Tour 18

Suffolk--Wakefield--Waverly--Petersburg; 61.4 m. US 460.

Asphalt-paved roadbed, chiefly four-lane. Norfolk& Western Ry. parallels route. All types of accommodations in towns.

US 460 runs northwest, traversing flat or slightly rolling country, partly wooded but largely used for the raising of peanuts, and some vegetables, cotton, and tobacco. The combination of sandy fields and proximity to markets make peanut growing and hog raising, allied activities, the backbone of small-farm income. In the villages along the railroad are sawmills that cut the yellow pine and hardwood.

US 460 branches northwest from US 58 (see Tour 7a) in SUFFOLK, 0 m. (58 alt., 10,27, pop.), the peanut capital of the world and the birthplace of 'Mr. Peanut.' The city is at the head of the Nansemond River, close to the Dismal Swamp, and surrounded by flat country. In the crowded little commercial district, where two buildings tower seven stories high, chain grocery stores, installment clothing stores, hardware and produce stores hobnob with the few father-to-son businesses that have survived modern trends. Along tree-vaulted residential streets old houses stand sedately beside those of later vintage. Fringing the town are jumbled Negro districts-Boston, Philadelphia, Pleasant Hill, and Jericho.

The people of Suffolk, friendly though ancestor-conscious, live in century-old houses or in new houses built on old designs. They faithfully sup port all socially accepted organizations, patriotic, civic, and philanthropic, and deal courteously with both their fellow townsmen and accredited strangers within their gates. Here mint juleps, pickled artichokes, pickled oysters, and Christmas 'tipsy-cakes'-a spongy confection soaked in brandy-are at their best.

Suffolk has reason to be peanut conscious. Though 22 concerns, producing a variety of other products, employ about 2,500 workers here, the peanut easily dominates the commercial picture. Peanut farms of lower Tidewater Virginia and North Carolina send more than 50,000 tons of nuts yearly to Suffolk processing plants and the town's 9 large warehouses. All day long during the harvesting season trucks, piled high with nut-fined sacks, rumble through the streets; and in any season, when the wind blows from the factory quarter, the air is heavy with the oily-sweet odor that means local prosperity.

Of several varieties of arachis hypogaea-the peanut or 'ground pea' that flourishes in the sandy soil of the region-three are favorites: Virginia Bunch, Virginia Runner, and jumbo. The crop, planted in April, blooms in July and is harvested in October. After pollination, the blossom fades, the stem lengthens and thrusts its head into the earth, where the pod matures. Most crop operations-planting, cultivating, and harvesting -are done by machines, some of which work as many as four field rows at one time. Digging of the nuts is done with a complicated machine, which also strips off loose dirt; it is followed by a hand job of shocking the vines in the field, pods innermost, and by three weeks of curing. Next comes the whirring thresher, which, amid clouds of dust, strips the pods from the vines and feeds them into burlap bags. The nuts are then whisked away to storage warehouses, where a constant temperature of 40 dgrees F. prevents the growth of the saw-toothed weevil larvae. The vines make stock forage.

Processing plants are the principal peanut buyers. In the plants high-powered fans blow out stems and trash. Then the nuts to be sold raw for roasting are culled and graded; those to be used for confections, salting, and oil go first to shelling machines, where lightly-crushed shells are blown away and nuts drop through grading slots in a jiggling, inclined table. These operations separate large, plump nuts from the inferior grades that will be crushed, to extract oil for cooking and butter substitutes. The residue from this process is sold as stock feed. Candy- and salting-nuts are lightly roasted to loosen the red skins and then blanched in rotary suction machines that also carry off the skins. After this, they pass an electric eye, sensitized to color, which selects the whitest nuts, and then are further culled by hand. Nuts for salting are conveyed to a huge machine, where they are cooked in oil, salted, and subjected to a final check by fluoroscope. Those for candy go straight to dipping machines for chocolate coating, or to mixing machines for a syrup bath before being pressed and scored into bars.

Captain John Smith explored the Nansemond River in 1608, and Edward Waters settled here in 1618. The first group of Puritans to reach Virginia settled in this section but were driven out of the colony by orthodox Governor Berkeley just as the Puritan revolt triumphed in England; the 300 of them who migrated from Nansemond to tolerant Maryland and established Providence on the Severn River took their turn at carrying on religious persecution in that State.

Suffolk itself did not come into being until 1742 when the general assembly authorized a town at Constance's Warehouse, to care for the then dominant tobacco business. It was not until 18o8 that the town was incorporated. The town early began to look out for its poor. It took seriously a law passed in 1755 by the general assembly that every person receiving aid must wear a badge with the name of his parish, under penalty of loss of allowance or lashes not to exceed five. And a vestry book of this period reveals that 500 pounds of tobacco were paid to a doctor for 'salevating Mary Brinkley and keeping her salevated.'

