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February 5, 2015 / Joanne Yeck

Arvonia: A Bit of Old Wales

Slate River Ramblings_RTD_1936_Arvonia

On March 29, 1936, the Richmond Times-Dispatch ran a full-page story in the paper’s Sunday Supplement section about the history of Arvonia, Buckingham County. It began with a brief description of the discovery of the slate in the region:

Arvonia Slate Quarries in Buckingham County

Produce Finest Type of Rock Known

Sprawled over the rough, wooded hills on both sides of Hunt Creek in the eastern part of Buckingham County, down in Old Virginia, is the slate quarry “settlement” of Arvonia, the site of what is said to be the finest slate region in America.

Far back in the early days of Buckingham history, two Englishmen, Edmond Sims and Robert Chatman, first noticed the slate formation of the ridges and bluffs around them. They put their slaves to work digging deep pits in the slaty rocks, (for that was long before the War Between the States), and they took from the sides of the pits great blocks of the stone. Then they used “Niggerhead” rocks to break the blocks to a size small enough to be carried on the shoulder.

But there was no large quarry opened until M. E. Jones and Hugh Hughes of Carnavonshire, North Wales, came to Virginia. These men opened the first quarry of any size. Many Welshmen from the Northern States, then came to Buckingham to work in this quarry, and the one opened by two other Welshmen, John J. Roberts and J. E. Edwards. Quarrymen from Wales then began to come over to share in the enterprise.

Soon the settlement grew to a size where a name was necessary, and these Welsh emigrants, homesick no doubt for the slaty hills of their own homeland, called it “Arvon” after Carnavonshire in Wales. Later the place was called Arvonia, but the railroad station is still “Arvon.”

To be continued . . . .

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