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In the shadowy pine forests surrounding this strip of land

lived other tribes . . . the Powchay-ick, Weyanoke, Coppohank,

and “the nations of Seacocks.”



 Sussex County A Tale of Three Centuries

Compiled by Workers of the Writers’ Program of the Work Projects Administration  in the State of Virginia.

Illustrated. American Guide Series.

Sponsored by The Sussex County School Board.

Talmage D. Foster, Superintendent. 1942.


Part I —1607-1864

*   *   *   *   *

Chapter 1—Over the River from Jamestown (1607-1754)


On February 1, 1754 an act for the creation of Sussex County became effective. The petition handed the General Assembly the year before by those inhabitants of Surry County living south of the Blackwater River had brought to fruition what had long been in their minds. . . . The severance accomplished was natural and logical. The homes located in the fertile southern part of Surry County had not been established without all the perils and hardships that accompany the settling of any country.

During the seventeenth century restrictions forbade settlement of frontier lands south of the Blackwater River. An order of Council, however, dated August 23, 1702, provided that “land on ye South side Blackwater Swamp should be Laid open after the 20th of November then next coming, and that all her Majesties Subjects should have full liberty to take up & Patent the sd Lands in the accustomed manner.” Even before the legal bars had been lifted people had trickled in and begun to shape their lives in one common mold of daily existence. . . . (13)

When the first colonists stepped in 1607 upon the green peninsula they called Jamestown, the land forming the south bank of th wide James River was the home of numerous Indian tribes. Betwwn two creeks that eventually received the names of Upper and Lower Chi[okes. Dwelt the Quioughcohanock, whose town Chawapo, Quioughcohanock, and Nantapoyac, and surrounding fertile corn fields looked down on the ebb and flow of the river tide. Over this tribe ruled Pepiscumah (Pipisco), a friendly chief who invited the adventurers of 1607 to visit his town even before they settled at Jamestown.

In the shadowy pine forests surrounding this strip of land lived other tribes of Algonquin stock, the Powchay-ick, Weyanoke, Coppohank, and “the nations of Seacocks.” South of these were the Nottoway, an isolated Iroquoian group. At least two Nottoway towns lay in the area of future Sussex—one on Corroneesus Swamp and the other on Assamusick Swamp. In recent years bowls, pipes, and other relics have been found at these two sites. . . . In 1617 . . . the colonists began to select plantations along these lonely shores. Martin Brandon on Upper Chippokes Creek, settled that year by reason of a special patent, became the first wedge in an attempt to establish private plantations. Not until 1618 was another laid out on the south side of the James. (14)

In the spring of that eventful year Christopher Lawne’s ship arrived with one hundred immigrants and settled at Warrasquoyake in present Isle of Wight County; and Sir George Yardley arrived as governor with authority to put in effect “the Great Charter of privileges, orders, and Laws,” which brought about representative government. . . . each “hundred and particular plantation” in these divisions was granted the right to elect burgesses for the General Assembly. That met July 30, 1619 at Jamestown. The “hundred,” a term borrowed from the name used to designate subdivisions of the English shire, was an extensive area that had been granted to a society. A “plantation” was a large single farm or a group of farms granted to one of more individuals. The House of Burgesses, which began its career in 1619, was the first democratically elected legislative body in the New World (14-15). . . . 

In the several years that followed, many grants were sealed to the colonists. The London Company meanwhile undertook to transport great multitudes of people and cattle to Virginia. Many of these were settled on the southside of the James, where stability and peace prevailed until March 22, 1622, the day the Indians, in one concerted effort, did their utmost to wipe out the English colonists on both sides of the river. Jamestown, fortunately, escaped. Chanco, a young Indian, belonging to a tribe on the south bank of the James, unfolded the plot to Richard Pace . . .

In 1634 The General Assembly discarded cumbersome corporations as political divisions of the colony and created in their place eight counties, one of which was James City, including the present county and extending across the James southward. In this territory lay the future county of Sussex. . . . (16)

[In 1633] an act required the inhabitants of the south side of the river to bring their tobacco, long the “money crop,’ to the public warehouse at Jamestown. Marriages were a natural result, and the people on both sides of the river were blended at an early date. . . .

In 1652 Surry County was created, a vast territory beginning at the muddy south side of the James and slanting southwest through limitless pine forests cut by the sinuous length of three rivers—the Blackwater, Nottoway and Meherrin. . . . To the south lay unexplored forests, threaded with Indian trails, filled with bear and deer, and dotted here and there with Indian villages. Through these woods for three days in 1609 Quioughcohanock braves had led Nathaniel Powell and Anas Todkil in a vain search for Sir Walter Raleigh’s lost colony. (18-19)

The area that is now Sussex, occupied as it was by Indians, contained no white settlers to suffer from the Indian Massacre of 1644, which was led by the aged Opechancanough—brother of Powhatan and chief whose diabolical cunning had been responsible for the slaughter of 1622. Directly as a result of the second massacre, however, the county that was later known as Dinwiddie saw the establishment of Fort Henry, a stronghold established against Indian attacks. . . .

By the time Sir William Berkeley started on his unhappy second administration in 1660, the Indians on the Surry Side had become ineffectual. . . . The pine-covered land that was to become Sussex County was still a wilderness from which death in Indian guise had ceased to issue, for the ignominious decline of the aborigines had already set in. A forerunner of subsequent vassalage occurred in 1654, when a boy of the “nation of Seacocks” was indentured for “fower years” (19).

The Surry Side Indians, by 1662, had become mere pilferers, required by law, whenever they came “within English bounds,” to wear badges of bright cloth bearing the name of their town. The Weyanoke, the great tribe that had migrated from both sides of the James after the treaty of 1646 and settled south of the Blackwater River, had lost their strength, like the others; and their property had been absorbed by the English. By 1670 the Weyanoke had only 15 “hunters,” the Maharineck (Meherrin) 50, and the two Nottoway towns but 90, all of which did not prevent the south side of the James from being caught in the tangle of defenses planned against the menace of rising Indians in 1676, when Surry contributed 40 men, under Captain Roger Potter, who were “garrisoned at one ffort or defenceable place neare Richard Atkins upon the black water.”

[Under] Sir William Berkeley . . . [with] the restoration of Charles II . . .  [the] right to elect representatives to the House of Burgesses, which the colonists had won and held by the hardest of struggles, was utterly lost during the 1660s. . . . [the] House . . . passed heavy and unfair assessments in the making of which the rank and file of Virginians had no part. In 1670 . . . an act was passed limiting the voters to landowners only, though the per capita tax was levied against all persons—truly taxation without representation. As a result the poor became poorer and the rich richer. In addition, tobacco was bringing a low price.

*   *   *   *   *

Bacon’s Rebellion

Leadership for the revolt was found in the person of Nathaniel Bacon, who settled at Curles Neck in Henrico County in 1674. The young man came of an old and distinguished English family. He had been educated at Cambridge, and he had traveled extensively before migrating to Virginia. Almost immediately upon his arrival in the colony he was made a member of the Council . Though an aristocrat, he at once-espoused the cause of the people (20).

