DHR News Clips, October 28

October 28, 2010

News from DHR

November 5-6: Cemetery Preservation Workshop, Abingdon: DHR staff will be conducting a two-day cemetery preservation workshop in partnership with Preservation Virginia. The workshop will be held at the Masonic Lodge, 325 W. Main Street in Abingdon. Topics will include researching and recording historic cemeteries, following good practices for cleaning and maintaining gravestones, interpreting funerary symbols and iconography, and the proper techniques for photographing monuments and grave markers.  For more information about the fees and registering, contact Dee DeRoche, Chief Curator, DHR. or see this press release for more information.

Historic Cemeteries in Virginia: This new blog is brought to you by DHR as a place for citizens who care for, and about Virginia’s historic cemeteries. There you will find information on workshops, cemetery preservation, and other resources.  http://dhrcemeteries.blogspot.com/.

Historic Virginia, Site of the Month: Slide Show: Fairfield Archaeological Site, Gloucester County: View a slide show of this significant archaeological site where research is focused on understanding the plantation landscape and specifically the 1694 manor house and its immediate surroundings.  Excavations also are shedding light on the house’s evolution, the lifestyles of its occupants, and the layout and transformation of the surrounding landscape. Archaeological evidence has revealed slave quarters, fence lines, and a large formal garden. The slide show was developed in collaboration with the Fairfield Foundation. Slide show here

Now, some items of interest from around Virginia and beyond during October:

Tidewater and Eastern Shore Region:

Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic TrailNPS seeks public comment on plan:  Four hundred years ago, John Smith and fellow adventurers set off on a journey to explore nearly 3,000 miles of the Chesapeake Bay, including waterways throughout the Historic Triangle.   Congress has designated the routes Smith and his team took as the first national historic water trail. The National Park Service is now looking for citizen input on the future of the historic trail.  W-Y Daily

York River State Park: Archaeologist finds 17th-century site:  Jerome Traver, archaeologist for York River State Park, has uncovered a previously undocumented fortified complex with a double palisade wall, bastions and redoubts dating to 1676. Inside the complex were several structures, including a barn and a house.  It’s unclear who built the fortification, but Traver said that the property was owned by a man named Brian Smith, a supporter of Royal Gov. Sir William Berkeley.   Virginia Gazette

Hampton: City reprints 3 books about Hampton’s history: Greater Hampton, Phoebus, Old Point and Places of Interest is the kind of publication that could easily have disappeared into antiquity. But the book, and two others, have been given a longer shelf life after being reprinted by the city as commemorative volumes to mark the Hampton’s 400th anniversary. The picture book, Hampton Illustrated, is the oldest of the three. It was originally published in 1892. The third book, Little England Chapel, is a reprint of the 1993 booklet about the African-American landmark. Daily Press

Norfolk, Attucks Theatre: Struggles to fill seats: In 2004, the glass doors to the restored historically black theater opened. Six years later, those who oversee the theater struggle to fill the 625 velvety, wine-red seats. Programming is one issue that plagues the Attucks, but others keep it from being a draw, including its budget, competition and location.  Virginian-Pilot

Virginia Beach: Historic house relocated: A 200-ton historic brick house was moved 300 feet.  Built sometime before 1886, the house was moved from one road side to the other to make way for a new intersection.  WAVY

Historic Triangle: EPA regs could obliterate local budgets: New EPA regs could balloon municipal budgets in the Historic Triangle by more than $1 billion, which local officials say would be devastating. Under the agency’s proposed “pollution diet” for Chesapeake Bay, York would have to pay $594 million over the next 14 years to comply, or $42 million a year. In a budget of $125 million, that’s one-third.  Virginia Gazette

Colonial Williamsburg: Pioneering digital curriculum for high school students: Schools across the nation are shedding textbooks, and CW is in the vanguard of a digital curriculum.  No books required.  “The Idea of America,” a web-based history curriculum for high school, takes American history from pre-colonial times into the 21st century. Bill White, director of educational program development, said CW is a forerunner in the field in textbook-free education.  Virginia Gazette

Northampton Co.: New partners to co-hold easements: The county continues to offer a land conservation program to county residents to help protect open space and the county’s rural agricultural setting. To assist the county with its program, the Eastern Shore Soil and Water Conservation District and the Virginia Outdoors Foundation have accepted partnership roles as conservation easement co-holders.  DelmarvaNow.com

Northampton Co. #2: Op-ed: Preserve the historic jail buildings: “. . . Northampton County should endeavor to keep its two former jails on the courthouse green–one built in 1914, one built in 1899. Even if there is only funding enough to repair and restore their exteriors, that decision should be swiftly made. They should not be torn down. . . . Certainly the former jails aren’t the stars of Northampton’s architectural reputation. . . But the jails tell the story of the county’s history and complete one of the state’s most notable courthouse greens.” DelmarvaNow

Southampton Co.: DHR adds two landmarks to state register: The two county treasures are the Sebrell Rural Historic District and the Rochelle-Prince House. The historic district includes the village of Sebrell and its predecessor, a settlement informally known as Barn Tavern. The Rochelle-Prince House, located in Courtland, was built around 1814 and served as the residence of James Henry Rochelle, a naval officer during the Mexican War and the Civil War who later served with the Peruvian Navy. His niece, Martha Rochelle Tyler, was a granddaughter of President John Tyler who also lived at the house.  Tidewater News To see all the recent additions to the Virginia Landmarks Register, go here.

