Goal reached for historical marker
Published 6:00 am Saturday, December 19, 2020
A historical marker destined for the Charlotte County Courthouse Square has met another goal and is one step closer to informing the public about the life of Joseph R. Holmes.
In September, the Virginia Board of Historic Resources approved a forthcoming historical marker, but it came with a $1,945 price tag.
According to Kathy Liston who spearheaded the placement of the historical marker, donations needed to be raised to pay for the marker. No county funds would be spent for the marker.
“We now have all the funds we need,” Liston said.
According to the Department of Historic Resources (DHR), the marker will inform the public about the life of Joseph R. Holmes who was born enslaved. After emancipation, he served as a delegate to the Virginia Republican Party conventions in 1867 and 1869 and was elected to represent Charlotte and Halifax counties in Virginia’s Constitutional Convention of 1867-68. On May 3, 1869, four white men assassinated Holmes on the courthouse steps in Charlotte County. The men charged with his murder were never tried.
According to DHR the marker text will read:
“Joseph R. Holmes (ca. 1838-1869) Joseph R. Holmes, formerly enslaved in Charlotte County, campaigned for civil rights and education after emancipation. He served as a delegate to the Virginia Republican Party conventions in 1867 and 1869 and was elected to represent Charlotte and Halifax counties in Virginia’s Constitutional Convention of 1867-68, held as a precondition for the state’s readmission to the Union. On 3 May 1869, Holmes was shot dead here on the courthouse steps. Brothers John and Griffin S. Marshall, along with William T. Boyd and Macon C. Morris, all white, were charged with his murder. The men fled and were never tried. The murder drew international attention to the plight of freed people during Reconstruction.”
Virginia’s historical highway marker program, which began in 1927 with the installation of the first markers along U.S. 1, is considered the oldest such program in the nation. Currently there are more than 2,600 state markers, most of which are maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation, except in those localities outside of VDOT’s authority.