Inside this Issue

June/July 2017


The Descendants
Montpelier’s exhibition The Mere Distinction Of Colour reimagines how to tell the story of slavery during the time of our founding fathers

By Katie Henry


Leontyne Peck hugs her friend Mary Alexander in the middle of Hot Cakes, a lively cafe in Charlottesville, VA.

“Hey ladybug looking all beautiful. Hey queenie,” says Peck adding a playful nudge. They treat each other like family, which they may actually be. Peck and Alexander recently mailed a test tube of saliva to Ancestry.com, a website that offers genetic testing, to find out if they’re cousins.

Alexander runs her hand over her necklace, slides into a chair, and invites Leontyne to her birthday party next Wednesday.

Today Alexander wears a navy wool coat with an oversized fur lapel, heavy layered strands of pearls around her neck, and an embroidered scarf styled like a turban to crown the ensemble. She looks like she stepped out of fashion magazine from 1950. “I dress the old fashion way. If we had a time machine and it turned the hands of time back, I would be just as comfortable walking around with white gloves and a purse and a hat,” says Alexander.

Peck shares Alexander’s passion for history and genealogy. She’s published two books about her family history. But the two women didn’t know each other at all until two years ago when they met at a Montpelier Board of Advisors meeting. They became fast friends. The pair share a similar family history. Both women trace their roots to slaves in Orange County, VA, about a 45-minute drive northeast of the cafe. Alexander is the great great granddaughter of Paul Jennings, James Madison’s butler while Madison lived at Montpelier—his estate in Orange County. Madison was the fourth President and father of the Constitution.



































A Visual Biography of Photographer Michael Nichols


For more than three decades, Albemarle County resident Michael “Nick” Nichols has ventured to the farthest reaches of the world to document nature’s wildest creatures and landscapes. As an award-winning photographer for National Geographic, he has recorded animals and habitats in locations as expansive as the Congo Basin, the Serengeti, and the American West with an unparalleled intensity.

This exhibition presents Nichols’s most important projects, highlighting his artistic accomplishments, technical innovations, and efforts to preserve wild spaces. His photographs will be shown with depictions of nature from the Museum’s collection, inviting visitors to consider humankind’s complex, and often brutal, relationship with the wild.

Wild coincides with a new book about the artist, A Wild Life: A Visual Biography of Photographer Michael Nichols, published by Aperture Foundation. Nichols’ story, told with passion and insight by author and photo-editor Melissa Harris.



Morven: The Next Chapter
By Chris Bridge

Photos provided by Morven programs


Morven is one of the University of Virginia’s most remarkable assets: a National Historic Trust site with 3,000 acres of magnificent Piedmont landscape, located next to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and James Monroe’s Highland, minutes from the University grounds, and two hours from the nation’s capital.

As the University begins its Third Century, Morven is poised to play a pivotal role as a center of place-based learning for the next generation of global leaders. “Morven represents an incredible opportunity for UVA students and faculty to gather with leaders from around the world and from across town to tackle difficult challenges in discrete sustained conversations.

…It is a place that invites and allows deep thinking and creative discussion; a place for experimentation and experiential learning. Rarely does the academy and the world of practice find the right setting to bring out and integrate the best of both: Morven is that place.” —Jeff Legro, Vice Provost for Global Affairs



Making A Difference: Miller Center
At Mr. Jefferson’s University, a Home for the Presidency


University of Virginia’s Miller Center sees a better way for the nation.

A more informed democracy. A nation full of leaders guided by intelligence and driven by an inner need for truth—leaders who know that you have to look back to see ahead, that to comprehend our present, you must first understand our past.

The Miller Center strives to illuminate presidential and political history accurately and fairly. To shine a light on all the ways our democracy has worked—and all the times America has struggled. To inspire America’s leaders with unbiased insights, especially on the presidency, that advance democratic institutions and the public good.

Now in its fifth decade, the Center is located at the University of Virginia, the nation’s first presidential university, founded by Thomas Jefferson. They carry forward a unique nonpartisan tradition, generating scholarship in the public interest to help guide the future of American democracy.



Our Heritage
125 Years Strong Albemarle Chapter
Daughters of the American Revolution


Albemarle Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) was founded in 1892 as part of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR). This dynamic, non-profit, non-political women’s service organization is passionate about patriotism, the preservation of American history, and education. Recently the Albemarle DAR chapter in Albemarle County, VA, celebrated their 125th anniversary as the second oldest chapter in Virginia. Festivities included a tour of Monticello and a tea at the Jefferson Library, part of the International Center for Jefferson Studies in Charlottesville. Albemarle is one of four the DAR chapters in the Charlottesville area: Albemarle, Jack Jouett, Point Of Fork, and Shadwell.




































Slices Of Life
Life and Death


Mary Morony’s ‘Slices of Life’ series will take you through thought-provoking experiences and life lessons along with the Mackey family,using humor and whimsy. Her stories will leave you inspired, nostalgic and entertained.

What was that scent? She wondered as she passed the open window to answer the phone.

“Hello?” Must be honeysuckle.

“Hello, Miz Ginny, dis is Ethel. Last night, Mamma passed on so I woan be comin’ in t’ work fo’ de rest o’ de week.”

“Oh, Ethel, I am so sorry. I don’t remember hearing you say Bertha was ill, was she?” “No’m she wasn’ sick a’tall. Dis mornin’ she didn’ wake up is all. Can’t help but be thankful as easy as she done passed. She looked like she be talkin’ t’ de angels.”

“Please take all the time you need before you come back to work,” Ginny insisted. “Losing a parent is devastating no matter your age. Believe me, I understand. And Bertha,” she paused searching for the right thing to say, “was one of the finest.” She was surprised that she’d offered such a high accolade, but then she couldn’t remember a time that woman didn’t exude love. It fit. No sooner had the words left Ginny’s mouth, thoughts of self-hatred followed. You should have taken a page from her book and how could I have not noticed how loving she was until now? Shaken by her reaction, she attempted to collect herthoughts. “When the arrangements are final will you tell me where and when?”



Last Laugh
Katie Bar the Door
Louise B. Parsley


As a young girl shy as a moth, I struggled to find the gumption to even dial the phone. If someone answered, I’d have to…speak. So, how I wound up—a woman of a certain age—on camera on The Today Show is beyond me.

It certainly wasn’t because I was invited.

When The Bob and I first met, he’d puff out his chest, fluff up his feathers while mentioning, casually, “You know, I went to college with Katie Couric.” Given Katie was my—the entire world’s!—go-to morning girl, I relished his connection like a Calico addicted to catnip. The Bob was almost famous.

Over time, their minor geographic connection morphed into “Katie Couric and I were like this,” as he tried to tie his fingers in a knot. But, years later, when he boldly declared, “I dated Katie Couric,” there was, indeed, no turning back. I was going to have to call him out.

On a girls’ trip to New York City one cold, rainy January, while my traveling crew dug through bargain accessories at Filene’s Basement, I went to Duane Reade in search of poster board, Sharpies and a pint of liquid courage. Determined to be one of “those people” who get on camera outside The Today Show, I convinced one friend to slip out of her warm bed and walk ten blocks to Rockefeller Center...in the cold and rain. If I were to have a shot at getting Katie’s attention, I had to stand out among the peanut gallery of other fools hoping for 1.5 seconds of fame.

The Today Show’s 12-year-old (well, she looked it) apprentice to the assistant producer’s assistant wandered outside looking for fans worthy of on-the-air-with-Al-Roker exchanges. Peering out from the rim of her rain hat and umbrella, she saw a crowd of three mad hatters standing in the rain. She looked at me, then my sign, then moaned.









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