Explore the past in SW Virginia this summer with a historic scavenger hunt!
Sixteen history museums, from Bedford to Wytheville, are partnering to celebrate the 350th Anniversary of the Batts & Fallam [aka Batte & Hallom] Expedition
Three hundred and fifty years ago, explorers Thomas Batts [Batte] and Robert Fallam [Hallom] set out from what is now Petersburg on a quest to find a land route to the Pacific Ocean. Their journal records their visit to this region, making them some of the earliest—and perhaps the first—European explorers to reach southwest Virginia. This summer, sixteen history museums across the region are recreating that spirit of exploration with a scavenger hunt of historic proportions.
This summer will be a great time to get out and explore SW Virginia history! Each museum tells its own unique and fascinating story; in addition, each site has selected a special scavenger hunt challenge question that adds to the fun. Visitors are encouraged to pick up a History Passport at any participating museum or download a copy at the History Hunt SW VA Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/HistoryHuntSWVA. The History Passport includes all of the scavenger hunt questions, plus information about each participating museum.
The majority of these museums offer free admission, or free admission for children participating in this passport program. Hours also vary: call ahead or check museum websites for the days of the week and hours each is open. Families and visitors of all ages are welcome and encouraged to join in the exploration.
Visitors will be entered into a prize drawing for every five museums visited between Memorial Day and Labor Day, when they find the answers to the scavenger hunt challenge questions at each site. The drawing will take place after Labor Day.
The sixteen participating history museums stretch from Bedford to Wytheville, offering much to explore:
- Bedford: Bedford Museum & Genealogical Library (http://www.bedfordvamuseum.org/), and National D-Day Memorial (https://www.dday.org/).
- Fincastle: Botetourt County Historical Society & Museum (https://bothistsoc.wordpress.com/).
- Roanoke Valley: O. Winston Link & History Museum of Western Virginia (https://roanokehistory.org/), Salem Museum (https://salemmuseum.org/), and Virginia Museum of Transportation (http://www.vmt.org/).
- New River Valley: Alexander Black House & Cultural Center and St. Luke & Odd Fellows Hall (https://www.blacksburgmuseum.org/), Glencoe Mansion Museum & Gallery (https://glencoemuseum.org/), Historic Smithfield (https://www.historicsmithfield.org/), Montgomery Museum of Art & History (www.montgomerymuseum.org), Ratcliffe Museum of Transportation (https://www.theratcliffemuseum.com/, and Wilderness Road Regional Museum (https://wildernessroadregionalmuseum.com/) .
- Wytheville: Edith Bolling Wilson Birthplace Museum (http://www.edithbollingwilson.org/), Haller-Gibboney Rock House Museum and Thomas J. Boyd Museum (https://www.wytheville.org/museums/museums.php).
The Batts and Fallam [Batte and Hallom] Expedition of 1671 was funded by Abraham Wood, who hoped the expedition would discover a route to the “South Sea” just beyond the Blue Ridge Mountains. The explorers and their Native American guide headed west, but their exact route is debated by historians today. In September, the explorers noted in their journal, “we came to a very steep descent, at the foot whereof stood the Totera Town in a very rich swamp between a branch and the main River of Roanoke circled about with mountains… Here we were exceedingly civilly entertain’d. Saturday night, Sunday and Monday we staid at the Toteras.” The location of Totera Town, home of the Tutelo tribe, remains a mystery, but archaeological evidence suggests it may have been in modern Salem. While the group didn’t find a route to the Pacific, they are credited with being the first Europeans to see the New River.
For more information and to download a passport, visit History Hunt SW VA Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/HistoryHuntSWVA.
The forty-five objects in this new exhibit now open at the Montgomery Museum of Art & History review all two hundred and forty-five-years of Montgomery County, Virginia’s history. Inspired by similar exhibits in Richmond, Virginia and the United Kingdom, this exhibition allows objects, both beautiful and mundane, to tell the Montgomery County story.
The Montgomery Museum is grateful to exhibit objects from its own extensive collections as well as those that are on display through the courtesy of Christiansburg Institute, Inc. as well as objects on loan to us from private collectors.
