Danville Museum

of Fine Arts and History

Danville Museum

of Fine Arts and History

Danville Hall of Fame

The Hall of Fame was established by the Danville Museum in 1974 to recognize and honor citizens of the area whose achievements have been outstanding. Specific criterion for election to the Hall of Fame are persons of note who have worked within the area and who by achievement in their respective field have attained national stature as to reflect credit upon themselves and consequently upon Danville and Pittsylvania County.


Lady Nancy Langhorne Astor

Lady Nancy Langhorne Astor was born in Danville, Virginia on May 19, 1879 to Chiswell Dabney Langhorne, better known as “Chillie” of Lynchburg, and Nancy Witcher Keene of Danville. Always known to her family and friends as Nannie, she rose to fortune as the wife of Waldorf Astor, and to fame as the first woman to sit in the British House of Commons.

When Nancy Astor was six, her father was forced to leave Danville to seek financial stability, and in Richmond he was awarded contracts for the construction of railroads; on each one he turned a handsome profit. Soon the Langhornes became part of the quiet, anti-bellum South, moving into the handsome “Mirador,” a fine brick house in Albermarle County. But life at “Mirador” was far from quiet: emotions ran high, with quarrels, tears, reconciliations, and in the end, laughter. As a result, Nancy Astor, at an early age, learned to hold up her end in a fight, a trait that held her in good stead, especially in politics. 

Nancy Astor’s father would not hear of a young girl getting an education; he considered it worthless. So she attached herself to Frederick William Neve, the rector of a little Episcopal Church at Ivy, who soon had her longing to become one of his missionaries to the mountain poor. Nancy Astor’s visions came to an end when she was 18 and her engagement to Robert Gould Shaw was announced. The marriage was dissolved, because of Robert’s drinking, three years later in 1900, and she and their little daughter returned to “Mirador.”

The death of her mother in 1903 sent Nancy Astor into emotional turmoil, and her father sent her to England with her younger sister for a season of hunting. In England came the second phase of her life; she found a true marriage to a young man of great charm and enormous wealth – Waldorf Astor. After the wedding in 1906, Nancy Astor served as hostess for Waldorf and was his most devoted supporter as he began building his parliamentary career. But when Waldorf inherited a title, and became ineligible to sit in the House of Commons, precedent was shattered as Nancy Astor, now Lady Astor, stood for her husband’s seat in Parliament.

The year was 1919; World War I had ended; Lloyd George advocated a world fit for heroes to live in; Lady Astor offered a world fit for women and children, and her victory was overwhelming. It began what was to become a long fight, for both Lady Astor and her husband, for social legislation: shorter working hours, a higher age for leaving school, and health insurance. During their 35 years in political life, the Astors saw most of their advocated reforms put into practice.

After her election, Lady Astor carried her cause back to the land of her birth. America loved her frankness, and she appealed primarily to women. “There are things bigger than politics, even bigger than countries,” Lady Nancy said, “though neither party nor country likes to think that anything is bigger than itself. If only we, the newcomers to political life, can keep that greater vision…The world is already entangled.” Lady Astor was welcomed in her native Virginia, and in Danville, Lady Astor returned to her birthplace, which stood at the corner of Broad and Main Streets, and there from the upstairs porch she addressed hundreds on conservation and the importance of maintaining natural beauty and gave a rose bush to each child attending.

The peace of the 1920’s soon fell under the approaching shadow of World War II, and a campaign of vilification was begun against the Astors who were accused of being pro-German and pro-Hitler. History, however, has since removed these myths, proving there were no pro-Nazi plots on the Astors’ behalf. Admittedly they had argued for a revision of the harsh terms of the treaty of Versailles, but they were not, as was widely alleged, in favor of delivering Europe into the hands of Nazi Germany

Lady Nancy Astor was Mayoress of Plymouth, then in the front line of the Battle of Britain, and she fought her own war against Hitler. As her town filled with G.I.’s preparing for the D-Day invasion of Normandy, Lady Astor wrote to her old friend and mentor, Mr. Neve, “You don’t what it means to me to hear that southern accent on the corner of every street. Plymouth is my Virginia in England.”

After her retirement, Lady Astor’s thoughts turned again to Virginia. Only a month before Mr. Neve died in 1948, she had written to him thanking him for the inspiration he gave her over 50 years ago. “True friendship,” wrote Lady Astor, “never fades.”

News of Lady Astor’s death reached Virginia in May of 1964. It was noted as the passing of a Virginia tradition, a tradition that was dear to her as she once remarked, “If I lived away from my country a hundred years, I would still be a Virginian.”


Ronnie Wayne Belcher

When you consider all the ways to serve your family and your country, a career in the Armed Forces is an honorable way to do both. Your military career might begin with no exact direction but possibilities were limitless. This is the adventure of a young 21-year-old farm boy’s path into manhood serving the highest office in the country, the President…

of the United States of America at the White House. This is the course of Master Sergeant E-8 Ronnie Wayne Belcher’s life.

Ronnie Wayne Belcher was born in Sutherlin, Virginia on August 7, 1941 to Thomas Belcher and Ruby Woodall Belcher. He was the 10th and last child born to the family who were already raising Rainie, Charlie, Aileen, Alease, Robert, Mozelle, Margaret, Nell and the youngest beloved sister Marie. The family all grew up farming tobacco as sharecroppers and as part of Danville’s tobacco industry before Ronnie’s birth and after he left for the Army, 60 plus years. They had moved around to different residences in and around Danville. Ronnie attended Dan River High School for 2 years and then moved to Alabama where he lived with his sister, Mozelle Floyd, and her family to complete high school. Soon after, Ronnie Belcher followed in the footsteps of his older brothers, Charlie Belcher (Army) and Robert Belcher (Army and Navy) by enlisting in the Army in August of 1962. Part of Ronnie’s motivation was to send money home to his struggling mother and father back in Danville, VA. 

He attended basic training at Fort Gordon, Georgia. In May of 1963 a recruiter for the White House Communications Agency (WHCA) recognized Belcher’s high standings and asked him if
he would consider a post with WHCA. This agency serves both the President’s and Vice President’s offices to maintain secure and constant lines of communication with the White House and officials. Ronnie knew that accepting the position of working and traveling alongside the President and Vice President of the United States would be demanding on his time but serving the Commander in Chief was the highest honor an enlisted man could receive. He accepted the position with confidence. This would allow him to help his family back in Danville and answer his personal call of duty. Ronnie would later be faced with the same challenge of what comes first, his family or his service to his country and his President again.

Ronnie’s ambition would take him through the extreme rigors of the FBI background checks and scrutiny to get the coveted top-secret clearance needed to be a member of WHCA. Having yourself and your family questioned and scrutinized by the FBI is a worthwhile but arduous process. When his top-secret clearance was granted, he would soon be connecting direct calls and conference calls for the offices of the President and the Vice Presidents to leaders all over the world.

Ronnie was first stationed at Camp David, Maryland after boot camp. His career with WHCA started there as a switchboard operator connecting calls for President John F. Kennedy while he and the first family were in residence at Camp David.

There was a special encounter with John F. Kennedy Jr. at the Camp David Presidential residence, the Aspen House, in 1963. A young John-John would pick up the telephone and ask the invisible voice on the other end of the phone “where am I?” Ronnie would tell John-John where he was in the house and then John-John would hang up on him. Minutes later another call, the same question and the same response. Mr. Belcher would later recount that story to an Atlanta radio show when John F. Kennedy Jr.’s plane went down in July 1999. Of course that tragic moment unfortunately echoed the loss of President Kennedy so many years earlier during his trip to Dallas, Texas. Ronnie was meant to be on that trip to Dallas but had to miss it due to a broken wrist.

Once Lyndon B. Johnson took office, communications officers quickly realized the new Commander in Chief was quite commanding. It was during this Presidential term, that Ronnie
met his future wife, Mary Suzanne thor Straten. She was a switchboard operator in Hanover, Pennsylvania and naturally, Ronnie met Mary over the phone. They would go on to have three children, Timothy, Kimberly and Christopher. Mr. & Mrs. Belcher may have been starting a family, but duty and country calls and Ronnie would always answer that call.

In 1967 while still stationed at Camp David, Ronnie would work long hours connecting the President with foreign dignitaries such as Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban, and Egyptian
President Gamal Abdul Nasser prior to the Israeli 6-day war. Ronnie would remain on the line in case there was an immediate request to add additional officials to the call. This was unusual but due to the level of urgency it was necessary, allowing Ronnie to listen to historic conversation in an attempt to find peace. Johnson was keen on defusing the situation and continued to work from his ranch in Texas while the Secret Service and WHCA teams, including Ronnie, worked out of trailers on the property as the President would be seen driving by in his Cadillac convertible.

A memorable moment with WHCA came in July of 1969 while in Jakarta, Indonesia. Ronnie and members of WHCA arranged for a screen and projector for White House advance teams to
watch Neil Armstrong take his first steps on the moon. They decided to openly include any interested Jakarta residents to witness this once-in-a-lifetime event, and the teams anticipated no more than 100 people would want to watch the event. However, a man landing on the moon was an event for the human race, so the screening drew 10,000 – 20,000 people to celebrate. The City of Jakarta was gridlocked by the throngs of people celebrating, crowding the city Square to get a glimpse of this historic achievement for mankind.

In 1970 Ronnie was transferred to Homestead Air Force Base to be part of the WHCA and other teams to set up a post at President Nixon’s Beach compound in Key Biscayne, Florida. The residence in Florida afforded the President secured access to his family and friends. There were several occasions Nixon could be seen walking and talking on the beach, in swim trunks, dress socks and dress shoes. The sudden end to Nixon’s Presidency sent Ronnie to Washington, D.C. to serve the WHCA as a Trip Duty Officer, which would take Ronnie around the world.

As Gerald Ford took office in 1974, the White House staff greeted his friendly manner as a welcomed new administration after the Watergate scandal. President Ford’s 2 years in office were confronted with the challenges of mastering inflation, reviving a depressed economy, solving chronic energy shortages, and trying to ensure world peace. President Gerald Ford was
noted as a man of integrity and openness. Ronnie remembers that President Ford was the only President during his time with WHCA, to have local government officials and law enforcement
in a line at the airport upon his departure to thank them, along with chosen White House advance team members, for their hard work. Ronnie was asked to be in this line during a trip to Orlando Florida.

The next President to enter the Oval office in 1976 was James “Jimmy” Carter during our country’s Bicentennial Celebration. Carter immediately went to work trying to establish peace in the Middle East between Israel and Egypt. The plan to ultimately get these two countries and leaders to sit down and talk would take many years. The White House worked tirelessly year round on this, and other matters, which meant the support teams did as well. For two Christmases, all Presidential away teams worked from the Carters’ Georgia residence setting up base in a motel in the neighboring town of Americas, GA. This is where they would spend their holidays with each other and away from their families. Their sacrifice would finally be fruitful when Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, together, signed the Camp David Accords, in 1978 at the White House.

Near the end of Jimmy Carter’s presidency, Ronnie was coming up on his 20th year in the Army and would have to decide his future service to the White House. The many years of traveling had taken a toll on Belcher’s health, his marriage, and his relationships with his family. His kids were too young, to really understand how important their father’s work really was, but thankfully they grew to recognize the patriotism that their father truly possessed. To them, now he is their definition of an American Hero. Ronnie notified WCHA his intent to retire from active duty in the summer of 1982, after 20 years of service. Ronnie would soon re-enter civilian life and spend more time with his family.

