8 New State Historical Highway Markers Approved

Published April 4, 2024

Virginia Department of Historic Resources
(dhr.virginia.gov)
For Immediate Release
April 4, 2024

Contact:
Ivy Tan
Department of Historic Resources
Marketing & Communications Manager
ivy.tan@dhr.virginia.gov
804-482-6445

—Markers cover topics in the counties of Accomack, Cumberland, Gloucester, and King and Queen; and in the cities of Charlottesville, Emporia, Roanoke, and Virginia Beach—

—Text of each marker reproduced below—

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.

RICHMOND – The Department of Historic Resources (DHR) has announced eight new historical markers coming to roadsides in Virginia. The markers will recall various topics in the Commonwealth’s history, including the life and career of John Robinson, a free person of color before the American Civil War who later served in Virginia’s Constitutional Convention of 1867-1868 and in the state senate; the home of the wealthiest woman on the Eastern Shore during the 17th century; and the United States’s first Black ambassador to a foreign nation.

The Virginia Board of Historic Resources approved the markers on March 21, 2024, during its quarterly meeting hosted by DHR.

A forthcoming marker in Cumberland County will highlight John Robinson (born John Lipscomb), a free person of color who owned land and worked as a wagoner in the county before the Civil War. Robinson fled to Amelia County after he was attacked twice by White men in 1864. He later used the local courts to convict many of his attackers and to defend his property rights. An active Republican during Reconstruction, he became one of 24 African Americans elected to serve in Virginia’s Constitutional Convention of 1867-68, where he voted with radical reformers. During his tenure as a state senator from 1869-73, he helped set up Virginia’s new public school system and voted to ratify the 14th and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Robinson later returned to Cumberland County, where he owned and operated the Effingham House tavern for 30 years.

Two newly approved markers will recall the forebears of important figures in the American Revolutionary era:

  • In Accomack County, Gargaphia was the plantation home of Anne Toft (ca. 1642-ca. 1687), who became the wealthiest woman on the Eastern Shore in the 17th century. Toft settled in Virginia by 1660, when fewer than one-fifth of English immigrants were women. While she was single, Toft engaged in international trade and defended her interests in court. She was a friend and supporter of Col. Edmund Scarburgh II, a burgess and Virginia’s surveyor general. Toft acquired more than a total of 30,000 acres in Virginia, Maryland, and Jamaica. Indentured and enslaved laborers worked on her land. Toft married Daniel Jenifer in 1671. Her great-grandson, Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer, was one of the signers of the U.S. Constitution.
  • John Lewis (ca. 1594-1657), a Welsh immigrant, patented land in King and Queen County in 1653. His family later acquired hundreds of additional acres on both sides of the Poropotank River. Lewis and other family members are buried in a cemetery nearby. His descendants included John Lewis, a member of colonial Virginia’s Council of State; Fielding Lewis, a member of the House of Burgesses, brother-in-law of George Washington, and a director of Virginia’s primary gun factory during the Revolutionary War; and Meriwether Lewis, private secretary to President Thomas Jefferson and leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition to the Pacific Ocean from 1803 to 1806.

 

One marker is centered on the effects of chattel slavery in the U.S.:

  • Enslaved men, women, and children were sold at various locations in the City of Charlottesville’s Court Square between 1762 and 1865: outside taverns; at the Jefferson Hotel; at the "Number Nothing" building; in front of the Albemarle County Courthouse, where sales were then recorded; and, according to tradition, from a tree stump. In 1829, three years after the death of Thomas Jefferson, auctioneers sold 33 enslaved people from the Monticello estate at the Eagle Hotel to satisfy Jefferson’s debts. Fountain Hughes and Maria Perkins, two enslaved Charlottesville residents, recalled “Court Day sales” as dreaded occasions that separated Black families. Sales of enslaved people in Court Square and elsewhere happened frequently during colonial and antebellum Virginia, where the domestic slave trade played a central role in the economy.

