This damaged picture, from the 1950s, comes from the Preston B. Moses Collection, courtesy the Moses family. It was presumably taken in a Pittsylvania County school. One of the students has been identified as Hallam Hurt. (I love the girls’ clothing and hairstyles!)
On July 3, 1902, Luther Walton, age 11, vanished from his home in Whitmell in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. Luther was the son of William J. (or James W.) and Agnes Walton. Mr. Walton was a well-to-do farmer in Pittsylvania County.
Mr. Walton had an older son named Percy, aged 29, who had been raised by an aunt. Percy was the half-brother of Luther (other siblings included Lottie Lee, Bertha, Corry, John, Elsie, Herbert, and George). Percy was a “rambling man” or tramp. He came to visit his father and other family members, and when he left to ramble on, he took Luther along.
Percy was charged with abducting Luther, and newspapers far and wide carried the story of the missing Luther and Percy, and his grief-stricken mother.
In the summer of 1905, Luther showed up again in Pittsylvania County. The newspapers reported that,
“The pair traveled together about a year. The child had got a touch of hobo life and continued his wanderings alone.
“While tramping through Ohio this month he saved up enough money to buy a new suit of clothes and a railway ticked and utterly astonished everyone by turning up alone and well at home. . . .
“The parents of the child had given him up for dead years ago and were utterly surprised when he walked into his home.”
I have found no records that indicate whether Percy was ever found.
(References: The United States Census of 1900; The Daily Dispatch, Richmond, Virginia, July 5, 1902; and The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Louis, Missouri, June 9, 1905.)
Baptisms were often held in Pittsylvania County at the conclusion of revivals. A Rev. Mr. Lake wrote that at one baptismal held at Kentuck, Virginia in 1871, he baptized “forty-three persons — some far advanced in life — and some six or eight more will be baptized at our next meeting.” (The Christian Era, Boston, Massachusetts, August 17, 1871.) Baptisms were also often held at the conclusion of the Pentecostal Holiness camp meetings held in the summer in Dry Fork, Virginia, in the 1920s and 1930s.
Undated picture (probably mid-1900s) from the Preston B. Moses collection, courtesy the Moses family. Artistic touches added by Sarah E. Mitchell.