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Copyright Eric Thornton & Tim Bassford


I have been requested to write what I know and have heard older persons relate, and from old records, about the old and present schools, both public and classical, of Harrisonburg. Old records show that the first institution of learning here was situated on the then outskirts of town. The western boundary was the Warm Spring road, now High street. The northern boundary was Gay street, the eastern Federal street and the southern, Grace street.

A large plot of over one and a half acres on the west side of High street and the north side of what is now West Market, was purchased from Mr. Jacob R. Strumon, July 6, 1833, by a company called the "Rockingham Male and Female Academy," composed of leading citizens of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County.

A large frame, one-story building was erected and classes started. The teachers were pastors of the different churches at a small amount over their regular salaries. A small fee was charged for the higher and classical studies. The school prospering, plans were made for a larger brick building. A young architect by the name of John Henry Long drew plans for an eight room and two hall building. William Reamer and David Ritenour contracted for the brick work; Hockman & Long the wood work, etc. Some time in 1852, the building was finished. Pupils from Harrisonburg, Rockingham, and the Valley enrolled. The excellent grade of the school was commented upon higher and clergical studies were installed. For a number of years the school prospered. There is no record when some dissensions occurred, probably by sectional feelings and the separation of the two branches of the Methodist Church. The old Methodist Church, which was on the present site of the Brethren Church, had been abandoned. The Northern branch of the church had been built at the foot of the West Market hill in 1953, later the location of the Catholic Church and now the Merchants Grocery & Hardware building. The Southern, or John Wesley, branch had been built on the west side of North German street, (1851) now Liberty and the present site of the Colored Methodist Church.

During the later fifties classes were gradually suspended. The building was occupied by several families and was used as a hospital during the War Between the States. In 1876 it was bought from the trustees of the school by Wm. B. Compton 




and extensive improvements were made. It was said to be the handsomest home in Harrisonburg at that time. In 1901 it was bought by James Kavanaugh for his home, later the home of Henry Ney .The present Academy Street was named for the old school, and at one time extended across West Market and connected with an alley from Elizabeth street, now closed. A large apartment and a number of modern homes cover the old school plot.

The first public school was held in the Offett Building in 1871, now the site of the Oats building, situated on the southeast corner of North Main and Gay streets. The lot was originally a part of the Gray estate. On the board were Benj. Long, W. S. Lurty, Geo. S. Christie, Jasper Hawse, principal; and Philo Bradley.

The building was erected by J. D. Offett. A large two-story building intended for commercial purposes, an apartment for six families, the first apartment in Harrisonburg. In the early seventies the lower floor was leased by the school board of trustees and partitions were put up to form classrooms. The board consisted of Philo Bradley, George G. Grattan and Gen. J. Robert Jones.

The Rev. Jos. R. Loose was superintendent. Assistants were Prof. J. W. Grubb, Jasper Hawse and Miss Lydia Van Pelt. There was a number of students on the upper and classical studies. They were required to pay a small fee. They formed a literary and debating society, the late John Paul, Esquire, was "Orator", Ernest Strayer and Graham Harris, "Debaters", and Chas. McQuaide and John T. Harris, Jr., "Essayists".

Of the 121 pupils of the 1873-1874 Session four are living: John Kelley, Joseph A. Loewner, Kirby S. Bassford and Allan Bryan. Some of the later teachers were Winfield Liggett, J. D. Paxton, and a number of others.

When the school was moved to South Main in the old square brick building of the former Institute school, several enterprises used the old Bee-Gum Building, among them a barrel factory; then the "Apple Factory" Evaporating and Jelly plant. Strange to say, it was later purchased by one of the old pupils" the late Isaac Ney.

Some of the pupils became prominent in their chosen professions. Among them was Clinton Gatewood, who joined the U. S. Army and after several promotions, due to his early training, was placed in command of a detachment fighting against the Sioux Tribe. Almost single handed he captured "Geronimo" and succeeded in securing peace and the return of the tribe to the Reservation.

Another 1873 scholar was Hatton Harris who became a prominent surgeon in the Navy. The pupils and students of this session were from the following families: Bradley,


Bowman, Butler, Bassford, Gambill, Gatewood, Greiner, Gray, .Harris, Johnston, Kelley, Long, Martz, Nicholas, Pankey, Pinkus, Wartman, Shands, Smith Braithwaite, Yancey, Guyer, Logan, Liggett, Miller, Loewner, Sterling, Ward, Willis, Warren, Witts, Lamb, Bryan, Christie, Magalis, Gibbs, Points and a few from the county.

When the school was moved to the Institute building, Miss Tillie Herndon, one of the teachers, was allowed to have summer sessions for the sum of $1.00.

The increasing number of scholars called for a larger and more modem building. Designs and plans were drawn by Anthony Hockman and submitted to the Trustees. On November 29, 1879, the old property was purchased from J. Fred Effinger, executor of the estate of M. Harvey Effinger. The contract for tearing down the old building was awarded to Wm. J. Price. After various bids were opened the carpenter work was awarded to Noah Flick, the brickwork to William Billheimer, and the plastering to Peter Guyer. Saum and Gatewood did the roofing and spouting, Irick and Roberts the painting, Thomas Bassford and Joseph Shunk the benches and desks.

Prof. Geo. H. Hulvey of the Virginia Normal School, Bridgewater, was elected Principal, with Hatton Harris, assistant, from 1880 to 1883. Prof. W. W. Robertson from 1883 to 1885. Prof. C. E. Kregloe from 1885 to 1888. Prof. Kregloe’s wife was Miss Mamie Sterling. During his term his assistants were, N. P. Nowlin, Miss Jennie Davis, Miss Mollie Conrad, Miss Emily Strayer, Miss Bettie Conrad, and Miss Gussie Patterson. Trustees were James L. Avis, G. French Compton, and George O. Conrad. The excellent grade of the scholars is shown by a report card which indicates an average of 99 7/8 in seven studies and deportment and attendance.

Prof. Chas. G. Maphis was principal from 1888 to 1890; Prof. C. E. Barglebaugh from 1890 to 1892; Prof. R .H. Shepp from 1892 to 1893, and Prof. E. A. Smith from 1893 to 1894.

On May 26, 1894, Prof. W. H. Keister was elected principal and has been head of the Public Schools since. His first session opened September 16, 1894, with H. S. Hook first assistant, Miss Alice Funkhouser, Miss Ora Bowman, Miss Fannie Speck, Miss Fannie Mauck, Miss Fannie Bell, and Miss Belle Hannah. On June 16, 1916, he was elected Superintendent of City Schools. Having been Principal 22 years, Superintendent 17 years, 39 years of service up to June 1, 1933.

The middle eight-room section was built in 1879 by Wm. Billhimer. The first Waterman School was built in 1911 by Wm. Bucher. The new Harrisonburg High School was built in 1927 by Harrisonburg Building and Supply Co. The Lucy Simms (colored) School was built by Nielson Construction





Company. All of these structures have been built under his supervision. In 1873 the enrollment of the public schools was 163; at present, 1942, it is 1725.

Too much praise cannot be given Prof. W. H. Keister, whose untiring efforts have built him a record which, if not inscribed on stone, is inscribed in the hearts of the citizens of all classes in Harrisonburg, who, if called to express their opinion of him, would say, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Born on good old Virginia soil near McDowell in Highland County, his parents were of old Virginia families, which accounts for his being a true type of a Virginia Gentleman. He attended two small schools, and Academies at Doe Hill and McDowell. After teaching two terms in Bath County he attended Washington and Lee for four years, graduating in 1894. He is a life member of the National Education Association. Hale and hearty he still daily conducts the routine of his office. As Harrisonburg increases, so does his duties. On September 4, 1900, he was united in marriage to Virginia the daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Abner Fletcher. Both of old Virginia families.

