Historical Paintings in Amherst County

About 150 people gathered in downtown Amherst last September to witness the unveiling of eight paintings portraying historically significant Amherst County and Town residents.

They line the 2nd Street outside wall of the Goodwin Building at the corner of Main and 2nd St.s. The paintings took months to produce by current and former National Art Honor Society Amherst High School students under the supervision of Amherst High School art teacher, Maryellen Barron and volunteers from local artists’ organizations.

Suny Monk, who helped spearhead the initiative with her husband, Sweet Briar art professor Joe Monk, served as informal master of ceremonies. Suny was also instrumental in initiating the popular downtown Amherst ArtMeter project, that established art on old and unused parking meters.

1-Robert Rose (lived from 1704- 1751) painted by Bryan Taylor. Born in Scotland, he immigrated to Virginia and is generally credited for establishing St. Mark’s in Clifford.

2-Indiana Fletcher Williams (1828- 1900) and her daughter Daisy (1867- 1884) by Sienna Barron. Indiana was the daughter of Elijah Fletcher, a schoolmaster from Vermont. Indiana and her brothers and sister were raised at Sweetbriar plantation. Indiana married James Henry Williams of New York, and they had a daughter, Maria Georgianna “Daisy” Williams, spent her life between Sweetbriar and New York, dying at the age of 16. Sweet Briar College was established according to the terms of Indiana’s will, in memory of her daughter Daisy.

3-Reuben Barnes Ware MD (1873- 1964) by Sarah McCafferty. Ware received his medical degree from Medical College of VA in 1895, and began his practice at a time when doctors made house calls on horseback and all types of weather. In practice more than 50 years, he delivered more than 3,000 babies, many honored with names such as Reuben, Barnes and Ware. A skilled story-teller, he taught many, by example, the values of humor, generosity and courtesy.

4-(Arthur) Gates Ware (1911-1990) by Ryan Mattox. Known for his avid sports interests (golf, croquet, horseshoes, as well as the school sports of baseball, basketball, football and more), Postmaster Ware would participate, coach, or simply watch, always placing how to play the game over and above winning the game. Well endowed with a sense of humor, his smile lightened the hearts of many youngsters.

5-Queena Stovall (1887-1980) by Lauren Huffman. Stovall began her career as a dedicated artist at the age of 62, focusing her subjects on rural country life in Amherst County. By 1972, her work became nationally recognized, and this acclaimed American folk artists continues to be a source of pride in cultural circles of Amherst County.

6-Sheriff Henry Myers (1900- 1970) by Taylyn Soult. Myers served Amherst County for 28 years.

7-Florence “Sis” Yancey (1870- 1978) by Alison Tyler. Living to the age of 107, Yancey lived to age 107 and delivered generations of babies as a certified midwife for 50 years; over 500 babies. She answered calls from all over, some in places by candlelight and no running water.

8-Eddie Rodwell (1922-2005) and Willard Douglas by Zach Mays and Tiffany Foster. Rodwell was a local barber, and his concern for the lack of indoor plumbing for many in town led him to run and win his first term on the Amherst Town Council. In 1991 he was appointed to complete Mayor Joseph Siegrist’s unexpired term, thus becoming the Town’s first African-American mayor.

In the barber’s chair is Willard Douglas (born in 1932). He graduated from Amherst County Training School in 1949, served in the military, and graduated from Virginia Union University and Howard Law School, before becoming the first black judge in Virginia (since Reconstruction) in 1974. He is retired and lives in Richmond, but attended the September unveiling.

Sponsors of this wonderful project are: Amherst Art Society; Amherst County Museum and Historical Society; Amherst Glebe Arts Response; ArtMeter volunteers; Duncan Augustine; Bank of the James; Wanda Beverly; First National Bank of Altavista; Friends of Amherst County; Suny and Joe Monk; Roy Prior and students; Marguerite F. Singleton; Mary Snow; the Town of Amherst; Claudia and Bill Tucker; John Ware.

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