History of New Kent

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. Learn More
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." Learn More
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. Learn More
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.
1692
Colonel William Bassett builds the New Kent Ordinary. Learn More

18th Century

1701
St. Peter's Church is built. The Church continues to hold regular services today. Learn More
St. Peter's Church
1731
Martha Dandridge Custis Washington was born at Chestnut Grove. Learn More
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. Learn More
1759
Martha Dandridge Custis married George Washington on January 6th at St. Peter's Church.
George and Martha Washington
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.
1781
Washington and Rochambeau came through New Kent on their way to Victory at Yorktown.
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.
Letitia Christian Tyler

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 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 Learn More
Burning Of The White House On The Pamunkey River
1861
The Richmond & York River Rail Road was completed through New Kent and played a key role in the 1862 Civil War Peninsula Campaign. Learn More
1862
JEB Stuart's Ride around the Union Army.
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.
1909
After several fires, the exisitng "old" New Kent Courthouse is constructed. Learn More
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. Learn More
USS New Kent (APA-217)
1949
The New Kent Training School was renamed George W. Watkins School, housing grades P-11. Learn More
1950
The Indian school was closed and students were bused to Samaria Indian School in Charles City County.
1950
The New Kent County Airport was established. Learn More
1955
Charles C. Green vs. County School Board of New Kent County, Virginia became the most important school desegregation case since Brown in 1954. Learn More
1968
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. Learn More
1974
New Kent Primary School opened. It was renamed New Kent Elementary School in 1989 when the new high school was built.
1976
The Brookwoods Golf Club opened near Bottoms Bridge. Learn More
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.
1991
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church building was dedicated.
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.
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. Learn More
Colonial Downs during construction

21th Century

2001
Brickshire Golf Club, a Curtis Strange Signature opens as the focal point of the new Brickshire community.
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.
2008
New Kent Winery opened. Learn More
2008
A new high school opened and the old high school became a middle school.
2008
The Club at Viniterra was the newest championship golf course designed by acclaimed golf course architect Rees Jones. Learn More
2011
Saudé Creek Vineyards and Winery opened. Learn More
2011
Gauthier Vineyards plants first vines followed by the construction of a tasting room and wine making facility in 2012. Learn More
2012
Bridging Communities Regional Technical Center partnered with New Kent High School offering students the ability to earn industry certifications and follow pathways to the workforce, specialized trade programs, community college, or four-year institutions. Learn More
2013
Rappahannock Community College partners with New Kent High School offering qualified high school students the opportunity to earn an Associates of Arts or Sciences Transfer degree from Rappahannock Community College while still enrolled in high school. Learn More
2018
The Chickahominy Indians were granted federal recognition.
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