On Wednesday evening, on a whim, I decided to attend the town meeting at the community center. I had read that a gentleman who used to go to school here, and is still a resident, was going to talk about some of the town's history. I'm a sucker for any local tales and listened with rapt attention. There were also a map and some photos on display and I looked forward to being introduced to the faces that peered out.
The first 'king' of Free State was Timothy Bray who was heavily involved in the import and export of illegal liquors, and cop fighting. Alexander Sandy Jeffreys, the 2nd king, was an excellent fiddler, and staunch supporter of his kinsfolk. He would often ride to Richmond to protect the interest of the folks in Free State. He was known as having the prettiest eyes and the longest beard of anyone. His demise came about when Mosby's men were searching Free State for illegal stills. Jeffreys interfered and got shot. Bust Head Road got its name after incidents involving too much imbibition.
I found this old article online about the Klipsteins.
Our speaker mentioned an interesting fact about the origination of the 'Mad Hatter' term. Years ago when hatters would clean beaver pelts before use, they would scrub them in a mercury solution. Years of doing this and their body absorbing the poison would turn them mad...
Wikipedia has the full story here. Bob is in the photo above.
J. A. Washington was an aide to General Lee and ended up getting shot in the war so Wavelyn was then bought by Edwin Glasscock.
Behind Tractor Supply and Warrenton Rd, there's a tract of land that was known as The Muster Field, where every spring and fall the militia would gather to practice their military skills, with Thomas Marshall in command and aided by his son John. Young boys would play truant from school and young women would gather to admire the soldiers along with many of the residents. It was splendid entertainment. Afterwards the spirit continued with the locals having races and shooting competitions along with lots of fist fights.
Our knowledgeable speaker finished with a great story from long ago about a lad called John Gott in Marshall. He was raised by his mother and aunts and one day went to a Free State funeral with his grandmother. A fist fight started that was so raucous involving so many folks that the casket got tipped over causing the poor deceased occupant to land heavily and roll across the floor. John's grandmother immediately grabbed and dragged him out of the house by his ear before any more violence could ensue.
Before I knew it, the evening had ended. I could have sat there for hours listening to these wonderful tales of Marshall's ancestors, but we were promised more historical evenings in the future. I can barely wait.