Onancock, Accomack Co.: Kentucky writer finds town a step back in time, with updates: Lexington Herald-Leader

Capital Region:

Richmond: A.C.O.R.N. announces Golden Hammer Awards: The Alliance to Conserve Old Richmond Neighborhoods has announced the 27 nominees in all 4 categories (Residential Renovation, Commercial Renovation, Urban Infill, and Neighborhood Design) for the 2010 Golden Hammer Awards.  ACORN

Richmond, Slave Burial Ground: Judge dismisses case against DHR’s director: Sa’ad El-Amin, a former Richmond city councilman, lost his bid to force Kathleen Kilpatrick, the director of the Virginia Department for Historic Resources, to explore the boundaries of the slave burial ground under a VCU parking lot in downtown Richmond.  “I do believe very strongly that we can do better. For a 195 years the burial ground has been ill treated,” Kilpatrick said.  She says the site should be memorialized and that she’s offered to help raise the $3 million to buy the site back from VCU.  WTVR More here:  RTD

Nelson Co., Elk Hill: Rare farm prizery embodies the story of tobacco in county:  Peter Agelasto knew he had something special when he bought Elk Hill in 1978. The then-owner, the last in a long line of Coleman family members who had lived there for generations, advised him to hang on to the prizery no matter what. An international tobacco company had approached the last Coleman owner with a request to buy the prizery. No sale was the answer. The prizery’s preservation proved fortuitous. There are precious few left.  Nelson County Times

Charlottesville: Martha Jefferson neighborhood, first conservation district: The local designation brings an extra layer of regulation to protect some of the neighborhood’s properties. The Martha Jefferson neighborhood is the first to request the designation, which says no building or structure can be constructed and no “contributing structure” can be demolished in the district unless approved by the city’s Board of Architectural Review and the council. Unlike the city’s eight architectural design control districts, conservation districts’ guidelines are less restrictive.  Daily Progress

Goochland Co.: Chancery records now available online: The chancery images span the years 1731 through 1912 (the index covers through 1924). The Library of Virginia says that this completion of another digital scanning project marks a milestone in its ongoing effort to preserve the documentary heritage of Virginia’s circuit courts. The images have been added to the Chancery Records Index (CRI) on Virginia Memory. Because these records rely so heavily on testimony from witnesses, they offer a unique glimpse into the lives of Virginians from the early eighteenth century to the eve of the first World War.  Goochland Gazette

Caroline Co.: County taps rising interest in racehorse Secretariat:  Although Secretariat left Caroline as a 2-year-old to begin his racing career, the foaling barn and many other buildings associated with the chestnut colt’s early days still exist. They’ve been preserved by the State Fair of Virginia, which currently owns the former farm. It hopes that the recent Disney movie will boost not only interest in Secretariat and Caroline, but also in donations to its proposed Museum of the Virginia Horse and the additional equine facilities it plans to build at the event park.  Free Lance-Star

Roanoke & Western Region:

Dante, Russell Co.: Historic train station gets stay of demolition: Community members and preservationists–with the help of Sen. Mark R. Warner, D-Va., and Rep. Rick Boucher,  D-9th–asked the CSX to step on the brakes with its planned demo of the station. The community’s goal is to turn the building, which has been vacant for decades, into a library and community center, giving it a modern-day use while preserving its historic function as a stop along the Virginia Coal Heritage Trail, a 325-mile driving route being developed to showcase the region’s history.  Richmond Times-Dispatch

Pittsylvania Co.: Launches self-guided heritage tour: Thirteen sites in the Pittsylvania County/Danville area are featured in a self-guided heritage tourism package compiled by a member of the Pittsylvania Historical Society, a local field representative with Preservation Virginia and Pittsylvania County’s agriculture development director. Members of area historic groups and the director of the county’s agriculture development office hope to attract tourists to heritage sites in Danville and Pittsylvania County and spread awareness of the area’s history and heritage.  GoDanRiver.com

Washington & Lee: Rededicates Newcomb Hall: The renovation of Newcomb Hall, built in 1882, had two distinct aims—the historic preservation of the exterior of the building (remaining true to the building materials and the means and methods of putting those materials together) and the historic rehabilitation of the inside.  News at W&L

Stonewall Jackson House, Lexington: House to merge with VMI: The Stonewall Jackson Foundation and the Virginia Military Institute have announced a proposal to transfer the assets and activities of the Stonewall Jackson House to VMI. Under the plan, the Jackson house and its collection of historic artifacts would be administered and managed by the VMI Museum, whose operations include management of the New Market Battlefield State Historical Park. The proposed transfer is subject to approval by The VMI Board of Visitors and the board of the Stonewall Jackson Foundation, as well as state agencies.  If approved, this arrangement could become effective sometime in 2011. VMI News

Bedford/Bedford Co.: Preservationist Clara Sizemore Lambeth dies:  For decades Lambeth was on the front line of the effort to preserve historic buildings and properties in Bedford and Bedford County. She was still talking about saving buildings from her nursing-home bed before her death at age 96.  A charter member and guiding light of the Bedford Historical Society, Lambeth was instrumental in establishing the Bedford Historic District for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.   RTD

