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Old Bible reflects 19th-century happy and sad times of Middlesex family

Published with permission from Southside Sentinel 
By Larry Chowning

Millwood stands quietly majestic, back off the road in a field near the intersection of Stormont Rd. (Rt. 629) and Healys Rd. (619). In the early 1800s, the acreage was part of land holdings owned by Robert Healy Sr. of Woodstock.

Healy purchased 615 acres off Shooter’s Hill in 1826, built his home Woodstock in 1840, and cemented his name forever in Middlesex County history when he purchased the 1714 Anglican Lower Chapel of Ease in 1857 from the Protestant Episcopal Church and gave it to the Methodists. Today, Lower United Methodist Church is one of the most active churches in Middlesex County and the church building is one of the oldes t church (circa 1714) structures in America.

Sue Gatewood Healy married Robert’s grandson Granville at Christ Church on October 21, 1873 and the couple moved into Millwood, a house Granville’s father Robert Healy Jr. had built.

Sue’s personal Bible was recently rediscovered by Middlesex native Alfred G. Bridger Jr. of Richmond. Bridger and his late father Dickie attended many antique and estate sales in Middlesex County.

“My father would often bid on a box and contents especially if there was an old Bible in it,” said Bridger. “He did not like to see family Bibles sold like that.

“I recently rediscovered this one that I had moved up here to Richmond from Middlesex years ago,” he said. “Cotton fabric had been sewn onto its front and it was wrapped with a bow from an old flour bag fabric.”

The Bible had been a Christmas gift in earlier times. In the very front, written in faded pencil, it states, “As often as I read, a heartfelt prayer for one thoughtful and generous gift— given by P.D.C. Christmas 1858.”

Worn and faded pencil writings toward the back of the Bible reflect on a lifetime of reading her Bible and using it to record the joyous and sad moments in Sue Healy’s life and times.

The family information in the back of the Bible starts by telling of her marriage to Granville in 1873 and follows with births of children and grandchildren and deaths of her own children and others. The final entry must have been a difficult one for Sue as it was the death of her son: “Robert Healy, son of Sue and G.S. Healy, died on the 6th day of February 1881 at his father’s resident Millwood, Middlesex County, Virginia (at 4 o’clock in the morning) and buried at Lower Church in this same county.”

The Bible holds a great deal more history relating to the Healy family of Middlesex beginning in 1778, with numerous births, deaths and marriages.

Bridger said that over 50 years ago he and his father purchased the Bible at an estate sale in Regent near Wake. He would like to “put it into the hands of a (Robert) Healy family member in Middlesex.”

If you are a member of that Healy family and have an interest in the Bible, contact Southside Sentinel reporter Larry Chowning at 804-758-2328.

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