Virginia Women in History - Route 58
A driving tour showcasing the Library of Virginia's Virginia Women in History honorees along Route 58 across southern Virginia.
Born in the small Southwest Virginia town of Nickelsville in 1909, Maybelle Addington Carter grew up surrounded by traditional Appalachian folk music and learned to play the banjo, autoharp, and guitar. After marrying Ezra Carter in 1926, Maybelle formed a trio with her brother-in-law A.P. Carter and sister-in-law and first cousin Sara Carter called the Carter Family. One year later, the Carter Family was discovered in Bristol, TN when the group recorded its first record. The Carters shot to fame with their traditional "hillbilly music" and became known as the first country music stars. Maybelle later formed a group called Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters with her daughters Anita, Helen, and Valerie June (most famously known as June Carter Cash). Mother Maybelle Carter, as she became known during the height of her success, was a pioneering guitarist and a highly influential figure in the development of country music.
One of the earliest women to win election to Virginia's House of Delegates, Vinnie Caldwell also helped her family operate the Bluemont Hotel (no longer standing) on the northwest corner of Main and Center Streets, in Galax.
Successful midwife Orleana Hawks Puckett lived in a two-story log cabin on Groundhog Mountain, but was forced to move in 1939 for construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The cabin at milepost 189.9, which had also been located on her property, has been erroneously interepreted as her home.
Mary Sue Terry became the first woman elected to statewide office in Virginia when she was elected attorney general in 1985. She grew up on her family's farm in the Patrick County community of Critz, where she continues to reside.
Rockabilly star Janis Martin, known as the female Elvis during the 1950s, lived in Danville where she worked as manager of the nearby Danville Golf Club. In 2014 Virginia's Department of Historic Resources installed a marker on West Main Street honoring Martin's career.
An acclaimed lyric soprano and the first African American to receive a contract from a major American opera company, Camilla Ella Williams was a pioneer for black artists in classical music. In 1979 the city of Danville named a park along the Dan River in her honor.
At her Mecklenburg County home, Prestwould Plantation, Jean Miller Skipwith, Lady Skipwith, assembled one of the largest libraries owned by a Virginia woman early in the nineteenth century.
A native of the Brunswick County community of Ante, Cleo Elaine Powell became the first Afircan American woman to serve on the Supreme Court of Virginia.
Edith Turner, chief of the Nottoway, lived on land along the north side of what is now Route 58 near Courtland, and successfully navigated nineteenth-century Nottoway and Anglo-American societies while she strove to keep the tribe's children on the reservation.
The Norfolk branch of the Equal Suffrage League of Virginia was established in November 1910 at the Olney Road home (no longer standing) of Pauline Adams, its organizing president and a militant suffragist who chose to go to prison for her political beliefs.
Edythe Colton Harrison's love of music led her to help establish the Virginia Opera Association and raised money to convert an auditorium into Norfolk's opera house, which is named for her.
A resident of Norfolk at the time she helped organize the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (later Preservation Virginia), Mary Jeffrey Galt lived with her family in a house that had been located where the York Street parking garage now stands.
A dynamic and compelling conductor and music director of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra (which perfoms at Chrysler Hall), JoAnn Falletta is an advocate for contemporary music.
In 2008 the Virginia Beach City Council named the Meyera E. Oberndorf Central Library after the city's longest-serving mayor, who was also a tireless advocate for the city and its residents.
Early in Elizabeth Duke's banking career, she became chief financial officer of the Bank of Virginia Beach (now inactive), which was headquartered at this location. As a member of the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors, Duke helped implement the Federal Reserve System's response to the financial panic of 2008.