"British extraction" & the Shenandoah Division

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Mon Feb 14 11:25:33 EST 2005

To: "N&W Mailing List" <nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org> 
Date: Sun, 13 Feb 2005 21:18:01 -0500 
From: nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Subject: Re: The Term "CT"

"Given the fact that E. W. Clarke & Co. brought into
the N&W mix some people of ... er, shall we say
'northern extraction'..."

The folks at E.W.Clark & Co. were viewed as "saviors"
by the Shenandoah Valley Railroad, after bad treatment
at the hands of Pennsylvania RR in 
the 1870s.  Frederick J. Kimball who was sent by
E.W.Clark & Co., was actually Milnes's nephew, and
viewed as "one of our own" by the backers of the 
railroad. And although Philadelphia is north of
Roanoke, it is probably most accurate to say they were
of "british extraction" rather than northern, 
as the family ties went back only one generation to

Mason Cooper 

February 14, 2005

Hello, Mason:

It was nice to see your informative response.  I
always learn something new from you.

I've learned of another one-generation removed British
family who may have had a small influence on the N&W,
but a large influence upon Boyce, Virginia.  It seems
that there are some interesting connections between
the station and the Gilpin family that once owned
Scaleby; too many to be mere coincidences, although I
cannot rule that out.  I'll outline what I've learned
so far for you and other N&W Historical Society
readers and invite your comments based upon what you
may recall since you've lived in the northwestern
Virginia area most of your life.

A natural question is how did a town of 300 residents
justify the size of station worthy of a medium-sized
city?  The station was larger than the one that was in
Berryville, which had a population several times the
size of Boyce in 1913.  The answer is that Boyce
station was built with $17,600 of private funds
donated for construction.  It is my speculation that
this amount came solely from Hattie Newcomer Gilpin. 
Here's my hypothesis.

Hattie Gilpin was the daughter of B. F. Newcomer who
amassed a pharmaceutical family fortune in Baltimore. 
She commissioned the design and construction of
"Scaleby" between 1909 and 1911.  Her husband's family
--the Gilpin side-- had originated in the British town
of Scaleby.  Hence the name for the mansion that
sought to mix 1910s conveniences with that of a
stately English manor.

As "Scaleby" construction neared an end, the N&W
announced intentions around 1911 or 1912 to build a
new small, wooden station at Boyce.  It was planned to
be on the west side of the tracks where the town had
grown, across from the then-existing 1880s Shenandoah
Valley Railroad-constructed station.  It is possible
that Hattie did not want harsh encounters with an
unimpressive station lacking the latest refinements. 
For this or other reasons yet unknown, Hattie may have
financed the immense stucco-finished station that now
exists.  It featured all of the amenities of the time:
electric lighting, natural air conditioning in the
summer with its high ceilings, central heating, and
inside plumbing.  Although townspeople, businessmen,
and families from other neighboring estates such as
Carter Hall, Long Branch, and Saratoga would pass
through the station, it appears this grand structure
was primarily built for Hattie's and her family's use.

One facet of particular interest is the arrangements
of restrooms for the large waiting room.  The floor
plan between Boyce and Charles Town --built a year
later-- are similar in that they both featured a
"women's retirement room," a private area from which
the women's toilets could be accessed.  However, at
Boyce the men's restroom has an outside entry while at
Charles Town, it opened into the main waiting room. 
Perhaps I am reading too much into this floor layout
difference, but it suggests to me that a woman of
high-society had a hand in planning the Boyce station
construction.  After all, Hattie who was used to
servants and special attention may not have wanted
station employees entering the main waiting room just
to use toilet facilities.

Gilpin family money was largely invested in stocks
sold on the New York Stock Exchange, justifying
periodic trips to Manhattan for meetings with brokers
and bankers.  Train travel by sleeper from Boyce to
New York, similar accommodations for sons Kenneth and
McGhee Tyson for their trips to and from college at
Princeton, New Jersey, plus travel to Isabella Tyson's
family home in Knoxville, were all made more
comfortable from the main waiting room at Boyce.  I
also understand that a member of the British royal
family also visited Scaleby, arriving and departing by
train at the station.  Does anyone have further
knowledge to confirm such a visit?

In summary, my belief is that Boyce station in its
early years were less a part of Boyce township and
more an extension of "Scaleby."  What better reason to
keep the station on the east side of the tracks so
that "fancy" livestock --primarily racehorses raised
at Kentmere-- could be loaded to and from wagons, as
well as the Gilpin family never being blocked by a
train at the road crossing?  All of the rest of the
town is on the west side on the N&W right of way,
which would have easily justified the N&W's original

The relationship between the station and the Gilpin
family did not end there.  Following four decades of
N&W use, passenger travel on the Shenandoah Division
was declining by the early 1950s.  The N&W removed the
agent from the station soon thereafter.

In 1955, Kenneth "Kay" Gilpin was cited as Boyce
station owner.  I am uncertain whether he purchased
the station from the N&W or if the building reverted
to the Gilpin family because of their financing of its
construction.  Kay leased the north end to the Post
Office Department for use as the town's post office in
1955.  The freight room was used for feed storage,
presumably for his horse raising operations at
Kentmere Farm, while a smaller waiting room was used
by a FISH charity that is now located near the Old
Chapel.  This rental continued until a new Post Office
was built for Boyce on West Main Street around 1985. 
With no continuing income from station rental, Kenneth
sold it to Ian Rodway in October 1985.  Ian partially
restored the interior for use as The Station
Restaurant which opened in 1987 and closed in 1991.

In summary, I have two principal questions that
perhaps you may have thoughts about, or further
documentation at the N&W Historical Society archives
may shed light upon.  First, is there any information
regarding who may have donated money for Boyce station
construction other than Hattie Gilpin in 1912? 
Second, when Kay acquired the station in 1955, I am
wondering whether it was through a purchase from the
railroad or if the N&W returned the building to the
Gilpin family after it was no longer needed for rail
services?   It could have been that the station was
owned by the Gilpin family all along, then leased to
the railroad for its exclusive use for a nominal
annual amount.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.  Now, back to
our regularly-scheduled discussions....

Kiss a train today,

Dr. Frank R. Scheer, Curator
Railway Mail Service Library, Inc.
f_scheer at yahoo.com
(202) 268-2121 - weekday office
(540) 837-9090 - weekend afternoons 
in the former N&W station on VA rte 723 
117 East Main Street 
Boyce  VA  22620-9639
Visit at http://www.railwaymailservicelibrary.org

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