In 1831, the County was the scene of the infamous Southampton Insurrection. Nat Turner, a slave lay minister who felt he had been called by God to help lead the black people from bondage, led the slave uprising, beginning at his master's home. 58 men, women and children were killed by the insurrectionists, who were dispersed by the local militia. Turner was eventually captured and hanged. The revolt and its aftermath are said to be a major contributing factor to the Civil War and to the abolishment of slavery.
Dred Scott briefly lived in Southampton County, which became the partial setting for Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel, Dred.
African Americans from Southampton County served in both Confederate and Union units during the Civil War.
From May 1862 until the end of the war in 1865, the "Blackwater Line" (i.e. the Blackwater River) was the dividing line between Union and Confederate forces in Tidewater, Virginia. Confederate troops tried to stave off Union forces intent on advancing to take Richmond. In the spring of 1864, Grant's Union army encircled Petersburg, severing the County's ties with the state and Confederate governments.
Southampton County was home to two Civil War generals…one from each side. General George H. Thomas, the "Rock of Chickamauga", served the Union and General William Mahone, a Confederate, was known as the "Hero of the Crater".
Historic Courtland Walking Tour
Beginning at the Southampton County Courthouse on Main Street, the free, self-guided tour continues onto the Courtland Confederate Monument, Courtland Baptist Church, Southampton Agriculture & Forestry Museum, Mahone's Tavern, St. Luke's Protestant Episcopal Church, Bell House, Seven gables Home, the Rochelle-Prince House, the Shands House, the Walter Cecil Rawls Library and end at the Rawls Museum Arts. For a free brochure or for more information, please contact:
Town of Courtland
The childhood home of Confederate General William Mahone is a private residence located at 22341 Main Street, Courtland, Virginia 23837
The birthplace of Union General George Thomas is a private residence located at 28537 Chickamauga Drive, Newsoms, Virginia 23874
Part of the Historic Courtland Walking Tour, this historic home was built in the early 1800's by the Rochelle family. James Rochelle was clerk of the Southampton County court during the trial of Nat Turner and his followers. His nephew was George Thomas, a Union General in the Civil War, and his son, James Henry Rochelle was a prominent figure in the US Navy and Confederate Navy. US President John Tyler's son, John Tyler, Jr., married Mattie Rochelle and they raised their family in this home. Owned and maintained by the Southampton County Historical Society, this house was donated through the generosity of the late Ann Louisa Prince. Today, the Rochelle-Prince House is a museum and is open to the public on the first and third Sundays from May through December. Contact the Southampton County Historical Society for more information: P.O. Box 112, Courtland, VA 23837, 757-654-6785, www.rootsweb.com/~vaschs
22371 Main Street
Courtland, VA 23837
The earliest inhabitants of Southampton County were Native Americans, Nottoway and Meherrin tribes, who settled mainly along the rivers that now bear their names. As more and more settlers came to the area, the Native Americans dispersed and those remaining were collected in reservations. Currently, many descendents of the Nottoway tribe live in Southampton County today. For more information, contact:
Walter D. "Red Hawk" Brown, III
Chief, Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe
For more information about the Meherrin tribe, please contact:
Meherrin Tribal Office
P.O. Box 508
Winton, NC 27986
The Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia, Inc. is an organized Tribe of Nottoway Indians. We live in the traditional territorial area of the historic Nottoway Tribe including, Southampton County into Surry County and the Tidewater region. The governmental structure is democratic, based on an Iroquoian style of governance with a preeminent Tribal Council and ceremonial Chiefs.
Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia, Inc.
P.O. Box 246 Capron, VA. 23829
Chief Lynette Allston (434) 658-4454
Assistant Chief Archie Elliott (757) 686-8602
For more information about Southampton County's history, contact:
Southampton County Historical Society
P.O. Box 112
Courtland, VA 23837