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The Elberon Post Office:
Serving the Community for One Hundred Years
Scenes of Then and Now
December 13, 2002
This map shows the Elberon area in 1864,
well before it was named Elberon.
In the lower left is Bailysburg P.O. and Faison's Store, which were just on the Wakefield side of Dendron (the name Dendron also did not exist at this time). The squiggly line between Bailysburg and Faison's Store is Blackwater River. Going diagonally up to the right past Faison's Store is another squiggly line, Cypress Swamp, and then Cypress Church, the ruins of which are still visible at Sexton Wye. Continuing along this road diagonally up to the right is McGuireman's Store. This may have actually been McGuiriman's store, but in any case is the location of present-day Elberon. Notice the road to the right from that location goes to Moore's Swamp Church, as it does today.
For reference, other places visible on this map are Surry at the upper right. Note it only shows five structures. Wall's Bridge is near the bottom a little over half way across. The word "Design" at the middle left is New Design, still called that today where Route 616 (New Design Road) meets Route 615 (Carsley Road). Area residents will recognize other places and farms named on this map.
New Folks in Town
In 1900, before there was an Elberon Post Office, a family was moving into the area from Pennsylvania. The head of the family had been a typesetter by trade, in an age when type for newspapers and books was set by hand. But the increasing use of the linotype machine, which set type with the speed of a typewriter, had about put him out of business. He traded a house in Philadelphia and some cash for a farm in Surry County, and intended to farm for a living. He made only one visit to the area before bringing his family down in December of 1900. Being from Pennsylvania, the December cold was not such a problem, but besides his wife there were six children under the age of ten.
The family loaded all the household goods they could into a boxcar and took the train down to Wakefield. At Wakefield, they unloaded the Norfolk and Western boxcar and filled up two Surry, Sussex and Southampton Railway narrow-gauge boxcars for the trip to the nearest approach of the railway to the farm they had bought. As they rumbled along from Wakefield, there was some worry how they would get to their new home, how they would get all their furniture the miles through the woods, what kind of reception they would get from strangers. When the train slowed and stopped at Cockes' Crossing and the family got off the train, there was a sea of horses and carts, mules and wagons, and others out to help transport them home. Every family in the area had turned out to help get this new family moved home. The family was the John L. Huber family, descendants of which still live in the area. Finest people in the world here in Elberon.
Horses and Songs
The last of the old-time Southside Virginia horsemen was Harry Spratley, of White Oak Stock Farm, in Elberon. From 1905 to 1932 he bred fine horses and served as judge of the nation's largest horse shows. His father, John T. Spratley, had been selling championship horses to wealthy New Yorkers as early as 1877. Harry continued this process. He hobnobbed with the Roosevelts, the Morgans, Will Rogers, and other society types. In the 1920s, Harry dated a showgirl in New York named Margie, who was the subject of the song, "My Little Margie." Harry himself was immortalized by an acquaintance, the prolific songwriter Felix Adler, in the song, "I'm Just Wild about Harry."
Harry Spratley remained in Elberon and married Annie Leigh Barrett and they raised their family here.
Erling Chappell's grandfather had been station agent at Elberon for the SS&S Railway, and used to live in a shack out in back of Erling's store in Elberon. The story is that as the SS&S came by one day, Grandpa Chappell held up and waved his coal shovel. When asked why he waved that way, Grandpa Chappell said he wanted to be warm that winter. It was pointed out that he had a good supply of board ends, etc., which should keep him warm through the winter. Grandpa Chappell said no, he wanted some coal for real warmth. When the SS&S came back, there were two men on the tender behind the engine, both shoveling out coal on Grandpa Chappell's side as the train went by. Grandpa Chappell said, "Raymond [his grandson], get your wagon and some pasteboard boxes." They filled them with coal, and loaded it all into a coal bin Grandpa Chappell had built.
The old Price store in Elberon. This building burned before 1905 and was
rebuilt in 1905 for Perry E. Price. It became Elberon Supply Company about
1916. The Tynes family ran the store for many years.
1952 advertisement for the store.
Elberon Supply Company store, 1983.
The store building where the Post Office is now located, taken about 1910. Ottimus J. Cockes is at left, Lee Price is standing in the doorway, and seated in the doorway is Nelson Cockes.The photo above was used in this ad in a 1913 publication.
Price's School #4 at Gordon Price's and John Savedge's field, taken about 1912 when it was owned by Nick H. Savedge. This school served the Elberon area before Elberon School was built on the Dendron side of the village.
The teacher standing in front of the door is _________ Chapman.
The 23 students L to R are: 1. Elbert Cockes, 2. Raney Stallings, 3. Okey Edwards, 4. Ray Savedge, 5. Clarence Maynard, 6. Lathan Scarborough, 7. Felix Savedge (first tall boy in dark coat), 8. Gregor Huber, 9. Wilma James, 10. Eula Edwards, 11. Elsie Savedge, 12. Ocie Savedge, 13. Anna Huber, 14. Sadie Murray (?), 15. Violet Jones, 16. _________ (girl in dark dress), 17. Robie Stallings, 18. Nelson Huber (tall boy in coat), 19. Oscar Edwards, 20. _________, 21. Neil Jones (short boy in coat), 22. ___________, 23. ____________.
If you know the names of those with the blank lines, please email us at: Elberon Info.
New Lebanon Christian Church in Elberon, from a 1913 publication.
New Lebanon Church about 1983.
New Lebanon Church in 1986.
Mr. O.J. Cockes, first Postmaster at Elberon, is pictured here about 1915. He was Postmaster from 1902 until 1938.
