have any trouble passing their exams, but remember, don’t say “the teacher failed me.”  As, after all, it is you who is doing the work.

The children will not be kept all day Tuesday, but just long enough to receive their report cards.  Announcements will be made later when they must come to school on Tuesday.

Seniors’ Last Week
The senior class of Falling Spring High School will have the baccalaureate sermon and commencement exercises Tuesday, June 1st.  The combination will be made because of the ban on pleasure driving at this time.  Rev. Kirk D. Hammond will deliver the baccalaureate sermon.  Willie Alderman, the salutatorian, and Lucille Peters, the valedictorian, will speak on the “Four Freedoms.”

The Glee Club will assist on the Class Night program.  They will march with the seniors and sing two songs, “Prayer Perfect” and “The Lost Chord.”  The members of the senior class will sing with them that night, too.

Mrs. R.D. Carson and Mrs. J.J. Robbins entertained the faculty at a buffet dinner Thursday, May 27.

The senior faculty dance, held last Friday, was a complete success.  All the seniors attended and were presented with a yellow rose by Mrs. Pentz.  The stage was decorated with blue and yellow paper.  Some pictures were taken of the group and we hope they will be all right.  New records were bought and everyone seemed to enjoy the entire evening,  Some of our parents and alumnae were present.  The staff takes this opportunity to which all members of the senior class “Good Luck.”

Poems By Falling Spring Pupils
The Cardinal’s Song

The cardinal’s song is a song that is old,

He sits in a tree as bold as can be,

His song is so sweet,

Hear him say “careet,”

He prophets the weather to tell whether you may raise wheat,

And then he finds himself a nice little seat,

And starts his singing of “careet, careet.”


When the cardinal is wanting a mate,

He sits in the sumac until it is late, late,

He sings with a chip,

‘Til you think he would rip,

Then by the brook you hear a faint chook.

And with sticks and mud from the brook,

They make the a nest that is too fine to look,

When the little ones fly away,

He goes back to the sumac,

And makes merry away

                                -By Sue McCallister

                                                Sixth Grade


Wishes and Doubts

One’s greatest wish during these bad days,

Is a world without a war.

But when there’s Hitler and that Jap sap,

We’ll have to fight much more.


It doesn’t hurt us any to wish,

For some heroes brave and strong;

So don’t we wish with all our heart,

Superman could come along.


He shall never leave his funny book,

(I thought he was such a man),

But I’m beginning to have my doubts,

Can he do what’s thought he can?

                                                -By Sue Jennings,



Church News
Rev. W.C. Jamison was the guest minister at the local Falling Spring and Sinking Spring Presbyterian Churches on Sunday, May 2.

On Mother’s Day, May 9, Mrs. Ethel Pentz got the prize for having the largest family present – six members in all.

Mothers who have sons in the service were presented with a daily devotional book to be given to their sons.

Rev. D. Kirk Hammond delivered the baccalaureate sermon at the Valley High School on May 23.  He will deliver a sermon at our school on May 30, to the seniors.

A solovox attachment on the piano was purchased for the Falling Spring Church.

The film “The Book for the World of Tomorrow,” was shown by Mr. Hammond on May 21 at our school.  It was shown on May 20 at night for other people and friends of the church.

Play Presented By Sophomore, Junior And Senior Classes

Last Friday, members of the sophomore, junior and senior classes presented three pays.  A small admission was charged each child who came, and we had a very nice crowd.

The first play was “Dr. Cureme’s Busy Day,” with Bobby Dressler as the doctor who wanted to get rich in a hurry.  Other characters were Julia Bennett, Mary Keyser, Helen Lowry and Nellie DePriest.  Each one did his part well.

The next play was “Hiring a school ma’am.  Five matronly ladies decided to hire the teachers instead of the men.  The ladies were Hazel Kern, Ruby Humphries, Helen Powers, Lucille Peters, and Irene Rucker.  She finally decided she didn’t want the job.  All are to be congratulated on their parts.

The third play was a longer play called “Too Many Wives.”  Poor uncle, played by Willie Alderman was in a jam when he found his young nephew (Katherine Lantz), had four wives- Blanche Martin, the maid – Helen Johnson, a friend – Mary Blanche Hartless, a cousin, and his real “Honey Beau” Jane Kern.  The story ended happily but poor Jack sure wasn’t sure.  Everyone did a very good piece of acting.

