Prince Edward County, Virginia


Prince Edward County, Virginia

Infobox U.S. County
county = Prince Edward County
state = Virginia




map size = 225
founded = 1754
seat = Farmville | area_total_sq_mi =354
area_water_sq_mi =1
area percentage = 0.31%
census yr = 2000
pop = 19720
density_km2 =22
web = www.co.prince-edward.va.us
|

Prince Edward County is a county located in the U.S. state — officially, "Commonwealth" — of Virginia. As of the 2000 census, the population was 19,720. Its county seat is FarmvilleGR|6.

History

Origin, Worsham, Farmville

Prince Edward County, Virginia was formed in the Virginia Colony in 1754 from Amelia County. It was named for Prince Edward Augustus, son of Frederick, Prince of Wales and younger brother of George III of the United Kingdom.

The original county seat housed the courthouse and was called Prince Edward Courthouse; it is now the village of Worsham.

Near the headwaters of the Appomattox River, the Town of Farmville was formed in 1798, and was incorporated in 1912. The county seat was moved from Worsham to Farmville in 1871.

Railroads

In the 1850s, the South Side Railroad between Petersburg and Lynchburg was built through Farmville between Burkeville and Pamplin City. The route, which was subsidized by a contribution from Farmville, required an expensive crossing of the Appomattox River slightly downstream which became known as the High Bridge.

The South Side Railroad was heavily damaged during the American Civil War. The High Bridge played a key role during Confederate General Robert E. Lee's final retreat from Petersburg to Appomattox Courthouse, where the surrender to Union General Ulysses S. Grant took place in April, 1865.

After the Civil War, under the leadership of former Confederate General William "Billy" Mahone, the South Side Railroad was rebuilt, and in 1870, was combined with the Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad and the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad to form Mahone's Atlantic, Mississippi and Ohio Railroad (AM&O), which stretched 400 miles across the southern tier of Virginia from Norfolk on Hampton Roads to Bristol. After the Financial Panic of 1873, the AM&O fell into default on its debt, and was purchased in the early 1880s by new owners who renamed it the Norfolk and Western (N&W). In 1982, it became part of the current Norfolk Southern Railway system. Due to the high cost of maintaining the High Bridge over the Appomattox River, the line through Farmville was downgraded and eventually abandoned, in favor of the Farmville Belt Line, which had been built on a more direct line between Burkeville and Pamplin City as had originally been envisioned in the planning for the South Side Railroad.

Another railroad formerly served Farmville. In the late 19th century, the narrow gauge Farmville and Powhatan Railroad was built from Farmville through Cumberland County, Powhatan County, and Chesterfield County to reach Bermuda Hundred on the navigable portion of the James River near its confluence with the Appomattox River at City Point. It was later renamed the Tidewater and Western Railroad, but was dismantled in the early 20th century.

Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County

Prince Edward County is the source of "Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County", a case incorporated into "Brown v. Board of Education" which ultimately resulted in the desegregation of public schools in the U.S. Among the fives cases decided under "Brown", it was the only one initiated by students themselves, after they walked out in 1951 to protest overcrowding and poor conditions at their school under Jim Crow laws.

The all-black R.R. Moton High School, named after Robert Russa Moton, a noted educator from neighboring Amelia County, did not have a gymnasium, cafeteria, or teachers' restrooms. Due to overcrowding, three plywood buildings had been erected and some students had to take classes in an immobile school bus parked outside. Teachers and students did not have desks or blackboards, The school's requests for additional funds were denied by the all-white school board. On Monday, April 23, 1951, Barbara Johns, the sixteen-year-old niece of Reverend Vernon Johns, led students who staged a walkout protesting the conditions. [ http://64.233.169.104/search?q=cache:vaMOCnXgDsIJ:www.virginialawreview.org/content/pdfs/90/1667.pdf+Prince+Edward+County+Lost+Generation&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=2&gl=us ] The NAACP took up their case, however, only when the students—by a one vote margin—agreed to seek an integrated school rather than improved conditions at their black school. Then, Howard University-trained attorneys Spotswood W. Robinson and Oliver Hill filed suit.

In "Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County", a state court rejected the suit, agreeing with defense attorney T. Justin Moore that Virginia was vigorously equalizing black and white schools. The state verdict was appealed to the U.S. District Court, which ruled for the plaintiffs, a decision the school district and the state appealed. Subsequently, it was one of five incorporated into "Brown v. Board of Education", the landmark case which in 1954 overturned school segregation in the United States.

Massive Resistance: the only school district in the U.S. to close for 5 years

In 1956, the Virginia General Assembly passed a series of laws to implement Massive Resistance, a policy promoted by the Byrd Organization led by former Virginia governor and U.S. Senator Harry F. Byrd to avoid compliance with the Supreme Court decision in "Brown".

One of the new Massive Resistance laws created a program of "tuition grants" which could be given to students so they could attend a private school of their choice. In practice, this meant support of all-white schools that appeared as a response to forced integration, and these newly formed schools became known as the "segregation academies."

