Friday, October 10, 2014

Sepia Saturday: On the Road to Bayse

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.




This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt features two men engaged in conversation along a stage coach route.  Maybe one needed directions.  Maybe they were stretching their legs.  Regardless of the reason behind this animated conversation, stopping on the side of the road is a common occurrence even among my ancestors. 


Sullivans and Breedens on the road to Bayse, VA  1923-24  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Left: maybe Minnie Breeden
Leota Sullivan and  Wesley Breeden


And there they are:   two of the Sullivan sisters (first cousins twice removed) and their brother-in-law Wesley Breeden.  Their reason for pulling over on the side of the road was to enjoy a quick lunch.  Leota (in glasses) was tearing into that sandwich.  Wesley appears to be checking his email, but that was impossible; maybe he was studying a sandwich or seeing if his hands were sticky – it’s not clear what he was doing.  I’m not sure who the other Sullivan sister was.  It should be Minnie, Wesley’s wife, but it’s also possible Minnie was taking the picture.

Eating on the side of the road suggests they anticipated a long ride, probably on an out-of-the-way route with limited dining options.  Fortunately, the photo was dated and captioned:  "On the road to Basie 1924."  And just to confuse matters, it is also dated 1923 – on the same photo!


Wesley and Minnie Sullivan Breeden 1923  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Wesley and Minnie Breeden
Assuming they were traveling to Bayse (the correct spelling) from their home in Shenandoah, they had to cross a mountain.  Today that ride would take roughly an hour.  But in 1923 or 1924, it was probably longer than that, surely long enough to require a stop on the side of the road to stretch one’s legs and grab a snack. 

What was the draw to Bayse?  Likely it was Orkney Springs, a resort boasting numerous underground mineral springs with healthful qualities.


Orkney Springs  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Orkney Springs
photo courtesy of wikimedia commons




Virginia House Orkney Springs Hotel, Virginia http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Virginia House Orkney Springs Hotel
photo courtesy wikimedia commons







Most of the original buildings which were constructed in the mid-late 1800s still stand.  In fact, the Orkney Springs Hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The crowning jewel is the Virginia House, a 4-story hotel with wrap-around porches.  Supposedly it is the largest wooden structure in Virginia dating to the 1870s.






Elsewhere on the property are neatly painted cottages and small hotel-like buildings with names like Maryland House, Pennsylvania House, Williamsburg House, Norfolk House, Arlington House, and Fairfax House.  During the Civil War, Maryland House served as a hospital for Confederate soldiers.

Orkney Springs Hotel near Bayse, Virginia  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Cottages, Pennsylvania House (3-story)
Virginia House (4-story)
snipped from Google Maps Street View

From its beginnings, the resort advertised heavily in newspapers drawing tourists from throughout the state and beyond, even from New York.  Society columns are filled with the names of respected families who were spending their entire summer at Orkney Springs.

Richmond Times Dispatch April 1923
GenealogyBank.com

Today the hotel is owned by the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia which hosts conferences and retreats and summer camps.  It is also known for the annual Shenandoah Valley Music Festival held on weekends from July to Labor Day. 

Orkney Springs is just as beautiful and well-kept today as when the Sullivans and Breedens saw it in 1923 or 1924. 


Take a ride by stage coach or touring car to Sepia Saturday for lots of animated conversations on this week’s theme.


 © 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

48 comments:

  1. Hi Wendy, the Virginia House Orkney Springs Hotel looks good and so do the cottages.

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    1. Don't they? So clean and neat. The bright white with dark green roof and trim is very striking.

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  2. Well worth the trip too! When I was young it was a source of amusement that people would set up their picnic tables at the side of a busy main road, not something you see these days.

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    1. I know what you mean. We always used to stop at a picnic table on the side of the road when we visited my cousins in the summer. There are no waysides and tables anymore.

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  3. Oh my that is one lovely photo! Live from the side of the road. I'd like a trip there too. My post this week is from Virginia too! You may know of the place (probably know for sure, and have been there, can't wait to hear you comment about the place) Thanks for such a fun roadside tour right here on my home computer! Saves on gasoline too!

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    1. I hope you had a snack on this virtual road trip.

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  4. I remember a few times when my family meant to have a nice picnic lunch somewhere along the way on a Sunday drive out in the country, wound up instead, because of an unexpected change in the weather, either picnicking IN the car (& thank goodness we had a nice big roomy station WAGON to do it in!), or - a couple of times - we brought the picnic lunch all the way back home, spread a blanket out on the living room floor in front of the fireplace (in which Dad built a fire) & ate a picnic "linner" - a combo of lunch & dinner because by then it was late afternoon going into evening. But by gosh, we had our picnic!

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    1. Love your description of a picnic eaten come rain or shine.
      Alexa visiting and Blogging from Sydney, Australia
      Alexa-asimplelife.com

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    2. If you go to the trouble of wrapping a sandwich in a baggie, you should go ahead and have that picnic in the car or on the floor, if necessary. I like your dad's attitude.

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  5. Seriously Wendy, you have the best pictures! I love that car! Looking at those tires, can you imagine how bumpy that ride was over those ole dirt roads? I also thought about how hot and muggy it must have been traveling like that without air conditioning. I love that this is not a formal picture but caught them having their lunch. Wonderful picture and post !

