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Banjo on Display at Visitor Center

  • "My grandfather, the late Robert Leonard Skelton, was according to records I've been able to obtain, probably 15 or 16 when he fought in the battle of Staunton River Bridge. I have his pension application which states after the Battle of Staunton River Bridge he joined Colonel Pickett's unit. I'm not sure in which battles he fought with Pickett but, according to civil war data, I think he fought at Petersburg and was captured at Saylor's Creek. His record states he was captured after the war and held prisoner until June 1865. I do not know where he was held prisoner— I'm now in the process of pursuing information concerning his journey with Pickett, his capture and other pertinent information concerning him. I also discovered he had a great sense of humor. When asked how he was health-wise before he became ill, he replied " I was as healthy as a horse". He married my grandmother, the late Nora Brown Ferrell and together they had 11 children. My grandfather died when my dad (Charlie) was 18 months old and my youngest uncle (Louis) was only six months old. His last three children died in 1997, Frank 93, Sally 88, and Willie Alma 86. My dad, Charlie, died in October 1996, 5 days before his eighty-third birthday. I've been told my grandfather was quite a musician and was in great demand for social functions in the neighborhood. This love of music was passed down to his children. Many could play a variety of instruments and they all loved music. His love for music probably led him to make the banjo which is on display in the Visitor Center at Staunton River Battlefield State Park. The banjo consists of the body composed of a single piece of cowhide stretched like a drum head over a wooden hoop. Attached to the body, which has no back, is a long neck. There are four strings on this banjo, the strings are fastened over the ridge at the end of the neck where they are threaded through holes and wound around the wooden tuning pegs in the back of the head. I hope this article will "peak" your interest and will inspire you to encourage others to visit the Staunton River Battlefield State Park".

      Charlene Skelton-Breedlove, granddaughter of Robert L. Skelton

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