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April 21, 2014 / Joanne Yeck

New Canton and Manufacturing


Ruins of Virginia Mills, photo by Joanne Yeck


From The Gazetteer of Virginia (c. 1834)

New Canton is four miles east of Virginia Mills, by which large quantities of flour are manufactured, they are situated on Slate River, on which several valuable slate quarries are opened.  An Iron foundry has lately been opened at New Canton, by which is manufactures all qualities of iron.   

Virginia Mills was owned and operated by the Nicholas family.  In addition to the mills, there was a post office and a general store.  Surviving accounts from the store include the familiar surnames of families whose farms lay along the banks of James River, Slate River, and Hunts Creek — Allen, Bagby, Bolling, Brown, Chambers, Guerrant, Harris, etc.

Edward W. Sims was one of the individuals behind the development of the foundry, Buckingham Iron Company.  In 1840, the operation employed white men, 3 free blacks, and 32 male slaves between the ages of 24 and 36.  The labor was divided between mining (12 men) and manufacturing (38 men).  Buckingham Iron Company was a significant, though comparatively short-lived, endeavor.  By 1844, the furnace was being offered for sale.


Leave a Comment
  1. Joanne Yeck / May 25 2015 8:56 am

    Beth, There is considerable information available about Edward W. Sims. For several decades, he was involved in manufacturing in Buckingham County; then, he removed to Cumberland County. Watch for more about him in upcoming posts later this summer. Joanne

  2. Beth Leggieri / May 25 2015 8:09 am

    Do we have more information about Edward W. Sims who was involved with the foundry?

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