The Vinton Historical Society is hosting an author presentation by Betsy Biesenbach on Feb. 25. She will lead an in-depth discussion about her book, “Say My Name: The Story of Amanda Jeffers, Roanoke 1864.” The event will take place at the Vinton Library Meeting Room on from 11:15 am to 12:15 p.m.
According to the author, “Except for a few made-up characters, everyone in this story is real, and all lived and worked right here in Roanoke, very near where you and your family might live or play or go to school or church.” The story is about a black child’s life growing up in our own Roanoke County during the Civil War era.
The book is appropriate for adults and children to read together to fully understand the story presented.
The review from Amazon.com says, “Amanda Jeffers is a five-year-old enslaved child living in Roanoke, Virginia in 1864. Although her family has been separated, they manage to maintain their close bonds with each other. During a long ride on a hot summer afternoon, Amanda’s father teaches her the value of her name.”
Biesenbach has been a freelance writer for the Roanoke Times for 38 years. She is the author of two books, “Bits O’ Betsy Biesenbach” and “Good Neighbors: Roanoke Area Ministries.” Her work as a Real Estate Title Examiner sparked her interest in the Black history of Roanoke and in the Persinger Farm area. The name of Amanda Jeffers and her family appeared in a list prepared by the Freedmen’s Bureau and the 1870 United States Census.
The book is available at the presentation or on Amazon. Biesenbach will sign books at the event. The proceeds benefit anti-racism programs sponsored by the Unitarian Universalists of Roanoke.
In other history museum news, it is time to join or renew annual memberships in the Vinton Historical Society. After 20-plus years the Board of Directors increased the annual membership this year from $15 to $20 for individuals; lifetime individual memberships are $200; and $150 per year for businesses and organizations. Your memberships support member services programs, events, and activities offered by the Museum and contribute to the operations of the Museum.
Author Nelson Harris will be writing a book on the 1950’s in the Roanoke Valley. He will be at the Vinton History Museum on Saturday, March 4, 2023. If you have pictures of Vinton and/or Roanoke Valley during that decade, you can bring them by the Vinton History Museum between 12 noon and 1:30 p.m. and have them scanned as possible entries in the book. You do not need to leave your photo. It is a great opportunity to meet Nelson Harris and ask about the various books he has written about the Roanoke/Vinton area.
The Vinton History Museum is looking for some crafty folks who like to have fun. They are going to create unique decorations for the 2023 “Fashions for Evergreens” Tree at Hotel Roanoke and plan to get an early start on the project. No experience is needed–just a willingness to work with glue, hot glue, ribbons, doilies, jewelry. The museum will furnish some of the supplies. However, they will gladly accept broken or non-broken costume jewelry such as: necklaces, bracelets, earrings, brooches, pins, ribbon. They will be meeting at the Vinton History Museum from 12 noon to 2 p.m. on March 8, April 12, May 17, June 14, July 12, October 11 and November 8.
The museum also reminds the community that the museum offers commemorative bricks in the Memory Pergola to honor or memorialize individuals or organizations. The Memory Pergola, built as an Eagle Scout Project, sits to the left of the museum. The existing brick pavers will be replaced with 4”x8” red sandblasted commemorative bricks creating a peaceful and accessible area to reflect on your special memories. The cost per brick is $50.00.
For additional information about the presentations from Biesenback and/or Harris, the Vinton History Museum and Vinton Historical Society, or purchasing bricks, call (540)342-8634.
Submitted by Mary Beth Layman, Vinton Historical Society