Name: Reverend Houston Bryan Perry, Sr., and Ruth Van Buren (Morgan) Perry
Date: ca. 1960
Image Number: RH01cdRH01
Reverend Houston Bryan Perry, Sr.
At the Home-Going Celebration for Rev. Houston Bryan Perry, among the selections sung by the choir was the traditional hymn, "The Last Mile of The Way". The lyrics to several of the stanzas offer a glimpse into the life and beliefs of Rev. Perry:
If I walk in the pathway of duty,
If for Christ I proclaim the glad story,
And If here I have earnestly striven
Houston B. Perry, Sr., the son of Emanuel and Lucy Frazier Perry, was born on July 18, 1894, in Eastham (Albemarle County, VA). His siblings were: Priscilla; Maryetta; Emanuel, Jr.; Oliver; Sarah; Warren, and Dudley.
He attended the "colored" school there by the Chapman Grove church. Rev. Perry received Jesus Christ as his Savior early in life at his home church, the Chapman Grove Baptist Church in Eastham. He also received the call to preach in his early years and would preach as he had the opportunity. He entered Virginia Seminary to prepare himself for the ministry. His mother became ill and he came home to help care for her as his father worked away in the mines in West VA., and his sister Priscilla did "days work" in Charlottesville. His mother died in September 1919. After his mother's death, he returned back to Virginia Seminary. In 1921, he was licensed to preach under the pastorate of Rev. C. E. Chisholm. In 1922, Rev. Chisholm resigned as pastor, and the church called Rev. Perry as pastor of Chapman Grove Baptist Church. His mission of delivering the Word of God - of proclaiming the glad story - began when he was called as pastor by Chapman Grove.
In August 1925, Rev. Perry carried on Revival at the Middle Oak Baptist Church in Blenheim (see photo at right). It was customary that the preacher for the revival service stay in the home of Mr. and Mrs. John Morgan. Ruth Morgan, the oldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Morgan came home for the week from New York City. Strange as it was, Rev. Perry spent most of the afternoons preparing for his sermons for the evenings, as well as the music he wanted to use for the services. Bernice Morgan, another daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Morgan, sang and played the piano and so they spent some time together. Well, when Ruth (shown at right) returned to New York the next week, there was a letter from Rev. Perry. The Postman was kept busy carrying mail from Eastham to New York City. In 1926, Rev. Perry married Ruth Van Buren Morgan. Ruth, born on Jan. 18, 1904, was the daughter of John and Cheyney Lewis Morgan. She was the couple's second of fourteen children. Ruth readily accepted her role as a preacher's wife and throughout his fifty-two years of ministry assisted and supported her husband.
During the time period 1926-1937, Rev. Perry pastored the following churches in Albemarle County and surrounding areas: Oak Union Baptist Church, Charlottesville; Mt. Sinai Baptist Church, Earlysville; Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Advance Mills; Mt. Salem Baptist Church, Mechums River; Rose Hill Baptist Church, Charlottesville; Chestnut Grove, Buckingham County; Mt. Hebron Baptist Church, Shenandoah County; Mt. Sinai Baptist Church, Elkton; Second Union Baptist Church, Goochland County; County Line Baptist Church, Louisa County; and Ebenezer Baptist Church in Goochland.
Rev. Perry was called to be the pastor of Union Baptist in 1939 and served until 1964. In addition to his ministerial duties - as he tried to obey the will of God - at various times Rev. Perry served as the moderator of the James River Baptist Association, Moderator of the Slate River Baptist Association and Vice Moderator of the Piedmont Baptist Association. Each Association consisted of various churches located in Albemarle, Buckingham, Cumberland, Fluvanna, Goochland, Nelson and Powhatan Counties.
