Many people are surprised to learn just how delicate are the threads of history. Over the Christmas holiday, we uncovered some surprising connections, and it’s all thanks to a case of mistaken identity.

For the past few months, we have selected photographs from our archive collections to share on the NSLM Facebook Page for “Throwback Thursdays.” These photographs have allowed us to interact with our members in new ways, as we have begun to share memories and hear stories through social media. On Christmas Eve, this photo was shared.

Gerald_Webb_2_Full
A photo in our collection misidentified the rider on the left as “Fred Walberg.”

The photo is from the Gerald B. Webb Archive collection. Mr. Webb is on the right. Sometime in the past, an attempt was made to identify the other riders.

All we had to go on was a 70-year-old photo, a sticky note, and youthful enthusiasm. Naturally, it turned into an adventure!
All we had to go on was a 70-year-old photo, a sticky note, and library-level enthusiasm. Naturally, it turned into an adventure.

The sticky note in the archive clearly identifies the rider on the left as “Fred Walberg.” We had no idea who that might be. The identifier was unsure if the rider in the center is Dot Smithwick, a prominent foxhunter in the Middleburg area. When the photo was shared on Facebook, we immediately had help from one of our supporters, who suggested “Walberg,” could be a “Warburg” instead.

James Plaskitt made a huge connection for us.
James Plaskitt made a huge connection for us. Could “Walberg” be “Warburg”?

A huge thank you to James Plaskitt for his suggestion!

Warburg is a distinctive name, and one that has lots of meaning for us at NSLM. In 2008, Mrs. Felicia Warburg Rogan made a significant donation of sporting art to us, and the paintings by John Emms and Sir Alfred Munnings in that donation are a major part of the Museum experience. But was there a connection? With the help of online genealogical resources, a Christmastime investigation was afoot!

John Emms (English, 1841-1912) Foxhounds and Terrier in a Stable Interior, 1878 oil on canvas, 39 x 52 inches Gift of Felicia Warburg Rogan, 2008
John Emms (English, 1841-1912) Foxhounds and Terrier in a Stable Interior, 1878
oil on canvas, 39 x 52 inches
Gift of Felicia Warburg Rogan, 2008

Our first research sweep found a major local connection: our newest corporate sponsor, Goodstone Inn & Restaurant. Goodstone Inn is on the site of Goodstone Farm, just a stone’s throw from the kennels of the Middleburg Hunt. We visited with the staff at Goodstone Inn to learn more about the history.

The property was owned by the Leith family, who settled in the region in 1768. Three Leith sons faught for the Confederacy during the Civil War, and the property was sold to the Goodwin family (who renamed it Goodstone Farm) in 1915. The Goodstone mansion was destroyed by fire in 1939, and only the facade of the mansion remains today. The property was sold to Frederick Warburg in 1943. Mr. Warburg was a member of a prominent banking family; the amenities at the farm were expanded and the Warburgs used the farm as a seasonal residence for foxhunting and riding. The farm was renamed Snake Hill Farm, in part because of the winding road around the farm.

Another photograph of Frederick Warburg.
Another photograph of Frederick Warburg in the Gerald Webb collection.

 

Now that we had the correct name, we were able to positively identify Mr. Warburg in the original photograph. Using genealogical resources, we worked backwards to uncover the rest of the connection. Felicia Warburg Rogan’s father was Paul Felix Solomon Warburg, whose brother was Frederick Warburg (1897-1973).

Frederick Warburg, Dot Smithwick (?), and Gerald B. Webb.
Frederick Warburg, Dot Smithwick (?), and Gerald B. Webb.

 

We can tell a lot from the photo, now. We know the photo was likely taken between 1943 and 1947, since the Warburgs purchased Goodstone in 1943 and Gerald Webb died in 1947. It’s quite likely that the horses in the original photo were Goodstone horses (though we can’t be sure). The location pictured could be Glenwood Park, built in 1932 and today the site of the Virginia Fall Races and the Middleburg Spring Races. We hope to discover if Dot Smithwick is the lady riding in the center. If you can identify any of these elements, please help us unravel the mystery!

This Saturday, October 10th, the Virginia Fall Races will be held at Glenwood Park here in Middleburg.  Glenwood is a fantastic venue – just outside of town, and there are no bad seats to be found!  It’s easy for guests to get close to the action along the courses and at the paddock.

