Eleanor Roosevelt Dress

Mrs. Earl Nuckols presented this dress to the Grayson County Historical Society in 1981.

In 1933, Mrs. Nuckols, the former Virginia Witherow of Galax, VA., saw First Lady, Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt at the Folk Life Festival at Whitetop, VA. Some time after the festival, this small town school teacher wrote the First Lady and asked for the dress she had worn to this festival. To have a young, small town school teacher display the audacity to write the First Lady of our country and ask for her dress, is a source of admiration, considering the social conventions of that time.  Judging from the letters she received from the White House, she was persistent.

Sometime in the mid 1930’s, she finally received a dress from Mrs. Roosevelt, although not the dress the First Lady had worn to the Whitetop Festival in 1933.

The Grayson County Historical Society would like to thank Mr. Roger P. Marshall, Sr., a local cabinet maker, for building the beautiful walnut cabinet in which the prized dress is displayed.

The “Eleanor Roosevelt Dress Exhibit” was debuted at the 2011 Fall Foliage Festival, an annual event held in Independence, VA.

Virginia V. Young Collection


This collection was donated to the Grayson County Historical Society in 1998 by Mary Ellen Smith, the grand-daughter of Fields Morgan Young and Mary E. Young. It contains original deeds for land at Edgewater, tax receipts, photographs, letters and other items from both the Young and Waugh families.



The Young Family of Edgewater

Ezekiel Young was born on November 6, 1806. His wife, Evaline McMillan was born in 1812. After they married on October 27, 1830 at Nathan’s Creek, Ashe Co, NC, they settled in the Mouth of Wilson area of Grayson County and had twelve children, five boys and seven girls. One son was Fields Morgan Young, born January 8, 1846, (d. 21 July, 1928). He married Mary E. Waugh (b. 23 July, 1849; d. 23 Sept., 1926), daughter of James Waugh and Elizabeth Blair, in Oldtown, Grayson County, VA on July 12, 1876. They lived on Ezekiel Young’s homeplace in the Edgewater community in Grayson County. Fields was a merchant and farmer and was appointed Postmaster at Edgewater, VA on July 15, 1888. Fields and Mary gave birth to three children.  James W. Young was born in Grayson County on February 8, 1881 and died eight months later on October 6, 1881. Their first daughter, Virginia Victoria Young was born in Grayson County on November 6, 1883. She died of Typhoid Fever while attending school at Sullins College in Bristol, TN two days before her 16th birthday on November 4, 1899. Virginia, as well as her parents, are buried in the Fields Young Cemetery, on the Edgewater property in the mouth of Wilson community. The youngest daughter, Mattie E. Young was born in Grayson County on March 10, 1884. Mattie married Walter M. Hardin and lived in Galax, VA. Their daughter, Mary Ellen Smith, donated the collection.

Caty Sage Letters

Many from this region are familiar with the story of Caty Sage, a young girl kidnapped from the area of her Elk Creek home in 1792 and sold to the Indians only to be found many years later. The GCHS was contacted by Hannah Sullivan who shared: “Many years ago, my mother found 10 letters from Charles Sage to Jacob Delp, describing Charles’ discovery of, reunion with, and death of his sister, Katy (Caty) Sage. They not only describe Charles’ meeting with Caty, who at the time was living with Wyandotte Indians, but also describe the conditions, values, and cultures of the mid-1800’s.

Fries Mill, Fries, VA

In 1900, Col. Francis Henry Fries damned the New River and built a mill to spin cotton into cloth. When it opened in 1903, the Fries Mill (Washington Mills) had the most sophisticated technology in the world. It closed in 1988, unable to compete with the world’s least developed countries.

In the boom days after World War II, there were 1,200 people working in the mill. Raw cotton was brought into the mill to be spun into yarn- as all threads used to make fabric are known- then woven into cloth.

New River Painting by Poole

Mr. French Poole graciously donated this lovely piece of original artwork painted by his Aunt Leila Clyde Poole (1911-1930) of Elk Creek. She was the daughter of William Reece and Virginia Catherine Wright Poole. According to Mr. Poole’s grandmother, Leila was a “sickly child” who died of polio and typhoid fever. She nonetheless loved to paint and completed many pieces. This is the only painting currently known to have survived within the family.

Historic Maps


The Grayson County Historical Society has in its archives several maps including reprints of the Grayson County 1897 map, the 1807 James Madison Map, the 1862 J.F. Gilmer Map, and regional topographical maps, among others.




E. C. Andis Letters


Earl Carson Andis was a Grayson Dare Devil from Elk Creek in the Confederate service from April, 1861, until the end of the war. His letters are a unique collection spanning the duration of the war. They describe all aspects of military life from a soldier’s point of view – food, clothing, and uniforms; sanitary and health conditions; as well as battles, capture, imprisonment, military movements, and reprimands. They show the tragic aspects of a war in which brothers fight on opposing sides. They were addressed to “Dear Wife.”