Henrico County VA
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From longhouses to schoolhouses: Henrico’s history on display

Q: What legendary couple resided at the site of the present-day Varina Farm in the early 1600s?

A: Of course you know that. Everyone has heard the legend of Pocahontas and John Rolfe.

But there is a lot more to Henrico history. The county is wrapping up a year-long celebration of its 400th anniversary with a look at both everyday life and major events.

Out of the Wilderness: The History of Henrico County, a small but comprehensive exhibit at Meadow Farm Museum’s orientation center, highlights some of the people, places and events that contributed to the county’s vibrant past.

The exhibit dates back to 1997, when Dr. Louis Manarin, a noted Henrico historian, created the show with pieces obtained from residents, the Library of Virginia, Virginia Historical Society, Jamestown and Yorktown, said Kim Sicola, assistant superintendent of Historic Preservation and Museum Services for the county.

Since then, the county’s collection of artifacts has swelled to more than 40,000, she said, stored in facilities around the county.

This updated exhibit incorporates the order and text of the original, but features some different items, including maps, archeological artifacts, clothing, currency and tools.

Did you know:

• More than 600 Henricoans served in the Revolutionary War.

• Sir Thomas Dale gave the area its name in honor of Prince Henry, the oldest son of King James.

• By 1790, there were more slaves than whites in the county.

• The Henrico Cinema opened on April 25, 1938; admission prices ranged from 10 to 25 cents.

The show is comprehensive enough to give youngsters a taste of history, but small enough to get them in and out quickly so they can visit the animals that live at the working farm.

The exhibit has been extended to run through spring 2012.

Meadow Farm will celebrate its own anniversary soon, said site manager Anna Truong. A Virginia Land Patent dated May 2, 1713 gave 400 acres to William Sheppard and Richard Baker. Sheppard bought out Baker and generations of Sheppards lived on the land until 1975. It now serves as a living history museum.

Think you know it all already? Here are a few questions from the exhibit.

a) What historical attraction in Virginia used Manakin bricks?

b) Which Confederate General is honored with a monument in northern Henrico County?

c) What famous colonial rebel lived at Curles Neck from 1674 until his death in 1676?

d) Besides farming, what industry fueled the economy of Henrico County in the 19th century?

Answers: (a)Colonial Williamsburg; (b)J.E.B. Stuart; (c) Nathaniel Bacon, (d)Coal mining. Coal pits located in western Henrico included Gayton, Springfield and Deep Run.
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