Mr and Mrs. Julian Lumsden are remembered for driving their small motorized vehicle around town and even to Ashland Christian Church on Sundays. They lived at the northwest corner of Dewey and Henry Clay Road. The late Dorothy Jones credited Mr. Lumsden for her love and knowledge of birds. Mr. Lumsden was an amateur taxidermist and had a china cabinet full of birds and their nests. Town children were fascinated with this unique collection.
Sunshine Sue was the nationally known star of the wildly popular country music variety show, The Old Dominion Barn Dance. She was known as “Queen of the Hillbillies” through her appearances on live broadcasts coast to coast every Saturday night over WRVA radio from the Lyric Theater in Richmond. As the nation’s first female radio emcee, Sue helped country music legends Chet Atkins, Earl Scruggs and the Carter sisters launch their careers. From 1946 to [...]
Born in 1828, St. George Tucker was the son of Henry St. George Tucker, legislator, congressman, and judge in the early years of the Republic. Tucker was a lawyer who served as the clerk of the Senate and House of Delegates of Virginia during the 1850’s. Having also started the Ashland Male Academy in 1857, he resigned his post as clerk and devoted full time to his classical school for boys. Tradition places the school [...]
Dick Gillis was the enthusiastic Mayor of Ashland for sixteen years who proclaimed Ashland as the “Center of the Universe”. He graduated from Randolph- Macon College and served on the Hanover County Board of Supervisors. He served as Executive Vice-President of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce and publisher of the Commonwealth Magazine of Virginia. He organized Virginia’s first World Trade Mission to Europe. He served on the military staffs of five Virginia Governors. He has [...]
Paul and Lois Watkins came to Ashland from Chicago in the summer of 1933. Paul was a veteran newspaper executive who had edited the Evanston News-Index and served as promotions manager of the Chicago Daily News. Their arrival began a 49-year family dynasty that saw the newspaper prosper and reach its greatest circulation. Paul Watkins died in 1951, and his wife Lois took on the role of publisher and editor. Their daughter, Marion Watkins Herget, [...]
A native Ashlander, "Shirts" Blanton was a natural athlete who played semi-professional baseball. In 1955, he was shot during an attempted robbery at the Wallerstein Real Estate Company in Richmond where he worked. Told by his doctor that he would only live a few more years, Shirts returned to Ashland as a paraplegic to wait to die. From his house on the track, Shirts was encouraged by a train conductor to wave back to him [...]
Growing up in Ashland, Lester Jackson attended the Hanover County Training School (later John M. Gandy), where he organized the school's first baseball team and doubled as player and coach. In 1933, eighteen-year-old Jackson started his professional career with the Jacksonville Redcaps in the Florida State Twilight League. He made it to the highest level a black player could in that era, playing for the Newark Eagles, the Mohawk Giants, and the Boston Giants. Jackson [...]
While a student at Randolph-Macon College, Jordan Wheat Lambert showed his flair for chemistry and business that would lead to his later success in inventing Listerine and founding the pharmaceutical company that bears his name. Lambert first invented the product as a safe disinfectant for surgical procedures, and named it "Listerine" after the English physician Sir Joseph Lister who performed the first antiseptic surgery. As the president of the Franklin Literary Society, J. W. Lambert [...]
John R. Fleming, a former vocational agriculture teacher and assistant principal, was the first African-American to serve on the Hanover County School Board, serving from 1977 to 1981. An early proponent of what was known then as the vocational curriculum, Mr. Fleming’s support and encouragement influenced hundreds of students, effectively steering them to college and successful careers following high school.
A natural entrepreneur, James Napoleon Luck's first business was the S.A. Luck & J.N. Luck Livery, Board, and Feed Stable located in downtown Ashland in 1906. As automobiles began to outnumber horses, J.N. changed with the times, and the J.N. Luck Motor Company was founded in 1916. It continues today as Luck Chevrolet, the oldest continuously-owned family Chevrolet Dealership on the East Coast. J.N. Luck was an original board member of the Hanover Bank, served [...]
Following graduation from Randolph-Macon College, Jay Pace became Director of Public Relations from 1968 to 1972. He joined the Herald-Progress staff in 1973, became editor in 1978, and then editor/publisher when he purchased the paper and printing company in 1981. Jay Pace was a member of the Board of the Society of Alumni at Randolph-Macon. Jay Pace was a legendary citizen to the residents of Ashland. He attended every celebration, and could often be found [...]
Hugh Stephens graduated from Randolph-Macon in 1941 and became the athletic director of Henry Clay High School. In 1948, he was named the graduate manager of athletics at R-MC and was promoted to full-time athletic director and head baseball coach the following year. The Yellow Jacket baseball team had 32 successful seasons under his direction. As director, Stephens oversaw the additions of the Crenshaw Gymnasium and the Chenery Press Box. His enthusiasm for the love [...]
Born in Caroline County, Hill Carter moved to "North River" near Beaverdam as a boy. He studied law at Washington College which later became Washington and Lee University. In 1870, he was admitted to the Bar of Hanover County. He lived and practiced law in Ashland and was a great defender of minorities. He defended many black Ashlanders when it was not the popular thing to do. Hill Carter was named Commonwealth's Attorney in 1872 [...]
Henry Clay was born in 1777 at Clay Spring, his family home, located just east of Ashland in the area known as “the slashes of Hanover County”. After law school in Virginia, Clay moved to Kentucky and rose to be a state and federal legislator and U.S. Secretary of State in 1825. He was three times a candidate for President. He was the author of the Missouri Compromise and the Compromise of 1850 which delayed [...]
Harry V. Smeeman served as Ashland’s solitary police sergeant from 1922 to 1929, when he was shot and killed while patrolling the streets of Ashland. Sgt. Smeeman was the elected town Sergeant, prided himself on finding ways to resolve conflicts peacefully, and rarely used a weapon. His compassion extended to Ashland’s homeless who often found a bed and hot meal in the town jail. The initial investigation produced no suspects, and the town hired a [...]