Ronald Reagan took office in 1980 and Ronnie became a Vice Presidential Trip Officer and with retirement in his near future he chose his final two trips with VP George H. Bush to Hawaii and then to Tokyo, Japan. In Hawaii, Ronnie was tasked to play a round of golf so the secret service could investigate the golf course for potential threats. Ronnie’s golf game was “Military Golf”…. left, right, then left, then right…all over the place. When Ronnie apologized, the secret service said that his game was perfect for them to prepare for VP George H. Bush’s upcoming rounds of golf.

A 20-year military career, and an unprecedented 19 years with the White House, afforded Ronnie an extraordinary global travel experience to 6 continents, over 15 countries, and 40 states in the USA. After retirement Ronnie moved to Georgia, then later realized that the best way to enjoy his retirement was to move to Northern California in 2004. He would be closer to his California family, which included his granddaughter Stephanie Belcher. The long distance didn’t keep Ronnie from traveling back to Danville, Virginia for family reunions, a tradition that has continued for over 100 years. By returning to Danville the second Sunday of August, Ronnie, honors the deep devotion and respect he has for his mother’s love and those very special 9 siblings who also shared the experience of “growing up Belcher.” His wish is that this tradition will carry on for the next 100 years. From his humble beginnings in Danville, Virginia instilled the ethics of hard work, loyalty, and love of family to shape a homegrown American Hero in the eyes of his family and perhaps yours also.


J. Nelson Benton Jr.

 A native of Danville, Virginia, Nelson Benton was born in 1924. He married the former Milli Patterson, and together the couple had one son, Joseph Nelson Benton, III. Benton attended the University of North Carolina, and received his Bachelor of Science degree in 1949. Prior to receiving this degree, he served as a fighter pilot in the United States…

Army Air Force from 1942-1945.

A native of Danville, Virginia, Nelson Benton was born in 1924. He married the former Milli Patterson, and together the couple had one son, Joseph Nelson Benton, III. Benton attended the University of North Carolina, and received his Bachelor of Science degree in 1949. Prior to receiving this degree, he served as a fighter pilot in the United States Army Air Force from 1942-1945.

As News Chief for CBS southern Bureau in New Orleans, a position he held from 1963-65, Benton followed developments in southern civil rights. He also covered the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and the subsequent trial of Jack Ruby. In addition to serving as courtroom reporter at the Ruby trial, Benton was instrumental in making broadcast arrangements for the trial verdict.

Following his coverage of internal unrest in the United States, Nelson Benton recounted the domestic turmoil of other nations. In 1965, he reported on the revolution in Santo Domingo. In 1967, he covered the Vietnam War, and the political developments in South Vietnam. Benton’s campaign assignments for CBS also included the third-party candidacy of George Wallace in 1968, as well as the 1964, 1968, 1972, and 1976 national party conventions.

In addition to pursuing news in the field, Nelson Benton has anchored the CBS Morning News, and along with CBS News Correspondent George Herman, co-anchored CBS coverage of the Watergate hearings. He also took part in the CBS broadcast of the Gemini space flights and most of the Apollo moon flights, including the Apollo 11 moon landing flight. In 1973 he began covering energy and the environment for CBS News.

Nelson Benton’s long career with CBS gave him the opportunity to experience up close what most people only witnessed on television. He reported on many of the landmark events that shaped the 1960’s, and continued reporting on those stories that defined the 1970’s.


Sarah Archie Swanson Beverley

For thirty-three years Mrs. Sarah Archie Swanson Beverley served as principal of the old Whitmell Farm Life High School, and on her retirement in 1951 she had participated in the White House Conference on Rural Education in 1944, and served in 1927 as the Virginia representative to the South Atlantic Regional Conference at Rural Virginia Polytechnic…

Institute for contributions to agriculture. But the depth and scope of Mrs. Beverley’s achievements in education are almost impossible to imagine.

Born on May 28, 1881 to Sarah Payne and Frank Archer Swanson, she was given the odd name of “Archie” because her family was set on having a son as the seventh child. She attended a two-room school at Whitmell, and then went to Randolph-Macon Institute in Danville before entering Randolph-Macon’s Woman’s College at Lynchburg. It was in Lynchburg that Mrs. Beverley said she came to the realization that she had to become a teacher, for here, she had to compete with students from all over the country and although this gave her no disrespect for her rural upbringing, it made her aware of the disadvantages that she faced because of her limited background. It was this that made her resolve to give her pupils the educational opportunities denied her.

One of Mrs. Beverley’s professors, Miss Celeste Parrish, recommended her for a teaching position at Big Stone Gap, Virginia. From there, an offer came to teach Latin and History at
Bristol High School in Tenneseee, the metropolis of that area. Mrs. Beverley jumped at the chance, and there she met the Superintendent of the Bristol City Schools, R.H. Watkins, who was asked to head the schools in Laurel, Mississippi. He persuaded Mrs. Beverley to accompany him, and she found the two years spent near New Orleans most profitable because it broadened her horizons.

When her father became ill in 1908, Mrs. Beverley returned to Whitmell to care for him, and during this period she taught for two summers in Big Stone Gap, where, as she recalled, the
big gap in her life was filled when she met Frank C. Beverley and married him there in June of 1912. They moved to Bluefield, West Virginia, but when her father became completely paralyzed in 1914, she, along with her husband, returned home to Whitmell.

Mrs. Beverley’s first encounter with teaching at Whitmell came as a substitute, and she realized that Whitmell students were given an unfair deal in comparison to Danville students,
who were only fifteen miles away. She drew her conclusions: a locality should give its children their just heritage. It was this thought that made Mrs. Beverley know that her place was one of working constructively for education in her own community. Consequently, on her father’s death in 1916, she became a seventh grade teacher at Whitmell Farm Life School, and two years later became its principal.

At this point, according to Mrs. Beverley, she saw her duty as developing a group of isolationists into world-minded citizens. To achieve this end, she sought to incorporate four elements into a partnership: the home, the school, the church, and the entire community, with the youth as the stockholders in the investment. Willing to expand her own vistas, Mrs. Beverley attended the University of Virginia during the summer of 1918 and spend many weekends in Washington consulting with Harold W. Fought, Chief of the Rural Division, U.S. Bureau of Education. In successive years Mrs. Beverley attended State Teacher’s College in Aberdeen, South Dakota, until she secured her Bachelor’s degree in 1923. Dr. Fought aided Mrs. Beverley in visiting various states as she commuted to and from South Dakota to observe those places that had a vision for rural development.

Subsequently, she began doing graduate study at the Teacher’s College of Columbia University and was awarded the Master’s degree in 1932. Her advisor at Columbia urged her to travel abroad; therefore, she took a short course at the International People’s College in Elsinore, Denmark. After all these experiences, Mrs. Beverley arrived at the conclusion that the “country school must be at the center of community life.” Thus, the Whitmell school was made to reach out through the homes and churches while it was building an educational institution for children’s learning.

At Mrs. Beverley’s request, in 1920 the Federal Government was asked to hold a National Country Life Conference at Whitmell. This was the first time such conferences had been taken to the open country, but thousands attended. Another similar event was held in 1923. As a result, the people around Whitmell gained confidence in themselves, and attained a lasting community consciousness. Mrs. Beverley said it was the school’s motto that embodied the spirit of the school: “That our school may be a lighthouse, guiding individual, community, country, and state to the light of education, right living, ideal citizenship and brotherly love.”

Community life was so important to Mrs. Beverley’s philosophy that periodic surveys were taken by the Whitmell community to determine weak spots in community life. Truly the story of Whitmell Farm Life School and of Mrs. F.C. Beverley are inseparable. So successful was she in instilling her spirit into the community and into its education, that she soon became a
widely recognized authority on rural education and was invited in 1944 by Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt to participate in a White House Conference on Rural Education. In addition to being
the Virginia Representative to the South Atlantic Regional Conference on Rural Education, Mrs. Beverley was a visiting lecturer on the subject to several states.

Mrs. Beverley’s reputation as a dedicated educator and her rapport with her cousin Claude A. Swanson, who served as Governor of Virginia, United States Senator, and Secretary
of the Navy, brought many important people to her locality: outstanding educators, governors, congressmen, diplomats, senators, and foreign leaders. Their presence in the Whitmell School and community had a tremendous educational impact on Pittsylvania County.

Of the many honors bestowed on Mrs. Beverley, one was truly exceptional. She was the first woman ever awarded the State Farmer’s Degree accorded by the Future Farmers of America
in 1949. In 1951 she was made Honorary Member of the Piedmont Federation of Future Homemakers of America. Governors of Virginia appointed Mrs. Beverley four times to
commissions pertaining to rural life. Mrs. Beverley made a lasting mark on the teaching profession in Virginia and was a founder of the Virginia Iota State and of the Epsilon Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma. She was the recipient of the Delta Kappa Gamma Outstanding Citizen Award in 1952.

In 1955, Mrs. Beverley wrote her own story of the development of Whitmell Farm Life School and rural education in her book “Growing Years.” Upon her retirement, it was observed that the Whitmell community had been “fortunate to have had a leader with such broad vision, deep understanding, and selfless spirit.” On her death in 1968, her fellows in Delta Kappa Gamma remembered, “Her life was an inspiration; her memory, a benediction.”


W.C. “Dan” Daniel

If there were ever a story of the American Dream, it is that of W.C. “Dan” Daniel, Congressman from the Fifth District of Virginia and a native of Pittsylvania County. Born on May 12, 1914 in Chatham, Virginia to Reuben Earl and Georgie Grant Daniel, his father was a tenant farmer and Dan Daniel was raised in a log cabin in Mecklenburg County.

One of eight children, he left home in 1932 to join the Civilian Conservation Corps.

During the Great Depression, many Americans who had previously enjoyed an easy life began to criticize the American political system, saying it had failed the citizenry. However, Dan Daniel found that a welfare state, such as that represented by the C.C.C. camps, was good only to keep a person from going hungry temporarily. Dan Daniel commented: “We should strengthen our free enterprise system so we can make our own way, unhampered, without being carried along and directed by an army of bureaucrats who, while running our lives for us, make an excellent living for themselves, using our tax money to do so.”

He sought his own self-reliance in baseball, pitching for a team in Fredericksburg, Virginia. In one game he hit two home runs off of the famed Walter Johnson. However, in 1936, after two years in semi-professional baseball, his career came to an end when he was diagnosed with tuberculosis.

Surgery was required, rendering one lung inactive and his long period of recovery incapacitated him for two and a half years. During this time, Dan Daniel planned his future, which included his nurse at the sanitarium, Ruby McGregor. Upon his release in 1939, he secured a job carrying bolts of cloth up a ladder at Dan River Mills in Danville. This work was not fit for someone who had been ill, but he stuck with it, and after drawing his first paycheck, he married Ruby McGregor. Their son, Jimmie Fox Daniel, was born in 1940.

During Dan Daniel’s early days at Dan River, Walter Vincent took a personal interest in him. Gradually he worked his way through the ranks under Mr. Vincent’s guidance, and eventually he was named Employment Manager for all of Dan River Mills, which employed 13,000 people at that time.

However, Dan Daniel was bothered by one thing – his lack of formal education. He took night classes and received his diploma as Valedictorian. He also became actively involved with numerous civic organizations, and when the United States declared war in 1941, his inactive lung did not deter him from military service. He tried to volunteer five times, and was subsequently turned down on each occasion. He even went to Roanoke, where he was not known, and was accepted. However, when he was selected for amphibious training at the Great Lakes Training Center, his infirmity was discovered and he was sent home.

