McClenny Family Website
Buckhorn, Virginia



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by Linda Heath Edwards
Originally known as Purvis, VA this small town once sat in the County of Nansemond. it is now part of the large city of Suffolk, VA.

In it's earliest days farming was it's major work force and economy. The town had a church, a two room school house (heated by a coal stove), a blacksmith's shop, and three general stores. These stores later began selling gasoline with the growth of the automobile. The school closed in 1935.

Why a web page about Buckhorn, VA? I barely know it's origins or history. It was once a main stop for The Norfolk and Western Railway. There was once a small depot with the letters PURVIS, VA printed on the side.

My main interest in this little town stems from my heritage. Many of my Mother's people once lived and farmed there. Many are buried there in The Copeland Family Cemetery. Such as William T. Copeland. He was my great uncle. Brother to my great grandmother, Martha Jane Copeland Harrell. William fought in the War Between the States 1861-1865. He was in the 59th Reg. Virginia Volunteers, Company C, Private. He was discharged at Camp Lee. His first wife was Ann Marie Holland. His second wife was Martha Turner. He was the son of James and Nancy Butler Copeland and he is buried at the Copeland Family Cemetery...

Harry Miller Winborne's Store...etc.
The store sat in the crossroads of the town. Buckhorn also once boasted a Saloon. Which is probably when the trouble began. I say this "tongue in cheek" because of the stories told to me through older family members. I understand "drinkin' and fightin'" were the main entertainment at one time. This in turn gave Buckhorn a bad reputation. The town consisted of folks who were steadfast in their God Fearing beliefs and those who made trouble. The ironic part is many were related in some form or another. By the 1950's, many kin did not claim kin. The town began to dry up and many had moved away. And, Buckhorn's hold on a family community had lessened it's grip. Outsiders began to move in.
Lonnie McClenny's store...etc.
Look to your left of the photo and you'll see what once was a thriving little store owned and operated by Lonnie McClenny, who's father was Mills Henry McClenny, half brother to my grandfather, Hugh Sephas McClenny.

As with all small towns, Buckhorn had it's tall tales and legends. Some say the "spirits" were of the liquid kind, however. For example: late in the night screams could be heard in the nearby wooded areas. Some say it was the cries of the fallen Confederate Soldiers of the area. The Battle of Deserted House. A major Civil War Battle followed from the Buckhorn area on to Myrtle, VA. They say..."you could not walk without stepping on man or horse".
Then there are those who claim it's "The Buckhorn Monster" who makes the cries!

Another story, as told to me by my Mother, Nannie Virginia McClenny Heath, was one from her father, Hugh Sephas McClenny. It seems that walking home from work one night from a local sawmill, Hugh encountered a haunting experience. Tired and worn, he heard a horse and wagon coming down the road (which is now known as Buckhorn Drive) Hugh stopped, hoping to get a ride. But the horse and wagon took flight and flew over him and then disappeared.

Another tale of two men walking along this same road goes like this. Both had shotguns and thought they heard a pack of wild dogs. They began shooting into the woods and believing they had hit one or two of these dogs, came back the next day to search for dead or wounded animals or traces of blood. All they found was buckshot in the trees. No sign that there had been any dogs. Then there are other stories of wagons dropping bolts of goods (material for sewing) in the road. No one ever could find the bolts.

Model T's, Bootleg, and Good Ol' Country Music
Maybe the "hub" of Buckhorn did not center around all the wagon wheels or Model T tires. And yes, there was a bit of "lickerin' up" at times. But, the real heart of Buckhorn was it's fellowship and kinship of music. Once called Barn Dances, the gatherings brought the people together to blend with harmony in songs. The banjos, guitars, fiddles, etc...played and the square dances called. Even my great grandfather, Mike Harrell (husband to Martha Jane Copeland Harrell) was a fiddler and grandpa Hugh plunked on the banjo a little. Music has always been a deep rooted trait in my family.

So, if you find you have the surnames Copeland, Harrell, Holland, or McClenny in your linage, you can fairly bet one of your ancestors either lived in or near Buckhorn, VA.
I am proud of my Buckhorn Heritage and proud that the musical trait was passed down to me. Which is the reason for this Web Page.

Got any stories to share?
I would love to hear from others...kin or not...who know any more history or stories about Buckhorn, VA.

Please email me at:

Thanks and credit go to Carol Cooke (grand daughter of Lonnie McClenny) for some of her info and photos.