Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.
This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt featuring children joining hands to play a circle game reminds me of an old photo of children at play outside the Frazier Mountain School.
Frazier Mountain was the stomping grounds of my 3X great-grandmother Nancy Frazier Shiflett and her many aunts and uncles and cousins. However, the photo is not THAT old, more likely from the very early 1900s.
|Frazier Mountain School|
photo courtesy of John and Janet Thompson
descendant of Henry Timber Frazier, son of Miley Frazier
That is when the settlement movement made its way to the mountains of Virginia. The aim of settlement schools was to provide education for children in rural and mountain areas that were often not served by the county, usually for economic and logistical reasons. Churches often filled the gap building a school, a church, a clothing bureau, and sometimes even a hospital.
Frederick William Neve was an Episcopal minister born and educated in England who was asked to come to Virginia. He was based in the town of Ivy in Albemarle County, but he was drawn to the Blue Ridge Mountains just twenty-five miles away. He found someone to take him into those mysterious communities – Shifflett’s Hollow, Bacon Hollow, Mutton Hollow, Blackwell Hollow, and Simmons Gap – places that inspired stories of backwoods justice and suspicion towards strangers.
There were probably 175 people living there, but reportedly only two of them could read and write. Neve inquired about the mountain community and learned that no school or church existed within miles of the area known as “Frazier Mountain” to the locals but previously as “Lost Mountain.” Neve actually liked that name because he reasoned that without religion and education, the people were indeed “lost.” (Today it is known as “Loft Mountain.”)
So Neve looked for a location for a mission school and bought some property straddling Greene and Albemarle counties. Between 1890 and 1912, Neve started twenty missions, ten of them in Greene County alone. He continued to work with the mountain people building mission schools and churches throughout seven Virginia counties. Frederick Neve is remembered today as the founder of the mountain mission movement of the Episcopal Church in Virginia, 1888-1948.
Neve’s most ambitious mission project was the co-ed Blue Ridge Industrial School, which offered more advanced education beyond the elementary level. Since most students were likely to remain in a rural area, the school provided practical training for farm life and related occupations. The school even operated a cannery for a number of years. BRIS was the first accredited high school in Greene County.
Today all of the mission schools have closed except for the Blue Ridge school which is still going strong as a boarding school for boys.
Join hands and circle around to Sepia Saturday for more fun and games.
© 2015, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.
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