Between the years 1920 and 1928 schools were conducted at the following places : In the house formerly the residence of Dr. J. H. Neff, 1919.1920; this stood on the vacant lot on the comer of Main Street and Newman Avenue, next to the State Theatre. The High School and the eighth grade were housed in the present Masonic Temple on the second floor for two or three years. A kindergarten and one or two classes were housed for two year's in rooms over George's Restaurant next to the Nicholas Book Store. For a time three or four of the primary grades were housed in the present Elk's Home. When the Elks purchased this building these schools were moved across the street to the L. H. Ott home, 1920-1921. Mr. John Robert Switzer, Clerk of the Court, lives in a home erected on a part of this ground. When this house was sold, the school was moved across to what was the Heneberger lot now the Campbell Street Apartments. Temporary buildings were erected there from time to time until there were nine of these; they were called "The Chicken-Coops", but later named the Wm. H. Keister School. Manual Training, Domestic Science, and one or two rooms of the lower grades were housed in the old Heneberger home. This Heneberger lot was purchased by the School Board with the intention of erecting a model and up-to-date high school building there. Plans for the building were drawn and the contract about to be let for the erection of the same, but because of the central and crowded location and from the fact that automobiles were coming into use very fast, no place for parking cars and taking care of the crowds could be had, this was abandoned.




Agitation was begun for the purchase of the Fair Grounds on which to erect the high school building, which as mentioned above was completed in 1928.

There was among many of the people a strong prejudice against sending their children to what they called the “free school”. It was with a good deal of hesitation that they were willing to send them to any but private schools. In a year or two, however, children attending the private schools gradually begin coming to the public schools and it was then the private schools began to discontinue. One by one these schools closed and all the children in the city were enrolled in the public schools. There is not now and has not been for many years any child of school age in Harrisonburg attending private school in the city.

The second Female School was conducted by the Misses Sue and Esther Campbell, assisted by their father, the Reverend Robert Campbell, who had taught in a prominent school in Albemarle County. The three Gray Brothers; Algernon, Robert, and Jewett, desiring a tutor for their children, brought Rev. Campbell and his daughters here and they used his old home for a school. Other scholars of prominent families attended. The Jewett Gray home was on the southeast corner of West Gay and North German streets. Gen. Jubal Early used this home as headquarters during his Valley Campaigns. Mr. Campbell's death occurring, his two daughters looked for larger quarters. The Henneberger and Grattan addition having been surveyed and laid out by Jasper Hawse, they purchased a large lot almost in the center. Plans were drawn by Wm. Bucher who was the junior partner of “Hockman & Bucher” who built the large eight-room frame building. At that time there was only a narrow alley to Main street and Federal alley. Later the alley to Main was widened and the street extended east to the foot of the hill and named for the school, Campbell Street. The female students were from the most exclusive families here and in adjoining counties. After a long period of years, their health declining, the Misses Campbell retired to private life. Later the property was sold to Edward Schaeffer, and remodeled for his home. At present it is the site of a large apartment and several modern homes.

When the Paul building on the south side of West Market was built (next to the present Municipal Building) there was a large hall on the top floor which was leased by the Shenandoah Institute, a stock company composed of some of the leading citizens throughout the Valley. Prof. E. U. Hoenshell was principal, assisted by several competent instructors. The Rev. A. P. Funkhouser was president of the Board. A large number of students were enrolled. Robert Thermond occupied the second floor and boarded a number of the students,




others were placed in private homes. They were instructed in business and clerical studies, some completing a course, and others preparing for other colleges. Among them was Isaac Ney, who later attended a Maryland institution. During the sessions many instructive experiments were taught.

The first electric light bulb was displayed here. The current was generated by a small dynamo driven by the engine in the printing office of A. P. Funkhouser in one of the old Wartman buildings. Twenty-five cents was charged to view it. Another interesting exhibition was held in the school. The first Edison wax; disc phonograph, equipped with ear-phones and the large tulip-shaped horn. It also had a recording attachment. The late Mrs. Saylor Myers, then Miss Sarah Points, gave a whistling solo, which was played over a large part of the United States.

The first school of music was operated in one of the rooms on the top floor of the old Sibert building, now the First National Bank, by Prof. Chas. Cleary. He was assisted by his wife who was Miss Jennie Kernan, and later became a member of a noted opera company in New York. Vocal and instrumental lessons were taught. The writer was a pupil and learned his "do, ra, me, sol, me, do's" which were the foundation of future lessons. Prof. Cleary, losing his eyesight, retired to private life and spent his last years with his brother, Jas. O. A. Cleary, on East Market street.

Another and remarkable character on the streets of Harrisonburg during the 1870 and '80's was blind Samuel Ralston who was a brother of Major John Ralston and Sheriff Davy Ralston, and who made the jail residence his headquarters. At an early age he was sent to Staunton to the Institute for the Blind. He became a very remarkable performer on the piano. He was said to almost equal "Blind Tom" as he could render the most difficult numbers after hearing them played. He also became a proficient piano tuner. After graduating he returned to his home and established a route over which he would cover without assistance. He taught music lessons in a number of homes, one of his pupils is now living in Franklin, West Virginia. His declining years were spent in one of the Ralston homes in the Chrisman neighborhood.

Some of the older citizens who were pupils will remember Prof. Armstad Legg, who conducted a school in the basement of the old Lutheran Church, a frame building built in 1850. This school was called the Legg Normal School. Mr. Legg was a one-armed Confederate Veteran and conducted his school there until the present brick church was built in 1888 by the late Wm. Bucher. He moved his classes to the old store room of Mr. B. E. Logan on Gray street opposite the present freight depot. It was also used by the Brethren congregation. His health failing, he passed his last years in




the family of Charlie Miller, the father of the late Marshall Miller.

Another small school was conducted by Rev. M. J. Yonts in his home on East Market street west of the J. P. Houck home. Some of the pupils are among the present business firms. Mrs. Jacob Liggett gave music lessons to a few of the daughters of her intimate friends at her home on South High street.

The Misses Davis, Jenny and Mattie, conducted a school on South High street opposite the old cemetery, in a long one-story frame building, formerly the casket and cabinet shop of John Harvey Reagan, the father of Robert Reagan, a prominent lawyer. Miss Jennie was a teacher in the public schools for several sessions. They first conducted summer sessions, and later winter sessions.

Another pay-school was conducted by Miss Mollie McQuaide in her home on the northwest corner of German and West Bruce streets, assisted by her brother Chas. P. McQuaide, a former pupil of the old Bee-Gum School. A number of her pupils are still residents of Harrisonburg.

Mrs. Emma Lyon Bryan had classes in her home on East Market street in the higher grades, also drawing and oil painting. She painted the large oil painting of old Harrisonburg, now in possession of Mrs. Charles Hammer, from the hill site of the old Methodist Church, before the railroad ran through, and autos and airplanes were unknown. She also was the author of several books based on Civil War episodes, which had quite a wide circulation.

