The Journey Through Hallowed Ground

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Ivy Creek Natural Area and River View Farm

The Ivy Creek Natural Area (ICNA) is a 215-acre preserve with six miles of walking trails through a mix of pine and hardwood forests, old fields, streams, natural springs, and two miles of shoreline on the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir. ICNA is an official site on the Virginia African American Heritage Trail in recognition of its rich social and agricultural history as a Freedman’s farm dating back to 1870. Hugh Carr, born in slavery, was in his early twenties in 1865 when the Civil War ended and the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery. Over the next decade, Carr worked on white men’s farms, saving enough to buy, expand, and build on this property he named River View Farm.

Nearby stood the community of Hydraulic, a thriving mill village dating back to the early 1800s. After the Civil War, Hydraulic became the center of the free black community of Union Ridge of which Hugh Carr was a prominent member.
After Hugh Carr’s death in 1914, his oldest daughter Mary and her husband Conly Greer, carried on the farming tradition, expanding the farm to more than 200 acres. Mary Carr Greer’s death in 1973 marked 100 years of ownership by the Carr-Greer family. Shortly afterwards, The Nature Conservancy bought the property, subsequently selling it to the City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County with the help of the Ivy Creek Foundation, who manage the nature preserve today. Visitors can take a walking tour and see the farmhouse (a private residence), family cemetery, barn, and a new education center.

This is an official site on the Virginia African American Heritage Trail.

Hugh Carr (c. 1843-1914)

Hugh Carr was born into slavery between 1840 and 1843 in Albemarle County, Virginia. First Baptist Church records note his baptism in 1860 “belonging to R.W. Wingfield.” On Christmas Day, 1865, newly freed Hugh married Florence Lee at her parent’s home. In the next five years, he worked for local farmers and saved $100 to put down on a 58-acre tract that would become Riverview Farm. By 1880, now widowed, Carr lived on his own 83-acre farm growing oats, wheat and corn with a half acre orchard. He also raised livestock for milk, meat, and eggs.  In 1883 he married Texie Mae Hawkins and together they raised six daughters and a son at Riverview Farm,cultivating in them a high regard for education.

Mary Louise Carr Greer (1884-1973)

Mary Carr grew up at River View Farm, the eldest child of Hugh and Texie Mae Carr. She and her five sisters—Fannie, Emma, Peachie, Hazel, and Virginia—and brother Marshall attended school at Union Ridge Graded School in their African American community of Union Ridge. Their mother died in 1899, when Mary was fifteen years old, but the family held fast to their educational goals. At the age of 16, Mary Carr began a life-long career dedicated to the education of AfricanAmerican children by earning a certificate from Charlottesville’s Piedmont Industrial Institute which qualified her to teach. Several years later, she continued her education at Virginia Normal and Industrial Institute in Petersburg, now Virginia State University.  On return from college, she married fellow VSU graduate Conly Greer and joined the faculty at Albemarle Training School, located near her home at Riverview Farm. When Mary’s father died in 1914, Conly Greer took over the management of River View Farm, eventually expanding it to more than 200 acres. Renowned for his agricultural knowledge, Conly became the first African American extension agent in Albemarle County helping black farmers learn modern farming practices. River View Farm became a model in the county and farmers, both black and white, visited frequently to observe Greer's methods.

In 1931, Mary Carr Greer became the third principal of Albemarle Training School, leading the school to improve and expand its curriculum from a two year vocational training program to a full four year high school. In 1974, one year after Mary Carr Greer’s death, Albemarle County honored her dedication to education with the opening of the Mary Carr Greer Elementary School, located on Lamb’s Road, not far from Riverview Farm.

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