The little town suffered during the Revolution and the War between the States. On May 13, 1779, General Matthews burned it, and on May 12, 1862, Federal troops took possession,

In SUFFOLK CEMETERY, E. end of Mahan St., where tombstones stand row on row, is CONSTANTIA HOUSE, a story-and-a-half structure covered with beaded weatherboards and having buttressed outside end chimneys and two dormers in each slope of its gabled roof. The house is a faithful restoration of the Widow Constance's home, which was at Constance's Warehouse on Sleepy Hole Point in the river.

WITHERS HOUSE (private), 510 N. Main St., is a dignified two-and-a-half-story brick structure on a high basement and fronted by a Doric porch. Built in 1837, the house encountered its first exciting adventure in the 1860's when its upper stories were Federal headquarters and its basement stabled the horses of Union officers.

NANSEMOND COUNTY COURTHOUSE, SE. corner Milner and N. Main Sts., a building with brick walls laid in Flemish bond, has an unusually tall entrance portico with four Tuscan columns. Built in 1840, it serves the county of which Suffolk is a geographical but, as a city, not a political part.

In 1634 Nansemond County lay within Elizabeth City County; in 1636 that part of Elizabeth City lying south of the James became the county of New Norfolk; in 1637 New Norfolk was divided into Upper Norfolk and Lower Norfolk; and in 1642 Upper Norfolk was designated as Nansemond County, the name commemorating the Indians of the Powhatan Confederacy whom Captain John Smith found here in 16o8. In 1750 the county seat was moved to Suffolk from Jarnigan's or Cohoon's Bridge.

WINDSOR, 12.2 m. (371 pop.), is a farmers' marketing and school center.

Right from Windsor on State 158 to ISLE OF WIGHT, 7.8 m. (50 POP.), seat of Isle of Wight County. A few houses, stores, and gasoline stations are comfortably settled near the Confederate Soldier, who stands at the center of a circular grass plot just outside the wall that encloses the county buildings. The red brick COURTHOUSE has a look of adequate solidity. The CLERK'S OFFICE, originally a one-story rectangle of brick with built-in chimneys and wooden lintels, has a matching addition, which, by means of a connecting passageway, forms an H. The older part of the building was begun in the first years of the nineteenth century. The records are in a fair state of preservation in spite of the vicissitudes through which they have passed. During the Revolution Mrs. Francis Young, wife of a deputy clerk, buried them to prevent their destruction by the raiding Tarleton; and during the War between the States they were first hidden in the woods and then carted into other counties for safekeeping.

One of the eight shires constituted in 1634 was Warrosquoyacke, an unpronounceable name that was soon changed to Isle of Wight. The boundaries, at first so indefinite as to cause considerable dispute, were fixed in 1705 and redefined in 1733, when a southwestern slice of the county was added to Brunswick, and again in 1748, when Southampton was carved from Isle of Wight. The county seat was moved here from Smithfield (see Tour 19) in 1800.

Enterprising WAKEFIELD, 30 m. (891 pop.), is centered around the railroad station. The part touched by the highway is marked by two 'diner' lunchrooms and several filling stations. The little town owns its electric light and water systems and a modern high school building. It has a weekly newspaper, a bank, general stores, a peanut factory, and a stave Mill.

Right from Wakefield on State 31 to DENDRON, 5.9 m. (67 1 pop.), which enjoyed ephemeral prosperity while lumbering despoiled the wooded area around it.

WAVERLY, 37.8 m. (1,355 POP.), Sussex County's largest town, has the usual main street with general stores, a bank, weekly newspaper office, and small business places that cater to farm trade. The town's industrial activity, once centered in peanut factories and sweet potato shipping, is now dependent on lumber mills and a ham curing plant.

Legend has it that DISPUTANTA, 46.6 m. (120 pop.), a crossroads village, was so named because of lack of agreement on a suitable title for the place when the railroad came through in the late 1850's.

NEW BOHEMIA, 54.3 m., a hamlet with one church, a general store, and handful of frame dwellings, is the social and trade center of a Slav farming community, which, at its beginning in the early decades of the present century, was something of a sensation in this rural section with its English tradition and distrust of aliens. First to invade this country, where farming had long been carried on by sharecroppers, was a group of Bohemians and Slovaks from the industrial and mining sections of western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio. Their success in rehabilitating worn-out farms, where production had almost vanished under one-crop planting year after year, led to the immigration of other Bohemians and Slovaks, with a sprinkling of Poles and Lithuanians, many of whom came directly from their homelands.

At 54.4 m. is a junction with County 630.

Right here to State 37, 3.4 m., and R. to PRINCE GEORGE, 4.7 m. (75 POP.), seat of Prince George County, with its few houses and stores that are supported by court days and court business. Compactly set within the courthouse square are the county buildings, facing an obelisk of roughhewn stone, the monument to the Confederate dead.

The COURTHOUSE, a two-story red brick building with gabled roof and arcaded porch, is flanked by two single-story buildings, one separate and the other connected by a continuation of the arcade. Prince George County was created from Charles City County in 1702 and named in honor of Queen Anne's consort, Prince George of Denmark. Court sessions were held successively at City Point, Jordan's Point, Merchant's Hope, and Fitzgerald's, until 1785, when the seat of government was moved here.