Virginia Creeper Trail: Writer recommends a visit: Salisbury Post

Bristol: Historic warehouse to be converted to school admin offices: The Bristol Virginia School Board plans to convert the former Bristol Builder’s Supply-Central Warehouse building into school division offices after city leaders donated the building and helped arrange interest-free funding.  Herald Courier

Shenandoah Valley & Northern Region:

Orange Co.: CWPT to purchase Wilderness Battlefield tract:  Civil War Preservation Trust has announced that it is working to buy 49 acres beside the battlefield’s best-known landscape, Saunders Field along State Route 20. The property, owned for the past 50 years by Orange County resident Wayne Middlebrook, is bordered on three sides by Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park and on the north by Lake of the Woods. It fronts Route 20 and adjoins the site of the park’s Saunders Field exhibit shelter, where tens of thousands of visitors come each year to learn about the May 1864 battle.  Free Lance-Star

Fairfax Co.: New book chronicles history of police department:  In July 1940, the Fairfax County Police Department was created, and the first five decades of that department are re-created in a new, coffee table-style book written and compiled by a group of retired Fairfax officers and recently released by Fairfax publisher History4All.  Washington Post

Stafford Co.: DHR-led archaeological field school brings scholarship and education together:  Archeologists and students visited the site of a Civil War encampment where Union soldiers spent the winter of 1862-63. Eric Powell, Stafford County Schools social studies coordinator,  said he hoped having the students help out at the site by sifting through the dirt volunteers took from the dig would illustrate what archeology is all about.  Clarence Geier, a JMU professor of anthropology, told a group of the Stafford students that camp life for Civil War soldiers was sometimes more dangerous than combat.  News & Messenger

Stafford Co. #2: More on the DHR-JMU-ASV field school:  Some Union soldiers called the area “Camp Misery” because of its harsh living conditions in the winter of 1862.  Many shared huts–smaller than many walk-in closets–with four people for weeks or months, according to the state historians. Officials with the DHR, James Madison University and the Archaeological Society of Virginia worked to identify features of those huts.  Free Lance-Star

Frederick Co.PATH moves along: The Virginia State Corporation Commission said it will continue to consider an application to build a high-voltage power line through Frederick County, nearly a month after SCC staff recommended rejecting the proposal as incomplete. The 765-kilovolt line is projected to run from the Amos substation near St. Albans, W.Va., through Frederick, Clarke and Loudoun Counties in Virginia to the proposed Kemptown substation in Frederick County, Md.  NV Daily

Virginia Theological Seminary, Alexandria: A fire significantly damaged the 129-year-old Immanuel Chapel.  “It is clear that significant damage has occurred, including the loss of the stained glass windows and iconic words, ‘Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel,’” the Episcopalian seminary said on its website.  RTD Photo hereWashington Post

Culpeper Co., Cedar Mountain Battlefield: Additional wooded acreage protected: The Friends of the Cedar Mountain Battlefield, with the help of a transportation-enhancement grant and funding from the Civil War Preservation Trust, have purchased two wooded acres in what was called “the bloody wheat field” during the Aug. 9, 1862, battle. That land adjoins another 152-acre parcel that is already owned by the CWPT.  Free Lance-Star

Culpeper Co.Pete Hill, Negro League Baseball star:  DHR has announced that a historical marker on Hill’s home turf will honor the phenomenal Negro league player. The marker will be erected in the small African-American community of Buena in Culpeper County, where John Preston Hill was born on Oct. 12, probably in 1882.   Free Lance-Star More hereCulpeper Star Exponent

Northern Virginia Conservation Trust: Seeks to establish green belt in NoVa: The trust’s goal for the next 15 years is to ensure that area residents will be connected to some kind of green space. The group is setting out to connect green spaces across the region, including privately owned properties, trail systems and parks. Washington Post

Spotsylvania Co.:  Looking to draw National Academy of Environmental Design: Luck Development Partners is recruiting the National Academy of Environmental Design to locate its headquarters at a proposed mixed-use development off U.S. 1 in Massaponax called Ni Village. The environmental design academy is a public think tank of some of the nation’s top experts in architecture, planning and design.  Free Lance-Star

“Wilderness” Walmart, Orange Co.: Historian James McPherson to testify:  Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James McPherson has agreed to testify on behalf of residents attempting to block the construction of a Walmart Supercenter near an endangered Civil War battlefield in Orange County. McPherson said he will testify that the Walmart site and nearby acres were blood-soaked ground and a Union “nerve center” in the Battle of the Wilderness and not simply a staging area for the 1864 battle, as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and its supporters have contended.  Texarkana Gazette

Waynesboro: Selects firm for downtown revitalization: Officials have selected Staunton-based Frazier Associates to design a spark to kindle downtown revitalization.  News Virginian

Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation: Celebrates its 10th anniversaryWHSV

Statewide:

Oliver L. Perry Sr., Chief Emeritus of the Nansemond Tribe: Passed away Oct. 2: Virginia’s American Indian community recently lost a leader and a hero with the death of Perry, whose Indian name was Fish Hawk.  He was a native of Norfolk and served in the Army Air Corps for 32 years and then worked as the senior supervisor aircraft aeronautical examiner at the Naval Air Rework Facility. Following his retirement, he devoted himself to American Indian affairs on the local, state and national levels. Virginian Pilot