Dan Daniel’s inability to serve his country troubled him, and as soon as he was eligible to join the American Legion he did so and was elected State Commander in 1951, and National Commander in 1956. While campaigning for the national post, Dan Daniel said his reason for seeking the office was to serve. “By comparison, my term of military service was short,” he said, “and as so many of my fellow citizens, I feel the added obligation to my fellow men.” Throughout this period, Dan Daniel remained associated with Dan River Mills, and through the efforts of the late Basil D. Browder, he was allowed to pursue the projects of the American Legion. In 1957 Daniel was elevated to Assistant to the President of Dan River Mills, a post he held until 1966 when he was named Assistant to the Chairman of the Board.

From 1959 to 1968, when he was elected to Congress, Dan Daniel represented the City of Danville in the Virginia General Assembly. Before considering Dan Daniel’s tenure in the House of Representatives, though, one must recall the awards that were presented to him. He was an honorary member of the Veteran’s Associations in seven countries; he was presented the Star of Italian Solidarity (First Class) in 1958, signifying his outstanding achievements for the Italian nation; the 1958 Service to Mankind award, given to him by the Sertoma Clubs; Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania presented to him the George Washington Honor Medal in 1958; the Republic of France awarded him the Cross of Merit in 1960; the Virginia Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy presented him with the Confederacy’s Military Cross in 1966; in 1967 he was named “Distinguished Virginian” by the Virginia Exchange Clubs and was given the First Citizen Award by the Hugh T. Williams Post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Danville; in 1972 he was the first Virginian to receive the “Others” award from the Salvation Army; the same year he was named Virginia’s Man of the Year by the National Federation of Independent Businessmen; and he has been awarded the Freedom of Service Award by the Collinsville Jaycees, and the Pittsylvania County Soil Conservation Award. In addition, Dan Daniel belonged to numerous clubs and was appointed to the boards of directors of several businesses and served on various Presidential commissions.

In the 1950’s, Vice-President Richard Nixon told Marion Saunders, Editor of the Danville Register, that Dan Daniel “is the kind of young man we need in Congress.” When Nixon was elected in 1968, Dan Daniel was elected to his first term in the House of Representatives. Succeeding former Governor William Tuck in that seat, Dan Daniel polled more votes than his Republican and Independent opponents combined.

Dan Daniel carried to Congress business experience gleaned from his long association with Dan River, Inc., from trade missions undertaken from the Commonwealth, and from his total awareness of the economic structure of Virginia and the South. He also carried the knowledge of world affairs, but most importantly, because of his own upbringing, Dan Daniel carried a deep understanding and compassion for the needs of people. Since he had traveled the hard road, he was a firm believer in education, discipline, training and work as the keys to success.

As a Congressman, Dan Daniel did not sit aloof on Capitol Hill. Instead, he tried to make himself and his office continually available to his constituents. He maintained an office in the Post Office building in Danville, under the supervision of his longtime secretary Mrs. Frances Price. Of the most impressive of his committee assignments was his seat on the House Armed Services Committee, where he undertook several critical assignments for the Congress and the Administration.

Dan Daniel passed away on January 23, 1988, while still serving in office. In 1993, Dan Daniel Memorial Park opened in Danville, Virginia.


Carson Sutherlin Davenport

Carson Sutherlin Davenport was born in Danville, Virginia on February 14, 1908 to Mr. and Mrs. John T. Davenport. His father was an engineer for Southern Railway. It was Mrs. Clara Lee Cousins who persuaded him to study art at Stratford College and encouraged him to enter the Corcoran School of Art in Washington. He did additional study at the New York…

School of Fine and Applied Arts, and at the Grand Central School of Art, where Wayman Adams and George Pearce recognized his ability and gave him further encouragement. He then attended the Ringling School of Art and spent two summers at the Eastport Summer Art Colony.

During the Depression, the Public Works Art Project, a part of the National Recovery Act, exhibited Carson Davenport’s works before appraising eyes in various parts of the country. It also enabled one of his paintings to come to the attention of Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt. Mrs. Roosevelt requested that the painting, depicting women from the Blue Ridge Mountains coming home from their toil, be hung in the White House.

Davenport was appointed director of the W.P.A. Art School and Gallery at Big Stone Gap, Virginia in 1937. Then, in 1939, a unique distinction was accorded him. His work was selected for exhibition at the New York World’s Fair, where works of American artists, contemporary to that day, were emphasized. During that period, Davenport was commissioned to paint murals for the post office buildings in Chatham, Virginia and Greensboro, Georgia.

After a year with the W.P.A. in Big Stone Gap, Carson Davenport opened a studio in Danville. In 1943, Dr. Curtis Bishop, President of Averett College, announced that the Danville artist would head the Art Department at Averett College, now known as Averett University. Dr. Bishop called for a reorganization of the department to emphasize commercial art, where local art enthusiasts offered special work, with or without the regular college course. According to the Danville Register on June 27, 1943, Carson Davenport’s appointment by Dr. Bishop was for “the coming session.” However, he became firmly ensconced in the post, and remained there until his retirement in 1969.


Harriet Fitzgerald

Miss Harriet Fitzgerald, a Danville native, and the daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. H.R. Fitzgerald distinguished herself as an artist, exhibitor, and a much sought-after lecturer. Born in 1904, she attended Stratford Hall in Danville and went on to graduate from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in Lynchburg, Virginia. Much of her training as an artist…

came in two and a half years of study at The Art Student’s League of New York, principally in the class of John Slogan, and in the private classes of Maurice Stern and the cubist painter Ambrose Webster. This formal training was supplemented by a period of independent study in Europe during which Miss Fitzgerald studied the chief art galleries there.

With the Great Depression of 1929, the artist in Harriet Fitzgerald was touched by a concern for the social significance in human relationships. Thus, she returned to Danville where for three years she painted, working out her own individual technique and theories.

In 1938, she came into her own when she won an award in a competition sponsored by the American Artists’ Congress. As a result of this award, ten of her paintings were hung in a three-man exhibition at the A.C.A. Gallery in New York. Her paintings were soon seen also in group exhibitions at Milch and MacBeth Galleries. In 1942 The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts presented an exhibition of her work, and in 1944 the Charles Barzansky Gallery of New York gave her a one-woman show. Since that time, this gallery has handled her work, exhibiting it regularly in the group exhibitions of its artists and holding for her four more one-woman shows: 1946, 1947, 1950, and 1954. Other one-woman shows of Miss Fitzgerald’s work have been held at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, Randolph-Macon College, the Asheville Museum of Art, and the Birmingham Public Library, among others.

Since 1948 Miss Fitzgerald has directed the Abingdon Square Painters in New York City, a position which has led to her being in great demand by colleges throughout the country. From 1955-1964 and from 1967-1969, she served as a lecturer for the Arts Program Association of American Colleges; in the late 1940’s, early 1950’s, and early 1960’s she was involved with the lecture program of the Virginia Area University Center; and since 1957 Harriet Fitzgerald has been a visiting lecturer at Stratford College and a member of the faculty without rank.

While her works are represented in numerous public and private collections, she, herself, held membership in Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Gamma Mu, the Women’s Press Club of New York City, and Artists’ Equity of New York City; she is listed in Who’s Who in American Art, Artists/USA, and Who’s Who of American Women.

Perhaps it is unfair to draw out one single aspect of a multi-faceted life such as that of Miss Fitzgerald, but a study of this woman shows that the impact she had on individuals, carrying art to them, and explaining the impact of art as an expression of
daily life, strikes an enduring impression. The President of Randolph-Macon College commented, “I believe she is unsurpassed in her ability as the director of a forum period
on subjects having to do with art and art appreciation…Miss Fitzgerald has been able to implant in our students the desire to continue their studies of the works of the masters of art.”

“It seems to me that one of the most significant roles of an art expression in a college curriculum is that it offers a means for self-discovery, perhaps self-knowledge,” wrote Harriet Fitzgerald in the Stratford Magazine in the spring of 1973. She prefaced her observation by questioning, “Who am I? A person who bangs strong blue at red and black, adding a little orange? Or someone who reaches for the quiet, peculiar sensation of
pale yellow splintered along a surface of silver grey? How can I be myself unless I know who I am? How can I find out who I am?” For Miss Fitzgerald, one finds all these answers through art: the study of it and the expression of it. She was, as she had been since the age of eleven, searching for a new way of looking at things. She admitted in early 1968 to being deeply concerned about understanding the new trends in society such as pop and minimal art. “To see them from the angle of today’s generation, one would have to have grown up in the 1950’s and 1960’s. It’s a challenge to try to comprehend what lies behind these works.”

It is this spirit that Harriet Fitzgerald conveys in her paintings and her lectures: a challenge of interpretation, of feeling the human expression.


Archer T. Gammon

“A hero: a man of distinguished valor or performance, admired for his noble qualities”… such is the definition ascribed by Webster’s Dictionary, and such is a man like the late Archer T. Gammon. 

He was born on September 11, 1918 on a farm near Chatham, Virginia in Pittsylvania County, and was one of fifteen children born to Walter and Cordie Gammon. As remembered by his brother Calvin, Archer was just a quiet country boy; if there was a job to be done, he did it. His main interests growing up, as his brother recalls, were girls and cars. He is remembered as showing no particular qualities that would allude to the heroism that he exhibited in World War II.

Archer Gammon attended school in Gretna and Chatham, and came to Danville in 1941, going to work at Dan River Mills. In March of the next year he was drafted into the Armed Services in Roanoke. Following his training in Arkansas and California, he was sent in July, 1944, to France, via Glasgow, Scotland, and was made a Staff Sergeant five months later. It should be recalled that Archer Gammon was only one of five members of his family who served during World War II. His brothers Robert, Walter, and Jim were in the Army, Navy, and Coast Guard respectively. His sister, Mildred, was a member of the Waves.

From France, Archer Gammon was involved with the Belgium campaign. It was there that his heroism was manifested. On January 11, 1945, during the Battle of the Bulge, he led a platoon of Company A, Ninth Armored Infantry Battalion, Sixth Armored Division, through hip-deep snow up two hundred yards of open hillside. When his unit was pinned down by German gunfire from the strategic woodland, which was its objective, he advanced alone and disrupted the enemy’s resistance. Single-handedly, with rifles and grenades, he silenced two machine guns, killed nine Germans, and forced a Tiger Royal tank and supporting infantry into retreat. Having cleared the woods, he was struck within a twenty-five-yard range by a direct hit from the armored vehicle’s eighty eight-millimeter gun and was killed instantly. His relentless and daring attack, in complete disregard for all thoughts of personal safety, enabled his platoon to continue its advance.

Word of his death reached his parents’ home at 120 Broad Street via a telegram from the Adjunct General in Washington. But that was not to be the end of Archer Gammon. In the ensuing months, several awards were given to him posthumously. The Belgium government awarded him the Croix de Chavalier de L’Ordre de Leopold II, Aves Palme, and the Croix de Guerre 1940. In the United States he received the Bronze Star. Then, on October 25, 1945, he became one of eleven Virginians in World War II, and the only Danvillian in history to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest honor the United States can bestow. The presentation was made to his mother at the Danville City Armory. 

In the years that followed Archer Gammon’s death, his memory and service were recalled by the military. There are Gammon Barricks at Fort Eustis, Virginia, and Gammon Fields at both Fort McPhearson, Alabama, and Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Also, the Disabled American Veterans, Chapter Number 19, in Danville was named after him, and on February 2, 1948, at the San Francisco Port of Embarktion, an Army transportation ship was christened the “Gammon” in his honor. The “Gammon” served the United States until 1973 when it was decommissioned. As his brother Calvin recalled, the ship’s crew once rescued a Vietnamese fisherman who had been stranded in the water for over eight hours. When the seaman was put ashore, the crew had collected about $250 in food and clothing for the man. “This,” said his brother, “represents to me the kind of thing Archer would have done.”

