Before Petersburg became an official town in 1750, it was known to area residents as Peter's Point. During the American Revolution, Petersburg became a logistical center for Virginia. Petersburg's location was so valuable, that there was a battle here named the Battle of Petersburg in 1781. Three towns and other smaller towns near Petersburg were soon merged as one, and Petersburg became very prosperous as the third largest town in Virginia. By 1800 the city had its own newspaper, tobacco factory and canal company. In 1815, a major fire broke out, burning down many buildings in town, and they were rebuilt with sturdy brick.
Some of the nation's first railroad systems were developed in Petersburg, connecting it with North Carolina and the various communities in Virginia. The railroad systems brought many people and industries to the community. By 1830, Petersburg began to grow even more and a new court house, a merchants exchange, a post office/custom house, a library, and many churches were built to accommodate the many citizens.
In between the years 1864 and 1865, Petersburg found itself again to be a major logistic, as well as a manufacturing center, due to the Civil War. In April of 1865, Petersburg went through the longest attack that any city in North America had experienced. Confederate troops began to move to the west, and left the city of Petersburg, and the end of the Civil War was in sight. After the war was over, Richmond was home to more people than Petersburg. In turn businesses looked to Richmond for a more prosperous home due to the large increase in population. Many of the tobacco plants, peanut industries and iron foundries still remained in Petersburg.
A new form of government was formed in Petersburg in 1917, and still exists to this day. After the Great Depression and World War II, the community began to change with the rest of the country; new highways, homes, and businesses and industries were built. Eventually the tobacco industry was no longer residing in Petersburg. In 1985, the tobacco giant, Brown & Williams, left the city of Petersburg behind. Now Petersburg looks toward a bright future filled with new businesses, industries, families, and to making history.
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