Just back in the office briefly after a trip to Philadelphia. Couple of really cool things to share right now, before my trip down to lovely Athens tomorrow for a conference on Thomas Cobb. (The image at right is of a marker in Fredericksburg, where Cobb died.) On the way home I took a short detour to Southampton County, Virginia -- scene of the Nat Turner rebellion to see the place. The trip was probably inspired by Eric Muller's recent experience at the White House of the Confederacy, of which I hope to have something to say shortly. Of course since this trip was unplanned (it's more or less along the way down to Chapel Hill from Philly), all I had was my gps to get me to Courtland (used to be called Jerusalem), where a lot of the action was centered -- so I stopped by the local library, the Walter Cecil Rawls Library, to review Henry Tragle's very helpful map of the important locations of that tragedy. I love libraries and librarians!
The Courtland Historical Society has relocated Rebbecca Vaughn's house (she was a victim of the rebellion) to its property in town. Apparently four people were killed at Vaughn's estate -- Vaughn, her niece, and two sons. The house is in pretty bad shape, but of course I'm glad that they're doing what's possible at this point to preserve it. Also, while we usually conjure up images of grand plantation mansions when we think of the antebellum era, there isn't a whole lot to this house. It looks like it was about 35 feet by 20 feet and two stories high (I guess three if you count the dormers and attic). I've put a picture of it at right.
That led to me to realize that one of the places I really wanted to see was the "Blackhead Signpost Road"--named after the place where a head of a rebel was placed, as a warning to others. And after a while that site gave its name to the road. I figured all I'd be able to see was the fields where this happened -- I didn't realize it was still called that -- so you can imagine my surprise when the intersection of Barrows Road (a lot of the action took place along Barrows Road) and the New Jerusalem-Cross Keys Road (now known as Meherrin Road) I saw a sign for the "Blackhead Signpost Road." Haven't been that surprised in a mighty long time. Check out the image on the left. Talk about stepping back in time. Want to hear more about this, check out my paper on the Nat Turner rebellion.