A Local Literary Treasure: Nokesville – The Way it Was
By Katherine Gotthardt
Ninety-four-year-old Nokesville resident J. Robert Beahm and author or Nokesville – The Way it Was did the difficult: preserved Nokesville’s history. How?
“My family has been here a long time,” he said. “Most information comes from word of mouth. There was very little written information about Nokesville. But my Dad was a walking encyclopedia, and I have a good memory.”
Besides gleaning facts from his father and his own life, Beahm found clues to the past when he discovered an 1800’s trunk belonging to his grandfather who had saved church and personal documents.
Beahm recalled, “I remember when Aden Road was nothing but a school, two churches and a store.” In his Nokesville book, Beahm describes the general store, a two story building dating back to the early 1800’s, east of the railroad on the south side of Fitzwater Drive. “If (the building) could talk, that in itself would fill a history book,” Beahm writes.
Beahm also covered Valley Meetinghouse, Hebron Seminary and Mount Zion Lutheran Church, among other sites. Most of the original buildings have been renovated or torn down, but Beahm salvaged them at least in photographs and anecdotes.
“When I was growing up, there was only one school. In first grade, my oldest sister was my teacher. She was the only teacher I ever got a whipping from.”
He and his friends were told not to play in the mud. The next day, they forgot her warning, took off their shoes and frolicked. Beahm said, “We were a mess! But she spent the rest of her life apologizing for the whipping.”
Bristow Road’s Braid Run Stream flows upstream to Kettle Run. In the 1920’s, the streams provided a play area where, after school, Beahm and his friends could get as muddy as they pleased. “The streams were part of my life when I was growing up,” he said.
As an adult, Beahm studied law, served in WWII and worked for the FBI. However, he came back to Nokesville to work as a rural letter carrier for most of his life.
Though he doesn’t consider himself a writer, Beahm has been prolific. Not only did he write Nokesville – The Way it Was, he authored History of the Nokesville Church of the Brethren, 1883-1950. In 1991 Beahm produced “Poems with a Down-Home Touch,” a spiral bound collection of works dating back to 1970.
Regarding the poems, Beahm said, “Occasionally, someone at church will ask for a copy, and that always makes me feel good.”
His Shakespearian sonnet “Starlings” won him 1st place in a contest. “I know I’m not a good poet, but it went to my head,” he chuckled.
Nokesville—The Way it Was is available at the Nokesville Neighborhood Library.