Talk:Petersburg, Virginia

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Good Job Everyone![edit]

Kudos to VaOverland, Ram Man (for starting it) and others for building up the Petersburg article!

Proposed Petersburg History Section, offered for comment[edit]

Here is a brief history of Petersburg that I wrote a while back for the City's Comprehensive plan, & I have over the years revised down to this size--this version for the R/UDAT application two years ago. I am placing it here for comment, since I kept finding myself in need of drastically revising the history as it now exists. There are no footnotes here, but I can easily provide them. I can see several ways in which I can improve this article, but, for now, comments, anyone?

  • Dulaney, may we assume this is your work to which no one else has rights, i.e. city agency, etc, and you are willing to contribute it to Wikipedia? Very nicely done, a huge enhancement over the current stuff. I don't think we a re tromping on any other editors to basically replace the current history sections and build. Mark in Historic Triangle of Virginia (talk) 20:47, 2 August 2008 (UTC)

Draft Petersburg History section version 1[edit]

Petersburg was not established as a town until 1748, but had been the site of Native American occupation and settlement for more than ten thousand years. Europeans first explored the area in the early days of May, 1607, prior to the settlement at Jamestown on 13 May 1607. The Appamattucks, who occupied the Petersburg area, were one of the most important peoples of the Powhatan super-chiefdom, because of their location at the southwestern corner of the Eastern Algonquian and Powhatan world, with Siouan speakers to the west and Iroquoian speakers to the south. European settlement occurred before 1620, then was pulled back until the 1630s, after the Powhatan uprising of 1622. By the 1640s, Bristol Parish was established along the Appomattox, and Fort Henry established on the south side of the river at the falls in 1646. Fort Henry became the center of Virginia’s most important trade with the Indians to the south and southwest of Petersburg, a trade which lasted into the 1720s, when the Carolina Colony finally succeeded in cutting Virginia off from the trade. By then, the entire south side of Virginia to the west and south of Petersburg, as well as the northern counties of North Carolina, had been opened to settlement, and Petersburg became the tobacco entrepot for this vast region, in effect the center of the North American tobacco trade, with fully one third of America’s exported tobacco flowing through its inspections. (As a corollary to this, the bay at the confluence of the Appomattox and the James became the principal Chesapeake entrance point for slave ships, at the end of the Middle Passage.) An important staging center for American troops in the French and Indian War, and then again in the Revolution, Petersburg saw the war come to it in 1781, when an invading British army led by Phillips and Arnold defeated American militia led by von Steuben and Muhlenberg on April 25. Cornwallis joined his army to this one in Petersburg in May (the third largest British army of the entire war) and launched the campaign that would prove decisive in the Revolution. ending with Cornwallis's surrender at Yorktown.

After the Revolution, Petersburg was chartered as a town in 1784, merging the former towns of Petersburg, Blandford, & Poachontas, as well as several suburbs. However, Virginia's trans-Atlantic tobacco trade was slowly but surely taken over by New York merchants (Archibald Gracie for example left Petersburg to live in New York for this reason), but transportation improvements (roads, canals, steamboats, and then railroads), commission merchant and auction activities, and manufacturing enterprises (flour mills, tobacco factories, cotton mills, and iron foundries) kept Petersburg in a leadership role, economically and culturally. In 1860 Petersburg’s population of 18,500 had been far exceeded by many northern cities, but was the second largest in Virginia, seventh in the Confederate states, and Petersburg was the Confederacy’s second most important industrial city. The first Petersburg rail line (the Petersburg Railroad), extending to Weldon, North Carolina, was the first interstate railroad in the nation. By the time of the Civil War, Petersburg had rail lines running to Lynchburg (and thence to the great southwest); to the east to City Point and Norfolk; to the north to Richmond; and to the south to Weldon and thence to Wilmington.

Petersburg played a major role in the debates about slavery and secession leading up to the Civil War, and its importance as a trading, manufacturing, and transportation center led to its designation as headquarters for the military department of Southern Virginia and North Carolina throughout most of the war. For that reason also, the war came to Petersburg’s gates in May and June of 1864, and Petersburg suffered the longest Siege in North American history, a long struggle between the armies of Robert E. Lee and Ulyssses S. Grant that not only effectively ended the Civil War but also effectively ended the institution of slavery in the northern hemisphere (with the exception of Cuba). That is certainly how Abraham Lincoln viewed it in the days after the fall of Petersburg on 3 April 1865, when he paid two long visits to the city on April 3 and April 7.

