Letter from Roanoke.

February 2, 1870


The obsession with railroads is rampant throughout Virginia.


If you would like to appreciate fully the beauties of riding on a stage, just leave Lexington at 3 o'clock A.M. by the coach for Bonsack's, where you arrive at 5 P. M. Colonel Harman knows how to keep up a stage line-his coaches arc good, his drivers skillful and careful, his agents polite, and his teams splendid. But he is a patient man who can go from Lexington to Bonsack's without feeling inclined to importunate the Colonel, who is president of the Valley railroad, to hurry up his iron horse. At the Natural Bridge we were furnished with an elegant breakfast, and along the road we had a moment's interview with our old friend Rev. P. B. Price, who, we hear, is succeeding admirably in his new change at "High Bridge." We had an excellent opportunity of learning the feeling of the people along the route on the admission of Virginia, as our stage brought the first news of the event. The citizens take it very quietly. I saw no bonfires and heard no salutes. The more intelligent would say "Well, if we had been promptly admitted, and without conditions, we would be more gratified; but as Congress has broken faith with us this time, we have no assurance that they will not invent some pretext and kick us out again." Certain it is that there is not one tithe of the rejoicing over getting back into the Union as when in '61 Virginia decided to cast her destinies with her southern sisters and called for her sons in these mountains to defend her border. The railroad fever is at white heat all along the route, and the relative merits and prospects of the "Valley railroad," "Shenandoah Valley," "Lynchburg and Covington," and "Bonsack's and Covington," are freely canvassed. I found in session at Enon church, near Hollins Institute, the ministers' and deacons' meeting of the Valley Baptist Association. This body meets the Thursday before each fifth Sunday, and spends several days in exercises of passages of Scripture, or discussions on various questions of doctrine and practice. They have been kept up now for more than two years, and have proved of deep interest and profit to all who have participated in them. The present meeting has been one of more than ordinary interest. "Love to Enemies," exegesis of Rom. ix. 1-3.; "Powers and Prerogatives of Church Officials," exegesis of Luke ix. 49-50; "Baptism for the Remission of Sins,"and "What Constitutes a Call to the Gospel Ministry?" were some of the topics which were discussed. The congregations were good, and seemed to be deeply interested all of the time, and on Sunday the house was crowded to hear preaching. The members of the church and community generally, entertained the delegates and visitors with that bountiful hospitality for which this section is noted. The next meeting will be held at Fort Lewis church (five miles above Salem) on Thursday before the fifth Sunday in May. Your correspondent was quartered at the Hollins Institute, and had full opportunity to learn of the character and prospects of this noble champion of female education. They have now eighty pupils-many of them from the southern States-and are expecting others soon. The Faculty is unsurpassed for ability, scholarship, or power to impart instruction. Your correspondent is indebted to the young ladies (by the way he has never seen a prettier or better behaved set of girls together) for some of the sweetest music he ever heard. But I have written as much as you will print, and must close.
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Charles Simmonds




“Letter from Roanoke.,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed May 18, 2022, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/1587.