The Indians, whose atrocities alarmed the colonists and against whom there was demand that the governor take action, were the militant Susquehannock and Doeg of Maryalnd and northern Virginia. A concerted campaign by the colonists against the Idians who lied along Piscataway Creek and in Maryland and who ahd been pillaging in Northern Virginia resulted in the defeat of the Susquehannock. Where upon Colonel John Washington—the great grandfather of George Washington—and Colonel Isaac Allerton of Westmoreland County joined with Colonel John Truman of Maryland, determined to put an end to marauding. When—during a truce—several Indians were unjustifiably murdered by the whites, the Susquehannock attacked Virginia’s entire western frontier, enlisting other tribes as allies (20-21).

The governor . . . disbanded the militia. . . . Then it was that Nathaniel bacon took matters in his own hands and demanded that the governor grant him a commission to proceed against the marauders. The governor refused and declare Bacon a rebel. Many people on the Surry side of Charles city County then rallied to the support of the young leader. A band of Bacon’s followers fortified themselves in “Allen’s Brick House,” now known as Bacon’s Castle.

For months disaster had been predicted for the omens had been bad. During many nights a blood red comet had flashed through the sky, “streaming like a horse’s tail westward . . . and settling towards the northwest.” Thousands of pigeons in flight had darkened the sky and, roosting at night, had broken the limbs of great trees. Swarms of flies “as big as the  top of a man’s little finger,” had risen from the holes in the earth and had eaten the leaves of the trees. Apparently the time had come for action, for certainly no calamity could be worse than the plight of Virginians in that year of 1676 (22).

When the governor saw the people meant business, he ordered an election—the first that had been held since 1661. Bacon was elected to the House of Burgesses, pardoned by the governor, and reinstated as a member of the Council. That the rebellion was not brought about solely by the uprising of the Indians is proved by the record of Bacon’s activities in the legislative halls of Jamestown, for immediately he sought to right the wrongs the people were suffering. Through his efforts universal suffrage was restored, and laws were enacted requiring frequent election of the vestries of parishes and auditing of public counts, and prohibiting trade with the Indians, long terms if office, excessive fees, and the sale of liquors (21-22).

The rebellion was not to end so quickly, however. Bacon learned that the governor was plotting against him, left Jamestown—not having received the commission to proceed against the Indians—and concentrated his attack upon the government rather than upon the savages. During the struggle that followed, the governor signed the commission that bacon had been seeking and shortly thereafter fled to the Eastern Shore. The young leader, then in control, put the liberal laws into practice.

Emboldened by his success, he sent a British guardship to the Eastern Shore to capture Berkeley. The captain, however, betrayed the rebels and turned over the ship and crew to the governor. When Berkeley returned to Jamestown, bacon stormed the capital, burned it, and issued to the people a proclamation to the effect that, if England should champion the governor’s cause, the people must defend their liberties or abandon Virginia. Then he set upon a tour of the colony. In Glouchester County he died of a fever. Though the rebels, having lost their leader, were apparently defeated, a spark was ignited that ahs never been extinguished in Virginia.

The fury of the old governor knew no bounds. Charles II, hearing the news, is said to have exclaimed, “That old fool has hanged more men in that naked country than I have done here for the murder of my father.” But Sir William Berkeley was recalled to England, where he died within a year. As a result of the rebellion, better days dawned for the colony (22). . . .

*   *   *   *   *

Opening Up the Blackwater Lands

King William and Queen Mary . . . granted, in 1693,their royal charter for the College of William and Mary . . . for sources of income for the institution was one directing that 10,000 acres in Pamunky Neck and 10,000 acres south of the Blackwater be held for the college in free and common soccage—only upon the quit rent of two copies of Latin verses delivered annually at the governor’s house on every 5th day of November. The tract south of the Blackwater lay altogether in territory that subsequently became Sussex County. . . .

Queen Anne, in response to the petitions of the people, finally revoked that part of the college charter assigning the two tracts for support of the college, and Governor Edwart Nott on June 22, 1706 announced to the General Assembly that as soon as he could advise with “ye Councill in settling proper Rules for preventing all disputes that may happen about priority of Entries,” he would “forthwith give directions for Laying open the Land in Pomunky Neck and whenever the bounds of ye Counties on ye South side black water swamp are settled according to the Act agreed on, this session, the Like permission” would be given “for making Entries there.”

Soon thereafter the straight north-south lines that form the boundaries of the south-side counties were run, the General Assembly having enacted: That “whereas many inconveniencys attend the inhabitants of . . . Prince George, Surry, Isle of Wight and Nansemond, by reason of the uncertainty of the bounds . . . on the south side of Black Water swamp,” the surveyors of the several counties shall “lay out the Black Water Swamp . . . and . . . reduce the same into one straight line, from which said line so reduced, a perpendicular shall be raised, and a line run parallel to that perpendicular from the head of the bounds of each of the said counties . . . shall hereafter be the dividing line of each county backwards as farr as this government extends.”

With the defining of boundaries, there was an immediate influx of patentees to the territory that was to be Sussex County, for “Sir Edmund Andros opened the tracts to all mankind so that we could have no tenants, since every man was free to take Land in fee in the same place” (17-28). . . .

As early as 1701 patents for Blackwater lands had been granted to Francis Epes, William Epes, Littlebury Epes, Richard Smith, William Parham, Edmund Irby, Robert Carlisle, Thomas reeves, and George Pierce. . . . On March 17, 1801 John mason, William Harrison, and Hugh Belsches, writing to the college, mentioned the following persons as owners of the lands once intended to yield dividends for the encouragement of genius: William Harrison, Lucy Atkins, John Mason, William underhill’s estate, Thomas Moss, lewis Parham, Samuel Smith, Richard Christian, and Peter Jennings. . . .

In 1733 Surry County and its two parishes had ceased to sprawl southwest to North Carolina, when a line was run from the Nottoway at the mouth of Chetacrie Creek straight south to the Meherrin, thence east along the Meherrin. Then that part of Surry southwest of this line was Brunswick County and the ends of Surry’s two long parishes were annexed to St. Andrew’s Parish (31-32).

*   *   *   *   *

Chapter 2—Years of Youth (1754-1776)

Sussex was organized as a county when resentment against Robert Dinwiddie was at its height. The governor had reached Virginia on November 20, 1751. . . . he had inaugurated a policy so unpopular as to cause several counties to send petitions to the General Assembly of 1753. Two men later associated with Sussex were among those appointed to inform the governor of the protest . . . Augustine Claiborne, later clerk of the Sussex Court, and Benjamin Harrison. When Gray Briggs and John Edmunds went over to Williamsburg early in 1754 to be the first burgesses from Sussex County, the assembly was waiting word from the King that would either condemn or uphold the governor. . . . Dinwiddie had sought to pick up a bit of change by charging one pistole (a gold coin equivalent to about $3.60) for affixing his name to land patents; and the colonists were no end upset (34). . . .

As usual the battle was eventually won by the colonists. . . .

