Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 46

The first lady was born directly over a shop that is now Skeeter's
Hot Dogs.

dignity out of respect for her."
Her "husband," Jim Gearhart, aka
President Wilson, although less renowned in Wytheville than his wife,
also feels the pressure of celebrity.
"When you're representing a president, you're just a bit more formal,
more conscious of yourself," he says.
Historically minded Wytheville
residents have always known Edith
Bolling was born in a room over
what is now Skeeter's Famous Hot
Dogs on Main Street. But it wasn't
until Farron Smith and her husband
Bill bought the Bolling Building in
1989 and Farron began researching
the first lady that someone took the
responsibility of promoting Bolling Wilson's legacy. On Oct. 15,
2008, Edith's birthday, Farron Smith
opened the Edith Bolling Wilson
Birthplace Museum. The street-level
gallery exhibits family items, such
as the Bolling family Bible, family
furniture, and Wilson's prayer book.
The most magical possession there
is the first lady's personal franking
stamp. Her signature, with its loopy
capitals so popular in the period, is
almost childlike in its bold simplicity. You would expect the writer to
46 BlueRidgeCountry.com

Edith Wilson's hoecakes are served with glazed salmon at the hotel's Graze on Main.

be a very focused woman.
"Wytheville has something no
other town along I-81 has," Smith
says. "We have the only birthplace
museum of a first lady in Virginia.
She was a strong, dedicated first
lady, a great role model."
The little museum has another
distinction: it might be considered
the only museum honoring a female U.S. president.
Yes, president. Edith Wilson has
been called "America's First Woman
President" for her behind-the-scenes
work after President Wilson suffered
a stroke in 1919. At that point, Edith
Wilson began receiving all presidential communications, issuing decisions, and speaking for President
Wilson. It appears she took care of
some problems on her own, delegated others, and found a way to share
some with the president without
unduly disturbing him. Although
she never had political ambitions of
her own, she was considered a potential Democratic vice presidential
candidate in 1928, several years after her husband's death.
One of the first items offered for
sale in the museum gift shop was a

t-shirt asking "Could a Woman Really Run this Country?" and answering it emphatically "Yes She Can."
"Edith Bolling Wilson was a 'new
woman' for her time," Smith says.
"Before her marriage to President
Wilson, she ran her late first husband's jewelry business and was the
first Washington woman to drive
herself to work in her own electric
car. She became the first president's
wife to accompany her husband on
diplomatic missions overseas."
Ironically, the "Presidentress," as
some newspapers called her, hadn't
supported the campaign for female
suffrage and had never completed
college. The daughter of Judge William and Sallie Bolling, a prominent
but not wealthy couple who rented
out the first floor of their home to
shops, Bolling Wilson studied music
one year at finishing school. Then,
at 17, she enrolled at Richmond's
Powell's School for Girls for a year
before her father deemed her sufficiently educated for a girl.
Smith focuses on Edith Wilson's
strength and drive, traits developed
caring for her crippled grandmother.
In addition to eight siblings, her


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017

Features
Festival Guide 2017
Waterfalls of North Carolina: A Photo Essay
Wytheville Loves Edith
Barry Glick, Garden Guy
Vanishing Landmarks of North Georgia
Cheese!
Departments
From the Editor
Contributors
Mill Creek Stories
Worth a Click
Creature Feature
The Good Walk
Mountain Report
Country Roads
Singing in the Garden
Festivals & Events
Guest Column
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 3
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 4
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 5
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - From the Editor
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Contributors
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 8
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 9
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Mill Creek Stories
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 11
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 12
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 13
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 14
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 15
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Worth a Click
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Creature Feature
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - The Good Walk
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 19
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Mountain Report
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 21
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Country Roads
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 23
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 24
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 25
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Festival Guide 2017
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 27
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 28
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 29
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 30
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 31
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 32
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 33
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 34
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 35
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 36
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 37
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Waterfalls of North Carolina: A Photo Essay
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 39
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 40
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 41
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 42
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 43
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 44
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Wytheville Loves Edith
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 46
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 47
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Barry Glick, Garden Guy
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 49
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 50
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 51
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Vanishing Landmarks of North Georgia
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 53
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 54
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 55
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Cheese!
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 57
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Singing in the Garden
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 59
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 60
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 61
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Festivals & Events
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 63
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 64
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - 65
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Guest Column
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2017 - Cover4
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