Petersburg came out of the Civil War damaged far beyond the norm of Southern communities—a larger percentage of her men killed and wounded, 800 buildings struck by shells, many savaged by fire, all business and banking and industry come almost to a complete halt. To make matters worse, Richmond as capital of the Confederacy rather more than doubled in population in the 1860s, and many of Petersburg’s leading citizens left for the now much larger population center, where all the action was. Billy Mahone, who had built the Norfolk & Petersburg Railroad on the eve of the war, and was one of the Confederacy’s most effective general officers during the war, stayed in Petersburg afterward and consolidated his railroad with the South Side and the Virginia and Tennessee. The last Virginia owner of a major railroad, Mahone had to involve himself with Virginia politics in order to effect the consolidation, and after he lost the railroad anyway in 1877, he led the Readjuster movement that allied itself with Republicans and black Virginians and took control of the state. This resulted in two major black state institutions coming to Petersburg, Virginia State University and Central State Hospital, and made Petersburg somewhat of an anathema to the Conservative elite of the state, with long-lasting results. Mahone served a term as U.S. Senator, and his Petersburg ally William E. Cameron as governor. But by the 1880s, the Bourbons were firmly in control, effected Jim Crow laws, and got rid of the back vote, in fact most of the white vote, putting the state’s government in the hands of a business oligarchy.

Part of this movement was an effort to develop professional, businesslike operation of the government, free of interference (or involvement) by the uneducated public. One feature of this in Virginia was the invention of the council/manager form of government, created in Staunton early in the 20th century, and adopted by Petersburg very early, in 1920.

The first three decades of the 20th century saw several other major developments. First, the advent of the automobile brought new demands for easier turning radii, smoother roads, and filling stations, resulting in the demolition of a great deal of historic fabric. Second, the automobile and trolley together brought suburbs to the north and south of the city. The suburb to the north evolved by 1950 into the independent City of Colonial Heights; Walnut Hill, to the south, was eventually annexed by Petersburg.

Finally, World War One brought Camp Lee (now Fort Lee), sleazy red light districts, and fluctuating but very important employment. The Petersburg National Battlefield was largely carved out of Fort Lee in the 1920s, and the fort was revived in the Second World War. The most recent BRAC will nearly double the base population at Fort Lee by 1911, and will perhaps add two more Army museums.

The second half of the 20th century has seen the construction of I-95 and I-85, running directly through Petersburg; abandonment and then revival of interest in the old Petersburg Harbor; rampant suburbanization; construction of first one and then another mall, costing the inner city most of its retail business; loss of most of the city’s tobacco manufacturing business, so long the centerpiece of Petersburg’s industrial base; and a very strong local Civil Rights movement that provided national leadership, leading locally to integration and then rapid resegregation.

Today, while Petersburg’s school system has reached a nadir, there are many signs of revival, powered in substantial measure by history, preservation, and the arts.

R. Dulaney Ward, Jr. (talk) 23:25, 1 August 2008 (UTC)

Draft Petersburg History section version 2[edit]

  • revision notes: added internal links, some minor adjustments to flow along lines of other WP:Virginia articles relating to same.
  • copy for article follows:

Natives and early colonists[edit]

Petersburg was not established by English colonists as a town until 1748, but had been the site of Native American occupation and settlement for more than ten thousand years. At the time the first colonists arrived and established their settlement at Jamestown on May 14, 1607, those American Indians living in what is now Petersburg were affiliated with what has historically been called the Powhatan Confederacy. (Researcher Helen Rountree has noted that empire more accurately describes their political structure).

In the late 16th and early 17th centuries, a Chief (or werowance) named Wahunsunacock created this powerful empire by conquering or affiliating with approximately 30 tribes whose territories covered much of eastern Virginia. Wahunsunacock called this area Tenakomakah ("densely inhabited Land").[1] Wahunsunacock was known as Chief Powhatan. The empire was advantageous to some tribes, who were periodically threatened by other Native Americans, such as the Monacans, known to be particularly aggressive.

Tenakomakah included most portions of today's Virginia which lie east of the fall line and drain into the Chesapeake Bay watershed, but did not include the Eastern Shore region. The tribes of the Powhatan Confederacy were Eastern Algonquian-speaking, and numbered over 10,000 persons. [2]

The Appamattucks were the tribe which occupied the Petersburg area. These were one of the most important peoples of the Powhatan because of their location at the southwestern corner of Tenakomakah. To the west, Siouan speakers included major enemies such as the Monacans and to the south were Iroquoian speakers, numbering about 2,500 in Virginia. Other affiliated tribes of the Powhatan included the Cherokee, Chesepian, Chickahominy, Chisiack, Mattaponi, Meherrin, Monacan, Nansemond,Nottoway, Pamunkey, Paspahegh, Pohick, Powhatan, Rappahannock, Saponi, and Tuscarora. [3]

For more details on this topic, see Powhatan Confederacy.

