Virginia State Seal

Virginia Department of Historic Resources

35 New Historical Markers Approved in June

Markers cover topics in the counties of Campbell, Clarke, Dinwiddie, Fairfax, Fauquier (3), Greene, Hanover, King George, Louisa, Middlesex, Montgomery, New Kent (2), Nottoway, Orange, Prince Edward, Rockbridge, Rockingham, Scott, Shenandoah, and Smyth; and the cities of Danville, Harrisonburg, Lynchburg (2), Norfolk, Petersburg, Richmond (3), Roanoke (2), and Suffolk—Markers cover topics in the counties of Campbell, Clarke, Dinwiddie, Fairfax, Fauquier (3), Greene, Hanover, King George, Louisa, Middlesex, Montgomery, New Kent (2), Nottoway, Orange, Prince Edward, Rockbridge, Rockingham, Scott, Shenandoah, and Smyth; and the cities of Danville, Harrisonburg, Lynchburg (2), Norfolk, Petersburg, Richmond (3), Roanoke (2), and Suffolk—

—Each marker’s complete text is reproduced toward the end of this post—

In June, the Virginia Board of Historic Resources approved 35 new historical markers covering a variety of topics. Twenty of the forthcoming markers highlight people, places, or events tied to African American civil rights, education, health, or Civil War and Reconstruction-era history, a grouping that Governor Ralph Northam announced in recognition of Juneteenth.

The VBHR, authorized to designate new markers, greenlighted the markers during a virtual public quarterly meeting that DHR convened via Webex. The large roster of markers stems from the cancellation in March of the board’s spring quarterly meeting due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Markers (Grouped Thematically):

Markers about matters of national consequence include three dealing with African American civil rights in the 20th century:

  • “Barbara Rose Johns (1935-1991)” (Prince Edward Co.) notes that at age 16, Johns led a student walkout to protest conditions at Farmville’s segregated and “vastly inferior” Robert Russa Moton High School. The resulting NAACP lawsuit seeking to end segregation, Davis v. Prince Edward, was the only student-initiated case consolidated into U.S. Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education (1954), in which the court ruled public school segregation unconstitutional.
    *
  • “Calvin Coolidge Green (1931-2011)” highlights Green’s leadership at integrating New Kent County He efforts resulted in a 1968 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Green v. New Kent Co. that localities must swiftly integrate public schools, a ruling that hastened school desegregation nationwide.
    *
  • “Wyatt Tee Walker (1928-2018)” recalls that this Petersburg pastor served as chief of staff for several years to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The first full-time director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Walker helped organize major civil rights protests including the Birmingham (Alabama) Movement and the March on Washington.

Six signs focus on education in Virginia during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Of these, three center on African Americans schools:

  • The “Campbell County Training School” and “Prospect School” (Scott Co.) were built with plans and funds provided by the Julius Rosenwald Fund, one of the most successful programs to support universal schooling for black students during the Jim Crow era.
    *
  • Long before the Rosenwald initiative, one of the first African American schools in Shenandoah County opened in Strasburg by 1875. After a fire destroyed the school in 1929, the county built a new one, “Sunset Hill School.”

Three markers deal with other educational initiatives:

  • A Lynchburg marker spotlights Virginia educator Edward Christian Glass (1852-1931). For 53 years, Glass served as superintendent of the city’s public schools. His career involved establishing a summer teachers’ institute that trained thousands of teachers, publishing and editing the Virginia School Journal, authoring textbooks, and serving on the State Board of Education.
    *
  • In Greene County, a marker will rise that recalls the founding in 1910 of the Episcopal Church’s “Blue Ridge School.” The school became the centerpiece of an extensive network of Episcopal mission schools that served several counties in the Blue Ridge Mountains. One of the nation’s most prominent architects designed the school’s chapel, completed in 1934.
    *
  • A Montgomery County marker, “Virginia 4-H State Congress,” highlights the longevity of this annual educational assembly, which first convened on the Virginia Tech campus in August 1919. Today, 4-H State Congress is the premier event for 4-H participants, according to the marker.

Virginia’s colonial-era history threads through three markers:

  • The “New Kent Ordinary” marker recalls that this tavern building, which stands near the New Kent County Courthouse green, traces back to around 1736. Situated on the main road to Williamsburg, it was a stopping place for military and government officials, including Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and John Tyler.
    *
  • “Studley Cemetery” in Hanover County notes the burial ground was part of the Studley plantation, established around 1720 by John Syme, a Scottish immigrant and member of the Virginia House of Burgesses. After he died in 1731, his widow, Sarah Winston Syme, married John Henry and gave birth to Patrick Henry in 1736. The cemetery contains many graves but only one grave marker.z
    *
  • A marker proposed in Fauquier County highlights the Episcopal Church of Leeds Parish, which formed in 1769 largely within the Manor of Leeds, an estate of the 6th Lord Fairfax. The parish’s first rector tutored young John Marshall, future Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. The parish consecrated the current Gothic Revival church in 1842.

