The Andrews sisters of Matoaca

The Appomattox River west of Matoaca was a small, quiet stream when the Andrews sisters came into the world. No, not Patty, Maxene and LaVerne, but Bernice, Alice and Josie.

Bernice Andrews Wyatt, who celebrated her 90th Birthday just before her passing in November 2010, Alice Kathleen Andrews, 87, and Josephine Andrews Wyatt, 86, began singing in the 1940s and became mainstays in the choir at Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church. Alice and Josie remained in the choir until 2005.

They sang at revivals separately or together with others. The music was what they still love, the old gospel hymns and tunes they learned at church and from hearing their grandmother sing while she worked and cooked at home.

The sisters especially remembered two times when they sang as a trio, both at their church. One was a Sunday morning service presented by the senior church members in the late 1990s, and one in October 2006, when they performed for the church’s 150th anniversary.

Besides singing, their hobbies included hand work, especially embroidery. Sunday afternoons after church were always kept open for visits between relatives and friends. Some of that visiting was done in their first car, a Model T Ford.

Matoaca’s Andrews sisters have always lived within one mile of where they and their mother were born, in a house on River Road in southern Chesterfield County.
They recall that River Road was a dirt road that eventually became gravel before it was paved. They had no electricity until after World War II. The construction of the Brasfield dam in 1967 changed that quiet stream into Lake Chesdin and reservoir, bringing new residents to the area. Alice now feels she lives in a city.

The sisters went to Matoaca Elementary School. One school bus, with seats on both sides and a bench down the middle, had enough room for all students picked up on the almost eight-mile bus route on River Road between Ivy Mill Road and Little Road.

They attended Bolling Junior High School in Petersburg and Petersburg High School since the closest Chesterfield Schools were in Chester and transportation was not available.
Bernice and Josie married brothers and had five children between them. For 25 years, Bernice worked in the cafeteria at Matoaca High School. Alice was at the Coca Cola plant in Petersburg for 35 years. Josie, after a few years at Coca Cola, drove a Chesterfield school bus to the three Matoaca schools for 24 years.

Today, Alice and Josie enjoy the monthly seniors meeting provided by the auxiliary of Chesterfield Fire Station #13 on River Road. Meeting, talking, lunch, speakers, music and games are on the agenda. That group also takes care that several seniors in Petersburg are not without friends during the holidays.

Music, church, family, friends and doing for others have been the main streams of life for the Andrews sisters of Matoaca.

Editor’s Note: Therese Wagenknecnt wrote this story while a student in a fall Shepherd’s Center class.

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