History of the Chesterfield Historical Society of Virginia
Chartered on September 23, 1981, to meet the growing demand for genealogical and historical research, the Society traces its origins to a Museum Society, organized in 1961, responsible for the first County Museum which opened in 1980. The original CHSV office was located in the historic Historic 1892 Jail, granted for use by the Society in May 1982. CHSV moved into the 1917 Chesterfield County Courthouse in 1990 where it operated a small research library and opened its first Museum Gift Shop. In 1998, the Society's main office and research library were relocated to historic Castlewood (1817) on the corner of Iron Bridge Road and Krause Road in Chesterfield. The restoration of this structure started in 2013. Currently, the CHSV office and research library are housed in Historic Trinity Church (1887) located one block west on Iron Bridge Road. In addition to its operations at historic Trinity Church, the Chesterfield Museum, the Historic 1892 Jail and Magnolia Grange House Museum, the Society also helps maintain the preservation of eight Civil War battlefields, an integral part of the 1864-65 Bermuda Hundred Campaign.
We are a volunteer organization governed by approved by-laws and all volunteer Board of Directors that provides leadership to CHSV committees to develop educational and fundraising programs and conduct research. The Society offers more than 60 events and programs each year which attracts around 10,000 patrons including 1,000 school children. Our Events Calendar includes an annual winter lecture series, genealogy workshops, rotating exhibits, tours of Civil War sites, paranormal investigations, elegant themed teas served with bone china and finger sandwiches, summer camps for kids and much more.
Our Board of Directors
Scott Williams- President
Jerry Netherland - Vice-President
John Longnaker - Treasurer
Crystal Monroe - Acting Recording Secretary
Nicholas Carico - Past President
Anne Moseley Brandon
Gina Stith - Administrator, Martha Atkinson and Pat Roble- Historical Interpreters
Chesterfield County Facts - the Early Years
Chesterfield Facts - The Early Years
On March 22, 1622, Native Americans attacked in a coordinated offensive throughout the Virginia colony. The ironworks were destroyed, Henricus was severely damaged and most settlers in Bermuda Hundred were slain or wounded. The entire economic structure of the region was halted by this attack and recovery was slow. As a result, King James revoked the Virginia Company’s Charter in 1624. By 1700, settlement in the region had regained momentum and westward expansion was secured by setting aside 100,000 acres along the James River for the Huguenots, peaceful religious refugees from France who settled at Manakin and Huguenot Springs.
An eight-million-year-old coalfield was discovered in this same area in 1701. Originally dug for local use from open shafts in Midlothian, this became the first commercially mined coal in North America to be shipped to England. In the early 1800s, coal mines in the Winterpock area were opened. By 1829, gravity-propelled carts using draft animals carried Midlothian coal to the James. This was the first ‘railroad’ in Virginia.
In May 1749, the House of Burgesses established Chesterfield County, naming it after Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, an English statesman, essayist and philanthropist. During the Revolutionary War, the Chesterfield County Courthouse played a key role as a recruitment and training center for the Continental Army. After the war, Thomas Jefferson left his youngest daughter Mary with her aunt, Elizabeth Epps, at “Eppington” in southwest Chesterfield County when he was posted to Paris.
The Civil War came to Chesterfield County twice: in 1862 with the Battle of Drewry’s Bluff, also known as Ft. Darling, and again in 1864-65 with the Bermuda Hundred Campaign. Throughout the war, the county’s railroads carried vital supplies to Richmond, capital of the Confederacy, and its coal fueled the ironworks at Bellona Arsenal and Tredegar. <MORE FACTS>