*   *   *   *   *

Sussex Men in French & Indian Wars

Under Governor Dinwiddie, Virginia was divided in 1752 into four military districts, each with its own officer. Sussex county, falling into the Southern District, was commanded by George Washington. . . . France . . . was planning a line of forts to extend from the Great lakes to the Spanish Floridas. . . .

Having obtained from the Indians permission to erect a fort at the confluence of the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers, Dinwiddie in 1753 had appointed the 21 year old George Washington to acquaint the French with his plans. The young man delivered the warning message that paved the way for the French and Indian war, in which he was later to achieve his first fame and the military preparation that enabled him later to command the American forces during the Revolution. By the death first of Colonel Joshua Fry and then of the British General Edward Braddock, Washington succeeded to the command of two important expeditions (35)

Sussex County . . . furnished its share of volunteers to accompany Washington. Captain Henry Harrison was a member of the military expedition led by General Edward Braddock against the French in Western Pennsylvania and was present at Fort Duquesne in 1755 when the British general was killed and George Washington assumed command. Captain Harrison, the son of Benjamin Harrison ( . . . 1745) of Berkeley, lived at Hunting Quarter in Sussex. He was a brother of Benjamin Harrison (1726-1791), signer of the Declaration of Independence, and uncle of President William Henry Harrison (1773-1841).  Certain it is that captain James Wyche was paid for conducting Sussex soldiers to Fredericksburg. The captain, moreover, was one of the first gentlemen of Sussex to subscribe to the oath of justice for the new county. . . . (35-36)

*   *   *   *   *

Developing Sussex

Sussex County, immediately after its creation, entered upon an expansion that was to continue for many years without interruption. The new county developed its resources: cleared land and built unpretentious dwellings surrounded by dairy, smokehouse, and other buildings; planted tobacco, wheat, and corn; erected water grist mills on the sinuous Nottoway and Blackwater rivers; worked the slaves it could not profitably hire out; raised cattle, hogs, and sheep; laid out apple and peach orchards; railed against the abuses and malpractices of warehouse tobacco pickers who had banded into a partnership to enforce uniform pay from frugal planters; fulminated against increasing tobacco levies and excessive ferriage rates across the James; and, with it all, found time for diversion in lotteries, horse races, balls, cock fights, and salubrious excursions on horseback or in more comfortable “chairs.” Echoes from the outside world that trickled into placid Sussex caused no flurries of excitement. . . .

*   *   *   *   *

Slave Rebellion in Sussex, Colony of Virginia

All was not gayety, however. They very month of the county’s formation—back in January 1754—there had been a murder that for years to come struck terror to the hearts of Sussex folk. Benjamin Hyde and Mary, his wife, with their three children had been killed by “their own Negro Man!” “The man was murder’d in the Field,” wrote the Reverend William Willie in the Albemarle Parish Register, “and all the rest in the house: all their heads were cut off; only the last, an Infant, had its brains dashed out. The Negroe was the most obdurate Wretch, I ever convers’d with: for nothing That I co’ld say to him, cou’d prevail upon him to own it to be Wrong!” (36)

It is not strange, therefore, that fear of slave uprising hovered over the county and that in 1767, when a slave styled “a great Newlight preacher,” who was thought to be stirring up the Negroes to insurrection, was tried, convicted, and whipped. The account in the Virginia Gazette of the poor preacher’s subsequent escape is pathetic enough. The fellow was described as “about 35 years of age, about 6 feet high, knock kneed, flat footed, the right knee bent in more than the left.” He was said to have “several scars on his back from a severe whipping he lately had at Sussex courthouse.’ With him were a brother, “about 25 years of age,’ and Dinah, “an old wnech (sic), very large near 6 feet high” (36-37). . . .

*   *   *   *   *

Private Libraries in Sussex

Accounts of early days in Sussex show a commingling of work and gayety and beneath it all a persistent vein of literary appreciation that had cropped up, not in the books listed in inventories of estates belonging to men of every caste—blacksmith to landed proprietor. In 1732 the estate of John Cargill, rector of Southwark parish, had 275 bound books “besides newspapers and pamphlets; and books lent out.” The library of John Edmunds burgess from Sussex, consisted in 1770 of “100 titles books” and “20 titles pamphlets,” an enviable collection for the time.

*   *   *   *   *

Anglican Religion in Sussex

Albemarle Parish formed from Southwark and Lawne’s Creek parishes on November 1, 1738, had as vestrymen in 1754 when Sussex County was formed—Robert Jones, Jr., Thomas Avent, James Chappell, Moses Johnson, Ephraim Parham, Augustine Claiborne, James Gee, Howell Briggs, and John Mason, Jr. The parish in time had St. Andrew’s, St. Paul’s, and Nottoway. The Reverend William Willie, rector of the parish from its formation in 1738 until his death in 1776, served the four churches.

“We have,” said Bishop Meade in 1857, “an old tattered register, which seems to have begun in 1738, and at the bottom of each page is the name of William Willie, minister. It continues until 1776 with the same name. . . . It states the births, baptisms, deaths, marriages, sponsors, names of masters, of bond and free, black and white. So methodical and pains-taking a man . . . was, it to be hoped, a worthy minister in other respects” (38). . . .

There can be little doubt that the Reverend Willie . . . spiritual though his calling was—interested himself in material gains. He was, moreover, one of the largest slaveholders in Sussex. . . . From the early days of the colony the minister’s salaries had been paid in tobacco, fixed in 1696 at 16,000 pounds annually. In 1755 the general Assembly enacted that all tobacco debts be paid in currency at the arte of 16 shillings 8 pence per hundred pounds and three years later reenacted the law. The vestry of Albemarle in 1759 tendered Mr. Willie a cash salary equivalent to 16,000 pounds of tobacco at two pence a pound.

That year, however, tobacco was selling at a fabulously high price.

Accordingly the minister refused to accept the money. Finally, however, he took the cash butwas careful to record in his parish book that the sum was “Recd by me in Such a Manner as not to Operate against me any further . . . if I should see fit to bring an Action at Law for a great Sum not thinking my self as Minister as aforesaid to Submit to the Late Act of Assembly for Paying off Transfer Debts at 2d per pound” (39). . . .

*   *   *   *   *

Baptists & Methodism in Sussex

In the revival that swept Southside Virginia in the early 1770s Mr Willie had no part. Religious dissenters had flourished south of the James with the same tenacity as elsewhere. As early as 1657 the justices of Surry County summoned before them two people—Quakers—for entertaining “heinous tenets,” thus laying the foundation for numerous subsequent prosecutions as other religions came to grope their way for a firm hold among the Anglicans. In 1771 the vestry of Albemarle Parish ordered a new church built and Nottoway Church repaired.

On February 24, 1772 the Baptists of Sussex, finding themselves “restricted in the Exercise of their Religion, their Teachers imprisoned . . . and the Benefits of the Toleration Act denied them,” petitioned to be “treated with the same kind of Indulgence in religious Matters as Quakers, Presbyterians, and other Protestant Dissenters enjoy.” The petition was referred to the Committee on religion, which the next day reported “the Petitions of sundry Inhabitants of the Counties of Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Sussex, and Amelia of the Society of Christians called Baptists” to be reasonable. Subsequently “a Bill for extending the Benefit of the several Acts of Toleration” passed through two readings but was not put to a vote. Other petitions from Virginians either died in committee or were laid on the table. Thus religious freedom in Virginia was postponed (40).

