February 2012.   Premiere presentation of Jim Lillard’s “Mountain Memories” at the quarterly meeting of the Madison County Historical Society.   (Jim subsequently gave the presentation to numerous groups within and beyond Madison County.)

2013.   Jim Lillard kept the MCHS Board up-to-date on his involvement with BRHP.

June 2014.   Jim attended an MCHS Board meeting to ask the Society to create a fund within its accounting to hold funds donated for a memorial in Madison County.  The Board approved this request, and the fund was established.

June 29, 2014.    Public meeting in Madison to introduce citizens to BRHP and plans for a memorial within the county.  Bill Henry and Jim Lillard spoke and fielded questions from the audience.

July 31, 2014.    The Madison County Eagle published two articles (one by Kit Johnston, one by a reporter) about citizen displacement and the BRHM project.

August 2014.    Jim distributed flyers and talked to attendees at the Hoover Day celebration in Madison.

August 2014.    An article about the project and ways to contribute money appeared in the Historical Society newsletter.

Fall 2014.   Jim displayed a portable memorial sign and distributed information sheets at numerous meetings and at the two Holiday Markets at the Madison Fire House.

April 2015.    The Madison County Board of Supervisors approved erection of a portable memorial sign on the grounds of the former Criglersville School.  Jim Lillard and his crew promptly erected the sign under a small shelter.  Strong media coverage kept interest in the project high and explained how the public could contribute financially.

July 2015   The Madison County Board of Supervisors approved construction of a permanent memorial ( a stone chimney representing the chimneys seen through out the Park where homes once stood) at the Criglersville site.  Construction, under the direction of Jim Lillard, began immediately.  The rock masons who built the beautiful chimney were Darrell and Jackie Whidby.

November 8, 2015   The completed Memorial chimney was unveiled at dedication ceremonies arranged by the Madison County Historical Society.  Jim had installed beautiful half log benches and flowers were planted at the base of the chimney.

May 2017   A plaque in memory of Linda Yurinak, wife of Jim Lillard who was responsible for design of the plaque, was installed on the back side of the chimney.

June 11, 2017   An official Virginia highway marker recognizing the Blue Ridge Turnpike was dedicated.  The marker is located close to the chimney.

May 30, 2018   There was extensive flood damage to the benches and area around the chimney.  This damage was repaired quickly.

June 21, 2018   There was again extensive flood damage to the recently repaired area around the chimney.  This damage was repaired less quickly!

3 Chestnut trees have been planted near the chimney.

For more information and pictures see under Links—Blue Ridge Heritage Project

click an image to enlarge



In about 1988 Earl Estes began collecting data on gravesites in Madison County but then turned his efforts toward his home county of Greene.  In 2000 Sandra Childress-Stowe along with Beppy White and members of the Historical Society with help from many Madison County citizens took over the project.  We have located, visited, photographed and taken GPS locations of many of the small family graves, which unfortunately are disappearing from the landscape.  Some of the church and community cemeteries have been documented but we have many more yet to do and many family graves to locate. We appreciate any help from the community in locating these graves. Please call the Society at 540-395-5119 and leave a message if you know of an old gravesite. You may also email us at

We now have a CD available for sale listing all the graves ( over 5000) that we have located so far. Instructions on how to use and search the database are included in the CD. Many thanks to Mary Wright for producing this CD for us. She has been our driving force, spending untold hours, making this possible.



Restoration of the Kemper outbuildings began in 1999 with a grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This grant allowed us to have architectural evaluation and restoration estimates for the law office and the slave quarters. At that time the law office was being used as a county office and was in fairly good shape, although modified in its interior structure. The slave quarters was used for storage and was in bad shape, with extensive termite damage to its logs. A fundraising campaign was begun and money was raised from local contributions and from a grant. The amount was insufficient to handle the difficult problems of the slave quarters and therefore was used to restore the law office. That restoration was completed in 2003, and that small building, office to Governor Kemper and Judge McMullan, is now part of the tours of the Kemper Residence.

