Recent News

50th Anniversary Edition of Green Mount Book Review

The 50th Anniversary Edition of Green Mount: A Virginia Plantation Family During the Civil War will be reviewed by Ms. Tere Pistole at 3:00 p.m. Sunday, November 3, 2013 at the King and Queen Courthouse Tavern Museum. The original book, edited by county resident Miss Betsy Fleet and Mr. John D. P. Puller, was first published in 1962. It has become a primary resource for county history of the period, principally consisting of teenager Benny Fleet’s personal journal, supplemented by Dr. Benjamin Fleet family correspondence, and illustrated with drawings by Mr. Sidney E. King.

The new edition expands the book using extensive research by Ms. Pistole, including added text from Benny Fleet’s diary, additional photographs of people and places in the book, a period map, and more details surrounding Benny’s death. She will provide an overview of the original book and discuss the added material. Emphasis will be placed on the mysteries left unsolved in the original book and the research that provided the answers.

Copies of Green Mount are on sale in the Museum shop now, and will be available on the day of the presentation.

The Tavern Museum is located at 146 Court House Landing Road, King and Queen Court House, VA.  The Tavern is open from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday (as well as from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday).  Visitors are encouraged to come early to view the exhibits.  Refreshments will be served after Ms. Pistole speaks. 

The King and Queen Historical Society Celebrates 60 Years

Join us at our next meeting on October 27, 2013

The King and Queen Historical Society was founded in 1953 and for 60 years, with the help of dedicated members, has preserved county history by collecting over 3800 manuscripts, letters, record books, and artifacts; acquiring over 350 books on county history and families; publishing over 110 Bulletins containing articles on the county and its citizens; publishing over 3 books and a map; promoting national and state marking of historic sites in the county; and creating an oral history of the county through video interviews of over 60 of its senior citizens. In May 2001 the Historical Society in cooperation with King and Queen County opened the Courthouse Tavern Museum as a cultural center for county history: principally as a county history archive and library for papers, photographs and books related to King and Queen County to inform and to assist in research; as a repository for artifacts; as a showcase for period tavern living; and as an exhibit hall used to inform the public of various aspects of life in the county over time.

Society members hail from all over Virginia and from over 25 states. New members are welcome. The quarterly meetings offer informative presentations on county history or related topics and are always open to the public.

The next King and Queen Historical Society meeting will be at Newington Plantation on Sunday October 27, 2013 at 3:00 p.m. There will be two guest speakers. Ivor Noel Hume, respected archaeologist and writer, a retired "Antiquarian" from Colonial Williamsburg will discuss the bottle collection he acquired during his lifetime, sharing the method of dating bottles and also his visit to Newington some sixty years ago.  He will be available to sign books, answer questions, and review his pleasure in having the bottles available for others to enjoy, now on display at the King and Queen Courthouse Tavern Museum. Matthew R. Laird, Ph.D., RPA, Partner and Senior Researcher, will also speak, focusing on archeological developments at Newington Plantation since the last Historical Society meeting there in 2009.

Come early and tour the Courthouse Tavern Museum at 146 Court House Landing Road, King and Queen Court House, Virginia within several miles of the meeting. The location of the Historical Society Meeting at Newington Plantation is 998 Newington Lane, King and Queen Court House, Virginia. Directions: From Rt. 14 take 631 (Frazier Ferry Road). Travel .9 mile and turn right on Newington Lane. At the end of the straight stretch you will see the Newington Plantation Home site. Take a right and follow the signs to 998 Newington Lane (also known as Eagle’s Pointe) and this site is the Frank and Barbara Hurst river home. Signs will be placed strategically to make your travel easy. On the way plan to tour the Newington Plantation site and view the restored stone building and the artifacts displayed there. For more information visit our website at

Tales from the Tavern - Summer 2013

Special Thanks to Jack Spain

This newsletter is dedicated to Jack Spain who recently resigned as head of the King and Queen Courthouse Tavern Museum. Under his 15 years of leadership the Museum was established and has become a total success. Highlights of the remarkable legacy that he leaves are covered.

