History of New Kent County, Virginia

New Kent County’s past is full of historic events spanning 400 years, from Native American history, early English exploration and the birth of our nation.  New Kent County and its surrounding area offer tourists great historical locations to visit.

17th Century

1607

Captain John Smith was captured by the Powhatan Indians in New Kent and taken to the Tribal Village of Orapax on the Chickahominy River near the present day Hanover County line.(History and Driving Tour)

1654

By act of the House of Burgesses, New Kent became the twelfth county in Colonial Virginia. Its western boundary was described as “the frontier.”

1654

Foster’s Castle, the first plantation on the Pamunkey River, was established.

1662

Cumberland Plantation was established on the Pamunkey River at the site of the ferry from King William County.

1678

St. Peter's Church was established at Talleysville and built in 1701. The Church, where Martha Dandridge Custis worshipped and married General George Washington continues to hold regular services today.

1680

Brick House became the first town in New Kent.  However, it was the Seat of the County Courts prior to that time.

1691

The village of New Kent became, and remains today, the County Seat.

18th Century

1731

Martha Dandridge Custis Washington was born at Chestnut Grove.

1748

Cumberland, a colonial town on the Pamunkey River in New Kent, lost by three votes to replace Williamsburg as the capitol of the Virginia Colony.

1748

James Armistead, the New Kent slave who spied on the British for Lafayette and later took his surname, was born.

1759

Martha Dandridge Custis married George Washington on January 6th.

1766

The Reverend Charles Smith established a Presbyterian settlement at Providence Forge.

1770

The Reverend Charles Smith establishes a Presbyterian settlement at Providence Forge.

1781

With a much smaller force, Lafayette harassed Cornwallis and his troops through New Kent causing them to withdraw to Yorktown. (History and Driving Tour)

1781

Washington and Rochambeau came through New Kent on their way to Victory at Yorktown. (History and Driving Tour)

1787

Most of the County's colonial records were destroyed when John Price Posey burned the Clerk's Office and Jail. Posey was later convicted and hanged.

1790

Letitia Christian Tyler was born at Cedar Grove. In 1813 she married John Tyler from neighboring Charles City County. John Tyler went on to become the 10th President of the United States.

19th Century

1830

Liberty Baptist Church was founded and a “meeting” house was built and dedicated in 1852. The current church building was dedicated 1930.

1852

The current Emmaus Church was erected in apparently to accommodate a growing congregation.

1853

The church immediately predating the present Providence United Methodist building was dedicated.  Some older members recalled stories of at least three buildings antedating the present.

1856

Olivet Presbyterian Church was build.  The building, on the National Register of Historic Places is still pretty much as it was originally.

1861

In April the citizens met to prepare to arm and defend themselves for the Civil War. (History and Driving Tour)

1861

The Richmond & York River Rail Road was completed through New Kent and played a key role in the 1862 Civil War Peninsula Campaign.

1862

JEB Stuart’s Ride around the Union Army. (History and Driving Tour)

1866

The inception of Second Liberty Baptist Church dates back two years before the 13th Amendment of the United States Constitution legally abolished slavery.

1867

Pea Hill, the forerunner of Mt. Olive Baptist Church, was organized through a Deed of Trust recorded in New Kent Court House.

1879

Following freedom for blacks, a young railroad worker named Washington Stuman came to New Kent County. Mr. Stuman and other Christian leaders organized Union Baptist Church and School.

1882

The C&O Railway was constructed through New Kent.

1883

After requesting letters of dismissal from Mount Olive, nine members met and organized the Mt. Nebo Baptist Church.

1887

The Rev. Doc Carter founded Second Elam Baptist Church.  He built the original church himself and served as its pastor until his death.

20th Century

1905

The Eastern Chickahominy Indians organized their own Tribal Government. This was done because of travel inconvenience to tribal meetings of the Chickahominy in Charles City County.

1910

The Chickahominy Tribe Eastern Division members built the Boulevard Indian School for their students. Grades 1 through 8 were taught in this one-room school.

1921

The Chickahominy Indian Tribe Eastern Division was formally organized as a separate Tribal Government with E. P Bradby as the Chief.

1922

The Tsena Commocko Indian Baptist Church was organized. Church services were held in the school building until a church was built.

1925

A certificate of incorporation was issued to the Chickahominy Indian Tribe Eastern Division.

1930

The New Kent High School, now a National Historic Landmark, is built.

1932

A building was constructed for the Tsena Commocko Indian Baptist Church.

1935

The New Kent Training School (for African American children) is built.

1944

Named after New Kent County and launched 12 October 1944, the USS New Kent (APA-217) was a Haskell-class attack transport built and used by the US Navy in World War II.

1949

US Route 60 was widened to a modern four-lane highway.

1950

The New Kent Training School was renamed George W. Watkins School, housing grades P-11.

1950

The Indian school was closed and students were bused to Samaria Indian School in Charles City County.

1955

The New Kent County Airport was established.

1958

The school term marked the consolidation of all county elementary schools serving black students in with the George W. Watkins School.

1968

Charles C. Green vs. County School Board of New Kent County, Virginia became the most important school desegregation case since Brown in 1954. (History and Driving Tour)

1969

As a result of the 1968 School Desegregation Order, the George W. Watkins School became New Kent Elementary School.

1969

Interstate 64 is constructed through the middle of New Kent County. The newly created interstate allows quick and easy access from Richmond to Hampton Roads.

1976

The Brookwoods Golf Club opened near Bottoms Bridge.

1978

The Tsena Commocko Indian Baptist Church dropped the word Indian from its name and became the Tsena Commocko Baptist Church.

1983

The Chickahominy Indians Eastern Division was granted state recognition along with five other Virginia Indian tribes.

1985

A new all-brick building was dedicated by the member of the Tsena Commocko Baptist Church.

1986

A steering committee was formed to develop a Catholic parish in the county.

1989

When the new high school complex opened that fall, the middle school became New Kent Elementary again, housing students in grades 3-5. The building was rededicated as George W. Watkins Elementary School on August 30, 1998. The School is now a National Historic Landmark.

1989

New Kent became the first county in the Commonwealth to approve parimutual horseracing.

1991

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church building was dedicated.

1992

To support a second referendum that would allow horse racing in the county, Marengo Plantation hosted a reenactment of the first horse race in the colonies.

1993

The Races at Marengo, a seven-race steeplechase, began a very successful six-year run to benefit the nonprofit Historic Richmond Foundation.

1997

Royal New Kent Golf Club opened to outstanding reviews and was named "Best New Upscale Public Course in the Nation" by Golf Digest. The club is now owned by Traditional Golf Properties.

1997

Colonial Downs opened as one of the largest horse racing tracks in the country; it is built near the I-64 Exit 214. This exquisite track features Thoroughbred flat racing and Standardbred harness racing.

21st Century

2001

Brickshire Golf Club, a Curtis Strange Signature opens as the focal point of the new Brickshire community. The club is now owned by Traditional Golf Properties.

2002

The Eastern Chickahominy Indian Tribe purchased 41.59 acres of land, becoming one of the last of the eight state recognized tribes in Virginia to own land. Tribal members plan to build a Tribal Center and Museum.

2008

New Kent Winery opened.

2008

A new high school opened and the old high school became the middle school.

2009

The Club at Viniterra was the newest championship golf course designed by acclaimed golf course architect Rees Jones.

2010

A new high school opens and the old high school becomes the middle school.

2011

Saude` Creek Vineyards and Winery opened.