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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Holland in Suffolk, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Ruritan National Monument

 
 
Ruritan National Monument image. Click for full size.
By Cynthia L. Clark, November 8, 2020
1. Ruritan National Monument
Inscription.  
(south facing panels)
Community Service
Fellowship
Goodwill

Near this monument was
founded the first
Ruritan Club
May 21, 1928
Holland, Virginia
(north facing panel)
Charter Members
E. T. Batten • W. E. Beale • Noah Brown • H. E. Byrd • B. W. Councill • J. P. Dalton • W. W. Darden • L. J. Daughtrey • J. M. Fanney • L.H. Gardner • J. J. Gwaltney • J. L. Hare • E. T. Holland • J. E. Holland • J. G. Holland • J. R. Holland • P. C. Holland • W. J. Holland • Rev. W. C. Hook • E. J. Howell • A. L. Jolly • B. D. Jones • J. T. Jones • P. A. Jones • W. A. Jones • H. A. Luke • N. G. Newman, D.D. • R. C. Norfleet • C. A. Piland • J. A. Rawles • J. D. Rawles • J. T. Rawles • Lafayette Rawls • H. V. White • H. L. Worrell
 
Erected 1958 by Ruritans.
 
Topics. This historical marker monument is listed in this topic list: Fraternal or Sororal Organizations.
 
Location. 36° 40.88′ N, 76° 46.827′ W. Marker is in Holland in Suffolk
Image A - Ruritan National Monument southwest and southeast panels. image. Click for full size.
By Cynthia L. Clark, November 8, 2020
2. Image A - Ruritan National Monument southwest and southeast panels.
, Virginia. Marker is on Holland Road (Business U.S. 58) near South Quay Road, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 6618 Holland Road, Suffolk VA 23437, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 8 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. First Ruritan Club (a few steps from this marker); Nansemond County Training School (approx. 2.9 miles away); George Fox Monument (approx. 3.4 miles away); Somerton Friends Meeting (approx. 3.4 miles away); Mount Sinai Baptist Church (approx. 4.1 miles away); a different marker also named Somerton Friends Meeting (approx. 4.6 miles away); John Beverley Rose (approx. 6.6 miles away); Camp Manufacturing Company (approx. 7.6 miles away).
 
Regarding Ruritan National Monument. In the mid- to late-1900’s, the Ruritan National Monument was locally famous. As such, it was written about and photographed during that era. Today, this monument, except for its seal (or logo), seems to be a forgotten thing of the past. Even prominent Ruritan websites do not include it in the organization’s history.

Recently measured from top to ground, the somewhat weathered monument stands 9-feet tall. Its triangular shape has three inscribed panels, not just one as usually depicted in older photos. Two of those panels are identical; face southwest and southeast. The third one, inscribed with a list of charter
Image B - Ruritan National Monument north panel. image. Click for full size.
By Cynthia L. Clark, November 8, 2020
3. Image B - Ruritan National Monument north panel.
The names of 35 charter members are listed. Co-founder J. J. “Jack” Gwaltney is the 11th one; but co-founder Tom V. Downing’s name is missing.
member names, faces north.

Wikipedia has a Ruritan article, but the organization’s (or club’s) once famous monument is not mentioned. A maintenance template states that the article has multiple issues, e.g., “. . . additional citations for verification are needed.”

Information about the monument is included, however, in at least two local historian publications: Suffolk Journal: Volume I (1986) and Suffolk Journal: Volume II (1988) by Carole Contois Maguire and Suffolk: A Pictorial Celebration of History (1987, 2006) by Kermit Hobbs and William A. Paquette. Maguire wrote, “In 1958 Ruritans celebrated 30 years as an organization by unveiling the Ruritan monument in Holland, population by then 1,000.” Hobbs and Paquette included a photograph with a caption that reads, “A monument in Holland commemorates the establishment of the first Ruritan Club on May 21, 1928.”

According to various sources, the Ruritan club was founded by J. J. “Jack” Gwaltney and Tom V. Downing (see Image B). When their history-making meetings took place, Holland was a small rural town, neighboring with the then Suffolk City, in what was then Nansemond County. Today, as the result of subsequent consolidations and mergers, the status of all three localities has changed. Holland is a village in present-day Suffolk,
Image C - U-127 First Ruritan Club and the monument. image. Click for full size.
By Cynthia L. Clark, November 8, 2020
4. Image C - U-127 First Ruritan Club and the monument.
In 1959, the Virginia State Library erected U-127 First Ruritan Club. This was about one year after the monument was unveiled and 31 years after the club was founded.
now an independent city. And Nansemond County no longer exists because it merged with Suffolk in 1974.

Credit for the name “Ruritan” is given to Daisy Nurney aka “Miss Daisy” (d. 1948). Nurney suggested the word “ruritan” that sources say is “a combination of the Latin words for open country “ruri” and small town “tan,” interpreted as pertaining to rural and small town life.”

The Ruritan’s slogan (or motto) – “Community Service, Fellowship, Goodwill” – chiseled on the monument and mirrored by marker U-127 First Ruritan Club has changed. It is now, “Fellowship, Goodwill, Community Service.” An explanation for why is given at the Holland District Ruritans website (see link).

Although forgotten by some and eliminated from background history by others, the preserved Ruritan National Monument emanates this message, “I am still here.”
 
Also see . . .
1. Ruritan National, Inc. at ruritan.org. Background on the organization is given here. (Submitted on December 5, 2020, by Cynthia L. Clark of Suffolk, Virginia.) 

2. Holland District Ruritans Homepage. This site has the most information about Ruritan and Ruritan National. (Submitted on December 5, 2020, by Cynthia L. Clark of Suffolk, Virginia.)
<b>Image D</b> - Ruritan National Monument curbside view. image. Click for full size.
By Cynthia L. Clark, October 21, 2020
5. Image D - Ruritan National Monument curbside view.
The monument and its companion U-127 First Ruritan Club are pictured right. At left are highway signs for Business West US 58, Business East US 58, Franklin, Downtown Suffolk, and Ruritan Blvd.
 

3. Wikipedia article on Ruritan. (Submitted on December 5, 2020, by Cynthia L. Clark of Suffolk, Virginia.)
 
Image E - Ruritan National Monument backyard view. image. Click for full size.
By Cynthia L. Clark, October 21, 2020
6. Image E - Ruritan National Monument backyard view.
The monument (far left background) occupies a small corner on this vast empty tract of fenced in land.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on December 6, 2020. It was originally submitted on December 5, 2020, by Cynthia L. Clark of Suffolk, Virginia. This page has been viewed 41 times since then and 5 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on December 5, 2020, by Cynthia L. Clark of Suffolk, Virginia. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
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