Bland County Historical Society

Backward Glance

Keith Niday

 Keith Niday and a “Map of Parkersburg, Bland County, VA – now Bastian” that he presented to the Bland County Historical Society.




The Bland County Historical Society’s quarterly membership meeting was held on Saturday, June 11, at the Society building. Wanda Reynolds, who presided in the absence of the president, opened the session and introduced the guest speaker, Keith Niday.

Niday, a local surveyor, gave an informative and very entertaining presentation on Bland County maps and roads. Since the age of 14, Niday has been interested in maps, and his collection now includes over 7000 maps and plats – eight or ten of which are very unique. He stated that John and Jo Ann Morehead Bingham helped him get his first surveying job, and both of his mentors were present to enjoy his presentation.

Not only did Niday share copies of some of his maps with the audience, he also explained the procedure older surveyors used to produce maps – such as tracing a draft from brown paper to an ink-on-linen finished product. He also talked about his first blueprint machine that had been given to him by the Bingham’s, and mentioned all the brush that had to be cut as part of a surveyor’s task.

Among the maps that Niday shared with the audience was a plat map and description for Walter A. Wesendonck’s farm, “Cluxie”. This Nobusiness farm is now owned by the Rex Morehead family and continues to be a prominent dairy farm in Southwest Virginia. Niday had traveled to the Library of Virginia to secure a copy of the Wesendonck plat survey.

Another small map was of the section in Rocky Gap that was once Camp Obediah. Niday said he favored this map just because he likes the name “Obediah.”

Other maps on display were the T. E. Mitchell estate on Walker’s Creek, the Porterfield estate secured for Ed Shannon, and a blueprint of the Junius Marcellus Updyke mountain boundary.

Many of the maps that Niday has collected were surveyed and drawn by Eugene Mortimer Davidson, and contained lots of personal notes by Davidson.

Niday honored the Historical Society by donating a framed copy of a Map of Parkersburg, Bland County, VA (now the town of Bastian), surveyed by W. R. Kestner & Son in 1913, and retraced by Eugene Davidson from a blueprint in 1955.

Another topic that Niday shared was the procedures and “headaches” associated with renaming all the roads for the new 911 addresses in Bland County. Both the 911 address project and the map collection generated many questions from the audience. Niday’s presentation was well received with hopes that he will return as a future speaker at Society gatherings.

In other business, vice-president Reynolds announced that replacement windows had been installed in the bottom floor of the Society building; an outside step had been repaired, and the 2011 Society Christmas ornament will be a reproduction of the old Bland County Jail building, and should be available in the fall.

Delicious refreshments were prepared and served by Barbara Kemp while members browsed the Niday map display.

The next quarterly membership meeting will be held in September – more information about this meeting will be published at a later date.