SFB Blackhead Signpost Road Tee
SFB Blackhead Signpost Road Tee
SOUTHAMPTON, VA. — Virginia State Road 666 in Southampton County leads to the house of Catherine Whitehead, who was murdered 166 years ago.
Like many summer days in southern Virginia, Aug. 22, 1831, was hot and balmy. That was the day Nat Turner stormed the house with 15 slave rebels. The rebels crossed the peanut fields surrounding the house with ammunition, weapons and horses. Turner's plan was to kill the family, including women and children.
Turner had not actively participated in the killings of white plantation owners previous to that night, even though the mob had attacked another house the night before. But when he saw Margaret Whitehead --Catherine's young, beautiful and white daughter --something snapped in him. The angry mob already had slaughtered Margaret's family when Turner found her hiding in a corner of the house.
He lifted a fence rail and decapitated her. This was Turner's first and last murder.
The rebellion, known as the Nat Turner Insurrection, spanned several weeks in 1831. Turner's motivation for leading the insurrection varies from historian to historian. Some say he heard voices from God telling him to kill his owners. Others say he was uppity, and he used the education his owners granted him to turn against them.
But historians agree Turner was an educated slave who preached to his fellow slaves. He and his rebels targeted only rich white plantation owners, leaving alone poor whites citizens. The insurrection left 60 whites dead, and paved the way for years of racial tension in Southampton County.
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