“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Danville, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Pittsylvania County

Pittsylvania County Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, April 23, 2021
1. Pittsylvania County Marker
The Town of Chatham has served as the seat of Pittsylvania County government since 1777. It is rich in history with architecturally significant pre-Revolution, Federal, Victorian and post-Victorian houses. Brochures for self-guided walking tours of Chatham are available at the kiosk located at the Civil War Trails marker on Chatham's Main Street and at the Pittsylvania Visitors Center at Depot and Whitehead Streets in Chatham.

Local Attractions
Frances Hallam Hurt Park
is a small pocket park behind Chatham Town Hall and the 1813 Clerk's Office at 16 Court Place. It contains a picnic shelter, gazebo, children's playground, tobacco barn and restrooms. The 1813 Clerk's Office is listed on the Virginia and Historic Registers. It houses a museum of artifacts from the time of Native Americans through the American Revolution, Civil War and World War I and II.

1918 Southern Railway Depot
The restored 1918 Southern Railway Depot at the corner of Depot and Whitehead Streets in Chatham is a prototypical depot of the early 20th century. It is operated as the Pittsylvania History

Pittsylvania County Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, April 23, 2021
2. Pittsylvania County Marker
Click or scan to see
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Research Center and Library by the Pittsylvania County Public Library System. The Center contains local history exhibits, a veterans' history section, a train viewing platform and a model train diorama representing the town of Chatham in the 1930s.

Richmond and Danville Rail Trail
in Ringgold is a 5.5 mile trail between Ringgold Depot Road and Kerns Church Road. Traveling through farmland and light woods, it provides a flat route for a walk or bike ride through the countryside. The trail features a wetland area for bird watching, plaques describing Civil War events in the area and a restored train depot.

Chatham Hall
was built in 1894 as a girl's preparatory school, St. Mary's Chapel is an exquisite example of Renaissance architecture.

Hargrave Military Academy
in Chatham was built in 1909 as a private school and combines academics, military training and sports.

White Oak Wildlife Management Area
is operated by the Virginia Commission of Game and Inland Fisheries and provides hunting and hiking opportunities on 2,710 acres. From Danville, Route 29 North to 640 North.

Pittsylvania Wayside Park
1678 Main Street in Hurt, consists of an automobile pull-off with a picnic area and a larger park with grills, picnic tables and a hiking trail.

The Homeplace Vineyard
568 Rigney Circle,

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offers tastings in a cabin built from tobacco barn logs.

Tomahawk Mill Winery
9221 Anderson Mill Road in Chatham, is an historic grist mill with vineyard overlooking the old mill pond.

AAF Tank Museum
3401 U.S. Highway 29B, offers the finest collection of tanks, artillery, weapons, headgear, uniforms, medals and military memorabilia found anywhere in the United States.

Smith Mountain Lake Dam Exhibit and Visitors' Center
2072 Ford Road in Sandy Level, features a working model of AEPCO's pumped storage electric power generating facility at Smith Mountain Dam. Hands-on exhibits and picnic facilities are available.

Leesville Lake
adjoins Smith Mountain Lake on the Roanoke River. It has 100 miles of shoreline and is popular for fishing and other water activities.

Cedar Forest Grist Mill
7929 Straightstone Road in Long Island, is one of the few grist mills are still operating in Virginia. During the 18th and 19th centuries approximately 100 grist mills were constructed on the numerous waterways in Pittsylvania County.

Yates Tavern
This restored facility in Gretna is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was an operating tavern in the 1700s and is said to be one of the few dwellings in Virginia constructed with an Elizabethan and Tudor overhand. It is open by appointment.

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Claude Swanson — Chatham Route 29 North
A native of Pittsylvania County, Claude Swanson (1862-1939), practiced law in Chatham until he won election to Congress in 1892. He served seven terms in the House of Representatives (1893-1906); was Governor of Virginia (1906-1910) and United States Senator (1910-1933); and served as Secretary of the Navy (1933-1939). His last home was at nearby Eldon. Located 1/2 mile north of business Route 29 north of Chatham.

Whitmell P. Tunstall — Chatham Route 29 North
One mile east stands Belle Grove, the home of Whitmell Pugh Tunstall (1810-1854). Admitted to the bar in 1832, he served in the Virginia House of Delegates and the Virginia Senate. He founded the Richmond and Danville Railroad. He is buried at Belle Grove. Located on Route 29 at Route 703 south of Chatham.