Rev. Perry was not only a gifted preacher, but he was also a talented contractor. In the early 1950's, the congregation of Union Baptist realized that a new edifice was needed. Rev. Perry and John Dickerson of Columbia (Fluvanna County) designed and built the current church. The new Union Baptist edifice was completed in 1954 and is shown at left in this 2005 photo. Rev. Perry's talents as a contractor-builder also were exhibited in Elk Hill (Goochland County) where he designed and built Ebenezer Baptist Church.
In 1953, Rev. Perry was called to be the pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in Williamsport, PA. Because of the special place that the Union Baptist congregation held in the hearts of the Perry family - because of his concern for the sheep in his flock - Rev. Perry told the Shiloh congregation that "he didn't want to leave Union Baptist completely because it was in the building process". By mutual agreement between him and his new congregation, Rev. Perry would make the trip from Williamsport to Scottsville once a month in order for him to preach and serve Communion. Now almost 40 years after his departure from Union Baptist, memories still linger in the minds of the members who were at the Church during the time that Rev. Perry was pastor. Mrs. Ella Mack, the oldest member of the congregation, recalls that Rev. Perry sometimes spent time with her and her husband, Deacon Freddie Mack, on the fourth Sundays, between morning and evening services. She recalls that there was a room in the Mack's house that they referred to as Rev. Perry's room. Mrs. Dorothy Woody, the current Clerk at Union Baptist, recalls that Rev. Perry liked "to keep things on a business-like level."
While bringing The Word to the flock in his churches, Rev. Perry also served his family as a faithful husband and loving father. He and Ruth were blessed with a daughter, Ruth, born on April 27, 1937 in Fluvanna. Most members of Union Baptist never knew Ruth's given name because at birth she had been affectionately dubbed with the moniker "Precious" by her mom and so this was what she was usually called. Rev. Perry, Mrs. Perry and their baby girl moved to Fife, Virginia. Rev. Perry also built the home there, although it was not completed when they moved, it was eventually completed; it was a two story, 10 room house.
The family was again blessed on Sept, 2, 1944 when a son, Houston Bryan Perry, Jr. was born in Charlottesville. Precious recalls that her father was a "very powerful preacher" and that his preaching style did not change. She also recalls that he believed in being on time and usually kept his watch ten minutes fast in order to insure his punctuality.
Throughout his life, Rev. Perry realized that his role as pastor also extended into civic and community affairs in the areas in which he served. While serving as the moderator of the James River Baptist Association, he was instrumental in the association's building a home for the aged in the association's churches. In Goochland County, he was in the forefront of efforts in the county to better the lives of African Americans in the community. He fought to build a new high school, fought for better books and for new buses and equal pay for black teachers and principals in the days of segregation. He worked to get better roads and electrical and telephone services for the black residents of Fife. He also traveled throughout the county teaching African American farmers how to cultivate, plant, and conserve their land in order to produce better crops. He was also a member of the Caledonia Lodge of Masons No. 240 and the Oddfellows Lodge No. 216 while living in Goochland County. After moving to Williamsport, he was active in the Williamsport Foundation and the Plankenhorn Foundation. Through his efforts with these organizations, the Mary Slaughter House in Williamsport was saved and improved. This house later served white and black men and women with affordable apartments. Even before the Civil Rights Bill was passed by Congress, he organized the West Branch Planning Committee in Williamsport. This group spearheaded the drive to break down employment discrimination in that city. Rev Perry served as President of the Williamsport Chapter of the NAACP and was a member of the Friday Night Club of the YMCA. This club consisted of Sunday School superintendents, teachers, and pastors who would meet on Friday evenings, have supper, and then study the Sunday School lesson for the coming Sunday.
In July 1975, Rev. Houston B. Perry retired from pastoring the Shiloh Baptist Church in Williamsport. The Church gave him and his family a wonderful appreciation banquet at Lycoming Hotel. Rev. and Mrs. Perry then moved to Carlisle, Pa., where their daughter lived. They jointed the Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Carlisle, Pa., where the Rev. Dr. William E. Jones, Jr. was pastor. He was appointed by Rev. Jones as an Associate Pastor. He also became a member of the Y's Men's' Club of the Carlisle YMCA. He participated in Senior Activities at the Salvation Army, enjoyed gardening and visiting the State of his heart, VIRGINIA.