On April 26, 1607, Captain Christopher Newport and three ships carrying 105 men and boys sponsored by the propriety Virginia Company of London made landfall near the place where the southern shore of the Chesapeake Bay joins the Atlantic Ocean in present-day Virginia Beach. However, despite an exceptionally long and difficult voyage from England, they spent only a short time there. After giving thanks, and having a very minor skirmish with natives who were probably Chesepian, they christened the capes at the north and south sides of the bay "Cape Charles" and "Cape Henry" respectively (after the two sons of British King James I). Then they sailed along the southern edge of the bay as they began exploring inland waters, seeking to establish their first settlement in a location that would be more secured from attack by other Europeans.

For more details on this topic, see First Landing.

During exploration in the following weeks, they located Point Comfort, (later renamed Old Point Comfort, identified it as a strategic defensive location to guard the massive natural harbor which came to be known as Hampton Roads and other inland waters. There, Fort Monroe was later built. They explored portions of the Elizabeth River and Nansemond River before following the much larger James River (which they named for their king) upstream.

About 55 miles upstream from Hampton Roads, they came upon the confluence of the Appomattox River flowing in from the southwest. They explored by ship as far west as Petersburg, where the fall line interrupted navigation. They also explored up the James another 25 miles to a similar site at the fall line which would become later become the cities of Manchester and Richmond. Chief Powhatan's original village overlooked that location, now in the East End of Richmond, Virginia. However, by that time, he had established Werowocomoco as his capital along the north shore of the York River in present-day Gloucester County.

Turning back from the falls, Newport's party sailed back downstream about half way to Hampton Roads and selected Jamestown Island to settle. It had excellent visibility up and down the James River and was far enough inland to minimize the potential of contact and conflict with enemy ships. The water immediately adjacent to the land was deep enough to permit the colonists to anchor their ships yet have an easy and quick departure if necessary. An additional benefit of the site was that the land did not appear to be occupied by Native Americans.

It soon became apparent why the Native Americans did not occupy the site, as the inhospitable conditions severely challenged the settlers. Jamestown Island is a swampy area, and furthermore, it was isolated from most potential hunting game such as deer and bears which like to forage over much larger areas. The settlers quickly hunted and killed off all the large and smaller game that was to be found. The low, marshy area was infested with mosquitoes, other airborne pests and the brackish water of the tidal river was not a good source of drinking water. Within a few days, conflicts with the Powhatan began.

For the first few years, despite voyages of resupply from England by Captain Newport and others, and inspired leadership of Captain John Smith, most of the colonists perished due to disease, starvation, and conflicts with the Powhatans. None of the riches hoped for by the English investors had materialized. Calls in London for more supplies and investment were met with by considerable skepticism by some investors. By the Starving Time in late 1609 and early 1610, survival of the Colony of Virginia was very much in doubt.

For more details on this topic, see Jamestown, Virginia.

Tobacco as a cash crop[edit]

Tobacco was to prove both the economic salvation of the colony and a source of ruin for the Powhatan Confederacy. Later in the second half of the 17th century, as the colony developed south and westward, it became important to the development of Petersburg. The native strains of tobacco from Virginia were not liked by the English settlers, nor did it appeal to the market in England. However, businessman John Rolfe had some ideas he wanted to try. Rolfe wanted to introduce sweeter strains from Trinidad, using the hard-to-obtain seeds. In 1609, he sailed for Jamestown from England with the Third Supply Mission aboard the ill-fated new flagship of the Virginia Company, the Sea Venture. By the time Rolfe finally had a chance to try his new seeds, he had been shipwrecked and stranded on an abandoned archipelago which became Bermuda (which was claimed for the crown and was briefly part of the Colony of Virginia. When he finally reached Jamestown, it was only to help begin to abandon it after the Starving Time. Since leaving England, both his wife and their young child had died.

For more details on this topic, see Bermuda.

The fate of the colony turned upon the still-untried seeds in John Rolfe's possession and the timely arrival of a new royal governor, Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr (Lord Delaware) with yet another supply mission in the summer of 1610. Lord Delaware carried fresh resources, and was armed with additional authority over that of past leaders and a determination to succeed. In that setting, John Rolfe began experimenting with his seeds. The following year, he is credited with being the first to commercially cultivate Nicotiana tabacum tobacco plants in North America. The export of this sweeter tobacco beginning in 1612 helped turn the colony into a profitable venture. Rolfe named his Virginia-grown strain of the tobacco "Orinoco". [4] The appeal of Orinoco tobacco was in its nicotine, and the conviviality of its use in social situations. [5]

Soon, Rolfe and others were exporting substantial quantities of the new cash crop. Access to shipping was crucial for the export process. New plantations began growing along the tidal portion of the James River, as well as the Appomattox River, where export shipments could use wharfs along the river. Investment groups formed developments called "hundreds". (Bermuda Hundred and Flowerdew Hundred are examples of names still in use not far from today's Petersburg).

