Joanne Yeck Author Page

After earning her doctorate in cinema studies at the University of Southern California, Joanne Yeck taught and wrote about film history for many years. She is the author of dozens of articles concerning Classic Hollywood and American Popular Culture, and is the co-author of Movie Westerns and Our Movie Heritage. Beginning in 1995, her interest in Virginia history became a full-time occupation.

Years of research resulted in four books concerning Virginia history: At a Place Called Buckingham,” Volume I (2011) and Volume II (2015), The Jefferson Brothers (2012); and Peter Field Jefferson: Dark Prince of Scottsville and Lost Jeffersons (2018) — and “The Blackest Sheep: Starring Dan Blanco, Evelyn Nesbit, Gene Harris and Chicago’s Club Alabam (2019).”

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The Blackest Sheep: Starring Dan Blanco, Evelyn Nesbit, Gene Harris and Chicago’s Club Alabam

The Blackest Sheep Front Cover

by Joanne Yeck

From the dawn of the twentieth century through postwar prosperity, The Blackest Sheep spans over sixty years of Chicago’s past, charting its evolving nightlife before, during, and after Prohibition through the history of one of Rush Street’s best-loved and most enduring night spots, Club Alabam.

This new look at Chicago after dark weaves together three fascinating biographies: the forgotten legacy of multi-talented Dan Blanco, who introduced European-style cabaret to the city; the untold story of the ill-fated beauty Evelyn Nesbit’s tumultuous nightclub career; and the effervescent Gene Harris’ rise from headwaiter to the owner and personality behind Club Alabam.

Rubbing shoulders with gangsters, bootleggers, drug dealers, jazz musicians and leggy showgirls was an occupational hazard, enough to label anyone the “black sheep of the family.” As Blanco, Nesbit, and Harris’ bids for adventure, survival and—sometimes—success prove, the escapades of even the blackest sheep can shock, inspire, and ultimately delight.

This groundbreaking look at Chicago’s entertainment history includes over forty illustrations.

Peter Field Jefferson, Dark Prince of Scottsville and Lost Jeffersons

by Joanne Yeck

Peter Field Jefferson: Dark Prince of Scottsville follows the rise and fall of Randolph Jefferson’s most successful son. Nephew to President Thomas Jefferson, Peter Field proved that at least one member of the family had a head for business. The story of his life parallels that of the changing cultural landscape of the James River’s Horseshoe Bend across seven decades—rising from virtual frontier to the establishment of Scottsville in Albemarle County, through the building of the James River and Kanawha Canal, and culminating in the early months of the Civil War. Jefferson’s success as a self-made man is tainted with great personal loss, making his story a distinctively American tragedy.

Lost Jeffersons is a collection of essays which follows descendants of Randolph Jefferson and their kinfolk. Their fates reveal, in part, the genetic decline of one branch of the Jefferson family. A microcosm of Virginia’s gentry, multiple generations of cousin marriage resulted in a concentration of undesirable traits—including alcoholism, idiocy, and insanity—compromising individuals who might otherwise have led productive and useful lives.

Peter Field Jefferson: Dark Prince of Scottsville – Contents:

Beginnings at Snowden
The Birth of Scottsville on the James River
Peter Field Jefferson Takes a Bride
The Ongoing Responsibility of Snowden
The Loss of Snowden
Owned and Operated by Peter Field Jefferson.
The Old Tavern
The James River and Kanawha Canal
Scottsville: Boom Town
Snowden For Sale
Dark Prince of Scottsville
Peter Field Jefferson’s Last Will
Albemarle Mills
The Accident
Imbecile of Mind
Jane W. Jefferson, widow
A Dubious Legacy

Lost Jeffersons – Contents:

Thomas Jefferson, Jr.: The Enigmatic Jefferson
Isham Randolph Jefferson: “A Striking Resemblance”
James Lilburne Jefferson: A Young Man Adrift
Anna Scott Jefferson: The Rise and Fall of the Nevils of Nelson County
Elbridge Gerry Jefferson: Surrogate Son of Peter Field Jefferson
Lilburne Lewis: Virginia Gentry Gone Wrong
Jefferson Myths

The Jefferson Brothers

Click here for a Preview of The Jefferson Brothers!