Everyone seemed to enjoy taking part in the plays.  The auditorium was darkened and the footlights used, which made the plays seem to be given at night.  Miss Armstrong and Mrs. Pentz coached the plays.

Mountain Breezes

Published Monthly
5 Cents Per Copy


Editor                                          Ellene Lowry

Assistant Editor         Helen Powers

Business Manager     Wallace Byer

Circulation Manager   Carl Byer

Junior and Senior Reporter

                Lucille Peters

Freshman and Sophomore Reporter                               Peggy Perry

Sponsored by                       Mrs. Pentz


Do You Need Help?
Ration Book No. 3 is being sent to most of the families now, and you are supposed to be filling them out yourselves.  If any of you folks need help, the teachers at our school will be glad to help you.  We are not assigned the job but will be glad to help if you find you need help.  Complete instructions have been tacked on our bulletin board in the hall so maybe some of the older boys and girls can answer your questions by looking on the board.  Remember they are not to be mailed until June 1st and not later than June 10th.

History of Seniors
Minnie Irene Rucker was born at Morris Hill, Va. June 25, 1923.  She started to school here in 1930.  Irene is five feet and five inches tall, has a dark complexion, black hair, hazel eyes.  Her favorite food is butterscotch pie and butter pecan ice cream.  Irene hopes to find a good job when she finishes school this year.  The best of luck in everything, Irene.

Girls’ Sports
he girls who aren’t in the Glee Club have been playing volley ball and horse shoes.  The other girls who are in the Glee club have been practicing songs for the commencement and for the baccalaureate sermon.

Boys’ Sprots
The boys took some exercises the other day which made them all stiff.  The boys did push-ups and lie down on your back and rise up and touch your toes, which were done over 200 times.  Push-ups were over 100.

Can You Imagine?
Clarence Kellison not going down to Frye’s Tea Room?  Mary Blanche Hartless robbing the cradle? Randall Johnson being the most truthful person in “air age” class? Why Ellen thinks Hubert Fuller is cut?.  Why Bill Kern’s girl friend called him from Baltimore? Wallace not taking Ruth to the wiener roast? Miss Armstrong using Listerine in paint? Blanche Martin not dating “Bushy”?  “Butch” treating the high school pupils with ice cream? Hazel Kern not having a new “heart throb”?  Mrs. Armstrong not “barking up a tree”?  Jane Kern being fought over? Mrs. Hodnett not getting a phone call” Carl Eggleston coming to school on Monday? “Butch” not calling the school kids Hyenas?

Freshman-Sophomore News
The members of the general science and biology classes went on a “mountain hike” on May 6th.  It was a hot day and the mountains were steep.

Each freshman and sophomore made a book of wild flowers.  Many of these were attractive.  If you cannot identify any wild flower you see ask one of them what kind it is.

One of the three plays, “Dr. Cureme’s Busy Day,” was presented by the sophomore class on May 14th.   The following students had parts:  Bobby Dressler, Mary Keyser, Nellie DePriest, Julia Bennett, Helen Lowry.

Junior-Senior News
Helen Powers entertained the seniors and friends with a lawn party and dance Wednesday, May 19.  This was a very enjoyable affair for all present.  The night was very bad but everyone went and had a grand time.  One good thing was that it happened the night before the ban was put on gas.


Last Friday night the juniors and seniors had a wiener roast at the Cascades.  The guests included members of the sophomore, freshman, seventh and sixth grades, too.  Most everyone walked up the Cascades and “ran” down.  Everyone seemed to have a very enjoyable time.  This “gala” affair, too, happened before the ban on pleasure driving took place.  Miss Armstrong and Mrs. Pentz went along. Both report a nice time and a nice group of boys and girls.


The juniors will not get their rings in May as reported.  They hope to get them in September. End

Clifton Forge Built OnEstate

Clifton Forge Built On Estate
Covington Virginian November 13, 1972
From the Collection of Sylvia Steele Echols

The Williamson Manse that stood on lots A and B, Jackson Street, Clifton Forge was the oldest building in Alleghany County, the Alleghany Tribune a paper published in Covington, said on February 4, 1881.

This story recorded for the WPA Historical Inventory in 1936, under the sponsorship of the Virginia Conservation Commission, was written by Mrs. W. M. Smith, now deceased.  She was a descendent of Andrew Williamson, one of the last owners of the Williamson property which became the site of much of the city of Clifton Forge.

“The original owner must have been Robert Gallaspy, to whom the land was granted,  George III, in 1772.  A copy of the grants show the site as being part of the tract,” Mrs. Smith said.

