The Case of the Missing “Norman” (or, Some Dead Horses)

24 Apr
by Emma Earnst

 

A local resident recently donated a collection of Daily Progress newspaper clippings to the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society.  As we sifted through them, we came across a slew of rather interesting articles, most notably one on the horses of the Belle-mont Mansion.  Digging deeper, as so often is the case, I’ve uncovered a wealth of fantastic resources and stories that would force me to write a book, if only I had the time.

Well, it would be a short book, but it would still be a book.

The article, which you will find below, grabbed our (macabre) attention with the opening line,

Virginia’s first Percheron-Norman horses sleep in the Belmont section of Charlottesville.

These horses, now referred to as simply “Percheron” (the latter name, Norman, being dropped in the 1870s), are a French breed, first exported to the United States in the 19th century as work horses.  They were often used to pull buses until horse-drawn transportation waned in the 20th century, when the horses became revered as a major draft breed for both work and show.

In 1852, Slaughter Ficklin, owner of the Belle-mont Mansion in southern Charlottesville, brought the first group of Percheron-Normans to Virginia just after the Civil War ended.  The horses, as the article states, were truly quite apt at working, taking up heavy pulling that was previously reserved for oxen.  The Ficklin farm was a stock farm, and many of the Percherons eventually made their way to other farms around the country.

In the 1870s, after a decade and a half of breeding and national distribution, the first two of Ficklin’s horses kicked it, and Ficklin gave his beloved stud horses a proper Christian burial, marking the spot with a stone.

A decade later, Ficklin died at the age of 70, and after his wife’s death, the property was subdivided into smaller lots that today make up the Belmont section of Charlottesville.  That’s another story for another time, though.

But, if you are curious, check this out to start.

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One Response to “The Case of the Missing “Norman” (or, Some Dead Horses)”

  1. sweetopiagirl April 24, 2012 at 10:41 am #

    Reblogged this on InspiredWeightloss!.

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