In 1612, Rolfe established Varina Farms, a plantation on the James River about 30 miles (48 km) upstream from the Jamestown Settlement, and across the river from Sir Thomas Dale's progressive development at Henricus. In 1614, Rolfe married Pocahontas, a young daughter of Chief Powhatan, and several years of more peaceful relations with the Powhatan ensued. Renewed conflicts with Natives included the Indian Massacre of 1622, which killed many colonists and decimated developments such as Henricus and Wolstenholme Towne, each lost until both sites were rediscovered by archaeologists in the late 20th century. The 1622 uprising setback continued development of land-hungry tobacco plantations only briefly. Gradually, the Powhatan were simply overwhelmed by numbers and technology. By 1646, they were no longer a major concern of the colonists in what had been Tenakomakah only 40 years earlier.

Expanding colony, shires and parishes[edit]

In 1624, King James revoked the Virginia Company's charter and the Virginia Colony became a royal colony. Upon the death of King James in 1626, his younger son, Prince Charles had ascended the throne as King Charles I. This was due to the earlier death of his older brother, Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales. Eldest son of King James, the popular young Prince Henry had showed great promise. However, he died from typhoid fever at the age of 18. Prince Henry's death was widely regarded as a tragedy for the nation, some may consider prophetic. (Like Cape Henry, Henricus had also been named in his honor). During the reign of unpopular King Charles I, public sentiment against the king (who was eventually beheaded) seem to have combined with the lost promise of young Prince Henry, as many things in Virginia were named Henry.

In 1634, the original eight shires of Virginia were established by the House of Burgesses by order of King Charles I. Of these, Charles City Shire covered both the north and south sides of the James River in an area which included the south shore of the Appomattox River at the fall line where Petersburg was later to be established. North of the Appomattox River was part of Henrico, named for the lost prince, which was renamed as a county along with the other shires. Across the river from Petersburg, Henrico included modern Chesterfield County until 1754. As the colony expanded, parishes and counties were subdivided. However, five of the original shires, including both Charles City and Henrico, had survived in the essentially same political form for over 375 years as of 2008.

Bristol Parish and Fort Henry[edit]

During the colonial period in Virginia, the Church of England was linked to the government. Districts known as parishes, each intended to be close enough to colonists for travel to Sunday worship were established within each shire (county) throughout the colony. By the 1640s, Bristol Parish was established along the Appomattox River, and Fort Henry, probably named for Prince Henry, was established on the south side of the river at the falls in 1646. Fort Henry became the center of Virginia’s most important trade with the non-Powhatan natives to the south and southwest of Petersburg, a trade which lasted into the 1720s, when the competing Carolina Colony finally succeeded in cutting Virginia off from the trade. By then, the entire south side of Virginia to the west and south of Petersburg, as well as the northern counties of North Carolina, had been opened to settlement, and Petersburg became the tobacco entrepot for this vast region, in effect the center of the North American tobacco trade, with fully one third of America’s exported tobacco flowing through its inspections.

Other history sections (to be done)[edit]

(As a corollary to this, the bay at the confluence of the Appomattox and the James became the principal Chesapeake entrance point for slave ships, at the end of the Middle Passage.) An important staging center for American troops in the French and Indian War, and then again in the Revolution, Petersburg saw the war come to it in 1781, when an invading British army led by Phillips and Arnold defeated American militia led by von Steuben and Muhlenberg on April 25. Cornwallis joined his army to this one in Petersburg in May (the third largest British army of the entire war) and launched the campaign that would prove decisive in the Revolution. ending with Cornwallis's surrender at Yorktown.

After the Revolution, Petersburg was chartered as a town in 1784, merging the former towns of Petersburg, Blandford, & Poachontas, as well as several suburbs. However, Virginia's trans-Atlantic tobacco trade was slowly but surely taken over by New York merchants (Archibald Gracie for example left Petersburg to live in New York for this reason), but transportation improvements (roads, canals, steamboats, and then railroads), commission merchant and auction activities, and manufacturing enterprises (flour mills, tobacco factories, cotton mills, and iron foundries) kept Petersburg in a leadership role, economically and culturally. In 1860 Petersburg’s population of 18,500 had been far exceeded by many northern cities, but was the second largest in Virginia, seventh in the Confederate states, and Petersburg was the Confederacy’s second most important industrial city. The first Petersburg rail line (the Petersburg Railroad), extending to Weldon, North Carolina, was the first interstate railroad in the nation. By the time of the Civil War, Petersburg had rail lines running to Lynchburg (and thence to the great southwest); to the east to City Point and Norfolk; to the north to Richmond; and to the south to Weldon and thence to Wilmington.