In 1976, Rev. and Mrs. Perry celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary at the Officers Club, Carlisle Barracks, Pa. There were approximately 200 people in attendance.
On July 18, 1993, Rev. Perry celebrated his 89th birthday and the next day the Lord called him home. He had not been well for about six months. His Home-Going service was held at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church on Saturday, July 23, 1983, with the Rev. William E. Jones, officiating. He was buried in the Cumberland Valley Gardens. The services reflected the life of the Pastor, Husband, Father, Community and Civic leader who had believed and taught that:
Here the dearest of ties we must sever
Ruth Van Buren Morgan Perry:
Ruth Van Buren Morgan Perry was born on Jan 18, 1904 in Blenheim (Albemarle County), VA. Ruth was the second oldest of fourteen children in the family of John and Cheyney Lewis Morgan. Her siblings were: Alfred Tennyson, Esther, Bernice, Nellie, Helen, John, William, Dorothy, Ryland, Godfrey, Evelyn, Harry and Maurice. Mrs. Perry's mother, Mrs. Cheyney Lewis Morgan was the daughter of Rev. Harden Lewis of Blenheim. He was a landowner and ran a saw mill business. He gave property to each of his children, sent them all to Hampton University, gave land and built the "colored" school as well as Middle Oak Baptist Church in Blenheim. Rev. Lewis also was one of the founders of Virginia Seminary in Lynchburg, Va. Mr. and Mrs. Morgan had not only had a grocery store in Blenheim, but Mrs. Cheyney Morgan was also the Post Mistress, one of the first, if not the first, African American woman Post Mistress in the State of Virginia. She also taught school and was a licensed preacher, along with raising her fourteen children.
On April 18, 1926, Ruth married Rev. Houston B. Perry, the young pastor of Chapman Grove Baptist Church in Eastham (Albemarle County). Ruth readily accepted the often demanding position of a preacher's wife. Throughout their fifty-seven years of marriage, Ruth supported and assisted her husband and was a loving mother for her two children - Ruth and Houston, Jr. She had a nurturing spirit and many people would seek her friendship and counsel.
She also used her special talents as a seamstress and cook to help her family and others. After her marriage, Ruth was a cook for the Charles Pillsbury Family at Cismont Manor in Charlottesville. During World War II, the couple resided in Goochland County, VA. On the farm, Rev. Perry had his horse, cows, hogs, and raised chickens, while Mrs. Perry took delight in raising her geese, turkeys, and guineas. Because of her expertise in cooking, Ruth was hired by Goochland County to teach home canning and food processing to the African Americans in rural areas. When Rev. Perry was called as pastor to Shiloh Baptist Church in Williamsport, PA, Mrs. Perry served as a seamstress at the Lycoming Hotel in Wiliamsport, the first African American woman to hold that position. When the couple moved to Carlisle, PA in 1975, she joined the Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church and served as the Arts and Crafts coordinator for the Ladies Auxiliary. She and her husband also attended conventions and helped in the church whenever they were asked. Throughout her life, Ruth used her talent as a first soprano singer and could be heard in choirs of her husband's churches as well as a guest soloist. She would upholster the pulpit chairs, make draperies and altar covers for the various churches, and sew and make anything that was needed. She was also reknown in Virginia and Pennsylvania for her tasty rolls, pound cakes, sweet potato pies, beautiful sewing, crocheting, and flower arranging. While in Williamsport, she became a ceramist.
Just like her husband, Mrs. Perry was also active in civic and community organizations. At various times she was a member of the Deaconess Board of several of her husband's churches and the Y's Menette, the auxiliary of the Y's Men's Club of Carlisle. She was also active in the Piedmont, Slate River and James River Baptist Associations. She worked untiringly with the Missionary Circles and the Choirs of the churches pastored by Rev. Perry.