The Jeffersons at Shadwell: New book by W&M professor:  Dr. Susan Kern was a member of a team from Monticello’s Department of Archaeology who conducted a five-year excavation of Shadwell. The main house burned to the ground in 1770, the fire depositing a rich bed of artifacts. Interpretation of Shadwell’s material culture helped Kern to depict the household life.  “The book’s about the Jeffersons—plural,” Kern said. Her book corrects a number of scholarly misconceptions about the young Jefferson.  W&M News

Blue Ridge Parkway: Symposium focuses on the next 75 years: The scenic attraction needs partnerships to sustain its purpose. That was the driving message during the opening of a three-day symposium on the parkway’s sustainability. Stakeholders and community leaders gathered to celebrate the parkway’s 75th year of existence but also to ponder how to preserve the 469-mile stretch for future generations.  Lynchburg News & Advance

Shenandoah National Park: Budget cuts proposedWHSV

Virginia History Textbook: Publisher will correct mistakes in future printings: Responding to national media attention sparked by factual inaccuracies, the publisher of a fourth-grade Virginia history textbook has announced it will begin printing revised editions early next year. The new versions will correct a sentence that inaccurately states the combat role of Southern blacks in the Confederate military and replace a photo of an animal that is not native to Virginia, the publisher announced.  Daily Press

Va. History Textbook #2: W & M professor at heart of story: When Carol Sheriff looked through her daughter’s social studies textbook, the William & Mary history professor had no idea she would soon find herself a central player in a national story.  A section of the fourth-grade textbook on the Civil War claimed that two battalions of African American soldiers fought under Confederate General Stonewall Jackson. Sheriff, who teaches about the Civil War at the College and has authored a book on the subject, knew the passage in the textbook to be factually inaccurate.   W&M website

Beyond Virginia:

Civil War Photographs: Virginia collector donates nearly 700 pictures to Library of Congress:  The donation is the largest trove of Civil War-era photographs depicting average soldiers that the LOC has received in at least 50 years. The stunning photographs–small, elegant ambrotypes and tintypes–show hundreds of the young men who fought and died in the war, often portrayed in the innocence and idealism before the experience of battle.  The pictures make up the bulk of the collection of Tom Liljenquist, 58, of McLean. Washington Post

Founding FathersMany of their documents to go online: The University of Virginia Press is putting the published papers of Washington, Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Franklin on a National Archives website that is expected to be accessible to the public in 2012.  Salon

Holland Island, Maryland: Lost to erosion: Slide Show: The last house on Holland Island, a large Chesapeake Bay island that was reduced to one house by erosion, recently toppled over. The island gradually succumbed to nature and is now completely submerged by water during high tide. Washington Post

Lost Colony, North CarolinaOne man’s quest:  Sam Sumner retired as a schoolteacher, left his Hawaii home and recently moved to North Carolina, all for the purpose of solving the mystery of the Lost Colony.The answer lies not in Buxton where experts and amateur sleuths have searched for decades, he says, but at Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge in Currituck County, a site that leaves experts skeptical.  Virginian Pilot

Norway: Archaeologist find unique town site: Archaeologists discovered a mini-Pompeii-type site while digging in the headland formed by the Topdalselva River and the North Sea near southern Norway.  Under three feet of sand, they found a settlement that has been undisturbed for 5,500 years.  The Norwegian settlement was likely built by people of the Funnel Beaker Culture — a late Neolithic culture that thrived in northern Europe and Scandinavia between 4,000 B.C. and 2,400 B.C.  Aolnews

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DHR Approves 21 New Historical Highway Markers

October 7, 2010

State Approves New Historical Highway Markers Honoring

Early Negro League Power Hitter Pete Hill,

Virginia’s War of 1812 Legacy in 10 Locales,

And 7 Other Signs

Baseball Hall of Famer Pete Hill was born in Culpeper County—
—War of 1812 markers slated for Caroline, Charlotte, Essex, Henrico, Lancaster, Middlesex, Northumberland, Orange, and Westmoreland counties, and Va. Beach—
—Other new markers recall people, places, or events in the counties of Halifax, Northampton, and Surry; and the cities of Norfolk, Radford and Richmond—

[Text of each marker can be found at the end of this particular post]

RICHMONDAs one of black baseball’s earliest power hitters, John Preston “Pete” Hill was welcomed home often by ecstatic fans of the many legendary African American teams for whom he played during the first quarter of the 20th century. Yet Hill never made it back home to the place of his birth in Culpeper County, Virginia.

Now, through the teamwork of researchers including Culpeper historian Zann Nelson, Hill family members, and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, which late last week approved a new historical highway marker honoring his career, Hill is coming home.

Home, in this case, is Buena, a small, historically African-American community that arose along the Orange & Alexandria Railroad in Culpeper County after the Civil War. That railroad carried Hill’s mother, likely a former slave, and her children north to eventually settle in Pittsburgh in the late 19th century, making Hill, born on October 12, probably in 1882, part of the Great Migration of African Americans who departed the South during the era of segregation.

