Here, gathered in our beloved South Dakota, are a few members of our Williamson / Mattson Clan. Charles and Luella are to be blamed (be kind, they didn't know what they were doing). We're generally a happy bunch and somewhat intelligent (notwithstanding our tenuous grasp on reality). I'm also proud to say that most of us still have our teeth.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Travel Journal to Old Williamson Country

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Hello All,
Pat Biggs has a hand written travel log written by Josie Williamson Good detailing a trip she took with others to Virginia in the summer of 1968. Family stories are mixed with the description of events.

I want to thank Pat for transcribing the document for posting to this blog. It will be posted in sections due to the document's length.

It's good to have everyone's information posted so the rich history of the family can be enjoyed by all those interested.


Post 1: The Trip Back East.
Written by Josie (Williamson) Good - Summer of 1968
We, (Ethel (Williamson) Ogden, her husband, Roger Ogden, their daughter Mary and her husband Edwin Mikesh and Josie (Williamson) Good), left New York about 9:00 a.m. Monday, August 19th, went south in New York State thru Ithaca, where Cornell University is, into Pennsylvania 175 miles before stopping for the night at Carlisle, PA just past Harrisburg, PA. We stopped early because of fog then heavy rain, which caused near darkness at 5:00 p.m. Next morning we got on Interstate 81 at Harrisburg, PA, and followed it to Roanoke, VA so kept west of the Appalachian Mountains in PA and west of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. Cut across a corner of Maryland via Hagerstown, crossed the Potomac River at Maryland-West Virginia line, thru a piece of West Virginia into Virginia. We stayed on 81, as it was so smoky and hazy we thought we couldn't see much if we took the Blue Ridge Skyline Drive, altho it is supposed to be very scenic if the weather is clear. It was getting pretty warm, then warmer as we went south, and by the time we got to the world famous Natural Bridgeit was just plain boiling hot, and around 97 degrees and muggy as all get out. Had lunch at Natural Bridge then went down into the Gorge to see the bridge. Had to get tickets at the entrance building and go out the back entrance down many, many steps which sort of angled around down the side of the gorge, and the downer we went the hotter it got. The humidity was terrific so we were quite saturated with perspiration. It wasn't a conducted tour so people wandered around to suit themselves. Roger elected to sit comfortably in the beautiful, air-conditioned Entrance Lobby, with souvenir and gift shops. The rest of us walked down, although we could have taken free bus to the bottom. Wandered up thru the gorge to the Bridge, which is quite a sight the first time. George Washington surveyed this gorge and he carved his initials 35 feet up the underside of the bridge and which are clearly visible. Ethel and I decided to get back to the top by bus, which by the way was 15 cents per person instead of free, but Edwin and Mary punished themselves by climbing back up the steps.
From there we went on south thru Roanoke, VA heading for the Higginbothems, who live just off 81 in a little town called Newbern. Mrs.Higginbotham (Anna) is a 2nd cousin of us Williamsons, on our grandmother's side of the family. They were expecting us for dinner that evening, so we started looking for a motel in order to freshen up a little first. Due to construction of an arsenal somewhere in the area, there wasn't a motel, hotel or tourist home vacancy in any of the places in the area. So we finally phoned Anna, who said to come on out to Newbern and they would take care of us. We surely hated to do that to them, but had no choice. It was muchly appreciated too, what with perspiration dripping off our noses, chins and elbows. So, we all tumbled in on them in their neat little 4 room red brick home with no air-conditioning except a fan. Had a marvelous dinner, a visit and pictures of our ancestors, etc. Their speech is fullof "you-alls, or y'alls, ah reckon, sir and ma'am, li'l ole, right much,which means a lot of, and other expressions". Mr. Willie Higginbotham worked for the State Highway Dept. for 45 or 50years in charge of gangs of prisoners mostly colored, working on the roads. His speech is quite slurred and Negro-ish, altho he is quite refined and a true gentleman. They had made arrangements with friends who are two elderly sisters to take in Edwin, Mary and me (Josie) for the night. These women live in their old family home, built in 1816. It is very well preserved and full of antique furniture, some of which belongs to Anna. It was quite a thrill to wander thru it,altho they have modernized it to some extent with baths upstairs and down, and a modern kitchen. They were so nice and hospitable that we felt right at home.

After breakfast at Anna's (honeydew melon, sausage, bacon, eggs, sliced tomatores 3 inches across and red ripe, toast, little bisquits about the size of a dollar, coffee,) we took some pictures and departed. (Carol Stephenson may have these pictures. She is
Josie's daughter in Torrington, WY) I will write and ask her. Back to the script!! I guess it is a type of hospitality, but Anna didn't sit at the table with us at either meal, but hovered around the table, passing food, urging us to eat, changing dishes and courses and so on until we felt as tho we were being served by servants, a little embarassing. Ethel and Roger stayed with them for the night and Ethel can't get over the fact that she slept in a bed our great-great-great grandparents possessed and used. Some of the other bedroom furniture dated back to the 1700's, very beautiful, well taken care of wooden furniture. Wednesday morning we picked up some lunch makings and drove about 40 miles to a little country church that our forbears had founded in 1826 called Zion Lutheran Church. So you see we were originally Lutrherans at least on one side of the family. There are quite a few ancestors buried in the cemetary here at the church, who were born in the 1700's. After a picnic under ancient oak trees there we visited some more 2nd cousins who lived nearby in their
family ancestral home, then got a motel room near the little town of Floyd, to freshen up before going to another cousin's for dinner at another little town called Willis, named for our grandmothers side of the family. We had another sumptuous meal with Marvin and Sue Sowers, who have a lovely country home 150 or 160 years old, well preserved and also furnished with family antiques. We had Virginia baked ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, green beans, sliced tomatoes, li'l ole bisquits, fresh strawberries and cream, all this stuff right out of the garden and barns. Sue, too, fluttered around waiting on us instead of sitting with us, and these cousins have distinct southern accents. Fascinating! Some more cousins came in during the evening so there was a great deal of family history passed back and forth. Everyone really showed us that famous hospitality so we truly enoyed meeting these folks, heat and humidity notwithstanding.
Next morning we hied ourselves East over the Blue Ridge Mountains Headed for Williamsburg, but decided first to detour down into North Carolina which was about 30 or so miles from where we were, just to say we had been there. Saw a lot of tobacco growing, being hauled to the drying barns, and hanging in bunches in the drying barns. This was in southern Virginia and North Carolina, and saw a lot of growing corn and soybeans. Didn't see any cotton except in bales, but there were negroes everywhere. Almost forgot there were white people someplace after going thru this area. There were many typical log cabins and shacks, but also manyhomes, while small, were neat, painted and well-kept. This was mostly a rural area. We came back into Virginia near Danville on the Dan River, where we passed the DanRiver fabric factories as we went thru the city. Temperature here was 100 degrees. Couldn't find a place to eat outside of town so stopped along the road and had sandwiches, which we had a restaurant fix for us in case we wanted to stop in some park. There were at least a thousand tractor-trailer outfits deciding to travel past us just at that time, so we were nearly blown to pieces as each one buzzed by trying to make an incline just ahead. Hot, sunny and muggy. (By the way, we found a nice park just over the hill. Never fails!)

1 comment:

  1. The Travelogue is so well narrated and describes the ancient history of Virginia. It was used to be so beautiful and fascinating. The hills and valleys were so eye catching at that time.