What were the interaction of English and German settlers with native people? View the 1790s ironstone platter once owned by the Harman family who were among the county’s earliest settlers. A Confederate sword made in Christiansburg, juxtaposed with slave shackles enables us to think about the impact of slavery and the Civil War. Commemorative pins from the opening of Route 11 and a horse doubletree (wagon harness) helps us to consider changes brought by new technology and methods of transportation change the county.
The stories brought forth by these objects give opportunities for discussion and thought – they provide a tangible link to our past. Objects continue to be central to the role of museums. Objects celebrate, commemorate, and speak for those who came before. Join us now through December 2021 and see the stories for yourself.
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According to family lore, the bedcovering was woven by a slave in Montgomery County on the plantation of Catherine L. Montague Trigg for her step-daughter Catherine Trigg Mosby. Passed from generation to generation, the large overshot coverlet (ca.1850) remained in the family for more than 160 years. The pattern uniformity indicates the work of one weaver, probably a woman.
We know that in 1850, there were 6 slaves held on the Trigg farm, including two women, ages 16 and 41. In 1852 and 1853, eight slaves were sold from the farm, to settle Thomas Trigg’s estate, including four women: Amy, Maria, Jane, and Margaret. Another slave, a woman, 50 years old, continued to be owned by Catherine Montague Trigg in 1860, her name has not yet been discovered. Any of these women could have been a spinner, dyer, or weaver.
If you’ve ever received a free tote bag or key chain carrying a business logo, you are familiar with promotional novelties. If you’ve ever wondered who thought of putting company logos on serving plates and salad tongs, you’ll want to join us to view the upcoming exhibit at the Montgomery Museum. You’ll see rare glimpses of long-closed businesses, view quirky novelties, and be amazed at the large assortment of goods carrying local logos!
The first promotional novelties in the United States were buttons created to commemorate the inauguration of George Washington in 1789. By the late 1800s, enterprising businessmen in Coshocton, Ohio had launched a new industry that offered advertising on everything from burlap book bags to fly swatters, yardsticks, and metal souvenir trays.
The incredible (and continuing) success of non-paper advertising was based on visibility and loyalty. When placed on a utilitarian object, the ad remained in view of both the piece’s owner as well as anyone the owner came in contact with while using the item. The “free gift” nature of the novelties created a sense of loyalty and obligation towards the business.
Visit the Montgomery Museum’s new exhibit to see an abundance of useful goods and clever novelties that were offered to encourage new business and retain customers. Owners of large stores in Christiansburg and small general store owners in communities like Riner, Ironto, and Cambria all gave away items emblazoned with their business name.
The exhibited items highlight past businesses and illustrate how we once shopped. We hope you will join us.
We are excited because the Montgomery Museum of Art & History and the Museum Market on Main have reopened!
Museum Hours: Tuesday-Friday 10:30-4:30, and Saturday 1-4
Market on Main Hours: Tuesday-Friday 11-6
Visit our Facebook page to learn interesting snippets about Montgomery County history. Our new “Museum Minute” video tours have been entertaining to learn to produce to say the least! These short videos feature museum staff introducing you to some of the items on display in the museum exhibits.
While the Montgomery Museum will be closed at least through the remainder of March, we felt it was important to make the interesting work currently on exhibit in the Blacksburg High School Art Show available. These images are to be enjoyed online – use of them without express permission from the artists is prohibited.
The 3rd annual h’ARTS on Main fundraiser is fast approaching and we hope you can join us!
Held at the Great Road on Main, local artists and artisans, will display and sell their work. Anywhere from jewelry designers, fiber artists, portraitists, and photographers, you will see a lot of what this community values in art and artistry. Plus, there’s so much more!
The silent auction begins Friday at 1, and closes on Saturday at 4 (to benefit the Montgomery Museum of Art and History.) From 4-4:30, we’ll announce the winners. If you can’t be there, DON’T WORRY. You can pick up your items at the Montgomery Museum the following week. The items this year are fantastic! Don’t miss this!
If you like to work in art, we are also hosting FREE hour-long art instructional classes for the Young at h’ART (ages 7 and up) which will be held on Saturday. (Many thanks to the Blacksburg Regional Art Association, for sponsoring these classes!) Claim your spot while you can, as spaces are limited: h’ARTS on Main
You’ll also be interested in listening to our local musicians, who will play throughout the day, Saturday. Find out more.
Can’t wait to see you there!