Richmond County Museum

- 1866 -

Reconstruction Period

“The Freedmen throughout my [Subdistrict] are nearly all at work. They seem to be generally at work more than they were last year and will make good crops, for the reason they have secured to themselves better land and teams than any previous year.” He continues: “They [Freedmen] are now struggling to erect School-Houses and Churches. They have the most intense desire for education. Not a Sabbath passes, but you may find them congregated together worshipping— some places in the wood, in the old huts, and at the back end of white churches.” ~Lt. Henry Ayres

Lt. Ayres, Assistant Subassistant Commissioner for the 4th Division, 6th Subdistrict, Virginia, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands (Freedmen’s Bureau), resided in Warsaw from February 5, 1866, to January 1, 1868. From a one-room office, he navigated the racial tensions in a post-war Northern Neck. He wrote his superiors in Fredericksburg, VA, providing “the existing feeling between the whites and the blacks,” requisitioning rations and clothing when needed, detailing riots and court appearances, and informing them of the erection of the many African American schools and churches throughout Richmond and Westmoreland Counties.

Source: Records of the Field Offices for the State of Virginia, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865-1872, National Museum of African American History and Culture. Deeds, Plats and Tax Records, Richmond County Clerk’s Office.