In 1946, prior to the Congressional Medal of Honor ceremonies, a Danville paper offered an editorial on Archer Gammon entitled, “The High Badge of Courage.” It closed with – “but we shall know, when the citation is read, what he did, and if his birthday was a family celebration, his death day becomes a day on which this community can pause to sense its obligation to Archer Gammon and to the others from the home bailiwick who went forward to the great adventure and did not come back. Sunday, March 3, will be a day when Danville can come together in quiet reverence to contemplate how grasping is the hand of war and how ruthlessly it beckons lives never destined to be spent on fields of blood.”

Perhaps Archer Gammon’s mother described her son more succinctly. She said her son was a “quiet youth who spoke little of his service or the things he might have done.” Yet, with no fanfare, no roll of drums, Archer T. Gammon became a very uncommon man to whom the free world owes a debt of gratitude.


Mary Virginia Gaver

On December 10, 1906, in Washington D.C., one of this nation’s foremost pioneers in library service was born to Clayton Daniel and Ruth Lydia (Clendening) Gaver. Mary Virginia Gaver moved to Danville, Virginia at an early age and attended Randolph-Macon…

Institute, graduating in 1923. From there she went on to take a Bachelor’s degree at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College and a BLS and Master’s degree in library science at Columbia University.

Mary Gaver’s first position, which she held for ten years (1927-1937), was as a librarian at George Washington High School in Danville. Like so many Americans who were products of the Great Depression of the 1930’s, Mary Gaver became involved with the W.P.A., serving as Technical Director for the Statewide Library Project in Virginia for the term 1938-39. During the next three years, she served as librarian of Scarsdale, New York High School, and from 1942-1954 she was librarian at Trenton, New Jersey State College. After than, until 1971, Mary Gaver held the position of Associate Professor and Professor of the Graduate School of Library Service at Rutgers University. From there she moved on to Professor Emeritus of Rutgers; an Adjunct Professor at the School of Library Service, Columbia University; and Vice President of Bro-Dart Industries, Inc., a company with headquarters in Williamsport, Pennsylvania serving the school and library market.

In addition to this, she held numerous offices in various educational and library related organizations throughout the United States, including that of President of the American Library Association. She authored two volumes involved with library services, was a Carnegie Fellow, was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and held two honorary doctorate degrees from Mt. Holyoke College and from C.W. Post College of Long Island University.

Such credentials would tend to assure anyone of certain stature in most any circle, but Mary Gaver “has risen above the norm and involved herself with constant dedication to the highest professional standards, especially in generating a community of concerns among librarians, publishers, and the public, particularly in the interests of children and youth. She has influenced the ideas and work of countless people in this country and abroad and affected legislation and other major library developments for more than thirty years.” These words were used to describe Mary Gaver when she was named recipient of the Constance Lindsey Skinner award, an award presented annually by the Women’s National Book Association, by a vote of all the members, to a living American woman who has made an exceptional contribution to the world of books and to society through books, who has shown a consistent, long term concern and commitment, beyond the call of duty, to the role of books,  reading, and literacy in society. The award is named for Constance Lindsey Skinner, novelist, poet, historian, and editor, who died in 1939. Previous winners include Pearl S. Buck and Eleanor Roosevelt, as well as many women in publishing and library services.

In accepting the award, Miss Gaver laid to rest the time-honored traditions about librarians – that they are stodgy matrons, who dwell in a world of silence and hushed contemplation. She revealed the determination that marked her fight for effective library services and for dignity and equality, especially for women. “I can think of no way of life, no life style, in today’s terms,” she said, “more satisfying or nourishing than to have shared, no matter how modestly, in the production and publishing of the creative work of artists and authors, and also to have been able to develop services and programs by which to bring these works to readers and viewers, especially to young readers and viewers.” Miss Gaver went on, beyond the platitudes that so often accompany such an occasion, to address the problems facing librarians and publishers in light of the Supreme Court decision on the interpretation of obscenity, and of the Nixon Administration’s efforts to apply a zero-budgeting policy to Federal Grant-in-aid Library Programs. She said it “threatens society as well as libraries, schools, and publishers,” and called the move a “firm step backward.”

Unflinching in her ideals, Mary Gaver went on to advocate the total involvement of women and the end of discrimination against women “in both librarianship and in publishing.” She noted, “recent studies show that, especially in publishing, discrimination works more often against women than against men.”

In a role she attained by her deeds and services, Mary Gaver asked to be indulged in pretending to be an elder statesman. She advised the younger members of her profession on four fronts: “don’t be afraid of dreaming, and be sure to dream big dreams; do your homework; don’t be afraid to ask for help; and don’t let yourself be walled in by the restrictions of your publishing house or your own library.”

To Mary Gaver, the success of education, libraries, and publishing lay in a total commitment to service, work, and efforts directed at overcoming the inequities affected by diverse elements of society, inequities that manifested themselves in sundry acts of discrimination.

When summing up her hopes for the future, Miss Gaver alluded to a female psychologist who noted ‘There must be one standard for all.’ Miss Gaver said, “In publishing as in librarianship, that standard should be the intellectual stimulation that comes from the challenge and confrontation of good minds, without regard to sex. The implementation of such a standard is likely, it seems to me, to be more productive not just for publishers and librarians, but for our entire society.”


Irene Langhorne Gibson

Irene Langhorne was born to Chiswell (Chillie) Langhorne and Nannie (Nanaire) Witcher in Danville, Virginia in 1873. Her father, a Virginian gentleman and Civil War veteran, struggled for a living in Danville working as a tobacco auctioneer. He and his wife raised nine children, all of whom, with the exception of the youngest daughter Nora, experienced…

considerable poverty. It was not until Colonel Langhorne became a railroad manager, through a lucky personal contact, that the family moved to “Mirador,” their estate in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Of the nine children, the girls seemed to possess the edge in both personality and numbers, and it was through this advantage that so many of them were able to find success. Irene Gibson’s most famous sibling was Lady Nancy Astor, the first woman to sit in the British Parliament. 

Irene Langhorne was born to Chiswell (Chillie) Langhorne and Nannie (Nanaire) Witcher in Danville, Virginia in 1873. Her father, a Virginian gentleman and Civil War veteran, struggled for a living in Danville working as a tobacco auctioneer. He and his wife raised nine children, all of whom, with the exception of the youngest daughter Nora, experienced considerable poverty. It was not until Colonel Langhorne became a railroad manager, through a lucky personal contact, that the family moved to “Mirador,” their estate in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Of the nine children, the girls seemed to possess the edge in both personality and numbers, and it was through this advantage that so many of them were able to find success. Irene Gibson’s most famous sibling was Lady Nancy Astor, the first woman to sit in the British Parliament. 

Irene Langhorne Gibson did indeed possess that same vigorous spirit. She had a
zest for politics and supported the women’s suffrage movement. After receiving Irene
Gibson at the White House in 1945, Eleanor Roosevelt said of her and her family, “All of
the Langhorne sisters are people one has to notice!” She lectured on the same circuit with
figures like Eleanor Roosevelt and Frances Perkins, and was not only a model of female
beauty, but also of intellect and equality.

For further information the Museum recommends:
Gibson, Langhorne, Jr. “Dash and Drama: Irene Langhorne Gibson, 1873-1956.”
Virginia Cavalcade 47 Winter 1998: 4-13.

1941 & 1942 - Present

Emmet and Edith Gowin

Emmet Gowin was born in 1941 in Danville, Virginia. He received a BFA in Graphic Design from the Richmond Professional Institute (now Virginia Commonwealth University) in 1965 and an MFA in Photography from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1967. While at RISD, Gowin studied with photographer Harry Callahan, who became one of his mentors and greatest…

influences. Following his marriage to Edith Morris, also of Danville, in 1964, Gowin began making memorable portraits of her as well as his family members. In addition to his work in portraiture, Gowin has explored landscape and aerial photography since the 1980s, documenting sites in the Czech Republic, Mexico, the Middle East, Japan, and the United States. This series addresses concerns over, among other issues, the global impact of irrigation and industrial scale agriculture, natural resource mining, and military occupation and weapons testing on the environment.

For nearly four decades, Gowin’s work has been included in exhibitions in the U.S. and abroad. His solo shows include those at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1971) and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (1983). Gowin’s first midcareer retrospective was organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and later traveled to seven venues (1990-93); his first European retrospective appeared at the Espace Photographie Marie de Paris (1992). The Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut, initiated a traveling exhibition, Changing the Earth, that included eight total venues across the country (2002-2004). A career retrospective
was organized in 2013 by the Foundation Mapfre, Madrid, who published, Emmet Gowin, in association with Aperture, which accompanied the exhibition to Madrid, Bilbao, Paris, and Bogota.

Gowin has had three exhibitions in his hometown at the Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History: Photographs: Emmet Gowin and Glenn Scarboro (1975); Emmet Gowin: Changing the Earth, with Glenn Scarboro: Drawing with Light (2004), and Nine Visions: Photography with Southern Vision (2011).

Throughout his career, Gowin has received numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship (1974), two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships (1977, 1979), the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts from the State of Pennsylvania (1983), the Friends of Photography Peer Award (1992), and a Pew Fellowship in the Arts (1993). Gowin taught in the Visual Arts Program at Princeton University from 1973 until his retirement in 2010 and was honored with the President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1997.

Gowin’s work can be found in museum collections worldwide, including the Art Institute of Chicago; the Cleveland Museum of Art; the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; the Maison Européen la Photographie, Paris; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Tokyo Museum of Art; the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut, and the National Gallery, Washington, D.C.

Monographs published on Gowin’s work include Emmet Gowin / Photographs (1976);
Emmet Gowin /Photographs 1966-1983 (1983); Emmet Gowin / Photographs: This Vegetable Earth is But A Shadow (1990); Emmet Gowin: Aerial Photographs (1998); Emmet Gowin: Changing the Earth (2002); Mariposas Nocturnas – Edith in Panama (2006); Emmet Gowin, “A Fifty-year Retrospective” (2013).

1885 - 1957

Admiral Jules James

Jules James was a Danville boy, born February 15, 1885, presumably at 939 Green Street in the Old West End.  A city directory shows the James family at that address in 1888. Jules was educated at Danville Military Academy and prepared for entrance to the Naval Academy at the Virginia Military Institute. He graduated and was commissioned an ensign in 1910. 

From 1912 to 1913, he served as a naval aide to President Woodrow Wilson. In 1914 he saw combat aboard the dreadnought battleship USS Florida during the Mexican revolution. Promoted to Lieutenant Commander, James escorted convoys to and from Europe aboard the armored cruiser USS Rochester during the first world war – for which he was given a letter of special commendation and, later, the French Legion of Honour.

James served as Assistant Naval Attaché to the American embassies in France, Spain, and Portugal from 1923 to 1926 when he was promoted to Commander. At times between 1926 and 1934 James was navigator on the USS Florida, commanded the USS Edsall, served as naval aide for the Governor-General of the Philippines, attended the Naval War College, and commanded the Destroyer Division 6, Battle Force, U.S. Fleet. In 1933 James was head of the Department of Ordnance and Gunnery at the U.S. Naval Academy where he was promoted to Captain. In 1937 he directed the fitting out of the light cruiser USS Philadelphia, which he then commanded until mid-1939. From 1939 to 1941, he served as assistant director, and briefly acting director, of the Office of Naval Intelligence.

