Why History Matters


As per my last post, my cousin Nancy Bercaw and I are trying to find a way to swim in the Rivanna River at the old Bercaw farm (Rebelannabercaw farm 2) in Palmyra, Virginia this Saturday. I have attempted to phone the Barbers who bought the farm from my grandmother Nancy and renamed it Barbersville. But all the numbers I have for them are out of service. And the Great Google Internet Machine reports that the farm was sold.

Hmm. What to do?

I decided to call the Fluvanna County Offices and inquire as to whom might be the new owners. I picked a number from the contact list and dialed.

“Hello, this is Mel.”

“Hi, Mel. I’m trying to find out who bought a property that used to belong in our family. I’m Nancy Bercaw.”

“Oh, hi, are you Bill’s daughter? The farm up on Hells Bend Road?”

“Nope, I’m Beau’s daughter. And yes, that’s the place.”

“Yea, the Barbers sold about six months ago. Hang on while I get the name of the new owners,” reports Mel.

“I just want to come swim in the Rivanna this weekend with my cousin Nan, Bill’s daughter.”bercawfarm 3

“You can just go knock on the door and ask.”

“I might do that. Did you know my grandmother Nancy?” I ask.

“Sure did. She was friends with my grandmother. We are the Bell family.”

“Of course, I know the Bell family.”

“Some of us are a bit unusual,” says Mel.

“Same with the Bercaws.”

We both laugh. He knows all about our family antics. And I know all about his. We don’t have to speak of it. (But FYI, Barkley Bell lived neaOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAr the Bercaws and he let his house fall down around him, with cows walking through the living room which had no walls. My grandmother paid his property tax so he wouldn’t lose his home. That house is now completely gone, as is Barkley.) Many generations of Bercaws and Bells are buried at Lyles Baptist Church, where I had my son blessed after he was born.

“Good luck going swimming,” Mel says.

“I think I’ll just knock on the door on Saturday, ” I say.

And just like that, I have all the information I need. Part of the Bercaws (and Bells) will always live in Palmyra.




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