Woodlawn School, as it is now called, currently serves as the educational center for Carroll County’s students in grades six and seven. But the school’s roots date back to 1878 when Woodlawn Male and Female Academy, a private school, was founded, before later becoming the Woodlawn Normal Institute in 1898, a preparatory school for teachers.
Named Woodlawn in 1907, it became the first public high school in Carroll County after the Virginia General Assembly passed the 1906 Mann High School bill. In 1917, School Superintendent J. Lee Cox obtained federal funding that made Woodlawn High School the first school in the United States to teach vocational agriculture under the Smith-Hughes Act. Fred R. Kirby was the first vocational agricultural instructor at Woodlawn and was named Master Teacher of the South in 1933.
James L. Branscome, a member of the Woodlawn High School Class of 1956, is listed as the sponsor for the historical highway marker. Local resident Shirley Steele, a 1959 graduate of the Woodlawn High, did most of the research for the application, which was then submitted by Branscome to the state. Steele’s husband, Robert, is also a member of the 1956 Class of Woodlawn High.
“This all came about throiugh the Woodlawn Class of 1956, Woodlawn class. We had some discussion about it should be recognized and that was the beginning,” Branscome said. “The one thing that stands out that I thought made it worthy was the fact it was the first school in the United States that taught vocational agriculture. Plus, it was the first school in the region.”
Branscome lives in the suburbs of Richmond, where he is retired after serving 24 years as the Treasurer of the Virginia United Methodist Conference. He said the Woodlawn Class of 1956 is funding the historical marker.
Steele is extremely excited about the historical designation for Woodlawn School. She hopes more recognition will follow in the near future.
“I am extremely excited and very proud that we are doing this. I appreicate James following through with my research to get it approved and I appreciate the people in the class donating money to pay for the sign,” Steele said. “Our next step is to try to get the agriculture building in the historical register. It is a very famous school and was one of the first academies that people to be teachers.”
Other Virginia markers approved by the Department of Historic Resources at its Dec. 17, 2009 meeting include “York: Lewis and Clark Expedition,” a marker to be erected in Caroline County, which honors this slave of the William Clark family who participated in the 1803-06 journey to explore the American West. York was the only member of the expedition not to receive money and land in return for services provided because “of his slave status and Clark’s refusal to manumit him,” according to the sign’s approved text. “York may have escaped from Clark and returned to Wyoming, where according to tradition, he lived out his life with the Crow Indians,” the marker concludes.
A sign slated for placement in Scott County will commemorate the life of June Carter Cash, born in Maces Springs to the “First Family of Country Music” — the Carter Family. June Carter, in the words of the marker, “played the guitar and sang with the second generation Carter Family, Mother Maybelle, and the Carter Sisters.” In the early 1960s, Carter toured with Johnny Cash, whom she married in 1968. The pair later won Grammy awards for their duets.
— Two new markers will highlight events involving Native Americans during the Commonwealth’s colonial era.
In King George County, the marker “Punishing the Nanzattico Indians” recalls an incident that led to the exile of more than three dozen Nanzattico Indians “to the island of Antigua, where they were sold into servitude,” according to the marker. That action resulted from tribal members attacking “the farm of John Rowley, known for his disputes with the tribe, on 29 August 1704.” As the marker states, “The Virginia Council deemed forty Nanzattico age 12 or older guilty of complicity and ordered them deported, while keeping the younger children as servants.”
The sign titled “Mary Kittamaquund,” to be installed in Stafford County, honors this “only child of Kittamaquund, paramount chief of the Piscataway tribes when Lord Baltimore’s settlers arrived in Maryland in 1634.” After becoming the ward of Maryland governor Leonard Calvert, Mary Kittamaquund was married to “Giles Brent, who likely intended to gain control of Piscataway lands through the alliance.” The Brents moved to Virginia, settling in present-day Stafford County, in 1647, where they “had at least three children. Giles Brent remarried in 1654, but there is no record of Mary’s death,” according to the marker.
Those four markers, all funded by the Department of Historic Resources through a federal transportation grant, arise from the department’s ongoing initiative to recognize significant people, places, and events in the history of women, African Americans, and Virginia Indians.
— Three other newly approved markers also stem from the same initiative.
A sign to be erected in Henrico County highlights the accomplishments of Addie Goodman Clark (1882-1983), who “fought tirelessly to champion both women’s rights and the arts in Virginia.”
In Richmond, a new marker will commemorate a 1960 sit-in protest by 34 Virginia Union University students at the former Thalhimer’s Department Store during the Civil Rights Movement. That protest led to the desegregation of Thalhimer’s and other retailers in Richmond.
The marker “Peter Jacob Carter,” designated for Northampton County, will honor the life of this one-time slave who “served in the 10th United States Colored Troops during the Civil War and afterward attended Hampton Institute.” Carter later represented Northampton in the House of Delegates and also “joined the Readjuster Party, led by former Confederate general William Mahone.”
Other markers approved by DHR’s Board of Historic Resources, during its December 17 quarterly meeting, highlight the founding and history of the --
• Cedar Creek (Quaker) Meeting House in Hanover County;
• Eastern State Hospital, in James City County; and
• Port Republic Road Historic District in Waynesboro.
The Virginia highway marker program, which began in 1927 with the installation of the first historical markers along U.S. Rte. 1, is considered the oldest such program in the nation. Currently there are more than 2,100 official state markers, mostly installed and maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation.
The manufacturing cost of each new highway marker is covered by its respective sponsor, except for those markers developed by the Department of Historic Resources.
More information about the Historical Highway Marker Program is available on the website of the Department of Historic Resources at http://www.dhr.virginia.gov/.