 

Two markers involve George Washington:

  • A marker about Washington’s 1791 southern tour, in which he resolved to visit each state to gauge public opinion and better understand regional differences, recalls his visit to Louisa County, where he stayed at Jerdone Castle, as the guest of Sarah Jerdone.
    *
  • “Ona Judge (ca. 1773-1848)” (Fairfax Co.) recalls this woman born into slavery at Mount Vernon. After Washington became president, Judge escaped during one of Washington’s many extended residences in Philadelphia to perform his presidential duties. She successfully resisted his attempts to recover her and ultimately married and raised a family in New Hampshire.

African American topics in the post-colonial and early 1800s are touched on in two signs:

  • “The African Preacher (ca. 1746-1843)” recalls the African-born John Stewart, who ended up enslaved in Nottoway County. After becoming a licensed Baptist preacher, known for his “wisdom and oratory” and community leadership, Stewart so impressed his white neighbors that they contributed to purchasing his freedom.
    *
  • “Spy Hill African American Cemetery” discusses a burial ground in King George County that emerged by the mid-1800s with the graves of enslaved plantation laborers.

Glimpses of Civil War history illuminate five markers:

  • “Stingray Point Contraband” (Middlesex Co) tells of six enslaved men who fled potential impressment into the Confederate army. The U.S Secretary of the Navy decided to treat “self-emancipated men” as Contraband, echoing a similar decision at Fort Monroe. In September 1861, the six entered the U.S. Navy, nearly a year before black men could enlist in the U.S. Army.
    *
  • “Sgt. William H. Carney (1840-1908)” born into slavery in Norfolk, later gained his freedom and settled in Massachusetts around 1856. In 1863, he enlisted in the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment and fought at Fort Wagner near Charleston, SC. In May 1900, he received the Medal of Honor for his actions while experiencing heavy fire and serious wounds during the battle, which the 54th led.
    *
  • In the Shenandoah Valley’s Rockingham County, “Melrose Caverns” relays that Union and Confederate soldiers left hundreds of inscriptions on the cavern walls and scarred the formations with pistol and rifle balls. Decades later, with the advent of automobile tourism, the cave opened in 1929 as a commercial attraction.
    *
  • The “Fauquier White Sulphur Springs” marker remembers the emergence of this mineral water resort, one of the most prominent in the South before the Civil War. During the war, an 1862 battle left the resort in ruins. Rebuilt post-war, it closed in 1901.
    *
  • Another Fauquier County marker, “St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church,” emphasizes that the church’s important strategic location between the Warrenton Turnpike and Orange & Alexandria Railroad placed it in the path of both Union and Confederate armies during the Civil War, when the church also burned.

Post-Civil War, Reconstruction history grounds six markers.

  • Two of those signs — “Little Zion Baptist Church” (Orange Co.) andWestwood Baptist Church” (City of Richmond) — speak to the statewide trend during Reconstruction of African Americans exercising newfound autonomy to establish churches separate from white congregations.
    *
  • One sign for the City of Richmond, “Central Lunatic Asylum,” and one for Dinwiddie County, “Central State Hospital Cemetery,” discuss the origins and burial ground of Central State Hospital, the nation’s first stand-alone mental hospital for black patients.
    *
  • The settlement of emancipated African Americans in the northern Shenandoah Valley’s Clarke County is the subject of “Bristow,” a community that originated in 1869; one of about 20 county villages emancipated people established or settled in.
    *
  • The only documented lynching of an African American woman in Virginia, where more than 100 lynchings were recorded between 1877 and 1950, is relayed in the marker Charlotte Harris Lynched, 6 March 1878” (Harrisonburg).

Two markers deal with communities that arose in the last half of the 1800s:.

  • The forthcoming marker “Crittenden and Eclipse” relays that these two communities in the present-day city of Suffolk arose as the commercial oyster industry expanded along the rich waterways of the Tidewater region. The industry gave rise to watermen who harvested oysters, fish, crabs, and clams and required the services of boatbuilding yards, processing facilities, and a network of distributors.
    *
  • A marker destined for Smyth County will recall the “Village of Holston Mills.” Industrialist Abijah Thomas and a partner opened Holston Woolen Factory around 1860. A major producer of textiles that engendered a surrounding village, the Holston woolen mill made cloth for Confederate uniforms during the Civil War. After the mill relocated to Salem in the 1890s, “the village declined and vanished,” the marker concludes.