In 1941 he commanded the newly acquired U.S. Naval Operating Base on Bermuda, where he also commanded the combined U.S. and British local defense forces. After World War II, he was awarded the Order of the British Empire for this service. After promotion to Rear Admiral, James commanded the Sixth Naval District, headquartered at Charleston Navy Yard in Charleston, South Carolina from 1943 to 1945. There he protected the east coast and Bermuda from invasion. German submarines came close but were either captured, destroyed, or
forced to turn back.

In Danville, Mayor W. E. Gardner, Sr., proclaimed October 27, 1943, to be Navy Day. A parade was held beginning at Mount Vernon Methodist Church and ending at the City Auditorium. The Parade Marshall was F. W. Townes. It was reviewed by Admiral James, who also offered an address at the auditorium. His final assignment was as commander of United States Naval Forces, Mediterranean (now the U.S. Sixth Fleet) where he was promoted to Vice Admiral, the Navy’s second-highest rank, and served until retiring from active duty in 1946.

James died of a heart condition in Bethesda Naval Hospital, Maryland on March 12, 1957. While he was offered burial in Arlington National Cemetery, he turned it down saying, “I want to be buried in Danville.” He is interred at Green Hill Cemetery.

Admiral Jules James was inducted into The Hall of Fame at The Danville Museum of Fine Arts in the fall of 2022.

Article courtesy of Old West End


Janis Martin

Janis Martin was a Danville resident, who was known nationally as well as internationally. Today she is known worldwide as “The Rockabilly Queen” and “The Female Elvis.” Martin was born in Sutherlin, Virginia, and at the age of eleven she began her musical career as a member of the WDVA Barndance in Danville, VA. She was spotted performing at the Tobacco…

Festival in South Boston at the age of thirteen and soon became a regular on the Old Dominion Barn Dance in Wheeling, West Virginia. She had her own radio show on WHEE in Martinsville, VA. In March of 1956, at the age of fifteen, she cut her first RCA session and became known as “The Female Elvis.” She was voted the “Most Promising Female Artist of 1956” by the annual disc jockey convention for the Billboard Magazine Award. Janis performed on the Ozark Jubilee and the Grand Old Opry. She also became known through television media as a guest of the “Tonight Show,” the “Today Show,” the “Grand Old Opry” and “American Bandstand.”

She was voted the “Most Promising Female Artist of 1956” by the annual disc jockey convention for the Billboard Magazine Award. Janis performed on the Ozark Jubilee and the Grand Old Opry. She also became known through television media as a guest of the “Tonight Show,” the “Today Show,” the “Grand Old Opry” and “American Bandstand.”


Julian Rutherfoord Meade

Julian Rutherfoord Meade was born in Danville, Virginia on February 4, 1909, the son of Edmund Baylies and Helen Douthat Meade. His father, at one time, served as Mayor of Danville. As he grew up, Julian became a tall, angular young man, one of rare sensitivity and superior intellect. He attended Danville Public Schools, where he had the reputation…

of being an excellent student. Following what has been referred to as “a miserable year spent at Virginia Military Institute,” he went to the University of Virginia where he was awarded both the bachelor and master’s degree. 

At first, Julian seemed to have a deep yearning for a career on stage, and for a few weeks in the mid-twenties he tried his theatrical “wings” in New York but came away disillusioned and gave up the idea. After a summer in France in 1929, he returned to Danville to begin teaching French at George Washington High School.

During that same year there was a textile strike at Dan River Mills, at which time Julian Meade’s potential as a writer first became evident. He reported the incidents of the strike for The New York Herald Tribune and for The United Press International. The stories he penned had a color and style that marked him as a writer of no small talent and as a thinker to be reckoned with in the socio-industrial world. In 1935, at the age of 26, he published is first book titled I Live in Virginia. Much of the material for this book he had kept for years in the form of a notebook, autobiographical in style, and enlivened with family glimpses that turned out to be more interesting and more revealing than some family members approved of. It is no surprise that Julian Meade was not the most popular person in Danville following the publication of the book. The work was seriously compared with Thomas Wolfe’s novels Look Homeward Angel and You Can’t Go Home Again, which had caused such a scandal in North Carolina. Wolfe, in turn, took a deep interest in Julian Meade and encouraged him in his literary career.

As he lived his brief 31 years, Julian Meade became increasingly interested in gardens and gardening. He had traveled fairly extensively, and was in constant demand as a lecturer, especially on gardening. In fact, at his death, his entire calendar was booked up with lectures for the coming year. In Adam’s Profession and Its Conquest by Eve he satirized garden clubs. He later published Bouquets and Bitters and Back Door. In each work, Danvillians claimed to recognize someone in the composite characters he drew. The author’s insistence that no one was intended simply added fuel to the flames.

Out of Julian Meade’s deep love and understanding of children grew several books written specifically for them. In his work, Teeny and the Tall Man, the “tall man” represents the author and was Julian Meade’s biggest selling volume. It is still a favorite whenever children choose their own books in libraries. His other children’s books are Miss Couch and the Scamps and Peter By the Sea.

Perhaps a “prophet without honor in his own country,” Julian Meade was not fully
appreciated in his day, but reflection places him among the permanent literary artists of
the period. He possessed sensitivity to his environment, a keen perception of character,
and a deep sense of justice. Like Shelley, he died an uncompromising artist.


Andrew Jackson Montague

To the citizens of Danville today, the name Andrew Jackson Montague probably means little. Montague itself is a street in the western section of the city. Yet, less than a century ago, Andrew J. Montague was a rising political figure in the Old Dominion. Born on October 3, 1862, near Lynchburg in Campbell County to Judge and Mrs. Robert Latane Montague, he…

attended public and private schools and studied with tutors. At an early age he developed a taste for the best of English literature – historical, biographical, and poetic. Following a year in the grammar school at the College of William and Mary, he entered Richmond College at Richmond, Virginia, and in due time graduated from several of the schools of that institution. 

While at Richmond College, Mr. Montague distinguished himself as an orator and debater in the literary societies. After graduation, he displayed a great talent for education when he served as a private tutor from 1882-1884. In the summer of 1884 he became a law student at the University of Virginia under Professor John B. Minor, and in 1885 took his Bachelor of Law degree.

It was at that time that Mr. Montague was admitted to the bar and opened his first practice here in Danville on the site where the Register and Bee Publishing Company stands today. Three years later his stars began to rise when he undertook defending Charles Slaytor, who had been charged with murdering Richard L. Cohen. Slaytor was admittedly guilty, but Mr. Montague pleaded self-defense in what is recalled as a stirring summation to the jury. The first trial ended in a hung jury, but at the second trial, the defense efforts were successful, and Slaytor was acquitted.

Taking as many small claims cases as he could get, Andrew Montague, who had bright red hair, was like most young attorneys of his day. He was trying to acquire enough money to marry his sweetheart and settle down in Danville, which was then considered the “most flourishing town in the state.” During the year of the Slaytor trial, his income was $1,500; three years later, in 1891, it had risen to $4,500, and he built an eight room Queen Ann-style home at 249 West Main Street. The area was described then as near Danville, and in Pittsylvania County. To this house he took his bride, Elizabeth Hoskins, from King and Queen County.

Mr. Montague only ran for public office once in Danville. When he was 26, he ran for Commonwealth’s Attorney. He narrowly lost and felt humiliated because he believed that his opponents used money to buy votes against him. However, he soon found new favor with the Democratic Party in Danville when he was elected president of a pro-Cleveland (Grover Cleveland) democratic club. He toured the Southside making speeches for the Cleveland organization. His oratorical abilities, which first surfaced in the Slaytor trial, were now proven. He was called the “rising orator of Danville.”

On his inauguration as President in 1893, Grover Cleveland appointed Andrew Montague to the Office of District Attorney for Western Virginia. This position gave Montague the chance he needed to expand his influence in the state. In 1897 he was elected Attorney General of the Commonwealth, and then in 1901 he won by a large majority when he was elected Governor of Virginia. During his tenure as Governor, he was called a progressive executive. In large measure, Mr. Montague is credited with awakening interest in the public school system and its substantial development, and it was through his efforts that the preliminary plan for the nomination of United States senators was adopted. He himself was an unsuccessful candidate for the senate nomination in 1905. In 1905, however, he received his Doctor of Law degree from Brown University.

On leaving the governorship in 1906, Mr. Montague resumed his law practice in Richmond and was selected by President Theodore Roosevelt in May of that year as one of six delegates from the United States to the Third International Conference of American States in Rio de Janeiro. For the ensuing three years after the conference, he served as Dean of Richmond College Law School. He was again tapped to represent the United States at the Third International Conference on Maritime Law in Brussels in 1909 and 1910.

On March 4, 1913, Mr. Montague took his seat in the United States House of Representatives. Elected as a democrat, he served in the House for twelve consecutive terms until his death on January 24, 1937. While a member of the House of Representatives, he held numerous positions: President of the American Society for Judicial Settlement of International Disputes in 1917; President of the American Peace Society from 1920-1924; one of the managers appointed by the House of Representatives in 1926 to conduct impeachment proceedings against George W. English, Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Illinois; President of the Group of the Interparliamentary Union from 1930-1935 and a participant in its sessions at Stockholm, Vienna, Copenhagen, Berne, Washington, Paris, and Berlin; and member of the Council and Executive Committee of the American Institute of Law.

Even though the name of Andrew J. Montague is not a household word now, the man, the “Red Fox,” who found Danville such a pleasant place in which to live, must be remembered as one who gave untiringly of himself to aid in molding the United States at a time when it was emerging as a world leader, and it all began with an infant law practice in Danville, Virginia.


Dr. James Irvin “Bud” Robertson Jr.

Robertson was born on July 18, 1930, and raised in Danville, Virginia. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Randolph-Macon College in 1955, and his master’s degree and PhD. at Emory University in 1956 and 1959 respectively. He earned his Litt.D. at Randolph-Macon in 1980. Known as an excellent public speaker, Robertson made his career teaching thousands…

of college students in his Civil War and Reconstruction course at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, in Blacksburg, VA, as the Alumni Distinguished Professor in History from 1967 to 2011.

Roberston was the founding executive director of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies research and education center. He was considered the preeminent scholar on Confederate Lieutenant General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson. Robertson was the Chief Historical Consultant in the 2003 Warner Brothers film “Gods and Generals”, which prominently features Stonewall Jackson. Robertson was also a member of the Board of Trustees at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, VA.

Robertson authored 18 books including award winners General A.P. Hill, Soldiers Blue and
Gray, and Civil War! America Becomes One Nation. His biography, Stonewall Jackson: The
Man, The Soldier, The Legend, won eight national awards including the American Library
Association’s Best Book for Young Readers Award. Robertson also edited an additional 18
books on the Civil War.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy nominated Robertson to serve as the executive director of
the U.S. Civil War Centennial Commission, a federal committee that was foundering under the
pressures of regional differences and the emerging civil rights movement, unable to organize a dignified commemoration of the war era. Robertson worked effectively with 34 state and 100 local centennial committees to create a successful result. Fifty years later, he was named a charter member of the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission.

Since 2000, Robertson also sponsored an award in his name honoring scholarship in the field of Confederate history.

Along with his academic career, he spent several years as a faculty representative from Virginia Tech to the NCAA. Robertson’s work as Faculty Chairman of Athletics and President of the Virginia Tech Athletic Association from 1979-91 helped Virginia Tech join the Big East athletic conference. Robertson was elected to the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.

His main other contribution to college athletics was being an Atlantic Coast Conference football referee for 16 years.

In 1967, Robertson joined the faculty of Virginia Tech, where his course on the Civil War
attracted an average of 300 students each semester and became the largest class of its kind in the nation. During his 44 years at the university, he taught more than 25,000 Virginia Tech students. In several instances, he ended up teaching three generations of the same families.

