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September 16, 2021 / Joanne Yeck

Payne’s Landing, Part I

Lulie Patteson
Courtesy Gordon G. Ragland, Jr., Maxey/Patteson Family Collection

In March of 1959, Buckingham County historian Lulie Patteson published an article in Charlottesville’s Daily Progress entitled, “Payne’s Landing Disappeared from the Contemporary Scene.” As always Miss Patteson’s description of this once bustling community in northern Buckingham County is colorful and engaging. The article begins:

Payne’s Landing on the James River in Buckingham County was once a canal boat dock and a busy outlet of a huge plantation. Not a vestige of its business activities of 100 years ago remains. It is identified by a railroad siding built at a later date and now discontinued.

Large plantations along the James and its tributaries shipped and received much freight at various landings in canal boat days. It eventually led to almost every farm having its private Landing — such as Bolling Landing, Brown’s Landing, etc.

Crowning a stately hill rising from the south bank of the James is a dilapidated residence which belonged to those whose lives were spent there and who gave Payne’s Landing its name.

Just when this plantation (said to have been one of the largest in Virginia) came into possession of N. T. Payne is not clear. The records of Buckingham County were destroyed in a fire just after the surrender of the South in the Civil War. All deeds vanished.

However, family history states that the great tract of land was purchased from a man named Sam Allen.


As is often the case, oral history is less than accurate but can be peppered with clues to follow.  Clearly, Lulie Patteson understood that Nathan T. Payne had acquired this property before 1869 when Buckingham County’s courthouse burned. However, research concerning Peter Field Jefferson and my kinsman James Harris reveals another story.

Samuel Allen, remembered by the Payne family, was the son-in-law of James Harris, who owned considerable land in this section of Buckingham. At the time of Allen’s death on November 15, 1871, he was likely managing what was then known as “Winfrey’s Tract” and later became known as “Payne’s.”

James Harris had purchased this 2,285 acre plantation from Peter Field Jefferson in October of 1858. While large by Buckingham County standards, it was far from “one of the largest in Virginia.” On November 22, 1871, Harris sold the farm to Nathan T. Payne for $13,000, however, in a complicated settlement, the deed was not transferred until 1874, two years after James Harris’ death.


For more about Peter Field Jefferson’s purchase of the Winfrey Tract, consult my book Peter Field Jefferson: Dark Prince of Scottsville and Lost Jeffersons.

Coming Next: Payne’s Landing, Part II


Leave a Comment
  1. Elizabeth Fortune / Sep 16 2021 7:53 am

    I get so excited when I see a post with Payne. Nathan Thomas Payne was my 3GGF

    • Joanne Yeck / Sep 16 2021 12:35 pm

      Lots more to come!


  2. Joanne Yeck / Sep 16 2021 7:28 am

    Hi Hal!

    Thanks for your comment. Good to know that Ohio’s roads are in better shape. Trust Virginia’s are as well.


  3. Hal Coleman / Sep 16 2021 7:04 am

    Joanne, I thought about you on Thursday as we stayed a night (actually just 5 hours) in Dayton. When we passed the exit for Kettering, you immdiately came to mind. We were in a marathon race to get back to Virginia from West Glacier, Montana, 30 miles from the Canadian border, over 3,000 miles, 34 hours of drive time. The interstates out there are in horrible condition, one lane traffic on 80 mph roads only seperated with plastic pylons ever 50 feet. Often very little warning you were driving into a construction zone, poorly marked detours, potholes and rough buckboard rocking pavement on the interstate. Would have never beleived that they would be that bad. To top it off, the whole state of South Dakota stinks, almost a sewage pond, marshy smelling odor. We wondered if it was the soil, from farming activities. Traveling at night so we could smell but not see. Where there was new pavement, a nasty chemical creosote perservative smell, a caustic odor I assume is some ingredient used to bind the bituminous asphalt together.

    Best Regards, Hal



  1. Payne’s Landing, Part V | slate river ramblings . . . .
  2. Payne’s Landing, Part IV | slate river ramblings . . . .
  3. Payne’s Landing, Part III | slate river ramblings . . . .
  4. Payne’s Landing, Part II | slate river ramblings . . . .

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