Petersburg played a major role in the debates about slavery and secession leading up to the Civil War, and its importance as a trading, manufacturing, and transportation center led to its designation as headquarters for the military department of Southern Virginia and North Carolina throughout most of the war. For that reason also, the war came to Petersburg’s gates in May and June of 1864, and Petersburg suffered the longest Siege in North American history, a long struggle between the armies of Robert E. Lee and Ulyssses S. Grant that not only effectively ended the Civil War but also effectively ended the institution of slavery in the northern hemisphere (with the exception of Cuba). That is certainly how Abraham Lincoln viewed it in the days after the fall of Petersburg on 3 April 1865, when he paid two long visits to the city on April 3 and April 7.

Petersburg came out of the Civil War damaged far beyond the norm of Southern communities—a larger percentage of her men killed and wounded, 800 buildings struck by shells, many savaged by fire, all business and banking and industry come almost to a complete halt. To make matters worse, Richmond as capital of the Confederacy rather more than doubled in population in the 1860s, and many of Petersburg’s leading citizens left for the now much larger population center, where all the action was. Billy Mahone, who had built the Norfolk & Petersburg Railroad on the eve of the war, and was one of the Confederacy’s most effective general officers during the war, stayed in Petersburg afterward and consolidated his railroad with the South Side and the Virginia and Tennessee. The last Virginia owner of a major railroad, Mahone had to involve himself with Virginia politics in order to effect the consolidation, and after he lost the railroad anyway in 1877, he led the Readjuster movement that allied itself with Republicans and black Virginians and took control of the state. This resulted in two major black state institutions coming to Petersburg, Virginia State University and Central State Hospital, and made Petersburg somewhat of an anathema to the Conservative elite of the state, with long-lasting results. Mahone served a term as U.S. Senator, and his Petersburg ally William E. Cameron as governor. But by the 1880s, the Bourbons were firmly in control, effected Jim Crow laws, and got rid of the back vote, in fact most of the white vote, putting the state’s government in the hands of a business oligarchy.

Part of this movement was an effort to develop professional, businesslike operation of the government, free of interference (or involvement) by the uneducated public. One feature of this in Virginia was the invention of the council/manager form of government, created in Staunton early in the 20th century, and adopted by Petersburg very early, in 1920.

The first three decades of the 20th century saw several other major developments. First, the advent of the automobile brought new demands for easier turning radii, smoother roads, and filling stations, resulting in the demolition of a great deal of historic fabric. Second, the automobile and trolley together brought suburbs to the north and south of the city. The suburb to the north evolved by 1950 into the independent City of Colonial Heights; Walnut Hill, to the south, was eventually annexed by Petersburg.

Finally, World War One brought Camp Lee (now Fort Lee), sleazy red light districts, and fluctuating but very important employment. The Petersburg National Battlefield was largely carved out of Fort Lee in the 1920s, and the fort was revived in the Second World War. The most recent BRAC will nearly double the base population at Fort Lee by 1911, and will perhaps add two more Army museums.

The second half of the 20th century has seen the construction of I-95 and I-85, running directly through Petersburg; abandonment and then revival of interest in the old Petersburg Harbor; rampant suburbanization; construction of first one and then another mall, costing the inner city most of its retail business; loss of most of the city’s tobacco manufacturing business, so long the centerpiece of Petersburg’s industrial base; and a very strong local Civil Rights movement that provided national leadership, leading locally to integration and then rapid resegregation.

Today, while Petersburg’s school system has reached a nadir, there are many signs of revival, powered in substantial measure by history, preservation, and the arts.

Suggestions[edit]

  • No one has, or is claiming, rights to what I have written or write. I am willing to contribute what I put on these pages to Wikipedia.
  • I think that the format you are suggesting is good, using the bold for section headings.
  • However, I am determined to get this article a high ranking, preferably featured, but at least good.
  • The guidelines for WikiProject: Cities suggest holding the history to no more than ten paragraphs. The Paris article has recently been downgraded from GA to B, in part because the history section is too long. (It is twelve paragraphs.)
  • They suggest a way around this, to write a "Main Article" entitled, say, "History of Petersburg, Virginia." This has been used for other communities, including Richmond, although the Richmond article, I have to say, exceeds the limit greatly in the History section, having something like twenty-five paragraphs.
  • In short, I suggest a dual approach: writing a History section for the Petersburg article that at least doesn't exceed twenty paragraphs, & afterwards writing a "History of Petersburg" article. Twenty paragraphs would put both the section & the article in sight. We could cut from one &/or add to the other.
  • Between us, we now have twenty-two or so paragraphs in the Petersburg History section. If we continue to open up every stage of Petersburg history to the degree we seem to be headed, we'll end up with several hundred paragraphs.
  • Let me make a suggestion. Let's divide the history up into ten sections, each with two paragraphs, giving roughly eaqual weight to roughly equal portins of the time line:
    * Prehistory & contact, until 1643
* Fort Henry, Abraham Wood, explorations, & conflicts<br, until 1682
* Byrd I & Byrd II: from the Indian trade to tobacco, until 1733
* Tobacco, slavery, & Revolution, until 1784
* The Federal town: tobacco, cotton, & trade, until 1830
* The antebellum city: railroads & iron manufacturing, until 1861
* The Civil War, until 1865
* Reconstruction, readjustment, & reaction, until 1902
* Modernization, suburbs, & Fort Lee, umtil 1954
* Decline of center cities, civil rights, & revival, until the present