In 2005 interior bracing was placed in the slave quarters because of its fragile condition. Fundraising for its restoration was initiated in 2007 with the Kemper Gala, a dinner on the lawn. Following this the Historical Society appealed to the local, community for support and applied to private foundations for grants. In late 2008 a grant was received from the Richard and Caroline Gwathmey Memorial Trust. This, along with the funds raised locally, was just sufficient to restore the slave quarters, except for its chimney which had been removed several decades ago. Joe Wayner, restoration contractor from Orange and the advisor on the law office restoration, agreed to help us again by overseeing this project. He recommended Craig Jacobs, proprietor of Salvagewrights Ltd., as the person most knowledgeable about log structures. Mr. Jacobs agreed to undertake the work. Ann Miller, well-known architectural historian, and again a veteran of the law office restoration, agreed to advise us on this project as well. Due to the advanced state of damage to the logs, the restoration would require dismantling and replacement of deteriorated logs with sound ones, while retaining all usable original parts. Because the Kemper property is under easement to the Department of Historic Resources application was made to them for permission to proceed with this restoration. DHR gave its permission and this project has now been completed.

Mr. Jacobs with his team of Stephen Nash and Paul Crocker systematically began the dismantling. All parts were labeled with metal tags and photographed in situ. Siding, doors and windows were removed. The roof, whose basic structure was sound, was lifted by forklift and placed in the parking lot of the Health Department. The logs were then removed along with the intact floor boards, revealing that there had never been an adequate foundation to the building and that at some point it had been jacked up and the lower two courses of logs replaced. Next Carole Nash, archaeologist with James Madison University, came with a team of archaeological volunteers, and sifted the top layers of soil in the cabin site. Shards, pieces of metal and some early buttons were found. Dr.Nash is evaluating these at JMU and will have them on display eventually in an exhibit at the slave quarters. When the archaeologists were finished Brent Ryder and his cousin, Charles Ryder, built a sound foundation, using period bricks from the property and lime mortar. The soil removed for the foundation was sifted by another archaeologist, Ray Ezell, who discovered, along with some shards and metal pieces, an early clay marble.


Slave Quarters Reconstruction

Slave Quarters

Logs from a Madison County cabin of about the same age as the slave quarters and scheduled for demolition were used by Mr. Jacobs in reconstruction. Once the logs were assembled and secure on the new foundation the roof was lifted back into place and the original windows, doors, siding, floor boards and moldings were replaced, supplemented, where necessary, with period material. Volunteers from the Historical Society under the guidance of Craig Jacobs and Stephen Nash did the caulking. The tin roof, which was in bad shape, was replaced with a more appropriate roof of cedar shakes. The soil under the cabin and the first two courses of logs were treated with a termite preventative.

Slave Quarters Construction

Slave Quarters

With this phase of the restoration now complete the building will be included in the tours of the property and will house exhibits of its method of construction and of the artifacts found in and under it.

The rebuilding of the chimney of the Slave Quarters at the Kemper Residence is complete. This is the final remaining phase in the structural restoration of the Quarters. The chimney rebuilding was made possible with generous financial support from the Madison-Piedmont Chapter of Questers International.

The chimney work has been undertaken by Brent Ryder and Charles Ryder of the Madison County firm of Brent Ryder Masonry, Inc. (Ryder Masonry also undertook the construction of the building foundation and chimney foundation in 2009, prior to the rebuilding of the log walls of the Quarters). The handmade brick for the chimney was “recycled” from the site of an early house in Spotsylvania County.

The earlier chimney on the Quarters was removed in the late 20th century due to concerns about its condition. However, a photograph of the building with its chimney in place, from Vee Dove’s book Madison County Homes, was used as a model for the restored chimney. Since the top of the chimney had deteriorated, and the interior details were not visible in the photograph, these missing elements were researched, and construction details were planned, based on common building practices used in Central Virginia during the mid and late 19th century. Joe Wayner of Orange and Ann Miller of the Madison County Historical Society Board consulted with Brent and Charles Ryder.