One rebel leader in Africa and two artists of the 20th-century are the subjects of three signs:

  • “John Chilembwe (ca. 1871-1915)” is about the leader of the first major African uprising against colonial authorities in present-day Malawi. A British Official Commission later asserted that a main cause of the revolt resulted from Chilembwe’s education in the United States, at Lynchburg’s Virginia Seminary.
    *
  • A sign for Rockbridge County recalls the career of internationally esteemed artist Pierre Daura (1896-1976), who taught at Lynchburg College (now University of Lynchburg) and Randolph-Macon Woman’s College (Randolph College). Born in Spain, he married Richmond native Louise Blair, and in 1939 the couple lived for many years in Rockbridge County.
    *
  • “Camilla Ella Williams (1919-2012)” spotlights this Danville native, an operatic soprano, who became the first African American woman to secure a contract with a major U.S. opera company. An international touring soloist, she performed in Danville to raise funds for civil rights demonstrators, and sang the national anthem at the March on Washington before King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.

Three other topics signs address topics in early 20th century history:

  • A sign for Richmond recounts the origins of today’s United Methodist Family Services, which incorporated in 1900 as the Virginia Conference Orphanage of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and opened in 1902. Residents attended school, raised crops and livestock, and learned domestic skills. In the 1950s, the organization modernized its campus and recalibrated its operations.
    *
  • “Burrell Memorial Hospital” tells about the founding in 1915 of the Roanoke area’s first hospital for black patients.
    *
  • The “Roanoke Life Saving and First Aid Crew” marker highlights the formation in May 1928 of the nation’s first independent, all-volunteer rescue squad. Members of Roanoke Life Saving helped organize rescue squads across Virginia and beyond.

Virginia’s historical highway marker program, which began in 1927 with installation of the first markers along U.S. 1, is considered the oldest such program in the nation. Currently there are more than 2,600 official state markers, most of which are maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation, except in those localities outside of VDOT’s authority.

For more information, visit DHR’s Historical Highway Marker Program.

Full Text of Markers:

(The proposed locations for each sign must be approved in consultation with VDOT or public works in jurisdictions outside VDOT authority.)

PLEASE NOTE: DHR creates markers not to “honor” their subjects but rather to educate and inform the public about a person, place, or event of regional, state, or national importance. In this regard, erected markers are not memorials.

The African Preacher (ca. 1746-1843)
Nearby lived John Stewart, also known as Jack, the African Preacher, who won renown as a minister and biblical scholar. Kidnapped from Africa as a child, he was brought to Nottoway County as a slave in the mid-18th century. The preaching of Presbyterian clergymen drew him to Christianity. Taught to read by his owner’s children, he immersed himself in the Bible and became a licensed Baptist preacher. His wisdom and oratory made him a leader of the black community and so impressed his white neighbors that they contributed toward the purchase of his freedom. Prominent religious journals published stories about Stewart, and he was the subject of a biography titled The African Preacher (1849).
Sponsor: James Larry Williamson
Locality: Nottoway County
Proposed Location: Route 630, just south of intersection with Route 615, Crewe

Barbara Rose Johns (1935-1991)
Barbara Johns, civil rights pioneer, was born in New York and moved to her parents’ native Prince Edward County as a child. In April 1951, at age 16, she led a student walkout to protest conditions at the segregated Robert Russa Moton High School, where facilities were vastly inferior to those at the county’s white high school. The students, demanding a new school, sought aid from the Virginia NAACP, which instead offered to represent them in a lawsuit seeking an end to segregation. Davis v. Prince Edward was the only student-initiated case consolidated into Brown v. Board of Education (1954), in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that public school segregation was unconstitutional.
Locality: Prince Edward County
Sponsor: Governor’s Office

Blue Ridge School
The Episcopal Church opened Blue Ridge School here in 1910 for children from mountain communities who had minimal access to education. Led by the Rev. George P. Mayo, the school became the centerpiece of an extensive network of Episcopal missions that served several counties in this region. The campus includes two buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places: Gibson Memorial Chapel (1932) and the Martha Bagby Battle House (1934). The former was designed by Ralph Adams Cram, one of the most prominent American architects of his era. Blue Ridge School closed in 1961 but reopened in 1962 with a new mission as a college preparatory boarding school for boys.
Sponsor: Blue Ridge School
Locality: Greene County
Proposed Location: Route 627 (Bacon Hollow Road), St. George, VA