“With the approval of this new marker, we commemorate Pete Hill’s accomplishments and his inspiring story of triumph, despite the limits imposed by an era of segregation,” said Governor Bob McDonnell. “At long last, we welcome Hill home to Buena, the rural Culpeper County community where he was born. It’s a homecoming that’s long overdue, and we have, in particular, Culpeper’s own Zann Nelson to thank for the research that firmly established Hill’s connection to Culpeper County,” Gov. McDonnell added.

As in the example of Hill’s career, the story of how the Hill highway marker came to be contains lessons in stick-to-it-ivness—and teamwork as well.

That story spans four years. And it involves “players” in North Carolina, Kansas, and Culpeper, and Hill family members in Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and elsewhere, now connected to Hill kin in Virginia. All of them, like one of Hill’s teams, have been brought together by the baseball legend, who was a star outfielder for many black teams including the Philadelphia Giants and Chicago American Giants, and who also hit 28 home runs for the Detroit Stars in 1919, the same year Babe Ruth hit 29 in more games.

The marker’s story begins in 2006 when officials in Cooperstown inducted Hill into the National Baseball Hall of Fame with a plaque reading “Joseph Preston Hill” and citing his place of birth as “Pittsburgh, Pa.”

In 2007, avocational baseball historians Gary Ashwill, in North Carolina, and Patrick Rock, in Kansas, first questioned the accuracy of the Hall of Fame plaque. Based on documentation the two uncovered, Ashwill, through his blog, began publically making the case that “Joseph” Hill was actually John “Pete” Hill, born in Virginia, possibly Culpeper County.

Ashwill next contacted Hill’s grand-niece Leslie Penn of Los Angeles and informed her about her connection to the great Negro League player and Virginia. Penn, in turn, relayed that news to her cousin, Ronald Hill, in Pittsburgh.

An inspired Ronald Hill, who has coached Little League, spent the next couple of years lobbying the Hall of Fame to correct his great-uncle’s plaque. Seeking assistance with his efforts, in 2009 he eventually connected with Nelson, a former director of the Museum of Culpeper History, and a historian and columnist for Culpeper’s Star-Exponent.

Excited by the prospect that Culpeper County was the birthplace of yet another baseball Hall of Famer (the other is Eppa Rixey, a white player whose career overlapped with Hill), Nelson spent much of 2009 doggedly pursuing the Hill story through court records, deeds, passenger manifests, census reports, Social Security documents, and death certificates, in addition to field investigations and personal interviews with numerous people including long time residents of the communities of Buena and Rapidan.

In December 2009, through a three-part feature story published in the Culpeper Star Exponent, Nelson summarized her research confirming that Hill was born in Buena. She also submitted her findings and documentation to officials at the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

She struck a home run.

As a result of her work, the NBHF announced earlier this year that it would correct Hill’s plaque. In a ceremony scheduled for later this month, on Hill’s October 12th birthday, officials in Cooperstown will rededicate the Hill plaque, correcting his proper name and place of birth.

“Certainly, the fact that Culpeper can now claim two Hall of Fame baseball players is fun and a genuine source of pride,” said Nelson. “But Hill’s story personalizes a far greater message. He was a real-life super hero, rising from the same streets and fields that we walk every day. Times may be different, and many of the hardcore obstacles that Pete Hill faced have dissipated. Yet we share similar struggles and desires for opportunity, fairness, security and success,” Nelson added.

Nelson’s columns drew the attention of Kathleen S. Kilpatrick, director of the Department of Historic Resources, to the incredible story of Pete Hill, resulting in the department working with Ashwill (with input from Rock and Nelson) in developing the marker text approved by the Board of Historic Resources during its September 30th quarterly meeting.

“The Hill highway marker serves as a reminder that just as the history of our national game is incomplete without the story of black baseball, so too is American and Virginia history incomplete if we fail to recognize the struggles, triumphs, and contributions of all the people who have had a role in shaping it,” said Kilpatrick.

In addition to Culpeper’s County’s Rixey and Hill, Virginia has three other baseball hall of famers, all of whom played in the Negro Leagues. They are Ernest “Jud” Wilson from Fauquier County; Leon Day from Alexandria; and Ray Dandridge from Richmond. DHR plans to sponsor and develop new signs to honor each of these Hall of Fame players. The department also will unveil the Hill marker during a public dedication ceremony in Buena in 2011.

War of 1812 Markers

In addition to the Hill highway marker, DHR’s Board of Historic Resources reviewed and approved a trove of other history-rich markers, including 13 new signs focusing on Virginia’s important legacy of people, places, and events associated with the War of 1812.

“These new markers are part of a broad-based collaboration between DHR and the bicentennial commission for the War of 1812 to better inform the public about what many people call ‘America’s forgotten war,’” said Kathleen S. Kilpatrick, director of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. “They recall crucial events in Virginia, such as the burning of Norfolk and the vulnerability of Hampton Roads, that profoundly shaped our post-war national defense policy as a young nation,” Kilpatrick added.

According to the legislation enacted by the General Assembly to establish the bicentennial commission, “An estimated 70,000 Virginians served during the War of 1812. There were some 73 armed encounters with the British that took place in Virginia during the war.” The legislation also states, “The nation’s capitol, strategically located off the Chesapeake Bay, was a prime target for the British, and the coast of Virginia figured prominently in the Atlantic theatre of operations.”

