John Maynard Poythress — Library of Virginia to Receive His Family Research Collection

As many in the longstanding Poythress family research community know, John Maynard Poythress was one of the most active and passionate contributors to the mailing list, now housed with Ancestry’s Rootsweb and to this family history website.  Maynard passed away in 2012 at the age of 77.  Here is a link to his obituary.

Anyone looking through the transcriptions of primary records on this site will soon learn the scope and significance of his contributions.  As a remembrance, here is a favorite family photograph of Maynard taken during a trip to Scotland in 1998.

Below is a recent update from Maynard’s daughter, Leigh, providing details about his wish to have his Poythress research preserved and accessible to future generations.

Hello all—

Maynard specifically asked Dewayne and me in our last conversation with him in the ICU, to promise that we would take responsibility for getting his research materials indexed and available online. His idea that day was that “we” scan all of his papers, build a database,  and stand up a web site. We both told him that was a pretty tall order but we promised him that it “would be taken care of.” We moved five storage tubs of three-ring binders and books out of his office in 2012 to New Orleans, moved it all to Tennessee in 2014 and this week took the lot of it to Richmond, Virginia. Barbara Neal, in her infinite wisdom, suggested the Library of Virginia as the logical place to house the collection since as Maynard always put it “our first turkey got off the boat in Virginia.” I have attached pictures of the bins, binders and books just so each of you can get some feel for the amount of material in the collection.

Dewayne sent an email mid-August via the Library’s web site explaining: We have a collection of genealogical research compiled by my father-in-law (John Maynard Poythress) before he passed in 2012 that we would like to donate to the library’s collection. He spent the last 20 years of his life researching the Poythress and Bayne families from Scotland, through Virginia, and into other southern states.  We can think of no more appropriate place for these documents than in your library if you will take them.  We will gladly deliver them to the library and would like to make a cash donation in his name to help defray the costs of inventorying them. That same afternoon, Audrey C. McElhinney the Sr. Manuscript, Map & Rare Book Librarian wrote back that they would be happy to receive Maynard’s material and that she is “familiar with the strong Poythress family web group and Mr. Poythress’s contributions and legacy.” We set a date and made arrangements to travel to Richmond and meet with Audrey McElhinney and Chad Underwood, an archivist at the library, to turn over the collection.

Audrey and Chad could not have been nicer or more gracious. We loaded all the tubs onto a rolling cart and took them upstairs to a private reading room to semi-unload and explain what we had. There were approximately three tubs of three-ringed binders and two plus tubs of books. The books included titles about how to do genealogy research, how to cite sources,  and books on history, geography, etc. For example, The History of Screven County, Georgia, Brunswick County Virginia 1720 – 1975, The Jamestown Experiment: The Remarkable Story of the Enterprising Colony and the Unexpected Results That Shaped America, etc. The three-ringed binders were all labeled Virginia Vol. 1-13, Georgia Volume 1- ?, Barbara Wolfe (research she had done and correspondence between Barbara and Maynard), Fred Upchurch (correspondence and research on Nita Poythress and how Maynard found Fred), and the like.

The next step is that a volunteer consultant/archivist the library uses regularly will come in next week and do a cursory organization of the material and give us all some idea what it will take (time and cost) to catalogue the collection. Ultimately, an archivist will be assigned to scan, organize and integrate every piece of information, document, book, etc. into the Library of Virginia catalogue/collection. Everything that is in those tubs will be forever tagged with an identifier that labels it as part of the John Maynard Poythress Genealogy Research Collection. So… if I happen to be doing a business search and find information on the William P. Poythress Drug Company of Richmond, VA and a color photograph of an actual bottle as well as a letter written on the company letterhead in 1972 to folks doing Poythress family research I will learn that the information is available as part of a private papers collection from John Maynard Poythress. Conceivably the actual paper can even be pulled. And, years from now, if a Poythress (or anyone for that fact) wants to see the collection in its entirety they can contact the library ahead of time and everything in those tubs can be pulled back together so someone can sift through it for themselves.

One last story of interest. I spent last weekend going through the storage tubs to make sure that the only documents and books in them were items that would be of interest to the library. I found four quite old books that I separated from the storage tubs. Two were signed by the author (one inscribed to Maynard and one to his mother Dorothy Bayne Poythress). Dewayne and I decided that we would take these with us and that if the Library of Virginia did not have these books in their current collection then we would donate them. If the books were not significant to the Library then we would like to keep them.

This is Your Georgia by Bernice McCullar (picture attached) was apparently a Georgia history text book at some point and is a definitive Georgia history resource. The inscription inside reads: Good wishes to my fellow Georgian, Maynard Poythress, whose family has enriched Georgia by its intelligence and character. Bernice McCullar, March 27, 1972. There are only 37 copies of this book in libraries around the country. The Library of Virginia did not have a copy of the book in its collection and there was no copy of this book in any library in the state of Virginia. Dewayne and I decided that we would leave This is Your Georgia with the Library of Virginia and forever as part of the John Maynard Poythress Genealogy Collection.

Our All-Southern Family by Carolyn Barfield Fulghum (picture attached) is quite old, copyright 1948 and published in Macon, Ga. Only 13 of these books are in libraries anywhere in the country, none in Virginia. We decided the same for this book signed by the author to Dorothy Bayne Poythress. It is my impression that this may become part of the Library of Virginia Rare Books Collection but always cataloged as an element of the Maynard Poythress Genealogy Collection.

The other two old books, Flower de Hundred by Mrs. Burton Harrison, copyright 1890 (no inscription) and The Prince George-Hopewell Story by Francis Earle Lutz, copyright 1957 (inscribed: To Dorothy Poythress, a Friend – Billie Foster Blankenship. Hopewell, Va.) were not considered rare. We have returned to Tennessee and added these to our personal bookshelves.

Thank you to each of you for your encouragement, kind words and your loving thoughts. We will continue to keep you each in the loop as we hear from the Library of Virginia about this project and its progress. I will certainly let Al and Barbara know when access to materials are available online in order that they may incorporate that into the wonderful web site.

 Leigh Poythress Wilson