October 25, 2020

DAR Presents Award to Mrs. Virginia Smith

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(Franklin, GA) — The DAR is a patriotic organization dedicated to God, Home, and Country. Every daughter has been able to document her lineage to someone – man, woman, or child – who had a part in the fight for our freedom.

We honor veterans, we honor our heritage, we support our youth, and we honor our citizens.

One of the awards that we may give to deserving women in our communities is the Woman in History Award. The emphasis of the Women in History Award is on the role of women, past and present, who have made a contribution to or a difference in their communities.

On Saturday March 19, 2016, the James Stewart Chapter surprised Mrs. Virginia Turner Smith by announcing that she was the winner of the DAR Woman in History Award.

Mrs. Virginia’s family and friends joined us to honor this much loved Heard County woman and to share memories of her life.

Mrs. Virginia ran the Village Inn in downtown Franklin, feeding people from Heard County and all the surrounding counties for decades. She hired local people to work for her, teaching them how to cook, wash dishes, bus tables, wait on customers, and, most importantly, to have strong work ethics. She worked seven days a week, often picking up some employees on the way to work.

People could eat breakfast, lunch, or supper at the Village Inn and Mrs. Virginia would be there to welcome them. She also never turned away anyone in need of a meal who could not pay.

James Stewart Regent Carla Brown welcomed attendees. After giving a brief introduction to the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and its objectives, she shared the meaning of the award and the criteria followed when selecting a recipient. She then announced that this year, Mrs. Virginia Turner Smith was the recipient of the Woman in History Award.

Jane Barker accompanied her mother to the podium to receive the award certificate. Regent Brown then pinned the Woman in History medal on Mrs. Virginia who thanked everyone. Mrs. Virginia was then seated at the front of the room to hear from some special guest speakers.

Lee Boone, Chairman of the Heard County Board of Commissioners, was our first guest speaker. He spoke about meeting Mrs. Virginia when he first came to Heard County and was told that the Village Inn was “the place to eat.”

Mrs. Virginia welcomed him and won his heart with her love and caring. He talked of sitting at the back table where issues were discussed and solved and shared how Mrs. Virginia took him under her wing and treated him like a son. He told several great stories about special times at the Village Inn and his special relationship with Mrs. Virginia. “I truly love this woman,” he said, “because she loved me and always cared.”

The next speaker was Brandon Brooks, pastor at Prospect Church. He shared the influence Mrs. Virginia has had on his life.

“The DAR story is to honor heritage as well as making a difference in communities as well as the country and the world. Mrs. Virginia embodies the vision of the founders of DAR,” Brooks said. “I was first introduced to Mrs. Virginia in 2010. It didn’t take long to realize that I was in the presence of what the Bible calls a ‘virtuous woman.’… I am a better person because of the influence of Mrs. Virginia Smith.”

After the speakers, refreshments were served and everyone was invited to share memories while eating. Mrs. Virginia’s children shared memories of working for their mother and thanked the DAR for honoring her.

Eddie Person was Mrs. Virginia’s first cook. He started with her at the Rainbow Inn before and went to the Village Inn with her. He shared stories about past times and how Mrs. Virginia taught him to cook, especially how to make biscuits.  “There is no more deserving woman to receive this award,” he said.

DAR member Marifaythe Whitley shared the story of her mother’s second husband, Mr. Middlebrooks, who was such a picky eater at home refusing to eat any green foods.  “He would go to the Village Inn for Sunday dinner and eat whatever Mrs. Virginia cooked, even the greens,” she said.

Regent Brown read excerpts from recommendation letters received in support of Mrs. Virginia.

“Mrs. Virginia was always special to me. I admired her work ethic and her business acumen.  She was an inspiration and role model to almost everyone in Heard County,” wrote Emmett Harrod, Senior Judge Probate Court Heard County.

“I was 15 years old when I got my first job. It was working for Mrs. Virginia Smith at the Village Inn… Mrs. Virginia was the person who gave me the value and work ethics that have brought me through each job I have had in this life. She taught me to work hard, do my very best at any job I have, and to be kind to people and lend a helping hand,” wrote Robin Arrington. “So I guess I can say that Mrs. Virginia Smith helped make me who I am in the work place and as a person.”

Frances Goodson also wrote a letter of recommendation.

“The Village Inn was the meeting, greeting, eating, and solving all problems place in town.  Many retired singles and couples met daily for one to three meals and sat at the long family table on the left side of the room. Our group consisted of all kinds of people, teachers, business men and women, politicians, preachers, patrolmen, and individuals from all walks of life,” wrote Goodson.

“The Village Inn became their social club where they could meet with friends and be an active art of the group. It was a wonderful part of our lives…Miss Virginia, the captain of the crew, was loved and respected by all her patrons. She was a vital part of all our lives, as well as to the entire community,” Goodson added.

“Throughout the time I have known her, she has shown me time and again that she is a very caring and giving person always willing to  help others in need,” Charlene Harrod wrote. “Mrs. Virginia served as a role model not only in my life but for many others in Heard County.”

Attendees at the ceremony included James Stewart Chapter members Rossell Beckett, Alissa Beckett, Beverly Baker, Carla Brown, Bonnie Baker, Selmah Bowen, Mary Lane, Sharon Frost, Nancy Hill, Pam Rogers, Jane Barker, Monique Gullo, Paige Harrod, Hollis Crockett, Rebecca Lawley, Marifaythe Whitley; Tara Neighbors, Nicole Neighbors and prospective members Betty Adams and Tee Davis.

Guests included Sharon Hallows, Jennifer Coker, Eddie Person, Eloise Person, Carol Ann Duke, Tom Davis, Reva Davis, Melanie Duke Means, Noah Means, Lee Boone, Lance Paschal, Robin Barfield, Joel Barfield, Brandon Brooks, Pamela Varnon, David T. Barker, Beverly B. Lawrence, Kate Lawrence, Mrs. Virginia Smith, Ed Davis, and Ronnie Crapse.

The James Stewart Chapter is pleased to have added Mrs. Virginia Turner Smith’s name to the list of NSDAR Women in History award recipients. We thank all who joined us to honor her.


  1. Congrats Miss Virginia! Remember eating there as a kid in the 70’s and early 80’s. Miss it.

  2. Laurie Grizzard says

    Looking good, Mrs. Virginia! Mrs. Jane, I never knew Mrs. Virginia was your mother!

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