Civil War Living History in Floyd County Virginia

floyd-virginia-civil-warFloyd County Historical Society

Civil War Living History Day at the Phlegar House – Saturday, May 11th Time: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Floyd Regional Commerce Center – ADMISSION IS FREE

Please join us for a day of historical activities and civil war camp live exhibits. Soldier and home front presentations begins at 10:30 am. Research your local CIVIL WAR ANCESTORS! Your featured speaker is Chris J. Hartley, author of “Stoneman’s Raid, 1865. Group talk begins at 1:00 pm. Military demonstrations at 3:00 pm. Food and drinks available and bring your lawn chairs.

Co-Sponsors: Floyd County Historical Preservation Trust and Floyd County Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee.


Floyd County Historical Society BannerHelping preserve and share a unique history in Southwest Virginia

The Society encourages interest in the history of Floyd County through the collection, preservation, and stewardship of significant historic materials. Educational programs include lectures, publications, community outreach and exhibits. The Society maintains a substantial archive of historic artifacts, documents and early photographs.

The Society is trying to reach out to Floyd natives who now live in other places. Would you like to be on a mailing list to learn about activities planned for the future? Just email us with a note to add you to the mailing list.

The Ridgemont Hospital-Marie Williams House is now the
Floyd County Historical Society Museum
217 N. Locust Street

Hours are:

Thursday, Friday and Saturday Noon- 5:00 pm
phone: 540-745-FCHS (3247)

Come join us!!

Admission is FREE but donations are accepted!

If you need a private tour, information or calendars please call

Rhonda Smith 540-392-5806.

Images of America Floyd County books will be available for sale at the Floyd Chamber of Commerce during these winter months or through mail order to the Floyd County Historical Society.

2013 calendars are available at Floyd Pharmacy and a few other local outlets or by mail to the Floyd County Historical Society.

Floyd County Historical Society

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 292
Floyd, Virginia


Dave Freeman with Larry Sparks and Don Rigsby at the 2006 International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Awards.

Dave Freeman with Larry Sparks and Don Rigsby at the 2006 International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Awards.

What started as a hobby back in the early 1960s has become a thriving business for a family intent on preserving and promoting the best in authentic rural American music—or “Mountain Music” as it is known by many folks. Based in Floyd, Virginia since 1974, County Sales is now known world-wide as having the biggest selection of Bluegrass and Old Time CDs, DVDs, and books to be found anywhere.

David Freeman, a railway mail clerk, used his vacation time to hunt down old 78rpm records by such artists as the Carter Family, Charlie Poole and Uncle Dave Macon—records that had pretty well disappeared by the early 1950s, but Floyd County turned out to be one of the best sources for such treasured “finds”. “I spent about two weeks in and around Floyd County in the early sixties” says Freeman. “Things were a little different back then” he notes, “but the people were really friendly, and I have lots of great memories from those trips, including making the old Moses Restaurant a destination for lunch each day, (meat & three for just 85 cents, as I recall!”)

With some encouragement from a British magazine and various record collectors all across the USA, Freeman quit his day job in August of 1965, starting a record label—County Records—and his retail business (County Sales) with a typewriter, a tape machine and $ 500.00 in savings. “The mail trains were being discontinued one by one at the time, and I could see the writing on the wall” says Freeman, who enjoyed working on the R.P.O.s (Railway Post Offices), but fancied a career in the music business even more.

Moving from New York City to Floyd County in 1974 with his wife and first child, Freeman found that there was indeed a significant market for the music he loved but that the major record labels looked down on or mostly ignored. Near the Blue Ridge Parkway and really right in the heart of the mountains, County Sales grew, mostly by word of mouth, and its early local customers had stories to tell of visits to Floyd by such famous performers as Bill and Charlie Monroe and the legendary Charlie Poole. (County Sales actually occupies the old PIX Theatre building where the 1930s and 40s hosted shows by Bill & Charlie Monroe, Roy Hall, and many of the biggest names in Country music).

“In the 1970s there were no CDs or DVDs—it was all LPs (long playing vinyl)” says Freeman, who now expresses amazement at the number of well produced records that come out each month, many of them featuring extremely talented teenagers. “In that respect the music is in very good hands these days, and there are more Bluegrass and Old Time records coming out than ever before—there is really a wealth of great music out there, and plenty of fans to enjoy it” says Freeman, whose shop is visited almost daily by fans and customers from many foreign countries. As Freeman says, “It’s a great feeling to be able to guide folks to the music they love, whether it be Flatt & Scruggs, Molly O’Day, The Carter Family, Hank Williams, the Delmore Brothers or Alison Krauss”.

