Here’s a round-up of news from around Southwest and Southside. Send items for possible inclusion to firstname.lastname@example.org.
After more than 150 years, Thomas Fraction receives honorable discharge from U.S. Army
On Nov. 6, members of Virginia Tech’s Black Cadet Organization presented descendants of Thomas Fraction with a certificate of honorable discharge 155 years after he was demoted and discharged without cause from the Union Army, according to a release from Virginia Tech.
Fraction fought in the Civil War alongside his brother Othello Fraction for the 40th United States Colored Infantry from Tennessee. Thomas Fraction became a soldier after escaping the Smithfield and Solitude plantations, now part of the Virginia Tech campus, where the Fraction family was enslaved by the Preston family.
In July 2021, the U.S. Army made a correction to Thomas Fraction’s military record after his third great granddaughter, Kerri Moseley-Hobbs, author of “More Than a Fraction,” petitioned them to review Thomas Fraction’s case. In addition to receiving the honorable discharge, Thomas Fraction was reinstated to the rank of sergeant, retroactive to April 25, 1866.
The ceremony took place at Smithfield Plantation, near the Fraction Family House at Solitude Plantation, which in April 2019 was named to acknowledge the McNorton, Saunders and Fraction families who all resided on the site at some point. While the ceremonial event commemorated the correction of Thomas Fraction’s military record, it also honored the service of all those who were enslaved and fought for their freedom during the Civil War.
The Fraction Family House was placed on the National Historic Registry, along with the rest of Solitude in 1989, but a living family connection remained hidden for decades.
“It feels like the naming was a spiritual homecoming for all of them who actually wanted to build their homes there,” Moseley-Hobbs said in a statement released by Tech. “It’s like vindication. You were right. You have a right to be there, and now you get to go home.”
Warner and Kaine list what infrastructure bill means for Virginia airports
U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced that airports in Virginia are expected to receive $399,740,660 in federal funds over the next five years as a result of the infrastructure bill signed into law last week. The expected amounts for airports in this part of the state:
Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional: $14,977,645
Shenandoah Valley Regional: $5,066,130
Virginia Highlands: $1,480,000
Virginia Tech/Montgomery Executive: $1,480,000
Danville Regional: $1,480,000
New River Valley: $1,480,000
Blue Ridge: $1,480,000
Twin County: $790,000
Mountain Empire: $790,000
Dinwiddie County: $790,000
William M. Tuck: $790,000
Mecklenburg-Brunswick Regional: $790,000
Emporia-Greensville Regional: $550,000
Farmville Regional: $550,000
Ingalls Field: $550,000
Lee County: $550,000
Tazewell County: $550,000
Lonesome Pine: $550,000
Brookneal/Campbell County: $550,000
The funding represents Virginia’s share of $15 billion in direct grants to airports expected around the country.
Junior Achievement seeks volunteers in Salem
Junior Achievement is looking for volunteers to help in classrooms across Southwest Virginia. The group says the most immediate need is in Salem: “Starting the week of November 29th, volunteers will visit the classroom once a week for 5 weeks. Each visit will last approximately 45 minutes.”