January 7, 2004 Gazette-Virginian
Historianís New Book Was A Labor Of Love
Halifax County native Faye Royster Tuck has parlayed her love of local history and her penchant for research into a book chronicling a rural Virginia lifestyle slowly but surely melting away.
The book, entitled "Yesterday - Gone Forever," is composed of a collection of articles meant to give the reader an insight into personalities and institutions in Halifax County since pre-Revolutionary War days.
Tuck's work in researching and compiling the book was obviously a labor of love.
"It was supposed to be here before Christmas, but it didn't make it," Tuck said yesterday.
"It took about a year to compile, not counting research," she added.
"Yesterday - Gone Forever" is a collection of articles exploring such diverse county institutions as the legal system and churches, in addition to the well- known roles the county has played in the tobacco industry and the Civil War.
The photograph on the book's cover pays homage to Halifax County's best known traditional product.
"The photograph on the cover of this book shows the men at Berry Hill Plantation 'pulling' tobacco as it was called in 1935," said Tuck in her book.
Tuck, herself born and reared on the grounds of the plantation, still remembers the sights and smells that accompanied life along Berry Hill Road. Her father managed the plantation for many years.
"One can almost smell the aroma of the tobacco curing along Berry Hill Road in the barns that are slowly deteriorating each day," Tuck recalled.
"In the past, the tobacco being cured with wood, the aromas could be smelled for miles.
"To have lived in Halifax County, on Berry Hill Plantation, as I did, what a wonderful feeling on a July evening to have the breeze blowing in your hair, the moonlight shining down with the heavenly honeysuckle smell everywhere, bobwhites calling their mates, crickets singing so sweetly, and the aroma of tobacco curing when you are sixteen and so young.
"This was heaven first class and it doesn't get any better."
Tuck said that, although she was educated in local schools, her interest in research began while visiting a friend, Katherine Sewell.
The two spent many hours in courthouses in Virginia and many times Mrs. Berryman Green (Martha) and Mrs. Page Loftis (Frances) would accompany them, according to Tuck.
The author began her career in historical research in 1967 and in 1977 remarried and moved to Richmond.
There she spent most of her time at the Virginia State Library and the Virginia Historical Society.
She has worked at the Library of Congress, the DAR Library, libraries of major universities in Virginia and North Carolina, and the Carnegie Library in Pennsylvania.
Tuck would always search until she found something relating to Halifax County.
In 1984, following her husband's retirement, they moved to Halifax County.
Tuck has already received a positive review of her book, from Fifth District Congressman Virgil H. Goode Jr., who wrote the forward to "Yesterday - Gone Forever."
"Faye Royster Tuck is well known in Halifax County and adjacent communities as a preserver of our history and as a promoter of our heritage," began Goode.
"Her collection of articles, entitled "Yesterday - Gone Forever," has captured the flavor and character of much of Halifax County over the last two and a half centuries.
"Faye has not undertaken a standard chronological history from the pre-Revolutionary War period down to the twenty-first century.
"Instead, she has focused on specific aspects of our rich and diverse history...
"Faye's in-depth look at certain other personages and places central to the history of Halifax County provides a wealth of material not only for the casual reader but also for historians focused on Southside Virginia," Goode continued.
"For example, the Civil War, particularly in the South, has received more coverage in books and articles than any internal conflict of any English speaking country.
"...Faye gives us details and information about the Civil War in our area that I have never seen covered in the articles, stories and books on that great conflict.
"Likewise...,she provides material and insight into the Nineteenth Century African American history of Halifax County that is a treasury of information to a researcher."
Tuck is a member of Berry Hill Presbyterian Church, Berryman Green Chapter of the DAR, Virginia Historical Society and a former member of the Daughters of Colonial Wars and past president of Founders and Patriots.
"While growing up on Berry Hill Plantation, I remember one rainy day going with my father to the low grounds of Berry Hill, where the airport used to be, during World War II and seeing those big airplanes covered with canvas," Tuck said in her book.
"Even after thirty-six years of research, I still find myself drifting into another world of long ago when things were simple.
"My husband, Bob Tuck, told me to 'take each day and live it as if it were your last day on this earth.'
"We just have today because Yesterday - Gone Forever."
cutline: Halifax County native and historian Faye Royster Tuck is the author of a book entitled, "Yesterday - Gone Forever," a collection of articles chronicling the persons, institutions and events throughout Halifax County's past.
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