“Virginia’s epic role in the American Revolution and the Civil War can all too easily eclipse the state’s significant role in the War of 1812. It’s appropriate to remind Virginians and visitors to our state about the Commonwealth’s great sacrifices in that war as well,” said Secretary of Natural Resources Doug Domenech.

These markers, developed by DHR in collaboration with The Virginia Bicentennial of the American War of 1812 Commission, are aimed at boosting public awareness of Virginia’s significant role in the war in advance of the bicentennial. Among the many subjects covered are —

  • Dolly Madison’s role as First Lady, and significantly when the White House was burned by the British;
  • The soldiering contributions of many African Americans who sided with the British in order to gain freedom from enslavement;
  • British attacks on towns in Northumberland, Westmoreland, and Essex counties, as well as Norfolk and present-day Virginia Beach.

Virginia’s Civil War Sesquicentennial

The DHR board also approved two new markers for Richmond as part of the department’s initiative to create new signs as a part of the Civil War Sesquicentennial, which begins in 2011.  The two markers highlight “Lincoln’s Visit to Richmond” and “Richmond’s Civil War Hospitals.”

Other New Highway Markers

The remaining markers chronicle significant events as well.  These markers, like the Pete Hill marker, stem from DHR’s nearly decade-long effort to sponsor or work with other sponsors to create new signs that reveal the full spectrum and richness of Virginia history.

Topics covered by this grouping include signs to—

  • Henrietta Lacks, an African American woman whose cell tissue was removed “without permission” after her death in 1951 for medical research, giving rise to an internationally recognized cell line, the “HeLa line,” a “gold standard” of cell lines, from which Jonas Salk developed his polio vaccine.
  • Pauline Adams, an Irish-born, suffragist who co-founded the Norfolk Equal Rights Suffrage League and who was arrested in 1917 for picketing the White House.
  • Lovely Mount Baptist Church in Radford; “the first church of the Baptist denomination in Radford, [it] served the African American community for more than 60 years until Radford College purchased it in 1961 and demolished it.”
  • And two signs to educational facilities founded by and for African Americans in Surry County (“Temperance Industrial & Collegiate Institute”) and Northampton County (“Northampton County High School”).

The Virginia highway marker program, which began in 1927 with the installation of the first historical markers along U.S. Rte. 1, is considered the oldest such program in the nation. Currently there are more than 2,100 official state markers, most maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation.

The manufacturing cost of each new highway marker approved by the DHR board is covered by its respective sponsor, except for those markers developed by the Department of Historic Resources, which are funded by a federal grant awarded to DHR.

More information about the Historical Highway Marker Program is available on the website of the Department of Historic Resources at http://www.dhr.virginia.gov/.

Full Texts of Markers:

Lovely Mount Baptist Church (First Baptist Church)

On 13 Nov. 1869, the Rev. Capt. Charles S. Schaeffer of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands met with the people of Lovely Mount (later Radford) and organized the Lovely Mount Baptist Church.  In 1898, the congregation purchased the Lutheran church that stood at this location on Fairfax Street, and changed its name to the First Baptist Church.  The first church of the Baptist denomination in Radford, Lovely Mount/First Baptist Church served the African American community for more than 60 years until Radford College purchased it in 1961 and demolished it to expand Peters Hall.

Sponsor: Radford University (contact Karen Casteele)

City: Radford

Temperance Industrial & Collegiate Institute

On 12 Oct. 1892, Dr. John Jefferson Smallwood, born enslaved in 1863 in Rich Square, North Carolina, founded the Temperance Industrial & Collegiate Institute nearby with fewer than ten students.  Sprawled over sixty-five acres on the James River in Claremont, his school provided a high level of education for African American boys and girls from Virginia and other states.  After Smallwood’s untimely death on 29 Sept. 1912, his school underwent several mergers and name changes.  By the time the school closed in 1928, more than two thousand students had attended.

Sponsors: Parkside Historic Preservation Corporation, Philadelphia, PA

County: Surry

Northampton County High School

Constructed in 1953 as the county’s first purpose-built African American high school, Northampton County High School reflects the desires of local African Americans to obtain modern educational facilities.  It is an example of the statewide efforts by African American and Virginia Indian communities during the early 20th century to secure better education for their children. The building contained classrooms, a library, a gymnasium, and a 500-seat auditorium.  Concurrent with integration of Virginia’s public schools, the high school ceased operations with the 1970 class.  Until 2008, the facility served as a junior high school and middle school for all Northampton County students.

Sponsors: DHR and Northampton County High School Alumni Foundation,

County: Northampton

Henrietta Lacks (1920-1951)

Born in Roanoke on 1 Aug. 1920, Henrietta Pleasant lived here with relatives after her mother’s 1924 death. She married David Lacks in 1941 and, like many other African Americans, moved to Baltimore, Md. for wartime employment.  She died of cervical cancer on 1 Oct. 1951.  Cell tissue was removed without permission (as usual then) for medical research. Her cells multiplied and survived at an extraordinarily high rate, and are renowned worldwide as the “HeLa line,” the “gold standard” of cell lines. Jonas Salk developed his polio vaccine with them. Henrietta Lacks, who in death saved countless lives, is buried nearby.

