Looking back: Big beef business in Branchville

Published 10:49 am Friday, September 6, 2013

EDITOR’S NOTE: Looking Back features past articles from The Tidewater News with commentary by local historian Clyde Parker.


A quiet mild mannered former Texan is building a cattle empire in this small Southampton County community. B. R. Hoppe is vice president and general manager of Virginia Cattle Feeding Corporation, which may someday sell as many as 10,000 head a year out of the Branchville location.

Already, he has the makings of a large operation and, in his own words, “I am just getting started.” As of now, he has built two of the largest silos ever built and has plans to build five more.

The building program will continue for another two months. When construction is completed, Hoppe said he expects to have a complete feed mill, a warehouse, three 27-ton storage tanks for soy bean and other feed supplements, and two 5000 bushel dryers.


Another project of the Franklin Chamber of Commerce is nearing completion. For many years the Agricultural Division of the Chamber has sought to have a feed grain buying and storage station to serve Southampton and Isle of Wight farmers.

Three weeks ago Southampton Supply Company, located at 201 South Main Street, started just such an operation. Construction is now underway just across Main Street from their present store.

The new mill operators will provide custom grinding of various grains for local farmers. The Company will also buy soybeans and corn for resale. But the biggest thing will be the grain bank storage facilities. The company will build five or more storage tanks with a capacity of 20,000 bushels.

When construction on the facilities is completed and everything is operational, Southampton Supply Company will provide area farmers storage and processing services, which, until now, were unavailable in this area.

Officers of Southampton Supply Company are: Clifford A. Cutchins II, president; Robert A. Vaughan, vice president; Jesse A. Weede, Jr., secretary; and W. H. Eley, treasurer.

Not too long ago, Southampton Supply Company was formed through the merger of two long-time Franklin agricultural based businesses: Nicholson and Weede and C. A. Cutchins and Son. Following the merger, Nicholson and Weede vacated its place at the southwest corner of Main Street and First Avenue and moved in with the C. A. Cutchins and Son store.


Sheriff Ryland Brooks was the most popular man in both Franklin and Southampton last Tuesday. His 2891 to 223 win over B. W. Cabell for the democratic nomination as Sheriff of Southampton County and Franklin was the largest victory recorded in the county on primary day. In Franklin, Brooks drew 842 votes. Brooks won over Cabell in every district including Branchville where Cabell is Town Sergeant.

In Southampton County, the race for Commissioner of the Revenue between incumbent L. A. Clements of Courtland and John Claud of Drewryville was the closest. Clements won by a narrow margin.


Miss Frances Lawrence Webb, better known as “Miss Fanny”, has, at the age of 94, published her long awaited book. It is entitled “Recollections of Franklin and Historical Sketches of Southampton County”.

Miss Webb, who, in 1952, was the first recipient of Franklin’s “First Citizen Award”, is well qualified to write the book. She was born at South Quay in 1868, a daughter of a Confederate artillery Captain, who fought during the Civil War, and a mother who was descended from the Lawrence family of Jamestown.

In 1876, her family relocated to Franklin and moved into a beautiful old home, among a grove of old oak trees, at the very end of West First Avenue.

At the age of 16, Miss Fannie, moved to North Carolina and taught school there. After a fourteen-year absence, she returned to Franklin and opened a boarding school, which took in both boys and girls who lived too far away to commute to school every day.

The school became known as the Euphradian Institute. It was maintained with the help of her sisters, Miss Lessie Webb who taught classes, and Miss Gattie Webb who managed the housing quarters. Between 50 and 60 students were registered at the school during the peak of its enrollment.

Assisting Miss Fannie with her book were Mr. and Mrs. John C. Parker. Mrs. John M. Camp arranged for the book to be privately printed.

Five hundred books were printed all of which were presented to the Franklin Library for sale. “Proceeds from sale of the books will be used to further the operation of the library,” said Mrs. T. B. Kingsbury III, president of the Franklin Library Association.

CLYDE PARKER is a retired human resources manager for the former Franklin Equipment Co. and a member of the Southampton County Historical Society. His email address is cpjeep99@yahoo.com.