Jimmy Brown (shown with daughter Caleigh-Ruth) is the great-grandson of the postmaster of the now-vanished town of Old Rag, William Austin Brown, above right, who was grandfather to the three girls above.
Ruins of a former home in Corbin Hollow.
NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
A lot can change in three quarters of a century. Walk along the
Hughes River in Madison County in a place called Nicholson Hollow,
and there's little trace that this was once a thriving village.
Now heavily wooded, the hollow was a lot more open then because
trees had been cut since the late 1700s to build houses, barns, and
fences, and the land left open for gardens, orchards, and pastures
for cattle and horses. Seventy-five years ago, the hollow became
part of the East Coast's first national park when it opened after
heaps of controversy.
Jim Lillard's grandfather, W.A. Woodward, owned a 154-acre farm
in Nicholson Hollow. Lillard pulls out a plat that shows not only
the location of the frame farmhouse but also identifies the owners
of neighboring farms, as well as the sites of the school, church,
mill, and road.
"If you look at that, you could see a community thrived," says
Lillard. "It really was a civilization, not a bunch of
But 75 years ago, the residents of Nicholson Hollow were indeed
portrayed as hillbillies, even successful, educated farmers like
Woodward. Photo captions in the Library of Congress mention a man
with a "rude sled" and describe one child as a "half wit."
In the winter, stone chimneys and foundations can be spotted
here, but in late June, unless you're sharp-eyed, there's no
evidence that people lived here for generations. And that's what
the creators of the Shenandoah National Park intended.