Sponsor: DHR

County: Halifax

Pauline Adams (1874-1957)

Born in Ireland in 1874, Pauline Adams was a suffragist and activist for women’s rights, known for her militant approach to campaigning for women’s suffrage. The Norfolk Equal Suffrage League was formed at her house here in Ghent on 18 Nov. 1910; Adams was elected its first president. On 4 Sept. 1917, Adams and 12 other women were arrested for picketing at a parade attended by President Woodrow Wilson in Washington D.C.  In 1921, Adams passed the bar exam and became the second woman to practice law in Norfolk. She died on 10 Sept. 1957 and is buried in Norfolk.

Sponsor: DHR

City: Norfolk

Pete Hill (1882-1951)

John Preston “Pete” Hill, Negro League baseball player and manager, was born nearby on 12 Oct., probably 1882, and likely to formerly enslaved parents. Banned from whites-only major leagues, Hill became a star outfielder for African American teams, notably the Philadelphia Giants and Chicago American Giants. A Cuban League 1910/11 winter-season batting champion (with a .365 average), Hill hit 28 home runs for the Detroit Stars in 1919 (when Babe Ruth hit 29 in more games), marking Hill as among black baseball’s earliest power hitters. Hill died 19 Dec. 1951 and was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.

Sponsor: DHR

County: Culpeper

War of 1812 Bicentennial Markers

(DHR is the sponsor for each War of 1812 marker.)

The War of 1812

Impressment of Americans into British service and the violation of American ships were among the causes of America’s War of 1812 with the British, which lasted until 1815. Beginning in 1813, Virginians suffered from a British naval blockade of the Chesapeake Bay and from British troops’ plundering the countryside by the Bay and along the James, Rappahannock, and Potomac rivers. The Virginia militia deflected a British attempt to take Norfolk in 1813, and engaged British forces throughout the war. By the end of the war, more than 2000 enslaved African Americans in Virginia had gained their freedom aboard British ships.

Locale: Various—would be placed on opposite side of some markers to provide background information.

British Naval Blockade and Cape Henry Lighthouse

During the War of 1812, a British naval blockade along much of the U.S. East Coast disrupted foreign trade and interfered with commerce. On 4 Feb. 1813, the blockade was extended to the Chesapeake Bay. At that time, the light at the Cape Henry Lighthouse was extinguished to prevent British ships from using it as a navigational aid. The British attacked the lighthouse early in Feb. 1813 and thereafter British scouting parties often visited the area to obtain freshwater from local wells. On 14 July 1813, Captain Lawson of the Princess Anne militia captured 20 British marines nearby.

City: Virginia Beach

Capture of Tappahannock

Here on 3 December 1814, British naval forces under the command of Capt. Robert Barrie assaulted and seized the town of Tappahannock during the War of 1812. Aiding the British were three companies of African American Colonial Marines. Although the British held the town for only a few hours, they destroyed a number of private houses, and completely demolished the Essex County courthouse. British Royal Marines ransacked many of the town’s dwellings, set fire to landmarks such as the Brockenbrough mansion, and pillaged the family burial vaults of the prominent Ritchie family before Virginia militia reinforcements arrived.

County: Essex

Capture of the Dolphin

On 3 April 1813, one of the largest naval engagements in Virginia waters during the War of 1812 took place at the mouth of Carter’s Creek. One hundred five British naval and marine forces under Lt. Polkinghorne managed to subdue four American privateers: Arab, Dolphin, Lynx, and Racer. The largest ship, Dolphin, out of Baltimore, had twelve guns and one hundred men commanded by Capt. W.J. Stafford.  Stafford stubbornly refused to give up when the other ships were taken, and defended his ship until he was severely wounded and his ship boarded.

County: Middlesex or Lancaster (at one entrance to the Robert O. Norris Bridge, Rte. 3)

African Americans in the War of 1812

During the War of 1812, thousands of enslaved African Americans gained freedom by fighting for the British or serving as guides during British raids on coastal communities. Many were given the choice of enlisting in the armed services or settling in various locations throughout the British Empire. East of here on Tangier Island, at the British base of Fort Albion, the British trained African Americans to serve in the Colonial Marines. From Fort Albion, the Colonial Marines, along with British troops, engaged the Virginia militia in numerous landings along the Northern Neck and the Eastern Shore throughout the summer of 1814.

County: Northumberland

Lt. Col. George Armistead (1780-1818)

Known for his service in the War of 1812, George Armistead was born here at Newmarket plantation.  Armistead distinguished himself in 1813 during the capture of Fort George, Canada, but is best known as the commanding officer of Fort McHenry during the 1814 Battle of Baltimore, for which he earned the rank of lieutenant colonel. The American victory proved a turning point in the war, and was the inspiration for Francis Scott Key’s poem “The Star Spangled Banner.” Armistead commanded at Fort McHenry until his death in Baltimore in 1818.  He is buried there in Old St. Paul’s Cemetery.