“The estate of the first owner of the land passed into the possession of various ones as the years passed . . . . Robert Gallaspy willed to Alexander Gallaspy in 1789, who deeded it to Alexander Wilson in 1805.  Alexander Wilson deeded it to James Breckenridge in 1810, who held it until 1825 when he deeded it to Henry Smith.

“In 1851 Henry Smith willed it to the Clifton Forge Company.  The site was deeded to C.L. Carter in 1906 and to Mastin B. Irvine in 1933.

“The oldest part of the building, that stood on what is now lots A. and B, Jackson Street, was of the pioneer type of log houses, one and one-half stories, with chimneys on outside, and wide fireplaces were the customary heaters.

“A frame two story structure was added to the original Gallaspy dwelling.  The addition was not planked up and down, but it was a well-built house, good weather boarding, well plastered throughout.  All interior woodwork was hard white oak.  The rooms were the average size, halls rather large, with stairway.

“The Gallaspy land grant was, for a short time later known as the VanStavern lands, evidently a man by that name was owner, in fact his name is given in a brief sketch of the site of Clifton Forge, written some years ago, though the date of deed in not available.


“There is an interesting legend that has come down to the present day, that may have occurred, and it is plausible that it did. Mr. Morton in his Annals of Bath County give it thus:  “Katherine VanStavern taught the children of the several families in the locality of what is now Clifton Forge.  Her friend, William Gorman, was a graduate of William and Mary College.  Upon one occasion, when he was in the neighborhood, Indians came to the schoolroom door, and seeing them, young Gorman fired upon them, killing one.

“The others fled.  True to the usual ending of romance, Katherine and William became engaged.  Before they were married, however, Katherine was seized by five lurking Indians, who took her bound, to the camp of the red men on Jackson River.  East of the oldest building to where the town of Iron Gate is now.

“It so happened that William Gorman was hunting in the nearby forest, and saw the performance, and quickly collected a party, came to the camp while the Indians were asleep.  After killing several of Katherine’s captors, she was rescued.

According to record in the Clerk’s Office at Covington, Henry Smith was the last purchaser of the land that was originally a grant from the King of England.

“Henry Smith came to America from Fifeshire, Scotland, in 1811.  After he became the owner of the farm and other land holdings, he lived in the oldest building in Alleghany County.  The home was on the south-eastern portion of his six hundred acre farm, facing the public road that lay between it and the Jackson River.

“The view from the front porch of the home was picturesque.  The beautifully clear, broad waters of the river were enhanced by the large sycamore, elms and other native trees that grew along the banks.

The ever beautiful blue bells of Scotland that grew in profusion on either side of the public road to the water’s edge, added color to the scene. In the yard grew the rare catalpa, and other shade trees.

“The portion of the Smith farm, where stood the famous old building, was a small sized farm, having on it the necessary barn, stables, corn crib, orchard, garden and fields.

“Henry Smith and his wife, Janet, reside on that part of his farm until 1844, or shortly thereafter.  In October of that year Andrew Williamson and his wife, Jean, and young children arrived at Norfolk, from New York, after a several week’s voyage from Dunshalt, Fifeshire, Scotland.

“During the time that Henry Smith lived in the original Gallaspy home, he was Magistrate in 1831, Justice in 1833, and a member of the first board of school commissioners of Alleghany County in 1843.

Upon the arrival of his brother-in-law, Andrew Williamson, Henry Smith and his wife, Janet, removed from the old building to his newly erected home on the western side of Smith Creek.

“The house was a large two-story frame structure, with attic and cellar.  His homestead embraced all the farm, with large orchard, fields, meadows and lots.

“Andrew Williamson and family lived in the home that was known as the oldest building, later it became familiar in this part of Virginia as the “Williamson Manse.”  The name was given because in years following the arrival of the Williamson family, religious services were held in the home at intervals of regular services at Oakland Church and the church at Covington.

“David Williamson was a young son of Andrew and Jean Williamson, and grew to manhood I the house that once stood on what is now Jackson Street, Clifton Forge.

“Upon the death of Henry Smith, in 1851, David Williamson became the owner of the entire estate of Henry Smith.  He continued in the home of his parents through the years of youth into manhood.  From the “oldest building” he supervised the entire farm, and the equipment a trustee of Oakland Presbyterian Church, a Justice, and was present at the first War Session of the County Court, on April 27, 1861.  The entire court was present, of which he was one.