When she moved to Carlisle in 1975 with Rev. Perry, she enjoyed the company of her son-in-law's mother, Mrs. Rachel Hodge. They talked everyday, and one of their favorite subjects was their flowers! She enjoyed her grandchildren; Perrianne Hodge Davis and Mark Hodge; and Bryn and Bryan Perry. She also enjoyed her great grandsons, Arthur and Andrew Davis. She also attended the activities offered to Senior Citizens at the Salvation Army, continued in her crocheting, sewing, and caring for her many house plants and flowers. She attended regularly until she could no longer take the steps. She was a very strong woman, although she had a lot of health problems.
Mrs. Perry departed this life on December 17, 1998. Homegoing Services were held on Dec. 22 at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church. She was laid to rest beside her husband in Cumberland Valley Memorial Gardens in Carlisle, PA.
Reflections of My Parents and Union Baptist Church, Scottsville, VA
I do not know exactly what year my father, Rev. Houston B. Perry, was called to the Union Baptist Church in Scottsville. My earliest remembrance of the church (the white weatherboard church that was torn down in 1952) was the scripture that appeared over the pulpit area in an arch-like format: "O Come Let Us Worship and Bow Down, Let Us Kneel Before the Lord Our Maker." Psalm 95:6. I remember the Deacons sitting on the left hand side in a section at the front. The choir stand was on the right hand side of the pulpit but on on the level of the pulpit.
I have a picture that I gave to the Museum of my close girlfriend, Joy Renee Russell. I would say I was about five or six years old and Renee 7 or 8 years old. We were great friends and still remain so. As stated before, my father preached on Second Sunday evenings, and on the Fourth Sunday, there was morning and evening service. On the Fourth Sunday, after morning service, we were invited to eat dinner at one of the members home. Everyone would prepare a large, delicious meal to include the greatest of all pies and cakes. We were always eager to get to Scottsville, but how we dread the ride back at night, especially during the winter as Daddy never had any heat in his car. Houston and I would share a blanket (Mom called it a lap robe); we would cover up. The ride seemed so long going back home. We would finally fall asleep; when we got home then Mom would have a time waking us up. We then would have to go into a cold house and get ready for bed. I used to feel sorry for Daddy because he would go in the house and change his clothes and then go out to milk the cows before he could go to bed.
One night coming home, as we got close to Fife and the road that we took to go to our house, we noticed how red the sky was on the right side of the road. Daddy said he thought that it might be near Ebenezer Church. So he turned off on Route 45. As he approached the dirt road that went to Ebenezer, some men meet him and told him to turn around and go home; the entire forest was on fire, and that the church had burned down. Well, when Daddy drew up plans to build a new church, he said that the church would be built with cinder block; and so it was, with the new Ebenezer as well as with the new Union Baptist Church.
The homes I remember is that of Mr. and Mrs. Wesley Wood, Mr. Arthur and Mrs. Ernestine Burrell, Mrs. Mary Jackson, Mrs. Julia Lucas, Mrs. Perrin, Mrs. Louise Johnson, Miss "Pinkie" Monroe; Mrs. Catherine Hill (who had four wonderful children: Rudolph, Catherine, Gertrude, and Lillian). In the later years, we would go to Mrs. Ella Mack, Mrs. Bertha Brown, Mr. Lindsay and Mrs. Beatrice Wood, Mrs. Dorothy Woody, Mrs. Caroline Nicholas, and once in a while, we would go to Mother's cousin, Bessie Lewis. One day while visiting Cousin Bessie, she asked my Mother if she would like her mother's spinning wheel as she wanted to clear out a storage shed she had. Mother was delighted, and I now have t hat spinning wheel.