While on the Public School period, I will again mention the colored schools. The first was in a small one-story frame building near the west bank of Blacks Run on the north side of Rock street, west of the present pants factory. A white teacher, Mrs. James, had been sent here by a Northern Society and taught several sessions. When the first colored M. E. Church was built on the south side of West Wolfe street, east of Blacks Run, classes were started by a teacher named Scott and later by one named Peterson; then Prof. Newman. The number of scholars increasing, primary classes were started in the basement of the old Northern M. E. Church, later temporary U. S. Court House. A teacher named Mrs. Jackson had charge. When the Effinger Street building was erected in 1882, Prof. Newman was Principal, assisted by Lucy Simms, and later Ulysses S. Wilson, who, after teaching two sessions at Mt. Crawford and several other county schools, took a course at the "State Institute" in Petersburg. In 1892 he was elected to the Effnger school staff. After years of faithful service he and Prof. Newman were retired. Lucy Simms, for whom the colored high school is named, was a half-sister of Wilson.




Miss Simms was born a slave a few hundred yards from .the school on the Gray estate at "Hill Top." After finishing in the colored public schools and having shown considerable talent to her teachers, she attended the Institute in Richmond for two sessions, returning she served under Prof. Newman, and later was elected principal. The large number of both white and colored at her funeral attested to her popularity and esteem.



As previously stated the Legislature enacted a law (1870) establishing public school systems. In 1871 the Harrisonburg town council elected trustees to organize and set in motion the public schools. Benj. Long was chairman, W. S. Lurty was clerk. Geo. S. Christy was also on this board. It was decided to have separate schools, the males in the Offitt building, the females in the old Seminary building, now the site of South Main Street School. The colored classes were in the basement of the old northern Methodist church, later the Catholic Church. Mrs. Virginia W. Warren was elected Principal, with Miss Ella Paul and Miss Cornelia Switzer assistants in the South Main Street School. In. selecting a Principal for the North Main Street School, Jasper Hawse was elected, with Winfield Liggett and James A. White as assistants.

Jasper Hawse was born in Hardy County, West Virginia, November 15, 1835. Sometime in 1862 he married Miss Mary A. Beery of Edom, Va. To this union was born 14 children, eight sons and six daughters. Two of his sons were well known here: John, for years with the Snell and later the Merchants Grocery and Hardware Co.; Jasper, who was employed on the Valley Branch of the B. & O., and in 1897 transferred to the main line. He is still living. After coming here Mr. Hawse purchased a home on North High street.

After serving four years in the Harrisonburg schools Jasper Hawse was elected Superintendent of Rockingham County Public Schools by the Board, July 10, 1875 and served in this capacity eight years, during which time he studied engineering, drafting and surveying. Resigning from the schools, he entered public service for four years during which time he rendered extensive service to the Shenandoah Valley Railroad, surveying and platting points along the line-Elkton, Basic City and other points.




Desiring to be nearer his .family he applied for the office of County Surveyor and was appointed in 1887, and served until his death on November 30, 1905. He was succeeded by Jos. G. Myers
, father of City Engineer Wm. G. Myers. A strict prohibitionist and church member, Mr. Hawse endeared himself to all he came in contact with. Three years after the death of Mrs. Hawse, he married Miss Anna B. Scott, of Port Republic, who survived him by 16 years. Mr. Hawse now has five living children, two of whom are graduates of the Harrisonburg High School.





Prof. Geo. H. Hulvey was born near Cross Keys in Rockingham County in 1844, where his boyhood was spent. In the early sixties he attended the Augusta Military Academy at Fort Defiance, Va. After the War Between the States he finished his education at the University of Virginia. After teaching for several years he was elected Superintendent of the "Virginia Normal School" at Bridgewater. Some of the teachers associated with him were Miss Virginia Paul, daughter of Peter Paul, and sister of Judge John Paul, and Miss Laura O'Ferrall sister of the Hon. Chas. T. O'Ferrall, later governor of Virginia. In 1880 he was elected Principal of the Harrisonburg Public Schools and served until 1883 when he was elected Superintendent of Rockingham and Harrisonburg schools, and served 29 years. In 1916 Prof. W. H. Keister was elected Superintendent of the Harrisonburg Public Schools. Prof. Hulvey continued as Superintendent of county schools until his death. He was known as one of the best educated men in the State. An earnest church and Sunday School worker, he was for years president of the Sunday School Union here. During the Civil War he was captain of Company "C" 11th Virginia Cavalry and suffered the loss of his left arm in the Battle of the Wilderness, May 6, 1864. In the early 1900 he entered the Democratic Primary as a candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction, but was defeated by Joseph D. Eggleston.

He was twice married. His first wife was the daughter of the late Arthur Bader of McGaheysville. To this union were born three sons. His second wife was Miss Nannie Yancey, daughter of the late George Yancey of near Keezletown. To this union three sons and two daughters were born. Of the eight children seven survive.




The recent death of Mrs. Robert Craig Byers, aged 93, recalls another of the old female schools, on the staff of teachers in the Rockingham Academy in the late fifties was Prof. Phillip Custer of Shenandoah County. There is at present the only known pupil of the old Custer School who is still living, Miss Kate Woodson, residing on South Mason street. Daughter and last member of the family of Judge John C. Woodson, she was born in the old Woodson home on the corner of North German and West Elizabeth streets, recently torn down, and said to be the third house built in Harrisonburg.

When the division of the Methodist Church took place and the old log church was abandoned, Prof. Custer opened a female School in the old structure. In the early sixties, during a storm, the old church was badly damaged and had to be abandoned. Prof. Custer moved his classes in part of the old Female Seminary on South Main street for several sessions. There is no record of when classes were ended, possibly during the war period. Mrs. Byers was a pupil sometime during the duration. There were several sessions after the war. Mrs. Imogen Avis Tatum was a pupil in the Campbell Street School. After graduating from; the Mary-Baldwin and the Peabody Institute, she conducted classes in music in the Jas. L. Avis home on South Main street. The retired druggist, organist and musician, Payne Avis, owes his ability to her teaching.

In the Jiles Devier home on the corner of North High and West Market streets, Miss Hortense Devier conducted a school for small children, boys, and girls. Miss Mamie Seldon had a small School in the home of her brother-in-law, Dr. Rives Tatum, on the north side of the Square. Miss Mary I. Bell later had classes in the present rear building of Warren House. There was also a school for young men and women in the old Collicello House on North German street, conducted by Mr. Phipps Miller.





At the first session of the State Teachers College, Sept. 28, 1909, three members of the Board of Trustees were from Rockingham County: E. W. Carpenter, A. H. Snyder, and George B. Keezle. Much credit is due Senator Keezle, who by his untiring efforts secured for Harrisonburg over a number of other locations the site of the school. The other eight members of the Board were men of prominence, with Hon. J. D. Eggleston, Supt. of Public Instruction.

Julian Ashby Burruss was President from 1908 to 1919 with a faculty of fourteen instructors and officers of administration,




with an enrollment of 200 student from 47 counties, .eight cities and three other states.

Three buildings were on the campus of 48 acres, namely Maury Hall, Jackson Hall, and Cleveland Cottage (the old Newman Home) used as a dormitory and infirmary. In 1919 Samuel P. Duke was appointed President of the college, which has grown rapidly during the last 20 years and is now represented by a faculty of 89 highly efficient instructors and a student body of 1317, and a physical plant of more than 20 buildings, with a replacement of $2,500,000 in value and averaging an area of more than 49 acres, which includes portions bought from Dr. Frank L. Harris, Trustee, Mrs. J. C. Sibert, and later the R. B. Smythe home and grounds.

The "Madison College" at present is under the direction of the State Board of Education, comprised of eight prominent Virginians, headed by Mr. Dabney S. Lancaster of Richmond. Three members of the present faculty who were born in Harrisonburg are Miss Elizabeth Davis, Miss Elizabeth Hams, and Mr. Conrad Logan. The Conrad Family has been identified with educational institutions here for three generations. Geo. O. Conrad on the school board, and two daughters, Misses Mollie and Bettie were on the staff of teachers in the grade school during the "Kregloe" sessions, 1885-86.