At 58.1 m. is an entrance (R) to the PETERSBURG NATIONAL MILITARY PARK (see Tour 14).

Right on the park road, along a line of Federal forts and entrenchments, to FORT STEDMAN (R), 1.2 m., a well-fortified position taken by the Confederates on March 25, 1865, and lost again within a few hours. in a last desperate attempt to cut Grant's line, Lee placed half of his army of about 35,000 under command of General John B. Gordon and ordered an assault here. Fort Stedman was taken at 4:30 a.m., but misinformation as to other Federal works, failure of a large part of Lee's troops to arrive from Richmond, and heavy artillery cross fire from flanking forts caused a collapse of the offensive, with a loss Of 3,000 to the Confederates and 1,000 to the Federals. Within a week Grant broke Lee's lines and forced the evacuation of Petersburg and Richmond.

1. Left from Fort Stedman 200 yards to COLQUITT'S SALIENT, from which the Confederate offensive began on March 25, 1865. On a line from this vicinity to the Appomattox River, a distance of two miles, and eastward one mile, a Confederate defense under General P.G.T. Beauregard held off an advancing Federal force on June 15-18, 1864, until Lee could be convinced that Grant had crossed the James River. Federal losses for the period were about 10,000; Confederate about 5,000.

2. Right from Fort Stedman to a junction with two park roads, 1.3 m.; R. here to a park road, 2.2 m., and L. to State 36, 3 m.; R. here to a park road, 3.3 m., and L. to a NATIONAL PARK CONTACT STATION, 3.5 m. (maps, free guide service).

This part of the Battlefield Park was in Camp Lee, one of the large cantonments of the World War period. Camp Lee was established June 21, 1917, and cost more than $21,000,000. Ninety thousand troops-among them the Eightieth, or Blue Ridge Division, composed of men from the mountain regions of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania-were trained here.

At 58.9 m. is a junction with County 634 (L), which follows the Battlefield Park Route to US 301 (see Tour 14).

The MASSACHUSETTS MONUMENT (R), 59 m., in a fortlike enclosure, commemorates soldiers and sailors killed in Virginia between 1861 and 1865. This monument has been the means of bringing together veterans of the North and the South. After the Massachusetts Legislature had appropriated in igog funds for its erection, a commission was sent to Virginia to arrange necessary details, and established friendly relations with the A.P. Hill Camp of Confederate Veterans in Petersburg. The next year Massachusetts veterans entertained the Petersburg veterans and later returned the visit. On a gala night in the Petersburg armory, when veterans were swapping stories above buried hatchets, Colonel James Anderson, chairman of the Massachusetts Commission, told of the many commendatory letters that had come to him after the visit of the Southern soldiers. But, he added, a lady from Paterson, New Jersey, had written chiding him for permitting a 'vile band of Rebels' to walk through the streets of a fair Northern city to the tune of that 'rebel song, Dixie.' Colonel Anderson returned the letter to its sender with these words appended: 'There will be Confederates in Heaven. If you don't want to associate with Confederates, go to Hell.'

Right at the monument on a park road to THE CRATER, 0.2 m., a large elliptical pit surrounded by a high embankment and behind several monuments and a NATIONAL PARK CONTACT STATION AND MUSEUM (free guide service). A regiment of Pennsylvania miners had dug a 500-foot tunnel under this sector of the Confederate line while a Federal offensive had drawn the larger part of Lee's army north of the James (see Tour 24), weakening the lines around Petersburg. Early on the morning Of July 30, 1864, a charge of 8,000 pounds of gunpowder was fired in the subterranean cavity while General A.E. Burnside's four divisions waited to rush through the breach and occupy the city. The explosion blew 278 men of Confederate General Stephen Elliott's brigade into the air, and also two guns of a four-gun battery, momentarily demoralizing the Confederates and stunning the Federal divisions. The blast left a pit 135 feet long and 30 feet deep. Three charging Federal divisions, crowding the crater, spilled into the Confederate lines, while a terrific cannonade began on both sides. The Union troops, fearing to advance, were further crowded by the Negro division, thrown in later.

On the Confederate side strenuous efforts were made to hold the enemy to the breach until reinforcements could reach the field. After three charges by the reinforced Confederates, all Federal troops who had not retreated were driven into the pit, and there began a virtual massacre as the Confederates gathered around the cavity, throwing in, points first, armfuls of bayonetted rifles, while mortars, brought close, dropped shells into the struggling mass. The Confederates then jumped into the pit and struggled hand-to-hand until the remaining Federals surrendered. The Federal loss was about 4,400, of which 1,100 were prisoners; the Confederate loss was about 1,500.

PETERSBURG, 61.4 m. (28,564 POP.) (See Petersburg).

Petersburg is at junctions with US 1 (see Tour 1) and US 301 (see Tour 14).