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December 18, 2017 / Joanne Yeck

Reconstruction in Buckingham County: Caesar Perkins, Part II


The “New” Main Street Baptist Church. Clifton Forge, VA.

To catch up, follow this link: Reconstruction in Buckingham County, Part I and Reconstruction in Buckingham County: Caesar Perkins, Part I

Beyond his involvement in politics, Caesar Perkins was a leader in the African-American religious community. By 1868, he was a Trustee of Fork Union Baptist Church, which included a school for African-American children. According to the Encyclopedia Virginia:

On August 16, 1870, Perkins purchased for $1,675 the 628 acres in Buckingham County where he had been raising corn, oats, tobacco, and wheat on the farm he rented. In January 1873, however, he signed over his considerable amount of personal property to lien holders to secure the remainder of the purchase price. He also operated a store in Buckingham Court House and in June 1871 received a license to sell alcohol there. In 1872 he was licensed to keep two ordinaries in the county.

Later in the decade, Perkins served as assistant assessor for the county and served as a Supervisor for Maysville Township, fulfilling Lt. Jordan’s confidence in him.

By 1877, Caesar Perkins completed a divinity degree, was ordained as a Baptist minister, served as pastor at Zion Grove Baptist Church in Buckingham County and, later, served as Treasurer of the Slate River Baptist Association. Over the years, he officiated at numerous marriages in Buckingham County.

According to the Encyclopedia Virginia, in the early 1890s, Caesar Perkins moved west to help establish a new church in Clifton Forge, Alleghany County, Virginia:

By 1891 Perkins had moved to Clifton Forge, where he acquired property and operated a brickyard for the nearby Iron Gate Land and Improvement Company. He suffered financial difficulties and his property was sold at public auction in 1896. While living in Clifton Forge, Perkins helped establish Second Baptist Church (later Main Street Baptist Church), of which he was pastor, and facilitated the transfer of property to the church in 1897.


According to The Clifton Forge Woman’s Club holiday tour guide of historic building in Clifton Forge:

The Main Street Baptist Church was organized in 1895 and was the inspiration of the Rev. Cesar Perkins, a slave born in Buckingham County, Virginia. . . . He purchased a small wooden building which had been used as a church from a white congregation for $13,350.00 that same year. In 1921 the wooden building was replaced with the beautiful brick church you see today at a cost of $75,000.00. The sanctuary seats 250 members, many of whom, in years past, mortgaged their homes during the depression to maintain the church and its parsonage.

In 1900, Perkins and his second wife, the widow Lucy J. Claiborne, were enumerated twice on the Federal Census, in Clifton Forge and in Buckingham County. In November of 1904, in Buckingham, he helped found a chapter of the Colored Knights of Pythias, a fraternal and benevolent association, eventually becoming the District Deputy Grand Chancellor for the county and organized additional lodges. According to the Encyclopedia Virginia, “He donated a house and lot to the Maysville school district in August 1910.” He died on September 22, 1910, in Richmond, Virginia, following a long illness. He is buried on his property near Dillwyn in Buckingham County.

Coming next: Reconstruction in Buckingham County: Caesar Perkins, Part III

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