Virginia Fall Races at Glenwood Park, 2011. (Photo courtesy of VA Fall Races)
Virginia Fall Races at Glenwood Park, 2011 (photo courtesy of VA Fall Races)

We here at the NSLM take care of the literature, art, and history of sports like steeplechasing. But we also love to celebrate the sport today. Steeplechases, or jump races, are generally held on grass tracks, often with somewhat hilly terrain, over fences of brush, timber (wood), and sometimes water jumps. The horses are thoroughbreds and many of them got their start racing on the flat. They are generally older and a bit sturdier than their cousins and siblings at the flat racing tracks. And the jockeys don’t have to be the size of Derby winner Victor Espinoza (he’s 5’2″), but instead can be quite tall.

The Fall race meet at Glenwood is a particularly special one. The feature race of the day is the National Sporting Library & Museum Cup, which is held in memory of NSLM founders George L. Ohrstrom, Sr., and George L. Ohrstrom, Jr.

Portrait of George L. Ohrstrom, Sr. (1894 - 1955) by Erik Guide Haupt (American, 1891 - 1984), oil on canvas Gift of the Ohrstrom Family
Portrait of George L. Ohrstrom, Sr. (1894 – 1955)
by Erik Guide Haupt (American, 1891 – 1984), oil on canvas
Gift of the Ohrstrom Family
Thomas S. Buechner (American, 1926 - 2010) Portrait of George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. (1927 - 2005) oil on canvas, 40 x 30 ¼ inches Gift of the Ohrstrom Family, 2003
Portrait of George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. (1927 – 2005), by Thomas S. Buechner (American, 1926 – 2010), oil on canvas
Gift of the Ohrstrom Family, 2003

The Virginia Fall Races were founded not long after the NSLM (founded as the National Sporting Library in 1954). In 1955, George L. Ohrstrom, Sr., who was president of the Orange County Hounds, and Mrs. Theodora A. Randolph, the famous horsewoman and Master of the Piedmont Foxhounds for 40 years, worked together to create a new race meet for Virginia.  Sadly, Mr. Ohrstrom passed away just a month after the first October races. His son, George L. Ohrstrom, Jr., carried on supporting the races and the sport of steeplechasing. Today the Ohrstrom family continues to support the sport and sponsors the NSLM Cup.

The NSLM Cup is a timber race run over a long 3 and 1/4 miles course. The race is open to horses 4 years old and up – and a whopping 17 entries have been nominated to run this year.

National Sporting Library & Museum Cup Elkington & Co., London, 1920, sterling silver Gift of Juliana May, 2014
National Sporting Library & Museum Cup
Elkington & Co., London, 1920, sterling silver
Gift of Juliana May, 2014

The beautiful sterling silver NSLM Cup perpetual trophy will be awarded to the winner, and their names will be engraved on the base. New this year is a gorgeous “keeper” trophy. The owners of the winning horse will receive a stunning sterling silver salver (flat tray with small feet on the bottom) – for keeps! Generously donated by Juliana May, this piece was crafted by English silversmiths William Hutton & Sons, in 1930. It was engraved this year for the 2015 race.

National Sporting Library & Museum Cup, 2015 Winner’s Trophy William Hutton & Sons, Sheffield, England, 1930, sterling silver Gift of Juliana May, 2015
National Sporting Library & Museum Cup, 2015 Winner’s Trophy
William Hutton & Sons, Sheffield, England, 1930, sterling silver
Gift of Juliana May, 2015

Post time for the races is 1 pm. But come to town early and see fox hunters from around the country compete in the Theodora A. Randolph Field Hunter Championship on the infield. Or come to the NSLM to see great examples of steeplechasing in art – before you go see the real thing!

Cecil Aldin (English, 1870 – 1935) The Grand National Series: No. 3, Valentine’s Brook, c. 1923 photogravure, 13 x 25 inches Gift of Dr. Laura Jane Schrock, 1996
Cecil Aldin (English, 1870 – 1935)
The Grand National Series: No. 3, Valentine’s Brook, c. 1923, photogravure
Gift of Dr. Laura Jane Schrock, 1996
Paul Brown (American, 1893-1958) The Last Fence, Pickering, 1934 pencil on paper Gift of Boots Wright in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Richard E. Riegel, 2013
Paul Brown (American, 1893-1958)
The Last Fence, Pickering, 1934, pencil on paper
Gift of Boots Wright in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Richard E. Riegel, 2013

When you get to Glenwood, come visit us on the rail at spot A23!