I’ve been meaning to post these for weeks, but works’s been busy and then I got sick with an apocalyptic deathcold and then the holidays happened and blah blah blah. Anyway, long story short, I took a few days off Thanksgiving week to drive up to the Lynchburg area. I wanted to see where my maternal grandfather was from; he actually came from Bear Mountain in the Blue Ridge foothills. Nowadays it’s a 20 minute drive from Lynchburg, tops, but 100 years ago it probably seemed much farther away from the city.
This is the schoolhouse my grandfather attended. It’s a museum now. Most of the people on Bear Mountain are of Monacan Indian descent and they weren’t allowed at white schools thanks to Virginia’s segregation laws; but due to some bureaucratic fuckery that claimed there were no more “pure Indians” left in Virginia, they also weren’t allowed to declare themselves Native American. My great-grandmother’s wedding license claims she’s “colored”. The Episcopalian Mission (their church is the white building) eventually built this grade school for the kids on Bear Mountain, but none of them went to high school until the 1960s. Funny to think of my grandfather growing up Episcopalian, a religion I associate with rich eastern snobby types.
This is Monument Terrace in Lynchburg, it leads up to the courthouse. I liked Lynchburg, which is hilly and historic in that Virginia way (Thomas Jefferson had a house there) and an interesting mix of Old South and college students.
It was autumn in Louisiana, but felt more like winter in Virginia–I even drove through some snow on my way in, although Lynchburg itself is in a kind of valley and it hadn’t snowed there.
The Old City Cemetery was of course the first place I headed for. It’s the only public cemetery in Lynchburg, which is a town with a LOT of churches, and for years was the only place where black people could be buried and was also the “pauper’s field” for the city. Apparently it was kind of a mess until some socialite decided to beautify it in the ’90s, and now it’s as much of a park as a graveyard.
I had time to see Natural Bridge, which was about an hour from Lynchburg. It’s stunning in person, and much bigger than I’d thought from photos I’ve seen.