Capturing the Past: CCHA’s Oral History Initiative

Preserving Clarke County’s rich history is central to the mission of the Clarke County Historical Association.  Beginning in July  2016, we will be conducting a new historical initiative called Capturing the Past which will focus on oral history interviews.  These interviews will be conducted with some of the oldest members of Clarke County to gain a unique perspective on our county’s rich history.  Transcriptions of the interviews, audio recordings, and family photos will be featured on our website.

While important dates and events help us understand the past, oral histories conducted with those who lived generations ago help us paint a more accurate picture of everyday life in a different time.  Their stories open a window to Clarke County’s past from unique perspectives.

All recordings copyright(c) Clarke County Historical Association.  

To listen to audio clips, please click on the names below.


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Jacob Beverly Vorous (Tig)

 The first interview was recently conducted with Jacob Beverly Vorous. Jacob was born in Winchester in 1925 and moved to Millwood with his mother a year later. He called Millwood home from 1926-1946. After leaving military service at the end of World War II, he returned home to marry his high school sweetheart and built a life in Virginia. They’re still together to this day and have many interesting stories to tell!



Gladys Stewart and Doris Green

Doris Green and Gladys Stewart

Doris Green (left) and Gladys Stewart (right) reside at the Golden Living Center in Berryville. Both Gladys and Doris grew up in Browntown and have lived in Clarke County for their whole lives. They spent most of the childhoods in church, at school, or at work, but have fond memories of of playing baseball, swimming in the creek, and going dancing. 



Viola Brown

Viola Brown

Viola Brown is not only one of the oldest people in Clarke County, but one of the oldest people in the country!  At 105 years old, she still enjoys a good conversation and baking dinner rolls.  She remembers the days around the time of "The Great War," remembers when people came into town by horse and buggy, and speaks fondly of those she has gotten to know over the years.  The youngest of twelve children, she and her family have formed a lifelong bond with the Claggett family.  Barbara Claggett was also on hand during the interview.  Ms. Viola currently resides on Josephing Street in Berryville and is still sharp as a tack!

  Simon Newlin
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Simon (78 years old), was born on a farm in Clarke County in 1938.  As a child during World War II, he worked with other men on his father's farm who could not serve in the military.  His mother was a mid-wife and helped his aunt give birth to 12 children!  Simon learned a lot at a young age while working on the farm.  By the time he was 12 he could drive a car and had become an excellent marksman.  He eventually created Shenandoah Sand, Inc. out of Winchester which his wife now runs.


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Bev Whiting

Bev Whiting was born in Winchester on September 26th, 1919 and has lived most of his life in Clarke County.  He graduated Clarke County High School in 1937, served for three years in the U.S. Army from 1943-46 and ran his father's business (H.B. Whiting Co.) from 1940-1953.  Many people in Berryville remember him as being the owner of the Berryville Newstand, which he ran from 1956-1979. As a youth, he remembers having long conversations with his grandfather, who fought for the Confederacy in the Civil Way. Bev currently lives at the Godfrey House here in Berryville and loves to paint.  Above him in the photograph is one of his paintings.  



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Mark Royston

The Royston family have ties in Clarke County that go back centuries.  Mark Royston, who will be 87 in 2017, grew up on the mountain and is full of interesting stories from his younger days.  His grandfather was born in 1843 and was a waterboy during the Battle of Cool Springs.  Some of Mark's stories include where the last shot from the Civil War was heard, an interesting way to prepare for entrance into the Naval Academy, a $10 skunk miracle, and how life today is different from like back then.  

  Phoebe Layton

Phoebe Layton Phoebe Layton, was born on March 19th, 1917.  Phoebe and her husband, Bill Layton, spent every summer in Clarke County since 1948. The photo to the right is of Phoebe and her husband as teenagers in 1932.  The left photo is of Phoebe today at 100 years young.  She still comes to visit Millwood each summer. We interviewed Phoebe and her daughter Mary.


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Juanita Finley

Juanita Finley, 81, was born and raised in Clarke County and has lived in many different places throughout her life, from Okinawa to North Carolina.  However, no place beats home.  "I LOVE Millwood! There's no place like it!"  Juanita loves to reminisce on her youth and talk about the days when she and the other children would play together in the creek and play baseball, and sometimes get in trouble!



Ann Brown


Ann Brown

Ann Brown, 91, was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland and moved to Clarke County to be with her husband, who was a native of Clarke County.  At first, she wasn't sure if she and her husband were going to be successful away from the city, but over the years she grew to love the area she quickly called home.  Through the years, Ann participated in the Blue Ridge Players theater production company and often performed in Boyce.  This interview took place at Westminster Canterbury with Ann, her daughter Ann Barton Brown, and close friend Sharon Harrison.  



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Dan and Leigh McKay-Smith

Dan (88 years old) and Leigh (87 years old) are long time residents of White Post.  Dan was born in Manhattan in 1929 and his father worked for Franklin Delano Roosevelt when he was both a Governor and Senator.  When Roosevelt was elected as President of the United States in 1932, Dan and his family moved to White Post.  Leigh was born in the area but moved away at a young age, only to return when she was in high school.  The two met at that time and have been together since.  Their stories involve traveling to New Mexico, climbing atop barns, and bike rides to the old Winchester airport.  While the two have had many adventures, according to Dan, there's just no place to them like White Post: "Everything I ever wanted in the world, was in White Post."


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Tyson Gilpin

Tyson, nicknamed "2" as a child for his shenanigans with #2 pencils, has a long had a strong connection with Clarke County.  As a child, his father worked in the administration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  At the age of five, he and his family came to Clarke County where his father immediately fell in love.  So much so that he eventually left working in the White House to spend more time with his horses on the beautiful Clarke County landscape. The smell of hay, oats, and old barns formed Tyson's early love for horses as a child, which continues today.  Tyson is a graduate of Princeton University, as well as UVA Law.  He is also quite familiar with the history of the pool and billiards scene in Clarke County!