In Sussex County, however, the Baptists continued their work. Raccoon Swamp Baptist congregation (since 1853) called Antioch), constituted on June 12, 1772 by John Moore and William Browne, gave the Baptist denomination many of its early leaders. Its first minister, John Meglmore (1730-1799) served the congregation 22 years. James Bell (1745-1778), of the Raccoon Swamp congregation, became minister of Sapony Church, near the present town of Stony Creek. The Sapony congregation was organized in 1773 with James rivers as the first pastor. In this church, badly damaged by gunfire during the War between the States, was held in August 1777 the first “undisputed” meeting of the Baptist Association. . . .

It was the newly organized Society of Methodists that caused such clergymen as the Reverend William Willie not to sleep o’ nights. Worst of all, there were ordained brethren of the Established Church—such as the reverend Devereux Jarratt of Dinwiddie closeby—who fraternized with the reforming group. It was due largely to Mr. Jarratt that Methodism got its start in Southside Virginia. The Reverend Jesse Lee, once chaplain to Congress, tells of “an out-pouring of the spirit” that was brought about in 1770 and 1771 through the preaching of Mr. Jarratt and that resulted in the organization of “the people into a society, that they might assist and strengthen each other” (41). . . .

*   *   *   *   *

Sussex  Census in the United States (Chapter 3?)

On April 30, 1789 George Washington became the first president of the United States. The next year definite statistics were made available for the first time through the taking of a national census (59).

 The population of Sussex was found to include 10,554 persons, of whom 5,387 were slaves, 391 were free Negroes, and 4,771 were whites. A list of tithables compiled eight years before showed 101 persons in the county as owning ten or more slaves. William Allen, with 241 slaves, was apparently the most affluent landholder in the county. Though living at Claremont in Surry on an estate an ancestor had patented in 1649, he had plantations in James city, New Kent, Sussex, Nansemond, and Southampton. It will be seen from the list below that William Lightfoot owned the second largest number of slaves, which was a trifling 79 compared with William Allen’s 241. the two figures reflect the concentration of Tidewater wealth, for William Allen’s second wife was the daughter of William Lightfoot, whose home was not in Sussex but in York (60).

Adkins, Lucy                                            48 Adkins, Thomas                                        17
Allen, William                                         241 Andrews, Richard                                     18
Bailey, James                                           10 Barham, Wm                                            13
Belsches, Alexander                                 30 Belsches, Hugh                                         40
Berryman, John                                        11 Biggins, Sarah                                           11
Blow, Col. Richard                                   20 Blunt, Wm                                                35
Briggs, Nathaniel                                      11 Chambliss, James                                      20
Chappell, Howell                                     14 Chappell, James                                        11
Chappell, John                                         16 Chappell, Mary                                         12
Claiborne, Augustine                                31 Claiborne, William                                     35
Clemons, Thomas                                     36

Cocks, John                                              12

Cook, Richard                                         10 Dunn, Lewis                                              16
Dunn, Nathaniel                                        20 Dunn, William, Jr.                                      41
Gilliam, Charles                                        20 Grizzard, Lucy                                          13
Hall, Willis                                               13 Harrison, William                                      34
Harwell, Richard                                      23 Harwell, Sterling                                       14
Hill, Green                                               25 Hill, Margaret                                           31
Hill, Thomas                                            25 Hines, Hartwell                                         12
Hines, Sarah                                            11 Hunnicut, Pleasants                                   23
Irby, John                                                 25 Ivey, Hugh                                                11
Jarrate, Henry                                          13 Jones, David                                             15
Jones, James B                                         16 Jones, Peter                                              15
Jones, Rebecca                                        14 Kerr, George                                            15
Knight, John, Sr.                                      12 Lamb, John                                               10
Lanier, Benjamin                                      27 Lightfoot, William                                      79
Maggot, Samuel                                       11 Malone, John                                            13
Mangum, Samuel                                      11 Marrable, Hartrode                                   17
Mason, Capt. David                                 10 Mason, Col. David                                    38
Mason, John                                            18 Mason, John                                             12
Mason, Capt. Jno                                     10 Mason, John Jr.                                        36
Mason, John, Jr.                                       13 Mason, Thomas                                        18
Mason, Littleberry                                    17 Massenburg, Jno                                       16
Meachan, Banks                                      12 Mitchell, Scott                                           11
Mitchell, Thomas                                      13 Moss, Samuel                                           10
Myrick, Wm                                            29 Nichols, Harris                                          19
Nicholson, John                                       14 Nicholson, Wm                                         14
Oliver, William                                         14 Ozburn, Nicholas                                      14
Parham, Eliza                                           19 Parham, Stith                                            12
Parham, Stith, Sr.                                    30 Parker, Mary                                            14
Parker, Richard                                        22 Peete, Thomas                                          23
Pittway, Robert                                        29 Poythress, Peter (Est)                               16
Randall, Peter, Jr.                                     10 Richardson, Wm                                       27
Roberts, Benja                                         15 Robinson, James                                       24
Rives, Elizabeth                                        17 Rives, George                                          43 
Rives, Timothy                                         21 Saunders, Thomas                                    11
Sands, Jno                                               12 Seat, Robert                                             11
Smith, Drury                                             11 Smith, Isham                                            16
Smith, Lawrence                                      17 Spratley, Wm                                           15
Stewart, Richard                                      24 Sturdivant, Henry                                      12
Sturdivant, Hollorn                                   13 Sturdivant, Rachel                                     16
Sturdivant, Wm., Sr.                                15 Thorp, Lewis                                            17
Tillar, Major                                            11 Tomlinson, Thomas                                   19
Tucker, Robert                                        12 Tyler, Wm                                                15
Vaughn, Thos., Jr.                                    17 Vaughn, Tho., Sr.                                     12
Walpole, Thos                                         30 Weaver, Henry                                         11
Winfield, Jno                                            12 Winfield, Peter                                          10
Winfield, Robert                                       14 Woodland, Wm                                        11
Worthington, Priscilla                                12 Wyche, Mary                                            14

pp. 60-61

Virginians, moreover, were increasingly interested in national affairs—what with their own George Washington serving as President of the United States and Thomas Jefferson in the cabinet as Secretary of State. Citizens of Sussex, as elsewhere throughout the country, were divided between the two political factions that had come into being—the one led by Alexander Hamilton, who believed in strong centralized government and the rule of the few; and the other led by Thomas Jefferson, who advocated local self-government and the rule of the people. Soon two great parties received their names: the Federalists, fathered by Hamilton; and the Republicans—later democrats—fathered by Jefferson (61-62). . . .

