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Mineral, Virginia

model-t

On Ground Hogs Day I’m always reminded of my grandfather who always wore a suit. He owned a Model-T truck with a cage on the back for his posse of hunting dogs that he love to chase foxes with. He had pet foxes that he would go on these hunts with, unharming the fox after the event. He always treasured this photo of Mickey the Groundhog, the pet of the man he bought his foxes from in West Virginia. Grandad also played country fiddle and one of his fox-hunting buddies gave him this busted up violin that I inherited and has a RED VIOLIN story of its own.

frank-cowherd-harris

Grandad tried being a bar-keep at the mines out side of Mineral before joining the C&O railroad (circa 1890′s). This is the earliest photo I have of him.

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mineral-train-depot

Grandad transfered to Mineral Train Depot from Beaverdam where he was the train agent for both and their home in Mineral was the one I remember as a child. He had a telegraph clicker at home that he used to check on grandma. Mom use to say they use to do morse-code on dinner table with dinnerware when she was young to keep private some of their conversation. Mom hated it.

beaverdam-train-depot-1917

One of the first images I did digital of my mom and grandfather.

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ruckman-fur-farm

Grandad always wanted a silver fox. I don’t think he ever had one. He loved the photo Mr. Ruckman sent him of his pet groundhog.

 

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1791-thomas-perry

The Perry Violin had been in limbo for over a half century. My mother had found it in a paper bag above the kitchen in the Mineral Home in 1968 and had it somewhere? One of my grandad’s fox hunting friends had given the violin to him way back when? I sold it to Tim Donley in 1998 who was a violin repair apprentice. Donley was a championship fiddlier and has taught at Augusta Heritage Center so I felt I had put the instrument in the right hands and not a collector too never be played again. Tim had a web site for a violin shop in North Carolina that is now gone (the Perry has turned into the RED VIOLIN)? This picture is from that site holding the still unfinished Perry. In my photo you can see Frank had probably whittled one of the tuning pegs and got no further?

 

tim-donley1

picture of Donley with the Perry and found his new website : http://www.donleyviolins.net/

 

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I was able to buy a Gibson with the money from the Perry sale, so it was a fair trade all around.

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3 responses

  1. Lesley

    Awesome story and with pictures!! You are quite lucky to have this history. My folks have been working on their geneology for years. Mom never got too far with hers, despite starting it in the 80’s, her family was just too rural on her father’s side to be able to track records. Dad, however, had great success as his famly was more urban. He started at retirement and surpassed Mom’s successes with this, writing a book and self publishing it. I fear, however, that impressions weigh too heavily on him and so, you don’t get a great, totally truthful, picture of his family. He would not include things such as his father dying from liver disease due to excessive drinking after his wife’s death. In fact, he states clearly that his father was not a man of the drink. Not so according to his Aunt Katherine! So it’s sad that we don’t have a more candid view that shows the true characters, but it’s good stuff none the less.

    February 2, 2013 at 10:30 am

  2. I’ve been accused of re-writing history occasionally in the past. Since blogging there seems the record you leave is always there to correct yourself. Sometimes life is brutally painful so I see no harm in fudging some of your self reflection to make the reality more easier to live with. I have a friend that is a History professor that hates narrative history because he finds it inaccurate. I find poems, songs, and such that romanticize a good story enjoyable.

    The one sad thing is I never knew this man when he was this vibrant spirit, he had hardening of the arteries and constantly was asking what time it was.

    February 2, 2013 at 11:48 am

    • Lesley

      Yeah, it’s funny how we each digest information and what we can best live with. I am a need to know gal, I want details and truth. My sister is more about not knowing things to keep life easier. I can understand why it’s hard to write that down, for my father, so I have simply made notations in my copy of his book. I never knew his father, he was gone a year or two before I was born.

      February 2, 2013 at 12:36 pm

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