Southampton County: Wikis


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Southampton County, Virginia
Seal of Southampton County, Virginia
Map of Virginia highlighting Southampton County
Location in the state of Virginia
Map of the U.S. highlighting Virginia
Virginia's location in the U.S.
Seat Courtland
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

602 sq mi (1,559 km²)
599 sq mi (1,551 km²)
3 sq mi (8 km²), 0.46%
 - (2000)
 - Density

28/sq mi (11/km²)
Founded 1749

Southampton County is a county located in the Commonwealth of Virginia, a state of the United States. As of the 2000 census, the population was 17,482. Its county seat is Courtland[1].



During the 17th century, shortly after establishment of the Jamestown Settlement in 1607, English settlers explored and began settling the areas adjacent to Hampton Roads. In 1634, the English colony of Virginia was divided into eight shires (or counties) with a total population of approximately 5,000 inhabitants. Most of Southampton County was originally part of Warrosquyoake Shire. The shires were soon to be called counties. Warrosquyoake Shire was renamed Isle of Wight County in 1637.

In 1749, the portion of Isle of Wight County west of the Blackwater River became Southampton County. Later, part of Nansemond County, which is now the Independent City of Suffolk, was added to Southampton County.

Southampton County may have been named for Southampton, a major city in England, or for Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton, one of the founders of the Virginia Company and a supporter of colonization in North America.

Notable residents

Nat Turner

In 1831, Southampton County was the location of the most serious slave rebellion in United States history. On the night of August 21, 1831, the infamous Southampton Insurrection, led by a slave named Nat Turner and often known as Nat Turner's Rebellion, resulted in the deaths of 55 white men, women and children.

Although the rebellion was suppressed within 48 hours, for a week in the resulting frenzy of fear, responding troops and militia from Virginia and North Carolina rounded up and punished enslaved and free blacks, both participants and non-participants. They killed at least 100 blacks, and probably many more, often brutally.[2] The number of black victims far exceeded the number of rebels, so innocent persons were executed before any trials were held.

Forty-eight black men and women were tried on charges of conspiracy, insurrection, and treason. In all, eighteen blacks, one of whom was female, were convicted and sentenced to execution by hanging. Turner eluded capture for months. On October 30, he was discovered in a swamp by a white farmer and arrested. On November 5, 1831, Nat Turner was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. He was hanged on November 11 at the county seat of Jerusalem, which was later renamed Courtland.

In the aftermath of the revolt, new laws across the South prohibited education of free blacks and mulattoes, as well as slaves, in addition to establishing new rules against gathering in groups, worship without a white man present, and withdrawal of citizens' rights for free blacks, such as voting and bearing arms.

George Henry Thomas

U.S. Major General George Henry Thomas (1816-1870) was born at Newsom's Depot. In 1831, Thomas, his sisters, and his widowed mother were forced to flee from their home and hide in the nearby woods in the wake of Nat Turner's slave rebellion.[3] It was illegal to educate slaves in Virginia, however Thomas taught his family's 15 slaves to read.[4]

He was appointed to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, and he served in the U.S. Army for 20 years before the American Civil War broke out in 1861.

At that time, many Southern-born officers were torn between loyalty to their states and loyalty to their country. Thomas struggled with the decision but opted to remain with the United States. His Northern-born wife and his dislike of slavery probably helped influence his decision. In line for an appointment by the Governor of Virginia to become Commandant of Cadets at Virginia Military Institute (VMI), he turned the opportunity down and remained in the Union Army. In response, his family turned his picture against the wall, destroyed his letters, and never spoke to him again. (During the economic hard times in the South after the war, Thomas sent some money to his sisters, who angrily refused to accept it, declaring they had no brother.) Thomas held many commands during the War, including leading the Army of the Cumberland. He earned the rank of Major General.

William Mahone

William Mahone (1826-1895), a railroad builder and U.S. Senator, was born in the tiny community of Monroe, which was located on the Nottoway River about 8 miles (13 km) south of present-day Courtland. His parents were Fielding and Martha Mahone. They moved to Jerusalem in 1840, where Fielding Mahone ran a hotel (tavern). Young Billy Mahone attended Virginia Military Institute (VMI), trained as a civil engineer, and graduated in the class of 1847. He worked as a school teacher before, in 1853, he was hired to build the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad (Now a part of Norfolk Southern).

In 1855, he married Otelia Butler (1837-1911), the daughter of the late Dr. Robert Butler of Smithfield, who had been Virginia State Treasurer prior to his death in 1853. Popular legend has it that the Mahones traveled along the newly completed Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad naming stations. Otelia was reading Ivanhoe a book written by Sir Walter Scott. From his historical Scottish novels, Otelia chose the place names of Windsor, Waverly and Wakefield.

Otelia Mahone is said to have tapped the Scottish Clan "McIvor" for the name of Ivor. Later, when they could not agree, it is said that they became even more creative, and invented a new name, which is how the tiny community of Disputanta was created. The N&P railroad was completed in 1858.

William Mahone became a Major General in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War, while Otelia Mahone served as a nurse in Richmond. After the War, he returned to railroading. He later led the state's Readjuster Party, helped obtain funding to create the school which became Virginia State University near Petersburg, and became a Senator in the United States Congress.

A large portion of U.S. Route 460 between Petersburg and Suffolk is named in honor of General William Mahone.


Southampton County from 1895 map of Virginia

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 602 square miles (1,560 km²), of which, 600 square miles (1,553 km²) of it is land and 3 square miles (7 km²) of it (0.46%) is water.

Southampton County is bounded by the Blackwater River on the east and the Meherrin River on the west. The Nottoway River flows through the center of the county. All three rivers are tributaries of the Chowan River, which flows south into Albemarle Sound, North Carolina. The Blackwater River separates Southampton County from Isle of Wight County, and the Meherrin River separates it from Greensville County.

Adjacent counties / independent cities


As of the census[5] of 2000, there were 17,482 people, 6,279 households, and 4,502 families residing in the county. The population density was 29 people per square mile (11/km²). There were 7,058 housing units at an average density of 12 per square mile (5/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 55.96% White, 42.87% Black or African American, 0.20% Native American, 0.18% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.25% from other races, and 0.53% from two or more races. 0.66% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 6,279 households out of which 30.80% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.10% were married couples living together, 13.50% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.30% were non-families. 24.90% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.53 and the average family size was 3.02.

In the county, the population was spread out with 22.70% under the age of 18, 8.80% from 18 to 24, 29.20% from 25 to 44, 25.00% from 45 to 64, and 14.20% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 111.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 112.50 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $33,995, and the median income for a family was $41,324. Males had a median income of $32,436 versus $20,831 for females. The per capita income for the county was $16,930. About 11.70% of families and 14.60% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.90% of those under age 18 and 14.50% of those age 65 or over.


Unincorporated communities


  1. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  
  2. ^ Aptheker, American Negro Slave Revolts, p. 301, citing the Huntsville, Alabama, Southern Advocate, October 15, 1831.
  3. ^ Cleaves, pp. 6-7; O'Connor, p. 60.
  4. ^ Furgurson, p.57.
  5. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  

External links

Coordinates: 36°43′N 77°07′W / 36.72°N 77.11°W / 36.72; -77.11


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