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.
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 Breeden|
What was the draw to Bayse? Likely it was Orkney Springs, a resort boasting numerous underground mineral springs with healthful qualities.
photo courtesy of wikimedia commons
|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.
|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|
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.