We have surprises waiting for you at the Middlesex County Museum in Saluda.
As in, we bet you’ll be surprised by the caliber of Americans who called Middlesex County home that you can learn about in our museum.
They are war heroes who fought battles nearby and far from home, Civil Rights pioneers and everything in between.
When you walk through the doors of our Saluda museum you’ll find exhibits that highlight regular people who went on to do great things.
People like George A. Taylor, who was born and raised in Middlesex County. Taylor had graduated from high school in 1938 and attended Virginia State University in Petersburg for three years before he left home to enlist in the Army Air Forces to become a member of the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II.
One of the original members of the segregated flying unit known as the Tuskeegee Airmen, Taylor flew more than 50 missions over Italy in 1944 with the 100th Fighter Squadron of the 332nd Fighter Group.
Called a “true fighter pilot” by a fellow Tuskegee Airman, Taylor was awarded two Bronze Stars, an Air Medal and four battle stars. Taylor piloted P-39, P-47 Thunderbolt and P-51 Mustang fighter planes.
In 2007, Taylor and other Tuskegee Airmen were the recipients of the Congressional Gold Medal Award at a ceremony in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol.
And people like James Lomax, a Middlesex African-American resident who would fight for the Union as a private in the 1st Regiment, Company D, of the United States Colored Infantry.
You’ll come face to face — well, face to cardboard cutout face — with Lt. Gen. Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller, the Marine’s Marine who settled down right here in Middlesex County after becoming the most decorated Marine in history.
We think you’ll like learning about Chesty, who fought battles in Haiti, Nicaragua, across the Pacific islands in World War II and in Korea against communist forces. As great a Marine as Chesty was — five Navy Crosses for valor, — he was arguably the most quotable Marine.
Once in North Korea, while surrounded and seemingly trapped by overwhelming enemy forces at Chosin Reservoir, Puller surveyed his 1st Marine Division’s position and proclaimed, “We’ve been looking for the enemy for some time now. We’ve finally found him. We’re surrounded. That simplifies our problem of finding these people and killing them.”
Chesty’s 1st Marine Division fought its way out of Chosin Reservoir — he refused to call it a retreat, saying he merely found more Chinese behind him than in front of him so he “about-faced and attacked” — and left in its wake seven shattered Chinese Army divisions.
You’ll also meet up with Irene Morgan, an African-American who refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a bus passing through Middlesex County in 1944. That was 11 years before Rosa Parks did the same thing.
Learn about how Morgan was arrested and convicted, but with the help of attorneys Spottswood W. Robinson III and Thurgood Marshall, appealed her case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. In a landmark 1946 ruling, the court found that it was unconstitutional to enforce segregation laws on interstate carriers, helping pave the way for future Civil Rights battles.
And we’re just highlight a few great Americans who called Middlesex County home. Would you like to meet the many others?