*   *   *   *   *

Sussex Census & Leading Planters

At the time that Thomas Jefferson was elected President, the population of Sussex had increased to 11,062, of which 5,988 were slaves. Among the large landholders of the late eighteenth century were Augustine Claiborne, William Harrison, Richard Blow, Thomas Blunt, James Chappell, Benjamin Hunt, William Parker, Timothy Rieves, William Broadus, James Jones, Joshua Pennington, John Pennington, Nicholas Jarratt, Henry Harrison, John Freeman, William heath, Benjamin Ellis, Samuel Magett, George Briggs, Dr. Robert Downman, Benjamin Wyche, and John Mason (63-64)

Along the Nottoway River were Colonel William Allen; John Mason, who possessed . . . 323 acres . . .; John Shands, whose 430 acres were offered for sale . . .; John Verell, . . . 1,002 acres . . .; John Holt, 600 acres lying in 1772 between Bolling’s and Sweed’s bridges, would not only produce an “Abundance” of wheat and corn and tobacco, but were also “very good and convenient for making Indigo.

The rich low land along Nottoway River near Freeman’s bridge attracted such men as George Marable of Charles City County, who also owned in 1778 a tract of 250 acres known as Rottenberry’s about six miles from the bridge n the road to Hick’s Ford; John Freeman, whose 300 acres, “more or less,” had on it in 1769 two plantations, one of which ahd “all houses for cropping, and an orchard,” and the other “an ordinary and store, with all convenient houses for the same, . . . known by the name of Moore’s ordinary” (64).

Windsor, the plantation that William Claiborne, Sr., owned in 1778, was probably one of the largest in the county. It was “within 20 miles of Petersburg, and 22 miles of Cabin Point,” and included between three and four thousand acres, “binding” the Nottoway “for near 5 miles on each side.” This land could “vie with any in the state in natural advantages,” having rich low grounds” and “high land.” On it was “excellent pasturage the whole year,” three apple orchards “from which at least 10,000 gallons of cider may be made a year,” a mill, “a well accustomed ordinary,” and varied stock. . . . (64-65)

Another large landowner was captain Henry Harrison whose plantation—Hunting Quarter—was located “on the South Side of Nottoway River by Peter’s Bridge.” . . . 3,500 acres, “or thereabouts,” lying on Nottoway River and “the Raccoon Swamp.” [and} 1,400 acres . . . at the lower quarter of the Hunting Quarter tract.” . . .

Men of note who served the county in a public capcity came from such outstanding families as Bailey, Belsches, Blow, Booth, Briggs, Cargill, Chappell, Caliborne, Cocke, Dillard, Edmunds, Eppes, Gee, Harvell, Jarratt, Jones, Land, Judkins, Magett, Mason, Massenburg, Nicholson, Parker, Peete, Pennington, Raines, Rives, Smith, Taylor, Williamson, and Wyche. Not to be overlooked is William Charles Coles Claiborne (1775-1817), who became governor of Mississippi and later of Louisiana (65).

*   *   *   *   *

Chapter 4—Expansion (1800-1865)

Jefferson and the Louisiana Purchase

On March 4, 1801 Thomas Jefferson became president of the United States. . . . The imagination of the people was fired by the acquisition of the vast Louisiana Territory, now comprising the states of Louisiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, North and south Dakota, Nebraska, and Oklahoma and most of Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. The purchase came about through the vision of Thomas Jefferson and the skillful diplomacy of James Monroe, another Virginian.

The thinking of people was profoundly affected by the exploration of the Northwest, which was accomplished by two other Virginians, Merriwether Lewis and William Clark. Important also in the development of the new free country was the elimination of the Alien and Sedition Laws, so distressing to the proponents of democratic principles.

*   *   *   *   *

Glebe Land

In Virginia, moreover, separation of church and state became more than a pronouncement with the passage in 1801 of an act for the sale of the glebes. [In ecclesiastical law glebe is the technical term for land permanently assigned for the maintenance of the incumbent of a parish, and is the oldest form of parochial endowment.] . . .

It was further provided that the overseers should “appropriate the money arising therefrom either to the poor of such parish or to any other objects, which a majority of the freeholders and housekeeper therein may direct.” Though delegates from Sussex had shown themselves staunch friends of the Protestant Episcopal Church, John Cargill and John Raines Mason, Jr., who represented the county during the legislative session of 1801-1802, voted affirmatively on the bill, “concerning the Glebe lands and churches of the commonwealth” (67).

*   *   *   *   *

Setting Final Boundaries

This epochal year [1802] in Virginia ecclesiastical history was marked in Sussex by a bit of generosity of purely local significance. Since the formation of the county in 1754 there had been no change in area. To Greensville County in 1802 Sussex contributed land “lying on the south side of Three creeks," . . . . Thereafter the boundaries of Sussex County remained unchanged (67-68).

*   *   *   *   *

The War of 1812

Soon matters of international consequence were uppermost in the minds of all Americans and of Virginians in particular. The British were seizing and searching American ships, looking for deserted seamen and products unlawfully transported. On June 22, 1807, off the Virginia capes, the American frigate Chesapeake was fired upon by the British Leopard, and sailors were seized. . . . Thomas Jefferson’s reply was the Embargo Act of 1807, the first attempt America has ever made to prevent war through prohibiting trade. No American vessel might sail to foreign ports, and not foreign vessel might take cargoes from American ports. The trading folk of New England, however, kicked up such a racket that the Congress repealed the Embargo Act and substituted the Non-Intercourse Act, which proved ineffectual. Henceforward Americans knew that there would be war with Great Britain. . . .

The War of 1812 was the inevitable consequence.

The Sussex militia, which had been kept intact since the Revolution, was ready to be of service in the national emergency. In 1804 a troop of cavalry commanded by Captain William Peters of Sussex had been organized. . . . By the spring of 1813 Virginia was seriously making preparations for the conflict (68). . . .

Soon Sussex was drawn into the war. On June 24, 1813 a general order was issued the commandant of the 15th regiment of Sussex County for an unspecified number of men to “march to Norfolk, either in companies or squads, with the least possible delay.” . . . That night the British, accompanied by their green-coated French troops, landed at Hampton, not at Norfolk, and at dawn the next day began to sack the town.

Unexciting months followed with land movement of small interest. Captain John Mitchell’s Sussex riflemen were ordered on May 8, 1814 to replace troops whose terms had expired . . . The troops of Sussex and five neighboring counties were ordered to rendezvous at Fort Powhatan on the James.

After pillaging Hampton, Admiral George Cockburn turned his attention to the Carolinas. Though he came back to the Chesapeake Bay in August 1814, Virginia suffered during the rest of the war little more than the shock following news that Washington had been burned and that President Madison and his plumply pretty wife Dolly had sought refuge on Virginia soil. Finally on December 24, 1814 the signing of the Treaty of Ghent, which was ratified in February 1815, brought about lasting peace between Great Britain and the United States (69). . . .

*   *   *   *   *

Making the Nottoway River Navigable for Commerce

As early as 1812, in answer to a demand from the people of Southside Virginia, the General Assembly passed an act “to incorporate a Company for the purpose of clearing out and rendering the navigable Nottoway River . . . (69)

Despite the lure of princely gain, the Nottoway Navigation Company failed “to complete the navigation of the said river” within the six years the Assembly had allotted to the undertaking. On February 23, 1819, however, a second act provided for a five-year extension of time and permitted tolls considerably in excess of those specified in 1812. The Sussex citizens whom the act authorized to receive subscriptions were Robert Downman, Nathaniel Cargill, George Blow, William Wyche, William Parham, John R. Mason, Littleton Wynn, James Pennington, Henry Harrison, and William Harrison.

