Virginia Memory, Library of Virginia
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CHRONOLOGY BY PERIOD

1877
The General Assembly passed the Married Women's Property Act.
The General Assembly passed the Married Women's Property Act, allowing married women to buy, sell, and control property independent of their husbands.
1878
Tornados devastated parts of Southside Virginia.
On 12 September, a hurricane spawned several tornados in Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, Hanover, Henrico, and Nottoway Counties; the tract of the tornadoes varied from fifty to three hundred feet wide; one in Goochland County cut a twenty-eight-mile-long path.
1878
A severe hurricane struck the Eastern Shore.
On 23 October, a hurricane struck the Eastern Shore and completely submerged Cobb and Smith Islands, washing all the cattle on the island out to sea.
1879
A major hurricane struck Hampton Roads.
On 18 August, a hurricane struck Hampton Roads, with a storm surge reaching as far as Norfolk's city hall. "The Great Tempest" killed more than forty-six people in Virginia and North Carolina.
1879
The Readjuster Party is founded.
The Readjuster Party was founded as a coalition of political constituencies including Republicans, small businessmen, and African Americans favoring a partial repudiation and refinancing and repayment of the balance of the state's prewar public debt. The opposition party, the Funders, supported full repayment of the prewar debt at a high rate of interest, even at the cost of high taxes and reduced public services.
1879
The General Assembly abolished the dredging of rock-bed oysters.
In an attempt to prevent permanent damage to oyster beds, the General Assembly passed an act to abolish the dredging of rock-bed oysters. The assembly then disbanded its "oyster police." Dredgers ignored the law and during the winter of 1879–1880 used guns to drive away the oystermen who relied on traditional hand-tongs, or rakes, for harvesting.
1881
James Albert Bonsack patented the first successful cigarette rolling machine.
On 8 March, James Albert Bonsack, of Roanoke County, received patent number 238,640 on the first commercially successful cigarette-rolling machine that he had invented in answer to an Allen and Ginter prize offered in 1876 for the first successful machine.
1882
The Hotel Roanoke opened.
The Hotel Roanoke, built by the Norfolk and Western Railroad, opened with fewer than three dozen rooms. In 1931, the hotel was substantially expanded, even offering circulating ice water and movable telephones.
1882
The antecedent of Virginia State University was founded.
On 6 March, an act of the General Assembly created the Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute, which became Virginia State University.
1882
The Virginia Women's Christian Temperance Union was founded.
In September, the Virginia Women's Christian Temperance Union was founded in Richmond; within the year there were chapters in Alexandria, Charlottesville, and Staunton.
1882
In the "Oyster Wars" the state government attacked oyster dredgers.
In the so-called "Oyster Wars," waged by Governor William E. Cameron, the state government engaged in several armed skirmishes while attempting to drive away oyster dredgers who threatened the overuse of the Chesapeake Bay's resource.
1883
A Danville riot left 5 people dead.
On 3 November, a riot in Danville left four African Americans and one white man dead as white Conservatives seized control of the popularly elected and racially integrated local government. The resulting publicity helped to end the Readjuster state government in Virginia.
1883
Norfolk and Western Railroad shipped the first coal from Pocahontas coalfield.
In March, the Norfolk and Western Railroad shipped its first coal from the Pocahontas coalfield in Tazewell County. The shipment arrived at Norfolk on 17 March.
1883
1,300 black tobacco factory workers struck in Lynchburg.
Thirteen hundred black workers, led by the all-black Lynchburg Labouring Association, struck for higher wages in Lynchburg's tobacco factories, shutting down the industry for several weeks.
1884
John Mitchell Jr. became editor of the Richmond Planet.
In December, John Mitchell Jr. became editor of the Richmond Planet, which he soon made into a major advocate of the rights of African Americans.
1884
An explosion at the Pocahontas coalfield killed 112 miners.
On 13 March, an explosion at the Pocahontas coalfield's Laurel Mine in northern Tazewell County killed 112 miners.
1885
The dry goods shop that later became Miller & Rhoads department store opened.
