On Saturday I had an amazing day. My cousin Doug was in town from Colorado for some meetings. He decided to stay the weekend and had a great idea of heading down to the Richmond area to do a couple of things.
First, we have some family in the greater Richmond area so we managed to make my cousin Dianne’s daughter’s birthday party. Later we had dinner with our aunt Carol, her husband John, and Dianne. That was really great.
The other reason for our trip was to do some genealogy research. We have a family cemetery in Goochland County, VA and also have a relative that is the only person to be buried in the Old Blandford Church in Petersburg, VA. (more about this church tomorrow!)
Anyway, we left the birthday party to try to find the cemetery in Goochland. It is in a wooded area and is not marked. If you don’t know that it is there, you are not going to find it. We pulled the car over on the side of the road and walked back into the woods to search for it. We had both been there before and had a rough idea of where it was located. Part of the reason we were there was to document its location.
Well, we traipsed around for about a half hour before we found the small cemetery. There are about a dozen headstones there from the Leake side of my family surrounded by a waist-high cement wall. After spending some time at the cemetery, we decided to see if we could find someone who lived nearby that might know who owns the land that it is on. We would like to do some work on the cemetery to help preserve it, but thought we should check with the landowner first so that we do not cause any problems (or get shot!).
So we drove around to what we thought was the backside of the property. We came to a small fork in the road. The road to the left had several “No Trespassing” signs clearly displayed. The other road was a drive way to a beautifully groomed property. Can you guess which way we chose?
At the end of the driveway we found a house and picturesque pond off to the right side of the house. We knocked on the door, but nobody answered. You could see in the house from the door and saw that a light was on. “I’ll walk around back and see if anyone is out back” I told my cousin. He turned a little pale and said, “I don’t know…you might get yourself shot walking around somebody’s property like that.”
The good news is that I did find somebody out back. The even better news is that Matt was only armed with a big smile.
Matt is 28 and grew up on this property which spans 300 acres. He is a farmer and raises grass-fed cattle as well as some chickens and ducks. He has about 70 cows. Along side Matt was his dog, Chico.
I wish I could properly describe Matt’s demeanor. He had this gentle, modest, humble demeanor and a warm loquacious speaking manner. He was relaxed and friendly and his face broke into smile so naturally that you felt like you were among family.
Matt said that he was going to give the money to the James River Association. The group’s mission is to protect the James River, which more than one-third of all Virginias rely on for water, commerce or recreation. Yesterday I got an email from Matt that I would like to share with you all:
It was a great surprise meeting you on Saturday. I am glad you guys made it out to the farm. Right after you left I was telling my girlfriend about what you are doing and her jaw dropped because she had just read about you in the [Washington] Post. I have really enjoyed reading some of the stories on your site.. I admire your commitment to this project, and know that you are inspiring a great deal of kindness. In the spirit of your generosity, I decided to sponsor 10 participants in the James River Runoff Rundown for $10 each. The Rundown is a one day event in which paddlers join forces to cover the entire 340 miles of the James River in order to raise money for the James River Association. Here’s the link.
Thanks for again for what you are doing,
This is amazing. I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am when I learn that my $10 inspires further giving, especially when it parlays into a $100 donation.
Matt you are a class act. You made my day…and thanks for not shooting me and my cousin!