Conrad Logan's father was "Johnnie" Logan, his mother Mrs. Talfourd N. Haas. His grandfather, Joseph Logan will be remembered as a clerk in court for a period of years.

Miss Elizabeth Harris is the daughter of the late John T. Harris, and Mrs. Elizabeth Fisher Harris whose father was Peyton Randolph of Virginia. Miss Elizabeth Davis is the daughter of the late N. Wilson Davis, and Mrs. Carrie Switzer Davis, and a grand-daughter of John A. Switzer, a Confederate Veteran.

Two Rockingham born members are the late Raymond Dingledine and Miss Edna Shaeffer. Miss Shaeffer has been on the staff continuously from about 1914. A finished musician, and organist and director of the First Presbyterian Church choir. Her parents were Edward Shaeffer and Dora Shaver Shaeffer. Another member of the faculty is Prof. Henry A. Converse who was born in Louisville, Ky., and came to Harrisonburg at the age of three years and has served continuously since 1919. His mother was Mrs. Marie Bear Converse, who was born in Rockingham in 1843.





Eastern Mennonite School is situated just outside the present city limits, near enough to enjoy city lights, power, water and sewer connections. The exclusive sections of Park View and Assembly Park have rigid restrictions regarding





all real estate transactions, thus retaining the high calibre of the community as to all homes and business enterprises. Situated on what was originally the Doctor Lind, Adam Potiger, and Elverton Shands farms, it has an unobstructed and commanding view of Harrisonburg, the rolling hills of the historic Shenandoah Valley, with the Blue Ridge and Massanutten mountains as a fitting background in the distance. Pleasing to the eye, a more enchanting site is hardly imaginable.

After establishing a small school in the old Assembly Park building with a small staff of instructors and mostly local students, plans were made for a larger building. The first and center unit was built in 1919, with a staff of 12 teachers and instructors, and an enrollment of 142 scholars from prominent families from a number of states. A diploma is highly prized and a sure entrance to any form of private or religious activities. The site consisted of 123 acres.

In 1926 the south annex, and in 1941 the north annex were built which doubled the capacity. The staff of teachers and instructors was increased to 21. The present number of attending students is 442. The present grounds comprise about 34 acres, as several plots and a number of lots have been sold. The nearness of the school to Harrisonburg is a large and wonderful asset to its citizens.

Plans have been drawn and most of the material is on the grounds for the erection of a large and commodious Chapel; the dimensions are 72 x 110 ft. with a platform extension of 18 x 50 feet. It is expected to have the building under roof the latter part of 1942.
















The following sketches pertain to Harrisonburg Firemen and their organizations from 1840 to 1942.

Old Maryland records show that Thomas W. Bassford, a son of Oliver C. Bassford, was born in Prince William County, October 11, 1818. It was customary in those days for youths to learn a trade. Thomas W. was apprenticed to a noted cabinet maker in Alexandria, VA., by the name of Green, at the age of 16, for a period of four years. On completing his trade and receiving a small sum from his father, he purchased a horse. Hearing of the Shenandoah Valley he decided to locate there, and rode horse-back to Winchester, where he worked for a short time. Records show he became a member of the "Sarah-Zane" Fire Company, which had purchased a hand-pumper from Alexandria. This pumper is now preserved in a large glass case.

Late in 1840 he came to Harrisonburg accompanied by a man named Wm. Bamber, another cabinet-maker, and located in an old log house on the corner of West Elizabeth and North German streets, and engaged in making furniture and coffins. Some time in the 50's a ladder-and-bucket brigade was formed with Isaac Hardesty, Peter Harnsberger, Andrew Houck, Nelson, Gambill, Sprinkle, and a number of other citizens. As the town was growing and the revenues limited, plans were drawn for a better method of fire-protection. Some time in the 60's, after suggestions of Thomas Bassford a "Pumper" fashioned after the Winchester pumper was built. Assisted by Philo Bradley and John Cordell on the castings, Levi Cromer and Noah Snyder the woodwork, John C. Morrison and Wm. Reherd the ironing and finishing. Several sections of old leather hose was purchased from Winchester and other short sections were made by George Miller. It was equipped with handles for 16 men, and performed valiant service for a number of years.

After the disastrous fire of Christmas Eve, 1870, which burned from the old stone Waterman House on the south side of the Square, East to Main, down Main to Water, and down Water almost to Black's Run. The old buildings were of log and frame, and the weather almost at zero. The fire-fighters were unable to check the flames, which






practically burned themselves out. Wet blankets were spread over the .fronts of buildings on the opposite side of Main street. An “ad” appearing in a Richmond paper stating their "Hand-Pumper Rescue" was for sale. Thomas Bassford was sent there and purchased it and brought it to Staunton by train, and then down the Valley Pike drawn by two horses, as the Valley Railroad had not been completed. After several fires it was decided to purchase another pumper. George Gassman was sent to Cumberland, Md., and purchased the “Independent.” He and Thomas Bassford organized the first regular Volunteer Fire Department, composed of the two companies. The "Rescue" was housed in the small back building on the northwest comer of the Square (facing the Warren Hotel). The meetings were held on the second floor, which was also used for Council meetings and the Mayor's Court. The “Independent” was housed in a small frame building on East Market street adjoining Whitesel Brothers.

Seeing the need of a Hook-and-Ladder wagon to assist the two companies, funds were raised and it was built by John C. Morrison, and the ladders by John and Henry Snyder. It was housed with the Independent. A company was formed with the late Davis Whitesel his brother Newton and John Garber .as President and Captain Two fires on West Market street tested the mettle of the companies. One which burned from the Jones building (now the Old Elks Home), east to Federal alley and one building across the alley. The other was in the same block, the rear frame part of Herman and Adolph Wise Store, and which for a time threatened the entire block. The members of the "Rescue" were from families on the north side, Braithwaite, Bowmans, Bassford, Willis, Dangerfield, Magalis, Royer, Chase, Morrison, Bryan, Cordell, Gay. John Paul "Esq.", a young lawyer was made first captain. A number of others were active and contributing members. The members of the Independent were from the south and eastern side. They were, Sprinkel, Compton, Harris, Ott, Rodgers, Dutrow, Billhimer and a number of other active members. Contributing members included John T. Harris, Chas. T. O'Farrell, George G. Grattan and James L. Avis. The Hook-and-Ladder company included the Whitesel Brothers, Chas. Hammer, I. S. McNeil, Wm. Long, Lee Golden, John, Ed. and George Garber, George and Frank Stahling, a number from East Market street and other sections. Three families whose descendants were prominent and seasoned "Fire Fighters" were Bassford, Braithwaite, and Willis, four sons of Thomas, were Robert, George,, Henry, and Kirby,, two grandsons, Dell and Bob Lee,, all members of Hose teams of No. 4. Four generations of Braithwaites, "Sewell," father of the state-wide lamented Chief W. A. "Al", his son Sam, and two great grandsons "Miles" and, "Bill". Four generations of




Willis', "Grand-Pop," William D. Willis
, his son George, a Grandson, the late Herman Willis and great grandson, J. Wm. "Bill" Willis, Chief of County Firemen.

In 1888 contracts were let for the digging of an artesian well on the North Main lot, now the City supply department. Digging started and contracts let for the digging of trenches, laying mains and installing, fire plugs. A frame building was erected, boilers and pumping machinery installed and water was forced to the Old Reservoir on Red Hill, built in a depression. It was thought to be an ideal site, but proved to be over a cave or sink, as leaks were constantly occurring which proved costly, also the cost of pumping was enormous, and the water inferior, the well showed it had tapped the underground stream leading to the Big Spring, as in extremely wet weather both would be cloudy. Just before the system was accepted, the first test was given by the Berry mill fire, which included the using of the first fire plug. This plug was removed a short time ago and stored in the city warehouse. The plug pressure varied, the one at the Jno. E. Roller corner registering 65 pounds.