 

Three of the markers will focus on the contributions of Black civil rights leaders of the 20th century:

  • Civil rights attorney Samuel W. Tucker, born in Alexandria, graduated from Howard University in 1933 and served in the U.S. Army during World War II before settling in Emporia. In 1939, Tucker organized a sit-in at the Whites-only public library in Alexandria. In the 1960s, he became head of the Virginia NAACP’s legal team and a partner in the Richmond law firm of Hill, Tucker, and Marsh. He pursued several successful U.S. Supreme Court cases, co-authoring the brief for Griffin v. Prince Edward County (1964) and arguing Green v. New Kent (1968) and Wright v. Emporia (1972). Tucker’s work as an attorney helped overturn tactics used by localities to resist federal mandates that called for the desegregation of public schools.
  • Born in 1911 in South Boston, Virginia, and raised in his family’s home in Roanoke, Edward R. Dudley III was the United States’s first Black ambassador to a foreign nation. After attending high school in Roanoke, he graduated from Johnson C. Smith University in North Carolina and went on to earn a law degree in 1941 in New York. As a member on the NAACP’s legal team headed by Thurgood Marshall, Dudley worked to challenge racial discrimination in education, voting, and transportation. President Harry Truman appointed Dudley minister to Liberia in 1948 and ambassador in 1949, making him America’s first Black ambassador. During his time as ambassador to Liberia, Dudley helped secure equal treatment for Black foreign service officers. After returning to New York, he became borough president of Manhattan in 1961 and served on the state’s Supreme Court from 1965 to 1985.
  • Born to formerly enslaved parents in 1867, Robert R. Moton became one of the most distinguished African American educators of the late 19th to early 20th centuries. In 1935, he built Holly Knoll, his retirement home in Gloucester County. His wife, Jennie Booth Moton, served as president of the National Association of Colored Women when she lived at Holly Knoll. Meetings held at Holly Knoll fostered the growth of the United Negro College Fund, which was founded in 1944 by the Motons’ son-in-law, Frederick D. Patterson, to provide scholarships for Black students across the U.S. Holly Knoll often served as the gathering place for African American leaders and intellectuals during the Civil Rights Movement. Student sit-in organizers met with business executives at the house in the early 1960s. Those efforts led to the desegregation of several facilities in the country. In 1981, the National Park Service designated Holly Knoll as a National Historic Landmark and listed it on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

A 20th-century training facility of the Virginia National Guard where thousands lived and trained during both World Wars grounds one new marker:

  • Built in Virginia Beach in 1912, the State Rifle Range served as the first permanent training facility for the Virginia Volunteers, which later became the Virginia National Guard. The post was leased to the U.S. Navy for warship crew training during World War I. In the 1920s, Virginia’s first state-owned airfield opened at the post. The State Rifle Range was renamed the State Military Reservation (SMR) in 1928. During World War II, the U.S. Army leased the SMR, renamed it Camp Pendleton, and expanded the facility to accommodate the training and housing of thousands of troops. Stewardship of the post reverted to Virginia after the war. The Camp Pendleton/SMR Historic District reflects the Virginia National Guard’s evolution over more than a century.

 

Following the Board of Historic Resources’ approval of the markers, it can take upwards of eight months or more before a new marker is ready for installation. The marker’s sponsor covers the required $3,000 manufacturing expenses for a new sign.

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

Full Text of Markers:
(VDOT must approve the proposed location for each sign in its right-of-way; local public works departments must do so in jurisdictions outside VDOT’s authority.)

Gargaphia
The site of Gargaphia, the home plantation of Anne Toft (ca. 1642-ca. 1687), is about a mile southeast of here. Toft came to Virginia about 1660, when fewer than 1/5 of English arrivals were women. Closely allied with Col. Edmund Scarburgh II, a burgess and Virginia’s surveyor general, she acquired more than 30,000 acres in Virginia, Maryland, and Jamaica, on which indentured and enslaved laborers worked. While she was single, she engaged in international trade, defended her interests in court, and became the wealthiest woman on the Eastern Shore. About 1671 she married Daniel Jenifer of Maryland. A great-grandson, Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer, was a signer of the U.S. Constitution.
Sponsor: Eastern Shore of Virginia Historical Society (Shore History)
Locality: Accomack County
Proposed Location: U.S. 13 at intersection with Gargatha Landing Road

The Lewis Family
John Lewis (ca. 1594-1657), a Welsh immigrant, patented land in this area in 1653, and his family later acquired hundreds of additional acres on both sides of the Poropotank River. His gravestone and those of other family members are in a cemetery a short distance south of here. Among Lewis’s descendants were John Lewis, a member of colonial Virginia’s Council of State; Fielding Lewis, a member of the House of Burgesses, a director of Virginia’s primary gun factory during the Revolutionary War, and brother-in-law of George Washington; and Meriwether Lewis, private secretary to Pres. Thomas Jefferson and leader of the Lewis and Clark Expedition to the Pacific Ocean (1803-1806).
Sponsor: Virginia Lewis and Clark Legacy Trail
Locality: King and Queen County
Proposed Location: Buena Vista Road (Virginia Route 14) near intersection with Poropotank Drive

