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September 23, 2021 / Joanne Yeck

Payne’s Landing, Part II

In March of 1959, Buckingham County historian Lulie Patteson published an article in Charlottesville’s Daily Progress detailing the history of Payne’s Landing, located 23 miles north of Buckingham County’s courthouse. In 1874, the tract was bounded by the lands of Robert Bolling, Putney, James F. Hamner, Dr. Gantt, John L. Harris’ Estate (Snowden), and W.H. and L. Nicholas.

Click here to catch up: Payne’s Landing, Part I

Relying on memories passed down in the Payne family, Lulie Patteson makes several puzzling statements, including this one:  “. . . [F]amily history states that the great tract of land was purchased from a man named Sam Allen and that Allen’s slaves remained on the plantation when the Payne family took possession.”

Since Nathan T. Payne did not acquire Winfrey’s Tract until after 1871 (and may not have taken possession of it until 1874), any African Americans working or living on the farm had long been emancipated.  It is possible, though, that former slaves remained where they had previously lived, working for Payne or others in the neighborhood.

Miss Patteson’s next detail, while charming, is equally confusing: “. . . Payne’s Landing was doing a bang up business in shipping before the Civil War. N. T. Payne had two canal freight boats of his own (one descendant in or near his 90s says the names of these two boats were ‘Maude’ and ‘Johnson’).”

Today, documents which were not easily accessible to Lulie Patteson help establish a different chronology of Nathan Payne’s residences and businesses. With the passage of time, I suspect two locations (possibly even two spots called “Payne’s Landing”) became conflated. Indeed, Payne may have operated freight boats prior to the Civil War though likely not from what was once Winfrey’s Tract.

In 1870, Nathan T. Payne, a 45-year-old lumber dealer, was enumerated in Buckingham County’s James River District, indicating that he was not yet occupying Winfrey’s Tract, which lay in Buckingham’s Slate River District. Payne’s status as a “dealer” easily could have included shipping. Additionally, the 1870 Industrial Census for Buckingham County lists N. T. Payne as the operator of a grist mill and a steam saw mill, both in James River District. By 1880, he was enumerated in Slate River District, indicating his move to Winfrey’s Tract — the place that Lulie Patteson would know as Payne’s Landing.

Coming Next: Payne’s Landing, Part III

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