Sunday, April 24, 2011

King Coquonosum and Queen Oppussoquionuske (Petersburg, Va)

Barely pronounceable (the long and forgotten names of the sibling king and queen of the Appomattoc tribe), but not nearly as convoluted as the various fates that would befall them and the area that is Petersburg, Va today.

Recently (en route to Wilmington NC, for a friend's fortieth) I spotted an Historic Petersburg sign on the side of the road. Twisting my neck almost right off its socket — as I am want to do for any sign bearing the word historic — I decided unilaterally that we would stage a drive-through on our way back to Baltimore. So, after a weekend of too much Prosecco, tornados (real ones) and the raging Cape Fear River (what a fantastic name!), we took a small detour off the I-95. Petersburg, founded and settled by English colonists in 1748, is a fascinating chronicle of history. Significantly, it held one of the oldest free black settlements at Pocahontas Island. Also (as part of a simple walkabout), evidence of trench warfare from the American Civil War is still visible. And in the 1830's, it served as an east-west/north-south hub for the emerging US railroad infrastructure. But it is the not-to-be-missed mix of restoration, dilapidation and ghostly gaping holes, that made a lasting impression. 

Note to self: call next cat Oppussoquionuske...

Petersburg is 23 miles south of Richmond Va.
Photographs by Philippa Berrington-Blew and Craig Strydom

1 comment:

  1. I spent a long weekend in Petersburg, VA at Civil War Symposium. What an interesting city. You captured its contrast to a "T." The best part of my visit was an African-American history walking tour which took me to the place where slave auctions were held (now the garden of a bar) and the building that housed the slave jail (now a posh hair salon).