Download the Full pdf

King and Queen Courthouse Tavern Museum’s New Website

The King and Queen Courthouse Tavern Museum Council invites you to visit our new interactive website at As a local newspaper once stated, "The King and Queen Courthouse Tavern Museum is a Real Gem...located in a Middle Peninsula county with a lot of rural charm. The out-of-the-way location easily evokes the past that the Museum is preserving.” Using images, the website presents an overview of the Museum’s 11 exhibits and also offers informative online exhibits. The Museum Library, Archives, Historical Society Bulletins, and DVD collections can be searched. Recent Newsletters and Press Releases are available. Online tools assist with membership, donation, and volunteer support for the Museum and the King and Queen Historical Society. The Museum Shop offers books and maps of King and Queen County for sale online. Planning a visit is easy with the website information, including a link to Google Maps for directions and a street or satellite view of the location. The website is linked to the Courthouse Tavern Museum on Facebook at Follow us to receive the latest information about exhibits, activities and events.

The Courthouse Tavern Museum is sponsored by the King and Queen Historical Society. The website was designed and developed by Jen Shelor of Shelor Interactive in cooperation with Tavern Museum Council members Jack Spain, Page McLemore, Susan Richardson, Sylvia Hutt and Biddie Shelor. Visit the website and then visit the Museum for a History-Filled, informative experience.

Archaeologist to address King and Queen Historical Society (July 17, 2013 Tidewater Review)

Staff Writer

KING & QUEEN – The King and Queen Historical Society will welcome one of America’s foremost historical archaeologists at its July meeting. Dr. William M. Kelso, Director of Research and Interpretation at Jamestown, will share his experiences and answer questions about his explorations on July 28.

Kelso began working in the field of archaeology after earning an M.A. in early American history from the College of William and Mary in 1964. He has directed projects at Colonial Williamsburg’s Carter Grove, Monticello, and Poplar Forest.

Read more

Anderson’s Neck oyster Company to talk everything oyster with KQ Historical Society (April 17, 2013 Tidewater Review)

Staff Writer

KING & QUEEN – Oysters have had a long-standing history and Anderson’s Neck Oyster Company is working hard to restore that legacy. The proprietor of Anderson’s Neck, Michael Hild, will be the guest speaker April 28 for the King and Queen County Historical Society and plans to present all things oyster related.

Guests will even get to experience an oyster shucking station to sample local oysters.

“We were delighted to receive the invitation to speak at their quarterly meeting,” Hild said. “We intend to talk about everything oyster related at Anderson’s Neck.”

Read more

Preserving history. See what the historic Courthouse Tavern has to offer (Tidewater Review, Novermber 28, 2012)

Staff Writer

KING & QUEEN – In 1864, the Union Army set fire to the buildings that made up the King and Queen Courthouse green. It was the second recorded fire to take out the county’s courthouse, clerk’s office, and jail; the first having burned in 1828, and the second the Courthouse Tavern survived. Lore says that the Union Army refused to burn the tavern down in 1864 after rumors circulated that there was a sick man in one of the rooms. The soldiers were allegedly afraid they’d catch his illness if they went to get the man out of the tavern and would not knowingly burn it down with him inside.

The historic Courthouse Tavern dates back to at least 1802 when surviving tax records show Dr. John Smith owned it and probably used it for his medical practice.

Thirty years later the tavern would change ownership numerous times: Thacker Muire in 1832, Robert Myrrick in 1843, and Lee A. Dunn in 1851.

In 1851, William B. Bird acquired the tavern, which remained in his family for 60 years. Bird’s daughter, Ella Purcell, would take over the tavern in 1893. Purcell is thought to have added the tavern’s third floor and front porch. During these times, the tavern was a busy place, offering food, shelter, and camaraderie for the lawyers and judges that traveled periodically for cases held in King and Queen’s courthouse.

According to Page Mclemore, museum council and historical society member, court was open once a month and since the courthouse was “off the beaten path” the tavern was a necessity.

When the Fleets took over ownership of the tavern in 1911, it was deeded that Purcell would have life-rights to the building and be allowed to live in one of the rooms until her death, which she did until she died in 1926. The Fleet family ran the tavern until 1921 when the Fary family took over until 1941. That year King and Queen County bought the tavern and converted it into office space.

