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History

History

Our area, known as Virginia’s Heartland, is rich in history that tells a story of courage and perseverance. Located in the Heart of Virginia, the Farmville Area includes the Town of Farmville, the County of Cumberland and the County of Prince Edward.

Prince Edward County dates to 1754, Cumberland County to 1749, and the Town of Farmville to 1798. Farmville soon became the center of trade, education, law and finance for the surrounding seven counties, a position it maintains today, as the largest municipality between Richmond and Lynchburg. It is home to many successful businesses, industries, and cultural and educational organizations. Hampden-Sydney College, a selective private four-year college, was founded in 1776; Longwood University, chartered in 1839 as Farmville Female Seminary, was the first state teacher training college in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Patrick Henry, five-time Governor of Virginia, served as Prince Edward’s representative in the Virginia General Assembly. As the county’s representative, he participated with John Randolph in debates over the ratification of the U.S. Constitution.

Lee's Retreat

The first call for independence came from Cumberland County – when the certainty of the approaching conflict came, Cumberland led the Colonies in calling for a completely independent American nation. On April 22, 1776, from the balcony of Effingham Tavern, Carter H. Harrison read the Committee’s instructions to the county delegates to the State Convention: “We therefore, your constituents, instruct you positively to declare for an Independency, that you solemnly abjure any allegiance to His Britannic Majesty and bid him a good night forever…” The Virginia Convention decided to follow Cumberland’s lead, and this resulted in the Virginian Resolutions, which were presented to the Continental Congress and embodied in the Declaration of Independence.

Civil War

The Civil War left its mark on Farmville, with its last major battle at nearby Sayler’s Creek. Lee retreated directly through the town, and the Confederates crossed and then attempted to burn the railroad's impressive High Bridge, a 120-foot-high, nearly half-mile-long span across the Appomattox River. The bridge and other sites along Lee’s Retreat are part of the state’s Civil War Trails.

Farmville is also home to some key players in the early fight for civil rights; its citizens’ crusade for equal rights in education drew Martin Luther King, Jr. and other national leaders to visit our area. The Robert Russa Moton High School, site of the 1951 student strike, is a National Historic Landmark, a civil rights museum, and the centerpiece of Virginia’s Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail, honoring the efforts of local students and citizens who paved the way for integrated public education nationwide.

After 250 years, our area continues to exemplify all that is best about the American way of life.

Seven historic buildings and two historic districts in the County of Prince Edward are listed on the Virginia Register of Historic Places:

• Briery Church was constructed in 1760 and was the first structure in Prince Edward to be listed on the Virginia Historic Register. (Rt. 747 – Briery Church Road)

• Debtor’s Prison, a small, solid log jail for debtors was built in 1787. (Rt. 15 – Farmville Road)

• Old Prince Edward County Clerk’s Office, now known as Worsham Clerk’s Office, served as the first clerk’s office at Prince Edward Courthouse. (Rt. 15 – Farmville Road)

• Falkland, a large, framed plantation house was built in 1815 by the Watkins family, important figures in the early history of Prince Edward County and Hampden-Sydney College. (Rt. 632 – Falkland Road)

• Buffalo Presbyterian Church, 1804

• Farmville Historic District, 1830-1930

• Hampden Sydney- College Historic District, 1756-1840

• Longwood House 1811

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