County: Caroline

War of 1812 Opposition—John Randolph

The War of 1812 sparked intense opposition, particularly among members of the Federalist Party who unanimously opposed the June 1812 declaration of war. One of its most outspoken opponents was Virginia Republican Congressman and later Senator John Randolph of nearby Roanoke Plantation.  Echoing other opponents, he denounced the war as needless and argued that it would lead to high taxes and a larger national debt. Randolph lost his reelection bid in 1813 over his opposition to the war, but was elected to his former seat in 1815. He died in Philadelphia in 1833 and is buried in Richmond.

County: Charlotte

British Attacks at Kinsale and Mundy Point

Two miles east on 3 Aug. 1814, 500 British marines and seamen under Adm. Sir George Cockburn landed at Mundy’s Point and Kinsale. Opposing the enemy at the Point were Capt. William Henderson and thirty Northumberland county militiamen. Henderson’s company was forced to retreat to the county courthouse. Later that day, British forces took Kinsale, burned the town, and seized tobacco. Three days later, they began raids along the Coan River. The British troops included about fifty formerly enslaved African Americans, who were among the thousands who gained freedom by fighting or working for the British.

County: Northumberland

British Landing at Nomini Ferry

On 20 July 1814, Adm. Sir George Cockburn sent about a thousand marines ashore at Nomini Ferry to attack the Westmoreland County militia under the command of Lt. Col. Richard E. Parker. Parker’s Virginians bravely defended their positions, but were soon outflanked by superior British forces and forced to retreat to Westmoreland Court House (Montross). Before they left the next morning, the British marines burned and destroyed a number of houses and several plantations in the immediate area, such as Bushfield, and ransacked nearby Nomini Church.

County: Westmoreland

Richmond’s War of 1812 Defensive Camps

During the War of 1812, Virginia established three militia posts on the outskirts of Richmond to guard against possible British invasion. Within a mile of this point was built Camp Carter (Sept.1814-Feb. 1815) under the command of Gen. John H. Cocke. Camp Holly Springs (April 1813-Feb. 1814) was located five miles southwest at Route 5 near Newmarket Road, under Gen. Robert Porterfield. Camp Bottoms’ Bridge (Sept.-Nov. 1814), under the command of Gen. William Chamberlayne, was two miles east at Bottoms Bridge. These posts were never threatened by British forces during the war.

County: Henrico

Admiral Sir George Cockburn on the Chesapeake

During the War of 1812, a British naval squadron arrived in Hampton Roads on 4 February 1813 to establish a naval blockade of the Chesapeake Bay. Later commanded by Adm. Sir George Cockburn, the squadron remained in the Bay for two years. Its missions were to seize USS Constellation, to occupy Norfolk, and to harass, seize, and destroy commercial traffic on the Bay and its tributaries. Although the attempt to seize Norfolk failed, Cockburn’s squadron carried out numerous raids on the James, Rappahannock, York, and Potomac rivers. In August 1814, British forces burned Washington, but were later defeated at Baltimore.

City/County: TBD (Hampton Roads area)

Governor James Barbour

Here at Barboursville lie the ruins of the family home of James Barbour, Virginia’s governor during the War of 1812. As commander in chief of Virginia’s militia forces, Barbour planned, organized, and directed the defense of Virginia from January 1812 until December 1814. Known for his oratorical skills and organizing talents, he inspired his fellow Virginians to defend the Commonwealth from relentless British incursions in Hampton Roads and the Northern Neck.  On a few occasions, he took command of the militia while in the field. He later served as U.S. Senator from Virginia and U.S. Secretary of War.

County: Orange

Dolley Madison (1768-1849)

Born to Quaker parents in North Carolina, Dolley Payne lived with her family in Hanover County, Virginia until 1783. Following the death of her first husband, John Todd, she married Congressman James Madison in 1794. As First Lady of the United States from 1809-1817, her social graces, political acumen, and enthusiasm for public life became the standard by which first ladies were measured for more than a century afterward. Before the British burned the White House in August 1814, Mrs. Madison oversaw the removal and safeguard of many national treasures, including a large portrait of George Washington. She is buried at Montpelier.

County: Orange

2011 Civil War Sesquicentennial Markers

(DHR is the sponsor for each Civil War Sesquicentennial marker.)

Lincoln’s Visit to Richmond

President Abraham Lincoln first entered Richmond at Rocketts Landing on 5 Apr. 1865. He was brought upstream from City Point for a tour of the captured capital by Adm. David Dixon Porter on his ship, USS Malvern. Crowds formed as Lincoln walked through Richmond to the White House of the Confederacy. The president also visited the State Capitol, Camp Lee where U.S. Colored Troops had made camp, and Libby Prison and Castle Thunder, former Confederate prisons then holding Confederate officers. On 9 April, Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, ending the Civil War.

City: Richmond

Richmond’s Civil War Hospitals

Hospitals such as Chimborazo, erected on this site in 1861, were built to handle the increasing influx of wounded Civil War soldiers to Richmond from nearby battlefields. The construction of Winder Hospital followed to the west in 1862.  Eventually, soldiers from throughout the Confederacy were brought to Richmond for treatment here and at more than twenty-five warehouses, private homes, and churches used as hospitals throughout the city. Although officials at first prohibited women from working in these hospitals, they later relented and women such as Juliet Hopkins, Phoebe Pember, and Sally L. Tompkins gained distinction through hard work caring for wounded soldiers.

City: Richmond