Local historical markers listed in ‘Virginia History Trails’

Published 6:40 pm Friday, February 8, 2019


American Evolution, a sub-agency of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation intended to commemorate the 400th anniversary of several historical events that occurred in Virginia in 1619, recently listed two local historical highway markers on its Virginia History Trails smartphone app.

Now included in the app’s list of 400 “known, untold and under-told” stories of Virginia history are the Dred Scott and the Blow Family highway marker in Southampton County, and the Camp Manufacturing Company marker in Isle of Wight County, just outside the city of Franklin.

The Dred Scott marker, located near the town of Capron, states that Scott, a slave, lived as a child northeast of the marker on the Peter Blow plantation in the early 1800s. The Blows later moved to Missouri and, in 1830, sold Scott to an Army officer who was stationed in various free territories. Scott sued for his and his family’s freedom in 1846 on the grounds that he now lived where slavery was illegal, but in 1857, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Congress could not outlaw slavery, and that Scott was property, not a citizen. The Dred Scott decision outraged abolitionists and further divided the nation. However, that same year, Blow’s sons purchased Scott’s freedom. Scott died in 1858.

The Camp Manufacturing Company marker states that the industrial complex now owned by International Paper evolved from a sawmill that operated on the same land prior to the Civil War. In 1887, three brothers — Paul D. Camp, James L. Camp and Robert J. Camp — founded the Camp Manufacturing Company, which later became Union Camp Corporation. The lumbering enterprise pioneered a program to purchase land as well as timber rights, allowing extensive reforestation efforts. It eventually became a major producer of paper, paperboard, lumber and particleboard, using the Blackwater River and the railroads to transport raw materials and manufactured products in the Western Tidewater area.

Yuri Milligan, associate director of marketing and communications for the American Evolution 2019 Commemoration, explained that while there are over 200 physical locations listed on the app, the reason some historical markers are listed, rather than the sites themselves, is because those sites either no longer exist or are not open to tourists.

As for what events worthy of commemoration occurred in 1619, Milligan said that from July 30 through Aug. 4 of that year, the first “General Assembly,” composed of men from each of Virginia’s then 11 major settlements, met for the first time at Jamestown, planting the seed of democracy in America. Late August 1619 is also the first recorded instance of Africans arriving in America, which occurred at Point Comfort – now known as Fort Monroe near Hampton. In November 1619, 147 English women were recruited to join Jamestown’s male settlers, building permanency in the Virginia colony. And, in December of that year, a group of English settlers held Virginia’s first official Thanksgiving ceremony upon their safe arrival at Berkeley Hundred (now known as Charles City County.)

The Virginia History Trails app is free and can be downloaded at: https://www.americanevolution2019.com/engage/va-history-trails/.