When the county offices moved into the new administration building in 1999, Mclemore said officials suggested to the historical society that the building be used as a museum, and in 2001, with the help of state grants and the Jessie Ball DuPont fund, the Courthouse Tavern Museum first opened its doors.

Mclemore said the historical society painstakingly took the time to rehabilitate the building to help preserve some of its original historic flavor. The brick floor was reconstructed and the fireplace hearths were made from brick found in the original floor. The mantles were copied from the original mantles in the tavern’s second floor bedrooms.

The ground floor of the tavern houses the dining room and a museum office. The floor also includes the “Making a Living” display, including trades through the centuries from 1600-1900, and a Sundial exhibit featuring the 1715 St. Stephens Parish Sundial, the oldest sundial in colonial Virginia, along with the base of the baptismal font from the church. The ground floor also features a courthouse green historic district exhibit as well as an exhibit highlighting information on the tavern building itself.

The first floor includes the tavern parlor where the tavern owners would greet overnight guests. This room features the three centuries of “Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” display, along with period furniture, as well as an early 20th century tea dress made from pineapple fibers and a second day dress from 1882. The first floor also includes a changing exhibits room, which currently features the Ivor Hume Bottle Collection, along with information on bottles and archeological excavation at Newington Plantation.

There is also a library, which offers periodicals, papers, genealogical books, as well as copies of the King and Queen Historical Society’s bulletin chalked full of county information published twice a year since 1956.

The second floor includes two bedrooms: one featuring life pre-plumbing and electricity with kerosene lighting, fireplace, bathing tub, and indoor potty. The room also features a handmade (1855-1860) quilt face believed to have been made in King and Queen by a group of friends as a wedding present before the Civil War intervened. The second bedroom represents the early 20th century, displaying new electrical inventions like fans, heaters, vacuum cleaner, and sewing machine.

The museum grounds also include a log schoolhouse and a carriage house complete with a Franklin Buggy originally used in King and Queen County.

On Sunday, Dec. 2, the Courthouse Tavern Museum will host its sixth annual old-fashioned Holiday Open House from 2 to 5 p.m.

Enjoy an Old-Fashioned Holiday Open House at Tavern Museum (November, 2012)

King & Queen – The King and Queen Courthouse Tavern Museum will hold its sixth annual old-fashioned Holiday open House on Sunday, Dec. 2, from 2-5 p.m. at the Museum at King and Queen Court House.

This year there will be a special story-teller on hand at the Museum. There will be special holiday music and caroling to bring the spirit of the holidays to the neighborhood. Delicious Yuletide refreshments will be available for everyone to enjoy.

Outside the Museum there will be donut and popcorn-ball making over an open fire. Brownie Bevan will provide pony-cart rides for the children which ware always a lot of fun. Santa Claus will be present.

The Museum’s current exhibit features bottles from the collection of noted archeologist, Ivor Noel Hume, as well as bottles and bottle pieces from the archeological dig at Newington in King and Queen County.

In connection with the exhibit there will be hand-blown glassware from Jamestown Glass house for sale for that special Christmas gift!

The Museum has a new exhibit featuring the 1715 colonial sun dial of the upper church of the Anglican St. Stephens’s Parish in King and Queen County. The sun dial has been restored and is on long-term loan from Immanuel Church at King and Queen Court House.

The Museum will be festively decorated both inside and out for the holiday season. Everyone is invited, so bring the whole family for a great community event!

The King and Queen Courthouse Tavern Museum is located at King and Queen C.H., Virginia and is open every Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and every Sunday from 1-5 p.m. It will close for its winter break after Sunday, Dec. 16.

Leftwiches Visit K&Q (November, 2012)

Recently, some 70 members of Ralph Leftwich’s descendants came to King and Queen County to remember their forebears. Coming from all over the United States they were celebrating their 21st family reunion in Williamsburg. They belong to the Leftwich Historical Association which publishes an annual newsletter, The Leftwich Herald. As part of that reunion, they took a day off from the reunion festivities to travel to King and Queen County. Their ancestor, Ralph Leftwich, had on Aug. 10, 1658 patented (obtained title to) some 300 acres in that part of New Kent County that is now in King and Queen County (King and Queen was created in 1691 from New Kent and Gloucester counties). The patent was located on the Exoll Swamp. To gets to his land he would have traveled from the Chesapeake Bay up the Piankatank River to the Dragon Swamp, then to the Exoll.