Bristow
The African American community of Bristow originated in 1869 when Brister (or Bristol) Holmes purchased land near here. A public school (ca. 1883) and Bethel Baptist Church (ca. 1928) became centers of community life. Emancipated African Americans, exercising their newfound autonomy, established or settled in nearly 20 villages across Clarke County after the Civil War. Almost half of Clarke’s population had been enslaved in 1860, a much higher percentage than in other Shenandoah Valley counties, reflecting this area’s Tidewater-style plantation economy. Freedom for African Americans therefore led to a substantial reconfiguration of the county’s settlement patterns and built environment.
Sponsor: Jim Caldwell
Locality: Clarke County
Proposed Location: Near intersection of Shepherds Mill and Castleman Roads

Burrell Memorial Hospital
Five African American physicians opened Burrell Memorial Hospital in a house at 311 Henry St. in March 1915. They named it in honor of their colleague Dr. Isaac D. Burrell, who had died in 1914 after traveling by train to undergo surgery in Washington, D.C., as local hospitals treated only whites. Burrell Memorial, which became the region’s largest medical facility for black patients, moved into a former school on this site in 1921 and occupied a new building here in 1955. The hospital’s nursing school prepared African Americans for careers as registered nurses before closing in the 1930s. A school for practical nurses opened here in the 1950s. Burrell Memorial Hospital closed in 1978.
Sponsor: Nelson Harris
Locality: City of Roanoke
Proposed Location: 611 McDowell Avenue

Calvin Coolidge Green (1931-2011)
Calvin C. Green, civil rights activist, helped lead the movement for school integration in New Kent County. An educator, pastor, Korean War veteran, and later an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, Green chartered the New Kent branch of the NAACP in 1960 and was its president for 16 years. After the county school board denied his petition to desegregate schools, Green worked with other county residents and the state NAACP to file a federal lawsuit in 1965 in the name of Charles C. Green, his youngest son. On 27 May 1968, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Green v. New Kent Co. that localities must swiftly integrate public schools, leading to a decline in school segregation across the U.S.
Sponsor: Green v. New Kent Committee
Locality: New Kent County
Proposed Location: 11825 New Kent Highway (Route 249)

Camilla Ella Williams (1919-2012)
Camilla Williams, operatic soprano, grew up in Danville. In 1946 she became the first African American woman to secure a contract with a major U.S. opera company, making her debut in Madama Butterfly with the New York City Center Opera. Williams starred in Columbia Records’ recording of Porgy and Bess (1951), performed with the Vienna State Opera and other prominent companies, toured internationally as a soloist, and served as a cultural ambassador for the U.S. State Department. In 1963 she performed in Danville to raise funds for civil rights demonstrators, and she sang the national anthem at the March on Washington before Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.
Locality: Danville
Sponsor: Governor’s Office

Campbell County Training School
Campbell County Training School (CCTS) opened here ca. 1923 after African American citizens campaigned for better schools. The black community, the county, and the Julius Rosenwald Fund paid for its construction. Rosenwald, inspired by the work of Booker T. Washington, helped build more than 5,000 schools for black students. The Rev. Thomas Tweedy and Gabe Hunt are recognized as major local contributors to CCTS, which provided the county’s first two-year high school program for African Americans and later included a teacher cottage, cafeteria, shop, and auditorium. In 1951 a new CCTS opened nearby. Named Campbell County High School in 1952, it closed in 1969 when desegregation was completed.
Sponsor: The Campbell County Training School Complex Committee
Locality: Campbell County
Proposed Location: 1470 Village Highway, Rustburg

Central Lunatic Asylum
Howard’s Grove was a 19th-century recreational retreat near Richmond before becoming a Confederate hospital in 1862. After the Civil War, the Freedmen’s Bureau operated a hospital here for African Americans suffering from mental disorders, ill health, or homelessness. In Dec. 1869 the federal government transferred the facility to the state as an asylum exclusively for the “colored insane,” making it the nation’s first stand-alone mental hospital for black patients. Organized as a state institution in 1870, the Central Lunatic Asylum moved to Dinwiddie County in 1885, was renamed Central State Hospital in 1894, and was desegregated in 1967.
Sponsor: Central State Hospital
Locality: City of Richmond
Proposed Location: Corner of Fairmount and 20th Street

Central State Hospital Cemetery
This cemetery is the final resting place for thousands of patients treated at the nation’s first stand-alone psychiatric hospital for African Americans, originally known as the Central Lunatic Asylum and later renamed Central State Hospital. The asylum, which became a state institution in 1870, moved here from a location near Richmond in 1885. Deceased patients were interred in this burial ground from the mid-1880s until a new cemetery opened a short distance southeast of here in 1939. In some years during this period, more than 10 percent of the hospital’s patients died. Graves were originally marked with small stones that deteriorated over time.
Sponsor: Central State Hospital
Locality: Dinwiddie County
Proposed Location: Seventh Avenue, on the campus of Central State Hospital

