Just in time for Women’s History Month, Civil War Trails, Inc. has installed a new sign to highlight one of the forgotten stories of the women civilians who endured tremendous hardships during the war. Here’s the full scoop!
(March 1, 2022)
Civil War Trails, Inc. has teamed up with the Historic Hopewell Foundation, Inc., and the City of Hopewell, Virginia to launch a new Civil War Trails sign at Weston Manor. The new story recounts the heart-wrenching experiences of twelve-year-old Emma Wood and her family. The sign was installed last month in advance of Women’s History Month. beginning on March 1st.
Hopewell offers 5 Civil War Trails sites, including Weston Manor. These sites are networked with over 500 others in Virginia and over 1,400 across six states. The Civil War Trails program encourages visitors to stand in the footsteps of history, exploring each unique landscape and story through the eyes of those who were there and Weston’s new sign is a great example of this approach to story-telling.
The new sign was researched and originally written by Historic Hopewell Foundation (HHF) board members Robin Somers-Strom and Daniel Jones. “Through our research and interpretive narratives, we at HHF strive to personalize the diverse lives and rich experiences of Emma, and all who lived and worked to sustain life at Weston Manor, including the enslaved,” said Robin. The proposed new sign then went through a rigorous review process to ensure it resonated with a variety of audiences.
This new sign is the first of several updates being planned for the Civil War Trails sites in the Hopewell-Prince George region. The work is made possible by the participation of the City of Hopewell who sponsors each site allowing for product updates, maintenance, and the collaborative marketing efforts. “Our program is unique in that the signs are always being updated, offering something new for travelers.” said Drew Gruber, Executive Director of Civil War Trails, Inc. “Stories like Emma’s are relatable to many, especially families who have been forced to move and adjust to difficult circumstances.”
Each Civil War Trails site is marketed internationally by state tourism offices, regional destination marketing organizations, and municipal partners. This means the educational product is part of a much larger economic development mission. “We see self-guided outdoor tours like Civil War Trails as very important to tourism in our region…” said, Becky McDonough, CEO of the Hopewell-Prince George Chamber. “Civil War Trails has helped us update the stories which are now found in places of historic context and economic return.”
Weston Manor was built along the Appomattox River in 1789 by William and Christian Eppes Gilliam, descendants of 17th century indentured servants who built their fortunes from the ground up. In the formative years of the country, indentured servants worked for an employer for a set period of time to pay off the expense of their passage to the New World. After which, they were granted land of their own to cultivate. By the 17th century, the Gilliam family owned several manors in the Tidewater region of Virginia.
Emma’s connection with Weston Manor began when her and her family fled Hampton, Virginia on the Peninsula during the Union advance. Situated near the confluence of the Appomattox River and James River, Weston Manor would be swamped by war in the summer and fall of 1864 during the siege of Petersburg (just southwest of the home). Close to Weston is City Point, the site of Ulysses S. Grant’s headquarters during the campaign. For more details about Emma’s story and the history of Weston Manor, be sure to visit the site, check out the new Civil War Trails sign, and take a tour provided by the Historic Hopewell Foundation.
Address: 400 Weston Lane
Weston Lane & 21st Avenue
Hopewell VA 23860
Hours: Mon-Sat: 10:00AM – 4:30PM
Sun: 1:00PM to 4:30PM
Admission: Adults – $8.00
Active Military – $6.00
Children under 12 Free with adult
Groups of 10+ – $6 per person
Website: Weston Manor (historichopewell.org)