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  • Writer's pictureOCAAHS

The Monroe Family of Petersburg

My name is William R. Monroe and my father was James Harris Monroe, Sr and my mother and his family were from Madison County, Virginia.

My grandmother was the late Bessie Monroe- Snyder-Twyman of which I knew several years before she and Mr. John Twyman died. I knew my grandmother to be a very loving and caring woman and Mr. Twyman to be a very hard working man. I was told that he worked in the field and grounds of Woodberry Forest School.

James Sr. attended Tatem school which was locatedon Tatem Road about four miles from his home north of Route 230 behind the Frank Walker property.

He walked to a from school four miles each day.

Photograph of James Monroe, Sr. taken in the 1930s.

When my father was working at Woodberry Forest School, he met and married Sadie Bell Mallory of Madison, Virginia, one of the daughters of Henry Mallory and Nellie Mallory.

Once married, James Sr. and Sadie lived over by Arrrowpoint where they had three children, James Jr., Mary, and Lillian.

In 1935, the family moved when my father started work for the Gillums at Madison Mills, where he would work for 22 years.

The mill took in corn, oats, barley and wheat to grind it into flour, corn meal, pancake mix, hog feed, chicken food, cow feed, and horse feed.

Father delivered flour, meal, feeds, and seed t o several grocery suppliers around Orange. It is said that when he filling orders for customers at the mill dock, father could carry 200 pounds at a time, 100 lbs under each arm.

As a child, all of us children attended the Petersburg school, and one-room schoolhouse. Mrs. Elsie Johnson taught all of the children from grades 1-6.

While mother and father attended different churches before moving to Petersburg, we al attended Bethel Baptist Church in Petersburg, pictured left.

Bethel Baptist’s history goes back to the 1890 when the community bought the land from the Sneed family. Listed on the deed for the church was Horace Dade, Frederick Johnson, and Nelson Ellis.

Our church was built in 1898.

My mother and father rented a house from the Gillums across the bridge in Orange County where they bore three more children, Charles, William, and Mallory. The property was ¾ an acre and over time we paid the Gillums for the land. When we finally received the deed, it was a joyous time and we celebrated. Our family home burned in the early 1980s while being rented out.

The settlement of Petersburg is located just south of Madison Mills and during my childhood boasted many families including the Dades, Mortons, Ellis, East, and Kempers.

My family members are buried in Westview Cemetery. My father died in 1957 of kidney failure and was followed by my other in 1976 after a long illness of complications from diabetes. My brother Charles died in 1990 after serving 20 years in the Air Force—he too suffered from diabetes complications.


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