The Library of Virginia

Laura Lu Scherer Copenhaver (1868-1940), Smyth County, Entrepreneur and Lutheran Lay Leader

Laura Lu Scherer Copenhaver
As founder of Rosemont Industries and as a Lutheran lay leader, Laura Lu Scherer Copenhaver advocated strategies for improving educational and economic opportunities in southwestern Virginia.

A confidante and mother-in-law of the writer Sherwood Anderson, Laura Lu Scherer Copenhaver (August 29, 1868-December 18, 1940) continued a family tradition of service to the Lutheran Church. She wrote fiction, poetry, and dozens of church pageants, many in collaboration with her younger sister, Katharine Killinger Scherer Cronk. One of Copenhaver’s poems, "Heralds of Christ," became a well-known hymn. Her advocacy inspired the Women’s Missionary Society to establish the Konnarock Training School to provide elementary-level academic and religious education for Smyth County children who did not have access to other public schools.

As director of information for the Marion-based Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, Copenhaver advanced strategies for developing southwestern Virginia’s agricultural economy. She emphasized the importance of cooperative marketing of farm products in order to improve the standard of living for farm families.

Copenhaver practiced such cooperative strategies herself by coordinating the production of textiles out of her home, Rosemont. She hired women to produce coverlets based on traditional patterns and using local wool. Rosemont Industries expanded its offerings to include a wide variety of rugs, bed canopies and fringes, and other household items, some woven, knitted, or crocheted by hand and others manufactured by machine. Rosemont's popular textiles attracted customers from throughout the United States and from Asia, Europe, and South America.

After Copenhaver’s death, her sister Minerva May Scherer, longtime dean of Marion College, headed Rosemont Industries for two decades. In 1960 some of Copenhaver's children incorporated the business as Laura Copenhaver Industries, Inc., which continues to manufacture traditional textiles.