The speaker for the Aug. 12 Madison County Historical Society quarterly meeting will be Frank Stringfellow Walker, Jr., a Madison County native and in addition to his professional expertise in agronomy and the law he is a well known historian, author and superb raconteur. The topic of his presentation will be “Gold Mining in the Wilderness.” Few are probably aware that before the rich gold fields in California were developed in the mid-1800’s, America’s gold came from the Gold-Pyrite Belt running through its South Atlantic states. Some of the earliest commercial operations were in North Carolina, but Virginia soon became a top producer. Its era of commercial production went from about 1827 to 1937. The most productive area in Virginia was its Wilderness, a roughly 70 square mile region existing primarily in eastern Orange and western Spotsylvania counties. It was a Temperate Zone jungle, created when its forests were clear-cut to provide fuel for the iron production that had taken place there in the 1720’s. Mr. Walker will give us highlights of the history of some of the major mines and of the people who “mined” the investors as well as the ground while producing both gold and the stories of a fascinating era of Virginia’s past.
Mr. Walker has earned a B.S. in Agronomy (V.P.I.& S.U.), an M.B.A. Darden School (U. Va) and a J.D in Law (U. Va.). He was president and general manager of his family farm, Rosni Farms Inc. 1960-1979, practiced law in Orange 1981-1994, and was founder and lead guide, Tourguide , Ltd 1994-2015. As mentioned, in addition to these professional qualifications, he is the author of two books about Orange County and is very knowledgeable about heritage-oriented history, particularly that of the local area. He has spoken to the MCHS in the past.
The meeting will be held in the Madison County Administrative offices auditorium at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 12. Refreshments will be served in the Kemper Home following the presentation and everyone is invited to attend.