More tomorrow.
R. Dulaney Ward, Jr. (talk) 04:08, 4 August 2008 (UTC)

Dulaney: Thanks for the quick reply. Breaking down into a sub-article aka "The History of" is something I am familiar with, and off the top of my head, we have done it with Suffolk, Norfolk, Virginia Beach and Richmond articles I have worked on. Basically, in most such articles I have been involved with, until we had some good contributions and interest going, we let the content build in the main article, and then move it with only a condensed version remaining in the main one. With Wikipedia, the growth in articles is often uneven inasmuch as it is dependent upon the interest and areas of information of contributors. As you noticed, Richmond is one of those where you have many editors each with their own priorities, so it is more of an uncoordinated omnibus than anything headed for GA status.

About what I added above, it is quite likely that there is way too much detail, but I thought the source of the naming of things Henry, the link of church and state, and the significance of the fall line and tobacco were all items meaningful to understanding Petersburg specific stuff. I almost always end up with too much and some judicious editing by others sometimes benefits the end result. It is easier to trim it than expand it.

Also, the Public school system in Petersburg should have its own article. We need to be extra careful not to express opinions, pro or con. For an example of one which has gone overboard to where it almost reads like an ad, take a look at Henrico County Public Schools. A very negative article, even for poorly performing school division (i.e. Petersburg recently) is also not appropriate. basic facts and some realities seems to be a better balance to seek for each.

I am at work now and will have to spend a bit more time on this later today. I have a lot of other projects going and will have to limit my contributions to Petersburg, but I want to help your very worthy goals be accomplished.

BTW, A few Petersburg-related articles I have worked on, again off the top of my head, include Richmond-Petersburg Turnpike, William E. Cameron, William Mahone, Otelia B. Mahone, Chesterfield County and the Readjuster Party.

Mark in Historic Triangle of Virginia (talk) 08:39, 4 August 2008 (UTC)

The above looks good, but there is too much devoted to Jamestown, which is thoroughly covered elsewhere. This should stick to Petersburg. Also, since Petersburg was half black by 1860, with the largest free black population, there should be more effort to reflect substantive work in African American history of the last 25 years.--Parkwells (talk) 16:21, 28 December 2008 (UTC)

New Draft, following my suggested outline, first half of first section[edit]


Long before Europeans settled in the Petersburg area, the region was home to people who were unquestionably native to America. As early as some 17000 BP (15000 BCE), a band of pre-Clovis-culture people were living at Cactus Hill, on the Nottoway River, some twenty-five miles southeast of Petersburg. By 14000 BP (12000 BCE), Clovis-culture people had established a major manufacturing center ten miles south of Petersburg. The record of occupation has been continuous ever since, with the culture evolving from foragers of big and small game, to foragers who practiced some agriculture, beginning perhaps 4500 BP (2500 BCE), to the more sedentary riverine cultures of the Late Woodland Period (900-1600 CE). In the center of today’s Petersburg, at the Falls of the Appomattox, Native Americans gathered together every Spring for thousands of years for the annual run of anadromous fish. It was an important part of their economy, so year after year they carefully tended the large stone fish weir they had constructed to help trap the running fish. In 1570, Wahunsunacock (known as Powhatan) inherited six chiefdoms from his father, including the Appamattucks, who lived in the vicinity of Petersburg. In the four decades that followed, Wahunsunacock conquered or otherwise subjugated another twenty-five or more Algonquian-speaking chiefdoms. The Appamattucks were among the most important, as they controlled the southwest corner not only of Powhatan’s paramount chiefdom, but of the Eastern Algonquian world. Beyond the Appamattucks to the west and southwest were the Siouan-speaking Monocans, Occaneechi, and Saponi, and to the south the Iroquoian-speaking Nottoways, Meherrins, and Tuscaroras, with whom the Appamattucks alternatively traded and waged war. The paramount chiefdom ruled by Wahunsunacock was called Powhatan, of which he was mamanatowick, or paramount chief. The land itself was known as Tsenacommacoh, to use Strachey's spelling.

