Judy Anderson: Over a Century of Family Life in Bluemont
Part 1

February 16, 2010, from interviews summer 2009

- Susan Freis Falknor

Contents

Over a Century...
Family Stories
School Days
Bob & Ellen Jones
Judy & Bud
From Judy's Attic

Judy Anderson's tale of family life in Bluemont, going back more than a century, began with her great-grandfather Volney Osburn purchasing a farm off what is now Route 7, on the north edge of Snickersville.

The story continues, with Judy's grandmother Pearl Osburn Jones ("Granny Jones"), Judy's father and mother (Robert and Ellen McClaughry Jones), memories of a free and adventurous childhood in Bluemont in the 1950s, Judy's marriage to classmate Bud Anderson, and the way the newspapers took notice when Judy donated a kidney to Bud a decade ago.

When I visited with Judy and Bud Anderson in their farmhouse near Bluemont (see photo right), they shared with me many stories, photos, news clippings. Judy explained that some of the documents were brought to light a few years ago when plans to install a new heat and air conditioning system required her to clean out the attic of the farmhouse. Through this website www.BluemontVA.org, the Andersons have now shared more than a century's store of pictorial treasures: a 1849 recipt for William T. Osborn's tuition, doctor's records from the 1880s, a signed letter by Senator Harry Byrd, a 1937 monthly phone bill (amount: $1.90), an ad featuring Winnie Davis "the Daughter of the Confederacy," and Virginia script from the Civil War. See From Judy's Attic, the last part of this article.

The Andersons earlier shared one-of-a-kind documents on a related story -- basic to Bluemont's early 20th Century identity -- which has been all but lost: Romancing the Railroad: How Bluemont Citizens Brought the Railway to Bluemont....more...

We first looked some large photographs of the Osburn-Jones-Anderson farmhouse with women dressed in white, ankle-length skirts on the lawn.


Judy. Here are some pictures to show to you.

Susan. Oh, that's wonderful. Are those taken before the turn of the century?

Judy. It is, I would say, in the 1900s, because this place was a guest house once the railroad, you know, came to Bluemont.

So these ladies are probably some borders. As you can see, our place really hasn't changed that much. They came for the cool weather, though, as you know, we have hot weather too up here now.

Susan. The long dresses!

Judy. Here's a picture of Volney Osburn. My father's grandfather. My kids are the fifth generation to live in this house. Everybody called him "Von-ley," but his name was "Volney."

Judy.
Now my great grandfather Volney raised hogs, Tamworth hogs. He was very intent on getting the railroad here, as you can tell from all the paper work upstairs in the attic, because that meant he could ship these hogs. And he shipped hams to places like Iowa and the midwest?there are letters from people ordering hams.

Susan. Really! And what's this? Railroad meeting.

Judy. This flyer was the beginning of getting the Southern Railroad Company to extend their line to Snickersville. He was very active in doing that. And Dr. Plaster. This handbill tells you that the citizens met in Snickersville, at 2:00. What they needed was the right of way and "funds sufficient to construct a suitable depot. " So the landowners actually gave money, had a lawyer, gave land for the right-of-way, everything. All to get the railroad to come to Bluemont. They knew it would be a big bonus for Bluemont.

Susan. You know, I've never heard of the local push-or pull-to get the railroad here. This is the first time I've heard of this. That is so interesting. I've always heard it more of a sort of top-down thing-"oh, the railroad decided to come to Bluemont."

Judy.
No. They persuaded the railroad to come to Bluemont. It would bring the tourists. I think the general consensus over this is, well, the railroad came to Bluemont, but it didn't come without a lot of work.

Anyway, that's my history about the railroad. [See also Romancing the Railroad.]

Volney lost his arm in his 60s. And it was right on that porch when he decided to make it into a room. He was working in there and evidently got hurt. He never told us as kids, but we found it in letters and put it together as to what happened. He got caught on a nail, it got infected, and he ended up losing his arm. Most men then if they lost an arm they lost it in machinery. He was working on the house.

