The definitions of the different categories of places in Virginia can be confusing. The constitution of Virginia defines localities different than all other states do. For instance, Virginia has independent cities, which function completely separate from a county. An independent city in Virginia functions the way counties do in most other states. You cannot be in an independent city and a county at the same time. In Virginia, you are either in a county, or in an independent city. For example, In Illinois, Chicago is a city in the county of Cook. Whereas in Virginia, Fredericksburg is a independent city that is not contained within the borders or jurisdiction of a larger county.
“Towns” in Virginia are smaller than independent cities, and are always part of the larger county in which they reside. Incorporated towns have elected officials, have a population greater than 1,000, and have defined boundaries. There are six towns in Mecklenburg, all of which are incorporated: Brodnax, Boydton, Chase City, Clarksville, La Crosse and South Hill. Note that Chase City is a town, not a city, even though it has city in the name.
Boydton and Clarksville are the oldest towns, established before 1820, although Boydton wasn’t incorporated until 1874. Chase City became an incorporated town in 1873. About twenty years later, Brodnax, La Crosse and South Hill were built up around the railroads and and became towns. Brodnax is rather unique because it is a town that spans across two counties: Mecklenburg and Brunswick.
Records such as wills and deeds are kept by either independent cities or counties in Virginia. If your ancestors lived in a town in Mecklenburg, the records were kept by the county and are in the courthouse at Boydton. Records that were recorded by the state, such as births and deaths, are organized by either the county or the independent city.
This newspaper clipping shows that Clarksville was a town, with legislation approved by the Virginia assembly to enlarge the town. Richmond Enquirer, Tuesday Apr 5, 1836, pg 4.
Three years later, this article shows 150 to 200 half acre lots were being sold in the town of Clarksville. Richmond Enquirer, Friday Oct 18, 1839, pg 1. SV Watkins, AW Venable and T. Carrington are selling the land. I thought the descriptions of the town and businesses were really interesting. Also interesting to note that there was a school for boys and a separate school for girls.
This newspaper clipping about Boydton being incorporated is from the Richmond Times Dispatch, Saturday February 28, 1874, page 2.
This news clipping shows Chase City’s town charter being amended. Alexandria Gazette, Thursday Jan 17, 1884, page 2.
This newspaper clipping about South Hill being incorporated is from the Richmond Times Dispatch, Friday Feb 8, 1901, page 5.
This newspaper clipping about La Crosse being incorporated is from The Times, Saturday February 9, 1901
This newspaper clipping about Brodnax being incorporated is from the Richmond Times Dispatch Wednesday January 20, 1915 page 9
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