As my brother stated and I had forgotten it, that we play croquette in Mrs. Mary Jackson's front yard as well as Mrs. Ernestine Burrell. I remember that while the new church was being built, we worshiped in the Macedonia Church. Every year all of the churches would have a week's revival service in the month of August. Then in September, Daddy would baptize in the James River.
It was in Scottsville that I discovered I was allegeric to shrimp. We had been invited to a wedding anniversary of Mr. And Mrs. Clinton Harrison. At this affair, Mrs. Bertha brought this large bowl of shrimp salad. Well, I had never eaten shrimp before, but everyone was saying how good it was, so I decided I would try it. Well, within fifteen minutes, I became very ill. I couldn't breathe and I began to break out in large bumps all over my body. Well, the only doctor in town was Dr. Stinston, whose big, beautiful house was down town, nearby where we were. One of the members called him and told him how ill I was and could they bring me by his office. He consented and the diagnosis was I had asthma, and I was allergic to shrimp.
There was a lady that owned a beautiful house down town; her name was Mrs. Florence Martinez. She was a very light-skinned lady and had passed for white. She married a Mr. Martinez and lived in Ossining, New York. She was a person who loved to give to others. I remember my mother saying that when she came home, she would have her station wagon packed with clothes. Then she would distribute these clothes in her garage and people would come and choose what they wanted free of charge. She used to write to my Mother and also to me. She had a large handwriting and would write Bible verses all over the envelopes. Every time she wrote to me, there was also a brand new dollar bill in it. I still have two books and a little testament she sent to me.
A couple of years after we moved to Williamsport, I came home from school (Lycoming College) and my mother said, "Precious, go into the living room." I did, and there was a beautiful upright piano. Mrs. Martinez had died and had left me her piano. My Daddy said, when he returned home from taking me to school and Mom to work, he received a phone call. The people at the other end said, "Rev. Perry, my Florence died a few weeks ago and she wanted Precious to have her piano. It left this morning on a van and should be arriving in Williamsport before 4:00 p.m. During each holiday, she would always send us expensive candy. One Easter, she sent Houston and I a large chocolate rabbit, it was solid chocolate. Mrs. Martinez would keep Mother supplied with "Chantilly" perfume and body powder and various kinds of delightful fruit.
One Sunday morning, Daddy told the congregation that a new church building had to be built because the wooden white church was in need of great repair and also it could no longer accommodate the growing congregation. The congregation voted then to build a new church. If I remember correctly, everyone was in favor of it except Deacon Clinton Harrison. One morning, my Daddy said to my mother, "I am going to meet Mr. John Dickerson in Columbia, and we are going to Scottsville to begin tearing the old church down. I asked if I could go with him so I could take pictures of the old church; I had just received a brownie camera from selling garden seeds and I wanted to take pictures of the old church. He warned me I would have to stay all day and that it would be boring, and he wasn't going to come home until late. I said, I would be good; I would take enough books to read, and so he let me go with him, and I took three pictures of the church. I have held on to them ever since. When I saw the picture of the new church on your website, I then remembered I had the photos of the old church. I have provided the Museum with copies of those pictures, as well as a photo of the Sunday the church was dedicated (see photo below). After morning service, we had "dinner on the ground". I have been taking pictures ever since.