Charlotte Harris Lynched, 6 March 1878
About a dozen disguised people took Charlotte Harris from the custody of jailers in eastern Rockingham County on the night of 6 March 1878 and hanged her from a tree approximately 13 miles southeast of here. This is the only documented lynching of an African American woman in Virginia, and it received nationwide attention. A grand jury that met here failed to identify any of the lynchers. Harris had been accused of inciting a young African American man to burn the barn of a white farmer. This man was later acquitted on all charges. More than 4,000 lynchings took place in the United States between 1877 and 1950; more than 100 people, primarily African American men, were lynched in Virginia.
Sponsor: Northeast Neighborhood Association (NENA)
Locality: Harrisonburg
Proposed Location: Court Square

Crittenden and Eclipse
The villages of Crittenden and Eclipse emerged here just as Virginia’s commercial oyster industry was expanding in the latter part of the 19th century. Early residents included watermen and boatbuilders from the North who were attracted by the rich oyster beds of the lower James River. In the 1890s, Lepron Johnson established Johnson Marine Railway, one of many boatbuilding yards employing local skilled craftsmen. Watermen harvested oysters, fish, crabs, and clams. Oysters, sold directly to “buyboats,” were transported to processing houses and marketed across North America. The oyster trade began to decline in the 1950s, but the tradition of oystering and crabbing survives.
Sponsor: Suffolk River Heritage, Inc.
Locality: Suffolk
Proposed Location: U.S. Highway 17 N near intersection with Eclipse Drive

Edward Christian Glass (1852-1931)
C. Glass became superintendent of Lynchburg’s public school system in 1879, at the age of 26, and served for nearly 53 years. He established, and for 18 years oversaw, a summer teachers’ institute that trained thousands of teachers from Virginia and beyond. He co-owned and co-edited the Virginia School Journal, for years the official organ of the state Department of Public Instruction and the Educational Association of Virginia. Glass was president of this association and twice served on the State Board of Education. He wrote several textbooks, including Glass’s Speller. Lynchburg High School was renamed in his honor in 1920, and a new E. C. Glass High School opened here in 1953.
Sponsor: Blair Glass Nelligan
Locality: Lynchburg
Proposed Location: 2111 Memorial Avenue

The Episcopal Church of Leeds Parish
Leeds Parish was formed in 1769 largely within the Manor of Leeds, an estate that Thomas, 6th Lord Fairfax, carved out of his Northern Neck Proprietary and named for his birthplace, Leeds Castle in England. The parish’s first rector was the Rev. James Thomson, who lived in the household of vestryman Thomas Marshall for a year and tutored his son, John Marshall, later Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Bishop William Meade consecrated the Gothic Revival parish church here in 1842. Interred in the cemetery is James M. M. Ambler, U.S. Navy surgeon, who perished in Siberia while attempting to save his colleagues during the ill-fated expedition of the USS Jeannette to the Arctic in 1881.
Sponsor: The Episcopal Church of Leeds Parish
Locality: Fauquier County
Proposed Location: 4347 Leeds Manor Road

Fauquier White Sulphur Springs
Fauquier White Sulphur Springs, just west of here, was among the most prominent mineral water resorts in the South before the Civil War. Developed in the 1830s to accommodate hundreds of guests, the resort attracted U.S. presidents, Supreme Court justices, foreign visitors, and elite families seeking medicinal waters and fashionable society. The Virginia General Assembly met here in 1849. The resort employed free white and African American workers and also relied on enslaved laborers. A Civil War battle in Aug. 1862 left the facilities in ruins. Rebuilt after the war, the resort closed in 1901 when its main hotel burned. Fauquier Springs Country Club opened here in 1957.
Sponsor: Fauquier Springs Country Club
Locality: Fauquier County
Proposed Location: Springs Road just north of intersection with Springs Drive

John Chilembwe (ca. 1871-1915)
John Chilembwe was the leader, in 1915, of the first major African uprising against colonial authorities in the British Protectorate of Nyasaland (Malawi). Chilembwe had come to Lynchburg in 1897 to study at Virginia Seminary under its president, Gregory Hayes. He returned to Africa by 1900 and set up Providence Industrial Mission before launching the revolt of 1915. A military patrol shot and killed Chilembwe on 3 Feb. 1915. The British Official Commission asserted that a main cause of the revolt had been Chilembwe’s education in the United States. Malawi, where Chilembwe remains a symbol of liberation, became independent in 1964. John Chilembwe Day is celebrated annually on 15 Jan.
Sponsor: University of Lynchburg
Locality: Lynchburg
Proposed Location: Virginia University of Lynchburg campus