He outlived his wife by quite a number of years.

Susan. So this is the man who first bought this house at auction.

Judy. Right. We have a lot of papers because Volney saved and filed everything. We have a lot of papers that don't belong to our family but that he dealt with as executor. And some other receipts in here too.

Susan. This is interesting: "The Bureau of Efficiency." Sounds like a joke.

 

Judy. It's an oxymoron, isn't it? I forget what the Bureau of Efficiency was sending to him:

"Dear Mr. Osburn, Thanks for return of the money…it would be impossible for us to come on June the 2nd when we thought we would be able to come…."]

My guess would be that they were going to reserve a room here, but would not be able to come. Overnight or short stay. 1929. May 22 is when he mailed it. So we did have people stay here, I know that.

 

For an example of Volney's wide correspondence concerning business of various kinds, see letter below from Leslie Bagley on California DMV stationary.

In 1923, Volney Osburn was an executor of an important bequest for the Bluemont community. This was James Rufus Humphrey 's legacy of $4,000 to build an auditorium in Bluemont. The faint type-written note from A. B. Richard, Treasurer of Loudoun County reads:

"Received of William L. Humphrey and Volney Osburn
Exors [executors] of James Rufus Humphrey, check for
four thousand dollars, which is in payment of the legacy provid-
ed under the codicil to the will of James Rufus Humphrey of four
thousand dollars, to be applied towards the building of the audit-
orium to be built by the school board of Mt. Gilead District
at Bluemont, this 9th day of May, 1923.
A.B. Richard
Treasurer of Loudoun County"

 

Today, a memorial plaque to the gift is posted on a wall of the auditorium of the Bluemont Community Center, formerly the Bluemont school.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Volney was also something of a family problem solver, as the following Depression-era letter attests.

Wednesday Afternoon
March 22, 1933

Dear Cousin Volney:
In your letter
sometime ago you mentioned
something about being able to get
some money for Mother and
myself. I wonder if you could
collect any from Mr. Stipes now
since the banks have opened?
We would appreciate very
much if you could send us a
nice check as we are in
need of same.
Hope all are well.

Very Truly yours,
Alice T. Martin

Susan. (Looking at another document.) Is this the deed of this house?

Judy. No. This is just something I pulled out because my husband knows this one guy out at Hillsboro, and it actually mentions him in this deed. So I think he would like to see it.

Susan. I'm sure he would. That handwriting is beautiful.

Judy. And they had a seal on the paper. This is dated 1879. And I like the way they "are conveying the following property and one mouse-colored"-I can't tell if that is "horse" or "house." One something wagon, looks like 60 acres of wheat sown by …. The Edwin Potts farm near Hillsboro - and that's the friend of Bud.

Now this is something that we were kind of proud to achieve. [Virginia.Century.Cert. Osburn10-24-1997] And that means that this farm has been owned and farmed by the same family for 100 consecutive years. There's not a lot of them. There's a few. Henry Plaster has one , and Sam Brown in Purcellville.

Susan. That's a hard criterion to meet.

Judy. In the little bit of research that I've done, I found that there was a family living here and the husband passed away. The wife had to sell the place at auction. And the sons objected, but they couldn't come up with the money. So Volney bought it. And at the time he owned (and it's still in our family ) a farm on Route 711, Williams Gap Road.

I have several of these - these are receipts from the Bluemont Mercantile Company, now Bluemont General Store.

Across the top it says "Frank Wynkoop and J. Scott Beaver. James Osburn, manager." I don't know who he was. 10 pounds of sugar, 53 cents. Bread, 10 cents. Corn flakes, 10 cents.

The receipts are to my great grandfather, Vonley. This one is 1934.

It says: 'fancy goods, groceries, dry goods, notions, shoes.' And what is this: 'Queensware and Hardware'? [Note: Queensware was white table dishes and pottery imported into America from the middle of the 1800s on.]

All of these are from the 1930s. They bought a lot of bread. They must have been getting ready to do some farming and have hands in.

 

 

 

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