The Chief Otho S. and Susie P. Nelson House in King and Queen County is significant for its connection to an era of revitalization for Virginia’s Rappahannock Indian Tribe during the 20th century, and the tribe’s decades-long struggle to secure state and federal recognition. Chief Nelson and his wife, Susie, who served as tribal secretary, hosted meetings there for important tribal deliberations in response to such governmental policies as the General Assembly’s 1924 Racial Integrity Act (that attempted to eliminate Indian identity), classifications of individuals by U.S. census takers, and by the military of Rappahannock draftees during World War II, among other matters. The Nelsons maintained an archive of tribal history at their house, as well as Susie Nelson’s apothecary, an extension of the Nelsons’ medical knowledge based on tribal practices and lore. Between the 1930s and 1950s, the Nelson House also served as a grade school for tribal children during an era of racially segregated schools. The property’s period of significance extends from around 1924 to 1967, the years Otho Nelson was chief of the Rappahannock Indian Tribe.
Many properties listed in the registers are private dwellings and are not open to the public, however many are visible from the public right-of-way. Please be respectful of owner privacy.
VLR: Virginia Landmarks Register
NPS: National Park Service
NRHP: National Register of Historic Places
NHL: National Historic Landmark
Photo credit: Willie Graham, 2018