Little Zion Baptist Church
At the end of the Civil War, African Americans constituted a majority of the congregation at the white-led Zion Baptist Church, organized nearby in 1813. Exercising newfound autonomy after emancipation, black members withdrew and established Little Zion Baptist Church ca. 1870. The congregation first met in members’ houses and then worshiped under a brush arbor before building a frame sanctuary on land donated by the Rev. Allen Banks, the church’s second pastor. Many of the early members resided in Goffney Town, Little Egypt, and Little Zion, communities of freed people in this vicinity. The congregation moved into a new sanctuary here, 0.3 mile north of the old church, in 2001.
Sponsor: Little Zion Baptist Church
Locality: Orange County
Proposed Location: 15116 Tomahawk Creek Road

Melrose Caverns
This cave was likely known to Native Americans before the 18th century. John Harrison Sr. acquired the property in the 1740s. The entrance was improved in 1824 to allow access to visitors. During the Civil War, Union and Confederate soldiers left hundreds of inscriptions on the walls recording names and regiments; pistol and rifle balls scarred the formations in several corridors. In 1929, as automobile-based tourism became popular, the cave was opened as a commercial attraction called Blue Grottoes that included a lodge and service station. This business closed in 1967. Known as Melrose Caverns since the 1930s, the property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Sponsor: Melrose Caverns, Inc.
Locality: Rockingham County
Proposed Location: 6637 North Valley Pike

New Kent Ordinary
A tavern was likely constructed near this site in the 1690s, when New Kent’s county seat was moved here. The present ordinary, built ca. 1736, belonged to the prominent Bassett family until 1859 but was often leased to innkeepers who managed the business. Sometimes referred to as Warren’s Tavern, the ordinary accommodated visitors on busy court days. Situated on the main road to Williamsburg, it was a stopping place for military and government officials, including Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and John Tyler. The ordinary, reconfigured in the 19th century and restored in 1964, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Sponsor: New Kent Historical Society
Locality: New Kent County
Proposed Location: 12000 New Kent Highway

Ona Judge (ca. 1773-1848)
Ona (or Oney) Judge, born into slavery at Mount Vernon, became Martha Washington’s personal attendant as a child. After George Washington was elected president in 1789, Judge was brought to New York City and later to Philadelphia to serve his household. Washington periodically sent her back to Virginia to skirt a Pennsylvania law that might have granted her freedom based on long-term residency. In 1796, after learning that she was to become a gift for Martha Washington’s granddaughter, Judge escaped from Philadelphia to New Hampshire. There she married, had three children, taught herself to read and write, and lived for more than 50 years, having resisted Washington’s attempts to recover her.
Locality: Fairfax County
Sponsor: Governor’s Office

Pierre Daura (1896-1976)
Pierre Daura, Catalan-American painter and sculptor, trained in Barcelona under Pablo Picasso’s father. In Paris in the 1910s and 1920s, he immersed himself in modern art, exhibited frequently, and won critical acclaim. He married Richmond native Louise Blair in 1928, moved to Virginia in 1939, and lived for many years in Rockbridge Baths, where he is buried. Daura found inspiration in his family and in the landscapes of Spain, France, and the Appalachian Mountains. Museums in Europe and across the U.S. hold collections of his works. He taught at Lynchburg College and Randolph-Macon Woman’s College and was the first art teacher of Lexington native and world-renowned artist Cy Twombly.
Sponsor: Daura Gallery, University of Lynchburg
Locality: Rockbridge County
Proposed Location: Route 39, Rockbridge Baths

Prospect Public School
Prospect School, for six decades Scott County’s only public school for African Americans, moved into a new building 1.5 miles northwest of here ca. 1919. Contributions for the two-room school came from the black community ($1,200), the county ($600), and the Julius Rosenwald Fund ($500). This fund, created by the president of Sears, Roebuck, and Co. and inspired by the work of Booker T. Washington, helped build more than 5,000 schools for black children in the South and supported two additions to Prospect in the 1920s. The school offered grades 1-7; black students who sought further education had to leave the county. Prospect School closed in 1965 with desegregation and was later demolished.
Sponsor: Prospect School Alumni
Locality: Scott County
Proposed Location: U.S. Hwy 23, west of intersection with 432/23/58, Gate City