Robertson held the C. P. “Sally” Miles Professorship at Virginia Tech from 1976 until his appointment in 1992 as Alumni Distinguished Professor, a preeminent appointment reserved for recognition of faculty members who demonstrate extraordinary accomplishments and academic citizenship.

In 1999, Robertson became founding director of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies. From its home in the Virginia Tech Department of History, the center educates scholars and the public about the causes and consequences of one of the nation’s most momentous conflicts. The center’s annual Civil War Weekend is just one of the ongoing, vibrant programs that Robertson established.

The consummate teacher was also a celebrated author and editor, with more than 40 books on the Civil War to his credit. One of those works was based on another of Robertson’s boyhood passions General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson. The book, considered a definitive biography, won eight national awards, and became a key source for a 2003 movie, Gods and Generals, for which Robertson served as chief historical consultant.

“For fully six decades Bud Robertson was a dominant figure in his field, and a great
encouragement to all who would study our turbulent past during the middle of the 19th century,” said William C. “Jack” Davis, former director of the center and himself the author or editor of more than 50 books on the Civil War and the history of the South. “Moreover, amid a
conversation that can still become bitter and confrontational, his was a voice for reason, patience, and understanding. In the offing, he has become virtually ‘Mr. Virginia,’ a spokesperson for the commonwealth past, present, and future. His voice is now sorely missed — and irreplaceable.”

Virginia Tech honored Robertson with emeritus status soon after his retirement in 2011. At the same time, during the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the war, Robertson served as an executive committee member of the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission. He also served as executive producer of “Virginia in the Civil War: A Sesquicentennial Remembrance,” a complimentary DVD provided to every school and library in the commonwealth.

“The next generations must have a knowledge of the past,” Robertson said. “If you do not know where you have been, you have no idea where you should go.” A lecturer of national acclaim, Robertson also delivered more than 350 radio essays that aired weekly for nearly 15 years on National Public Radio affiliates as far away as Alaska. Those broadcasts featured the stories of the men, women, children, and even animals who endured the heartbreak of the Civil War.

“If you don’t understand the emotion of the war,” he would say, “you’ll never understand the war.”

Under Robertson’s championship, in 2015 the Commonwealth of Virginia adopted “Our Great Virginia,” based on the folk song “Oh, Shenandoah,” as the traditional state song.

“Virginia is the Mother State,” he said. “It should be the leader in all facets of the Republic. This makes the absence of a state song glaring. The physical beauty and incomparable history of Virginia need to be transformed as well into the emotions of music. ‘Our Great Virginia’ fulfills that need.”

Robertson received numerous prestigious honors, including three commendations from the Virginia General Assembly; the Virginius Dabney Award, the highest recognition given by the Museum of the Confederacy; the Virginia Press Association’s 2004 Virginian of the Year; the Best Non-Fiction Book Award by the Library of Virginia in 1997; and the Outstanding Professor Award of the Virginia Council for Higher Education. Both Randolph-Macon College and Shenandoah University gave him honorary doctorates.

One honor, in particular, was unusual for a historian: In 2008, he was elected to the Virginia
Tech Sports Hall of Fame. Robertson spent several years as a faculty representative from
Virginia Tech to the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and from 1979 to 1991 he served as faculty chairman of athletics and president of the Virginia Tech Athletic Association. Notably, for a historian immersed in the nuances of major battles, he also worked as an Atlantic Coast Conference football referee for 16 years.

Robertson was a long-time, generous supporter of Virginia Tech. He was also a member of the Ut Prosim Society, which recognizes leaders in the philanthropic support of the university.

Not all of Robertson’s generosity to the university was monetary. He was instrumental in establishing a special Civil War collection at the University Libraries at Virginia Tech. He also donated most of his own 7,000-volume collection — one of the country’s largest private collections of Civil War books — to both that special collection and to Randolph-Macon College.

“Dr. Robertson was so many things: spellbinding lecturer, beloved teacher, accomplished author, guardian of Civil War history, big band player, ordained deacon, even football referee,” said Paul Quigley, director of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies and the James I. Robertson Jr. Associate Professor in Civil War Studies. “Above all else he was a Hokie, unfailingly dedicated to Virginia Tech and the thousands of students he taught here.

1947- Present

Henry L. “Roddy” Roediger III

Inducted on November 12, 2021  |  Nominated by Laura Morgan Powell

Henry L. “Roddy” Roediger III was born in Roanoke, Virginia and raised in Danville, Virginia. He is the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor at Washington University in St. Louis. He graduated with a BA in Psychology from Washington & Lee University (1969) and received his PhD from Yale University (1973) in cognitive psychology.

He previously taught at Purdue University, the University of Toronto, and Rice University. Roediger’s research has centered on human learning and memory, and he has published over 350 articles and chapters on various aspects of remembering. He also co-authored four books and has co-edited ten more. Roediger served as President of the Association of Psychological Science and several other associations of psychologists. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences.


He was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation and an honorary doctorate from Purdue University. Roediger has also received the Howard Crosby Warren Medal from the Society of Experimental Psychologists, the John P. McGovern Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the William James Fellow Award from the Association on Psychological Science, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Experimental Psychology and Cognitive Science, and the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association.

Roediger was one of the first scholars to see the value of studying how humans retrieve memories. As Roediger started his career the cognitive revolution was in full swing. Human memory researchers had been predominantly focusing on memory storage, and were only beginning to look at memory encoding.[10] However, inspired by his graduate advisor at Yale, Robert G. Crowder, Roediger began to see the importance of a retrieval-based approach to memory research.[11] Since his doctoral dissertation, much of Roediger’s research through the 1970s focused on retrieval based inhibition – the idea that retrieving an item reduces the subsequent accessibility of other stored items. This phenomenon is more commonly experienced when we try to remember a list of items and find that we keep thinking of the ones we have already recalled, rather than the ones we still need to remember.[10] Roediger was able to show, under certain conditions, that recall cues can inhibit recall, which seemed inconsistent with previously widely accepted research findings showing that cues aid recall.[12] Close to a decade of research helped to define the situations in which cues can aid recall and the situations in which cues can inhibit recall. In 1978 Roediger concluded that this dissociation occurs because, although some cues can facilitate recall, other cues provide irrelevant information, which hinders recall. Most importantly, Roediger showed that the accessibility of one memory biases the process of searching for another memory.[10]

The 1980s saw an increase in research on implicit memory – memories that we have without being aware of them. The norm among researchers in this area was to test implicit memory using some task that required the subject to unintentionally remember previously learned information, such as completing a word fragment (E_E_ _ A _ T to ELEPHANT) or an anagram (PNLEHETA to ELEPHANT),[13] as compared with testing for memories that we are aware of (explicit memory) using direct instructions to remember. These researchers found that the intentionally learned information was better remembered in an intentional remembering test, and unintentionally learned information was better remembered in an unintentional remembering test.[10]

Roediger, however, approached this phenomenon from a more retrieval-based standpoint. Rather than looking at intentionality of learning, he looked to the conditions in which the information was to be recalled. He saw that unintentional learning seemed to be driven by bottom-up processes (using small details from the stimulus to build meaning) and that intentional learning seemed to be driven by topdown processes (using pre-existing concepts to make sense of a stimulus). He predicted that information learned in a bottom-up manner (e.g. reading a word) would be better recalled in a bottomup test (e.g. completing a word fragment), and information learned in a top-down manner (e.g. generating a mental image) would be better remembered in a top-down test (e.g. recalling a list of words).[10] Roediger hypothesized that the more that the processes used in retrieval matched those used in encoding, the better memory performance would be, and called this framework ‘transfer-appropriate processing‘. In a number of experiments Roediger and his colleagues showed that, rather than the intentionality when remembering, it was in fact the overlap between the conditions in which learning and remembering occurred that aided memory.[14]

Neurophysiological studies have provided further evidence suggesting that transfer appropriate processes play a crucial role in memory. Studies using electroencephalography and functional magnetic resonance imaging have shown that the overlap in brain activity between encoding and retrieval facilitates memory performance.[15][16]

The theory of transfer appropriate processing has since been adapted by numerous scientists to further study a number of different problems. Scientists have used transfer appropriate processing to better understand how humans that speak more than two languages might organize their different lexica, which has important implications for those trying to learn a new language as well as for potentially better understanding language disorders.[17] Transfer appropriate processing also had a notable impact on the field of marketing, by providing a more comprehensive understanding of consumer memory. A focus on retrieval as the goal of advertising, and a better understanding of how interference can impact marketing communications, left a lasting impression on advertising practice.[18]

Transfer appropriate processing theory has also been shown to be particularly valuable in exploring the organization of memory,[19] the workings of prospective memory – remembering to carry out previously planned actions,[20] and in exploring how people learn to read fluently.[21]

Roediger is perhaps most widely known for his research in the area of false memory, looking at why and how people develop memories of events that never happened to them. Throughout the 1990s, he and his colleagues took the methodology from a relatively unknown study by James Deese from 1959 and worked to develop it into one of the most widely used tools in human memory research; the DRM Paradigm. In a typical DRM experiment, a subject listens to a list of related words, for example; Thread, Pin, Eye, Sewing, Sharp, Point, Prick, Thimble, Haystack, Torn, Hurt, Injection, Syringe, Cloth, Knitting, and is then tested on their memory for this list. Typically, subjects will recall or recognize an associated, but unpresented lure word (Needle).[22] Roediger and Kathleen McDermott asked people whether they actually remembered hearing this unpresented word, or if they merely felt like they had heard it. Participants often reported remembering hearing the word, illustrating memory for an event that never occurred.

Naturally, Roediger’s approach to explaining this phenomenon was through retrieval processes. He thought that perhaps recalling list items would increase the availability of the lure word to a level where it became so available that it was mistaken for a presented word. However, retrieval processes alone were not enough to explain the findings – in a number of studies Roediger and his colleagues showed that a warning about developing a false memory had no effect if it was presented before retrieval, but could reduce false memories if presented before the encoding phase, suggesting an important role being played by the encoding process. Further work led Roediger and his research team to acknowledge
both encoding and retrieval processes in explaining this phenomenon.

