Boykins doctor memorialized with plaque

Published 8:22 am Friday, July 15, 2011

EDITOR’S NOTE: Looking Back features past articles from The Tidewater News with commentary by local history buff Clyde Parker. The series commemorates the 50th anniversary of Franklin becoming an independent city.

July 15, 1961


A bronze memorial plaque in memory of the late Dr. J. M. Bland of Boykins, who was the first president of Ruritan National, will be dedicated on July 26 in a ceremony at Ruritan National Headquarters in Wakefield.

Dr. Bland, a veteran Boykins physician who served as chairman of the Board of Supervisors for Southampton County, was killed instantly in September 1958 in an automobile collision on Route 58 a mile east of Franklin.

Dr. Bland moved to Boykins after a year of medical practice in his home community, Shackelfords in King and Queen County. He received his degree from the Medical College of Virginia in 1905.

He was survived by his wife, Grace Knight Bland; a daughter, Kitty Lassiter, and her husband, Roy A. Lassiter of Boykins; and sisters, Miss Rosalin Bland of Shackelfords and Mrs. W.F.D. Williams of Cape Charles.


Peanuts, Southampton County’s number one “money crop,” are looking good except for those planted in light, sandy soil. That’s the word from County Agent E.A. Davis of Franklin, who traveled around the county the past few weeks.

In 1960, Southampton County farmers averaged about 1,900 pounds an acre from the 32,000 acres of peanuts planted.

Southampton farmers have a record-high 17,000 acres of soybeans planted this year, up from 15,500 last year.

Cotton seems to have suffered from the cooler, wet weather earlier in the season.

This year, about 2,800 acres of watermelons were planted in the county, mostly in the Newsoms area.


Franklin businessman C.C. Blythe Jr. became the first member of High Street Methodist Church to enter the ministry. The Virginia Conference of the Methodist Church approved Blythe, 44, as a supply minister for the Magnolia Methodist Church east of Suffolk.

Blythe planned to attend Duke University Divinity School for two weeks in August and for a month in 1962.

Blythe Laundry and Dry Cleaners in Franklin will continue to be a family operation.

Blythe and his wife, the former Edna Earl Rountree of Corapeake, N.C., are the parents of Earl, Steve and Barry.


Seventy–seven enlisted men and six officers of the Franklin unit of the Virginia Army National Guard, are among the 1,900 men undergoing two-week summer training at Camp Pendleton in Virginia Beach.

The Franklin unit, designated as Battery B, 129th AAA, is under the command of Capt. Hudson R. Lankford, who is the Franklin postmaster. First Lt. George A. Gehrken is executive officer of the unit.

Master sergeants Shelton Cobb and Bobby Rhea, and sergeants First Class Floyd Wellons and Miles Carr were recognized in The Tidewater News.

Mess Sergeant Donnie Wade is organizing his food staff for the encampment. Cooks Joe Blythe, George Parker, Willie Copeland and Johnny Scott were complimented for their kitchen skills. Sp4 Norman Porter was leading the group in bayonet training.


Dr. David C. Williams, a 1947 graduate of Drewryville High School, will open an office in Capron. A 1960 graduate of Richmond Medical College, he interned at Stuart Circle Hospital in Richmond.

Williams, 30, is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Williams of Capron. He is married to the former Flora Ann Futrell, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Wingate Futrell of Courtland. They have a daughter, Susan, 1.


The Board of Supervisors has granted $1,500 to the County Welfare Department for use in sterilization.

Dr. Gordon Birdsong cited one woman with 23 children and another with 18.

When a family cannot adequately provide for its offspring, and where, in some cases, the county is helping to support the children, is it morally right to bring more children into a world of poverty and inadequate care?

As the supervisors emphasized, no woman could be sterilized at county expense unless both she and her husband requested it, and until authorities had investigated the case.

CLYDE PARKER is the retired human resource manager from the former Franklin Equipment Co. and a member of Southampton Historical Society. He can be reached at 757-647-8212 or