Roanoke Life Saving and First Aid Crew
The Roanoke Life Saving and First Aid Crew, organized in May 1928 by Julian Stanley Wise, is recognized as the first independent, all-volunteer rescue squad in the United States. Wise, motivated by having seen two men drown in the Roanoke River during his childhood, was later president of the International Rescue and First Aid Association. Roanoke Life Saving received an ambulance from John M. Oakey Funeral Service and operated from Oakey’s properties on Kirk Ave. and here on Luck Ave. before moving to Day Ave. Members helped organize rescue squads across Virginia and beyond. In 1989, the squad merged with the Williamson Road Life Saving Crew and became Roanoke Emergency Medical Services.
Sponsor: Nelson Harris
Locality: City of Roanoke
Proposed Location: 321 Luck Avenue

Sgt. William H. Carney (1840-1908)
William Carney, born into slavery in Norfolk, gained his freedom and settled in New Bedford, MA, ca. 1856. He enlisted in the 54th Massachusetts Vol. Infantry Regt. in Feb. 1863, shortly after the Emancipation Proclamation authorized African American men to serve in combat in the U.S. Army, and was soon promoted to sergeant. On 18 July 1863, as the 54th led an attack on Fort Wagner near Charleston, SC, Carney retrieved the American flag from the regiment’s wounded color guard. Under heavy fire, he carried the flag to the fort’s parapet and then, despite serious wounds, withdrew it when his unit was pushed back. For this action Carney received the Medal of Honor on 23 May 1900.
Locality: Norfolk
Sponsor: Governor’s Office 

Spy Hill African American Cemetery
John Washington, great-grandfather of George Washington, acquired the plantation later known as Spy Hill by 1675 and left it to his son Lawrence, grandfather of the president. The property passed from the Washington family to Col. Thomas B. B. Baber in 1828. Enslaved African Americans who labored at Spy Hill were buried in a cemetery established here by the mid-19th century. After emancipation, the black community continued to use the cemetery until the mid-20th century. Although more than a hundred people are interred here, including members of the Gray, Jackson, Lucas, Peyton, Thompson, and Washington families, few grave markers survive.
Sponsor: Blanche M. Simmons
Locality: King George County
Proposed Location: Rte. 218

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church
St. Stephen’s Church was organized in 1842 to serve residents of this area who previously had to travel to St. James’ Church in Warrenton. Located between the strategically important Warrenton Turnpike and the Orange & Alexandria Railroad, St. Stephen’s was in the path of both armies during the Civil War. The 6th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry established its headquarters in the sanctuary in April 1862, and two brigades of Confederate Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart’s cavalry corps encamped nearby in Oct. 1863. The church burned during the war. Women led efforts to raise funds for a new Gothic Revival sanctuary, built in 1879, and to reopen the church in 1939 after the Great Depression.
Sponsor: St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church
Locality: Fauquier County
Proposed Location: 8695 Old Dumfries Road, Catlett

Stingray Point Contraband
Six enslaved men (Alexander Franklin, David Harris, John Hunter, Miles Hunter, Peter Hunter, and Samuel Hunter), fearing impressment into Confederate service, sought refuge in the Stingray Point Lighthouse near here on 15 July 1861 and hailed the USS Mount Vernon. Similar escapes followed. The U.S. Secretary of the Navy, following the contraband theory established at Fort Monroe, authorized the employment of self-emancipated men and, in Sept. 1861, approved their enlistment in the U.S. Navy, nearly a year before black men could enlist in the U.S. Army. After serving in the Navy, Harris is the only one of the six men known to have returned to this community, where he had been enslaved.
Sponsor: Middle Peninsula African-American Genealogical and Historical Society of Virginia
Locality: Middlesex County
Proposed Location: Route 33, 1.8 miles west of the original Stingray Point Lighthouse

Studley Cemetery
Studley plantation, established ca. 1720, was the home of John Syme, Scottish immigrant and member of the Virginia House of Burgesses. Syme died ca. 1731 and presumably was buried at Studley. His widow, Sarah Winston Syme, married John Henry and gave birth to Patrick Henry here in 1736. Although the cemetery contains many graves, the only marker is that of Thomas Chrystie (d. 1812), a surgeon in the Virginia State Navy and the Continental Line during the Revolutionary War. Also interred here are Judge Peter Lyons (d. 1809), president of the Virginia Court of Appeals, and William H. Roane (d. 1845), grandson of Patrick Henry and member of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate.
Sponsor: Historic Polegreen Church Foundation
Locality: Hanover County
Proposed Location: at end of Studley Farms Drive

Sunset Hill School
The Queen Street School, one of the first schools in Shenandoah County for African Americans, had opened in Strasburg by 1875. After a fire in 1929, a new school known as Sunset Hill was built here ca. 1930 to serve grades 1-7. Because the county had no high school for African American students, graduates had to go elsewhere to attend higher grades. African American residents petitioned for better facilities, and the school board considered building a new segregated elementary school as late as 1962, eight years after the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that public school segregation was unconstitutional. Sunset Hill closed in 1964 when Shenandoah County schools were fully desegregated.
Sponsor: Queen Street-Sunset Hill Alumni
Locality: Town of Strasburg
Proposed Location: 348 Sunset Street, Strasburg

