Tobacco-Mecklenburg’s cash crop

Gray sisters: Martha Moseley, Dolly Taylor & Nannie Kidd (from Jim Kidd)

I love this picture of 3 sisters linked arm in arm. I think they look adorable! I like to imagine from the way they look here that they were friends, and stood by each other through both good times and tough times. This is the only picture I know of, with my Virginia family on a farm. Tobacco was a huge part of their life. Peanuts, squash and sweet potatoes were also important crops. There was often a huge kitchen garden for the family near the house. They ate what they grew. Obvious to farmers, but not so obvious to me who grew up in cities and rarely saw family vegetable gardens. This picture was probably taken in Mecklenburg about 110 years ago. In the late 1890s, Nannie Gray Kidd remained in Bracey, her siblings moved to Danville, VA. Martha and Dolly (pictured) lived in Danville at the time of this picture, but as they lived in the city; I’m assuming Martha and Dolly came to visit Nannie in Mecklenburg when this picture was taken in the early 1910’s.

2007 Lindbergh Tudor

Lindbergh Tudor told me his hair was always a mess as a young boy, even in school pictures. He explained there was usually sticky tar in his hair from working in the tobacco fields and it hurt to comb that out. He also designed his wagon to work well with transporting tobacco leaves. He made spaces between slats to hold tools, which was also a good width to tie tobacco leaves to the slats. I love the inventiveness of farmers! I really enjoy meeting farmers and asking about their farms’ history.

2004 Mary Walker & sister Pearl. Farmed tobacco in LaCrosse

Mary Walker told me that as a young girl, her large family lined up in the field. The youngest children held bundles of tobacco leaves together, while the older children tied the leaves together. Teenage siblings carried the tied stalks to the wagon. They all had various jobs. They also helped and worked together with their neighbors, who were often close relatives.

I was repeatedly told that picking off hornworms and tar that stuck to them, were their least favorite part of tobacco farming; that and being exasperated with the heat and humidity . Some people told me it was their job to squash & kill hornworms to save their family crops. Those are huge, fat, scary, gross looking bugs! I’m glad I’ve never had that job!

tobacco barn

Most people I’ve interviewed from Mecklenburg told me tobacco was their cash crop, and a big part of Mecklenburg’s history and economy. I’ve heard some tobacco was hung to dry, in taller barns. I found this shorter barn pictured above near Boydton. Growing up a city girl, I’d never seen a structure like this before. I took a picture to show people and ask what it was used for. I was told the tobacco was cured differently with this type of barn. Sort of smoked dry to cure it before a lot of the crop was lost to humidity. People told me this was where Brunswick stew was big. The curing process took several days and lots of hands. People camped around the barn during this harvest and enjoyed Brunswick stew.

I’ve been asking everyone I meet for interviews about their chores when they were children. Everyone tells me farming was hard and exhausting work, even at a young age. But it was necessary for survival, to have enough food to eat, and keep the farms running. There was no big equipment, they farmed (and often still farm) with simple tools “the old fashioned way”. Not many had tractors, because they couldn’t afford it. Everyone had to work long hours with shovels, hoes, resourcefulness and as a team effort. People told me they understood why a lot of their kids and grandkids didn’t want to continue farming. They could get more money and have their finances more secure with other types of jobs. Old farms, older farming methods, and their stories are starting to disappear. So I want to preserve and share as many stories and pictures as I can find.

Do you have pictures or stories about your family farming? What were your family’s cash crops? Comment below, even if not from Mecklenburg. If you have a Mecklenburg related farming picture you’re willing to share, please let me know! I’d love to post it on this site.

tobacco barn for hanging tobacco (Brunswick VA 2006)

DT Ridout picture & family

Dave Ridout sent me this picture to share. A cousin gave him a copy, but they aren’t sure which of the two DT Ridouts this could be. One DT Ridout is David Thomas Ridout who lived from 1820-1876. He was first married to Mary E. Thomas, a daughter of Robin Thomas and Rebecca Jones. His second wife was Rebecca Wells.

The second David T. Ridout I know about, lived from 1838-1908. He was the son of William Ridout and Calissa Barker. His uncle (his father William’s brother) was the other David T. Ridout, which I assume he was named after. This younger David was married to Mary Elizabeth Taylor, a daughter of Isaac Taylor. David Ridout and his next door neighbor John C. Jones married sisters the same day, 14 Dec 1865. They lived on adjoining land that was the women’s father, Isaac Taylor’s land. (Pre-1815 that land was part of Peter Thomas’ estate). This younger David T. Ridout is buried with his wife, daughter Lorena Ridout Kidd, and some grandchildren; on this land described, which is near the corner of Tolbert & Blackridge Rd.

  1. Place #1: An old Ridout Store in Old Bracey. Store no longer standing. Belonged to John Henry Ridout, son of Jesse James Ridout & Anna Caroline Ridout.
  2. Place #2: Ridout Cemetery. Children and grandchildren of the older David Thomas Ridout and Mary E. Thomas are buried here. Including Jesse James & Anna Caroline Ridout.
  3. Place #3: Old home of Jesse James & Caroline Ridout. Allen Tudor lived here as a young child.
  4. Place #4: David T. Ridout, the younger, was buried at this cemetery, (Tolbert & Blackridge Rd) and their old home place was near the cemetery, no longer standing.
  5. The straight road running north to south, just to the east of DK’s home and the cemetery, is Ridout Road.
  6. Note: Barker’s land
  7. (not marked) DK Ridout’s home was on 619-Nellie Jone Rd near the Rufus Kidd’s store.
  8. (not on map here, just additional info) James D. Ridout, son of William Ridout & Calissa Barker is buried at Blandford Cemetery in Petersburg. Ward: Civil War Soldiers, Sec: Virginia, Sq. Soldier, Loc: Memorial Hill, grave #97

