And some there be, which have no memorial, who are perished as though they had never been.”
In 1928, the Virginia General Assembly passed the Public Park Condemnation Act, which allowed the Commonwealth of Virginia to exercise its power of eminent domain to acquire private land to create Shenandoah National Park. Some landowners voluntarily sold their holdings while others refused and had their lands condemned. Landowners who had legal title to their property were compensated for the land and improvements. In the end, some 2,000 men, women, and children left their homes and their lands. Some homes rotted, with only stone foundations and chimneys standing as mute reminders of what had been. Some homes were burned to the ground.
Lisa and her husband-to-be, Curtis Custalow, launched a group to advocate for the displaced and their descendants. Lisa named it The Children of the Shenandoah (COS) and held its first meeting in the spring of 1994 at Greene County’s William Monroe High School. COS would go on to meet nearly every month for another eight years.
—By Kit Johnston and Kristie Kendall
Read more in our January/February 2017 issue, on newsstands January 1, or by print or digital subscription