It's All Relative: Richmond Families (Pt. 3)

By The Valentine

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

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.

General Williams C. Wickham, Lucy P. Wickham and son (1885) by George Smith CookThe Valentine

The Wickham Family

Benjamin Watkins Leigh, John B. Martin, 1825, From the collection of: The Valentine
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Benjamin Watkins Leigh (1781-1849) was born in Chesterfield County, Virginia, the son of the Reverend William Leigh (d. 1787) and Elizabeth Watkins (d. 1799). He attended the College of William and Mary, studied law and began practicing in Petersburg in 1802. Following the death of both his parents, he acted as a guardian for his younger brother William.

Leigh married three times: on December 24, 1802, to his cousin Mary Selden Watkins; on November 30, 1813, to Susan Colston; on November 24, 1821, to Julia Wickham (1801-1883), the eldest daughter of John Wickham. Their son Benjamin Watkins Leigh, Jr., (1831-1863) died at the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War.

Anne Carter Wickham, 1858, From the collection of: The Valentine
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Anne Carter Wickham Renshaw Byerly (1851-1939) was a daughter of General Williams Carter Wickham (1820-1888) and Lucy Penn Taylor Wickham (1830-1913) and a great-granddaughter of John Wickham (1763-1839). Anne and her three siblings were cared for by the enslaved household workers at her parent’s plantation Hickory Hill in Hanover County, Virginia.

Fruit Bowl, Peter L. Krider, Mitchell & Tyler, 1840, From the collection of: The Valentine
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This sterling silver fruit bowl is from the workshop of Philadelphia silversmith Peter L. Krider (active 1845-1860) and retailed by Mitchell & Tyler of Richmond. It was purchased by and monogrammed for Edmund Fanning Wickham (1796-1845).

Edmund was a son of John Wickham and his first wife Mary Smith Fanning. In 1822, Edmund married Lucy Carter (1799-1835) of Shirley plantation. They lived at Rocky Mills plantation in Hanover County with their six children. This piece of family heirloom silver descended in the family of Edmund’s brother, William of Hickory Hill plantation.

Frances Wickham Graham, George P. A. Healy, 1860, From the collection of: The Valentine
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Frances “Fanny” Wickham Graham (1808-1895) was the sixth child of John and Elizabeth Wickham. She married Lt. Col. James D. Graham in 1860; the couple had no children.

In an 1875 letter, William Fanning Wickham (1793-1880), Fanny’s elder half-brother, described a fire at Hickory Hill, the family plantation in Hanover County, Virginia, that destroyed a considerable portion of the house along with some family heirlooms and mementos. Wickham writes that “Mrs. Graham, who lost almost her entire wardrobe is as cheerful as if nothing happened. Her good temper exceeds anything I ever knew.”

Thomas Ashby Wickham, David Silvette, 1934, From the collection of: The Valentine
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Thomas Ashby Wickham (1857-1939) was the son of Littleton Waller Tazwell Wickham (1821-1909) and Elizabeth Peyre Ashby (1824-1859). Thomas Ashby Wickham practiced law in Washington Territory in the 1880s and 1890s. In 1897, he returned to Virginia and married his cousin Julia Wickham Porcher (1860-1933), daughter of Virginia Leigh (1835-1866) and Dr. Francis Peyre Porcher (1824-1895).

Wickham was appointed judge in the Henrico County court and served in the Virginia Senate. Towards the end of his life, he sat for his portrait by Richmond artist David Silvette. Painted the year after he was widowed, it descended in the family until 1996.

Marble Mantel (1855)The Valentine

John Powers Ballard (d. 1878), his wife Jane (d. 1892) and their son, William (1842-1924), were the second family to reside in the 1812 Wickham House at 1015 East Clay Street, Richmond, Virginia. Ballard purchased the former Wickham residence for his family’s new home in 1854. The Ballards began extensive renovations to the outdated Federal period townhouse that included changing the fireplace mantels. This Italian marble mantel was acquired for the Drawing Room. It remained there until the Valentine Museum’s 1989 restoration of the house.

In 1856, Ballard opened the Ballard House hotel on Franklin Street. Prosperity did not last for the Ballard family due to the financial panic of 1858. In May 1858 the Ballards were forced to sell 1015 East Clay Street. The Ballard family, like many others in Richmond, never fully recovered from the financial devastation of the American Civil War.

Family Interviews 2016 (It's All Relative) (2016) by Dana OllestadThe Valentine

1. Martha Graham Creger, 7:49

2. Gayle Jessup White, 6:23

3. Kathleen and Charles Marks, 9:49

4. The Jackson (School Stories), 6:52

5. Tracy Epp and Michele Cadwallaer with Camilla, 10:26

6. Laura and Brian Berkey with McKenzie, 9:36

7. Otavio Vega and Family at Caribe, 13:44

8. The Jacksons (Dad in WWII story), 3:33

9. Osiris Pula, 7:21

10. Elizabeth Thalhimer Smartt, 12: 04

11. Shelia Brooks and Cliff Brooks, Brooks Optical, Inc, 8:04

12. Helen Silvette McIver, 9:50

13. Emily Kimball, 11:24

14. Carol and Bruce Ligh, 8:42

15. The Jacksons (Christmas stories), 6:55

16. Lindsey and Nicole O-Pries with Zora, 8:28

It's All Relative Exhibition Logo (2016) by Elizabeth Anne EnrightThe Valentine


Family is the core of who we are and how we are likely to self-define – as individuals, households, communities, and as a nation in any era. In addition to sharing pieces with stories from the Valentine museum collection we also hope to enter into a discussion of how the changing definition of family is interconnected with each of our daily lives.

Credits: Story

Julia and Tunnicliff Fox Charitable Trust
Richmond Family Magazine


Dana Ollestad

with special thanks to Tyler Kirby of Departure Point
James Mattise

Elizabeth Anne Enright

Image 360 RVA

Custom Art Installations

Terry Brown

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

The board and staff of the Valentine

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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