Lorena Ridout (pictured above) was the daughter of David T. Ridout (younger) and Mary Taylor. So is Lorena the daughter of the man in the picture? Or is Lorena the great-niece of the man pictured beside her? (Her grandfather William Ridout’s brother.) (See chart above)

I discovered something else about this same family I’m very curious about. In the Richmond Enquirer Newspaper I found that William Ridout was murdered on 26 Sep 1843. Was the man murdered the brother or father of the man DT Ridout in this picture? These two articles are all I know about this story. This second article ran for two months, saying that Allison C Dugger, (male) was still at large. In deed records, my friend and I found there was an Allison C. Dugger junior and senior. One of the Allison’s was made a constable about a week before the murder. I don’t know which man was constable and which murdered William. The newspaper article does not reference the constable part at all.

Ridout Murder in 1843!

Richmond Enquirer Newspaper

William Ridout and Calissa had 3 children: David T. (possibly the man pictured), Polly and James. After William died, Calissa and her children moved in with her parents Ben Barker and Judith Jones. (source: 1850 & 1860 Census)

Have you seen this picture before, of DT Ridout? Or do you know enough about clothing and style to better estimate the time period of this picture? Do you have other Ridout pictures we can compare to Lorena and DT Ridout? I’m curious about what David is holding in his hand, and why was that important to be in the picture? Have you heard about this murder before? Or have you seen info about the conclusion of this story? If you have any further info or comments, please comment on this post. Note: Ridout is spelled both with and without an “E”, Rideout or Ridout. But Ridout Road, this picture and the cemetery don’t use the “E” so I omitted the “E” in this post.

Thank you Dave Ridout for sharing this picture and for adding to my map!

About Julie’s mapping project, can you help?

I’ve been mapping out (pre-1900) deeds and plats that I’ve that been finding over the past 15 years. I’m still seeking plats. Many of the plats I found are from chancery cases, where the parents died intestate and land is being divided between the heirs. I got a few plats from a plat book at the courthouse. Sometimes I go to Library of Virginia just to copy plats from chancery cases, for any people I can find in who lived in the area. The LVA chancery index notates if plats are included. Several of the plats that I found in chancery cases were the same as in the courthouse plat book, but with details that help me find a starting point to anchor the plat. I’ve also searched for plats in deeds but have not had as much success there. Any name I read about in land records gets a blue pin, with an annotation. Example “1862 Zack Jones corner hickory”. I uploaded plats into the map so they will pop up if you click on the outlined property. Annotations pop up as well, with notes I typed such as: acreage amount, date, and neighbors listed on the record. If a house or cemetery are mentioned, a house and cemetery pin are placed and marked as estimated, until we can locate and confirm it with GPS coordinates.

Dower piece of Betsey Rainey, the wife John B Kidd

When I get a plat, I study it. I ask people who are related, and are locals if they know where the land described in the plat is. Then, when I can pinpoint something mentioned in the land description (Example: a creek, or a neighboring property listed that I know it’s location), I start drawing the plat onto the map, calculating and checking acreage. For a lot of properties, you can still see old property lines on the satellite base map view. If you are looking at my map (not this screen shot below), and click on this outline, then the above plat will pop up.

I’ve been asked about the colors I use on my maps, so here’s a little about that: I made the Cemetery icon the purplish-maroon upside down T which looks to me like an upright tombstone. Churches usually have cemeteries, so if they do, I mark them the same color with a cross symbol. If the plat marked is about Jones, I add an additional pin that’s orange. Purple for Thomas. Green for Kidd. Red for Walker. Burton gets yellow. Taylor, lime green. If it’s Jones & Walker, I would drop an orange and red pin on the property. The map screen shot image above, shows a parcel with green and purple which tells me a Thomas-Kidd marriage owned that parcel. A cemetery and 2 house are also marked on the screen shot above. The green house symbol next to the Hall Cemetery is a parcel where a house was mentioned that Miles Hall lived. The house marked there (white house below) is approximately 120 years old, so it was not there in 1862.

Miles Hall House, by Hall Cemetery.
Oct 2007: Hall House by Hall Cemetery (tree far right of image)

I knew an old house would have been on that parcel, so I asked around about it at the Hall Reunion in 2018. I was shown another old house, old enough to be there at the time of the 1862 plat, and after adding that house pin by it’s GPS coordinates I saw it was on Bartlette Kidd’s property; which I believe Miles Hall bought after his brother in law Bartlette died. The colors of the pins are really just to help me in the way I visualize things. How I try to track some of the family connections: large families, large land owners, lots of cousin marriages. All the pins are listed on the far left of the map with info. There obviously aren’t hundreds of colors to color code every family name. So if they aren’t these few family surnames I wanted to track, then I mark it with blue pins for now. This week, I just added a yellow envelope (the only color it came in) symbol for Tanner’s Store. The store was a post office in the 1850’s which would also notate areas on the Census.

This will be a long term ongoing project. I’m in the process of changing the map to be in layers by time period. This map is a vital part of my efforts in finding and documenting cemeteries. If you know where I can add any pins, (for any ethnicity or any surname) please let me know.

This project is being done with Google maps, under “My Maps”. If you would like to try to create a map for your research, here is a link with info about these newer mapping abilities, such as plotting, showing acreage and the measuring tool. https://www.google.com/maps/about/mymaps/

I have an Android phone and use the free, excellent app called “GPS Essentials” to get GPS pins for this map. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mictale.gpsessentials&hl=en_US


Website info: This map is kept on this web page under the menu tab “GPS Collaborative map”, permalink: https://mecklenburgvagenealogy.com/portfolio/collaborative-map/