Eggleston had spent her early childhood
near Beckham Church where her father,
George King Eggleston, farmed. In 1900, as
a little girl of about 6 years she asked him where
she came from. He told her he found her
floating down Leatherwood Creek
in a little basket. Sounds something
like the Bible story of course.
When she told that story we lived near Fieldale and we had no idea where
Leatherwood Creek was. Jordan Creek
near Snowbird Mill we knew and sometimes
on Sundays we fished in the Mayo.
Only after I grew up and moved to
the Chatmoss area did I realize
that the creek running through the
golf course once brought little Sally in a basket.
I had read that the creek was named for the Leatherwood shrub which grew along its banks. A search for information about
that shrub has been ongoing with
me for about 30 years. First I asked
Dr. Sherman Dutton about the plant itself.
Dutton was president of Patrick
Henry College early on and had a
reputation for knowing local
flora. He described Leatherwood
as a small shrub with a short stemmed
rounded leaf. Nothing like that
was forthcoming but maybe I was
looking in the wrong place. In this
site's photo archive there are some
references to it. "William
Thomasson purchased 100 acres on
'the branches of Leatherwood' Creek
in 1793 from John Collier."
William was the first
Thomasson to settle in Henry County
and was Sally's great, great, great
grandfather. At that time there
must have been many Leatherwood
shrubs. So why was it named Leatherwood
at all ... used for leather, tough like
leather, a leather smell?