Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Virtuous Man


Most people probably associate cattle drives with the last century, and the wild West, but out here in Spottswood, in the Shenandoah Valley, there’s a man who’ll tell you different, and he’ll tell you first hand.

“Back in the 20’s we drove ’em in spring, up in the mountains, thirty miles beyond Monterey — right through the streets of Monterey — for the summer, where the pasture’d be good and it was cool; and in the fall we’d drive ’em back down the mountain to the Staunton markets. It’d be about eighty miles; and we’d be goin’ three – four days.”

He tells it matter of fact. Characteristically so. To Mr. J.W.Woods there’s no special glory in the telling, nor romance in the event, just part of something he’s been doing all his life.

Born in Rockbridge Baths, near the turn of the century, Mr. Woods started working at the Silverbrook Farm, near Middlebrook, when his father took on there, and he was still only a boy; and he continued there after his father died, and through all the time of his own children’s births and then upbringing.

He remembers that when hard times came, back in the thirties, Mr. Clemmer told them he couldn’t afford to pay more than fifty cents a day, but added that if things got better they’d be paid better. So he stayed. And for a long time afterward he was foreman before the Silverbrook Farm was bought by Mrs. Groves of Texas, and the famous King Ranch family.

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