Down Memory Lane

Aug. 26, 1998

In its long history, Woodville has seen a handful of landmark events: the petition of December 1796, auction of lots in 1798-99, its naming (after the woods surrounding it); the establishment of a post office on Jan. 1, 1803; the authorization for the New Market and Sperryville Turnpike in 1848, which put a road from Sperryville to Culpeper Court House; the Blizzard of 1899; The Tornado of 1929, which wiped out parts of the quiet town; and the drought of 1930, one of the worst ever in the county.

In 1833, Woodville was a thriving town along a major route. It boasted four mercantile stores, two taverns, one school, 30 homes, one tanyard, three blacksmiths, one saddler, one boot and shoe maker, one cabinet maker, one carpenter and house joiner, one tailor, an attorney, and two physicians.

Main Street: Now U.S. 522, in the town of Woodville, around 1905. Photo Courtesy of Louise Rudasil O’Bannon

During the Civil War both Union and Confederate troops were encamped in and around the town.

This September will mark another major event in the town’s history — its bicentennial celebration. The festival and history parade will take place in Woodville on Saturday, Sept. 26.

The parade will begin at noon and the festival will continue through sundown. Set to culminate on a historic hilltop overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains, the event is designed to celebrate every aspect of the county and the heritage of all its people.

Dec. 16, 1976

According to the Hagerstown Almanac, cold rains are forecast for April 22, and April 23 and 24 will be clear and cold. The forecast may have been correct — but the year on the cover of the almanac is 1900, not 1976.

The 1900 almanac is part of a collection that belongs to Charles Lewis of Sperryville. “My parents saved those almanacs, some of them from before I was born, and so I kept them too. My children have thrown a lot out but I try to save what I can.”

Charles (Charlie) Lewis was born in Sperryville on Nov. 10, 1902, and has always lived in or near the town. “I like country life — couldn’t raise hogs and chickens in the city. I raise most of what I use ‘cept for coffee and sugar and stuff like that.”

Charlie was born in a log cabin that he refers to as the toll house. He remembers living there as a child when most of the county roads were still toll roads. The toll house sat next to a pole that was raised and lowered for ten cents to allow travelers to pass. He attended Rappahannock County schools through the seventh grade, all the formal public education available to him at that time.

In 1927 Charlie married Betsy Mathews and they had eleven children. “When you have eleven children, you’ve got to do something. Wagon wheels, that was my trade years back. I made wagon wheels for 14 years. The people that I worked for, they all died out ‘cept for one lady and she sold the home they had in Sperryville and went to Alexandria.” Charlie’s services have long since disappeared from the roads. “You can see a lot of those old wheels sitting around driveways now for decorations.” He made coffins, too.

After a second try at a public hearing — the first attempt was terminated by legal questions — and after hearing almost four hours of testimony, the Rappahannock Board of Zoning Appeals rejected a use permit application by E. B. and Ruth Updike, to operate a landfill on 36.92 acres on Route 522 between Culpeper and Sperryville.

A resolution supported by all board members concluded that that “site is unsuitable for its intended use,” and referred the request back to the Rappahannock Board of Supervisors for “appropriate resolution.”

Fanning Baumgardner, the county engineer who conducted an investigation of the proposed site, reported that he thought only about five acres of the sight “might” be suitable for a landfill. Baumgardner told Rappahannock Zoning Appeals Board members that his findings were “pretty much the same” as those of H. G. Epperson, soil extension specialist with the Agronomy Department at VPI. Epperson had concluded that only three or four acres might be suitable.