Historical society rediscovers little-known African American communities

Historical society rediscovers little-known African American communities

By Heather Michon, Correspondent

Research into Fluvanna County’s contribution to World War I yielded an unexpected result: the discovery of a little-known African American community called Scott Town.

In a 1919 questionnaire submitted to the State of Virginia, Hasil H. Bullock, veteran of the 808th Pioneer Infantry, listed his pre-war home address as “Scott Town, Fluvanna, Va.”

The document was discovered by David Bearr, a scholar currently working on a publication for the Fluvanna Historical Society on Fluvanna’s participation in World War I.

Bearr asked Tricia Johnson, historical society director, to look into the unusual place-name. She started digging and found more clues in census records and deeds.

Scott Town seems to have been located along Route 15 just north of Palmyra “with St. James Baptist Church at its heart,” Johnson wrote on Facebook.

A 1924 newspaper article placed it “three-quarters of a mile from Wildwood.”

Records show much of the land in that area had been owned by the Scott family back in the late 19th century, so it would have been natural for people who lived in that neighborhood to refer to it by the family’s name.

The 1910 census covering that area showed many African American families lived in the area, including Scotts, Andersons, and Bullocks.

Several heads of household listed their occupation as “stave factory.”

Staves are the slats used to form the sides of wooden barrels. An article in the Fluvanna Historical Society Bulletin from the 1970s references a stave mill in Cohasset, about 10 miles south of Scott Town, which was active during that period.

Military record

The historical society’s Facebook page lit up with comments, including hints on family cemeteries, old house foundations, and roads. Others offered photos and documents from their family history collections.

In the past week, Johnson has learned there were a string of majority African American communities along Route 15: Payne Town, near Camp Friendship; Scott Town, near Wildwood; and Washington Town, near Oliver Creek.

It’s “hard to believe one Facebook post has led to this wealth of information,” she said.

She’s reaching out to the community for even more help. “I really want to put together an outline of these communities, and every piece of information helps fill out the picture,” she said on Facebook.

Anyone with information can contact the Fluvanna Historical Society at 434-589-7910 or by email at fluvannahistory@gmail.com. They can also be reached through their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/fluvannacountyhistory/.

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