To a wholly agricultural county like Sussex a navigable river upon which to ship the products of the field was of utmost importance. The census of 1820 listed no towns for the county but gave the value of land and buildings as $1,435, 309.75. . . .

*   *   *   *   *

Worn-Out Lands

It had long been clear that something must be done to reclaim worn-out lands of the Tidewater. The Society of Virginia for Promoting Agriculture, formed in 1811, grew continually in prestige and ultimately brought about the formation of the United Agricultural Societies of Virginia, which held their first convention in Surry on January 10, 1820. At this important meeting of serious agriculturalists the Sussex Society was represented by John Edmunds, George Blow, William F. Ruffin, and William J. Cocke. One of the delegates from . . . Prince George was Edmund Ruffin . . . whose successful experimentation with the use of marl as an alkalizing agent was later to revolutionize farming in the South (70) . . . .

*   *   *   *   *

Slave Rebellions in the State of Virginia (1800, 1831)

Agricultural counties in Virginia were faced with other problems besides those connected with lands and the marketing of products. In the eastern part of the state slaves had become too numerous to be sustained on the farms. In 1830 there were in Sussex, for instance, 4,118 free whites, 7,888 slaves, and 866 free Negroes, far too many Negroes for the comfort and happiness of either masters or slaves (70).

Naturally enough, there was fear of insurrection. Throughout Virginia everyone knew of the plot of Gabriel of Richmond, who was the slave of a white man by the name of Prosser. Just as Chanco had warned the colonists of Opechancanough’s Massacre of 1622, so two Negroes gave information that Gabriel had laid his plans to murder the whites and make himself “King of Virginia.” A storm, interpreted as an “Act of God,” was declared to have prevented Gabriel from carrying out a scheme that otherwise would have met with success.

It was in 1831 that the long-feared tragedy was enacted, when the insurrection planned and executed by Nat Turner of Southampton County resulted in the murder of white men, women, and children. Southside Virginia rushed to arms. Under the command of Richard Eppes, a regiment from Sussex joined the troops from Petersburg and Prince George and hurried to the aid of their terrified neighbors.

For years to come the name of Nat Turner was a byword throughout Virginia. This negro was the son of slaves who had been brought from Africa. The story goes that his mother had tried to kill him in babyhood rather than have him grow up in bondage. His father, after several attempts, had finally escaped to Liberia in Africa. Nat had learned to read and had pondered over the Bible—about the only book he could find.

There he read of God’s people, who were led to Jerusalem. The only Jerusalem he knew was the little village in Southampton that is now called Courtland. He got the idea that he was called to lead the slaves there, as to the promised Land. Having gathered a group of follers, he attacked the whites on the night of August 21, 1831. In all 55 people were killed by Nat Turner’s band, which at one time numbered 60 slaves. After hiding for six weeks, while some 3,000 men searched for him, he was caught, tried and hanged. Among the soldiers who assisted in the man hunt were the men of Sussex (71). . . .

The “Black Laws,” which the General Assembly enacted soon after the insurrection and which dealt harshly with the slaves, made the tragedy of the 1860s inevitable. Events, moreover began to move rapidly toward that tragedy. In 1825 the Virginia Dynasty came to an end when James Monroe was succeeded as President by John Quincy Adams of Massachusetts. Sussex County remained, of course, in the Democratic column . . . Four years later . . . Sussex cast a much larger vote—305 ballots for Andrew Jackson .  . . In 1832 Sussex cast 251 votes fro Jackson and none for Henry Clay. During Jackson’s administration several crises . . . Jackson began his fight against the Bank of the United States, which had been created in 1781 as part of Alexander Hamilton’s program for stabilizing national finances. . . .

*   *   *   *   *

Andrew Jackson

The Tariff Act of 1832, which protected the industries of the North but worked a hardship upon the planters of the South, widened the rift between the two sections of the country. Led by John C. Calhoun, South Carolinians declared the act null and void. The President immediately ordered troops to the fiery Southern state, under the command of Major General Winfield Scott, a native of Dinwiddie County. When Henry Clay—the great peacemaker, who was a resident of Kentucky but a native of Hanover County, Virginia—proposed a scaling down of the tariff, South Carolina was for a time content (72). . . .

[Opponents of] Andrew Jackson . . . formed in 1834 the Whig Party, which in the South attracted the people of wealth. The Whigs declared their intention to preserve the Union and make it thoroughly national, to develop an American civilization that was not imitative of Europe, and to spread abroad American ideas and institutions. To this end they sponsored a strong central government, a protective tariff, internal improvements at Federal expense, and a national bank. It was upon a platform embodying these principles that Henry Clay ran against Andrew Jackson in 1832 and was overwhelmingly defeated.

In Virginia, however, the Whigs soon gained a foothold [from 1836-1842] (73). . . .

[When] Virginia Democrats met in Richmond . . . January 1836, sentiment within the state was overwhelming for Martin Van Buren. . . .

Van Buren carried the county over William Henry Harrison, the Whig candidate, by a vote of 213 to 46; and John Cargill of Sussex, chosen president of the College of Electors, signed the document that cast Virginia’s vote for Martin Van Buren. . . .

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Slave Trading & Breeding

Unable to use the rapidly increasing number of slaves on the impoverished lands of the Tidewater, Virginia counties—Sussex among them—began to develop with the Deep South a slave traffic that added to the unhappiness of the Negroes and dulled the sensibilities of the whites. Slaves were encouraged to have children. The selling of slaves to the cotton country brought about the darkest story in Virginia history. On the hot acres of the Deep South slaves were needed to work in the fields. Virginia Negroes, coming of good stock and having been well trained, were greatly in demand.

Therefore, on many Virginia plantations that no longer had fertile soil, there was little planting and there was much slave breeding. Negro families were separated as their members were placed on the auction block. Speaking of Virginia and Maryland, M.B. Hammard says in his book entitled The Cotton industry, “Henceforth slaves were seldom kept in the States for the sake of raising crops, but crops were often cultivated for the sake of slaves” (75-76).

One cause of the strife between the eastern and western parts of Virginia had to do with the slavery question. . . . Though slaves were not citizens, they counted in apportioning representation. . . .

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Improving Transportation

While sectional strife was gaining momentum and slavery a paramount issue, Sussex was witnessing other events of far reaching consequence. In the 1830s the railroads came to the Southside. In fact, the Petersburg Railroad, which passed through Sussex—connecting Weldon, North Carolina with Petersburg, Virginia—had the great length of 59 Miles and was Virginia’s first ambitious railroad experiment. The road was incorporated by the General Assembly on February 10, 1830 and completed in a little more than three years. In 1830 John Jarratt and William N. Jarratt gave right of way through what is now the town of Jarratt. R.B. Jarratt was agent at the Jarratt depot for more than 40 years. Henry B. Bird of Pennsylvania, the superintendent, ran his trains through the Southside at a “velocity of from 15 to 18 miles per hour”—a rate of speed that he declare to be “the safest and most economical for passenger engines” (76-77). . . .