“In due time, after residing in Alleghany County, Henry Smith Andrew and David Williamson, became naturalized citizens.  Their naturalization papers are in the possession of David Williamson’s daughter.  Several of his children were born in the Williamson “Manse” here he and his wife, Sarah Elizabeth, resided until after a few years they removed into the Henry Smith home on the western side of Smith Creek.  The wife of David Williamson was the daughter of the Reverend William Haunersley and his wife, Malinda Hays.

Upon the death of David Williamson, in 1873, the site where stood the oldest building in Alleghany County, the original land grant and other land holdings acquired by purchase became the property of his heirs.

“Prior to his death land was sold to the Virginia Central Railroad, that became the nucleus of the Village of Williamson, named for the owner of the land and his father, and the present City of Clifton Forge.  People in this locality referred to Mr. Williamson, Senior as the “grand old Scotchman.”

“Andrew Williamson was a designer, and his business caused him to cross the ocean many times to the British Isles, particularly to his native Scotland.  He died at the age of 91.  “The Village Williamson developed into a town in the course of a few years, and lots were sold at public sales by the owners, the Williamson heirs, until the year 1890, when the country was in the grip of “booms” when they sold the remaining Henry Smith land holdings to the Clifton Forge Company.

Historical Pictures of Alleghany County, Virginia - Collection

Jay Whitehead

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Masonic Temple The Strand Theatre

Masonic Temple    Strand Theatre

Temple Served As Lodge, Theatre
By Horton P. Beirne
Commemorative Issue
Covington Virginian, Saturday, July 24, 1982

One of Covington’s landmarks is coming down this week after 80 years of service not only to Covington’s Masonic Lodge members but to almost every citizen in the area over the age of ten.

For 62 years the Strand Theatre was housed on the lower floor of the Masonic Temple on Covington’s Main Street and most residents know the building by the theatre name instead of its official title.  Covington Masonic Temple.

Over the years, the building housed, in addition to Covington Masonic Lodge No. 171, A.F.&A.M. and the Strand Theatre, a news and magazine shop, barber shop, sandwich shop and was known far and wide in the 1920’s as the “Opera House.”  Prior to the Strand opening in 1915, the auditorium was known as the Masonic Theatre and Alleghany County judges held court on the third floor while the present courthouse was being constructed.

The building was built in 1901 by the Masons and the Strand opened its door in August of  1915, founded by the late Harry W. Robertson.

The stage on the first floor has been used for local plays, minstrels and community activities and during the early years of the century vaudeville.

Many residents of the Highlands can vividly remember the Opera House in all its majestic glory, bright lights illuminating the building’s fa├žade and half of Main Street as the theatre patrons emerged from their automobiles and entered the carpeted lobby on their way in to the auditorium for an evening’s performance.  They were greeted by the marble-walled lobby with its chandelier hanging from the decorated ceiling.

The comings and goings of the building’s trustees, members of the Masonic Lodge, were more subdued as they entered to attend the closed, ritualistic meetings on the third floor in the Lodge’s chambers.  1903-1981.  The public was prohibited from entering these rooms but was allowed on the first floor as well as the second which was the entrance to the theatre’s balcony.

Inside the theatre, the burgundy colored wall-to-wall carpet continued from the lobby and tapestry in coordinated colors adorned the walls.  The arched stage had gold trim on the curtains in addition to the heavy burgundy ones which were opened and closed as needed.

A piano and later a pipe organ were located “down front” just below and in front of the stage in the orchestra pit and were used during the vaudeville days and for local plays and minstrels.

When the days of the live-performances went the way of the railroad’s steam engines, a large screen was installed for showing movies just back of the curtains.  Two projectors were used for showing movies and for many years M.T. “Snatch” Persinger was operator and major-domo of the projection room.

Snatch had only one arm, yet “he could do the work of two men with that one arm.  He was something else.”  The Rev. John Henry Jackson recalls.

Seating was available for over 500 patrons – about 390 on the main floor and 140-150 in the balcony.

One of the first air conditioning systems in a public establishment was in the Strand and many an Alleghany Countian witnessed his first “talkie” movie in 1929 when a sound system was installed.

The late Harry W. Robertson – businessman, fireman, councilman, civic leader owned the Strand Theatre in addition to – over the years—the Little Theatre, Collins Theatre, Visulite and Covington Highway Drive-in Theatre.  He came to Covington just after the turn of the century and operated the theatres through the Covington Amusement Company and was a partner of the Painter and Robertson men’s clothing store on middle block of Main Street.

