The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Bland County, Virginia

By Susan M. Thigpen © 1996

Issue: Spring, 1996

Bland County was named after Richard E. Bland, Revolutionary Patriot, who was born May 6, 1710, at Jordan's Point, Prince George County, Virginia. He was one of the many prominent Virginians who advocated the Revolution and led the Virginia Colony into rebellion against Great Britain. He was known as the "Virginia Antiquary" because of his thorough and accurate knowledge of the history of the colony. He served as a member of the House of Burgesses, 1742-1755. In 1755, he was chosen as one of eleven men who composed the Committee of Safety that was the governing body until the Constitution was adopted in June of 1776. Thomas Jefferson rated him as "the wisest man South of James River."

Richard E. Bland died at Williamsburg from an attack of apoplexy while walking down the street on October 26, 1776.

The town of Bland was once called Seddon in honor of James Alexander Seddon, the American Statesman, who was born at Falmouth, Virginia, on July 13, 1815. In February 1861, he was one of the five delegates at the Peace Conference at Washington where he maintained the right of a state to peaceful secession. In November, 1862, he became Secretary of War in the Confederate Cabinet under Jefferson Davis as President. He held this position until the Civil War was nearly over, resigning on January 28, 1866, and retired from public life.

A site was selected for the Bland Court House upon the formation of the county and the land was donated by James Wayne and Emily Steel Grayson in 1862. Due to the reconstruction period in the South after the Civil War, plans for its construction were not drawn until 1871. Until this time court was held in a store-house owned by Mr. Grayson, which stood across the street from the present Court House. On October 22, 1874 the new Court House was accepted by the County Board of Supervisors. The building was of brick, laid on a stone foundation.

On December 5, 1888, the Court House burned, luckily most of the records and valuable papers were saved. The new Court House was built on the old foundation and was completed in 1889.

In August of 1911, the local Daughters of the Confederacy dedicated the Confederate monument on the Court House lawn.

In 1929, a portico was installed and in the winter of 1935-36 the town of Bland acquired a public water system and water was installed in the Court House. The new addition to the Court House was completed in 1949; this addition consisted of nine offices, four rest rooms, stairway and a basement housing a new heating plant and two storage rooms. Also, the old section of the lower floor was fire proofed, cement floors were laid downstairs and tile was laid throughout the building.

Accommodations: Willow Bend Farm Bed & Breakfast, phone 540-688-3719, is located one-fourth mile to the left of the Interstate 77 exit number 52, on highway 42. Big Walker Motel, phone 540-688-3331, is located on the hill, within sight of the Bland Exit off Interstate 77.

Food: Log Cabin Restaurant, phone 688-3999, located at Big Walker Motel near Bland exit off Interstate 77.

Festivals: Festival of Leaves held September 28-29, 1996 in downtown area as well as several other locations throughout the county. Bland County Fair and Horse Show held August 28-31, 1996 at the Fair Grounds, off Main Street. Bland 4-H Horse Show held the third weekend in May at the Fair Grounds. Lord's Acre Sale held first Saturday of October, 1996 at the Fair Grounds. Pig Pickin' open to the public held at the high school football field in benefit of the football program the last Friday in July.

Historic Sites: Wolf Creek Indian Village and Museum, Route 1, Highway 52, Bastian, VA 24314, phone 540-688-3438.

Outdoor Recreation: Trout fishing, hiking, llama treks (phone 540-688-4464. See mile 3.8 in this issue's Backroad Tour), and golf (at Wolf Creek Golf and Country Club, phone 540-688-4610, Bastian, VA).

Shopping: Imagine That Antiques, 110 Main St, Bland (688-4653); Heritage House Antiques, Road 1001, Bland (688-3755); Old Post Mercantile, Road 1001, Bland (688-3447); Crab Orchard Creek Antiques, Road 1001, Bland; Big Walker Lookout, Highway 21 (228-4401);

For more information contact:

Wytheville, Wythe, Bland Chamber of Commerce, 150 E. Monroe Street, Wytheville, VA 24382, phone 540-223-3365 or Betty Kay Munsey, Bland County Extension Office, Bland, VA 24315, phone 540-688- 3542.