2019 Commemoration Girl Scout Troop 504 West Point VA
Girl Scouts have a long history in Virginia beginning in 1913. A new patch is being offered to our future change makers and community leaders this year: “The 2019 Commemoration is thrilled to be partnering with the Girl Scouts to empower women and girls to educate themselves on our shared history and shape our future. The American Evolution Explore patch is one of the ways we are committed to telling the untold and under-told stories of Virginia history and inspiring the next generation of leaders,” said Kristin Ritchey, former Girl Scout and Statewide Engagement Coordinator with American Evolution (view the patch requirements here).
In October 2018 before a new patch had been announced, the Cadettes from Girl Scout Troop 504 created a 2019 Commemoration Learning Lounge in the HearthSong Youth Village at the West Point Crab Carnival. In addition to designing a display that featured the themes of diversity, democracy, opportunity, innovation and collaboration, the girls volunteered at this free event for kids of all ages. The West Point Branch of the Pamunkey Regional Library provided books from the 2019 Commemoration Schools Reading List and the Beverly Allen Historic Preservation Foundation provided two selections for a giveaway drawing. Margaret Edds, author of We Face the Dawn, also donated a signed copy of her book which includes the story of the West Point 29.
Most of these Cadettes have been together since they were Daisies. The magnificent 7 continue to inspire others and serve their community with grace, passion and wisdom.
Women in communities along the Pamunkey, Mattaponi and York rivers have always been resilient and this next generation continues that tradition on the three rivers trail.
Three Rivers Trail Women
At their meeting preparing for the HearthSong Youth Village event, the Cadettes from Troop 504 learned about untold and under-told stories of women from the three rivers region of Virginia including:
Fortune Hall was a lifelong citizen and mainstay in the community for more than 80 years. She was a member of Mt. Nebo Baptist Church and was educated in West Point where there were limited opportunities for people of color. She taught and loved children. Miss Fortune established the first Girl Scout Troop for the Black community in the 1940s and she made sure that adults and children took educational trips to Richmond, VA and Washington, D.C. As an active member and officer of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), she kept voting and civil rights at the forefront of community concerns.
She was one of the captains of the resistance effort when parents were notified by the West Point School Board and superintendent that Beverly Allen High School would close and students would be bused to Hamilton Holmes, the county’s Black high school. She walked with the students who marched to West Point High School and tried to enroll. When a “makeshift” school was set up, she was there as a supervisor and parent to provide guidance so that students would continue to pursue their educational goals.
Cockacoeske is one of the twelve women chosen for inclusion in the Virginia Women’s Monument.
On 9/15/1863 Ann Cunningham (born in Ireland per census data) purchased 5 lots from the West Point Land Company. In the 1880 census, she was listed as a milliner living in West Point VA with her daughter. In the 1881/1882 Chesapeake and Ohio Railway Directory, she is listed as owning a boarding house.
Research continues as our understanding of historic Virginia women continues to expand and evolve. Download the Virginia History Trails App to plan your next history adventure.
Editor’s note: Want to join the 2019 Commemoration in honoring the achievements of women throughout our nation’s history? Mark your calendar for the “Voices from the Garden” Women’s Monument Dedication Event.