Letter written by Julian Osborne re history of Charlotte Hotel, Keysville, VA, submitted by Lee Hanmer (Neal) Ramsey who made the following notes:
March 24, 1971
Mrs. F. I. Hanmer, Senior
Dear Aunt Lelia,
Mama said that Dottie called and wanted some information about the Charlotte Hotel. She has left the job up to me. Here are a few tidbits that I thought might aid Mrs. Meyers in her article.
I will start with 1907, which was before I was born, but, according to Mama, that is the year that Mr. Wade and Uncle Vernie left Halifax to go to work on the Virginian Railroad, and Gram came to live with you and Uncle Fred. She and Uncle Bate, as I understand it, started the hotel that year. My memory dates from when we moved in March of 1920 until we left in the summer of 1925. At that time, apparently, the Charlotte Hotel was the better of the two. All the traveling salesman and railroad officials stayed there. Its operation probably reached its zenith around 1913 or 1914.
Mama says the trains used to stop for meals at noon. I don't remember that, but I do remember that the evening southbound train stopped twenty minutes for supper at about 7 o'clock. Gram always received a message from Chula, advising her as to the number of people she would have to serve. The conductor apparently went through the train and made a check. Because of this, many interesting as well as important personages passed through the doors of the Hotel. I recall that once an eight foot man came in and attracted the attention of everybody!...
I am told that during one of his campaigns, William Jennings Bryan was introduced by Mr. William Hailey, and made a speech from the front porch. I don't remember that, but I do remember that the news got out that Lady Astor was on the train and Mrs. Peters and several other ladies of the Keysville Woman's Club came down and presented her with a bouquet of flowers. I was present at the time. I also remember Governor Trinkle's eating supper there.
In case you have forgotten, there were always two tables of setback played in the lobby every night, Monday through Friday. You will recall the other parlor where there was a piano, and where on some nights when Gram was tired and wanted to go to bed, she would have to stay up and entertain the wives of some of the setback players.
Another item of interest - the dirty linen was always collected early on Monday morning, put in a large hamper, and on the train and sent to the Star Laundry in Danville, and it was returned on Thursday afternoon.
While this didn't occur right in the hotel, in 1920 Uncle Bate, being the local Republican County Chairman, arranged to have Calvin Coolidge, who was then running for Vice-President on the ticket with Harding, stop in Keysville to make a speech, and the car was backed on to a side track which was not too far from the hotel itself.
These are just some things that I thought might be of interest to you. I do not know the hotel's previous history, but after we left there, the next proprietor was a Mr. Ford. He was followed by E. E. Garber, then Mr. and Mrs. Cleveland Ward. Isabelle Keeling tells me that her father and mother were the last proprietors before Dalma purchased the hotel from Gram. The Keelings left there about 1943.
I hope you have fully recovered from your recent illness.
(sig) Julian (Osborne)