As a result of the "Brown" decision, and changes in Virginia laws, in 1959 the Board of Supervisors for Prince Edward County refused to appropriate "any" funds for the County School Board at all, effectively closing all public schools rather than integrate them. Prince Edward County Public Schools remained closed for five years. Prince Edward County was the only school district in the country to resort to such extreme measures. In 1963, schools were ordered to open, and when the Supreme Court agreed in 1964, the supervisors gave in rather than risk prison, and public schools were reopened. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=990CE5D81E3EF936A15752C0A963958260 Albertis S. Harrison Jr., 88, Dies; Led Virginia as Segregation Fell - New York Times ] ]

During the interruption in access to Prince Edward County's public schools, a new entity, the Prince Edward Foundation, created a series of private schools to educate only the county's white children. These schools were supported by the tuition grants from the state and tax credits from the county, and collectively became known as "Prince Edward Academy", one of Virginia's "segregation academies." Prince Edward Academy operated as the "de facto" school system, enrolling K-12 students at a number of facilities throughout the county.

From 1959 to 1964, black students in Prince Edward County had to go to school elsewhere or forgo their education altogether. Some got schooling with relatives in nearby communities or at makeshift schools in church basements. Others were educated out of state by groups such as the Society of Friends. In 1963–64, the NAACP-sponsored Prince Edward Free School picked up some of the slack. But some pupils missed part or all of their education for five years. This group has been called the "Lost Generation" of Prince Edward County's youth.

In 1963, schools were ordered to open, and when the Supreme Court agreed in 1964, the supervisors gave in rather than risk prison, and public schools were reopened. When the public schools finally reopened in 1964, they were fully integrated. Historians mark that event as the end of Massive Resistance in Virginia.

Public education since 1964

In modern times, Prince Edward County Public Schools now operates single Elementary, Middle, and High Schools for all students, regardless of race. They are:
*Prince Edward Elementary School
*Prince Edward Middle School
*Prince Edward High School

Private education since 1964

Even after the re-opening of the public schools, Prince Edward Academy remained segregated. Many of the segregation academies in Virginia eventually closed; others changed their missions, and eliminated discriminatory policies, many only after the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) revoked the tax-free status of non-profit discriminatory private schools. Prince Edward Academy was one of these, losing its tax-exempt status in 1978. In 1986, it accepted black students. It was renamed the Fuqua School in 1992.

Robert Russa Moton Museum

The former R.R. Moton High School building in Farmville is now a community landmark. In 1998, it was named a National Historic Landmark, and it now houses the Robert Russa Moton Museum, a center for the study of civil rights in education.

Geography

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 354 square miles (916 km²), of which, 353 square miles (914 km²) of it is land and 1 square miles (3 km²) of it (0.31%) is water. Most of the county's streams drain into the Appomattox River, a tributary of the James River, but in the southeastern corner of the county, streams drain via the Nottoway River into the Chowan River and thence into Albemarle Sound in North Carolina. The highest point in the county is the top of Leighs Mountain at 714 feet above sea level Gnis2|1469304.

Demographics

As of the censusGR|2 of 2000, there were 19,720 people, 6,561 households, and 4,271 families residing in the county. The population density was 56 people per square mile (22/km²). There were 7,527 housing units at an average density of 21 per square mile (8/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 62.17% White, 35.82% Black or African American, 0.18% Native American, 0.55% Asian, 0.10% Pacific Islander, 0.23% from other races, and 0.95% from two or more races. 0.94% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 6,561 households out of which 29.00% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.50% were married couples living together, 14.90% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.90% were non-families. 28.90% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.30% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 2.99.

In the county, the population was spread out with 20.20% under the age of 18, 23.50% from 18 to 24, 22.50% from 25 to 44, 19.60% from 45 to 64, and 14.20% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 95.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.20 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $31,301, and the median income for a family was $38,509. Males had a median income of $29,487 versus $21,659 for females. The per capita income for the county was $14,510. About 14.60% of families and 18.90% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.40% of those under age 18 and 15.90% of those age 65 or over.

Localities

Towns

*Farmville
*Pamplin City
* Prospect

Census-designated place

*Hampden Sydney
*
* Longwood University, Virginia

Other places

*Meherrin
*Rice

Notable Facts

* Joseph Eggleston Johnston, Confederate Army General
* Henry Watkins Allen, (1820-1866), Confederate Army officer, was born in Prince Edward Countycite book | title = Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607-1896 | publisher = Marquis Who's Who | date = 1967] .
* Blanche Kelso Bruce, the first African American Senator, was born as a slave in Prince Edward County. [http://www.timesdispatch.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=RTD%2FMGArticle%2FRTD_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1137834362833&path=!news&s=1045855934842] [http://toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060225/OPINION04/602250302/-1/OPINION]
* Abraham Bedford Venable (1758-1811), was a representative and senator from Prince Edward County. He was also a lawyer and a president of the First National Bank in Virginia. He died in a fire in Richmond in 1811. [http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=V000083]
* Reverend Vernon Johns noted Civil Rights Leader
* Prince Edward County shares its name with a municipality in Ontario.
* Derek Robertson the best basketball player from Prince Edward

References


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