The old pumpers were still used at fires where the pressure was low. Four hose-reel companies were formed which absorbed the two companies. "The Independent" was sold, the "Rescue" was used for a number of years by Dayton. At present it is stored in the old Tannery building. Its dilapidated appearance is only a shadow of what was once polished mahogany and shining brass and copper. When the two pumpers were installed, Thomas Bassford was placed in charge of them, also the street lighting system which was coal oil lamps set on large wooden posts. Hose Company No. 1 was formed and their hose-reel housed on North Main street between the Kavanaugh Building ("Seven Ton") and the old Gray home. Number 2, or Central, was housed in the Council Chamber Building. No. 3 was housed in a small building on South High street in the rear of Adolph Wise home. This building is still standing. No. 4 was housed in a small building spanning Black's Run, across from Wm. Gardner's paint shop on North German street. There was quite a rivalry existing between the four companies as to which would get to the fire first. John P. Burke was first President of Number 4.

A Fourth of July celebration was held, the main attraction being a contest between the four reel teams. No noted race horse ever received closer training than these members. Devices were studied to save time in uncoupling the hose. Several were tried and failed in practicing. Each company was allowed to put a small red flag around the Hose near the coupling to be broken and nozzle attached. An "Eel skin" about one and a half inches wide by twenty-eight inches




long, with perforations spaced to fit over the two small nibs, was put on and covered with red ribbon. The end was fastened with a small safety-pin. This was used by No. 4. It operated perfectly. Just like a boy spinning his top, and resulted in winning first prize, the time being 28¾ seconds.

The first hose team to enter State Convention contests was No .4 at Staunton, June 6, 1893. The four Bassford boys, Robert, George, Henry and Kirby, Harry Voorhees, Ed. Cordell, Walter Magalis, John Noll, James Kavanaugh, Vern Slater, Hiram Chandler, Tom Welch, Jacob Miller, George Gatewood, Newton Miller and Richard Hughes constituted the team. Accompanying members were Jacob Gassman, Doad Yeakle, John Long, John R. Saum, Brent Bowman, Thos. Coffman, Tom Dovel, and several others.

No. 4 won first prize over five other teams, thus paving the way for No. 4 to win scores of prizes.

Of the team of fifteen runners, there are living James Kavanaugh, Hiram Chandler, Richard Hughes, and the writer.

Later in 1894, Harrisonburg sent two teams, No. 4 and No. 1, to the State convention at Portsmouth, which broke records, each company winning first and second prizes, also the parade prize for largest and best appearing company in line, also the convention for the following year. That evening they paraded, carrying red, white and blue umbrellas and brooms, and were banqueted on their return home. The members of this No. 1 squad were: C. C. Conrad, Newton Conrad, B. F. Miller, Manor Bragg, John Reiter, Carl Roadcap, F. D. Welcher, Isaac Ney, J. M. Kavanaugh, Patrick J. Lamb, James Bragg, and Robert Philips. Ed W. Sullivan was Captain, Eugene West, Secretary. Other members were Patrick and James Sullivan, Edward Glenn, and leading citizens of North Main section.

The following poem by U. G. Wilson, was published in our local paper after the Harrisonburg Reel Teams had won a number of prizes:


All hail to the Champions, those knights of the "Reel",

The quick-sprinting victors, with muscles of steel;

All hail to the Firemen, victorious and brave,

Slaves only to Duty, their mission to save.

All hail to the Laddies, our hats off to you,

Hale, hearty and invincible, a wing-footed crew.

We drink to your health, may your record remain

A monument forever to your health and your fame.


The members of the Central or No. 2 Company were: Boyd Effinger, Capt. Wm. B. Dutrow, Welty Campbell, Ernest Wilton, I. S. McNeill, Glen Alexander, Frank and




Henry McKay
, Stonewall Kenney, Walter Sprinkle, Davis Dold, Arthur Paul, and a number of others from the southern section. Honorary members: C. A. Sprinkel, Joshua Wilton, Jas. L. Avis, Benj. Patterson, and others.

The members of No. 3, or "Skil-pots" were: Phelix Allen, Capt. R. E. L. Allen, Harry Allen, Wm. B. Compton, Jr., George and Thomas Logan, Ernest and Harry Butler, Ott Sterling, Algernon Daingerfield, Clinton and Harry Long, "Ab" and Paul Fletcher. Among the honorary members and contributing members were: Thos. L. Williamson, David Wisman, A. J. Nicholas and others from the western section.

After the 1894 convention changes were made in No. 1. Later Captains were: Jas. Dwyer, J. J. Lamb, Eugene West, and J. Ed. Glenn, secretary.

Prize winning teams were organized in both No. 1 and No. 4. Among them was Walter and Robert Switzer, Herbert Hawkins, John Paul, Jr., Sam Funkhouser, Robert Switzer, Ernest Golden, Allan Thompson, Ike Ford, Lawrence and Mannie Loewner, John Jr. and Benton Noll, Wilmer and Hiram Chandler, John Kelley, Jr., Ed. and Robert Lamb, Emmer Long, Brent Bowman, Wm. Strole, Chas. Braithwaite, Ed. Snell, Evans Long, Robert Dwyer and "Cap" E. L. Klingstein. Contributing members of No. 1 were: Patrick Reiley, V. Sheehy, Chas. Loewner, Jos. Dorsey, Ashby Malone, Edward Pursell, Lurty Irick and others. Dissensions arising, No. 4 gradually absorbed the other three companies. The two companies had for some years cooperated on attending conventions, sometimes as competitors or combining as one team, winning prizes.

Sensing the need of a proper home, plans were formed for the same. A committee was empowered to contact Mr. J. C. Staples and purchase the lot, now covered by their commodious station. Leading citizens were interviewed as to what they were willing to contribute in money, materials and assisting in constructing a building. Sufficient funds were raised for the purchase of the lot. On October 6, 1908, the purchase was completed and put on record. Mr. Staples deducted a portion of the amount as his donation, but stipulated conditions that would insure perpetual ownership by "Hose Co. No. 4." Committees were formed to raise further funds, plans for a cement block and brick building were designed by Geo. W. Bassford. As donations of money, stocks and brick were received, work was started. The wood-work was largely done by Bassford Bros., who contributed liberally in material and work, assisted by some of the local carpenters of the town. The donations of cement blocks ranged from five to fifty, which included the laying. Late in 1910 it was completed and the small equipment moved in and dedicated




by a large banquet. The building was then half the size of the .present structure. It was graced with a tower at the southwest comer surmounted by a large bell which sounded the alarm turned in by seven fire boxes in seven zones. Later a steam-engine was added to the town. The combined company rapidly gained membership and popularity, however, unforeseen dissension arose in the company. The size of the building was doubled and other equipment put in. Other dissensions took place between the company and the city officials, which resulted in the removal of their part of the equipment from the building and put in the Garber building on East Market Street, during the latter part of 1926.