I mentioned what good friends Renee and I were. Many times, I would beg Mom to let me go home with Mrs. Burrell instead of going with Mom and Dad to the house that they were invited to on a particular Sunday. Well, one Sunday, Mom and Dad had been invited to Mr. And Mrs. Wesley Wood's home for dinner and I wanted to go to Mrs. Burrell's in order to be with Renee. Daddy finally said OK after Mrs. Wood say "oh, let her visit Renee". Daddy gave me special instructions that I would meet him on Route 6, near the road going down to the Woods' home at 6:00 p.m. He said, if you are not there, I will go home without you. Well, Lawrence, Renee's brother drove me to meet my parents. When we got there, Daddy had left. So, we went back into town using the road that Daddy always used, and we did not see him. So we went back to Mrs. Burrell's' home. When I came back into the house, Mrs. Burrell was surprised. She said Daddy drove into her driveway and drove out and went down the road. Well, I waited, and waited, and waited, and waited some more. Then I knew Daddy had driven back to Fife without me. It must have been after 11 p.m. when Daddy drove up in Mrs. Burrell's driveway. I immediately got up and went out and got into the car. Well, what a night! Daddy fussed with me all the way to Fife. When I got home, Mom was waiting up for me. It appears that Daddy was upset when I was not at the road when he said so. Well, it was standard that Daddy always keep his watch -10-15 minutes fast. Mom told me how they fussed when Daddy proceeded to drive home without me. She said when they got home and got inside the house, Houston broke out in a big, loud cry "I want my Sister!" Well, Mom and Dad continued to be "unbenefitted," and then Dad left out of the house and drove back to Scottsville for me. Well, that never happened again!
After we moved to Williamsport, and as stated in Daddy's biographical summary, he stayed with the church until it was completed and dedicated. So, especially during the summer of 1954, when he would come down, he would bring Houston. They would spend a week or so with Donald Wood, and Daddy would bring Renee up to Williamsport to spend a couple of weeks with me. Even before leaving Virginia, her school, Jackson P. Burley High School in Charlottesville would open in September before my school, Central High School, and I would go to Scottsville and stay a couple of days and would go with Renee to school. On the other hand, my high school would stay open longer than Renee's, and she would come down to Fife and attend Central High School with me. When I graduated from Williamsport High School and also Lycoming College, Renee was there for my graduations; my Daddy would drive down and get her. Of course, it was understood that when I got married in September 1959 to Marcus L. Hodge that she would be my Maid of Honor. Yes, we are still friends.
Oh, my brother, Houston, and I have many fond memories of Union Baptist, and after being asked about the Scottsville experience, we both agree it was Daddy's best church. The congregation really loved both our father and mother and even us. It was the only church that at Christmas time, all of the members brought us individual gifts, and we couldn't wait to get home to open then.
Since I have been involved with the Scottsville Museum, I now wonder where and how Mom and Dad would rate Union Baptist with the other churches; my believe now is that Union Baptist would top the list. It was the last church Daddy left. He had more services there during the month than any other church he pastored. The congregation at Union Baptist Church all worked so hard to do whatever they had to do, in order to pay for their new church. I remember us going to Scottsville once a month to attend the "Busy Bee Club" meeting. The meetings were be held in the homes of the members. The members would meet in the living room, and the children would stay in the kitchen. We would play games, put puzzles together, etc. Whatever teenager lived in that house was in charge of the rest of us...and we had better listen, that is all of us children. I remember very clearly that when we went to Mrs. Sadie Randolph's house, her oldest son, Gerald, was in charge.
Daddy was a hard working man who loved preaching teaching and pastoring God's churches. He was also a carpenter and a farmer. He was a "no nonsense." His favorite statement was "I am not for any foolishness" and he wasn't. He said what he meant, and he meant what he said. He was a very talented man, a highly motivated man. He was small in stature but mighty in action. He cared nothing about style, or beautiful cars. He wore his suits until they were worn and Mom would say "you need to throw those suits away." He made very little money, and so from time to time, usually at pastoral anniversaries, the churches would give him money to buy a suit. He had four churches and so when time came for him to purchase suits, he would go to the same store, buy four of the same style suits, in black, brown, navy and gray. He would only buy black and brown shoes; again both the same style. He drove his '36 Chevrolet, until it could no longer be fixed because parts could no longer be found by the mechanic. Many of the roads he drove on were dirt roads. He would go to Association meetings, union meetings, whatever, and would park his dusty '36 Chevrolet by Rev. S.C. Abrams (Fluvanna County) or Rev. McCreary's (Charlottesville) brand new shiny Lincoln and Cadillac. It did not bother him. He also did not worry about things he could change. It was his makeup not to show much affection; my brother and I never saw him hug or kiss our Mother, or show outward affection, but let her get sick, he was a different man. I am sure Houston has some memories where he showed special feelings. I remember how he cried when Houston returned from Vietnam. The first time we took a trip together was when he was called to Shiloh Baptist Church in Williamsport, Pa. He wanted to take Mom up to get her opinion and feelings about moving. Someone always had to stay home to take care of the farm; therefore, Daddy would go to New Jersey every October to visit his family. When he came home, he always brought me a beautiful pair of patent leather shoes. I remember his expression when he performed my marriage to Marcus, and when he first saw his four grandchildren. He preached until the very end. When he was home and going through the ending of his life, he would get up and hold on to his pulpit and preach all night long.