Shown below is the Charles Cockes farm at Elberon, about 1922-23. Driving the horse and buggy at left is Lee Price. The small girl with doll baby is Marion Cockes. The couple at the front door is Bessie Price Cockes and Ottimus J. Cockes. The boy on the horse at right is Nelson Cockes.
of Elberon in 1918
This section of a 1918 map shows the immediate area of Elberon at the
time. The Surry, Sussex and Southampton railway is visible where it passed
by Elberon, and numerous buildings are shown.
Notice the building with a cross sticking out at the Elberon intersection:
this is New Lebanon Christian Church. Above that on what is now Route
31 is another building with a cross showing: that is Harrison Grove Church.
Below the Elberon intersection is a building with a pennant-shaped flag
attached: that is Elberon School.
At the Elberon intersection you can see the building which now houses
the Post Office, diagonally across from New Lebanon Church.
Maps of this time did not give the names of owners of homes or farms,
so you will have to identify them yourselves.
School students about 1920
The school was built about 1914-1917 and once stood in a field on the
O.V. Cockes farm. It was used in that location until the end of school
Lying in front L to R: Wilton Price, Francis Cockes.
Front row L to R: Jennings Price, Benjaman (Bert) Hargrave, Nelson Cockes,
Raymond Edwards (?), Spratley Price, Will Johnson Jr., Elmo Edwards.
Middle row L to R: Luray Edwards, Louise Stallings, Hilda Savedge, __________,
Raymond (?) Edwards, Florence Savedge, Edith Edwards, Virginia Price,
Bessie Edwards, Ida Mae Tench, Mertie Price.
Back row L to R: Susie Parker, Inez Bailey, Mrs. Ruffin Price, Roxie Stallings,
Blanche Savedge, Francis Huber, Stella Edwards, Lizzie Tench, Elton Chappell.
Some Elberon School students, 1922-24. L to R: Hilda Savedge, Wilton Price,
Bessie Edwards, Francis Cockes, Luray Edwards, __________, Louise Stallings.
Elberon School, shown here in an undated photo, was built between 1914-1917.
It closed in June of 1925, was torn down and moved to Surry to be used
for an agriculture class at the high school.
These ads for Elberon businesses are from a 1923 publication
Highway Department Map
This 1935 Highway Department map does not show the location of homes and
buildings on the main roads, such as Route 31. However, it does show sites
along secondary roads.
New Lebanon Church is the building with the cross on it at the Elberon
In the bottom left of the map is a building with a pennant-shaped flag,
turned sideways. This is Hazelbush School, just up the road from Sexton
In the top left section can be seen St. Paul's Holiness Church when it
was located where its cemetery is today. The St. Paul's congregation later
bought the building of the Methodist Church at Moorings when the Methodists
abandoned that church. Moorings can be seen near the top center.
At bottom right there is a building with a flag and a building with a
cross. These are Moore's Swamp School and Moore's Swamp Church, the school
now long gone. On Route 616 at this intersection is the Spottsville store
and Post Office building, closed but still standing.
Cockes Sowder, Elberon Postmaster
Marion Cockes Sowder, shown here in front of the Elberon Post Office,
held the position of Postmaster longer than any other person, almost 40
1952 advertisement for the store pictured below
This 1983/84 photo shows the store Erling Chappelle ran from about 1927,
and which recently burned.
More on Elberon Post Office
The inside and outside of the Elberon Post Office has been changed many times over the years. This photo shows the inside in 2000 before some more changes were made. The Postmaster is barely visible inside the window.
This is the plaque over the window in the photo above.
The map above shows the Elberon area recently. The photo below is a satellite
photo of the same region. Notice the map shows roads and buildings clearly,
while the satellite photo shows fields and woodlands better.
The First Hundred Years
During the first hundred years of a US Post Office at Elberon, the office of Postmaster was held for over 75 years by O.J. Cockes and his daughter, Marion Cockes Sowder. Lillian Babb and Better Thomas have held the office for about ten years each. These four people account for 95 of the 100 years the Post Office has existed.
- Ottimus J. Cockes, Postmaster .......... 24 Dec 1902 - 14 Nov 1938
- Marion Cockes Sowder, Act PM .......... 15 Nov 1938 - 25 May 1939
- Marion Cockes Sowder, Postmaster .......... 26 May 1939 - 9 Mar 1978
- Audrey Thacker Huber, Officer-in-Charge ...10 Mar 1978 - 6 Oct 1978
- Lillian Seward Babb, Postmaster .......... 7 Oct 1978 - 29 Dec 1988
- Arlene Ingram Taylor, Officer-in-Charge ... 30 Dec 1988 - 27 Jul 1990
- Harold S. Albergottie, Postmaster .......... 28 Jul 1990 - 15 July 1992
- Susan Lyle, Officer-in-Charge .......... 16 Jul 1992 - 25 Sep 1992
- Betty N. Thomas, Officer-in-Charge .......... 26 Sep 1992 - 18 Jun 1999
- Betty N. Thomas, Postmaster .......... 19 Jun 1999 - today (13 Dec 2002)
Support your local Post Office.
Much thanks to Thomas Huber, Dendron Historical Society Member and Elberon resident, for providing this information from the booklet that was handed out compliments of the Dendron Historical Society during the 100th year anniversary celebration of the Elberon Post Office, December 13, 2002. Thomas Huber noted in this booklet that he wishes to thank Lois B. Wyatt for photos and information, and especially to James E. Savedge for generously allowing the copying of old photos and for his identification of persons.