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History Corner By Pat Ross & Fran Snead

October 04, 2007
(View this entry with photos HERE)

Since October is Family History Month, let?s celebrate with the history of a family who has been living in this area since 1776, just before the time when Henry County was formed in January 1777. Daniel Ross, Sr. had moved to Henry County from Amherst where he served in the Henry County militia throughout the Revolutionary War. He was appointed an Ensign, then a 2nd Lieutenant, then a Lieutenant on September 28, 1780. Daniel owned land on both sides of the Smith River, but from deeds and tax records his actual residence was on the north side of the Smith. He lived in the part of Henry County that would split off and become Franklin County in 1786, but some of his land south of the Smith fell into that portion of Henry that would become Patrick County in 1790. Daniel and his wife, Elizabeth Garth through whose family he met and had dealings with Thomas Jefferson, and their family lived in this Henry/Franklin/Patrick area until he, Elizabeth and their son Churchill moved to Henry County, Kentucky in 1811/1812. Some of their children moved to Tennessee, Kentucky and to Cooper County, Missouri where Daniel died and was buried in 1821/1822.

Daniel and Elizabeth had thirteen children, one being Daniel Ross, Jr. the tenth child who was born in Henry County, June 4, 1777. His first wife was Nancy Ingram; his second wife was Joyce Harbour. Daniel and both of his wives are buried in the Daniel Ross, Jr. Cemetery in Patrick County. Nancy Ingram Ross was mother to nine of Daniel?s children, while Joyce was mother to five children. David Lee Ross was the thirteenth child of Daniel, Jr. and he was born November 8, 1831 in Patrick County.

D. Lee, as he was called, married Elizabeth ?Bettie? Jamison on November 26, 1868. D. Lee and Bettie built a house for their family in 1869 in the Elamsville area, later to become known as the Ross Fox Farm. In June of 1861 men from Patrick County gathered at this homeplace to volunteer their service to the Confederate Army. They chose D. Lee Ross as their captain, they practiced on his land in the cow pastures and in July of that year these men became Company D of the 51st Virginia Infantry C.S.A. Later he became Lieutenant Colonel in the Virginia State Militia and father of ten children.

The Fox Farm was so named as Guy William Ross, the ninth child of D. Lee and Bettie Ross, lived on the homeplace and raised foxes and mink. Their hides were sent off and made into fox and mink stoles that were quite popular at that time. Land that belonged to the Fox Farm extended across Route 57 West in front of the house where Rattlesnake Road is located and where the D. Lee Ross Cemetery is located. There are no Ross graves there today as all were moved to the cemetery at Ross-Harbour Methodist Church when a memorial monument was placed there for Daniel Ross, Sr. years ago. The Ross family gave the land on which the church was built. In 2005 the granddaughter of D. Lee Ross, Elizabeth ?Betsy? Ross Miers, and his great grandson, Paul B. Ross, had D. Lee?s C.S.A. marker moved to his burial plot at Ross-Harbour Cemetery.

The fourth child of D. Lee and Bettie Ross was Charles Brewster Ross who was born July 4, 1875. Brewster married Martha Elizabeth ?Mattie? McKenzie on February 23, 1901 and they had seven children. Brewster owned and operated a general store that he eventually sold to his brother-in-law, I.M. Akers, and it is still standing today. He then operated a stave mill and later carried mail in Patrick County. Brewster built a home for his family at Buffalo Ridge in Patrick County, and later moved his family to Martinsville in 1931 where they lived on Oakdale Street.

Their children were Claude Buren Ross, born December 28, 1901; Conrad Lee Ross, born January 28, 1903; Carita Brown Ross, born April 6, 1906; Lillian McKenzie Ross, born November 3, 1910; Louise Erie Ross, born June 23, 1913; Guy Warren Ross, born March 25, 1917; and Elizabeth Quay ?Betsy? Ross, born February 29, 1920.