For our mother, she was just as strong willed as our Father. She said what she meant and meant what she said. She did not take foolishness either. She was a hard working woman. She had little for so long, but would make it be much. She was a beautiful seamstress. Her sisters would send her their discarded clothes, and she would de-seam, make her a pattern out of newspaper. After designing an outfit, she would cut the material and make her, as well as myself new clothes. She made everything I wore; dresses, suits, coats, hats, bags, slips, panties, etc.
Mother was also a good cook and cooked for the Pillsburys (Cismont, Albemarle County). A year after my brother was born, Mrs. Pillsbury asked Mom if she would come to Keswick for two weeks and cook for her aunts while the cook took a vacation. Mom said she would - provided she could bring us, and Mrs. Pillsbury graciously agreed. So, Daddy drove us to Cismont Manor, and we had the experience of living in the "big house," It was a beautiful large, Georgian style home, with lots of rooms and antiques. The cook's quarters was upstairs over the huge kitchen, a pantry, a room that was nothing but ceiling to floor cabinets to store all of the many sets of dishes, silver, etc. The quarters consisted of two bedrooms a living room and bathroom. Mrs. Pillsbury's aunts (Mrs. Alice Duvall and Mrs. Farrell) lived at the house and ran everything. The Pillsburys spent most of the year in Minneapolis. Minnesota, where the flour mills were. They would come home on holidays. The two weeks that we spent in the summer at Cismont Manor was an unusual experience for my brother and myself.
My parents had very little money, but we lived on a farm and provided all of the food we needed. Mother canned vegetables, made jelly and preserves, processed pork and beef. The only thing Daddy bought at our corner store (Sammy D's) was flour, meal, sugar, salt, and fish.
Mother had a strong faith and trusted in God for all of her needs. I could give hundred of examples of how her faith brought her through so many difficult situations.
On our way back from the trip to Williamsport, my father asked Mom, "Well, Mrs... what do you think? Should I accept the call? Do you like the people and the town, how do you feel about leaving Virginia?" Her reply to him was "It does not matter what I think, like or want. I sincerely believe that God has called you to serve the people in Williamsport, and I will be ready to move when you are." All Houston and I did was look at each other. This was going to be my senior year at Central High School, and I wanted so badly to graduate with my class. I also knew that I would be attending a large high school where 99% of the students were white and so were all the teachers. Houston hated leaving all of the animals; he loved not only the dogs and cats, but the horse, Tony, and the cows. I do not know what other feelings he had with reference to moving from what had been our home for all of our lives.
Well, Mom was right about the move. I was able to get a good education, make wonderful friends, travel with my college choir to Europe for seven weeks, and experience nurturing of so many wonderful ladies, as in Scottsville. The greatest gift of all, to grow in faith. The next gift was that God gave me the opportunity to meet and marry a wonderful man, resulting in wonderful in-laws, two wonderful children and grandchildren. As the spiritual goes "Give me that old time religion...it was good for my dear father...it was good for my dear mother...and it is good enough for me". Thanks for the opportunity to reflect on Scottsville and my parents in a way I have never done before.
