Oct 13, 2016 - Jun 18, 2017

It's All Relative: Richmond Families (Pt. 2)

The Valentine

What defines a Richmond family in 2016? The classic nuclear family has been left behind along with our black and white television sets and tuna noodle casseroles. This exhibition explores the changing definition and composition of what makes a family in our Richmond community over the past five centuries.

Gallery Two

Dorothy Bingham Chapin (1900-1985) was painted with her youngest child, Virginia by the noted Richmond artist David Silvette shortly after her husband’s death. Cornelius Colton Chapin, Jr. (1893-1940) died in an automobile accident leaving his widow to raise their three children: Dorothy Saville Chapin (1924-2006); Cornelius Colton Chapin, Jr. (1926-2006); and Virginia Chapin Finlayson (1934-2005).

David Silvette studied under his father, famed portrait artist Ellis M. Silvette, and later with Cecilia Beaux and Charles Hawthorne.

The Chapins chose to be painted seated on this walnut sofa. The piece was a family heirloom used in their Richmond living room. Passed down through several generations of the family, the sofa was recently donated to the Valentine by Mrs. Chapin’s grandson, James.

What is an heirloom? A valued personal possession passed down in a family through succeeding generations. In some families the possession may have great monetary value; in others it may be the emotional or sentimental value that makes an object an heirloom.

Martha Gwynn “Mattie” Ould (1850-1877) was the reigning belle of post-Civil War Richmond. Reluctantly engaged to an elderly business acquaintance of her father, Mattie eloped with the dashing Oliver Schoolcraft (d. 1913) while staying at White Sulfur Springs resort in West Virginia. Schoolcraft brought his bride home to Richmond, where they soon started a new family.

Victorian fathers are legendary for their refusal to forgive undutiful children, and Robert Ould (1820-1882) was true to type. Mattie and her baby died in 1877. Mr. Ould refused to visit his daughter and she died unreconciled to her father and younger half-sisters Sarah (1855-1933) and Madge (1872-1955). The Ould - Schoolcrafts’ story of unresolved family relationships passed into local legend as a cautionary tale for all.

Maggie Lena Draper Walker (1864-1934) was born to the formerly enslaved Elizabeth Draper and Eccles Cuthbert, an Irish-American Union soldier. Draper and Cuthbert never married but soon after Maggie's birth, Elizabeth married William Mitchell. In 1870, the Mitchells had a child, Maggie's half-brother Johnnie.

In 1876, Maggie’s stepfather William Mitchell drowned under mysterious circumstances. His death left the family in poverty – an experience that led Walker to devote her life to narrowing the racial gap in Richmond.

Perhaps the best-known members of the Langhorne family of Virginia were two sisters who grew up in Richmond — Nancy and Irene. Nancy (1879–1964) eventually moved to England, married the wealthy William Waldorf Astor and became world famous as Lady Astor, the first woman to sit in the British House of Commons. A plaster death mask taken where she died at Grimsthorpe Castle, Lincolnshire, was sent by her son David back to the United States to be placed in a suitable public collection.

Irene (1873–1956) married the New York artist Charles Dana Gibson (1867-1944), creator of the iconic “Gibson Girl.” Irene’s oil portrait can be seen in the Valentine’s exhibition, This Is Richmond, VA.

There is no more potentially contentious group than family. As memoirists, when we sit down to write the stories of our families—our childhoods, our relationships with parents and siblings, the role of in-laws and out-laws in every generation —we often pause, hesitant. Questions begin to formulate. What will happen if I write about my family? How will they react? Should I tell the truth unflinchingly, or should I take care to write more gently—and less controversially? What is the truth?

In Richmond, writing and publishing family memoirs dates back several generations. This example from the Bryan family was privately printed. John Stewart Bryan (1871-1944) presented a copy to the Valentine Museum in 1936. The subject, Joseph Bryan (1845-1908), was one of Mosby’s Rangers during the American Civil War, a highly-successful Richmond business leader and a beloved husband and patriarch.

The 43rd Battalion, Virginia Cavalry, also known as Mosby's Rangers, was a battalion of partisan cavalry in the Confederate army during the American Civil War (1861-1865).The 43rd Battalion was formed on June 10, 1863, near Rectortown, Virginia by Colonel John S. Mosby.

According to the memoirs of John Munson, one of Colonel Mosby's 400 men, Mosby avoided using militaristic words like "troops" or "soldiers" or "battalion" in favor of the more familial "Mosby's Men" or "Mosby's command". Strong bonds were formed among the soldiers that resulted in regular reunions after 1865 and reunions continue among their descendants.

Shirley MacLaine was born Shirley MacLean Beaty in Richmond, Virginia in 1934 and her brother Warren three years later. Their mother, Kathlyn Corinne MacLean (1903-1993), was a drama teacher from Nova Scotia, Canada, and their father, Ira Owens Beaty (1903-1987), a professor of psychology and real estate agent, was from Virginia. The family was devout Southern Baptist and includes both Scottish and English ancestry. The Beatys moved to Arlington, Virginia in 1945.

In Richmond the presence of Thalhimers department store on Broad Street was an important downtown landmark for generations of Richmond area families. In 2010 a descendent of the firm’s founder, German immigrant Wolff (later changed to William) Thalhimer (1809-1883) researched the family papers, public records and, most importantly, talked with her extended family members about their history and stories.

“This book means everything to me. It’s the history of our family. It’s like giving birth to a child and transferring your ancestor’s DNA along to future generations.”
- William B. Thalhimer III

Joseph Marx (1772-1840) immigrated to America from Hanover, Germany, in the 1790s with his widowed mother, Frances (1750-1819). In New York, Marx married Richea Myers (1769-1838), the daughter of noted silversmith Myer Myers. The Marx family settled in Richmond, Virginia, and resided at 6th and Cary streets. They produced ten surviving children between 1795 and 1812.

