Highway marker proposed

Published 1:06 pm Wednesday, January 23, 2019

A highway marker recognizing a Lunenburg resident who was a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses and was involved with the American Revolution’s progress in Virginia, is proposed to be located in Lunenburg County.

The proposed location for the marker would be Route 634, near the Middle Fork of the Meherrin River.

According to documentation from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR), Thomas Pettus was a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses from 1769-1775, a member of the Virginia House of Delegates representing Lunenburg County in 1777-1778 and vestryman of Cumberland Parish from 1758-1779.

Pettus was also among the 89 former burgesses in Virginia who met at the Raleigh Tavern in May 1774 and signed a resolution against the importation of British manufactures. Gov. Lord Dunmore dismissed the Virginia Assembly during that time.

Pettus also attended Virginia’s first Revolutionary Convention in August 1774, according to the Virginia DHR, “which elected delegates to the First Continental Congress and resolved to cease trade with Britain if grievances were not redressed.”

Bill said Thomas Pettus owned approximately 1,000 acres in Lunenburg County.

Bill said Pettus was possibly on “handshake terms” with some of those involved with the American Revolution.

“We think that was pretty cool,” Bill said about Thomas Pettus, “and wanted to memorialize him.”

What ultimately drove Bill to pursue the marker, he said, was as a gift to his father, Bill Pettus IV.

His father is 83, Bill said, and a retired rocket scientist who went to Harvard.

His father’s passion was family history, researching his ancestors that eventually resulted in him compiling two volumes of work.

“Our family vacations used to consist of going to Williamsburg, and touring around Southside Virginia courthouses while he was doing research,” Bill said. He said he remembers he and his sister playing ball in the courtyard as his father paged through documents.

Bill said he was thinking of a Christmas present to give his father, when he had the idea to go to Thomas Pettus’ property and see whether Thomas Pettus’ home remained intact.

He received permission from property owners and went to the site, where Bill saw house foundations and pieces of 18th century pottery.

“That’s what I gave my dad for Christmas,” Bill said. “News that there was an 18th-century house out on that property.”

Bill said his father appreciated the gift and was excited for the news.

Bill said the highway marker idea came soon after as a way to recognize Thomas Pettus’ impact on the county. Bill said he is uncertain how many generations are between him and Thomas Pettus.

Bill said they submitted an application to the Virginia DHR and that his father wrote the description and provided information and resources about Thomas Pettus.

Bill said the family is currently raising funds for the highway marker signage to be made and installed.