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Social and Civic Whirl

Social and Civic Whirl: Randall Booth: Commemoration and Painting Dedication

Isle of Wight Chapter 699 United Daughters of the Confederacy – Smithfield, Virginia sponsored a Commemoration and Painting Dedication honoring Randall Booth, a slave, at the Isle of Wight Courthouse, Virginia on November 12, 2105. The Isle of Wight Chapter 699 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy was chartered on July 25, 1903 with 132 members. History tells us that the Isle Wight Chapter is an outgrowth of the many local memorial and Confederate Home Associations organized after the War Between the States and is the oldest (1890) patriotic lineage organization in the United States due to its connection with Daughters of the Confederacy in Missouri and the Ladies Auxiliary of the Confederate Soldier’s Home in Tennessee. The United Daughters of the Confederacy was established, in 1894, after a national organization meeting held in Nashville, Tennessee. Today, the Isle of Wight Chapter 699 United Daughters of the Confederacy has 25 members who continue the mission of “honoring our Confederate ancestors, honoring and supporting our veterans and active duty military and promoting education through various projects and scholarships.”

According to historical records, Isle of Wight County has housed some of the oldest and most complete court records in the United States dating back to the 1600s. In fact, the oldest recorded document is dated 1629. The personnel, at the Courthouse, have stated, through the years, that these records provide important historical and genealogical information to researchers and the general public throughout the country. Recorded history continues by revealing the role played by Elizabeth Bennett Young during the American Revolution. In 1781, Elizabeth Young, wife of the deputy clerk and army officer Francis Young, seized the county court records and hid them from the British troops approaching Smithfield. Young buried the records which remained buried until after the surrender at Yorktown.

Historical records state that during the Civil War, on May 5, 1862, Clerk of Court, Nathaniel P. Young, received authorization to have court records removed for safekeeping. He entrusted this monumental task to his slave Randall Booth – a relative of Gertie Booth Williams of Petersburg, Virginia and deceased family members Shirley D. Booth and Jocelyn P. Goss (Norfolk). All three, Gertie, Shirley and Jocelyn are products of Isle of Wight County, Smithfield, Virginia. Randall took the records to farms in Greensville and Brunswick counties. Once the records were returned to the Courthouse, after the war, Randall was freed; given a “position” as caretaker of the courthouse; and a parcel of land on which he built a home and lived until 1904. Prior to this commemoration, the records room – with recorded wills, deeds, birth, marriage and deaths and the clerk’s office was named in honor of Randall Booth. In addition to this painting commemorating Randall Booth by Stephanie Faleski, a resident artist at the Arts Center at 319 Main Street in Smithfield, she painted a portrait of Elizabeth Bennett Young which hangs in a second floor corridor near the clerk’s office.

Linda M. Conley, President of Isle of Wight Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy Welcomed family members and other guests to the dedication. Karen B. Grigg, Chaplain, did the Invocation; Secretary of the organization did the Pledge of Allegiance. Celia W. Coughlin sang the National Anthem. Patricia J. Hall, Vice President of the United Daughters of the Confederacy told the story of Randall Booth and introduced the artist Stephanie Faleski. Remarks were given by The Honorable Carl Edward Eason, Jr./Chief Judge Circuit Court/Isle of Wight County; The Honorable DeeDee Darden, Vice Chairman/Board of Supervisors/Isle of Wight County; Clerk of the Circuit Court/The Honorable Sharon N. Jones; and Isle of Wight Museum Director/Jennifer Williams England. A reception followed the program and unveiling. A notation of thanks to the donors and special thanks to the others who contributed to the success of the commemoration and painting dedication.

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