Speaker lends sound to 'unheard voices' from Civil War

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Belle Montgomery

2nd Lieutenant
Oct 25, 2017

WINCHESTER — Accountant Alison Herring, fast becoming an historian, has undertaken the task of giving renewed life to a relatively understated family — the Powells — who ran a combination day school/boarding school called the Powell Female Seminary on the city’s North Braddock Street from 1856 to 1862, where the Winchester Law Group now dispenses legal advice.
“The Powell Family Papers have not been researched or published,” said Herring, a native of Little Rock, Ark., alluding to her goal during a lively 70-minute presentation to an audience of 60 on Saturday in the Handley Regional Library’s Robinson Auditorium.
“So they present a whole new lens on the local Civil War history,” she said about the “unheard voices” in the papers. “[The Powells] were a humble people, in that they came to everything humbly. They came to everything softly.”

How Herring came to the Powells is a story unto itself. She was at a point in her life, she says, where she, a veteran senior audit manager for a major accounting firm, “needed a hobby.”
Earl Gregg Swem Library at the College of William & Mary, where she earned her master’s degree in accounting, was seeking people to transcribe manuscripts — letters and diaries, for example — from the original. There she found the letters of Hattie Powell, one of the daughters of Charles and Selina Lloyd Powell, “and got hooked.”

There was a lot on which to get hooked — 689 documents totaling 3,600 pages. The Powells, well-traveled throughout the North as well as the South for a Southern antebellum family, recorded history in 15 locations in Virginia and in 14 other states. There was a reason for this:...

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