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September 30, 2021 / Joanne Yeck

Payne’s Landing, Part III

Buckingham County Postal Routes, 1896

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 on land owned by Nathan T. Payne, this spot in northern Buckingham on the James River was once home to thriving businesses and an industrial complex.  

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

Lulie Patteson continues, conjuring a vivid picture of life at Payne’s Landing:

Besides the landing there was a post office, a store and freight depot. Elsewhere on Georgia Creek, a tributary, there were mills. A grist mill ground flour and meal and a sawmill provided lumber.

Payne was said to have been exempted from military service in the Civil War because he supplied lumber to the Confederacy. About the Payne home located a blacksmith’s shop, a cooper’s shop, a bone mill and a foundry. The farm and sawmill required the use of 50 to 60 mules and horses.

The foundry manufactured skillets, lids and plowpoints. The name of the blacksmith, Aaron Scott, has come down through the years because of his work in handling the numerous jobs of shoeing the many horses and mules. An aged Negro man who worked at the Payne home recalls how he used to tremble in terror when the 50 or 60 work animals were turned loose snorting and kicking down the lane heading toward the creek for water.

The same man’s mother was a washer woman for the Paynes. He said after the war the Yankees came and cut “hoops and staves.” He also recalled how Patrick Jones, head teamster for F. M. Maxey of Well Water, brought a wagon load of bark and “hoops” with a double yoke of oxen to Payne’s Landing.

Since the lumbering and sawmilling were large operations and many employees were needed, the Payne plantation provided everything that was needed. No one had to go to Scottsville for anything . . . except perhaps whiskey.

Of all the projects around the Payne place, the one least needed would seem to be the bone grinding mill. But with the lack of fertilizer in those post-war days, and a starvation diet for cattle, most farms felt it necessary to utilize everything possible.


Patteson’s prose depicts a busy and vital 19th century service center typical of the era. Today, various sources help document her history.

In 1880, Nathan T. Payne’s grist mill, long active in Buckingham County’s Slate River District, was included in the county’s industrial census.

Population censuses confirm Aaron Scott’s role as the neighborhood blacksmith. In 1870, an African-American blacksmith named Aaron Scott (age 50) was enumerated with his family in the James River District of Buckingham County. By 1880, Scott had relocated to Slate River District, living just a few households from Nathan Payne, supporting the story that he worked at the Payne’s Landing complex.

In 1880, Nathan Payne’s son John clerked in a store, perhaps the one Lulie Patteson mentioned.

According to national postal records, the post office at Payne’s Landing was established when mail delivery to Bolling’s Landing was discontinued on February 4, 1880.  Bolling’s Landing was on Robert M. Bolling’s land, adjacent Payne’s. Samuel L.  Burks, who married Alice Virginia Payne, served as postmaster at Payne’s Landing from its inception until January of 1883.  Click here for more about Burks: Postmaster Samuel L. Burks, Jr.

Patteson also mentions F. N. Maxey who founded Well Water after the Civil War. For more about his important contribution to Buckingham County history, search the archives at Slate River Ramblings and consult “F.N. Maxey and His Community at Well Water” in my book “At a Place Called Buckingham.”

Currently, others who owned businesses in the complex at Payne’s Landing are unknown.  If a Slate River Ramblings reader knows more, please comment!

Coming Next: Payne’s Landing, Part IV

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