A History of The Southsider:

Local History and Genealogy of Southside Virginia

By: Gerald Gilliam

The Charlotte County Branch of APVA (Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities) was formed in 1928.  Two local citizens spearheaded its formation.  Judge Robert Francis Hutcheson, Jr., and Mrs. Anne A. Chamberlayne, both veteran researchers, gathered friends and former county residents to enlist their support and help.  The organizational meeting was held at Gravel Hill, Mrs. Chamberlayne's residence and ancestral home.

Events in eastern Virginia brought new understanding to the treasury of homes and estates remaining in Virginia.  Prior to 1928 the view of historic properties were tied to homes of the famous - Lee, Jefferson and Washington.  When Colonial Williamsburg began to restore the structures associated with early life (taverns, kitchens, jails and lowly residences) that awareness of local treasures spread.  Judge Hutcheson and Mrs. Chamberlayne were aware of the many old structures which remained in Charlotte County and enlisted friend and residents to urge local preservation efforts.

From its inception, the Charlotte County branch was interested in preserving history thought publications, newspaper articles and historical markers.  Mrs. Chamberlayne and Major Guthrie submitted a column to the local newspaper.  Historical markers were placed throughout the county as a part of a Virginia Highway Department program.  The publications program was under the direction of Judge Hutcheson.

Printed histories included:

  • 1928 Historical Sketch of Charlotte Courthouse

  • 1931 Historical Sketch of Rough Creek

  • 1932 Distinguised Descendants of Colonel Clement Read and Bushy Forest and Other Charlotte County Homes of the Early Reads

  • 1933 John Randolph of Roanoke

 

This series of published histories didn't last long, perhaps it fell victim to the financial losses from the Great Depression.

Through the efforts of Mrs. Gene Hile McKinney, the policy of printing booklets detailing the meeting site history returned in 1967.  This series continued through the 1981 meeting at Ingleside.  At that time a new proposal was presented - a quarterly magazine.  The plan afforded researchers the opportunity to delve into subjects far removed from the meeting sites.  It also gave the researchers and expanded field to cover - no longer limited to just Charlotte County material.  The proposal received a rousing approval.

The first meeting of the Publication Board in 1981 included Virginia G. Redd, Gene H. McKinney, Dr. Stuart Wilson Tuggle and Gerald Gilliam as researchers and writers.  Mrs. Frances Ramsey was aboard as proofreader and Murray Bates, the branch treasurer, was to keep our costs in line.  It was the plan to provide a free subscription to branch members and to offer subscriptions to those living far away.  The first issue in the winter of 1982 taught many lessons about planning, producing and mailing.  We printed 200 copies of each issue the first year.

Once the initial lessons were learned, teh magazine project fell into a rhythm - research on projects planned for later issues, finish work on those articles for the next issue, and preparing issues fresh from the printer for mailing.Within two years the number being mailed surpassed three hundred - branch membership tripled and subscribers neared 100.  The maximum number of mailings reached into the 350 range.  Contributing authors appeared infrequently, forcing the full load onto staff members.

Death began to claim the productive authors: Virginia Redd, Gene McKinney and Stuart Tuggle moved on.  New magazine board members helped in many ways but research and writing.  When Gerald Gilliam had a health crisis, no one was left to carry The Southsider forward.  After ninety-seven issues, our magazine of history unceremoniously ceased.

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