The extended Marx family belonged to Beth Shalome Congregation and was prominent in Richmond’s Jewish community that has flourished since the 18th century.

2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the first Greek Church in Richmond. The first documented Greek Orthodox Christian families arrived in Richmond in the mid-1890s.

Greek families congregating for fellowship and celebration of Church and Greek holidays decided to form a Church community in 1917. Originally located downtown, a 1957 fire destroyed this first sanctuary and the Church sold the land for redevelopment. By 1959 the Church acquired a new building site on Malvern Avenue and completed construction on the Cathedral of Saints Constantine and Helen in 1961.

This Vivlos (Bible) and eikon (icon) of Saint John were brought to Richmond by a Greek family as important items not only of their deep religious faith but as tangible connections to their roots.

Today there are over five million Eastern Orthodox Christians in America. Many claim Greek descent and have maintained strong familial and cultural identities while assimilating into American life. This eikon (icon) of Saint John the Reader was brought to Richmond by a Greek family as an important item connected not only to their deep religious faith but as a tangible connection to their Greek roots.

Greek families congregating for fellowship and celebration of Church and Greek holidays decided to form a Church community in 1917. Originally located downtown, a 1957 fire destroyed this first sanctuary and the Church sold the land for redevelopment. By 1959 the Church acquired a new building site on Malvern Avenue and completed construction on the Cathedral of Saints Constantine and Helen in 1961.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, candles are lit before certain icons. These votive candles are placed in containers, having either sockets to hold the candles, or in a container filled with sand, in which the worshippers place their candles.

Broad Street Methodist Church, located at the corner of 10th and Broad streets, was a place of worship for the Court End neighborhood from 1858 until 1951. The mid-20th century saw city families across the United States move to the suburbs, and Richmond reflected this national trend. With many of the congregation’s families traveling up to 25 miles to attend services, Broad Street Methodist shut its doors in 1951.

Prior to demolition in 1969, this window from behind the church’s altar (as seen in this photograph) was given to the Valentine Museum.

The American Great Depression (1929-1939) hit Richmond’s African-American community hard, as black unemployment rose, membership in clubs, churches, and other organizations declined. Many African-American personal relationships were impacted as families broke apart and members left the city to seek new opportunities elsewhere.

Very little is documented about Joseph and his wife, Elisha. The couple worked for the Mayo family and lived in the former slave houses behind the Mayo’s Linden Row home at 104 East Franklin Street, Richmond, Virginia. These Depression era oil portraits were painted by their employer, local artist Isabel Jones Mayo.

"There was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe" is a popular English nursery rhyme. There remains debate as to its meaning and origin. One meaning that is clear is that caring for a large family can be stressful for mothers in any age or culture.

Prior to reliable birth control, most Richmond women could expect to have an annual pregnancy during their fertile years.

The most common version of the rhyme is:

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children, she didn't know what to do;
She gave them some broth without any bread;
Then whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.

Naive artist Ruth Clide Proffitt’s artwork depicts warm family scenes that in fact were in stark contrast to her family’s reality.

Born outside of Richmond, Virginia, into a rural family of slender means, few would have foreseen an artist’s life for Ruth. The sudden death of her mother in 1915 found the five-yearold Ruth raising her two older brothers while seeing her younger siblings sent away to live with other relatives.

Impoverished, Proffitt sought out resources, including local museum visits, to learn how to paint. Her family struggles and sacrifices are not reflected in her works, which show instead idyllic scenes such as this family gathering at her home in the Oregon Hill neighborhood.

In 2016, Style Weekly named the Ukrop family its 30th anniversary “Richmonders of the Year,” citing their active approach, cultural influence and longevity of work in Richmond. The Ukrop family includes Jim and Barbara Ukrop, as well as his brother and sister-in-law Bobby and Jayne, with all of their extended families.

Jim and Bobby Ukrop’s parents started Ukrop’s Super Markets in 1937. This café sign (above), inspired by Maurice Sendak’s 1963 children’s book Where The Wild Things Are, was donated to the museum after being removed from one of the company’s former stores. The family-owned business was an important part of the greater Richmond community and even past the 2010 sale of the business, the Ukrop family continues to lead and influence the quality of life in our city.

Cover story Abril, age six, is a Richmond child who loves to dance (ballet and flamenco are her favorites) and read stories about animals. After school, she is happiest spending time with her family, which includes two older brothers.

Founded in 2009, Richmond Family Magazine (RFM) is a free local family publication. Produced monthly, RFM is committed to inspiring healthy families.

Sponsored by Julia and Tunnicliff Fox Charitable Trust, Altria Group and Richmond Family Magazine
Credits: Story

SPONSORED BY
Julia and Tunnicliff Fox Charitable Trust
Altria
Richmond Family Magazine


EXHIBITION PROJECT TEAM

MEDIA
Dana Ollestad

with special thanks to Tyler Kirby of Departure Point
James Mattise

LABEL DESIGN
Elizabeth Anne Enright

LABEL FABRICATION
Image 360 RVA

EXHIBITION FABRICATION AND INSTALLATION
Custom Art Installations

PHOTOGRAPHY
Terry Brown

CURATOR
David B. Voelkel
The Elise B. Wright Curator of the General Collection

WITH THANKS TO
The board and staff of the Valentine

SPECIAL THANKS TO
Michael Lease and Kimberly Wolf and their project
Battery Park Stories: Reflections of Our Neighborhood

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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