~Dee Walace

Floyd County Is Home

James W Shortt Talks Family and Roots

Featured Story in FLOYD VIRGINIA publication – Spring/Summer 2012

The family name Shortt, whether one or two “t”s, is easily recognizable in Floyd County.  By a visit to the office at law firm of James W. Shortt & Associates, P.C., you may see a portion of Floyd County’s history and a telling of “the old days” by maps and old photos which are wall décor throughout.  I had opportunity to sit down with Jim, and talk about family and his roots here in Floyd: Jim explained that his family has been in this country since the early 1600s, coming from Europe to settle as farmers and plantation owners in Surry County and later Chesterfield County, Virginia.   The local Shortts have a common ancestor in Reuben Shortt, who inherited 500-600 acres of plantation land nearby the James River.  Though the family had been raised as sons of the Anglican Church of England, sometime around 1790 there was a conversion to the Baptist Society.  A gift of land was made to the Society, and it is suspected that a change in philosophy inspired a moving to our area in 1804.  Reuben freed his slaves and purchased a large amount of acreage at the crest of the Blue Ridge – for 220 pounds – and moved his family to an area near “Shortt’s Knob Overlook”.  The area was a part of Franklin County, our neighbor to the east, at that time, but later Floyd County was formed from portions of Franklin and other surrounding counties.

Two of Reuben’s sons stayed local, grew their own branches of the family tree and many of their descendents still live here.  The two staying sons were named John Young Shortt and Joseph Nix Shortt.  Jim is of the Joseph branch.

“Floyd County is home, there are lots of roots here”, Jim said.  When I asked him about family life, I could see that he had an appreciation for how things were then, and how his rearing helped to define who he is today.

His father Roger, like many Shortts before him, was a farmer in addition to his employment with General Electric. Normal farm chores were a part of Jim’s young life, until the family leased the farm when he was 14 years old.  “I was taught to be responsible” – and certainly his parents are great examples of that, still keeping up with things and helping Jim today.  “I was strongly encouraged by my parents not to be a farmer”, however.  Mom Margie insisted that Jim make the most of his education and upbringing.

When I asked him how he came to want to be an attorney, Jim credited the coverage of the historic Watergate scandal for sparking his interest.  He referenced the Senate and Congressional inquiry.  “I was enthralled with the whole process… the examinations, cross-examinations, and all the political maneuverings.”  Jim tailored his education in his pursuit of these interests:  at Virginia Tech initially, then law school at University of Richmond.  He quipped, “when I moved back to Floyd, a lot of people who knew me asked, “Jimmy Shortt – a lawyer?””.

“I was in Richmond 10 years, 5 of those years I worked in the Attorney General’s office.  I enjoyed the work – we practiced throughout the Commonwealth where the state had interests – it involved a lot of travel which I liked because I got to see new areas and meet people”.
But the city life wasn’t for Jim.  “I got tired of traffic and subdivisions.  I wanted to open my own private practice in a rural area where, generally, I had seen comradery amongst the lawyers in these types of communities.”

So, in 1995, Jim moved back to Floyd, looking for a home for his new practice.  James W. Shortt & Associates, P.C. was founded in 1995.  The law office was, and is, located in the historic “Old Floyd Press Building” in the Town of Floyd, on South Locust Street.  The building was erected in 1914, built for the owner/editor of The Floyd Press, W.A. Sowers.  It housed the printing presses and offices for The Floyd Press. The structure was built from soapstone brick, mined from a local quarry. In addition to The Floyd Press, silent movies were shown to the public in the upstairs of the building, and theater seating was stored in the crawl space of the building.  The building has also been home to a consignment store, Blue Goose, and a Ben Franklin store before that which included an area connected with the building next door, now owned by Mauyer Gallimore.

Jim’s father and mother purchased the Old Floyd Press Building to invest some money and to allow for Jim to begin his work of being his own boss, and paying rent as well – rent that “kept pace with inflation”, he kidded.  Jim began his general practice and handled a variety of legal matters.

