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History

Native American Inhabitants
English Colonization
African American History
Civil War
Agricultural History
 

Native American Inhabitants

The first inhabitants of the Franklin Southampton region were the Native American tribes of the Cheroenhaka Indians and the Nottoway Indians. Both tribes are still active in the community today. To learn more about the Cheroenhaka and Nottoway Indians visit their websites below:

Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe
P.O. Box 397
Courtland, VA 23837
757-562-7760
www.cheroenhaka-nottoway.org

Cheroenhaka Indian Tribe

Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia
P.O. Box 246
Capron, VA 23829
http://www.nottowayindians.org

Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia

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English Colonization

The first English settlement, Jamestown, was established in 1607 and to this day is only a 30-mile drive and a ferry ride across the James River. Shortly after the Jamestown Settlement, settlers explored and began settling the area known today as Hampton Roads. The English colony of Virginia was originally divided into eight counties with a total population of approximately 5,000 inhabitants. Southampton County was originally part of "Warrasquoyocke", one of the eight shires making up the Colony of Virginia. The shire was renamed Isle of Wight in 1637. It wasn't until 1749 the portion of Isle of Wight County west of the Blackwater River became Southampton County. It is believed the County received its name for the borough of Southampton in England.

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African American History

The City of Franklin and Southampton County have deep roots in African American culture and can be traced back to the early colonization of Hampton Roads. One of the most famous historical moments in African American history, the Nat Turner Rebellion of 1831, took place in Southampton County. The rebellion was the nation's largest slave revolt. The rebellion cost the lives of 60 white men, women and children. The aftermath resulted in the execution of an equal number of slaves and numerous murders around the country from angry protests. Nat Turner's rebellion had enormous impact across the world and set in action the abolition of slavery in England in 1833 and the rest of Europe. The U.S. Government narrowly lost a vote to do the same shortly after the rebellion.    

Today you can retrace the steps of Nat Turner's Rebellion through the Town of Courtland, learn many more interesting facts, and view artifacts, such as Nat Turner's machete used during the revolt.

Southampton Historical Society
(757) 653-9554
26135 Heritage Lane
Courtland, VA 23837

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Civil War

The City of Franklin and Southampton County saw many skirmishes throughout the Civil War. You can find numerous historical Civil War markers throughout the area identifying their locations. One of the most notable battles took place in 1862 in Franklin and is referred to as the Joint Expedition against Franklin. Several U.S. Navy gunboat steamships, led by USS Commodore Perry, attempted to pass through Franklin on the Blackwater River. Local Confederates opened fire on the ships, forcing the ships' retreat, which caused five naval casualties and 16 people to be wounded. Today, historical markers in downtown Franklin mark the location where Commodore Perry began his retreat back down the Blackwater River.

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Agricultural History

Farming and the rural way of life play a strong role in the Franklin Southampton Community. Southampton County is the number one county in the state of Virginia for the most family-owned farms in ownership for over 100 years. These are known as "Century Farmers". Even today, Southampton County consistently ranks in the top five of Virginia counties yielding the largest harvest of peanuts, soy, corn, cotton, and timber. The number of wild turkeys and deer harvested in the county also continually ranks in the top of the Commonwealth.

The local timber supply perhaps had the greatest impact on the community and gave rise to the City of Franklin. In 1887, Franklin's growth began with the Camp family's operation of a saw mill along the Blackwater River. After numerous years of growth and expansions, the mill began to make paper products and merged with Union Bag and Paper in 1956, forming the Union Camp Corporation. The Franklin headquarters and operation became a Fortune 500 company and was the largest paper plant east of the Mississippi River. Eventually, Union Camp sold to International Paper in 1999. The mill has since closed however, the Camp Family legacy lives on through many community buildings throughout the city branded with their name. You can visit numerous homes, sites, and museums throughout the Franklin Southampton Community highlighting the importance of agriculture and the Camp Family history.

Elm's House (Camp Family History)
The Elms Foundation
717 Clay Street
Franklin, VA 23851
(757) 562-3439

Franklin Southampton Visitor's Center
www.downtownfranklinva.org
120 South Main Street
Franklin, VA 23851
(757) 562-6900

Southampton Agriculture Museum
26135 Heritage Lane
Courtland, VA 23837
(757) 653-9554

Southampton County’s Century Farms
http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/century/southampton.shtml

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