James Coles Bruce
James Coles Bruce
of Berry Hill
Betsy Ross Eliza Wilkins Bruce
Eliza Wilkins Bruce

The Formation of Halifax County and Its Courthouses   
    In 1720 the Assembly passed an Act, effective in 1721, to form a county from the southern part of Prince George, to be called Brunswick. The new county would begin "on the south side of the River Roanoke at the place where the line lately run for ascertaining the uncontroverted bounds of this colony toward North Carolina intersects the said River Roanoke and to be bounded by the direction of the Governor with consent of council so as to include the Southern pass." The reference to the line "lately run" is to the famous survey line made by Colonel William Byrd II. Major William Mayo, John Irvine and others and described by Col. Byrd in A HISTORY OF THE DIVIDING LINE BETWIXT VIRGINIA AND NORTH CAROLINA RUN IN THE YEAR 1728.

Courthouse History  
    Occupying a site that has been used for court purposes since 1803, the Courthouse holds hundreds of thousands of documents relating to the people and property of Halifax County, Virginia. The court records go back to 1752, when Halifax County was cut off from Lunenburg.

The History of Halifax County, Virginia (1750 - 1940)  
    From Colony to Nation (1750-1789) - Prior to 1714, Virginians were proscribed from settling beyond the Nottoway River due to the potential threat from Indians residing in the region. Settlement of this region was made possible in 1714, when Governor Alexander Spotswood corralled Virginia's remaining Indians and brokered a treaty with North Carolina establishing a compromise over the location of the colonies' shared boundary. In 1728 the boundary was formalized. • • • •

The War of American Independence - The Southern Campaign - The Crossing of the Dan

     "The Crossing of the Dan" was a brilliant tactical maneuver conceived by the American Continental army's General Nathanael Greene. The action was carried out at Irvine's and Boyd's ferries in Virginia on February 13-14, 1781.

     Luring the British troops far from their supply base in Charleston, South Carolina, the Colonials raced with Cornwallis, in hot pursuit, to the Dan River. Greene's troops crossed in prepositioned ferries and boats only hours ahead of the British light calvalry. The stranded and frustrated British retreated to Hillsborough, North Carolina.

     Greene used the next few days in Halifax, Virginia, to gather new troops, needed supplies and horses in preparation for a planned, direct encounter with the Redcoats.


Ferries & Roads Research dating back to 1741

Ferriage Research dating back to 1781

Halifax County Tobacco History  

- The first tobacco grown in Virginia and shipped to England was in 1612 by John Rolfe and his band of Colonial men. By the year 1730 England was asking for more tobacco and they began making liberal land grants to encourage men to move westward to fight the Indians and clear land and grow tobacco.

The Native Americans of Halifax County    
     The very first travelers to Halifax County, Virginia, may have come and gone without leaving any clue as to whom they may have been. All that we find are the shaped stones they left behind. Spearpoints, knives, and axes found in this area have been dated back from 8,000 to 10,000 years ago. Excavations at Cactus Hill, on the Nottoway River in southeastern Virginia, have uncovered points, blades, and other evidence that are 15,000 to 17,000 years old.

A History of the Indians of Halifax County    
     by Tom Stevens. In spite of many years of research, archeologists still don't know a great deal about the first people to inhabit the Americas.

Kerr Resevoir Archeology    
     by Linda McCord. Before the extensive archeological digs were begun around the John H. Kerr Reservoir in 1947, the area was virtually an "archeological no-man's land."

Col. William Byrd's Observations 1728-33: THE DIVIDING LINE    
    Byrd led a surveying party to mark the line between Virginia and North Carolina in 1728 . . .

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   The transcription and the updated photos are the work of Dan Shaw. In some cases modifications to the original text have been made to improve the flow of the story, correct typos, and insert new or clarifying information. Additional facts or further corrections are welcome.    This author takes no credit for the original publications and its research. These local historians should be honored for the their endless hours of efforts to document this county's history for posterity.

2003 by Dan Shaw, Halifax Web WorX Last updated on December 16, 2012.