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


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)


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


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


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


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.


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


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

18th Century


Martha Dandridge Custis Washington was born at Chestnut Grove.


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.


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


Martha Dandridge Custis married George Washington on January 6th.


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


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


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


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.


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


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


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


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.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.


The C&O Railway was constructed through New Kent.


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


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


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.


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.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.


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


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


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


The New Kent County Airport was established.


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)


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


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.


The Brookwoods Golf Club opened near Bottoms Bridge.


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


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


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


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


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.


St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church building was dedicated.


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.

21st Century


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.


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.


New Kent Winery opened.


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


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


Saude` Creek Vineyards and Winery opened.


Gauthier Winery plants first vines followed by the construction of a tasting room and wine making facility in 2012.


Bridging Communities Regional Technical Center partners 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.


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.