Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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Kilmarnock

A home is more than a house. That adage encapsulates the larger reality of the meanings of both words. For the past 55 years our family home has been in a house that originally was the home of Pelham Delano who came here from the metropolis of Warsaw, Virginia, that is, and not Poland.

After his death, the property passed to his daughter, Mae, and her husband, Marvin Dameron. Towards the end of her life, after her husband’s death, she sold the farm, and it went through several hands prior to our family’s arrival.

Pelham’s other daughter, Emily, and her husband, James Gilliam Conley, lived slightly more than the proverbial stone’s throw away, and on that farm they raised their 10 children. Perhaps the most prominent of whom was Sam Conley, who with his wife, Snooks, ran the country store on the corner in Wicomico Church. They were far more than storekeepers; they were resources for anyone interested in the history of the community, as were all of the Conleys.

In 1978, Alvah became the first of the Conley children to die, and last week Anne Bromley became the last. As with her brothers and sisters, Anne was a fountainhead of knowledge about the Northern Neck, and from teaching for decades in the local schools, she passed along the wealth of what she knew to future generations.

Anne grew up as the youngest of her siblings on the now Century Farm in suburban Remo, the homestead that rings with the aura of authenticity, replete with a cavalcade of barns and outbuildings, all of which remain in daily use. After graduating from the now long-gone Wicomico High School, she went on to Longwood College, and prepared with the degree for which she had excelled academically, she returned to the Northern Neck where she married Cecil Bromley and settled in Morattico.

Anne and her siblings were the sources of much of what our family has learned about our house which formerly was their grandparents’ home. Their memories were from a time before everyone had a car, before no-till farming, before many of the roads were paved, and before the advent of television and computers. 

The Conley siblings were gifted with the ability to engage in great conversation.  They enjoyed telling newcomers about the Northern Neck, and the “good old days” which for them never ended. Anne was a perfectionist in everything that she did, but that was a trait common among all of the Conley family.

I recall telling her that when her brother J.P. and his son, Steve, who farm our land, were spending their non-farming time one winter extending our kitchen, that when the planting season began they had to move on to their crops, hence we engaged a cabinetmaker to build the kitchen cabinets.

After he had finished them in his shop, he called to say he would be installing them, but he had to go to the mill first to buy some shims. I told him, without ever measuring or leveling the walls myself, that he would not need the shims, as the room had been built by the Conleys. 

He politely told me that all cabinets need shims to keep them level. I said, “You can buy the shims, but you will not use them.” A day later when he had finished and the package of shims remained unopened, he said “You were right. I never have seen such straight walls,” to which I replied, “Obviously, you do not know the Conley family.” She was amused, but not surprised. 

Anne’s passing is a milestone in the lore of the lower Northern Neck. As the last of the Conley siblings, she had remained a living link to how things used to be in a rural community, in a family raised with impeccable standards, and in the best tradition of what it means to be a Virginian and an American.

Sarah Anne Conley Bromley, May 3, 1931 – April 13, 2023. R.I.P.

Rappahannock Record Staff
Rappahannock Record Staffhttp://www.rrecord.com
From the Rappahannock Record news team
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