Drawing of the Bland County Jail Bland
Picture of the jail

The Bland County Historical Society is located in the "old jail building" on the courthouse square. Volunteers are at the jail each Friday for research and shopping, and on other days by appointment. Phone (276) 688-0088


Estelle Parke Coleman Bogle was born March 26, 1920 in Bland County, Virginia. She was the daughter of Clyde Dallas Coleman and Gladys Ruth Mustard Coleman. Parke left this world and traveled upward to sing songs with John Denver in 2008.

Parke married John Lockhart Bogle, Jr. on January 14, 1938. He was a farmer. They had four children: Janeth Carol in 1939, John Thomas in 1942, James Dewey in 1943, and David Garth in 1946.

John Lockhart Bogle died in 1970, and on April 9, 1975 Parke married George William Bogle, Jr. in Pulaski. He was born May 15, 1918 in Parkersburg WV and died May 28, 2008.

Parke stated, "When I farmed in Bland and Pulaski counties, I could operate every piece of equipment there was and I helped birth calves and lambs. I even sold real estate!"

She was a mother to 4, grandmother to 9, great-grandmother to 15, and great-great grandmother to two. She boasted, "I think I’m kin to half the people in the world. In Bland County you don’t dare talk about anybody because if you look back far enough you’ll find they’re all kin to you."

Genealogy and John Denver were Parke’s two obsessions. According to a newspaper article, Parke was a people’s historian and preserved the history of Bland County’s ancestors for posterity. Parke once stated, "It’s like some kind of bug bites you. The disease sets in and there’s no end to it."

Parke was bitten by the genealogy bug in 1978. She stated, "My aunt gave me my mother’s old trunk after she died. I found packets of letters inside – letters that belonged to my great-grandmother, that were written by Parke’s great-great grandmother, talking about the hardship of life in Missouri during the Civil War." "And," she stated, "Isn’t the light of knowledge a wonderful thing when you open it up and let it in?"

Parke wrote ten or more books published by Mountain Press in Tennessee. Proceeds from the sale of her books go to the Bland County Historical Society and the Mechanicsburg Cemetery Association.

One of her greatest accomplishments was her cemetery book, THE STONES BEAR WITNESS, co-authored by Jo Ann Tickle Scott. She stated, "Some people are scared of cemeteries. But to me death is a friend. It holds no fear for me."

Parke not only owned volumes of history on about every county in Southwest Virginia, she also owned almost every record (on CD format) ever made by John Denver. As Parke would work on genealogy on her computer, she would have her beloved John Denver singing right along with the tapping of the computer keys.

We were extremely fortunate to receive Parke’s genealogy and book collection in the summer of 2008. Her last wishes were for the Bland County Historical Society to catalog and make available to the public her many years of research.

The Bogle collection contains books, ancestry lists, photographs, emails, letters, maps, birth & death certificates, wills, marriage licenses, obituaries, newspaper articles, war records, family group sheets, genealogical records, and, I’m sure, many things I haven’t found yet!

Because of the vastness of her collection, only a small portion is ready and available for the public at this time. The letters and emails found in her files attest to her help with research, not only in Bland County, but around the world.

At the November 12, 2009 Board of Directors meeting of the Bland County Historical Society, a motion was made, seconded, and unanimously passed that the Bland County Historical Society Library and Archives would henceforth be called the BOGLE LIBRARY. This library will not only contain the Bogle Collection, but all the accumulated collections and archives that have previously been received, and that will be received in the future. There will, however, be a separate data listing to distinguish Parke’s collection from all others, but all items will be shelved as one.

My memories of Parke go back to my childhood days as I went to elementary school with her youngest child, David. As I grew older, and started my own family research, I became dear friends with Parke and would welcome phone calls and emails from her on a weekly basis. The laughter, tall tales, "secrets", and sometimes a little chewing out with Parke were moments I always looked forward to.

I remember vividly one time I received a call from Parke after I had put something in my column in the BLAND COUNTY MESSNEGER from Aunt Gertrude’s Journal that Parke was not happy with, at all. She called me on the carpet, told me that Aunt Gertrude was a busy-body who sat in her swing on her porch and gossiped. While I sat dumfounded and squirming in my seat, (because you NEVER wanted Parke as your enemy) right before she hung up, Parke said, "Well, I still love you and you better keep calling me!" I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry!!

Parke was one of those rare folks who traveled to her own beat, and I will ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS remember her. I am honored to have been her friend, and sometimes, her confidant.

And, as the song goes, on July 22, 2008, at the age of 88, my dear friend Estelle Parke Coleman Bogle (Bogle), followed that country road, and was taken home to the place she belonged, with her memories gathered ‘round her.