Surry County Historical Society plans events

Published 4:27 pm Tuesday, November 30, 2021

The Surry County Historical Society has had a busy fall schedule with research requests, book sales, interesting programs, and a planned open house on Dec. 13.

Although the building is only open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the researchers receive weekly inquiries through email, Facebook and the website, with requests for information on family history, property and even church history. In addition, one of its lead researchers is attempting to compile a record of all cemeteries and grave sites in the county, which is often a key item to show family births and deaths, as well as family relationships.

The bookstore section has many popular books about Surry County’s history, the James River, and even Christmas ornaments featuring the Surry Courthouse and Dendron landmarks.

On Nov. 3, Kenneth Bage, a Civil War historian from Hopewell with family roots in Dendron, was the speaker at a program held at Surry Parks and Rec Center. He shared the full story of how Hopewell’s City Point area came to be one of the largest ports in the world during the Civil War, with a huge hospital made of many tents and cots, which treated thousands of people. He shared the tale of what became a case of Confederate espionage, as the suspect came ashore with his bomb apparatus in Isle of Wight, made his way through Surry and up to City Point, and set off an explosion without anyone catching him. The audience enjoyed the presentation and accompanying slides and pictures.

The next program open to the public is scheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 13, also at the Surry Parks and Rec Center, featuring Dr. Matt Laird. In addition, the historical society has planned an Open House at its building from 4 to 6:30 p.m. during the afternoon before the program. The public is invited to come by 281 Bank St. to tour the building, museum area and the John Smith Deckhouse before the program, and to enjoy hot beverages and light refreshments.

Laird, a partner and researcher with James River Institute, will share a program titled, “Bricks and Bones: Archaeological Discoveries in the Bacon’s Castle Hinterlands.” In 2018, an archaeological survey was done on Dominion Energy property in Surry County in advance of a Dominion project. The survey was done by the James River Institute for Archaeology and only recently has there been public disclosure revealing the discoveries. The property where the survey was conducted originally belonged to the Allen Family in the 18th and 19th centuries, and was actually part of the Bacon’s Castle tract, and was later owned by the Stith family. At least two different features were investigated, one an interesting brick building from the 18th century and a late 17th- or early 18th-century domestic site with burials that were relocated in the Southwark Cemetery at Bacon’s Castle. The program is open to members and the public at no charge.

For more information about the Surry County Historical Society, call 757-294-0404, visit surryvahistory.org, or email surryhistoricalsociety@gmail.com.