Get Curated Reading Suggestions on Selected Topics Sent Right to Your Inbox.

Robert Orrick: A Life

Posted on:

Have you seen the name “Orrick” around town and the county?  Who was this man for which multiple local sites were named?   

Robert Orrick was born enslaved, property of Joseph Kean of Winchester.  After gaining his freedom in 1863, he went on to become a successful businessman and civic leader in the African American community in Winchester.  He ran a livery service in town, was a Methodist minister, and a philanthropist.  He expanded the cemetery for African Americans in Winchester, which now bears his name.  In 1865, he became one of the first African Americans to be awarded a contract for carrying the U.S. mail.  He rented space for the Freedman’s Bureau to use as a school after the war.  He donated materials to rebuild a church in Stephens City.  Orrick’s contribution to Winchester is significant, and it is wonderful that a new book on his life has been released.

Brenda Nelson, a local retired elementary school teacher, has studied and spoke on Robert Orrick for years and has just released her first book: The Life and Times of Robert Orrick.  Join us in celebrating this new book!  Brenda Nelson will be speaking about Robert Orrick at an event that will be held at the Handley Library Auditorium on Saturday December 9 @ 12:30, with a reception and book signing to follow.  The talk, book signing, and reception are all open to the public, and everyone is encouraged to attend. 


Robert Orrick Business Card

A peek into archives…

Look at the above photo of his business advertisement from the late 1800s found within the Stewart Bell Jr. Archives collection.  What do you notice about it?

Notice the use of multiple fonts and having an image on it (not as common as it is today)?  Notice his phone number?  24!  He must have been an earlier adopter of the new technology, had the means to have one in his business and served customers who also could afford to have a telephone.  Clearly, this was a very successful business in the city of Winchester. 


For more information about the upcoming book talk, click here.