Gradually the county recovered from depression and continued its program of expansion. In 1830, moreover, Sussex had achieved a population of 12,720—a peak not surprised for 80 years. It was in 1836 that Joseph Martin commented, “The people of Sussex are remarkable for their hospitality and kindness to strangers, as every one who has visited the county can testify. (77). . . .

In 1797 The Sussex court “set apart two acres of land . . . including the courthouse bounds for the county . . . The present courthouse was completed in 1828 . . .(80). . . .

Meanwhile the miracles of the new age were profoundly affected life in Sussex. In 1847 Morse’s electric Magnetic Telegraph became a reality (80). . . .

[In] 1850 came plank roads, dotted with tollgates and tollhouses, to contribute their bit towards accelerating transportation. The Petersburg and Jerusalem Plank road Company, incorporated in 1853, passed through Hawkinsville and Littleton in Sussex County. It was 37 miles long; and 8 of its width of 15 feet were paved with planks. Like wise in 1853 was incorporated the Prince George and Sussex Plank road Company with permission to construct “a plank or plankroad from the terminus of the branch of the Arthur swamp plankroad to Bobbitt’s ford . . . and thence by the most practicable route to Sussex court-house” (80-81). . . .

*   *   *   *   *

Presidential Elections

In 844 James K. Polk, a Democrat, defeated Henry Clay, a Whig. The vote in Sussex was 325 for Polk, 125 for Clay.

In the Mexican war, which came as an aftermath of annexation, the two military heroes were natives of Virginia—Zachary Taylor and Winfield Scott. The immediate glory, however, went to Taylor, who was elected Present in 1848 over Martin Van Buren, the Sussex vote being 62 for Taylor and 273 for Cass.

In 1852 the Whigs nominated Winfield Scott, and the Democrats Franklin Pierce. That Scott received 42 electoral votes—and these from Virginia, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Vermont—to Pierce’s 254 reflects no discredit upon the Virginian. The Whigs, by sponsoring the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, which violated the Missouri Compromise and reopened the slavery question, had sounded their death knell. So a democrat was was elected in 1852 and another in 1856—Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan.

The Sussex vote in 1852 was 107 votes for Scott and 322 votes for Pierce, and in 1856, 367 votes for Buchanan and 88 votes for Millard Fillmore. The Republican Party, formed in 1854, was gaining, moreover strength sufficient to overthrow the followers of Thomas Jefferson. Slavery and states’ rights had become the dominant issues, and the line between North and South was being deeply etched in the map of the United States (82).

*   *   *   *   *

Reform Convention

In Virginia, moreover, the rift between the eastern and western portions of the state was temporarily closed by the Constitutional Convention of 1850. . . . Representation was compromised: delegates were to b chosen on a population basis, and senators upon a basis of both population and property; thus in the house the east had a majority, and in the senate the west. Suffrage was extended to all male citizens. The governor was to be elected by the voters and not by the General Assembly. The constitution was ratified by a vote of 75.748 to 11,060 (82).

*   *   *   *   *

John Brown’s Insurrection

But sectionalism was not to end, and peace was not at hand. Toward the close of President Buchanan’s administration the rift between North and South was further deepened by John Brown’s attempt to bring about an insurrection and set up a country in which there would be no slaves and of which he would be the head. At sundown on Sunday, October 16, 1859 John Brown—that strange old man, who in the far off state of Kansas had been guilty of many crimes—crossed into Virginia with but 22 fighting men and, without firing a shot, took the United States arsenal and rifle works at Harper’s Ferry. Brown then sent a raiding party to capture George Washington’s great grand nephew, Colonel Lewis W. Washington, and to free the slaves on Colonel Washington’s plantation. The orders were carried out, and the captives were lodged within the armory. Colonel Robert E. Lee of the United States Army arrived on Monday night to quell the insurrection. John Brown was captured, tried, and hanged (83).

Northern sympathy for Brown enraged the South. Immediately many people south of the Mason and Dixon line were outspoken in their demand for secession. Yet for many months to come residents of Sussex County stood among those who strove to preserve the Union.

*   *   *   *   *

[Read also for an Understanding of Brown and his insurrection:

A Voice from Harper's Ferry by Osborne P. Anderson (Boston, 1861).

REVISIONING JOHN BROWN by Mumia Abu Jamal (Pittsburgh, Oct. 2, 2006) /

Reevaluating John Brown's Raid at Harpers Ferry By Karen Whitman (From West Virginia History, Volume Thirty-Four, Number One)

John Brown's Provisional Army

Osborne Perry Anderson (1830-1872)]

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Election of Lincoln

The election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 made war inevitable. A split in Democratic ranks resulted in the nomination of two candidates—Stephen A. Douglass of Illinois and John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky. The Know Nothings placed John C. Bell in the running, and the Republicans nominated Abraham Lincion. The campaign in Sussex was characterized by the bitterness that existed throughout the South. When the votes in the county were tabulated, Breckinridge received 294, Bell 177, Douglass 96, and Lincoln 0. Sussex was shocked by the realization that a man frankly hostile to the South had been elected President of the United States.

In December 1860 South Carolina seceded from the Union, and in quick succession other states of the Deep South withdrew. Sentiment in Virginia, however, remained strongly pro-Union. Of the delegates elected on February 4, 1861 to meet in Richmond at a statewide convention, the majority were known to be Union men. Though the provisional Confederate Congress was convening in Montgomery, Alabama, there was even then little sentiment throughout Virginia for the state’s casting its lot with the new country (83).

*   *   *   *   *

Southside Virginia the "Last ditch of the Confederacy"

The epoch-making body that remained in session from February 13 to December 6 might have cast its vote against secession had Lincoln not attempted to force seceding states back into the Union. The Virginia vote on April 17 was for secession—88 to 55. J.R. Chambliss, the delegate from Sussex, was among those who cast their votes for the ordinance (83-84).

On April 22, 1861 Alexander H. Stephens, Vice President of the Confederacy, arrive din Richmond with authority to propose a treaty of alliance between Virginia and the Confederate States. . . . Before talking with [Ex-President] Tyler [chairman if the committee to confer] Stephens sought an interview with Robert E. Lee . . . [who] agreed at once that union with the Confederate States was in every way desirable. . . . Accordingly, Sussex County was brought close to the center of Confederate politics.

Because Virginia was the central background during the War between the States, Sussex—near the seat of government—not only was involved in all Federal efforts to take Richmond but, along with neighboring counties, was “the last ditch of the Confederacy” (84).

War clouds gathered, covering the whole state. . . a company known as the Sussex Riflemen was organized. William Allen Parham, its first captain, was succeeded by Robert Hammond. . . . The Sussex Light Dragoons, organized at Waverly in January 1861, tendered its services to the state militia in April 19 . . . became Company M, First Virginia Calvary commanded by Colonel Fitzhugh Lee . . .it became Company H, Thirteenth Virginia Calvary, a newly organized regiment under Colonel John R. Chambliss. Of the 178 men whose names appeared on the company’s roll, 21 were killed on the field of battle or died in hospitals, and 57 laid down their arms at Appomattox (84-85). . . .