Linton O. Miller, Webster S. Rhoads, and Simon W. Gerhart established a dry goods store in Richmond to offer a wide range of merchandise in separate departments. After Gerhart left the company in 1890, Miller & Rhoads became one of the first of the new department stores in Virginia.
1885
The R. E. Lee Camp Confederate Soldiers' Home opened in Richmond.
On 1 January, the R. E. Lee Camp Confederate Soldiers' Home, established for "invalid and infirm" veterans, opened in Richmond. It closed after the last resident died in 1941.
1885
The publication of The Beale Papers spawned treasure hunts in Bedford County.
James B. Ward published The Beale Papers, a brief account of a legendary treasure buried in Bedford County in 1819 and 1821. The pamphlet spawned innumerable unsuccessful treasure hunts.
1886
The Chesapeake Dry Dock and Construction Company was founded.
On 24 June, the Chesapeake Dry Dock and Construction Company was founded at a meeting held at the Hotel Warwick. Organized by Collis P. Huntington at the terminus of the new Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad, the company became the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in 1890.
1886
The Knights of Labor held its national convention in Richmond.
From 4 to 20 October the Knights of Labor held its national convention in Richmond at the height of its influence. Approximately eight hundred people, including women and African Americans, attended as delegates. The Knights of Labor was the first major American union to organizing both trade and industrial workers regardless of skill.
1887
Thomas Nelson Page published In Ole Virginia.
Thomas Nelson Page published his first book, In Ole Virginia, or Marse Chan, and Other Stories. It was the first of his many books that glorified the antebellum past while embellishing the traditions and legends of the Old South.
1888
Richmond inaugurated electric streetcar service.
On 2 February, Richmond inaugurated electric streetcar service, the first in the nation with trolleys using overhead lines powered from a central station, and had thirty cars in operation by 4 May.
1888
Amelie Rives published The Quick or the Dead?: A Study.
Amelie Rives published The Quick or the Dead?: A Study, her first novel and a best-selling psychological study of a young widow, which appeared first in the April issue of Lippincott's Monthly Magazine. A hardcover edition was published later that year, and its sequel, Barbara Dering, copyrighted in 1892, followed in 1893.
1888
Virginia elected an African American man to the House of Representatives.
After the congressional election on 6 November, John Mercer Langston, president of Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute, filed a successful challenge to the election of his Democrat opponent, charging fraud and voter intimidation. The first African American member of the House of Representatives from Virginia, Langston served from 23 September 1890 to 3 March 1891.
1889
The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities was chartered.
The Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities held its first formal meeting on 4 January 1889 and received a charter from the General Assembly on 13 February. The restoration of colonial sites in Williamsburg occupied the APVA, but its main focus was on preserving the ruins on Jamestown Island.
1890
A Robert E. Lee monument was unveiled in Richmond.
On 29 May, the Robert E. Lee monument, designed by French sculptor Jean-Antonin Mercié, was unveiled in an open field at the city's western edge on what became Richmond's Monument Avenue.
1890
The Confederate Memorial Literary Society was chartered.
On 31 May, the Confederate Memorial Literary Society was chartered in Richmond to establish The Confederate Museum in the former White House of the Confederacy. The museum opened on 22 February 1896.
1891
Randolph-Macon Woman's College was founded.
Randolph-Macon Woman's College was founded in Lynchburg; in 1902, it became the first woman's college to gain accreditation from what is today the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
1892
The first issue of the William and Mary Quarterly was published.
In July, the first issue of the William and Mary Quarterly (originally entitled William and Mary College Quarterly Historical Papers) appeared. Its distinguished service to scholarship began with an article on the "Williamsburg Lodge of Masons."
1893
The Southern Aid and Insurance Company was chartered.
On 25 February, the Southern Aid and Insurance Company was chartered. Headquartered in Richmond, it was the nation's first black-owned and -operated insurance company.
1893
Jefferson Davis was buried in Richmond.
On 30 May, the remains of former Confederate president Jefferson Davis arrived in Richmond by special train from New Orleans, where he had been buried in December 1889. Davis lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda and on 31 May was re-interred in Hollywood Cemetery.
1893
The first issue of the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography was published.
In July, the Virginia Historical Society published the first issue of the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography under the editorship of the historian Philip Alexander Bruce.
