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VFW Museum: Full Steam Ahead

Hand painted mural in the entryway of the VFW Museum in Sparta, North Carolina.

The Bruce Wayne Osborne Post 7034 Veterans of Foreign Wars  has been hard at work, for the last several months, on a military history museum. And they’ve enlisted the help of Imaging Specialists to finish the main entryway. Sparta businesswoman and Gulf War veteran, Kathy Murphy, has created a beautiful  mural above the stairs to the Museum located in the lower level of the VFW’s building located at 1193 US21 (Main Street, just out of town) in Sparta.

We were able to help by laying out, cutting and installing removable vinyl lettering beneath the mural. The text is taken from the St. Crispen’s Day speech in Shakespeare’s Henry V and fits into the patriotic theme of the museum.

Thank you Kathy for your hours of work and to all you folks for your years of service on our behalf.

And that’s just the entrance. The group has pitched in to assemble a first rate collection of militaria divided into the four main branches of service, Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. The collection seems to grow daily and includes videos and literature for research.

If you’ve not yet been to the museum, plan a trip. Imaging Specialists is proud to have played a small part in this project to honor our veterans.

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Alleghany Cemeteries Through 1986 Back in Print With a New Look

The newest edition of Alleghany County Cemeteries through 1986, available now at the Sparta Store

Imaging Specialists has reworked the Alleghany Cemeteries book to make it easier to use and more sturdy in the latest edition, available now. As the supply of the original books dwindled, the Alleghany Historical – Genealogical Society board knew changes had to be made.

The 8.5″ x 11″ books were originally perfect-bound (or paperback style binding) on the short dimension making them cumbersome to use as they were over 22″ wide when fully opened. This configuration also stressed the binding so much that most of the books’ spines would eventually break apart, releasing pages or groups of pages.

Even with these structural problems, the book has been in demand since it was introduced in 1986. The Historical Society at that time did such a good job of documenting existing cemeteries that their effort has become one of the most useful and respected resources ever produced by AHGS. The Society gets regular requests for an updated version or a second volume- a task that would probably exceed the original project as names and information for the past 27 years would have to be researched and added.

The original edition, edited by Lou Reed Landreth with “Computerization” by Lynn Lambert, and help from Elvira Crouse, Pearl Reeves and Marvie Shelor- and probably every able bodied volunteer they could muster- was printed by New River Graphics in 1988.

The new edition will be printed, “on-demand” as orders come in. In this way the society won’t have to initiate a traditional press run, or raise  thousands of dollars in up-front production costs, or incur subsequent years of storage costs.

On-demand pricing is higher per unit, but it makes sense for a non-profit organization so that operating funds aren’t tied up in a long term inventory.

Spiral binding will allow field researchers to more easily keep their place whether they are at a single page or looking at a double page spread, without stress to the binding. Thicker pages should also add to the book’s longevity.

Pages from the first volume were individually scanned so the data is exactly as it appeared in the original.

Books are now available at the Sparta Store on Main Street in Sparta, North Carolina or here, online for $27 plus tax and shipping.

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Black Family History Books Are In!

The first of Lorene Sturgill's history of the Blacks in Alleghany County, North Carolina.
The first of Lorene Sturgill's Black Family history books

We’ve received the first batch of the Descendants of William Black and Nancy Allison family history books, and we couldn’t be prouder. For information on the book, we invite you to visit Star Route Books. Or order your own copy here.

From Changes Wrought by Time by Dr. O. R. Black included in The Descendants of William Black and Nancy Allison:

“The last time I was here the cemetery looked like a beautiful flower garden, made possible by many who have loved ones resting in this Silent City of the Dead. I was glad to note that no grave was slighted. This was as it should be – flowers for all.

Mount Zion United Methodist Church in Piney Creek, North Carolina. (Photo by Jeff Halsey)
Mount Zion United Methodist Church in Piney Creek, North Carolina. (Photo by Jeff Halsey)

“I read names on many markers that were not here forty years ago when I left. Names of many of my associates, school mates, friends and relatives were noted – so many changes wrought by time.

“As I look back over the dim vista of years, when neighbors, relatives and friends gathered at the old church for Sunday School and Church service, many walking several miles, there was then that feeling of love and friendship displayed that has never been forgotten. I can almost imagine that I recognize now several voices in the choir singing “Nearer My God to Thee” and “How Firm A Foundation Ye Saints of the Lord.” As I visualize my boyhood days at church I see the congregation on bended knees, and hear the earnest prayers and supplications offered by many of the faithful in the church. I cherish many sacred memories of my boyhood days in Sunday School and Church work at Mt. Zion Church.”

Mt. Zion Church Cemetery. (Photo by Jeff Halsey)
Mt. Zion Church Cemetery. (Photo by Jeff Halsey)

From the Acknowledgements Page:

“On July 1, 1961 many of the descendants of William Black, who came to America from Glasgow, Scotland around 1817, gathered at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Alleghany County, North Carolina for the purpose of establishing an organization of the Black family.

“Although this idea had been considered by many of the group before this time, it was Dr. Oscar R. Black of Landis, N.C. who became keenly interested in effecting the organization and gave impetus to the idea.

“At the initial meeting each relative identified himself and his relationship to William Black. A special welcome was given to visiting cousins from Scotland and from South Africa. These were the Rev. James Hamilton, his wife, Olive Black Hamilton, and their daughter Allison, of Glasgow, Scotland, who came to Asheville, N.C. in the summer of 1961. The Rev. Hamilton came as an exchange minister to the Beaver Lake Presbyterian Church.

“Naomi Black, originally of Glasgow, but now residing in Durban, South Africa, is serving as a nutritionist in a government hospital there. She joined the Hamiltons during the summer. Olive and Naomi, sisters, are great-granddaughters of James Black, brother of William Black.

“The story told by Olive Hamilton of finding old letters in the attic of her father’s home in Paisley, Scotland from relatives in America written many years ago was of great interest to the group. Her interest in these letters resulted in correspondence with Hazel Black Linn, daughter of Dr. O. R. Black, and eventually led to a visit to America by Olive and her family…

“The committee wishes to acknowledge each contribution and to thank each person who has contributed in any way to the information compiled for this book. We are deeply indebted to the late Dr. Oscar R. Black who spent endless hours in research and compiled the first history of the Black family. Without this history it would have been impossible to present many of the facts given in this book.”

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Stratford Oaks Tales: Colorful Storytelling in the Blue Ridge

We are proud to announce Imaging Specialists’ association with The Stratford Oaks Tales. It is the first in a series of children’s books by local educator- and now author, Dr. Suzanne Mellow-Irwin about the life of the animals on her family’s mountain farm. Illustrated by Alleghany native, Zach Hamm, the first book, the “Tale of Gretchen,” tells about a pygmy goat, born at Stratford Oaks and her adventures there.

Just one of the happy animals at Stratford Oaks Farm
Just one of the many happy animals at Stratford Oaks Farm. (You can almost see Nya's tale wag!)

It is an honor to be allowed to help with the book. As we took Zach’s delicate, pencil and crayon drawings and placed them into story pages, laid out by his mother, Donna, our challenge was to showcase the artwork and story without interfering. We wanted to preserve the light, pastel colors without losing saturation.

We will let the reader be the judge, but we are very pleased with the result. Zach’s images are the perfect complement to Dr. Mellow-Irwin’s positive message and both are sure to appeal to children and parents.

The Tale of Gretchen will be available at The Sparta Store. Look for new installments, coming soon.