He has served as Town Attorney for the Town of Floyd, counsel for the Floyd-Floyd County Public Service Authority, Commissioner of Accounts for Floyd County, a qualified Commissioner in Chancery and Guardian ad Litem for the 27th Judicial Circuit, and is counsel to numerous businesses, corporations, and organizations in Floyd, Patrick, Montgomery and surrounding counties. Over the years, Jim has worked with many of the local populous and says that he enjoys the people, both “old” and “new”.

Besides the people, part of the reason for Jim’s moving home:  “I always liked to hunt and fish, and it’s easier here”.  Jim is very familiar with Floyd County’s lands, and knows good spots for finding game.  “Floyd County still has a fair amount of undeveloped forest.” When I asked about how much leisure time he was afforded with a flourishing business of law, he said “I don’t do it as much as I would like.  Grouse hunting is my passion, and there are fewer and fewer grouse each year”.  Jim has made trips to northern tier states like Maine to hunt.  He described the experience as “a walk in the woods behind some dogs with a gun in your hand”, but admitted that he loves the pursuit of the elusive birds.

I commented that it seemed he lived a fulfilling life, and Jim said “I’ve been fortunate”.  “I opened my practice “cold”, without association, which is not the way it would normally be done.

I hung out my shingle and hoped for the best.  The community, my peers, even the judges were welcoming and cordial”.  Jim told how, shortly before Warren G. Lineberry’s passing in 2003 – “in 2001 or ‘02, he was slowing down and I incorporated his business into mine.  He was a friend and mentor, God bless him.”  Jim said that his relationship with Lineberry was a help to get started and for the continuity of his practice.

Recently, Jim is associated with Charles “Pete” Beller III who has joined forces and handles important cases of litigation, personal injury, and wrongful death.  The two came to know each other when they worked a couple of cases together and became friends.  Jim still handles most of the real estate work and loan closings, boundary line disputes and civil litigation.  The firm accepts cases and clients from Floyd County and surrounding areas.

Jim is married to Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Murray Shortt.  He declared his love and appreciation for his wife, and said they took on the challenge of juggling a two-attorney family with “all the scheduling and splitting of duties”. The family resides in Floyd County – Jim, Stephanie and three sons Sam (22), Jonathan (19) and Jameson (5).  Jim commented that his oldest sons are as he once was: ready to be out in the world, “like I was “too cool for Floyd”.  But they might come back (I did, many do)… we’ll see”.


Written by Dee Wallace of the LCF Group

Floyd Virginia loggers will be featured on the Ax Men Show

Floyd Virginia loggers will be featured on the Ax Men Show on the History Channel today, Sunday March 11th at 9PM. watch the premiere with the some of the crew at Dogtown Roadhouse on a 20 ft HD screen, projector.

We will have several members of the show present at Dogtown Pizza in Floyd Va on Sunday evening for our first view of the Ax Men Show on History Channel. The show is scheduled to air at 9:00 pm and Dogtown has a 20 ft HD screen, projector and satellite connection. So we invite anyone close by to come watch the premiere with the some of the crew. Look forward to seeing you there, if you can’t make it watch at home or put your own viewing show gathering together in your community. We hope this airing of working horses will help everyone that does this work, by increasing the demand for their services and helping those that do this work make a living wage.

Floyd County Historical Society Calendar

Purchase your 2011 Floyd County Historical Society Calendar (Historical Schools in Floyd) available at the Museum! Available for $10 at local outlets, by mail at P.O. Box 292, Floyd, VA 24091 (add $2.50 postage each), and also can be purchased at the Historical Society Museum, N. Locust St. in Floyd.

In honor of 180 years of education excellence and the dedication of every Floyd County teacher.

Since the latter decades of the 19th century, formal education has been a way of life in Floyd County.  In 1871, statewide changes in Virginia education began that would affect Floyd County and its schools.  A new Virginia law was passed that required counties to provide free public schools and have them operational by 1876.

Although some counties did not meet the 1876 deadline, Floyd County did.  That year, 52 public schools opened in the county and another 13 were under construction.  The student enrollment in Floyd County that year was 2,428.

A teacher training school was started as a private school at Hylton (Willis) about 1882.  Referred to as Mountain Normal School, it was founded by a Bridgewater College professor.  It remained open for about eight years.  Professor Rutrough continued teacher training with Willis Normal until 1912.