Sponsored by the town council the present Company No. 1 was organized December 7, 1926, with 100 charter members, and placed in charge of the equipment removed from No. 4 firehouse. Most of them were from No. 4, and the other old companies. In 1929, increasing membership necessitated larger quarters and conveniences. The present quarters were bought and remodeled. The first President was John F. Noll, Vice-President, Gilbert Spitzer; Treasurer, W. M. Menefee, and Secretary, Frank Switzer. Leroy Loewner was Captain. Other officers were: J. H. Vance, Warren Denton, H. L. Dechert, and Ed. Chapman. The present officers are: D. J. Long, President; Paul Phillippy, Vice-President; Sidney Neff, Captain. 1st. Lt., Raymond Rhodes; Secretary, Olin Miller; Financial Secretary, T. T. Misner; Treasurer, Harry Heatwole. Paid membership is 263. A motor driven steamer, a hook-and-ladder truck, and, a modern pumper have been added, along with "first-aid" equipment. A recreation room has recently been added. Paid firemen at present are Harry Phillippy and H. K. Darr.

When the town-owned equipment was removed from No. 4 fire house, they promptly reorganized and used the company-owned apparatus, also purchasing a quantity of hose. Their membership increasing and still rendering valuable service, the Council returned the steamer and other equipment and purchased a pumper. The addition of the County pumper has more than doubled their hazardous duties, but at no time have they refused to answer the call, regardless of time or weather. A new latest model pumper has been contracted for, and its delivery is expected in a short time.

When the 1910 building was erected the following officers were elected: W. A. "Al" Braithwaite Chief; George W. Willis, Capt. Others were: J. T. Houck, J. M. Snell, John Noll, J. E. Glenn, Secretary, and George Burtner, Treasurer. All were members of the building committee, which included Chief of. Police Armentrout and a number of others. Large contributors included the late Geo. B. Keezel, John W. Taliaferro,




Edward Purcell
, Glenn Alexander, B. Ney & Sons, Jos. Ney & Sons, J. P. Houck, the three Banks and several fraternal organizations. Small contributions were from a large number of citizens. When dedicated it was free of debt.

I failed to mention that among the large number of prizes won, was during the Jamestown Exposition while the State Association was being held at Newport News. A "dry-run" was made on the Boardwalk by the reel team of No. 4, assisted by several members of the No. 1 squad, establishing a world's record of 28 seconds. Ernest Golden came within a fraction of equaling the 100 yard record of that period-l0 seconds.

The writer also spent a week at the Exposition with the “Daily News Band,” filling engagements secured by Mr. R. B. Smythe, manager of the Daily News and honorary member of No. 4. At present the following are officers: J. A. Braithwaite, President; F. O. Taliaferro, Honorary President; Vice President, M. Wampler; 2nd Vice-President, Walter Green; Treasurer, Raymond Litton; Secretary Wm. Braithwaite ; Captain, Lewis Wood. Assistant County Chiefs are S. M. Powell and Raymond Litton. The present membership is 275, with two paid firemen-Leo Cavey and S. M. Powell. Twenty new members were enrolled at a recent meeting. A modern Ladder Truck has been purchased by funds raised by the efforts of the members and will be added to the company owned equipment.

Following the three fires previously mentioned, the next was the Snell warehouse and three adjoining buildings of firms along the railroad north of Snell's. In 1892 during D. M. Switzer's term as Mayor, an epidemic of fires occurred. In 14 nights seven fires alarmed the citizens, extra watchmen were put on. The first fire occurred in the rear of the Kavanaugh Hotel which destroyed the stables and other outbuildings. Then followed six other small fires, mostly stables. The largest and last, the old Ice Factory. Later the Sublett fire which destroyed or badly damaged five buildings. Then the Collicello fire which was fought by a hand-full of half frozen firemen. The western wing of six rooms burned, but the main part was saved. Zero weather prevailed. The large barn and sheds of the J. C. Staples Livery and Feed Stables (now the shirt factory site) all of which were of frame construction, were totally destroyed. For a time that section was threatened, as nearby buildings were across narrow alleys. Much praise was given the firemen by their splendid work.

The work of the firemen was also commented on in handling the Iseman fire, on the east side of Court Square. The store was filled with inflammable stock, and the large rear part frame. Only their heroic efforts saved the entire east side buildings.




The recent "R.O.C.C.O." mill and Mutual Mill fires were admirably handled. If the entire amount of clothing and personal belongings of firemen, damaged or destroyed while on duty, were added up the total would be staggering. For a large number of years members were not equipped with rubber outfits, but regardless of what they were wearing, rushed to their duty at any time in any kind of weather.

Harrisonburg firemen were ever-ready to render their assistance to neighboring towns. The largest fire in the history of Dayton occurred March 3, 1903. In the early morning hours the fire started in the rear stock room of the drug store located in the triangular block situated in the center of the town. The drug store, post office, Coffman's grocery store, the Jos. Helms carriage wareroom, the town hall, the large U. B. Church were in the block. Across the street on the west side the Waverly Hotel, owned by John Bryan, and three residences were gutted or destroyed.

While the citizens were fighting the flames to the best of their ability with lines of bucket brigades, Harrisonburg firemen rushed the old hand pumper "Rescue", to the scene, drawn by two horses furnished by the late Ludwig Hirsch. The pumper was placed at the nearest point on the Sliver Lake branch. Two lines of hose were laid and manned by willing workers. The old pumper was the means of checking the flames and keeping the homes on the east side drenched. The citizens of Dayton were loud in their praise of the work of the firemen, and later contributed liberally when the home of No. 4 was erected in 1910.

On another occasion the old pumper was taken by Mr. Hirsch to the Anthony place just south of town (now the Sam Toppin farm) and saved some of the outbuildings.



1894 to 1915


After years spent in organizing the early fire fighting units, and feeling the weight of years, Thos. W. Bassford resigned. Owing to his being familiar with the location and construction of buildings, as a roofing contractor, John R. Saum was chosen Chief.

Born in Saumsville, Shenandoah County. Early in life he came to Harrisonburg and learned the tinning and roofing trade under O. Perry Helphenstein. Later he formed the firm of Gatewood & Saum, whose first contract was the roofing of the first building of the present Main Street School. He was a charter member of the Old "Rescue:" Company.




An enthusiastic lover of horses and horseback riding, he was at home in the saddle, and when the alarm was sounded was always among the first there, directing his men how to best combat the flames. He was a familiar figure in the parades, on his horse, with his red plume hat and red shirt. One of his hobbys was fishing with a sein, which at that period was not prohibitive. The writer was among some of the parties, as were Herman Wise, Tom Franey and other friends. To know him was to like him. He was regular in his church duties. His first wife was Miss Dora Helphenstein, his second Miss Julia Clower of Shenandoah. Two children are Mrs. Sally Saum Flory of Elkton and Randolph of Harrisonburg. His third wife was Miss Flora Rodgers. Failing health and close attention to his business caused his resignation, later retiring to private life. His wonderful personality endeared him to all who came in contact with him.


1915 to 1924

"Al", as he was familiarly called, was born in the old Braithwaite home on the northwest corner of W. Wolfe and German streets. The son of Sewel Braithwaite, a charter and active member of the "Rescue" Fire Company, a carpenter and member of the firm of Braithwaite Bros., Joseph, Jacob and Sewel. "Al" followed in the footsteps of his father, learning the trade. Over a long period he was employed by Wm. Bucher, and Wm. Bucher & Son, assisting in erecting a large number of homes and public buildings here. He was a valuable and efficient member of the Police Force for a number of years. Scorning the use of a "Billy" or club, his splendid physique was all that was necessary in subduing a resisting offender. In later years, he was employed at the First National Bank, which in addition to his former duties he came in contact with the majority of the citizens of Rockingham, most of whom he knew by name. Failing health caused his retirement. Following an operation he was confined to his home. A patient sufferer for a long period. His death was mourned by citizens and fellow firemen.