  • The above is the first of perhaps 20 paragraphs that I'll write, at least one a day, for the Petersburg article. I have used the chronology given by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, & my readings in Rountree, Jamestown Narratives, & other places. The fish weir is listed with Historic Resources, & has been verified by the best experts (Col. McCord, Hazard, etc.), but has perhaps not been published.
  • I'm already working on the next section, about the contact period between 1607 & 1643. I'll post it tomorrow.


R. Dulaney Ward, Jr. (talk) 21:32, 5 August 2008 (UTC)

  • Dulaney, I am also working on other Wikipedia projects. You are clearly more on top of the overall content needs and have set good goals for this one whichs eem within both your resources and ambition to accomplish. Please let me know if you need any assistance or have questions (format, etc.). I will look forward to seeing the improvements to this article, a worthy endeavor, may I add. Mark in Historic Triangle of Virginia (talk) 17:00, 9 August 2008 (UTC)



Second History Section: Exploration and Early English Settlement in the Appomattox Valley[edit]


On 8 May 1607, on their first voyage up the James River before founding Jamestown, the Virginia colonists encountered the Appamattuck werowance (or chief), Coquonasum, at the head of a fully-armed contingent of warriors, at the confluence of the James and the Appomattox rivers. After convincing the Appamattucks they had come in peace, the colonists explored the area, and then, on May 12, sailed back down the river, where they founded Jamestown on May 14. Captain John Smith and others led other exploratory parties into the land of the Appamattucks in the following months and years. Smith attempted to establish a settlement just below the Falls of the James in 1609, and Sir Thomas Dale established Henricus on the James River, ten miles from Petersburg, in 1611. In 1612, he destroyed the nearby mussaran (village) of the Appamattuck werowansqua Oppussonoquonuske, Coquonasum's sister, and in the following year established Bermuda Hundred at the confluence of the Appomattox and the James, in her former territory. These incursions into chiefdoms that Wahunsonacock had inherited from his father in 1570 led to the First Anglo-Powhatan War (1609-1614). In 1613, Matoaka (Pocahontas), Wahunsonacock’s favored daughter, was captured and brought to the Henricus/Bermuda Hundred area. There she met the widowed John Rolfe, who the year before had shipped to England the first successful crop of what he called Orinocotobacco, for centuries the foundation of the Virginia economy. Their 1614 marriage ushered in an era of good feeling between the Powhatans and the English. By 1616, Bermuda Hundred was the most populous settlement in the colony, with outposts upriver alongside the Appomattox, but after Dale’s and Pocahontas’s departure for England in that same year, the epicenter shifted back to Jamestown. The Powhatan attack on the colony in 1622, led by Wahunsonacock’s brother Opechancanough, killed as many as 400 settlers, nearly destroying the colony. The colony fiercely retaliated. Those chiefdoms known to have participated, such as the Appamattucks, who were subjected to repeated raids, destroying their towns and their crops, for a full decade (the Second Anglo-Powhatan War, 1622-1632). The colonists pulled back to settlements below Bermuda Hundred during this time, but, when hostilities wound down in the early 1630s, patents were issued for numerous tracts of land in both the James and Appomattox valleys, to the Falls of the Appomattox. The establishment of eight shires or counties in 1634, including Charles City and Henrico, attested to the population growth of the colony. In fact, population along the Appomattox had grown sufficiently by 1643 that Bristol Parish was established, running up the river on both sides, in both Henrico and Charles City counties.

R. Dulaney Ward, Jr. (talk) 19:13, 12 August 2008 (UTC)

Third Part of the History Section: Fort Henry & the Astounding Career of Abraham Wood[edit]