A Sussex Company that went first by the name of Jackson’s Avengers became Company D of the Thirteenth Virginia Calvary and was commanded by Captain B.F. Winfield, who later achieved the rank of major. The Sussex Sharpshooters, Company A of the Forty-first Virginia Infantry, was commanded successively by Captain Junius Eppes, Captain B.F. Jarratt, and Captain William Allen Parham. . . . Colonel Thomas Spratley and captain R. Shands drilled the men who volunteered to defend the county. Other toops known as Sussex Confederate Defenders, under the command of Captain Littleberry Mason, later became a part of Holcomb’s Legion, commanded by Captain Richard Moseley. Sussex men enlisted in many other companies (85). . . .

After Gettysburg in 1863, eyes turned again south into Virginia, where the great struggle between Grant ad Lee was to occupy much of 1864. . . .

*   *   *   *   *

Military Excursions in Sussex

Finally, on May 5, 1864, the day the Battle of the Wilderness began, Brigadier General A.V. Kautz, commanding a cavalry division attached to General B.T. Butler’s army then advancing on Richmond, set out to cut the rail communications south of Richmond and prevent General P. G. T. Beauregard’s troops from being rushed to Petersburg from North Carolina. After a day’s march, the command camped at Wakefield, “where the Norfolk and Petersburg track was cut,” and “the station house and some freight cars and a small amount of stores [were] destroyed.” On May 7, the command went by Littleton, where stores were captured, Peter’s Bridge, Sussex court House, and Bolling’s Bridge, finally arriving at Stony Creek.

Here the confederate guard of 40 men surrendered, the Petersburg and Weldon railroad bridge was burned, stores were captured, and freight cars and buildings were burned—too late, however, to prevent three trains loaded with Beauregard’s troops from passing through to Petersburg. On May 8 Kautz destroyed Jarratt’s Station, and made attempts to destroy other railroad bridges—one over the Rowanty, Bolling’s, and finally Nottoway, which was defended by Colonel Tabb and the fifty-ninth Virginia Regiment (87). . . .

As the winter of 1864-65 approached, Stony Creek became the scene of much martial activity under the stimulus of a forage depot established there by Lee’s cavalry. Moreover, having become a railroad terminal, it served the Confederates as a supply base for the necessary provisions carted to Petersburg after the loss of the railroad north of Reams Stations. On December 1, 1864 Federal cavalry raided the Stony creek depot and captured the station guard of 170 men, 8 wagons, and 30 mules, and, as Brigadier General D.M. Gregg was pleased to recount, “burnt the depot” and “all shops and public buildings” and seized “about 3,000 sacks of corn, 500 bales hay, a train of cars, large quantity of bacon, Government clothing, ammunition and other stores.”

A few days later, on December 8th, the same cavalry was included in a force of over 30,000 men under General G.K. Warren, which tore up track, destroyed the bridge over the Nottoway River nearby, and advanced on Belfield, which was reached on December 10th. General Hampton, however, had arrived first and was strongly entrenched. Repulsed, warren returned to his lines at Petersburg in time to avoid meeting General A.P. Hill’s infantry corps, which arrived at Jarratt on the morning of the  11th. General Hampton’s cavalry remained at Belfield for a month while repairs were being made on the railroad (88). . . .

John Braxton Jarratt and George Seaborn of Sussex were among the cadets of the Virginia Military Institute who fought in the Battle of New Market. Young Jarratt was the son of William N. and Elizabeth Wilborn Jarratt. He was wounded at New Market, lived to fight again and return to Sussex after the war. Young Seaborn, the son of captain James Seaborn, was killed at Dinwiddie C.H. on April 8, 1865. The names of both boys are inscribed on the New Market Monument at the Virginia Military Institute. Many men from Sussex were recognized as fearless in battle (89). . . .

posted 14 December 2006

Mockingbirds at Jerusalem (poetry Manuscript)

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How Europe Underdeveloped Africa

By Walter Rodney

The late Guyanese writer, Walter Rodney had left us his great insights regarding the reasons for the underdevelopment of the African continent. His work finds equal footing with those of Frantz Fanon and to an extent that of the late Brazilian author and social activist, Paulo Freire in attempting to provide a critical insight, and a gainful analysis to the situation and reasons for the poverty on the African continent. This analysis, whether one agrees with its conclusions or not provides a means towards looking at the stalk realities of African underdevelopment. Rodney thesis that the trans-atlantic slave trade diminished the African manpower to attain development cannot be easily pushed under the carpet. Development is how a people within the means available to them, within their eco-context utilize their knowledge for the good of the totality. When their people is afflicted with disease or mass uprooting there is bound to be both biological and social ripple effects that would affect both the pace and nature of development. It is here that we realize that Rodney's proposition underlines a crucial factor in explaining the reasons for the African state.

*   *   *   *   *

Karma’s Footsteps

By Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie

Somebody has to tell the truth sometime, whatever that truth may be. In this, her début full collection, Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie offers up a body of work that bears its scars proudly, firm in the knowledge that each is evidence of a wound survived. These are songs of life in all its violent difficulty and beauty; songs of fury, songs of love. 'Karma's Footsteps' brims with things that must be said and turns the volume up, loud, giving silence its last rites. "Ekere Tallie's new work 'Karma's Footsteps' is as fierce with fight songs as it is with love songs. Searing with truths from the modern day world she is unafraid of the twelve foot waves that such honesties always manifest. A poet who "refuses to tiptoe" she enters and exits the page sometimes with short concise imagery, sometimes in the arms of delicate memoir. Her words pull the forgotten among us back into the lightning of our eyes.—Nikky Finney /  Ekere Tallie Table

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Greenback Planet: How the Dollar Conquered

the World and Threatened Civilization as We Know It

By H. W. Brands

In Greenback Planet, acclaimed historian H. W. Brands charts the dollar's astonishing rise to become the world's principal currency. Telling the story with the verve of a novelist, he recounts key episodes in U.S. monetary history, from the Civil War debate over fiat money (greenbacks) to the recent worldwide financial crisis. Brands explores the dollar's changing relations to gold and silver and to other currencies and cogently explains how America's economic might made the dollar the fundamental standard of value in world finance. He vividly describes the 1869 Black Friday attempt to corner the gold market, banker J. P. Morgan's bailout of the U.S. treasury, the creation of the Federal Reserve, and President Franklin Roosevelt's handling of the bank panic of 1933. Brands shows how lessons learned (and not learned) in the Great Depression have influenced subsequent U.S. monetary policy, and how the dollar's dominance helped transform economies in countries ranging from Germany and Japan after World War II to Russia and China today.

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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America.

This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately

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Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 5 September 2012



Home Fifty Influential Figures  The Old South  The Education of Black Folks in the South: 1860-1935

Related files: Sussex County: A Tale of Three Centuries / Public Education in Sussex County / The Official History of Jerusalem Baptist Church

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Commonwealth of Virginia Expresses  Profound Regret  / Virginia Prohibits the Teaching of Slaves . . .1831