Although a wealth of research was conducted on the DRM paradigm, Roediger’s interest in false memory went further still. His research into other false memory procedures helped further research on imagination inflation – the idea that imagining an event can make someone later believe that it really happened.[23] Also, research into the social environment around creating memories helped to shed light on how other people’s memories can become part of our own, a process Roediger and colleagues called ‘Social Contagion’.[24]

Roediger’s most recent interests have involved applying knowledge from cognitive psychology research to the realm of education.[25] Although many teachers feel that using standardized tests stifles creativity and takes away from time that could be better utilized in teaching, Roediger’s studies indicate that the demands that testing places on recall significantly enhance learning compared to untested situations. His work suggests that a ratio of 3–4 “tests” (uses of the learned information without recourse to reference material) to each study session (learning of new information) may be most effective.[26]

Roediger’s early research on testing effects and hypermnesia on final-exam results showed that subjects who receive two tests on newly learned material out-perform subjects tested only once, even if no feedback is given on any of the tests. This effect persists even if the group that is only tested once is given a second opportunity to study the material. Roediger explains this effect in terms of enhanced retrievability, claiming that testing provides practice at retrieving memories, making the memory itself stronger.[27]

Roediger and his colleagues have also studied the form of test which is most effective. They report that short answer questions produce stronger testing-enhancements of learning compared to multiple choice testing. Further research is being conducted to discover the optimal timing between tests and the best media for conducting tests.[28]

  1. Purdue roll of honorary degrees
    2004. http://news.uns.purdue.edu/html3month/2004/04hondocs/04.Roediger.html
  2. “Roediger, 2010 Curriculum Vitae” (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2010-06-26. Retrieved 2008-12-21.
  3. Neurotree – Henry L. Roediger, III Family Tree“. neurotree.org. Retrieved 2018-10-17.
  4. Roediger, H.L. (2006). The h index in science: A new measure of scholarly contribution. The Academic Observer, 19(4) [1]
  5. Nuselovici, J. (2003). Roediger Is 2003-04 APS President. The Academic Observer, 16(9) http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/uncategorized/roediger-is2003-04-aps-president.html#hide
  6. Shaughnessy, M.F. (2002). An interview with Henry L. Roediger III. Educational Psychology Review, 14 (4), 395–411.
  7. John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation http://www.gf.org/
  8. Everding G., & Purdy, M.C.(August 27, 2008). Roediger, Schreiber to receive faculty achievement awards. Newsroom, http://news.wustl.edu/news/Pages/12231.aspx
  9. https://source.wustl.edu/2008/08/roediger-schreiber-to-receive-faculty-achievement-awards2/
  10. Nairne, J. S. (2007). Roddy Roediger’s Memory. In J. S. Nairne (Ed.), The foundations of remembering: Essays in honor of Henry L. Roediger, III. New York:
    Psychology Press http://www1.psych.purdue.edu/~nairne/pdfs/44.pdf
  11. Roediger, H. L., & Stadler, M. A. (2001). Robert G. Crowder and his intellectual heritage. In H. L. Roediger, J. S. Nairne, I. Neath, & A. M. Surprenant (Eds.), The nature of remembering: Essays in honor of Robert G. Crowder (pp. 3–16). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association Press http://psych.wustl.edu/memory/Roddy%20article%20PDF’s/BC_Roediger%20&%20Stadler%20(2001).pdf 
  12. Tulving, E., & Pearlstone, Z. (1966). Availability versus accessibility of information in
    memory for words. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 5, 381–391. http://www.alicekim.ca/7.ET_Pearlstone.pdf
  13. Gardiner, J.M., Dawson, A.J., & Sutton, E.A.(1989). Specificity and generality of enhanced priming effects for self-generated study items. The American Journal of Psychology, 102(3), 295–305.
  14. Roediger, H. L., Weldon, M. S., & Challis, B. H. (1989). Explaining dissociations between implicit and explicit measures of retention: A processing account. In H. L. Roediger & F. I. M. Craik (Eds.), Varieties of memory and consciousness: Essays in honour of Endel Tulving (pp. 3–39). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum http://psych.wustl.edu/memory/Roddy%20article%20PDF’s/BC_Roediger%20et%20al%20(1989b).pdf 
  15. Schendan, H.E., & Kutas, M. (2007). Neurophysiological evidence for transfer appropriate processing of memory: Processing versus feature similarity. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 14(4), 612–619.
  16. Park, H., & Rugg, M.D. (2008). The relationship between study processing and the effects of cue congruency at retrieval: fMRI support for transfer appropriate processing. Cerebral Cortex, 18, 868–875.
  17. Schonpflung, U. (2003). The transfer appropriate processing approach and the trilingual’s organisation of the lexicon. In J. Cenoz, B. Hufeisen, & U. Jessner (Eds.), The Multilingual Lexicon (pp. 27–43). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer.
  18. Hill, M.E., Radtke, R., & King, M. (1997). A transfer appropriate processing view of consumer memory. Journal of Current Issues and Research in Advertising, 19, 1–21.
  19. Franks, J.J., Bilbrey, C.W., Lien, K.G., & McNamara, T.P. (2000). Transfer-appropriate
    processing (TAP) and repetition priming. Memory and Cognition, 28(7), 1140–1151.
  20. Meier, B., & Graf, P. (2000). Transfer appropriate processing for prospective memory tasks. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 14, S11–S27.
  21. Martin-Chang, S.L., & Levy, B.A. (2006). Word reading fluency: A transfer appropriate
    processing account of fluency transfer. Reading and Writing, 19, 517– 542. http://www.psych.yorku.ca/gigi/documents/MartinChang_Levy_2006.pdf
  22. Roediger, H. L., & McDermott, K. B. (1995). Creating false memories: Remembering words not presented in lists. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 21, 803–814. http://memory.wustl.edu/Pubs/1995_Roediger.pdf 
  23. Goff, L.M., & Roediger, H.L. (1998). Imagination inflation for active events: Repeated
    imaginings lead to illusory recollections. Memory and Cognition, 26, 20–33.
  24. Roediger, H.L., Meade, M.L., & Bergman, E.T. (2001). Social contagion of memory.
    Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 8(2), 365–371.
  25. “Remember!”. Retrieval Practice: A Powerful Strategy to Improve Learning. Retrieved 2016-03-12.
  26. H. L. Roediger, 3rd and A. C. Butler. (2011). The critical role of retrieval practice in longterm retention. Trends Cogn Sci, 15, 20–7
  27. Kleeman, J. (2011). Advice from cognitive psychologist Roddy Roediger on using retrieval practice to aid learning. http://blog.questionmark.com/advice-from-cognitive-psychologistroddy-roediger-on-using-retrieval-practice-to-aid-learning
  28. Roediger, H.L., McDaniel, M., & McDermott, K. (2006). Test enhanced learning. Observer, 19 (3) http://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/getArticle.cfm?id=1951

Wendell Oliver Scott

Wendell Oliver Scott, born August 29, 1921 in the “Crooktown” section of Danville, Virginia, was a remarkable man and accomplished many feats. Scott was the first African-American to compete in and own a NASCAR team. Wendell Scott began his career, as did many drivers of the era, off the track. He gained seat time driving a taxi in Danville as fast…

as it could go, and hauled moonshine whiskey at night. Scott accumulated 13 speeding tickets in his taxi, which caused him to lose his chauffeur’s license. Hauling bootleg was exciting to him; he could buy liquor for 55 cents a pint and sell it for twice that amount, plus he had practice racing from the police and leaving them in a cloud of dust. He often bragged about how he could out run the police, for instance getting so far ahead and hiding in the shadows of the night until the police would come flying by. He was not always lucky though, and once was caught and placed on probation.

In 1949, a race promoter for the Danville Fairgrounds, in a quest to increase attendance for the track, was seeking an African-American to race. He went to the Danville police station to obtain a name, where the police promptly referred him to Wendell Scott. The promoter made Scott an offer, and he agreed with much enthusiasm. Scott used to watch the races with a friend and would often say, if given the chance, he would race.

Scott raced in the modified and sportsman division early in his career on dirt tracks in places such as Staunton, Lynchburg, Waynesboro, Roanoke, Zion’s Crossroads, Ruckersville, and Natural Bridge in Virginia, and Hagerstown in Maryland. Scott also raced on the sands of Daytona in the 1950’s. In this division, Scott won a total of 128 races. He was the Virginia State Champion in 1959, and the Southside Speedway Champion in that same year.

In 1961, Scott, along with his wife Mary, decided to make the move to the highest level of racing, NASCAR Grand National Division (now known as Winston Cup). He had to make the transition from dirt track to pavement, racing against such drivers as Ned Jarrett, Junior Johnson, Earl Brooks, Glen Wood, and Lee and Richard Petty. He also faced the challenge of going into many different tracks in the deep South at a time when segregation and racism were strong and brutal. Scott would confront many obstacles during his career in racing, often being hit on the track deliberately by other drivers, denied expense money, and turned away from tracks all because of the color of his skin. He loved racing, however, and took the bad with the good.

In 1963 NASCAR ran a split season and in December of that year, which started the 1964 season, Scott made automotive racing history. At Speedway Park in Jackson, Florida, in a 100-mile feature race, Wendell Scott finished the race first, in what should have been the greatest day of his life. However, it turned out to be one of the worst when Scott was denied the win to Buck Baker. Scott and his team protested the call and after three hours of consultation a NASCAR official declared Scott as the winner. They labeled the incident as a scoring error, marking him a lap down. Scott actually ran 202 laps in the 200-lap event. It was later said that NASCAR ruled the finish out of fear of what might happen if Scott were to pull into victory lane in front of a crowd of white spectators. Scott said that he never would have kissed the beauty queen, but only shook her hand. Scott also noted that every time he passed Baker, he would wave at him. This incident troubled Scott for the rest of his life. He wanted to hear his name and car number being announced over the speaker in victory lane. He did receive the winner’s purse but never got the trophy for his driving performance.

Some of the awards he received include the following:

  • State of Florida Citation for Outstanding Achievements, 1965
  • First Curtis Turner Memorial Award, 1971
  • Special Olympics Service Award, 1974
  • Schafer Brewing Company Achievement Award, 1975
  • NASCAR Recognition of Achievement Award, 1975
  • Bont Cultural Council Achievement Award, Greenville, SC, 1977
  • Tobaccoland 100 Award for the finest NASCAR Driver via Major Henry Marsh,
    III, 1978
  • Black Rose Community Service Award, 1980
  • Muscular Dystrophy Association Award for Achievements, Roanoke, VA, 1981
  • Danville, Virginia Citizenship Award, 1985
  • Virginia Skyline Girl Scout Council, Inc., Award for Outstanding Contributions,
  • Proclamation of Atlanta, Georgia and Danville, Virginia, 1986
  • Early Dirt Racers – Driver of the Year Award, 1990
  • Resolution from Virginia General Assembly, “State Hero,” January 1991
  • Winston Cup R.J. Reynolds Pioneer Award, 1986
  • Driver of the Year Award, “Old Timers Racing Class,” 1990
  • Induction into Black Athletes Hall of Fame, 1977 
  • Induction into Jacksonville, Florida Hall of Fame, 1994
  • Induction into Danville Register and Bee Sports Hall of Fame, 1996
  • Induction into National Sports Hall of Fame, Detroit, 1997
  • Induction into International Motorsport Hall of Fame, 1999
  • Induction into Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, 2000
  • Induction into National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame, 2000

The road on which Wendell Scott built his home in Danville, Virginia has since been renamed Wendell Scott Drive. The homes in that area are now known as the “Wendell Scott Community.” During his career, Scott made 506 NASCAR Grand National starts, with 147 top ten finishes and 20 top five finishes. He served as his own mechanic and sponsor for most of his career.


Frances Kipps Spencer

Frances Kiku Kipps Spencer was born of missionary parents in Karuizawa, Japan on July 8, 1917. When she was three years old, her family returned to the United States, and she was reared in various cities and towns in Pennsylvania, where her father served as a Lutheran minister. She attended Lenoir Rhyne College in Hickory, North Carolina, and graduated…

from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. In 1940, she married Harry Wooding Spencer, a Danville native who died in 1973. She lived at 13 Chestnut Place in Danville for the greater part of her married life.

Mrs. Spencer held various positions at L. Herman’s Department Store in Danville throughout most of the 1940’s. When she left the store in 1948, she was Training Director and Fashion Coordinator. Later, she worked as a freelance artist in television and other commercial areas. Her most important contribution, however, was in a volunteer activity: the origination and development of the Chrismon idea.

In 1957, Frances Kipps Spencer began thinking of a way to decorate the Christmas tree in her church that would be more suitable for a sanctuary. She thought that the usual brightly colored Christmas ornaments were just not appropriate for a setting of worship. So, she began researching and looking for something that would reflect the Christian faith. 

