Boxwood Do Their Part in the Great Depression

By Henry H. Mitchell
Jeb Whitehead

J. J. “Jeb” Whitehead is photographed against a natural backdrop of boxwood, around 1930.

During the Great Depression, many resourceful Americans discovered new ways to bolster their family finances. The document below preserves a 1930 transaction in which Jeremiah Jackson Whitehead and Annie Wilmouth Norman Whitehead of Pittsylvania County, Virginia, sold boxwood from around their home to the Colonial Boxwood Company of Lexington, North Carolina, for $2,000. (The Whitehead farm was located along the Banister River, on the northwest side of White Oak Mountain, between Tightsqueeze and Dry Fork.)

The document was located in the Clerk's Office of the Pittsylvania County Courthouse by the Whiteheads' grandson Judge Fletcher B. Watson, IV, who recalls having the impression that the boxwood's removal was contracted on behalf of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. He is also not sure that the actual removal of the boxwood was ever accomplished.

A similar transaction is said to have occurred at the Wooding family's Meadow Wood, east of Gretna (between Mount Airy and Chalk Level) in Pittsylvania County. It is known for certain that a significant number of boxwood plants were removed from Meadow Wood, but no written record of that sale has been found at this point.

The early-twentieth century interest in Neoclassical architecture and a subsequent emphasis on various English-inspired design revivals created a heavy demand for boxwood plantings. The Rockefeller investment in the town of Williamsburg, Virginia, is one of the most noteworthy projects of that period.

THIS DEED Made this the 14th day of Nov. 1930, between J. J. Whitehead and Annie Whitehead, his wife, parties of the first part, and Colonial Boxwood Co. party of the second part.

WITNESSETH: That for and in consideration of the sum of $2000.00, cash in hand paid to the said parties of the first part by the said party of the second part, the receipt of which is hereby acknowledged, the said parties of the first part doth hereby bargain, sell and convey unto the said Colonial Boxwood Co. all of a certain lot of growing old English and tree boxwood, except two bushes on each side of the door, situated in the residential tract of land of J. J. Whitehead in Pittsylvania County, Virginia.

It is agreed between the parties that the said party of the second part shall be allowed the privilege of moving said Boxwood from said premises at the convenience of the said party of the second part, and shall be allowed free ingress and egress for the purpose of removing said boxwood.

The said Colonial Boxwood Co. agrees that as the boxwood is removed from the said premises said Colonial Boxwood Co. will fill up the holes from which it was removed.

Witness the following signatures and seals.



I, J. T. Clark, Deputy Clk. for the county aforesaid, in the state aforesaid, do hereby certify that J. J. Whitehead and Annie Whitehead whose names are signed to the foregoing writing, bearing date on the 14" day of Nov. 1930 acknowledged the same before me in my county aforesaid.

Given under my hand this the 14" day of Nov. 1930.

VIRGINIA: In the Clerk's Office of the Circuit Court of the County of Pittsylvania, at the Courthouse thereof, on the 14 day of November 1930, at 2:20 o'clock P. M., foregoing writing upon its certificate of acknowledgment was admitted to record.

Examined Nov. 15/30 and mailed to Colonial Boxwood Co., Box 295, Lexington, N. C.

Examined Nov. 15/30 [and] mailed to R. A. Eanes, Schoolfield [VA].


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