His popularity and esteem was evidenced by the throng at his burial, and the number of floral pieces sent from fire departments over the entire State. His death occurred while the State Firemen’s Association was in session at Covington. It was often remarked that no convention was complete without his attendance.

Two sons, two daughters, fifteen grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren are living. His body was borne on the No. 4 fire truck to its final resting place.





1924 to 1933

George W. Bassford was born in Harrisonburg and spent his entire life here, except four years in Macon, Georgia.

While there he joined the Volunteer Fire Department, strange to say, Hose Co. No. 4. A member of the reel team, he received training which on his return resulted in forming prize winning teams and establishing a record for number of prizes won. He was a young member of the "Rescue" Company, and assisted his father, who was in charge of the two hand pumpers and the coal-oil burning street lamps. With his older brother, Robert C. Bassford, he engaged in cabinet and carpenter work. Later with his two younger brothers, as Bassford Bros., contractors. When the Artesian well was dug he was placed in charge of the pumping station on North Main street, now the City supply and storage station.

When the first United State Court House and Post office was built he was employed there for some time.

He designed the first Fire House on West Elizabeth St., in 1910 and with his two bothers contributed largely in its construction. Following his resignation as Chief, he was stationed at No. 1 fire station for a period, and maintained his membership in both No. 1 and No. 4. Later he retired to his home on West Market street. His death was a shock to the entire community, and at his request was accorded a Firemen's funeral. He is survived by one daughter, two sons, and seven grandchildren.


1933 to 1941

John F. Noll was born near Ellicott City, Md., of old Maryland stock. As a youth he was employed as water boy on a construction force, when not at school. Later he was employed as a helper in constructing lines on the B. & O. railroad, also lines from Harpers Ferry to Harrisonburg. In the 80's J. P. Houck Tanning Co. contracted to build lines and furnish current for electric lights on the Square and a number of streets. The late "Jack" J. L. Reiter was in charge of construction. Being in need of an experienced linesman he got in touch with Mr. Noll, which resulted in his employment. Bringing his family here, his first home was on North Main street. Later in the old Jewell-Gray home on the comer of North Liberty and West Gay. Then to his home on W. Gay and Collicello streets, where his death occurred.



After the resignation of Wm. Fallis
 he was elected superintendent of Public Works. The present water, lights and sewer systems are lasting monuments to his superior judgment and unselfish duty. Night and day he was always on the job. The three entire systems were an open map, as he knew every .joint, plug and what constituted the successful operation of the three. Mere words cannot express his merits, and if he possessed a fault it was so small that it was never shown. The different organizations to which he belonged believed his membership was one of their highest assets. The entire community mourned his passing and their affections were shown by the large gathering at his funeral. One son, three daughters, and five grandchildren are living.


1941. for 6 Months

After the death of his father, Benton was elected at the recommendation of both companies, due to his popularity and his experience as a fireman, and like his father, knew every street, alley and building and how to gain access to them. In his daily vocation as a trusted and valuable employee of the Railway Express Co., he came in contact with leading merchants and citizens, and by his courteous and prompt treatment, made hosts of friends. His sudden illness and death shocked and saddened the entire community, made more so by the recent death of his father.

A fireman from boyhood, a member of several prize winning teams, and Treasurer of No. 4 at his death. Resolutions of condolence were passed at a recent meeting, to be spread on the minutes and copies sent to his family.


Present Chief

The City Council is to be congratulated on their selection of Mr. Woodbury as "Chief", who has already shown by his cordial manner, to have gained the confidence of the entire Department, and will cement the ties of friendship and cooperation existing between the two companies and retain their reputation of being in the front ranks as volunteer firemen.

The low insurance rates being due to their ability in handling fires, and their unselfish duty in answering alarms at all hours, in heat, rain, snow or zero weather.



Mr. Woodbury was recently selected by the County Supervisors and the City Council as Coordinator of Civilian Defense Working Units.


J. Wm. Willis needs no introduction. Born in Harrisonburg May 4. 1902, he has spent his entire life here except six years in Maryland. He attended school here and went to St. Joseph College in Baltimore. He was elected County Fire Chief in 1934, and was sent to College Park, Md., to several sessions, receiving instructions in fire fighting. As Chairman of Zone No. 17 Firemen's Defense Committee, he was instrumental in securing and, organizing fire fighting and "First Aid" squads for Rockingham County. Business and other duties requiring his attention, he tendered his resignation January 1, 1942, but still retains his close relationship with the city and County organizations. At present there are two Assistant Chiefs who are active and seasoned. Firemen S. M. Powell and Raymond Lytton acting under orders of the County Supervisors.

Since 1933, when No. 4 was chosen by them to be the official unit operating from their station, they have answered an. average of 36 calls per year regardless of time or weather conditions. The first call was to Elkton to the Elkton Milling Co. fire; they have also answered calls to four other counties, and one to Mathias, West Virginia. The amount of property endangered and saved is incalculable as there was no report except damage and dates.

Two large fires which were fought with the old "Seagrave Pumper" were the Broadway Hardwood Co. and the Mt. Jackson fire.

N. B. Since the arrival and acceptance by the Board of the New Seagrave Pumper, Mr. Willis has again been appointed County Chief with Raymond Lytton Assistant.





According to one of the "Sages", self-praise was the offspring of Ignorance, but if adhering strictly to the truth amounts to anything, I am willing to be put in that class. I am proud of the fact that I have seen Harrisonburg grow from a village of 2000 (1870) with muddy streets and plank sidewalks, and flagstone crossings, with only a few brick walks which were put down by property owners (one of which is still in use: the Rogers home on North Liberty street) to a first class city. Most of the homes were stone and log construction. All are a striking contrast to the present modern city, with paved streets and, if not magnificent distances, scores of magnificent homes occupied by happy families enjoying all the modern conveniences conceived, to make contented and enjoyable existence to the occupants, which can be truthfully called "the most brilliant jewel in the crown of Queen Shenandoah."

I have witnessed the lighting of homes by the lowly candle made by the hands of the mothers of the household, then the coal-oil lamp, also the streets dimly lighted with lamps set on ;wooden posts. Then the electric lights of 15 candlepower, which were "lightning bugs" compared to the present high powered bulbs. Many of the houses were heated by fire places and devoid of stoves. The old log home of B. E. Long, on German street, had a large stone chimney with 4 corner fire places. When torn down it furnished enough stone to build the foundation and pave the entire lot now occupied by a filling station.

The "Pride of Rockingham," Court Square, with its modernly equipped home surmounted by the figure of "Justice", and occupied mostly by native born executives, ever ready to render service promptly and courteously, is a far cry to the Square of 1870. Four antique buildings, the small brick Court House and three smaller buildings occupied the "Yard", which was surrounded by a modern fence with three straight rails and posts, which served as hitching place for the horses of the citizens of the Valley .The unsanitary conditions can be imagined. Four small revolving wooden gates, with arched top were at the four entrances for the purpose of keeping out roving cows which roamed the streets at leisure.

I have witnessed the evolution of what is considered the "Staff of Life", from the nutritious Corn-Bread-Pone baked in




a Dutch oven, covered with live coals in the fireplace, to the modern loaves baked in two modern bakeries, sliced and enclosed in dustproof gaudy wrappers, labeled "The contents contain vitamins from A to J." Untouched by hands until opened and served by dainty fingers that are entire strangers to a biscuit cutter or a dish pan.

