Highway Markers to Tell the Stories of Grove, Blockhouses

December 30th, 2011 by Kim Lenz

Thirteen new historical highway markers commemorating significant events and people in Virginia history were approved by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources to be placed throughout the state. Two of the markers will be set in James City County.

Along with noting important figures, areas and laws in African-American history, the signs will recall events during the early English settlement at Jamestown, the Revolutionary War and Civil War, and important educators in Virginia.

According to a press release, the DHR is planning to place one James City County marker by Mt. Gilead Baptist Church on Pocahontas Trail to honor the “Community of Grove.”

The marker will tell the story of Grove, a community of refugees and freed slaves who settled on land the Freedmen’s Bureau had confiscated after the Civil War. In 1867, the seized land was restored to the previous owners, which again displaced the free African-Americans. In 1918, many descendants of the first refugees returned to Grove after the U.S. government forced them to leave their homes located on the land later used for the Yorktown Naval Weapons Station and Cheatham Annex.

Also in James City County, near the Jamestown Ferry Landing, the marker “Blockhouses Near Jamestown” will tell the story of the 1610 Paspahegh Indians’ attack on a blockhouse on the perimeter of Jamestown. The Indians killed the soldiers stationed there in retaliation for the killing of their leader.

The James City County Historical Commission is sponsoring the manufacturing cost of both highway markers.

DHR’s Board of Historic Resources approved all 13 markers during its quarterly meeting in Richmond on Dec. 15. Other locations for the markers include Richmond, Louisa, Middlesex, Petersburg, Smyth County, Lynchburg and Spotsylvania. According to a press release, the locations of the markers are only proposed and still have to be approved by VDOT and other officials.

Currently there are more than 2,200 official state markers, most of which are maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation. To find out more about the Historical Highway Marker Program, click here.

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