January 11, 2009

Colonel Porcher Taylor, Retired, Ph.D. presented an informative and inspiring history of the Tuskegee Airmen. Dr. Taylor is a life member of TAI (Tuskegee Airmen Inc.) and organizer of the Colonel Howard Baugh Chapter in Petersburg. His informative history and portrayal of the Tuckegee Airmen was an inspiring presentation to the members and visitors. Dr. Taylor spoke on the beginnings of the Tuckegee Airmen includig their training and the racial injustices they faced while bravely serving their country. From the beginning, the Tuskegee Airmen were America's first black military airmen, young men who were dedicated and patriotic citizens. They enlisted at a time when people believed that black men did not possess the intelligence, skill and dedication to belong to the military. But each man had the desire to serve to the best of their ability and serve proudly in spite of experiences of racism at home and overseas. Dr. Taylor told many stories of the Tuskegee Airmen and brought their courage, personalities and military exploits to life. The black airmen were trained at Tuskegee Army Air Field (TAAF) in Tuskegee, Alabama to pilot single-engine or multi-engine planes. The first class of thirteen began in 1941 and one of the graduates was Captain Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., a West Point Academy graduate. Between 1941 and 1946 there were over 990 pilots who graduated. After World War II, Tuskegee Army Air Field continued to train airmen and in 1946, women entered the program in support fields. Many of the black airmen continued to reamin in the service after the War. They were known for their outstanding record during the war and this continued when they returned home. In 1948, President Harry Truman enacted Executive Order Number 9981 which provided for equality of treatment and opportunity in all of the United States Armed Forces. This led to the end of racial segregation in the military and ultimately was the beginning of racial integration in the United States. Dr. Taylor's concluding remarks included the Tuskegee Airmen ultimately receiving the recognition they deserved. Even though it was many years later, the black airmen were awarded the Tuskegee Airmen Congressional Gold Medal. In additon to Dr. Taylor's presentation more information may be found on the Tuskegee Airmen website at including flight school graduates, members, official newsletters, the National Historic Site, documentaries, photos and videos and much more.

September 13, 2009

Dawn Holmes of the Petersburg Historic Blandford Cemetery Foundation, Petersburg, Virginia, presented a powerpoint program on the Blandford Cemetery including historical and interesting facts about the cemetery, especially the momuments. Dawn Holmes is employed part-time with the Peterburg Department of Tourism; Vice-President for Publicity for Historic Blandford Cemetery Foundaion; Secretary, Ladies Memorial Association of Petersburg and First Vie-Presidet of the Tri-City Area Republican Women. She received her B.A. in International Studies and her M.A. in Travel and Tourism. She is a "rolling stone which has gained a lot of moss" and is pretty much military to the core. She is British having been born in London. Her mother is apianist and her father had a career in the Royal Air Force. She served in the British Army Nurse Corp and was a United Statews military spouse for many years and one of her sons is a Virginia National Guard JAG officer. She has had the good fortune to live and work all around the world. A US citizen for 10 years and has two sons, two fabulous daughters-in-law and four unbelieverable grandchildren. Her passions are naturally her family, learning and sharing the incredible history around us and this great country.

"The Historic Blandford Cemetery Foundation, Inc., was founded in 1987 and is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization dedicated to the security, restoration, and preservation of the cemetery. Its accomplishments include the placement of the cemetery on the State and National Registers of Historic Places, the ongoing survey of every stone, fence, and structure in the cemetery and the computerization of this data. The Foundation has also completed the rebuilding of the entrance gateways, the plantings along Crater Road, restoration of much of the ironwork and the hiring of a security patrol to aid in the prevention of any further vandalism to the cemetery." The website is: "The Foundation's latest project was the publication in November 2005 of its book, BLANDFORD CEMETERY-LIFE AND DEATH AT PETERSBURG VIRGINIA by John O. Peters. A visual treat, this lavishly illustrated book, tells the story of Blandford Cemetery in Petersburg, Virginia, a Virginia Landmark listed on the National Register of Historic places. The book, traces the history of this beautiful and extraordinary site that has survived since the 18th cemetery and remains an active cemetery today, while featuring its outstanding collection of historic funerary art, sculpture and ironwork. Photographs both contemporary and historical, postcards, drawings, and memorabilia are used to illustrate the Cemetery's story. Throughout the text, the author discusses Americans' changing attitudes toward death and artistic taste, describes developments in the funeral business and burial customs, and related events in the history of the Petersburg area to Blandford Cemetery. The book shows that Blandford is important not by reason of its association with anyone period or event, but because it lends insight into the panoply of life at the falls of the Appomattox River over the past three hundred years. The book includes 160 photographs and illustrations and an illustrated map of the Old Burial Ground." The book is $45.00 tax included and is available from the Historic Blandford Cemetery Foundation, 250 South Sycamore Street, Petersburg, Virginia 23803.