In 1644, as a result of the rapid expansion of the Virginia colony in the 1630s, Opechancanough, now nearly 100, led another devastating attack on the colony, but again it was not enough. In early 1646, the General Assembly established Fort Henry at the head of navigation on the Appomattox, but, within a few months, Opechancanough had been captured and was dead. By terms of the treaty ending the Third Anglo-Powhatan War (1644-1646), the boundary of the colony was established along the Blackwater River to its head (yapin), in the southern part of modern Franklin, and thence northwestward along a line that passed just west of Fort Henry. The Appamattucks were required to resettle beyond that western boundary, apparently alongside Rohoic Creek. The General Assembly in that same October 1646 session also privatized Fort Henry, conveying it to its commander, Abraham Wood, who had arrived in Virginia two decades earlier as an indentured servant boy, but steadily rose to a place in the colony's power elite. In 1650, he and Edward Bland, along with the Appamattuck brave Pyancha, led an exploratory expedition due south to the Roanoke Rapids area, making contact with the Iroquoian-speaking Nottoways, Meherrins, and Tuscaroras. In the next two decades, Wood built the largest Indian trade in Virginia, allying himself with both the Appamattucks and the Siouan-speaking Occanneechis, who lived on the Roanoke River just below its confluence with the Dan. He rose both in military affairs, to Major General of Militia after 1656, and in political affairs, first named Burgess and then to the Virginia Council. Around 1670, Wood and others launched a program of major exploration, encouraged by Governor Berkeley, probably as a response to the establishment of the Carolina colony. In 1670, the German John Lederer, sent out by Governor Berkeley from the Falls of the James, arrived at Fort Henry at the end of his epic one-man journey through North Carolina. In 1671, Wood himself sent an expedition westward, led by Thomas Batte and Robert Fallam or Hallam. They went straight westward, discovered the westward-flowing New River and proceeded on, apparently, to the Tug Fork of the Big Sandy, thus establishing Engand's claim to the Ohio River Basin. In 1673, Wood again sent out an expedition, led by James Needham and Gabriel Arthur, toward the southwest, in an effort to bypass the Occaneechis and make direct contact with Native American peoples in the Carolina Piedmont and mountains. But the Occaneechis were not amused; they killed Needham and harrassed the rest of the party. Arthur, on the other hand, was taken by a traveling group of Tomahitans to their town, apparently in northwestern Georgia, and accompanied raiding parties of Tomahitans to the area of Charleston, South Carolina, to a Spanish settlement in Florida or southern Georgia, to Mobile Bay, and finally up the west Flank of the Great Smokies to West Virginia and Kentucky. Taken together, these expeditions were the most important undertaken in English North American in the second half of the 17th century.

Fourth Part of the History Section: Bacon's Rebellion and the Collapse of the Fort Henry Indian Trade[edit]


Then, in 1675, trouble broke out on the Virginia frontier. The Iroquoian-speaking Susquehannocks, driven south out of Pennsylvania by the Iroquoian Five Nations, and treacherously savaged by a group of Virginians, began raiding along the Virginia frontier. In response, in early March of 1675/76, the General Assembly authorized the construction of a new fort at Fort Henry, but it was never built. Instead, in April, a group of up-country settlers led by Nathaniel Bacon and William Byrd I, Wood's principal rivals in the Indian trade, took aggressive action, marching to the Occaneechi town on the Roanoke, demanding that the Occaneechis attack and destroy a nearby encampment of Susquehannocks, and then treacherously savaging the Occaneechis themselves. After raiding the Appamattucks, Bacon turned his attention to Jamestown, where the expedition turned into full-blown rebellion. Before Bacon burned the capital, however, Byrd pulled out, saving his career. Bacon sickened and died, the rebellion collapsed, and England sent troops to stabilize the colony. Many were hanged. Fort-Henry-area men had taken part on both sides, though Wood himself, though an ally of Governor Berkeley, seemed to have played a negligible role. A new treaty with the Virginia Indians was signed at Middle Plantation in 1677, but left out the Appamattucks. In 1680, apparently due to Wood's efforts, a new Treaty of Middle Plantation included the Appamttucks. In the same year, Wood patently the land along Rohoic Creek near Fort Henry, apparently where the Appamattuck town was located, perhaps to protect his allies from encroachment by others. However, before the Indian trade, banned during the hostilities of Bacon's rebellion, could get well under way again, first Wood's son-in-law Peters Jones (1681) and then Wood himself (1682) died, eliminating the leadership of the Fort Henry trading operation. In 1685, the Appamattucks petitioned to live among the English. The sole remaining remnant of their chiefdom was last seen living on William Byrd's meadow in 1705.R. Dulaney Ward, Jr. (talk) 21:18, 12 August 2008 (UTC) [In my edits to the above, I have made minor edits, clarified some statements, and divided the paragraph into two parts to increase readability. I will soon post the fifth and sixth parts of the history. I am more and more inclined to post what I do here, augmented by references, as a separate article, The History of Petersburg, Virginia, and then cut what I have to ten paragraphs, and post those as the history section of the main article on Petersburg. R. Dulaney Ward, Jr. (talk) 03:48, 20 October 2008 (UTC)]

African American history in Petersburg[edit]

I've added material from other research and from leads discovered in historic districts, etc., especially on mid-20th century civil rights movement and leaders, and the role of major churches.--Parkwells (talk) 14:19, 1 January 2009 (UTC)

  1. ^ c.f. Anishinaabe language: danakamigaa: "activity-grounds", i.e. "land of much events [for the People"
  2. ^ Virginia Indian Tribes
  3. ^ Virginia Indian Tribes
  4. ^ A Brief History of Jamestown, Virginia
  5. ^ Chesapeake Bay Journal: Even stripped of Hollywood hype, Pocahontas remains a legend - September 2000