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    1. I bet it felt like riding a big bicycle. Did you notice the windshield is open? I guess flying rocks weren't a safety concern back then.

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  6. I love that roadside picture, both the people and the tilted car. It looks like they were surprised by the photographer but didn't want to let that interrupt their meal.

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    1. I'd say the photographer was getting a true action shot. The one sister is still drinking her coffee (or whatever) and Leota was in the middle of a bite.

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  7. Perhaps Wesley was checking a map or notes on the route, in case he had missed some point of interest or taken a wrong turn?

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    1. I wonder if he's holding a piece of paper. It almost looks like there's nothing there.

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  8. Checking his email! What a laugh. The thing is though that my children would probably think the same thing. They have no idea when computers and iphones appeared. Great photos!

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    1. It's funny the things our kids take for granted as being always in their lives. When my nephew was little and he heard his mother talk about black and white tv, he thought our world had no color. Isn't that funny?

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  9. A great photograph. Trips away always took a lot of preparation, i.e. making the sandwiches and taking drinks with you, nowadays people just jump in their cars and stop and buy refreshments along the way. It certainly was a different time.

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    1. Good observation. My husband is great though about packing a cooler of drinks. We joke that he packs a cooler to go to the grocery store.

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  10. What a great candid shot. A treasure .
    Alexa from Sydney, Australia

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  11. Lol. He does look like many today, checking their phones during a lunch break!

    Another interesting post.

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  12. I love the way Wesley is dressed, and of course the girls too. To get in the car and have to eat on the way to the Springs, but still dressing well!

    Great picture and story!

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    1. Yeah, but what's up with those dark hose and white shoes? Come on, Leota!

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  13. Perfect photo! I wonder if he was reading his notes on how to get there. Doubt he'd not have eaten so maybe the girls weren't tearing into it as much as he did :)

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    1. I wonder too if he was reading directions. Maybe they were lost.

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  14. I was completely stumped when faced with a coach for Sepia Saturday. Visiting you today I thought how clever of you to think of people conversing. On going back to the Sepia Saturday site, I see one of the prompts was ‘animated discussion’ but I just couldn’t get past the image and therefore didn’t participate. I must try harder! I really enjoyed your post. The photo of the Sullivan sisters and Wesley on the side of the road is wonderful, and I enjoyed the history of Orkney Springs.

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    1. Oh you sound like me. I'm always very literal with the prompts, and then I visit other people and begin to kick myself for not looking at ALL the possibilities. I'm trying to do better with reading the prompts because the last several have been hard for me.

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  15. Wendy, you have such a wonderful collection of photographs, I always enjoy your posts. The old car is adorable, though I can’t imagine the suspension was great – their bones probably needed the break as much as their tummies!

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    1. If their ride was say 90 minutes, you'd think they could go the whole way without stopping, but maybe not in the cars of their day. As uncomfortable as they might have been, they probably weren't much worse than a horse and buggy. (Thanks for the nice compliment!)

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  16. Not many people these days pack the sandwiches and the thermos. Much easier to stop off at a cafe for a cuppa and a toilet break. A lot to be said for both ways though.

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    1. That's so true. Today the interstate highways have public restrooms somewhat frequently plus lots of fast-food places conveniently located near exit ramps.

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  17. A perfect post on the theme, Wendy. On today's roads it seems we don't have to drive 5 minutes before getting 3 different offers for a snack or sandwich or energy drink. Our frugal and sensible ancestors knew a better way.

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    1. Bringing your own food and drink along certainly gives you the freedom to choose when and where to stop. You don't have to wonder if THIS is the last chance or if there is something better up ahead.

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  18. Ah Wendy - your posts always make me smile. Virginia House looks so big for the time!

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    1. Oh it was grand for its time, I'm sure. It was decorated with the finest of furniture and rugs. It's still pretty impressive in its neatness. Not a Las Vegas hotel by any means.

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  19. Lovely old car. and some romantic sounding names (to me) like Shenandoah,

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    1. "Shenandoah" does have a nice ring to it. "Orkney" on the other hand doesn't sound pretty but the name supposedly was chosen for the Orkney Islands of Scotland.

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  20. The first photograph is such a wonderful match for the prompt. and the Sullivan sisters don't look too happy. I remember occasions as a child when we set out for a run somewhere full of anticipation, only to break down and we had to wait ages for the rescue service to arrive - no car radio then to stave off boredom

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    1. You know what -- I hadn't considered that maybe this was a break-down and not just a casual stop for lunch.

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  21. Love that candid shot and the way they are enjoying their sandwiches. It's so rare to have photos of our families in the era relaxed and having a good time. Wesley and Minnie look like a happy pair.

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  22. What a grand old building! How wonderful that someone is taking care of it.

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  23. It is just a lovely little village, and I'm glad too that it has found a good purpose and is being well-kept.

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  24. Haha! Checking his email. Too funny! Just what was Wesley looking at really?

    Your response to Michelle's comment about the open windshield prompted me to scroll back up and see it for myself. I missed that the first time I looked at the photo. Wow! That must have been fun dodging any stray bugs that happened to fly in along the way. No smiling now, or you might get some bugs in your teeth. ;)

    Great photos Wendy! And Orkney Springs looks like a beautiful place to visit.

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