Many residents of the Highlands were associated with the Strand during its 62 years including Mr. Robertson, Mrs. Nell Fleshman, Snatch Persinger, Hazel Aiken who was with the Covington Amusement Company for over 40 years, the Rev. John Henry Jackson, Mrs. I.C. Wagner, who played the organ, usher Harrison Scott and three of Snatch’s sons and Mrs. Z.H. Smith who sold tickets.

These are but a few of the folks who worked full or part time with the amusement industry in Covington.

Following the building’s construction on the site of the former Burke’s or McCurdy Hotels in 1901, the lower portion of the Masonic Temple was rented.

Facing the building on the right of the main entrance, a penny candy store was housed for many years and around 1930 the late Chix Payne, daughter of Mrs. Forrest E. Payne of Rosedale, owned and operated the Strand Lunch Room where sandwiches and beverages were sold.

Virginia Payne of Rosedale recalls, as a young girl, looking through the windows of the penny candy store and trying to decide which treat her money would best be spent on.

Later, after her sister purchased the sandwich shop from a family named Wright, she worked in the short-order restaurant when in town on breaks from college classes.  Her mother baked home-made pies which were cut and sold in the shop and many were ordered whole and taken home by customers.

The sandwich shop closed around 1945 and later Mr. Robertson used the space as his office for the Covington Amusement Company.  It was used in this capacity until the building was vacated in 1981 following the 1980 sale by the Masons to First National Exchange Bank in 1980.

The Citizens National Bank, later changed to FNEB, had sold the lot to the Masons as a location for their temple around 1900.

Barber Shop News Stand
On the left side of the main entrance, the Strand Barber Shop operated for many years with “Three chairs, no waiting.”

Among barbers who plied their trade there were Fred Middleton, Bob Quate, Bill Harman, Gene Treynor.  H,M. Miller and Pete Jenkins.

The barber shop was in full swing in 1925 when H.M. Miller came to Covington and it closed around 1975.

George Whitecotton operated a barbershop in the space for about a year until the space was rented for a news and magazine shop.

Neil McKee operated Charlie’s News from 1976 until 1978 before closing the doors permanently.  His was the last business to operate in that portion of the building, the Strand having closed in 1977 Covington Amusement Company offices remained in the building until 1981 and when they moved the doors of the former Opera House, Theatre, Candy Store, Sandwich Shop, temporary courthouse were closed for good.

Since that time furnishings have been removed, engineers have determined that renovating the building would be a costly undertaking and next to impossible and the decision has been namd to dismantle the structure before it falls and causes damage or injury.

The large hall is vacant, void of the once splendid trappings, which adorned the walls, floors and ceilings.  The seats are gone and the stage is empty, waiting for the wreaking ball, the last production which will take place in an area that for almost 80 years provided entertainment laughs and tears for four generations, both young and old alike.

The stage is dark, quiet, the last curtain call haws been made, but if you close your eyes and concentrate – you can remember . . . . .

Silent Movies and Vaudeville
While most Alleghany County residents recall viewing movies at the Strand Theatre until it closed in 1977, many can remember the days when the movies were used to fill in between live performances.

Vaudeville was the name of the entertainment game at the Masonic Theatre, Covington Opera House, form the early 1900’s through the 1920s and along with professional performers, the Opera House and later Strand Theatre, was the location for local minstrels, dance contests and other displays of local talent.

High school minstrels were held on the strand’s stage and in 1921 the “Greater Covington Minstrel” was presented by the American Legion and Covington Band June 20 and 21.

When the Charleston was popular, R.F. Berine III of Rosedale recalls, “the Strand offered moving pictures and Mr. Robertson put on a Charleston contest between features.  Couples would go up on stage and dance to the organ music provided by Nell Fleshman and a winning couple for the evening would be chosen.”

“Before World War II, a pipe organ was installed replacing the piano and as the organ was played shutters would open and close in time to the music.  With

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Parrish House on Maple Avenue

Citizens of Tomorow

This was published in the Covington Virginian in 1955.  The Virginian published them over several years.  I would love to see more like this.  By-the-way, that is me in the middle bottom photo!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Welcome to AHGS Blog

The Alleghany Highlands Genealogical Society welcomes you to our Blog.  We will have so much fun adding memories that took place here in Alleghany County.  We invite  you to add your pictures and comments, as well as enjoy others posts.  If you have any comments about the site you may e-mail me at