As a member of musical organizations for 52 years, which also included 40 years as an active fireman, and seven years as a member and non-commissioned officer of Company C, Second Virginia Regiment, my associations with much older persons enables me to cover the Schools and Firemen in these "Sketches," so I will say,































Glen, 21

Glenn, 26


Harry, 23

Phelix, 23

R. E. L. Capt., 23


James L., 4, 18

Jas. L., 13, 23

Payne, 13


Arthur, 12


Wm., 17


C. E. Prof., 4


Bob Lee, 18

Dell, 18

Geo. W., 23

George, 18

George W., 29

Henry, 18

Kirby, 18

Kirby S., 3

Oliver C., 17

Robert, 18

Robert C., 29

Robert, George, Henry, Kirby, 21

Thomas, 4, 17, 18, 20

Thomas W., 17

Thos. W., 27


Mary A., 10


Fannie, 4

Mary I., 13



Wm., 4


Brent, 21, 23

Ora, 4


Philo, 3, 17


James, 21

Manor, 21


Chas., 23

J. A., 26

Joseph, Jacob, Sewel, 28

Sewel, 28

W. A., 24

Wm., 26


Allan, 3

Emma Lyon, 9


Wm., 4, 7, 8, 28


John P., 20


Julian Ashby, 13


George, 24


Ernest and Harry, 23


Robert Craig, 13


Esther and Sue, 7

Rev., 7

Robert Reverend, 7

Welty, 21


E. W., 13


Leo, 26


Hiram, 21

Wilmer and Hiram, 23


Ed., 24

Loewner, 23


Geo. S., 3


Geo. S., 10


Chas. Prof., 8

Jas. O. A., 8


Julia, 28


Thos., 21


G. French, 4

Wm. B., 2, 23


Bettie, 14

Bettie, 4

C. C., 21

Geo. O., 14

George O., 4

Mollie, 14

Mollie, 4

Newton, 21


Henry A. Prof., 14

Marie Bear, 14


Ed., 21

John, 17


Levi, 17


Phillip Prof., 13

Prof., 13


Algernon, 23


H. K., 24


Carrie Switzer, 14

Elizabeth, 14

Jennie, 4

N. Wilson, 14


H. L., 24


Warren, 24


Hortense, 13

Jiles, 13


Raymond, 14


Davis, 23


Jos., 23


Tom, 21


Samuel P., 14


Wm. B. Capt., 21


Jas., 23

Robert, 23


Jubal Gen., 7


Boyd, 21

J. Fred, 4

M. Harvey, 4


J. D. Hon., 13

Joseph D., 12


Wm., 31


Abner, 5

Paul, 23


Noah, 4


Sally Saum, 28


Ike, 23


A. P. Rev., 7, 8

Alice, 4

Sam, 23


Ed., 18

Frank Stahling, 18

John, 18

John, 18


Wm., 20


Jacob, 21


Clinton, 3

George, 21

Gassman, 18

George, 18


Stahling, 18


Edward, 21

J. Ed., 23

Glenn J. E., 24


Ernest, 23, 26

Lee, 18


George G., 3, 18


Algernon, 7

Jewett, 7

Jewett, 7

Robert, 7


Walter, 26


J. W. Prof., 3


Peter, 4


Talfourd N., 14


Charles, 9

Chas., 18


Elizabeth, 14


Belle, 4


Isaac, 17


Peter, 17


Elizabeth, 14

Elizabeth Fisher, 14

Graham, 3

Hatton, 3, 4

John T., 3, 14, 18

John T. , Jr., 3


Herbert, 23


Jasper, 3, 7, 10




Harry, 24


Jos., 27


Dora, 28

O. Perry, 27


Tillie, 4


Ludwig, 27


Anthony, 4


E. U. Prof., 7


H. S., 4


Andrew, 17

J. P., 9, 26, 29

J. T., 24


Richard, 21


Geo. H. Prof., 4, 12




Lurty, 23


J. Robert General, 3


J. M., 21

James, 3, 21


Geo. B., 24


George B., 13


W. H. Prof., 4, 5, 12

Wm. H., 5


John, 3

John, Jr., 23


Stonewall, 23


Jennie, 8


E. L. Capt., 23


Prof. C. E., 4


Ed and Robert, 23

J. J., 23

Patrick J., 21


Dabney S., 14


Armstad Prof., 8


Jacob, 9

Winfield, 3, 10


Raymond, 26


Joseph A., 3

Lawrence and Mannie, 23

Leroy, 24


B. E., 8

Conrad, 14

George and Thomas, 23

Johnnie, 14

Joseph, 14


B. E., 34

Benj., 3, 10

Clinton and Harry, 23

D. J., 24

Emmer, 23

Evans, 23

John, 21

John Henry, 2

Wm., 18


Jos. R. Rev., 3


W. S., 3, 10


Raymond, 32


Walter, 21


Ashby, 23


Chas. G. Prof., 4


Fannie, 4


Frank and Henry, 23


I. S., 18


I. S., 21


Chas., 3

Chas. P., 9

Mollie, 9


W. M., 24


B. F., 21

Charlie, 9

George, 17

Jacob, 21

Marshall, 9

Newton, 21

Olin, 24

Phipps, 13


T. T., 24


John C., 17, 18


Jos. G., 12

Saylor, 8

Wm. G., 12


J. H. Dr., 5

Sidney, 24


Whitesel, 18


B., 26

Henry, 3

Isaac, 3, 8, 21

Jos., 26


A. J., 23


John, 21, 24

John F., 24, 29

John Jr. and Benton, 23


N. P., 4


Chas. T., 18


Chas. T. Hon., 12

Laura, 12


J. D., 3


L. H., 5


Benj., 23

Gussie, 4


Arthur, 23

Ella, 10

John, 3, 12, 18, 23

Peter, 12

Virginia, 12


J. D., 3


Robert, 21


Harry, 24

Paul, 24


Sarah, 8


Adam, 15


S. M., 26, 32


Wm. J., 4


Edward, 26


Edward, 23


Davy Sheriff, 8

John Major, 8

Samuel, 8


Peyton, 14


John Harvey, 9

Robert, 9


William, 2


Wm., 17


Patrick, 23


J. L., 29

John, 21


Raymond, 24


David, 2


Carl, 21


W. W. Prof., 4


Flora, 28


Jno. E., 20


John R., 21, 27


Edward, 7


Anna B., 12


Mamie, 13


Dora Shaver, 14

Edna, 14

Edward, 14


Elverton, 15


V., 23


R .H. Prof., 4


Joseph, 4


J. C., 14


Lucy, 4, 9


Vern, 21


E. A. Prof., 4


R. B., 14, 26


Ed., 23

J. M., 24


A. H., 13

Henry and John, 18

Noah, 17


Fannie, 4


Gilbert, 24


C. A., 23


Walter, 23


J. C., 23, 26


Mamie, 4

Ott, 23


Emily, 4

Ernest, 3


Wm., 23


Jacob R., 2


Ed W., 21

Patrick and James, 21


Cornelia, 10

D. M., 26

Frank, 24

John A., 14

John Robert, 5

Robert, 23

Walter and Robert, 23


F. O., 26

John W., 24


Imogen Avis, 13

Rives Dr., 13


Robert, 7


Allan, 23

Van Pelt

Lydia, 3


J. H., 24


Harry, 21



M., 26


Virginia W., 10


Tom, 21


F. D., 21


John, 2


Eugene, 21, 23


James A., 10


Davis, 18

William Billheimer, 4


Thos. L., 23


George W., 24

Herman, 20

J. Wm., 20, 32

William D., 20


U. G., 21

Ulysses S., 9


Ernest, 21

Joshua, 23


Adolph, 18, 20


David, 23


Lewis, 26


John C. Judge, 13

Kate, 13


George, 12

Nannie, 12


Doad, 21


M. J. Rev., 9