Buren Ross married Mary Thelma Tatum on April 18, 1936 and had two children, Thelma Jean Ross who married Thomas Calvin Matthews and Paul Buren Ross, who married Patricia "Pat" Clay (author of this History Blog). Buren was a ?pioneer? in antique furniture, particularly in walnut furniture, as he could look at an old piece of furniture, tell you what kind of wood it was and could see the vision of a beautifully finished piece. He was known from one end of the county to the other, as he worked for Cash Produce Company and sold to stores across the local counties including Rockingham County, North Carolina. Buren loved to tell stories of the people and families whom he had met, and people today still remember him as a kind hearted and interesting person.

Conrad ?Con? Ross served in the U.S. Navy in World War II. But the stories he, too, could tell! He ?knew? timber, owned much timberland and was asked to appraise land for many people in the timber business. Con never married and lived in the Ross home on Oakdale Street in Martinsville until his death.

Carita ?Rita? Ross married Broaddus Fleming Gravely and they lived in Axton. After Broaddus? death, Rita moved into her home on Letcher Court in Martinsville. Broaddus was a salesman for Rupert Beer and Rita taught school at Axton Elementary for forty years, and in the same classroom! She was a no-nonsense type of person but her students remember her vividly and many kept in touch with her over the years. She would not let a student go hungry when they didn?t have lunch or money to buy lunch, as she made certain each of her students was happy and well fed. She kept newspaper clippings on her students and these were found by her sister, Betsy, when she died. Rita and Broaddus did not have children of their own, but counted her students as her children, along with her two nieces and two nephews. (The story is told that Rita was not named for months after she was born, as she was called ?Baby?. A shoe salesman came to the Ross store and said that if Mr. and Mrs. Ross would name their little girl Carita Brown Ross he would give her shoes for the rest of her life. Rita was so named, but the salesman was never heard from again!)

When Lillian was born, she could only drink goat?s milk, so a goat was bought by her father. Lillian was a fantastic cook and seamstress, taught at Redbank Elementary School in Patrick County and at Joseph Martin Elementary School in Martinsville. She retired from teaching, and worked at the DuPont plant. Lillian married Thomas Tatum and lived in Florida for most of their married life, then moved back to Martinsville. When Lillian passed away, Thomas then resided with his brother-in-law, Conrad Ross, on Oakdale Street.

Louise married Douglas Ryland Compton who served in World War II. He was reported missing in action November 1943 and was never found. Later she married Wilmer Smith Noble, Jr. and they resided on Whittle Road in Martinsville. Louise was a nurse at the DuPont Plant in Martinsville when it opened and was there for many years. She did not have children by either marriage, but her nieces and nephews were very important to her. She loved to play bridge, to read, she loved to knit and her many friends and family were recipients of her crafts. Louise loved to talk of family and, like her brothers, told stories of the family especially for her nieces and nephews to remember.

Guy Warren ?Goldberg? Ross served in the U.S. Army in World War II. He is remembered by many as a very kind person who was always considerate of other people. Guy never married.

Betsy Ross married Harold Elsworth Miers and they had two children, Charlie William Miers and Martha McKenzie Miers who married James Anderson. Betsy taught school at Patrick Henry Elementary School for years, and her sweet manner is remembered by her students. Betsy stayed quite busy with teaching and church work while raising her family, and even today is still busy with her church work. She enjoys playing bridge with many of her friends, shares her love of teaching as her daughter is a teacher, and shares her love of bridge with her nephew, Paul. Betsy, Harold and their family resided on Gratton Road for many years. She, as a child, was the first person in her family to become a patient of Dr. Samuel Adams in Martinsville, and remembers him as saving the life of her daughter when she was born prematurely. Betsy is the only living child of Brewster and Mattie.

I feel very fortunate to have known all of Brewster and Mattie Ross? children, with the exception of Guy who was deceased when Paul and I were married. I was blessed to have known Mattie for several years before her death and shall remember her as a strong lady with a gentle spirit, as is her daughter, Betsy. There are cousins galore in this family, relatives still living in Henry, Patrick and Franklin Counties today, each of them proud to be a descendant of Daniel Ross, Sr.

Pat Ross

?The Roots that make Us One are Stronger than the Branches that Divide Us.? Author unknown