March 8, 2009

Carol Bowman, President of the Prince George Historical Society, spoke on the Society's experiences in retoring the historic Prince George Courthouse. Since the Sussex County, Virginia Historical Society is planning to retore the Sussex County Courthouse, this was an informative presentation and will aid with the planned restoration project.

May 3, 2009

Henry Kidd, a fine Virginia artist and author of Petersburg War on the Doorsteps; A Historicla Novel where all the History is True.

September 14, 2008


Our regular meeting was held at Christ Church, 203 East Main Street, Waverly, Virginia. Gary Williams, Clerk of Sussex County and a parishoner of the church, presented the history of Christ ChurcH.

From its inception in 1883 until 1931, this church was located on West Main Street in the building first built as a Township Hall in 1870. Later on this former church building became the town library. Around 1980, a parish fellowship hall was added to the building when the Reverend Brian C. Hobden was rector. Thus, it was named Hobden Hall. The first minister was The Reverend Valentine Jones of Petersburg, Virginia. Richard Watson Arnold and his wife, Ida Prince Arnold, who lived next door, were insrumental in starting this church, along with C. J. Gibson and the said Reverend Valentine Jones. Unfortunately, the original records of the church disappeared around 1940. The church was formed because there were enough prospective communicants in proximity of the town of Waverly, chartered in 1879 to establish a church at this place. Another Episcopal church, Emmanuel, was established at Wakefield in 1888. When it closed in 1932, its assets were turned over to Christ Church, where its pews, communion vessels and bible, survive. The pulpit bible at Christ Church orginially belonged to Emmanuel which was located in the vicinity of Sussex Courthouse in 1840s. The Episcopal church, which has had a relatively small following since it fell heir to the Church of England following the Revolution, was the established Church during the Colonial period. Christ Church is the surviving church of Albemarle Parish, which, when created in 1739, embraced what became Sussex County in 1754 and included all the citizens within its confines as its members, black and white. The Albemarle Parish Register (1739-1778) survives as a testament to that distant era when all who lived here were communicants of the Established Church.


March 9, 2008

David Primeaux of the Historic Petersburg Foundation David Primeaux and his wife Nancy bought a Petersburg "double house" in 2000. Built in 1867, the house was vacant and dilapidated, required total renovation. They were able to move into their home in 2001. Since then, David has been active in civic affairs, becoming a member of Petersburg's Architectural Review Board, the Folly Castle Historic District Neighborhood Associaiton, and the Historic Petersburg Foundation of which he has served as President. The mission of the Historic Petersburg Foundation is to serve as a catalyst in the preservation and development of Petersburg's historic neighborhood and commercial areas and to promote widespread knowledge of the city's unique architectural and historical heritage. Highlights: revitalizing High Street through the restoration of some of its key residential structures; helping return the Dunlop Tobacco Factory and Appomattox Iron Works to productive use and saving from demolition the Wallce-Seward House, Strawberry Hill, and Mayfield. (http://www.historicpetersburg,org/aboutpf.htm)


September 9, 2007

Mary Anna Richardson, an APVA (Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities) staff archeologist with the Jamestown Rediscovery Project. Ms. Richardson has been with the Jamestown Rediscdovery Project for two years and her program, accompanied with slides of the project was extremely informative and captivating. She included in her presentation how she ecame interested in the project when she began with Dr.l Kelson at the beginning of the project and has continued through present-day excavation.



History of Sussex County Historical Society

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Photos of Interest

History of Sussex County, Virginia

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