~ The following appeared in the Floyd Press on Thursday January 1, 2009 and HERE.
Whether purchased as a quality keepsake or for use as a functional calendar, the 2009 Floyd County Historical Society (FCHS) Calendar is a way to own a bit of Floyd history. Created by FCHS photograph archivist Kathleen Ingoldsby as a fundraiser for the society, this second annual publication features a visual history of Floyd told through postcards of the past.
Penny postcard images, restored old photos, and informative narrative tell the story of wars, moonshine stills, early schools, mills, and mail delivery. Antique stamps and postmarks, one as old as 1809, are arranged on the black glossy backgrounds of full-color monthly pages and bring to light the history of postcards and the early days of the Rural Free Delivery (RFD).
The RFD came to Floyd in 1902, and during its heyday, dozens of post offices with names like Amos, Aria, Bay, Carthage, Ego, Pax, and Posey dotted the county. A photo of a mailman delivering the mail by a horse and buggy appears with the calendar’s introduction. Next to it is a photo of the Nasturtium Post Office, no bigger than a small one room cabin.
The Hotel Brame postcard, featured for July, was one geared towards tourism, reading ‘Floyd’s Summer Resort 2900 Ft. above Sea Level.’ Built in 1904 where Dee’s Country Places Realty is now located, the Hotel Brame was once a hub of activity where one went for lunch, “to dance, to buy furniture, do banking, have a tooth pulled, to shop for fine clothing, visit the telephone switchboard, go to the butcher, or (with indoor plumbing) for a refined overnight stay,” the calendar states. A horse hitching post is shown in the forefront of the postcard.
“Back then it was as common to see oxen hitched there as it was to see horses,” Ingoldsby said, explaining that Locust Street was once known as Jockey Street because people sold and traded horses there on Court Day, a day when many countians came to town.
Drawn from the FCHS archives, the postcards and photos illustrate trends and the hairstyles and fashions of the day. The month of March shows the Noah Reed family in Sunday dress, posed in front of their home with a family pony included in the shot. A painted canvas backdrop is draped behind them to simulate a studio setting. February’s page presents a colorful display of valentine themed postcards.
In the upstairs Historical Society office on Locust Street, stored in boxes in a closet, there are 1800 photos and some postcards that have been numbered, described, scanned and stored in a database by Ingoldsby. “It’s a treasure and a wealth of a community resource,” she said, un-wrapping an album of postcards with protective gloves on her hands.
Although the closet where the items are stored is monitored for humidity levels and each box contains a black archiving sheet that absorbs acid and moisture, the space is less than ideal for long term storage. Eventually the items will be kept at the Jessie Peterman Library in a climate controlled area, and the digital data base will be available to the public. “The library partnership is a fine example of the community working together to accomplish major goals,” Ingoldsby said.
Many of Ingoldsby’s pursuits are related to her love of history and its preservation. She is an active member of the Floyd County Historical Preservation Trust, on the Old Church Gallery board, and has produced digital films of historical relevance. In 2005 she participated in an intensive three week course at the National Archives in Washington D.C. to learn “all aspects of archiving and collection management.” Ingoldsby also designed and authored the Walking Tour Historic Guide, another fundraiser for the FCHS, which lists forty-five sites of historic interest, most within walking distance of downtown Floyd.
“It’s touching to be able to look back and look into people’s lives,” Ingoldsby said about her archival work. She encourages people to do their own family research.
With images of early life in Floyd, along with holidays and current events listed, the calendar brings together the past and present. As the FCHS’s major yearly fundraiser, it supports their further work in a way that entertains, educates, and celebrates those who came before us.
On the back page of the 2009 calendar, sneak previews of coming attractions includes a postcard of the Farmers Supply building with gas pumps and Model-T cars out front. ‘Greetings from Main Street, Floyd Virginia,’ the card announces, ending this year’s calendar on a high note with the promise of more to come.
Post Notes: Calendars are $10 and can be purchased at the Floyd Chamber of Commerce, The Floyd Country Store and other places around town. They are also available by mail for $12.50, which includes postage and handling, from the Floyd County Historical Society, P.O. Box 292, Floyd, VA 24091. For more information, visit www.floydhistoricalsociety.org. Emails can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. ~ Colleen Redman