by Joanne Yeck

The Jefferson Brothers introduces Randolph Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson’s only brother, and brings him out from the shadow of his famous sibling, focusing on the years during which their paths crossed. Over twelve years Randolph’s senior, Thomas Jefferson stood in for the father his brother never knew, guiding his education and helping the younger man establish himself as a successful planter in central Virginia. Particularly after Thomas Jefferson’s retirement from the political stage, the Jefferson brothers related as planters and slaveholders – Thomas at Monticello in Albemarle County and Randolph at Snowden in Buckingham County, Virginia. Life at Snowden, during and after the American Revolution, illuminates not only Randolph Jefferson’s commonplace existence, but also the everyday world of planters in central Virginia. Additionally, The Jefferson Brothers introduces a new Thomas Jefferson, not the great statesman of monumental intellect, but the thoughtful brother and dedicated farmer.

The Jefferson Brothers is written in an engaging style, backed by scholarly research, and supplemented with 80 illustrations, including maps of Jefferson country.

The Jefferson Family – Contents:

Peter Jefferson, Gent.
Jane Jefferson’s Shadwell
The Early Education of Randolph Jefferson

Randolph Jefferson – Contents:

A World beyond the Piedmont: Williamsburg and the College of William and Mary
Randolph Jefferson, Patriot
Randolph Jefferson, Planter
Matters of Money
Snowden: A Plantation in Buckingham County
The Children of Randolph Jefferson

The Jefferson Brothers – Contents

The Jefferson Servants
The Patient Randolph Jefferson
The Second Mrs. Randolph Jefferson
“My Brother Died This Morning”
The Jefferson Brothers: A Study in Contrasts

At a Place Called Buckingham . . . Historic Sketches of Buckingham County Virginia

by Joanne Yeck

“At a Place Called Buckingham” . . . Historic Sketches of Buckingham County, Virginia covers 250 years of history in central Virginia. In a dozen engaging essays, historian Joanne Yeck recounts important events in Buckingham County beginning with its formation, through the American Revolution and the Civil War, and beyond the Great Depression. Local heroes and heroines spring to life, revealing the tenacity, intelligence, and ingenuity of Buckingham’s people. New material gleaned from county records, 19th century newspapers, and numerous private collections offers a fresh look at Buckingham’s past. The result is a rich tapestry, which interweaves well-known figures and historical moments with little known tales of hard times and personal triumphs.


At a Place Called Buckingham
Tillotson Parish and Rev. William Peaseley
Greensville: A Town at Buckingham’s Courthouse
Buckingham County’s Revolution
From Waif to Legend: Peter Francisco
A Noble Idea: Buckingham Female Collegiate Institute
Carter G. Woodson: Deep Roots in Buckingham County
Incalculable Loss: The Burning of Buckingham Courthouse
F.N. Maxey and His Community at Well Water
The Ladies of the WPA: Chronicling Buckingham’s Vanishing Past
Miss Lulie Patteson: Early Buckingham Historian
The One and Only Buckingham

At a Place Called Buckingham . . . Historic Sketches of Buckingham County, Virginia, Volume Two

by Joanne Yeck

“At a Place Called Buckingham” — Volume Two once again collects a dozen essays depicting the people and places of Buckingham County, Virginia. Details gleaned from newly discovered county records, contemporary newspaper accounts, and private collections result in a marvelous mosaic of life at the very heart of Virginia. Meet the proprietors of 19th-century hotels and health resorts, ferry operators, educators, stewards of the poor, planters and their slaves, the hard-working men of the Civilian Conservation Corps, and notables whose influence reached far beyond the county. A bonus section, “Maysville Gallery,” features photographs made in 1933 as part of the Carnegie Survey of the Architecture of the South.


Frontier Elegance: Bellmont
Stewards of the Poor: Buckingham County’s Poorhouses
Ferrying across the James River
“Going to the Springs” in Buckingham County
Hospitality and Entertainment: Buckingham Hotel
Spirit and Industry: Buckingham County and the Civilian Conservation Corps
MAYSVILLE GALLERY — Frances Benjamin Johnston
The Village of Buckingham Court House
Elijah G. Hanes and Humanity Hall Academy
Capt. Robert Henry Miller and Life at Millwood
Buckingham County’s Mark Twain: George W. Bagby
The Man behind Alexander Hill: Alexander Moseley
Preserving Buckingham County’s Past: William Gamaliel Shepard
A Life of Service: Louise Harrison McCraw