Mrs. Spencer began by trying to imagine herself in the shoes of Mary, the mother of Jesus. She asked, “How would Mary celebrate Jesus’ birthday?” The answer from our culture and time-period would be to have a cake with candles and his name on it. Mrs. Spencer then looked upon the traditional Christmas tree as a cake and placed on the tree the name Jesus and his title Christ. Instead of using the name and title in English, however, she used Greek monograms. Thus, the letters in Greek, “Chi Rho,” became one of the earliest Chrismons because they are the monogram for Christos, the Greek word for Christ. The word chrismon itself is a combination of the words Christ and Monogram.

Simple monograms of Jesus and Christ, as well as a few crosses, decorated the first Chrismon tree. As the beauty and meaning of Chrismons attracted people, Frances Spencer added other designs, which were copies in present day material, of signs and symbols used by the earliest Christians. These later ornaments grew more sophisticated in meaning and complex in execution. She began to create original designs that depicted Biblical teachings and events. For example, in 1960, a large figure 8 that delineated the Christian year, which follows the life of Christ, was added to the tree. In another case, at her husband’s suggestion, Mrs. Spencer created a series of Chrismons based on the Beatitudes and added them to the tree in 1968.

According to the dictionary, a chrismon is a monogram of Christ. But the chrismons as ornaments are more than monograms; they may also tell about Jesus Christ. As the designs grew in number, they included references to the life, ministry, activities, nature, and teachings of Jesus. Thus, the Chrismons as symbols always point beyond themselves to God. Indeed, the vital feature of the concept is that each design must proclaim some truth about God as seen in Jesus. As the years passed, the Chrismon idea spread beyond Christmas. The ornaments have become meaningful decorations in homes and public places throughout the entire year. People employ them in table settings, in shadow boxes, on bookmarks, and on banners. Some are even styled for use as Christian wedding cake toppers.

Mrs. Spencer also wrote and illustrated five books about the Chrismons: Chrismons: Basic Series (1959); Chrismons: Christian Year Series (1961); Chrismons: Advanced Series (1965); Chrismons for Every Day (1971); and Chrismons (1970). 

Earlier books have undergone several revisions. The books, which were written in response to how-to-do requests, explain the construction of the Chrismons and their meaning. Frances Spencer was also active as a speaker, interpreting the Chrismons and touring many states to tell the Chrismon story.

Through theses books, the Chrismon idea reached countries all over the world. Churches of every Christian denomination used the idea to communicate that Christmas is indeed the celebration of the birth of Christ, as well as to help their members learn more about Jesus. Some follow the patterns in the books to the last detail, while others use the instructions as a starting point and, as the books encourage them to do, translate the ideas into native media. Because members of different churches often join to make Chrismons, the program has had a marked ecumenical impact. Through the Chrismons, many Christians have discovered the similarities rather than the differences in denominations. What was begun by Frances Kipps Spencer in a small Lutheran Church in Danville, Virginia, has been called the most significant contribution to Christian symbolism in the twentieth century.

Throughout the creation and development of Chrismons, Mrs. Spencer has never personally profited from the monetarily. Certainly the acceptance and sharing of the idea was a source of great gratitude to her. There is no question that the ornaments were a help and an inspiration to Christians all over the world, and that was the only compensation that Mrs. Spencer ever desired.


Claude Augustus Swanson

The late Claude Augustus Swanson came from a Virginia family that was an integral part of the history of Pittsylvania County. In 1768, the year after Pittsylvania became a county, Claude Swanson’s pioneer ancestor, William Swanson, had moved from Abermarle County to the frontier of the Old Dominion, near what is now Swansonville. His great-great…

grandfather, William Swanson, represented Pittsylvania County in the General Assembly of Virginia for eight terms, from 1818 until 1836. It was this William Swanson, along with another of Pittsylvania County’s distinguished sons, Whitmell Tunstall, who secured state aid for building the railroad from Danville to Richmond. It was with this lineage that Claude Augustus Swanson was born on March 31, 1862 at Swansonville. His parents were John and Rebecca Pritchett Swanson, the former being a farmer who entered into the manufacturing of tobacco.

Claude Swanson grew up during the reconstruction period following the war between the states. He attended public schools in Pittsylvania County at a time when money was scarce, as plantation owners attempted to adjust their lives to a vastly changing socio-economic structure. Along with his brothers, John, William, and Henry, Claude Swanson ploughed and hoed on his father’s farm until the age of sixteen when he accepted a teaching position at a one-room school in Pittsylvania County. The money he earned was saved until he had enough to pay his expenses for one year at Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical Institute, now Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. While there, he was a sergeant of Company A. It was a lack of funds that prevented him from attending Virginia A & M for a second year. Instead, he found a job in Danville as a clerk in a grocery store.

While working in Danville, Claude Swanson attended the Methodist church, and attracted the attention of four prominent Danville men: a lawyer and three tobacco manufacturers. These men were so impressed with his abilities that they offered to finance his college education. Claude Swanson accepted the money from the men and gave them individually his notes refusing to take the money as a gift. Three years later, in 1885, he graduated with honors from Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, and in another year, completed a two-year law course at the University of Virginia, earning a Bachelor of Law degree. He passed the bar examination and opened his law practice in Chatham.

Within two years, Swanson had built an excellent law practice, repaid his financial obligations, and embarked on a political career. After another four years, he entered into national politics, as he was elected to Congress from the fifth congressional district. He returned to Congress in six successive elections and served until his resignation in 1906. At that time he ran for the Governorship of the Commonwealth of Virginia, a nomination he had sought and lost to Andrew Montague early in 1901.

Once elected governor in 1906, Claude Swanson picked up the movement for public education initiated by Governor Montague, and, as one historian recalls, “put the power of his office behind the movement for the up-building of the school system, materially and spiritually.”

After his tenure as Governor, Claude Swanson was appointed in 1910 to the U.S. Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the death of John W. Daniel. He was reappointed in 1911 and then elected to the seat in which he served until March of 1933, at which time he resigned to accept a cabinet position in the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Claude Swanson was the American delegate to the disarmament conference at Geneva, Switzlerland, and was appointed by President Roosevelt to be Secretary of the Navy, a position he held until his death in 1939.

He passed away while visiting Rapidan Camp in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Criglersville, in Madison County, Virginia. His funeral was conducted in the chamber of the United States Senate.

Claude Swanson’s contributions to Virginia and this nation cannot be understated, and his worth to Pittsylvania County is astounding. In 1939, on presentation of the portrait of Claude A. Swanson to Pittsylvania County, Mrs. N.E. Clements offered a most fitting eulogy when she called him “Pittsylvania’s most distinguished son.”


Camilla Ella Williams

Each person has his concept of what an angel’s voice sounds like, but certainly an angel’s voice can be no clearer, nor have a more vibrant quality, than that of the internationally acclaimed operatic soprano Camilla Williams. Camilla Ella Williams was born in 1920 in Danville, Virginia to Cornelius Booker and Fannie Cary Williams. She was the youngest…

of four children. Her father was a chauffeur, and her grandfather, Alexander Cary, was a singer and choir leader. 

Miss Williams’ youth, in relation to music, is best recalled in notes she penned for her entry into the first edition of Who’s Who in the World. She wrote, “My grandparents and parents were self-taught musicians; all of them sang and there was always music in our home. From this, at an early age, was born a desire to be a concert singer.” She was singing in Danville’s Calvary Baptist Church at the age of eight. “All my people sing,” Miss Williams has said. “We were poor, but God blessed us with music.”

In both 1943 and 1944, Miss Williams won the Marion Anderson Award, which is given to outstanding young musicians. Also in 1944, she signed with RCA-Victor and made her debut on Victor’s The Music America Loves Best. In that same year she took top honors in the Philadelphia Orchestra Youth Concert auditions, and was engaged as a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Eugene Ormandy.

Following one of Miss Williams’ early concert appearances in Stamford, Connecticut, in 1945, the former Metropolitan Opera soprano Geraldine Farrar wrote to her concert manager, “I was quite unprepared for this young woman’s obvious high gifts…I should like to voice my unsolicited appreciation, and the hope that under careful management and encouragement, the rich promise she shows will mature to even higher artistic endeavors.” Miss Farrar’s hopes were not to be denied.

On May 15, 1946, Camilla Williams made her debut with the City Center Opera Company of New York in the title role of Madame Butterfly, and became the first black Soprano to appear with an important opera company in the United States. Miss Farrar, who had created the title role of “Madame Butterfly” on the Metropolitan stage, was in the opening night audience, and told Newsweek magazine of Miss Williams’ talents saying, “I would say that already she is one of the great ‘Butterflies’ of our day.” The New York Times found her to be “an instant…success in the title role,” and in her performance found “a vividness and subtlety unmatched by any other artist who has assayed the part here in many years.” Later that season, Miss Williams sang Nedda in I Pagliacci, and the Times proclaimed she “sang her new role with freshness of voice, charm, and personal sincerity.” Appearing as Mimi in La Boheme in 1947, she was called “the heroine of the evening” by the Times, and the critic of PM wrote: Her Mimi is one of the most truly touching and believable embodiments of the role I’ve yet seen and heard. The lovely quality of her voice, the purity and radiance of her high notes, the sensitivity and deep emotional sincerity of her acting…all contribute to the fidelity and beauty of her portrayal.

And in1947 she won the Newspaper Guild Award as first lady of American opera. In the succeeding season, the young singer was brought forward in the title role of Aida and the critics acclaimed, “Always she sang as a musician and an artist.”

In 1950 the singer embarked on a concert tour of Panama, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela. The following year she returned to Venezuela for her first South American appearances in opera. In 1950, also, Miss Williams sang the title role of Princess Ilia in a concert version of Mozart’s seldom-heard opera Idomeneo. It was the first complete performance of the work in New York City. That year, too, she married Charles Beavers, an attorney from Danville.

The Chicago Defenders’ trophy for bringing democracy to opera was bestowed on Camilla Williams in 1951. In 1955 she gave the first Viennese performance of Menottie’s Saint of Bleeker Street, but her debut with the Vienna State Opera was in the role of “Butterfly,” and a musically discriminating Vienna critic exclaimed, “Camilla Williams is a sensation!” “So moving is the intensity of this singer,” wrote another, “that it is unique.” She became box office magic throughout Europe.

In 1957, her alma mater awarded her the 75th Anniversary Certificate of Merit, and 1959 brought a presidential citation from New York University. That year as well, she became the first black person to receive the key to the city of her birth, Danville, Virginia. In 1960, she was the guest of President Eisenhower for a concert for the Crown Prince of Japan. In 1962, the Emperor of Ethiopia awarded her the gold medal, and she received the key to the city of Taipei, Taiwan, as well as the Art, Culture and Civic Guild Award for her contribution to music. The next year brought her the Negro Musicians’ Association Plaque for contribution to music and the Harlem Opera and World Fellowship Society Award, in addition to the W.L.I.B. Radio Award for contribution to music. At the invitation of the State Department, Camilla Williams made an unprecedented tour of fourteen north and central African countries. Due to this tour’s success, she was invited to Ireland, Southeast Asia, the Far East, and Israel.

With the 1970’s Camilla Williams brought another first to New York City as she performed Handel’s Orlando in 1971. And that year she was listed in the first edition of Who’s Who in the World. In 1972, she was honored as a “distinguished Virginian” by Governor Linwood Holton, and later was named recipient of the National Association of Negro Musicians, Inc.’s highest award.

From 1970 to 1973 she was Professor of Voice at Brooklyn College. She later taught at Bronx College and taught with Talent Unlimited, directed by Dr. John Motley. Camilla Williams often returned to Danville, where a park beside the Dan River, on Memorial Drive, has been named after her.