1893
Edward V. Valentine exhibited sculptures at the World's Columbian Exposition.
Richmond artist Edward V. Valentine exhibited two sculptures, Andromache and Astyanax and Blind Girl, at the Virginia Building at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
1894
The first "Military Classic of the South" was held in Staunton.
On 29 November in Staunton, Virginia Military Institute defeated Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College ten to six in the schools' first football game. The annual Thanksgiving Day contest between VMI and Virginia Tech moved to Roanoke in 1896 and for many years was known as the "Military Classic of the South."
1894
The Southern Railway Company was chartered.
Chartered on 20 February, the Southern Railway Company had acquired 4,342.45 miles of track in the Southeast by the end of the year, including the reorganized Richmond and Danville Railroad and the Richmond and West Point Terminal Railway and Warehouse.
1895
Richmond's Jefferson Hotel opened.
On 31 October, Richmond's Jefferson Hotel, financed by tobacco magnate Lewis Ginter, opened. On 29 March 1901, fire destroyed two-thirds of the hotel.
1895
Coal miners in Tazewell County united with West Virginia miners in a strike.
Between 1 May and 30 July, coal miners in Tazewell County and miners in West Virginia united in a major strike to protest reduced wages; Governor Charles T. O'Ferrall mobilized the state militia to suppress the labor unrest and help keep the mines open.
1896
Samuel P. Langley successfully launched an unmanned heavier-than-air craft.
On 6 May, Samuel P. Langley successfully launched Aerodrome Number 5 from atop a houseboat moored on the Potomac River near Quantico. The unmanned, heavier-than-air craft rose, circled for a minute and a half, and, out of fuel, gently descended to the water.
1897
The strongest earthquake yet recorded in Virginia hit Giles County.
On 31 May, the strongest earthquake yet recorded in Virginia, estimated at 5.9 magnitude or 5.8 on the Richter scale, struck Giles County, damaging the Pearisburg courthouse. The quake was felt as far away as Indiana and Georgia.
1897
A major hurricane struck Hampton Roads.
Beginning on 23 October, a hurricane struck Hampton Roads and stalled over the coast for sixty hours, damaging ships and waterside property and washing into the sea the popular Cobb Island summer resort on the Atlantic coast side of Northampton County.
1898
Virginia Volunteers were mustered for the Spanish-American War.
In May and June, four regiments of Virginia Volunteer Infantry were mustered into federal service in Richmond. After the president in June called for raising regiments of African American men, on 20 June two battalions of black infantrymen mustered into service as the 6th Infantry, the fourth of Virginia's regiments called to duty. They mustered out at Macon, Georgia, on 18 November 1898. None of Virginia's regiments took part in the fighting; the 4th Regiment served on occupation duty in postwar Cuba.
1898
Fitzhugh Lee was a high-ranking army officer during the Spanish-American War.
On 5 May, former Confederate general and Virginia governor Fitzhugh Lee, who had been serving as consul general in Havana, Cuba, since 1896, was appointed a major general in the U.S. Army and given command of the 7th Army Corps for the Spanish-American War. From 12 April 1899 to 2 March 1901, Lee served as brigadier general of U.S. Volunteers.
1900
Mary Johnston published To Have and to Hold.
Mary Johnston published To Have and to Hold, her second novel, which became a best seller and sold about half a million copies.
1900
Southern Biscuit Works opened a bakery in Richmond.
In January, Southern Biscuit Works opened a bakery in Richmond that for more than a century under a variety of names, including Southern Biscuit Company and Interbake Foods, produced popular FFV (Famous Foods of Virginia) cookies.
1900
The Seaboard Air Line Railway is chartered.
On 1 April, the Seaboard Air Line Railway was chartered, consolidating several railroads into a system with twenty-six hundred miles of track from Virginia to Florida and offering mail service as far north as New York over other railroad companies' tracks.
1901
Booker T. Washington published his autobiography, Up from Slavery.
Booker T. Washington published his autobiography, Up from Slavery. Washington was born near Hale's Ford in Franklin County and attended Hampton Institute. In 1881, he was asked to establish Tuskegee Institute in the Alabama town of the same name.