Waterford Automobile Anecdotes

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An excerpt from the book, When Waterford & I Were Young, by John E. Divine. This book shares the author’s experiences and love of Waterford as he grew up in the early 1900s. About this book

Even after automobiles became plentiful, horses remained important in Waterford, especially in the winter. The unpaved roads around would be cut up so badly with farm wagons and wet weather that many people would put their cars away about the first of December and rely on horses to get them around until spring. You could buy your yearly license tags on April 1, instead of January when they were due, and save one quarter of the fee. A lot of people did that.

Mr. Francis Peacock tells another story of the days when horses and automobiles shared the roads near Waterford. It seems that the townspeople had finally arranged for the paving of Clark's Gap Road, their main link to the outside world. All went well until Edgar Peacock, grandfather of Francis, found them paving the stretch through his farm. He insisted that "that new road is too hard for my old mare Lark," and demanded that they tear up the offending section. They did.

The First Automobile To Enter Waterford

By Douglas Myers in an article from the 1969 Waterford Homes Tour and Crafts Exhibit.

A long time ago as a small boy I witnessed a miracle as I walked lazily down the middle of Second Street dragging my bare feet in the hot dust. Beneath the dust flint rocks were plentiful. Just as this miracle was happening I struck my big toe on one of the flint rocks, but in the excitement I forgot my injury.

1912 Cadillac by the Corner Store in Waterford Virginia

The handsome Cadillac motoring past admirers at the Corner Store above is a 1912 model belonging to Robert Walker, the wealthy Quaker businessman who lived at Huntley on High Street. Mrs. Walker is chaperoning her daughter who is driving.
The man sitting wearing hat is Charles Merchant, the man standing is doorway is "Hoss" Merchant, the boy on bread box is Earl Brown, the man driving car is Maurice Hough, the woman in front seat is Miss Cornelia Walker, and the woman in back seat is Mrs. Robert Walker.

I clearly remember to this day hearing this squeaky horn in the distance; it was the first automobile to enter Waterford if my memory is correct. The gentleman driving the automobile was Mr. Fenton Fadeley, Sr., father of the well remembered Fenton Fadeley, Jr., the principal organizer of The Waterford Foundation. Mr. Fadeley was on his way to his farm for the weekend. He graciously stopped when almost mobbed by the crowd that had assembled after hearing the blast from his horn; the people moved from their porches to get a better look at this Maxwell. It had I believe one cylinder, no windshield and a bent stick for a steering wheel, chain driven and very neat in appearance. After demonstrating his car to the crowd he left for his farm.

The second automobile to enter Waterford was owned by Mr. Decatur VanDevanter, who lived at the corner of Second and Church Streets. This car was a Schact. I have never heard of another car by that name. It resembled an old spring wagon, with hard rubber tires. Mr. VanDevanter was rather generous with this vehicle as he took the children of Waterford to Paeonian Springs on many occasions. Mr. VanDevanter never drove this car but depended on someone else, principally Mr. William F1ing our miller.

The third automobile to enter Waterford was owned by Mr. Lemuel Perry Smith, our grocery man at the corner store. This was a Model T Ford, and he, too, enjoyed taking the church people to church picnics here and there. Mr. Smith was a very fine gentleman.

The fourth car to be owned by a Waterfordian was my father, E. B. Myers, and this car was a second hand Chalmers. It had a brass radiator, brass lamps in front and sides (how I would like to have this car now), the lights in front were carbide lights and on the sides were kerosene. I was in high school at the time we bought this car and my father let me drive it one day to take the Principal of the school, Mr. Earl McSherry Hyde and his family on a short ride. This thrilled me greatly and I will always remember it.

Now these days are gone and we witness from day to day high powered comfortable automobiles, driven on paved roads, but with it all I will always remember the first automobiles to enter Waterford.


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