Middlesex County was formed around 1669 from Lancaster County, making it one of the oldest English settlements in the United States. Many plantation homes still stand from the Colonial era.
Bordered by the Rappahannock and Piankatank rivers and the Chesapeake Bay, much of its history centers around the water. The town of Urbanna was formed in 1680 as a center for shipping tobacco from surrounding plantations.
Urbanna was the county seat until 1852 when it was moved to Saluda. Throughout the county are homes built in the 1700s. Wartime stories abound dating back to the Revolutionary and Civil wars. During these wars, plantations such as Providence and Rosegill were bombarded and looted.
Stingray Point near Deltaville gained immortal fame as the spot where Captain John Smith was nearly killed by a stingray.
Three centuries ago ships from London, Liverpool, Bristol and Glasgow were common sights on Urbanna Creek. Just across the creek from Urbanna is Rosegill, one of the oldest plantations in America. Home to five generations of Wormeleys, it was for many years a center of influence in the Colony and a power in the political and commercial life of this area.
During the Civil War, General George McClellan formulated a plan of attack to take Richmond starting from Urbanna. Named the Urbanna Plan, it was never instituted.
In 1862, several Yankee warships bombarded the town but legend has it that the only thing the Yanks killed was an old hare. One of the cannonballs did hit the old courthouse, which today is the Middlesex Woman’s Club building on Virginia St.
During the bombardment, townsfolk congregated on the creek bank at the current site of the Urbanna Bridge. Legend has it an old man stood at the hilltop and whenever he saw a flash of a cannon firing would scream “squat” and the townsfolk would squat to the ground.
Today Middlesex County has a population of 9,600 and is home to the popular Urbanna Oyster Festival, which draws thousands for a weekend of music and mollusks every November.
Middlesex County offices are in the Woodward Building at the Courthouse Complex in Saluda. 758-4330. Middlesex has one town, Urbanna: 758-2613.
Middlesex Public Library Urbanna Branch, 758-5717. Deltaville Branch, 776-7362.
Old Tobacco Warehouse, 45 Cross St. in Urbanna. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Serves as a visitors center. 758-2613.
May 16: Urbanna Cup wooden boat races, Urbanna Town Marina.
May 23: Deltaville Seafood Festival, in village and at maritime museum.
May 30-31: Arts in the Middle juried art show, Hewick near Urbanna.