The date of this picture is unknown. It was taken at a photo studio at 510 Fifth Avenue
R. B. L. Fleming Jr. as remembered by Mike Harris, January 23, 2015.
Our Grandfather was no doubt ecstatic to have a son and namesake, Richard Bland Lee Fleming Jr, after five daughters. Not that he didn’t love them all dearly, but he needed a son to take over; things were like that in 1900.
I can add very little about his boyhood ;Sam Carter or Bill Rust would do a better job on this… Like his sisters, I imagine he was home schooled until he went to boarding school, probably Episcopal High School. I am sure he went to The University, and was a member of Phi Delta Theta. Mother had his pin, now in my safe box or possibly with my daughter Helen.
I think Uncle Lee worked for a large company after college. This would have been in the ‘twenties, before the big crash in 1929. In any event, not only did the market bust, but Grandfather died. At some point , possibly even before this , Uncle Lee came home to run the farm, fulfilling his pre-ordained role as oldest and only son and heir.
One has to wonder how his life would have differed had he :
*had an older brother
*not been surrounded by sisters.
*not felt duty-bound to return to Green Mont to support it , his mother, and at least one of his sisters..
Although he may have been a retiring man, he certainly had a gracious way about him; would he have married?
These are things we will never know .
According to my mother, Green Mont was not a real working dairy until Uncle Lee took over. He added land, Difficulty, and built a fine herd of registered milk cows; about 50% Holstein for volume, 30% Guernsey for richness, the balance Jersey for high butterfat.
At any one time about 40 were being milked, with about 20 more at pasture due to calving, etc. He went as far as Wisconsin to build and replenish the herd with high pedigreed stock. There was also a bull in the large, heavily reinforced pen just west of the dairy and sheds.
WW II brought rationing; Green Mont became virtually self sufficient. Uncle Lee worked every day, rising at first light to milk, retiring soon after supper. He fertilized, plowed and disked every winter, planted every spring, harvested every fall.
In the his spare time he saw the milkers and coolers were in top order and immaculate, that the farm equipment stayed in running condition; that the house was in good repair, and fences were fixed and strays rounded up. This was his life, seven days a week, every week of the year except Christmas week, for about twenty years.
I know that at some point in the 40’s he had his first bout with TB, and went to Lake Saranac for recovery. Subsequently he repeated the process somewhere out in the South West. It was emphysema that finally took its toll.
Within the scope of my memory, Green Mont was at its zenith during those war years; everyone was still alive. Sadly, this was not to last. Amere died in 1945, my father in early 1946.
Uncle Lee with never a word of complaint kept things going until June ,1951. Nothing was the same thereafter. I wish that I had been older and could have known this quiet, uncomplaining, kind man better. Another Fleming who lived up to the heraldic motto.
Marloe Woollet: Re: Uncle Lee and his TB. I know that Aunt Harriot and Mother drove him out to Arizona in the late ‘40s or early ‘50s, but don’t know how long he was there, or how he got back to VA.
notes from Henry Rust
I have very few pictures of Lee. Here is a rather grainy photo that shows Lee in the front seat of what must be William F. Rust’s car. WFR has come “calling” on Mary, who is at the wheel. Family and friends are all piled in the car in the driveway circle at Green Mont.
(rt. to left) unknown girl, Anne F., Roberta F., unknown girl, W.F.Rust, Mary F., Lee F., Harriot F.?, and Clarissa F. c1912
Lee is the only one of the seven Fleming children that I never met. I can only speculate what drove Lee’s dedication to the farm. His father had left him the farm in 1929. He may have simply felt it was his birthright.
I was told it was Lee’s mother, Harriot Jane Downman Fleming, that wanted Lee to go off into the world of “business” to find his life’s work. My father always said that Lee never wanted to do anything more than come home and run the farm.
The last wishes of Harriot J. Fleming
The following is the will of Harriot Jane Downman Fleming; tied with a lavender ribbon.(existing grammar or spelling)
To be opened by all my dear children immediately after my death. I have not left any other will, so do not look for any. This is my last wish for all my children and I prey that they may stand by it. All my heart’s love for each one of you. Be considerate, one of the other, and you girls see that Lee carries out his father’s will.
Harriot J. Fleming
May 10th 1932
Opened and somewhat changed
by me this ninth day of
Harriot J. Fleming
To each one of my children:
I send you this as my last word to you all, with the never-ending affection, that I have for each one of you, and my blessing in all your lives to each one of you. I shall not make a will as I feel so sure that this paper will serve all purposes, in disposing equally, to each one of you, of my small estate. It is my desire that each one of you, Fannie, Mary, Roberta, Clarissa, Harriot, Lee and Anne, shall all share alike in the division of all silver, plate glass, china, pictures, books and all in the house, that I have been holding under your father’s will. Lee will have the farm under his father’s will, and I shall want him to have all horses and farming utensils and machinery that should be here, at the time of my death. I feel that I am not unreasonable in asking that Lee will not live on the farm and farm it, to keep a job, and rent or sell the place as he may desire or see fit. There is no living in a farm and at the end great disappointment, and your life all spent.
In regard to the stock in the estate of your Uncle Rob Downman, that as well as the $10,000 invested by Will Rust for me, in Preferred stock, in the Eastern Gas and Fuel, making in all about $21,000. This amount I wish divided equally between the seven children, after deducting $500, to be given, divided equally between, Harriot Carter, Billy Rust, Jane Rust, Betsy Rust and Sam Carter, as a gift from me. I hope this may not make any trouble for my dear children and all may be done fairly and peaceably. My love to all my precious children and thanks to them all, for their patience and great affection, to me through all their lives. There is some furniture in the house belonging to Roberta, Clarissa and Harriot Fleming. They will know what is theirs, and will be just in their claims, I know. All the books with my name, I want Harriot Fleming, as my name-sake to have, as part of her share. There are several pieces of silver bearing H., that I also wish Harriot to have especially. I have already spoken to her of this wish. To Will and Minor, my two very dear sons-in-law, I have only my love and deep appreciation of their affectionate kindness, all during the times that they have been married to my two daughters, Kay and Anne.
Harriot J. Fleming,
May 28th 1932.
P.S. I find that the ground is pretty well covered in what I have written my dear children, and no words from me are necessary save that I am most anxious that my dear son Lee, and my daughter Harriot, should both marry, and soon, as I think they are both eminently domestic and need the safeguard that comes from a happy marriage, to complete their life. For Roberta and Clarissa, I leave my dearest love and blessing, and thanks for their unfailing kindness an care. My dear love and a blessing for each one of my precious children. Your ever devoted mother.
Harriot J. Fleming,
August 9th 1937.
P.S. Of course. Michael Harris is to have, with all of my grand-children, $100 as his gift from me.
Harriot J. Fleming
Funny things, these family dynamics.
I vaguely remember hearing that my grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Lee Fleming, was called “Kay” as a young woman. Anyone else ever hear that?
Added May 14, 2017 by Henry Rust
Lee Fleming’s 1951 Obituary
There is also a Richard Bland Lee Carter, born April 28, 1954. Anyone have a (baby) picture?
If any one has anything they would like to add about Lee, a story or maybe just a memory, please email it to me and I’ll post it. It would be so appreciated. Thanks