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The Commonwealth of Virginia is divided into ninety-five counties and thirty-eight independent cities, which are considered county-equivalents for census purposes.

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City of Danville, Virginia

City of Danville Education, Geography, and HistoryDanville, Virginia Courthouse

Danville is an independent city in the state of Virginia. Based on the 2010 census, the population was 43,055. It is bounded by Pittsylvania County, Virginia and Caswell County, North Carolina. It hosts the Danville Braves baseball club of the Appalachian League.

Danville is the principal city of the Danville, Virginia Micropolitan Statistical Area.

Etymology - Origin of City of Danville Name

Danville, in Pittsylvania County, was named for the Dan River on which the city is located.


County QuickFacts: City of Danville

Danville City History

Danville is an independent city in Virginia, bounded by Pittsylvania County, Virginia and Caswell County, North Carolina. It was the last capital of the Confederate States of America.

Danville, Virginia was established on 23 November 1793. [County Courthouse Book, by Elizabeth Petty Bentley, Genealogical Publishing Inc., Baltimore, MD, 1990.]

Danville, Virginia incorporated as a town in 1830 and incoporated as a city in 1890. Established on 23 November 1793. Located in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. North Danville (also known as Neapolis) added in 1896. Virginia Genealogy, Sources & Resources, by Carol McGinnis, Genealogical Publishing Inc., Baltimore, MD, 1993.]

In 1728, William Byrd headed an expedition sent to determine the true boundary between Virginia and North Carolina. One night late that summer, the party camped upstream from what is now Danville, Byrd was so captured with the beauty of the land, that he eloquently prophesied a future settlement in the vicinity, where people would live "with much comfort and gaiety of Heart."The river along which he camped was named the "Dan", for Byrd, supposing himself to be in the land of plenty, felt he had wandered "from Dan to Beersheba".

The first white settlement (numerous Indian tribes had lived in the area) occurred downstream from Byrd's campsite in 1792, at a spot along the river shallow enough to allow fording. It was named "Wynne's Falls,"after the first settler. The village has a "social"reason for its origin, since it was here that pioneering Revolutionary War veterans met once a year to fish and talk over old times.

The establishment by the General Assembly of a tobacco warehouse at Wynne's Falls in 1793 was the beginning of "The World's Best Tobacco Market."Virginia's largest market for bright leaf tobacco. The village was renamed Danville by act of the Virginia Legislature on November 23, 1793. A charter for the town was drawn up February 17,1830, but by the time of its issue, the population had exceeded the pre-arranged boundaries. This necessitated a new charter, which was issued in 1833. In that year, James Lanier was elected the first mayor, assisted by a council of "twelve fit and able men."

The outbreak of the Civil War found Danville a thriving community of some 5,000 people. During those four years of war, the town was transformed into a strategic center of activity. It was a quartermaster's depot, rail center, hospital station for Confederate wounded and a prison camp. Here six tobacco warehouses were converted into prisons, housing at one time more than 5,000 captured Federal soldiers.

Starvation and dysentery, plus a smallpox epidemic in 1864, caused the death of 1,314 of these prisoners. Their remains now lie interred in the Danville National Cemetery.

The Richmond and Danville Rail Road was the main supply route into Petersburg where Lee's Army of Northern Virginia were holding their defensive line to protect Richmond. The Danville supply train ran until General Stoneman's Union cavalry troops tore up the tracks. This event was immortalised in the song "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down".

Danville became the Last Capital of the Confederate States of America within the space of a few days. Jefferson Davis and the temporary Capital moved to the palatial home of William T. Sutherlin on April 3, 1865. It was in the Sutherlin home that Davis' issued his final Presidential Proclamation. The final Confederate Cabinet meeting was held at the Benedict House(destroyed) in Danville. Davis and members of his cabinet remained there until April 10, 1865 When news of Lee's surrender forced them to flee southward. On the day of their departure, Governor William Smith arrived from Lynchburg, to establish his headquarters.

On July 22, 1882, six of Danville's enterprising citizens founded the Riverside Cotton Mills, which today is known the country over as Dan River Inc., the largest single-unit textile mill in the world.

One of the most famous wrecks in American rail history occurred in Danville. On September 27, 1903, "Old 97."The Southern Railway's crack express mail train, was running behind schedule. Its engineer "gave her full throttle,"but the speed of the train caused it to jump the tracks on a high trestle overlooking the valley of the Dan. The engine and five cars plunged into the ravine below, killing nine and injuring seven, but immortalizing the locomotive and its engineer, Joseph A. ("Steve") Broadey, in a now well-known song. A marker is located on US 58 between Locust Lane and North Main Street at the train crash site. A mural of the Wreck of the Old 97 is painted on a downtown Danville building in memory of the historic wreck.

Geography: Land and Water

As reported by the Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 43.9 square miles (113.8 km2), of which, 43.1 square miles (111.5 km2) of it is land and 0.9 square miles (2.3 km2) of it (2.00%) is water.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Danville is an independent city in Virginia, bounded by Pittsylvania County, Virginia and Caswell County, North Carolina.



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