United Methodist Family Services
United Methodist Family Services (originally known as the Virginia Conference Orphanage of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South) was incorporated in 1900 and opened here in 1902. Organized as an agricultural community, the orphanage maintained farms here and in New Kent County. Residents attended school, raised crops and livestock, and learned domestic skills. In the 1950s, farming operations ceased and a new building campaign modernized the campus. Known after 1980 as United Methodist Family Services, the agency expanded to other localities in Virginia, offering social services such as adoption and foster care, residential treatment, and education.
Sponsor: United Methodist Family Services
Locality: City of Richmond
Proposed Location: 3900 W. Broad St.

Village of Holston Mills
Industrialist Abijah Thomas bought a 344-acre tract in this area, including a sawmill and a grist mill, in 1844. Here ca. 1860 he and a partner opened Holston Woolen Factory, a major producer of textiles around which the village of Holston Mills developed. During the Civil War, Co. A of the 23rd Battalion Virginia Infantry was organized here; the woolen mill made cloth for Confederate uniforms. Dormant following the war, the mill flourished under new ownership after 1875, when it became known as Holstein Woolen Mills. The town expanded to include a school, shops, a post office, and a telegraph office. After the mill moved to Salem early in the 1890s, the village declined and later vanished.
Sponsor: Family of the late Victor C. and Minta R. Neitch
Locality: Smyth County
Proposed Location: Intersection of Route 650 (South Fork Road), Route 604 (Red Stone Road), and Route 648 (Old Mill Road)

Virginia 4-H State Congress
Virginia’s first annual 4-H Boys’ and Girls’ State Short Course was held in Aug. 1919 on the campus of Virginia Tech. The weeklong event provided instruction in agriculture and home economics to 167 young people from 39 counties. An annual short course for African American youth began at Hampton Institute in Aug. 1923 and moved to Virginia State College in 1931. The course was desegregated in 1966 and became known as Virginia 4-H State Congress in 1967. The premier event for Virginia’s 4-H participants, its mission is to instill life skills and leadership abilities by providing competitive and non-competitive educational experiences.
Sponsor: Virginia 4-H Program
Locality: Montgomery County
Proposed Location: Southgate Drive, near interchange of Rte. 314 and US 460

Washington’s 1791 Southern Tour
On the night of 9 June 1791, during his southern tour of the United States, Pres. George Washington stayed here at Jerdone Castle as the guest of Sarah Jerdone. Washington, then in his first term, understood his role as the singular unifying figure in the new nation. He resolved to visit each state to gauge public opinion, better understand regional differences, and bolster support for the federal government. He toured the South with a staff of eight men, riding on hazardous, poorly marked roads in a carriage pulled by four horses. Away from the nation’s capital for 3.5 months, he covered nearly 1,900 miles and visited seven states, including Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia.
Sponsor: John J. Beardsworth Jr.
Locality: Louisa County
Proposed Location: to the left of the driveway at 1779 Moody Town Road, Bumpass

Westwood Baptist Church
This church traces its origins to 1872, when a group of formerly enslaved African Americans began meeting for Bible study at the home of Robert Pemberton. In 1876, the congregation’s trustees purchased a half-acre lot here for $25 for the Westwood Colored Baptist Church. The Rev. George Daggett, first pastor, served for two decades. Early baptisms took place in nearby Jordan’s Branch. A vibrant African American community, originally in Henrico County and later annexed by the City of Richmond, developed around the church. Many 20th-century pastors graduated from the Virginia Union University seminary. Their oratorical skills and political leadership fostered a thriving church.
Sponsor: Westwood Baptist Church
Locality: City of Richmond
Proposed Location: Patterson Avenue at intersection with Glenburnie Road

Wyatt Tee Walker (1928-2018)
Wyatt Tee Walker, pastor of Gillfield Baptist Church from 1953 to 1960, served as president of the Petersburg branch of the NAACP and as Virginia director of the Congress of Racial Equality. He worked closely with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and for several years was his chief of staff. In 1960 Walker became the first full-time executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He helped organize major civil rights protests including the Birmingham (Alabama) Movement and the March on Washington. For 37 years Walker was pastor of Canaan Baptist Church of Christ in Harlem, NY. In 1978 he organized the International Freedom Mobilization to combat apartheid in South Africa.
Locality: Petersburg
Sponsor: Governor’s Office

 

Updated September 4, 2020