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.
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.
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
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.
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
Judy. Here are some pictures to show to you.
Susan. Oh, that's wonderful. Are those taken before the
turn of the century?
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
Susan. The long dresses!
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
Susan. Really! And what's this? Railroad
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
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
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
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
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
Exors [executors] of James Rufus Humphrey, check for
four thousand dollars, which is in payment of the legacy
ed under the codicil to the will of James Rufus Humphrey
thousand dollars, to be applied towards the building of
orium to be built by the school board of Mt. Gilead District
at Bluemont, this 9th day of May, 1923.
Treasurer of Loudoun County"
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.
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.
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
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