Posts Tagged ‘Community’

Community of Grove WT-4: not erected

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012


After the Civil War, the Freedman’s Bureau confiscated land for refugees and free African Americans in the area that became the community of Grove. In 1967, the seized land was restored to the previous owners. Some of the African Americans settled on lands to the west. In 1918, many descendants of the first refugees returned to Grove after the U.S. government forced their removal to make way for the Yorktown Naval Weapons Station and Cheatham Annex. These immigrants formed the nucleus of Grove, which was enlarged when further removals during World War II displaced friends and family from the nearby community of Magruder.

Further Research:

The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands was created by Congress in March 1865 to assist for one year in the transition from slavery to freedom in the South.


During the American Civil War, there was a mass emancipation of slaves and despite Virginia’s secession from the Union, the U.S. Army retained control of Fort Monroe, which had become a destination for slaves who sought freedom.  After the War, many of the freed African Americans settled inland of the Peninsula as landowners or tenant farmers and many freedmen moved to the area that would soon become the Community of Grove (Walsh).

Present Day Aerial View: The oldest structure onboard the Yorktown Naval Weapons Station is the Lee House, built around 1649, where many generations of the family lived out their lives before the property was acquired by the U.S. government.

The community was named after a nearby creek and a plantation where many of the African Americans had worked as slaves and it remained a relatively small community until the mid-twentieth century.  During World War I, many members of the community returned when they were displaced because of the construction of the Yorktown Naval Weapons Station (Walsh).  Also, during World War II, the U.S. Navy took over the small town of Magruder and more descendants were forced to relocate to Grove.

Further Reading:

Walsh, Lorena S. From Calabar to Carter’s Grove: The History of A Virginia Slave Community. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1997.

Photo Credits

“The Freedman’s Bureau,” PBS: The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow, (accessed May 2, 2012).

“Aerial View,” CNIC: Naval Weapons Station Yorktown, (accessed May 2, 2012).

View on Google Maps

Department of Historic Resources link not available.

Hot Water/Centerville V-47

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012


Royal Governor William Berkeley, owner of nearby Green Spring Plantation, purchased the land here by 1652, then known as Hot Water. After Berkeley’s death, the Hot Water tract passed to the Ludwell and Lee families. William Ludwell Lee inherited the property in 1796 and died in 1803. Lee’s will specified that his slaves be freed when they reached the age of 18. They were allowed to live on the property for ten years at no charge and “comfortable houses” were to be built upon the tract for them. Lee’s philanthropy gave rise to one of Virginia’s early free black settlements located at Centerville.

Further Research

Governor William Berkeley

Governor William Berkeley, also owner of Green Spring Plantation, purchased this tract of land, known as Hot Water, in 1652.  The land also served as the ancestral home of the Ludwells and Lees.  The Plantation itself housed many African American slaves who also took part in Bacon’s Rebellion and in the American Revolutionary War.  After Berkeley died, he passed the tract to the Ludwell and Lees.  When William Ludwell Lee inherited the estate, he had it assessed and completely tore down the aging mansion to build a new house (Cotton). After William Ludwell Lee died, he decreed that all of his slaves be freed and also made provisions for their continued support and education.  More than thirty slaves were freed and received farmsteads in the Hot Water Tract, which consisted of more than 8,000 acres.  They were allowed to live on the property for ten years at no charge in horses built on the property.

The Hot Water tract soon became a part of Centerville and served as the site for many

The final of three recreated cabins was completed in 2008 in Freedom Park. On this original tract is a purposefully established community whose inhabitants consisted of Free Blacks.

battles in the future. Because of Wiliam Ludwell Lee’s generosity to his former slaves, the descendants of those freed slaves were able to create one of the first Free Black communities in Centerville during the antebellum period.  Furthermore, Centerville also served as a hub for colonial activity as a central port for trade of tobacco and produce (Knight).




Further Reading

Cotton, Lee Pelham. Green Spring Plantation: An Historical Summary. (accessed March 7, 2012).

Knight, Priscilla. History of Centreville and Virginia Run. (accessed March 7, 2012).

African American Historic Sites Database. Green Spring Plantation and the Hot Water Tract. (accessed March 7, 2012).

Photo Credits

Historical Marker “Hot Water/Centerville V-47,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

“Governor William Berkeley,” Historic Green Spring, (accessed May 2, 2012).

“Recreated Cabin,” Freedom Park- James City County, (accessed May 2, 2012).

View on Google Maps

Department of Historic Resources link not available