The two bus load of the Leftwich family arrived at King and Queen Court House about 10 a.m. They were greeted by Page McLemore of the King and Queen Historical Society and toured the King and Queen Courthouse Tavern Museum. They were provided copies of a map developed by researchers at the museum showing the probable location of the original Leftwich patent on a modern U.S. Geological Survey map.

The group then toured the other buildings in the King and Queen Courthouse Green Historic District. They entered the quaint and historic Immanuel Episcopal Church, also located at the courthouse. Susan Gresham, a member of the church, discussed the history of the church with the group.

The Leftwich group then went to Mattaponi Baptist Church where they had lunch. Mattaponi Baptist Church occupies the building that once was the lower church of the Anglican St. Stephen’s Parish during the colonial days. The lunch and visit at the Mattaponi Baptist Church were arranged by Roberta Jones of King and Queen.

The group then visited the approximate site of the original Leftwich patent, near the old community of Crouch on Route 617 on the Exoll Swamp near Stevensville, before they returned to Williamsburg. It was a full day and they saw a lot of King and Queen County, but they were pleased with their visit.

The Taylor & Caldwell Cannery at Walkerton (October 2012)

The Walkerton boat ramp today is an active summer place. Boat trailers carrying speed boats and jet skis fill the parking area of the lower landing, while kayakers and canoeists prefer the quieter upper landing. Fishermen use the landing in all seasons, and duck hunters find the access convenient in winter. Occasionally there is a wedding ceremony on the island where sightseers find an attractive place to stroll. The truly observant can find native flowers blooming in the wet edges in three seasons of the year.

The scene was still busy, but distinctly different, sixty years ago when the landing was the site of a vegetable cannery owned by Taylor and Caldwell, Incorporated. Canning season began in spring with early peas, and ended in September with the black-eyed pea crop. The area was a bustling workplace for many men and women all summer long, processing butter beans and corn as well as peas. Fed by the harvest from nearby farms, the factory produced canned goods trucked to markets in Maryland, D.C., Virginia, and North Carolina.

Taylor and Caldwell owned several properties in the Walkerton area, most located in King & Queen County. Besides the cannery itself, the company owned farmland, warehouses, and workshop sites, plus they rented farmland in order to increase the supply of vegetables produced by the farmers who worked directly for the company. Independent farmers were contracted to deliver their own crops to the cannery. Bad weather and market conditions coincided to convince the company’s board of directors to cancel the 1960 canning season. 1959 was the last year the cannery operated.

The Stansbury Canning Company originally built a factory on this site in 1908. Henry P. Taylor, a Richmond native, worked for this company for the four years following his graduation from University of Virginia in 1914, and he returned to Walkerton in 1921 to purchase the cannery. His partnership with C.C. Caldwell began in 1926. It was four years later, in 1930, that the corporation was formed and the new factory built.

The history of the Taylor and Caldwell cannery and the people who worked there will be presented by Ben P. Owen and Page Owen McLemore at the next meeting of the King & Queen County Historical Society. Their grandfather, Henry P. Taylor, was associated with the Stansbury and the Taylor and Caldwell canneries for a period lasting for more than 40 years. Ben and Page will lead a conversation that will include a history of the cannery and the stories of the people who worked there.

The Historical Society invites all interested in the history of this area to attend this informal program. In particular, it is hoped that anyone with a memory of working at the cannery will come to share their stories, and perhaps to help identify people in old photographs.

This event will be held on Sunday, October 28, 2012, at 3:00 p.m. on the hillside above the cannery site in Walkerton from a tent on the lawn of the Riverside Hotel (also known as Dillard’s Hotel). This property is owned by the Carroll Lee Walker family. The Society is honored to be the family’s guest for this occasion. Refreshments will be served at the conclusion of the program.