Marker Makes History

Village gets long-awaited recognition
Bob Pohlad, left, and Ferrum Forward Chair Jennie West help with the unveiling of the Villages new historical marker
Bob Pohlad, left, and Ferrum Forward Chair Jennie West help with the unveiling of the Village’s new historical marker
Courtesy of Bob Pohlad

It was a brief ceremony, yet a historical moment Saturday as members of the Ferrum community gathered to unveil the Village’s new historical marker.

Members of the audience parked alongside the street as they began to make their way to the church adjacent to them, with a podium, series of chairs, and floral decorations waiting. Members of Ferrum Forward walked about, personally handing  guests envelopes filled with a photo of the marker soon to be unveiled, the outline of the ceremony, and a list of donors that made such a celebration possible.

A photographer rushed around, capturing the essence of the moment on screen.

There was an ambiance of bustle and business in the air.

The marker, similar to those often viewed across highways and other commonly traveled roadways, is the first historic marker to find a home in Ferrum.

It’s appearance is no coincidence.

In fact, the marker, itself, was a $3000 endeavor–and that was only after the success of its approval, which was no easy task.

According to Bethany Worley, director of the Blue Ridge Institute and Museum, the process of reporting the history in signage format and achieving approval was a process that occurred over the course of years. It also failed the first application, lengthening the process even more.

Interim Provost and Professor Delia Heck poses next to the new historical marker. (Bob Pohlad)

Located approximately 50 yards from St. James Methodist Church, the marker is a result of the extensive efforts Ferrum Forward and essentially the community as a whole.

An abundance of college personnel, including Worley and Roddy Moore, also a director at the BRI; and former Supervisor Bobby Thompson, community member; were all recognized by Tina Hanlon–English Professor and Ferrum Forward Public Communications Chair–for their work, alongside members of the community as well.

Karl Edwards is credited for assisting in the initiation and documentation of the project, with Robert Journell and Don Vineyard. Bob Pohlad served as a photographer and contributed significant insight toward the location of the marker. Katrina Harrison, Ferrum Forward member and owner of Kat’s Hidden Treasures, played a crucial role in fundraising. Ferrum Forward Chair Jenny West planned the event, and Mary Turner volunteered an amiable amount of time to designing invitations and programs.

Funding the marker was a further task for the community, as the price tag was not a small one, nor was it covered by any governmental agency.

Winston Boyd, Levi Briggs, Carter Bank and Trust, Crossroads Ruritan, Joeseph and Nicole Durand, Edwards, Ferrum Lions Club, Virgil and Lucy Goode, Katherine Grimes, Ray Hale, Hanlon, Judy and Earl Johnson, Robert and Ruth Journell, Kitty M. Martin, Alton Maxey, Roddy and Sally Moore, Pohlad, Geraldine Scott, Johnny Smith, Debora Peters-Smith, Peggy Smith, Glenda and Bobby Thompson, West, Burton White, and Lana Whited were all noted as donors.

Any and all were encouraged to attend the unveiling, as well as the post-dinner and collegiate performance of Joeseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

West began the ceremony at 3:30 p.m. with a welcome and introduced the upcoming speakers.

Tucker Lemon, representative from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, was the first. He explained to the community exactly what the historical organization does and presented a background of Virginia’s historical markers.

The day was windy, attempting to carry his speech notes with the breeze, yet Lemon spoke with only the highest regards for both the success and the amicable efforts of those involved in the implementation of the sign.

Worley followed. She offered a further pretense of the marker, the efforts of many and all that was emplaced into the securing of the sign.

“You know what they say, ” she said, “it take a village to raise a sign.”

White, pastor emeritus of St. James and Ferrum Forward Member, continued the ceremony with a brief account of the Village’s history.

He explained the development of Ferrum in 1872, the rise of its locality, the setback of a great fire that almost diminished it from the map, and praised the modern version of the area in which one may see today.

White also justified the location of the marker in front of the church, as St. James Methodist Church is the oldest standing brick building in Ferrum and was handcrafted by members of the community on-site.

Pohlad ended the ceremony with an expression of gratitude to all involved and an introduction of the special guests in the audience, as the time to unveil the marker soon arrived.

Burton White, right center, speaks about the history of the Village Ferrum. (Bob Pohlad)

The community wore expressions of pleasure as cover was removed and dispersed with smiles as they ventured beneath the picnic shelter to enjoy the reception. At the marker, there was a line of locals waiting for a photo with anticipation, while others conversed with those they had not seen for a lengthened period of time.

For Hanlon, it was a sense of gratitude and accomplishment that rang through the afternoon.

“I enjoyed very much working with the small group of historians, folklorists, and citizens who wrote the text and applied for Ferrum’s new marker,” she said.

For one local couple, the church was their place of marriage, and they could not have been more thrilled to have returned to the location for yet another monumental moment.

Burton also expressed a tone of cheer and understood the marker to be truly of a historical significance.

“We are happy to have it here,” he said. “Now, Ferrum, no matter what happens–Ferrum will be here forever.”

It very much so seems, too, according to attendees of the unveiling ceremony, that the efforts of all are not soon to be forgotten either, as the historical marking will leave its imprint on the Village.

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