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Two of Edmunds’ beloved books republished

SoVaNow.com / October 19, 2015


The Halifax County Historical Society has republished two of Pocahontas Wight Edmunds’ books: The Pocahontas—John Smith Story and Land of Sand—Legends of the North Carolina Coast. Both books have been out of print for many years.

Pocahontas Wight Edmunds was born in 1904, the daughter of Pocahontas Wilson and Richard Cunningham Wight. Though born in Richmond Edmunds spent much of her adult life in Halifax County. She authored 10 books including biographies and seacoast stories of Virginia and North Carolina. In addition to The Pocahontas—John Smith Story and Land of Sand—Legends of the North Carolina Coast, her books include a two-volume History of Halifax County, Virginians Out Front, Tar Heels Track the Century, and Tales of the Virginia Coast.

Edmunds co-authored two books with H. J. Eckenrode: Rutherford B. Hayes, which was chosen for the White House library during the Kennedy Administration, and E. H. Harriman—The Little Giant of Wall Street. Both books received excellent reviews.

A graduate of St. Catherine’s School, Edmunds was chosen June Queen in 1921, the highest honor for a member of the graduating class. In 1991, she received the Ellett-St.Catherine’s Distinguished Alumna Award. Edmunds graduated from Agnes Scott College where intercollegiate debating trained her in research and public speaking. She continued her studies in French and violin in Paris.

In 1933, Edmunds initiated the Halifax County Homes Tour, which featured tours of historical homes. She personally directed fifteen of those tours. Active in community affairs, Edmunds founded the Halifax County Garden Club and the South Boston Woman’s Club. She was elected president of the Halifax Woman’s Club on two occasions and was also active in many other community organizations. She spoke often at schools and club meetings about the characters in her books, especially her ancestor Pocahontas.

In 1956, the Encyclopedia Britannica cited her as an authority on Pocahontas and in 1995, Edmunds was interviewed for documentaries on Pocahontas, which were shown on television in Japan, England, and the United States. While most of her books are out of print, they are in continuous use in school libraries, city libraries, and seven state libraries.

Edmunds was a member of The Writers Club and the National Society of the Colonial Dames of Virginia. She was chosen Woman of the Year for Halifax County and has been listed in Who’s Who Among American Women; Who’s Who Among North American Writers; Who’s Who in the South and the Southwest; Leading Virginias; and Virginia Authors Yearbook (1958). She died in 1999 at age 95 and is buried beside her husband, Richard C. Edmunds, in the church cemetery at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Halifax.

“Everyone who visits the North Carolina coast should have a copy of Land of Sand—Legends of the North Carolina Coast,” says Barbara Bass, president of the Halifax County Historical Society. The small book was originally published in 1941 and received national recognition with the New York Herald-Tribune Book Review calling it “Charming book, . . . written with poetic fervor, brief, and evocative.”

The Pocahontas—John Smith Story according to Bass, “is a great story that many know little about. It is written in a different style than readers may be used to, but the documentation is outstanding and a must read.”

The new editions are available at the Visitor Center in South Boston and the Peddler’s Market in Halifax and will be at the Society’s booth at the Holiday Living Show in November.

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