You asked: Jerusalem renamed Courtland in 1888 due to railroad completion

Published 11:13 am Saturday, June 16, 2012

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You asked: Why was Jerusalem renamed Courtland and when?

COURTLAND—The most widely held belief as to why Jerusalem was renamed dates back to 1888 when the Atlantic and Danville railroad was completed and residents could ride the train to Norfolk to shop, according to Southampton County Historical Society Vice President Kitty Futrell.

“They would go into the shops and people would say ‘here come those Arabs from Jerusalem,’” Futrell said. “They got tired of it, and petitioned for a new name.”

Historical Society President Lynda Updike said Fannie Barnett, the postmistress at the time, suggested the name change.

Futrell said she believes the name Courtland was chosen because of the courthouse.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the reason,” she said. “I think Jerusalem is much better. I’m sorry they ever changed it.”

The book, “Southampton County, Virginia” by Thomas C. Parramore indicates the first town in the county once it was split from Isle of Wight in 1749 was named the Town at the Courthouse. Jerusalem was established in 1791.

The name Jerusalem could’ve been picked to highlight the importance of religion in the area at that time, Futrell said.

“In the late 1700s, religion was very important to the people,” she said. “They wanted a Biblical name.”