Jackson Ward is a towering presence in local Black history. Berkleytown? Not so much.
But this small Black community in Hanover County is now getting consideration for landmark status.
Berkleytown sprung up in the early 20th century just outside the Ashland limits, where the town’s segregation ordinance didn’t apply. Passed in 1911, the measure prohibited anyone from moving onto a block where a different race was in the majority – a common and insidious method of discrimination in Virginia.
But Berkleytown developed a rich history, and Ashland has started a process that could designate the area as a historic district. We explore Berkleytown's past and talk to residents who keep its memory alive.
In other features:
* As I write this (several weeks before you read it), we've been fortunate – at least in my opinion – to have avoided a snowy start to winter. That means food hasn't been flying off the grocery shelves.
For farmers who help stock the shelves, they're thinking about the season long before thermometer dips. We caught up with two regional operations to get the cold, hard truth about winter in their worlds.
* Say this for the pandemic: It prompted people to find new appreciation for nature, where open spaces and ventilation made the coronavirus less menacing.
State and local parks welcomed more visitors in 2020, and in the spirit of the great outdoors, our Time Capsule takes us back 75 years to the debut of what was then, and still is, Virginia's largest state park. Do you know where?
* Willie Nelson is one of the big names of "outlaw country" music, and he's no stranger to performance stages in Virginia. But back in the days when he was more associated with booze than weed, he was at the heart of a curious tale in the Old Dominion.
Forty years ago, Nelson was a huge act to sign for a tiny racetrack with a raucous reputation. The concert never happened there, and an "unfriendly sheriff," the threat of "shotgun brigades" and a burned-down barn left a memorable tale.
* Did the acorn fall far from the tree? In the case of William Byrd III – son of Richmond's founder – we find a story of money and misery.
We also open an unassuming chest to reveal some treasure. We even explore the legacy of MTV, and we check out headbangers of a very different sort. And Tom Allen fails miserably at the element of surprise.
No surprise on this one: Here's to a happier and healthier 2021. May we get the chance to truly rediscover everything our region offers.