Peytonsburg — Chatham Route 29 North
Nearby to the east once stood the community of Peytonsburg, a part of Halifax County when the county was formed in 1752. During the Revolutionary War, Peytonsburg served as supply depot for colonial troops. Located on route 29 near Route 685.

Beaver's Tavern — Blairs Route 29 North
Beavers Tavern operated from 1800 to 1840. It was the muster ground for the County militia and a popular stagecoach station. John C. Calhoun was a frequent visitor. Located 5 miles north of Danville.

Rawley White Martin — Chatham South Main Street
Here stands Morea, the home of Lt. Col. Rawley White Martin (1835-1921), a physician who served with Pittsylvania County soldiers during the Civil War. He served in the 53rd Virginia Infantry Regiment of Brig. Gen. Lewis A. Armistead's Brigade. At Gettysburg on July 3, 1863, Martin led the Regiment in the Confederate attack known as Pickett's charge and was wounded and captured.

Markham — Chatham Route 29
Some miles northeast is the site of Markham, where Rachel Donelson, wife of President Andrew Jackson was born. Her father, John Donelson, became one of the first settlers of Tennessee. Located near Route 685.

Callands — Route 57 at Route 969
Pittsylvania County was cut off from Halifax in 1767 and the courthouse was built here. In 1769 a town named Chatham was established here on land belonging to James Roberts. A few years later Samuel Callands opened a store and the town took his name. In 1777, Henry County was cut off from Pittsylvania and the county seat was moved to Competition, which became known as Chatham in 1874. Located at Route 969.

Clerk's Office — Route 969 Callands
This is the site of first county seat of Pittsylvania County. The building that served as the debtor's prison and later as the Clerk's office remains. Located 5/10 of a mile north of Route 57.

John Weatherford's Grave — Route 640
One half mile west is the grave of Elder John Weatherford (1740?-1833) Baptist preacher for 70 years and early advocate of religious liberty. Jailed five months in Chesterfield in 1773 for unlicensed preaching, his release was secured by Patrick Henry. Located on Route 640, south of Route 57 at Shockoe Baptist Church.

Pittsylvania Court House — Chatham Business Route 29
This Greek Revival building was erected in 1853 as the third Court House of Pittsylvania County. The County, formed in 1767, and the Town of Chatham were named for William Pitt, First Earl of Chatham. The present Court House replaced a structure built in 1789 one block west where the old office of the clerks still stands. The court was removed to this locality from Callands in 1777.

Clement Hill — Hurt Business Route 29
The house on the hill 300 yards to the west was the home of Captain Benjamin Clement, who was one of the first makers of gunpowder in Virginia, 1775.

Whitmell School — Whitmell Route 750
Founded in 1878 as a two-room school and named for State Senator Whitmell P. Tunstall, in 1918, the Whitmell Farm-Life School became the first rural consolidated school in Pittsylvania County. Sarah Archie Swanson Beverley, who between 1916 and 1951 taught here and served as principal, believed that "the country school must be the center of community life." Under her leadership, Whitmell School attained that goal as a model progressive school.

Berry Hill Route 58 west of Danville city limits
Berry Hill is situated 5 1/2 miles to the south on the Dan River. The original portion of the main house was built in 1745. The property was used as a hospital for General Nathanael Greene's army during 1781, following the battle of Guilford Court House.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: ArchitectureChurches & ReligionEducationIndustry & Commerce. A significant historical date for this entry is July 3, 1863.
Location. 36° 34.874′ N, 79° 23.991′ W. Marker is in Danville, Virginia. Marker is on Sutherlin Avenue south of Main Street (Virginia Route 293), on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 975 Main St, Danville VA 24541, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Danville Attractions (a few steps from this marker); Halifax County, VA (a few steps from this marker); Caswell County, NC (a few steps from this marker); Anne Eliza Johns (a few steps from this marker); The Sutherlin House (within shouting distance of this marker); Sutherlin Mansion (within shouting distance of this marker); The Last Capitol of the Confederacy (within shouting distance of this marker); The John T. Watson, Jr. House (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Danville.

Credits. This page was last revised on April 27, 2021. It was originally submitted on April 26, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 46 times since then. Last updated on April 26, 2021, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on April 26, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.

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May. 15, 2021