Well, so long for now.
Ruth 'Precious' Perry Hodge
Reflections of My Father and Scottsville, Virginia, 1950-1962
Even though my family and I lived about twenty miles away in Fife, Va., Goochland County, I always had a special place, "at home", in my heart for Scottsville, Va.
I have fond memories of Union Baptist Church, and the wonderful people in that congregation. My first memory of Union Baptist are a bit blurred, as I was quite young. However, I remember a pot bellied stove in the old wooden church. I remember lying across my mother's lap, feeling safe and warm.
I also remember my father and Mr. Dickerson climbing onto the roof during the construction of the new church.
There were so many special ladies in my life from Union Baptist. For several summers, I spent a few weeks in Scottsville. I stayed with Mrs. Beatrice and Mr. Lindsay Wood and visited with their younger son, Donald; he was my age, and we were good friends. These were a wonderful few weeks. Donald and I would ride our bikes into Scottsville almost everyday. We would visit "Big Jewel" and Mrs. Bertha Brown (her sister) at the restaurants where they cooked. Now at that time, these restaurants were "segregated."
"Big Jewel" worked in a small restaurant located on the right side of Main Street (coming into town). Donald and I would go to the door that had the "Colored" sign, and "Big Jewel" would pile our plates high with delicious food. Note: The "colored" folks plates always had larger portions than the "white patrons" plates.
After gorging ourselves there, Donald and I would then go across the street to Mrs. Bertha's restaurant; it was located behind the movie theatre. Once again, we gorged ourselves.
I recall one unpleasant racial incident in Scottsville. One day Donald and I rode our bicycles downtown. I had a new ten-speed racer bike. My tire was low on air, and so I went to one of the downtown gas stations. As I pumped the tire up, a white attendant remarked, "How did a n----- get a bike like that?" I never went back to that station again.
In August, there was a special day, Home Coming Day! I always looked forward to this weekend. After morning service, there was "dinner on the ground", and oh, what a feast! I would get something from all of the lady's tables.
After moving to Williamsport, Pa., we would drive down (leaving at 4 a.m.) and arrive in downtown Scottsville around 2 or 3 o'clock in the afternoon. We would park, and all the people who were downtown would gather around the car to greet us. My parents loved this -- they were treated like "royalty."
I could go on forever. The wonderful dinners at Mrs. Ernestine Burrell's. The great dinners at Mrs. Mary Jackson's and playing croquet in her front yard.
So many wonderful memories - the beautiful hats and clothes - so many memories!
Houston Bryan Perry, Jr.
A significant contributor to this portrait of Rev. and Mrs. Houston Perry was Graham Paige of Esmont, VA, whose research and writing skills are much appreciated. We also thank Ruth Perry Hodge and Houston Bryan Perry, Jr., for their continued support to Scottsville Museum and dedicated efforts to record their parents' story.
The ca. 1950-52 photos of the original Union Baptist Church; Rev. Houston and Ruth Perry; Ruth Hodge and Joy Renee Russell are part of the Ruth Perry Hodge Collection at Scottsville Museum. Ruth is the daughter of Reverend and Mrs. Houston Perry, Sr., and resides in Carlisle, PA.
The photo of Middle Oak Baptist Church (2004) and Ruth Morgan Perry (1994) are part of the Elizabeth Cherry Jones Collection at Scottsville Museum. Liz has conducted extensive research on the cemetery at Middle Oak Baptist Church in Blenheim; she is a teacher at Yancy and Scottsville Elementary Schools in 2005.
The photo of Union Baptist Church (2005) is courtesy Connie Jo Geary, Scottsville Museum.
Copyright © 2001 by Scottsville Museum
Scottsville Museum · 290 Main Street · Scottsville, Virginia 24590 · 434-286-2247
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Copyright © 2001 by Scottsville Museum