Brain Food: The Sweet Briar Farm, 1910

The man who took these pictures was no photographer, at least according to the census. Born in Amherst County in 1875, Frank Cash was a miller at age twenty-five and a mechanic at age thirty-five. By 1920, he had moved to what is now Wise County where he became established in the woodworking business. He died at the age of seventy-two in 1948 and was buried in the Amherst Cemetery.

Professional photographer or not, Cash was a craftsman who seemed passionate about his subjects and often exhibited a sense of humor. His subjects ranged from prisoners building roads to bucolic farm scenes, but all were taken in the vicinity of Amherst County.

On these three pages are several of the twenty-five or so images he made in 1910 at Sweet Briar Institute. Most pertain to a “High Pressure Gardening” venture by David Harris, “the gardener.” Information about Harris and his experiments is scant, but the photos show crops of corn, potatoes, peas, beets, celery, peppers, and onions, along with the artfully arranged “Horn of Plenty Blown by David Harris.”

The glass-plate negatives were donated to the Amherst County Museum & Historical Society and the images are reproduced here with their permission.





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