Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Excitement Continued

Brushing off the previous day's bomb scare, Sue and I fueled up with the hotel breakfast and headed to Heathsville.  We went in to the historical society first where we reacquainted ourselves with the wonderful volunteers we'd met before and set to work with books and papers.  My favorite part of the day was when Tom Wolf agreed to take me to the old jail for a look around. This jail building is under the protection of the society and sits within the same area as the courthouses.  We'd been loitering around it the day before. 
Northumberland County Jail, Heathsville, Va.

In the context of my book, this is the jail where Magnolia and her "accomplice" Albert Viehmeyer were placed after the murder indictment came down.  In fairly quick order Magnolia's lawyers had managed to get her out of the jail by citing frail health and she was lodged in the hotel, which you can see part of in the photos in my last entry.  (Viehmeyer was left here from his arrest in April until his release in December.)  At the time Magnolia was placed there in April 1895, there were no real separate areas for women.  I imagine she was taken to the upper storey, assuming the ground floor was inhabited by men.  There have been many changes to the inside of the building, of course, and where there were two large rooms with a central hall and stairway, these floors are now open so one can walk around the three barred cells, with the staircase on one end.  I paused close to an upper window and wondered if Magnolia had looked through it.  I even wondered if it had glass at the time since there is no mention of window glass in the records of the jail until 1897.
Did Magnolia gaze through this window?

I enjoyed my tour by Tom Wolf so much.  I never imagined I would be lucky enough to find such a knowledgeable source as Mr. Wolf to give me such insight into an event from 1895.  To stand in the court rooms as I have done, then the jail, is something I look upon as a gift.  These gifts inspire me to attempt the best book I can do.  There have been many gifts given me during this research.  Sue's interest and time and effort has been the biggest gift of all.  I feel it is her book project as much as mine.  Add to this people like Tom Wolf, Virginia Burgess and Blanche E. Jones, and you have a pretty bow.  Our meeting with Blanche took place the following day and having her as a guide to sites unseen is another entry.

What was our excitement this day?  After supper at a lovely cafe in Lottsburg that is attached to a tire supply/garage, we raced to the hotel ahead of a storm!  The news that evening was duly memorable for it highlighted two areas where we'd just been gallivanting. 
Once again we survived the day, of course!  The final part of our journey will be another entry.  Until then.

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