Meet Josiah Cephas “J.C.” Weaver ….owner of the W.W. Ranch…..
People say life comes full circle. But not many of us have experienced it like Josiah Cephas Weaver, a man whose love for his country, pride for his heritage, respect for the land, and passion for life helped him rise up from humble beginnings and create a legacy.
Born in Roanoke, Virginia in 1941, Josiah was 7th of the 10 Weaver children. Like most children of the era, he learned the benefits and trials of hard work early in life. Growing up, Josiah worked beside his mother, Geneva, and his older cousin, Price Bandy, working in the garden, milking the cows, and keeping the fire going in the old cook stove. At age 5, he was helping his father, Elmer “Wildcat” Weaver, in his sawmill sweeping sawdust and carrying the water bucket to the workers. By age eight he was “turning logs”, driving the’48 Ford log truck, and hunting wild turkey and whitetail deer with his brothers Maynard and Delano. At 12, he was running his own newspaper route with his homemade motor scooter and skipping school to drivehis father to Florida for a week of bird hunting and camping.
Josiah grew up fishing and skinny-dipping in Back Creek, raising honeybees with his cousin Price, making his turkey callers out of monkey grip tire patching and balloons, and hunting the big bucks on Windy Gap Mountain. Josiah left home at age 15 with just enough money for a bus ticket to Tampa, Florida. When Josiah got off that Greyhound bus, he had run out of money and walked 20 miles to Clearwater. That night he “slept” in a phone booth at Rocky Point and he never looked back. He went on to lie about his age, rent a room, and work odd jobs to pay the bills. He caught mullet with a cast net at night and sold them for 8 cents a pound the next day. Josiah discovered that his upbringing, his work skills, and his natural hunting and tracking skills prepared him well for life. At age 16, Josiah became a tile setter apprentice and by age 19 he started Weaver Tile Company, which he continued to build for the next 20 years.
In the 1970s, he began to buy land out in the county to design and build an industrial park. Folks told him he was crazy. Forty years later, Josiah spends his time between his 40 acre office park at Weaver Enterprises in Clearwater, Florida and his W.W. Ranch Josiah raises Hereford and Angus cattle on his ranch, which is 4000 acres of rolling hills, springs, and creeks located between Interstates 81 and 77 in Wythe County, Virginia. The ranch is also home of the massive, antebellum (and haunted) Major Grahams Mansion as well as the birthplace of Grahamfest, Josiah’s annual Fourth of July music festival. While Josiah was building his businesses, it was his passion for music and his appreciation of nature and its gifts that gave him great pleasure.
An avid NASCAR fan, Josiah was the owner of the 58 Sprint Cup racecar that, according to commentator Darrell Waltrip, “almost made NASCAR history by beating all the odds and driving into the 2007 Daytona 500.” His driver was Virginia native 72-year-old James Hylton, the oldest driver every to attempt to qualify for the 500. The consummate rebel and visionary, Josiah was as comfortable in the pits of Daytona as he was calling in a gang of turkeys or making up a song for Ronald Regan’s presidential campaign in 1980.
These days you might find Josiah on the ranch, working cattle, building fence, or running one of his Cat “dozers”.Although an avid hunter since childhood, Josiah is working to preserve the natural habitat and wildlife at the W.W.Ranch. Using natural resources to make improvements to the property without compromising the wildlife or the landscape further emphasizes Josiah’s deep respect for the land. Josiah welcomes many new and exciting happenings at the W.W. Ranch for 2010. These include scheduling private photography and video day trips and exclusive hunting packages for Spring Gobbler Season (2011) and Deer Season each the fall. Corporate groups, family reunions, weddings, film companies, entertainment organizations, and clubs may also lease portions of W.W.Ranch and the Major Graham Mansion and GrahamFest rounds. He is also offering a Historical Mansion Tour Schedule this summer, including half-day trips for tour buses.
If you spend time with Josiah (and can keep up with him!), you will soon learn that he is a man that speaks his mind, holds tight to his beliefs, and has a huge heart. In addition, while you are with him, you may see and feel what he sings and writes about in his songs. You may see his “Guardian Angel” (from “Crossing Over”). He may tell you about his sisters who grew up with polio yet he sees them dancing over the rainbow. (From “Comin’ Home”/”I Saw You Dancing Over the Rainbow”). Alternatively, he may proclaim his devout passion for “Freedom” (from ldquo;Comin’ Home”). Then there are the love songs…..”Cold, Cold Night” (from “Winning Colors”), “Dreaming of You” (from “Comin’ Home)…..these speak for themselves. Josiah’s cds and singles are available at www.CDBaby.com.
We are close…close to closing the circle now. You cannot leave without taking the tour of the HAUNTED MAJOR GRAHAMS MANSION THIS HALLOWEEN and discover the spirits that linger there. Most of the mansion ghost stories combine local lore, documented historical fact, and three years of extensive paranormal investigations. The Historical Major Grahams Mansion Tour weaves what we know about the Grahams’ world, the family, the business, the mansion architecture, the stories and the history of the times. The Graham family saga is the epitome of the birth and growth of America during the 1800s. You will catch up on some Civil War history, stroll around the grounds and discover the original brick kiln area, the operational gravity-driven water pump, iron ore artifacts forged on the site, and a General Store which served the early Wilderness Road settlers en route west to seek their fortune. As you make your way, you will be transported back in time. You will enjoy the pastoral views of the ancient Blue Ridge Mountains and sit in the shade of the Graham’s nearly 200-year-old renovated Barn, drinking a glass of sweet tea. After a while, you will begin to understand why Josiah wanted to come back home…..why he had to circle back…… back to the land, back to the people, and the values that make America great But….don’t be surprised……. he might just stop by and make you up a song.