The Photographer


Marvin A. Gill
Marvin A. Gill

Marvin A. Gill was born on the family estate, Providence View Farm, on August 15, 1886, near Miskimon, Northumberland County, Virginia. His parents were Zacceus Riley Gill, who died in 1895, and Nancy Lee (McLamar) Davis, who died February 26, 1919.

His wife and lifelong companion was Lola Irene Dunaway. The Gills had two children, Charlotte and Barbara, who both followed their father's deep interest in medicine and became registered nurses.

Marvin A. Gill served in the infantry in France in World War I. During his service he was exposed to poison gas and then, advised by doctors to seek an outdoor occupation, he returned to Miskimon to care for the family farm. A man of many talents, he sang, played violin, piano and organ. He was a skilled surveyor and mail carrier and served as an enumerator for the 1920 census. He was a graduate of Sadler's Bryan & Stratton Business College in Baltimore, Maryland.

As a professional who took photographs of persons in the Northern Neck and Middlesex County from about 1906 to 1917, he did far more than snap pictures. The beautiful 16"x20" studio portraits reveal an artistic skill when compared to the original snapshots.

Marvin A. Gill had a severe stroke but continued to run the farm using a walking plow for the furrows for 50 acres. His family raised hay, corn, soybeans, wheat, oats, clover, cows, horses, chickens and hogs. He was originally a member of Smyrna United Methodist Church. When it closed, he attended Heathsville United Methodist briefly, but then became active at Providence Baptist Church. The beautiful view of this church from his home inspired the name for the family estate.

His wife, Lola, was born in Lara, Virginia, and enjoyed working in a sewing firm in Baltimore until her marriage to Marvin. They moved to his family farm. She worked hard as a farmer's wife in the days before running water and electricity, and taught at one-room schools in Northumberland County. She survived her husband by many years and was active as a Sunday school teacher at Providence Baptist Church.