In 1888 Superintendent G. A. Willis, Hylton, reported that there were 78 white and 7 colored public schools in the county. By the year 1900, approximately 100 schools dotted the countryside of Floyd County. People in the various communities erected the school buildings and helped maintain them. Those schools served students of elementary age, up to 7th grade.  Some, like Stamping Birches, Mossy Dell, Ethiopia, and Mud Hole schools had unusual names. Besides places to learn, schools also served as community gathering places.

Plans of the Floyd County Historical Society for the near future:

•FCHS will reprint its Town of Floyd Historic Walking Tour Brochure. Get your copy for a small donation at the Museum or other area locations.
•The Museum will be closed for a period during the winter in order to work on processing the archives and readying new exhibits.
•FCHS will nurture relationships with Floyd natives who now live elsewhere so they can maintain close ties with the County and be a part of the history.
•New or expanded exhibits for 2011:  Peterman Family Exhibit, Compton/Via Exhibit, Expanded Postal Exhibit, Civil War Veterans of Floyd County Exhibit.
•FCHS will help represent Civil War Veterans of Floyd County as part of Virginia Sesquicentennial Commemoration of the American Civil War.

Luis A Garcia
Proprietor / Graphic Designer
FLOYD VIRGINIA publication
(540) 320 1045 –

This story was published in Floyd Magazine Fall/Winter 2010 ~Senior Editor Dee Wallace

Floyd County Historical Society

The Ridgemont Hospital/Marie Williams House is now home to Floyd County Historical Society Museum

217 N. Locust Street (P.O. Box 292) Floyd, VA 24091 • Hours: Thursday, Friday and Saturday Noon- 5:00 pm

Phone: 540-745-FCHS (3247)

Come see!!  Admission is FREE but donations are accepted!

The first floor is handicap accessible.

“We’ve come a long way”, says Rhonda Fleming Smith (manager), whom I first met during the last weekend in May at the museum’s opening.  “We’ve been working over five years on this project, and are so happy to be receiving visitors to view our displays”.

The Floyd County Historical Society has been in operation since 1976.  It is their ongoing mission to help preserve and share our unique histories.  They have amassed quite a collection of historical artifacts, documents and photographs over the years.

The museum is located in old Ridgemont Hospital, on North Locust Street across from Schoolhouse Fabrics in Floyd.  With the help of grants and gifts from financial supporters, the Society was able to perform renovations on the building itself, and restore many of the features of the old hospital/home.  Now, the stories of the “way things were” are depicted by exhibits, the display of some of the old implements with note card explanations, and intriguing photographs. The Society encourages interest in the history of Floyd County through the collection and preservation of these significant historic materials.  Now, by having these items on display and by the guided tours through the museum, the interest should grow, for sure!

It’s a new view each time – because the museum was a hospital, the once “surgical room” is decorated with items and inventions related to the practice of medicine.  These displays which include items belonging to Dr. F. Clyde Bedsaul and others will be ongoing.  Exhibits like “Postal Memorabilia by Maurice Slusher” and “Bottle Collection from Vernon and Cornelia Harris Estate” are shown on a rotating basis.  The Museum receives numerous donations of memorabilia and collections which are on loan for exhibit, so they change or add to the exhibits as they are able.

While I was there, Connie Mitchell of Floyd brought another item for the museum.  She and her husband John live in the home where Dr. Bedsaul once lived.  Connie has found old relics in the basement, driveway, etc., some of which are currently on display.  The girls (Connie, Sue Quesinberry and Carolyn Shockley (they hosted me at the museum)) went to talking about all manner of things related to history and “stuff”.  Having no idea about most of it, I decided that I should learn more, too, about these many names, traditions, and the useful antiquities of bygone years.

For people like me, it’s a good thing that the Society offers education—by programs, lectures, their many publications, and by community outreach.  Many of their offerings have appeal for all ages.  Rhonda was telling me about a feature which is in process, where you would use your cell phone to tour a particular exhibit without physically being there, and of course, you can view things on the web, too.  According to Rebecca Weeks, president of FCHS, “special events and tours may always be arranged”.

Join the membership of Floyd County Historical Society – Dues are just $15 per individual and $25 per family.

Luis A Garcia
Proprietor / Graphic Designer
FLOYD VIRGINIA publication
(540) 320 1045 –

This story was published in Floyd Magazine Fall/Winter 2010 ~Senior Editor Dee Wallace