Sales of Enslaved People in Court Square
Between 1762 and 1865, auctioneers sold enslaved men, women, and children at various locations in Court Square: outside taverns, at the Jefferson Hotel, at the "Number Nothing" building, in front of the Albemarle Co. Courthouse (where sales were then recorded), and, according to tradition, from a tree stump. After Thomas Jefferson’s death, 33 enslaved people from his Monticello estate were auctioned at the Eagle Hotel in Jan. 1829 to satisfy his debts. Enslaved Charlottesville residents Fountain Hughes and Maria Perkins recalled Court Day sales as dreaded occasions that separated Black families. Such sales were frequent in Virginia, where the domestic slave trade was central to the economy.
Sponsor: City of Charlottesville – Historic Resources Committee
Locality: City of Charlottesville
Proposed Location: Court Square Park

John Lipscomb Robinson
John Robinson (born John Lipscomb), a free person of color from Cumberland Co., was a wagoner and landowner before the Civil War. Twice attacked by White men in 1864, he fled to Amelia Co. and later used the local courts to convict many of his attackers and defend his property rights. An active Republican during Reconstruction, he was one of 24 African Americans elected to serve in Virginia’s Constitutional Convention of 1867-68, where he voted with radical reformers. As a state senator (1869-73), he helped set up Virginia’s new public school system and voted to ratify the 14th and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. For 30 years he owned and operated the Effingham House tavern near here.
Sponsor: Cumberland Middle School
Locality:
Cumberland County
Proposed Location: Anderson Highway, Cumberland

Samuel Wilbert Tucker (1913-1990)
Samuel W. Tucker, civil rights attorney, was born in Alexandria, where he organized a sit-in at the Whites-only public library in 1939. After graduating from Howard University in 1933 and serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, he moved to Emporia. During the 1960s, he became head of the Virginia NAACP’s legal team and a partner in the Richmond law firm of Hill, Tucker, and Marsh. He pursued several successful U.S. Supreme Court cases, co-authoring the brief for Griffin v. Prince Edward County (1964) and arguing Green v. New Kent (1968) and Wright v. Emporia (1972). Tucker’s work helped overturn the tactics that localities had used to resist federal school-desegregation mandates.
Sponsor: Rodney D. Pierce
Locality: City of Emporia
Proposed Location: Near intersection of East Atlantic Street and North Main Street

Edward Richard Dudley III (1911-2005)
Edward R. Dudley III was born in South Boston, VA, and was raised in the family’s home three blocks west of here. After high school in Roanoke, he graduated from Johnson C. Smith University in NC and earned a law degree in 1941 in NY. Working with Thurgood Marshall on the NAACP’s legal team, he challenged racial discrimination in education, voting, and transportation. Pres. Harry Truman appointed Dudley minister to Liberia in 1948 and ambassador in 1949, making him the U.S.’s first Black ambassador. Dudley worked to secure equal treatment for Black foreign service officers. After returning to NY, he became borough president of Manhattan in 1961 and served on the state’s Supreme Court (1965-1985).
Sponsor: Nelson Harris
Locality: City of Roanoke
Proposed Location: Intersection of Gilmer Ave. and Gainsboro Road NW, northwest corner

State Military Reservation
The State Rifle Range, built here in 1912, was the first permanent training facility for the Virginia Volunteers, later the Virginia National Guard. During World War I, the post was leased to the U.S. Navy for warship crew training. Virginia’s first state-owned airfield opened here in the 1920s, and the post was renamed the State Military Reservation (SMR) in 1928. During World War II, the U.S. Army leased the SMR, named it Camp Pendleton, and conducted a building campaign that accommodated the training and housing of thousands of troops. The post reverted to Virginia after the war. The Camp Pendleton/SMR Historic District reflects the Virginia National Guard’s evolution over more than a century.
Sponsor: Virginia Department of Military Affairs
Locality:
Virginia Beach
Proposed Location:
General Booth Blvd. at the State Military Reservation

Holly Knoll
Robert R. Moton (1867-1940), born to formerly enslaved parents, became a nationally prominent educator and retired here to Holly Knoll, which he built in 1935. His wife, Jennie Booth Moton, was president of the National Association of Colored Women while residing here. Meetings held at Holly Knoll fostered the growth of the United Negro College Fund, founded by the Motons’ son-in-law Frederick D. Patterson in 1944. The property was a frequent gathering place for African American leaders and intellectuals during the Civil Rights Movement. Student sit-in organizers met with business executives here early in the 1960s, leading some facilities to desegregate. Holly Knoll is a National Historic Landmark.
Sponsor: DHR
Locality: Gloucester County
Proposed Location: Rte. 662 at Holly Knoll

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