By Matt de Simone
The Botetourt Historical Society (BCHS) and Museum provide visitors a chance to revisit some of Botetourt County’s history through education, exhibits, and activities. The museum’s 57-year history saw a couple of massive changes last year. One of those changes stemmed off of the county courthouse renovation project, causing the museum to successfully find a new home.
Leading up to the move of the old Breckinridge Law Offices that formerly housed the history museum, The Fincastle Herald will feature interviews with some of the individuals who love Botetourt’s rich history and help make the Botetourt County Museum of History & Culture a must-see destination.
Roblyn Brand arrived in Botetourt approximately 20 years ago after living in Roanoke. She’s a central Pennsylvania native who has always had an interest in American history. Brand is the acting website manager for BCHS. She currently works in information technology as a project manager and developer for Hypergen, Inc.
Her family’s history dates back to the same area where she grew up prior to the Revolutionary War. She currently lives with her husband, Harry, in Blue Ridge.
“I’ve always been involved in history,” Brand said in a recent interview. “When I moved to Roanoke 35 years ago, I would drive past Botetourt on my way home to Philadelphia and had absolutely no idea of the incredible history of Botetourt County. I just basically kind of ignored it. When I moved to Botetourt, I wanted to get more involved in the county to meet people. I joined several local organization to meet people.”
BCHS and the Botetourt County Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) were two local organizations Brand joined; the latter being the organization that led her to becoming a volunteer at the Botetourt County Museum of History & Culture.
Brand was impressed about the original size of the county stretching to the Mississippi River and the role Botetourt played during the Revolutionary War.
“Because of my involvement with BCHS, I became involved with Greenfield and I’m on the Botetourt-Greenfield Advisory Committee,” Brand continued. “That has also been of interest to me in terms of exploring the history of the county and making the stories available to people. I think what I like most about history is exploring the stories of individual people. Because of the collection we have in the Genealogy Room and some of the artifacts we have, I just think that it helps tell the stories of the families that lived here in the county.”
Other interesting features Brand enjoys in the museum include the visual of the mannequin on display in the witness stand on trail for being “loud of mouth,” the information about Lewis & Clark, and information about the families that made up early Botetourt County. Brand became fascinated with Botetourt’s historical connections to America and continues learning through as a docent at the museum.
“When my husband and I docent on Sundays in conjunction with other members through the DAR, we like to sit and read some of the books there,” Brand mentioned. “I never knew that Eagle Rock was such a happening place, or that Iron Gate was a destination point at one time, or all of the hotels that used to be here.”
Brand enjoys her time spent as a docent. The “team effort” between docents and their respective interests leads them to discover new things about the county regularly.
“Especially with moving from the old location to the new location, we’ve been able to rediscover some artifacts that we had and discover some we didn’t know we had,” Brand explained. “There was an added excitement (during the move as we rediscovered stored artifacts). We have a director in Lynsey Allie who has great ideas to keep us moving forward into the future.”
To learn more about the Botetourt County Historical Society & Museum, visit bothistsoc.wordpress.com. The museum is located at 26 East Main Street in Fincastle and is open to the public Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and on Sundays from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m.